Every author knows, or should know, that word of mouth is crucial to book sales. It’s crucial in all areas of sales, for any product or service, but it’s not easy to encourage. You can’t make it happen.
Most readers would assess the activity as a hobby. Very few readers would consider reading a passion to the point of addiction. Each group is as important as the other. Getting people talking about your work is the only thing that will spread interest to the point of great success.
So how do we address it? In my experience, we don’t. Though, I do think it’s a shame that so many readers don’t understand the power they wield. If you tell one friend about a book that you enjoyed, and ask them to tell them a friend if they enjoy it, and so on, pretty soon a wildfire will grow and you alone will have started a trend. You will have picked out the next success. You, the readers, can give great reach to a once unknown novel or author.
But, and this is a big but, readers are just as influential the other way. So authors must always remember that the reader is always right. If you try too hard to make conversations happen then you’re only likely to upset your audience.
I do think that if casual readers took more time discussing the books that they enjoyed there would be a more varied traditional market. In this time of austerity few big publishers are taking risks on lesser known authors or novels.
I don’t claim for one second to hold all the answers. No one can. But I do have concerns, as many do, about the state of the publishing industry at the moment. Almost every author you speak to will concede that there needs to be reformation of the way the big publishers, and retailers, do business. The trouble is, and please bear in mind that we’re a creative bunch, no one has come up with the solution.
My concern isn’t with regards to my writing career. Oddly enough I feel relatively secure as an indie knowing that I can control my process and output. But for all this talk of what colossal Governmental debt we’re leaving for our children, what a polluted and empty planet we are passing on to our grandchildren, can’t we at least secure their recreational needs? How can parents educate children on the pleasure of reading when all anyone wants is the latest gadget and the most explosive video game?
I’ve heard a lot of talk, especially recently, of how we need to change our political process, of how we need to be more willing to pull together to fix the problem instead of spending so much time in opposition, blaming each other for the issues. There are times when I feel the same way about industry, and about the publishing industry specifically.
Is it just because they can shout the loudest? Or because their pulpit is the highest? So many aspire to be taken on, to be under the wing of this protective dragon, who is out there to take on the world for us while we cower quietly in the folds of its wing, igniting our passion, so they can let it flourish.
They’re not out to protect us. No one is out to protect you. We live in a world where if you want something you have to go and get it for yourself. Don’t ever expect your dream to come true by sitting back and staring into the clouds. The world is beautiful. We have so much as individuals and as a society to give. So why do we spend so much time in opposition to each other?
There is no black and white. There are only shades of grey. So why can’t we accept that not everything is a matter of right or wrong? Not everything is as clear as good or bad? That cool and uncool are relative terms?
Life is filled with big decisions. Life is filled with difficult decisions. One day you may wake up and regret one of them. One decision can change everything about your life. It can change who you are. It can change who you become.
I always try to be as honest as I can, I share my opinions, but I try not to get too personal. Every single person reading this has a story. It’s a story in your heart. A story of your ideals. A story that maps the course from where you were to where you are. I can almost guarantee that when you reflect upon that story it won’t be the one you thought you’d be telling.
Are we who we thought we would be? When you were a child, or an adolescent, full of hope and imagination, what did you dream of?
It’s important to know, when you think of your former self, that you’re still there. That fire never went away. Your life might not be what you thought it would be. But the passion doesn’t have to leave you. The only tragedy would be containing that fire and not sharing it with the world.
So tomorrow, or today, tell your story… ok, maybe not all at once, but share something. Look into the eyes of another person and share your fire, then ask them to share their fire with you. Together we are powerful, we can move the lives of others. We can influence the future through our children. Standing in opposition should not be our default stance. Reach out.
Don’t let the fire die out, let it burn. Smile at the sky and remember that tomorrow is another page of your story, ready, open to be written. You will fill that white, blank page, and it will remain with you forever. Don’t forget to share it.
Good luck on your adventures,