The objective of Semper Press is to ensure every author is afforded every possible chance to succeed, starting well in advance of actual publication. To this end, a unified, standardized promotion and publicity plan was needed. This is a work in progress and likely will be for some time to come, so all comments, concerns and questions are gratefully accepted. Please bear in mind that this is a first iteration and will certainly be subject to some degree of change as Semper expands its author and offering lists.
The basic marketing philosophy is very simple: The more we all do, the more we all earn. For this reason, author cross-promotion is not only encouraged, but expected. Semper’s goal is to do more to assist authors at all stages of their career with marketing and promotion than any other house, but all the promotion in the world is meaningless if you do only the bare minimum. Therefore, it is in your own best interest to be as engaged with your fellow authors right from Day One as possible.
Remember the 65% royalty split Semper offers is very much an experiment to prove to the entire industry that publishers and their authors can make more money and enjoy better overall sales if the publisher is willing to take less and give more to the authors who keep their doors open. Whether this experiment succeeds or fails is entirely in your own hands!
In the beginning: Submission Through Days 0-3
All authors must submit their work for consideration and vetting by Semper Press editorial staff. (At present, that means me.) Authors submitting work shall be notified immediately of receipt of their manuscripts, and no later than 10 business days after receipt of acceptance for works of up to 60,000 words. Works of up to 100,000 words, please allow 15 business days.
Upon acceptance of the work (Day 0), each author will be required to sign the standard Semper Press contract. As soon as the signed contract is received, Semper Press will write up a press statement for general public release within 3 business days, incorporating the author’s biographical and previous professional history. Authors are requested, but not required, to furnish a professional head shot or brand graphic for display on Semper’s website and in any ongoing print or Internet promotion for specific authors. Authors will also be expected to fill out the Incoming Author Interview Form, choosing 7-10 of the provided questions, and give relevant professional and reader-interest-type personal background about yourself and the kind of stories you write. Your interview will become a part of your permanent author page, so try not to give away the entire farm all at once! This will go live as soon as the interview questions and head shot or logo are provided, so you’ll have an immediate way to start telling readers about your forthcoming (and later, backlist) Semper work.
While the press release is WIP, authors are expected to join the Semper Publishing Authors’ Yahoo Group at the address listed in the detailed “What Happens Next?” packet accompanying the returned, signed contract. This is for your own benefit, so you can keep up with internal news, events and happenings. Introduce yourself, ask some questions, make some friends/allies/enemies (Please try to keep the latter to a bare minimum, hmm?) and otherwise mingle.
Please note that, like any Internet forum, your privacy and security of speech cannot be absolutely assured within the author group, and that you are solely responsible for your speech and behavior within the forum. I mention this to caution you not to say anything in the group that you wouldn’t want someone to hear you saying on a public street, because such things can and do leak, all policies and procedures to the contrary notwithstanding. Also recall that your book is not published until it is published. Any author who is needlessly incendiary or combative with others or otherwise creates an unnecessarily hostile or uncomfortable environment for others will receive one and ONLY one warning before having their contract pulled. It is Semper’s objective to ensure that our authors have a safe place in which to discuss both good and bad news, talk about any problems that are occurring or any grievances with management or the editorial process. Chances are, any problem you have is probably shared with someone else, and I want to know so I can take care of it. While I would prefer any grievances be dealt with privately or quasi-privately, I certainly do not expect nor want you to be silent if such a grievance presents itself. Just think of Quora’s Be Nice, Be Respectful policy and remember BNBR when you’re interacting online. (This is usually a good policy to follow anywhere online anyway.)
Editing and Beyond: Three Months Pre-Release Through Release Day
During editing, authors are encouraged to post status updates to their readers regarding the editorial process, including all comments, positive and negative. This will allow readers and other authors to vet the process and offer feedback, positive or otherwise, as well as letting you show off your work. I personally like to show off some of the goofs I make that editors catch, but this is entirely up to you. If you have a process that works for you, by all means go with that.
During this time, Semper Press will be posting daily updates to Twitter and Facebook, as well as weekly roundups on the Semper Press Blog. Authors will be asked to place at least one blog post per week on Semper’s blog, in addition to any outside promotion. Editing is estimated to take around one month, so your serious personal promotional efforts should begin at the same time as editing does. As soon as editing begins, Semper will assign a target release date, a minimum of three months from the time editing starts, to allow ample time for cover art to be delivered and any last-minute problems addressed prior to release. This will also allow time to send out Advance Review Copies (ARCs) to various review sites, in the interest of building pre-release “buzz” about your book. Our goal is to do this at least six weeks before release, but 3-4 months would be preferable.
At least one month (and preferably earlier) before your scheduled release day, you should meet with the other authors scheduled for release in that same month to plan any group activities such as blog hops or other promotional things you might like to do. You will need to come up with an author-specific Release Day post for Semper as well as a group post highlighting your event and giving the usual “5 Ws.”
Semper will Tweet, Facebook, G+, Link In and build your event into our weekly roundups, to ensure the maximum number of readers are aware of and make plans to attend. We may also at some point engage professional social-media-specific companies to aid us in spreading the message further. You should also be encouraging readers, friends, family and fellow authors to pass the word as well, but remember social media isn’t a one-way street. You have to give something to get something, even on the Internet.
At this point you and Semper should have discussed your teasers for the book. Semper will start promoting these, one sentence at a time, with a link to your author page on social media. Authors are strongly encouraged to use these for participation in Seven Sentence Sunday, Two Hundred Word Tuesday and other such promotional venues, as well as appended to guest blog appearances elsewhere outside the Semper site.
One month before Release Day, Semper will open preordering for your book at a 10% discount off cover price at the site. Semper will absorb the added cost of this promotional rate, which will be in effect until 11:59pm PST on the day prior to your book going live. In other words, your cut of the cover price when ordered from our site will not be affected, so it is strongly recommended that you direct readers to Semper first. We intend to have full capability to push e-books to Kindle and Nook prior to the first books going live, and will not be making our works available on 3rd parties until 28 days after initial release, so there should be no real need to send readers to other venues.
One week prior to Release Day, Semper will post the first ½ to one full chapter (1-2k) of your work on the site so readers can get an “extra” teaser and nudge readers who are on the fence about buying, as well as links and partial text to any ARC reviews that have come through. These will be promoted through the usual social media outlets and on Semper’s blog. At this point, authors are expected to become even more active in sharing all pertinent links and encourage sharing amongst your readers, family, friends and fellow authors to your forthcoming book, as well as liking, sharing, retweeting and assisting your fellow authors in promoting their work.
Release Day (Day Zero) And Beyond
Today you and your fellow authors releasing books will have the floor. You have carte blanche on the blog, site chat and groups to do whatever you like. Please coordinate all onsite chat times and other site-specific activity with Semper beforehand, so we don’t get confused and have time to pimp your event! Nothing’s more embarrassing than “stepping” on another author’s time, so please try to avoid it, but do show support to your fellow authors. After all, you hope they will do the same for you. This is the day to let it all hang out across the Internet and show everyone what you’re doing. We will have up-to-the-minute preorder stats for you to share if you wish, and in fact such sharing is encouraged.
Just because the book has released doesn’t mean you can or should let up on your promo. Semper will continue to blast all new releases, but bear in mind our targets are 2-3 releases per week from Day Zero, so we will constantly be adding new authors and new books into the mix. Because of this, from Release Day on, Semper will be focusing on forthcoming and brand-new (within 2 weeks) releases, while continuing to promote our greater success stories and trying to nudge the ones that are not doing so well. Therefore, what your books do from here is largely up to you. Also remember that Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble links will be coming available around 28 calendar days after they release on the site, so you will need to be prepared to promote those links as well for readers who’ve held off for whatever reason.
This is the initial marketing plan. I personally think it’s a winner that offers our authors a lot more back-end support than most other publishers deliver. However, the ultimate success or failure of your work will depend on how willing you are to put yourself and your fellow authors’ work out there and stay in the public eye.
If at any time you are unclear on what should be happening right now or needs to happen next, stuck for ideas or need help, PLEASE contact Semper directly! Our success is more directly related to your own than any other publisher out there, so it’s obviously to our mutual benefit to help each other any way we can. I want to see all of you become the successes you’ve always dreamed of being, but we have to be there for each other with ideas, suggestions and new ways of looking at marketing your work.
I’m really excited about working with you, and look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can make Semper even better for authors!