Does that statement make you as angry as it makes me?
I’ve been a professional writer for more than three decades, having published articles, poems, short stories and 31 books, including 21 novels (published mainly by major New York publishers such as HarperCollins and Warner Books). I’ve also had six screenplays produced and sold others.
Now when people ask what I do and I tell them I’m an author, they often say something like, “That’s nice. So is my daughter.” Who’s still in junior high. When I first started writing novels I was the only person I knew who’d had a novel published. I honestly think we’ve reached a point where there are more writers than readers. With the engine of supply and demand driving the marketplace, that can be bad news for writers who want to sell their work.
Add to that, many readers now expect to get books, articles and other information and media for FREE. If you’re a publisher, it can be difficult to determine the value of the written word in a digital world where everyone is a few keyboard strokes away from becoming a “published writer.”
The good news is that even though there are a lot of writers, there’s still only one you – “you” being the content you create. For example, while there might be lots of stories about the mafia, there’s only one Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather. Another way of putting it is that given the 50,000 – 100,000 words that make up a novel, only one writer in the world will string the words together quite the way you do.
If readers like what you write, if they like your unique take on things, the characters you create, or the stories you tell, the information you provide, then they will continue to read what you write.
That said, you still need to let people know your work is available. No matter how many books you’ve got on Amazon, if people don’t know your books are there, you won’t sell any.
If you’re with a major publisher, marketing is the publisher’s job. If you’re not, then you need to make a decision. You can decide to do no marketing and just hope that people find you. You can hire a book marketing person or company to do the job. You can learn book marketing and do it yourself. Or you can do parts of the marketing yourself and farm out others parts.
Hiring a book marketing company or person is a tricky business. No one can promise to sell a specific amount of books unless he intends to buy those books himself – and it’s been known to happen. The more you understand – big picture and small details – about book marketing, the better decisions you’ll be able to make about marketing your book. I KNOW this is true because I’ve gone through this process, including making a lot of mistakes.
In the second part of this blog (Writers Wanted: No Talent Required, Part 2) I’ll give you a checklist of “10 Things You Need to Know Before You Market Your Book.” Hiring the wrong people to do your book marketing, or spending months (or years) learning Social Media skills that are obsolete by the time you master them, are just two examples of how you can waste a lot of money and time.