Wednesday, May 28, 2008

ARCs, Mouse Pads, and Marketing

The ARCs are out. After an exciting evening of printing, labeling, signing, stuffing, and sealing, I will be dropping them off to Shadow Mountain for mailing tomorrow. Here are a couple of pics from the blessed event.

Ready to get to work. More or less

Read the name, grab the envelope, apply the label . . .

What I told them to look like after we finished.

What they claimed they felt like after we finished.
(Until we went to DQ and they all perked back up.)

On a second note, I was asked a question yesterday that I thought was worth blogging about. I was talking with a friend about the things I’ve been doing and will be doing prior to the release of Water Keep. In particular, we were talking about some mouse pads that I bought as giveaways for the stores I’ll be visiting, and the cost of gas and hotel. Her comment was, “Why are you spending all this money of your own? Should the publisher do that?”

The answer I gave her was shorter than what I’ll post here, but in essence it came down to the same thing. If you could make a living doing anything you want, what would it be? Rock Star, actress, ship captain, the guy who goes up and down the strip in Las Vegas changing light bulbs? (Hey we all have our dreams right?)

For me, my dream is to make a living telling stories. If Bards were still around—and if I could sing—I’d probably go for that gig. In today’s world, the profession is novelist, script writer, movie director, or something of that sort. The problem is, there are far more people who want the job than actual opportunities. I’ve probably said before that more people make a living in the US as professional baseball players than novelists. So when the opportunity presents itself, you have to jump on it.

Now let’s take a look at what you’re getting into when you sign on for this particular adventure. First of all, it’s a 1099 position, meaning that there is no base, no guarantee, not a ton of job security, no insurance, and a paycheck that hopefully comes twice a year. Not exactly CEO of a fortune 500 company, right? In addition, my book will something like 1 out of 175,000 published this year.

Now the odds are not quite as bad as they sound. First of all, a lot of those books are nonfiction. So technically they don’t compete directly with me. Then there are a large percentage of books that are either self published or published by regional publishers small enough that they will see minimal if any shelf space nationally. Finally, we have to get rid of fiction titles that don’t compete directly with mine—adult, picture books, etc. I’m sure if I was really industrious I could scour the internet and come up with the actual number of YA fiction titles that will be published by midsize publishers or larger in 2008, but let’s be totally random and guess that the number is somewhere around 5,000.

What that means is that in my space alone, there are 5,000 other authors looking to sell enough books to make a living. Obviously, the biggest thing I can do to stand out is write a good book. And hopefully I’ve done that. But how many good books—books you’d really enjoy if you knew about them—come and go without you even knowing it?

So this week, I’m going to hit the road taking my ARCs to stores. In addition I’m taking out mouse pads that I purchased myself. I’ll spend money on gas and hotels. It will look like I’m out making friends, meeting store managers, and promoting my book. And all of that is true. Honestly, I’m really looking forward to spending some time with my wife as we travel from Las Vegas to Denver to Idaho, and everywhere in between. But what I’m really going to be doing is investing in myself. My thinking is this. If I’m not willing to invest time—and yes, money—in myself, why should anyone else be?


Tamra Norton said...

Amen, Amen, and AMEN! I'm not quite in the same position as you with the real potential of national distribution (altough I REALLY hope to be), but I've gone high and low to tell the world about my books--and all on my own penny. I've attended (as a vendor/author) librarian conventions, writer's conferences, women's conferences, done school visits (for free--gasp!), booksignings, fine arts festivals, book clubs, summer camps for kids, writing workshops for kids, you name it...and the only money made was if I sold a book.

I've paid for my parents to fly to Texas and be "me" for a few weeks, so I can fly away and be "author" for that time, without worring about "The Fam." My hubby has taken off work for such times as well. I've also driven across the country with a minivan full of my kiddos to promote books. Since we're homeschoolers, we've called this a field trip. (This was how we saw Four Corners and The Grand Canyon.

I feel exactly the same way you do, Scott! This is my dream, and if I don't pursue it, it simply won't happen. So I do...and it will!

DesLily said...

I think I saw an envelope with my name on it! yippee! lol

mousepads, bookmarks, they all work!! it's a neverending job keeping your name on peoples lips... but I sense you won't give up!!

Anonymous said...

What you say is completely logical, and I would do the same, should I be so lucky as to be in your position. What piques my irritation is the comment "more people make a living in the US as professional baseball players." I don't mind folks playing or watching baseball. Isn't it a shame that more people don't value the written word? When I think about how much money athletes make.....
Pet peeve, obviously. My city added another tax onto our sales tax to pay for a new stadium. grrrrrrrrrrrrr
Well, anyway. Very exciting, and it is great to see your whole family employed in the effort. Hope you enjoy the upcoming trip, and I am sure looking forward to the book. Kerry

Julie Wright said...

I'm with Tami's AMEN! I cannot wait to buy my copy!

Melinda said...

I love that you are sharing this process with us. You have such great ideas and insight.

Congrats! Good luck!

I can't wait to buy a copy, too.

Brian said...

I can't wait for the ARCs to arrive. I just got my letter.

Pink Ink said...

Congratulations and Good luck as you hit the road.

I've attended several of your lectures and I have to say, you give much more than "promoting" your book. Thanks for helping out other aspiring novelists such as myself!

Jenna Consolo said...

Well, I love everything you said, and I love your heart and ambition. The ARC party looks like a blast, but I was most gah-gah over the red couch. Random, I know. But I LOVE red couches. Have one of my own, and it really stole the shots. Your stacks of books were a close second. :)

Stephanie said...

Well...I guess no one ever said being an author wasn't work!! But in the end, if it's what you want, then you should go for it!!

I'm super excited about your book. And it IS cool that you are blogging about all this. Makes me feel like, in a really small way, I'm a part of it!