Monday, January 17, 2011

Are They Right or Delusional?

Hi everyone,

There's a big myth in the industry, one that I'm frankly confused about so I thought I'd throw it out here and see what everyone else thinks.

What I thought was an old belief, the idea authors write books and the agents, editors, and publishers do everything else, is somehow making a comeback. The argument today is that if a publisher expects the author to promote their own work, they are no better than a vanity press. Therefore, it's up to the author if they "feel like" doing book signings, guest appearances, etc.

What do you think?


Charity Tahmaseb said...

I imagine there’s more talk about this because the entire publishing business model is changing so rapidly. I’m not so sure the only choices open to writers these days are limited to “traditional publishing structure” (for lack of a better term) and vanity publishing.

Would you call what J.A. Konrath is doing vanity publishing? Granted, he may be an outlier. I don’t think everyone can toss their manuscripts into Kindle format and get rich quick. And I highly respect the editorial process.

But I also know a lot of traditionally published authors, from NYC houses at that, go the self-published route for some of their writing.

What’s that saying? May you be condemned to live in interesting times. For anyone involved with publishing, times are very interesting indeed.

Christy said...

Interesting. I thought authors who wanted to be successful actually worked on promoting their books, or they hired agents to manage their book promotion for them.

Perhaps I am being naive about the business but it is always the author I see at book signings and not the publisher, editor or cover designer. The same holds true for those promoting books on talk shows. It's always the author. I suppose if one becomes a huge success, you can rely on your name only to sell books, like Stephen King or J. K. Rowling, but let's be honest, I bet they both did a lot of self promotion before they became well known.

I can think of a few well known authors who do not leave their own success to others. For example, Clive Cussler often does books signings at my local independent bookseller's store. Cussler is well known and still promotes his own work. The same is true of Sue Grafton and Jeffrey Deaver.

I am not an author so I may be misguided in my thinking, but isn't book promotion part of the kit and caboodle of being a successful author? I would think that authors would want to promote their book especially these days where its possible to promote your book from the comfort of your own home and still be able to generate sales. I have found so many delightful works by authors I'd never heard of before just by reading posts on Twitter and Facebook.

Authors who don't want to do what it takes to promote their work and resist being successful are actually being stingy by cheating the reading public from enjoying their writing. And that's a sad thought, especially for an avid reader like me. :)

J.R. Turner said...

Charity and Christy--Thank you both so much for sharing your thoughts.

You are so right on the mark, Charity! I so agree about the wide variety of options for writers today. And yes, these are very interesting times. I'm just trying not to get thrown off the ride! Lol ;)

Christy--that's so important, what you wrote about the readers getting cheated out of great reads. I know there are a lot of great new authors I've come to love because I saw something they did to promote the book. And you're not naive at all! Excellently stated ;)