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January, 2008

Word Wright

Neubauer's Nuggets
No problem is too big or too small for our Joan
By  Joan R. Neubauer

Each month, award-winning author Joan R. Neubauer answers questions from you, her readers. She will answer questions about writing, promotion, publishing, and any other aspect of the publishing industry you can think of. Send your questions to her at submissions@fwointl.c om Subject: Neubauer Nuggets, and maybe yours will be the question she answers next month.

Dear Joan,

I've recently self-published a novel and am finding it difficult to place it in the large chain bookstores. If I can't get it on the shelves, people can't buy it. What can I do?
-Mary Drake,
Pittsburgh, PA

Dear Mary,

Contrary to popular opinion, authors do not live and die by bookstore sales. Granted, it's always helpful if you can get your books on the shelves in the large chains, but some have a built-in prejudice against self-published books and will not host self-published authors. Some will hold events during the year for self-published authors, but others arenít interested. Check to see what the stores in your area are doing, and then participate in whatever way you can. Some of the chain booksellers have special programs at the corporate level for small presses and self-publishers. Check into those to see if any of those programs will work for you.

Then, move on to the independent booksellers. They don't have to deal with all the corporate rules and regulations. Generally speaking, if the owner of the small bookstore likes you and your book, they will carry it, especially if you can give them a better deal than the distributors.

Once you have the booksellers taken care of, arrange to make presentations at appropriate groups. Talk about your book, how you came to write it, how you researched it, what it means to people, how it can help people, what readers can get out of it. You know your book better than anyone, so make a list of topics, and then match those topics with groups.

Think of all the writers groups, service organizations, corporations, church groups, schools, and chambers of commerce that would just love to have you come talk to them. Many of these groups will pay at least a small honorarium, and most, if not all, will allow you to sell your books after your talk.

Make sure you have a website where people can go to purchase your book online. If something happens in the news that has something to do with the topic of your book, contact your local radio stations and TV stations; offer yourself up as an expert. And of course, you will plug your book during your interview.

The book will take on a life of its own and pretty soon, the large chains will be coming to you and will ask for the chance to stock your book on their shelves.

Good luck, and think outside the box.

Dear Joan,

I belong to a writer's group that has several published authors as members. They often talk about "national titles" and "regional titles." I'm new at this and am embarrassed to ask what the difference is. Can you help?
-Tom L. Dallas, Texas

Dear Tom,

Never be embarrassed to ask a question. We were all new at this game at one time or another. And if you don't ask, you'll never learn.

A national title is a book that a publisher actively markets to bookstores all over the country. The setting of the book doesn't matter, and the book has national appeal because of the storyline, characters, or author.

On the other hand, a regional title has a particular setting, and the publisher markets the book to outlets in a particular geographic area. For example, a book about the history of Texas jails will sell well in Texas, but will most likely garner little interest in Utah. Therefore, the publisher will concentrate their marketing efforts in Texas.

I hope that helps. Now go back to that writers group and ask all the questions you can think of.
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Joan R. Neubauer is an author, publisher, public speaker, and editor. Her latest books are A Serpentís Tooth and Shadow Dancing. For information on topics that Joan speaks about or to invite her to speak to your organization, you can contact her at

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Upon the trails weíve known;
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Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

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The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Donít plant your poem on the page
As though youíre hanging drapes;
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I rewrote twenty-two!

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Our Disclaimer Is Based Upon McIntyre's First Law: "Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you may be wrong."