Learn the Art of Selling Fiction
Most beginning authors, and many seasoned pros, feel that book marketing—along with all the other various business aspects of selling books—is unimportant. Writers mistakenly believe that, if they are talented enough, the book will sell itself. Nothing could be further from the truth. To be a successful author, you need to learn the business side of selling fiction, in short you need to know a lot about book marketing.
In the Golden Era of fiction, if indeed such a thing ever existed, talent alone was enough. Writers like Steinbeck and Hemingway only needed to concern themselves with turning out a good manuscript. Once they had typed The End on the final draft, estimable agents like Maxwell Perkins took over the business of actually selling the book. Talented editors employed by publishing houses went over the story with a fine tooth comb. Another department handled cover design and page layout. The book marketing people oversaw the dust jacket blurb, ad placement, and Newspaper articles. They set up signings, author interviews, and sent out ARC (advance reader copies) to journalists and book reviewers, usually along with a bottle of decent wine. Literary giants of the past had giant publishing corporations backing them. Once the book was written, the author could sit back, put his feet up, and wait for the royalty checks to roll in.
Those days are long gone. For good or ill, authors are learning a hard truth: the era of big publishing is over. Long live the indies! The Sister Six (now the Big Five) have lost their strangle hold on the publishing world and with it, their influence over the buyer.
While it’s true that traditional publishers are still willing to shell out obscene amounts of book marketing capital on authors lucky enough to be a household name, returns on their marketing efforts are shrinking. Even big name authors are feeling the pinch. As a result, the publishing houses won’t lift a finger to drive book sales for a new and unproven author. Most literary agents won’t even consider a manuscript unless the author already has a successful book on the market and a large following. If you make the mistake of going the traditional route and you find an agent who sells your book to a publisher, be prepared to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to book marketing.
That’s right. Your all-powerful publisher, making all the money on your work and giving you a measly 15% of the sale, isn’t going to lift a finger to market your book.
Don’t believe me? Ask J.A. Konrath and Barry Eisler. Both are traditionally published authors who made the leap to self publishing in order to keep more of the profit and have more control over their product.
Bottom line: stellar writing isn’t enough to sell your book. Publishing fiction is the wild west. Anyone can try their luck. Authors who think their incredible writing will be enough to sell their book are living in the past. There are over a million books on Amazon and yours is just one. One lonely book amongst the millions. That means there are a million other authors trying to push you aside so that they can claw their way to the top.
Still think your talent with the written word is enough?
Whether you are self published or traditionally published, you need a basic understanding of the business side of selling fiction. Once you have finished your magnum opus, you’ll need to create a sales platform that puts your book in front of the right readers and convinces them to click the “Buy Now” button.
In up coming articles, we’ll go over how I (William Miller) fine tuned my sales funnel to earn over 60k dollars a year on the Kindle platform alone. Just so you know this isn’t smoke and mirrors, I attached a screen grab of my earnings for this month (7/16/2017) and added it below. That’s how much I’ve made for June and the month isn’t over yet. You can do it too! Literary Rebel is here to help. We’ll be going over everything you need to know to earn a living as an author. Sign up for our newsletter and don’t miss a single post. Click this link for the second part in this series.