|Bill Clinton Book Signing, 2004|
Here it is:
Active authors sell books, inactive authors don't.
Pretty profound, huh?
And yet it stands to reason that with more than 1.5 million new books released into the marketplace every year, every author must work incredibly hard to stand out from the pack.
Standing out can't be done by the publisher and publicist alone or by simply having a very good book. After all, every author claims their book is terrific and needs to be set apart. This can be incredibly difficult if you are not a household name like the author in my picture above. Even if you don't admire him (I actually don't agree with his politics or personal decisions at all, but he does know how to sell books), I think you may recognize him. But you know what he didn't do? He didn't sit back and expect his publisher to sell books for him. He understood that the success of his book would rise and fall on his ability to generate interest and engage his audience, as we see him doing above.
If Bill Clinton - who stood as the leader of the free world for 8 years - needs to promote his book, be the face of his book, and engage people personally in order to sell books and be a successful author, then I don't know of a single author that can afford to not do the very same.
Along with the calling to write a book comes the calling to promote and sell it. You cannot separate the two, and very few (if any) writers can simply afford to only write and leave the selling to someone else.
|Stephen King on "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson", 2012|
The overall point is something I've been discussing with the Founder of Tate Publishing, Dr. Richard Tate. He recently said to me, "We're simply seeing more and more in this industry that it's not just about the book - it's about the author." In other words, having a good book isn't enough. But if you couple an excellent product with an author that will be active and visible, the results can be terrific.
You might think it's easy for authors like Bill Clinton and Stephen King to sell books due to their name recognition, and certainly they may have opportunities that non-celebrity authors may never have. But both worked to build their platforms for years and years - engaging people, building an audience, and developing a following. At one point in their lives and careers, both authors were entirely unknown and had to start building influence and growing a platform in their respective fields. It didn't happen overnight for either of them.
If you don't know where to start and are a Tate Publishing author, you have an advantage that most authors in the book industry never have in your assigned Marketing Representative. This person can brainstorm with you and direct our team of publicists on your behalf to make contacts and pursue events and opportunities for sales. And at the same time, you can be building your audience, making contacts, and pursuing your own events for our team to publicize as well. The more active you are, the more books will be sold.
This summer alone, our marketing department at Tate Publishing scheduled, publicized, and promoted nearly 3000 events nationwide for our authors. These events include speaking engagements, retail bookstore signings, craft fairs, church and school events, book festivals - pretty much anywhere and everywhere that authors can find people to engage and sell books. According to recent reports from Publisher's Weekly, only 30% of books sold are sold in brick and mortar bookstores in today's market, so authors must take advantage of opportunities for events in as many locations as possible, finding out where their target audience is located and taking the books straight to those potential readers.
If you aren't active, the best time to become active is right now. If you have been an inactive author, make a decision to become active and to purposefully be the face of your book. The results will be seen quickly, and though it is hard work, it can be extremely rewarding (and even fun!) in the long run.