IBPA Member Spotlight: Mark Diehl
Wednesday, July 4, 2018
Posted by: Caitlin Walker
IBPA Member Mark Diehl Experiences Book Marketing Synergy at ALA
While signing copies of The Book of Eadie at the American Library Association’s 2018 Annual Conference, Mark Diehl met a librarian who had already found his book on NetGalley…read it—and loved it.
|Author Mark Diehl poses with librarian (and new fan) Tricia Boucher.
ALA's 2018 Annual Conference in New Orleans. IBPA Booth 3548. June 24, 3:44 PM.
Here's what happened.
Working out of IBPA’s cooperative booth, IBPA member Mark Diehl set up a poster with the cover of The Book of Eadie clearly displayed and was a few minutes into signing copies of the “dark corporate dystopia” when everyone in the booth heard an intake of breath, followed by: “I LOVED that book!”
We turned, and standing there beaming at both the book cover and Mark, was librarian Tricia Boucher from Texas State University. Mark didn’t know Tricia. None of us did. But she knew The Book of Eadie.
Surprised, Mark asked, "How have you read my book?"
"I just finished it last week!" Tricia announced. "I read it on NetGalley. I LOVED it!"
More librarians gathered around, drawn to the excitement, and with Tricia listening, Mark described the central theme of his trilogy: because multinational corporations are now more powerful than nations, humanity has to adapt to the world they're creating. “In essence,” Mark said, “we're evolving into a corporate species.”
Then, as Mark described it, “one of the librarians held up her arm, showing that the thought had given her goosebumps!” Of course, photos came next…
|Goosebumps—from a book description!
This amazing experience demonstrates how book marketing is not about doing one thing and then sitting back hoping it works. It’s about doing many things with the knowledge that the sum of all will be greater than the individual parts.
In May, Mark put his book on NetGalley through IBPA’s NetGalley Program. He then sent his book and bookmarks to the ALA Annual Conference to be part of the IBPA cooperative book display. And, finally, in June he travelled to the ALA Annual Conference personally to sign and give away copies of the book to librarians on the show floor. All these things together created this powerful—and memorable—moment of book marketing synergy!
From Conforming to Creating - Mark Diehl's Path to Self-Publishing
When Mark was a law student in practice with a multinational law firm, he believed that the most successful lawyers were ones who could come up with creative, innovative, and unique arguments. As he continued his education, he realized this was not the case. “I couldn’t be the free-thinking maverick I’d intended to be as a lawyer,” said Mark, “so eventually I quit the profession and set out to write books.”
Mark spent two more years at the University of Chicago in their graduate fiction writing program meeting agents, successful published authors, editors, publishers, and other industry professionals. But he found their advice echoed the message he’d been getting as a lawyer: he needed to write a book that fit into the same mold that other successful books fit into for them to consider representing him. However when he tried to connect his novel, Vida Nocturna, to the themes of the popular Twilight Saga, he couldn’t make it work.
Working on his next project, Mark realized he faced the same challenge. “This was a dark, complex, challenging trilogy of novels with an untested market,” Mark said. “There was no point in contacting agents and publishers about such a product, so I put it out myself.” Rather than sacrificing his voice for a chance to be published by a major press, Mark created the series he wanted. “I wrote it to explore why humans tend to create such soul-crushing conditions for ourselves. I wanted to understand what makes us surrender ourselves so completely to organizations that end up controlling every aspect of our lives.”
The Book of Eadie is the first book in this trilogy. Mark plans to release the next installment, The Book of Wanda, in October. After this series, he will continue his self-publishing career with the launch of his memoir, A Barely Hill.
3 Questions for Mark Diehl
IBPA: What advice would you give a new-to-the-industry author publisher?
MD: Either do it right or give it up now. Don't give another example helping corporate publishers argue that readers need them to filter out the garbage. There are many difficult and often expensive steps in producing quality books, but IBPA can help you navigate many of them.
Get your book professionally formatted. Have your cover designed by a real artist. Get your manuscript professionally edited by someone with real, professional experience editing books. Most importantly, learn to write well. If your book fails in any of these areas, your book will fail in the marketplace and make it that much harder for independent books that do have what it takes.
IBPA: What did you find most beneficial during your time at the ALA conference?
MD: Though the IBPA booth was too crowded to leave books or bags there, it gave me a feeling that I belonged at the conference. The booth was our place, the claim we had staked on the exhibit floor. I was legitimately there because I had people there.
Being there to sign books also gave me an opportunity to help out at the IBPA booth, which was a great experience. I familiarized myself with the titles on display and led librarians to books matching their interests. Occasionally I was also able to share my idea that corporate publishing leads to market chasing and a death-spiral of creativity.
IBPA: So far, what has been the most rewarding experience during the process of self-publishing your book?
MD: I put out The Book of Eadie as a second edition. After publishing it the first time, I decided that it would be a good investment to work with a new editor and went through it again, line by line. I didn't need anyone's permission to put out a second edition, there was no market analysis necessary. I simply decided how best to present my writing to the world and went ahead with it.
Thank you for sharing with us, Mark!
Learn more about Mark Diehl and his "The Book of Eadie" here.
You can find out more about IBPA's NetGalley program here.