This week, I sent three emails to three separate authors that I had shepherded and agreed to co-publish their books about the lack of sales. Publishers don’t love the term, “lack of sales.” None of these authors should have got the “Wake up and smell the book roses … possible death toll bell” from me.

I hated writing them … I hated sending them.

And I had to do it. As the publisher, because it’s business. As The Book Shepherd, because they chose to ignore the hours of brainstorm about strategies to market, position and sell their books. As the publisher, I got the books into national distribution at all major channels—even Barnes and Noble ordered them.

And they failed. Two of them have done zip in marketing support. ZIP. The third did an announcement on her Facebook page and has created a few speaking engagements. Granted, those sold books on site, which is a great strategy and was part of the game plan. But that’s it.

The Ego Factor
Authors have got to deal with their egos–they are always part of the formula. Do they want their books available in book stores, or at least available, so that a book store can easily order it? So buyers can buy the book? So that they can tell their friends that it’s at the book store? So that they can actively tell people to buy the book at a book store, or at least Amazon to buy the book? Or, is it a stroke to their ego–a badge of an honor to have their book in the store that they can brag about?

If authors are not going to drive book buyers to book stores … they don’t need a distributor. Distributors make money when books are sold through book stores and libraries. If authors aren’t going to encourage buyers to go to stores, to Amazon, to B&N, to libraries (yes, if libraries get demand, they buy books for inventory), there is no need for representation via a distributor.

If so, they MUST understand the game … and the game is … drive buyers to book stores if the publisher arranges for that option. Why should a book store carry a book or make it available if people aren’t encouraged to buy the book through them? If the book doesn’t sell, any future books may carry “baggage” with them … as is, “Why should we carry this book?–all of the author’s previous book were returned.”

Were the books good? Did they solve pain or provide a solution to something that a viable audience was in search of? Did they contain stories and humor to support their themes and key concepts? Yes, Yes and Yes. Oh yes. I loved them all … and so did the authors. I believed in every one of them—they were well-written; beautifully designed on the interior; and each had an excellent cover.

Authors Can’t Be Too Pooped to Market!
Most authors are pooped by the time they have book in hand. I get that—it’s quite a journey getting there. When the book is finally a book, available to the public, is when the author’s support/energy/creativity/WORK really must go into high gear.

The support for the book—whether its eBook, pBook, book, book—is HUGE at this point. Five percent of the author’s time went into creation of the masterpiece—the remaining 95 percent will go into marketing and support of it over a period of time.

Your book, and the support of it, is a long-term investment. It will take your time, your energy, your creativity, your commitment … and yes, some money. Sometimes lots of money, depending on your marketing game plan; sometimes minimal moneys but lots of time, again, depending on your marketing game plan.

Can those three authors change the limp direction of their book—even when it’s been out for some time? Absolutely! It will take some time. It will need a marketing re-direct. It will take a commitment. Will they do it? Only time will tell.

The success of your book is up to you. If you want it, commit to it. Implement it. Rejoice in it. My lecture is done.