I spent all day yesterday at a publisher’s meeting at Publishers Group West* in Berkeley, and learned a lot. Mainly that I’m in the kindergarten category when it comes to marketing and promotion. I can get the books done and out there, but don’t really have much savvy on publicity. One of our authors, Bill Pearl, said to me once, “Lloyd, I wish we could produce a book and it would just fly off the shelves.”
Come to think of it, that’s the way it worked with Shelter early in my publishing career (1973). Our 1st print run in San Francisco (on a Harris-Cotrell M700 offset newspaper press) was 50,000 copies (what did we know?). We sent out no review copies, contacted no media people, I didn’t do a tour…We just gave out books to friends and people we thought would be interested, and it sold like mad (distributed by Random House). We ended up doing two more printings, of 50,000, and 60,000. Being reviewed in the Whole Earth Catalog was a big part of it, since it got the word out to maybe a million Whole Earthers—our people.
Well, things are way different now (duh!) I listened to some really smart publishers and industry people yesterday and am excited about trying some new ways to get the word out. I just want to get people to pick up, say, Tiny Homes. The book will take over from there.
The other thing that fascinates me right now is the eBook thing. Last week our Tiny Homes eBook (by Rick Gordon) was # 28 on Apple’s iTunes “Top Paid Books,” Arts & Entertainment category. True, it’s not a real live luscious book, but it’s paperless, compact, gorgeous on the iPad, searchable, and visually scannable (i.e. the reader can scan rapidly through thumbnails looking for things of interest). I was surprised how well it works on even an iPhone. I mean, if you’re really serious about going light in the device department…
Huge changes afoot in the publishing biz right now, and we’re gonna go along for the ride.
*Our distributors and partners in crime Photo above last night on 6th Street in Berkeley