big ups to these businesses and outlets that supported the book this year!
One of the most challenging parts of running an indie press is you have to assume all the roles. You are not only the author, but also the graphic designer, layout chief, executive editor, marketing manager and, the hardest of all, the public relations team.
I say that, because working PR as in asking people to buy your book is very tough. That sounds odd, because if you thought your book wasn’t worth buying, you wouldn’t sell it to begin with, right? Of course. But, then the other side of the coin is you don’t want to say or post, “Hey, buy my book. It’s great!”
But you have to. Because if you don’t have a dedicated PR team or relentless agent, no one else will. And what I wouldn’t give for a good agent like B.B. Glazier from Frasier, right?
But the bottom line is: You create something. It takes time and energy. Creativity. Years to hone your craft. And production. And therefore you want to be compensated for it. Even if it is only a couple of bucks. There is nothing wrong with that. You don’t go to a furniture store or a restaurant and ask the craftsman or chef, ‘Hey, can I get this for free?’ or ‘Why are you advertising?’ or ‘Why are you running a special?’
For some reason though, it is tough to put it out there when you are an individual artist. I won’t go into the psychological and social details here, but most writers I know are way too shy about doing this.
And as much as I dislike putting on my bowler hat, barking sales orders and putting out a virtual dancing balloon, you have to do it. I’ve been luckier than most in this regard and that I’ve had prior experience with this. I spent over a decade off and on writing and performing music. Back in the early 90s, I was in a band based out of Brevard, N.C. and being that we were all influenced by the punk rockers before us, we believed in touting our group with flyers announcing gigs, asked people to buy our demo tapes while on stage, performed free acoustic gigs to work off community service hours and, overall, in the immortal words of bass guru Mike Watt, “we jam econo.”
The phrase was Watt’s slogan for his band The Minutemen in their early days when they built a following on low-cost record production, inexpensive touring and a real DIY attitude.
We jam econo.
We do it ourselves.
Don’t want to sign us to a major deal, okay we’ll do it on our own.
We’ll sell merchandise out of our van.
We still hold down day jobs and book the most inexpensive studio time.
All just to make it happen.
We jam econo.
That phrase has re-entered my vocabulary and consciousness the last year since Alexandria Rising was published in October 2016. After a serious bicycle accident which has still left chronic pain in one hand, I decided to quit waiting on the replies from ivory towered agents. So I founded my own press and published independently. Oh yes, I’ve spent money on advertising and promotions. But, as I’ve said above, I’ve also done every other job in relation to book publishing. I published econo.
And, it’s been a good year. The average book sells less than 250 copies a year and roughly 1 million books were published last year.. Alexandria Rising is on trend to cross the 1,000 mark by the end of October. Alexandria Rising has also been bought in seven countries, three continents and over 30 states. (I am trying to get an e-book to Antarctica by the end of the year by the way as I pen this.) The sequel dropped in August and the third and perhaps final book is slated to drop in less than six months. And I’ve been featured on several blogs, newspapers, podcasts and reviews. I’ve had book signings hosted by super local businesses that believe in supporting local art and culture. I’ve given readings at businesses that feel the same way.
And most of all, I’ve had wonderful friends and readers who’ve spread the word. And I am very, very grateful to everyone. Having the encouragement from real people means the world to me.
And your enthusiasm gave me the fuel to keep going even after dealing with degrading comments from snobby critics, pretentious academics and many farcical “arts organizations” who refuse to even glance at indie authors books.
So, I’ve relearned it’s okay to be your own PR man.
You got to do, what you got to do.
We jam econo.
I publish econo.
And it works. If the product is good, the people will come.
Thanks so much for coming.
Best, Mark Wallace Maguire