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The Future is Bright (for the Resilient Author)

By Elle James

Now more than ever authors are being faced by a multitude of challenges and opportunities. The book market has contracted in some areas and expanded in others. With the upset in the economy NY publishing houses are trimming staff, closing lines, reorganizing and some are facing potential bankruptcy. All that gloom and doom in the traditional markets is contrasted sharply by the hope and opportunity in the e-publishing and self-publishing markets exploding with the introduction of the Kindle, Nook and IPad to name a few of the e-reader platforms available.

Couple the publishing market changes with the economic downturn and the fact that consumers are spending less on big-ticket items and looking for ways to cut down, books are a generally a good entertainment investment. Cheaper than a trip to Disney, that’s for sure.

Given the volatile market, authors have to be resilient, flexible and innovative. How can you as an author be resilient?

1. Reinvent yourself – known for romantic comedy and romantic comedy is no longer the “in thing”? Publishing houses aren’t buying your historicals anymore, preferring to concentrate on the NYT best selling authors? Now’s the time to look at other genres. Give them a try and see how you like writing them. Not only does it give you another avenue for sales, it will give you a fresh outlet for your creative juices.

2. Diversify – If you’ve had your eggs all in one basket and you’re afraid that basket is going to overturn and break all your eggs, go out and find different baskets to put some of your eggs in. If you keep your same writing name, it will help to cross-sell and might increase your sales at your original publishing house. The more the consumer sees your name, the more likely they will be to pick up your book based on name recognition.

3. Explore new platforms – Don’t be afraid or too judgmental about different platforms for book sales. In the past, e-publishers were the taboo of the print published authors. Now the NY print publishers are scrambling to unlock the key to the e-pub market and tap into the millions of dollars of sales that can be generated. With e-readers becoming easier to attain and more multi-purpose, many consumers are finally making the switch to e-readers abandoning the print books for the convenience of one reader with multiple-book storage. Again, e-publishers give you the opportunity to cross-sell between platforms. The e-reading consumer may look for your print books and vice versa. You’re building your name and your reputation across multiple platforms, appealing to different reading populations, it can only help your sales on both platforms.

4. Be prolific – not everyone is going hit the NYT Best Selling list at the beginning of their career. Some authors build to that point, but it’s really hard to build a name for yourself unless you can get your name out there often enough to become recognizable. In order to do that, you have to be prolific. Write. Write. Write. The more books, the more series, the more, more, more you write, the more your name will be on the shelves, online and in front of the purchasing reader. You also have to promote your work, build a blog/facebook/twitter following, build an appealing website, sponsor contests, tweet…Do whatever it takes to keep your name fresh in the consumer’s mind.
Many authors are preaching gloom and doom about the market, but the reality is that the market is exploding in new directions, giving authors opportunities that can launch their careers. Being flexible, being willing to try something new and diversifying will make you a resilient author, one who will continue to sell the books you love to write.

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