What Does Your Book Release Mean?

“Yo the next album is dropping next Tuesday.”

“In theaters near you this Friday.”

“And your book release will be…”

Right, so what does that mean for the DIY author? I mean for major league publishing house authors there’s a whole schedule: premarketing, marketing, publicity, press, events, co-marketing, pre-orders, internet pre-orders, ship date, preferred retailers, and internet sales release. But what about the rest of us?

I imagined a big party at a cool club and flyers all around town announcing the book release party. I’d get a band, there would be tons of people. Instead, I got the shipment of my print order books and they sat on my kitchen floor for about a week before I even got a chance to put my first internet orders in mailing envelopes at the post office. And that was it, really. I tried to organize some readings, then I resorted to begging bookstores in the area to let me do a signing event. When that failed, I gave them great terms on carrying the book, even on consignment. Nothing.

Ok, so the book may suck, but all the feedback I’ve recevied is that it definitely doesn’t suck and that it’s funny as hell. Ok, great. but that doesn’t solve the problem here: people are attracted to that deadline, the date, the time, the place. Releasing a book over the internet as most of us independents do sucks a little bit of the excitement and urgency out of it.

Being a part of a writing community definitely helps. For example, at Year Zero, we work hard to promote one another’s releases and are able to cobble together some pretty amazing events. But there are only about a dozen of us in Year Zero, and there are hundreds of thousands of independent writers and their releases. With millions and millions–an infinite amount–of willing readers.

Our issue is to bridge that gap. Our issue is to continue to break down the walls that the mainstream publishing industry have erected to define “legitimate” releases from independent ones. That definition is diminishing, but the independent writing community may have to take another look at the approach we take in releasing a book.

There is a soft release, which I’m inclined to do for my next project, due out as soon as I can get a book cover together (not an easy task), which means uploading to FeedBooks, BookBuzzr, Smashwords, and the like. Making announcements here, Twitter, and a few other blogs. And begging the fuck out of book reviewers to review it. By this point, the print release seems negligible. I recognize that the tactic of offering the electronic copy for free is one that not everyone agrees is the best approach. But for me, who the hell am I to charge money for my unproven work? You can pay when I have a track record!

Then there is a hard release, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Who would come to my book release party, other than my kids’ preschool friends’ mommies, my family and some friends? Exactly. Anticlimactic, which is exactly what I’d like to avoid. While the soft release seems anticlimactic, a shitty result for a hard release is downright depressing.

How are you “releasing” your book?


Filed under commentary

7 responses to “What Does Your Book Release Mean?

  1. marchorne

    I just wrote a blog post on how I am releasing my book. More like a to-do list on how I am publishing it.

    I am favoring the soft release, since I know from my last indie book that these things have long tails and I don’t currently have the “bandwidth” to try and orchestrate a true guerilla marketing campaign.


  2. marc — nice plug! glad i provided you an opportunity to help you publicize! i’ll hit your site in just a minute.

    you know, on my first book i had this whole checklist (apart from the huge party which of course never materialized) and i was all ready to go. not to pee on your cheerios, but for me at least and all the shite in my life, i just couldn’t get a lot of it off the ground, namely the cooperation of bookstores.

    maybe next time it’ll be better. but good luck to you and stop by again here and let us know how your release has gone!


    • marchorne

      If you’ve checked out my list you’ll see by now that overambition is not a problem. “Save file” is like the hardest thing on it.

  3. For the Yoopernatural series, I send out a tweet-blast, and then get busy hitting the amazon forums and all the social networking sites.

    The fourth and final volume of the series will be release by the beginning of June. After that, I move on to the novel Fiddlesticks. When that comes out, I should do something more than just networking online.

    Maybe I can have a street party in Ann Arbor. I could do my fiddle and monologue shtick. Maybe I could print up a picture of the cover & call it a virtual book release.

    Seems like you have given me something to think about.

    • Yeah, see, that’s just it — our plans and the reality sometimes don’t always match up. My problem is in not getting discouraged or being too inflexible.

      But even though we have the internetz at our fingers, it’s ridiculously hard to “release” the book with any fanfare other than us and a few nice people surrounding us. Creating fans–real fans who pay money for your work–is the single most difficult part of being any artist. I think.


  4. yearzerowriters

    Yes, your book doesn’t suck and it IS funny as hell. I might buy another copy to run the friend-circut, it’s that great. Completely transcends the generations!

    -S. Melville

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