Written by Joan Gelfand
With the prevalence of startups disrupting established business models from taxis to hotels and music, the publishing industry was ripe for disruption.
Still, first time novelists are signed by literary agents. Publishing contracts are closed daily. But advances, if there are any at all, are slim, and marketing and publicity budgets are now the responsibility of the author.
Last spring, I was approached by Publishizer. At the time, my novel (Fear to Shred) was sitting on an agent’s desk in New York so I turned them down. After one year of back and forth with the agent and executing all the requested changes, my book was turned down.
Coincidentally, Publishizer reached out to me again. “Why me?” I asked Lee Constantine, Head of Author Success. I learned that my online profile had won their attention. With almost 6,000 Twitter followers and significant social groups on Facebook and LinkedIn I was a good candidate. I also maintain a professional, up-to-date website.
I agreed to begin the process with Publishizer. Their model is to help the author create a campaign. The campaign consists of a book cover, a video about why you wrote the book and a synopsis.
In my case, it took almost two months to create my campaign. I hired a videographer, who had worked with me on my poetry films, to create a ‘sizzle roll’ or book trailer. I hired 99 Designs to create a book cover.
The Publishizer philosophy is to help authors get their books to the reading public by way of preorders. They call it “crowdfunding for publishing.”
How it works:
- Once the author’s campaign is ready, a launch date is set. On that date, blasts go out to the lists that the author has compiled of friends, family and colleagues.
- Once the author receives 100 pre-orders, Publishizer queries the project to companies that help self publish.
- After 150 preorders, they query the project to hybrid publishers.
- Once the campaign hits 250 preorders, the book is queried to traditional, indie presses. And, in some cases, if the campaign exceeds the minimum 250 preorder, larger presses are approached.
According to the staff at Publishizer, they are not agents. But my experience working with them is that the company supports you just as an agent would.
Hard as my campaign was (at the beginning it was quite stressful: Will I make it?) What I actually like about the preorder model is that it gets the BUZZ going about your book – globally! Announcements about your campaign are published on Facebook and Twitter by Publishizer, yourself and your network.
In the first ten days of my campaign, I received 60% of my preorders. Still, getting preorders is similar to gaining early adopters for any project. How does your network know your book is going to be a success? They don’t! People gravitate toward endorsed books and your book doesn’t have them – not yet anyway!
To succeed with Publishizer an author must possess the confidence that a loyal fan club, friends, relatives and established colleagues will help to kick-start the campaign. According to Publishizer, social media doesn’t’ really sell the preorders. What does sell the preorders is talking and emailing. Seeing people. Calling people. Repeat. Repeat. For 4-6 weeks!
From the start of the campaign I felt like Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail! I was out every day, meeting friends and colleagues for coffee, talking up the project.
- Publishizer helps authors become more successful whether you choose to be self-published, go with a hybrid publisher or a traditional press.
- The proposal/campaign takes time and some small investment if you hire a book designer or videographer.
- After the campaign is over, you are required to create a proposal.
At this writing, my campaign is 96% complete!
Joan Gelfand’s work appears in national and international journals including Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Kalliope, California Quarterly, The Toronto Review, Marsh Hawk Review and Levure Litteraire. Her chapbook of short fiction won the Cervena Barva Fiction Award.
Development Chair of WNBA, a member of the National Book Critics Circle and Bay Area Travel Writers, Joan blogs for the Huffington Post and coaches writers. Her forthcoming novel, Fear To Shred, is set in a Silicon Valley startup.