In the last decade, we have witnessed the “free revolution.” Marketers are giving away everything from books and software to vacations and even cars. This has shaped consumer behavior to the point that people often expect free and resent having to pay.
I see this every week in the publishing industry with ebooks. Many consumers expect them to be free or sold for a nominal amount, because they incorrectly believe that they don’t cost anything to produce.
While people shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, they do. This is why it is so critical that you spend the time and money to get the packaging on your product right. It doesn’t matter if it’s a book, a CD collection, or a record album. People will never get to experience your brilliance unless the packaging gets them to pick it up and explore it.
This is especially important in today’s world. You have never had more competition. The market is increasingly crowded—and noisy. You need every advantage you can muster. Packaging is a key component in the selling process. This is often where the war for the consumer’s mind is won or lost.
From my previous reader surveys, I know that approximately 61.4 percent of my readers have either written a book or want to write a book. That number still astonishes me. No wonder there were over one million books published last year just in the U.S.
Yet most aspiring authors will not get published—at least, not by a traditional publisher. Why? Because they don’t know how to get the attention of an agent. And without an agent, they don’t have a chance of getting a publisher.
Endorsements are used extensively in all forms of marketing. And for good reason. They provide third-party validation and social authority. They make it easier for potential gate-keepers and customers to say “yes.”
For example, I never order a book without reading the endorsements and some of the reviews. Gail and I never go to a movie without checking out its score on Rotten Tomatoes. We rarely try a new restaurant without a recommendation or two from someone we trust.
As a creative—author, speaker, recording artist—you need a team. You can’t go it alone. The job is just too big. You may have to start small, but you have to enroll others to help you get to your destination.
Several years ago, my friend Robert Smith, Andy Andrews’ manager, shared with me his concept of “The Train.” This represents all the people on your team who are helping you get your career down the track faster than you could do on your own.
I have worked with authors for more than three decades. I have also worked with speakers, recording artists, and other creatives. I have had the privilege of working with the best—and the challenge of enduring the worst. Ninety percent fall somewhere in the middle.
What separates them is not talent. Surely, this plays a role. But it doesn’t fully explain why some creatives with marginal talent become successful and others with extraordinary talent never really make it. (I could name names, but I would get myself in trouble on both counts!)
In this brief, 12-minute video, I interview Jane Friedman, professor of e-media and writing at the University of Cincinnati. She also serves as a contributing editor at Writer’s Digest, where she once served as publisher and strategic leader. She is the author of The Future of Publishing: Enigma Variations, as well as the Beginning Writer’s Answer Book.
I first discovered Jane via her blog at Writer’s Digest, “There Are No Rules.” (Her main publishing and writing blog is now at JaneFriedman.com.) I immediately fell in love with her no-nonsense advice, practical wisdom, and insight into contemporary writing and publishing. If you are an author—or aspire to be—her blog is a must-read. You can also follow her on Twitter.
Fiction marketing in the current publishing environment is an evolving art. Some have described it as the “Wild West,” where anyone can win big. Others have hailed it as the “end of publishing” as we know it.
But for those willing to take a chance—and responsibility—it’s an environment that is full of opportunity. The question for authors is this: How can you best leverage your stories and your brand for the long haul in a quickly evolving market?
If you are serious about book publishing, you have no doubt found Rachelle Gardner’s blog. That’s how I first discovered her. I immediately subscribed and have been reading her posts ever since. I also follow her on Twitter.
Rachelle is a literary agent. She is part of the WordServe Literary Group based in Denver, Colorado. Prior to becoming an agent, she served in a variety of publishing roles.
In this brief, seven-minute video, I interview Allen Arnold, Senior Vice President and Publisher of Thomas Nelson’s fiction division. I have known Allen for almost 20 years. When I first met him, he was in marketing at Word, Inc., a company that Thomas Nelson eventually acquired.
Allen is one of the most creative people I know. He is truly a great publisher. He has that rare combination of being unwavering in his core values along with the ability to spot projects that have commercial potential. In his eight-year tenure as Nelson’s fiction publisher, he has built one of the company’s fastest-growing divisions and become an industry thought-leader at the same time.
I hear the following from authors all the time, “All I want to do is write. I hate promoting myself. I’m no good at it.” The result is they don’t work on their platform, hoping somehow that the whole notion will somehow just go away.
Putting your head in the sand is not the answer. It’s no longer a question of if an author needs a program, it’s now part of the writing business and can mean the difference between success and failure.