Howard Shapiro recently came to my Publishing class to talk about his books, his work as a writer/self-publisher, and also his work for the indie publishing house, Animal Media Group.
He talked about his journey as a writer and his experience with first self publishing and later through an indie publishing house. At first he thought he could just write a book, self-publish it, and then do book signings and such, and, bam, it would sell. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Because of the ease of digital self publishing, books are being published all the time. Just last year, over 400,000 books were published. So, Howard Shapiro learned the necessity of marketing and building his author platform.
Years later with several books published, he continues to market and network on a regular basis through twitter and other social media. He says that as a writer he spends 80% of his time marketing and 20% actually writing.
He has several graphic novels published that are geared towards young adult boys. He likes to use a theme—so far either hockey or music/rock band–to provide the setting, and from there he builds characters and walks through them the joys and struggles of life. I read his book Stereotypical Freaks and found it to be an easy read that gets deep and deals with real life issues.
And now as the manager of Animal Media Group, he works with other authors and oversees manuscripts through the publishing process. He explained that the individual authors have the responsibility to market their book to the public. When looking at query letters and potential book deals, he wants to see that the author has a presence on the internet, either through a blog, Facebook, twitter, or the like. Publishing houses, especially the small ones, don’t have the resources to market books, so most of it is left up to the author.
Also, Animal Media Group has put out the documentary Blood Brothers. I’ve heard the movie is phenomenal, and the companion book I Was Always Beautiful by Rocky Braat is a fascinating photographic journey.