All the Things We Cannot See

 

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As the managing partner of Capture Books, I represent a small publisher’s few authors, listed on www.CaptureBookstore. Our writers’ group decided to take an adventure, a risk, into the middle world between self-publishing and traditional big house publishing. We peeled back layers of our skills to take a look. We looked, felt, smelled and tasted like a group of fine editors, entrepreneurs, comrades, and writers, several of whom had been published, and two of whom could speak publicly. But publishers?  Naaaah….

After a year of marinating, you can find my credits on LinkedIn. How did this happen?

Pooling our resources, we voted on a name and sketched out a plan to duplicate ourselves through hosting and presenting a Golden Writers’ Conference. Since I had the most time on my hands, which I disputed vehemently for the next six months until no-one else stepped up, and since my book was crying in the corner to be outed and published, I registered our name at the secretary of state web page.  I began to take online courses into the mysteries of publishing. And, then… Viola! I tried my hand at publishing my own first book.

Since I had the most time on my hands, which I disputed vehemently for the next six months until no-one else stepped up, and since my book was crying in the corner to be outed and published, I registered our name at the secretary of state web page.  I began to take online courses into the mysteries of publishing. And, then… Viola! I tried my hand at publishing my own first book.

Immediately, I saw advantages to being a publishing house. Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) provided discounts, online workshops, lists, and tips.  I signed us up. Clout, for a publisher, begins with one’s official memberships and associations, I began to research the list of acronyms set before me. We joined.

Where self-publishers could fail in the editing, formatting or proofing stages, our group advised and helped each other. One author had a media list she had worked hard to compile into a mail mergeable list.  She handed it over.

Members of our group respected one another’s genre and writing skills, but we did not overlap in genres, so our target markets proved to be different. At the time, I didn’t know, that had we intended to publish in the same genre, ethical issues might have developed into gargoyles competing with one another for an advantage under the eaves of our new publishing house. Thankfully, once our newest books came off the press, we did not have to contemplate being competitors for awards in the same target markets.

What no one understood, as a potential author, was the need to address libraries and obtain publisher imprinted ISBNs from Bowker, and PCIPs, LCCNs in order to categorize our books into the catalog systems for marketing to libraries. (Yeah, that place people generally go to check out books) Also as to formatting, we learned our way around book templates and introductory requirements and exit strategies inside our books to let people know who we were and where we were located.

We were introduced to the need for pre-publication dates and galleys for pre-publication reviews.

These pre-publication concepts came only after my book had missed these deadlines due to its eagerness to be published. (Books have voices and minds of their own.)

SqoninoheadsIMG_20160518_093347Uploading a book’s content prior to proofing is an exercise in humility. Lists of things we did not know. Just a taste of the official light we were about to expose ourselves to, but at least it set us to thinking. Tip sheets and content for one sheets came on the heels of uploading our books with IngramSpark and CreateSpace at that time. And we gave credit where credit was due. Check.

I thought, for well on 4 months, that once the books were uploaded onto the Ingram print site and after our books were pictured in their catalogs, that we were in like Flynn! We could sit back and watch the sales scroll out like ticker tape. WRONGER than wrong.

Had I a proper coach, in the beginning, I would have known that Ingram does not fulfill orders when the royalty percentage to the author or publisher, as the case may be, is in the negative.  I was clueless as to how to promote a special deal.

To change the amount of royalty from being in the red, into the black, I had to wait a month for the new royalty to take hold. Thirty lost days, really? And, I wondered, how much was a reasonable royalty? It was a balancing act to target the price a market would purchase, and still make a buck!

What I really didn’t understand was the voluminous amounts of time it took to read, learn from webinars and experiment with the process of marketing books!

Certain books could only be reviewed or submitted for awards from the publisher’s nomination. Getting a contract for PRWeb was a small trick compared to passing their tests for each book release copy.

In advertising designs, I had to learn to find and upload the graphic, present the leading question or possible reader desperation, ie. the emotive hook, and then answer this dilemma in one fell swoop, with a link to a landing page, WAIT, a landing page? Not quite. What’s up with that? Clicks and conversions?  Another mystery to unravel. And, how was I to find each author’s target market?  My new career became slated with more questions than answers.

How could I keep spending money on webinars, sell-gimmicks, and advertising if I was only making one thin dime of royalty on the author books?  Awkward discussions and hot contracts were drafted and proposed amongst us.

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Chives: Parts & Pieces by Laura Bartnick

The more savvy details of attachments, funnels, blogging and submitting books to bloggers, setting up the authors and their books into Amazon, Forward Reviews, Good Reads, Midwest Reviews, Twitter, Barnes and Noble, or Nook, Baker and Taylor, Mardels, Library Journal.Biblioboard, Bookbub, Bookdaily, Self-e, Axis360, Quality Books, IndiBooks, Books-a-Million, and threatening the authors to start Facebook posting and setting up their author web pages with calls to action was a minefield of negotiations.

The first time I submitted a proposal to our local library district, I uploaded the unedited copy of a promo sheet, rather than the latest version.  Here came the makings for not only an anxiety attack but an anxiety disorder!

Curses! People weren’t buying yet! One day as I was stuck in a traffic jam trying to attend an author autograph event, I had a meltdown to see all the people in all the cars on just one mile of just one highway in the world, and not one of them was tapped into our authors’ first books. All the cogs in the wheel were circulating towards the miner’s stake, but I had to start digging for the gold.  Summer Holidays were approaching…

I enrolled in the benefits of coaching opportunities through Where Writers Win, New Shelves, Build Book Buzz, AuthorU, CKSyme Media Group, Debbie Drum, D’vorah Lansky…

This blog will define the tightrope of publishing time and marketing skills for books offered by small publishers such as with our little group, Capture Books. If no-one else reads my record of coaches, gimmicks that work (lawfully), tips and treats for authors and small publishers, at least it will become my immortalized saga of the managing partner life I embarked upon in my fifties. Life, oh definitely, began at 50!

I’d love to hear from you, too…

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