Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Friday, November 14, 2014

Writers & Their Works as Commodities

Wikipedia lists one definition of the word commodity as “…a marketable item produced to satisfy wants or needs,” and further indicates that, “Economic commodities comprise goods and services.”

I know I’m stretching the definition of commodity a bit when I refer to writers and their work as such but given the recent “Amazon-Hachette publishing wars” I think we’re closer than ever to this reference becoming less of a stretch.  Many writer/publisher/bookseller news outlets have covered this story and many a writer has been a foot soldier in the fight but an article at USAToday released yesterday evening has a very interesting take and it’s predominantly about the pre-order button.

Yes, the pre-order button.

The article indicates (as other coverage has) that Amazon was delaying the availability of Hachette author’s books by not allowing readers to pre-order said books.  Why does that matter you might wonder.  Well, bestseller lists and the apparent practice of front loading those lists with pre-orders - that's why.

Here’s the article link:

So, makes you wonder sometimes just what writing, publishing and reading are all about and how in the world an unknown yet talented author stands a snow ball’s chance in a hot place of ever reaching readers who just might enjoy their written work for the labor of love that it often is.

Well, this is where booksellers were critical to an author’s success and given the decline in actual books stores this has been problematic for writers/would-be authors, not to mention the decline of the traditional newspaper book review section as well.  Librarians are still a tremendous resource for an author to reach readers, especially on a local and/or regional level.  It has always been vital for writers/authors to form partnerships with professionals such as book sellers and librarians and in many ways it’s more vital than ever before.

There is some good news in this changing world for writers/authors and that is that sites such as have provided an electronic window for writers to become discovered much as a talk at a library or book store might have done in the past but on a much greater scale.  But as I often tell my students when I teach - there is good, bad and ugly in everything and it’s important to know both the strengths and the weaknesses of everything you interface with in your life. 

While the electronic frontier for writers/authors provides a much larger landscape for reaching readers, it is a very crowded environment these days and IMHO discoverability has become one of the top obstacles for writers/authors and like any other commodity it just depends on how it is marketed and whether or not it satisfies a need or desire for the consumer, in this case the reader.

There is no magic formula and in many ways we are back to the same old networking techniques of reaching out to librarians, book sellers, review sites and more to connect with readers – or perhaps that part never really changed and we just got caught up in the bright lights and buzz of the electronic world thinking it was going to make us all stars, and rich, overnight.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like what goes around comes around. Also, I've heard the more books you write, especially if they're in a series, you have a better chance of being recognized. Of course, they have to be good books!