So, we’ve covered the “revolution,” the chains, and the new mindset agents, authors and editors should be looking to adopt as digital products take the stage. What does it mean, practically, for authors and their representatives?
It means doing more than writing a book, unfortunately. Agents frequently say to their authors “You write the book. Leave the rest to me.” That’s partly truth and partly left over from when publishers shouldered the brunt of publication, including promotion and marketing. Stuff that now falls almost completely to the agents and authors—both have had to diversify from “selling the book” or just “writing the book.”
Consider digital the next wave of responsibility reverting to the agents and authors. We’ve learned to get online, create buzz, and keep selling the book after it’s “sold” in the traditional sense of an agent’s job. That’s largely back-end stuff, post-pub. Now we have to add some front-end stuff. We’ve got to think about the book plus, the PPP, from the get-go.
That doesn’t mean that authors come in with set-in-stone demands on the digital avenues they want to take, any more than they should come in having designed their own cover. But it means giving apps, etc thought. Ideas. Having started a blog. Even fiction authors should have an eye toward platform.
I’ve heard people say that the migration of responsibility from publisher back to author is “unfair.” Like we should hate publishers because they don’t send all authors out on book tours like they did in the Golden Days. And where did all the scotch and cigars go?!
That’s ridiculous. Not only have challenges facing publishers changed, but the way books are sold have too. Book tours? Not the best way to make $$ on books (but that’s another blog post). Marketing and promotion are now grassroots—getting the word out online has to have a voice. The author’s voice.
Authors can’t just “be artistes” anymore, just like agents have to find time to act as publicists (among other things). Your first job is to write the book, but your job doesn’t end once you type “fin” and land an agent. Not by a long shot. Bummer, because most authors have full-time lives outside of writing. But these days embarking on the publication journey means being willing and able to take on the front- and back-end responsibilities. They’re no longer optional.
Thanks for following the series, everyone. You’ve all made great points and asked great questions in the comments—those have become fodder for future discussions.