The web has completely changed the way that we read text. Just recently there was a report stating that eBook sales surpassed those of hardback sales in the category of adult fiction last year. More and more people are flocking to digital reading, which means that authors need to change up their game when it comes to marketing their work.
Gone are the days of the classical novelist depicted in movies throughout the twentieth century. You know the type: the solitary person who whittles away at a work at a measured pace, leaving their agent to do dirty job of selling it to the publisher. That stereotype has no place in today’s market. If an author wants to make money from their craft—particularly those who sell eBooks—they have to be both writer and agent, spending as much of their time pitching their books to an online audience.
The fact of the matter is that writers must harness an entrepreneurial spirit if they want their writing to sell well online. Their pitch is as important as the words in the book that they’re selling. That might sound shallow to literary purists accustomed to the old days of publishing, but it’s the truth. If you can market your book to a target audience of interested listeners, how can you expect people to read it? Countless books are being published online every day; it’s up to each author to determine whether or not their work gets lost in that endless deluge of material.
This kind of pushy, type A behavior isn’t something normally associated with writers. But writers in this generation need to be more forward and aggressive than any of their predecessors had to be. The competition among authors in the same genre is nothing like what it was 100 years ago. Who would have predicted that social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook could hold the key to success for thousands of authors without neither an agent to guide them nor a publisher to distribute their work?
Services like Twitter are now expected of a writer trying to market their work on the web. There’s no use mourning over that fact—it’s the reality of the new literary landscape. Not only do you need to have a Twitter (and then some) to spread the word about your work, but you need the marketing savvy to sell your work to potential readers without sounding like a total hack. It’s a fine like to toe, but that’s what it takes to be read now.
The one noticeable upshot to the digital literary world is the community that it has fostered. The stereotypical author I spoke of earlier was a hermit, someone who spurned the outside world to devote more time to their work. Now authors have no choice but to network and build lasting relationships among one another. The only way that new authors can get ahead in this digital age is by swapping links and retweeting the work of their peers in an attempt to build a readership for as many likeminded writers as possible. In my opinion, it’s a welcome change. The more authors collaborate with one another, the better chance they all have of being recognized by potential readers.
What do you think about the new entrepreneurial angle of most web writers?
Carol Wilson has spent a good majority of her life working for insurance agencies and calculating business insurance quotes—so if anyone knows a thing or two about insurance it’s Carol. But aside from sharing her knowledge to readers, she also enjoys sharing her thoughts and opinions on other business-related topics such as marketing techniques. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re going to go at the angle of swapping links and trying to get writers to help market for you, I suggest finding authors who have the same target audience when you do this. It does little good for a sci-fi author to pitch a romance to his audience. I might enjoy a horror novel, but my fans won’t buy the book just because I mention it. They will, however, buy a romance comparable to mine (and when I say comparable, it means it has to be similar to what I do).
Also, I think the best marketing technique is a good story. I find putting the first book in a series at free does the best when marketing your next book(s) in that series, but the free book has to be worth reading or else people won’t tell others about it. So while link sharing and passing on other author books has its benefits (I’ve done it), the benefits are short lived. In the long run, it’s the story and word of mouth that will be the best tools in an author’s arsenal.
Just my opinion. 😀
Great minds think alike. 😉 I’ve just written a blog post related to this topic, myself.
Yes, I agree. Authors need to be social and get to know others through twitter, FB, etc…however I totally agree with Ruth…the one thing that will remain as our biggest marketing tool will be a great story. I know I do this myself, if I find a good book, I talk about it, a lot:) The other thing that I’ve seen with other authors and bloggers is when they are generous in sharing what they’ve learned or with their books…people love that 🙂 It sounds a bit ‘crass’ to call that a marketing tool, but whatever you call it, generosity sure builds trust and permission for others to let you into their circle and it’s a win win for everyone! Great post Carol…thanks for sharing 🙂
Excellent post, Carol. I think the bedrock has to be the work itself, and now social networking has become a facet of independent writing.
Stephannie, something has come up that might be of interest; my writing partner Norma, owner of the domain Beishir Books, has had problems with a blog squatter, one Desi Jumiati, coming in and hijacking things; here’s the link:
It seems Ms. Jumiati is doing this to quite a few blogs….
I’m not the only one she’s ripped off, so anybody here could be among her victims.
Good advice, Carol. I came into self-publishing after years in traditional publishing, and it was like arriving on an alien planet. It really is a whole new world!