Margaret Atwood is my new hero

I watched a presentation today that I just had to share with you.  Margaret Atwood, a multi-published author, and who blogs at Margaret Atwood: Year of the Flood, had some really interesting (and quite funny) things to say about the publishing industry.  Watch…

I just can’t watch it enough.  All authors – aspiring authors, debut authors, seasoned authors – need to watch this.  Margaret talks about how the publishing industry has changed and whether the new changes are good or bad for the author in the whole scheme of things.  I liked it when someone asked her if she had ever read an ebook and she says she owns two ebook readers.  In fact, right away she makes a point she’s in the middle – both a paper and ebook fan.  That right there confirms Margaret Atwood is my new hero.

Years ago, publishers who wanted to cut back on costs accepted manuscripts from authors on the contingency that their book first go into electronic format.  If you sold enough, they’d go into paperback.  It never happened that way for me, but I always thought poor author, you know?  It just didn’t seem fair.  How do you take an ebook to a booksigning?

Years down the road, we learn booksignings aren’t the most popular vehicle on the block right now.  Virtual book tours (online publicity tours) have replaced a lot of the offline booksigning ventures.  That’s not to say the author won’t still get out and meet their public and should be encouraged, but the more authors find other ways to earn (as Margaret called it) their “cheese sandwich,”  they are finding out that they can reach an even bigger audience by going about it virtually.

Authors are screaming for help.  Their first step takes them to the Internet to find ways to sell their book, yet which way is best?  Where’s the magic ticket?  Surely if they research all day long, something will pop up that sounds like it would work.  Just something to help.  The problem there is all that time they’ve been researching and never really understanding completely, they could have been writing books.  So why aren’t the publishers helping?  What are they doing?  Nothing?

In her presentation above, Margaret says, “Publishers don’t have the resources or they quite don’t know how.”  There’s your answer right there.  Books are publishers’ bread and butter.  Without you, without your book, they have nothing.  Of course they want your book to sell.  They wouldn’t have accepted your manuscript if not for the fact they believed it would sell.  You are a gamble to them.  Of course they’re going to do all they can do to make sure that gamble doesn’t go bust.  It’s not their fault they’re a small company and don’t have the resources.  Even NY publishers are concentrating on the books that are selling and not taking risks with new authors unless the new author has proven to them they stand out from the pack.

So yes, book promotion lies in the author’s lap and if the author can’t, don’t know how, or just don’t want to promote their book, they just hire someone.  As a book promoter who gets a tremendous amount of email (too much to read it all), I hear the authors’ cries.  They are seeking help.  They are crying for help.  As an author, I understand their cries.  It is the same cry I cried years ago when I sold only two books at one booksigning and no books at another booksigning.  I just knew there had to be a way and so I headed straight for the Internet and soaked up as much knowledge about book promotion as I could.  Years down the road, I’m doing more promoting than I am writing but it’s what I love.  Writing is what authors love.

Yes, the publishing world is changing, but if you think about all the new possibilities out there that have sprung up for the aspiring author, it’s quite a remarkable thing.

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