Marketing/self publishing with Harry Steinman

Great advice on how to effectively use Kickstarter to fund your self-published book!

readful things blog

Doors & Windows 004When you first begin anything, there is cause to be frightened of the unknown. Searching out unfamiliar territory and trying to get everything you need lined out for a new book project is no exception. Usually, if a door closes a window will open. Harry Steinman is here to give you some ideas about how to bypass the window and the door and knock out a wall instead. Need funding to get that book going? Here are some ideas.

The Kindness of Strangers:

How To Fund a Self-Published Novel With Kickstarter

By Harry Steinman, a One-Hit Wonder

Like it or lump it: self-publishing costs money. Every element of your book must be excellent. You must spend your hard-earned shekels or your book will look amateurish.

Good things are rarely cheap, and cheap things are rarely good. Don’t skimp on buying the expertise you need, and don’t publish unless your writing…

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Self-publishing field continues to grow

Another website has opened up, to give self-published authors more visibility:  Read the article here in the Christian Science Monitor. describes itself as being “For self-published and print-on-demand books and the readers who love them.”  Founder Amy Holman Edelman proposes to do for self-published books what Sundance has done for independent films.  For an annual fee of $149, will “promote, market and sell your book” on its website, if they deem your book to have met “certain standards of quality, both in terms of basic spelling and grammatical errors and content. All books must be well written and offer something of value to our customers.”  Be sure to always read the fine print when $$ is involved.  From the Terms of Service:

2. Annual Fees and Costs. a. The fee for inclusion on the website is $149.00 per year, regardless of the number of books that each author features on the IR site. The fee for submitting the first book is included in the annual fee, however, there will be a submission fee of $25 for each book after the first. b. This fee is NON-REFUNDABLE. is a business and as such should charge fees, and it should reserve its right to reject books that don’t meet its standards.  Yes, that makes it sound more like traditional publishing with all its gatekeepers, but holds the promise of access to good writing, regardless of the author’s name recognition.

Promoting Your Book

I think I’ve found someone’s online dream job at Pump Up Your Book Promotion ( Dorothy Thompson is the CEO and founder of this online PR firm. She offers several promotional packages for authors looking to hawk their books, which include: “virtual book tours” on 15-20 blogs; press releases; one-on-one contact to ensure that your blog is up and running and is SEO-friendly; and (if you select the Gold package), a book trailer on YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo Video and other promotional video websites as well as their page at YouTube.

They also offer a unique marketing strategy that purports to benefit authors and readers alike: the PumpUp Buyers Incentive Rewards Program. Buy any book (or books) of authors currently on tour with Pump Up and you’ll get free goodies such as autographed bookmarks and ebooks about publishing. The more you buy, the more goodies you get.  For a list of authors currently on virtual tour, click here.

I say this must be a dream job because Dorothy and her staff blog like there’s no tomorrow! Here are just a few of their blogs (which, I assume, are part of the book promotion package):

Book Marketing Buzz (which includes an opportunity for published authors to be guest bloggers)

Beyond the Books

Pump Up Your Online Book Promotion

Pump Up Your Book Promotion Galleria of Books

Paperback Writer–Books and Author Interviews

The Book Stacks

The Writer’s Life

Although I do subscribe to the feed for The Writer’s Life (and that was my introduction to Pump Up Your Book Promotion), I have not used the firm’s PR services nor participated in the Readers Incentive Rewards Program (although I plan to, if I find a book I want to purchase). So if you have used their services, then please leave a comment and let me how it was (or is). It’s easy for me to be awestruck by what appears to be good organization. Really, I’m impressed with the blogs, the websites, and the packages. They do offer testimonials from past clients, but I can’t personally attest to how well the promotional services work. And that is, in part, because I don’t yet have a book to promote 🙂

The debate on self-publishing continues

Georganna Hancock of A Writer’s Edge has an interesting post on what’s wrong with self-publishing. She makes some good points, noting that some self-published books lack quality in both writing and book design. Of course, I took exception to her general tone and just had to post a response. You can link to her post here. My response, in full:

“You note that “a lack of professionalism in most aspects marks self-publishing efforts, and this is what traditional publishing usually brings to the effort.” Although you provide the caveat that traditional publishing does not always reflect the professionalism that one should expect from it, I think you do self-published authors a disservice by tossing them in the trash. The technology for print on demand books is improving every day and more writers are becoming savvy to the pros and cons of self-publishing. The Writing Show with Paula B. has interviewed a number of POD authors who enjoy at least a modest success, and websites that review POD books are sprouting up (see, for example, POD Books and More), providing some gatekeeping for the discriminating reader.
Any author who wants to see her work in print and not be embarrassed by it should study closely the wealth of information on self-publishing in general and PODs in particular (for a start, she could visit my blog at At a minimum, she should retain an editor who can apply the necessary objective eye to her writing. Although chain bookstores usually refuse to place a POD book, small independent bookstores often fill that gap. With some effort (along with fortitude and an obsessive persistence), a self-published author might develop a fan base within her own community. It’s possible and it’s worth the effort of any writer who wants to see her writing in print but who has grown weary and disillusioned by the seemingly never-ending rejections from traditional gatekeepers. Should a dedicated writer never see her words in print just because traditional publishers shoo her away? What if John Irving had given up on The World According to Garp?
What bothers me most about the argument against self-publishing is the assumption that the gatekeepers of traditional publishing know what’s best for readers. They will ensure that we have access to only the best (in their opinion) writing. Unfortunately, what I often see while I stroll through the aisles at my local Borders is the same old, lowest-common-denominator fodder, whether in fiction or non-fiction.
Some of our greatest authors were self-published (Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman, to name a couple). Would our traditional gatekeepers publish them today? What would American or English literature be like today if Walt Whitman or Virginia Woolf had not had the toughness of ego to publish their writing? For sure, Michael Cunningham would have had no subject for his novel, The Hours.
But thank you for sharing your thoughts, Georganna. Self- vs. traditional publishing is an interesting debate and one that will likely go on for much longer.”

Sigh, that’s enough ranting for today.

Feedback from Self-Published Authors

This Sunday’s New York Times has a couple of interesting letters in the Book Review section, responding to Rachel Donadio’s essay of on POD publishing. Maryann McFadden and Daryl Pebbles (AKA Hutton Hayes) are published authors. Click here to read their letters in full. Ms. McFadden originally published her master’s thesis, a novel, as a POD. She describes herself as “one of those rare exceptions: my self-published novel, which began as my master’s thesis, sold enough copies to land a good agent who sold it at auction. My novel, “The Richest Season,” will be published by Hyperion in June.” Mr. Peebles, who writes under the pseudonym Hutton Hayes, describes self-published authors as “voices lost in the muddled middle who spend five years writing a novel and seek the same opportunity for survival as traditionally published authors. They may sell 200 books, or 200,000, or only one, but now they can, at least, be read.”

Cheers to both Ms. McFadden and Mr. Peebles. They remind us that that money, although a nice side benefit, is often not the carrot that keeps us going; rather, it’s the love of the written word, the desire to be read and, thus, heard.

More on POD–correction

This just in from Mr. Orr regarding his website, POD Book Reviews & More:

“As of 4/1/08, iUBR was opened up to submissions from most POD imprints. I could never have handled the volume alone, but five additional reviewers were added earlier this year. We welcome submissions from all POD brands except Lulu, which has its own legitimate, independent review site in Lulu Book Review. Thank you.”

What good news for self-published authors!

More on POD

Remember my rank about self-published authors needing book reviewers in order to gain legitimacy? Well, one such reviewer just contacted me! Floyd M. Orr , a self-published author himself, offers to read and review iUniverse publications at his website, POD Book Reviews & More. He doesn’t mince words when it comes to his preference for only iUniverse books:

“My attitude toward iUniverse is unlike the horde of what I call the slap-fighters on the POD blogs and message boards. I am tiring of the snotty attitudes of those people, both the ones who have their own blogs and those who just pop up and dominate message boards created by others. I have only three negative things to say about iU: price, price, and price. They charge too much in set-up fees, book retail prices, and wholesale prices to the authors. Absolutely everything else I can say about the company is professional and positive. I have no interest in supporting competing companies, so this offer is for iU authors only.” (For the rest of this post, which explains the why and how of his service, please click here.)

From the list of reviewed books thus far, Mr. Orr has not suffered a shortage of reading material by limiting submissions to iUniverse. He also posts interviews with authors and agents, and other interesting tidbits of POD publishing. I’m looking forward to spending more time on his website and seeing what gems I can find that have never made it to The New York Times Book Review.

I’m really glad that Mr. Orr contacted me and made me aware of his website. If any one else out there has a “business” of reviewing POD books, please let me know and I’ll be happy to post a link to your website. Or you can leave a comment and provide your contact information there.

More POD

So maybe I’m psychic. This morning in my Google Reader, I found a post from The Writer’s Helper describing the Self Publisher’s Place (click here to read the post). Of course I had to jump over and check out the website (Self Publishers Place). It’s a fledging site with the lofty goal of promoting and selling all self-published works listed on their site. They provide space for the writer to upload a book cover, a summary, and a link to the writer’s personal web page. They are investigating for-fee web hosting services to provide to writers who don’t have their own personal web site, and they also provide a forum for the usual community-building exercises. I plan to register and hang around the site and see how it goes. I’m also excited that there’s a website dedicated to self-publishing so I don’t have to keep surfing for info.

I caught a glimpse of a book reviewer in one of the forums and had an epiphany of sorts. Book reviews can often make or break an author’s reputation; but to be reviewed at all is a kind of acceptance into the publishing world. If an author’s book isn’t reviewed, then does that book exist?

But book reviews also help to filter through the good, the bad, and the ugly in books. I often rely on reviews to help me decide whether or not to purchase a book, although I do so gingerly since reviewers aren’t always an objective bunch. More reviews of self-published books could raise their level of legitimacy in the eyes of the reading public, as well as give that public a greater breath and depth of writing to choose from. One thing that truly annoys me with the current state of publishing is that one new book from one author will take up costly space in several magazines and newspapers, at the expense of any other author with a new book. For example, several weeks ago, I read a New York Times article about a certain author and his latest novel in the Sunday Arts and Leisure section. Then, the following week I believe, the novel was reviewed in the New York Times book section. Shortly after that, it was reviewed in the New York Review of Books, and somewhere amongst all this reviewing, the author was interviewed on Terry Gross’s Fresh Air. Were there no other new novels published around this time?

On the flip side, Rachel Donadio, in her essay in this Sunday’s New York Times (“You’re an Author? Me Too!”), describes one of the short-comings of self-publishing: that today there are more books being published than there are readers to read them. Rather than bemoan this “collective graphomania,” Donadio remarks that among all the noise, there is music. Again, I think that’s where book reviewers could really help, if they can stand the noise.

Of course, the greater challenge to print media, regardless of whether it’s from tried and true publishing houses or upstart PODs, comes from the ubiquitous, big-screen TV. I know I did a lot more reading before I got cable.

Print on Demand

I’ve been following the print-on-demand (or self-publishing) issue for several years, watching as self-publishing has become (more) legitimized, and always with a bit of amusement given that some of the most revered authors in literature were self-published (ex: Virginia Woolf and Walt Whitman). What troubles me is that the “jury” still seems to be out on the value and virtue of self-publishing. For everyone who argues that self-publishing is a legitimate venue (but with the caveat that the author must invest the appropriate resources of editing and marketing), there is another who argues that the only legitimate way to authorship is through the usual line-up: agents, editors, publishing houses. Maria Schneider from Writer’s Digest wrote an interesting and link-worthy column about self-publishing, which you can find here. She recommends that a writer ask herself these questions before going with POD: (1) “What’s your goal?”; (2) “Are you a good self-marketer?”; and (3) “Have you done the research?”

I know that I would not be a good self-marketer. I can barely convince myself that anyone outside my very small and tight circle of friends and family would be interested in my writing (and I’m not always too sure about a few of them). But I do get frustrated with the waiting game: submitting a story and then waiting weeks, maybe months before getting any response. And this is even when I use electronic submissions. Which is probably why I like entering contests, even if I have to pony up a submission (or reading) fee: at least I’ll know by when I should get a response.

I would be really interested in hearing about your experiences with POD, or even just your thoughts on the whole issue. I keep thinking about Woolf and Hogarth Press, the idea of believing in yourself so much that you just go ahead and publish your own work, d**n the publishing house gatekeepers.

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