Not too long ago I had someone pitch me a book. The book had good potential, but needed some revisions. As in other cases in my experience, the author was ready to participate in the marketing of the book, but by that it seemed clear that it was going to be publisher-initiated. The author expected me to help him revise his book and then take the lead on advertising it. This is what ‘traditional publishers’ do. I had to explain that A., I am not a publisher in that sense and B., publishers like that are a dying breed. There are of course many cases where publishers will provide these services, and probably always will be. However, there is something really new that is afoot–we may term it the marriage of Print on Demand technologies and the Internet, and just for kicks, the word processor.
Today, every author and his mother can produce a book, and they are. Moreover, the author’s mother is doing the same! Literary agencies and publishers have to cope with a huge influx of submissions while keeping their eye out for the title that they reasonably expect will be able to turn a profit in the era of the Ebook and collapsing brick and mortar book chains–and the continued dominance of Amazon.com.
The demise of the brick and mortar book chains have an important side effect. When the book stores were the primary avenue by which best-sellers were made, the cozy relationship between the publishers and the chains meant that it was easier to block the self-published authors from the path to success. However, with the book stores going under, other avenues such as social media, pay-per-click advertising, and reviews on Amazon, have become increasingly powerful routes to exposure for authors. And anyone can avail themselves of these options. And they are. There is no more blocking anyone from the ‘means of marketing.’
I saw on a literary agent’s web page today a compelling indicator of what this means for publishers. The search was on for “authors with the ability to partner with publishers to market their work.”
In the great melee of authors getting their work out to the masses and making use of tools that publishers themselves are increasingly relying upon, the publishers are looking for authors ready, willing, and able, to take the initiative in marketing their work.
Many if not most of the authors I interact with (and in this, I will include myself) self-promotion of any kind is just not the kind of thing they find enjoyable. Really, it is downright uncomfortable. Here’s the bad news, friends: TOUGH.
Digital technologies have made it easier than ever to produce, distribute, and market a book. The person best able to advocate for a book is the one who wrote it. That means that if a publisher has to choose between two books of equal quality and the difference lies in the willingness of one author to get out their and hawk their book, that’s the one they’re going to go for. When you are Stephen King or JK Rowling, perhaps you can ignore such uncomfortable realities, but until then, pinning your hopes on finding a publisher that is going to do all the work for you, happily satisfied that they found a quality manuscript, is increasingly just that: a mere hope.
Realities such as these is why I formed Bard and Book Publishing. We are focused here on building a community of readers and authors, and I hope that you will join us. Authors interested in hearing more about my take on digital revolution in book selling should take a look at my latest, a little booklet called: Superfan: How You Can Turn Your Favorite Indie Author Or Artist Into a Star – A “New Economy” Advertising Primer for Authors and the People Who Love Them
The tips in this book can apply as much to authors as to the ‘superfans’ that I call upon to be the authors advocates, since, as I have just argued, the authors themselves are the best advocates for their work.