Updated: Nov 18, 2018
As I’ve mentioned before, I spend a lot of time reading J.A. Konrath’s blog. I’m not sure where he’s disappeared to as of late, but his old content is very interesting.
For example, in 2006 he mentioned that people should focus their time on selling physical copies of books rather than digital ones. He went so far as to go on book tours, visiting hundreds of book stores, developing contacts – he even visited my local Borders, which I remember ransacking 3-4 years later for discounted books as it shut down permanently. My bet is that most of the stores he visited have also shut down, and here’s why:
As of 2012, more books sold online than in brick-and-mortar stores. That’s huge – and keep in mind, these are old statistics. Today, e-books are blowing up the markets and self-publishing has allowed high-quality, inexpensive work to reach audiences, competing with great traditional authors like Stephen King.
Even though 2006 was only a decade ago, Amazon wasn’t the powerhouse then that it is now. Things have changed. I know people now who exclusively shop on Amazon for Christmas. In many cases, you can purchase more for less at Amazon than you can at Walmart. It’s not going away.
This leads me to wonder: where are all the bookstore contacts that Konrath worked so hard to acquire? Are they even in the publishing/bookselling industry anymore?
The e-book phenomenon isn’t just affecting fiction. College textbooks are going online. Magazines are going digital.
Just last year, I was a final job candidate at a scientific publishing company. They cited layoffs galore because they hadn’t jumped on the e-book bandwagon quickly enough. They weren’t sure if they’d ever properly recover, which is why I took a job selling metal roofing instead.
Perhaps if I’d had more time to think before accepting an offer, I would have worked for the publishing company. It would have been an exciting adventure. But we can’t change our pasts.
Going forward in my research about publishing, I’m going to take Konrath’s advice with a grain of salt, at least until my point of reading in his blog reaches 2010 or so. It’s not that the information is useless; some of it is timeless. The selling climate has just changed tremendously over the years. Most people get their names out there digitally now, whether that be through blogs or social media. Konrath understood early on that blogging would help him build an audience.
As for myself, I’m using Twitter as my primary means of getting my name out there. I haven’t quite started marketing If I Let You Go yet, but people know it exists and that I write science fiction. I try to follow back other writers, although to be honest, things have started blowing up there lately and it’s hard to keep up.
Twitter is an excellent way to be a part of a community and encourage others. Seeing all the hard work everyone else is doing inspires me to get my butt in gear. Follow me at @peneraserlove if you like.
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