Today’s special post is from Rebel Brown, author of Defy Gravity. To receive a free workbook with your copy of Defy Gravity, click on the book cover now.
How Big is that Dinosaur?
Publishing has to be one of the largest Gravity markets I’ve seen in years. By hanging on tightly to the way they’ve always done it – publishing status quos can make it really difficult for innovative authors to do their thing. Talk about dinosaurs!
In my own personal journey toward the publication of Defy Gravity, I’ve learned a lot about avoiding the publishing tar pits where the dinosaurs exist. Here are some tips I’d like to share with you.
1. Independent is a good thing. Publishing is the only industry I can think of where being an independent entrepreneur is viewed by some as a negative. In technology, financial services, small businesses and more – being innovative, striking out on your own and choosing to be different gives rise to resounding applause. In publishing – if you choose to independently publish your book – some of the old guard will say you’re not a real author. What rubbish!
As an independent author I had the chance to make my own decisions about everything from content to book cover design to promotion. I had the opportunity to do things differently, to stand out above the noise – and most of all to stay true to myself and to my vision for the book. Those are all things I would have lost at the hands of a traditional publisher. They’d own the book – not me. They’d make all the decisions – not me. And they would do it exactly the way they’d always done it. Where’s the innovation in that?
2. Dare to be different. I’ve been a consultant for twenty something years, yet I’ve never heard so many rules about what you can and can’t do when it comes to a book. All based on the way it’s been done in the past, all designed to have you conform to those who came before you – all designed to make you a follower and not a leader. I’ve never heard a business want to make their products conform to what everyone else is doing – where’s the value in that?
Maybe that’s why so many people tell me I’m an original voice in this market. I chose to ignore the rules and do what I thought was best –based on my own experiences and knowledge, which after all is what my book Defy Gravity is all about. I wrote the book the way I thought it needed to be written, zany humor, commentary and all. I focused on my own voice and I didn’t listen to what others were writing about. Write your own book, not everyone else’s.
3. Stick to your guns. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “That isn’t done in this business.” My response was, “Well, maybe it should be!” Then there was the time when one of the retail chains told my publisher they wouldn’t carry Defy Gravity unless I changed the cover art. The reason? It didn’t look like every other business cover out there. Here we go with the status quo again. Well, I’d just returned from a conference where some 500 people showed me how much they loved the cover on the Advance Review Copy. So I wasn’t about to back down. And I didn’t. I decided to keep the cover – because I knew it was the right cover for my book. If that retailer didn’t carry the book, so be it. There was a lot of consternation in certain quarters about my decision, but I stuck to my guns because my readers had spoken.
Today, that cover gets more positive comments than I would have ever imagined. It’s the thing that gets people to pay attention to the book – and isn’t that what a cover is all about? It wasn’t very easy to follow my intuition and stick with the design I believed in. As an author, I want every retailer to carry my book and get the word out there. But, I’m happy to say that despite their initial reluctance, the retailer in question wound up coming around and placing a substantial order. When you stick to your guns, dinosaurs either evolve, like they did in this case, or they go away and become extinct.
4. You don’t need millions. The first three publicists I spoke with asked the same first question. “How much money do you have?” The story was that I needed 5-6 full time people, a million dollars and a corporate backer, and of course a nice big retainer with a big fat publicist to launch my book if I wanted any attention.
More Gravity! That’s like saying you have to advertise and do mega email blasts to communicate with your customers. That’s such OLD news. Thanks to social media and the internet – you can create a groundswell of momentum behind your book without breaking your bank. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Darned near every person who supported my book with endorsements, promotions, interviews and more – I met on Social Media! Not my clients, of course, but everyone else.
Social media gives us the opportunity to form relationships, share ideas, get to know one another – all in a down to earth, truth on the table fashion. What better way to create momentum for your book than through the people who appreciate your messages and story. Forget the big dollars – be yourself, make friends, share your views and let social media build the momentum for you.
Most of all – write the book you want to write. Believe in yourself and be unique. That’s the best way to ditch Gravity, dump the dinosaurs and power your success.
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Fabulous – and the cover is positively BRILLIANT! I’m going to use it as a shining example of an attention-grabbing cover as I teach biz owners how to write a book that boosts your business.
Ronda Del Boccio
Thanks Ronda….I love it and am so happy that others do as well. was kinda worried about the upside down Defy Gravity – but its worked out GREAT.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I appreciate you!
Awesome! Kudos to you for sticking to your guns. I love the cover and I’m glad you decided not to change it.
Thanks DeAnna. Ya know, I had just come back from a conference where I watched people pass by the book table – probably 75 books on that table including my Advanced Readers Copy. Almost everyone of them picked up my book first (after they picked up the book of whoever had just spoken). When I asked them why – the answer was always the same. The Cover ROCKS. So – I wasn’t about to let that direct customer feedback be overwhelmed by some buyers’ opinion. I knew that cover was the right one for me. And it turned out well in the end for all of us!
Thanks much for your support!!!
I like your attitude, Rebel! (And not for the first time; I’ve seen your name a lot in the last two years or so).
For many of the reasons you articulate, I steer a lot of my book consulting clients toward starting their won publishing companies (and I have a very creative cover designer). However, if you gain enough clout, you are in a much stronger position to negotiate with big publishers, at least the more entrepreneurial ones.
My own most recent book, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet (co-authored with Jay Conrad Levinson), is a revised and expanded edition of a book that was originally self-published. When I came to Wiey, it was from a position of strength. And on a number of issues, I was able to do things my way. This was not at all true of a much earlier book I’d done with one of the giant publishers.
PS–I think your cover is great. It looks like a business book to me, but a more edgy, less mainstream one.
Thanks so much Shel. I’ll probably create my own pub company going forward – even with the great experience of independent publishing, there are still things I think I can do better on my own. And now that I have a bit of experience under my belt – I know what needs to happen and how I would improve the process the next time.
What’s amazing to me is how much Gravity STILL interferes – even with an independent. The publishing system itself is Gravity bound – and sooner or later you hit that system. But I do believe there are ways around it if you think out of the box and go for it. So that’s what I’ll most likely do next – even in a small way – just to experiment.
Thanks for the kind words and I look forward to more conversations with you again soon! reb
This is a fantastic article. I really enjoyed reading it. This is something that has frustrated me over the last few years – publishers will only publish the type of books everyone else is writing. If you don’t write about the “in” subject, you are a reject and your object for writing your book is completely ignored making you feel abject when they eject your ms into the slush pile. Then you need someone to inject you with some inspiration so you can find a new subject to write about and you have come the full circle of frustration. I will never understand why a publisher thinks that people only want to read about one topic. How many books can you read on overcoming fear, for instance? I certainly like a variety in my reading material and I don’t think I’m that much different from other people. Maybe someone should send this post to the publishing industry to clue them in on what’s really needed. Thanks for posting.
I see you have the common misconception that publishers want to find and promote good content or talent. In fact, they are in the business of providing what the market demands. You’ll never understand this unless you stop saying “I’ll never understand” 🙂 .. it’s really quite simple.
Bookstore chains control everything in traditional publishing. Mass market means MASS, not “new and different” and they want what they know will sell.
Fortunately, the Internet has changed the equation. ANY good content can be shared easily. If you really have the talent, and produce something worthwhile, you need only post it online and promote it yourself. If it’s good, people will share it. If it’s good enough, shared enough and then marketed to the publishers, they will excitedly buy it