Saturday, January 06, 2007

Publishing Stupidity Running Amuck

Big publishers are discovering that fun promotion works. I cite two recent experiences that prove it. My friend, June Casagrande, pitched having bumper stickers that say Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies made to her publisher (Penguin), and guess what! They did it.

Then, Time magazine ran an article (October 16, 2006) on how St. Martin's has taken to (my words) doing something more than running ads in the New York Times! The inspiration? Their author K'wan who wrote hip hop or street-lit like Gangsta.

So, "instead of signings at Barnes & Noble, St. Martins' is planning giveaway and readings in barber shops and beauty salons" . . . .ads on urban radio and an official Hood Rat mix tape CD.

Sorry, but if big publishers had spent less time ignoring (or dissing) independent authors and small presses, they'd have gotten the idea long ago. Two years ago the Authors' Coalition published a CD for our booth at the LA Times Festival of Books and, I guess you could say we got it because we're promotion-smart, too. We plan to do it again, so there!

Last year at the same fair, Joyce Faulkner , author of The Complete Writer tested magnet signs for her rental SUV. We may offer those soon on the Authors' Coalition site even though results were hard to measure. We did get some action from the press as we were carrying our bookshelves and signs in from the loading dock. They knew they'd seen something a little unusual and possibly even smart. So the street-smart author Time cites, Rentless Aaron, wasn't the first to plaster his car with signs. Maybe something just got into the air and spread.

Time says, "In an industry the considers ales of 20,000 a success, gritty steet-lit authors are routinely doubling that number." Where St. Martin's may have it over some of us is their budget and perhaps the genre itself.

OK, but it still seems big publishers have been monumentally slow learners in the face of the example of entrepreneurial authors I've seen at work. So, does anyone expect anyone to give us any credit? I, for one, don't. Time certainly didn't.

They mentioned Amazon which quashed the need for brick, mortar and shelves.

And they mentioned Vickie Stringer who just got tired of being at the mercy of others and self-published. As if that is news! She also founded her own publishing company and her own literary agency. Way to go, Miss Independent but many authors I know have been doing that since I got into the publishing business about seven years ago.

So, am I suggesting there's only one way to do things? Nope. I'm just saying that if we all got busy learning from one another, supporting one another, we just might all do better, big publishers included.

CHJ



Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author THIS IS THE PLACE; HARKENING: A COLLECTION OF STORIES REMEMBERED; TRACINGS, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON'T; and THE FRUGAL EDITOR: PUT YOUR BEST BOOK FORWARD TO AVOID HUMILIATION AND ENSURE SUCCESS.

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