If you saw all the stuff I posted yesterday that I am doing in preparation to launch my new book NERD GIRLS, you probably thought to yourself at some point, “Shouldn’t your publisher do all this stuff for you?”
Only two types of people really only ask that question. The first are people who have never published a book. The second are international best-selling authors with publishers who do do all this for them (because these authors bring in such monumental profits that the company knows all-too-well the ROI to be gained from dedicating such extensive time, effort and energy to advocating for these writers).
Now before I go on, I have to qualify all of this with something: Disney does a heck of a lot for me and I adore publishing books with Disney Book Group. They are great people who support me as fully as they can – even more so than perhaps they ought in certain ways – and I am really grateful for all the tremendous help I get from them in terms of marketing, promotion, bookstore placement, awareness, conference presence… the list of their contributions to launching my book and supporting me as an author are FANTASTIC! I really do mean that.
However, in this day and age there is always more that can be done and the fact is, as an author in modern times, the hard truth is you that you must help yourself.
You must. If you want something done, you really have to be willing to do it for yourself. A cold, brutal truth is that a publisher doesn’t have the time, staff, resources, budget and so on to do all the things I am doing. And every author on their list wants them to do it. And needles them to do it. And so do their agents, too.
Now, would I like them to do it? Of course, I would. But I also would like them to buy an ad on the side of a building in Times Square with my book cover plastered 50 stories high for all of New York to see. (And then they can negotiate the Eiffel Tower, The Taj Mahal, the Pyramids, the Golden Gate Bridge and on and on, too.) Point is, as an author these days, if you want to take advantage of the cutting-edge means by which books can be launched, you’ve got to do it yourself.
What’s the cost? Well, before I answer it, you have to know that the extensive cost is, to me, very much worth the price because I so greatly believe in the potential of NERD GIRLS. An author who doesn’t have that in their back pocket should stop reading now.
1) Time: I can’t even tell you how many hours and hours I have spent preparing for this book launch. Sweat equity is the one expenditure I can control and the only ceiling over it is my own need to sleep.
2) Money: Indeed, I have spent thousands of my own dollars preparing to launch. Why? Well, each author has their own answer but to me, it falls under the category of, “Hey, you only live once… let’s go for the brass ring with this one.”
3) Intellectual capital: Every hour I am creating content for my blog, my website, Facebook, the online booksellers, Twitter, and so on is an hour I am not writing a new book. And writing new books is what puts Cheerios in my daughter’s breakfast bowl. But creating awareness for the books I am about to publish also puts Cheerios in my daughter’s cereal bowl – albeit, in a more non-linear way. How do I know what the right balance is? I don’t. (Such is an author’s life.)
4) Social capital: Of course, I lean on friends and the such to “help me out” in a host of ways. And every time you make such a requisition, you are spending a few chips you have in that friend’s account. This means you have to make sure you are the type of person who also puts chips into your friend’s account. For me, this is actually easier; I feel more comfortable doing for others than I do asking others to help me. Alas, no author is an island though and when it comes time to “spread the word that Alan has a new book out” I need my friends to help. I need them to go on Amazon and BN and write nice reviews (if they indeed, like NERD GIRLS). I need them to tweet, FB, talk, spread word-of-mouth. Over the course of the next month I need their help to help me really launch my new title. And if they don’t help me, the kite just won’t fly as high. And if they do help, there’s no guarantee that their efforts are going to make any difference, either. Yet, in asking them to help, I owe ‘em. There’s a lot of “can you help me out” emails one day to land in my inbox. Them’s just the cards today’s are authors are dealt.
Phew, I got a lot riding on this huh? But when chasing your dreams, is there any other way?