How do you see the role of an author in today’s publishing world?
This question popped up in a recent interview I did, with a fellow author.
“I think that authors are teachers” was the first sentence of her reply. That made me stop and ponder.
My old English teacher in 5th grade, Miss Hoss, would have given me an “F” for that answer and commented, “Didn’t you read the question?”
I loved Miss Hoss, and I hated her. If there was ever anyone who taught me anything about writing, it was her. I still remember the debate we had about a sentence in an essay I wrote. It went, “I walk through the forest, and it’s totally dark around me. Above me, in the ink-blue sky, the stars are glittering.”
She maintained that if the sky was ink-blue, it couldn’t be completely dark around me.
I said that yes, it had been just like that, because I’d seen it.
We had a discussion. She won. After all, she was the teacher, and I didn’t want to lose the “A” I’d gotten for the essay.
It still irks me today, though. I KNOW it can be pitch-black inside a forest even if the sky is starting to lighten, especially in winter. I used to walk that path to the bus station every damn morning, as long as I went to school.
So Miss Hoss. She would have ripped into that reply my author friend gave me.
I, on the other hand, rather like how said author circumvents the real issue of the question and instead says how she thinks writers should feel about their work.
This is such a many-layered, and difficult subject.
With the changes publishing is undergoing right now, with the many changes that have already happened, it’s getting harder and harder being “just” an author.
Don’t you sometimes wish you’d lived, say, fifty years ago? When the promotion and marketing of your books were completely in the care of the publisher, when all you had to do, once you were signed, was to deliver new books, give readings, look handsome and scrawl impressive autographs?
Of course, you’d have the small problem of securing a publisher, first. Without one, you’d never get to release a book.
We all know what the eBook and self-publishing revolution has brought us: nearly anyone can be an author. But not everyone will also be a successful author.
Here’s the thing: no matter how good you are at writing, if you aren’t also prepared to promote and market your books, you’ll go under. This truth stands for any kind of author who’s new to this business: self-published, indie published, or even signed to one of the Big Six or Five or how many of them there are right now.
With everyone being on one or the other social network today, readers want to see what the writer behind the books is like.
Is she/he approachable? How interesting is this writer as a person? Does the person intrigue or impress me, is she funny, witty, wise, compelling or even compassionate enough to make me want to read her book?
You better be a pop star among writers to be really successful.
(I’m not going into the Fifty Shades phenomenon here. These things happen, and no one knows why.)
Your publisher expects you to be willing to promote your book. They may actually say so in your book deal (Mine didn’t. But I know some who do.).
So let’s return to the initial question.
I’m an author. I have two books released, and my publisher Buddhapuss Ink and I are getting ready for the launch of book #3, Song of the Storm.
What’s my role in this?
My publisher calls me a “well-trained author”. Which means that even now, four months BEFORE the release, I’m talking about it, telling people what it’s about. I’ve started lining up reviewers and blogs for the blog hop, and I’ve started writing the posts for that hop. I’m promoting my book.
I’m doing my job. I’m not saying it’s the most fun part of the job, but it needs to be done, and done well.
It’s a bit like with the big movies. You tell people in advance, you give out teasers, you make them want to buy it.
So here you are, Miss Hoss: the role of an author in today’s publishing world is this:
We need to write good books, and then we have to market them, sometimes with the help of a publisher, sometimes without it. This truth, though, stands: our books are our products. If we, as authors, aren’t prepared to promote and market them, who else should do it?