Over the last couple of months, several people I know have approached me to assist them with marketing their recently published books. This got me thinking about the direction of the book publishing industry and how author’s are better equipped than ever to reach out directly to their potential readers. Yet, most authors still rely on their publishers to market and promote their books.
The book industry is going through a massive change, not unlike the music industry already has. E-Readers are getting a lot of recent attention, but there are huge changes occurring for authors, publishers, and the marketing of books. Here are a few insights I have gleaned:
- Book Publishers are Dead – Just like the record labels, publishers are no longer necessary to create and publish your book. With a manuscript in hand, authors can now publish on their own through services like Lulu, SelfPublishing.com, iUniverse, or CreateSpace (an Amazon company). Sure, there may be some upfront expenses, but those costs are fairly low and will continue to drop given options like ebooks and print-on-demand.
- New Content Distributors for Books – Who will own the new method of book distribution? As with LPs and CDs, paper books will largely give way to ebooks. The new ebook distributors will control the marketplace. The winners? We’ll see. Those with eReaders are getting an early start, but I’m betting on Amazon, GoogleBooks, Apple (think Tablet PC + iTunes + eBook Store), Sony.
- Social Media for Marketing Books – There are many ways for authors to directly reach out and get found by their target audience. Similar to traditional marketing, the first step is to understand your audience: who are they? where are they? what do they need? But unlike traditional marketing, using social media and inbound marketing let your potential customers find you. A great place to learn more about this is HubSpot. HubSpot provides excellent and free resources (including Inbound Marketing University), plus they actually use these practices in marketing their own business.
So, my message to authors is “get found.” Understand your audience, create useful content for them (videos, blogs, articles, ebooks), optimize your content (make it easy to find), then promote the hell out of it (Twitter, Facebook, RSS feed, join/create community). It will take work. You may need help. But unless you already have celebrity author cred, you have no choice.