I asked one of my author clients the other day, "How is your next book coming along?"
"Oh, she sighed, "I've decided I'm not writing this month. I'm too distracted."
This author just had her book launched the past month, and from spending years in the focused, well-planned out, almost cozy world of just getting the writing done she was plunged into the crazy world of marketing in the day of e-books, self-published books, the dreaded Internet and the maze that is Amazon. Not that finding an agent and actually getting it published was not an enviable accomplishment, but the road to actually selling that book now is not a clear path and it is filled with obstacles. In other words, though there is a method to writing and getting a book published, there's no GPS for selling it.
She had asked me to get her into some major national publications and mass media. I told her that it is very hard to do, but not impossible. I told her there's less space, less writers, and less readers and viewers of mass media. It's not like everyone watches the evening news anymore. It's fine to target them, but you also have to go after the smaller writers, bloggers, radio, podcasts and other media with their dedicated audiences.
The author is bewildered and annoyed at the almost infinite amount of media there is to pursue. My advice is to research, make a media list, and prioritize. The universe of media that can be utilized is so overwhelming that progress on your intended media list should be the benchmark of success in any campaign. And this is just concerning the quest for earned media, what to do on social media is a whole other animal.
She was also upset to hear how more than one of the top publishers have created their own pay-to-play ventures.
No one really knows how this will affect the market; a market already inundated with self-published books, vanity presses making authors out of anyone and therefore supposedly tarnishing the reputation of authors who were "truly" published, but this all could change.
What I can say for certain is that it's great for PR people like me and for book bloggers and reviewers. We all have a lot of work to do. Also, the avid book reader is the ultimate victor as the choices are almost endless.
What all of this does do overall is allow readers a greater selection of books, at better prices and with easier access. With the click of a mouse now rather than a physical journey to a brick and mortar store a book downloads in minutes for probably less money than would have been spent on a physical book. A consumer can also buy many more books for the same amount of money than in years past. This is not to say that overall purchases will decline but rather overall sales may increase as volume takes when readers purchase more or people who would not spend discretionary income on books find that the lower prices deliver a lot of entertainment for the buck. That is good for authors.
It is part of the baby boomer mentality, the love of the bookstore. At a recent trip to a major bookseller on the highway in December I was shocked to see first of all, that the parking lot was more filled with cars than at some of the department stores along the same highway. When I went inside the place the brewing with people, though I have to say the lines were longer at the cafe than at the check-out line. A quick look around did show that most of the people were boomers or older, though maybe 30% were younger. That's a good thing.
In one of my favorite movies, You've Got Mail, the decades old, NYC local bookstore called "The Shop Around The Corner" was forced to close because the big, bad, discount bookseller called "Fox Books" was moving in around the block.
Fast forward 15 years and now the big discounter is having trouble staying alive.
The selling game is different, the sales vehicle is different, the means to find a book to read is different, but the desire, pursuit and enjoyment of finding a good book to read really remains the same. I think books will be around for quite some time.