When a publisher of any repute buys a book from you, it’s a bi-directional assumption of trust. The author trusts that the publisher will do their best to edit, publish, and market your title. The publisher trusts that the author will do their very best to see that their book is a success by taking it on themselves to do a respectable amount of self-promotion.

We tend to forget that when we get published, we writers join with our presumptive publishers in a peculiar relationship, this “bi-directional assumption of trust”. There are certain things I want the publisher to do for me, the things I might not necessarily be capable of doing for myself (or which they can do better) as we partner in the promotional efforts for our project. Because, indeed, my book becomes “our” book, as their advance indicates an investment in me/it.

Small press or large press, when you are considering who to go with as a publisher (especially if you are weighing the traditional route vs. self-publishing) there are several things you want to consider. Better said, there are certain things you want the publisher to do for you.

Here are some of the things I expect from my Publisher (even small press ones):

-distribution (my book into as many venues as possible)
-getting my book into libraries
-getting my book into book clubs (especially not forgetting urban book clubs)
-trade advertising (Weird Tales, Cemetery Dance, Shroud, Publisher’s Weekly, etc)
-press releases (Gila Queen, FearZone, Weird Fiction News, Hellnotes, HorrorWeb, etc.)
-advertising on book specialty web sites (CushCity is a site recently brought to my attention)
-full support on the publisher’s web site (you think would be a given, yet …)
-sending out review copies
-in house street team efforts (for instance, message board announcements)
-tip in sheets, bookmarks, postcards, and other promotional materials.

Basically, I want to see that I’m being taken seriously as a product. On my end, I tend to bring my marketing plans to the table so that the publisher knows what to expect from me. Even when I publish with the small press, I put in the work:

-I will make convention appearances, schmooze and do signings
-I specifically target black bookstores with my marketing efforts
-I give full platform support (my blog, FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter)
-I personally send out review copies (again, with a focus on black reviewers and places my publisher my have missed/not thought about)
-I do podcasts and interviews.

Ultimately, it’s about protecting your brand. And yes, cries of the struggling artist aside, you are a brand. One that deserves to be treated specially and promoted seriously, by you and your publisher.