Friday, January 08, 2010

Endless, Shameless, Fruitless Marketing

It's a reality of our post-apocalyptic economy that writers have to hustle more than ever. Not that the good old days were that good; writers spend years typing out query letters to magazines and publishers and agents, then waited by the mailbox while gravity ravaged their bodies and experience addled their minds. Hustling back then was more a function of slo-motion; now it's just plain frenetic.

In another attempt to embellish and expand my presence as a salable commodity, I've taken advantage of Amazon's Author Pages opportunity (click on this link to check out my site on Amazon). For authors with books for sale on Amazon, it offers a single place to view all that writer's work. The hope is that it will lead to cross sales, more sales, any sales. At the very least it makes writers like me look more important. But why do this?

I sat down recently with my friend, author Richard Panek. I was explaining to him the onus small presses were placing on authors to assume more of the responsibility for marketing and promotion. (Richard's last two books were published by larger houses, with departments dedicated to marketing and sales.) I sympathize with small presses; I'm drawn to them for the very independence they offer writers. The trade off is that there's never been much money to promote books, and now there's even less. Small presses can now barely cover costs of small print runs, never mind the associated costs with selling and promoting books.

I understand that I'm not a "big house" kind of writer. My ideas, my topics, my style of writing is not accessible enough for big money to back. Instead I choose to ply the backroads of the human experience through my writing. That freedom means that I take on a larger role in self-promotion.

In the future, there'll be more things like Amazon's Author Pages, requiring me to seize the opportunity for selling books. I know I won't get rich, but I choose to think about it this way: I'm gaining experience that will serve my writing in the future.