While a huge fuss is being made about the changing world of publishing: demise of bookshops, the declining output of publishers in terms of numbers and quality, and the further changes that the Apple Tablet may bring, many of us have failed to notice that some authors have been quietly changing too.
While publishers and agents have been fretting about the changes thrust upon them, a new type of author has emerged who is charting her own course.
New Authors are excited and inspired by the changes. They see options and opportunities in the changing publishing world.
The New Author understands that trade publishing is not the only publishing option and that it is not necessarily the best option for her. She also understands that however her book is published, if she wants to retain control of her creative output, and eventually her product, that she needs to plan her publishing strategy carefully.
The New Author doesn’t publish out of vanity but out of a desire to place a book in the centre of everything else she does, to be a part of her business or great passion for a subject or theme.
The New Author strives for quality in her writing, educating herself on a writing course or seeking professional help.
She will make a considered choice between trade publishing or self publishing.
If she tries and doesn’t get a book deal it won’t be because it is poor quality.
The work may not be concept driven or different enough for a publishing house but people who are her clients, community or fanbase will snap up the book.
The New Author can reach niche markets, that publishers don’t know about attracting a readership with subtle differences in a written work.
The new author doesn’t wait for an over-stretched PR department to send out a press release; she takes responsibility for building her platform and profile, and cracks on with building a following, communicating with her audience and building a dedicated community who will buy her books.
This new author takes responsibility for her book sales and expects to see some more of the rewards for doing so. If they have a book deal they don’t always expect the publisher to take all the risk so they’re less concerned with the size of their advance and more interested in what else the publisher can do for them – a commitment to a decent marketing and publicity campaign or a higher cut of the royalties.
She takes care of traditional marketing but also uses new technologies as her route to audience, for her way to reach her tribe, her niche market and those who will purchase her book.
She is to be found out or online networking, engaging with and working her audience as she writes her book, while old authors sit back and wait to BE PUBLISHED irrespective of the results, the small income, and the stinging neglect that can be part of the experience.
Facebook, Twitter, blogging, are deployed with vigour by the new author.
She knows that if she uses these social media with the right intent and with a generous spirit of sharing information as much as she talks about her writing then she can and will build a following of readers.
She also understands that the new audience wants their information in a different shape and form.
She probably read and took note of the ‘09 news piece that reported the decline in sales of oranges as a lunchtime snack as they take too long to peel. We are all in a rush, we want things pre-digested, peeled and pithed down for us.
New Authors understand this and dispense with the fluff and waffle and page extents of a certain length that is still asked of old authors.
It’s no accident that short stories won a record number of competitions last year.
She knows about building trust amongst her readers and she likes to give them what they want. She may write a short e-book to test her idea or short story and give it away free to build a database of readers who will then feel they trust her enough to want to buy a longer e-book, a printed book or when she gets a publishing deal.
The new author understands that there is a need and a market for original e-books that answer a question now or that entertain quickly wherever we are.
They work in the ‘live time’ that we’re told is the next big thing.
So the New Author will write and publishing original e-books while in old publishing – an e-book is only ever a repackaged, digital version of an older printed book.
The New Author probably wouldn’t resort to such a crass analogy but they would understand that a large publishing house is like a large cruise liner, difficult to turn once it has embarked on its course compared with a self-publishing or a smaller publishing house whose speedboat-like ability to turn on a penny allows them to respond to changes and advances as they happen and to make the most of them.
As the old author reclines on a deckchair willing to let publishers decide her fate – whatever that may be – the New Author is on her feet, nimbly adapting to any change with optimism and relish as she makes the most of these new opportunities.