Romantic suspense author Pamela Loewy shares her thoughts about our new wired universe and the challenges it poses to writers, publishers and booksellers. She'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic as well. Welcome, Pamela!
As a newly-published author facing the daunting proposition of marketing my book in our 21st century virtual landscape, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of books and the publishing industry in general.
Ebooks increasingly dominate the market, and with the advent of POD (print-on-demand), self-publishing has grown exponentially. Even as they jump on the electronic bandwagon, conventional publishers must deal with a decreasing customer base, and many bookstores face that same problem. And public libraries – in the next decade or two, will such entities still exist, at least in physical form? For those of you who are Star Trek fans, think of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (to my mind the most philosophical of Enterprise captains) caressing that rarest of antiquities – a hardbound book.
Consider the millions of books (and trillions of words) floating about in the virtual world. If you write a book and want to publish it, no problem, but marketing and selling that book are quite another matter. Those of us who have found conventional publishers are still expected to take on much of the marketing work. And self-published authors bear a stigma due to the perceived marginal quality of self-published writing. Beware– the sharks abound. Vanity and subsidy publishing companies charge authors from hundreds to thousands of dollars to publish their books, and may offer questionable marketing and publicity packages as well. (If you’re an author who’s considering self-publishing, be sure to do your research before you leap, so you can choose your best option.)
Here’s the conundrum – most of us writers aren’t marketers, but if we want to sell our books, we have to be. Establish an Internet presence, we’re told. Blog. Twitter. Set up your Facebook account and befriend the world.
Oh, man. I’d so much rather work on finishing my second novel, or read a good book, or sit on my back deck and stare up at the trees. As I set up my website and blog, I wonder, with websites and blogs proliferating like viral bunnies, how many people are actually going to take a look at mine? Information overload, my tech-savvy daughter calls it. The data available to us on the Web seems endless, but our capacity to absorb information is obviously not.
Back to the physical world - I visited my local bookstore earlier this week. There were hardly any customers, and I suspect the place would have been even emptier if it didn’t have a cafe. Part of a nationwide chain, the bookstore anchors one end of a mall that’s seen better days. Empty storefronts abound; if you’re in the mood to get depressed, our mall’s a prime destination. My husband and I haunt bookstores almost every weekend, but he finds better deals on Amazon, and I’m starting to lust for an e-reader.
We’re all of us trying to find our way – publishers, booksellers, writers, readers. My job is to take advantage of the marketing opportunities the virtual world presents and not get overwhelmed by them, and to remember that no matter how many books I sell or don’t sell, I’ve already won the prize – the joy of creation, of putting part of my soul into print. It is (forgive the pun) beyond words.
Pamela's novel, Saving Jemma, was published by The Wild Rose Press this September. Saving Jemma may be ordered in both paperback and digital formats from The Wild Rose Press, Amazon.com, and Digi Books Cafe. And please stop by at her website and blog: http://pamelaloewy.weebly.com.