You may or may not have heard about the recent tug-of-war (emphasis on war) between Barnes and Noble and Simon and Schuster (for clarity, I’m published with S&S under the Pocket umbrella). In a nutshell, BN is slowing down on carrying S&S books. As in, almost none. It seems to be they will be carrying the Big Names, because they don’t want to cut off their noses that much. For more on this, I blogged about it the other day, and so have many others. (feel free to post links for more info and the damage it does to authors in the comments). As I point out, this hurts authors, especially midlisters like me, and most of the others who write this blog. But that isn’t what I want to talk about. I want to talk about when you get run over, whacked with a clawhammer, drawn-and-quartered, or whatever metaphor you happen to be feeling when something like this happens. I’m am going to point out a very specific example of an author who can see the hurt coming. Everyone, meet Stephanie Burgis, hamburger in the grinder. She gives you some concrete information about her situation.
The thing is, there’s little authors can do in this situation except get the word out, try to promote, and remind readers that they exist. Readers have more options, because they can spread the word, demand the books from BN, and write to S&S. They can complain and raise their voices. There are more readers than authors and they matter a lot to the bottom line because without readers, these companies don’t have a business.
But what’s an author to do? Well, the first thing is to keep writing and keep producing, because there’s no better advertisement than your books. In this world of changing publishing, writers have more options than ever before. Self publishing, small press publishing, cooperative publishing, to name just three. It takes fortitude to go off on your own, but I think as writers venture into those waters, many have decent success–enough to keep heart and soul together, anyhow. As they charter the way, it’s easier to follow.
It helps, of course, to establish your name and get your books into stores so people can wander through and find you, but it isn’t the only way. It takes creativity, and I don’t even propose to answer all the ways. In fact, I put it to you here–what ideas do you have for getting an author’s name out there, particularly one who’s got a a first novel coming out? The key is to find ways to use social media and the net, and to create buzz. What works for one person, may not work for another, but there are a lot of options.
The end of it all is this: writers have options now that didn’t exist even a few years ago. There is hope. There is a way to have some control. It may take iron nerves and a stomach of adamantine, but giving up isn’t an option. Visiting here, making network connections among readers and writers, talking over options–these are all good places to start. So let’s hear it, thoughts on the BN-S&S situation? Thoughts on making a name for someone new to publication?
Forgive me if I’m late checking in with you. As this comes online, I’ll be driving off to Norwescon with kids and dogs in tow, and spending the night at a friend’s house on the way. But please, talk widely amongst yourselves and I’ll get here as soon as possible. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.