If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

July Interviews

7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets

Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Politics of Publishing

Sunny Frazier, the acquisitions editor for Oak Tree Press, provides valuable insight on the writing business from the perspective of a small publisher. I learned from this piece; I hope you will too.


Ever since Amazon legitimized self-publishing, small publishing houses and Big Publishing have been reeling from the impact. Big Publishing's answer was to first discredit authors who took control of their careers, then sought to keep prices high on e-books so agents and publishers could continue to reap profits.

Small publishing continued as if nothing really changed. Indie houses have been ignored by book chains, and small press authors are often barred from panels and signings at conferences and conventions. But, many small publishers embraced both trade paperback and e-book editions of their titles, finding room for both formats.

As acquisitions editor of a mid-sized publishing house, I'm experiencing a different dilemma. Authors now expect/demand that I somehow get their book out within three months of submission. Impatient, many pull their books before I even get a chance to read sample pages. There is a feeling that authors now have the upper hand in the book world and publishing has to dance to their tune and time frame.

In the past, an author HOPED that their query letter would be answered within three months. Tales of the bottomless slush pile and form rejection letters made the process harrowing. True, Big Publishing fed into this idea, dangling visions of advances and best seller lists only to dash hopes and careers against a wall guarded by agents and editors. 

It was a cruel system. Beginning novelists were made to doubt their talent and often gave up too soon. What smaller publishers offered was hope and a shot. While Big Publishing grew too large to see authors as individuals, smaller houses with less staff invested not just time and money producing books but took an interest in the personal lives of their stable of authors.

But, small means just that. With Print On Demand technology, publishers don't need a large staff or huge office to churn out books. Overhead is kept low so books can be produced and sold cost effectively. In a tough economy, books become a luxury. Nobody in a smaller house is getting rich anytime soon. Just as penning a book is a labor of love, so is seeing that books get into print and into the author's hands. 

With the power shift, authors know they are in control of their careers for the first time. I applaud this change. But, that doesn't mean my in box isn't still swamped with queries. I can't push my publisher to hand out contracts any faster. We can't expand our output of titles to accommodate everyone waiting in the wings. It still takes about a year to go from query to publication.

The wall that ambitious authors hit now is one they never saw coming: promotion. With an onslaught of books on the market all vying for the few dollars people spend to read, success comes to the author who conquers marketing. Too many authors feel the hard part is behind them when they put their soul into satisfying their muse. They've invested their time writing, but not a cent of their money. Profit is supposed to flow to the writer. It's somebody else's job to actually sell the book.

Brass tacks: It costs about $200 to produce a book in paperback. That covers artwork, lay-out, editing, ARCs, printing and distribution. Much of the work is done via email so we work from our homes all across the country. It takes the sale of approximately 300 books before publishers begin to see a profit. Industry stats show that 82% of the books published don't sell more than 100 copies.

The odds are against publishers more than authors. The house operates in the red until the book starts to sell. There's no money in the budget to do individual promotion for each author. It's on the author, whether they indie published or self-published.

So, the new politics of publishing justifiably puts success squarely in the hands of authors. Marketing is on their shoulders too. Only those who show drive and initiative, not just talent, will see any profit from their efforts. Readers don't come cheap or easy and thousands of novelists are scrambling for the same dollars. The adage “He wins who wants it most” has never been more true than today.

Sunny Frazier is a Navy veteran and a former newspaper reporter until the publication folded. She joined the Fresno County Sheriff's Dept. and worked as a confidential secretary for   an undercover narcotics team. After 17 years in law enforcement, she turned her energies to writing the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries. Based in the San Joaquin Valley of California, the novels are inspired by real cases and 40 years of casting horoscopes.

Frazier is also acquisitions editor for Oak Tree Press. Her website is http://www.sunnyfrazier.com.


Gloria Alden said...

Very interesting and informative post. Since I'm a member of the Guppies and Guppy Press Quest, which is a subgroup of the Guppies aimed at finding reputable small presses, I already new much of what I've read. When I started writing, I had that same view of writers; once we had written our book, we could continue with writing another and the publisher handled all that promotion stuff. Sadly, I learned it just doesn't happen. I also had the misguided view the money flowing in would help with me retirement. Another fallacy, but I continue writing and will keep on. Thanks for the good post.

E. B. Davis said...

Welcome to WWK, Sunny. For most writers, like me, promotion is a hard part of the job. I'd rather not rush into self-publishing and would like to think that I could obtain guidance from the publisher as to how to go about promotion.
Where to start is my first question. I blog, I twitter, I facebook--I'm not great at the social media, although I feel comfortable blogging now. What are the components of a successful marketing/promotional plan?

Jim Jackson said...

In a society that demands instant gratification, patience is becoming a lost virtue.

My contract with Barking Rain Press for Bad Policy calls for a March 2013 publication date. Everything has gone faster than expected and other than layout the book is ready to go. However, I have not pushed for a quicker release because I need the time to set up a marketing campaign -- and it does take time.

~ Jim

Kara Cerise said...

Thank you for an informative blog about the publishing industry, Sunny! You made excellent points about being patient and the importance of developing marketing skills.

Sunny Frazier said...

E.B. (and the rest)
Promotion doesn't have to be hard. I put together something called The Posse. When I market, they market. I have feelers out all the time and I save others the time and effort by giving them links that will help their career. The Posse, 75 strong, also cross promote and give valuable marketing info to each other. We monitor each other's blogs. We have become a force to be reckoned with and sought after by reviewers and interviewers.

You can become part of the Posse by simply contacting me at sunny69@comcast.net and asking to be included. No money involved. Also, Posse posts to links are at my site, http://www.sunnyfrazier.com

I've also started something called Friday Round-Up over at the Oak Tree Press website http://otpblog.blogspot.com/ Every Friday I give info on sites our authors have been involved with during that week. LOTS of marketing info there!

My philosophy is that if a venue doesn't exist that works in your favor, create it!

C.l.Swinney said...

Hey Sunny,

I guess I'm a blend of old school and new school. I'm Patient and i'm a huge fan of self promption. I was waiting 3-6 months to hear just about a query letter I had submitted, but I thought this was the norm. If people are pulling books without even letting you read them they are crazy!! The problem with self publishing and the tactics used by the big pubs is it has left budding authors confused about how the industry really works. Thanks as usual for the great piece!

Virginia Walton Pilegard said...

Well said, Sunny. May I add that most of the marketing for authors with mid-size presses now now falls to the author as well? The "book tour" for my most recent book consisted of two local signings I helped the publicist set up. I have more options to publish now than I did in 2000 when I my first book came out--and the publishing house sent me from Reno to San Diego. The tradeoff is that I have full responsibility for pedaling my wares.

California Imagism Gallery said...

Promoting is actually a lot of fun, and truly it was only a short time in the history of writing and publishing that the big houses gave that kind of support. Writers should want to do it. The Beowulf Bard did it, Mark Twain did it, most great writers did it. It's a part of a great tradition. In the end, all great writers want to create a personal connection with their readers, to let them know that there's someone out there who understands them. Promotion can be just one more way of doing that.

Marja said...

Promotion is both the hardest and the most fun part of writing. The biggest problem for me is that I don't live near any large cities. In this economy, traveling can be an issue. Thank goodness for the Internet and the Posse.

Terry Ambrose said...

Nicely said, Sunny! It's the dirty little secret in publishing, yes?

Unknown said...

Interesting post Sunny. I have a friend who was just published by one of the Big Five publishing houses. I am amazed at the number of ARC’s they sent out to get reviews and the amount of money they are spending on promoting his book. As a result he doesn’t think he has to market, just finish writing and editing the next book. I like being with an independent publisher, Oak Tree Press, and the amount of help and information that is shared between our authors. As an example, I learned about Blog Talk Radio before my friend did. I think the key for writers serious about their writing careers, is to pay attention to ALL aspects of the writing business, and promotion is a big part of that.

Sunny Frazier said...

What happens to your friend when his book doesn't sell to the expected numbers and he is out in the cold? Ignorance of marketing won't help then.

You had the experience of self-publishing first and you are building on that experience now with Oak Tree. I'm sure you can see where a handle on marketing prior to publication would have made a difference in sales. The fact is, writers don't know where to turn. It can't be an excuse--there is simply too much ready knowledge floating on the Internet. The trick is to know what's treasure and what's trash.