Whenever a prospective author asks me, ''What would your publishing house do to promote my book?'' I have to take a minute, breathe deep, and remember that to many, it really means, ''How would you make people buy my book so I can retire a millionaire and never have to write another?''


That isn't to say that all potential or seasoned authors think this way, but a growing number of new; young writers seem to. In the world of publishing, there are many writers, and likewise what I call literary businesspersons, but amazingly few authors. And the distinction is critical for me to answer the question.

As I define the term, a writer is someone who records lyrical, poetic, or prose observations for him- or herself, commonly in a personal diary, journal, no-royalty anthology or blog. While the initial intent is most often innocuous, as soon as enough ''content'' is generated, issues of ''sharing" it with others and then "doing it at a profit" almost always surface. It is at this point that writers not uncommonly take to conceiving of themselves as literary businesspersons.

Literary businesspersons assume that any and all information has monetary value, and they are typically interested in selling this "monetizable'' information. Usually they develop or reorient the content into a single, concerted effort in response to a perceived ''money-making'' opportunity, or into a step-effort as, for example, in the form of a serialized work on the Internet and/or ''flash fiction'' efforts, consisting of one- or two-paragraph works of digested content.

Literary businesspersons today typically turn to social media websites to market and sell the content. In this case, promotion usually means making sure the content appears on the ''right'' social media sites, and providing online sales, fulfillment, payment, and accounting. In addition, it often involves structuring the content on the Internet in such a way as to funnel all interested parties to a single sales site. While many writers, in my experience, become literary businesspersons, few make it to becoming an author.

An AUTHOR, by contrast, composes content from the beginning for others -- usually a defined target audience -- aiming to provide a work that will be an easy and satisfying read for its targeted readers. In this context, the function of promotion, at least from the publisher's perspective, is threefold: (1) to make a well-composed author-centric work attractively reader-centric; (2) to make the work available to as many target readers as possible by transferring it into a form that is easily duplicated, but, hopefully, not so easily pirated; and (3) to help establish author/title name recognition.

From an author's perspective, the above usually also include (4) garnering author/title name recognition in the form of "fame," and, (5) establishing a regular income stream.

As a traditional 'book'' publisher, Savant Books and Publications looks to publishing with authors rather than literary businesspersons or writers (although, we do help writers make the transition to authors through participation in our annual poetry anthology, and by accepting unsolicited manuscripts and not requiring prospective authors to have a literary agent). Hence, when an established or prospective author asks, "What is your publishing house going to do to promote my book?" I assume he or she is referring directly or indirectly to all five functions.


For a book publisher effective promotion requires the opening all possible marketing and sales channels for a work. Today, of course, these channels involve hardcover/softcover books, e-books, and audiobooks.  But even with all the new formats and delivery mechanisms emerging, making books available is only the beginning. The main task of promotion is still to have targeted readers purchase, read, and tell others about the work.

One thing we at Savant Books and Publications do to "get the work out there" is to make our books directly available to readers at our own "pop-up" outlet bookstores. At these, we display all works face-out and they are presented to readers one-on-one by a staff member intimately knowledgeable about the work. In fact, we invite our authors to be there and talk directly with potential readers, often in the form of a form of "free" author, book release, or book award party. Savant Bookstore Honolulu at www.savantbookstorehonolulu.com is an example. It has both a revolving three-hour "brick-and-mortar" presence in a variety of different locations, and a 24/7 Internet presence.

Another thing we do is offer our books to directly to bookstores and booksellers through our own distribution company, Savant Distribution (www.savantdistribution.com).

In my experience, most authors don't know how to effectively participate in establishing author/title name recognition and a professional income stream.

We offer all our authors a specific marketing and publicity plan beginning about three months before publication extending to two years afterwards to help address the first of these issues. In addition to royalties, we offer sales and prequel/sequel incentives to our authors, on the assumption that once they've been through the publishing experience and made the transition to professional authorship, that person will participate more effectively in publication, publicity, marketing and sales promotion the next book.

Concerning the second issue, we encourage authors to establish publishing relationships with at least five other no-fee/royalty-paying publishers. This comes as a surprise to many, but we've found that to establish a reliable income stream, authors on the average, need to publish a book every two to three months, with the goal of maintaining at least ten published works at any time that are receiving royalty payments. On the average, Savant can publish between one work every three months for an experienced and accomplished author, to one book every twelve months and sometimes longer for ''new" authors. Hence, using an author's publishing experience with Savant Books and Publications to identify, establish and maintain at least five additional publishers makes sense from a professional author's point of view. It also makes sense in that our authors realize and come to appreciate more what we do for them as a no-fee/royalty paying full-service publisher.

I always try to factor all of this into my answer to ''What would your publishing house do to promote my book?'' In the end, however, the gist of my answer boils down to this: We work closely at Savant Books and Publications with each individual author, and actively promote every work we take on. If we accept a work, we believe in it and are willing to invest our time and money in its publication and promotion. In turn, we expect our authors to invest their time and energy intelligently and diligently in promotion and sales as well.

Daniel S. Janik
Savant Books and Publications
Taken in part from "Book Promotion for -- and with -- Authors"  by Daniel S. Janik, in IBPA Independent 2013 Apr (31) 4: 25-27. IBPA stands for the Independent Book Publishers' Association of which Savant Books and Publications is a member.