Friday, 18 November 2016
Three Things Readers May Not Know About Being An Author - Kara Isaac
It has been just over six months since my debut novel, Close To You, released and a month since my sophomore novel, Can't Help Falling, came out. While this (in no way!) makes me a publishing veteran, I thought I'd blog today on some of the assumptions that some of my friends/family/readers have made about having a couple of books out there in the big wide world (and that I myself had before this new adventure!).
**I should note that the below are only for authors published by traditional publishing houses. Some of the below are very different for independently published authors.**
Before we continue, I should start by saying this is not a whinge. I love being an author, I love working with an amazing publishing team, I love interacting with readers and being able to give away books and all the other unexpected amazing things that come with this adventure. These are just a few things that people have been surprised by when I've told them that I thought may be of interest to others :)
We have no say (or control!) over price
Every now and then I'll get a message from a reader wanting to know when my book/s are going to be on sale for $1.99 (or better yet, free!) or someone will ask me why it is X price at one retailer but Y price at another.
Honestly, honestly, honestly, we have no say over what our publisher charges for a book, or what the distributor then charges for a book, or what a then retailer charges for a book. I've seen the paperback version for Close To You priced by retailers from $19.07 (NZD) up to $36.00 (NZD) and everything in between and I have no intelligence as to why any are priced the way they are!
We also have no say as to whether a title goes or e-Book sale, when it goes on sale or what the price is. Simon & Schuster put the Close To You eBook on sale for $1.99 the week before Can't Help Falling came out. Which I was absolutely thrilled about because one of the best ways to have new readers take a chance on you in the current environment is by offering it at the big discount. But I wasn't part of that decision, I was told about it after it was made and then used all of the channels I had available to me to try and spread the word.
Good reviews in publications do not necessarily equal good sales
With Close To You I was fortunate enough to receive a favourable review in a magazine in the US that had a circulation of over two million people (TWO MILLION PEOPLE! I thought I'd hit the author jackpot!). With Can't Help Falling I was blessed that it was named an October Top Pick by RT Book Reviews. Both were huge honours but I've also heard comments from people assuming that they resulted in books selling like crazy and so whether they bought it or not wasn't going to make any difference because I was already riding high on great sales numbers.
As much I would love this to be true (oh, so much so!), turns out it doesn't work that way. That magazine with the two million distribution? When I compared sales in the four weeks before the magazine came out and the four weeks after, the weeks after saw a sales increase of 28 books. Total. The day you see an author on the New York Times Bestsellers list or read that they signed a six or seven figure deal on their next contract is the day you can assume they're all good. Before that, I promise you every sale does count :)
We don't have access to limitless number of author copies to give away
My contract gives me fifty author copies for free, to be primarily used for promotional purposes. Of those five I held back for family (parents, grandmother, mother-in-law, sister and, strangely enough, one for my own bookshelf!). Another five went to friends who had saved my bacon somewhere in the writing process - either by being early readers, helping create promotional material, babysitting my kids so I could write etc. The other forty? Almost all are committed to giveaways before the book was even released via GoodReads, Facebook, guest blog posts or interviews, promotional giveaways with other authors etc.
Once those are gone, I have to buy them. While I could access them at a steep discount from my publisher, because I live in New Zealand by the time I also cover the cost of shipping them from the US plus the taxes that I incur importing them it actually ends up cheaper for me to buy my own book from a place that offers free shipping like BookDepository.com at their full retail price and have it dispatched from there. I'm 99% sure I'm their best customer for my own books :)
What about you? Were any of these things a surprise? Any other questions you'd like to ask me about life as a traditionally published author? There is the winner's choice of a copy of Close To You or Can't Help Falling for one commenter (please leave an email address if you would like to be in the draw so I can contact you if you win!). Entries close midnight, Sunday 20 November (US CST).
Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Her debut romantic comedy, Close To You, is about a disillusioned academic-turned-tour-guide and an entrepreneur who knows nothing about Tolkien who fall in love on a Tolkien themed tour of New Zealand. Her sophomore novel, Can't Help Falling, is about about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England. When she's not working her day job as a public servant, chasing around a ninja preschooler and his feisty toddler sister, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connnect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Author and Twitter @KaraIsaac