At the same time, the rapid growth in self-publishing or ‘indie’ authoring has meant that a book buyer is now not guaranteed a quality product just because a book is ‘published’ per se. Thank goodness for the advent of preview reading in this respect. In the end though, is it that a good book in either form will always sell? Far from it. As with any product, it is marketing that sells, not talent.
As far as marketing goes, there is still a dominant advantage for major publishers as they dominate physical street front book stores. Very, very few book stores stock POD (print on demand) books. They can order books for customers, but who wants to wait? So ‘indies’ have had to go it alone promoting their books via online book stores. If you are an author, or involved in publishing you know all this.
The question I would like to pose is this. What books do ‘indie’ authors buy?
While my anecdotal evidence is just that, anecdotal, I have been looking at what ‘indie’ authors say about the books they buy and read, and how they go about marketing their own books. Social media is a great resource for this. In the last few months, I have come to some unpleasant conclusions.
(1) ‘Indie’ authors always think their own book is just fantastic. Naturally. And want people to buy it. Of course. But at the same time have no instinct to support fellow authors by buying another author’s ‘indie’ book. Dan Brown, Stephen King and MacMillan publishing are still their preferred book purchases.
(2) As far as marketing goes, ‘Check out my book on Bookbuzzr’, or ‘My book preview was read 2 times yesterday‘ sent by spam like automated tweets is about as far as many go in promoting their hard work.
This is in no way a negative reflection on Bookbuzzr, Smashwords and like sites as they provide excellent free tools for authors to promote themselves. It is simply that authors seem to be generally quite hopeless at using these tools or reading the instructions. (I would however like these book promotion sites to change their default tweeting services to eliminate this spam like material as it has a very negative impact.)
If you need proof, go to http://search.twitter.com/ and type in the phrase ‘Check out my book’. You will see what I mean about hopeless and repetitive spam like marketing.
(3) Any stigma associated with POD books is for others and hypocritically not associated with an ‘indie’ author’s own book. This is an odd point, because I don’t see that readers see a stigma attached to a book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble that has the publisher listed as CresteSpace or Lulu. The stigma is perhaps perpetuated by authors with a lack of self belief in self-publishing.
(4) Self publishing could become a self fulfilling prophecy of doom if self interest, hypocrisy, and spam like marketing stay as the norm. The real question is this.
Do ‘indie’ authors yet believe in their own market, and will they take a positive and responsible attitude to marketing and promoting the self-publishing industry as a whole?
As an addendum to this post, I asked Bookbuzzr for their reaction to my comments above. They were kind enough to make the following comments:
Thank you so much for giving us a heads-up about your upcoming article.
While it mildly criticizes the book-tweeting service built into BookBuzzr, overall, it does provide positive coverage for BookBuzzr. Thank you for this.
I do want to clarify just two points:
1. The Book Tweeting service is intended to provide an additional layer of promotion for authors on twitter that are already providing significant value to their followers. In other words, if you are an author on Twitter and are already engaging in a conversation with others on Twitter, and if the Book Tweeting service sends a tweet once every few days, then it’s likely to not be considered spam. However, if an author does nothing else but set up their book-tweeting service to send out tweets, then that author will be having a serious problem and will lose followers.
2. Also, the book tweeting service is something that can be turned on or off by authors. In fact there are three separate settings inside the Book Tweeting service of BookBuzzr from which the author can choose. Most technology (such as email auto-responders, mass SMS sending services, fax, cellphones, Facebook etc.) can be used for good or can be misused. Many of our authors appear to be using the service correctly (in effect, the vast majority of them send out a number of informative or entertaining tweets interspersed with automated tweets from BookBuzzr.) A few others need to be educated about how to use twitter in general and the BookBuzzr Book Tweeting service in particular. We will spend some time in creating guidelines to educate authors and also think about how we can spam-proof the technology.
Again, we appreciate you involving us in this article.