One of the problems facing writers with books out there is how to promote your books. A lot depends on what budgets you have (and on the time you’re willing to commit to this. Marketing work gobbles up a lot of time and this shouldn’t be underestimated).
With self-publishing being so more readily accessible and acceptable, how does an individual author make themselves heard? Sometimes the answer is to be part of a larger group of writers. What happens here is that the writers “cross-pollinate” the other authors in their group in terms of publicity and the end result is you reach more people than if you were going it alone. The Book Fair held in Chandler’s Ford last year is a good example of writers being able to hold an event at all because there were several of us involved.
For a group like that to be successful, there has to be a lot of work behind the scenes. (Nothing ever “just happens” as any fiction writer would confirm).
Local YA author, Richard Hardie, author of Leap of Faith and The Trouble with Swords in his Temporal Detective Agency series, shares with us an update on his Authors Reach.
There are seven authors in Authors Reach now and these are:-
Authors Reach Limited
An update by Richard Hardie
Ten years ago I became an author…. in that I wrote a book.
Five years later I became a published author with a second book due in months. The future looked great and of course I was going to outsell J.K. Rowling and queues of fans would line up outside Waterstones for the privilege of buying one of my books with my signature and a personal dedication. Dreams are wonderful things.
When I realised that my publisher was taking a lion’s share of the royalties and I was doing the bulk of the work, especially when it came to promotion and marketing, I and four other authors started a co-operative called Authors Reach with the aim of helping each other promote our books in shops and on social media. It worked for the most part, but our publishers still called the shots.
I bought back the rights to my books and started my own publishing company, Authors Reach Limited, setting up a distribution deal with Gardners Books for the UK and Ingram Spark for overseas, and a printing deal with Clays. Now all I had to do was go to market.
That was three years ago and now through my distributor my books are available in every independent bookshop in the UK, as well Waterstones, Blackwells and Easons in Ireland. However, a one man publishing company has very little clout in the industry and understandably most bookshops want to predominately sell bestselling books from large publishing houses, with a much smaller proportion of book sales from small independent publishers. Standalone or self-published authors stand little or no chance.
I was lucky. Three of my fellow authors from the Authors Reach co-operative felt as I did and after a couple of exploratory meetings they joined me, bringing their back catalogue of titles and their various areas of expertise which included social media marketing, proof reading and editing, graphics and internet design. We now had four authors and seven titles with more on the horizon.
Our books were already available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats, but in addition our intention had always been to sell through UK bookshops. We now had the critical mass in authors and titles (Authors Reach was no longer a one-trick pony!), we had the distribution network, we had the printing contract, we had a web page, a Facebook page and to some degree a fanbase.
Now all we needed to do was get the bookshops to stock, or at least sell our titles. Unfortunately nobody does that for you. The big publishers do it by reputation, market presence and a team of salesmen, both on the phone and knocking on doors. However, as few bookshops had heard of us, or even knew we existed it looked as though we’d be pounding the streets for ever and a day, or racking up vast telephone bills.
There are less than 800 general independent bookshops in the UK and there are more than 400 Waterstones shops. I had already met the owners of most of the bookshops in the South of England and done signing sessions with varying degrees of success, but that accounted for only 10 to 15 shops. If we were to be successful then we would need to find a way of contacting the rest quickly. We decided to send out a bi-monthly newsletter and we were lucky enough to get the bookshop’s own association to send the first two newsletters by email on our behalf. After that it was a matter of Googling names by county and building our own database of contacts.
The newsletter now goes out to nearly 200 shops and that number will keep expanding as and when we have time to add to it! We include news on additional releases, new authors, promotional offers and general news that may be of interest. In the past year two new authors have joined Authors Reach Limited and brought their back catalogue with them, bringing the number of titles we publish and are stocked by our distributor to 23. Suddenly being a publisher is becoming a full-time job!
Two weeks ago I met face to face with an author who had expressed interest and with whom I’d exchanged a number of emails. His name is Robin Driscoll and he’s the man who devised, developed and wrote all the Mr Bean television shows. He also writes books and he is now published by Authors Reach Limited.
It looks as though we’ve arrived!
Many thanks, Richard. I would say good luck but all writers need not just that but the determination to work hard to help create that luck in the first place. Networking is really important as this is where connections are formed.
Above all, I think, there has to be an acceptance not only of the need to put the work in, but to face the reality of setbacks, rejections, and that the whole business will take far more time than you anticipate. The difficulty many writers face later is balancing the allocation of time to the business of writing and to the creative work that has given you a business to deal with in the first place! However, that’s another story for another time…
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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