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When things don't go as planned
In publishing, it happens a lot, both in big ways and small
I’ve said this before, but there’s not much you can control about a career in publishing outside of your writing. The words you put on the paper? You can control that. But everything else? The reviews and reception and sales and marketing plans and and and…? All out of your control.
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In my previous newsletter, I broke down my marketing and promo efforts for Dustborn’s paperback release. (Read it here if you’re interested.) One of my plans included sending copies of the book to influencers.
I learned yesterday that my publisher can not, in fact, provide me addresses to do this. My editor (my main person of contact on this, as I do not have a publicist at this imprint1) thought my plans sounded great. She was excited about them. She emailed her colleagues to get me said list of influencers.
And yet, twenty-three days later, she followed up with a note from the marketing department. They cannot share addresses with me. It’s not personal, it’s a company policy, one that is in place to keep influencers’ information private and protect them from having direct interactions with authors/agents.
I get this. I totally understand and respect it.
I just wish it hadn’t taken twenty-three days to be communicated to me. But alas. Here we are. Things did not go as planned.
I am no stranger to this. Every author who worked through the pandemic gets it all too well. That emergency disrupted so many plans, often in very big ways.2 And even before the pandemic, it was very common for things to derail and not go as you intend. Publishing is full of surprises. You have to roll with the punches or you will lose your mind. Truly.
Luckily, this is but a small bump for me, a tiny ‘something didn’t go as we expected,’ not a catastrophic one.
My publisher suggested that I reach out to accounts that I like/admire/respect and ask them directly if they would like a copy of my book. And I certainly can do this, but it adds more work to my plate than I originally planned for, plus I personally hate when people I don’t know drop into my DMs, asking if they can send me promotional stuff. I would only feel comfortable doing this with accounts I already interact with often, and my main goal with this mailer effort was to reach people outside of my online bubble. Readers who maybe didn’t know about Dustborn to begin with.
So my new goal is to have you, dear reader, tell me if you’d like a book. (If you won one of the mailers via my previous newsletter, don’t worry, you’re still getting it.)
Tell me if you want a copy of Dustborn. And if you know someone else who might like one, tell them to tell me. I won’t be able to send copies to everyone, but I will review all entries. I promise to keep your information private. Your address will only be used for this one promo effort.
I almost took this approach from the beginning—collecting my own addresses—but I thought working with my publisher would save me time and make the effort more effective, allowing me to reach the perfect type of reader for this particular book.
But alas, things didn’t pan out how I expected.
So here I am, adapting.
It’s all we really can do, right? We can control the words we put on the page. And we can control how we react when things don’t go as planned.
I definitely complained and moaned to a friend for a few minutes via text when I learned about this yesterday, but now I’m dusting myself off and pivoting. Will these new plans derail also? Who knows. But I’ll do the best I can. And I hope you will too. Whatever surprise lands on your plate, whenever things don’t go as you expect, I hope you take a deep breath, chat with a friend, and then adapt. Onward and upward.
A note about my summer schedule
My kids get out of school on Friday. Throughout the summer, my posting schedule will be on pause. I may publish a surprise post here or there, but I want to be clear that nothing is guaranteed. Once everyone is back in school (very late August), things will be business as usual here at From the Desk of Erin Bowman.
Thanks for being one of my readers 🖤
Until next time,
Erin Bowman is the critically acclaimed author of numerous books for children and teens, including the Taken Trilogy, Vengeance Road, Retribution Rails, the Edgar Award-nominated Contagion duology, The Girl and the Witch’s Garden, and Dustborn. A web designer turned author, Erin has always been invested in telling stories—both visually and with words. Erin lives in New Hampshire with her husband and children.
I’ve had a publicist for past titles, but this book released as the publisher was being acquired by another, so things were very disjointed, and now we’re on to the paperback release and… I’m not sure if this is simply how the imprint is now structured, with the editor being your main contact point, or what. But it is what it is. Hey, things don’t always go as planned!
My first ever trip to ALA, for example. Cancelled! My middle grade debut floundered come summer 2020 when it released. Dustborn suffered a similar fate in 2021. It happens. I am not alone here.