This is one of the easiest times to become a published author yet one of the hardest times to make money as a published author, especially for Indy authors. At the heart of the latter is the issue of distribution and connecting with readers, at least in my opinion.
In the early days of e-publishing, especially with Amazon, Indy authors were experiencing some pretty powerful sales and connection with readers who embraced the idea of reading books electronically. Now the market is being flooded by everybody with a computer, a desire to call themselves published and the willingness to hit the submit button at a plethora of sites that offer to package and sell their work.
As with any product that goes from 0 to 60 in popularity it becomes more difficult for the consumer, e.g., the reader, to sort through the ocean of choices to get what they want. Consumers/readers will fish in this ocean but how does an author make sure that it’s their bait the reader bites on?
One way that seems to be working at Amazon.com is the packaging of a collection of romance novels for 99 cents. I’ve dipped my toe in that water as a reader and in some cases I’ve been pleasantly surprised but in too many cases, I’ve been disappointed. Still, I only spent 99 cents. However, when I sit down to read a book, I want to make sure that it’s time well spent.
Another way to reach readers is for libraries to carry an author’s work. Many libraries are embracing e-books at a growing rate and as I mentioned in a previous post, the big-name publishers are forcing the libraries to pay such a high price for bestsellers that it makes it difficult for libraries to purchase many of these books when their budgets are stretched so thinly to begin with, which means there’s wiggle room for Indy authors to have their work available through libraries.
I also mentioned in another post that OverDrive and Smashwords inked a distribution deal which means that a large network of libraries will now have access to thousands and thousands of Indy titles. However, it’s the librarians who now have to wade through the ocean of titles, although the distribution deal does include help with creating lists based on attributes such as, you guessed it, bestsellers, that is bestselling Indy authors. There will also be curated lists based on the most popular genres.
Speaking of genres, on the romance front, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) released their ‘Novel Engagement’ Romance App. Here are some links to find out more about this:
While social media options have made it easier for authors and readers to connect, readers still have to find you.
Everyone is being faced with the challenge of standing out in the overcrowded social media world and authors are no different. I’ve noticed that more marketing is going “old school” again to include postcards in the mail and advertising on television in order to stand out.
So, what does this mean for Indy authors? Well, don’t overlook physically connecting with your local libraries to see if they have e-book options for their patrons and whether or not your book is on their list. Many libraries band together with other libraries for their e-book programs, so this just might be one way for an Indy author to get her name and work in front of readers.
The moral of this story is that while some things change, some things remain the same. Distribution has always been a hurdle for any type of author and even though technology has enhanced certain aspects of distribution, bottlenecks remain. Finding readers is still a challenge but authors have a bigger collection of tools from which to choose. This could be good, this could be bad, and it could even be ugly.
In the end, the most important thing that any author should do, but especially the Indy author, is to write the best book they can and continue to produce so that once readers discover them they can stay connected. This is my biggest challenge given that I have a demanding day job, teach and have to squeeze my writing in wherever I can. Still I’m close to finishing my next novel and a holiday novella so I’m hoping that I can take my own advice soon and have my work in at least my local library by next year.
Writing – it’s not just a job – it’s an adventure!