Sunday, June 28, 2015

The book market and the rise of the "mini-influencer"

"Ask authors and publishers about the biggest challenge they face, and chances are the top answer you’ll get is book discovery.  
Yes, it’s been the No. 1 issue in the industry for years, but it’s getting increasingly difficult. Millions of books are now published every year. Mass media, already the preserve of the rarified best-selling book and author, is scaling back its book coverage. Doom and gloom reports are coming from all sides."

The above article discusses the shift away from major influencers like the New York Times, and toward the more dispersed communities of "mini-influencers" (like the millions of readers on Goodreads).

At first glance, this all seems beneficial because it's more democratic. Yay! People power and all that. 

However, the trend is a disadvantage for authors who are not persistent self-marketers (regardless of whether they are independently or traditionally published).

The old system of book marketing usually involved communications between a few high-level gatekeepers: PR folks on the author's side, and editorial staff on the reviewing side. 

Everything was very dignified, and the author was able to keep herself at a distance from what was essentially a philistine marketing operation.

On the other hand, marketing books today, to dispersed reader communities, is far messier, and requires communication skills that are not strong points for the typically introverted author. 

These communications involve interactions with thousands of people, some of whom are more polite than others. This new process requires every author to be a performer--at least part of the time. 

How many authors would enjoy selling encyclopedias door-to-door? How many would do well at such a task?

That metaphor isn't exact, of course. But it's a rough approximation.

These changes are neither good nor bad. Nor do they add up to a conspiracy against sensitive artistic types in an impersonal digital age. 

The changed requirements for authors are simply results of the changes in the economic landscape where books are published, marketed, and (hopefully) sold. 

It's always about the writing, yes. But it's also always about the marketing of what is written.

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