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June 25, 2007

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Susanne Dunlap

Welcome observations to me, an author who tries to supplement my publisher's coop with ongoing Web efforts, but who has neither the time nor the money to do very much. Welcome, because I realize there's not a lot more I could be doing in the circumstances that would make a huge difference. Now I have to get back to writing my next book . . .

Jersey Jack

In Mr. Lipskar's league--where debut authors make an average of $25,000 to $50,000, and their books are placed on coop tables--I'm sure he's right about the internet being relatively unimportant. In the league myself and many authors play in--where debut author advances pretty much top out at $12,500, there's no coop tables, and the house PR man covers 48 novelists--an author had better do a LOT of marketing, internet and otherwise. If we don't, no one will ever hear of, let alone read, our books. "Because there are over 175,000 books published a year..."

David J. Montgomery

Great stuff, Simon. Thank you for sharing this.

Barney Davey

This is interesting stuff to me. I am a self-published author of a book titled How to Profit from the Art Print Market. One can only imagine with such a scintillating title books magically sell themselves. Alas, to my chagrin they do not. I feel I've earned every sale the book has made. Two plus years old, it cranks along with my stimulation on artist's discussion boards, press releases, workshops and whatever else I conjure up to help keep the interest going.

I never considered a publisher, agent or anyone else to get involved with me to help promote or sell the book. Having a marketing background and knowing the art print market were big advantages. From my research, I might possibly have doubled my sales if I had gone with a specialty publisher, but I would have cut my income by around 32 times. That's right, for every average dollar I'd make from a publisher, I net more than $16 doing my own publishing.

The book was excerpted by The Artist's Magazine and later added to its North Light Book Club. Both nice perks and hits on sales and regognition. Both happened because I created awareness for it with the right people. Did a very modest amount early advertising and voila, good results ensued.

I don't fulfill the book. It is promoted on my Website, but is linked to Amazon if someone wants to buy it. Of course, I am an Amazon affliate and make between 4-6% on the net price if the buyer links in from me.

There is a parallel here. That is, I advise visual artists on getting into the print market as a way to create cash flow from their originals. And, I challenge them to take charge of their careers by utilizing what arguably is the most democratizing tools ever for artists of all types. POD (Print-on-demand)technology. My book is a POD title.

I am going to have to creatively borrow the tag line and use it this way, Painting is Art, Publishing is Business. It is completely apropos this situation.

I advise artists there are no cases of artists who became successful in the print market that weren't ambitious. It takes the skill to continuously create art people want to own. It takes another skill set to find ways to use that interest to drive sales.

A writer or painter who wants to succeed has to take part in the business. The good news is POD (Print-on-demand) for art prints, books and CDs and MP3s for musicians means many more artists of all sorts are using creative ways to get their work found and sold. In some ways, I think it's never been a more exciting time to be an artist. If you have talent, gumption and drive, the tools available today allow artists to circumvent the traditonal marketing and carve new paths to creating collectors, fans and readers.

I grant you peddling a few thousand copies of a "how-to" is far different than trying to hit the proverbial grand slam with Oprah and the NYTBR all in a short period of time.

When it comes to Web marketing and crafty public relations. These things are skill sets anyone can attain. Not to say a professional wouldn't do a much better job. But, if there is no budget, than a tasteful affordable alternative is completely doable by the determined.

Popular culture travels on Word-of-mouth. That's why sleeper movies surprise and bloated budget extravaganza's bomb. You can have the coop table, but without buzz, it becomes an expense instead of an investment. Buzz comes when enough people really like your work and enjoy sharing their experiences. It almost becomes self-sustaining.

How many times have I looked at book jacket and not purchased? How many times have I later purchased the same book because someone gave me a strong personal recommendation? Lots in both cases.

If an author, artist or musician finds a unique way to connect with their intended audience and skillfully works it, they are goint to be successful without a coop table or radio play, IMHO.

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