Books and the Media

Book publicity is using the media to spread the word about a book and/or author hoping for a story, article, or interview. This gives you visibility and hopefully boosts your book sales. There are a few things to think about when pitching the media on behalf of your book.

For both fiction and non-fiction, the following rules apply, however, there are some additional notes about fiction at the end. Don’t underestimate the time required to promote your book. Hitting an editor at the perfect time takes research and a good bit of luck. Follow these general rules when reaching out to the media.

It’s about you

Book publicity is much more about the author than the book. Remember you are the expert. Besides, no one can interview a book. If needed, educate yourself and practice how to give a good interview.

Be Confident

In the blog post, Turning Pro, Chris Fenwick wrote it’s those who are confident who are successful, not the other way around. That is as much true in publicity pitching as anywhere. Remember editors and producers are always in search of new material. They have to fill their pages and airwaves with stories, it might as well be yours. Don’t approach them with your hat in your hand, pleading for a little love. You’re an expert, you know your stuff. You have a great story and you can talk about it. That is exactly what they need and want. It should be a win-win exchange. Even if you don’t get an immediate yes, don’t take it personally. Chances are it was a scheduling conflict. Keep at it and be patient. That ‘no’ could turn into a ‘yes’ at any time.

Know Your Audience

Who are your ideal readers? You should have this answer down. If you don’t, please don’t start pitching to the media. Stop. Go back and figure it out. If you know for sure who your ideal readers are, then you can research the publications and broadcast media they frequent. This is extremely important. Don’t make broad strokes with your pitching brush. Get out the fine-point pen and focus only on those media outlets that cater to your ideal readers. Do the research.

When you reach out, address a specific editor or producer by name and it doesn’t hurt to read their past stories. This shows you took the time to investigate their work and can speak to how it matches with your story. Sunbury Press and Cision can help with this step.

The Pitch

A media pitch is a communication via letter, or more often an email, that states how you and your book would be a perfect fit for their show or publication. It should be short and direct but also persuasive. That means you have to put those writing chops to work and deliver the best pitch you can tailor to their media outlet or schedule. Put your best foot forward. Some authors don’t like to blow their own horn, but this is not the place to be shy. If you can’t bring yourself to write good copy for a media pitch, get someone to help you.

Newsworthy

Another book published is not news. Another self-help, another novel, another memoire isn’t news. In a world of the thirty-second news-cycle, the competition can be brutal. You have to find an angle that is unique and in-fact newsworthy. What is your angle, what is your niche, what is your differentiator, what makes you and your book stand out? If there isn’t something newsworthy in your book, then hold off on pitching the media until an opportunity presents itself. Sometimes a current event or story will pop up in the news that directly relates to your book. That is the moment to pitch. Watch for keywords and phrases that link to your work. For more on fiction’s newsworthiness, see below. Be patient and persistent and don’t give up. When you do land a spot, you’ll be glad you stuck with it.

Fiction

Since fiction is made up, (fake news aside) it’s inherently not newsworthy. That makes pitching fiction much more difficult unless of course, you are JK Rowling or Michelle Obama. But since you’re not, you’ll have to be more creative.

Backstory

What is your book based on? If it’s historical fiction, then to the right media outlet, there is probably a pitch in there. If your murder-mystery is based on an Indian reservation and you did a ton of research about the lack of fair representation for native American’s, then you have a pitch in there. Or, if you read The Hobbit twenty times in a year studying Tolkien’s secrets to writing high fantasy, you might have a pitch there. Or, if your YA story is about teen bullying, there most-likely is a pitch in there.

Make a list of every possible angle you can think of. Why and how did you come up with the story? What was your motivation? Who or what did you research to create the backstory? What part of your own experiences did you draw from? What people, places or things stand out as key elements?

Now think about the media outlets on your list of potentials. How do they match up? Look for correlations and crossovers. Sometimes small-town press gets picked up in larger media outlets. You never know. Don’t expect overnight success or a spot on the nightly news, but don’t give up. Pace yourself, have fun and be creative. You never know what might turn up.

Publicist

Hiring a publicist to assist with your author publicity can be very expensive. Sunbury Press has an in-house publicist using the Cision platform that can reach the 3,000,000+ persons in the media. Every week, we are selecting the best books and authors to promote at that time. We will reach out to you if you make the list. But, don’t let not making the weekly list stop you from trying on your own!

Author Websites

Author Website:

Sunbury Press does not create author websites, nor do we advise on hosting companies, platforms, or designers. We also do not provide technical support for any author websites. However, there are a couple of options listed that new authors can try if they wish.

Having a website is the single most important marketing tool you will own. Don’t skip this!

  • *URL – this is your website address. It is the link that goes at the top of an Internet browser (Chrome, Edge, Safari, Firefox). For instance, yourName.com, You can also get www.yourbook.com or www.yourbookseriesname.com. You do not have to have multiple URLs or websites. The most important one is your name, pseudonym or pen name as a web address (URL). If you only plan to write one book – ever, then you can use the book title as the URL. But, most writers at least dream of writing more books, so I recommend you go ahead and begin the branding process and get your name as a URL, or some variation thereof. (i.e. www.writerjohnsmith.com)
  • *Hosting and design – this is essentially renting space on the internet. The URL is the address and the hosting is where your website is built. If you need easy and free, you can use Wix.com or Weebly.com. WordPress is another option. If you are not comfortable with technology, get help! Be sure your website looks good and works on mobile devices.
  • *Homepage – this is the first page that comes up on your website. It should have easy navigation to all the other pages, be on brand (your own style and genre). It should showcase your latest book, and always, always have a link to sign up for your newsletter and links to purchase. Don’t make visitors search for these. I recommend you put your newsletter signup in a footer that appears on every page. If you have a logo, or signature look, be sure it at the top of the page.
  • *About – This page is about you. Include an expanded biography, any personal information you are not afraid to share and an author photo. You should NOT list your cell or address and you might not even want to list your personal email address, but at least link to your twitter or your contact page. If you’ve done interviews, and don’t have a separate media page, you can include them here.
  • *Contact page – This page should include a form that allows visitors to get in touch with you. This is scary for some, but authors need to begin a conversation with their audience. Using the form, readers and others who want your attention can write to you. This gives them a way to communicate back to you (conversation) without giving them your personal contact information. Also include on this page, information for the press (if you don’t have a separate media page), links to purchase books for individuals and bookstores, and all social links. Anyone who has a question should be able to find direction on this page. Don’t forget the ever-present Newsletter signup link or form! (For Bookstore orders: “Bookstores can order from Sunbury Press directly at a 40% discount or can order through Ingram. Info at: http://sunburypress.com/wholesale/ )
  • *Books – On this page, you highlight all your books. If you only have one, then you have lots of space. If you have multiple, then make sure your latest book is at the top, include the cover images, descriptions, great reviews, and links to purchase on Sunbury Press, and on Amazon. Also, list that it is available at most bookstores, simply request that they order it from Sunbury Press. Again, don’t make people go search for how to order your book, if they find your website, make sure there are clear links to purchase. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for a review. If you have any videos include them. Here is a good book trailer example: https://www.adrienneyoungbooks.com/sitd

“Available wherever books are sold.” Include Sunbury Press link, B&N link, and Amazon link.

  • *Social Share – This page gives readers who loved your book and what to recommend it to their friends online a quick and easy way to do so. Sunbury Press author, JC Gatlin has a good example: http://jcgatlin.com/share-hangman
  • Press Page – this is the page the press will go to if they are interested in an interview. If you are strictly a fiction writer, you don’t have to create this page, but you can if you see a need. Non-fiction writers should always have it. It is also a direct link you can send to reporters, reviewers, hosts, and bloggers so they have the information they need in one easy (printable) location. I would put the information on this page and also create a pdf that can be downloaded. Include:
    • Your name
    • Your headshot
    • Your short biography
    • Your book description
    • Any great reviews
    • A few sample interview questions
    • Your contact information
    • Your latest press releases
  • *Blog – I highly recommend you write at least a monthly blog that adds content to your site and gives you content for your monthly newsletter. Remember write about things that will interest your ideal readers. Every time you release a new book, you should be writing blogs about the characters, settings, time periods and anything else that could be of interest. When you are about to release a new book, begin writing teasers to build interest. There will be another article later offering more blog ideas.
  • Events – if you are doing a book tour or have a bunch of events lined up, you can create a separate page for these. If you don’t have too many, you can include this information on your contact page and/or your bio page. Don’t be afraid to repeat some information.
  • FAQ – If you have a body of work around a genre, you might be getting the same questions again and again from your readers. To help, create a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page. Simply write out the questions and answers for all to see.

If you get this all up and running, you’re off to a great start. The bullets above with the *, should be the minimum. We’ll put out more examples as we find them, but for now, this should get you moving forward.

A few comprehensive sites:

Fiction: https://elizabethchadwick.com, https://bradthor.com/

Non-fiction: https://www.ynharari.com/ , https://www.jensincero.com/

Matter Document Specs

Front and Back Matter:

Please read carefully. Put all this in a document and title it: Author_Name –Title – Matter (except for images – see below)

  1. Book title and Series title (with book number in the series) if there is one. Please note, these cannot be changed after we register the books. If you have not settled upon the book or series title, it is time to do so now.
  1. 250-word description – think of this as the back cover copy.
  1. 350 characters (not word count) description – this is a short summary used in catalogs.
  1. 3 BISAC categories (https://bisg.org/page/Fiction or https://bisg.org/page/YAFiction) It is okay to mix if you think your book crosses over.
  1. List of other books you have published, please include the publishing house. (i.e. Moby Dick, Dover Publications)
  1. 5 or more keywords for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) These should not include your name or title of the book, or series as these are already included. List locations, topics, genres, etc.
  1. Author hi-res (300 DPI) photo. Photos should be of you only, no family pictures or scenery photos. They should look professional, even if they are not professionally taken.
  1. Author Bio. We prefer no longer than 4 paragraphs (250 words of less). Your photo and bio should all fit on one page.
  1. Author website address. If you don’t have the URL yet, please get it now. If you are only ever writing one book, you can use your book title if available. However, if you intend to write multiple books, we recommend you get your name or some variation of it as your website URL (address). If you already have a website, great. Just sent a link.
  1. Social Media. If you have any professional social media accounts, include those links. If you don’t have those yet, you can send us an update of this file later. Also, if you already have a social share page on your site, include the link to that page. If you don’t have one yet, just update us later. (more info on social media and social share pages on our blog)
  1. List 3 Comp (comparable) Authors: Popular authors who your readers would say your book is similar in genre and style. Include how your book is like thiers. For instance, for my books, I would list:
    1. Patricia Brigg – urban fantasy/shapeshifting romance
    2. Naomi Novik – Mythology and Folktales
    3. Samantha Shannon – LGBT fantasy and coming of age story

You can use Amazon or GoodReads to help you find authors and genres but hopefully, you’ve read some of these books. In Amazon, go down to the Product Details on the book page and see what categories your comp author’s books are listed in.

  1. Blurbs – If you already have blurbs from other authors or reviewers, please include them. If not, don’t worry, you can always update this later with more.
  2. Acknowledgments (if any, and not already included in the manuscript)
  3. Prologue and Epilogue (please include these with your manuscript and NOT here)
  4. Dedications (if any or not already included in the manuscript)
  5. Ideas for the cover. We don’t need graphics or mock-ups, Sunbury Press will create a professional cover for your book. But a list of ideas, or other comparable book covers is always helpful. If this book is part of a series, it is important that we tie together the look of the series, that begins now.
  6. Illustrations, Images, and maps as needed. (please also include permissions/credit) All interior graphics are in B&W unless otherwise agreed.  Include a separate sheet with the captions. Align the captions with your images via numbers (xx).

Please be sure to send images as high-quality (300dpi) attachments and name each: Author_Name – Book Title – xx Image name. Send images as attachments. Please do not include images in the body of the document or email.

All Sunbury Press fiction titles are 6×9, paperback. Non-fiction sizes and covers vary.

Turning Pro

“Turning Pro” as a writer
I can’t believe it is the end of summer and kids are getting ready to go back to school while others have already started. As I sit at my desk, juggling new books at various stages of completion and publication, I’m excited to take time out to discuss book marketing.
I had a conversation with an author last week and she described how she felt like peddling her own books felt a little like a ‘snake-oil salesman.’ Don’t judge, I know many of you feel this way and I commend her for the courage to say so. In this latest edition of Book Marketing, we’re going to talk about what it means to be a professional writer and how to talk about yourself and your work.
The truth is, being a professional writer isn’t that much different from being a professional at any other type of business or vocation. In the book, Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield discusses the differences from being an amateur and turning professional. If you haven’t read Steven’s work. I highly recommend both The War of Art and Turning Pro.
The first sign that you are beginning to think like a professional author is when someone asks you, “what do you do?” and you can immediately respond, “I am a writer.” When asked what you write, you have no difficulty launching into the ‘ins and outs’ of your latest manuscript. Just like your day job or your past line of work, you can rattle off your title, area of expertise, and the company’s focus at the drop of a hat.
More signs of Turning Pro as a writer: you have business cards made where your profession is stated as ‘writer’ or ‘novelist.’ You have a website in your branded name. You are taking classes, reading books, and/or generally always looking for ways to improve your craft, as well as your latest book. You have a copy and have ready Dreyer’s English. Your Pinterest boards are full of blogs on things like, ‘the master list of physical descriptions,’ or ‘how to write a killer plot twist,’ or ‘Stephen King’s Tips for Writers.’
Educating yourself about your craft and the business of writing should be a full-time endeavor. If you have a day job, you’re expected to put in a certain number of hours and level of dedication to keep it and receive the paycheck. Why would being a writer be any different? Part of the business of writing is selling books. So, you have to learn how to talk to others about your work. Artists often have difficulty with this part of the job. No one wants to convince others that their art is worthy of the dollars charged and therefore, we have a whole subculture of ‘starving artists’ who are always needing the generosity of others to survive. This is because they just don’t have confidence in their work. It’s an identity, a vocation, and a mindset.
The underlying reason writers don’t do well is lack of commitment which breads lack of confidence. How can you be confident if you are a first-time writer? Maybe this isn’t your first book, but your other books didn’t sell so well. It’s hard, no doubt. But as in every profession in the world, it is the confident ones who are successful, not the other way around. If you are not confident enough in your book or yourself as a writer, then buckle down and learn what you’re missing. Get help. Because if you’re a Pro and you’re confident in your work, you won’t feel like you’re selling someone something substandard. You’ll want to share the work you are committed to and excites you. Ultimately, you have to decide your work is good enough for the intended audience.
Intended audience? That’s another issue. Many authors get a bad review and all of a sudden they feel like their work is not good enough and their confidence dives. When, in reality, maybe they weren’t the right audience for your book. (for more on this: http://sunburypress.com/finding-your-fans-they-do-exist/) If, you believe your work is the best it can be and you are driven to write it, and you enjoy writing it, then keep at it. Improve. Write another. It’s hard not to talk about something you’re that committed to. A Pro will own it, wear it, and share it. And that has nothing to do with whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. If you have trouble talking to people you don’t know, start with people you do know and practice until it’s easier.
Okay, so you know your audience. You are improving. You are a Pro and your confidence is high, but you still don’t know how to talk about your latest book. Did you write about something you are passionate about? Did you spend a lot of time researching and fretting over your subject? Do you care about your characters? Are they interesting? The answers to these questions should obviously be ‘yes’ and if that is the case, you should be able to talk about them. I was driving my mother to the beach to visit her sister the other day, and, by the way, – she is not my target audience, but I had no problem regaling her for over an hour on Irish mythology which is the backdrop to my latest book series. Now maybe she had to act interested, she is my mother after all, but I think she was actually intrigued. The point is, I’ve devoted countless hours to these books and I’m not afraid to talk about them with anyone who shows even a little interest. Don’t talk around your work, dive in. Pick one aspect that is particularly exciting or challenging and chat it up. If people are interested, they’ll ask questions. And then you’ll see it’s not so hard.
So, maybe some of you don’t have any issues with talking about your work, but you still haven’t seen your book sales climb high enough to satisfy. I recommend you ask! Talk to some of your intended audience and ask questions. What did they like? Did they have any feelings of dissatisfaction with the story or the premise? Who was their favorite character, or least favorite? Put together a list of five or six questions. Then listen to the answers for clues on how to improve. Don’t ask critics and don’t ask people who aren’t your intended audience. There are people out there who will search for something on which to criticize, that won’t be useful. Stay in the safety zone, but then ask for feedback. If they loved it, ask them if they would write a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Ask them if they would share it on whatever social media platforms they use (make it easy for them, give them graphics and links. More on this to come.) Ask them to recommend it to their friends. If sales are low, you might not be asking enough. If they didn’t love it, your questions will change.
So, don’t talk around, dive in. Don’t sell, share. You are sharing what is important to you, who you are and what turns you on. Turn Pro, it’s scary but worth it.

The Fundamentals of Book Marketing

Your book has been released and you can search for it on Amazon. It’s a good feeling. All of that hard work and there it is, for everyone to see. But are there many seeing it?
At Sunbury Press, your book is available Internationally to bookstores and online. But just like we discussed last month, that is like a drop in a vast ocean of books people have to choose from. So how are they going to find yours?
If you’ve done your homework from last month, you have been researching small pools to wade into; pools that align with the subject matter of your book. But you have to capture and communicate with those new fans.
You’ll need an author website. If you are only ever going to write one book, you can make the site entirely about your book and its subject matter. However, if you intend to write and publish more books, then your site should be about you and the URL should be your name in some form or other. Domains are not expensive, and it is the beginning of your author brand, so I encourage you to get one.
If you are a new author, or if you just don’t want to spend a lot of time and money on a website, I suggest two free options: Weebly.com and Wix.com. You can purchase domains through them as well. They both allow you to create a very nice-looking site, even if you have very little technical ability. If it still seems overwhelming, find someone who can help you through it. Both of these sites allow you to pick a theme, drag and drop images, and tailor it to meet your needs. At a minimum, you should have a homepage, a page dedicated to your book, and a contact page. We’ll talk about other pages in the future like media and social share pages.
On both of these free site options, you can create a contact form to go on your contact page. This allows visitors to “talk back” to you, making communication two-way. You want to create relationships with your subscribers in order for them to become fans. It takes time to respond, but it’s worth it.
On your website, you will also need a newsletter signup form. This is separate than the contact form and very important! I recommend you use a professional email marketing service instead of the newsletter form on the website builder. Two services that are fairly easy: MailChimp and iContact. The first 1-2000 subscribers are free, and you can create a form and put it on each page of your site. To get visitors to your site to sign up, you can give away free incentives. Usually, authors give away a free chapter from their latest book. To get to that 1000 fans, you have to get many more subscribers. That makes this part of your plan very important. Again, if you are intimidated by this, get help. Don’t skip this step.
Another way to get subscribers is through social media. If you are not on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. I recommend you start. Each of these are different and will provide another audience for you to find subscribers and hopefully fans. We’ll be discussing them more in future posts. For now, get signed up and start talking about your book. Remember, don’t just try to announce and sell. Tap into the reasons you wrote the book and don’t forget you’re an expert.
Hopefully, you have also setup your author page on Amazon.com and on Goodreads.com. These are dedicated to books and authors and you can’t dismiss them if you are serious about selling books. Neither can be set up until your book is available, but as soon as it is, get those up and running. (Instructions: http://sunburypress.com/amazon-central-and-goodreads/)
This is a top-level, crash course in creating your online presence. To extend your presence into your local community, many authors have printed materials made for their local bookstores and launch parties. Printed material can be expensive, so think ahead. Be sure you have put your website on each poster, bookmark, and business card. You’d be surprised how many authors just put the cover of their book without this easy reference to find the author. Make finding you as easy as you can. Be sure your website is also in your bio. This means it will be on everywhere you are asked for your bio – online and off – including in your next book!
Next month, we’ll step back out of the nitty-gritty details and discuss your brand presence and how to talk about yourself and your book. Many authors, especially novelists are introverts and don’t want to think of themselves in this way. But, if we can get you armed with a script and a few talking points, you are going to feel better about it. Because in reality, you are the best seller of your book and without you, your book will get lost in at sea.

Finding Your Fans — They Do Exist!

I’ve had questions about book marketing, but when I look at the sales of most of our authors, honestly, we should be bombarded with questions. A few are actively marketing their books, but most are overwhelmed and don’t know what to ask or where to turn. So, over the next couple of months, Lawrence and I will put out a series of blogs to direct, educate, and hopefully inspire you in all areas of book marketing. As most of you know, I live in the fiction world, so much of what I will offer as examples will undoubtedly be colored by that perspective. However, most of the ideas outlined will bridge the expanse into nonfiction as well.
Let’s begin with the big picture. You have written a book, or perhaps multiple books and you are just now coming to grips with how vast your competition is. The truth is there are well over a million books published every year. How is anyone going to learn about your book? You’ve made a product – you’ve worked hard, you’ve suffered through edit after edit, and now you have your name on the front of a book. The problem is, there are so many books out there, it is like creating a masterpiece painting and hanging it in your living room. Only a few people will ever see it and appreciate it, and most of them are related to you. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the cost of finding others to see your work has dropped so dramatically, most of it is free or very reasonably priced. You just need to know where to begin.
Let’s start with the real goal: 1000 Fans. Some out there will argue that 1000 subscribers will not get you to bestseller status. And on that, we would agree. Subscribers are only distantly related to fans. I would also point out that bestseller status is not the goal. WHAT? I know you are all aghast. But, nope. Not even bestseller in your genre or bestseller in your subcategory are good goals. This is important. FORGET about becoming a bestselling author. Forget about the masses. Forget about the world. Trying to sell your book to the masses is like dropping a bucket of food coloring into the ocean – it will have NO effect.
Forget the ocean. Find yourself a nice small pool, one close by, one where you might know people that go there, one that the temperature is just like how you like it. Now, you have something in common with these pool patrons. If you drop a bucket of purple food coloring into this pool, suddenly, all your new friends are purple pool goers. Okay, maybe I took the analogy too far? You get the idea.
Find a small group of people close to you, people who like the same things you like and wrote about in your latest book. If you wrote a vampire thriller, find the vamp-lovers group near you – they exist, I assure you. If you wrote a murder mystery, find the mystery dinner theaters, or the murder mystery home-parties that are happening in your hometown. I’m not making it up, they are happening and would love to meet you. Maybe you wrote an espionage thriller, find the conspiracy believers who may only meet online as they want to remain anonymous. Historical fiction? Easy, there are thousands of historical societies, join one. I am telling you, if you forget about the masses, and you begin to think of small, local groups that align with your book, its characters, and topics; you’ll begin to find your fans. And more importantly, you’ll begin to sell books.
I mentioned before that subscribers are not fans. But what are subscribers? They are people that agree to be on your email list via any means available: website, social media, in-person appearances, blogs, advertising, the back of your book, etc. You’ll need a lot of subscribers, so get signed up for a free email list through Mailchimp, Mailjet, or any number of other Email Marketing Service Providers. (The first thousand subscribers are usually free.) I don’t know exactly how many subscribers it will take for you to reach 1000 fans. I suppose it is different for each individual author. What I do know is it takes a lot. Subscribers are casual. They may find you interesting or want your free give-away, but they won’t all stick around. By the way, this is fine. Don’t get pushed out of shape when you lose subscribers. You should always be working on your 1000 fan-base, if a subscriber leaves, they were never going to be a fan. Also, it should be noted, not everyone who buys and reads your book is a fan. Some will simply not like it. That’s okay too. Keep looking for fans.
What is a Fan? Fans love you. They love your work, your books, really, everything you do. Why? Because it fits in with how they see themselves. We all want to fit in somewhere. Without wading in too deep into the psychology of marketing, I’ll quote Simon Sinek: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” You create murder mysteries because you love them. You love the formula, you love the suspense, you love the challenge, you love the humor or the nail-biting or even the kitschiness. Whatever it is, that’s the same reason your fans will love your work. If you love to write global espionage because it is intriguing and smart and unpredictable, so will your fans. If you wrote a novel about the Civil War because it inspires, or puzzles or amazes you, your fans will feel the same. Fans will come to see you, want to talk to you and not-so-patiently wait for your next book to come out. You build a relationship with fans. It takes time, just like all good relationships.
Hopefully, you have your author website. Now get an email list going. Create a signup form on your site and ask everywhere you go, online and in-person, if visitors will signup to your list. Why? Exactly for the reasons we have already explored – your WHY.
The next blog article will focus on Email Marketing, what to do and what not to do. I’ll focus more on tactics and examples. For now, focus on the small pool nearby. There are fans there just waiting for you.
P.S. There is bound to be someone out there who wants to know what to do after you have 1000 fans. Almost none of our authors have reached this level yet, but. . . the answer is to find another 1000, of course. 😉

Bookstore Events

A bookstore will host a launch event for me, how do they get my books?

Bookstores or other venues can order books one of three ways:

  1. The author consigns the books and takes back any returns.  This is preferred if the bookstore does not plan to carry any remaining copies.
  2.  The bookstore can buy from us. Please allow two weeks minimum lead time. They receive a 40% discount and free shipping over $100. They can return unsold copies to us for credit. They place their orders by phoning 1-855-338-8359 x1 or by emailing orders@sunburypress.com. We will process the order and give them 30 days to pay if we approve their credit. Alternately, they can order directly off the website and use coupon code VC40. They will need to prepay for the order with a credit card.
  3. The bookstore can order from Ingram. The author and publisher make the least profit from this method, but it is more convenient to the bookstore in most cases.

Also, be sure to check in with us to be sure your local bookstore is on our list.

Book Sales Expectations

Q: What kind of sales can I expect from my books? How well do Sunbury Press’ best sellers do?
A: Sunbury Press, Inc. is a privately-held corporation. Information about company performance is not made public to protect the privacy of the shareholders. Likewise, the performance of individual titles, except where available through information aggregators like Nielsen Bookscan or Amazon, is tightly-guarded so as to respect the privacy of our authors. Information from those aggregators does not capture 100% of the market. They completely miss Sunbury’s direct sales to readers and direct distribution to independent bookstores and other venues.
Book sales for individual titles range widely from near zero, to the many thousands over the life the book. About 80% of our titles do not break even over their lives. It is the 20% of successful titles that carry our business. Of that successful one-fifth, only a small portion of them do exceptionally well.
Nonfiction generally performs twice as well as fiction in our experience. Generally, only about 30% of nonfiction titles break even or better while 15% or less of fiction titles do so. Nonfiction has the benefit of SEO discovery and is more likely to be of interest to the media so as to gain earned media opportunities. Fiction success is more unpredictable.

Keys to success with fiction:

  1. The author is actively selling books – making appearances at conventions, bookstores, and other events – (as long as the author is not too shy and unable to connect with readers)
  2. The cover, description, and subject matter align with the book’s categories and quality expectations.
  3. The author is active on social media on at least one platform.
  4. The author has a website, is actively promoting themselves as an author, is building a following and an email list
  5. The author has a presence on Goodreads and Amazon Author Central and uses the features and functions of the sites to their advantage.
  6. The author is writing a series or the body of work is related in some way.
  7. The author is releasing new books at least once a year, preferably every six months.
  8. The author and/or publisher is actively seeking film or television opportunities as well as foreign translation opportunities.
  9. The publisher has placed the book(s) in the major marketplaces and channels of distribution, has priced the book in alignment with the category, and has produced the book in the demanded product forms (print and ebook at a minimum).
  10. The book wins a legitimate award or receives significant endorsements or accolades.
  11. The author is putting out content that entices readers to read the whole book and invites readers into the story

What doesn’t work well for fiction:

  1. Paid print advertising.
  2. Paid television or radio advertising.
  3. Paying a publicist.
  4. Sending press releases.
  5. Most SEO-oriented pay-per-click or (worse) pay-per-impression advertising.
  6. Most Facebook ad boosts. (If the author has a medium to large following, boosts can help)
  7. Most blog tours. (unless the author finds very relevant blogs and is choosy)
  8. Most BookBub or other free giveaway campaigns. (we’re still trying to figure out how this might work for our authors, but so far it hasn’t done much)
  9. Most book signings at Barnes and Noble or other big chain stores.

Fiction Book Releases (Soft and Grand Openings)

Q: When will my novel be released?

A: Historically, publishers have a long lead-time from contract signing until the book is released. This is a throw-back from the days of paper manuscripts and snail-mail. Today, things move along much faster.

Sunbury Press does not deal with paper manuscripts. The entire process, from submission, contract signing, to book release is done electronically. We communicate most often through email and public posts on our website. We do this for efficiency and to free our staff to concentrate on editing and getting your books out the door. For fiction, we are also moving to a single point of contact, so you have access to the primary person in charge of your book’s publication. Internally, at Sunbury Press, we work together, but there are no review boards or long review processes to contend with. We’re a small company of professional, hardworking people committed to publishing good books.

We have over 800 fiction manuscript submissions in our queue right now, with more coming in every day. We are working as fast as we can to evaluate and get back to the authors that submit to us. The only way we can hope to better serve all those authors, is to streamline our process. And that is just what we are doing.

Once we take on your novel and the contract has been signed, your book will be released within three months, sometimes even faster depending on the quality of your manuscript and the workload in our queue.

This quick pace might not allow you the time to do all the set up necessary to properly release your book to the world. If you are a new author, you’ll want to setup a new website, Facebook page, get a list of family and friends to help you, etc. So, we recommend that no matter the date that your book is available for purchase, you choose your own Book Announcement date far enough into the future that you have time to prepare. You can think of this as a ‘Soft Opening,’ and ‘Grand Opening’ model. For the Soft Opening, your book is out there selling and available for more reviews. For the Grand Opening, you announce your book with parties, emails, and whatever else you are planning. This lead time also allows you to purchase books (at discount) and have them on hand for your Book Announcement party(s) to sign and/or giveaway.

As an example, your book might be released on April 1st. But you schedule your Book Announcement or Grand Opening on June first. You will have time to work with local bookstores and establishments to plan your party(s), order and get books, make sure you have your website and other pages up and running and your author pages on Amazon and Goodreads ready. In this way, you can maximize the effectiveness of your Book Announcement.

Authors spend a good amount of time slaving over the words, trying to create the best story. But after it’s complete, they are anxious to get it out to the world. We understand! Many of us at Sunbury are also authors. We believe this model will serve authors wants and needs but still give time to give your book the splash you hope for.

One final note, Sunbury Press loves a big splash, just like any publisher. But we prefer the long, slow burn to the quick flash and then burn out. So, plan your big Grand Opening, but also make your plans staggered throughout the year to keep interest flowing and growing your readership. And then write another book! 😉

-Chris Fenwick

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