If it Quacks, is it a Duck or a Recording?

Lately at Expert Publishing, we’ve had a plethora of offerings  announcing all sorts of ways to “help authors sell books.”

Here are just a few:

  • Email blasts to libraries–sell your book to hundreds, if not thousands, of libraries.
  • Book awards of various flavors–regional, self-published books, independently published books, etc.
  • Public relations–get in the media and get rich selling books.
  • Book reviews–people need to be told what to read.

Email blasts are about as cutting edge as fax blasts. Add the declining budgets of libraries and spending money to promote your book to them via email doesn’t make a lot of financial sense. You’re better off using those several hundred dollars to create a self-directed book tour where you create events in libraries or in stores where your book will stand out from the rest of the merchandise (hint: not a bookstore).

Book awards serve one purpose–they make money for the organization putting them on. We chaired a book awards program for three years for an association and the whole purpose was to add money to the organization’s  treasury. I can’t say that I know of any increased sales because a book won an award, but I guess it could happen. What winning an award does do for a book, however, is allow the author a fresh perspective for marketing the book, and that’s a good thing.

Public relations is one of the most expensive things you can do to sell your book. And the results are typically disappointing. Why? How often do you hear someone on the radio or television talk about his or her book and you run out or go online and buy it? Most of us don’t even have a pen and paper handy to write down the name of the book. Then, when the segment is over, we’re moving on to other things. When a public relations person can justify his/her fee by showing me sales connected to PR, I’ll see the value.

Book reviews serve a purpose, I’m sure. I’ve seldom seen a book get a bad review. Have the book reviews you’ve read enticed you to buy the book as soon as possible? If so, the review worked. Some reviews you pay for; others are free. Either way, the reviewer gets the book free and tends to skim through it, pick up some highlights to mention, then write a few paragraphs.  I’ve done book reviews for years and I’ve learned that, as with anything else, there are good reviewers while others just like the free books. If you’re sending your book out for review, make sure you know where and when the review will be published.

Authors don’t like to hear it, but the bottom line is authors, not publishers, are responsible for creating the buzz about their books. Do you know who publishes Stephen King? Dan Brown? J. K Rowling? Dr. Phil? I rest my case.

When you, as author, are bombarded with quacking offers–email blasts, book awards, PR people, book reviews–take a hard look. Are they offering you a duck (the real thing that will help you market your book) or a recording (duplication of tired marketing that doesn’t work)?

Don’t fall for the quacks. You’ll just put money in their pockets, not your own.

Happy writing!



2 Responses to “If it Quacks, is it a Duck or a Recording?”

  1. 1 Fay November 19, 2009 at 8:22 am

    I can confirm what Sharron says. It takes a lot of work to sell your book but is is so much fun when you do. I got several book clubs to read my book and had a great time going to their meetings and discuss the book after they have read it.

  2. 2 expertbookpublishing November 25, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Book clubs, presentations to other groups and schools, stores other than bookstores where your book stands out rather than blends in are all good options for selling books.

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