Moss Rock Review – October 2009

Authors are controlling book marketing now

The roles and responsibilities for marketing a new book have changed remarkably over the past decade. No longer can an aspiring author realistically hope to be courted by a publishing house, then be able to sit back and write a second book while that first manuscript is turned into a hardcover book, and promoted and publicized widely by the publisher. Nowadays, authors — whether it is Margaret Atwood or local independently-published writers — are taking matters into their own hands.

Margaret Atwood is blogging and twittering feverishly, and has organized her own international tour, a multimedia performance piece complete with a choir signing hymns she’s written. In some ways, one is reminded of the great literary events of the Great Depression, when famous authors such as Grey Owl (real name Archie Belaney) performed to sold-out theatres across North America and Europe. Decades earlier, Mark Twain (real name Samuel Clemens) commanded huge audiences for his readings and humorous speeches. These fellows were the rock stars of their eras!

Closer to home and on a smaller scale, our neighbour Ken Roueche has gone door-to-door publicizing his A History of Fairfield [ISBN 1412060354] and handed out Fairfield street maps to tourists as another promotion. Ken’s efforts have paid off in enough sales to turn a profit on the venture. Fellow Fairfieldite Sid Tafler gives lectures to spread the word about his memoir, Us and Them: A Memoir of Tribes and Tribulations [0-9781017-0-7].

Another Victoria author who isn’t shy about marketing is motivational trainer Michael J. Losier, whose The Law of Attraction [ISBN 978-0-973224-00-9] has enjoyed massive sales. Michael presents to audiences around the world, often training 800 people at once, and then selling as many copies of his book. He conducted 110 seminars during 2006! This marketing tsunami attracted appearances on The Oprah Show and sales of over 300,000 copies in four years.

Does all this mean that YOU have to become a relentless showman if you want to get that manuscript into print? Certainly not. Yet you will have to be involved in marketing to some extent if you want to have your book in circulation. I recommend a reality check — a marketing plan that suits your aspirations, personality and budget.

Start with a frank examination of your motives. Why have you written and for whom? If your impetus is to entertain and educate, you can start with niche promotions and local publicity, then expand as you gain confidence, all with minimal cost investment and good chances of building a steady stream of sales.

For example, Sidney author Caroline Whitehead is giving talks at seniors centres and service club gatherings, describing her childhood at a Catholic orphanage in the County of Kent during the 1920s and 1930s. The Peninsula News recently ran a feature article on Caroline’s fascinating book, Surviving the Shadows [ISBN 978-1-897435-33-5].

As this book reveals, Caroline discovered she wasn’t really an orphan, and spent decades tracking down her parents. “Most would prefer to put it at the back of one’s mind, rather than acknowledge the stigma of being raised in an orphanage and being denied a birthright,” says the author. “But, for the sake of social history, these stories must be told.”

Having her book available on and indexed at Google means alumni from Caroline’s orphanage can learn of this exposé’s existence, and people around the world can access her story. As eBook reading devices become commonplace, even more people will be able to learn about that often-cruel era.

The good news for Fairfield writers is that you can have your book published (by helping underwrite the costs), and you only have to do whatever promoting is logical and feels comfortable for you.


Bio: Bruce Batchelor is an author and book publisher, at Agio Publishing House, 151 Howe Street in Fairfield. Agio Publishing ( works with authors in a collaborative model, with author and publisher sharing responsibilities and costs on new books. His how-to guide, Book Marketing DeMystified [ISBN 978-1-897435-00-7] is available at Sorensen’s Books.

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