So, your labor of love is complete and your final manuscript is in your hand. Look at the baker's dozen hints below to start you sailing along. These tips may make your initial adventure into publishing easier and more productive. Follow up with a formal business plan and marketing plan.
Be sure that a professional editor has reviewed every single line of the manuscript for grammar and spelling errors. Are all proper names spelled correctly and consistently the same? Read the book out loud to someone or to a tape recorder and catch your own errors. Read it backwards!
If there is any resemblance to real life and the work is fiction, be certain all real people and events are sufficiently disguised to prevent litigation. If this is, in fact, a memoir, everything must be accurate. No fiction here (same concern about litigation).
Many of the most respected reviewers want your galley print three to four months BEFORE publication. Make copies of the final manuscript, preferably pdf (to prevent changes) to send for those galley previews. Keep a spreadsheet with dates, mailings and responses.
Go to a legitimate domain sales site and hosting service and purchase your domain. In the end, it will give you better recognition everywhere. Hire someone to build your initial site: It may cost from $100 to $300 for a basic site with minimum bells and whistles. If you wish, build your own www.freewebs.com site that is quite user friendly. If you choose to join Authors Guild (takes a while) they have a great site builder and access to domains and web hosting at reasonable cost. Beware - there are scammers in the air.
Some people choose to use a blog instead of a web site. I recommend both. If you blog, though, make sure it's linked everywhere and contains info people want to read. A pretty blog is a pretty blog.
Print business cards immediately upon manuscript completion with your book name and your contact information. Vista Print has promotions for 250 free cards for shipping cost (about $5), and they arrive quickly. There are many online and local printers. You may print them yourself.
Prepare a marketing plan and media kit. Take a calendar and tentatively schedule events every month to give media exposure: book signings, press releases, book readings at libraries and schools, volunteer events, book clubs, guest talks at community organizations. Get out and get known!
Media Kit: Book cover and product information. Author bio. Reviews. News Release. Business card. Bookmarks. Sample chapter. Sample author interview. Book Synopsis. Other information to give news media and booksellers the desire to promote your book. Make hundreds of these kits to hand out to media, booksellers and others who may arrange book signings and book sales outlets. B & W except for book cover and bio photo is fine.
Once you have a cover design: add it to business cards, bookmarks (about 20 cents per marker with local printing) and a large poster for book signing events. Make LOTS of bookmarks and throw them everywhere! (cheaper by the thousands) MSWord has a template to design your own bookmarks. Other templates are found free online.
Join writers' forums and message boards. Post a blog. Exchange links with other authors. Start gathering information that makes your site enticing for others to visit. Join organizations related to your writing genre and get on their conference agendas, panels, etc.
Keep the media kit, books, bookmarks, business cards and handouts with you at all times. Put cards and/or bookmarks in your payment envelopes when paying bills. Hand them to the clerk at the P.O., the waitress at the restaurant, the person sitting next to you at the airport. Never miss an opportunity to promote your book.
Memorize a synopsis to describe your book in five sentences or less. Have a quote for yourself by which you wish to be known. (Elevator speech)
Above all, have fun!
Vetting at Barnes & Noble Small Press Department, 122 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011 212-633-3300
Follow the BN instructions for in store placement found through their web site bn.com for easier book signings and shelf placement.
Retail Store Placement
If you would like your title to be considered for placement in Barnes & Noble stores, please submit a copy of the book (no manuscripts, please), along with marketing and promotion plans, trade reviews, and a note describing what makes the book unique, to:
The Small Press DepartmentNeed More Help?
Barnes & Noble, Inc.
122 Fifth Ave
New York, NY 10011
Please read our Frequently Asked Questions page. For help with shipping books and other products to be sold in our stores and online, please review our Vendor Shipping Guidelines. If you still need to contact us, please email PublisherAuthorInquiry@BN.com or call our Publisher Services Information line at (732) 656-7285.
If you want more than local stores, your marketing plan needs to include a national plan or at least a regional one that convinces the buyers to purchase copies for each store in your marketing region. Once their buyer orders copies for stores (usually 1 per store, maybe a few more) it's smooth sailing for book signings. A few stores may still have local policies. You just take your approval letter to the BN store where you wish to do a signing and they will order sufficient books.
My experience after the signing was that the store then asked me to sign the remainders not sold, put "signed by author" stickers on them and set them on a special table for a couple weeks following the signing - THEN THEY SENT THEM BACK TO THE DISTRIBUTOR AS RETURNS - SIGNED RETURNS WITH STICKERS ON THEM. Some small presses charge the authors full wholesale for those returns that the printer may discard, so it pays to suggest how many books the store needs to order for the signing. Give plenty of advance time for the order to arrive. My experience is the BN stores continue to shelf and reorder a few books as long as they continue to sell them. Once sales from the shelf stop, their shelf life is done (unlike major sellers and classics). Reality: most books are going to be sold online where Amazon discounts them and they are available as eBooks. Trade paperbacks from small presses are too expensive from the shelf.
Note: Take a supply of books with you ready to consign just in case the order is late. I've had it arrive the day of the signing.
Good news. The vetting process for B & N requires the same info needed to join many author organizations with a vetting requirement and the info needed by libraries to order books. It's also a good process for the author.
Note: If the book is not perfect, don't submit it for vetting. It is the imperfect small press, vanity press and self-published books that make it difficult for authors with well-written, professional books to get theirs on the shelves and recognized for their worth.
i. I give bamboo cocktail parasols
ii. Another author brings coloring books of the book characters