It’s almost 2015, and like most people, I’m wondering where the heck did all the time go? Luckily, I had a pretty productive year, I finished one book and published another. I also made more friends and learned more about the publishing industry. Yes, after years in the business, I’m still learning new things.
Here are just a few of the bigger lessons I discovered this year in 2014…
Book Marketing Has To Be Taken To Another Level
Last month, an author sent a lamb chop into space to promote his book: Meatspace. He recorded the whole thing on Youtube and so far it’s netted him over 250,000 views. It was the most odd, yet, spectacular marketing ploy I’ve ever seen. So much for creating bookmarks, eh?
Despite what you may have heard, you still have to promote your book to some extent. Whether you decide to do it via blogtours, advertising or social media, you should let someone know your book is available. Many of the most successful authors have marketed their work continuously, because they can’t afford to leave it up to chance.
Repeat After Me: Amazon Is Not The Savior Of Publishing
Not long ago, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, referred to authors as customers in a meeting with investors. A Bloomsbury executive also referred to authors as customers at the Frankfurt Book Fair this past year. Although, I don’t agree with the customer label, I do believe we are treated more like employees rather than business partners. Think about it, publishers have been using authors as brand ambassadors to promote their companies for years. One author in my writer’s group put it like this: “Yes. We’re Amazon’s unpaid marketing department. And all those little ‘Amazon affiliate’ booklists are their marketing funnels. We’re all herding readers into the chute so we can cut our own throats. Maybe it’s time we all woke up and stopped committing professional suicide by supporting a one-platform market?” A strong but very true statement.
Consider All Possible Income Streams
Many of the literary elite like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King have made a lot of money from selling books but they’ve also made lots of money from other things like movie deals, speaking engagements and yes, even merchandise.
And why not? If you don’t take advantage of all the opportunities available to you someone else will. For example, I found a lot Fifty Shades of Grey merchandise online but none of it was official, meaning the author E.L. James, is likely not getting paid for any of it. How do I know? Well, on the author’s website there is no mention of merchandise and ditto for her publisher’s website. However, that hasn’t stopped many of these so called “fan sites” from taking the image of the book (a copyright violation), and slapping it on multiple products.
Don’t ever forget publishing is a business, not an art. It’s sad when bootleggers understand this so much better than the authors they rip off.
Free Books Aren’t Devaluing A Damn Thing!
If you believe that giving away a free book is going to ruin your career, you’re insane. There are lots of bestselling authors who have free books available. They often use free books to get reviews or to build up their email lists just like their indie counterparts. That’s because free books have been proven to be way more effective at building an author platform than advertising and social media.
We Need To Promote On Social Media But Only In The Right Places
Social media is getting complicated as Facebook and Google limit the reach of their users. Many are finding that even advertising and promoting posts aren’t working so they’re abandoning their pages in droves. I think this is a bad idea. I believe social media can be useful but only if you network properly. We authors need to become a part of a thriving reader community and make the leaders of these communities an offer they can’t refuse. I discussed this in my post: How to Approach and Pitch Social Media Influencers.
We Need To Accept There Is No Such Thing As Luck!
Many authors who’ve succeed at publishing often put years into their careers. They’ve learned their craft, studied the business, and experimented (both artistically and business wise) in order to make a living at publishing. Luck by the way, is often seen as a four letter word to successful people.
You’re A Writer After You’ve Actually Written Something
Don’t let others fool you into thinking that you need an agent or contract with one of the NY Big 5 to be considered an official author. No one will ever anoint you with fairy dust and make things happen for you. That’s way too Cinderella! A real author is someone who has published a book and made a connection with their readers.
Though I think the industry is stabilizing, I do think things will continue to change, but not at the pace that they have been. In times like these, we have to constantly remind ourselves this is a business and not a calling. As with most businesses, we’ll face many ups and downs, that’s just life in general. No one gets a free pass. Absolutely no one!