For the longest time there was only one route for authors to get published, it wasn’t an easy route as there have been many stories of manuscripts not being read and being returned was something that I have heard throughout my life. As Bob Dylan said “the times they are a changin”.
Today it is possible to “publish” fairly easily, without having to submit work to a publisher, you can, do it yourself.
Well from an ego point that is good. Ah but then how should you publish and how should you distribute?
The avenues are now growing, purely electronically? Should you do it in print? Do it yourself? Use an agency to help you self-publish? Do you write it all yourself or outsource some of the work? Use Amazon? The list is now becoming endless.
You should explore the options, the choice is yours. Do you want your book on the shelves or available on an electronic one?
The once god-like shine of the publisher as we have known it now has lost much of its radiance. There are some successful e-book authors who would denounce the once traditional methods.
They would say that the publisher doesn’t really support them, or care, the commission structure is low and they may go on to say they are outdated.
There are of course more lucrative and quicker options available and that is a golden carrot to a lot of authors. There are some very prolific authors that I personally know of, who can produce an e-book every other week; there are a few who can produce even quicker than that.
However there is still a romantic ideal of being published by one of the “big boys” and now those “big boys” have woken (or are waking) up to the notion that the author is actually their biggest asset. The experience that can be given to a new author is invaluable, to someone who is already established less so.
Would there come a time when a traditional publisher makes an approach to a successful e-book author? That is hard to imagine, but one thing that is changing is the usual stance of sitting in an office waiting for unknown authors to send in their work is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
While all of this is great for debate there is one point that is paramount, book sales. You may have written your “magnum opus” but if no-one knows you have done it, well that’s not good? There are many books and e-books that haven’t sold a copy; this is the most important part of the process, surely?
Traditional publishers have a system of marketing a book, how much effort they put into a new author is debatable, for self-publishers, well they are on their own. They will need to get up to date about networking and using the most effective social media to try and achieve sales. It is not enough to swing wildly at creating an account with Facebook or Twitter and simply hoping for the best, the efforts need to be continuous and sustained.
Alongside this I am sure many of you will have seen many random WSO’s and had strange emails from individuals telling you that they will (for a fee of course) guide you to Olympian size sales of your book if you follow their “well proven methods”. I think if they were as good as their claims then they wouldn’t need to ‘cold email’ you.
How best to engage the potential readership?
From a marketing aspect you have to have an idea of who your reader is likely to be, where they are located and how many times they need to see/know about your book before they buy?
Would an active discussion in a forum be better than having a website? There are a lot of marketers that swear by list building, could an agreement be reached with a successful author in asking him to mail his list with a recommendation about your book/e-book prove more successful, they will naturally want to be rewarded, maybe via a fee or an affiliate arrangement?
Traditional authors need to rethink how they ‘serve’ their authors, taking a look at the business through the eyes of a new author and how they might bring the expectation level expected to the fore, self-publishers need to find ways of marketing and generating sales, they can’t just “Amazon” their e-book sit back and wait for the rewards to roll in. Could creating a collective be the answer perhaps?
Book sales are not always instant, sometimes various books can at certain times do great sales when “something” is triggered, like a book could be mentioned in a movie or program and thereby sparks sales.
A book may not sell much today, but books don’t really go out of date, so gathering knowledge and crafting strategies could prove fruitful in the long run.
Only time will tell.