How a book is born: Author signings

March 2, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Posted in about life, Mystery books, Publishing your story, Writing | Leave a comment
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Authors always wonder if they should participate in book signings as a route to increased sales. I am not sold on the idea.

The other night my husband and I were in Barnes & Noble. A good cup of coffee and a good book for an hour of relaxation. (If a B & N manager is reading this blog, I do buy books…my credit card will attest to that.) At their entrance was a local author displaying her works and ready to sign her book. She is not a new author, by any means, but no one entering the store stopped at her table. It is true that the traffic was light that night, but that was an expensive night out for this author.

Gloria Smith Zawaski, the author of The Trunk in the Attic, loves meeting kids. But I feel that a book signing event for an author who is not well-known just doesn’t work.

Who would you wait in line for…Jeff Kenny, the author of the Whimpy Kids series or Gloria Smith Zawaski, the author of The Undercover Kids book series? Kenny wins hands down!

Last night I met the manager of our local B & N bookstore at a PTA event. She heard of our book through one of her employees. And she knew that we were not on the B & N online book site. But she said they do author signings for local authors, even if the store does not carry the book. My first questions was, ‘who would show up?’ Her response, “People show up for children’s author signings.” “I figure young children but the eight to eleven year old crowd?” I asked. We are going to meet next week to discuss the process, and then I’ll decide how best to proceed.

I will say that when Gloria participated in events, the kids who bought her books really enjoyed meeting her.  But in general, I don’t think book signings for unknown authors are the way to go.

In my opinion, you have to really work at promoting the author and promoting the book before you begin the book signing route.

How a book is born: Who prints books?

December 9, 2009 at 11:07 am | Posted in Educators, Kids and reading, Mystery books, Publishing your story, Writing | Leave a comment
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Now I am really immersed in the book, the copy, layout and illustrations. It is time to find a printer. The printer we use for our magazines does not have book printer contacts. Many of the publishers I spoke to used niche printers that were not appropriate for me: like soft cover printers, picture book printers and oversees printers.

I looked on the web, but felt that it would be a crap shoot picking someone blind, even with references. So I kept looking. Finally, I found Woodstock Press with offices in upstate New York and in Manhatten. I was lucky to be referred to Olivia Blanchflower from Overlook Press. She put me in contact with printers that Overlook Press uses. Her support was invaluable.

I found that the book publishing industry is a new world with a new language. Trade book page. Linen embossed gloss. Head and foot bands. Bar code labels. Burst casebind. Kappa board. And the list goes on.

Some printers do covers only. Others only do paperback or the inside guts. I chose two printers who could do it all. And then I tried to get the best deal. I was told that the best prices come through China but I decided to stay in the states so I could have more control over the process.

I used Berryville Graphics in Virginia. They delivered what they promised. There were several things I learned. First, the output of the pages for books is very different from magazines that are printed on newsprint. The copies from our printer look great. But the proofs we got back did not match. Their output is more sensitive to the blending of grays, and we had to change our pages so the grey backgrounds for captions did not overwhelm the copy. And second was the issue of price and how many books to print. But that I will deal with in another blog.

How a book is born: Reaching out to other publishers

November 25, 2009 at 11:08 am | Posted in Education, Educators, Kids and reading, Mystery books, Publishing your story, Writing | Leave a comment
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My book is taking shape. I hired two people to proof copy. We worked with an editor who helped improve the story. (I’ll tell you about that later.) The layout looks great. The illustrations are almost complete. But I wondered how other small publishers get their books in front of their readers.

Here is what I discovered:

  1. Two publishers only work with authors who are will to spend their time promoting their books. They feel the author will be the primary sales person. For example, one author is a psychologist who speaks at large conventions. She sells the books are the conferences. Another author does the school circuit and puts books in the trunk to sell.
  2. All the publishers list their books on Amazon.com and BN.com, but they do not get a great return.
  3. One sells through Scholastic Books. They order large quantities, 12,000-15,000 books, but the money he makes has been diminishing.
  4. One sells through a book distributor, but there is a small return on investment and they have to worry about book returns.
  5. One publisher would only speak to me if I paid her for her time. Oh well. You can’t win them all.

I learned two things:

1.Very small publishing groups have a really rough hall. As I am writing this blog, two of the publishers I spoke to have closed down their operations.  

2. There is not one distribution channel. I will have to try a number of different ways to get my book into the hands of readers before I realize what works for me and what doesn’t.

 

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