Audience for Authors

Do you remember when traditional publishing was the ultimate goal of any author. Looking back, even then, authors were setup to fail. Here was the process: 

  • Write a novel.
  • Select agents that may represent you.
  • Query the agent about your book.
  • After at least twenty rejections, an agent wants to read your synopsis and sample chapters.
  • The agent loves your synopsis and chapter samples. He/she wants to see your entire manuscript.
  • The agent loves your manuscript and wants to represent you.
  • The agent creates a marketing strategy.
  • The agent contacts editors and shows them your manuscript.
  • A “reader” in the publishing house loves your manuscript.
  • The “reader” passes along your manuscript to an editor.
  • The editor loves your manuscript.
  • The editor suggests your manuscript to an “editor board.”
  • The editor board loves our manuscript and pitches it to their finance decision makers.
  • The finance decision makers believe your book will have a decent chance of making money, so they offer you a contract.
  • After you sign the contract, your manuscript is transformed into a book.
  • A salesperson who represents the publisher, pitches your book to stores. (Along with other titles they represent.)
  • Stores purchase the book from the publisher.
  • Readers purchase your book from the stores.

Literary agents and publishers know that a first-time author will probably not do well in sales. Usually the third or fourth book begins to show signs of life, because the author has a following.

The process that I have stated above takes years. In the end, your success comes down to building an audience. Whether you self-publish or have the privilege of becoming a traditionally published author, an audience is the key to starting and maintaining a career.

There are ways to build an audience, if you are on a budget. (And like all other businesses, you should be on a budget.) Building an audience comes down to basic networking skills.

  • Join a community web site like Facebook.
  • Build up a friends list with every person that you know.
  • Go to networking meetings. Build your list of contacts.
  • Do speaking engagements. Gather as many contacts as possible.
  • Keep in contact with those people. Make sure you are committed to their interests, as much as they are committed to your interests.

Community web sites, networking, and events, are the best way to build an audience. It will be slow at first, but as your list grows, your numbers will increase at much quicker rates.

An author with a wonderful book is nothing without a wonderful audience. Forget about traditional and self-publishing for now. Do not expect the literary agent or publisher to come up with a marketing plan for your success. Times have changed. They will not do that for you anymore.

Be independent and build your career, along with your audience. Do not wait around the traditional way and suffer through years of rejection letters or having your fate dependent on others selling your book. 

Instead, be your own Untraditional Publisher.

Ron Knight
Author of Untraditional Publishing

Ron Knight

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