Sunday, November 9, 2008

RichWriters Interview with Former VP of Director of Sales at Time Warner Book Group, Jerry Simmons

Jeff: Hello and welcome to the show. My name is Jeff Rivera, author of the novel "Forever my Lady" by Warner Books, and I am pleased to present to you a former Random House and Time Warner Books Executives, Jerry Simmons. Welcome to the Show, Jerry.

Jerry: Thanks, Jeff. I am glad to be here.

Jeff: Great. Mr. Simmons is an author of an incredible book you should all go out and get it, it is called "Inside the business of publishing" and he is also the author of the book called "What writer need to know about publishing?". It is an excellent source, I devoured inside the business of publishing I think everyone should go out and get it. Now he is also the former Vice President, Director of Field Sales at Time Warner Book Group, and he was an integral part of the team that help make best sellers out of books like [Ph], the Bridges of Madison County, "The lovely Bones", "Rich Dad,Poor Dad" and authors such as Michael Connelly, James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks. who of course my favorite author. Now his credit can go on for days crazy to go out for a date. So thank you so much for your time Jerry.

Jerry: I am just glad to be here Jeff. I am glad to share what I can with future novelists and authors.

Jeff: Absolutely. What we are going to talk about specifically today is, how obvious can market and promote your book as someone who comes from a high-level marketing and sales background and I think it is a real pros to learn from you Jerry. So…….

Jerry: Great, thank you.

Jeff: I have some questions.

Jerry: shoot

Jeff: Excellent! So, one thing I cannot talk enough about your book because I loved it so much and I think it is really good and one thing you have mentioned inside the book publishing company are book, is that if you are published by a traditional publisher, you should really get to know from your key sales people.

Jerry: Right.

Jeff: What do sales people do specifically to try to drag sales of book stores?

Jerry: Well, first thing let me just profuse everything I say here today by something that all writers need to understand and that is the publishing business is a business. Yes, you are writers and yes you are writing novels but it is absolutely important that you understand that inside the publishing company your book is a product. It is the job of the sales group to sell that product. So what I mean by trying the meet sales people is it is important to be able to separate your self as an author and your book from all the other authors and books on their list that they are selling. The way you do that is you try and meet people in house, you are try and meet people in your department, publicity department, obviously you are going to know your editor, but what really is important is the sales and marketing division and the reason is because that is the last group that handles your book before it is actually sold to the retail book sellers. This is the group that takes your book from editorial, they basically set a number to it. They go out to book sellers, buyers and they sell that book to the Barns and Nobles, The Borders, The Wall Marts, they target the Costco of the world. So if you can get to meet those people, know who they are and what their jobs are and you communicate to them that what you want to do as an author is to have a career as a writer and you want to make sure your book has a good distribution with a high percent of sale then the way to do that is by meeting the sales people, understanding their job and separating yourself from all the other books on the list. Now if that is confusing, let me explain a real quickly. Distribution is the fact of where your book is being shipped and in what quantity. For instance, if your book has 10,000 copies printed, you want to have a large percentage of those books shipped to book stores. It is very important because book stores is a destination market place. It is where people go to buy books. You do not want a large percentage of books being shipped to Walll Marts and Targets and Costcos because those markets are what we call impulse markets. That is where people go to buy products and if they happen to see a book then they might buy it. So the idea of the distribution is to get the right quantity of your book shipped to the right retail account, and for soon as sale, what that means is if I shipped 10,000 copies of your book and you sell six, if you sell 6,000 you have what is called a 60% sell through. That means you have a return percentage of 40%, which means 4,000 of those 10,000 came back to the publishers as returns and I do not want to be too technical or get to bog down the terms and so forth, but it is important for an author to understand that the most important number for them in the business is the percent of sale. You have to maintain a high percent of sale to continue to have a career as a writer. If you can do that, you will achieve that by getting the right distribution of your book into the market place and the only group that can do that for you is the sales group. That is why you should know who they are. I am sorry?

Jeff: Is that number if someone has a 60% sale rate and what is a good number and what…

Jerry: 60% and above. You really want to try to maintain a 60% and above sell through. That is what is critical because when book buyers that worked at your Barns and Nobles and your Borders and so forth, when they evaluate books and let us say they are valuing the second or third novel from an author, they will look at the percent of sale. It does not really matter whether you sold a hundred thousand copies or you sold 10,000 copies. What is really important is how high the sell through was. Now if you had a 100%, 100,000 copies sold and you had a 60% sell through obviously that is better the than if you sold 10,000 at a 60% sell through, but the bottom line on all of it is the percent of sale, that is what buyers really look for. So that is when its key as an author when you sign a contract and you begin meeting in, meeting people in-house one of the terms that you want to tell everyone is that you want a career as a writer, you want a high sell through on all your books. That is the kind of things you want to say to people you meet in house and especially people in the sales and market department.

Jeff: You want a high…what did you call it? a sales…?

Jerry: Sell-through. High percent of sale, high sell. Sell-through percent of sale is the same thing.

Jeff: Okay. So a high-sell through, so it is important to let them know that you want a career and you want a sell-through rate.

Jerry: That is correct.

Jeff: So now we are dealing of course with sales people but the important part of making sure that your sales do well is of course the marketing department. Can we talk a little bit about that and what it can do specifically to get the word out and what exactly, we as authors can do to get them to truly support us, I mean one thing I have noticed in my situation is that there are…well hundreds if not thousands titles that are going up from my publisher. How can you stand out or what can you do to make sure the marketing and sales team really sees you as an individual rather than just author of number 143.6?

Jerry: Okay. The way I think author should look at this is you need to be concerned with how you market and sell yourself in house, in other words in my experience in New York, 99.9% of the authors really have no understanding of how anything in house works. Now obviously your huge best selling authors, your James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks, Michael Connelly shortly they have some understanding because of the level of copies and number of copies they sell, but most authors do not understand how the business works inside and I tell authors that you need to be concerned with selling yourself and your book in house to all the people working on your book before you concentrate on how do I sell it and market outside, because if you can separate again, yourself and your book from all the others on the list in house, then those people working on your book, selling it and marketing it they will take that information and they will use that when thy turn around and market the book sellers because what the company is trying to do is they are trying to number one, shipped as many copies of your book as they possibly can because when they do that they generate large amounts of revenue and if the whole idea in the publishing company is to ship a lot of books, to generate a lot of revenue, create a lot of sales. Now that is the growse part of the business, in other words I ma shipping copies but that does not necessarily mean they are going to sell at retail because some of them may come back. So the idea is, there has to be a balance, you have to sell the right numbers so you get the right net sale, but for an author you need to market yourself in house, you need to market yourself to the marketing department as an author, number one who wants a career writing. Number two, has an understanding of the business. Number three, you want a great distribution that will result in a high percent of sale. If you can communicate to those things to people inside the marketing department, they will take your book and handle it differently from all the other books that in return will help that book to be marketed to book sellers in a way that gives you the best chance of selling a lot of copies. I hope that is not too confusing. I hope…

Jeff: no. Not at all, I think so you are saying that we should be really focus more on selling yourself in house first and then worry about the outside. So what can we do as authors to really sell ourself and separate us from the pack in house then?

Jerry: Okay. First thing you need to do is you need to ..once you sign a contract at some point in the future, you need to go to New York. You need to have a meeting with your editor and you need to ask your editor to introduce you to everyone that has a hand in publishing your book, in other words the art director, I would like to meet the art director. I would like to know who he is. I would like to be able to communicate to him or her, what kind of visions I have for my book? How I would like it packaged and so forth and so on. Then you want to meet people in the sales and marketing department because you want to communicate to them then I as an author want to do everything I can to help you sell books. See, most authors come to New York with the idea that I am an author, now what are you going to do for me to help my book sell? That is what the attitude of most authors are. If you reversed that and you go into New York with your hat in your hand so to speak and you are communicating to them that look, I want a career as a writer, I know you can help me but I want to tell you now that I'am here to do whatever you need me to do to help you sell books. If that means you want to send me out to book stores to do signings I am willing to do that. If that means you want to send me to…you know..newspapers to talk to editors and book reviewers I am willing to do that, you want me to be in a radio I will do that. So basically as an author you are communicating to everyone in house that you know you have worked hard on the novel, you feel like that you have made it to a point but to be successful you need everyone's help in house. You need them to assist you by doing those kinds of things and approaching them with that attitude which is totally different in any other author. You will separate yourself from the pack and by doing that suddenly, they will talk about you and your book in house. You will become different because like I say, as most authors they do not approach New York that way. So suddenly, you are becoming someone new and different and unique and that alone will help you separate yourself and your book from everything else…

Jeff: I am sorry, you are going to separate yourself first of all by going to New York and meet [11;37] first place and second of all I mean with a humble attitude, like I am here to help you whatever you need to do I am there rather than, what can you do for me…

Jerry: That is right. That is exactly what you need to do.

Jeff: Yes.

Jerry: Now if you are listening to this and you are wondering well how am I going to know about distribution, what I am going to do about this I mean packaging my book, what covers and so on and so on. I suggest authors go to book stores and they become regular visitors in a book store. I am talking weekly go into the book store and do nothing but observe. I am not recommending you take a pad of paper and a pencil or pen and take notes, I am recommending you walk into the store and you make observations. You look at what books are being promoted and how are they being promoted. By promoted I mean, you are going and see floor displays, you will see table displays, you will se a variety of racks that this book sellers basically your big book stores will have to promote and market books. You need to go and see how they are doing that, you need to walk the aisles, you need to look at what books are being promoted, what kinds of books, what they look like, what are the size of the books, are they hard covers or trade papers, what are the price points of the book, you know the 12.95 or they are 8.95. Then you need to walk over to your particular category that you are writing in and you need to observe that category. Now certainly, you are going to see copies of best selling titles by authors that you are well recognizable, but what you really want to look for is you want to look for authors that you do not necessarily recognize. You want to see authors that are what we would call mid list authors that have books that have been out on shelves for a long period of time because book stores are your laboratory as authors. Whatever book stores are marketing and promoting is what publishers are marketing and promoting and you as an author need to have some awareness of what that is and how it works, perfect example is I say to people that if you go home everyday and you go home the same way you will notice changes in your neighborhood, not because you are looking for them just because you are walking down the street everyday and you happen to notice things that are changed new or different. If you go in to a book store in a weekly basis and you do that over a period of time, you are going to start recognizing the changes in the market place. You are going to notice the different authors. You going to notice the different books, you know the different way books promoted and packaged. You are going to notice different books that are on table tops and know how they are displayed and again how they are packaged, how they are priced, what the trim size are, what the interiors the books look like. I am talking about you really need to be a student of the market place and that is the best way to do it.

In my 25 years, I can count on one hand, the number of authors who came to New York and had meetings who really understood what was going on out in the market place. It is just authors are involved in writing so much they forget about the second part and the second part is how the books sold in the market, and then you need to have some understanding of that so you can speak intelligently to that when you go to New York and you meet with people. That is how you get yourself noticed, that is how your books is separated from the pack because you suddenly become an author who have an awareness of the market place. You have some idea what is going on and how it works.

Jeff: In a sense that one thing that I thought was interesting in your book is you said, yes, how does knowledge understand what is going on in market place, but do not come across as a know it all.

Jerry: Right, exactly. Well, you want to keep information close to that, that is what I would like to refer to it. If you go in…New York, people that work in New York publishing companies are used to authors coming in to New York, under the idea that there is sort of a celebrity. They are now an author, they are here to be entertained by the company, they are here to talk to the company and basically to find out what the company is going to do for them as an author. This is the typical way most authors approach a New York publishing company. My feelings, strong feeling is that you need to change that, you need to go in the different attitude, the different understanding and basically go in to communicate to them that I want to be successful and I know that the only way I can do that is with your help as a publishing employee. I want to help you, I want to help you sell books and in turn not offer all the suggestion. You do not want to walk in and say, I was in the bookstore last week and I noticed that this is what I want for my book and I noticed this and I think I want to do that for my book. That Is not the way you do it. You go in and communicate to them that, I want to help you, I will do whatever I can. Then when they offer you suggestions saying,we thought about this and this and this for you book then you can say, well, you know,I was in the store and happened to notice this was being done or this book was promoted this way, do you think we might be able to do that for my book?

So you do not go in and offering up the information. The information is yours to use once the company commits themselves and decides and tells you how they have decided to market your book. So it was just a different way of communicating the information to them.

Jeff: So you hold that information until they suggest some ways and you can come and say..

Jerry: Absolutely.

Jeff: Interesting, but I also saw in the bookstore that this book was presented this way and marketed this you think you can try that?

Jerry: Absolutely. Especially books from your own publisher, for instance to yours Jeff, you are with Warner Books. When I am out in the bookstore I would certainly look and see what Warner Books is doing with particular titles and how they are marketing those, how are they promoting those, because when you go into the store and looked at the way books are merchandized, understand that, that is not random that does not happen by chance. Publishers pay fees to have books promoted and marketed in the certain way. Now as an author, you do not know when you go in, you know what cost what or how much but if you have that information and once your company commits to you what they are willing to do then you offer up suggestions. You may find out that what you want them to do cost way more than they have budgeted for your book. So then you are in a position where you can have to negotiate and see if you can work something out but the idea is not to go in and just offer up everything you know. The idea is to wait to see what your company wants to do, how much money they want to spend, what they have committed to it and then offer suggestions based on your knowledge of the market place.

Jeff: I see. Now when should an author go and meet these key people, the sales people, the marketing, the editor of course I mean how far in advance and how often should they meet with them?

Jerry: My recommendation is you meet with them as far in advance as you possibly can. I mean the day you signed the contract, you probably got between 18 months and 3 years before your book is actually published I mean that is typical. Sometimes it is a year, sometimes it could be 6 months, but as a rule of thumb, it is 18 to 36 months. So you have lots of time but the farther out from pub date, you can go in and meet them the more time you have to develop relationships and be able to communicate with these people because when you go in the New York in the first time and you say I want to meet everyone that has the hand of my book, from that point you may realized that in that initial meeting that who the people that are at the meeting are actually assistants. They are not decision makers, that is fine but you want to be able to work from the assistants to the decision makers and that takes time and over a period if they realized that you are not an author looking for favors that you are not someone that just wants to constantly check up on employees on to what they are doing that you are actually trying to help then they are more likely to receive your phone calls and return them or they will return emails. But if you are an author that is seen as someone who is just like everybody else and you are looking for what they are going to do for me and how fast they are going to do it, chances are you are not going to get your phone calls and emails returned.

Jeff: It is really important to sort of change your attitude.

Jerry: Absolutely.

Jeff: What you can do for them and what they say than rather than you know what you can suck out of them.

Jerry: That is right Jeff, absolutely right…

Jeff: Now, I thought that was interesting one thing that people will be shocked is what you just said and I hope everyone was listening carefully but regarding bookstores that the companies, the publishers actually pay for placement to book stores, so when people walk on the door and they see maybe James Patterson's book probably on display in huge 40 foot display or whatever the case might be or in the window or to turned out or whatever or on the counter. Those are things that were purchased.

Jerry: Yes, That is correct. It is called a placement fee. There is also things called advertising allowances like you may pick up a newsletter from a local bookstore and you will noticed that certain books are advertised prominently in this newsletter. Well that was not done without the publisher paying a fee for that book to be advertised in that newsletter. So all these things do cost money and it is just important that authors understand that you may offer a suggestion but the suggestion is cost prohibited based on the marketing budget allotted for your book.

Jeff: Are they going to chose to promote a book based on what they think will sell well or how do they chose what books they are going to kind of really promote the most?

Jerry: When they, when publishers lay out a list of titles for an entire calendar year, they start picking certain books and assigning numbers to them. At that time of Warner we used to call the budget number,randomly assigned are used too they may call them different but there is always a number assigned to a book that bottom line is the number of copies a book needs to ship in order to earn back a certain amount of money for the company. So a lot of times your marketing budget and how much your company will spend is dependent on the number, the budget number the company assigns to your book and that number is assigned to it based on how many copies they think they can sell or how many copies they need to sell. So there is a variety of factors that play in but it is all related. So everything that is going to be done for your book in house and the amount of money they are going to spend that is all based on that one number which is how many copies they need to ship of your book.

Jeff: I see. So that is really interesting. Now of course you mentioned, of course placement but what other ways have you seen marketers or marketing department use to really truly sell the book or make the book successful?

Jerry: Mailing out your galley copies is a great way to generate word of mouth and typical publishers mail galley copies to book buyers around the country. There is also various promotional items that publishers have like they will have a list of key people around the country. They may include politician, movie stars, television personalities, network news anchors and what they do is they mail certain things to these people and hopes that those people will talk about them and it is just a way to generate publicity because the best way to sell books regardless of where you are selling is publicity. So the more publicity, the company can generate for you. Publicity, what I mean by that is an article written about you in a magazine with your book, an article written about you in a local newspaper about you as an author in your book. So anything a company can do to help generate publicity is the best way to sell copies and anything you can do to help the company generate word of mouth or generate publicity is a great way to do it. Certainly for authors, the more you can be involved with book clubs and online writers groups on the internet is a great way to spread the word about your book and the more you can do that on your own and create a certain mouth of buzz, the better you are going to help your publisher generate publicity and that is really what is all about it is how much publicity can be generated.

Jeff: You mentioned galleys and sending perhaps galleys or advance copies out to people to kind of spread the word. How many galleys can an author expects from the publisher and if they do not get enough, what can they do? Can they go out and make a copy for themselves to do that or…?

Jerry: Well typically publishers do not like the idea of authors doing that and another thing they keep in mind is authors would never offer to do something for a publisher to sell the book until you know what the publisher is willing to do themselves, in other words if you go and say, I am willing to travel and go to bookstores on my own and set up this events and do this they will be more than happy to let you drive around the country on your own nickel, you know going to book signings. So you never volunteer anything until you know what they are willing to commit. Now galleys, galley copies which is a preview of your book, it is not for resale copy are expensive and depending again on the budget number, the bottom line number your company assigns to your book. They may not be able to afford galley copies, however, as an author if you… once you know what is your marketing budget is and how much money the publisher is committing to you and your book, you may suggest to them, could we not do this item and perhaps print some galley copies. So it is an opportunity for you to make some choices and again the more you know about the business the more you understand what is going on , the more likely they are to accept that. Galley copies are a great way to generate publicity. The only downside is all publishers send out galley copies. So you are kind of like one of a couple of a 100 books at any one time that maybe arriving inside somebody's office. So what I like to recommend is to come up with some unique handle for your book that is completely different than everybody else, prime example, we had a book one time on a lady who was a world traveler and the book was regarding how travel has helped changed her life in a number of ways. So on her travels around the world she had taken some gorgeous photos, very photographic pictures from all kinds of sites and places around the world and they were beautiful. She had these as pictures in her book. So the idea was to reproduce those photos as post cards. Mailing those post cards to buyers as opposed to a galley copy and on the back side she would have her name, the book release date, all the information addressed to the buyer, but on the reverse side was the beautiful photo. Now what you hope is because it is such a pretty picture, a buyer will take that and tacked it up on their bulletin board. Then when somebody comes in and says "Oh what a beautiful picture, they are likely to take it down, flip it over and go.. yes, it is about a book coming from XYZ publisher. So the idea was rather that sending them a galley copy have something from the book that …the thought was a buyer would keep hang on to and then be used later as a reference for a book that was coming.

So what we did was pre-sold that book over a three different time periods and each time we mailed a different post card and we found out that a lot of buyers did in fact hang on to the post cards, they were so beautiful. So the idea is to come up with something as opposed to galley copies that can signify to buyers that your book is coming, something unique. We had one time a book that we felt was a terrific beach book at Time Warner and so we mailed a very small package of baby flip flops and with a little package about this book is coming you know it is unique. Now the buyers are going to open that up and the first thing they are going to say,, wow! Look at this, this is kind of cute, but it is going to draw attention to the book where a galley copy is just another galley copy. The idea is to try and create something unique that a publisher can do and send out to buyers that would draw attention to the fact that your book is coming.

Jeff: I see. Now, I was going to ask you a question about…one thing you mentioned that, you know you just mentioned a really…mention to your website, which by the way for the listeners it is and of course our book is called inside the business publishing and your new book it is called "Writers need to know about publishing" but one thing that you mentioned in that is that you know you cannot really just sit back and wait for the publisher to do something, a lot of authors maybe have a dream that once they get published, they can just sit back and drink their Champaign and smoke cigars and the publisher is going to do everything. You mentioned one of the things that an author did as far as post cards to promote their book but are the things have you seen authors do that has really worked to drive sales and to sell as many copies as possible?

Jerry: Be willing to go out and meet book buyers. Now when I say book buyers, I want to explain that. All book sellers, now when I say book seller I am talking about all the retail stores that sell books. All of those companies have buyers. Now Barns and Nobles and Borders your big book buyers like that. They seldom like to meet with authors individually, but there are thousands of smaller companies that sell books around the country and every opportunity you have to go meet those people in their office with the sales person and introduce yourself and come across as again someone who is willing to help them sell books. That is the best way to let people know who you are, what you are all about and the whole idea is just to separate your book from all the others. Buyers buy thousands of books a year and a lot of these small customers never have authors come to visit them. If you can do that especially the customers that never have authors then your book is suddenly going to be given special treatment in their stores and it is a great way to do that. When I first start the business long before you were born Jeff, back in 1977, it was not unusual to see authors such as Janet Dailey and Sandra Brown and Nora Roberts. People like this actually traveling around the country in a car meeting buyers. Well today that does not happen and a lot of it is because authors have a certain idea about the fact that they are an author and they are sort of pseudo celebrity and they do not have to do this, but the fact is I believe that if an author is willing to do that, I believe a publisher would be willing to send an author out and have them meet buyers because it is a great way to nurture relationship and develop a relationship and be willing to go into a store for a book signing when you know going in, you may sell 10 books as all but the fact that you were in that store, you were trying to help those people that will be remembered and as you have more books your career begins to grow and these people are not going to forget the fact that you were in their store one time. So I think it is a great idea to go small bookstores, other venues where books might be sold. I know now that here in Phoenix where I live, there is a number of authors that are stopping in coffee shops. There is coffee shops that are in exclusive here in Scottsdale and this coffee shop has started having authors come in occasionally, people will buy a cup of coffee and there is an author sitting there and talk to people and there is wine bars around the valley now that are starting do the same thing. So you do not have to necessary think of a bookstore there is a lot of venues that can sell books but be willing to go into these places because you are helping the customer and you are helping the person who is a book buyer and a book seller to create some excitement because a lot of these venues especially your smaller bookstores, it is important for them to create events and the event is having people in their store in a regular basis because your independent small Mom and Pop bookstores they are trying to compete against the Barns and Nobles and the Borders of the world who get all the big best selling authors and if you are an author who is willing to go in and try and help them people with the signing, give a little program, maybe do a reading then you are going to be remembered and that is a great way to build an audience and a relationship with book sellers around the country so that is something I would recommend authors be wiling to do.

Jeff: And you have said that they have less competition for example if they wanted to do a signing or they wanted to create a relationship with the book buyer at have Barns and Noble or Borders they are competing with a lot more titles but with the smaller independent bookstore or even at coffee shops.

Jerry: Absolutely.

Jeff: So where would you find when you say book buyers you are talking about to actually Mom and Pops shops or you are talking about maybe a book buyer for like a small chain store and if so [voices overlapping]?

Jerry: Both? Yes, no, I am really offering to both. It could be a buyer of Mom and Pop store or it could be the buyer at the Small Regional Chain. I will give you a perfect example, there is a chain of bookstores that is based in Emerald, Texas, Hastings books, it is a Small Regional Chain, they are in small markets, a lot of college towns but if you have a book that would be the type of book that would be attractive to say a college student for example, Hastings is a perfect example of a kind of chain that an author could go to stores and sign books and create a tremendous amount of goodwill with Hastings because Hastings would love to have authors but because they are in smaller markets, a lot of authors just do not want to go because you may have to fly into a city and drive 50 miles to one of their stores and a lot of authors just do not want to do that because it is out of the way, it takes more time and so forth, but if you are an author who is starting out and you are willing to do that and go to these smaller markets even smaller college towns around the country that have bookstores. Again, if you have a book that you feel a college audience is perfect for you then that is the type of thing you should be willing to go. It is kind of like you are earn your stripes to an extent but with the customer you just have no idea how much goodwill you generate as an author and suddenly you may not be on the same level as Nicholas Sparks or James Patterson but your book maybe getting Nicholas Spark or James Patterson treatment in that one bookseller, and the other thing that keep in mind is this booksellers go to book expo every year and they go there and they meet other booksellers from small stores around the country and if you are an author that has been in their store and you are kind to them and you did all you could they are going to tell another bookseller about you, and that is a great way to start building an audience and to create goodwill and those kinds of things will pay off in the future for you as an author.

Jeff: I see. Now so you would say even if you expect a book signing that maybe you only have 5 people who showed up it does not matter , you are really kind of just building relationships with them.

Jerry: Exactly right. A lot of authors are extremely disappointed if they do not have an audience of 50 people and sell 25 books, but it just does not work that way. If you talked to a lot of authors who have been around for a long time there were many times where authors went in and had one or two people show up for signing and never sell a book. I have been to signings where that has happened, but as an author you got to understand that this is just the nature of the book business and it is every event that you are going to have or companies is going to hold for you is not going to be a huge successful event. You want to make the most of it, you want to talk to store personnel, you want to talk to the store owners, the book buyers, you want to talk to customers, you want to interact with them you do not want to be just an author who sits behind table and wait for people to come up and buy a book and say will you sign this, and that is the kind of thing that the small bookstores and the small venues and it is out of the way places and that is the kind of thing they really appreciate from and author. Again, if you can do that you will be surprised that the amount of goodwill that will generate and will pay off for you in a long run, but most authors just are not wiling to do that.

Jeff: So what would be…what is the difference between what a marketing person in publishing company does and a publicist and what have you seen worked really well?

Jerry: A publicist in a company, a traditional publisher in new York is someone who sets up events for you. They are the one who is on the phone, arranging book signings, they are the ones talking to the local newspapers , radio and television and telling them that they have an author that is going to be in their market soon and they would like to have you or on their show or maybe you want to interview them for your newspaper. So the publicist is the one that really coordinates what you do out in the round in trying to sell your book once ii is published. A marketing person inside is creating materials for you. They are creating perhaps book marks for you. They are creating a one page sell sheet for you. They are making sure that they have everything ready for you to use when you go out. In the events the publicist sets up and sells your book so that is kind of some different functions. A publicist is very important because those people have the contacts that you need to get venues that you could not do on your own and again, if you are willing to go to the for instance, Colorado Springs of the world, you are more likely to get on the local television show in Colorado Springs and than if you are in Denver, simply because Denver is used to having a lot of big name authors and if you are new with this and you are coming into Denver and you are not a big name author they might be reluctant to have you on their show but if you go to Colorado Springs people buy books in Colorado Springs. So it is a good idea to try and go to the smaller markets when you are just starting out because there is not enough, there is not as much competition. If you go to the LA and Chicago and Washington DC that is where all the big best selling authors go so the chances in getting on the local network television and being in the Washington post, LA Times and Chicago Papers is minimal compared to your competition which is the big best selling authors. So that is why if you are willing to go to the smaller markets you have a much better chance to generating publicity and that is how you sell books, is to generate publicity.

Jeff: you know, ongoing team up I have heard you say really drive home is that you need to separate yourself from a pack and that is one thing I have learned from this call so far and from your books and from reading your websites which again for everyone, it is One thing you mentioned is do whatever you can to separate yourself from the pack when you..that is in house at the publishing company separating yourself from the pack and also you know in the marketing scene, instead of being an author 143.6 A paragraph two, find a smaller bookstores and other markets to really separate yourself, you sort of…like a little celebrity, you are a big fish in a small pond.

Jerry: Absolutely. No doubt about it.

Jeff: That is great. Now of course we mentioned your website and the internet is such an important part of spreading the word. What have you seen that worked really, really successfully maybe in your own case or a novelist cases to spread the word using internet?

Jerry: The most successful authors that I have seen and what they have been able to do is they have become involved in the variety of online book groups and I am not completely familiar with it Jeff, but the way I understand is if you go in Google book clubs for instance, you will come up with 11,000 pages or something but if you continue to narrow that down and say a historical fiction book clubs as an example, science fiction book clubs you are going to narrow that down and there is a lot of clubs out there that have several hundred members and if you are an author and you become a member of that club you do not want to go on and just try to sell your book but you want to be a member of that club, you want to contribute, you want to talk about your writing, you want to share your writing with people and my understanding is the most successful authors are the once who have tapped into those kind of online book clubs and have been successful at generating buzz about their book. So again, it is not the idea of just joining that club to sell your book, it is joining that club and the membership is free. It is just you sign on and they have to approve you as a club member but you go on and you contribute and you read emails and you exchange blogs and so forth and that is how you start to generate a certain amount of buzz about your book and you can share some excerpts perhaps, chapter two and let them read it and talk about it and then you let people know that you are under contract and your book is coming here, please help me spread the word. My understanding is this people are more than happy to do that. So it is just spending some time and it is time consuming but getting online and just interacting with other writers and authors about who you are and what you are and that you have a book that is coming. That is the best advice I can give.

Jeff: Well thank you very much for your time Jerry. I want to let everyone know that Jerry Simmons is available for private consultations of Wealth and knowledge as you can say it just a little glimpse of some of the knowledge that he has. So if you are interested in defining kind of more or wanting to know more information or a private consultations I suggest one or two things. One, go and get one of his two books or both, they are called "Inside Book publishing" and "What writers need to know about publishing" and of course go to his website which is, and what if they wanted to get a hold of you and they wanted a private a private consultation, how would they get a old of you?

Jerry: They can go to my website and I have a contact page there and they can email me and I will be more than happy to set up a time for them.

Jeff: What can they expect in the consultation? What kind of advice or consulting do you do, specifically?

Jerry: It depends on where they are as an author like for instance, I helped people who were just starting out with writing and they have a concept in mind that are really trying to put together a project and figure it out what is the best way to go. I also help people who are under contract, who are just starting to figure out what is going out behind the scenes and they wants some help in understanding, what is happening and how they can impact that, and then I helped a lot of people who have made a decision to self publish and if they are sort of lost and trying to figure out where to go next. So it is really depends on where you are but there is point to learn about the business and I suggest that the way to be successful, at least to improve your chances of being successful is just to have information and you need a variety of information about publishing in the business ,market place and how it all works and so I can help you and any one of those areas.

Jeff: Well thank you so much Mr. Simmons, I appreciate it.

Jerry: Jeff, thank you. You have been the most gracious host and I do appreciate the opportunity to speak to you and your audience.

Jeff: Thank you so much, Jerry. Thank you.

Jerry: Thanks, Jeff. Take care.

Jeff: Alright, bye, bye.

Jerry: Bye, bye.