Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

A letter I got today

by Rob - November 14th, 2006.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

A letter I received today:

Hello Mr. Sawyer. I noticed your website while I was online and searching for ways to start publisizing my book before completion. The most common problem that I run into is the fact that most publsists only want to deal with nonfiction first time authors only, not fiction.

Dorrence publishing told me after review of a rough, unedited copy of my book that they want to publish it. I’m assuming they only want to make money but they also stated theire reasons why. But the truth is I want to publish with my own Isbn Number. I’m not worried about spending money because i have to to learn what I need to know. I would like to have a consultation with you over the phone and I mostly want to learn how I as A fiction Author can successfully approach a Radio or TV station that will want to hear about my fiction book because it is so irritating when they won’t just because of it’s genre.

After copyrighting it I let many people read a rough copy of it and guess what upon publication they all want to buy a copy. So truthfully it only matters what those people think and they are the ones buying not the publisits.

Thankyou for reading my email I was only expressing how much I need your help. Your a fiction author that has already gotten through all of this, so I really need your advice sir. please email me or give me a call thankyou sir.

My reply:

There’s zero point in publicizing an unfinished book that has no publisher lined up.

Dorrance is a vanity press; they make 100% of their money from you by charging you to print your books. Vanity-press and self-published books are almost never carried in bookstores; do not go this route.

Promoting fiction is hard, and you promote it because the underlying topic is interesting: Mark Haddon gets interviewed all the time about autism because he wrote the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which has an autistic main character; I get interviewed all the time about the clash between science and religion because I wrote Calculating God, a novel that dramatizes that issue. But if your novel isn’t about something of general interest, then news outlets quite rightly don’t care. Read the essays about this on my website and listen to the podcast on promoting your books there.

Promoting self-published fiction is impossible; no one will believe the book is any good, because no one but the author says it is. You’re right that I got through all this — but I did so by getting a traditional, advance-paying publisher … and you should be trying for the same. If you can’t land one of those, your problem isn’t lack of publicity for the book; rather, it’s the quality of the book. Work on that, before you work on trying to get people to buy individual copies of it.

Best of luck.


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