It Ought to be Easier!

By Pamela Nowak

It’s been a frustrating few weeks, starting just after the wonderful high that came when my ARCs arrived. Over the course of these weeks, I’ve discovered a number of databases and lists that need to be created to ease the life of authors. Yet…they haven’t. Or at least I haven’t discovered them.

Mutter, mutter, mutter, sigh.

With my new book being set in Colorado, I knew I wanted to pump up pre-publication marketing. I’d already made my list of things to do. When the ARCs arrived, I hit the internet to find the lists I needed to get them done. And found them woefully inadequate.

First, I needed to get those ARCs sent out to book editors at Colorado newspapers. I thought that would be an easy task. I already knew there was a list of book review editors and contact info for the largest papers in the U.S., but I wanted to target Colorado papers since my publisher was taking care of the national audience. I figured the list I’d located (but hadn’t yet studied in depth) for Colorado newspapers would be the same. Clicking on the link, I opened the list. There are a lot of newspapers in Colorado—154 to be exact.

I skimmed the list. It was a just a list. In order to locate addresses and contacts, I had to click a link for each one of them (or I could purchase a download of all addresses). I got ready to buy the list just as it occurred to me that I didn’t know which of them had book sections. I’d have to click every link on the page, visit individual paper websites, locate the A&E section (if there was one), determine if there were book reviews, and look up the appropriate staff person.

Of course, I made it harder than it had to be. I realize that. I could have narrowed the search to papers in the larger cities. But I figured I might as well be thorough since I would need to target papers for press releases later. I don’t normally do press releases, except in Denver, but my gut says the effort might pay off for this book. So, I went through the entire list, skipping only the business and farm/ranch publications. The process took a huge amount of time and it occurred to me that it ought to be easier.

I’m now looking at my googled list of libraries. It’s pages long—I haven’t counted them but it’s longer than the newspaper list. Since my book is targeted to libraries, an announcement letter advising of the Colorado setting and local author status needs to go out. Again, it’s a list with links for more info (and again, I can purchase a download of them) but it contains few email addresses. I can save time, buy the download, and use snail mail, of course, but that’s an expense I had hoped to avoid by using email. Librarians I know have told me email is considered a desirable way to receive new-release communication. Guess what? The only ways to find that info are to 1) click on every website and look it up or 2) call the central number for each library and ask for it. It ought to be easier.

And, then...Colorado bookstores. I haven't googled for that list yet but none existed two years ago. That would be another worthwhile database.

RMFW is full of authors who use information like this, right? Maybe it’s time to find a volunteer to collect info like this from those who have already done the legwork and set up a resource file that could be accessed by authors. Author Resources, we could call it. Hmmm….

In any case, as I continue working my way through my marketing plan, I anticipate a few more glitches cropping up, a few more cases of muttering, and more time spent than intended on tasks.

It just ought to be easier!

Pamela Nowak
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Pamela Nowak writes historical romance set in the American West. In addition to widespread critical acclaim, her books have won multiple national awards. In love with history and rich characters for most of her life, Pam has a B.A. in history, has taught prison inmates, managed the Fort Yuma National Historic Site and run a homeless shelter. She was named the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Writer of the Year in 2010, chaired three conferences, and now serves as volunteer coordinator. Pam and her life partner Ken live in Denver. Their combined families include six daughters and several grand-children. Together, they parent a dog and a cat. More about Pam on her website.

5 thoughts on “It Ought to be Easier!

  1. You’re right, Pam. Things “ought” to be easier for authors who are trying to market their works. This is another reason publishing houses are losing authors. We become responsible for what the houses used to do well. We should be able to rent a list from our publishers at the very least. That’s one way they could earn back our “loyalty.”

    “It’s A Book” is another option. Published authors submit information about their upcoming book to Laura Reeve who works hard at publishing 6 times a year (a huge job for one volunteer, but she does it well). You can contact her to see if she has room to submit an extra sheet in the mailer she does to 350 bookstores, libraries and other professionals of the industry in our region. In the past we looked into sharing that distribution list on a rental basis, but the logistics, and the fact that the “It’s A Book” goes out physically challenged our ability to create and regularly update a contact list.

    I believe demand is in our PAL and IPAL communities, but on-going research for updated information makes this logistically challenging. If anyone is interested in working on this with me, I’d be happy to dig in, but I can’t do this on my own. Authors, are you looking for a platform building exercise? This is one of the best exercises for that I know of! Meanwhile, back to the “social” media for communication. Sigh.

  2. It’s hard to keep a list of bookstores updated because the independents come and go, but you would think a good list of libraries with email addresses and snail mail addresses wouldn’t require a lot of updating once it was set up.

    I did a library list for certain parts of Florida and Illinois for my first book release and I remember it taking a long time….and email addresses were not available for most of the sites I looked at.

    I’m not even sure most acquisition librarians would want to see their email address in an easily accessed database. Can you imagine the tons of BSP they’d receive if it were that easy?

  3. I’ll certainly share what I generate, Liesa, for the project. It would be grand if someone wanted to take on managing those databases. The PAL mailer is a great tool and one I am taking full advantage of. I just wanted to step things up a bit and provide more info than I was able to in the mailer. I do recognize the validity of what Pat says, though, that librarians may not want those emails readily available. A tough call.

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