Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Those Were the Days My Friend...

While patrolling J. A. Konrath’s blog, I clicked a link that took me back to when he was just starting out in publishing, circa 2004.

What was great about this older post was it revealed how much things have changed in our publishing world since 2004. Kindle, iPad, Nook, Kobo Readers—none were in vogue in 2004. Amazon, at that time, did not rule the book-buying world and it was assumed that self-publishing digitally was something losers did.

 Successful authors, back then, were published by the majors and were still signing their print books in big box bookstores.  Borders Books and Barnes and Noble were still king.   

To show how different things were then, Joe mentions doing book signings at Waldenbooks in his post.  A kind of the sign of the times thing is that K-mart was booming, and because of that it had enough capital to buy Waldenbooks. All went well with this until a few years later when everything changed.

Not only was ink and paper expensive, but publishing’s whole business model was becoming unwieldy. Many blame the shift on Amazon and its Kindle E-reader, but Apple was also poised to introduce the iPad, so one or the other would have fostered needed change. Whichever it was, the beginning of the end for big box bookstores was inevitable. Although some have survived, Waldenbooks and Borders did not.

 On July 18, 2011, Borders Group filed for liquidation to close all of its remaining Waldenbooks and other stores. Liquidation commenced on July 22, 2011.

Change is difficult. Many in this new world of publishing still deny that anything has changed. Take a trip to the writer boards and you’ll see many there who still believe that book signings are the way to go. Many there still believe that July 2011 never happened. Probably many still believe authors still do signings at Waldenbooks or Borders.  Change is hard, especially when change happens so fast.  

Although the world of publishing has undergone dramatic change in these past 10 years, there is still good news. What I also pulled from Joe Konrath’s historical post are these few simple truths that will never change, including:

“Invest in your writing career as if it were stock. Investing in yourself and your writing does (2)  things:

(1) It compounds your publisher's efforts in establishing your brand.

(2) It shows your publisher that you're willing to invest your own time and money into building a career.

The single most important thing an author must do is to make sure their publisher is happy. That means earning out your advance, being gracious and easy to work with, and making an effort to promote and market your author name as well as your wonderful book(s).

Some promotional opportunities are ads, reviews, library talks, conferences, conventions, internet marketing, snail mail campaigns and website contests. Also, meeting your reader fan face to face can make the difference.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and authors need to find better ways to sell their books, or else they won't last long in this business.

Learn all you can about publishing. Not only from the outside, but from the inside as well.

You're a consumer, as well as a writer. What makes you buy a book? Figure that out, and concentrate your efforts on reproducing that effect for other consumers.” – J. A. Konrath

This was a great post. Thank you, Joe Konrath, for this trip down memory lane.

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