‘Good Sex, Great Prayers’: A Journey in Publication (Part 6: Pre-order and Print Copies)
It’s been a long time since I’ve written an installment for this series. May of last year, to be exact. Pela Via, my primary content editor, had just gotten done taking the proverbial red pen to the pages of Good Sex, Great Prayers. Over twenty pages were cut, content corrections were made, and all the missteps were sorted out. We basically performed surgery together. The book then went on to the second round of editing (the line edit), which resulted in the following email about a week later:
Have just uploaded the copyedited MS to the database. Firstly, just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. A book I would definitely read for pleasure and recommend, and one that makes my job feel like the best in the world! Characterization was superb as was the plot and storytelling - reeled me in just the right amount at all stages. It was also thought-provoking and maybe a little sinister! As well as mainstream readers I reckon it will go down a storm with pagans etc. and I guess we should be thinking about using JHP contacts in that area as well as fiction. Anyway, back to the copyedit. Haven't changed the text, just tidied up here and there.
After a year of being too close to the project, I needed to hear that. I needed to know my confidence in the novel wasn’t just wishful thinking or artistic delusion. That email sort of set the tone as to how smoothly the rest of the process would go. Editing wrapped up fairly quickly. Proofreading, too. After that, the publisher doesn’t really need to correspond with the author since there’s nothing more they can add. Perfect Edge Books would spend the next many months formatting, doing layouts, and designing the final product. I’d get the occasional status update, but other than that, I was told to be patient and wait. Pre-order was coming up.
I want you to pay very close attention to what I say next: You can’t just tell people to buy something and expect them to buy it. J.K. Rowling can do that, the Kardashians can do that, Radiohead can do that. A non-household name author, on the other hand, can’t do that. That’s why the best authors double as copywriters: they know how to push the same product fifty different ways so as not to piss people off. Seriously, there’s nothing I hate more than when someone posts the same Amazon link five times a day. That’s not selling, that’s spamming, and spamming is how you get unfriended and unfollowed.
Regarding Good Sex, Great Prayers, it was difficult to push product when Amazon finally made it available for pre-order back in December. I could post the cover graphic and excerpts, but that only gets you so far. For a truly successful pre-order to take place, it can’t be just you talking about the book…you have to get others involved.
Honestly, I don’t know how much a blurb, an interview, or a review really impacts the buying process, but I know I’d rather have those things than not have them…so the first thing I did was put together a spreadsheet. Essentially, it was a wish list comprised of three categories: authors I’d like a blurb from, venues I’d like to review the book, and people I could potentially interview with. Fortunately, the amount of reviewers and interviewers out there is seemingly endless, and I had no shortage of authors to reach out to. Most of the review/interview venues had to take a back seat for the time being since the majority of them wouldn’t look at a PDF (the only format I had at the time), and either wanted a print version or epub/mobi format. Authors are a little more forgiving in that regard. They know the process, that shitty little awkward period between pre-order and release when the novel is still going through puberty.
So far, two authors have come back to me with official blurbs:
I couldn't help but notice that my Amazon ranking went up on each of the days I posted these, respectively. There was also something happening in the podcast world, too...my book had made its first "reads of the year" list over at Books and Booze. Renee, one of the hosts over there, served as a beta reader and (lucky for me) loved the shit out of it.
I guess my whole feeling on pre-order—which applies to all writers and authors (not just me)—is that you've put in all this time working on the book...now isn't the time to lean back and kick your feet up. As much as I'm sure we'd all like to, you can't always count on a marketing team to turn your book into a bestseller (or even a minor success). Again, I really have no clue how much reviews or interviews or any particular promotion affects sales. If I had that sort of aggregate data available I'd look at it...but I'd rather keep pushing instead of clinging to hope that this thing is just going to magically take off. It almost never works out that way. You owe it to yourself to get your work out there.
Think of it this way: every hour someone is reading your book is an hour they're spending not watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey. That makes you a good Samaritan.
My author copies arrived on January 31st. It's hard to explain the feeling...kind of a silent bliss. It kicked in how far I've come and how long it took to get there: about a year writing it alone, then many more months of editing, beta reading, designing, and more editing...and they turned out beautiful.
Perfect Edge sent me twelve copies. Eleven of them would be gone by the end of the next day. It started off with me announcing via the social networks that I'd be selling advanced signed editions, and to act quick because I only had four to sell (I was hoarding some for myself and for reviewers)...but when those four sold and more and more people kept private messaging me about getting copies, I didn't have the heart to say no. I ended up keeping only one for myself, shelving it up with the others...one more trophy for the collection.
Next on the Agenda:
More blurbs, more reviews, and more interviews. Release party and live reading planning. Just a lot of pimping in general. Oh, and Good Sex, Great Prayers is the official selection for the month of May for the LitReactor Book Club, so I hope you'll join in the discussion. Link to pre-order is down below, however, for those that have been following this series over its long timespan...perhaps you'd like a signed edition.
If interested, you'll need the following: a PayPal account and $25 (covers cost of book, packaging, and shipping costs). Simply PM me here on LitReactor and we'll make the arrangements. I'm really good at inscribing books, by the way.
'Burnt Tongues,' the Chuck Palahniuk anthology:
One final order of business: in 2009 I joined Chuck Palahniuk's writers' workshop. He was running an anthology contest—basically, you could submit your work, and if your work made it through the various rounds of cuts, it would be personally critiqued by Chuck himself. So I submitted, I was critiqued, and ultimately, ended up making the final cut. More importantly though, I became a better writer in the process. We all did. Workshop is the reason I'm here today with another book under my belt.
Mr. Dennis Widmyer, who founded both Chuck's site and LitReactor, busted his ass for over seven years trying to get this thing off the ground...and to him I give my thanks. Chuck Palahniuk is the draw, but Dennis and his team keep the show running. Burnt Tongues on pre-order right now: twenty stories from some of the best up-and-coming transgressive authors in the game...hand-picked by Mr. Palahniuk himself. I promise it won't disappoint.
See you at the next installment. 2014 is shaping up to be one helluva year.
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