Archive for the ‘Dan Brown’ Category

The Forgotten Story Continued

May 23, 2007

In yesterday’s entry, I wrote about the forgotten story of Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code and some of his not-too-long ago days in the publishing business. I included a short quotation from a court document. Just ahead of the quotation is another element in the story and points to a common situation within book publishing–change.

Authors are trusting of their publisher that they will carry out all of their promises for promotion. These marketing plans are nonbinding since they are normally not included in the actual book contract yet are used to show the publisher’s intentions for your book. These plans are offered in good faith but many things change within a publisher between the signed contract and when the book is actually released into the marketplace. Editors leave. Marketing people change houses and financial priorities shift. Many years ago I signed a contract with one of my books and the editor told us about plans to market the books in airports around the country with distinct displays and other such ideas. In between signing the contract and the release of the book (often separated by as much as 18 months), my editor left and none of those plans occurred. Yes the book was published but in a much more modest fashion.

For Brown’s earlier novel, Angels & Demons, he changed publishers from St. Martin’s Press to Simon and Schuster. Here’s the promised plans from his publisher, “Simon & Schuster said they were extremely excited by Angels & Demons. They promised to give the book considerably more publicity and support than my previous publishers. Their proposed publicity included a much larger print run (60,000), advertising in major newspapers, web advertising, a 12 city tour, an e-book release, and other exciting prospects.”

For a writer like Brown who was financially struggling, such a promise was a major encouragement. Yet the court document continues and reveals what happened: “Unfortunately, when the book came out, my print run was slashed down to 12,000 copies with virtually no publicity at all. I was once again on my own and despite enthusiastic reviews, the novel sold poorly. Blythe and I were heartbroken as we had put so much work into this book. Once again, we took matters into our own hands, booking our own signings, booking our own radio shows, and selling books out of our car at local events.”

You have to understand this incident took place in 1999 or 2000. Angels & Demons has gone on to become a bestseller. After the success of The Da Vinci Code, readers purchase Brown’s other books.

OK, what do you gain from this little historical trip? First, it’s a reminder of the ever changing nature of publishing. Also it’s encouragement for every author to take a pro-active stance with their own marketing and reaching their own grassroots audience. It’s not easy for anyone but if you are consistent (and have a book which is compelling and excellent), then you can eventually find your audience and success. Hold on to the dream yet realize it may take years of consistent work and effort to reach it. Everyone is looking for the quick way and more often than not, there is no quick way. If publishers understood it, then they would use it on the next book and the next book (which so often doesn’t work on a regular basis).

Authors need to keep working on building the audience for their books through forming relationships and the dozens of tools out there. If you need any inspiration in this area, pick up a copy of John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Books and start something that you haven’t been doing. In this area, I’ve been learning about virtual book tours and teleseminars. Last night my first teleseminar was successful. After the teleseminar, I edited the tape some at the beginning and the end using Sound Forge which is a terrific piece of software. You can get it from Mike Stewart, the Internet Audio Guy. Then I uploaded the file to the replay page using audio generator. I selected the “snazzy player” which allows you to fast forward or rewind the teleseminar. It was not complicated and I believe I created a great result–and learned a bit more about marketing books through teleseminars. Also I helped people learn about a great resource for authors, Author Law.

My encouragement to each of you is to continue forward–learning the craft of writing, forming new relationships and crafting better submissions for the editor.

The Seven-Year Difference

May 22, 2007

Yesterday I mentioned listening to iUniverse CEO Susan Driscoll when she spoke at Mega Book Marketing University 2006 in Florida. During this talk, Susan mentioned the difference that seven years can make in the life of a person. I found it fascinating and tracked down the specifics. She was talking about The Da Vinci Code author, Dan Brown. No matter what you think about the book, it found tremendous success.

Susan encouraged listeners to track down a court transcript where Dan Brown was defending himself against accusations of plagiarism in the London Court (and Brown was successful in his defense). With a little work on Google I located the transcript which is 77 pages.

In the transcript, Brown talks about his journey as a novelist and here’s the quote which Susan highlighted for her audience, Dan Brown said, “This was not an easy time financially. I remember that we were forced to literally sell books out of our car at low profile publishing events. The few readers who read Angels & Demons had gone wild for it.”

Brown and his wife were traveling to small events and selling books from the back of their car in 2000. What a difference seven years makes in the life of a person. Last year (2006), Brown landed in the tenth spot on the Forbes 100 list of earning an estimated $88 million or up from 12th spot the year before.

Where are you in the process of pursuing your dreams about publication? It is hard work to make the right pitch with the right book proposal. Many people don’t put the energy and effort into their proposal to craft the right pitch. Or they send it to the wrong places. Or they give up on the idea too easily. It’s a subjective business and you have to tell your story over and over to build enough enthusiasm for it that it succeeds in the marketplace of ideas.

Why is it so difficult? The statistics repeatedly show that each year reading statistics are on the decline. Each year about 190,000 new books are published with millions of backlist books already in print (published in the past seasons or backlist). If you are feeling low, take some of the smaller steps.

Begin to build a newsletter list. Everyone has to start some place so launch a free newsletter and continue building that group of subscribers, feeding them great content on a regular basis. The back issues of my Right Writing News have over 400 pages of how-to information which is free but only available to subscribers. If you don’t now what you would write for a newsletter, then go to this link and read every article and follow the advice.

If you are getting rejected, make sure you are building your relationships and learning your craft at writer’s conferences. Learn how to craft a basic magazine article or short story. It will take you down the road to achieve your larger dream because you are learning the process and building your publishing credits. I’ve traveled the country teaching about book proposals. As a home study tool, pick up my new product, Editor Reveals Book Proposal Secrets and listen to it over and over.

Most of all, keep holding on to your dreams and working each day to make a difference. You can do it and if you need the encouragement, consider the seven year difference in Dan Brown’s life–selling books in the back of his car to #10 on the Forbes 100 list.