I have good and bad news for fans eagerly awaiting the print edition of Dr. Bill Thomas’ new novel TRIBES of EDEN. The good news is last week we received a shipment of the “advance review copies” (ARCs) for media and book reviewers and we set the official date for publication. The bad news — you still have to wait a couple more months to purchase TRIBES, which will be released April 2, 2012.
Check out the official Press Release at www.PitchEngine.com/TribesofEden.
Why the long wait? Actually, in book publishing time we’re managing to bring TRIBES to print faster than the speed of light. Working with a small team of dedicated professionals we were able to do in two months what most New York publishing houses take a year or more to accomplish. And it we didn’t do it by cutting corners.
With financial backing from The Eden Alternative non-profit (who will receive 100 percent of the proceeds from TRIBES) Bill launched an independent publishing company called SANA Publications. I was tasked with assembling an editorial, artistic and marketing team capable of producing a finished novel of the highest caliber and executing a grass-roots social media-based marketing campaign to rival any publishing house. I enlisted the help of Right Livelihood, LLC, a book publishing consulting firm headed by Melissa Brumer.
As a start-up publishing house, our production team was able to focus exclusively on TRIBES, which is something you never get working with a larger publisher. In just weeks graphic designer extraordinaire Jonas LaRance produced more than a dozen concepts for the cover art, which we were able to vet through focus groups and market testing. Melissa, our lead editor, book designer and an expert in sustainable publishing practices, took what was already an excellent manuscript and hammered, scraped, sanded and polished it into a beautifully laid out finished book. We also brought in an eBook designer, Natalie Guidry and a small team of copy editors (who are still picking tenaciously through the final paperback manuscript before we send to the publisher at the end of the month).
In fact, the marketing aspect of publishing a novel is turning out to be more time consuming than the actual production. We can match (and in my opinion exceed) the production expertise of the publishing industry, but we cannot compete with their clout when it comes to distribution and marketing. Typically, the big New York publishing houses publish a few thousand new novels per year. But only a small handful those — a few dozen at most — are actually touted as potential bestsellers and given full marketing and distribution support. That means printing tens of thousands of copies sent out to all the major book chains and getting prime access to national media and book reviewers. Even with all that support fewer than five on average attain bestseller status.
Now, you should know that Bill worked with one of the best literary agents in New York — Lane Zachary of Zachary Shuster and Harmsworth — for three years in an attempt to get that kind of support for TRIBES. It was through this process that we learned that as a first-time novelist, Bill had virtually zero percent chance of getting the bestseller treatment, even if he landed a big publisher. (With nonfiction it’s a completely different story — as readers know, Lane easily sold Bill’s upcoming nonfiction book, The Second Crucible, to Simon and Schuster last summer. But they wouldn’t even look at the novel.)
It was a no-brainer when Bill finally told Lane to quit pushing the novel and decided to publish it independently. Why give the publishers 90 percent of the profits when they’re not even going to work very hard to promote your book? Instead, we can deliver it directly to our audience and 100 percent of the profits will go to supporting elders through The Eden Alternative, the inspiration for TRIBES.
So how do plan to compete with the big publishing houses in terms of marketing? One word — relationships. We have the message, the tools and the network at our finger tips to foster and grow the kinds of relationships it takes to make a book a bestseller. The publishing game has fundamentally changed and bestsellers are no longer determined by big shot newspaper book reviewers and the chain book stores. The number one driver of book sales is Word of Mouth, and that is something we know how to generate.
Working closely with Jonas (also an experienced expert on marketing and branding) and Melissa, I’ve laid out a three month campaign focused on building word of mouth support for TRIBES. Rather than focus on mainstream media book reviewers, we’re reaching out to Amazon’s Top 100 Reviewers, real life readers whose book reviews have potential to carry more weight than the New York Times. Already we’ve got Amazon’s No. 2 reviewer “Scott” and No. 6 “C.F. Hill” committed to reviewing TRIBES, and we’re reaching out to dozens more.
Rather than depending on Oprah or the morning talk shows to give Bill airtime (although we wouldn’t say no!) we’re coordinating a massive virtual Blog Book Tour through the ChangingAging Blogstream and influential book blogs to help us reach millions of viewers when TRIBES launches.
And rather than depending on massive book distributors dumping thousands of copies on chain bookstores, we’re calling on the REAL tribes of Eden, the entire global Eden Alternative community, in all 50 states and more than a dozen countries worldwide, to help get the word out.
The clock is ticking and we’re making the final push. If you’d like to get involved, don’t hesitate contacting me at [email protected].