Learned at a New York Launch Party

I’ve read and reviewed this historical fiction from Dianne Salerni when it was an iUniverse title and it was excellent then. I recommend “We Hear the Dead”.  But that’s not why I’m posting this.  Dianne learned some things about marketing and the publishing industry at the publisher’s launch party in New York that are worth sharing.

Lloyd Lofthouse

Dianne Salerni

by Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead

I just returned from the biggest promotional opportunity I’ve ever had. It was a “Launch Party” for the Sourcebooks Fire imprint of YA/Teen fiction. I don’t know how successful I was, because I’m a lot more shy in person than I am online. But I certainly learned a lot, and I wanted to share.

First of all, for those of you who don’t know, I self-published my novel High Spirits in 2007 through iUniverse (back before it was ruined by the merger with Author House). In 2009, I sold the publishing rights to Sourcebooks and a film option to an independent producer in Hollywood. My book, retitled We Hear the Dead, is going to be released in paperback and Kindle format on May 1. The film option deal is also moving forward. The producer and I collaborated on a screenplay which is now complete. She is going to shop around for financing, timing her pitch to coincide with the release of the book.

Now here’s the stuff I wanted to share with you:

1. Both Sourcebooks and the producer found me through Amazon. They sought me out (not the other way around) because Amazon recommended my book to them. As big a bully as it can be, Amazon is still a powerful tool.

2. POD publishing may be maligned by the competitive forces which feel threatened by it (thus, all the “approved publisher” lists in certain writing guilds), but it is not a dirty word in the publishing industry. As I talked to people at the Sourcebooks launch party, I discovered that I was not the only author there who had self-published, or published through a micro-publisher, before signing on with a larger company. Sourcebooks does not sneer at the POD publishing world (and they clearly keep an eye on it for potential authors to sign).

3. Social networking IS the biggest thing in promotions right now. If you don’t have a website or a blog — if you aren’t on Facebook and Twitter — you need to jump in with both feet right away. One of the editorial directors told me that in-person author events are notoriously unsuccessful unless the author is a celebrity. It’s really hard to get people out to a bookstore to meet an author — but people will “tweet” with authors for hours on their computer or phone.

4. Contests are big. People love to win stuff. You can drive more people to your blog by holding contests for free books. And while I know you are thinking “but self-published authors have to pay for their own books” — the fact is that I’ll probably have to buy my own to give away in contests, too. My publisher is a small, independent company.  Their marketing budget is probably bigger than mine, but I’m sure it’s not limitless!

5. The author is still the best promoter of his/her book. Having a publishing house behind you is great, but the author is still expected to promote the hell out of the book — see #3 about social networks.

6. The more generously you give of your time and energy to help others (authors, readers, bloggers), the more they will go to bat for you.

Anyway, it was an exciting event for me, although I was near to tears with anxiety beforehand. The producer told me to get used to it, because if she gets financing for this movie, I’ll have to go to a lot more of them. I hope she’s right, and I hope I can survive it!