Promoting A Release Works Both Ways

I’ve been a prolific writer for many years, and I have quite a backlog of unpublished short stories, most of which shall always remain unpublished. That’s just reality. There are some solid ideas in the pile, but overall most of them aren’t really worthy of being sent out into the world unless I go back and rewrite them. With so many new ideas always invading my head, it doesn’t seem logical. 

I’ve had a couple of stories submitted and ‘bought’ by small press publishers that have never seen actual publication, and that is the price you pay at times for dealing with companies that range from professional to scatter-brain, broke and just a dreamer with an idea. I have no problem with presses tanking and shutting down, because it’s just the way the business works. What I have a problem with is a small press company that strings your story along for months and sometimes years, and then suddenly releases a book with your story in it and never bothers to tell you or give you any credit in their Amazon listing or anywhere else. 

It’s recently happened to me for the second time, and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, to be honest. The original submission went out in March 2012 and was finally accepted in September 2012, which is a long period to wait but fine. Maybe six months isn’t a big deal. Of course, a query after 2 months and 4 months went unanswered, which was annoying. But I got it. 

I went back and forth over the next week or so about edits (I had a couple) and then they were going to send me further notice. This was September 2012. 

And then I heard nothing. So in November 2012 I asked about it but no answer. As well as January and February 2013, all unanswered. I sent them an e-mail saying I was pulling the story since I’d never seen anything further from them, never saw a word about the press again, and the website is pretty stagnant. 

Today… March 2013, I get an ‘Oops! This was published in October 2012, the e-mail must have gone to your spam folder (which it did not, since I check it every few hours to make sure nothing gets dumped there, which stuff does) and I sent out a mass e-mail. Here’s the link.’

The Amazon listing only has the editor and one contributor listed and the cover designer and none of the other authors involved and only a few of them tagged on the bottom of the page (about half?) which bothers me. Why?

As a small press publisher you’d think the goal would be not only to put out a great anthology, but to get your authors involved in promoting the heck out of it and generating sales for it. This book is languishing in the 1.8 million ranks, the cover is so generic (it’s the same cover you’ve seen a dozen times in the last few months with the zombie chick on the cover) and they only have 4 reviews. And it is for charity!

Why not let the authors get behind it? Why not send out more than one mass e-mail saying it was released and here’s the link? Why not ask for authors to post about it on their blogs, tell them to mention it in interviews or just ask for help promoting it? It feels like, after all that time, they just wanted to toss it out there and be done with it. 

I had a similar situation with a vampire anthology last year. I finally wrote a vampire story but the press went under and another took over, but then they just put it out without any author input or listings anywhere, and it tanked. I’m not expecting every author to be listed in the title, but a list of their names in the book description might generate a few sales, right? Why think a reader will see the title and the editor’s name and take even a second to open the sample and read to see who’s on the ToC?

Am I being too dramatic this morning? Am I putting too much effort into this? I haven’t gone on Author Central yet and linked this anthology to my author page, and I’m not sure I want to. It’s been out for five months already without me knowing about it, and there has been zero promotion for it. There was never any payment for the story, and no royalties are forthcoming… I’m not sure why I even submitted now, to be honest. I think the concept was great and the website (at the time) was very professional and it was for a charity, so I sent it in. I like doing charity anthologies, but I’m curious how much money was actually generated without any promotion. 

I’m not going to tell you the name of the book or the company. If I decide to list it in my books it will be up there, but I seriously doubt I will go through the minor effort of doing it. It seems they didn’t bother. 

10 Responses to “Promoting A Release Works Both Ways”

  1. A reasonable expectation is that the publisher will credit and properly market stories that are accepted. I don’t think your feelings about this are unreasonable at all. Not too dramatic. Just the right amount. – Kat

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  2. I hope your next charity book goes better.

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  3. Sorry to hear of your bad experience, hope things improve for you

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  4. Reblogged this on C h a z z W r i t e s and commented:
    My friend Armand has been betrayed! Release the zombie dogs! (And please read this reblogged post before I go on a similar tangent below.)

    Gory undead quadruped vengeance aside, what strikes me about Armand’s situation is how simple the solutions were. It pretty much came down to communication. Armand was doing all the communicating and none was bouncing back from the publisher. That’s considered rude everywhere on this planet.

    The authors in the anthology could help promote the anthology to a wide audience. Why wouldn’t they coordinate with the contributors to promote the anthology? Baffling. As it stands, it seems the only people who will have received any charity are the publishers of the anthology. People don’t generally read anthologies for the editor’s name. It’s about the authors and their stories. We all know this. Why the problem? Shouldn’t happen. Did. That’s book promotion, I guess (and everything else that includes that ever-fallible “human” factor.) This sort of failure is why I prefer my robot sex surrogates to people. And the robo-butler always gets my espresso order right.

    Personally, a communi-gaffe put a dent in my mood last night. A site meant to connect writers with new readers held one of those “featured hot title” sort of promotions. I’ve marked Bigger Than Jesus down to 99 cents on kindle, so I paid $25 and registered but didn’t hear anything back. When I followed up, (thinking I was on a waiting list) they answered quickly to cheerily report that the promotion had already taken place! The ad ran, though it didn’t even show up in my Google Alerts and nary a blip in sales.

    It was just a one-day thing, true, but had I known it was happening, I could have coordinated the promo effort so it might have had some effect. I could have moved some copies of my funny neo-noir and, not for nothing, boosted traffic back to the promo site, too. (Robo-attack dogs, stand by.)

    I don’t know what went wrong there. The confirmation wasn’t in a spam folder. Somehow, the connection was lost. I agonize over every promotional effort and purchase, so this loss bugs me. Since I can’t imagine what the glitch was on my end, I won’t gamble $25 that way again. It’s not “only” $25. When you have $25 to throw away (which I don’t), you don’t throw it away in the gutter. You throw it away on lottery tickets.

    Every book promo site has a disclaimer that says they don’t guarantee sales. I understand that. However, “awareness” is over-rated. Awareness can’t be measured and doesn’t deliver. Awareness isn’t a click, a buy or a like, a connection or a review. I’m shifting my efforts and my tiny promotion budget to new horizons. I’ll blog about those book marketing strategies in my next post in this space.

    In the meantime, don’t just be “aware” of Armand Rosamilia’s pain (or at least mild annoyance.) Hit like on his post or offer the man a word hug or something. Commiserate. Connect. He’s a good guy, a good author to know and the beard’s awesome. (Catch my interview with Armand at CoolPeoplePodcast.com, by the way.)

    What’s amazing about book promotion is that, with experience, we all know there’s a debacle bearing down on us, but we never know what form that debacle will take. The failure attack is always expected, yet somehow always new.

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  5. Loved the post. Hated the situation. Reblogged. Commented. Commiserated.

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  6. Thanks for this article – it’s helpful to know how things can go when queries end up in a black hole. I think your feelings are justified and you’ve been commendably restrained not stating their name. It’s wrong not to let any author know when their work is published, and even more difficult to understand when that author has a following – as you do. Hope you always get credited from now on!

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