Unknown Author

Are there unpublished authors who are more talented, more marketable, and more devoted to the craft of writing than authors who are on the shelves? I can say with the utmost certainty, “Yes.” 

I’ll give just about any book a chance. I will read the first chapter. If I like how the book starts out, I’ll read another fifty to eighty pages. After that, I will decide whether the book is worth my time or not. 

You may think that after eighty pages, I might as well read the next three hundred. Not so. I have better things to do in my life than to read a book that weakens a quarter the way through. 

New authors send me their self-published books all the time. Here is what I have discovered. At least half of these authors have well written books. And one out of ten is absolutely brilliant.

 Then I think about the books that are being published from authors who are with a traditional publishing house and are selling in bookstores. I probably go through fifty or sixty before I find something worth reading. And even after that, I am rarely satisfied with the novel. 

In fact, I have over three hundred books in my library. Of those, maybe ten I would consider as brilliant. 

If an author can sign with Random House and get on the bestsellers list, I respect that. What I do not have to admit is I really enjoy their work. 

I’ve been told by medium size traditional publishers that, “We are on the hunt for the next great author.” That sure sounds good, but I do not believe it is true. 

Publishers cannot help themselves. They need a sure thing. So medium size houses are convincing authors to leave Random House and sign with them. “You will receive more personal attention with us,” the medium publisher claims. That is very true. The medium publisher has changed their business model to pluck established authors from big houses. 

Where does that leave the unknown author? Well…you know. 

Literary agents say all the time, “We are looking for a new, fresh voice.” Well, there are thousands of new, fresh voices. Not only that, but they have talent and marketability. Nevertheless, an unknown author cannot be signed, because they are a risk. 

What is an “Established” author? Someone who excels in reading, storytelling, writing mechanics, marketing, and has publishing knowledge. That is what readers are looking for. However, that is not what literary agents and publishers are looking for.

How can an unknown author reach millions of readers, without signing with a literary agent or publisher? 

Outperform 

Can you write better than the authors on the bestsellers list? If you say “yes,” then you better have the courage to back that statement up. Review what I said in the above paragraph: What is an “Established” author? Someone who excels in reading, storytelling, writing mechanics, marketing, and has publishing knowledge. 

ABV 

Have you ever heard of ABV? Probably not yet, but you will. It stands for Author Book Validation. Traditional authors are fearful of this, because this agency re-looks at ALL books and validates them for readers. Soon, readers will be looking for the ABV sticker on every book. 

Why is this agency important? Because it differentiates a good book from a bad book. Literary agents and publishers are not permitted to be involved in ABV. Traditional authors will be evaluated with self-published authors. This will change the publishing industry and regain the purity of books. 

Look for ABV to start in the summer of 2011. 

Marketing 

An author working on their own has more of an advantage than an author who just signed with a large publishing house. The large publishing house will invest about $1,000 a quarter for a new authors marketing plan. (While investing $50,000 a quarter for their top 1% of authors.) Meanwhile, the author needs to invest their own money/time. 

What if you invested $1,000 in marketing every four months? How fast would you rise up the ladder of success and build your audience? The key to that success is to have a nice mix of local and national marketing.  

Publicist 

I believe an author should run their PR campaign like a politician running for office. You need to smile, shake a lot of hands, hand out flyer’s, gain the support of others, raise funds, and provide a message that has the audience believing in you.

A publicist will get you on the radio, in newspapers, and on television. (With your help.) If you have a children’s book, the publicist will get you in the schools. A publicist will get your novel in book clubs, literary magazines, and networking groups. And most of all, the publicist will build relationships. 

Think of marketing as a way to reach thousands. Think of publicity as a way to build one productive relationship at a time. 

Local Bookstores 

National bookstores are failing. To adjust, they will start selling candles, knickknacks, greeting cards, and yogurt. You will even start to see playgrounds in Barnes & Noble. 

Why are national chains failing? Because, they are purchasing familiar authors. In fact, you can make a case that literary agents and publishers are failing for the same reason. 

Local bookstores can create an entire new market, with thousands of unknown authors. Readers will be encouraged to look for the next great writer. (If you do not think that can work, then you’ve never watched American Idol.) Authors who want their books in the hands of readers, can use local bookstores as their outlet. 

E-Books 

The digital world has been created because printing has become costly. Nevertheless, e-books was not created by publishers. Moreover, publishers are fearful of digital books. Here is a quote that will sum up their reservations, “Authors have too many choices to make money.” 

Don’t be fooled that publishers are completely changing how they do business because of the new e-book craze. In fact, most publishers are still trying to figure out how to fit e-books in their current business model. 

Working Together 

Authors need to work with each other, rather than against each other. I support all authors, whether you are traditionally published, self-published, or just starting out. Testimonials and sharing links for each other is one of the best ways to help another author. Giving feedback is crucial to an author’s growth. 

Contests 

Not only are contests fun, but they launch unknown authors to center stage. I would enter as many contests as possible to promote and validate your writing.

Freedom 

What do you have over traditional authors? Freedom. The choice to run your own campaign and invest in what is most important to you. These days, authors are asked to do most of the work. I think that is an advantage. If you succeed or fail, it is all up to you. 

Speaking of freedom, I am going to say something for a third time, because it is important. 

What is an “Established” author? Someone who excels in reading, storytelling, writing mechanics, marketing, and has publishing knowledge. 

If you do not excel in your craft, then you are giving into the perceptions of what literary agents and publishers think about authors that did not deserve to sign with them. If you do not excel in reading, writing, marketing, and publishing knowledge, then you are what I call a “Self-Destructive Author.” 

As of right now you may feel like the Unknown Author. So why keep your name a secret anymore? Start right now. The world needs the next great author. Literary agents, publishers, and chain bookstores will not make that happen. YOU WILL! 

Fill in the blank. “My name is _________________…and I am the next great author.” 

Ron Knight 

www.authorronknight.com  

Marketing: www.brand1111.com  

Publicist: www.mayspr.com

 Contest: www.upauthors.com/events

Ron Knight

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the encouraging words. I was completely ignorant of the publishing world when I wrote my book, Nathaniel Ages, and began surfing the sites to try to understand publishing. I soon realized that I would go straight to self publishing because I was completely overwhelmed by the traditional route. As a home schooling mother of six, I believe this was a wise move for me and I have been so moved by the wonderful response my book has received so far and I value sites like these to help me along my publishing journey.

  2. okay I’ll agree with you and state – I am the next great writer- does make me feel quite good saying that!!

  3. Great post. I love the idea of ABV. And I read up to 100 pages before deciding whether or not to read the entire book.