Our Facebook Group is now approaching 250 members. Many thanks to everyone who has joined, contributed, posted links, images, and discussions. It’s come as no surprise to me that the most active members of this group are authors. This supports a little theory I’ve had for a while:
Authors are doing more with social media than publishers.
Some of the most interesting ideas and perspectives at the Google Unbound conference in January, for example, came from authors.
When I worked in publishing houses, the main complaint from authors – rightly or wrongly – was usually to do with marketing. Usually an accusation of a lack of marketing when a book didn’t sell. Which may have been for any number of reasons – possibly including poor marketing, but possibly also including unrealistic sales expectations, and simply publishing in a niche with a small readership, or in an area that was already crowded with competing titles.
Given the volume of titles produced, and finite resources, people and time, publishers must also prioritize. But authors have always had a role to play in marketing their own book, and the more successful ones are proactive about it.
And with the new web tools, it’s now easier than ever before for individual authors to create some word-of-mouth around their book. Even in those niche areas. Niche’s may be small and hard to reach with traditional marketing. But, when you use social media, they suddenly become large and global. It’s the Long Tail of publishing.
One author who uses these techniques himself – and explains them to other authors – is Steve Weber. You can find him on MySpace and on his blog. I regularly recommend his Plug Your Book (UK | USA). I recommend it to authors, for whom it is written, but also to publishers. And to students on publishing courses, because this stuff has to be second nature to the next generation of publishers.
It’s a really useful overview of some of the best ways you can use online marketing to create word-of-mouth buzz about your book – including websites, blogs, social networking, social search, RSS, wikis, online press kits and more.
Yes, publishers should do this too. But they should also facilitate the social media activities of their authors. Too many publishers don’t even know whether or not their authors have their own blogs – much less link to them. Don’t be one of them.