Over recent months, several authors have contacted me, asking for advice about publication and promotion. My heart goes out to them because of the dilemmas in which some of them find themselves. Some decided to go with risky, overseas publishing deals which involved considerable cost on their part. Others spent less money but have little idea how to sell or promote their books. Some of these conversations left me feeling angry and helpless. There is little I can do for these poor authors, apart from giving them contacts and a few suggestions. But I fear for them in it all. It is not going to be easy.
I wanted to use this experience—or rather, the experiences of these authors—to say two things here. Firstly, I would like to sound a warning to authors everywhere to consider well before embarking on any publication deal, especially if it involves paying out rather large sums of money. One author I spoke to lost over three thousand dollars when an overseas subsidy publishing company ostensibly went bankrupt. Yet a simple online check would have revealed many warnings not to enter into any business dealings with this company. Another has paid for her book to be published overseas with little thought as to how she will get those hard copies here to Australia at a reasonable cost. It is all very sad, in my opinion.
Connected with these publishing deals is the dilemma of how these authors are going to promote and sell those copies when they finally arrive. Yes, their books might be listed on publishers’ websites and even on Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc. But that is nowhere near enough. How are people going to know those books are available? This does not happen by magic. These authors will need to think of ways to promote their own books, learn about how to use social media to their advantage and be prepared to go to places and speak. It cannot even be taken for granted Christian bookstores will want to stock their books—or, at least, that is the case here in Australia. One reason is that, however good such books are, bookstores do not want to have to deal with endless single author accounts rather than a certain number of established publishers.
Secondly, for those of us who already have publishers we know and trust who have a good name and do all they can to get our books out there in the market, let’s be so thankful! As well, let’s be thankful for groups such as this one and for all the knowledge we have gleaned from others who have gone before us. Some potential authors I know have little idea how to use the internet well, let alone know of groups such as ICFW or similar Australian ones until we tell them. Some authors I know do not want to speak or promote their books or are unable to do this because of ill health or various life commitments. How thankful we need to be—for those publishers with integrity, for those who helped us along the way, for those around us now, supporting and encouraging us, and for the abilities and opportunities God has given us!
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney, Australia. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.