Is Your Publisher Upselling You?

We get junk faxes all the time from self-publishing firms. Somehow, we ended up on their lists and they send us fax after fax after fax (and spam, too) announcing books that have nothing at all to do with our audience of writers. It’s unfortunate, because the vast number of faxes they’re sending out to the same list makes it obvous that other recipients are probably doing the same thing we do…trashing them.

What perhaps the most unfortunate aspect about this scenario is that authors are paying these “publishers” hundreds of dollars to send out these junk press releases, not knowing that the same, untargeted and anonymous list is being used again and again. The author has high hopes of landing a mention in a publication or even getting a request for a review copy, but this almost never happens because the reporters are so tired of getting massive amounts of paper-wasting faxes (and email) from the same companies that they get angry whenever one comes in…and they throw it away, just like we do.

Other authors eagerly pay their “publishers” hundreds of dollars for bookmarks, magnets and more marketing products. These items often cost more than the sales they subsequently generate.

One publisher asks writers to pay to contribute to a co-op ad in a major newspaper. It’s very expensive! However, on viewing the ad, we noticed that the ads for the books themselves are very small, while the mention (the ad for) the publishing house is quite large. I imagine the ads are bringing in more authors for the publishing house than book sales for the authors.

When being tempted by a publisher who is trying to upsell you on marketing products and services, you should balance the cost of the service with the income you expect it to generate. And don’t fool yourself. Very few of these expensive products and services are going to generate enough sales to warrant the initial expense.

Most consumers need to be exposed to a product several times before they’ll buy. One ad, one interview, one book review or one mention in a publication isn’t likely to generate many sales at all, if any. It’s unfortunate that so many self-publishing companies keep concocting more ways to separate authors from their money rather than giving authors free marketing tools and advice. Giving authors free marketing tools benefits both the publisher AND the author by generating book sales with little or no investment.

Angela Hoy is the publisher of Booklocker.com, Inc., an author-friendly POD publisher that takes no rights, pays high royalties on a monthly basis, and treats authors like people, not numbers. She is also an advocate for writers’ rights and publishes WritersWeekly.com, the free marketing emag for writers, offering paying markets and freelance jobs every Wednesday at no charge.