An Author’s Dilemma: Surviving The Seismic Shifts In The Book Trade
Book signing tours use to be a regular part of the publishing industry. Authors expected to sign a deal, get an advance and then prepare for a tour. Some tours, those of the reigning literary superstars, had a glamorous side; for most they were a bit of a grind and a part of the road warrior aspect of trying to sell books.
But book tours are going the way of the LP in the music industry. They are still there, but they’re becoming scarcer. It’s a shame, because book tours are more important than many realize. They are about making connections with individual stores, store owners and managers. Even those inevitable signings that end up with barely a handful of people in the audience can be beneficial, if a relationship is forged between the writer and a bookseller. But now independents are falling by the wayside and the large chains are doing all that they can to simply survive. As with the music industry, the Internet has set the publishing industry on its head. Stores and chains are failing as more books are being bought and sold online. As with all types of intellectual property, book sales are being hit hard. The model that worked so well only a few years ago, is now broken.
The downside is that the days of generous advances, full-blown PR campaigns and multi-city book tours is pretty much a thing of the past, except for a very select few. Still as the old model begins to falter, new opportunities are surfacing. For authors who take their careers and their works into their own hands there is a new world of opportunity out there.
Every area of interest has its own bloggers and social media sites. Savvy authors are using social media, blogging, and article marketing to create an inbound marketing funnel for their books and to establish themselves as experts in their fields. Some are launching and investing in their own book signing tours, others are offering online events. Those that are truly savvy are melding social media with a traditional public relations campaign to reach their target market, establish themselves as experts in their field and gain the validation and legitimacy of being in the news.
With the right buzz, self-published authors can get picked up by majors (if that is their aim). More importantly by establishing a presence for and interest in their books, authors can generate their own sales and build their reader base. It takes more work and authors now have to be marketers as well as writers, but the opportunities for sales are out there. The model has changed and the game has shifted, but, the days of the successful author, need not be a thing of the past.