Promotional Expectations

What should an author expect from a publisher in the way of promotion?
In addition to what I mentioned in yesterday's post, I made a few suggestions here and here.

What's the best way to promote a book?
Depends on the book, the genre, the target audience. There are a few suggestions in the links above. But in addition to this, brainstorm. Look at what others are doing and adapt them to your situation. But don't be a Nathan Newauthor. DISCUSS the possibilities with your publisher and TOGETHER decide what will work best.


More on Promotion

Doesn't promotion/marketing fall mainly to the author, especially in the LDS market? [I added "marketing" to this question, because they're so closely related.]
No, it doesn't. Yes, an author has to do a lot of promotion for their book but it is an error in thinking that the author does the majority of the promotion for their book.

Your publisher is going to concentrate on marketing your book to the bookstores, to get it in the stores and on the shelves. A lot of this promotion is very "behind the scenes" to the author. It includes schmoozing, developing industry relationships, phone calls, mailings, e-mailings, faxes, catalogs, order forms, shelf liners, in-store posters, promotional discounts, convention booths, sometimes personal visits to the stores, etc., etc., etc. It also includes things like the cover design and layout of your book, to make it attractive to the buyer, pre-market research, and all sorts of stuff that takes time and costs money--90% of which you, the author, will not see happening. We're honestly not just sitting there twiddling our thumbs. We have a monetary investment in your book that we want to recoup and to build upon.

The author promotes mainly to the reader via book signings, television and radio shows, newspaper reviews, press releases, bookmarks, business cards, websites, blogs, post cards, firesides, buttons, t-shirts, and whatever else you can think of. (Some of which the publisher will provide, or assist you in creating; all of which you should run past them.)

Dollar for dollar, I know I've outspent every single one of my authors in marketing and promoting their books.

Now, for a few other questions. I am going to give you MY answers, as in, OUR company policy. Your publisher may have a different policy and/or attitude. When in doubt, ask them.

Is it acceptable to blog about or announce on your website, an upcoming (6 months or so from now) book release?
Yes. It's fine to blog about your challenges and rewards of your work in progress, to post about it as you move through the submission and acceptance process, where it's at in printing and marketing. That's great. It creates a buzz and an expectation; it also personalizes it to your blog readers. They'll be more likely to buy your book if they've shared your journey.

Don't post content because 1) it will likely change; 2) if the reader doesn't care for your first draft, they won't be drawn to read the finished book.

Also, do not post negative things, like "Gee, my stupid publisher blah, blah, blah" or "I hate my book cover..." All of that puts a negative spin on your book and decreases interest.

Is it acceptable to continue to blog about the book release?
Yes, see above.

Do most publishers provide bookmarks or other promotional items if the author asks for such?
We do—up to a certain amount and under certain conditions. If the author wants more or different items, then we negotiate it on an item by item basis.

Bottom line: an author should obtain permission for all promotion, including blogs?
You shouldn't have to clear every single blog post with your publisher. We don't have time for that and we wouldn't be publishing you if we didn't have some faith in your writing abilities. However, I really liked Josi's suggestions about a marketing plan. If you make a quick outline of what you intend to do, include blogging on that list. Then if your publisher has a problem with it, they can contact you to discuss it.


Guest Blog: Ryan Bott, Millennial Press

(I don't usually do two posts in one day but I'd already promised Annette I'd post her photos today. Then when I checked my mail, Ryan Bott of Millennial Press had sent a reply to a comment on another post. Since I think it's always great to hear the publisher's side of things, I decided to give you a two for one. I will address the questions about marketing that have been e-mailed and posted in the comments later this week.)

Anonymous comment on this post:
Thanks for the pictures, I wish I could have gone. I don't know how I honestly feel about Millenial Press, however. Their new series, a continuation of the same ideas that were presented in Mormons and Masons seems a little unecessary and could become offensive to some. Any thoughts?

Hello everyone, Ryan here with Millennial Press. I have some insights that may help "Anonymous" and others to better understand our new Setting The Record Straight Series.

1. "...a continuation of the same ideas that were presented in Mormons and Masons..."
Just one question: Have you read the any of the new books? Every book in the series covers a different topic. The only similarity between books in this series is their layout/format.

2. "...could become offensive to some."
Could you please expound on this a little more for me? We solicited the experts of each topic to expound on their area of expertise.
  • Susan Easton Black - Joseph Smith
  • Jack R. Christianson - Book of Mormon
  • Marcus H. Martins - Blacks & The Priesthood
  • Jessie Embry - Polygamy
If you care to research these individuals, you will find that each is VERY qualified to write on their area of expertise. I guess that if you find the documented truth to be “offensive,” then we are guilty as charged. Extreme measures were taken to make sure that this series wasn't offensive. That is why I have a hard time understanding your comment.

3. "...seems a little unnecessary..."
I find this comment quite interesting. Here is a link that I think you will find insightful.

Quote from the link: According to the bookstore's C.E.O., Sheri Dew, "The big-box retailers are saying, 'What else do you have? Give us more.' And 'Yes, if you've got values-based fiction, we love that. And by the way, your other fiction is selling. And what other books do you have that will really explain your faith, because people are coming and asking.'"

You may also be interested to know that Mormons & Masons recently appeared on Deseret Book's Bestsellers List.

I think if you understood the purpose behind this series, you would look at it differently. Before I share that purpose with you, allow me to quote another quote from the ksl.com link.

Kirk Jowers of the Hinckley Institute of Politics says, "I talked to people in Boston and D.C., in Florida, who are members of the church and that [the LDS religion] is now water cooler talk. People want them to talk about the church, and Mormons are famous, or infamous, for wanting to do that. So it's a great moment for the church."

This series presents historical timelines, and addresses questions that are typically (and not so typically) asked to Latter-day Saints about their religion. Our first goal is to better educate Latter-day Saints about their religion, so that they are better prepared for their "water cooler talks." I have been a member of the church all my life, and there are questions in these books I have never even thought of. It is only by the authors being the "authorities" on their topics that these unique questions are presented to them.

Our second goal that we hope to accomplish, with the national push of this series, is to educate Non-Members about what LDS people believe. People have heard enough about "what Mormons believe" from their pastors, preachers and ministers. Now it is time for them to hear the truth. And who better to share the truth than someone who has put many years into becoming an "expert" on certain topics?

"Unnecessary," "a continuation of the same ideas," "could become offensive to some." I hope I have convinced you otherwise. I am honestly VERY interested to find out which books you have read, and in what ways you feel they can "become offensive to some." Feel free to email me directly.

Kindest Regards,
Ryan L. Bott
Director of Operations
Millennial Press, Inc.

LDSBA Photos Compliments of Annette Lyon

The actual Whitney Award. Classy.

Annette Lyon at her book signing in the Covenant booth.

The Covenant banner for Annette's book.


The Horrible Story of Nathan Newauthor

On the subject of marketing and promotion, I'm saddened to hear that some publishers don't get back to their authors in a timely manner concerning promotional events. Sometimes it's beyond their control and a matter of bad timing, but if it's a regular occurrence, that's really unfortunate. And as an author, you may feel hamstrung in your efforts because there is probably a clause in your contract somewhere that says you have to have all promotional pieces and marketing efforts approved by your publisher.

There is a reason for that clause as illustrated in this story about Nathan Newauthor. Nathan is a soon-to-be-published new author whose book is currently at the press. In his enthusiasm and inexperience and without permission and approval from the publisher, Nathan decides to get very creative with his marketing ideas. Having read a book on guerilla marketing for writers and being encouraged to push the envelope by friends and family (who know very little about the publishing industry), Nathan creates and hand distributes a promotional piece at an event with nearly 1,000 attendees that are HIS TARGET AUDIENCE.

Wa-hoo! Those orders ought to start rolling in.

Here's what Nathan doesn't understand.
  1. Although he and his mother thought it looked quite attractive, his marketing piece was very unprofessionally done. It looked like it had been copied at Kinko's and hand-cut and assembled. Which it had been. Now, let's think for a minute. Does an ugly promotional piece encourage or discourage someone to go purchase a product? Do the people he gave promo to know that Nathan lovingly slaved for hours to create this? Do they give him an A for effort? No. They think the publisher did it--and if that's the best the publisher can do, why would they think the "real" book would be any better? Nathan most likely just lost 800 of the 1,000 people in his target audience.

    If Nathan's publisher had been involved, the promo would have been professionally designed, using appropriate fontage and color and white space and all that other graphic design mumbo-jumbo that most people poo-poo, but which has an actual, measurable impact on the buyer.

  2. Nathan spent way too much money on the project, so he decided to just do a few in color and the rest in black and white. Color says, these people know what they're doing; black and white says, these people are working out of their garage on a shoe-string budget.

    Had Nathan's publisher created the piece, it would have been in color and printed at a much lower price. Because we have connections.

  3. Nathan thought it would be great to get advance notice out for his book. Good in theory. But if you market too soon, you lose momentum. Since his release is over a month away, it's too soon to market to the end customer.

    Nathan also thinks people will pre-order his book. No, they won't because his name is not J.K. Rowling. They'll go to the bookstore or website, decide to wait to get the book when it's available, and then FORGET about it.

    Publishers understand this. We time our advance notice.

  4. Nathan didn't know (because he didn't bother to ask) and the publisher hadn't told him (because it clearly states in the contract that Nathan has to approve all marketing efforts and since he didn't, the publisher had no way of knowing he was planning something like this) is that there was trouble at the printer and his books are going to be delayed by several weeks past his scheduled release date.

    Publishers know that release dates can be tentative and they plan accordingly. New authors believe the release date is carved in stone.

  5. Nathan thought it would be a great thing to let all the people at this event know about his upcoming release. What he didn't know is that the event coordinators have a very strict policy against distributing promotional pieces at said event. In fact, if a publisher does that, they are very often asked never to return.

    If Nathan had asked his publisher, the publisher could have prevented this serious faux pas.

  6. Nathan thought he was doing his publisher a favor because the event coordinators are one of the publisher's largest bulk buyers. But they don't like what he did. They are not happy. If they are severely unhappy, not only will they NOT buy Nathan's book, but they may also stop buying other books from this publisher. Nathan thinks he was only promoting himself and his book, but in reality, since the publisher's name was all over the marketing piece, he was also indirectly representing the publisher, and by default, all of their other products as well.

    Again, the publisher could have prevented Nathan from not only shooting himself in the foot, but also from shooting the feet of the publisher and their other authors.

  7. Nathan thinks marketing and promotion is all fun and games, and that anything goes. As long as he's paying for it, what's the harm? What he doesn't realize is that he's created a situation that could cause a lot of potential harm, for himself, for his book, for the publisher and for every other author the publisher represents.

    Because the event coordinators are a major buyer of the publisher's products, the publisher has to keep them happy. This is especially important in a small market like ours, where there are only so many distribution channels.

    If the buyer is ticked, and the publisher blows it off, they lose credibility with the buyer. If the buyer is really ticked, the publisher may have to choose between Nathan Newauthor's not-yet-released book and placating the buyer. Since Nathan's book is one teeny part of the publisher's product line, and the buyer is a huge part of the publisher's income, what do you think the publisher is going to do? The choice could literally be between dropping the author like a hot potato or going out of business.

    Worst case scenario: the publisher decides Nathan's mistake puts them in a high-risk situation, cancels the contract with Nathan, destroys the book, and sues Nathan for loss and damages due to breach of contract.

    Best case scenario: the publisher gives Nathan a harsh talking to, holds the release of the book until everything is smoothed over with the big buyer, and is now very reluctant to consider future projects with Nathan.
Point of the story: Just because an author doesn't understand why a publisher has a certain policy or clause in their contract, it doesn't mean there's not a very good reason for it. When an author disregards that, they are asking for trouble.

Another point of the story [for those of you who still don't quite understand this concept yet]: Yes, for the publisher, the bottom line IS ABOUT THE MONEY. If we don't make money, we won't be publishers for very long.

One last point: If this is too restrictive for you, then you are free to self-publish. No one is preventing you. But if you choose the traditional publishing route, you have to be willing to play by the publisher's rules.

P.S. This is not a fictional story. It is based on true events, but the names and a few small particulars have been changed to protect the... well, you know.

P.P. S. Fortunately for Nathan, the publisher was able to smooth things over with the buyer and he got the best case scenario.


LDSBA 2007 Photos

As promised, here are some LDSBA photos. I intended to get a lot more, but I got distracted and only have a few. So if you want to send me some, I'll post them. (All you authors who did signings, send a photo!)

Leatherwood Press


Not All Publishers Are As Nice As Me

Talk about a fast response. I'm afraid someone may have burns on their fingertips from typing this e-mail so fast.
You are nice? Maybe I'll believe that. Most publishers are nice? No way. Don't give us hope that our publishers will return a nice and reasonable response to our requests or challenges. They don't. At least, not in my experience!!! When you hold out hope, it just depresses us more when that hope is dashed against the sharp rocks of reality.
Okay. I'll grant you that. Not all publishers are nice. In fact, at Booksellers I spoke with several authors who gave me an ear full--not about me, about some of the other publishers.

So, comment away. Tell us all about your crazy, mean and inconsiderate publishers. The only rules are:
  1. No swearing.

  2. No identification of yourself (don't want to get you in trouble).

  3. No indentification of your publisher (don't want to get sued).

Because Nice Matters...

A publishing company needs to have a working calendar where we schedule due dates, press dates, release dates, etc. When I start a calendar year, I usually have a pretty good idea of which projects I'm going to be publishing during that year. I calendar their release dates according to a specific list of criteria. Due to budget restraints and other limited resources, I have to stay as close to my calendar schedule as is humanly possible.

Point One: The nature of the publishing business is that things are always getting delayed. It always takes longer to do something then you think it will. A key employee gets a two-week flu. The graphic designer goes on vacation. The printer has a brain cramp and forgets he agreed to do a project by a certain date. Shipments get held up in customs. Whatever. The bigger the publishing company, the more flexibility they have and the less likely the printer is to forget them, but still. It's always something. We try to pad our schedule for emergencies like these but sometimes things happen outside of our control. Yelling at US doesn't heal our employees or influence the customs master. We expect you, the author, to understand and be patient. We will be nice to you by explaining these things as soon as we know about them and we expect you to be nice back.

Point Two: When an author and I agree to a release schedule, and I tell them I need their finished manuscript by February so that we can release it at Bookseller's in August--and they agree--then I pretty much need their manuscript when I say I do. If the author doesn't get me their manuscript until April, then their project is now competing with another author's project and release date.

What am I supposed to do? Tell Author B, who did get their manuscript to me on time, that their book will now miss Bookseller's because Author A was two months late with their's?

I understand that things happen. Authors have real lives too. If life smacks you in the face and you're going to miss your deadline, let me know as soon as possible. Talk to me. I will be understanding. I will be nice. I might be able to swap your schedule with someone else's and get you both out in time for Booksellers. I'll certainly work with you as much as I reasonably can because I like your book; I want your book.

BUT I'm not going to bump someone else's book--which I also like and want--to accommodate yours. I'm not going to work 18 hour days and rush both projects through. I'm also not paying my employees overtime to get your book done so it can be released on its original schedule. I've already paid them for twiddling their thumbs for two months because your book wasn't there to work on when it was originally scheduled.

When this happens (and it does more often than not), please don't climb up my back or yell at my employees because your book wasn't at Booksellers as I'd originally "promised" and don't accuse me of breaking agreements and acting without integrity when YOU were the one who dropped the ball.

I will be nice to you, but I expect you to be nice back.


Judging a Book by its Cover(s)

I've never before received an e-mail that had someone else's entire blog post copied and pasted, followed by the words, "What do you think?"

So go read the post and all the comments over on Six LDS Writers and A Frog, then come back here for my opinion.


As a reader and book buyer, I have never purchased multiple copies of a book just to get a variety of covers. I have, however, purchased new copies of books when a cooler cover came out. For example, I had the whole set of The Chronicles of Narnia, purchased about 20 years ago. When the movie came out, the market was flooded with reprints, all with new covers. I bought the trade copy with all seven books in one and the picture of the Snow Queen on the front. Did I "need" new copies? No. But the cover was really cool.

Also, as a reader and book buyer, I have browsed books on the shelf, picked them up, then put them back--only to see the same book on a different shelf with a different cover, picked it up for a second look, and bought it. Because the cover was more appealing and enticing to me. You'd think, being in the business and all, I would know better than to select or reject a book based on its cover. But I don't. I'm just like everyone else--easily seduced by a pretty picture.

As a publisher, there are reasons that justify multiple covers--all of them to do with marketing. Multiple covers are especially good for books that are genre or age cross-overs, like the Harry Potter books. Because they appeal to both children and adults, having a separate cover to target each age group is a good idea. How many adults want to be caught engrossed in a book with little kids on the cover? Okay, bad example. As proved in the U.S., where we only have one cover and no one cares. But you get the idea.

It's also a good idea with classics and blockbusters, like aforementioned Chronicles of Narnia. You know you're going to sell a lot of them, so the cost of multiple covers isn't a big deal. You do a cover that appeals to different types of people to seduce (there's that word again) them into purchasing a copy. You want to make the book as irresistible as possible to as many people as possible.

Another time for new covers is when a book has been out for awhile and you're doing a reprint--especially if there is any significant revision of the book (common in nonfiction, not in fiction). Cover art, fonts, and layout go in and out of style. If a book has been around for ten years or longer, you might want to do a new cover to update it and give sales a new shot. We've done that with books before. And yes, people will buy a replacement book with the new cover.

We always test market our book covers. Recently we did a book cover in pink, yellow and blue. No one liked the yellow, but the blue only had a small margin over the pink. If we'd expected to sell 50,000 copies, we might have considered doing a cover in both colors, but since we only expected to sell 5,000, we went with the blue. It wasn't the cost of the multiple covers (which isn't that big a deal), it's just that having multiple covers in a small market seems a little silly.

Now for the anti-multiple covers argument. In a small market, like the LDS market, your book cover is part of your branding of the book. Brands are important. They provide instant identification, which you want. If an author has multiple books, particularly if they are in a series, you want to extend that brand as much as you can. A good national example is Danielle Steele. You don't have to read a thing on her books to recognize the cover as one of hers. Good LDS examples are Heather Moore's Out of Jerusalem series and the Work and the Glory series (both sets of covers). The cover designs are part of the branding of the series. A bad example of this is Robison Wells' Wake Me When It's Over and The Counterfeit. (Sorry, Rob. What was with the cover of that first one, anyway?) You can't tell by a quick glance that these two books have anything to do with each other; or even that they're by the same author. In my opinion, that was a mistake--or at the very least, it didn't optimize the added sales potential of branding.

You want your books to stand out, to be unique, yet very recognizable to your rabid fans. You also don't want to have readers re-purchase the same book by accident. (How many of you think OSC's Woman of Destiny and Saints are two different books?) So in our market, the only time I'd do multiple covers is if the book has been around awhile and needs updating for some reason (like the Work & the Glory). Or possibly, if I did both a hardback and a paperback release--but even then, I'd keep the covers similar enough that you could tell it was the same book.

So who wants to argue with me?


Latterday Authors back up!

We are finally back! Still some rough edges to work out, but it would be helpful if you could announce this on your blog.

Our home page is http://www.latterdayauthors.com. There are links to take visitors to the writer's forum (which I was able to recover thank and the new latterdayauthors blog.

Patricia Wiles

I highly recommend this forum as a place for LDS authors to chat, ask questions, give answers, support each other, and all that other virtual fun stuff.

P.S. Photos from LDSBA convention coming soon. If you were there and you have photos you'd like me to post, please send them to me this week.


No Brainers by Marlene Austin

Thanks, Marlene for being a guest blogger and describing your experiences as a new author. Marlene is the author of Grave Secrets published by Covenant.

I thought it would be a no brainer. They said that if you are a decent LDS writer you’ll be able to sell as many books in the LDS market as you’d be able to sell in a national market because there’s so much more competition in the larger market. I listened and agreed—meaning I understood the concept, not meaning that I was giving up my idea of trying to sell my first novel in both markets. If I sold well in the LDS market, then sold as many again in a national market, I’d total twice a many sales. And why not?

You can think that way if you live in Massachusetts. Along with LDS friends I’d had half dozen non-members read my book and their responses had been as enthusiastic as the praise from my member friends. “Your book could sell in a Christian audience or even a national market.” one woman who had headed writers groups for years assured me. And a really good book should sell to anyone, LDS or Lutheran, in fact, Mormon or Moroccan. Hey, what percentage of Harry Potter’s readers are witches or warlocks? I was determined to sell to the Mormon market and the history lovers of New England.

I didn’t think about marketing. I should have.

I’d hoped to get some book signings and marketing events calendared near me in advance so I could focus on the western market when the book was released. Right. My first excursions were unplanned side-trips from my grocery shopping to local book dealers. Book buyer weren’t in but I was told I could leave a book so the owner could make a decision on setting up an account with the publisher. Leave a book? Since the book hadn’t been printed yet, that wasn’t going to happen. Account? I hadn’t thought about that. Curious, I emailed my editor about setting up accounts in non-LDS stores. The answers stunned me. In order for the publisher to ship directly to a store, they must have an account—which required an initial order of $1000. To keep the account the store must submit additional order for that much each succeeding year. That wasn’t going to happen either.

At least I could get some books placed in my local library—but not, I was told, until I had a legitimate review to show them. They did accept one free copy.

I couldn’t travel to Utah for the typical signings because of my health, so I sent cards and wondered if that had done any good when they began reappearing in my mailbox, a small black hand stamped near the address.

Pretty much discouraged, I whined on Six LDS Writers and a Frog. The responses were extremely helpful (Thanks, guys) in two ways: I learned about some new marketing strategies and I felt I’d been accepted as part of a family. I realized a computer is useful for more than just writing. With their encouragement and help, I’m entering cyberspace!

I’ve worked from manual typewriters to computers and email, but googling and blogging? I first saw a blog and tried using Google about three or four months ago. I felt like Rip Van Winkle. I hadn’t thought I needed to keep up with the new gadgetry; I was concentrating on writing.

I didn’t think about marketing. I should have.

But I’ll catch up. I’ll have a website soon. I Google all the time. Blogging is harder—there’s nothing like having an audience watch you learn something they’ve done for years. I doubt the spelling of every word, the placement of every comma, then I am so frustrated as I watch the whole thing disappear for no reason I can figure out. I guess I’ll get over that, too. I’ll have to. I need the techniques for long distance marketing and getting some name recognition—and to learn from my new friends.

Traversing cyberspace should help the long distance marketing problems, but I still have no way of showing local shoppers the book. No non-member would recognize any of the website it’s listed on. Any potential buyer has to hear about Grave Secrets from some other source and make an effort to find out how to buy it. There’s no glancing through a shelf of books or a catalogue to find a book attractively beckoning to them. If I make it here it won’t be because it is easy.

It seems that getting name recognition is all important in non-member marketing. One expert suggested finding a newsworthy angle and getting your name in the news. That didn’t seem like me, but after finding a clue that led to the identification of several important ancestors and conversing with several Historical Society presidents this may give me some opportunities later on and possibly some good newspaper coverage. I guess it’s the old adage slightly changed. “If you can’t open one door wide enough, you’ll find one that opens wider.” It’s long term marketing, but it is marketing.

Writing is a joy, marketing—not so much. Or at least not here and not yet. Maybe it is in those, “not here”s and “not yet”s that my real growth and rewards will come. The transition from typewriters to computers has been worth the effort and more. So, I trust, will be a leap into cyberspace. Will I find a healthy non-member market for Grave Secrets? I purposefully wrote the book showing an LDS woman in New England to work for both groups—using a plot line both will enjoy, hoping that each group will learn a little bit more about the other and family history. I don’t doubt that the book can be successful in both groups, but marketing definitely remains the major problem in the non-member market. I think changing my focus, concentrating more on the LDS market initially and getting my own acreage of cyberspace established, then really focusing in on the non-member New England market will be helpful.

And why not? If good people can become more familiar with the universal desires and needs of each other, maybe some of the divisions that split us will blur. Will that help us all? There’s the no brainer.

Thanks for letting me blog. And good luck to us all!

Marlene Austin



Just a bit of this and that.

Keith/Attending LDSBA: Usually, individuals cannot come to the LDSBA convention. Some publishers schedule book signings during the convention and provide name badges for the authors, but usually only those who have a new book the publisher wants to promote. You can purchase a name badge at the door for $25, but this is NOT the time to be talking to publishers. They are busy promoting authors they already have and selling their books to the bookstore buyers. They will not have time to talk to prospective authors. If you come, plan to walk the aisles with your hands firmly in your pockets and your lips sealed. You can observe, but don't interfere.

Jannette/Book Covers: I've seen some really bad covers too. The one that really sticks out to me is one where the heroine of the book is in her 40s, but the woman on the cover could not possibly more than 25. Geez, did the publisher/illustrator even read the book?

Incognito at convention: No rose wearing for me. I have allergies. I understand that this is particularly unfair because I know who most of you are, recognizing you from your books or your posts which have photos. Sorry about that, but life is full of unfair circumstances.

LatterdayAuthors.com: I love(d) this site. I've recommended it multiple times here. I think it is a huge support to authors. Unfortunately, if any of you have clicked that link lately, you will have gotten an error message. You can read an explanation for that here.

Guest blogging: PLEASE send more. Please, please, please. Also, please copy and paste your guest blog within the body of the e-mail. Do not send it as an attachment. Since my computer crash several months ago, I've become very paranoid about viruses.


LDSBA Convention

This is "heck" week for most LDS publishers. Next week is the annual convention of the LDS Booksellers Association. We're putting the finishing touches on our displays and marketing materials. The convention starts next week. Tuesday we set up our booths, then the convention itself runs next Wednesday through Friday (Aug 15-17th).

This year the theme is on working together as a team—which I really like. It's especially important for the smaller companies to act like a team, supporting and encouraging each other, rather than as competitors. If we don't work together, we could all be in trouble.

Here's the logo:

If you want to know more about the LDSBA convention, click here to read last year's posts. I plan to get some pictures of the booths again this year and post them here for everyone to see.

Just out of curiosity, who's going?

P.S. This may be the last post until after the convention. We're busier this year than last year and I need to concentrate on making that filthy lucre. If you've been thinking about submitting a guest blog, NOW would be the time to do it.


I'm Not Testy; I Have a Positive Self Image

Found in the comments section of yesterday's post. I moved it here because a lot of people do not read comments and he has a legit concern, complaint. A lot of first time authors ask these kinds of questions. (Although most of them do not call me "testy" or refer to my treatment of their ideas as bull-dozerish.)
Why is that editors get so testy when an author dares to tread upon their creative world and suggest a cover design or a title, but they drive their bulldozers all over the author's creative world like so much ado about nothing. I know. Covers are what they pay your for. Editing is what they pay you for. But for heaven's sakes, will there ever be an editor humble enough to recognize that an author just may have a good sense about a cover that will market their book well. Or that an author just may have a better title than the marketing guys across the hall. Probably not!


When I went back to the comments to copy and paste them, I discovered that Robison Wells had answered the question—and he is dead on. Here is Rob's reply.
Anonymous, I like to compare it to royalties. There's a reason that authors only get 5-15% of a book's cost: it's because the author is only one piece of a very large puzzle. It's a vital piece, certainly, but it's still only one piece.

If an author has as much good marketing sense as you stated--if they know that their title/cover/marketing ideas are great--then why not just self-publish? Richard Paul Evans is the perfect example: he was a professional marketer, and he's made gobs of money.

Besides, most publishers are very willing to discuss titles and covers (though they'll almost all maintain veto power), but they don't want to look at those ideas during the submission process. You, as the author, are asking them to make a very big investment in you; the least you could do is show a little professionalism and respect submission guidelines. There will be PLENTY of time to discuss titles and covers and illustrations once your book is accepted.

I would add a few things, based on my 26 years in the industry as a professional (I just love that word) editor and/or publisher:
  1. If you submit a good title, we will keep it! We kept the author's original titles on the last two books we published. Others titles I tweak by one or two words. Sometimes I'll reject the original title, but have the author send me a list of alternates. Usually I can blend that into something really good that the author is happy with. But creating titles that sell and writing a story are two entirely different skill sets and some are just really, really bad.

  2. I have never, in 26 years, seen a book cover created by an author and sent with the manuscript submission that was anywhere close to usable. They are usually way too dark, use clip art and dated fonts, and don't have an appropriate balance to the design. If you don't know what I'm talking about, or you don't know why these would be a problem, then don't try to make your own cover.

  3. I have, a couple of times, had an author who was also a graphic artist. After their books were accepted, they very professionally asked if I would take a look at their ideas. Of course I did. These two covers were wonderful. One we kept exactly as it was. The other we had to tweak a little to fit in the bar code. The point is, they approached me about it after acceptance.

  4. The publisher always retains veto rights. As Rob said, if I am going to invest thousands of dollars in you and your book, I need to control that investment in the way that my experience tells me works best. If title and cover art are deal breakers for you, then by all means, self-publish.

  5. You're assuming that the author will not like my title/cover art better than what they've created. Most of our authors love what we do with their books—even if we don't use any of their suggestions.

  6. I never, ever bulldoze my authors' creative world. I'm not investing in a one book deal. I want this to be an ongoing relationship. I want my authors to be happy. At the same time, I am not going to let an author sink a book due to personal preferences. We test our titles and book cover designs on our target market and run them past at least a dozen design, marketing and publishing professionals before we finalize something.

  7. And one last comment: You, as an author, have to invest a certain level of trust in your publisher. You have to believe they know what they're doing, that they will make decisions based on what is best for your book, that they are current on what is hot in the market, and that their years of experience are more valuable than yours. If you don't trust your publisher enough to title your book or design your cover, then you're with the wrong publisher.
Have I answered your questions?


10 More Things Not to Do When You Submit a Manuscript

Here's another list of things not to do when you send your manuscript (based on true-life examples from manuscripts that I have received in the past 30 days):

1. Do not single space. I know I've said this before, but apparently I have not stressed it enough. I CANNOT read, let alone edit, a manuscript that is single spaced.

2. Do not leave large spaces between paragraphs and type [Insert illustration here]. Especially for a book intended for adults.

3. Do not send illustrations with your adult-audience book.

4. Do not tell me in those big gaps [See illustration # whatever] and expect me to go looking to the back of the book and hand count the illustrations to get to the page number you want me to look at.

5. Do not 3-hole punch the manuscript and send it in a 3-ring binder.

6. Do not put your manuscript pages in sheet protectors and send them in a binder.

7. Do not design a cover and send me a color print out of it. We won't be using it and I don't need your sample to visualize what the front of your book could look like. I'm a professional. Visualizing covers is what they pay me to do!

8. Do not print your manuscript double-sided on the paper.

9. Do not send your manuscript, then call me two weeks later and ask if you can bring me a new copy because you've re-written a significant number of scenes. If I've already started reading, you've wasted my time. If I haven't already started reading, I'll think you're a nut case.

10. Do not drop by my office (without an appointment) and ask if I've finished reading your manuscript yet, and when I say no, ask if you can "borrow" it back for a few weeks because your daughter-in-law wants to read it and you don't want to spend all that money on paper and ink to print out another copy and you don't mind at all looking through my huge stack of manuscripts to find yours.

Sometimes I think I'm a wonderful person simply because I never resort to physical violence.


Hollywood or Bust

What is the likelihood of my LDS novel being made into a movie? Is there any possibility at all? Would I be asked to write the screenplay? Would the movie possibly get national release or would it be a "Utah" movie? Is this something I should be thinking about while I'm writing my novel? Should I create scenes, etc. that would look good on the big screen? And assuming my book was made into a movie, does the author have any control over who plays the different characters?

Oh, geez. First off, finish your novel. This isn't even a conversation we should be having until after the book is published and has a phenomenal sales record (as in, hundreds of thousands of copies sold in a very short period of time). While writing, concentrate on creating scenes and plots that are good for the story. Don't cheat your readers by throwing in something that doesn't belong just because it might look good in the movie.

Now, as to possibility: yes, it's possible that an LDS novel can be made into a movie for national release. Work and the Glory. The Other Side of Heaven. It is also possible that a movie could be made by an LDS production company. Almost every year at the LDSBA, someone stops by my booth to ask if I have any books that would do well as a movie. I give them a free copy (because I am an eternal optimist and you never know...) but I never tell the author because most of these companies are out of business by the next LDSBA.

As to probability: slim to none. For a book to be made into a movie by "Hollywood", it either has to be a runaway NYT best seller (but that doesn't guarantee it), or someone in the movie industry has to love it (someone who also has the power, influence, and financing to produce it). Chances are infinitesimally better (slender to none) that it will be picked up by an LDS production company. The LDS movie buying population is just too small to support the cost of making a strictly LDS movie (except for those based on the scriptures, for example, the Liken series or those produced by the Church).

Assuming the Red Sea parts and you find yourself with an offer to produce a movie based on your book: No, you would not be asked to write the screenplay. No, you would not have any control over who the actors are. You would also have no control over the title, the director, which scenes from the book are included, which are deleted or which are totally changed to the point that your original story is barely recognizable. Yes, some authors do have control over these things written into their contract, but for 99.999...% of us the only control we have is whether or not to accept or reject whatever the production company offers us.