Monday, September 21, 2009

Exciting Times in Publishing

I think it's time that we as writers (and other people in the book business) try to open our minds and really truly grasp the new and exciting ways books can be promoted and loved. It is no longer about going to your local bookstore and buying a book. If we learn to use new technologies correctly, books can flourish and they will carry their writers along with them.

Here is a very interesting concept that can be adapted in many exciting ways. What Stephen Elliot did was to send out the few advance copies of his latest book, not to critics and book-y people, but to ordinary readers who were willing to be part of his lending library. He asked people if they'd like to read an advance copy of his book. He got 400 people who were keen. Then he set up a sort of mailing network. He sent out his few copies to the first readers and then the readers themselves were told who to send the book off to when they were finished. Elliot kept a database of the network and poked people who were slow to pass the book on.

In this process he had people all over talking about his book, some online, which created the much needed buzz.

When his book was finally out, he used the same network of readers again. When he went out on his book tour, instead of doing readings at bookstores where few people pitch up, he did them in those very reader's houses. He often even slept in their houses which saved on hotel bills.

I think this is fabulous and I don't see why it must only be done with advance copies. Why not when the book is out? Then the hype won't be for nothing. (One of the criticism of Elliot's method was he had lots of hype before the book was for sale).

Personally I'm getting excited. Finally I'm going to have a book sold on the internet, both through online bookshops and as an ebook. It has entered a slightly long pipeline but when it is ready I intend to adapt as many of these new ideas as I can to market the book.

What do you think about Elliot's idea? I particularly liked that at the end of the whole process, he asked the last person to send the book to someone who earns less than $25,000 (US, I'm assuming- Zim dollars you'd be hard pressed to find someone) who might not be able to afford the book when it came out. Nice.


Sue Guiney said...

This is fantastic. I do have this feeling that with some creativity, we can all start taking the marketing of our work more into our own hands. "Creativity" is the key word here, I guess though, not to mention the hours of admin, but I think it's a must. And I agree, it's exciting. Now, how can we remember all these ideas :-)?

Lauri said...

I'm sometimes scared of all of these changes but then I tell myself that in most case change leads to better things. I think many writers are sitting waiting fro the cards to fall and perhaps that's where we'll get in problems. We need to be part of the process and find ways that works for us, as writers.

Miss Footloose said...

I like the idea and it might work for a lot of writers. Again, though, here we are as writers having to do the promotion work traditionally done by the more business-savvy publishers.

I know, we must go with the times, but writers are generally more right brain than left brain creatures which makes the business arena not their natural habitat.

Okay, okay. No sense in moaning about it.

So, having said that, yes, I'm intrigued by the idea!

Good post, Lauri!

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Why not? Publishers would like to stay in charge, but their day in the sun is over.

Gutsy Living said...

I love new ideas and have some ideas of my own. Instead of doing a book signing in a bookstore, why not get other businesses involved in your book promotion. For example with my book, which is about the Caribbean, I could get a restaurant serving Caribbean food to participate, as well as a coffee shop playing reggae music and a travel agent promoting Caribbean vacations. Lots of ideas. Is your book a novel? I know you've written text books, didn't know if there are other books too. Beat of luck.

Lauri said...

Gutsywriter I love your idea. It's funny because I was reading something yesterday about ebooks, actually I've written someing for the blog for later this week about it. After reading the article I sent an email to my publisher who is reluctant to step out of the publishing model established pre-1700s. He has a Setswana handbook and I told him how he should get it into ebook format and sell it on safari sites and Botswana tourism sites. GW- we definitely need to think out of the box.

I do write novels, I have two published novellas in my detective series. I also write childrens books and short stories. The book I'll get to sell on line and as an ebook is a shrot story collection to be published in South Africa.

Gutsy Living said...

Good for you about publishing again. I'm still not 100% sure about the whole on-line publishing business. Can you clarify with a post, perhaps? Apart from the Kindle or the Sony device, how many read books on a computer screen? Also, is it like self-publishing where you go straight to amazon? or what are the details. I'd love to learn more.

Lauri said...

GW- my short story collection is to be published by a traditional publisher and in hard copy but it will also be sold as an ebook. In this case the publisher works in collaboration with a company that produces and sells ebooks, primarily in USA. Yes people would read it on their Kindle or whichever other reading device they have.

Anonymous said...

It is an exciting development. I am really pleased to hear you are going to be published online. Thank you for sharing your experiences.