Blog Post #1005- January 24, 2018 – Difficulties Facing Unknown Authors
Blog Post #1005
January 24, 2018
Difficulties Facing Unknown Authors
Jeff W. Horton
I thought I’d change things up a bit this week. For the past several blogs I’ve pulled topics from some of my novels. This week, I thought I’d pull something from another source, past interviews, when hosts (radio, television, and blog) asked me questions about my latest release, or about writing in general.
One request that interview hosts ask me to discuss time and time again is the topic of tips and suggestions for other writers. In keeping with that vein, I thought I’d share a few opinions, and that’s all they are, opinions, about some of the difficulties and challenges facing unknown authors in today’s marketplace. I can’t speak to challenges before I started actively writing, say, around eight years ago, but I have learned a few things along the way since then.
For those of you either just considering writing or for those who have just started, I’d like to share something I heard on the radio several years ago. I was listening to Dr. David Jeremiah, the pastor of a church in California and the host of his own radio program. I remember him remarking one evening in one of his broadcasts how his father, who’d also been a pastor, had advised him time and time again on the topic of David becoming a pastor. His father had warned David how difficult being a pastor could be, and he advised David that if there was anything else he could possibly do other than becoming a pastor, that he should do that instead. If, however, he felt called by God to be a pastor then well, he had no choice but to obey that call. I suppose that with some caveats added, that would be my advice to you as well; if you can find something you would enjoy doing as much or more than writing then I’d recommend you consider doing that instead. If, however, you feel compelled to write, an inexplicable need to write, well, you too may have no choice but to heed your calling to write, and pray that all of your hard work leads to something productive and worthwhile. If your work profoundly touches and impacts even one life for the better, isn’t it worth the hard work?
“Wait a minute!” you say. “Why are you saying that? You’re just trying to eliminate some of the competition, aren’t you?”
“Ah, yes, competition,” I might answer. “So, you are aware of the intense, excessive, and unprecedented level of competition that currently exists in the marketplace? If you are, then surely you must also realize how difficult it is for even very well-known and established authors to get the word out about their titles to the point that the public becomes sufficiently aware of them!”
There is a conundrum that exists today; the same technology that has made it easier than ever for anyone to write a novel has also led to the rise and acceptance of self-publishing, which means the large publishing houses are no longer the choke point to new books being published. Couple the sheer quantity of books being written and couple that with evidence that fewer people are reading books, turning instead to movies and television for their entertainment, and it makes for the perfect storm for the unknown writer trying to write the breakout novel.
That’s not to say that books are not being published, that new writers are not winning awards and going on to win big book deals, it merely means that there are fewer deals, that the deals often amount to less, and that more often than not the unknown author faces an uphill battle working to establish himself, and his work, in an industry experiencing great upheaval and immense competition. So how does the unknown author go about finding success in today’s marketplace? I suppose it could pretty much be summed-up in one word; marketing.
So, what can we do to be successful in today’s marketplace? Well, to be honest I’m still working that out myself. Perhaps I can best offer what hasn’t produced the kind if results I’d hoped for, at least for me:
Marketing Activities that Met with Little to No Success
Relying on a single social media platform like Facebook
Constantly spamming people in Goodreads groups, on Facebook, or Twitter about your books
Spending money on ads in FB or Goodreads
Book Blog tours
Marketing Activities that are Promising
Hiring a publicist
Emphasis on blog and blog posts
Get social media follower counts up
More meaningful interaction on social media
Ultimately there are several things that can work to your advantage when you’re an unknown writer:
- Who you know
Knowing the right people always puts you to an advantage. For example, if your best friend happens to be a literary agent, or a publicist, you’ll be in a much better position as y9ou market your new book.
- Getting your book in front of the right agent or the right publisher
This is always the hard part. Oftentimes the large publishers prefer going with established authors who are already well-known and whose sales numbers are already known to make them a profitable investment for a publisher or agent. Sometimes this could mean submitting your manuscript to a small press, hopefully one with a strong success rate and a strong marketing effort.
In the end, whatever helps you sell more books in both the short-term and the long-term is the winning strategy. Tools like Novel Rank (https://www.novelrank.com/) can help you monitor your book sales so you can always track which marketing efforts are having an impact are having an impact and which ones are not.
There are and always will be series of book-related marketing challenges facing unknown authors. My best advice is to leverage whatever resources you have at your disposal to aid you, to get your book noticed, and onto the best-seller list.
But hey, remember to always ask yourself this question; if writers like myself were really so successful, would we all have time to write on blogs like this one each week? I don’t know the answer myself; I’ll let you know when I’m too busy to write on this blog each week, lol.
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