Sitting in on a writing seminar a while back, the keynote speaker, finishing his remarks on the business of publishing, opened the floor for questions. A young lady, seated at the end of my row grew visibly nervous and asked, “But, I don’t want to have to market my books, I just want to write them.”
In a gentle voice, the guest speaker replied, “We all do, but that’s no longer how the book business works.”
And, readers, that no longer is how the book business works.
Agents and publishers today are far more concerned with a writers social media platform, then any content wedged between a book’s jacket. Even traditionally published authors must carry the heaviest burden of getting their works into the public arena. For example, I’ve been watching a news commentator on one of the cable networks handling the publication of his new book. He still does his broadcast every night, but goes on air from the various venues where he is presenting–like the parking lot of Barnes & Noble the other night. At the end of each program, this correspondent plugs his title and where his next appearance is scheduled. He has quite the platform, and his publisher loves it.
Now some everyday folks are pretty savvy at this platform game, too. Utilizing electronic media, many writers successfully finesse Facebook analytics, embed advertisements on search engines, as well as on Nook Press, Kobo, Amazon, and a multitude of other outlets. And I must add that I am in awe of this style of enterprise and business outreach. Many of these electronic resources are way out of my skill set–cultivating an online following one of my most daunting challenges.
Plainly history education and story telling is my forte; Selling–shilling my name and image about, leaves me a bit overwhelmed and self conscious. Like the young lady at the seminar, I just want to write my books, too.
Sometimes I wonder if I would have written anything, knowing what I know now about the media game. But then I remember some particular episode, his heart-pounding night flight in 1933, or her dance tour of Europe during the rise of Hitler, and I realize writing River of January, and Figure Eight was never a choice: life handed the task to me, and I am responsible.
So I switched on my laptop and wrote this blog.
Gail Chumbley is the author of River of January and River of January: Figure Eight
Also available on Amazon. River of January is on sale this weekend on Kindle.