Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Freedom Island: Marketing a Book With a Shy Author

Over the years I've worked with authors with a variety of personalities. While writing is a solitary pursuit, the extrovert must come out once the book is finished. Contacting agents or editors requires a fair amount of nerve, and once the book is slated for publication there is always a lot of promotion involved. Most of the writers I've worked with eagerly await the chance to do book signings. However, once in awhile they don't. I've got one of those now.

J.R. Sinclair, author of
Freedom Island, isn't a "difficult writer." He's just shy (so shy that 'Sinclair' is actually a pen name). He doesn't like travel. He doesn't like to talk about himself. He just wants to stay home and write. Okay. I get that. But it presents a challenge for a publisher. Especially for a small press, where we depend upon our authors to do lots of the promotion, along with us. So . . . what to do?

We analyze everyone's strengths. J.R. would hate doing a traditional book tour but he is great at internet research, and we're going to make the most of that as we find potential markets for his book. Remember that I mentioned that Freedom Island is political fiction? With the mid-term elections happening this year, interest in the election process is ramping up again. So, we want to find readers who are interested in politics and in what this election is all about. We know there are millions of them. Now we have to figure out how to reach them as we strive for our goal of creating a bestseller. J.R.--this is where you shine. Get me those names!!

On the production front, I'm excited to say that the cover design for Freedom Island is done. Here is a picture of it---simple, basic, and it conveys the theme of the book--that freedom is the most important thing we have. I'm getting very excited about the upcoming introduction of it. Advance reader copies pretty soon!

Lee Ellison
Senior Editor
Secret Staircase Books

Next: Publication dates and other tedious schedules

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Taking a Book From Here to There

This is probably an audacious idea, one that hit me a couple of months ago, but I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. Could a very, very small book publisher actually produce a nationally best-selling novel? My 16 years of experience in publishing says that the odds are strongly against it. Distribution and getting books into the big chain stores are usually the stumbling blocks. Nonfiction books, yes. Some of those have made it to the big time. But the realm of fiction has belonged almost exclusively to Big New York Publishing. However . . . in 2009 a book came across my desk that I felt had that "special something," the combination of good solid writing and a theme that would resonate.

November 2009 marked the one-year anniversary of the election of a very liberal president and legislature. It was also the month in which J.R. Sinclair's manuscript came across my desk.

Freedom Island reflected so much of what has happened in America since that historic election--it showed a future that included larger bureaucracies, government controlled health care, higher taxes, out-of-control government spending at all levels. J.R. told me that he'd had the vision for this story more than two years earlier. I was amazed that he had seen so clearly the direction the country was headed. I felt such a strong affinity for the characters in the story--they reflected a variety of American people, many with my own values and ideas about smaller government. I committed to publish the book.

We immediately began the editing process, a team of three editors working with the author to polish and make it the best book possible (interestingly, the most liberal of the editors actually loved the story--thought it was SO timely). The rewrites went well and we had a final manuscript in hand the first week of January, 2010.

This was the point at which we decided to give the book an unusual launch and do everything we could to propel it to bestseller-dom. Will it work? Perhaps I should ask, How will it work? We aren't sure. We have a vision. And a goal: to see Freedom Island on a national bestseller list within one year--by the time of the 2010 mid-term election.

And now we are taking the risk of sharing the entire journey with the rest of the world. As senior editor on the project, I will be hands-on with all aspects of its publication and promotion. And I will detail the experience here on my "One Year Challenge" blog. I invite you to join me and see how it all turns out.

Lee Ellison
Senior Editor
Secret Staircase Books

Next up: Working with a shy author