I've sent my manuscript to two publishers, one known for publishing fantasy and the other one... well, known for pretty much nothing. It's a very small publisher (and when I say very small, I mean _very_ small).
Recently, as my hopes have been getting up (a fellow writer who submitted her manuscript there after me already got turned down), I've started to become paranoid. I know I should be very happy if my book will get published - even by this small firm. I'm just concerned about some things.
In an interview the owner said that they don't promote much. If the book sells over a thousand copies they think it's a great success (Finland is a country of 5.000.000 people, so when compared to USA that would mean 300.000.000/5.000.000*1.000=60.000 as if the numbers could be compared).
So what's my problem? I guess I'm too ambitious. If my first book sells 975 copies how can I ever reach the public? Will I be forever stuck selling barely 1.000 copies? I know I should be reasonable and admit that a.) Many start their career from low selling figures and b.) Any opportunity to get published would be a huge step forward.
This brings out the question: how could I help to sell my book and to make it known (after being published) if the publisher doesn't have the means for that? Can I convince bookstores to buy dozens of copies if I go there looking threatening? :) I don't know many Finnish reviewing medias and TV ads could be rather expensive.
I guess what I really need from you is a strong slap to my forehead to bring me down from my dream world. Just say everything will be ok, ok? :) Gee, I'm not even published yet and my brains are already in such a mess. :D
September 16th, 2004, 06:30 PM
Gee, I'm not even published yet and my brains are already in such a mess. :D
I know that feeling!
I don't know what the SF market is like in Finland, but bravo to you for trying to break in. I feel the same concerns here in the USA. You want as many people as possible to read your book, so you feel like a failure for aiming at small press publishers.
So here's the slap. :) 1,000 sales is really pretty good for a first time author. I'd be happy with that. It wouldn't make you an instant bestseller, but it would generate good word-of-mouth, and repeat readers who look for your name/become your fans (if the book is good). If the publisher sees a profit, even a tiny one, then you'll have a much easier time selling your next book, because you can say that you sold 80% of your copies, or whatever that number works out to be. From what I understand, major publishers are all about the numbers. They're run by giant corporations that are more interested in sales figures than book quality.
And I also have a list of sites that may be helpful with self-promoting and/or self-publishing:
I hope those are helpful, and I hope I'm allowed to post links on these forums. :) Good luck.
September 16th, 2004, 07:34 PM
I don't know nothing about the Finnish market. However, I do know a little about small presses, and I can tell you with all sincerity that when that small press gets to 1000 net sales, it will not then stop selling books if someone wants to buy them. A small press does not have the resources, staff or distribution ability of a large press, but they can be a sufficient platform from which to launch a writing career, especially if the national market itself is fairly small. If sales are really good and buzz about the book is strong, a larger publisher may be interested in buying reprint rights to the work. You don't mention whether the other publisher you are hoping to interest is a Finnish press or somewhere else, and if we're talking about publishing in English, Finnish or some other language, and whether any of that's a factor, but generally speaking, writers usually have a better chance of first building a fan base in their country of residence, or at least, the country adjacent to their country of residence. Everybody loves a hometown boy.
As for booksellers, they are very nice people who persist in selling a product that most people don't want. If you get published by a large or small publisher, you will still have to do most of the promotional work, which means introducing yourself to the booksellers and trying to interest them in your work. Most booksellers are willing to listen and check out the work, and if they like it, they're even better allies than your publisher. So there's no point in being afraid of them or trying to intimidate them, as you'll have to work with them for many years, whether you become a big name author or not. Additionally, whether you have a small or large publisher, you can still try to market foreign reprint rights, which might get you into the markets of other countries that have larger populations (with all due respect to the people of Finland.)
So, when you get to the point where you are faced with the wonderful predicament of marketing your work to the public, you can rest assured that you aren't helpless and there will be many things you can do to try and increase the size of your audience. And that even a small launch may be the start of something quite big.
Abby, I don't know if all those links are usually allowed or not, but I'm going to leave them for now, because they might be of interest to many people in the forum.
September 17th, 2004, 12:13 AM
Wow! I hope Abby didn't sit down and type each of those links in by hand!
What a generous act if she did! I agree, they will be of interest to lots of writers here.
There's often spin offs from small publishers and chances for reprints in other countries. If you get offered a contract Kelhanion with a small company that realistically can't market internationally, then you should try to limit the rights of the small publisher to where they are going to realistically market the book and for how long. Say, Finland only for five years... then you are able to personally sell it overseas as well.
It is going to be damned hard to turn down a contract on your first book. So you are going to have to be a bit savvy about it. Don't worry about upsetting the publisher. They can say no if they don't like it and you have lost nothing by asking. Once you have a book accepted for publication you are in a prime position also to find an agent who may have more knowledge about selling the overseas rights to the book.
It's a small opportunity but still an opportunity. I say grab it with both hands and stretch it out for all it's worth.
September 17th, 2004, 03:04 AM
Wow! I hope Abby didn't sit down and type each of those links in by hand!
Of course not! :D I have a coder in the house, and he wrote me a program that translates all of my "favorites" bookmarks (which I keep organized and use frequently) to a text file and an html file. All I do is click a button, copy, & paste.
September 24th, 2004, 08:00 AM
From my own (very limited) experience, small presses can be a great way to break into the market. After having several nibbles from larger presses and only one (unsatisfactory) offer, I accepted an offer from a small SFF press here in the US. My debut novel is now available, after less than a year under contract, and the sequel is also under contract. The print run isn't huge, but it's enough to get a good readership base started, and the publisher is already planning reprints.
Now, all of that said, small presses don't usually have the resources for huge publicity campaigns. Fortunately for me, my sister runs a marketing firm, and she is handling all of my publicity for me... from the initial website design (www.stephanieweeks.com) all the way through soliciting/scheduling signings and media interviews. Because she, too, is basically a new start-up, we've worked out a nice arrangement where she will take a percentage of my royalties until her contracted sum is paid. It's a wonderful arrangement, and she has really jumped in with both feet and worked very hard to promote my book. Even though you're in Finland, I would recommend you email her. She has done the lion's share of my publicity via the Internet, which makes location not so much a problem. If you're interested, her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whatever route you choose, I wish you the very best of luck. This is a tough business, and we all need to support each other the best we can. :-)
October 1st, 2004, 10:06 AM
I totally agree that you must maintain a hands on attitude with regard to the promotion and marketing of your books, regardless of the size of the publisher publishing them. I am represented by Cornier Associates, http://www.cornierassociates.com, Nadia Cornier, and she handles scheduling the signings, appearances, publicity, promotion etc. Oddly, my publisher was a bit miffed when I first advised them that I hired an outside public relations firm. They are marketing my books agressively, they tell me, and they didn't want my P/R people to interfere with their efforts. Ultimately, we reached an understanding and they are now working together.
I thought they would have been thrilled from the onset, but I was wrong. I suppose they viewed it as a slight upon them, and that I did not trust that their efforts would be sufficient. That was not the case at all, but I did want to supplement them wherever I could and put as much energy into the marketing as I have into the writing of the series.
We have discussed in this forum that most readers of sci/fi and fantasy, most readers in general, don't care at all who publishes what they read. If the books get good reviews and good buzz, then they buy them. Therefor, it is imperative that your book gets 'marketed' and that it doesn't just appear unnoticed and unheralded. In fact, most of the people here said that even the reviews weren't that important in determining what they bought. So, the name has to get out there, othewise you have very little chance of selling any significant amounts of books.
October 1st, 2004, 11:47 AM
Okay, no more publicist info until we can be sure that this falls into the acceptable site guidelines, thanks folks.
Gary -- while the individual publicity person at your publisher might feel slighted, the main reason for them being miffed is fear that an outside publicist will mess things up and ruin the efforts of the publisher. As long as your publicist coordinates with your publisher, lets the publisher know what you're doing, and accedes to requests from the publisher, you shouldn't have a problem.
October 1st, 2004, 12:48 PM
That's exactly correct. And after I made it clear to my publisher that the P/R rep was there to assist and supplement their efforts, and not to conflict or contravene what they were doing, everything was fine.
Oh, and BTW, I think it's fine that we share our information regarding publicists, both good and bad. As long as this does not become a self-serving platform for publicists to advertise themselves, we are providing a service to all those who are interested.