These two ladies have been in the publishing industry for years, and they know what it takes to succeed (and to fail) in this business. And it was interesting...though the meetings took place at different locations and on different days, the conversations were quite the same - and they came down to two very real truths concerning authors.
First, there is no way around it - selling books takes extremely hard work on the part of the author. Our B&N buyer stated that authors simply cannot depend on the publisher or the retailer to sell books. The publisher and the retailer create opportunities for books to be sold, but actually selling books is the work of the author. There are no short cuts in today's environment, and selling books takes perseverance and a solid work ethic from the author.
Second, every author must pursue the niche market for their book. Bookstores, agents, publishers - they are all looking for niche market authors. Niche authors know their audience and never make the mistake of saying, "My book is for everyone." While you may have a book for all ages or one that could be enjoyed by both male and female readers, the truth is that there is a niche audience for every single book, and authors that have not given thought to their niche market are going to significantly limit their chances at success.
These conversations in New York were both very reassuring to me - because this information is exactly what we tell authors every single day at Tate Publishing. We will always partner at the highest level with retailers, whether it is with buyers, store managers, clerks, etc. We want all Tate authors to have high visibility and opportunity on the table so that they can take advantage of those chances to sell their books. But ultimately, it comes down to an author networking and connecting with potential readers and selling books in those environments.
In addition, we do more to explore the niche market for our authors than any publisher in the world, and we do not stop at simply pushing a book to the retail market through bookstores. We'll get in the trenches with our authors, pursue niche and captive audience events, and help them sell books and reach readers that may never darken the steps of a traditional bookstore. The stores are great, but there are far more readers in the world than those that enter a bookstore on a Saturday afternoon. We want our authors to connect on that level as well so that more books are sold and more money goes back in the pocket of the author.
It is always good to hear that you are on the right track in an industry that is changing - and Tate Publishing is definitely on that track - but it is even better to know that we didn't have to wait to be told that this is the state of our industry and that this is what success looks like. We already knew that in a New York minute.