Publishing keeps changing, and one needs to listen to the rails (or wire)
I became a small publisher, creating White Whisker Books, for one reason: to publish and distribute my short story collection, The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea. My agent didn’t want to send the manuscript out, so a friend from the days when we worked for a small publisher, Prelude Press, said I should start my own business and publish it that way. I did everything we had at Prelude: hire a publicist, send out review copies to big and small reviewers, and create press releases.
I had luck on my side. The first review was in the Los Angeles Times, in January 2006, and a few months later Entertainment Weekly mentioned it favorably. EBooks were not a market then, so I sold two thousand print copies mostly through Amazon--incredible for a short story collection. The book has continued to sell steadily, and there are eBook and audiobook versions now.
I then published another collection, and found a new agent for my novels, Jim McCarthy at Dystel and Goderich in New York. When he found three editors for my physicist-meets-Danish-lover novel, Love at Absolute Zero, the marketing departments for those publishers declined. They said they a book with science and love would be too difficult. I published the book through White Whisker instead, and it has won awards. Still, the marketing challenges have only become bigger with each book, including for four other authors I now publish.
For about a year, I used Bookbub monthly to promote one or two books in our list, and it worked brilliantly, most of the time selling over two thousand eBooks in a day. Of course, big and small publishers learned of Bookbub, and now it’s rare for me to get a promotional space on Bookbub. A marketing plan needs outlets that you can depend on. I’ve had to look for other ways.
I’ve tried a variety of promotional sites, including Kindle Nation Daily, but all cost more than they bring in. Of course, traditional advertising says that’s how it works. You advertise in a number of places, and after people see your book seven or more times in different places, they might buy it. Still, such a method hasn’t worked on any of our titles.
Things that have worked for short periods are using social media for new books, promoting a new book on a blog tour, and reading in bookstores and libraries for a new book. The common theme “new book” is what counts. Older titles beyond using Bookbub remain a challenge—as does getting onto Bookbub.
However, I’m trying something absolutely new. Another friend from Prelude days now works for a major new distributor of eBooks, Hummingbird Digital Media. HDM has created a new approach to selling eBooks, though independent digital storefronts and an app that goes on your tablet or smartphone (Android or iOS systems). Thus, for example, you’ll be able to read on your iPhone or iPad, your Galaxy tablet, your Kindle Fire, your Android smartphone and others. If you have one of these devices, you have to buy nothing more.
This is to say anyone can create a storefront and sell ebooks and audiobooks. Those books can then be read (or heard) through a free app called “My Must Reads” on devices people already have. Not only do publishers have their own Hummingbird storefronts, but so do publicists and book bloggers and average people who love reading books. You can bring in extra money through your storefront. Your storefront can be branded with your name or logo.
Here’s the White Whisker Books storefront: click here.
In order for you to see how the app and system work fully, HDM is letting me give away one of my books, Blood Drama, for free. The directions for getting the book are below. You get to try out the system at no cost or credit card input--for a limited time (the next three days).
Description of Blood Drama
Blood Drama revolves around graduate student Ian Nash’s bad day. After losing his girlfriend and being dropped from his theatre program at a Southern California university, he stops at a local coffee shop in the lobby of a bank-- just as the bank is being robbed. He’s taken hostage by the robbers. Now he has to save his life.
Praise for Blood Drama
“Blood Drama is highly entertaining and extremely enjoyable. It is a combination black comedy and crime novel.” - Lori Lutes, She Treads Softly
“A murder mystery filled with interesting characters, harrowing encounters and a bit of a love interest between student Ian and detective Aleece make this an interesting and satisfying read.” - Kathleen Kelly, Celtic Lady
“Meeks may have daringly stepped into new territory, but he continues to remain in the rarefied atmosphere of fine contemporary authors.” - Grady Harp, Literary Aficionado
Directions for the Free Download
The following redeem code is good for your download of the book for free from now until June 13 only. You get it from the White Whiskers Books’ storefront. Here are the directions:
1) On your computer, smartphone or tablet use this URL link to the White Whisker Books storefront in your favorite browser:
2) Click the “Buy” button, which will open a page where you type your name, email address, and this redeem code: WWBDCM
3) A message will appear congratulating you on your good taste, and an instruction to download the “My Must Reads” app from the app store of your choice (Apple or Google Play). The app will go onto the smartphone or tablet you’ll read with. Use the same email address you used to redeem your free book.
4) After downloading the app to your iOS phone/tablet or Android phone/tablet (or KindleFire or Nook tablets), your book will appear in My Library right there in the app. Read and enjoy.
Thank you for enjoying this website. May the book give you hours of pleasure. If you like reading books this way, then you can buy more White Whisker Books and most books from big publishers using the same app. Start your own storefront, too.
Note: The photo is of Phillipe Petit walking between the World Trade Center towers in 1974. There are two amazing films about that feat. The first is a documentary, Man and Wire, and the other is a recent feature film, The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Petit.
Before I wrote novels and plays, I was a journalist and reviewer (plays and books). I blogged on Red Room for five years before moving here.