Posts Tagged by online publishers
To Write or to Market
You have written a book, or perhaps more than one and have self-published online with smashwords, amazon, or any other/s of the multitude of online book publishing sites. As of now, some are selling okay and others barely at all.
You had poured your heart and soul into the book/s you so wanted to write; carefully researched a data base of agents and publishers, looking for a match to your genre, and sent off your precious manuscript/s to half a dozen or so, awaitingthe positive response every writer dreams of. Which never came.
Instead, you either never heard back; the manuscript never reached its destination (you assume); or a polite, “Thank you for sending us your manuscript. We have carefully read it but at this time it is not what we are looking for. We wish you success blah, blah,” popped into your inbox.
Finally, you got the message and self-published online. The problem is that `okay’ and `mediocre’ sales don’t pay the bills. Nor do they stretch to the life luxuries you so long to take for granted.
What you really need and want is to be noticed by an agent, or a publisher. Simple? Let me tell you it is not. It’s a lottery.
When e-readers came into being a few years ago and publishers started springing up all over the internet, making it possible for virtually anyone to become a published author, things actually got harder. Not putting a book online, that’s fairly simple, but attracting buyers to your book/s is almost a full time job in itself and that is only if you know how to go about it in the first place.
For a start, getting accepted by a traditional publishing house has never been a doddle (although we still hear marvelous stories about first-time authors being offered six-figure advances and three-book deals to be translated into seven or ten languages). Unfortunately, with the explosion of internet publishing, those wonderful experiences are becoming rarer by the day. It’s become even harder for a writer to get noticed in among the teeming masses of Indies, all hopeful of being the next big thing in the literary world.
As I said before, the actual publishing is a breeze. The hard bit is getting noticed among the avalanche of new books going online daily. Writers, whose book/s previously languished in slush piles, for months and even years, can now be found on the internet, selling for as low as US$0.99c and even for free. In a way it’s become a reader’s heaven.
But where does that leave the poor hard-working writer?
A few copies sold at 99c, shared between the writer and the publisher is bad enough – but, FREE?! What does that leave to pay the bills? And where is the incentive to write another book with the fast dissolving hope that it will ever get noticed, let alone become a best seller?
Under the current system, if a reader doesn’t like a book they have just purchased for under $1 or for FREE, they can just move on to the next ridiculously cheap or free book.
And why not? The outlay is hardly bank-breaking and there are new books to choose from every day.
So where does the writer place in all of this? Certainly not with enough income to make the next mortgage payment, that’s for sure.
Lost in the muddle?
When a book is uploaded to the internet it has, at the best, a day or two of exposure before it is lost forever under a deluge of brand new publications. And traditionally, unless the writer has a sister or an uncle or some soft-hearted friend in the publishing industry, the chances of getting read are slim and the coveted phone call saying, `We want to publish your book,’ staggeringly anorexic.
If you are fortunate enough to know a marketing guru who is prepared to market your book cheaply, then of course you may be onto a winner. But for most this isn’t a likely scenario. You are writers – FULL STOP. Marketing, even if a writer has a good working knowledge of it, takes time; precious time away from writing so that there is something to market in the first place (a bit like the chicken and the egg – where do you begin?).
For those who do have some inkling of what to do, many of them are doing their writing in their spare time, outside of working hours (you know that thing you do for 40 hours a week so you can eat and pay the bills?).
So considering the subject objectively, a working writer would need to be a very alert insomniac to also do a decent job of marketing their book/s.
That’s it – the reason why writers are becoming so confused and fed up. It’s like, “I can’t write AND market. I’m a writer, not a marketer, and I do need to sleep occasionally.”
Just imagine, if some of the world’s favourite authors had had to market their own books from scratch. We may never have heard of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Somerset Maugham, T.S.Elliott, Tolkein, Agatha Christie, Barbara Cartland and the more contemporary brilliance of Barbara Erskine, Maeve Binchy, Robert Goddard, William Horwood, Belinda Alexandra.
What a sad thought, although we’d never know it because their work wouldn’t have been there in the first place.
So what can we do to ensure that Shakespeare and Austen’s modern day equivalents don’t get lost in the rush?
It’s a difficult question but it does have an answer.
No, there is not a quick fix-it-all answer, but there are several things you can do such as:
Burn the midnight oil more regularly and learn all you can about book promotion – you will find a ton of information online.
Spend a ton of cash on promoting your book/s.
Join all the social media and start posting regularly about your book/s – put aside an hour of your time every evening for this purpose.
Join book promotion sites and take their advice on board.
Join discussion groups and help other authors with your knowledge as well as learning from them.
There are so many things you can do to help your sales and, if you are careful and organise the time you have available for this, there will still be time for you to write.
If anyone has some tips or ideas you would like to share, I am happy to post them on this site with your author’s credit and links to your own book/s.
In the meantime, good luck to you all and may your hard work be rewarded abundantly.