I’m trying really hard to make Wednesday about writing, but it doesn’t always happen. Last night I found a piece of paper I have been scouring my files for and even asked my author friend, Susan Kelly Skitt, if she knew where it was. She checked all her e-mails and files and couldn’t find it either.
If you’re like me, you send “stuff” to your author friends, hoping if you ever need it again they will produce the document (it’s kind of like a back-up system). Now that I have the paper in hand, I’m going to permanently document it here on the blog, so if I lose it again, I’ll know where to find it (because you all will tell me where I put it)—right?
These statistics absolutely stunned me, so I circled everything in red. Writing a book is the easy part, but marketing it is the hard stuff. In fact, 85% of your book proposal will be made up of how you intend to market your “labor of love.”
Frankly, I’ve read some book proposals and have to wonder, Do they really intend to do what they say they’re going to do? In fact, one author wrote: “I will use my entire advance towards marketing my book.” Okay, what if your advance is only $3,500 and your publicist costs you $5,000. Oops! Hopefully, it will pay some dividends and you will appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Then there’s the royalty check. I was speaking to an author friend of mine and mentioned that I received my royalty check this month (a whopping $79.50) and she said, “But I’ve never received a royalty check, yet!” I nearly fell off my chair because this woman has written several books and is probably the most prolific writer of words I know—not to mention downright hysterical!
In the publishing world, you don’t receive a royalty check until you pay back your advance from selling “X” number of books.
Oh, did I mention that if you have an agent (which is almost a “must” in today’s publishing climate), they receive 15% of your advance and 15% of all your royalties.
Okay, now for the good news: What works and what doesn’t work in “marketing” your book. Think of this as marketing 101. These statistics were taken from a poll on Live Journal (July 16, 2007). The question was posed: Which of the following promotional tools led you to purchase a book?
*Previous familiarity with author’s other work 99.1%
*Cover art 62.5%
*Cover or flap blurbs (promotional quotes) 58.4%
*Reading first chapter of book online or in store 63.5%
*Contest sponsored by author or publisher 7.2%
*Published (print or electronic) book review 57.0%
*Recommendation of friend 91.2%
*Attending a reading or signing with author (including a convention) 51.7%
*Bookseller or librarian recommendation 41.8%
*Receiving postcard in mail from author 3.7%
*Receiving promotional e-mail from author 5.8%
*Reading about book on author’s blog or Web site 62.6%
*Reading about book on another person’s blog or Web site 80.4%
*Receiving toys or other promotional gimmicks from author 3.0%
*Other (specify in comments) 7.9%
All of this is meant to help you be realistic about your writing and your marketing. None of my author friends have received an advance of $100,000 (yet!). Some of them aren’t even breaking even—worse yet, some are actually going in debt trying to market their books.
Writers write because they are passionate about it and even if they never receive a single penny from their work, they would continue to do so. Writing is like breathing. By the way, hop on over to Susan Kelly Skitt's blog and read the beautiful poem she wrote about being a writer (you will be inspired!).
Now I’m going to file the document away under “Book Statistics” just for future reference.
Blessings to all of you on your writing journey.