Open Wounds

Amazon, Goodreads, and Subsidiary Rights, Oh my!

I don’t do well on labor day. See this post on my Zen Dadd-itto blog for the reason why. So I didn’t post yesterday or the day before.

But today I’ll finish up with groups three and four, business people and reviewers.

Group three is made up of editors, publishers, media folks (movies, audio, book club, the same folks in other countries) who might take an interest and buy subsidiary rights. These are paperback, audio, e-book, world rights, movie rights, and book clubs. I might be missing one or two but you get the idea. How do you reach these folks? Either through your agent (if you have one – hence the importance of having an agent) if you retain the rights, or the publisher if they retain the rights. How else can you influence these folks? You can sell books. A lot of books. Print runs these days for a small press and even medium or large presses first authors can be 2-3,000 copies hard cover. If you want to get noticed the first thing to do is sell through your first print run, then try to hit the 5,000 mark and then the 10,000 mark. That will get you some notice. Dewey Lambdin, a bestselling author of a naval series called the Alan Lewrie Naval Series (one of my favorite historical novel series) told me he was told by an editor about his fifth or sixth book (he’s got over a dozen by now) that he needed to hit the 50,000 mark to get noticed.

Let’s start with the number 10,000. It’s a big number. You have to reach a lot of people and convince them to buy your book in order to reach 10,000. Still, if you get there, selling a second novel will be that much easier as will selling subsidiary rights. Which, once sold, help you sell more copies of your book. It’s synergy – as far as I can tell.

Group four is reviewers. Reviewers reach a lot of people. I’ll say that again. Reviewers reach a lot of people. Good reviews are important but getting reviewed is even more important. Internet reviews by bloggers who have 100 or 300 or 1000 followers get you visibility in different parts of the country that you wouldn’t get in any other way. It can also start word of mouth from blog to blog. You can reach people fast and with a review with information about your book that some percentage of people will hopefully use to buy it. Other good places to be reviewed include Amazon (because it’s used as a barometer of how well your book is doing and people from group three browse it to see how books are doing.) and Goodreads. (By the way if you haven’t reviewed Open wounds on either Amazon or Goodreads please do – I can use all the reviews I can get!). Goodreads is another story worthy of a blog entry all by itself. Andrew Smith recently commented on his relationship with Goodreads and I have some similar and lively things to say about my relationship with it too. Still, readers and group three media and group two booksellers also look at Goodreads so it’s worth getting on and asking people you know who read the book to post there in addition to Amazon.  It’s all about visibility. In order to sell 10,000 copies of your book you probably have to reach ten times that number of people (100,000). I’m only guessing. It could be more or less depending on how targeted your market is.

But what does it all mean? It means I’m overwhelmed as all hell with the odds against selling well and the tremendous amount of work that needs to be done to sell books. In other words when the writing is done and the book has been bought – it’s not over. If anything, a new kind of work has just begun.

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2 responses

  1. Joe,

    I love the fact that you face the difficulties that come after the deal with open honesty. Seeing you cover the details (even if you don’t break it down to the lowest common denominator) is really helpful for us aspiring writers.

    I think you make a great point about reviews, because the thing is, even though as writers we hate most reviews, even negative ones can help sell a lot of books.

    Every man I know would love Open Wounds, and some women too, so I’m going to be buying and sending like 5-10 copies out as Christmas presents this year, but don’t count on me, because most of my friends have written me off as nuts.

    Thanks,

    Matt

    September 10, 2011 at 7:36 pm

  2. Eustice Seeney

    That’s for sure…Folks can think your work’s crummy, crafty, cute, or clever…anything; but say something-Please…Reviews good or bad, they’re THERE, and Whatever it takes to get noticed…you do it.

    December 1, 2012 at 6:12 pm

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