We have written of this many times in the past, yet it bears more discussion. The knowledge and skills required by an author to market a book have nearly (and in some cases actually have) superseded the skills necessary to write a book. Gone are the days of devoting one’s time exclusively to writing.
The learning curve for marketing is steep. Authors who undertake to market their own books require the audacity that allows them to believe they can accomplish in a few months what others have spent years of schooling and experience to master. Viewed through this lens, a self-published self-marketed writer today undertakes two simultaneous careers.
This came starkly to mind for me at a recent meeting of my writers club, when members discussed their reasons for attending an upcoming writers conference. The single compelling reason to spend the money and time, by consensus, was to learn more about marketing. Not writing.
I discern among writers the hope that at some forum, somewhere, a presenter will reveal the Holy Grail of book marketing, a simple technique or process that will maximize exposure and sales yet minimize time and effort. Somewhere in the back of my mind I nurture this hope. Call me Sir Wishalot.
Some authors have in desperation turned to publicists. This is a hard choice, because publicists cost money. At 3 or 4 dollars per eBook, the cost of a publicist could represent years of eBook sales. The author must overcome a deficit before the sales campaign has even begun. One would need to be confident that the publicist has already found the Holy Grail of marketing.
I do not believe that traditional publishing will ever completely disappear, but I do believe it will become an exclusive club. For most, publisher based marketing will not be part of the contract they sign. The publishing company logo may be a door to more sales, but it is also an avenue to a smaller percentage of the royalties.
The good news is that in this rapidly changing world of publishing, the number of writers seeking answers to the marketing question is increasing. Authors must compete for retail shelf space and exposure, but ultimately the greater benefits will come from pooling resources. A group or consortium of writers offers greater influence and power to negotiate with book retailers, advertisers, cover artists, editors, news media and so on. Such groups may well be the way of the future for authors.