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What HappensWhen Your Bookis Published
(and What You Can Do about It).

This ebook contains the facts of life for writers and self-publishers in and easy-to-use
Q & A format. Browse it here

(If you have additional questions, go to the Ask Your Mentor page and submit them. I will answer very quickly.

Copyright 2003. For individual use only and may not be reproduced or distributed by any means whatsoever
without the express permission of copyright holder.

1. What will happen on the day my book is published?
2. Why all this insistence on making money? Isn't writing is an art?
3. I hear talk about the “big New York publishers” and the “small, independent publishers.” What’s the difference?
4. I have heard that most books sold in the United States are sold in the stores of three or four big chains. Is this true
5. Has the distribution of books also been centralized?
6. What are the consequences of the current distribution system?
7. Can you clarify all book distribution levels? What happens at each of them
8. I self-published my book. Can I get a distributor?
9. I have a distributor. When will he pay me for the books I sent him?
10. What are "returns?"
11. I published a ebook but have not sold any. Is there a problem here?
12. I am told that a “niche market” book is easier to market and sell than a book of general interest, such as a novel. Why is that?
13. I understand how niche marketing can work for non-fiction. But can it work for fiction and poetry?
14. How much money will I make?
15. So why do people write and publish?
16. Surely there other ways to profit?
17. I am a self-publisher and my book is already published. Can I still make a deal with book clubs?
18. Will my book be in bookstores?
19. My book was in bookstores for a while, but now I can't find it on the shelves. What's going on?
20. Who sets up the booktours/promotional tours and who pays for those expenses? Does the writer have any input to encourage the publishing house to spend more money to promote the book?
21. What does it mean when a publisher declares a book “out of print?”
22. Since ebooks and POD books aren't printed in the first place, can they go “out-of-print?”
23. What are the most important points that should be (or should have been) covered in my author/publisher contract?
24. What goes into pricing a book? How do I know that the price is not too high or too low?
25. What makes a book sell?
26. Will my book be reviewed?
27. What are the most common reasons that a book fails to be reviewed?:
28. How Do I Get on Radio and TV
29. How can I prepare for an interview? I haven’t done one before and I am nervous about it.
30. Won’t it cost a lot of money to travel all over the country just to get on a radio show?
31. How do I know if I’m doing enough to market my book?
32. Do I have to get my book translated if I want to sell foreign rights?"
33. Why does it take so long to get a book published?
34. Who owns the copyright, me or my publisher?
35. What if there are typographical errors in my book?
36. I see the names of the same writers mentioned in articles in my local newspaper over and over again. Why does everyone keep overlooking me?
37. You talk about news releases. What is a news release, and how do you write one? Is it OK to write one about yourself?
38. Can news releases really help?
39. I can write a news release. How else can I use my writing skills to promote myself and my book in other ways?
40. What is a "media kit," and do I need one?
41. I am told that I need a “sell sheet” or a information sheet on my book.
What is this? What does it include
42. I know my book is good and solid. Why isn’t it selling?
43. Are there any professional organizations I can join that will help me understand the publishing business and market my books?

Appendix 1: Ruby Boxcar Speaks!

1. What will happen on the day my book is published?
A. Nothing at all will happen unless you make it happen. Yes, you are able to give freshly printed copies to your family and friends. You can take copies to the next meeting of your writers’ club and put them out on the “member’s books” table for everyone to see and admire. But such pleasures do not put money in your back account, get books on the bookstore shelves, or convert you overnight into a media celebrity. When such things — at least some of them — do happen, they do so as the result of hard work, in part by the publisher but mostly be the author. What a publisher can do is limited by time and money. And such companies as IUniverse (see below) are very clear about it: they do no marketing whatsoever. They leave such things entirely up to the writer who publishes with them. The work of getting visibility for your book, getting it reviewed and getting it sold is slow, painstaking, and constant. It must be carried on relentlessly by taking advantage of every single opportunity for promotion that comes your way. (See the letter of Ruby Boxcar in Appendix One.) Small publishers do not have time, staff or financial resources to keep up day-to-day promotion over the long haul; and the big publishers will simply abandon your book in favor of those that are bringing in immediate big bucks. Later in this FAQ I will tell you in detail how to go about promoting and selling your book.

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2. Why all this insistence on making money? Isn't writing is an art?
A. Even Michelangelo had to get money from his patron popes to buy marble with and to live on. Today we don't depend on patrons but we do depend on the successful workings of a capitalist economy. Yet many writers — perhaps even most of them — don’t really understand—the risk/profit basis of business in general and the publishing business in particular. I myself learned about it the hard way. Before I became a publisher I was a college professor. If I taught well, there was a check at the end of the month. If I taught badly, there was a check at the end of the month. When I didn’t teach all summer long there was still a check at the end of the month. My financial reward for the work I was doing was not directly related to the level of success I had achieved in it. The good fairy might as well have put my money in the departmental mailbox. And then I resigned my tenured professorship to become a writer/publisher of books and magazines. Suddenly, when I performed badly, I got no check. If I took time off, I did not get paid. And no matter how well business was going at any given time, there lurked in the background the sobering knowledge that things could (and would) go awry whenever they took a notion to do so. A book could fail in the marketplace. Subscriptions of my magazines could fall off. Postal rates could rise and eat up my profits. A competitor could come into the arena and dilute my market share ruinously. Or my building could burn down, or I could have a heart attack and not be able to continue in business. The good fairy of financial security had taken a permanent leave of absence. So the answer to your question is simple. The publisher has to turn a profit because he will quickly be out of business if he doesn’t.

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3. I hear talk about the “big New York publishers” and the “small, independent publishers.” What’s the difference?
A. Not too many years ago, even the big publishing houses began as an enterprise of one or two individuals. Dick Simon and Max Schuster were Simon and Schuster. Alfred Knopf was Knopf. Bennet Cerf was Random House. It was a highly personal and even romantic business.
Those days are gone forever. Conglomerates like Bertlesmann’s in Germany or Rupert Murdoch or Time-Warner have been on buying sprees, acquiring the old companies as the founding owners began to grow old and cash out. Everybody, it seems, is owned by someone else. Book publishing has become a part of high finance, and in high finance the bottom line is not only important thing, it is the only thing.
Enter the “small, independent publisher” of recent years (and I include self-publishers in this category). The centralization of big-time publishing has opened a viable space for the small guys to bring out good, niche market books that can turn a limited, if more or less precarious, profit on sales of just a few thousand copies. Print on Demand technology, such as that provided by Lightning Source (LaVergne, TN) has greatly reduced the amount of money such publishers to get a book out and for sale. And the recent rise of ebook publishing may one day offer enormous new opportunities for the independents. I say “may offer” because ebook publishers are still, as I write this, looking for an effective to promote and sell their products.
(On the subject of this question, see The Blockbuster Complex by Thomas Whiteside., and The Making of a Bestseller, by Arthur T. Vanderbilt)


4. I have heard that most books sold in the United States are sold in the stores of three or four big chains. Is this true?
A. I'm afraid it is. Bookstores have joined the trend toward "bigger is better." Many small, individually operated bookstores have been forced to close because they could not meet the competition of the "superstores" like Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million. Now these stores now account for almost three quarters of book sales annually in this country.
The dominant role of the chain stores has increased to the point that, believe it or not, editors at major book publishing companies now sound out chain store buyers before deciding to publish or not to publish and otherwise worthy book.

5. Has the distribution of books also been centralized?
A. Yes, the distribution of books has become as highly centralized as publishing and bookselling have. Not too many years ago, “book travelers,”— commissioned salespeople who represented one or more publishers—used to crisscross the country making direct sales calls on hundreds of small bookstores presenting the crop of new titles for the coming season.
This system was colorful but ultimately cumbersome and inefficient, and by the 1960s book travelers were being replaced by a far smaller number of book distributors and wholesalers, who made it possible for stores and libraries to order all their books at one time and from one or two suppliers. Their bookkeeping was immensely simplified and made almost automatic.
The advent of desktop computers vastly accelerated this trend. Bar codes could now be scanned and sales and inventory needs instantly calculated. Giant wholesalers like the Ingram Book Company and Baker & Taylor were now able to handle hundreds of thousands of orders with great efficiency, both for themselves and for their clients.

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6. What are the consequences of the current distribution system?
A. What was good for bookstores wound up taking a big bite out of the publisher’s bottom line. There was a new link in the chain from publisher to bookstore: the distributor. These companies also had to get their slice of the already meager publishing pie. It has become now almost impossible for publishers who want to get their books into bookstores across the country without using the services of a distributor. Big bookstores will not order directly from a publisher. After bookstore discounts, wholesaler’s discounts and distributors percentages a publisher can wind up will as little as 23 to 27 percent of the retail price of his products. And out of that amount the publisher must pay all expenses—aquisition, editing, design and printing, marketing, royalties— and still make a profit if he wants to stay in business.
That is why many small publishers—and self-publishers, if they are wise—concentrate on niche market books that can be sold directly to comsumers through direct mail, web sites and other ways that bypass the distribution system.

7. Can you clarify all book distribution levels? What happens at each of them?
A. There are variations on the theme, but here are the basics.
There are four levels.
1. Direct sales from the publisher: The publisher sells some books directly to consumers through web sites, book fairs and in other ways. These are the most profitable sales, since there are no middle men (persons?) to take a cut of the profits.
2. Sales by the publisher directly to bookstores. The publisher can sell wholesale to bookstores, which will then make the books available for retail sales. The publisher pays a discount ranging from 10% to 40% off the cover price to bookstores, depending on the quantity of books that the store orders. Most sales directly to bookstores are onsies and twosies, in response to special customer orders. Large orders for stocking books are not likely through this channel.
3. Sales by the publisher to wholesalers, who then sell books to bookstores. Most bookstores, and all of the chains, prefer to order books from wholesalers such as Ingram Books and Baker & Taylor Books. Knowing this, the publisher makes stocks books with the wholesalers at a typical discount of 55% off the cover price. The problem is, it is sometimes difficult for the small publisher to do business with the wholesalers unless he has a distributor.
4. Thus, the distributors enter the picture. Distributors sell the publisher's books to the chain stores and to the wholesalers. The chains buy mostly from wholesalers. Wholesalers buy mostly from distributors. It is all very confusing, but the upshot is that if you are counting on selling a lot of books through major bookstores, you can't do without a destributor The publisher must give a discount of 63%, sometimes more, to the distributor. This is a severe blow to both the publisher, who pays the discount, and the author, whose royalties are more and more frequently based on “monies actually received” by the publisher after all discounts have been paid. This system is expensive and not generally effective for niche market books that sell in limited numbers.

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8. I self-published my book. Can I get a distributor?
You can, if two things happen:
(1) The distributor thinks that your book is likely to sell well, and
(2) You have other books coming down the line. Distributors are looking for books that will generate a profit for their businesses. This means that you’ve got to have a solid, well-designed, competitively-priced book. You may also have to convince your prospective distributor that you are not a "one book" publisher, that other titles will soon follow the one you are presenting to them.

I once called on a well-heeled acquaintance who ran a small manufacturing company to ask him to buy a 25% share in the community weekly I was then publishing. I would use the money, I said, to tide the business over until it was profitable. I added that it would be "very good for the community" if he would do so. My friend looked at me, stroked his chin, as said, “Tom, the first thing you've got to learn about business is that money is not sentimental." I have never forgotten that lesson. Book distributors cannot afford to be sentimental, either. Selling books is a tough job, and they have to be careful which books they take on. Their companies go belly-up every year.

You can do a search on the Internet to find a list of distributors. Two good places to look are http://www.bookzone.com and the "publishers resources" page at http://www.execpc.com/~mbr/. Choose two or three and check them out by asking for list of their clients. Contact some of those clients to ask how things are going. Do they recommend their distributor to others? Do they pay on time? Are their any signs of financial instability? Settle on one of them and make your pitch.

Remember that the distributor will be interested in doing an on-going business with you. If this is your first book, let them know about plans for any others that will be coming along later. If the distributor thinks he can make money selling your book, he will adopt. If he thinks your book is badly designed (you typeset the interior to save money although you know very little about typesetting, and your Aunt Minnie drew a picture for the cover); if he thinks there is no market for your subject matter; if he thinks that your book is badly written; if he thinks that it is not priced right for the market; if he thinks you will never publish another book — for any of these and many other reasons he may send your book back to you with a “Thanks, but no thanks” letter.

9. I have a distributor. When will he pay me for the books I sent him?
A. The distributor will not pay you until he sells your books. But even this is not as clean-cut as it sounds. Here’s the way it works. You send your books, one or two thousand of them, to your distributor. He advertises them in his next catalog. His salespeople go out and make presentations to wholesalers, chain bookstores and, in some cases, to independent bookstores. Some of these people order copies of your book. These orders are fulfilled.

So far, no money has changed hands at all. You have sent your books to the distributor on consignment and he sends them along to the people who have ordered them on consignment. As bookstores and wholesalers sell books, they pay the distributor for them at their discounted rate. (We may now be twelve months or more down the road.) After he receives payment your distributor, as specified in your contract with him, sends you a check for your share of the receipts. But not all of your share. He typically holds some of your funds back to cover the cost of potential returns. (The distributor credits these returns out of the funds he has withheld from your check. The bookkeeping is messy, and you have to keep a sharp eye on operations and a sharper inventory control in place to make sure that you eventually get all the money that is coming to you.

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10. What are "returns?"
A. Simply put, no book sales made to distributors, wholesalers or bookstores is final. If the book does not sell, these vendors can simply return it to the publisher for credit. For this reason small publishers take a financial risk they can scarcely afford when they shell out five or six thousand dollars to print enough books to fill a big order from a chain of bookstores. If the book lingers on the shelves, the stores will return them and demand their money back. The publisher is left holding the financial bag.

The “right of return” dates from the 1930’s, when cash was scarce and booksellers had little capital to invest in inventory. This device made acquiring inventory a kind of consignment arrangement in which the bookstore had no risk.

Today, returns are a growing problem in the publishing industry, with some smaller publishers now refusing to agree to take back unsold inventory. But if you expect to do much business with the larger bookstores, there is little you can do avoid accepting returns as a cost of doing business.

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11. I published a ebook but have not sold any. Is there a problem here?
A. There are three kinds of limitation that ebooks must overcome in the marketplace before sales will increase:

1. Technical limitations: A serious limitation is the lack of any standard format for ebooks. Adobe PDF, the front runner, and the format that I will use until some standardization comes along, is read mainly on personal computers. The hand-held devices often have proprietary formats of their own. Some programs, such as Microsoft Reader, are attempting to provide cross-platform accessibility to eBooks, but without too much success so far. The market for ebooks will continue to be quite limited until a cross-platform format is accepted and implemented. When that happens, though, the ebook phenomenon is likely to expand rapidly.

2. Limitations due to negative perceptions of the marketplace: books are not reviewed by main stream media and are, for the most part, not yet considered serious literary efforts.

3. Limitations due to lack of visibility. When you publish an ebook how is one to know what it is about and that it is available. Tucked away on web sites, they are viewed by far too few readers to create meaningful demand. An ebook, by its very nature, is invisible. Your title, at present, is the key to success, and it must be a stroke of great marketing. Since the title is all most people will see of your book unless the sort through the pages of a web site to find a table of contents or a paragraph or two of sample contents, the title must be dramatic and with great pulling power.
These are the limitations of ebooks as I see them. The New York Times agrees that these limitations are serious. In a September, 2001, article writer David Kirkpatrick reports that "the main advantage of electronic books appears to be that they gather no dust. Almost no one is buying. Publishers and online bookstores say only the very few best-selling electronic editions have sold more than a thousand copies, and most sell far fewer. Only a handful have generated enough revenue to cover the few hundred dollars it costs to convert their texts to digital formats."

12. I am told that a “niche market” book is easier to market and sell than a book of general interest, such as a novel. Why is that?
A. You can't hit the bull's eye if you don't have a target. When your potential readers are easily identifiable—by interest or by location—you can reach them and sell books to them. Say you wrote a historical novel. Sure, there are people who not only like historical novels but who read little else. I like them myself. But who are they? Where do they live? How do you tell them about your book? The answer is that you can’t easily do these things, because your readers don’t form an easily identified, homogenous group.
Niche markets do form such a group. Generally they consist of groups like the following:

1. Individuals or businesses who have similar interests and needs, and so are easily targeted and reached. (All dentists, say, or all internet marketing companies)

2. Individuals or businesses in a limited geographical area, and so easily targeted and reached. (All inhabitants of Savannah or Key West)

Such groups on individuals constitute a niche. Write a book that will interest them and you can locate them and sell to them. If your book is a good one, and if your niche is large enough, it will be profitable.(The more specialized your niche market the better off you are, so long as the market is large enough to generate the volume of sales that you need.

A niche market is important because it is manageable: you can easily get your mind around it, your pocketbook around it and your hands around it. Every nook and cranny of it can be plowed and farmed, like a small, fertile plot of land. You can find more on niche markets at http://www.PubMart.com Go to the "resources" page.

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13. I understand how niche marketing can work for non-fiction. But can it work for fiction and poetry?
A. I know of one, and only one, one niche for fiction and poetry that has a chance of working: a niche based geographical tie-ins in high-traffic, tourist locations that attract a continuing stream of vacationers and visitors (new customers every day!). Books occupying such a niche build the people, history and/or character of a specific locale into its plot structure.

Eugenia Price's very popular novel Savannah illustrates this kind of niche. This book is a combination historical novel and romance. It is a good, light read, and in its pages old Savannah, its people, places and history, come alive. Why is such a novel a good bet for you? Because if you can't find a major publishing house to bring it out you can easily publish it yourself. You can do this because the book passes the essential marketing test: it has the possibility of intensive sales in a limited geographical area.

A modest first edition can be sold in the city itself and surrounding areas. Had Price self-published she could easily have gotten her book in bookstores, tourist gift shops and specialty stores, hotel and motel paperback racks and point of purchase sales spots in restaurants. She could have done this in Savannah and also, to some degree, in Atlanta and other Georgia cities and towns. There would have been only a limited amount of travel involved, which she could have managed with ease. Further, in a tourist hot-spot like Savannah there would be an ever-renewable group of book buyers to keep sales going month after month.

There are variations on this theme. One of these was very successful for my friend Carole Marsh, president of Gallopade International and the author of many titles for young people. Carole has written several books for teens and pre-teens set in major theme parks and other tourist sites. Any location with a heavy traffic of young people with a few dollars of souvenir money in their pockets or the pockets of their parents is a good candidate for this publishing scenario. A large theme park in Carole's part of the county was Carowinds, on the border between the two Carolinas, just south of the city of Charlotte. Carole wrote a book that she called The Carowinds Mystery. There was a strong, continuing sale of this and similar books by Carole Marsh linked to other, highly frequented and colorful locations.

This kind of niche can even work for poetry. I have published books of poems that fit the category, and not only sold them, but sold enough of them to make a profit and pay royalties to the poet—a very rare feat indeed. Another poet recently showed me a group of poems set in the South Florida landscape. Some of them were very good, especially one called “Key West Cats.” I told the writer that I would publish the book if she could put together thirty or so poems on a similar theme. I knew that such a book would sell many copies, over a long period of time, in tourist spots in Key West and to most libraries in Florida

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14. How much money will I make?
Q. Let’s start with a crash course in the economics of publishing. Here's the bad news: with very few exceptions, nobody makes much money in publishing.
Here’s the way the business works. The publisher brings out a book. He can sell it, say, for $18.95. If the publisher knows his stuff and gets the best prices available, he can get 1000 copies printed and bound for $3000, plus freight, or $3 a book. He will have paid a typesetter and cover designer $1500 to $2000. He has marketing costs, office overhead, billing expenses and distribution expense. The publisher then pays the wholesalers and distributors who sell his book 65% of the cover price. Thus, if he sells every copy available to him for sale (950, since 50 will have been mailed out for review) he will gross $6300. Of that $6300 he will lose $630 to bad debts and spoilage (10%), leaving $5670. Yet he has paid the printer $3000, the typesetter and cover artist $2000. He will allow 10% of the gross for general office expense and overhead. All of this totals $5630. The result: in the best of all possible worlds the publisher shows a gross profit of only $670, and that is before royalties and returns. (The subject of “returns” is covered elsewhere in this FAQ.) If your book is well-reviewed and goes back to press for additional printings, the publisher, who has already amortized some of his upfront costs, begins to make a little money and so do you.
So what is your share? The ”standard” royalty used to be 10% of the cover price, but that is no longer the case. In the case of a trade paperback, your royalty is more likely to be ten or twelve percent of “monies actually received.” This means that if the publisher receives 33% of an $18.95 item, your royalty will be ten to 12 percent of that fractional amount. Royalties on book club sales and “promotional” (the going term for discounted) sales will be even lower.
So-called POD publishers like IUniverse are likely to offer much higher royalties, but since they sell very few books, your high percentage does not do you much good. Last time I looked, forty percent of nothing was still nothing. Whatever your royalties are, they will usually be paid out to you twice yearly, about 60 days after the contract-specified royalty period comes to a close.

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15. So why do people write and publish books?
A. Those of us in the business ask ourselves that question all the time. The answer is that we write and publish because we love doing what we do and would most likely do it for nothing if we had to. Writers write for the love of writing and, by and large, publishers publish for the love of publishing. Occasionally one of us does hit the big time, and that gives the others of us the courage to go on.

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16. Surely there other ways to profit?
A. This is the good news. Yes, fortunately, there are other ways to profit, many of them.

1. Chunk money. You may not make big bucks, but what you do make you often get all at one time. Chunk money comes in all at once in very usable amounts. When you get a two or three thousand dollar-a-year raise on your regular, salaried job, it seems to evaporate before you ever get to spend it. It doesn't seem to make much difference in your take-home pay. Not so with your royalty check. If you earn $1000 in royalties, you get $1000, and you get it now. A sum of money like that, actually and totally in hand, can put a smile on your face. You can buy something, take a vacation without maxing out your credit cards or even perish the though, invest that extra cash.

2. You enjoy the pleasures of valuable tax benefits and shelters. You don’t have to own oil wells in Oklahoma or vast real estate subdivisions to cash in on generous features of the tax code. Your little home office will do much of it for you. If you use this space only for your writing business you may be able to deduct a proportional (based on square footage) share of your rent or mortgage payment, utilities, telephone and many other household expenses like insurance and maintenance. That can be a substantial deduction. Further, since you are a professional writer, all of the books and newspapers you buy or subscribe to become tax deductions on Schedule C, (Profit or Loss from Business or Profession). Much travel also becomes deductible. I go to Chicago or L.A. every year for the four-day annual publisher’s trade show, Book Expo America. It’s deductible. A trip to New York for the Small Press Book Fair? Deductible. The Maui Writer’s Conference? Deductible. Run all this stuff by your tax preparer or accountant as you fill out your tax return.

3. Professional recognition and promotion. My first book was called Mallarme and the Language of Mysticism, and it was published by the University of Georgia Press. It got good reviews, but was suitable only for university libraries and a few other scholars in my (at that time) field. I made exactly $279 in royalties. I remember the precise figure because that was the first royalty check I ever got. Hardly a great return on two years' work. However, I was promoted to Associate Professor and, not too long thereafter, to full professor. My salary was raised accordingly. Before I left the groves of academe ten years later to start my own publishing company, I estimate that I had made over $100,000 directly attributable to that book. Remember, though, that it is up to you to see that you get the recognition and public visibility you deserve. No one else is going to do it for you.

4. Grants and fellowships. Once your book comes out you are in that fine fellowship of the “published writer.” This means that you can begin to apply for grants to attend workshops, seminars and all matter of special events. You can apply for jobs teaching memoir writing on cruise ships to the Mediterranean and Greece. If market your new-found reputation correctly, you will surely get some of the things you ask for.

5. Secondary profit centers. Based on your reputation as a published writer, you can give seminars and sell consultant’s services to others who want to learn how to do what you have already done: get published. You can do ghost writing, editing, business writing. There are many profitable doors that will be open to you once you begin to look for them.

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17. I am a self-publisher and my book is already published. Can I still make a deal with book clubs?
A. Yes, you can, if your book is not out of date. Look through the list of book clubs in Literary Market Place (available in your library reference room), in the Publisher’s Resource section of the Midwest Book Review web site (http://www.execpc.com/~mbr/. ) or at Bookzone (http://www.bookzone.com). Find a club that offers books in the niche that your book falls into. Send them a query to ask if they would like to see a copy. Your deal with a book club will bring you an immediate chunk of cash from the initial purchase of books (very heavily discounted, but still profitable) and usually a later check for royalties on books sold. An example: I placed a book with one of the Doubleday Book Clubs. They purchased 1500 copies at $2 above actual production costs. This bought in a gross profit of $3000. A year later I received a check for royalties on books sold.

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18. Will my book be in bookstores?
A. “Bookstore” now means, for all practical purposes, the chains: Barnes and Nobel, Borders, Books-a-Million, etc. There are a few regional chains, but one-by-one they are succumbing to the competition of the superstores. Oxford Books of Georgia recently bit the dust. In North Carolina, where I used to live, two regional chains were Wills Books and the Intimate Bookshops. I do not know whether these are still up and running or not, but certainly hope so.

Many authors and self-publishers who come to my seminars seem to believe that new books automatically appear on bookstore shelves, as though the jumped into cardboard boxes all by themselves and shipped themselves out to the local Barnes and Noble. Nothing could be less true. If you include books from IUniverse, IPublish and other POD publishers, more than 100,000 new books come out in the United States each year. There is room for only the smallest fraction of this number on the shelves. Bookstore buyers inspect new books to decide whether or not they are likely to turn a profit for the bookstore. Smaller publishers submit their new titles to the buyer in the national office of the chains charged with deciding whether or not to carry a book. They look at book design, price, competing titles, content and other factors to make their decisions. My publishing company, Venture Press, has had titles accepted and titles refused; all of them were, in our opinion, solid commercial products and were well-reviewed. The chains disagreed. They gave no explanation. Fortunately, we had other ways to sell such books.

Many publishers assure authors that their books will be "available" in major bookstores nationwide. But “available” does mean “on the shelves.” It simply means that if a customer goes to the help desk and asks for it, the bookstore will be able to look your book up in the Books-in-Print database and put in a special order. In such a situation the customer has to have heard of your book, or even seen it elsewhere, and decided that he or she wishes to purchase it. But you and I know that most of our bookstore purchases come as the result of browsing the shelves, so “availability” is not much of an advantage. It is the books on the shelf that are going to be bought.

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19. My book was in bookstores for a while, but now I can't find it on the shelves. What's going on?
A. As hard as it is, it is not enough just to get into bookstores. The trick is to stay there. Let’s just say that Barnes & Noble or another of the big chains has decided to stock your book and has neatly shelved it in the appropriate section of their stores. In two or three months' time someone has to decide whether or not to keep your book there. How is this done? Do they ask a literary critic whether your novel is great literature? Do they ask whether your how-to book is a truly important contribution to its field. Do they ask whether your slim volume of poetry is going to usher in a new age of creativity and insight? No, indeed they do not. Instead they consult their money managers. These supercitizens of the bean-counting world know to the last inch how much shelf space exists in their stores, and they know to the last cent how much revenue each of those inches must produce annually if their store is going to be profitable. They know how much precious space your books consume and how many of them have been sold daily, weekly and monthly since they were put on display. The key question for them is not "Is this a good and worthy book?" but "Does this product produce a cash flow consistent with our financial goals and projects?" If you don’t measure up, zap! you’re gone. Your books are quickly packed up and shipped back to your wholesaler, your distributor, of, if you are a self-publisher without a distributor, directly to you. Unless you want to see that UPS truck driving up to your door, keep on keeping on with your marketing; continue to do everything you can to get visibility for your book and stimulate buyers to go into bookstores and buy it.

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20. Who sets up the booktours/promotional tours and who pays for those expenses? Does the writer have any input to encourage the publishing house to spend more money to promote the book?
A. Only books that show signs of selling in big numbers will attract the marketing resources to finance a book tour. For first-time authors, self-published authors and POD and ebook authors there will be no tour unless the lightning of best-sellerdom somehow strikes the book they have written. This can happen, but I would not stand out in the rain waiting for it. The only tours you are likely to have are the ones you set up yourself. If you are going to be traveling or vacationing in an metropolitan area, contact the community relations or special events coordinator in area bookstores and make a pitch for yourself and your book. Convince them that you can draw a crowd and put on a good show, and they may try to fit you in.

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21. What does it mean when a publisher declares a book “out of print?”
A. An out-of-print book is one that a publisher has decided to stop reprinting and stop selling. When this happens—as it frequently does—copies left on hand are sold to remainder dealers for a dime on the dollar or less. These are the "bargain books" that you see in bookstores. Sometimes leftover books are first offered to the author, who may purchase them and continue to sell them on his or her own. For someone who did this see the web site of Shel Horowitz (http://www.frugalfun.com), who purchased and continued to sell the remainders of his book, The Penny-Penching Hedonist. Whether you have the chance to buy your book from the publisher may depend on the terms of your contract.

Usually all rights automatically revert to an author when a book goes out of print. Exactly how and when this will happen should be covered in your original contract. At that time the license you granted to the publisher to sell your book will have ended, and you may do with it what you will.

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22. Since ebooks and POD books aren't printed in the first place, can they go “out-of-print?”
A. Technically, an ebook cannot go out of print,.since it is never printed at all. In the case of Print on Demand, books are printed only in single copies to fill specific orders. This fact creates serious problems for writers who may be anxious for rights to revert back to themselves from the publishing company, and to date it has not been definitively solved. In more traditional times in book publishing, contracts contained a clause specifying that rights would revert to the author when the book was sold out and the publisher chose not to reprint within a specified period, say 12 months. But now, with POD books, publishers who do not want to relinquish rights can claim that the a book is still “in print” in the POD format although no print version exists in their warehouse (or anywhere else). This is just one area of writer/publisher relations that must be resolved now that ebook and POD publishing have become commonplace. See the website of the National Writers Union (http://www.nwu.org) for a discussion of this and other, related, problems.

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23. What are the most important points that should be (or should have been) covered in my author/publisher contract?
A. Publisher’s contracts are thorny documents for unwary and inexperienced writers to work through. Contracts should always be read carefully and thoroughly. If you see a clause that you do not understand, ask about it. Often, publishers are quite willing to discuss contract terms you find objectionable, though they don't always change their minds.

Some terms and conditions can have serious, unforeseen and very negative consequences for the writer. Here are some items I carefully review when contracts are offered to me:

1. The amount of the author's royalty on each copy sold and especially the method used in calculating this royalty. Is it based on the retail price, “monies actually received,” or some other system.
2. An "escalation clause" which specifies that royalties increase as sales numbers grow. This usually takes the form of one royalty rate for the first XXX number sold, with additional increases as sales plateaus are reached after that. What about new editions? Do the hard-earned escalation increases continue to build?
3. When royalties are to be paid.
4. The amount of the advance. Is it refundable? (It should not be). When and how is it paid. The typical agreement pays the author a portion the advance on the signing of the contract and the balance on completion of your manuscript
5. The term of the contract. When (and how) will it end?
6. What happens to rights when the contract ends?
7. Date of publication
8. How many free copies will you get? How much will you have to pay for additional copies? A fifty percent discount in case lots is the best I personally have been able to get a publisher to agree to.
9. Do you give the publisher “first refusal” on your next book? If you do, specify how long he has to make up his mind.
11. What happens if the ms. is unacceptable to the publisher? If this is the case, it may be because your book is no longer, in the publisher’s opinion, timely; because he has found another on the same theme he likes better; or simply because he is short of cash. It is not usually a question of quality, since he has already seen three or four chapters of your book prior to offering you a contract at all.

Since I am not a lawyer, I can’t and don't give legal advice. But I can point you in the right direction. To learn more about publishing contracts and the perils and pitfalls that abound within them read Levin’s book, How to Be Your Own Literary Agent (Ten Speed Press). You will find a detailed and very valuable analysis of publishing contracts there. Also check out the web sites of Ivan Hoffman, an attorney experienced in publishing law (http://www.ivanhoffman.com), and to the web site of the National Writer’s Union (http://www.nwu.org). Both sites have much freely available information on publishing contracts. So when your book is accepted and a contract is offered to you, study these resources, especially Levin's book, carefully

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24. What goes into pricing a book? How do I know that the price is not too high or too low?
A. There are a lot of people out there who will tell you that there is some mathematical formula that you must follow: seven times the production cost; ten times the production cost; twelve times, etc. But such a formula doesn't always make a lot of sense. It is not even clear what these people mean by "production cost."
The bottom line is that, in coming up with a price, you have to juggle two numbers: (1) the least you can get by with and still make a profit and (2) The most that the market will bear. Somewhere between those two numbers you will find the price for your book. While considering this range, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. If a bookbuyer can get a book of the same scope and quality as yours at a lower price, he will go for the lower price every time. This, as students in Economics 101 will tell you, is known as the law of substitution. When I go to the newsstand and just want a couple of mystery novels to read while my wife is out of town and find that there are several good ones priced at $7.95 and two or three at $9.95 there's little hesitation; it's $7.95 every time.
2. However, if I am pricing how-to manual on, say, how to start a city magazine, and there is only one of them out there, I will pay whatever the cover price is, within reason. I want and need the information. The information is in the book. So I buy the book.
I have been publishing such a book on my web site (http:/www.PubMart.com), Kitchen-Table Publisher: How to Make $100,000 a Year with Your Own Home-Based Publishing Company, for some time at $59.95 and doing well with it. This book tells, step-by-step how to publish city and regional magazines, newcomer guides, weekly newspapers, tabloids, shoppers, tourism guides and other publications. So far as I know it is the only book of its kind currently on the market. If there were similar books I would undoubtedly have to lower my price.
3. If your book is the kind that has a good chance of a very high volume in sales, you can make a small profit on each of them and still do quite well.
4. If you have a niche market book with limited sales potential, you will have to set a higher price -- otherwise the whole project is not worth your while.
5. If you sell your books directly on the internet you can experiment with pricing, trying this price this month and that price the next. For instance, I plan to offer my publishing manuals at a very substantial price reduction. If sales double or triple, I will make less on each sale but a great deal more overall. If sales remain the same, I will go back to the higher price.

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25. What makes a book sell?
A. There are three things and three things only that make most books sell: published reviews, individual reviews (word of mouth) and the SOB factor.
Published reviews in major publications like Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and metropolitan newspapers are most sought after, but mini-reviews that consist of a mention by some specialty-columnist can be ever better. The SOB part is the “Sweat of the author's Brow” works relentlessly to promote his book—anywhere and everywhere. He will send reviews and PR to every trade publication, weekly and community newspaper, shopper, special interest newsletter. He will scour every resource; give readings in every bookstore he can find; write supporting articles for every available magazine -- in short, do whatever it takes to sell books.

26. Will my book be reviewed?
A. Good books looking for reviews swamp the offices of editors and publishers across the country all day, every day. Entire metropolitan landfills could be filled with this stuff. All this slush makes it all the harder for any particular writer or publisher to rise above the rubble and get noticed. At the same time, the space devoted to book reviews is shrinking day-by-day. More and more metropolitan newspapers are dropping their weekly book review inserts and others are reducing the number of column inches devoted to books in their regular Arts and Leisure sections.

With mail bag after mail bag coming in every week, you have about ten seconds — at most — to get singled out for possible review. A big city daily receives hundreds of books every week and mentions maybe four or five of them. Not very good odds. So send your books to more fertile fields: specialty columnists in other sections of the paper and magazines; weekly papers across the county (which may even publish the canned reviews you send out with or without a copy of your book); radio stations; community service people; professional journals, etc.

Make sure to send a fact sheet on you and the book, a short-short article about it and a feature story of no more than 500 words along with every review copy of your book that you send out. Some of these will be published.

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27. What are the most common reasons that a book fails to be reviewed?:
Here’s my personal list of reasons why a book fails to get reviewed:

1. It falls off the reviewers desk and doesn't get noticed.
2. It is ugly to look at.
3. The subject is not of general interest.
4. The person assigned to review the book went on vacation and never submitted the review.
5. The first paragraph was not strong enough to keep the reviewer reading. Remember, the job of the first paragraph is to entice the reader to continue on to the second one, and so on through the book.
6. It was scheduled for review, but the publication ran out of space.
7. Plain bad luck.

Here is a list of no-review reasons developed by Jim Cox, editor of the The Midwest Book Review:

1. The book was not submitted according to the submission guidelines and preferences of a particular Book Review. For example, galleys were sent when only the finished books are considered -- or finished books were sent when only galleys are considered.
2. The book subject was inexpertly handled by the author.
3. The cover is amateurish in its design
4. The first paragraph is not well written. Even when in rare cases when someone does pick up your book and turn to the opening page, the first paragraph or two does not bode well for the quality of the rest of the book.
5. Insufficient information was included with the book to complete a review (I can't tell you how often a price is missing, there is no publisher address, 800 numbers and even addresses were left off, no publicity release accompanied the book, etc., etc., etc
5. Space/time limitations.

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28. How Do I Get on Radio and TV
A. Do two things:

1. Reach the primary decision maker.
2. Offer that decision maker something that he or she thinks will be good for their show.
The larger the market the show reaches, the more difficult these two things become. If, after your book is published, everybody is talking about it, everybody is reviewing it, and there is general and widespread excitement about it, then you may — repeat, may — stand a very slim chance of getting on Oprah or one of the biggies. But I wouldn’t want to go without bread and water until it happened.

Still, there are other show-time opportunities that will be open to you. It takes a little know-how and a lot of persistence to cash in on them. Here are some pointers:

1. Send an “available for interview” info form and a cover letter to talk show hosts on radio and TV in your immediate area. This form will include, briefly, relevant bio on you, a bit about what is in your book and why listeners will be interested in it, and some sample questions you are prepared to answer -- all of this is geared toward helping your radio/TV interviewer achieve his goals by helping you achieve yours. Follow up with a telephone call. If your communication did not reach the right person, find out who this person is, the right name, address, fax, and email info and send it out again. Keep a record of whom you have contacted, and when. Use USPS mail, fax and email to get your message across. Try again at regular intervals.
2. Never forget that PR is a two-way street. You have give to get. Always do the following three things as best you can:
—Provide a hook. What will your interview do to pull in listeners and viewers.
— Whenever appropriate, tell you and your book will help provide solutions for problems shared by many listeners.
— When your topic becomes hot, fax a press release to your target decision maker immediately.
A good resource is Peggy Glenn’s Publicity for Books and Authors (Aames-Adams Publishers). It may be out of print, but you can get it through inter-library loan. In addition, there are some web sites that connect authors and experts with media people looking for good interview prospects. One of them is Lorilynn Bailey's Guestfinder site, at http://www.guestfinder.com. Take a look at it and see if it is right for you.

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29. How can I prepare for an interview? I haven’t done one before and I am nervous about it.
A. Here's the key: to be prepared is to be at ease. Here are a few tips.
1. Make a list of questions tyou would like to be asked. Give this list to the host before you go on the air.
2. Remember, and insofar as possible, cater to the interviewer’s interests
3. Have an easy way for listeners to buy a book or contact you, and let them know about it, such as a local bookstore or Amazon.com.
4. Be active rather than passive. Answer the questions you wish you had been asked, whether they are actually asked or not.
5. Start with an anecdote. “Let me tell you what happened to me up in Yeehaw Junction......”
6. Address your host by his or her first name

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30. Won’t it cost a lot of money to travel all over the country just to get on a radio show?
A. Radio interviews are done by telephone. Here’s what the editors of Radio-TV Interview Report (http://www.rtir.com) had to say about on this subject: “You can appear on talk shows without traveling all across the country. Most radio stations will interview you via telephone from the comfort of your home or office. Imagine speaking to audiences in Boston, Miami, New York and Phoenix all in the same day, just by doing phone interviews with radio stations!”

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31. How do I know if I’m doing enough to market my book?
A. I could say that you’ll know you’ve done enough when you’ve sold them all. But even then, you’ll just go back for a reprint and start selling all over again.
I firmly believe in what I call the “Rule of Five,” which I learned from Al Canton of Adams-Blake Publishing Company. “Don’t let the sun set,” Al says, “before you have come up with and implemented five new ways to promote your book. Every day, five ways, no exceptions."
Where to get ideas for promotion? Keep a notebook with you at all times to jot down ideas that will come to you at random. Some of your best ideas will come this way and will be lost unless you make note of the. Consult John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Promote Your Book. This book is a rich source of promotional ideas. You may not accept any of them word for word, but I promise you that just browsing through will suggest others that will be valuable to you.

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32. Do I have to get my book translated if I want to sell foreign rights?"
A. You do not have to translate your book before you sell foreign rights. If a publisher in a foreign country buys rights to your book, that publisher will find a translator. That’s the way it works.

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33. Why does it take so long to get a book published?
A. It takes a long time because there are so many things to do. In fact, it is generally bad news if a book is published too quickly. It usually means that all the prepublication marketing has not taken place. Here's what happens: First your book is edited; then it is typeset and proofed; then proofed again; then portions of the book are sent out for the promotional quotes (blurbs) that you see on the back page; then, three months or more before the publication date, galleys are sent to major review sources such as Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal and others appropriate to your subject matter; next book clubs may be approached about featuring your book as a monthly selection. All of this will take six to twelve months. It is hard to see how this period of time can be shortened without risking negative results for the book in question.

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34. Who owns the copyright, me or my publisher?
A. Except where you contract states explicitly that your book is a “work made for hire” the writer owns the copyright. The publishing contract simply gives the publishing license to print and sell your book under the terms and for the time specified by your contract.

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35. What if there are typographical errors in my book?
A. Don’t worry about a few typos. While you certainly work hard to avoid them, you find errors in most books these days, and you can always correct them in a second printing. Here’s a story to give you courage. I am reading a biography of E.B. White. White spent his life writing for the New Yorker, and he was fastidious with words. He published the little Manual of Style that you so often see recommended. In the introduction to the book, the biographer, Scott Elledge is talking about the clarity and precision of White’s style. In that very paragraph there are two glaring typographical errors, the only two I found in the book. So here’s my take on typos: Learn to live with them. A few always seem to get through the editorial net.

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36. I see the names of the same writers in my local newspaper over and over again. Why does everyone keep overlooking me?
A. Many of us share this feeling. We wonder why the names of the same writers seem to appear in local and regional anthologies, magazines and small press reviews over and over again; why the same people are always appointed to arts commissions, asked to give talks and write introductions, participate in arts festival programs, get appointed to state arts posts, give talks to yearly writers group meetings.
It’s not a matter of luck, nor is it a plot that these names appear so frequently. It’s just that these people have managed, one way or another, to create a public visibility adequate to build a literary reputation. When organizers or grant givers fish around for the name of a “writer” for some purpose or other, they naturally choose among those that they have heard about. What you've got to do is make sure that next time, they will have heard of you.

If we want to achieve this higher level of visibility in the literary world, we must let people know who and what we are. It is time to blow your own horn a little. There is no ostentation here, no unjustified self-aggrandizement. It is just a matter of telling the truth and taking the simple and gentle steps of self-promotion that will insure your success as a writer. For more, see the chapter "The Unabashed Poet's Guide to Self-Promotion" in my book Poet Power! (Sentient Publications).

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37. You talk about news releases. What is a news release, and how do you write one? Is it OK to write one for yourself?

A. It’s not only OK to write a news release for yourself, but usually necessary that you do so. All the other writers you know are busy sending out their own releases.

You do have to follow a simple, objective journalistic form. Your release can often be as brief as a single paragraph about the publication of your new book or a talk that you are going to give at a book fair, to a book signing at a local book store. You send this paragraph to newspapers big and small, newsletters, arts-oriented radio and TV (NPR) and any other media you can think of in hope of publication. Sometimes your release can be long as two or three hundred words (these had better be good) long. Long releases generally have an important reader information hook. If you have written a book on budget-priced vacations, write your release with a strong how-to slant, mentioning yourself and your book as part of the background. The more you're able to combine your own interest in generating publicity with the publication's interest in printing good stories, the more likely you are to get your released published.

News releases are mailed, faxed or emailed (I do both) to all publications that could conceivably be interested in it. Larger newspapers may pick up a bit here and there, or in rare cases, have a reporter call to do a story. Smaller newspapers such as community weeklies depend on well-written news releases to fill their pages, so your chances or getting your material published are much better with them.

In either case, be sure to write your release in an ego-free, newspaper-friendly style. Your object is not to tell people how great you are but to get your name out in front of them and let them draw their own conclusions.,

Many books will tell yo how to write news releases, including my own publishing manuals (http://www.PubMart.com). Paul Krupin as written a fine manual called Trash-Proof News Releases (http://www.trashproofnewsrelease.com)


38. Can news releases really help?
A. No doubt about it. Here’s a story I tell in my how-to publishing manual, Kitchen-Table Publisher. I was starting a new company to publish city magazines. We needed a line of credit, but it was a time of tight money, and the banks didn’t want to venture out on the limb as far as we needed them to. I began to send out a regular stream of news releases. These were brief notices of three or four sentences, meant to be published in the business notes section of our newspaper. One told how we planned a city magazine in another town. A second told how we had hired a new “Executive Vice president” (in reality a salesman) to handle our Raleigh, North Carolina office (his car and a motel room). A third told how we planned three more magazines (that we had not yet published). . . .and so on. Two months later I went back to my banker. “I here you guys are going great guns,” he said, smiling as he shook my hand. And he offered me the line of credit I needed.
Similarly, when the president of the Arts Council is looking for a writer to do a keynote address for the upcoming book fair, the newspaper stories about you and your writing will come to mind and you will be in the running for the job.

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39. I can write a news release. How else can I use my writing skills to promote myself and my book in other ways?
A. You can write for publication on topics related to the book you want to promote. Here are some of the possibilities:

1. Write articles for magazines.
2. Write a newspaper column.
3. Write for the web

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40. What is a "media kit," and do I need one?
A. Every writer needs a media kit. It is your essential tool to getting the media exposure that you need both to sell your books and to develop your reputation so that you can access the perks and secondary profit centers that will come your way as a writer. The following is an except from my book, Poet Power! The Poet’s Complete Guide to Getting Published describing what a writer’s media kit should contain. Although written for poets, the excerpt applies to all working writers.

Your media kit should contain the following items. You may not use all of them every time you send a kit out, but you should have all of them available.

1. A fact sheet on yourself as author. This fact sheet will include a short bio of you, a listing of your credits, short excerpts from favorable reviews or interviews, a statement of your goals and motivations as a writer, quotable quotes, etc. Keep it in easily utilized, outline form so that a feature writer or reviewer can find and excerpt materials that are needed for a writeup.
2. In preparing this fact sheet, as in preparing all the other marketing materials in your repertoire, bear in mind that reporters—whether print or electronic—will not have time to research an article on you and your work. You have to do this for them. When your fact sheet is well done and easily utilized you take a giant step toward getting the kind of publicity you need. The fact sheet can also be used as a background piece to include in your poetry submissions to magazines and to publishers. It can be given to program chairmen who have to introduce you to audiences before whom you are scheduled to appear. You can have it blown up to poster size and use it as a prop at readings, autograph parties and other occasions.
3. Your media kit will also include a fact sheet on your book. What press published it? How many pages? What about special themes? What about quotes to illustrate these themes? How can the book be obtained? At what price? Your book fact sheet may well include an item or two that also appears on your personal fact sheet. Don’t worry about necessary duplication but don’t repeat materials needlessly.
4. Clips of any pre-publication or other reviews (or interviews) that you may have had. You will photocopy these and keep them readily available.
5. Copies of any other articles that may have been written about you or by you.
6. A brief news release of one full page or less, a short, straightforward story telling that you wrote your book and that it was published.
7. A complete feature article of 500 to 700 words, with photographs. This piece is a personality profile of you and your work. Will the article be used? Sometimes it will and sometimes it won’t. It all depends on the space availability and intrinsic interest of your article. One thing, though, is certain. It will certainly not be used if you do not write it and send it out. Most newspapers are understaffed and do not have a regular book review editor. Some writers will use your article as a guide. Some newspapers—especially weeklies, which will be happy to have a free feature—will print it just as you provide it. Always manage to tell readers how and where they can buy your book. Include a mention of your publishing company: “My Book of Poems was published by Muse Books of Tupelo, Mississippi.” Also include a mention of the retail price.
8. Include a glossy, black and white photograph of yourself if you think there is any chance of its being used. An action shot in a natural surrounding will get a better play than a simple mug shot because it will have greater reader interest. If you are writing a poem about your conquest of Mt. Everest, the photograph ought to show you on the summit.

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41. I am told that I need a “sell sheet” or a information sheet on my book.
What is this? What does it include
A. I mentioned the fact sheet in item 3 of the media kit answer, above. Here are some more details. Your book fact sheet or sell sheet should contain the following items, on a single page.

1. A reproduction of the cover of your book, in thumbnail size. You can create this on your scanner and import the image into your page layout program.
2. The title of your book, ISBN, page count, price, specifications (hardcover, trade paper, etc.)
3. The author's name
4. The publisher. If you are a self-publisher, put the imprint you have chosen for your publishing company in this space.
4. Publisher address, phone number, email address, website.
5. The name of the person to contact for further information.
6. A one or two paragraph descriptive summary or bulleted list of chief points covered.
7. A one paragraph author bio

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42. I know my book is good and solid. Why isn’t it selling?
A. Good books can fail to sell for many reasons. Here are some of the most common ones.

1. Physical reasons: This category includes poor, amateurish cover and interior design that violate all the principles of good design practice. This is a frequent problem with self-published books.
2. The market is too limited. Perhaps you published a niche market book with two few individuals in that niche. My first book, a study of the French poet Stephane Mallarme sold 1000 copies. I was disappointed until I realized that that number accounted for all university libraries in the U.S. and Europe and all the Mallarme scholars in the world. I had saturated the market, but the market was too small to turn a profit for me on book sales alone.
3. The market is there but you can't get you message to them. Markets that are too diffuse, widespread on not easily identified can be difficult and expensive to reach (to the point of being prohibitive for small publishers and selfp-publishers.
4. The book is not timely. Successful topical books ride the wave of public interest. Once the wave is gone the market for the book is gone, too. I recently had a book submitted to me by an elderly woman who, as a young school teacher, had spent time at Berkely University during the flower-child sixties She had a well-written memoir which I would once have considered publishing, but I rejected her book. Time had passed the subject by.
5. The book is priced incorrectly. Never forget the rule of substitution. If a buyer can find a cheaper product to do the same job as more expensive one, he will buy the cheaper one. If your book is priced to high, others will be substituted for it. But books can also be priced too low. When booksellers, wholesalers and distributors get the cut of the retail price pie, there may not be enough left over for the publisher pay his overhead and continue to market the product.

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43. Are there any professional organizations I can join that will help me understand the publishing business and market my books?
A. Yes, there are a number of them.

1. The National Writers Union (http://www.nwu.com). The National Writers Union is open to any writer who wishes to join. You will also find a great deal of useful information on the sale of rights on the National Writers Union web site . As I write this I have just visited their site and come up with the following list of publications for freelancers:
— Authors in the New Information Age: Electronic Publishing Issues.
—Standard Journalism Contracts and Handbook.
—NWU Guide to Book Contracts
—NWU Guide and Model Contract for Ghostwriting & Collaborations
—NWU Preferred Literary Agent Agreement and Understanding the Agent-Author Relationship
—NWU Guide to Fair Use
—Electronic Rights Policy
—Electronic Rights Negotiation Strategies
—Statement of Principles on Electronic Books
—Recommended Principles for Contracts Covering Online Book Publishing
—Technical Writers Code of Practice (Hardware/Software Industries)

2.The American Society of Journalists and Authors (http://www.ASJA.org)

3. Publishers Marketing Association (http://www.PMA.com)

The National Writers Union and the American Society of Journalists and Authors maintain web sites that contain a great of current information for members and non-members alike. I highly recommend them. In addition, anyone interested in publishing and marketing books should join the Pub-Forum mailing list. You can subscribe to this list at pub-forum@yahoogroups.com

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Appendix 1: Ruyby Boxcar Speaks!



(The following letter appeared in the Holt Uncensored newsletter. Written by a writer named—a pseudonym, one suspects—Ruby Boxcar in answer to a letter of my own in which I criticized IUniverse. Ruby Boxcar shows how, with extraordinary marketing energy and skill, a book can achieve success in today’s marketplace no matter how or where it is published. It is reproduced here by permission of the author)

“I’d like to pass a little story on to your readers includin’ Mr. Williams of Venture Press about an author who tried to get her book published usin’ the traditional method. She got an agent who passed out copies of her manuscript to many of the well known publishin’ houses in the United States. Well, all of ’em sent back letters sayin’ how the manuscript was fun and interestin’, but they had to pass on account of the uniqueness of the book. The agent told the author that it didn’t look like there was much hope in gettin’ her manuscript printed so she said thanks and they parted their ways. Well, while walkin’ around a Barnes and Noble Book Store, she noticed a flyer for iUniverse.com. 
Before you could say, “Wow doggies”, this gal had emailed her manuscript to iUniverse along with her cover ideas. Four months later (the last week of December 2000) her book was ready and listed with Ingram and online at bn.com, amazon.com, and other electronic book dealers. The author took time to create and mail out sell sheets across the US as well as send out press notices to local media outlets. Soon she found herself on the radio as well as answerin’ questions for both TV and newspaper articles. And then the responses started to come from the book stores. April 12 marked her first book signin’ and more would quickly follow. By the first of June she’d sold several hundred books and had only spent around $200 on marketin’. That would change. Earlier in the year she had mentioned to iUniverse that she would love to attend any book conventions that they might be involved with, so she was thrilled to get a call from them invitin’ her to attend the BookExpo America convention in Chicago. She still had to pay for her transportation (she and her husband drove) and for her hotel (thank God for those discounted mom and pop places), which came to around $1000.
In any case she attended the BEA with press kits and copies of her book in hand. She walked that convention center till her poor polyester slacks were smokin’ from the friction (thank goodness she’d remembered to pack the Gold Bond). She also participated by sharin’ a booth with other authors she’d met at Chicago Printers Row Book Fair. Her sales at that event paid for most of her trip. Long story short, by the time she made it back to her abode, she had several emails from big name publishin’ houses who were very interested in her book.
The book is “The Down Home Trailer Park Cookbook: A Twister Of Tasty Treats.” The new selected publishin’ company is Kensington Publishing Group, and the author is me, Ruby Ann Boxcar. Thanks to iUniverse I can proudly hold my head and big hair up high and say that I was right, my book is mass marketable and people can enjoy it. Sure there are some books that iUniverse puts out that might not be that great a read, but so what. Who does that hurt? I can name several times I’ve bought a traditionaly published book at a book store, read it, and then asked myself the simple question of, “who was drinkin’ when they published this thing.” 
Just years ago there were both good and bad books bein’ self-published for thousands of dollars a printin’, and now, thanks to new technology, it cost much less. If anything, these companies that y’all want to call vanity press have helped bridge the writer with the readin’ public. 
They’ve allowed us to have more choices in what we read. They’ve allowed the consumer to meet characters and visit places that the traditional press understandably couldn’t give them simply because of the financial risk it might cost. And they’ve worked as a talent scout who allows publishers to see what a potential client can produce.
Thanks, iUniverse, for bein’ there for people like me!
Love, Kisses, and Trailer Park Wishes,
Ruby Ann Boxcar
http://www.rubyann.org