I'm not against traditional publishing. I love books!
I would certainly consider writing an in-print book if it seemed right in the future.
And I don't think "real" books are going away anytime soon. But I do think the traditional publishing process, as we know it, will. Times are changing; it simply cannot keep up.
The world is going digital. We see it everywhere—digital TV, email, cameras, phones, music, shopping online and the list goes on.
It's only a matter of time before books follow suit. In fact, they already are. Did you know that as of April 2011 Amazon sells more digital books than they do paperback and hardback books combined?
So what does that mean for a writer with dreams of becoming a published author?
I wouldn't hang up your dreams just yet.
But I wouldn't wait around for a publisher to "discover" you either.
Push the process along yourself. Now.
Sure, I got an email from a publisher, but here's why it could have just as easily been you…
The truth is, I don't think there's anything particularly earth-shattering about Tell Your Time.
Sure, I like it, I think it's good and I put a lot of time and energy into it. It's a system that works for me and I'm glad others have found it helpful.
But honestly, there are probably thousands of manuscripts sitting on desks or computers right now (maybe even yours) that would have an equal or better shot.
So why did a publisher seek mine out?
Because I have a blog. I'm dead certain that's one of the main reasons.
I don't say that to toot my own horn (lots of people have blogs a lot bigger than mine!). My point is, a blog is a huge asset for writers.
Pursuing bloggers is one thing traditional book publishers are doing absolutely right.
Publishers want to see that you have a platform
It's no mistake that more and more bloggers are signing book deals. And it's a trend that's sure to continue. In fact, I think it will be more and more unusual for authors not to have blogs.
I heard someone in the book publishing industry say recently that one of the first questions a publisher asks about a prospective author is this: Do they have a blog?
Why? Because most bloggers have a following. Even if it's not huge, they have a platform. A platform is gold in the book industry. (Why do you think famous people have always gotten great book deals? Because they have platforms.)
Think about it. So much of book selling is marketing. The writing is the easy part. Spreading the word about a book so people know it exists and will therefore buy it, is the hard part.
An author with an established following (like from their blog) makes the marketing part a whole lot easier.
Think about the "old" days in publishing. Consider how much time and money it took to spread the word about a book that just rolled off the presses (especially the book of a first-time author).
If you were relying on word-of-mouth marketing, shelf space (which is always scarce) and the occasional media snippet, how long do you think it took for hundreds of people to hear about that book? Weeks? Months?
Now consider what it's like today. Let's say I'm a first-time author, but I'm also a blogger with a mid-sized blog.
Let's say my book rolls off the presses on Monday. Guess what? I'll write a post about it on Monday and boom, probably hundreds of people will hear about my book, just like that. In a day. And that's if I wrote only one post on Monday.
What if I wrote about the book leading up to the release? And after the release? And then I posted about giveaways and got my other blogging friends to post about it. And I tweeted about it. And they tweeted about it. And I talked about it on Facebook and, and, and…
Guess what? The word about my book has just spread to thousands of people (possibly more depending on how large my circle of influence is) in a fraction of the time it would have taken to spread to a few hundred in the "old" days.
I don't mean to be melodramatic, but don't underestimate the power of blogging. Traditional book publishers aren't.
So what does this mean for you?
Not excited about the idea? I get that. But even if you are one of the fortunate few that gets a book deal without a blog, I'll bet you a doughnut your publisher will want you to start a blog ASAP. Why? To build your platform. Which will hopefully increase sales. Which makes a publisher happy. Which might lead to another book contract.
Remember how I said last time that marketing is going to be up to you? It's true. You might as well start now. And a blog is a great way to do that.
But let me issue a word of caution. A blog is not a magic bullet. Just because you start a blog doesn't mean you'll be next on the "published author" list. It's going to take work. A lot of work. And then even more work. And the work will continue. Marketing doesn't end. And it's always a lot of work.
But it's something very concrete you can do. Right now.
Use a blog to build your platform. Hone your writing skills in the process. If a publisher wants to work with you down the road (or I should say, if you want to work with a publisher down the road), you'll be prepared.
On the other hand, if you don't get published, if publishing as we know it dies (or completely transforms), or if self-publishing takes off and you choose that route instead, you'll have a head start.
Next time? Self-publishing and some great resources.
Other posts in this series
- Why I Turned Down a Book Deal (And the Lessons I Learned), Part 1
- Why I Turned Down a Book Deal (And the Lessons I Learned), Part 2
- Why I Turned Down a Book Deal (And the Lessons I Learned), Part 3
- Why I Turned Down a Book Deal (And the Lessons I Learned), Part 4
- Why I Turned Down a Book Deal (And the Lessons I Learned), Part 5
- Why I Turned Down a Book Deal (And the Lessons I Learned), Part 6