Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Author Business...or, Why I'm in Business

The other day, I received a thought-provoking comment to a May post, "You have to sell books":
The problem with authors having to sell books is not having to do it, but their lack of skill at thinking on those terms. The skills required to write a page-turner are not the same as scheduling events, mailing postcards, being interviewed, and keeping copious notes on who was helpful for the second time around.

I love speaking as an author or even motivational talks using my novels as material, but the work that goes into requesting a spot is endless and takes me away from what I do best, working through dilemmas with my characters, using words as paint. It's not all bad, just hard and time-consuming. And the establishment (newspapers, TV, reviewers) don't give small press authors nearly their due, so it's frustrating to spend the time and not be deemed 'worthy' of recognition based on not having a large NY house behind you or not having received a newsworthy advance.
The first paragraph lays out why I started Book Promotion 101 six years ago: because of authors' lack of promotional (read: business) skills. I say and write this till I'm blue in the face & fingers:

If you sell your writing, you're not just a writer.
YOU'RE IN THE WRITING BUSINESS.

Which means you have to manage your business. Which means that, just like every other businessperson--whether artist, contractor, doctor, shopkeeper or lil ol' me--you have to do:
  • promotion & marketing
  • sales
  • collections
Regarding the second paragraph quoted above:
Yes, the promotional work is endless. As I wrote in the previous post, it's a marathon, not a sprint.

Small press authors aren't the only ones who "don't get their due"--which is what, exactly?--from the "establishment" media. I could tell many stories about clients who couldn't get no respect from their large NY houses; though after working with me they usually clawed out some. And very few authors (especially children's & YA) have been receiving "newsworthy" advances; even fewer will in the current dismal economic climate.

Speaking of the economy, if you look at Publishers Marketplace, you'll see that book deals are still being made. And though newspaper book review sections have been decimated, authors and books are still being covered in print, broadcast and online media. Bookstores are still hosting signings; organizations across the country are still hosting author talks; book clubs still want to have authors visit or phone in; there are still book festivals all over; schools are still paying to have authors do programs for students.

In short: It's time to get down to business for 2009.

1 comment:

Amy Nathan said...

Thanks for this post. I keep telling my writer-friends and my blog-readers to check PM - books ARE selling. People ARE reading. It's harder than before but it only means we have to be even better than we thought. Frankly, I love a challenge and am ready to take 2009 by storm.