Stefanie Hartman In The Press

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MUST Read…Publishing Changes and New Trends

Posted on 02 Nov 2011 | Author Stefanie | Comments 6 comments | Tags

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Is there opportunity here or not for you?

I am fascinated by all the changes happening in the book industry and publishing world right now.  We are truly smack dab in the middle of a major historical shift.  I have called several book industry people and no-one seems to know what will die or how it will be reborn, but they all agree this is a very interesting time in history.  They are taking the famous “wait and see approach”.

As for me, well that’s just not my style is it? (more about that below)

One of the things I am following is the adventures at Amazon.  Personally I think Jeff Bezo’s is either one of the smartest guys out there (and I do admire him) or just one lucky son-of-a -gun. Amazon has pretty much taken over the book distribution field (direct to consumer) and when they opened, many bookstores run by families or small business owners had to close up shop, almost overnight.  Life following fiction as in the Tom Hanks movie “You’ve Got Mail” from years ago – except this time Jeff Bezo didn’t marry and rescue all the women who owned the small book stores well loved by their communities and neighbors.  To be fair to Mr. Bezo, polygamy is illegal or at least frowned upon in most states, so what could he do, really?

More on the drama, earlier this year- large chain bookstores were seen closing their doors, many Canadian and American Booksellers declared bankruptcy including Independent Storied Books who won the bookseller award for 2009 (doesn’t that blow your mind), Arcade Publishing (who published James Beard, Ingmar Bergman) and even Canadians largest book distributer HB. Also gone from the book publishing landscape are Fenn and Company and Europe’s largest Newspaper Publisher, Axel Spiegel.    Even Borders Books filed for Chapter 11 and one of the largest and oldest Publishing Houses declared bankruptcy.  What’s amazing is that in many cases, no-one suspected any of these companies were in trouble.

MUST Read…Publishing Changes and New TrendsIs this really new though?   I did some digging (ok online research) and found out that even the famous writer Mark Twain went bankrupt.  He didn’t like his current publisher (they weren’t doing much for him and yet making most of the money – gee, sound familiar?) and he wanted to make more money for himself.  So he got together with a friend of his Charles Webster (his niece’s husband) and put together his own publishing house.  Twain also put his money into a friend James Paige, who invented a typesetting technology to help Twain produce books faster.  The machine never worked properly so Twain lost all his money and even had to get a bankruptcy lawyer in the 1880’s. 

But fret not; there is always opportunity in failure and loss.  If Mark Twain had succeeded as a book publisher, it is highly speculated that he may not have gone on to write his many famous novels, which caused his fortune to return plus hundreds of years of young readers adoring his much loved adventures.  So don’t despair with what’s happening now, nor what may personally be happening to you.  There is another bend in the road to get you past any roadblock, and sometimes if I dare say, it may even be fate setting you straight onto a better path.

Now, Amazon seems to have the publishing world in its sites.  It has started a new division to publish authors.  And now the fight is on.  Many bookstores who feel that Amazon has tried to put them out of business, are now trying to figure out if they should deny or display books published by Amazon on their store shelves.  Many are saying, “No Way”, while Barnes and Noble are possibly trying for a compromise by only agreeing to allow them if Amazon agrees to give  rights to the book on their e-reader Nook and not just on Amazon’e proprietary Kindle reader.  Nothing has been decided as of writing of this blog.

Amazon seems to be approaching authors by buying some titles for print and some just for e-book format.   It does seem unclear how much marketing help they are actually giving authors though as Seth Godin’s new book, The Hangman’s Daughter, published by Amazon, has had some good sales, while other published books by Amazon seem mediocre.  In fact most books that have been sold, have been sold on Amazon for $3.99 or less on their deal of the day program.  Amazon is also giving away free books through its Vine Program in exchange for reviews.  When approached, Seth Godin said most of the marketing was done by him already.  Having said that, that seems to be the future and current trend for authors anyways – to market themselves.

It used to be a romantic thought to be a writer, when I was kid thinking about it.  To spend hours over a typewriter (I’m dating myself here) or computer, ok iPad now, starve (romantically) while you wait for that coveted letter in your mailbox (now email), to find out if your life is about to change and a publisher has bought your book.  Then comes money, media interviews, book tours, celebrity status and a new house and car for you and your mother who always believed in you.

Now you hear stories of publishing firms buying your book for less and less money and ‘maybe’ assigning a small media budget for you.

I speak with authors every day, weighing the pros and cons and trying to help them decide whether it’s best for them to go traditional or independent (self-publishing).  I am also teaching them how to create their own media kits, how to create blog or social media buzz (great marketing on the shoe string budget of a writer) and how to create 6-figures themselves from their books post print.  Basically how to get them and you, to think like Mark Twain, but through today’s technology while making more money for yourself.  So feel proud.  You are in good company.

More than ever (yet apparently also in the 1880’s), writers need to have the street smarts of how this industry works, how not to get eaten alive and how to come out of your book with a smile on your face and hopefully a big fat bank account.  Thankfully I have been helping authors do this for over 10 years.  But how I teach it has changed as more and more opportunities present themselves.

The trend that spanned the last 5 – 10 years was to be the ambassador of your own health. Educate yourself first, don’t just fly blind.

Now I’m finding myself giving that advice to my writers, especially nonfiction.   But the rainbow here is that now more than ever, you have the chance to be innovative, cool, and make more money than ever for your book (from product lines, sponsored events, app’s, games, group consulting,  etc.).  It’s just going to take a little powerful knowledge (which you can do) and old fashioned elbow grease.  In fact, I am working hard with some very special people to put together something for you monthly to get you in the know, so you can feel empowered and take charge of your life and business.

Isn’t that what we all want in the end?  A better life.  An easier way.  An understanding of what to do instead of falling prey to paralysis by worry and concern. And last but not least…Money rolling in.

Personally I’d like to see local bookstores find a way to stay alive.  I treasure them as much as I treasure libraries that are also under attack (but they are fighting with the help of loving community friends).  I love walking into them. I love the electric quiet.   I get a warm feeling like I’m home, then a building excited feeling of discovering new adventure and new favorites I don’t even know about yet.  In fact bookstores say that over 50% of sales in the stores are unplanned purchases.  And they also say that many e-book purchases are made only after the titles are discovered in person at a store first.  So why can’t they both exist?

I use e-books for work or business books and my nighttime ritual of fiction has to be (for me) paperback where I can curl under the sheets with a good book and my trusted book light.

I’m on 2 missions over the next 15 months – one, to get more kids to read, and second to help more adult writers to not only get their books out there but make their own money from their books via back-end book business.  I see MASSIVE opportunity for you now.  Everyone is looking and watching the change (even my industry insiders), I say – hey why not BE the change. 

Please post your feedback on what you think about this post and my viewpoint on this.  Do you share my optimistic Mark Twain view on a greater opportunity emerging here for you or not?

And hey 2 minutes ago when I started writing this I wasn’t even planning on doing this part, but if you want answers, please take 1 minute (or less) and post on my blog what you’d like more help with.  I promise to incorporate it somehow into the info I create, even if only 1 per cent of you ask for that help, heck if even only you wants to know.

Also, putting this info and program together is going to require massive effort on  my part here, not that I’m complaining, well ok a little, but I’m really only remarking about it because in order to do this I need to put other projects aside. So please give me your serious input on this.  All feedback and viewpoints are welcome and appreciated. I promise not to heckle if you don’t.

Warmest Regards,


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On Publication Day, Feel Big, Start Small

Posted on 20 Sep 2011 | Author Stefanie | Comments No comments | Tags

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Here is the fifth great installment I found on book tours, from a company that is closing their doors soon, so I thought I would pass it on to you guys! I like the title Kevin used for this blog post he wrote – ‘Feel Big and Start Small’  He is right creating a book is a huge accomplishment.  This article Kevin wrote is about starting locally and he gears these articles to a published hardcover or paperback book, but don’t forget that in this day and age your publishing day can actually be for a physical book or it may be an eBook.

I’m all for a physical published book, but I also know that sometimes you may want to start smaller and begin with an eBook format, it’s a great way to show a prospective publisher how well your book is doing.  But either way you go the most important aspect is the campaign you create behind the book.  There is an exercise at the bottom for you.   Enjoy.

All the best,
Book Promotion: On Publication Day, Feel Big, Start Small.

So far in our series, we’ve discussed everything you want in your knapsack before beginning the adventure of promoting your new book. You have the tools now–how to summarize your book in a sentence, how to start building groups of allies and supporters. Your vision is optimized as that of a thoughtful, grateful, organized author, available and ready for the challenge.

The challenge is here. It’s the day your book is published. Perhaps it’s now on the shelves at the nearest bookstore or library. Perhaps you’ve self-published and a few boxes of your masterpiece are waiting in your den, ready for the world to meet them. Either way, the theoretical part of our trip is over. Now it’s time to put feet to pavement and go.

Feel Big, Start Small.

Get happy and feel big about it. Publishing a book is a huge task and you did it. Celebrate. Take pictures of yourself with your book and email those photos to everyone. Take the day off and eat a lot of chocolate. Dance in wide circles. You’re an author now. Embrace it. For about 48 hours.

Now let’s get to work.

Your first inclination on Pub Day may be. “Here is my book and the world needs to know about it now! Where’s Oprah’s number?” You’re proud, you feel unstoppable. You want your book to soar, even though its just peeked its head out of the egg.

A natural instinct but an incorrect one. Writers fortunate enough to have a publicist working on their behalf can count on that publicist to submit their book to the largest and sexiest media outlets. No matter what the odds, it’s their job to aim that high.

It is not yours. As an author working on your own behalf, mailing review copies to those places and hoping for a miracle is as long a shot as it sounds. It’s the equivalent of taking a $500 savings bond and reinvesting in lottery tickets. And lottery tickets are a demoralizing pipe dream you can ill-afford.

But but but Oprah? Jon Stewart? The New York Times?

Let me tell you something about all of those places.

  • The overwhelming majority of books covered on major national media come from major national publishers. Unfair but true. There are lots of reasons for this (pre-established relationships, geographic proximity) and exactly none of them are going away. So think long and hard: Is it a good use of your time to make 15 phone calls to Charlie Rose’s producer when Charlie Rose doesn’t pay attention to your kind of book anyway?
    Major national media outlets are usually the culmination not the beginning of a sustained promotional effort.
  • The New York Times does not typically “discover” new books. Rather they test the winds, see what smaller media (like local radio, blogs, regional newspapers) are already discussing and from that determine which books have momentum that merits greater coverage. Often they pick up on books already creating their own attention. So aiming that big at first is like trying to do the long jump from a dead stop. You need to generate your own momentum first.
  • The number of major media outlets that actually make a difference when it comes to book sales are shrinking. By the day. So it’s not only a longshot. It’s a longshot whose bullseye is getting smaller.

You are one person with one person’s time and energy. No promotional effort is perfect (there will be, as with anything, wasted time), but you want yours to be as efficient as possible. So just as you begin a meal by what’s in the pantry instead of flying the salad in from Shanghai…

When beginning book promotion, think small and local first.

Remember your list of allies from Part II? Get that out now. You should have already been touch with these folks and asked them how they can help, either by buying a book, recommending it or asking you to speak to their church group, guest post on their blog etc. If you’ve already done this, now is the time to send out a reminder. Be succinct, excited and appreciative. These are people that love you and wish to help your book out. If they don’t know how, give them small, specific instructions. “Can I speak to your book club” not “can you help me?”

If they are unwilling and jerky about it, find new friends.

Think of this initial batch of opportunities as building blocks. Had a great event at your kids school? Ask whomever invited you for the name of another school across town who’d want to the same. Friends read your book and love it? Ask her to buy another and give it as a gift. Don’t worry about rejection. You have a book to promote. Worry about not sounding grateful for the opportunity to do again what everybody loved the first time.

Opportunity multiplies itself and word gets around. Do a few great events, interviews. Knock their socks off at a book club or in blog posts and people will want more. A solid hour of quality entertainment is one of our time-starved, information soaked societies’ most precious commodities.

If you’re initial list isn’t bearing fruit, it’s time to expand out a little.


A region of any size has a local literary community, usually centered around book stores, colleges and universities, the “Readings” section of the arts calendar of the local newspaper, and writing groups. How involved are you in yours? When your town has a book festival who is invited to present? When you Google “Authors from MyTown” what names come up?

You’re an author now. You can be one of those names. If you are not already participating in your community now is the time to start.

  • Beginning attending at least a few readings a month. When you start to see the same faces, introduce yourself and say “I’ve seen you around here a bunch. Are you a regular? What other readings do you go to?” As long as you are polite, ask good questions and listen more than talk, no one will run the other way.
  • Volunteer at the local reading series/literary festival. These things are chronically understaffed and need help. Might seem like a lousy use of your time right now (I have a book to promote you dolt!) but literary communities all need enthusiastic, committed friends. And when it comes to dolling out spots at readings or events, seeking contributors to an anthology or tipping off members of the media about important players in the community, that’s who they turn to first.
  • Attend meetings or join a local writers group. Remember, you’ve just published a book. You’re further along than most. You have wisdom to share.
  • Offer to write something for a local publication. The big daily newspaper probably won’t be interested but a local blog or literary magazine might and is in continual need of good writing. Do not pitch them a “I just wrote a book!” essay (which are a dime a dozen) but rather something related to your book. If you don’t know what, pick up their last three issues, see how local writers have contributed and craft a pitch accordingly.

It’s important to note here that, yes, you are promoting a book but no one will be receptive an author who begins every sentence with “as it says in my new book…” So while your community participation is not entirely altruistic, you are engaging in a fair swap of karma. You give to the community you would like to support you and your work.

The success of book promotion is largely a matter of momentum. One event/article/enthusiastic reader begets another. As human beings, we are predisposed to share things that make us happy. We’ll be talking about how to turn curious readers into happy ones in a future segment but for now remember this…

You will be discouraged, and you will have to keep going anyway.

Your emails will go unreturned. A school that liked your event won’t recommend you to another school. You’ll impress some readers and not others. There’s nothing to be done about this except keep going. It just is. If you don’t consider your books potential larger than a few rejections, who will?

We may first hear of books via giant national megaphones but they often make their bones at a very small, very local level. The local ambassadors of literary culture are pre-disposed to pay attention to books from their local community. That’s yours.  Do you know them do they know you? Are your friends on your books side and is your book making you new friends? Even at your most excited, most-world conquering “I’m-an-author-hear-me-roar,” begin your promotional efforts with what you can do.

Begin with where you are.

Exercise: What is your small, local plan for your book? Write up a quick list of 3-5 small, local things you can do and share it here in the comments section.  launched a ten-part series on Book Promotion called “Everything you Wanted to Know about Book Promotion but were Afraid to Ask” written by CEO Kevin Smokler. Kevin has been advising authors and publishers on marketing and promotion for nearly a decade and has written and lectured on the topic throughout North America.

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