Not since the invention of movable type has the publishing industry experienced a revolution as dramatic as the one brought about by modern technology and the internet.
When my first book came out at the tail end of the 20th century, it was through a traditional publisher, with a contract secured by a traditional literary agent. Promotion was done through traditional media outlets. Fast forward to current times where tradition has been turned completely on its head. If you are just starting out on the road to publication, here are a few tips to help you navigate the changing landscape.
- Self-publishing—Maybe the biggest change in the industry is the attitude toward self-published work. Whereas nontraditional publishing via a vanity press was formerly for those with more money than talent—and such “authors” were not taken seriously as writers—self-publishing no longer carries a stigma and is even being used by some well-established authors. Investigate both routes to see which is the best path for you to pursue.
- Platform-building—If you hope to go the traditional route by securing a literary agent to pitch your book to publishers, having an established platform is essential. A publisher wants to know that you can deliver an audience for your product before they invest in you. If you go the self-published route and you hope to actually sell your book, having an established platform is also essential. Are seeing a theme here? Whether it’s through the unique exposure your job affords you, your consistent engagement on social media or some other vehicle, you need to increase your visibility and position yourself as a bankable “commodity” with your target audience.
- Your own website/blog—if you are one of the seven writers in the known universe without a personal web site or blog, get on that ASAP! Seriously, if you are trying to raise your profile as an author, you need an online presence where you can tell your story in a more personal way and build an ongoing relationship with your audience. You need followers, and people need to feel they know you before they will commit to following you.
- Write for large web sites—A good way to establish credibility is to get published on well-known web sites. Identify the ones that are a good fit for your message, familiarize yourself with their editorial tone and submit stories that are likely to appeal to them. Follow their editors on social media and comment on their posts. They really do take notice and may even engage you in conversation, helping you to get a foot in the door.
I hope these tips help you on your journey to becoming a published author, but remember that quality writing is still the heart of the matter. Don’t become so consumed with the “how” that you neglect the “what.” Regardless of the changes that come and go in technology, social media or market trends, good writing is good writing and there will always be an audience for that.
Image courtesy of koratmember at FreeDigitalPhotos.net