A bit of background before I dissect this full-page ad from Publishers Weekly. Sharyn McCrumb is a long-time NYT bestselling author. Her ballad novels featuring Nora Bonesteel are continuing favorites. There hasn't been a new one in a long time. This novella comes ready made for success.
That said, Abingdon Press, which has been around for 200+ years, is throwing a ton of effort behind this release. Let's parse this ad.
- 100-copy early reader campaign. Most of us with small press contracts are lucky to have 10-15 copies to send out. We have to badger our publishers for the Kindle file to attract reviewers. Many of the names for the early readers came from Sharyn herself, but not all. Some came from the publisher knowing who the best earlier readers in her genre are. All are expected to review the book.
- 100-copy radio reviewers promo. I don't know 100 radio reviewers. I would need a PR specialist to help with this.
- Multi-media publicity campaign. I know most of my local newspaper and magazine publishers. Outside of a 50-mile radius, I'm just another writer looking for column inches. I can send press releases and hope, but it helps if you know someone at the publication to grease the skids. As far as national book review pubs, again it's rather a crap shoot as to whether my book will be reviewed or not. I have to try, but I would rather have a bit of help to attract attention.
- Author signings at large festivals and book fairs. NYT bestsellers do well because they have support. If an indie or small press author gets in, it's a lonely place. If you are with a publishing company that has high visibility. you'll be overwhelmed. Otherwise, you're likely to be underwhelmed.
- 20-stop regional author tour in southeast. Again, having a large publisher behind you to set up the appointments helps bring bodies and dollars to your events. You can do it yourself given enough time and contacts. If your book will attract a regional audience through its subject, you'll have a better chance of doing this on your own.
- National print and online advertising. Not likely if you are with a small press or on your own. I don't have deep pockets to pay for advertising.
- #NoraIsBack social medial campaign. All of us can do this. We can register our book titles and put together social media events. It takes time that you might not be able to spend.
- Online reading group guides. We should all have these on our web pages. If our publishers will print the guides at the back of the book, all the better. Some will; others won't. AT least put these on your websites, along with topics you are qualified to talk about.
- Abingdon Book club and blogger program. This works if your publisher has such programs. If not, you're on your own.
Is this all bad news for indie and small press published writers? No, because there are several things in this list we can all do without spending a boatload of money. We'll spend a boatload of time, thought. It's hard to figure out how to divide our time between promotion and writing the next book. We are often reminded that selling books is a marathon, not a sprint. True, but publishers would like to see a return on their investment in publishing our works. So would we.
We have to be smart to control the stress of feeling we have to do it all. Good publishers and agents can and should help. Alas, not all do.