A massive shift in the publishing business is empowering today’s writers and creative entrepreneurs in ways that were simply not possible in years past. Reaching readers directly has never been easier, and the writers who know how to take advantage of the new strategies and tools are charting new paths to success.
As the publishing industry churns and struggles to find a new equilibrium, writers have gained more power than ever before. Writers who used to feel constrained by the old system are now are liberated to build their writing careers on their own terms.
Musicians, visual artists, designers, film makers – indeed all creative entrepreneurs can learn a lot by looking at what is happening in the book publishing world. Read more from Michael Boezi at Create.biz.
How Publishing Has Changed
In the past, getting picked by a publisher was the only option. If you couldn’t convince an editor to validate your work, you had little hope of being a “real” author. The Shift to Digital has opened up a ton of new opportunities for writers to become authors. There are two monumental changes that directly impact you as a writer in today’s world:
- You don’t need to wait to get picked by a Gatekeeper.
- You can reach your audience directly.
Publishing used to be a services industry. If you got past the Gatekeeper, you were promised precious access to the key channels: proper catalog listings, placement in bookstores, book reviews in reputable outlets, and author events. Unfortunately, most authors were quickly relegated to the mid-list, as publishers spent their limited resources on their “tentpole” authors. The channels listed above used to be scarce, so writers and creative entrepreneurs had no other option but to accept their fate.
But digital eschews scarcity, and the Web created infinite shelf space and virtually limitless outlets. It also created a lot more noise. The old methods of marketing don’t work anymore – they amount to shouting. “Getting the message out” used to be about buying space in controlled and well-protected channels. Once everyone rushed into these channels, you couldn’t shout loud enough to get heard anymore. So, new methods emerged.
That’s where word-of-mouth marketing comes in. It’s something that’s always been there, but now it’s of primary importance in running your marketing campaigns. Word-of-mouth marketing is your own readers recommending your book to other readers. Sounds simple, and it can even happen by itself. But it won’t start that way.
You have to roll up your sleeves and do the work of connecting. No more shouting – it won’t work anyway. You have to have real conversations with real readers. The channels to connect are numerous. You have to get to know your readers in order to ask for their support. It will be worth it, though. All it takes is to convert a few readers into advocates, and they will become your best marketers. They will bring you more readers, and some of them, in turn, will become advocates too.
This is a lot of “new” responsibility for writers and creative entrepreneurs, and I still see a lot of resistance to the concept. But it’s absolutely required now. The secret is that it’s not as hard as you think, though. Readers want to connect with you – they crave proximity to people who create valuable work. In the digital world, you’re going to be connecting around content, and – good news! – you’re a writer. You can do this.
Here’s a grossly over-simplified summary of what you need to do to make word-of-mouth marketing work for you: read more