Episode 323: Jason Pinter on His Journey From Editor to Writer to PublisherAug 04, 2020
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Jason Pinter has had a Byzantine journey through publishing—first as an editor, then as an internationally bestselling author of seven novels and two children’s books and finally as the Founder and Publisher of Polis Books.
So how does one go on that journey? And what does someone who's seen publishing from literally every side have to say about how the industry has changed over the years and the best way to launch a book today?
It's all in this episode, along with invaluable information about how independent and self-published authors can get their books into libraries—and why they'd want to.
TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE:
So Jason, I was reflecting on when we met. Do you remember when it was?
Jason Pinter (00:08):
I think it was through Andy Levy at Fox News, if I'm not mistaken, that rather were a guest on Red Eye. And I think I was there. So I was friends with Andy who was one of the co-hosts and I think you were there promoting the new book, if I'm not mistaken.
That part I don't remember.
Jason Pinter (00:26):
Maybe it was, maybe it's a guess then.
No, you're right. I don't remember like what I was there doing, but I remember meeting you in between the green room and the hall. It was the hallway outside the green room. And I had thought that it was Greg who basically, I just knew one of the Red Eye people was like a huge fan of your books, thus invited you to the show, but not to be on it just to hang out?
Jason Pinter (00:48):
It was weird because Andy Levy, who we met through a mutual friend of ours, another writer named JT Ellison. Andy was a big fan of JTS. And JT is a friend of mine. And through JT, he read my books, liked my books. And we sort of became friends in a weird way. So he invited, and I liked the show. He invited me to check out the show, but again, not to be on the show just to kind of like sit there and watch which having been on Red Eye. I don't really have a studio audience. So it was just sort of me sitting there.
You should have been on?
Jason Pinter (01:19):
Talk to Greg and Andy. That was my, I think over the years I sort of made little like, Hey, you know, I hang out with you guys enough. We'd like go out and drink sometimes after the show, like invite me on. But I think like if they only had authors who were like, kind of, you know, big time on there and I wasn't quite big time yet.
Okay. First of all, that's not true. They like authors, female authors with good legs.
Jason Pinter (01:40):
And I have neither of those. I'm neither female nor have good legs.
No, no, no, no. But I mean, I can't speak to your legs, but you're definitely not. And they didn't care about males with good legs.
Jason Pinter (01:51):
You check the boxes off way more than I did.
Because they had something they called the leg chair.
Jason Pinter (01:56):
Oh, Oh, Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I mean, I think that the Press Secretary of the United States tend to lecture quite frequently on that show.
Rest in peace. Red Eye. A beloved show by some.
Jason Pinter (02:09):
Yeah, yeah by some.
Okay. And so we met and then we were going to work together on we were a little bit ahead of our time in a way we wanted to put on a book event.
Jason Pinter (02:25):
Yes. I think it was me, you and Sherry Goldhagan if I'm not mistaken. Yeah. And it's sort of like we met at like the coffee shop a few times. I think we even had a, I think we had a a schedule we put together then for some reason it never happened. I think, I think maybe you moved out to LA and we all just sort of got busy with whatever we got busy with.
Yes. That's exactly. You have a great memory. And so, your history is extremely interesting to me cause it's unlike most people's journey in publishing, you started out as an editor or working your way up to be an editor at places like St. Martin's. Is that right?
Jason Pinter (03:07):
Yeah. Yeah. So my first job was at Warner books back when it was Warner Books. Now, it's part of the Grand Central Publishing has shed sort of conglomerate. So I started out as an editor at Warner Books then got hired a Crown, which is a division of Random House, which led to me getting hired at St. Martins Press. I took a couple of years off to write full time, but then ended up in marketing and publicity at Grove Atlantic, which is sort of one of the larger independent presses working for Morgan Entrekin who is sort of like a publishing legend. And then while I was there I wanted to start my own firm. So I think it was 2013. I launched Bolus books. And during all that, of course I wrote my own books and my, I have a new one called Hideaway that just came out in March. So it's sorta like been on both sides of the desk now for, like 15 years, 10, 15 years, I'm getting old. I forget.
You're way younger than me, I'll tell you that. And you're always going to be so, so did you know when you started as an editorial assistant that you wanted to write your own book?
Jason Pinter (04:07):
I think I did. Because I sort of got into the industry in a backwards way because I wanted to be a writer. So I remember this distinctly I was at, I went to college at Wesleyan, a University in Connecticut and I had written a very terrible coming of age novel that I knew wouldn't get published, but I sort of had no idea how to get a book published. I knew nothing about the industry. So I went to the the head of our, of the English department and I basically said like, how do you get a book published? And she said, well, you need a literary agent. And I was like, Oh, okay, well that makes sense. I guess like actors need agents, musicians need agents. Like I guess I need an agent. So I queried a whole bunch of agents basically saying nothing, saying like, Hey, would you like to represent me. And of course, like, you know, the industry, like nobody even responded to me cause I didn't know what I was doing. But then I figured like if I'm going to figure out how to, how the industry works, maybe I'll try to actually work inside of it. So I ended up getting an internship at this boutique literary agency, really got to know the industry there, loved the editorial side of it, and then ended up getting a job at Warner Books, basically fresh out of college. So I sort of got into publishing because I wanted to be a writer, but then ended up loving the publishing side still. I love the editorial process. I love working with writers and I sort of always did want to do both. It was just sort of figuring out a way to make that happen.
And so you were working as an editor and then you said you switched to marketing, is that right?
Jason Pinter (05:30):
Yeah. So I was an editor at Crown and then St. Martins Press. I then took a couple years off to write full time. Then when I wanted to get back into the industry, Grove Atlantic was relaunching this imprint called Mysterious Press. And I sort of knew the thriller mystery crime fiction world backwards and forwards. So it was a job that was not only marketing plus it was sort of being like the in house editor too. So given that I'd written my own books and had spent a lot of time promoting and publicizing them and I knew this community well, I figured it was, it could sort of like harness my talents in terms of both the editorial side. And I knew the marketing publicity side well. So yeah, it was like, it was different, the sense that it was not editorial, but I still had those skills marketing and publicity that I've gained from writing my own books, having to promote them.
And so since this, this podcast focuses on launches, let's talk about marketing and publicity from the traditional publishing perspective. My experience is that 99% of the writers you're working with are going to be angry at you. And I've learned this really since leaving traditional publishing because you are taught to only focus on the top 1%, the books that the company already knows is going to be successful. And what I didn't know at the time, but I've been told since is that you guys, I'm going to stop saying that, people who work in publicity at book companies are basically told, like not lie to those writers, but those writers are going to ask you why you're not doing anything. And you got to look like you are. And it doesn't mean anyone's a bad person. It means that they know where their bread is buttered. And so it's going to be focusing on the people they already know are going to be successful, which is very unfair to these writers who don't know that. Sorry, it sounds like such an accusatory question, but you're not doing it anymore. So is that true?
Jason Pinter (07:29):
Yes and no. I mean, so I mean, if you look at like St. Martin's Press, I was working on their minutes war ministry line, and it's an enormous line I want to say. And this granted, this was by 10 years ago when I was there, but they publish, I think, upwards of like maybe a hundred books a year and divided that into three seasons. It's like 30 to 40 books per season. Out of those 30 to 40 books per season, maybe five of those are really given a lot of marketing and publicity support because those are the books that have essentially been deemed, you know, ones that have a better chance of breaking out. I don't quite know what rationales use for those. Maybe it's a more commercial story. Maybe the author has a certain kind of platform. Maybe it's the next book in an already successful series, but the, yeah, truth is there are certain only a certain amount of books really gets significant marketing and publicity that's not to say that the other books are kind of left to drown. I mean, each book has generally their own publicist or a marketing person. And especially if you're a young publicist and you're given a book that has very modest expectations and you can get it to work. That's a big feather in your cap. So, you know, having a book that doesn't have a lot of resource behind it, people are still trying to make it work, but it might mean like you're not getting advertising in USA Today. You're not getting sent on a tour. You're not getting you know chotskies made up and put into bookbags all over the. So yeah, it's there are resources devoted towards certain books as opposed to others. And it generally is based on commercial viability and that is such a nebulous term. And especially over the last year or two, when there's been an increasing push towards more diverse books, I think what was considered commercial then is very different from what's considered commercial now. And I think on the good side, there's been a more of a push towards extending what the term commercial viability means, that they are books that are much more quote, unquote, viable that maybe weren't considered such beforehand.
Yes. I mean, the unfortunate part I think is that, you know, a lot of the books that are not given that attention, these are the hopes and dreams have come true, you know, because they're the younger authors and Oh my God, it's all going to happen for me. And it's, I'm not saying it's the seasoned bitter people that get all the attention, but it doesn't seem to mean as much. And they're going to get the attention regardless.
Jason Pinter (10:00):
Yeah, it depends on the situation. You know, I would just, you know, when I'm from panels, people always say like, you know, what, if you're a new author, what can you expect? I say, first off don't, unless you've got like a million dollar advance, don't expect a book to change your life. Take pride in it, do everything you can to help promote it, and always have your next book, ready to go when that one comes out, have your have your next step planned, but don't expect the book to hit the New York Times bestseller list. Don't expect to make enough to quit your job. Look at it as something that you work very hard on that is now going to hopefully find readers and then to hopefully devise a strategy to grow your audience. But to say like, if you've worked three years on a book and then you get a book deal, your world doesn't change automatically, unless you're one of those, you know, 1% of 1% who got a tremendous amount of money, most people don't, the average advance is very, very low. And the reason you hear about people like Janine Cummings getting a million dollars is because it doesn't happen very often. So just be realistic about your expectations. What should I say like a book is permanent. Like you, you've written a bunch of books, I've read a bunch of books. Like those books are gonna be on my shelf forever, and maybe I didn't buy a yacht from them, but at the same time, like I'll be able to show them to my kids and their kids. And like, you know, I can find myself online and that's pretty cool. Like I accomplished something that's like, you can always take with you.
Yeah. Very, very true. I think it's all about expectations, but, but the majority of the people who listen to this are hopefully avoiding traditional publishing because that is what I'm always preaching. And I can't tell you the number of people I speak to who say, I want to go traditional, cause I want to go on a book tour. I want to look in stores. I want to be on New York Times list. And you know, what I've learned over the past decade is basically it's easier for me to books in stores than it was for me to rely on my publisher to, I didn't know, I just trusted them and they'd be like, Oh, your books in Barnes and Noble for two weeks. And I thought, well, that's the best I can do. And, and now I can you know, have it in Ingram and ask people to go order the book from Barnes and Noble. And there's so many strategies that make me see how much better independent publishing or self publishing is.
Jason Pinter (12:23):
Yeah. It depends. I think you're smart enough and that you really, you built a platform for yourself to the point where when you have a book come out, you have a large number of followers on Twitter or Instagram. You have a podcast, you're out there, so you can get people to buy your book. You have a number of people who are already probably looking forward to your book. The tricky thing is somebody who doesn't have that readership, somebody who either isn't on Twitter or has 12 followers or somebody who just doesn't know how to use Facebook or Instagram. You know, I would say is like the distribution methods for publishing are night and day what they were 10 years ago. And you can do really well self-publishing, but if you expect to write a book, put it up on Amazon and it's going to sell 50,000 copies, you're gravely mistaken. You got to think about a strategy. How are you going to reach those readers? Because it's not just having that page and telling your parents to spread the word. How are you going to drive people to your book? How are people going to know about it? Having a book available isn't the same as actually driving leaders to it. But if you have a real strategy like you do, you can absolutely do that. And having a book available, you said through Ingram, it can be available in perpetuity, as opposed to like that infamous sort of like you have two weeks and then you're gone.
So what are some of the strategies that you would recommend?
Jason Pinter (13:39):
Well, I think it depends on the type of book you're writing. So I write mysteries and thrillers and I've only, out of the seven thrillers I've published. Only one of them I've done myself and that was this book called The Castle. And the reason I did it myself is because it was sort of a thriller loosely based on the 2016 election about a young man who sort of ends up getting pulled into the candidacy of this upstart third party candidate who's not unlike our current President. I did it myself because when I was shop, when I, my agent was going to shop it. But we decided that if it did sell, it, wouldn't come out for a year and a half at which point the news cycle is over. I thought it was timely enough that it needed to be out now. And if I did do it now, I could get into a lot of publicity surrounding the topic, which was about politics and the election, which was in the front of everybody's, you know, to everyone's tongue at that point. And it, and it worked pretty well. So if you're writing fiction, you need to think about nonfiction angles for your book. If you're writing a book about a character who's obsessed with birding approach, birdwatching sites, if you're writing a book about romantic comedy, maybe you can approach a dating sites and write blogs for them. If you're writing non nonfiction is a little easier in the sense that you're already essentially offering prescriptive advice for the most part. And you can approach places that offer prescriptive advice. If you're giving advice on starting a business, there are tons and tons of place on websites that like Entrepreneur or Financial Times, places that would want you to write content for this. People are always in need of content. So you have to look at hooks for your book and think, what are people going to be interested in? Who can I write for? And then you just got to grind it out. You got to approach everybody, write pitch letters, like solicit everyone. One thing you cannot do is expect anybody to come to you, you have to hustle.
And so what would be your recommendation? I mean, it's a little bit easier said than done to get into Entrepreneur. I know, you know, a billion clips, how hard I had to work to get in there. What do you recommend for someone who wants to break through to one of those big publications?
Jason Pinter (15:47):
Well, I think you start small and then go big. Like if you start approaching the New York Times right away, unless you're an absolute genius, maybe you will, but there are plenty of great writers who don't get published for whatever reason. I think you start small and build up, you build a readership. It's not going to happen overnight. If you're, that's why I say, if you're going to write a book and then if you want to self publish it, don't self publish it and then start the work of promoting. You want to start the work months in advance. So that by the time the book, let's say the book is coming out in October, you're reaching out to people in June and July. You want to try to reach out to the long lead magazines. You want to reach out to the websites, so that when the book comes out, then you can have the pieces drop. And you can essentially start building up clips, building up a resume. It's very rare. You can just actually go right to the top, start with places that will invite you. Maybe a friend runs a blog. Maybe you have somebody you know runs a website. And then just build a clips. And hopefully you've started to build up traction, become an expert in something. If you're writing a nonfiction book, you tell people why you are that person to write that book. So for your book, I mean, you not only have written fiction, you've written a bunch of nonfiction. You've coauthored books, you've done podcasts. You can legitimately say, you're an expert on certain topics. For somebody else who's writing a book, convince people why you're the expert on that topic. And if you're able to do that and build clips, then you can start to reach out to the bigger places and say, here are all the places I've been. You can see how popular they are, like, you know, and then, and make sure you have your pitches ready to, but if you're going to publish a book, you want to start at least three to four months in advance. If not more.
Yeah. That's great advice. And, you know, this is what I've been thinking about lately, cause I've seen a lot of people be successful and not successful. And this goes for books as well as building a business. It's so bizarre. Yeah. You have to just basically have the competence or fake the competence to declare yourself a person worth listening.
Jason Pinter (17:52):
You're absolutely right.
And it's weird. Cause some people I have seen people's careers blow up in two years, because they just decided that, and I have watched people, you know, flail around for 15 years because they never did that. You know, the public has to find you interesting, unless your book is a massive hit out of the gate. And you have to make them find you interesting. And the first step is to just decide you are, why not you, anyone who's listening? Why not you? We are all experts in something. So stick your, you know, stake in the ground and just say, I'm that person.
Jason Pinter (18:33):
No, you're, I mean, that's a hundred percent. Right. You need to give people something to hold onto, because just saying, I have a book out does absolutely nothing there, you know, half a million books published nowadays. But like, you know, you watch TV and like, I don't know, I watch sometimes on the news, I'm like, I know more about certain things than these people do, but they're on TV and I'm not. So that's a big part of it. Just like, you know, becoming an expert on something, being able to talk about it in an authentic manner and just tell people how great you are. And that sounds simple. But the truth is like, you know, a lot of writers, I think aren't built to self promote, but you kind of have to be, especially if you're doing it yourself, because how else are people going to find out about you, if you tell people that you're great and your book backs it up, you're going to get more people to listen to you then if you just sort of like put it out there and wait for people to come to you.
Yeah, absolutely. So, let's talk about your transition into starting your own publishing company. So you decided to do that at first, it was just eBooks, correct?
Jason Pinter (19:32):
Yes. Yeah. It was originally digital only, but then basically what happened was we were getting in some really good books and I had a sales and distribution team behind me, and we had a lot of conversations and it was like, listen, we can get these books into stores. We can get some marketing and publicity for them. There's more money if you have a print component, certainly it costs a lot more, but we felt the upside outweighed the downside. And we did it fairly quickly. I think my goal was always to do start digitally and move into print. But my goal was three years. I think we did it in about less than 18 months. And I'm glad I did it, we only release maybe two or three titles digital only. And we've basically been doing full on print and digital distribution now for the past six years, I'd say.
And how many books do you release a year?
Jason Pinter (20:25):
Between 20 and 30.
How big is your team?
Jason Pinter (20:29):
So it's me and one other editor slash acquisitions editor. And then we have a team of marketing and sales reps. So I'd say overall. So, we work with Publishers Group West. It was Publishers Group West. They were then purchased by Ingram. So now sorts of like PGW slash Ingram. So basically I have a team of sales reps that go out to all the different accounts, whether it's Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Baker and Taylor, different independent stores, libraries, Follett, and essentially pitch our books to them. And some books they want, some books they don't. So it's basically me and one other person, a woman named Shantelle Osman who runs our new Agora imprint. Then all these marketing sales reps. And we have essentially have sort of a rotating roster of freelancers. Who do everything from cover design to interior design to IT. And they come in on a case by case basis per book. So I'd say like overall, maybe 25 people at any given moment, but only two were there really like full time with the company.
So you edit 30 books a year?
Jason Pinter (21:30):
I [inaudible] 30 books a year. I'd say I edit maybe 10. I would say, I edit 10, Shantelle edits 10. And then we have a couple of freelancers who edit the other ones. It's just, there's just not enough time in there. I love editing, but it's a time, it's a very time consuming process. And I just don't have enough time in the day to edit every provider list. I wouldn't have time for anything else.
That's what I was. That's why my mouth was agate.
Jason Pinter (21:52):
Yeah, no, that would literally be impossible. I would die.
Let me ask you, what is the difference between somebody cause anybody could upload a book onto Ingram nd what your sales reps do, I mean your books are not print on demand the way a person who just uploaded to Ingram would be.
Jason Pinter (22:09):
So we do both. The difference is that. So if you upload a book and make a book available through Ingram, it only ships from Ingram if somebody purchases it. For us, we have sales reps that go out to different accounts. Like I said, Barnes and Noble, independent bookstores, libraries, and essentially they present them with our catalog. So we have libraries order our books. We have independent bookstores order our books. So we do the majority of our printings are what's called offset, which means that we actually have a printer that prints our books, delivers them to our warehouse, which is in Jackson, Tennessee, and then all the different accounts that order books have them shipped from from Jackson. But then we also make a lot of our books available, essentially print on demand through Lightning Source. Usually that's for smaller quantity books where like just the, it doesn't make sense to do them, offsets the costs and production schedules are higher. So the majority of them are done offset, which is real through a real printing press. Then we do have some that are done essentially uploaded to Ingram through Lightning Source and available through there. But the idea is that the books were available, not just in stores, but also available online at any point. So if you order it, you buy it. But at the same, but we also have distribution into stores and libraries.
So when they pitched Amazon say, what does that mean? That Amazon isn't printing on demand the way they do other books, they have it in their warehouse
Jason Pinter (23:35):
That's exactly right.
Just the decision is really just financial because it's not like the book comes any quicker.
Jason Pinter (23:42):
So basically what it is, so if you're printing through, I think you're talking about CreateSpace, which is KTP. KTP is what CreateSpace was, which is basically print on demand, which means that your book is available on Amazon. And if I order a copy of it, it's going to come to me. What we do is we actually have our sales reps who pitch our books to Amazon, so that Amazon will say like, okay, what would they want to do, they want to make sure this book is going to sell. So, okay, we have this debut novel coming out next summer. Why is it going to sell? And so we said, okay, we're going to have reviews running here. We're going to have interviews here. We're going to have an author profile here. That's going to drive readers to the book. So then Amazon will say, okay, we want to take a hundred books to store in our warehouse, in the hopes that people then order them from us. And if Amazon then buys those a hundred books, that means they pay us for those a hundred books, as opposed to only paying one at a time per order. So again, it sort of increases the upside for us. And additionally, if they think it's going to do really well, they might give us a mark and maybe they'll include us in like their best books of the month. Maybe they'll do a single daily deal for us. You either have a better chance of getting into some of those bigger promotions if they have more skin in the game too, if they take a lot of your copies, they want those copies to sell to.
And so how did you start this company? Did you raise capital? You make proceeds through royalties?
Jason Pinter (25:11):
It was all my, I didn't take any outside funds. I'd say it was like 90%, my own money. And then my dad chipped in a little bit. And that was all it. I hadn't had any outside investors because I'm the only full time employee. I was the only full time employee then. And our distributor takes, they take a percentage of our sales, so we're not paying anyone salaries at this point, our overhead costs were reasonable. Our biggest expenses are literally printing. You know, I didn't start the company until I knew the industry fairly well. I knew the marketing side. I knew the policy side. I knew the editorial side. I was confident enough that I knew the community enough that I could go after writers. I knew a lot of literary agents who could pitch me the biggest issue I had was operations. I'd never run a publishing company. I didn't really know much about distribution. I didn't even know much about finances because I was never on that side of it. So it was a bit of a crash course in sort of publishing economics a little bit. And I probably, I wish I'd maybe taken another year to learn that better before I started it. You know, it's sort of one of those things, like I ran before I could walk. But I was confident enough for better or worse that I could do it. I would not have done it. Had I not spent 10 years in the industry beforehand. Cause I was at least confident that even if I didn't know the operations, I knew enough of the other stuff that I could pick up on it pretty quickly.
Yeah. And let's talk about getting books into libraries. If somebody listening wants to get their book into a library, what would you recommend they do?
Jason Pinter (26:44):
So having it available on Ingram is only a start. The issue there is that nobody knows to order it. So what we do, for example, we have on our side, we have our representatives pitch to Baker and Taylor. Baker and Taylor's the biggest distributor for library. So is Ingram, so we have people that actually go out to pitch the libraries. The best thing you can do, if you're a self published author is to contact your biggest library branches. If you like write letters to them, set up talks at your local libraries, obviously right now, it's hard to set up talks, but maybe they have zoom meetings, things along those lines. What you want to try to do is get into the larger library systems, as opposed to the branches, the individual branches, because these larger systems order a lot, they might order 60 copies or a hundred copies. And then a lot of people find out about that, that spreads a lot of word of mouth. But if you're doing it essentially, almost a book at a time, you want to contact as many libraries as possible. What you also want to do is we want to have a, essentially a marketing and PR, one pager. You want to get reviews. You want to get word of mouth. If you have some clips that you've written about, like we've been talking about like positioning yourself as an expert, if you've written some blogs or articles, attach those to it. Essentially, don't just go to the library and say, please talk my book, but say I'm so, and so I wrote a book about this. I'm an expert in the field, look at all these reviews and articles I've written, your patrons will be interested in this book. You want to give them a reason to buy your book, not just a reason to have them throw it in your email in the, you know, in the trash.
And when you said larger, it's good to get into larger library systems. Does that mean people shouldn't go to their local?
Jason Pinter (28:27):
They absolutely should just, I sort of look at book publicity and marketing distribution as sort of like baseball, where they're singles doubles, triples and home runs. You want all of that. Go into your local library and getting them to order two copies is it's a single it's great, but it's not going to move a ton of copies. Getting into a larger library system might be a triple or a home run because maybe they'll order 25 or 50 copies. And if you spend five hours a day getting singles, it's, you know, you look at the cost benefit analysis and it's not very high. You're going to be doing a lot of work for like, well, you're probably spending more money promoting your book than you are actually making off with your book. So what you want to try to do is you want to try to put yourself in a situation where you can ship the book in bulk, and part of that is getting to the larger systems, approaching local. I mean, you also want to approach your local bookstores. The biggest issue a self-published author has with local bookstores is that most self-published books are not returnable cause they're print on demand. So a local bookstore doesn't want to take 20 copies of your book and then sell two of them. Then they're stuck with 18 copies they can't sell. So if you're going to approach a local bookstore, you want to tell them how you're going to sell all the copies. If you want them to take 20 copies, how are you going to sell those copies? Do you have a local network? Are your friends going to go pick up the book? Are you going to get maybe a profile in the local paper? An interview somewhere. So books, local bookstores can order a lot of copies. They just want to know that you have a way to drive people to the store.
Hmm, that's great. And you said that you try to get it in Baker. You pitched to Baker and Taylor, why not just Ingram if Ingram carries library?
Jason Pinter (30:12):
So Baker and Taylor, their retail side has changed a lot recently. I'm not even sure if they do retail anymore. The difference is that Ingram essentially makes a book available. Baker and Taylor actually goes out and solicits books. So the difference is at an Ingram, the book is going to be available. But again, if you're a library in Peoria, Illinois, why are you going to order a debut novel from someone you don't know who that is. You don't know who, anything like that. However, if our sales reps go to Baker and Taylor and say, this is a great debut novel, we have reviews lined up in Publishers. Weekly and Library Journal, and a Profile Here, your reader, your patrons are gonna hear about it. So that that's the biggest differences is sort of, and that's the big difference between having a book available and actually being able to drive people to want to read the book. Like if you live somewhere like, yes, like all your friends and family and neighbors in your local community are going to want to read your book because they know you, but that's not going to sell a whole lot of books in the long run. How are you going to reach the people? If you live in New York, how are you going to reach people in California or Seattle or Boston or Washington DC. You always need to look at sort of, how are you going to reach beyond your local network? I think a lot people just sort of like they have a Facebook page and they send an email blast to their 30 closest friends and assume that's going to sell 50,000 copies. And it's not, how are you going to drive people that don't know who you are to want to be able to buy your book?
Yeah. An interesting technique that I learned from one of my clients was she, you know, through social media, we have people all over the world. So ask your people to go and order it from their like local bookstore, because then it's not, you hyping it in there, you know? And she had people go in and say, Hey, I'm going to do a book event. And I'd rather have my people order it from you than from Amazon, because those are the magic words.
Jason Pinter (32:07):
That's another way. And that's actually really important thing to know is that you want essentially like what I call like a home base. So if you live in a community with a local bookstore, you want to make it your home base so that if anybody wants like an autograph copy of your book, they can order it directly from that bookstore. So you go to that bookstore and say like you know, obviously things were up in the air right now with the pandemic, but under normal circumstances, you might say, Hey, I'm going to have an event with 20, 25 people. But then what I'm going to do is I'm going to put on my website a link to your store. And I'm going to tell everybody on social media that if they want a signed copy of my book, they can order directly through you. That gives the store an incentive to not only sell your book, but to keep restocking your book too. And then word of mouth spreads, but independent bookstores, like they love feeling loved, as does everybody. And if you can show as a local author that you want to support them too, they're going to do a much better job of supporting you.
That's great. And let me ask you something to somebody who's listening, those libraries, just going back a step libraries who goes to libraries, why would I care? What is the significance of getting in the library? Is it all word of mouth?
Jason Pinter (33:13):
I would, you'd be shocked at how much of our business we do through libraries. I would say maybe 35 to 50% of our, of our print business is done through libraries. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of libraries in this country and they all have books. So not only is it word of mouth, but libraries pay for those books. So if your book gets into the, you know, the Seattle Public Library, they're paying for every single copy they order maybe it's not going to be to the same, you know, libraries aren't as sexy as bookstores. Maybe they're not, but they buy a lot of books. We sell them a lot of books through Baker and Taylor and through Ingram. You know, maybe it's not necessarily a word of mouth as much. It's not, you know, seeing your book in the stacks in the library is not as sexy as like posting an awesome picture on Instagram, from your cool book launch party. But if 500 bookstores order your book, that's a lot more people that probably showed up to your book party. So they do order a lot of books and they're definitely an Avenue that I think probably a lot of self published shoppers don't think about because they don't miss the date. Again, the bookstores, it just sounds cooler, but libraries should not be overlooked in terms of the numbers they can order. And the word of mouth that could, like every library also just reading series. So if you're local author, see if you can do a reading series at your local bookstore, again, if you're an expert in something offer to do a seminar, they'll buy books. And then even if like people can't make it to that cinema or they'll watch it online and then order the book, there are so many ways you can work with your local library.
It's really great, but okay and I know I seem abnormally fixated on Baker and Taylor, but can the average person, you said you have sales reps that go there. Can the average person just pitch?
Jason Pinter (34:56):
Yes. The average person, I believe Baker and Taylor has, I want to say there's like a forum on their website where you essentially, you can apply to get your book into sort of special promotions to do that though. I think you need to essentially have a bit of a publicity strategy. The idea is they want to know how you're going to drive people to buy your book. So what is your book about, why are people going to come to it? Are you an expert in ascenario? Are you getting any reviews? Are you doing any publicity or doing any talks or articles? I mean, they're going to order X number of copies of your book. Again, same thing, they want to make sure those books don't get returned. So let them know and again, I think this is why people should start thinking about this months before the book comes out, because you want to be able to say this to them well in advance, you don't want the book to come out and then play cat. Like you don't when, like, when this is when the gun goes off, you want to be running, not starting to run then.
But a library could still be interested in acquiring a book that's at a launch.
Jason Pinter (35:56):
Absolutely. That's true. And I do think that's one of the benefits of self-publishing is that sort of publicity can happen at any time. In traditional publishing, as you know, the vast majority of publicity and marketing.
You went away. You moved and suddenly you've gone silent.
Jason Pinter (36:19):
You're talking about me? What do you mean I went silent?
The connection got bad.
Jason Pinter (36:27):
Oh, the connection got bad. I think you met them like at like mysteriously, emotionally sound. Can you hear me now? Okay. It used to be, you know, publicity marketing was all built up within like one month of publication. So if you didn't get that publicity boost within a month, you were dead. That's different now, like you said, now that books are available through Ingram. They can be ordered at any time. That said, I do think people still want to know, like, is this good book going to be buzzy? Are people going to be talking about it? And if you can sort of group, a lot of publicity marketing hits together early on, that's probably going to create more buzz than if you sort of spread them out over six months. So you do want a bunch of stuff early on to really like build a lot of buzz, but then you do want to keep it going.
Yeah. Well, this has been fantastic if people want to get more of your wisdom. There is a crazy sound, don't laugh.
Jason Pinter (37:24):
No. I was laughing at you saying people want to get more of my wisdom. I've never heard anybody say, if you want more of my wisdom.
Get used to it. How can people find out more about you about Polis books?
Jason Pinter (37:36):
Yeah, so they want to find a me, I'm at jasonpinter.com. That's my personal website. Find out about my books, about me, upcoming stuff. For Polisbooks. It's a Polisbooks.com and that's P O L I S books.com. And there you can find out about our books, what we have coming up, news, things along those lines. And I'm on social media at @JasonPinter, Twitter and Instagram. I have not, if anybody wants, just wants to teach me how to use Tic Toc or Snapchat. I'm all ears.
Yeah, me too. Let's do a zoom lesson with the two of us. Well, Jason, thank you so, so much. This has been so informative.
Jason Pinter (38:15):
Absolutely. I think it's good to find the kind of catch up again after all this time and then congrats on everything you're doing, addressing the new book.
Thank you. Thank you. Libraries, if you're listening, you can order it. Thank you so much, Jason.
Jason Pinter (38:27):
Absolutely. My pleasure.
Thank you all for listening.