Dr. Ted’s medicine

Ted Savas, Managing Director of Savas-Beatie LLC, has been putting some very revealing and insightful posts on his new blog.  Just as I thought he would.  He has really been giving his readers the perspective from a book publisher’s point of view, which we don’t often hear (a lot of us authors have blogs and websites, and mostly you get to hear only our own rants).  Ted’s blog post should be required reading for any budding author, published author, or anyone interested in the business end of the publishing universe.  A sampling of his posts gives you the message loud and clear… for instance, “How To Guarantee You Will Not Get Published,” and “Why Do You Write?”

His most recent to date is titled “Are You An Active Participant In Helping Make Your Book A Success?” as as one of his authors, I found the refresher course in self-promotion quite revealing.  Okay, so maybe J.K. Rowling doesn’t need to make the talk-show rounds to promote ol’ Harry Potter, but J.D. Petruzzi needs to do everything Ted espouses.  Every suggestion that he has in the post – giving tours, talks, establishing a website/blog for the book, attending book signings, etc. is just what Ted emphasizes with each of his authors.

And I’ve heard from him some of the horror stories that he eludes to in the post.  For instance, there are a lot of authors in, for instance, the Civil War genre, who do absolutely nothing to promote their book(s).  They simply sit back and wait for it to hit the New York Times Bestsellers list, I guess.  They don’t speak to Round Tables, do signings, or any promotional activity.

When my first book came out (co-authored with Eric Wittenberg) I tried to do everything that Ted told me to promote it… booking signings and talks, mailing fliers (one day I spent $150 in postage sending them to Round Tables), establishing a website, and anything else I could think of.

It had to have helped.  We believe that the book stands on its own merits, and has received terrific reviews, but no one will buy it if they don’t know about it.  It has sold tremendously for a narrow-focus hardback, blowing through the first edition in the first five days, selling out the second edition, and now going into a third edition barely a year after its release.

And I’ll add this to Ted’s thoughts – the author certainly doesn’t do all this promotion for the money (if you do, you’re in for disappointment!).  You do it because you have something to say through the book and you enjoy discussing it with others.  I don’t mind saying publicly (as I’ve done in conversation many times) I’ve probably spent 10 times the amount of money researching, writing, and promoting the book than I’ll ever make from it.

And that’s perfectly fine with me.

As I said, it’s all about having a voice.  In the historical genre, there are probably one or two folks who could actually live off the proceeds of their books in this country.  That’s it.  And I certainly ain’t one of them and never will be.

So for all budding and published authors, I would tweak Ted’s post title just a bit… Are You An Active Participant In Making Yourself Heard?  If you love all this as much as I do, you’ll want to promote your work simply for the enjoyment of discussing it with folks, and hearing and learning from their opinions too.

Published in: on December 4, 2007 at 5:30 pm  Comments (3)  

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  1. Hello JD.

    Thanks for the follow up. I appreciate all you (and Eric) have done with your outstanding Stuart study. And I don’t consider this a Mutual Admiration Society–I have better things to do, and so do you. But you and Eric GET IT. Publishers like me cannot exist without hardworking authors like you.

    As a publisher, little is as troubling as fronting large printing and prepress bills, paying taxes, warehousing costs, shipping, distributor fees, employee salaries, etc., and an author with a good book lean back and yawn about marketing efforts. That usually leaves stacks of books that are paid for but sit on the warehouse shelves unsold.

    Publishers can only do so much to change that fact. Authors can do a lot more in most circumstances.

    Thanks for all you do.


  2. I hear ya – and one thing I learned immediately upon the release of my book is that the hard work REALLY begins AFTER it’s published. The publisher takes a gamble on a book and author – and it either sits in the warehouse or gets sold. Except for those very few like I mentioned in the post, no publisher is going to spend another small fortune advertising it in every venue possible – much of it must be word of mouth and proactive promotion by the author.

    Oh, and Ted… whew… here I thought it was required that I admire you. Since that’s not the case, I feel much better 🙂


  3. When J.D. spoke at the RT here in October, we made quite a scene traveling from NJ to Mid Town Manhattan carrying 3 cartons full of books to be sold at the meeting.

    Not an easy thing to do, and it was a warm afternoon, and know I lost a few pounds schlepping those cartons on buses and subways.

    J.D. spent a long time after the meeting signing books and just answering questions from the members. He does get it…and have seen so first hand, and many a time as well.


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