One of the best parts of my job is working with a variety of people and meeting authors from all over the country. Every author I meet is passionate about their work, and they should be. In fact, I can't imagine why an author would even write a book if they weren't extremely excited and motivated concerning the topic of his or her book.
When it comes to marketing and selling books, I also see a wide array of attitudes and beliefs. Just this week I have come across two extremes that are at opposite ends of the author spectrum.
On one hand, I heard from an author that is just overflowing with events in her community, having signings and readings everywhere from her local McDonald's restaurant to her nearby Hampton Inn Hotel, local schools, libraries, and pharmacies. How did she get in there? you might ask. Simple...she personally visited these local establishments, showed the managers her book, and politely asked. She didn't go through corporate headquarters, worry about submitting to buyers, or jump through many hoops. She is proud of her work and is excited about it, and it shows. She's had other venues in her area decline hosting her for events, but she didn't let that discourage her. This author hasn't even reached her official release date yet, when her book will be available through online retailers and when we will begin approaching bookstores for events on her behalf. Although for this author, she may beat us to the punch, and I have no doubt the bookstores will be receptive to events for her. She is excited for every opportunity and is always looking for more. So far this author has had more than a dozen events, and we are blitzing the area radio stations, TV stations, and newspapers for each and every event for additional promotion and publicity. Best of all, this author is having the time of her life meeting people and sharing her book with others.
On the other hand, I heard from another author this week with an opposite viewpoint that said he had no marketing plans and stated that it was up to the publisher to do all his marketing and get his book into stores so it would sell. He said his job is to write, and it is the publisher's job to do everything else for him. Unfortunately for him, that model simply does not exist anymore. This is now true industry-wide, regardless of the publisher. This author is unwilling to work, won't make contacts, won't engage people, and quite honestly, doesn't seem to have much enthusiasm for spreading the news about the very book he decided to write.
There is a very sharp contrast between these two authors, and after reading this, you likely fall somewhere in between. That's fine...every author must determine how active they intend to be. But the fact remains that active authors sell books. Inactive authors do not.
The reality of marketing a book in today's marketplace is that you - the author - are the face of your book. And with over three million books released in 2010 (2011 numbers have not yet been released), the truth is that each author must be highly involved in the marketing of his or her book in order to find success.
Of course, this really is nothing new. Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield, authors and creators of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series, sold books at every Chamber of Commerce luncheon and Lion's Club meeting they could find for years and years before their brand became a household name. Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life," sold books from the trunk of his car for more than a decade before his book grew into a bestseller. Country music star Lee Greenwood, whose book with Tate Publishing will be released later this year, stated, "It only took 20 years for me to become an overnight success."
This doesn't mean authors have to do everything on their own, but they do have to work hard, network, meet people, and engage their audience. The authors that do so have two things in common - they sell the most books and have the time of their lives doing it.
A new year brings about new ideas, resolutions, etc. If you are a Tate Publishing author, I would encourage you to resolve to be active this year, to contact your marketing representative at Tate Publishing to brainstorm and discuss ideas, and to determine to be involved in promoting your work in a new way this year. Think back to why you wrote the book and consider how to engage those that need it most. It may have nothing to do with bookstores but instead with taking your book to your audience, rather than hoping your audience somehow finds you in the existing crowded sea of books. There is a team in place here to help you that the majority of authors in this industry only wish they had access to, and we are ready to partner with you to pursue your success. But it won't happen without you.