I just had a short conversation with a coworker who is also an author on the side. He wrote a book that came out last year, a thriller/police procedural. He’s an ex-cop, so he knows whereof he speaks. The Kindle version of the book is doing very well – it was number one in its category a couple of weeks ago.
But he made one mistake – he paid a vanity publisher to have a bunch of paperback versions of the book printed. He hasn’t had as much success moving those. I don’t know how many he still has – but it’s quite a few. When I saw him a few minutes ago, he asked me who he should speak with to get his book displayed in the library’s front case.
I gave him the circulation librarian’s name. I don’t know if he’ll get displayed or not. We usually try to create a theme in our display cases, something education-related, something related to the books we have in our collection. Not something that would result in sales of an employee’s books.
He’s desperate to get rid of those print copies. And I don’t know that we’re going to be able to help him with that.
I read a lot of blogs and commentary about bad author behavior, and I wonder how much of that is related to desperation. Authors are desperate to sell books, so they do things they shouldn’t. They bombard writer listservs with announcements about their books. They tweet twenty or thirty times a day about their book. They never interact with anyone on social media unless they’re selling their book.
Of course, some of it just may be bad manners. It shouldn’t be due to ignorance of author etiquette, because there’s plenty of writing out there about how an author should behave.
Self-publishing is a culprit, too. When you’re the only one selling your books, you want to try everything you can think of to get people to buy them.
It’s easy to avoid the problem of having too many print books to sell: avoid the vanity publishers! I haven’t used CreateSpace, but it’s a terrific tool for self-published people who have always wanted to see themselves in print. I think that was my friend’s issue: he’d always wanted to write, and to hold a book he’d written in his hands. So he ordered a crateload of print books, and now he’s stuck trying to sell them by himself.
As for me, from an author standpoint I probably don’t do enough marketing. But I don’t want to get on anyone’s bad side by doing too much, either. I’d rather undershoot. As long as my books sell well enough to put me in the black (I have to pay my cover artist), I’m happy. And so far, both Cited to Death and Hoarded to Death have done that. Anything more than that is just icing on the cake.
It never ceases to amaze me that anyone wants to read what I’ve written!