Blogger: Mary Keeley
As 2014 commences there is evidence the operative word in the publishing industry continues to be change. Publishers, authors, and agents must be willing to adapt. With change comes opportunity for those who are willing to take a risk and think outside the box. Status quo will be left behind.
Two industry announcements this very first week of the new year are evidence of publishing efforts to acclimate: Steve Laube’s purchase of Marcher Lord Press and HarperCollins’ decision to expand Thomas Nelson’s self-publishing arm, Westbow Press, to serve Zondervan as well.
If you feel like you are aiming at a moving target as a writer, you have good reason. Whether you are an established author or working toward your debut, you can utilize the same things affecting change in the industry to your own advantage:
· Technology. Michelle Ule filled in for Wendy Lawton on her blog Tuesday while Wendy is traveling. If you read her post, “A Decade of Reflection,” you have a sense of how electronic advances have affected the industry in the last ten years. With these advances come opportunities to think outside the box to prepare for different writing formats, like apps, and new trends in publishing, like micro-publishing (short books, published quickly), which is a viable option for established authors. It may help to take a class, learn online, or sign up for a workshop at a writers conference every year to stay current on new technologies.
· Social Media. I confess I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I recognize the benefits and ease for authors to connect with thousands of potential readers of your books (the love part). Several business savvy clients have found legitimate ways to increase their following exponentially through timed posts, building relationships with friends and followers who can become influencers, and strategic use of ads. Don’t let your approach to social media become stagnant. As the year begins invest some time strategizing new ways you can optimize your efforts. Of course, the downside of social media is the interaction can become consuming, even addicting (the hate part) if you aren’t disciplined. Authors, and agents, have very little time to waste.
Two things that remain constant:
1. A breathtaking manuscript still moves agents and editors to take action. For a novelist it’s the surest way to get an agent because agents know editors will make room in their publishing slots for a sublimely written story with a fresh slant. Platforms and topics being equally strong, the author of a nonfiction book superbly written to its target audience in a voice that best appeals to them will win the contract.
2. Staying true to your brand and what readers expect from your genre will help sales. If readers feel they are getting what they expected, they’ll be happy and will be more likely to recommend your book to others. That word of mouth is still the most effective marketing tool. When J.K. Rowling’s novel for adults, Casual Vacancy, released last July, readers didn’t anticipate how vastly different it would be from the Harry Potter books that propelled her to fame. Loyal HP readers didn’t get what they expected from the super-author and were disappointed, as many the book’s reviews indicate. J.K. Rowling will survive because readers who can separate from the HP books praise her superb writing in the adult book. She now has a new audience to feed. If you are not at super-author status, don’t try this at home.
Agents, too, have to think outside the box. At Books & Such we continually look for new opportunities to benefit our clients in this changing, morphing, transitioning industry. Industry change isn’t a new concept. Successful businesses and manufacturers have reinvented themselves over the years to adapt to cultural preferences and technological advances. Microwave ovens entered the market as more homemakers went to work. And so it is in publishing. Thinking outside the box has become the normal modus operandi. Embrace it!
What out of the box approach can you see yourself undertaking this year? How have your career efforts changed to keep up with new technologies and industry change?
Thinking outside the box is the modus operandi for your writing career in 2014. Click to Tweet.
With change in publishing comes opportunity for those willing to think outside the box. Click to Tweet.