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Do you have a plan for your book?

Why isn't it selling? Who should be making it sell? Why isn't the publisher doing more? Why are there only three copies at the bookshop and no front of house display?


Very few publishing houses are going to constantly promote you and your book. But the good news is, this is where you can make the critical difference. That means that you have to build an audience for your book.

 

Doubleday print more than two million copies of a John Grisham novel and send them out to bookstores globally. They then set down a fixed date when the sales can start. Then they start a six-figure marketing campaign. This pretty much guarantees his new book will hit the bestseller list AT THE TOP. This is how top-down book sales work.


But we are not all Grishams yet! So many authors feel a let down by the volume of book sales a few months after their book is published. I know I did when my book came out (whaaaat only 1,000 copies in one year? ..... way back in 2005).


Why isn't it selling? Who should be making it sell? Why isn't the publisher doing more? Why are there only three copies at the bookshop and no front of house display?


The Grisham model is how top-down books with big marketing muscle are sold. But most authors- in fact 99% - have to adopt a bottom-up approach. Almost all non-fiction books follow this trajectory.


That means that you have to build an audience for your book. This is where you, as author, need to have a very big role. Very few publishing houses are going to constantly promote you and your book. But the good news is, this is where you can make the critical difference.


So what will a publisher actually do to promote you?

·Include your book in the catalogue and secure distribution to booksellers

·Send out review copies to the media

·Send out press material and possible extracts

·Give promotional copies to the author and select

·Send authors on regional tours and gauge the effect on sales.

·Assign a publicist to the above things for about 3 months.


If you are publishing 100 books a year how many of these can you do for all your books?Most publishing houses give you a big push out the door as you launch… and then let your book find its own feet in the market. In the long run most publishing houses become distribution houses for your book.


No matter who publishes your book it would do you good to consider it 'self published'. Even if a large international or national publisher picks you up – you cannot sit back and expect them to sell your books.


What can you do?

·Have a promotional budget and consider a publicist. If you don't have a budget you need a plan that hinges on the below three points.

·Have a list of the major markets, conferences and cities where you will speak and do publicity once the book is launched.

·List or estimate the number of talks you will do a year

·Estimate the number of copies you think you can sell a year, assuming one in four listeners buy a book.


All of these need to be put in your book proposal. So your book proposal is essentially a business plan that must convince a publisher that its investment in your book will pay off. This is particularly relevant for non-fiction books.





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