Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
I occasionally hear from disillusioned and even sometimes angry writers. “Why doesn’t the publisher promote my book? Why can’t they sell it without requiring so much of ME?”
The big pubs are under the gun to vastly overhaul their business models, and they are working toward just that. This is true for many, if not most, businesses today (not just publishing).
The state of book promotion, and the fact that it’s increasingly on the author’s shoulders, is a product of many changes in the business environment, most of them outside the control of publishers. Many of the conditions which used to support publishers’ promotion of books no longer exist.
Here are just three changes:
→ The disappearance of thousands of brick & mortar bookstores.
Consumers previously discovered new finds by browsing the shelves. That’s far less likely to happen now. And with fewer stores, the opportunities for advertising within those stores have declined (i.e. front-of-store placement, themed tables and end-caps).
→ The entire advertising, marketing and PR industry has changed—it goes far beyond publishing.
Every company that advertises a product or service has had to grapple with the fact that they can no longer “shout” messages at people. They’re taking a different approach to selling and it includes providing value around their product or service and truly engaging with the customer. Where the old buzz-phrase was “return on investment” and a company was limited only by the amount of money they could throw at an advertising campaign, the new buzz-phrase is “return on engagement.” Engagement requires a new level of creativity and a new way of thinking. This engagement requirement is where authors come in—people want authenticity and this means the author herself is the one doing the engaging.
→ Consumers’ behavior has changed.
♦ Book buyers are changing where they’re likely to come in contact with books, which is now far less likely to be a bookstore.
♦ Consumers are shifting the kinds of content they’re choosing to spend their time with, and doing much of their reading online.
♦ People’s attention spans are shorter. You can’t just provide a wonderful product. You have to convince people that your product (book) is worth their time, that it will add meaning to their lives.
♦ People are no longer willing to see themselves as targets for marketing. They’d rather “opt in” to call the shots on who they allow to market to them. With the internet, they have unlimited buying options, so they’re not beholden to any one product or company.
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Every business that sells to consumers has had to rethink and overhaul the way they reach their customers. This isn’t a “publishing thing.” The music and book industries have been hit especially hard by the transition to digital, but every single consumer brand in the world is grappling with the new strategies required to get their products in front of people.
Publishers are figuring it out too—and greater involvement from the author is part of the new equation. Since it’s unlikely this will change, we all need to wrap our minds around this and accept it.
What do you think about publishers’ increasing platform and marketing requirements for authors?
Every business – not just publishing – has had to overhaul the way they reach their customers. Click to Tweet.