The Grumpy Publishing Consultant

I get a pretty steady stream of requests to consult on self publishing issues for financial remuneration. That's the consultants fancy word for pay. I've never accepted any of the offers, I don't like selling my time, and more so, I've always been happy to answer questions I fell competent to comment on sans remuneration (fancy:-). I'm writing funny to avoid using the first four letters of FREEDOM, which causes unnatural spikes in unwanted traffic. Just read through my contact FAQ before shooting off an e-mail because there are some questions I've answered too many times and written too much about to want to hear again.

I used to be happy to pick up the phone and call anybody who wanted to talk about publishing (cheap phone service) but I've found it's easier to filter out loons through e-mail. Speaking of loons, it drives me nuts to get involved in helping a would-be publisher who's looking for emotional support. That's not my bag, I'm not going to give you the answer you want to hear if you ask the question enough different ways, I'm just going to give up on you.

The interesting part of accepting questions from aspiring publishers is seeing just how many of them are related to paid marketing. It's well over half, it may be as high as three quarters. Most authors rush through the initial phases of self publishing, skipping all research, writing a book and getting it printed. Then, when a month goes by and the book doesn't sell, the authors who don't sink into depression start looking for help.

The authors who write me about advice for paid publicity and canned marketing campaigns must think I'm pretty grumpy. An innocent question about benifit of adding options A, B and C to marketing plan Z will usually draw a response like, "Never mind about putting mayonnaise on it, you shouldn't be buying plan Z to start with." Too many authors make the assumption that a nicely packaged promotion campaign may be a little overpriced, but they're willing to take their lumps while they learn the ropes. There aren't any ropes to learn, they're primarily designed to separate you from your money.

Book marketing is hard work and the main job of the self publisher. Sure, it gets easier as you go along and build an infrastructure and a network of contacts, but it's never something you can throw money at and expect a positive return. A friend of mine recently joked he was going to set up a publicity agency where he'll charge authors $1000 to promote their book and give them back $500. He thought his plan would give them the best deal their marketing buck available. My own take was if he would keep the whole $1000, but spend $500 buying the book through various retail outlets, authors would beat a path to his door.

Don't get taken in by get sales quick schemes.

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