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To Deface or not to Deface Review Copies

This is a guest post by Peter Furtado, historian and publisher

Peter provides real world experience from a post originally on LinkedIn.


As a former magazine editor I used to get a mountain of books across my desk every day, some of them on totally irrelevant subjects. Maybe one percent in total got reviewed in my magazine. What to do the with rest? The options are:
1. Send them back
2. Keep them
3. Give them away (or take them home)
4. Sell them on.
5. Burn them.

Option 1 puts me to time and expense that I couldn’t afford - these are, ultimately, unsolicited trade samples. It can a big enough job for a small publisher to unpack and check all the review copies that arrive, without packing them back up again and posting them back.

Option 2 is impractical: my office has limited space.

Options 3 and 4 both potentially detract from potential genuine sales for the publisher and author in equal measure. From their POV, these are not good options, but from mine they are practical and manageable. So that’s what we did. They meant that, once every couple of months, I could see the other side of my office. And by putting them in circulation, there is always a good chance that these volumes will contribute to a word-of-mouth whispering campaign about how good that book is, which would not be the case with options 1 and 2.

Option 5: not for me.

PS Defacing a book won’t stop people selling it on, or buying it. For breakfast this morning, I have just had bread from my local deli. The bag is clearly marked ‘Not for Resale’. I’ve asked about this, but the retailer can’t explain why, and I can’t buy that bread anywhere else, and it’s the tastiest bread I can buy in Oxford where I live. Frankly, I don’t care about that Not for Resale sticker.


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Traditional Publishing or Self-Publishing?

Much has been written as to how to get a traditional publisher, or why you would want to self publish.  Here are the reasons as I see them.

* No money up front
* Less time and learning commitment
* Small royalties and none until advance is recovered by publisher
* Loss of control over final product - they bought your book and can make it into anything they want it to be
* Little say in the design of the cover or interior
* Ego of getting traditionally published
* Your book will come and go within 6 months unless it hits it big and you can’t do anything about it
* Other versions (audio, e-book, foreign rights, first serial rights, etc.) may or may not be worked by the publisher (although they will be contracted for)
* author is often contractually obligated to certain marketing activities

* Steeper learning curve - but you can pay for activities you don’t know how to do (editing, design, typesetting, marketing, print quotes)
* Author/publisher responsible for total costs - you are now in business for yourself
* You get to make all editorial and design decisions - as well as all business decisions - YOU control the process
* Your book will be in print much sooner - typical traditional time frame is 18-24 months from beginning of negotiations
* You get to decide how the book will be marketed and to whom, when and for how long
* The book can continue to be promoted and marketed for years increasing revenues as it gets "legs" and requires less hand-holding and marketing
* You get to keep all revenues - no royalties to deal with
* You see all sales reports - no guessing if you are being paid correctly
* If you like the business and want to write more books, the process becomes easier and easier - and your business framework is already set-up allowing a more streamlined operation with less cost and more profit

As to which is a better decision. There is a place for both, but with over 500,000 new books being published each year - and less than half of them through traditional publishing houses, you can see which way the pendulum is swinging. The traditional houses are taking less and less risk with unknown authors - if you don’t already have a strong "platform" - a celebrity, sports figure, entertainer, well known Dr. etc. - you have little chance of being traditionally published - there are exceptions, but they are becoming rarer.

The ironic part is, IF you have that strong platform, you really need the traditional publisher less than the unknown person! More and more speakers and celebrities are self-publishing because you can hire everything done on the front end, and keep all the revenues on the back end.

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Have I been Subsidy Published?

The "accepted" key to deciding on the publishing "model" is: who owns the ISBN?

If you own it and pay for some help in doing your own publishing, then the company or people who help you are thought of as coaches - then you get all the profits and pay all the bills.

If someone else owns the ISBN’s - it is their publisher prefix - AND you pay them to do some package of services, then they are defined as a subsidy house. They are listed as the publisher of record and control your book AND pay you royalties of some sort. 

Some are better than others, but realize if it isn’t your own ISBN block, then someone else has published your work and if you participate in the cost of doing that (production, marketing, etc.), then you have been subsidy published. If someone else owns the ISBN and you haven’t participated in the cost of being published, then you are "traditionally" published.

It really is that simple. No matter how many flowery words you put around it, there are only three ways to be published:

  • Traditional (they own the ISBN and you don’t pay them and you get royalties),
  • Self (you own the ISBN, pay all the bills and keep all the profits) and
  • Subsidy (they own the ISBN, you pay some participation in the costs and they pay you royalties).

Everyone falls into one of those categories. From there, the actual operational implementation of all three varies widely. You need to very carefully analyze what you are getting from your invested dollars.

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10 Tips for Successful Book Store Events


Here are the 10 things that any author should REQUIRE of a book store when booking an event - if you don’t get these things, it will be a waste of time.

1) Stock books a month prior to the event and display prominently with a sign announcing the event
2) Have signs at the cash register about the event with fliers for patrons to take with them (better if they stuff them into every purchase bag)
3) Have the event and information about it on their website 1-3 months in advance
4) Talk it up in their newsletter at least one month in advance
5) Post it to appropriate "calendars" in local newspapers and other media
6) Send media announcements (PR) about event (author should send to their media list also) - written by either the author or the store
7) Author should attempt to get booked on local radio or TV within a day or so of the event
8) Author needs to post event on their website with a link to book store website 1-3 months in advance
9) Author and book store should utilize any local blogs or websites that will promote the event.
10) Author needs to post to Twitter, Linked In groups, FB and other appropriate social media several times in the week prior to the event.

Here is an article about one of my most successful events - in tiny, little Spokane, WA

Here’s to more great events that make independent publishers look great!

"If it is to be, it is up to me."


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Follow-up Critical to Getting Media Coverage

With over 500,000 new books being issued every year - and all of them wanting reviews, it truly has become the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" If you don’t follow-up - and that doesn’t mean become a pest - your rate of success will be much lower.

What we are finding that works is the following:

1) Don’t mail any unsolicited review copies. They mostly go in the trash.

2) Send a well-done email query to the appropriate editor with some background, a short bio, story ideas, and a "hook" (that element of controversy, education or entertainment that sets your book apart from others).

3) Don’t look just for a "review" - articles about your book contents or you and your connection to the book have much greater impact and are sometimes easier to get than a review.

4) Package your review copy with a sticker on the inside cover with all the pertinent details about the books distribution, marketing efforts, contact information, publisher, etc.

5) Include only a press release or sell sheet and a bio - no fancy "press kit" works any more (with a few exceptions) - they usually get stripped off and put in the garbage in the mail room.

6) Pack your book with a "Per Your Request" sticker on the outside of the package

7) Consider sending it Priority Mail (their flat rate envelope works great) if the reviewer is prominent or difficult to reach

8)  Set yourself a follow-up for about two weeks out and send a gentle inquiry - "Just following up to make sure your review copy arrived safely and to see if you have had an opportunity to flip through it yet. Please let me know when you know what your plans might be for the book." That will usually elicit some type of response.

9) Continue to follow-up at appropriate intervals (based on email conversation) until you get a firm NO or you get the review or article promised by the reviewer.  After all, you spent the money to send a review copy that they requested - they have some obligation to follow through also.

10) Once the review/article is published, send the journalist a hand written thank you note - if you have postcards for your book - a postcard is perfect - it reminds them of who you are. Add the journalist to your media list and stay in touch to build the relationship for future story ideas. Become an expert in your field.

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Kindle Books Show Rapid Growth


In today’s New York Times, Jeff Bezos,, announced the Global Kindle, but what was most interesting was his statement at the end of the article:


"Mr. Bezos declined to offer specific information about Kindle sales. But he said Kindle titles were now 48 percent of total book sales in instances where Amazon sold both a digital and physical copy of a book. That was up from 35 percent last May, an increase Mr. Bezos called “astonishing.”

“This has grown much faster than any of us ever anticipated,” Mr. Bezos said."


Astonishing indeed.  Trees everywhere are breathing easier!  All one has to do is look at a selection of listings to see that many, many books (I think the number is around 600,000) are now available in Kindle format.

While my own sales numbers (48% are Kindle where both print and electronic are offered) don’t jive with his numbers, we are definitely seeing an increase in activity from the sale of Kindle books.

Here is the link to the full article:


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Build an Organic Web Presence

Here are my ideas for building your internet presence without spamming people, tweeting daily or building a Facebook page.  I call this organic growth. All it takes is time.

1) Become part of the communities that are interested in your genre - for me, travel sites, retirement sites, boomer sites - for others it can be cooking sites, business sites, dog sites, parenting, etc. - start participating in the discussions a couple times a month. Always add to the discussion with interesting material and include a link to an article you wrote, or a link to your website, etc.

2) Respond to blog articles in your topic area (set Google Alerts so you are notified when your "key words" appear in a story) - again offer your information or opinion in their comment section or directly to the blogger, and links to your site.

3) Ask bloggers in your genre to review your book - send them a review copy and follow-up to make sure your story gets posted.

4) Use Google Alerts to follow news stories in your genre.  Use those journalists names/emails to build your media list so that when you do a news release, you have your own list to send to with the hope that they will be interested in your PR and follow-up with you to do a story.

5) When you find a news story in your genre in a newspaper or magazine, go to the comments section and comment on the story, add information from your perspective and leave your contact information including your website.

6) Trade links and stories with complimentary websites and blogs - build a relationship with others in your genre - help each other out with ideas.

7)  Write articles about your topic and submit to sites such as and - other bloggers and websites go to places like this for content to post.  The ‘quid pro quo" is that they keep your bio at the bottom in tact (with your website address) and keep you as the author. I find articles all the time that I wrote years ago that are still being picked up. One just yesterday that I wrote in 2007!

I have been doing this now for 6 years and have a presence on thousands of places on the web. All of these tactics will also improve your page ranking/SEO of your website. I just Googled my "book title" (always in "quotes") - and it says there are 6,100 places on the web that have my title associated with them.  No advertising has been done - all organic growth. All without costing me a dime - except my time.

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When to Use a Launch Event

Launch events are a good marketing tactic if you have a following with whom you want to share the buzz about your latest endeavor. Any type of book works - this is your "friends and family" event. Here are a few tips:

* Decide how many people you will invite and will attend - decide on a venue to accommodate them - think about any AV that you’ll need and make sure the room works for those things - plan for appropriate snacks, in other words, just basic "event planning" Make it fun and celebratory.

* Create some "hype" or "buzz" about the event for your attendees through email, social networking and/or regular mail

* Make sure you are set-up to efficiently sign and sell books - this is your "best" audience, so proportion of sales should be high. If you have a shopping cart where you can take credit cards, you can probably take them at an event and enter the information when you return home - check it out ahead of time with your vendor.

* This is a great time to practice your presentation that you will do for future book signing events - make sure it is polished and you are ready.

* Make your attendees ambassadors for your book.  Have postcards they can send to their friends, ask them to forward an email to their list, ask them to post reviews on Amazon, BN, etc. - send them the link to your book on those sites to make it easy for them.

Enjoy the evening and the beginning of your hard work ahead!

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What is Marketing - really… ?

(Printed with the author’s permission - thanks Don.)


Walk outside on any clear, cloudless night. Count the total number of stars you can see from horizon to horizon. Now take that total number times 100,000. That is, without exaggeration, the number of sites and blogs competing for your client’s attention in an Internet marketing environment. Even if you do everything right, this is like owning a five star restaurant that is located in a back alley off some out-of-the-way street in a universe far away.

The learning necessary to master any part of the subject could take many years; to master the entire subject far longer. This is because, above all else, marketing is a study in human nature. If one really understands human nature, it is possible to be successful.

That being said, everyone should begin by understanding what marketing is and what it is not. McCauley’s Marketing Manifesto, the real time, ever-changing guide to marketing anything in the Internet environment ( Section A, The Basics, Paragraph 1, subsections a through l state and I quote:


1. To effectively market anything, you must first know what the term `marketing’ really means.

a. If the circus is coming to town, and you place a sign and write upon it the words `Circus Coming To Town’, you are engaging in ‘advertising’.

b. If you walk down the street and whisper in people’s ears `Pssst . . .the circus is coming to town. Pass it along` you are attempting to create a ‘viral message’.

c. If you hang your circus sign on an elephant and parade it down the street, you are creating good ‘publicity’.

d. If the elephant goes wild and runs through the mayor’s flower garden, forcing you to apologize, buy the mayor new flowers and provide free circus tickets to the mayor and his family for life, you are engaging in ‘public relations’ – or, more specifically a subset of public relations known as `damage control’.

e. If you stand outside the tent with a megaphone in your hand and scream `Circus tonight! Get your tickets here!’ you are engaging in ’selling’.

f. If you sell so many tickets that there is standing room only and you must therefore run out and rent additional chairs so that everyone may sit down, you are engaging in ‘meeting the needs of your client base’.

g If you sell popcorn to the circus attendees and make a profit, you have created an ‘add-on sale’.

h. If instead you hang a sign outside the tent that says ‘Free Popcorn With Every Ticket Sold’, you have created an ‘ethical bribe’

i. If, after the show is over, you stand outside the tent and shake each person’s hand as they are leaving and give them a discount coupon for the show the following night, you are engaging in ‘creating customer loyalty’.

j. And finally, if you set the whole thing up in advance, you are engaging in ‘marketing’.

k. Marketing is putting all of these components together - it is a plan - a recipe. Strategy cannot be too strongly emphasized here. This is putting all the pieces together, in their proper ratios, in the correct order with a specific goal that can be tracked to completion. It is akin to baking a cake. You can buy only the best ingredients and put all the ingredients together but, if you have the wrong ratios or forget to bake the thing, all you’ve created is a nice mess.

l. Be advised that if you miss any of the above points, you will most likely soon be ‘failing’.

What ingredients and ratios will work for you? It depends upon the cake you hope to bake. However, in every case, without fail, a laser sharp strategy, aimed directly at the corner of that universe you hope to influence, is the one key to experiencing success. Walk before trying to run. Many free articles are available at my site.

Don McCauley
Free Publicity Focus Group
Host - The Authors Show Radio


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Books In Print and Distribution

I recently had a question from an author/publisher who was essentially thinking that all she had to do to get "distribution" was have her book listed in Books in Print - a Bowker service that goes along with your ISBN. She is planning to have her book printed digitally and couldn’t understand why using Lightning Source as the printer was so important to her due to their connection with Ingram (Lightning is part of the Ingram Book Group and provides all publishers who print with them access to Ingram to supply the book trade). This is the response I gave her.


If I’m reading your post correctly, I think we are talking about apples and oranges.

Yes, you are correct that the retail systems get their information from the BIP database - including Ingram. But it is just that - a database of information about who the publisher is, who distributes the book, what size and type of book, etc.

So let’s think this through for a moment. Your book is listed in BIP with you as the publisher and no distributors because your book is printed on demand by X Printer (no one has inventory). So let’s say that the retail store has lots of time on their hands and they really want to get your book for their customer (an unlikely scenario - they are more likely to say "we don’t handle it" because they can’t get it easily through their normal channels of distribution).

What do they do? Where do they go? Without the Ingram connection as a wholesaler, the only choice is to call you directly - the publisher listed in BIP. How will you get them the book? They won’t (in all likelihood) buy directly from you as you aren’t set up in their system as a "vendor." They want to buy from one of their established sources - their own warehouse - or perhaps Ingram. So you have probably lost the sale.  Does that make sense?

You must have some sort of "trade distribution" in order to have "trade sales" - just being listed in a database does not give book sellers "access" to your book - a place to source it from.  That is why the Ingram connection is so valuable.

If you don’t print through LSI as an on demand printer, then you will have to strike your own deal with someone like Baker & Taylor to handle your book if you want it available to the trade.  You would then have it printed by your on demand printer to fill their orders and arrange to have the books shipped to your wholesaler (in this example Baker & Taylor). They require a 55% discount from list, plus you pay shipping. With your cost structure, can you afford to do this with your on demand printer? Printing with Lightning makes it simple and affordable.

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