There is a reason why most successful authors have gray hair and rugged lines that comes from years of experience etched across their face. It takes time to develop a following and establish your brand as an expert author. This is particularly true for authors who write within a niche market consisting of industry professionals, avid readers, and loyal supporters. Seasoned authors devote time in establishing trust with their readers and providing consistent reliable information relevant to the chosen topic. Given the opportunity, most authors will identify characteristics such as persistence, determination, and a willingness to sacrifice as the ingredients that lead to success. However, upon closer examination there is a common variable present in the lives of all authors who experience long rewarding careers as writers. They are all relentless in their marketing efforts and they are excellent at promoting themselves. The good news is that anyone can become an outstanding marketer through hard work and the desire to constantly get better. Developing the skills needed to become good at marketing requires a great teacher and a willing student eager to learn. Both must be committed to the process of achieving the common goal of being the best they can be.
I am well aware of the fact that many authors would prefer remaining in the background doing the one thing they do best – writing. There are those who argue the public activities should be performed by the publishing company, agent, or maybe a publicist. While this may seem to be a reasonable position, the reality is the world of book selling and promotions simply does not work that way. Sure successful authors need the support and specialized talents a reputable publishing company can offer, but it is absolutely essential that authors learn to market their work. First, and foremost, no one is going to do it for you. That is the biggest fallacy in the publishing industry and sadly this myth continues to be perpetuated to this day.
Before you spend a small fortune on a marketing “package” with a print on demand publisher, think about what you’re really paying for. Chances are, your marketing campaign will be conducted by an inexperienced staff member who is paid an hourly rate to follow instructions. Instead, as an author, you must take control of your creative works and master the skills needed to thrust yourself onto the public stage. Next, people who buy your work, fiction or nonfiction, want to meet and engage with you, the author – not a representative or spokesperson. This is a part of building trust and connecting with your readership as an expert on your chosen subject, but more importantly as a person. Building rapport takes time, but once established, your supporters will be there for years to come.
Writing is one of the few professions that provide time freedom, flexibility, and longevity. But you have to work at it to remain relevant and to access a broader audience. Additionally, the profession itself requires patience as everything related to publishing seems to move slowly in a fast paced world. Nevertheless, the profession will move at the pace you decide is best suited for you. Like a faithful lover, your writing career won’t abandon you unless you decide to leave it first. Take the time to develop your marketing skill while you’re working on your novel as delaying will only put you further behind the learning curve. As a part of your overall strategy, some areas to focus on include public speaking, sales ability, negotiating contracts, and etiquette. I realize, again, authors love to remain anonymous and focus on writing. But remember, publishing is a business that requires the ability to navigate various aspects of the industry.
The more ardent you become in embracing the business side of your writing career, the greater the chances of having a long and lucrative existence. Mentioning etiquette may seem out of place here, but trust me when you are invited to a black tie formal event – good manners are the order of the day. The benefits of being a respected author are many, and well worth acquiring new skills that puts you at the zenith of a noble profession. But remember, no one will do it for you. The writing profession is composed of two separate and distinct components. First, there is the fine art of writing which allows for creative expression and form. Most authors are comfortable, even fulfilled, participating in activities such as composing, editing, and creating original manuscripts. However, we must not overlook the all important business skills needed to sell our work to an audience that waits eagerly for the next piece of work. Work to not only improve writing ability, but also seek to become masterful at being a complete professional whose business acumen propels you to the top.