All the Things We Cannot See

pen itch byk-final

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 were a group of fine editors, entrepreneurs, comrades, and writers, several of whom had been published, and two of whom could speak publicly. You can find me, officially, on LinkedIn.

We decided to pool our resources. Since I had the most time on my hands, which I disputed vehemently for 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.  I began to take online courses into the mysteries of publishing.

Immediately, I saw the advantage to being a publishing house.

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. not understand

We respected one another’s genre and writing skills, but we did not overlap much in the genres, so our target markets were different. Once our newest books came off the press, we did not contemplate being competitors in marketing.

What no one understood was the need to address libraries and obtain publisher imprinted ISBNs and PCINs, LCCNs in order to categorize our books into the catalog systems for marketing. Also, we learned our way around book templates and introductory requirements and exit strategies for marketing inside our books. 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. (These books have voices and minds of their own!)

Uploading book content prior to editing is an exercise in humility, but at least I began thinking about tip sheets and one sheet content at that time and giving credit where credit was due. Check.

I thought that once the books were uploaded onto the Ingram print site and when our books were pictured in their catalogs, that we were in! 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 royalty into the black, I had to wait a month for the new royalty to take hold. And, 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 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 proposed.

The more savvy details of attachments, funnels, blogging and submitting books to bloggers, setting up the authors and their books into Amazon, Forward, Good Reads, Twitter, Barnes and Noble, or Nook, Baker and Taylor, Biblio, Self-e, Bookbuzz, Fasttracks, 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.  There were 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…

This blog will define the tightrope of publishing and marketing books for small publishers such as 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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