Barnes & Noble laid off 45-50 employees at their corporate offices in New York last month. Borders is on the verge of closing 150 stores and will likely be filing for bankruptcy in an effort to reorganize.
So what are authors to make of this news? How will their books get "out there?"
Here are three steps authors should make to continue to pursue sales and visibility for their books as this climate is changing:
1) Don't depend solely on the retail bookstore market to be the primary outlet for book sales.
Those days are gone, and if you plan for your book like a good small businessperson, you will pursue multiple revenue streams for your book. Publishers that rely solely on the retail bookstore market are closing their doors (as the retailers close theirs). Authors that want to survive must have a plan for keeping their book relevant and visible in the marketplace outside the traditional bookstores.
It is not enough to expect customers to come find your book in the sea of books at bookstores that are more often more interested in selling a handful of bestsellers and non-book gift items in their stores than they are supporting new authors and books. Authors must be proactive in finding their customer base and recognize that this base may not ever darken the door of a bookstore.
2) Develop an online presence for your book.
More books are sold online now than in brick and mortar stores. If you are not engaging readers online, you are missing a vast and diverse market - and one that is right at your fingertips!
Start a blog, develop a Facebook Fan Page for your book, and have a video book trailer for your book. This allows you to visually and electronically interact with your audience worldwide. Follow influential people on Twitter, and become a vocal expert in your field. Develop your own following by letting others hear what you have to say, and draw them to your book and how it will benefit them.
3) Most importantly, ask and answer these questions: Where are you taking your book? How are you engaging potential readers? What is the target audience for your book, and how do you intend to get the book in their hands as a professional author?
If you are not considering the above questions and making a plan based around these ideas, you will likely be disappointed in how your book is selling in 2011. But if you step out into pursuing this kind of mentality, you will find your audience, sell more books, and you will have fun! As you move into this environment of finding your book's niche, this can also drive readers back into the retail market to some degree, so the visibility you create on the non-retail side actually creates momentum and sales elsewhere.
Pursue speaking engagements, book fairs, civic groups, and other pubic appearances. If you've written a book on parenting or marriage, start your own small groups or conferences in your community. If your book is about World War II, find historical societies or college history classes that would be interested in your perspective or research. The possibilities are endless, and you as the author can find much more control, success, and profits from sales.
If you are reading this and are a Tate Publishing author, you have a wealth of tools at your disposal as you team with your Marketing Representative to pursue all the above options. Most authors do not have the option of pursuing their targeted audience but are locked into the retail market alone, with little to no assistance from their publisher on a long-term basis. We have relationships with all the major retailers and love working with each of them, but we recognize that for authors, the retailers are one piece of the puzzle, not the entire puzzle when it comes to selling books.
At Tate Publishing, our goal is to help authors find what works best in selling their books. We pursue retail, but we don't stop there. Today's market has splintered into millions of smaller, niche markets, and as we tap into yours, success and sales can be found!