I’m not sure why I never watch the book shows on TV, but Sunday I found myself listening to David Shanks of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.; Skip Prichard of Ingram Content Group, Inc., Bob Miller of Workman Publisher Group and a couple of other individuals as they discussed the future of publishing, books and the digital revolution on 2010 Book Expo America.
I was a little shocked and somewhat amazed at some of the comments. They’re advising their authors to take up the same promotional tools as Indie authors. Facebook pages, online forums and other online marketing networks. The bottom line I saw was the publishers were expecting more in the way of marketing from their authors in the future to keep up with the changing world of marketing online.
They were also suggesting that authors make an effort to know book editors at local papers or large news carriers such as the Washington Post and contact them for interviews. Of course, a bestselling author will probably have more luck in this endeavor than an unknown Indie author.
They did offer one new idea for promotion that I found intriguing, both for traditionally published authors and Indie authors. Video promotion of the content of your book. Many authors, myself included, take a road trip when writing certain parts of a book. Why not film your road trip and show your readers what they’re looking at? This would be wonderful for books set in other countries. I, as reader, would find it fascinating to see the places that are described in my favorite fiction. Especially if those places were set in Ireland, Scotland, England or just any place that I haven’t been.
Another suggestion was more beautiful books in terms of layout, paper and book covers. The general idea being that consumers would pay more for a prettier book. As a consumer I have problems with that comment. I have several authors that I collect, and I usually buy the hardback copy. So far I’ve had no problem with the way the books look. However, every author should be concerned with the look of their book, regardless of whether it’s paper or EBook. Formatting is extremely important. I spent weeks working on the format of my first EBook, ensuring that it looked good and was free of html errors. Formatting for Smashwords was also a several day project. EBook publishers are concerned with formatting errors, but an author should be even more concerned. Your name is on that book. If you’re proud of your work, then you need to make sure your product is something you can be proud of.
With the number of books being published daily, readers have more and more of a selection to choose from. Authors have to give the readers a reason to sample or buy their book. Promotional tools such as video, contests, fan pages and free gifts will only take you so far. Word of mouth about a great book will take you all the way to the top. And a great book is properly formatted without typos.