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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Is today's publishing market creating a bunch of Stepford authors?

Author Monica Jackson takes on this question in a column at Romancing the Blog. She notes that marketing pressures are stifling the originality and creativity of today's author as well as squelching her individuality. Unfortunately, this is due to some publishers focusing entirely on the profit margin instead of allowing the author to find her audience and just create good books. This is especially true now that the conglomerates have swallowed up the smaller independent publishers who might have taken a chance on letting the author's voice guide her book and not the market itself. In my comment to the column I noted:

"I agree that the book should be the foremost priority of the writer. Unfortunately, because the market is glutted, the focus of the publisher is to compete against the other conglomerates, and to expand the profit margin.

But sometimes the publisher forgets that a book is an emotional investment by the reader, and not just a competing product or a “better mousetrap.” And emotions are variable, therefore the market can’t be determined by the regular factors. What appeals to one reader might definitely turn off another or just not pull her in.

Ironically, I think the market uncertainty is good for all concerned, because it does point to an expansion of variety. It is so much easier to sell the same ole thing if the competing product is basically not much different. The publisher could rely on a time-tested marketing plan; that isn’t so, today, because what sells a sci-fi novel won’t push the romance novel. Therefore, marketers have to “push the envelope” themselves, become more creative. I’m not against the writer gaining some business and marketing sense; an investment of time in putting up a website or writing blog or putting together a book trailer (TM?) might be more effective than just a basic book signing. But good marketing should not be at the expense of the novel and most of all the writer’s creativity. If that’s the case, then we become something akin to used car sellers or snake oil peddlers, where it’s not about the product, but about the spiel. "

In another weblog, author and screenwriter Lee Goldberg tackled the question whether an author's blog can create a book buzz. Among some of the comments:

"I have found authors via blogs. Most of my to buy list is generated from the blogs I read. On the flip side, there are books I won't buy because of the author's blog." (I guess I better watch what I write)

"I've bought books by writers I've met online, but I'm far more likely to subscribe to blogs because of books I've bought. I do it the opposite way" (fair enough)

"I think a writer needs a blog (assuming he or she can do it. A horrible blog is almost as bad as consistently bad reviews.) " (something to keep in mind)

"So, for a certain audience, blogs definitely work. And I think it's only a matter of time before that audience expands, and blogs, combined with word of mouth, become extremely powerful promotional tools." (here's hoping)

And I piped in with: "I agree with the comment that blogging builds name recognition. It also allows an opportunity to create a communication connection to your market. I believe a blog and a website will reach more people than the old venue of booksignings and a 5-minute radio interview." (let's see if I'm right)

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 9/11/2005 08:51:00 AM Permanent Link     | | Home


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