Thursday, January 31, 2008

Failure is Always an Option--veinglory

Not exactly as positive affirmation is it? But there is a time and place for listening to your inner critic or even a Little Miss Downer like me. I hear authors often say that even if a paid advertisement does not make any sales, it is building their brand or getting their name out there.

There is a third option: the advertisement might just suck. You might be getting ripped off. It might not work at all. Maybe nobody at all looked at it, or those few who looked at it utterly and irreversably forgot all about it within two seconds.

Downer #1
Advertisements do not work simply because they exist and someone is willing to pay for them. In fact, small press authors are a big enough market that plenty of people are lining up to sell us things. And selling advertising that doesn't work is so much more cost effective if you can get away with it.

If you do not require your ad to make you sales: why? In any case, you should still require it to do something, even if it is only $5 worth of something. And I mean something specific and measureable. Otherwise, how can you tell it is doing anything at all? Let's say market value for hits to a website is 5c each. That means you should get 100 extra hits that month. If you want more name recognition, you should be able to ask at an appropriate forum how many people know your name, run 5 ads, come back 6 months later and find more of those people know your name, or track google keywords used by people hitting your site (use of your pen name or title) or scan mentions of either on blogs and forums.

Downer #1
A few of us, even a lot of us, think the publisher should pay publishing costs. You know, printer set up fees and so on. So why do we not expect them to pay for advertising? Authors have always promoted by making available their person, their charm, their book-signing hand--but not so much their money. Mainstream authors are not paying their bus fare or for magazine ads.

You might argue that the ads are for the author not the book, like paying for your website. But I don't see author putting their smiling face on their ads, I see cover art--I see books. I see authors willingly paying a publishing cost. Why are we paying for ads? Because we should, or just because with high output epublishers, no one else is going to? Is it because publishers are asking to overt evidence of self-promotion and the first thing that comes to mind is paid advertising?


Teddy Pig said...

You know what bothers me is not the idea of you going out and getting a bookstore to carry your book. It's the follow up once they are selling your book.

You as a writer have done your job and promoted yourself and made probably several sales for the publisher, but the follow up, the making sure the bookstore knows about your next book and your next one and how to pre-order it and how many they ordered before and how about this author we have who wrote the same type of book etc etc etc.

Once that bookstore becomes the Publisher's customer it is entirely on the publisher to handle that promotion and it is something if they fail to do well that should be considered when you sign the next contract.

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