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Author Topic: The Press Book  (Read 7798 times)

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Ingrid

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The Press Book
« on: July 09, 2007, 05:13:04 PM »

I have just received such a thing -- from France!  American publishers don't bother, though they may occasionally send a copy of a review.
My French publisher (Belfond) has garnered 64 print reviews for the first novel in the series (L'Enigme Du Dragon Tempete -- or The Dragon Scroll), and 24 for the second (L'Enigme de la Porte de Rashomon -- Rashomon Gate) which was released this spring.  And they have mailed me copies of the clippings, all the way from France, Air Mail.

What is wrong with this picture?  Why aren't we getting the same exposure (or courtesy) from American publishers?

I'm not sure what I'm trying to suggest here, but clearly sales can be affected by reviews.  I've seen this happen with a single nice review in Canada where my sales were sluggish until it appeared.  Perhaps books are reviewed more in France.  Perhaps the French are more literate.
I don't know, but sometimes I'm very discouraged about my American career.
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clayiseditor

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Re: The Press Book
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2007, 06:34:47 PM »

I could be totally off here, but your situation reminds me of a newspaper situation I was once in.

During a drunken fit, the publisher of a paper - I was managing editor at the time - told me point blank that news people were a necessary EXPENSE. I countered that they were an investment that added value to the paper.

I wonder if the French publisher views your book as an INVESTMENT versus expense. And as an investment, that company is going to work hard to see that they, and by default you, get a return on the investment.

I've often felt that America's capitalistic structure dilutes the value of those who pursue the arts. So, publishers expect authors -- especially beginners and mid-list -- to do all the marketing on their own, instead of looking to other ways to control expenses, possibly freeing money for some PR work for the author.

Of course the author should be heavily involved in promotion, but he or she should have some backing. I've heard from too many friends that managed to land books with major publishers only to feel like the publisher simply wasn't interested in their success.

Perhaps overseas, authors are more of a valued property?

Clay
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Kathy Wendorff

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Re: The Press Book
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2007, 08:29:35 AM »


During a drunken fit, the publisher of a paper - I was managing editor at the time - told me point blank that news people were a necessary EXPENSE. I countered that they were an investment that added value to the paper... I've often felt that America's capitalistic structure dilutes the value of those who pursue the arts.

I don't think it's just the arts. I know a couple of guys who worked years for different small companies, one an engineer for a telephone company, the other for a software company. When those companies were gobbled up by bigger companies, each was tossed overboard (at age 50+) in favor of younger cheaper inexperienced people, even as the new companies were profiting from the software and systems they'd built.

Publishers and other companies feel their only allegiance to maximize short-term profits for their shareholders.  It leads to being penny-wise and pound-foolish, and great unfairness to those who actually do the work. As Clay said, they're seen as expenses, not resources, and never as people who deserve long-term consideration for the long-term benefits they've contributed to shareholders and others.

Can you tell you've pushed one of my buttons?

Kathy W.
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stevent

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Re: The Press Book
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2007, 08:56:33 AM »

Well, I think the American publishing industry is sick in several different ways. The one that affects me the most is the indifference to making a SMALL profit. For instance, if a publisher simply doesn't follow up on foriegn rights sales - it may not earn much money, but foriegn rights can bring in something. Same with the total indifference to advertising novels. Often our own publishers will do exactly nothing to advertise to the general public. Hard for the public to see your book as a cultural event if your own publisher doesn't bother to promote it as such (or promote it at all). When publishers do treat a particular book as an important cultural event, the newspapers and magazines reflect that. Harry Potter has all sorts of ad space being bought for it in magazines and newspapers everywhere, this makes it seem important (whether it is or not is a different issue) and the news media pick up on this and report and review.
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Matthew S.

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Re: The Press Book
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2007, 09:17:09 AM »

The irony is that Harry Potter doesn't need any advertising! 

A slight detour here:  One of the the things I like about being a Catholic, religion aside, is that I get to read whatever I want.  There are advisery boards that put out stuff telling Catholics what to avoid but there is no edict, no punishment - no sin - in reading them.  (Truth be told, Catholics are encouraged to read most everything from an intellectual point of view - including the Bible.) I've read the Book of Mormon, for example, with absolutely no repurcussions.  I've read many books by popular and anti-Catholic protestant writers (and shake my head wondering where they get some of the ideas they espouse to the Catholic church - Bishop Sheen was right when he said that not a hundred Americans hate the Catholic church, but millions hate what they think the Catholic church represents - but I digress.)  When I was told that Catholics should not read Harry Potter to their children (it promotes witchcraft and, supposedly, other non-christian ideas), I went out and read a couple of the novels.  Which brings me to my point:  I've spent decades learning what to do and what not to do to write a novel.  In my opinion, J. K. Rowling did just about everythign wrong from a writer's point of view and made a billion dollars.  If she didn't sell her soul to the devil she surely must have rented it.

It's not a Catholic point of view but it certainly is mine.

Matthew S.
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Ingrid

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Re: The Press Book
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2007, 10:18:49 AM »

Matthew, the Catholic church used to have a "black list" of books that were banned for Catholics.  I recall THE DECAMERON was on this.  It contains some salacious tales about priests and women.

Clay, I agree that it is probably the American way to make a buck quickly or run.  I don't agree that it is the author's duty to promote his books. The author has neither the money nor the skills to do this.  It's the author's duty to write.

Steven, the impatience of the big publishers (the ones you and I know) with a series is becoming proverbial.  I don't know why they bother with a new series any longer.  They won't give it time to make converts.  I have turned to stand-alones out of selfdefense.  Many other series authors won't start the next book until they are sure the publisher will buy it.  And then they have to meet very short deadlines and make a poor job of it.  I don't want that to happen to me.  None of my books will be sold until they are written.

But none of you dealt with the issue of courtesy.  Are all American publishers so disinterested in keeping their authors informed?  Perhaps my experience is not typical.
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stevent

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Re: The Press Book
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2007, 01:15:40 PM »

"Are all American publishers so disinterested in keeping their authors informed? "


Ingrid,
What I meant was that publishers are, in fact, disinterested in doing many things that could help garner sales. I honestly don't think they willfully keep reviews from you (or me) they simply don't collect them even for themselves. More often than not, I have informed my editor of reviews I've garnered. The staff at SMP simply isn't there to collect this info themselves and pass it along to editors et al.

In answer to the question above, I think, yes, many American publishers are disinterested in keeping their authors informed. This is a byproduct of them being uninformed themselves.

Some of the smaller publisher (one man bands) seem to do a better job at this from what little I've heard. I'm thinking of Poisoned Pen and Echelon.
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Ingrid

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Re: The Press Book
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2007, 01:42:17 PM »

Yes, I've also heard good things about Poisoned Pen. Sometimes you just want to be treated humanely.

And by the way, that's why AHMM is so great. Nice people and smooth sailing for the story. Once you mail it off, you have no more work to do. And Linda often keeps me informed about reviews of my novels!

Sigh!

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Lee Lofland

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Re: The Press Book
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2007, 07:37:45 PM »

Linda Landigran over at AHMM is simply one of the nicest people in the world.

By the way, she and her husband are handling Book 'Em this year.

Here's the link to the site:

http:// bookemfoundation.org/lebanon/
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