Thursday, March 31, 2011

Novel complete: publish, don't or BitTorrent promotion?

Link to BitTorrent edition download

Okay, you finished your book so now what? Authors have so many options now that didn’t exist before yet overall book sales are down.

What did I do?

I started with the crazy normal path of finding agents who represented authors in my genre, sent them a manuscript then read the standard form letter of rejection.

No fun. And very time consuming.

I entered a contest. Amazon partners with Penguin each year to sponsor a new novel contest. They accept up to 10,000 entries globally and the winner gets a publishing contract with Penguin. I made the semi-finals but didn’t win.

That and an introduction got me an agent. I still adore her but she was too big an agent for a starting writer like me. Her other clients were and are giants. I didn’t even qualify as a midget. To make my project worthwhile for her I needed a franchise…which meant another book. Only I was working full time and don’t write chronologically. The first hundred pages would have sufficed but I don’t write that way.

Meanwhile, I’d gotten to know the people at Polimedia, a small publisher expert in online media marketing. As I worked with companies in the digital media space I saw that traditional media (including book publishers) revenues and business models were getting hit; which resulted in less support for new artists. I decided to have Polimedia publish my book as doing so gave me more flexibility online; I also felt that getting real commitment and support from a more traditional publisher was a long shot. While Polimedia didn’t have the might or influence of a larger publisher it did have flexibility, distribution relationships in place and unique marketing capabilities. And, importantly, I retained all related rights and control over Captive.

Marketing fell heavily on my shoulders, with traditional book promotional events, plus Facebook, Twitter, a Captive site and the blogs. Thanks to Amy at Pissant Productions I even made Captive related videos and put up a YouTube channel.

Then I handed a copy of my novel to someone at BitTorrent (Claude). They asked if I wanted to be part of their new artist program (and the first book thus represented). After initially being shocked (books aren’t done that way) I said great!

What I like about the BitTorrent promotion is that we can hopefully connect with a meaningful audience and build a new business model for books…one that is interactive and audience focused. Being a Silicon Valley girl at heart I love the new technology enabled options available in the media world. We aren’t replacing so much as building alternatives. What could be better than being a part of that experimentation? Let’s all see what happens.

My advice?
Find a contest – like Amazon’s – or a new opportunity – like BT’s new artist program (

Go with a traditional, experienced agent if you can find one who believes in your book. My issue with this route is that fewer new writers are being developed so finding that agent takes a tremendous amount of time. But if you can make it happen then do. A big name publisher has more resources and impact on the market (if they are committed to you). Still. Period.

A smaller publisher versus self publishing? In both cases, the marketing falls heavily on your shoulders. Polimedia has marketing expertise which makes my life much easier (and relationships with relevant journalists, bloggers and other influencers). They also have distribution relationships in place (though they decided to avoid Borders and were right in that decision).

I don’t know what I would have done had I followed the traditional “self publishing” thing. It’s an option – which I didn’t explore – that has worked well for many. And the economics, if you’re a good marketer or already have an audience – are much more favorable than is going with a large publisher. (But you have a much larger work load!).

What’s most exciting is that the media world is now open to experimentation and variety. Writers tend to be (hopefully) creative types and we’re now so much less restricted in what we can do and how we choose to engage with our audience.

I really hope to get feedback on Captive. Indeed, I want thoughts and ideas on Escape, the sequel I’m currently writing. I’ve moved the action to Northern Africa and New York and brought in the ideologies and strategies of revolution. Anyone have any character name suggestions?

Thanks to Amy at Pissant Productions for doing my videos.

No comments: