A recent survey of 800 traditionally-published authors revealed some surprising thoughts about the book industry. Compiled by Jane Friedman and Harry Bingham, authors from the United States and the United Kingdom revealed a contentious love/hate relationship with their publishers. The data revealed the following conclusions:
- Authors have serious reservations when it comes to their publishers’ marketing skills and philosophy.
- Authors believe publishers are poor at communicating with their authors.
- A clear majority of authors are unimpressed by their publishers.
- Authors feel poorly paid and poorly treated.
- Yet, authors are NOT leaving the traditional industry.
The results of this survey do not surprise me. I’ve heard similar statements from the hundreds of authors I’ve trained over the past 8 years. And, I’ve jumped into the fray to help clients navigate the complex waters of the author and publisher relationship.
I understand why many authors are disappointed with their publisher’s marketing efforts. However, the problem is due to something that the survey above doesn’t mention. Publishers are simply too busy to effectively market every book they publish. And, this problem doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
Over the last several years, the publishing industry has struggled under the downward pricing pressure of Amazon, the loss of Borders bookstores, and the continuous mergers of the major houses. These factors led a lot of publishers to cut personnel and whittle their marketing staff down to the minimum – yet keep publishing a high rate of new books each year. In the aftermath, you’ve got talented marketing people who are overworked, treading water, and barely keeping up with all the new releases each month. Creativity and focus gets diminished when people feel overwhelmed at their job. Everything becomes subject to tyranny of the urgent.
I don’t share this information to sound negative. Instead, it’s important to know the reality of the situation. Publishers are trying to do a lot with a small staff. Authors can complain all they want. Or, they can realize that the success of their book lies primarily in their own promotional efforts. Gone are the days when the author turned in a manuscript and left the marketing task to the publisher.
This is why I’m glad to help fill the gap at WildFire Marketing. Every author wants their books to succeed. But, until things change, wise authors are best served by learning everything they can about marketing and assuming more of the burden on their own.
The surprising fact from the author survey above is that the majority of authors said, “They are not leaving the traditional industry.” Meaning they’re not going to try self-publishing, because that can make the task even harder in many ways. I know, because I’ve done both. Self-publishing usually takes way more time and effort than people think.
Publishers are here to stay, and they are necessary to the industry. But, rather than bemoan them, acknowledge the reality of their world, grieve and let go of old expectations, and learn to become the best book marketer you can be.
Get help where you need it and enjoy expanding your skills. This is why I love doing what I do at WildFire Marketing – helping authors spread their message like wildfire. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching your book take on a life of its own – with or without the help of your publisher.
Books image courtesy of zole4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net