I wish that being an author was as easy as writing a book. That is not to say that writing a book is easy at all, because truthfully it isn’t. How many people have you heard say “I have a great idea for a book” or “I’m going to write a book one day”? How many of those people actually write the book? Not many.
That’s not the point. If you want to write a book then you sit down and you write it. It might take you years, or even a lifetime, but in the 21st Century that is the easy part.
These days you need to be a marketing expert to be an author, and it doesn’t matter if you are traditionally published or indie, you still need some marketing chops.
You need to understand branding, author platforms, SEO, blogging, Tumbler, Twitter and Facebook to name but a few things. You need to be able to set up a website and a mailing list and perhaps even a Street Team. And algorithms – they’re going to come up a lot in conversations. (If you’re anything like me you didn’t become an author because you’re into algebra so yeah, what is an algorithm again?) It’s a lot to take in.
You may not use all this information but you need to absorb it at the outset so that you can then decide which bits are for you and which bits you are going to run away from screaming. You don’t have to do it all but you do probably need to choose what you do wisely.
And here’s the really super annoying thing. Just when you think you have it sorted, the rules will change.
Here’s an example. When I published my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels back in May 2012 it was quite a thing to get people to tag your book on Amazon and to like those tags. I’d tag it as chicklit or fantasy or horror and then others liked/agree that the book was indeed in that category. That helped people find your book (visibility) in the Amazon shop. Yeah, that system doesn’t exist anymore. Hours wasted.
Want another one? I have around 850 people who have liked my Facebook Author Page. That did not happen overnight and it did not happen by accident. That took a whole strategy. That took hours of time. I’m going to presume that at least half those people might have wanted to see what I posted from time to time. In 2014 Facebook has moved the goalposts. Now a mere handful of those people who signed up and said they were interested in my books and ramblings about coffee see my posts. You probably don’t see them most of the time. Now Facebook wants me to pay to send this information to people. And even then it doesn’t reach most of them.
How did I know I needed to tag books? How did I know I needed a Facebook Author page? The internet. And how did I learn I needed to relearn this stuff, the same way.
When I published my first book as an indie author I knew exactly NO ONE in real life, who had gone the indie route. I was alone in a big, book-filled universe flailing about for answers. I did pretty well considering.
I found Facebook Groups to join who have given me advice and helped promote my books. I got myself on Twitter and learned the dos and don’ts of negotiating that space. I have a blog and I know about Price Pulsing as well. (It sounds quite sexy but it’s not.) I have finally got my butt in gear and I have a newsletter mailing list – man I wish I’d gotten onto that before Facebook changed things up.
It’s tiring for authors these days. Lots of us are sweet, introverted people who like to read and drink beverages of the hot and cold varieties while chatting about said books. We can’t so mostly, they’re just like me and they keep pushing forward and adapting to the changes.
I’m glad the internet is there to help me. Being a writer isn’t the lonely and isolated pursuit of sitting in a garret it used to be. Though, I will say, despite the success stories you read about (again more than likely on the internet) most authors, both indie and traditional, still struggle to make money.
Some days I would prefer a return to the old days and but most days I take off my luddite hat and embrace the new opportunities out there.
9/9/2014 04:34:18 pm
Wow!! I feel ur pain! I’m so super new to the world of blogging and it’s a major learning curve. Even having groups and communities with other bloggers it’s still all just one huge learning experience. Getting likes, having followers, learning about how to get authors to find u or up find them! It’s really fun, but it’s so much work!
I tell people, for someone who doesn’t work, I sure am busy all of the time. My family assumes I sit in my room do online shopping or just play all day LOL haha haha. If only. I still don’t know half of what I need to! SEO, that’s super new to me, algorithm NOW U got me scared!
I do product reviews as well and constantly people want to know how many unique visitors do I have lol. Umm well, I had 3500 page views last month does that count? Lol. Great post!! 😍
9/9/2014 05:00:22 pm
I know it does take hours and then you think hmmmm, did I actually achieve anything today?
SEO is confusing. I think I’m getting more used to that but maybe I’m just fooling myself…;)
I think that counts btw Jessica.
Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
9/24/2014 11:54:52 pm
I couldn’t agree with you more!
I just finished listening to a podcast about this topic while driving home from a school carpool. On the one hand, it’s great that the traditional barriers to publishing have been lifted, but yes, that comes with a whole host of things authorpreneurs have to do and learn.
I think Facebook’s decision (post IPO) to monetize their site through advertising was a HUGE mistake for them. Why in the heck would I work my tail off to get “likes” (which I always felt was like being back in high school) when only a small percentage of my “likes” will even see what I post? I often think about posting a good-bye post to my readers on Facebook to announce I’m shutting down my presence there to focus on other things…
Thanks so much for linking this blog post to the Hump Day Blog Hop (always the last Wednesday of the month). I read with great interest and totally agree 100% with everything you said. Loved it.
9/27/2014 10:47:02 am
The whole Facebook situation is ludicrous to me. It has definitely had a massive affect on my book sales. I’m just not reaching people that I used to but I’m certainly not paying to get likes for a page no one sees.
Thanks for organising the Hump Day Blog, Julie 🙂
9/25/2014 02:01:30 am
Sometimes I feel as though being a modern writer is bit like being a parent – a thousand jobs rolled into one. And while it’s beautiful and heartwarming watching your little one learn to walk and talk and ride a bike and one day even drive, in the meantime you still have to change them and feed them and wash their clothes and make them do their homework and yell at them for breaking curfew. Rewarding, but exhausting nonetheless.
9/27/2014 10:47:54 am
It does feel like that – every time I release a new “book baby” I hope it will be liked and accepted and find it’s people.
9/27/2014 05:46:32 am
I can understand how you feel. I’ve only seriously started taking writing in the past 2 years. Since I’m not the most outgoing person in the world, it is difficult for me to get myself out there where all I want to do is read, watch, write and other individual activities. The amount of stuff that an indie author has to do if they do go the self-publishing route has made me nervous… I’m just trying bit by bit, not trying to rush things.
9/27/2014 10:49:14 am
Winfield I think that traditionally published authors find themselves in similar situations now too. They do get support from publishers but smaller authors still need to do lots of the heavy lifting themselves.