Authors, Where Are Your Eggs?
I read a post today from an author who had almost twenty books in her backlist. This author has been a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author but went independent and was depressed when her latest release didn’t get any traction in what she called a saturated market.
Do I believe the romance fiction (or any fiction genre market, for that matter) is saturated? No. Readers will always buy stories. Always.
Are slow book sales truly the fault of KU – or anyone for that matter? I don’t think so. Still, her words got me thinking…what the heck are we doing still relying on third parties for things we can just as easily handle ourselves?
Why are we, as authors, still relying on or depending on anyone other than ourselves to sell our books? We do it anyway, right? How many times have you heard it said that when you publish a book it is up to you, the author, to market it?
We put ourselves out there through whatever venues we choose, whether online or off, and we talk to readers about our stories. We get them to take a chance on our books, and we reach out to them from our websites and newsletters and whichever venues we have access to.
Creating ePub, Mobi, PDF, and other formats of our stories is a simple matter. Putting up a store on your own website is super easy. You don’t need publishers. You need readers. And readers are very, very eager to find you.
The truth is, publishers don’t have your audience. YOU have the audience, your readers are YOUR readers, and believe me, your publisher needs the audience you have attracted through your efforts to sell your books to help THEM sell the books in their catalog.
Read that last bit again–THEY need the readers you have recruited to sell the work of all the authors they have in their catalog.
One way they do this is to use pages in the back of your book to pitch the work of their other authors books who write stuff similar to yours. Why can’t you team up with five author friends you’d be happy to cross promote and do this yourself?
You don’t need USA Today or NYT to know you are good at what you do. You have readers to let you know this. Sure, these are respected publications–but only because people still give them their respect in this area. Why?
Is it deserved or blindly given by many of us because it’s the only way we feel people know our book is worthy of their attention? How does a book get on these lists anyway? Hmmm… My current understanding is that they get there because of reported sales volume. Did USA Today or the NYT sell your book? Nope.
These publications don’t sell your books. Readers who are hungry to find your books sell their publications. Think about it, do. Is this really the way we want to keep doing things?
As an independent author, you could take your books out of KU and put them up for sale in your own web store. Yes, you can sell them directly to your readers. Your readers know who you are. They come to your site or your fan page or through your tweets to your books because they know you and they like your books. They buy because you reached out, you introduced them to your work, and you sell books not because your publisher or any magazine sent readers to you.
YOU grew the audience first. THEY use it. Why shouldn’t you? Further, you haven’t minded allowing a publisher to share your audience with other authors, so why would you mind sharing with authors you can choose to help promote?
Get together. Help each other. Sell each others books!
I know a smallish printing company who will do short runs of just 25 copies on an offset press. They do mass market paperback sized novels – my dream goal for publishing my books. Mass market sized books are just easier for me and this is the way I prefer to get my books.
I’ve used the company myself and these books look no different than any of the books the big publishers put out. To the casual observer, all things are equal, including quality. If you don’t like what is happening with any distribution company, why not take your books, your valuable intellectual property, out of everyone else’s baskets and put them where they belong: in your own basket? Then all you’d have to worry about would be ICANN (the domain registrar in the US) and your web hosting company.
Start with a digital version of your book, then as sales increase, offer print as a commemorative version readers can share and hold in their hands and add to their precious book collections.
Man, one of the greatest things technology has done for authors is to put the power to create, sell, and share our stories into our own hands instead of someone else’s. Now all we have to do is use it.