Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘POD

At the end of 2008, after years of rejection letters from agents and publishers, I decided to publish my novel, ‘Tasting the Wind’ in a ‘Print on Demand’ (POD) format.

POD is not to be confused with self publishing. If I had self-published there would have been a lot more donkey work- buying my own ISBN, submitting the legally required copies to the relevant libraries and so on. It would also- and I have this on the authority of self- published authors- be far more expensive. With conventional self-publishing the author pays for a print run and ends up with a garage full of physical copies. POD books exist in cyberspace, and can be printed off… well on demand, as the term suggests.

So how was it for me?

The down side.

So you can have a nice, glossy covered version of your work without having to suffer another rejection. But what are the down sides?

These are probably in proportion to your expectations. If you think that a POD book is going to make you rich and famous, then think again. Some writers (including myself at one time) will point out the occasional author who has self or POD published and as a result has been ‘noticed’ by a major publisher. These are so few and far between that it can in no way be relied upon to get your book into the bestsellers list. Also, once you have gone down the POD route you have used up your first publishing rights.

 The fact that the technological revolution has enabled you to publish a book which has had no editorial input or proof reading means that anyone at all, regardless of talent or lack of it, can publish a book.  Even as a POD published author I have to admit that I am very careful about buying POD  work, and like to find out as much as I can, including reading a sample if possible. In order to give others a chance to decide before buying ‘Tasting the wind,’ and because I believe it will stand the test,  I have put the opening chapters on my website, www.allanmayer.com  and you can read a whole 25% of it on Smashwords, where it can be downloaded as an e-book.

Even after ten years of work, ‘Tasting the Wind’ admittedly has some typographic and grammatical weak spots. Despite careful readings by myself, family and friends, seeing your book in a published form for the first time will highlight some obvious errors previously unspotted. *

The company that I published with – www.youwriteon.com , have had their fair share of criticism. Their original plan to publish 5000 books by Christmas 2008 was never going to happen in reality. For £39.99 YWO printed my book, bought an ISBN number and placed it on several online book sellers sites including Amazon and Book Depository. YWO get 40% of everything I sell. I am aware that I could have gone down other routes which would have retained me more of the royalties, but as I knew that these would not be phenomenal figures I didn’t get over concerned about this.

I’m not sure if marketing should come under the downs or the ups, as it has provided an enjoyable learning experience. BUT it is hard work, and can consume a lot of your time. The best thing that can happen to a POD book is that it finds a niche audience or manages to get national press coverage (which to my knowledge two YWO books have done.) Talking of the down side, as I am, this brings me to my two greatest disappointments. Both ‘Community are Magazine’ and one of the Royal College of Nursing  journals showed interest then decided not to pursue the interview/ review. An appearance in either of these would have really boosted sales, but que sera sera… 

One last thing about  the downside: there were  frustrating delays in the publication of the book and the appearance for a short time of someone else’s cover with my information on some of the sites.  I don’t know if I’m particularly blessed with patience or just plain stupid, but at a time when people were panicking and withdrawing their work I decided to wait and see. The POD project was new to Ted Smith and the team, and they would be first to admit that there were teething troubles.

Then came the day when the first copy arrived, which leads me to…

The Up Side

I had heard all sorts of terrible things about the quality of POD books, including one of a writer doing a signing where the books were so poorly bound that they fell apart. No such problem with books published by YWO- I have handled several copies of ‘Tasting the Wind’ and books by other YWO authors and all have been sturdy and well produced.

I have made a lot of lovely contacts through developing my web presence. I received an e-mail from an Australian Speech Pathologist who was using parts of ‘Tasting the Wind’ in her lectures. The director of a company which specialises in workplace disability adjustments ordered signed copies for all of  his staff. I was also contacted by friends of David Heffer, a friend and colleague who was killed by the IRA and to whom ‘Tasting the Wind’ is dedicated.

Talking of web presence- I succeeded in what I set out to do by blitzing as many outlets as I could find. Google any combination of ‘Allan Mayer, Tasting the Wind and you will find pages and pages. Not that many people will Google those words, but I am pleased to say that if you also Google ‘Learning Disabilities novel’ I now appear on the first page.

Although, as I said, you will not earn fame and fortune through a POD novel, you may earn a small amount of local celebrity. I have appeared several times in local papers and have been approached by people who have seen the article and even bought the book. I am also pleased to have appeared twice in the magazine of  Derian House children’s hospice, to whom I was proud to give the first month’s royalties.

The critics of POD publishing say that only your friends and family will buy your book. This is patently untrue- living as we do in the world of the internet there is more potential than ever before for creating sales worldwide.

The most important thing is that my book is being read. It is not only being read, enjoyed, and not just sitting on my hard drive.

So how many people have read it?

Well, I once read that a POD book would do well to sell 100 copies. I was happy when I heard that I had sold 122 in the first six months. Fluctuations in my Amazon rankings (U.S. and UK) since then  indicate that it has continued to sell, and I know that some people have passed it on to friends. Having come to the conclusion that my book was not commercial and unlikely to attract a major publisher, I concluded that a small readership was better than none at all. At the end of the day it all comes down to why you write. Yes, fame and fortune as a writer is a highly desirable thing. But in this case so is the thrill of connection I have found when people have sent personal e-mails or written reviews which tell me that they get what I am saying.

I think that fame and fortune can wait until the next book…

(WATCH THIS SPACE)

*My purpose in writing this post is to give an honest account of my POD experience- not to put you off buying my book.  If you find this off putting please refer to my Amazon reviews, where people I have never met have taken the trouble to point out that despite these issues they would still recommend the book and have given no lower than 4/5 stars.

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A Crystal Meth True Story.

I have often wondered over the past few months if any of the 400+ books published by YouWriteOn so far would break away from the pack and achieve high sales and sustained Amazon rankings.

This week, I heard that ‘Tweaking the Dream’ by Clea Myers was starting to do exactly that. Since the book was featured in The Sun newspaper it has maintained a consistent position within the top 10,000 books on Amazon.uk. When I researched the Amazon rankings earlier this year I discovered that a book that could do that would be considered a success by any small publisher.

My first reaction upon hearing about Clea Myers’ success was that it was a cause for celebration for all of us in the YouWriteOn stable. Having said this, any celebration of  ‘Tweaking the Dream’ as a triumph for POD publishing must come second to a far more important triumph: this book is getting the truth out there about the evils of Crystal Meth. It is Clea Myers’ own story about her descent into Hell through her use of the drug, and if any of the YWO books go on to greater things it would be good to know that it is one with such an important message.

You can read the Sun interview here:

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/2583142/Crystal-meth-is-the-devils-poison.html?OTC-RSS&ATTR=Features

Visit Clea’s website here: http://cleamyers.com/

OK, before I start- Reality Check…

I am not, as has been said in some quarters about POD published authors, the literary equivalent of  the ‘Britain’s got Talent’ Saddoes who assault our eyes and ears and in some cases our moral sensitivities on a Saturday Evening.

I have written a novel which will have appeal to a discerning but limited audience, granted, but in having it published through Print on Demand I know what I am doing. People are reading the story, and they are enjoying it. Maybe in smaller numbers than if I’d been taken on by a mainstream publisher, but as my belief is in the story and not in money I would rather a few people read it than it stays on my hard drive until I die because it is not considered ‘commercial.’

But in my small way I got my fifteen minutes of fame today, and enjoyed it.

Let’s get it into perspective though. As much as I love writing, I belong to another world, a world which is more real and more rewarding.

Tasting the Wind features people with learning disabilities because for over twenty years that is a world in which I have been immersed. I manage a day service for people with Profound Learning Disabilities. Much of the job is administrational but occasionally I get to work ‘hands-on.’ Like yesterday when I spent an afternoon pedalling people around on adapted bicycles, getting the wind in their faces and experiencing speed.

Today I accompanied people to a ‘Wheelchair aerobics’ session at the local leisure centre.

I got back to the office where two of my tasks at the moment include merging two services into one, and buying equipment in memory of a dearly loved ‘service user’ ( a piece of jargon we are obliged to use) who died recently.

In the midst of this, a staff member called me. I picked up the phone to hear her say ‘you’re famous!’

‘I’m what?’

‘Famous!’

it turned out that a former member of staff who has now gone to university had walked into her tutor’s office to see a copy of my book on her desk, and had texted to pass on what she had seen.

It was a nice feeling.

Then I got home. Wednesday night is a night where I get a bit of free time. My wife, Alison, is now a Brownie leader- well almost- soon she will be taking an oath with her hand on a mushroom (which I think is bordering on the occult.) So she is out at the same time that our foster son, Duane, is at scouts.

So I go online. My blog stats and website hits are soaring at the moment, so I’m pleased. People are either reading what I have to say, or are mistaking me for an American Evangelist of the same name (I’m getting some weird e-mails from people wanting to ‘share their visions.’)

Then I read an e-mail from a company director who wants me to sign some copies of Tasting the Wind as corporate gifts. I am absolutely amazed, and honoured.

Like I say, I’m not so stupid as to think that this makes me Dan Brown. But it is pleasing and  flattering.

And it is a wake up call.

I don’t pretend to know enough about the publishing status quo to claim that traditional publishing is dead or broken. But I do know one thing…

The mantra of some supposed ‘experts’ is that self-published and POD published books are only bought by the friends and families of the authors.

Maybe this was the case in pre-internet days.

And yes, it’s true that POD authors won’t sell as many copies as those with the marketing machinery of a ‘real’ publisher behind them. And my novel won’t get as many reader as one by Peter and Jordan, because in this world hype is all-important, but…

people who have never met me- people in the UK, America, Australia, Canada, have bought my book because they saw it on the internet.

So one Shibboleth of the supporters of traditional publishing has fallen. Fact.

What comes next?

A book, that is…

I’ve taken to carrying around a copy (or two) of Tasting the Wind in the ruck sack that I take to work. Today I was in a multi-agency meeting, and someone who knew that I’d recently been published said that they’d like to buy one, so ker-ching! One more sale.

And as a demonstration of what a small world it is, the buyer was Kevin O’Hara, who himself is the  author of a book called  Tell Someone. Kevin originally self-published, then his book was picked up by a mainstream publisher. And, believe it or not, Kevin’s book sales have also raised funds for Derian House Children’s Hospice.

So Kevin bought a book, and during a coffee break someone else had a look at it and bought my second copy. A third person asked me to take a copy to the next meeting.

So the moral of the story is…

Never tell a POD/ self-published author that you’d like to buy their book… especially if they’re carrying a bag…

poster

 

This is my ‘Tasting the Wind’ poster, which is now enjoying its first outing. It’s a humble beginning, but since W.H. Smiths won’t stock my book I’ve had to find other outlets.

The first is on a bookstall on Chorley Market, right across from Smiths, and by the end of this week it should be appearing at the Derian House shop.

Thanks to InPrint Solutions on Friday Street, Chorley, for making such a good job of the printing at such a reasonable rate.

blog-photo5 

I have spent the last twelve months researching ideas about book promotion.

The fruits of my labours (and advice gratefully received from other writers) can be found below.

BUT BE WARNED:

The number of ideas and links below may look overwhelming, so before you start to use them you need to formulate a structured marketing campaign. To help you do this I have created a free PDF of useful planning tools which can be downloaded from my website by clicking HERE.    

(Much of the content below has already been included in previous blog posts. New additions are marked with a  8))

Another important tip before you set off is to identify your target audience or audiences  8). Often in marketing this will refer to such things as age or social class. Another way of finding where your book will be best received is to make a list of the themes of your book, and work out to whom these will appeal. For instance- if you have written a children’s book starring an animal, how about approaching a zoo or wildlife sanctuary to see if it is the sort of thing they sell in their shop. Does your book have geographical settings or themes which would be of interest to people of a particular area?

Once you have planned your strategy and identified your target audience, try some of the ideas below:

1- Not using the internet…

●Contact local bookshops. They may have a policy or even a budget dedicated to supporting local authors. But remember to avoid visiting on Saturdays or at lunchtimes . 8)

● Investigate local groups who may want you to go along as a speaker.

 Make some promotional bookmarks or cards- hand them out, leave them around, always carry a few in your wallet or purse for when someone asks so what are you up to at the moment? I made my own on my computer, with a picture of the book cover on the front, and the details of where to buy it and my website on the reverse.

 Link up with a charity- this is a win-win situation. Offer the charity a cut of your royalties for inclusion in their magazine or newsletter.

● Always have a copy of your book handy- you’d be surprised how many people will ask if they can buy a ‘signed copy.’ 8)

Read books on marketing.

 Send a press release to local newspaper(s). Make this about yourself- not your book. This may sound like contrary advice, but you are more likely to get your press release published if it has a human interest angle. (One editor told me that the best press release for a new book is something like: local boy, dyslexic, written off by his school, has now published a book.)

●Contact local radio stations. Like your local paper, they are always looking for content- I know several writers who have done this, and they have never been refused.

● Approach your local library and ask them if they will stock/ help promote your work. Get your friends to request it.8)

● Approach local book clubs, offer them a chance to ‘Ask the Author.’  8)

2- Using the Internet…

There is a wealth of information and lists of sites that you can use on a range of Websites and Blogs. Just Google ‘book marketing’ and ‘book promotion’ and you will come up with enough ideas to last a lifetime. 8)

Visit these sites and get advice from authors who have already been down the same route. Some have newsletters which you can subscribe to.

Contribute to writers’ forums– don’t go on there to announce that you have a book to sell- this will just put people off. Go on to ask questions or contribute, and if you have a blog or website then you will get visits from other forum members.

How about making an audio book on YouTube? This is easily done- all you need is a webcam and microphone (I used a Skype set which only cost me £20.) Just follow the upload instructions on YouTube, and leave details of where your book can be bought. Again, you are guaranteed hits from anywhere on the globe, and if people like what they hear this could even lead to sales.

Have you got a blog? This is free and easy to set up. Write about how you wrote your book, your quest to publish and what has happened since. And don’t forget to Ping! Use a service like ‘Ping My Blog’ or ‘Ping 45’ every time you blog.

Put out an online press release. There are sites where you can do this such as the one set up by wordpress.  Write quality articles for ezine articles and leave links to your other sites. If people like what you have to say they will look you up and maybe even buy your book.

  E-mail all of your friends and colleagues with information about your book, and get them to email theirs (Keep it with friends and friends of friends to avoid SPAM!)

 Talk about your book on social networking sites such as FaceBook and Twitter. These sites also have groups that might be relevant to what you have written.

And don’t forget the importance of finding your target audience or audiences.  Find groups on social networking sites and elsewhere on the internet that might have an interest in the themes of your book.  This could include interests and hobbies, but it may also be the case that you have written about a geographical area. Does that area have community pages or a FaceBook group? 8)

And what about  business networking sites such as Ecademy and Naymz? As a writer it may come as a surprise to think of yourself as a business- but you have got a product to sell now, haven’t you? So look up some of these sites, get advice from established members who are in PR, and put details about your book and where to find it in your profile.

 

3-An alphabetical list of places to market your book, to showcase it or to get ideas on book promotion.

I have tried some but not all of these links- so be discerning, especially if any of them ask you for money, and please let me know if you have any bad, or good, experiences.

 A

http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/book_promotion.htm 

https://allanmayer.wordpress.com/2008/11/09/planning-for-success/  

https://allanmayer.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/blogging/

AllThat.tv

http://alphainventions.com/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/0713659653/ref=sr_1_olp_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1229895322&sr=1-7

http://www.anniejenningspr.com/pages/bookpromotion.htm

http://authorchats.gather.com/

http://www.author-promotion.com/index.html

 http://www.authorsonthenet.com/

http://www.authortree.com/About%20AuthorTree

 

B

http://www.bauuinstitute.com/Marketing/Marketing.html

http://www.behindthebuzz.com/book-promotion-through-blogs/

http://biblioscribe.com/  8)

http://www.binnaclepress.com/

http://www.blogtopsites.com/tag/book+promotion

 http://www.bookarmy.com/   8)

 

http://www.bookmarket.com/bookpromotion.htm

 

 http://books.google.com/googlebooks/book_search_tour/

http://www.bookmarket.com/bookpromotion.

http://www.bookpromotionnewsletter.com/

http://whttp://websrvr40nj.audiovideoweb.com/avwebdsnjwebsrvr4436/bonus/BookPromotionNOTforSissies.pdf

www.book-promotion.com/press.phphttp://pumpupyourbookpromotion.ning.com/

 http://bookpromotion.wetpaint.com/?t=anon 

http://www.bookpromonetwork.com/

http://www.booksurge.com/content/Google_WordsWorth.htm?cid=Wordsworth_ebook

C

Is for Confidence coaching…  Work on having a positive mental attitude. Marketing your book will need perseverence- how about getting a confidence coach? I can recommend: lynn@lynngrocott.com

D

 http://www.davidlouisedelman.com/book-promotion/ethical-self-promotion/

www.deankoontz.com 

E

http://www.ecademy.com/ 

http://www.editred.com/Book_Promotion.php

www.ezinearticles.com 

http://ezinearticles.com/?Book-Promotion-Woes?&id=71585

F

 

www.facebook.com 

http://www.fictionfactor.com/promo.html

 http://www.fonerbooks.com/market.htm

http://foremostpress.com/authors/articles/promotion.html

www.friendsreunited.com 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Frugal-Book-Promoter-What-Publisher/dp/193299310X/ref=pd_sim_b_5 

G

http://www.geoffthompson.com/

 http://gwendafox.web.officelive.com/bookshop.aspx 

H

http://www.howpublishingreallyworks.blogspot.com/

I

http://inotauthor.blogspot.com/  8)

http://www.inspiredauthor.com/promotion/node/46

http://www.iuniverse.com/ExpertAdvice/MarketingYourBook.aspx

J

http://jockstewart.typepad.com/writers_notebook/book_promotion/

http://www.juliamccutchen.com

L

htthttp://www.linkedin.com/ 

p://www.lookuppage.com

M

http://www.managementconsultingnews.com/interviews/poynter_interview.php

http://www.midwestbookreview.com/bookbiz/advice/introver.htm

http://www.milesburke.com.au/blog/2008/11/27/book-promotion-on-the-web/#comment-332792

www.myspace.com

N

http://www.naymz.com/  

 

http://nomediakings.org/doityourself/doityourself_book_promotion.html

http://novelspot.net/Book_Promo

O

www.offtopic.com

http://www.oksana.com.au/book_shop.htm

P

www.ping45.com 8)

www.pingmyblog.com

www.pingoat.com  

www.ping-o-matic.com  

http://www.pressreleasehome.com/   

http://www.pubmatch.org/   8)

Q

http://www.queensofbookmarketing.com/ 

R

http://www.readerscircle.org/   8)

http://www.ryze.com/  

S

www.secondlife.com  8)

http://selfpublishing.lifetips.com/cat/59136/promotion-ideas/index.html

http://www.aboutus.org/Soflow.com 

http://www.spawn.org/marketing/bookpromotionmistakes.htm

http://www.spawn.org/editing/bookpromotionwell.htm

http://sta.rtup.biz/

http://www.stealthpublicity.com/books.htm

T

http://www.talkink.com/promotion.html

http://thewriterslife.homestead.com/

www.twitter.com   8)

V http://vistanow.net/ 8)         Added 27th April 09

W

www.wayn.com

http://www.weberbooks.com/2006/11/using-myspace-for-book-promotion-and.html

http://websavvywriter.com/

http://websitemakeoverworkshop.com/  

http://www.writeandpublishyourbook.com/marketing/book-promotion/7-book-promotion-methods-for-your-nonfiction-book/

http://www.writeanygenre.com/book-promotion.html

 http://www.writerfind.com/resources/bookpromotion.htm

http://www.writerswrite.com/bookpromotion/

X

http://www2.xlibris.com/authors_lounge_QA_howto_onlinebookpromotion.htm

Y

http://www.youtube.com

 

I’m sure that this list is not exhaustive, and new marketing opportunities are emerging on the internet all of the time. I will be updating this from timw to time and would be grateful for any more ideas. So go for it- put yourself out there, have fun… and maybe sell a few books. 

 

 

 

A lot has happened since I started my blog one year ago this month…

This time last year I was still sending out the letters and submissions to agents and publishers and getting them returned (or not) with the standard rejection letters. Each manuscript provided exactly what each agent or publisher asked for, not a chapter more or less, an introductory letter, a synopsis and stamped addressed envelope. I never compromised on presentation, even when a friend of mine who has published a series of bestselling books told me that his break came when a publisher dished his submission out to a student, who just happened to enjoy reading it on a tube journey.

It was  advice from published writers that made me think that perhaps I was looking in the wrong place with ‘Tasting the Wind.’ One of them said that a writer’s first novel was more likely to succeed it it was ‘high concept.’ Another suggested that publishers were put off by mixed genre. A novel can be well written, but if a publisher perceives that it will not sell in large numbers it will not be taken on.

It was then that I decided to try a different route.

I had started my marketing early- about nine months before I had a published book- and that preparing of the ground proved invaluable. In August I was invited to speak at Stafford University, and it was there that a lady who later turned out to be a publishing consultant asked me who my book was aimed at, and by what time was I hoping  to get it published. For some reason I said ‘Christmas.’

It wasn’t long after this that I got an e-mail from my friend, Dominic Took, informing me that a publisher, YouWriteOn, were offering free POD publication,  before Christmas to 5000 writers .

There was never a chance that they would get 5000 books out in that time, and I wasn’t surprised when ‘Tasting the Wind’ didn’t appear until well into the New Year. So to fill the gap I carried on marketing, and through the process have met some great people. Some of them are writers who are only too happy to share ideas. Others are people who have contacted me from all corners of the globe to express interest in my work.

If you are planning to self-publish or POD publish a book, you will probably be told that it will only be bought by friends and family. I can assess this assertion in one word: WRONG. This may have been true in the days before the internet, but not now. Of course you won’t make the sales of a mainstream book- that’s a given- but if you put the work into marketing (and no one else is going to do it for you) you will find that people you have never met will buy your book, and even write reviews on it.

So, as things stand, one year on ‘Tasting the Wind’ is making modest global sales. Of over 400 YouWriteOn published books it is number one on the Book Depository chart and number two on Amazon. The immediate future is looking hopeful, as some of my biggest marketing initiatives are now in the pipeline- they include two reviews, one  in a regional magazine and another in a national.

Do I regret going down the POD route? Not at all. People are reading my story, so I consider that I have achieved what I set out to do.

Anyone who is considering POD or self-publishing must go into it with their eyes open. The chances of being ‘discovered’ by a major publisher are almost non-existent.  You will not make enormous sales, but if you work hard on promotion and find a niche market your book will not be read only by people who know you and your work will not languish on your hard drive.

So let’s see what the next twelve months bring.


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