Beware Self-Publishing Marketing Schemes

Many authors feel a certain bond with the self-publishing company that helped bring their work to the public. After all, they encouraged and supported the author, stroked them when neccessary, and were equally proud when the book was finally in print.

But that relationship can quickly sour when book sales level off and, hungry for more revenue, the publishing company begins to push their marketing programs onto the authors. And the sales pitches are high-pressure.  

It happened to me recently. So, although I’ve already blogged about social media marketing vs. publisher marketing packages, I thought I should comment on these marketing packages lest one of my fellow authors falter under the pressure and buy in.

Short advice: Don’t buy in.

Like I said, it’s a high-pressure pitch. The sales representative will tell you that your book is “invisible”, that neither publishers nor readers can find it, and that your sales are suffering as a result. These comments are all relative. My title, Raincloud, was still available in the markets I needed it to be in and “visible” to both vendors and readers (the sales rep was referring to two US distributors that didn’t carry my book, and I had been doing fine without them). To his second point, no publishers or readers will arbitrarily look for my title unless I point them in the right direction and, as mentioned, I already know where to point them to. Sales are suffering? Well, yes, sales could always be better.

Their answer to these problems was an $800 Book Returns program. Sounds good. Will they sell the books to the chains on my behalf? No. No sale.

Another solution to lagging sales was their Informercial Package. They would contract someone to create a 30-second video of my book with voice-over, a few animated effects, and ordering information. The video was to be part of an infomercial shown during “late night, early morning, and weekend” hours in four cities such as Indianapolis (not NY or LA). This way, they say, readers and publishers could see and buy my book. All for the low, low price of $10,000.

My rebuttal: If there are any publishers in Indianapolis, I hardly think they source out new talent through watching a 3 A.M. infomercial.  And I would have to sell truckloads of books just to break even. Perhaps if the publishers were so sure of this scheme they could invest into it for their authors and reap the rewards.

Their reply: Putting money themselves into these ideas is against “standard business practices” in publishing.

My rebuttal to that? That’s because they know that these schemes don’t work. Just like me, they’re thinking of their bottom line. Not that I write for money…that’s not why I got into it. But I’d be foolish to listen to this sales rep and throw $10,000 in the garbage. It’s hard enough to make back the initial publishing investment, let alone another several thousand additonal dollars. 

I had an amusing exchange of emails with that rep. Amusing for me, that is. He was serious about selling and has probably bullied a few authors into surrendering their credit card numbers. That makes me sick. Not only does his company gets paid for the marketing scheme,  they get the lion’s share of the book revenue should any sell as a result. It’s a no-risk venture for them. The only one who gets screwed is…guess who?

Conclusion? Delete the emails, hang up the phone, and don’t return their messages. Almost none of of the marketing packages these companies sell are worth it. And read my aforementioned blog on low/no-cost ways to market your book.

It’s your money. Hold onto it.

Richard S. Todd is a Canadian author, public speaker and blogger. Visit him online at


Passion Pumps Your Public Speaking

Public speaking. Just the thought of it makes most people shudder. All those eyes on you…what if you lose your place? What if you fumble something? Are you speaking too loudly? Too quietly? Too quickly? Please don’t ask any questions!

If you dread speaking in front of an audience you’re not alone. Surveys have ranked it high on lists of peoples’ fears, right beside the death of a loved one or being diagnosed with a serious illness.

So if you’re faced with the prospect of speaking in public, how do you conquer it?

There is no shortage of tips on how to get past this fear so I won’t bore you by repeating them here. But I will tell you what works for me.

One of the most pleasurable experiences I had promoting Raincloud was my Raincloud Reading Series. As an extension of my book tour, I contacted several GTA writing groups and asked if they would like me to read from my novel and talk about my self-publishing experience. Most welcomed me, and my presentation got great feedback from the various audiences.

And now I plan on branching into other areas of public speaking, all using my simple method of intertwining my passion into any topic to give a potentially mundane presentation a real boost.

So how does my shameless self-promotion help you? Well, the secret to my success was that I was just being myself, speaking about something I felt passionate about. Many people are generally shy about discussing unfamiliar topics, but when they are given the opportunity to speak about something they care deeply for (whether it be their children, their career, or a pet) they can talk your ear off. By using their passion as the backbone of a presentation topic, anyone can impress an audience and give them something to remember long after they’ve left the stage.

Audiences can be sophisticated nowadays and will certainly spot a phony. Be yourself. And if you still get the shakes, fall back on the classic underwear trick.

Richard S. Todd is a Canadian author, blogger, and public speaker. Visit him online at