The One Thing Authors Must Do in 2011

by Trish

Start a list.

But don’t just take it from me.

Agent Simon Lipskar of Writers House spoke at Digital Book World 2011 in New York City last week and Publisher’s Lunch reported on the event.

But Lipskar said that in days ahead, “publishers are going to have to prove they are better at marketing and publicity than authors themselves. That will mean dynamically moving towards customer-direct models rather than marketing to retailers and reviewers. That is something agents will pay attention to.” He also noted that one of his goals for the coming year was to help his authors develop lists of their readers and fans.

So don’t take it from me. Take it from a top New York City agent! I wrote to a long list of agents in February 2010 telling them this exact thing (call me ahead of the curve). I am thrilled to find out that agents are picking up on this and instructing their authors to build a list.

Yes, this is the one thing authors must do in 2011.

Build a list.

Why? What’s the point?

Becuase authors are now going to be on an even playing field (thanks to Amazon.com, Indie bookstores, the Kindle, the iPad, the Nook, Kindle Singles, etc.) with publishers and it’s a known fact that the smaller you are, the easier you can outmanuever the big guys.

And I don’t mean any disrespect to publishers. We will still need them (as well as agents) in the days ahead. But the needs will ultimately change. Publishers will produce what authors can’t do already through Amazon.com and the Kindle. Publishers will learn to market their strengths and to position themselves as providers of services that authors can’t do themselves. What exactly will that be?

We just don’t know. As ebooks continue to grow, more and more authors are figuring out there is no reason to wait around for a publishing decision that is usually against them. They’re trying other things. I’m trying other things. But publishers are always needed, whether or not they actually edit anything. They may just become POD services or distribution services. Who says publishers have the sole brain trust that is required to understand what a buying public wants? They haven’t exactly hit every book they acquired out of the ballpark.

On the other hand, authors are too uneasy about marketing/branding/position. It is high time authors get on the horse. Become the brain trust. When you ignore VITAL skills that help you sell what you produce, you will always end up selling used cars. It’s an analogy I’ve used many times on this blog. Authors that REFUSE to learn will ultimately fail. Authors who are willing to learn new skills and to venture out and try new things will succeed.

Which do you want to be?

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