Friday, June 14, 2013

After the Book - Are You Selling a Book or the Author?

So you have written the book.

You have gotten it published.

Now what?

The obvious answer is to start writing that next book, but there is so much more to it than that; along with so many different philosophies as well.

I am going to look at what has worked for me and how I see it from the librarian perspective, which is where I am going to start.

When most people come into the library looking for any sort of fiction book, what do you think they ask for most of the time? Let me give you a few options…

  1. The Title of the Book
  2. A piece of a Title of a Book
  3. An Author
  4. An Author's New Book
  5. I want a Book that reads like author X

Well if you guessed any of them you would be right, but the question we guest asked the most, from my almost 10 years working in the library is “Do you have Author X’s new book?” Most people if you are lucky might know a piece of the author’s book title but most of the time they don’t. What they know is what authors like to read and know when the author is releasing a new book.

What a lot of new authors don’t realize is that you are not only selling your book(s) but you are also selling yourself as an author. You, the author, are your brand.

I may never get the chance to sell out and become a New York Times bestselling author, which I would do in heartbeat, but I have created; as one person liked to call a cult of personality.  I have gone out and marketed myself out at Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Multi-Genera/Gamming Conventions and created my author brand. People know who I am and what I do; so in turn I sell books. I have worked long and hard to make sure people who attend these shows know who I am.  I knew I was doing something right when someone, I really don’t know who, create a Wikipedia page about me.

I also knew I was doing something right when I started do a series of charity anthologies called Writers for Relief and I was getting big names to donate both original and reprint fiction. So I may never become a huge house hold name, but I have been able to give back and help in times of need.

Something to remember most publishing houses don’t have large marketing budgets and they are going to market things they know are going to sell; aka their big name authors. They are a business and they are going to try and put their money into a sure thing. And if you are working with a small press their marketing budget is even smaller if they even have one at all. A lot of the times, especially the smaller presses, are looking for the author to market themselves. 

And please remember I am mostly talking about more about genera fiction and not contemporary fiction, niche fiction, regional fiction, romance writing, etc. those are all different monsters and we are all going to write the fiction we want to write.

Things I have done to grow my cult of personality:

Whenever I can I always try to get a table at these conventions. This gives me a home-base where I can engage people, show off my books, and give away swag (bookmarks, pins, audio samples). Never be afraid to say hello to someone passing by the table.

I try to do as many panels or talks as possible. I want as many people to get to know who I am. I am not afraid to moderate these panels. I am willing to do panels, as long as I am moderating them, on topics I know nothing about. This has led to some incredible learning experiences on my part.

I will attend after hour’s events. These are a great place to meet other authors, publishers, people in the biz and mingle with fans in a different sort of light.  

I have worked on a number of successful podcasts. I wouldn’t suggest this to everyone. It takes a lot of time to do one of these things right. But podcasts that do news, and fiction reviews are a good place to try and get interviewed to get your books and yourself out there. You never know who might be listening.

Don’t be afraid to embrace social media. Yes a lot of authors do it, but if you do it long enough and consistently – you will be heard; especially if you have grown your fan base in other ways. Facebook, Twitter and whatever will come next will help you interact with your fans away from conventions and book signings. Fans like to know what is going, what is happening next, where you might be appearing.

Go after book signings where ever you can; from small books stores to large ones to libraries to comic book stores to university book stores to book fairs to anywhere someone is willing to let you set up and sell your book(s). And if you know a group of published authors joint book signings work o extremely well. Again conventions fall under this as well. These sorts of things don’t come after you, at least not until you make a name for yourself.

Also get yourself a website or a blog if you can't get a website up and going. Use your first and last name as the website address if it is still available (for example update the website/blog/whatever you have as much as you can; especially if people can’t connect to you on facebook and twitter. Wordpress sites work great and require every little work to update and can be redirected to from any website name. 

In the end the name of the game is name recognition.

In the end you really need to find what works for you and do it. I really think at times writing the book is the easy part. The next hardest thing is getting published; though now in this very new world of publishing, it is an easy thing to do. But it is your name recognition that will let you cut through the sea of anyone can be published with a few simple clicks on the internet. Because, regardless if you are being published by a large publisher, a small press or self-published you are all now competing for the same market share. The internet, the ease of publishing, e-book markets, fan fiction followings, etc. have changed the entire paradigm. You just don’t know who is going to hit it big next.  

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