Bookstores are Closing & Amazon is Expanding–Want a Sure Bet in an Uncertain Future?
As many of you already know, historically, novelists have endured a mind-numbing failure rate. Even up to 2007, traditionally published novelists only had a 1 in 9 chance of ever seeing a second book in print. Most writers failed to sell through their print run (per BEA statistics) and had to return to the day job to pay the bills. Ah, but the times, they are a changin’ and it is a WONDERFUL time to be a writer.
As many of you already know (especially the WANAlums), I happen to be a HUGE proponent of writers having a blog. A GOOD blog that people actually want to read. But, I get it. Some of you might not believe you have time or perhaps you aren’t ready to start a blog. Okay. Fair enough. Today’s advice is for you. Oh, and it is also for ALL writers, even those who have a blog.
Yeah, and you thought you’d sneak out the back of the HTML. Nope. Grab a seat.
How many of you have blogs that could use more traffic? Yeah, that’s pretty much all of us. How many of you have a book coming out one day and it would help to get a review or do a blog tour to promote? Um…everyone should have a hand raised right now. How many of you LOVE randomly e-mailing total strangers and asking for big favors?
The Rapid Changes in Our Marketplace
Most of us cringe at the idea of self-promotion, but as we careen into the 21st century, the Digital Age Author has more responsibility than ever before. If we self-publish or go indie, our social platform means life or death, and traditionally published authors no longer get a pass. Sorry.While it might be a fantastic time to be a writer, I imagine those working in publishing remember fonder days.
Amazon has really been putting the hurt on NY Publishing. The future of Barnes & Noble, the largest book retailer in the world, is largely uncertain, and William J. Lynch Jr, CEO of Barnes & Noble, admits that there is a lot riding on the future of the Nook. Independent bookstores? Yep. Magic Eight Ball says, *shakes vigorously*, yep, “Future uncertain.” If you don’t want to trust my Magic Eight Ball, you can read more about it here in the New York Times article, The Book Store’s Last Stand.
So why am I taking time to mention the uncertain future of book retailers? So you stop depending on them to get your books in front of readers. From this point on, any shelf space is gravy and awesome, but it cannot be trusted to be there for good.
Traditional methods of getting an author’s wares (books) in front of a customer (reader) are shrinking and going away. It is highly likely that most books will be digital within less than ten years. I am not here to debate whether this is good or bad, but I AM here to help prepare ALL authors for a brilliant future, no matter what your preferred choice of publication might happen to be.
May I remind you, it is a fantastic time to be a writer! Yes, things are changing, but not all change is bad. But some changes require…um, change. Writers need to be on social media. All writers. And if you don’t have a lot of time, I am here to help all writers work smarter not harder.
Agencies now want authors who come with a platform, and few things make agents feel all warm and fuzzy like a writer who has loads of blogger pals. Since traditional means of showcasing books (bookstores) are diminishing, writers need a digital support network now more than ever. Bloggers can be a writer’s best friend and a HUGE time-saver when it comes to social media.
One of the best things we writers can do on social media is to become a Blogger Booster.
The cool thing about bloggers is we are
attention whores friendly, and many of us like people. We are like a faithful dog, and, if you give us a scratch in that place that makes our digital legs go a thumpin’? We will be a loyal pal.
How Can You Be a Blogger Booster?
Comment on Blogs and Repost to Your Networks
Really. That’s all. Ideally, comment on blogs with large followings. Many people go to the more popular blogs for more than the posted content. Hey, check out my comments section. Sometimes I think my posts are just an excuse for all of you to have a party, and often you guys are WAY more interesting than I am.
If you run across blogs that have a healthy comments section, that is a clue that this is an established and even growing community. Commenters befriend each other and hang out. I know because I have met many friends this way. They were regular at commenting on my blog (or other fave blogs where I was the commenter) and I went to their blog and on and on.
In fact, it is very common to see the same people congregating on each other’s blogs. It is a huge…are you ready for this? NETWORK.
Even if you don’t have time to blog, at least take time to read blogs and leave thoughtful comments. People will see you are vested and have something worthwhile to say. They will get to know you and hopefully like and support you, especially if you have a presence on Twitter.
The more people you get to know, the better. When it comes time to plan your book launch, you won’t be tossing form letters into the ether hoping something sticks. You will have awesome pals who are clearly active on-line. Additionally, bloggers will know you, recognize you and, if you support us enough, we will LIKE you…a lot.
Last April, when I taught in L.A. at the RT Book Lovers’ Conference, one of the PR “experts” recommended that an author with a book about to be released needed to sit down and e-mail as many bloggers as possible and see if they would do a review.
Um…no. For the love of all that is chocolate, NO.
In fact, I raised my hand on that one. There are few things that will annoy bloggers more than unsolicited spam asking for us to put out effort for someone we don’t know from a hole in the ground.
Yeah, sure. I will read your indie published 110,000 word high fantasy in my infinite free time, and write a favorable review, even though I have never talked to you or so much as seen a “Great blog” from you in my comments section. Yeah…I am right on that, right after I organize my sock drawer.
Bloggers are always looking for stuff to talk about. Many will even do reviews. I do them on rare occasions, but not for random people who e-mail me a form letter. One of the best ways to get on a blogger’s good side is to regularly comment on her blog and even repost on Twitter and Facebook.
If you do all these things then, LATER, when you are staring down the barrel of needing your new book reviewed? It will feel a heck of a lot less weird asking for a favor. A blogger, particularly a book blogger, will be far more inclined to help you out if you have been giving in the relationship for a while.
Commenting on blogs can build rapport with key influencers with large followings, and it only takes a few minutes a day. Maybe you don’t have time to blog, but you can make time to comment and RT or post a link on your FB, G+ or whatever. Just those two activities can plug you into communities that number in the tens of thousands.
And sure, the future of the bookstore is uncertain…okay, bleak. That’s life. But the cool thing is that while markets change and technology changes…humans are timeless. We will always want community, love, support and friendship and investing in relationships is ALWAYS a good idea, regardless of what is happening on Wall Street.
What are some other ways you guys can think of to be a blogger booster? Do some of you blog and have a cool reader story you would love to share? What are some of your favorite types of blogs? Why do you like them? What makes you guys subscribe to a blog? If you happen to be a book blogger, what steps would you recommend a writer take to improve her chances of landing a review?
I LOVE hearing from you!
And to prove it and show my love, for the month of February, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will announce last week’s winner on Friday.
I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of February I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.
This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness
I am a HUGE fan of Porter Anderson’s Writing on the Ether. It is just crammed full of the best information to stay on top of all the changes in our industry.
4 Ways to Find the Right Freelance Editor by C.S.Lakin.
Need More Cowbell? Hop on over the Jenny Hansen’s Blog. She is doing a really neat series asking Why Do You Blog?
Are Book Covers Important in the Digital Age? by the AWESOME Jody Hedlund. Her blog has been named one of Writer’s Digest’s Best Blogs of 2012 and I AGREE! Just to say…I found her first ;).
What’s So Funny? by Tawna Fenske
What Makes a Book Magical? over at Writer Unboxed
The amazing Anne R. Allen is running a series about How to Blog. Seriously, check it out here.
Need a good laugh? Who doesn’t these days? Make sure you follow Natalie Hartford’s blog. This week? The iFinger.
NYTBSA Bob Mayer has an interesting post, The SDSU Writing Conference, FREE Books, the Self-Publishing Bubble and Zombies. Yeah, he had me at zombies, too.
Pipe down! Will ya? Ever wonder about where these idioms come from? Check out Barbara Forte Abate’s Blog.
Ellen Gregory has a really lovely post Let’s Talk About Choices.
Want more laughs? Marriage Proposals and Bass Boats by Piper Bayard.