What follows is a compilation of several posts Maria Barry made to the Visionary Fiction Group blog on Goodreads.com. She agreed to our reposting them, with a few editorial liberties, here on the VFA site.
About Maria Barry
I am a publisher/publicist, part of the UK based John Hunt Publishing Ltd. My background is mind, body, spirit – nonfiction. But last year I took on the role of publicity for a number of our fiction lists, these are multi-genre lists, fantasy/SF/Romance/Historical and Visionary Fiction. I am actually based in France, but due to the way the John Hunt system works, we can be anywhere in the world as long as we have internet access. I am the longest current member of the team apart from John Hunt himself!
I am Jan Krause Green’s publicist for her book, I Call Myself Earth Girl and she has been very successful in her initial promotion for her title. But it can be hit and miss for authors. Generally the successful authors are those that put in the most effort. But not every author knows where to start and how to keep the momentum going.
I have just joined Visionary Fiction Alliance, and would like to get as involved as possible in promoting VF as a genre. I’m looking forward to being part of this discussion. As publicist, I have to keep things current, watch out for opportunities, not just for reviewing/selling, but also to learn.
About John Hunt Imprints
For JH imprints: General fiction is Roundfire Books, which covers all genre of fiction. Cosmic Egg covers fantasy, SF, and most of those titles have an element of Visionary Fiction: Gem’s Story, Wellsprings, Orders from Above. Then fiction creeps into some of the other imprints, in particular Soul Rocks which has Jan’s title I Call Myself Earth Girl.
JH has built a contacts database of interested orgs: reviewers – radio – bookstores – bloggers – awards. Authors that publish through us have access to this,(35k plus) but also get a dedicated publicist to work on their title prior to its publication. On a typical VF novel, I can send notice to around 300 contacts. I also have a dedicated list of 300 radio shows. The author is given continued PR support as they each receive 500 copies to sell.
Authors as Primary Promoters
BUT the most successful authors are those that are active. The explosion in self publishing hasn’t altered that fact. It is a myth to think that your publisher will do it all for you.
You really have to ‘know’ your market. If you are writing VF, then you need to acquaint yourself with the huge variety of magazines, ezines, online orgs, bloggers in that area. Target them with a really succinct press release; the first line that they read of your approach has to get them interested in the book. Your email should also provide the recipient with all the relevant information : book info, author bio, endorsement, ISBN, and how to get the book. We offer a PDF version of the book for review; hard copies can be expensive to provide. Look for sites/magazines that actively seek articles, write about your book’s subject matter, or write about how the book came about. Offer giveaway copies. Build a list of radio shows – VF is a great genre for this.
There is no denying that it is hard work and often a thankless task. Some sites do not like being approached by authors directly, preferring the publisher to contact, and there is still a stigma attached to self publishing. Having an online presence always helps: social networking links, getting reviewers to put their reviews up on Amazon/Goodreads etc. Getting out and about to your local bookstores.
VFA EDITORS’ ADDENDUM
Welcome, Maria, to the Visionary Fiction Alliance. Besides increasing our international presence, your observations and input from the publisher/publicist side of an author’s road to success will be a substantial contribution to the expansion of the Visionary Fiction genre. We authors write because we love to do it; we work at promotion only because we have to. Any glimmer of wisdom you can give us to ease the pain as we hack away at the great divide between manuscript and published book will be profusely appreciated.
For those interested, Maria addresses the difference between John Hunt Imprints and the typical vanity publisher in a detailed post on Goodreads (11/12/13). It is informative on industry practice in general.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Victor E. Smith (Vic) is a writer specializing in Visionary Fiction, a semi-retired computer trainer to the publishing industry (15 years as a consultant to The Wall Street Journal), and a spiritual/paranormal researcher currently residing in Tucson, Arizona. He is a member of the Editorial Team of the Visionary Fiction Alliance and author of The Anathemas, a Novel about Reincarnation and Restitution. His website and blog can be found at victoresmith.com.