5 QUESTIONS for AUTHORS
December 14, 2021
Blogging is not for earning. It’s about helping others with the knowledge that you have. “
— Syd Faizan Ali
I Hate Blogging
I hate blogging. Not bloggers, don’t get me wrong. And certainly not readers. But the act of blogging. Logging into my blog, typing words to an audience that is silent and invisible, and trying to imagine that anyone could possibly give a crap about what I’m saying. It feels futile.
What would I rather be doing? Working on my book! It has a fascinating plot that I am enamored of—lowly physics students trade consciousness with select super-rich leaches in order to save the world—It requires doing interesting research and asking questions like: why do most physicists believe a person might go forward in time but not back in time? We are all zipping into the future at a rate of 1 second per second. Einstein proved we could speed that up by riding on a space ship, although not very much. Couldn’t we find a way to accelerate further? If you developed a time-travel device you couldn’t go back in history before it was made, nor forward after it is destroyed, but could you time-travel without a device?
These are way more intriguing questions to ponder and write about—as far as I’m concerned—than how to find a good editor, or what to do to get your manuscript publication-ready, or how to write an Amazon ad. But I realize that authors who might read this blog would rather read something helpful to them—and that probably isn’t my speculations on wave/particle theories! Instead, the likely audience for this blog is authors and those interested in publishing. That brings me to my first real question for you:
- WHO ARE YOU WRITING FOR? WHAT ARE THEIR INTERESTS?
You should write and blog about what you know. Share your expertise. I’ve worked with a number of authors, and I know a little something about publishing, so publishing is a natural blog topic for me. What’s yours?
We put so much of ourselves into our writing our book becomes our offspring—an almost living thing we’ve produced out of mere thought. Yet we rarely think about who the reader will be. There is even a negative connotation for admitting we are writing for readers—as one might assume you are a “commercial” writer. Some authors even say, “Hey, I didn’t write for the purpose of finding readers or making money, I write for myself.” I contend that if that is true, then what you are really doing is called journaling. All other writing is meant as communication—to share ideas with others—but identifying and locating the right others is most challenging. Once found, it is gratifying when we discover our words have reached someone and have been positively received.
Writing is generally a solitary act and although there are many ways to share our words, we don’t have an actual “book” until it is produced somewhere, somehow. That is a big process, hopefully not as time-consuming as writing the book, but a huge endeavor nonetheless. A print or eBook book requires editing and design, and initial readers to give feedback. Then changes. And more editing. And more changes. The book requires a “look” called a brand. The brand identifies the book’s genre and tone, it conveys something of the author’s intention. It says something about who the reader will be. Which brings me to my second question:
- CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR READER? ARE THEY MALE OR FEMALE? OLD OR YOUNG? WHAT’S THEIR EDUCATION LEVEL? WHERE DO THEY HANGOUT?
Although I dislike the act of blogging, it is true that I read blogs. I especially like blogs by authors who are great at giving me truth-nuggets—mull-overable combinations of words that give me pause, make me wonder, or say to myself, “That’s it!”
For example, Seth on his blog, https://seths.blog/ makes an analogy about why branding and marketing are crucial for any book:
Seth also points out, “A story doesn’t work when it’s your story. It works when it becomes their story.” He insists that what really matters is intention. So my third question to you is:
- WHAT IS YOUR INTENTION AS AN AUTHOR?
In order to connect with readers we have to start to view our book as a product. If I hand a book about astrology to a reader who doesn’t believe in astrology, even if it is well-edited and has a great design, I’m not gaining a reader or a fan. If instead I find a reader who is interested in that topic, then they may share it with other readers who are equally star-struck! If I can identify and describe my reader—the person who is into what I have to say—then I can target similar readers. My intention from the get-go needs to be getting the interest of the reader. Which leads to the forth logical question:
- HOW WILL READERS IDENTIFY YOUR BOOK AS YOURS? HOW WILL IT BE DISTINGUISHED FROM OTHER SIMILAR BOOKS?
When I was finished writing my first book I thought, “That’s all done then,” not realizing that writing is only one third of creating a book. Authors eventually discover that there are three parts to book creation: (1) writing (2) book production (3) marketing to readers.
Writing the book is about one-third of the process. One-third is book design and production, including trying on metadata—finding the right words to describe the book; the final third is finding readers and presenting the book to them via marketing. The savvy author considers all of the process early on, and by so-doing the author can get a picture of their reader in mind and write and/or market to that person intentionally. One author said to me recently, “ I had no idea it was so complicated to publish a book. There’s so many moving parts!” Quite a true assessment. This leads to the fifth and final question:
- WHAT ARE THE AUTHOR’S RESPONSIBILITIES FOR MARKETING? WHAT ARE THE PUBLISHERS RESPONSIBILITIES FOR MARKETING?
The job of the publisher is to create a high quality product—one that is competitive in the market—and to begin the marketing process with compelling metadata and a striking cover, distributing the book as widely as possible in order to help the author find the readers they’ve identified.
The job of the publisher is to understand the industry and deal with changes to publishing by networking with other publishers; taking advantage of new opportunities, and implementing changes in practice to address new needs. For example book production—we are now producing some of Anamcara Press’ books with a local printer to bypass the increased likelihood of delays in production and shipping. The books actually cost more, but we are not POD when we use them. We are instead printing a “run.” The goal of the publisher is to learn to take advantage of new opportunities as they present themselves in production, distribution, and sales. In other words, deal with changing big-picture issues that most authors do not want to think about.
The job of the publisher is to discern what marketing efforts are worthwhile to spend time and money on, from what is a worthless drain; helping authors answer the question, Should I blog? or Should I spend money on this ad?
The author’s job is to identify and connect with their readers. Readers don’t have favorite publishers. They have favorite authors. Only the author has “fans” and so it is up to the author to reach out using whatever means they are comfortable with—or that others can help them with—to connect.
As a hybrid publisher, Anamcara Press partners with authors to create the best possible product and offer marketing advice so the author may find their reader least expensively and most effectively. When we learn new things about book marketing we share this knowledge with authors, and we bring authors together to exchange information they’ve gleaned. Practicing strength in numbers.
TIPS & TRENDS TO HELP AUTHORS MARKET IN A CHANGING WORLD?
- Create Ad “Hooks”
- Participate in https://litchat.com/ on Twitter. It’s a live chat about books on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 4 pm EST. Authors, editors, agents tend to participate. It’s a great way to be a part of that community. To find out how to participate, just follow @lithchat.
- Create a page for yourself on Library Thing, Red Room and Goodreads. These are Online sites with huge numbers of regular visitors, all of whom are looking for the next great book. Join the forums and participate in the discussions.
- Link your website with other Online forums like Twitter, Facebook, Library Thing, Goodreads and Red Room.
- Link to other author’s websites. Get reciprocal links for your website. LINK TO EACH OTHER’S WEBSITES!
- Put your blog URL on Author Central.
- Combine your series through Author Central. As an author you can claim all your books and combine editions. Use the contact button while logged in and send them the two ISBN/ASIN numbers if you have trouble. This will link the editions. You can ask them if they can set your preferred edition as a primary. Since these are two different editions of the same book, you can join them, but you’ll not be able to delete or merge them. (Assuming you’re talking about print, not ebook)
MARKETING TRENDS 2022:
- Focus marketing efforts on your eBook. Amazon’s top 10 books are selling twice as many digital editions as hardback and paperback combined, and in July 2021Amazon said that digital editions were outselling paper books overall.
- Attend a book fair in 2022 — people are ready to get out-and-about
- Start a podcast or blog — hotter now than ever
Consider doing the following in addition to your social media efforts:
- Guest blogging/interviews
- Reaching out to organizations whose members have an interest in your book’s topic (eg. Senior centers)
- Communicating with book sellers and going “on tour”
There are lots of ways to connect with your readers. The most important is to