Get OUT of the Publishing Traffic Jam
In the early days of publishing the road to riches was a small highway littered with rejected manuscripts and abandoned dreams. Few who started out on the journey actually made it to the finish line. Many more either crashed and burned, or simply abandoned the trip altogether.
For the financially independent, there was the alternate toll-road. Self-publishing and subsidized publishing (also, unfortunately called “vanity” publishing) was a path less traveled by, but one which many authors hoped would lead to riches, or at least lead to enough wealth to cover the cost of the toll.
Until the latter part of the twentieth century, those were the only two courses for an author to embark on if they wanted to be published. No longer. Computer technology, high speed printers and the Internet has changed the entire highway system. The rocky road of agent to publisher to bookstore to reader has been replaced by the manuscript to hard drive to reader highway of the Cyberspace Transit System. In today’s high tech market, ebooks are downloaded in a fraction of the time it would take to print a book. Print-On-Demand publishers produce a hard print copy in a few days, with no huge stacks of inventory piling up in warehouses, or author’s garages. Seemingly overnight, anyone with a computer and a modem became a “published” author and the “road to riches” has become twenty-four hour traffic jam.
With thousands of authors worldwide driving their new found published work on the same road at the same time, it’s getting harder to see the finish line, let alone reach it. With hundreds of new titles going on-line daily, and hundreds of new authors adding to the massive list on Amazon.com, the problem is no longer getting your book in print. The problem now is getting your book noticed, purchased and read.
Those who have already made it need not worry. Established authors will continue to attract an audience, whether they publish in paper or in cyberspace. The rest of us are only hoping we won’t run out of gas while we’re stuck in traffic. The goal may still be the same, but the length of time it takes to reach that goal just became a whole lot longer. The influx of POD and Ebook publishers has more than doubled since 1999 when Writers Club first announced their new print on demand program. iUniverse entered the scene in October of that same year, followed by Xlibris, 1stBooks, and a number of others. Ebook publishers began paving their own roads early on, and now there are more than fifty, with more than a hundred titles each!
At a meeting of the National Writers Union, Literary Agent Sandra Dykstra commented that iUniverse’s goal to publish 30,000 titles was admirable, but how were they going to find 30,000 readers? Wouldn’t it be better to stay on the well paved road, built by traditional publishing houses that have a more select list and sell 30,000 copies of one title? She had a point. To a point. With so many authors publishing so many titles, how does one avoid the traffic jam on the road to riches? The solution is not to u-turn to the old ways. The solution is to get off at the next exit, find an alternate route, or build your own road!
The old ways worked in the old days, but the 21st Century put an end to the “old” ways and there’s no turning back. While technology has made it easier than ever to publish a book, it has also made it that much harder for newly published authors to break away from the pack and find an audience. The Internet has given authors the golden opportunity to reach an international readership. It’s up to the authors to use this technology to construct their very own road to riches.
Web sites devoted to the promotion of new books are begin created almost daily. The key is in knowing where these sites are and the best way to use them. Any search engine will help you begin the search, but don’t stop there. There are many Egroups listed in Yahoo specifically designed for new authors. These are an excellent source for promotion ideas, plus you can attend any of these ‘round the clock in all kinds of weather without ever having to leave your desk. Members exchange information, support and motivation for each other in cyberspace. Some sites run weekly or monthly live “chats” with a variety of industry guests. DO NOT BE SHY about self-promotion. Lean on that horn long and loud. Post your reviews on all on-line bookstores. If someone gives your book a decent review, copy it and post it everywhere you can. Build your own resource list for your specific genre and promote yourself at least once a day someplace on your list. If you write romance, don’t try to be the “next” Danielle Steele. If you write horror, don’t try to be the “next” Stephen King. Whatever you write, be the very first YOU.
It takes time, hard work and effort, but if you keep your eye one the road ahead and hold tight to that wheel as you speed down your own highway, your own road to riches will leave everyone else far behind eating your dust.
Good luck and good writing!