You’re Not The Customer: Is This Why Your Book Didn’t Sell?
Today’s Brew: I’m making some new vanilla Starbucks Kcup for tomorrow morning that smells heavenly. I’m going to mix that up with my peppermint mocha creamer and just be happy at 4:30 AM.
At the beginning of the month, I attended the Independent Author Symposium hosted by NYT best selling author Marie Force and Penny Watson, who you might know from her beard lovin’ blog, pennyromance.com. I’m not going to do a total write up about the seminar, because KT Grant already did a great job of that, and you can read it here.
I’m going to share the three things I found most interesting about the seminar:
1. There were many traditional multi published authors in attendance, as well as many authors pursuing the traditional route. When I asked why they came, they said that made business sense to understand all facets of the industry. Just because you have a contract for this book, doesn’t mean the next book has a home. Things are changing fast in the industry. Kudos to these authors who have the business acumen to explore all avenues.
2. Some authors who are getting their rights back from their publishers for back catalogue or publishers that no longer exist are choosing to self publish these titles. Why? Money. The authors retained control of the books and a higher profit margin.
3. My big Oprah A-ha moment of the day: According to Marie Force, publishers aren’t buying with readers in mind. They aren’t selling to readers. They’re selling to distributors. The distributor is their customer. Distributors placing books in Barnes and Noble, Walmart, Target, Supermarkets. Now all the “YA is over!” “Paranormal is dead!” hysteria made sense. I’d never thought of it like that before.Of course the distributors only have a finite number of spaces for each genre. I even got a rejection from an editor that started with “I can see this doing well in the NA market….” So, then buy it! Or…this.
So, in this light, whether or not our books sell is determined by a shrinking and dying model. I am hoping that indie publishers that are selling digitally direct to customers and self published authors will change this model. Now, for the first time, we know what the readers really want because they have access to all of these titles that there was just no room at the inn for before.
(Oh my God, that coffee smells amazing! But I digress)
The one thing that’s been repeated at this seminar as well as last springs NECRWA conference is this is a great and exciting time to be an author. Don’t be discouraged because the old system doesn’t work. Things are changing fast. You’re an artist. Rules don’t apply to you. Kick down those doors and find a home for yourself.