Hi all friends, fellow authors, illustrators and visitors,
It’s a tough gig this publishing business. Made even harder these days by a more discerning buying public, the impact of the GFC, the inability of companies to properly meet the needs of their author clients, fierce competition online and the increasingly difficult job of promoting through social media.
All the best advice I have read still insists social media is the best method of self-promotion. I disagree. Considering the hours I have personally invested in tweeting, Facebooking, blogging etc. compared with the amount of return in the form of sales, the result has been modest at best and at worst a waste of time. I still think having a social presence online is necessary, but it will never bring the results it promises. One of the reasons is that the vast majority of promotion is done author to author. Readers already have the vast resources of the Internet at their finger tips and if they know what they want (and let’s face it they always do) they also know how to find it.
The GFC has bitten hard, especially in the American market, which for the first time since WWII, has suffered economically to an extent the rest of the world was not prepared for. Despite books being available in the rest of the world, it is the American market which traditionally buys most of the books. Without that market, authors have struggled.
Competition among authors is now fierce. There are tens of millions of books available online and a greater percentage of them are written by Indie Authors. They are all aiming their sights on the same prize, public recognition and commercial success. Meanwhile, the buying public, now with much less disposable income, is reticent to buy books by unknown and untested authors.
It’s tough alright. That’s why each of us authors must now look at publishing in a whole new light. That is, as an INVESTMENT!
The best advice anyone can give you as far as investment is concerned is to not put all your eggs in one basket. Wise investors have known this for a hundred years. If you are going to invest your hard earned money to reap long term rewards, you need to spread it between stocks, property, financial currencies, gold or precious metals and a number of others. This is called hedging your bets and is the best way of guaranteeing some success in one or more of these markets.
Likewise with publishing, rather than relying on Social Media alone, wise authors will invest in Social Media, Local Markets, Libraries, direct selling, establishing enthusiastic online friends and contacts and creating a fan base. There is something to be said for local markets and marketing your books in the area you live in. Though it comes with its own unique challenges, it can bring tremendous results, if locals decide they like what you do. Word of mouth is and always will be the best thing you can do when starting out.
As for me, I have often fallen into the trap of assuming just because I have been marketing to the World Wide Web, that because there are billions of users, someone will notice. However, I have spread my wings. I’ve bitten the bullet. I’ve contacted my local libraries and have sent emails off to those who decide to include you on their list. To my surprise, they are only too willing to help, especially when they found out I am a local author. With any luck, my books will be listed across hundreds of libraries across the state and eventually the country. Putting books on public library shelves is how J K Rowling got started, after being rejected by pretty much every publisher she approached.
I’ve also held local signings, some successful and others not so successful. On the 30th of November I will be setting up a stall at our local market, which attracts hundreds of interstate visitors. A local author associate of mine sold out last time he did this. He had to order hundreds more books to fill demand.
Lastly, writing is a very lonely business. Surround yourself with writing buddies. They share the same aspirations and they suffer the same setbacks. Sharing your journey with them will inspire them as much as it will help you. This is why PiA was started in the first place. Support each other, but don’t throw yourself at each other. Give back as much as you take. Report your successes and acknowledge your setbacks.
Finally, be honest with yourself. Be prepared to change, to adapt, to revise, to always look objectively at your own work. Someone once told me to leave it well enough alone. But I disagree. Writing is an ongoing process. One of the great benefits of self publishing is that you can constantly revise and update, in response to readers, to reviews and to reflection. My books are not the same as when I started. They are better. Not perfect, but certainly better.
Paul G Day.