Wednesday, November 10, 2004

MAD MAX SURVEY: Authors Speak!

The more frequent visitors to this site are about to notice something fishy about this "post." That it ain't, in fact, "fresh meat."

Eh? Come again?

A couple of weeks ago I posted a request for feedback from published writers; and so far that feedback has been somewhat limited in volume. I noticed, though, that the first "MAD MAX SURVEY" post (Saturday, Nov. 6--"MAD MAX SURVEY: Editors on Marketing") has received quite a lot of attention. Since publishers talk so much about building and exploiting BRANDS, I figured I'd repackage my earlier query--replace a dreary title ["A Call to (Published) Writers"] with something spiffy and market-proven, as in another


Authors Speak!

And maybe then I'd get your attention. So, yes: this post is, in fact, a rehash of a post from a couple of weeks ago (Oct. 29/'04) in which I asked PUBLISHED authors to share their expertise with the rest of us.

I'm extremely grateful to the brave handful who've replied so far; and understand completely how uncomfortable it is to share hard facts (much less relive what, in some cases, are no doubt unhappy memories) with a complete stranger, much less one who won't use his real name.

But if this experiment--this "dialog" between publisher and writers (and agents, and booksellers) that BookAngst 101 represents--is to have a chance of being something more than just another blog-sport diversion, then I NEED SOME INPUT. I'm doing my best to provide actual data (quote unquote) about how things look from the publisher's perspective, and it seems that many of you are glad to have it. But it's a two-way conversation; I've asked for specific details from your own publishing experience, in hopes that something useful might emerge; and that won't happen without a broad range of responses.


Here are the rules: Authors will NOT be named. Publishers will NOT be named. Sales figures (if you choose to provide them) will NOT be included, except perhaps in a relative sense--if you tell me Book 1 sold 10,000 copies and Book 2 sold 11,000 copies, I'll call that a 10% increase, without specifying the base figure. You have my word of honor that I won't sell you/your data out to the National Enquirer.

Here are the questions--again, for writers who've had more than one publisher.

1. what (if anything) did publisher #1 do especially well as pertains to the positioning/marketing of you/your book(s)?
1A. how many books did you publish there?
1B. if more than one, did your sales increase/decrease/stay the same?
2. why did you switch publishers?
3. did your sales on the first book w/ publisher #2 increase/decrease/stay the same relative to publisher #1?
4. did you do subsequent books with publisher #2?
4A. if so, did your sales increase/decrease/stay the same?
5. when you switched publishers, were any promises made (or implied) about a bigger marketing effort than what you'd had before?
5A. if so, list them; and to what extent did they deliver on their promises?
6. promises notwithstanding, what differences did you see in the efforts between pub #1 and pub #2?
7. what (if anything) did publisher #2 do especially well?
8. are you glad you switched publishers? why/why not?
9. based on your own experience, what one or two things have had the most impact on the successes you've achieved so far?
10. what are the one or two things that have had the least impact--waste of time, waste of money, etc?
11. knowing what you know now, what strategies would you most want to see implemented for your next book?
12. any other comments?

THANK YOU! Replies to


A VOCATION OF UNHAPPINESS [Courtesy Georges Simenon (1903-1985)]

"Writing is considered a profession, and I don't think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don't think an artist can ever be happy."

PRACTICAL MARKETING [Courtesy Zornhau, 2005]

"They should put the 1st couple of pages up in subway adverts. Having read them several times, you'd feel compelled to try the book - if it was any good."

PLATE OF SHRIMP [Courtesy Alex Cox’s REPO MAN, circa 1984]

"A lot of people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidences and things. They don't realize that there's this like lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. I'll give you an example, show you what I mean. Suppose you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly somebody will say like "plate" or "shrimp" or "plate of shrimp" out of the blue, no explanation. No point in looking for one either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness."