Publicity update

Two of the most exciting developments at the press in recent years were the addition of NetGalley for advanced reviews and Cision for media access. Here’s an update on both:
NetGalley is used to make our titles available for review in advance of release. Users on the NetGalley platform can access or request access to titles posted by publishers. NetGalley is marketed as a way to more easily access “professional reviewers.” Our experience has been a mixed bag. First of all, only about one in four reviews could be considered even close to “professional.” We are finding it has become a free book grab for the Goodreads crowd and other part-time bloggers. In fact, it appears less than half the downloaded copies result in a review. So, it can be a little frustrating. We’ve also seen a clear delineation between fiction and nonfiction results on this platform. Simply put, only fiction gets attention here. The response to nonfiction books is minimal at best, and hardly worth the investment. We will be redirecting our attention on NetGalley to use it only for fiction titles.
Cision is an online platform that grants access to the 1.6 million people in the USA who are involved in the media industry — television, radio, online, etc. We have enjoyed a solid response from this investment. A good number of our authors have been invited on radio or television programs and/or have been featured in articles or blogs. This is never easy, but it is much easier for us now. There are two caveats to this though. Overwhelmingly, this platform appears best for nonfiction authors. We have had numerous requests for review copies. But, fiction gets very little attention here. We are also not seeing much lift in book sales following interviews. We are a little puzzled by this, but will look for longer-term benefits as we use this platform more and more.
So, to recap, fiction authors will be directed towards the NetGalley platform while nonfiction will be primarily on Cision. Of course, there will be exceptions to this where it makes sense. For instance, a fiction author whose work is very timely regarding something contemporary or contains a nonfiction hook of interest are great candidates for Cision.

Cision is our new publicity partner

Get ready folks! We are about to embark on an exciting ride! Sunbury Press has just signed a publicity agreement with Cision, the world’s largest media database. For years, we have used other press release services and our own targeted marketing emails from our own lists. To be frank, we were no longer getting incremental returns from our efforts.

So, we completely changed directions and jumped in the pool! We are now swimming with the big fish! Cision will give us access to over 1.6 million media contacts all over the world. We can now send targeted emails to up to 5000 media personalities at a time. This should be far more effective than just blasting a press release to no one in particular or hitting the same group of media personalities with every release. We will now be able to slice and dice this incredible list and find targeted audiences for each book.

We have deliberately held off on announcing any of our new releases this year until this service is in place, which should be early March. We’ll keep you posted on our progress. In the meantime, if you have an upcoming or recent release, let’s discuss the media we should best target.

Plans for expansion and growth

It’s becoming clear to me that the self-publishing revolution of five to ten years ago has hit some serious roadblocks. Many of the vanity press services have gone under, leaving authors with garages full of books and no customers. Many small presses — some for the benefit of single authors — some focused on a special category — some with progressive missions to share everything with everybody — have gone out of business. Many large presses have downsized, cut staff, and released rights for backlist or unsuccessful books. Even Barnes & Noble is about to downsize its store footprint (see below).
Why is all of this happening? Book sales are actually up! Very simply, the self-publishing boom is over. The reading consumer has figured out the difference between a self-published book and a professionally published book. They haven’t been buying the self-published books since late 2012. Self-published sales have gone the way of the declining ebook market.
What is selling? Regarding nonfiction, quality books on topics of interest continue to do well. Regarding fiction, quality books from known authors continue to sell well. Regardless of category, quality must come first — in editing, interior design, cover design, etc. Unfortunately, the vast majority of self-published books lacked these key components — and also lacked quality content. Readers have learned this and have been rejecting such books at an increasing rate. As we emerge from the rubble of this transformative era, like other times of transformation, opportunities abound. While others are waiting and hiding and biding their time, we will seize the opportunity to gain more territory. Here’s what’s in store for next year:
1) Growth through acquisition — we will be seeking to acquire other presses that are deciding to exit the business. If you know of any troubled entities where the owners are giving up, let me know. If they have quality content, we might be able to turn it around.
2) Growth through new authors — we will continue to sign new authors at our current rate. We are especially looking for authors who have had success in the past and who already have a backlist. Hopefully they have their rights returned to them. If you know anyone who has a number of publications that are looking for a new home, let me know.
3) Growth through our current authors — we will continue to develop our current list of authors, expanding your opportunities and properties. We will be focused on building our existing assets, as well as encouraging the development of new material.
At the foundation of this strategy is quality. As a decent-sized small press, we have the economies of scale to produce a professional level of quality at a much lower cost than if it was done individually. We will continue to maintain our high standards while we also seek more quality content.
Regarding nonfiction, we will continue to seek interesting material. Regarding fiction, we will seek quality content while also assisting in building the names and reputation of our authors.
Here’s to our growth and greater success in 2018 and beyond!