Promotion FAQ

Congratulations! You are now a Lantern author. Now the real work begins!

Each year over 50,000 books are published in the United States. Most of these books sell a few thousand copies and receive little or no attention from reviewers or the media. Serious books on serious subjects constitute a tiny percentage of the books sold throughout the year.

Lantern Books is passionate about books and your work. We want to work with you to make sure the book reaches its target audience who we hope will be as passionate about it as we are and spread the news to others. Because we are a small publisher in a world of big corporations and vertical distribution outlets, we do not have as much power in the marketplace as larger publishers with more money. That's why we are creative and flexible.

"What will you be doing to promote my book?"

We will send books out for review. We will put your book in both our trade and direct mail catalogues. We will list your books in the main wholesale and retail outlets for purchasing books and put it on our website. We attend nearly 15 conferences a year where we will sell your book if it is appropriate to the audience. We will try to get your book listed in appropriate catalogues and mail-order outlets. We will create postcards or flyers to help you promote your book. We will try to sell foreign rights for your book if appropriate and make your book available for distribution throughout the world.

"What can I do to help promote the book?"

Talk to your friends about the book. Send them the postcards/flyers we give you. Exploit every personal connection with the media that you can think of, no matter how tenuous. (Lantern is prepared to send out promotional copies to people whom you believe will be likely to promote your book.) Put your book title in the signature line of your email; contact your alumni magazine; get your friends to endorse it on Amazon.com and the Barnes & Noble website; reach out to the organizations to which you belong or who are interested in your subject, or tell Lantern about them.

We also recommend that you pick up a copy of a book like Publicize Your Book: An Insider's Guide to Getting Your Book the Attention It Deserves by Jacqueline Deval. It will help you brainstorm creative ideas for promoting your book.

And see our Top Ten Ways to Promote Your Book.

"How often can I contact you with ideas for promotion?"

We value authors who are engaged with the promotion and publicity for their book. However, too-frequent telephone calls and emails only make it more difficult for us to spend time actually promoting your book. Our suggestion is for you to gather all your thoughts through the week and email us a comprehensive list once-a-week. We'll do our best to fulfill those requests. Let us know about any reviews you see or any stories in which you're featured. Although we ask journalists to send us copies of all printed reviews and articles, they often forget, and we'd love to share successes with you.

"Why isn't my book being reviewed?"

Over the last few years, pages dedicated to reviewing books in the major newspapers and magazines have been cut back, as have magazines devoted to books. While online sites dedicated to books have increased as the web has grown, the amount of space dedicated to serious nonfiction books has not increased. On the positive side, in our experience, reviews don't necessarily sell more copies of books.

That said, Lantern sends all of our books out to the key trade journals that librarians and bookstore buyers use to make their purchasing decisions, such as Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal. Lantern, of course, can neither guarantee a review nor guarantee that a review will be good.

"Why aren't my books in Barnes & Noble?"

Since the mid-1990s, large chains have either bought out independent bookstores or driven them out of business, thus consolidating the bookstore business. These chains operate on a 'just-in-time' inventory system, which means that they can react to demand for books in 24 or 48 hours rather than carry a large stock of books in their stores in advance of demand. What this means is that it is increasingly difficult for any publisher, much less a small independent publisher, to get the chain stores to order quantities of their titles unless they pay for shelf space or placement. In order to increase the likelihood of your book appearing in the chain stores the store in question has to be convinced there is a demand for it; the best way to do that is through customers asking for it.

This is a case where the direct promotion of your book to friends family and associates helps immensely. When they order your book at a chain store, it gets the book into their computer system and increases the likelihood of it being re-ordered or stocked regularly.

Of the small number of titles that are stocked by the centralized ordering system of Barnes & Noble, nearly all of these books will be "sampled" in major cities on the coasts before being rolled out to the rest of America, again depending on demand.

"Why isn't my book available on Amazon.com?"

All Lantern Books titles are available on Amazon. Books are submitted to Amazon and other book outlets (Ingram Baker & Taylor Books in Print, bn.com, etc.) four or five months before publication. The information at the time is understandably provisional, including the publication date. Once the book has been published, we update Amazon and the other outlets, if necessary, on the book's availability and the correct bibliographical information (price, size, subtitle, etc.). This, however, can take anything from a few days to a few weeks to work its way through their various computer systems and databases. In other words, your book will eventually be accurately displayed and fully available; it simply may take some time.

"What about advertising?"

Lantern's advertising strategy is geared toward promoting the company as a whole and driving people to our website. In this way, people will be informed about the whole range of our books rather than just one or two. We would rather spend money on direct mail-submitting titles to catalogues and conferences, and producing publicity materials such as postcards or flyers, which experience has told us are more effective at selling books.

"What about book signings and author tours?"

As a small independent publisher, Lantern Books does not have the means to subsidize the costs of author promotional tours. If you are already planning to do some travel to speak to a group, please notify us of your plans a minimum of 2-3 months ahead of time (please see the Speaking Engagements section of your Author Questionnaire). We can then assist the event coordinator in ordering books for your talks. We do encourage you to arrange signings at a bookstore or organization near your home so that you may enjoy the experience of autographing copies and speaking with the public. It is highly recommended that authors travel with at least 5 or more copies of their own books so that they can sell the book directly in case an opportunity presents itself.

Don't forget to check out the Top Ten Ways to Promote Your Book.