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Book Promotion Strategies — That Actually Work

What’s the best book promotion strategy you’ve ever seen?

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian took to Reddit to seek promotion advice for his new book, Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed.

He asked the network of loyal readers: “What are some of the smartest things you’ve seen people do to promote a book? … I’d like to make the most out of all this time I have to do some awesome stuff for the fine folks who’d pre-order/buy a copy.”

We’ve collected ten reader responses below to help you plan your own book promotion.

 

Book Promotion Strategies That Actually Worked

1. oguerrieri wrote: “Definitely offer free e-book with purchase of hard copy! Something I wish every book did.”

2. JoanofLorraine wrote: “My favorite example is the writer who opened a storefront in Brooklyn that sold only copies of his own book.”

3. josephflaherty wrote: “The little things Field Notes does, like putting in a themed patch or button goes a long way to making their books feel more like cultural artifacts than indie Moleskines.”

4. HAGOODMANAUTHOR wrote: “Advertising on Reddit has increased my Kindle sales exponentially”

5. josephflaherty added: “Put it in a crazy package: Seth Godin put copies of his books in Milk/Cereal boxes which made them really stand out and feel more like limited edition products than books.”

6. Davytron wrote: “when i worked at a book store, these ladies gave every employee a copy of their cook book. A bunch of us used the recipes and ended up telling customers and family about them. It was very nice but also a clever way to get us to promote their book.”

7. Thestom wrote: “Free book of equal or lesser value with the purchase of the author’s book.”

8. josephflaherty also added: “I’m sure you’ve got the book tour part dialed in, but treating them more like concerts would be fascinating … Would be fun for a tour to host a few local entrepreneurs who have succeeded without permission.”

9. Ms Adler wrote: “doing a discount on ebooks will often get you more readers that may not otherwise purchase a hard copy, and signed first editions are prized by collectors.”

10. Ginroth concluded: “Writing a good book.”

 

Reblogged in full from Jason Boog at Galleycat

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The Boys of Ballycroy by Kieran Ginty

Kieran Ginty Cover 'The Boys of Ballycroy'Final

A full-time public servant, Kieran Ginty qualified from the University of Limerick with a BA degree in Public Administration. Originally from Ballycroy in Co. Mayo, he is now settled in Limerick.  This week, I had a quick chat with Kieran about his newly printed novel, his first, The Boys of Ballycroy.

First off, I asked Kieran how it all started. “People who have read the book estimated that it must have taken me at least three years to write,” he said, “but I actually did it in less than 6 months – and that was working weekends, evenings and mornings only.  The book revolves around a group of seven friends, and follows how they and their families cope with the arrival of three conflicts – World War I, The Irish War of Independence, and The Irish Civil War.  It is set in my native parish, against the backdrop of poverty, oppression and emigration.”

What prompted your interested in writing this book? “There was a book written in the 1850s by a Scottish visitor that featured Ballcroy, and I have often wondered why no one wrote about the place in the interim.  I pay homage to this book in my publication.  Being a remote townland, the landscape remains largely untouched by modernization and it is the mountains, lakes, bogs, rivers, sand dunes and sea that provided the main inspiration.  Coupled with my deep interest in history, I hope all readers agree that they combine for a good read.”

“My grandparents used to tell me many stories about their days growing up there, and some of these have been integrated into the novel.”

I saw on the Facebook page photos and videos that feature in the book and asked Kieran if it the landscape that inspired the story or the story fitted to the landscape: “Definitely the landscape was the main inspiration.  There are so many old ruins also that prompt you to wonder what went on there in the past.  In some of those photos and videos, there is little sign of tarred roads, electricity wires or satellite dishes – you could actually convince yourself that they were recorded a century ago.  I have often said that it would be inexpensive for a movie set in the 1910s and 1920s to be filmed in Ballycroy, as very little would need to be done cosmetically.  And that is no slight on those who live there today – it is actually a compliment in that they have preserved their parish magnificently whilst still keeping in tandem with the modern world.”

I wonder if Kieran has always enjoyed writing. When did it begin? “From my schooldays I always enjoyed writing, especially creative writing.  However, I always hated reading out loud or speaking in public – even to this day I have ‘issues’ with these aspects of communication.   I used to really enjoy composing English essays in Secondary School – but then, to my horror – the teachers used to make me read my compositions out loud in front of my classmates.  I still have nightmares about that!  As a result, I ended up purposely writing bad essays, so that I would not have to recite them!  That is one of the reasons I held a low-key launch of my book – I avoided having to publicly read a passage.”

Surely such an avid reader has to have favourites. “I have always enjoyed the classics from the Brontes and Thomas Hardy as they vividly describe the surrounding landscape and local landmarks,” said Kieran, “From the initial feedback I have received from readers, the people of Mayo are enjoying reading about Croagh Patrick, The Nephin Mountains, Achill Island, The Inishkea Islands, The Mullet Peninsula – all of which feature in my novel.”

‘Wuthering Heights’ still remains unsurpassed as my favourite book of all time – even after the arrival of ‘The Boys of Ballycroy’!

What caught his interest in self-publishing? “To dip my toe in the water I contacted a number of publishing houses and to be honest, most of them had an ‘auto-reply’ type response saying they would take ‘at least three months to respond’ or ‘we are currently over-subscribed for Irish fiction.’  This ‘don’t call us – we’ll call you’ attitude was not for a good old typically ultra-efficient Public Servant like me (!) so it was such a relief to discover the self-publishing option.”

How did he find the self-publishing process? “Amazingly efficient.  The team in Cork were excellent.  They clearly set out what they do and also (just as important) what they do not do.  As a result, I had a large say in deadlines and in volumes printed, and all of the staff were so adaptable.   They were always ready with helpful tips or advice and were very supportive at all times.  It is a great comfort to know I can always contact them with a query.”

I asked Kieran if this is the end of something, or just the beginning. What’s next? “It is a great source of enjoyment to me to see the reaction to my story,” he replied, “I’ve seen so many smiles in the past few months, so I’m soaking all of that in for the moment.  I am very proud to see my book on display in bookshops that I have frequented for so many years. My only regret is that my grandparents are not around to see it – but I am truly fortunate that my parents are. Nothing definite has yet been decided, but I would like my next book to be about modern day Limerick, the city that has been very good to me.  And of course if I get enough encouragement from people whose opinion I value, I will do a follow-up to what I have just published – perhaps ‘The Girls of Ballycroy’!”

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Don’t judge The Bell Jar by its cover

Faber’s new cover for The Bell Jar may be garish, but if it finds a new audience for Sylvia Plath’s novel then who cares?


This post is reblogged in full from The Guardian website and is written by Sam Jordison.

It may have first come out 50 years ago, but The Bell Jar still causes controversy. The anniversary has seen all the old arguments and enmities boiling over again, but this book strikes such a nerve that even a new cover can start a row.

Writing on the LRB blog, Fatema Ahmed pours scorn on Faber’s “silly” 50th anniversary edition, calling it a woefully inappropriate attempt to rebrand the book as chick lit. She quotes the always reliable Twitter feed from Melville House asking: “How is this cover anything but a ‘fuck you’ to women everywhere?” and Andy Pressman, a graphic designer, who derided the new cover as “awesomelycomicallyhistorically inapprop” and said: “And by ‘historically’ I mean ‘incorrect on a scale of which we have few historical precedents’, not ‘That typeface didn’t exist in that era’.”

There is a strong argument against the new design. Ahmed says:

 

“The anniversary edition fits into the depressing trend for treating fiction by women as a genre, which no man could be expected to read and which women will only know is meant for them if they can see a woman on the cover.”

 

I can see where she’s coming from. That is indeed a depressing trend. And the cover does indeed look a bit like those other garish covers that supposedly only appeal to women. While I’m notching up the negatives, there’s also the simple fact that the original cover by Shirley Tucker is a thing of great beauty: a timeless classic that is to the new cover as a single-malt is to tar water.

But, here’s the thing. This latest edition has sold truckloads. The official figures aren’t out yet, but Faber have assured me it’s doing the business. There’s no evidence that this cover has ostracised a potential part of its audience, but there is already some that it has helped the book reach a new generation of readers.

Okay, this is an inexact science, and perhaps those sales should be attributed as much to the 50th anniversary publicity and renewed interest in the author as they are to that garish red cover. But the fact remains that the book is selling – and quite possibly reaching a new audience, as Faber claim is their exact intention. Hannah Griffiths, publisher of paperbacks at Faber, says they were aiming for a more “welcoming package” in the belief that “there is a reader for this novel who could enjoy its brilliance without knowing anything about the poetry, or the broader context of Plath’s work”.

Of course, as soon as anyone picks it up, breaks the spine and reads that first sentence they’ll know they’re in for something different. “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” Hardly Sophie Kinsella, is it? I even quite like the idea of someone mistaking the book for a sexy summer beach read and falling headlong into Esther Greenwood’s cruel world.

What’s more, those actually reading the novel – rather than judging the cover – may even see something in that blood red, in the queasy glamour of the 50s model checking her makeup, in the serious face in the mirror. It certainly conjures up a time and place, a sense of nausea and introspection. The novel’s Esther Greenwood would probably mock the new design mercilessly, but that too seems appropriate. Perhaps it’s right that she is at odds with the world in which she finds herself and the way she is presented? Perhaps this new cover isn’t quite so silly after all?

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What’s with ISBNs?

Some of our readers were wondering how they might go about getting an ISBN. And what is it, anyway? Why is it important?

An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number. Up until the end of 2006 it was a 10 digit number, but from 1 January 2007 all ISBN numbers are now 13 digits long.

It is used by publishers, booksellers and libraries, for ordering, listing and stock control purposes. It enables them to identify a particular Publisher and allows the Publisher to identify a specific edition of a specific title in a specific format within their output.

In the past, ISBN numbers were 10 digits long but a new global standard, using 13 digits, has now been introduced. Under the new system which started on 1 January 2007, the 13 digits are always divided into five parts, separated by spaces or hyphens.

There is no legal requirement in the UK or Republic of Ireland for an ISBN and it conveys no form of legal or copyright protection. It is a product identification number. If you wish to sell your publication through major bookselling chains, or internet booksellers, they will require you to have an ISBN to assist their internal processing and ordering systems.

The ISBN also provides access to Bibliographic Databases such as BookData Online, which are organised using ISBNs as references. These databases are used by booksellers and libraries to provide information for customers. The ISBN therefore provides access to additional marketing tools which could help sales of your product.

If you are interested in obtaining an ISBN or would like a better idea of what’s involved, just click here.

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The Emancipist by Veronica Sweeney


(This article is also featured on Writing.ie)

Veronica Sweeney has been a published novelist for twenty-eight years. She wrote her trilogy, The Emancipist, after nine and a half years of research. It was first published in one volume by Pan MacMillan in 1985 and reprinted consistently for twenty years by publishing houses such as Century Hutchinson, Simon & Schuster, Avon Books, Bantam and HarperCollins. It is now being printed by Selfpublishbooks.ie as a trilogy.

“I was surprised that the publishers didn’t want a trilogy,” she says, “It was published as one book, which I had to cut in order to make the single large volume … much was left out, and I was very happy to discover Kindle, so the eBook contains material left out of the original.”

 

I ask Veronica which books or authors inspire her. “I like the works of Ruth Rendell and PD James – they produce great stories with fine writing. I love Terry Pratchett, clever writing with a heart. Other than these I read everything from Jane Austen to Eric Fleming. No Fifty Shades fan here, then? “Not much into modern romances,” she replies, “too predictable!”

 

Veronica expands her answer, revealing a characteristic charm of her work: “Publishers have always complained that my work is ‘quirky’, and I like books that are slightly different and have the author’s own voice without being too formulaic. I love it when I want to read a sentence twice because it’s so clever or insightful. I like having to admit, ‘Jeez, I wish I’d written that!’”

 

As for inspiration, Veronica names only one thing: “My mother read to me all through my childhood – following the words on the page meant that I could read at the age of three. She also read me poetry – there were loads of books of poetry in the house. So I think I grew up with the cadence of words, and their power. She bought me a book on stories from Shakespeare, which inspired me to read the originals. I read all the plays of Shakespeare at thirteen and I think … that this was a pivotal time for me, the inspiration of a rattling good yarn beautifully written. Something to aspire to, but unattainable of course!”

 

Veronica is an established novelist with an international reputation, but when she recently made the switch from traditional publishing to self-publishing, she knew she was taking a risk. “But I needn’t have worried,” she said, “It’s been fun … and – I can’t stress this enough – to be able to choose my own covers and design after twenty-eight years as a professional novelist has been the best part.” Lettertec, the printing press in County Cork with a self-publishing imprint Selfpublishbooks.ie, is producing The Emancipist in three separate volumes this year.

 

I ask Veronica how self-publishing caught her eye: “Amazon Kindle first of all – it’s levelled the playing field for writers at last. We’re back to the early days of the printing press, like Erasmus! Get a good idea and take it to the printer – before publishers and agents became involved!

 

“The whole process was very speedy,” she adds, “I think it took about two weeks, and that was mostly me being very fussy about the cover.

 

Any other reason? “Despite the advent of reading devices such as Kindle and Nook, so many people really like the physical feel of a book, and The Emancipist was the obvious choice, as it’s my favourite of all my work, the one people are always asking me about – and complaining because it’s the size of a house brick! The new version from Lettertec, being in three volumes, solves that!”

 

I also asked Veronica if she had any advice for writers thinking of self-publishing. “Anyone going the way of self-publishing for the first time really should pay the bit extra to have their book checked by a professional editor … The way I work is to finish the seventh, eighth, ninth draft, then put it in a drawer for several months and then come back to it. Self-publishing is no place for wishful thinking … the writing has to be tight and professional, or no one will buy your book but your family.”

 

How was the printed product? “Far better quality than any book I’ve had published. Some paperbacks seem to be printed on newspaper. This version of The Emancipist is a real collector’s copy, limited edition. The first run of Pan MacMillan’s was 100,000 copies! But I’m very proud of my limited run Emancipist – it’s the book I always wanted to see.”

 

Every author has her favourite. Veronica happily imparted hers: “Shannonbrook [Book Three of The Emancipist] … by then Aidan is in middle-age, and very much a product of all that has happened to him. He’s successful, but still believes he can control his environment. … When I did the book tour of Australia, half the women I spoke to said he was a thorough rat and a rogue, and the other half said he was so real that he must exist!”

 

She gleefully adds: “It was fun to create his children, who give him a great shock in refusing to be what he expects.”

 

What’s next, Veronica? “Editing – again – Books Two and Three before sending them to Lettertec, and after that I’ll be uploading my Australian thriller, Dark Obsession – though the title will now be His Dark Obsession – to Amazon Kindle. But there’ll be more books printed by Lettertec, deciding on which ones depends on which ones my readers ask for!”

 

Book One of The Emancipist – titled The Big House – is available now. Books Two and Three will be available in early December, ready for Christmas.

 

To find out more about Veronica and The Emancipist, check out her website veronicasweeney.net

 

 

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Looking over the last week…

Spoilers from JK Rowling’s upcoming novel are released, a guide of London from NW by Zadie Smith is printed, new life is breathed into Moby Dick with the help of well-known celebrities, a new biography exposes John Keats as an opium addict and Stephen King reveals the publication date for his sequel to The Shining.

This is all too much news for one blog post, so let’s focus on the first piece of literary fact.

According to the Guardian, JK Rowling’s first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy, draws on her own experience of living on the margins of society and satirises a political landscape in which the poor are regularly cast “as this homogeneous mash, like porridge.”

The idea for the novel, her first since the Harry Potter series that made her the world’s first author to become a billionaire solely through her writing, came to her on an aeroplane. “I thought: local election! And I just knew. I had that totally physical response you get to an idea that you know will work. It’s a rush of adrenaline, it’s chemical. I had it with Harry Potter and I had it with this.”

Set in the fictional West Country village of Pagford, which bears a passing resemblance to Rowling’s own childhood home in the Forest of Dean, and telling the story of a parish election triggered by the death of councillor Barry Fairbrother, The Casual Vacancy investigates the agendas and infighting that fuel local politics, and the class divisions that rive even the most picturesque English communities.

The election ultimately turns on the fate of Pagford’s grotty council estate, the Fields, embodied in The Casual Vacancy by the wretched, wrung-out Weedon family: mother Terri, struggling to kick her drug addiction, three-year-old son Robbie, under threat of social care, and teenage daughter Krystal.

“So many people, certainly people who sit around the cabinet table, say: ‘Well, it worked for me’ or ‘This is how my father managed it’,” Rowling said. “The idea that other people might have had such a different life experience that their choices and beliefs and behaviours would be completely different … seems to escape a lot of otherwise intelligent people. The poor are discussed as this homogeneous mash, like porridge … They talk about feckless teenage mothers looking for a council flat. Well, how tragic is it that that’s what someone regards as the height of security or safety?”

The stratospheric success of the Harry Potter franchise has placed her in the enviable position of being able to do “whatever the hell I like”, she said. “I am the freest author in the world. My bills are paid – we all know I can pay my bills – I was under contract to no one, and the feeling of having all of these characters in my head and knowing that no one else knew a damned thing about them was amazing … Pagford was mine, just mine, for five years. I wrote this novel as exactly what I wanted to write.”

The Casual Vacancy is released this Thursday. To see a (rare) interview with JK Rowling, click here.

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Man Booker Shortlist Announced!


On July 26th, this blog announced the Man Booker Longlist titles, and today, we have the shortlist.

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (Myrmidon)
 set in post-second world war Malaya.

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy (And Other Stories)
– in which a young woman entangles herself in the life of an English poet and his family in the south of France.

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)
– sequel to Man Booker prize-winning Wolf Hall.

The Lighthouse by Alison Moore (Salt)
– a man trying to find himself on a walking holiday.

Umbrella by Will Self (Bloomsbury)
– the story of a victim of the sleeping sickness epidemic at the end of the first world war.

Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil (Faber & Faber)
–  set amongst the opium dens of 1970s Mumbai.

Click here to view the shortlist in pictures.

According to the Guardian, “After last year’s controversial focus on ‘readability’, the judges for this year’s Man Booker prize have concentrated on the ‘pure power of prose’ to pick a confident, eclectic shortlist of titles.”

As reported in the Independent, one of the books on the shortlist, Swimming Home by Deborah Levy, was rejected by traditional publishers and only hit the shelves thanks to a publisher which relies on subscriptions from readers.

Chair of the judges, Sir Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, said: “We loved the shock of language shown in so many different ways and were exhilarated by the vigour and vividly defined values in the six books that we chose – and in the visible confidence of the novel’s place in forming our words and ideas. We were considering all the time novels, not novelists, texts not reputations. We read and we reread. It was the power and depth of prose that settled most of the judges’ debates. […] Without the renewal of English the novel does nothing very much.”

The winner will be revealed at a ceremony at London’s Guildhall on 16th October. The winner will receive a £50,000 prize, in addition to the £2,500 awarded to all shortlisted writers and, importantly, a huge boost in sales for their work. Last year’s winner, The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes, has sold more than 300,000 print editions in the UK.

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