Changes in trade publishing force authors to take on new marketing responsibilities

Posted August 21st @ 11:27 pm by Roger C. ParkerPrint


The following words about the state of trade book publishing and author marketing were written by best-selling Lee Child.

Lee wrote them for the Introduction to Killer Year: Stories to Die For…from the Hottest New Crime Writers, which he edited.

Lee wrote the following 3 years ago, but they’re even truer today:

“…no one expects you to care that the publishing biz is in dire straits. But to appreciate the spirit in which this collection of stories came together, it helps to understand something about the publishing industry at this point in time.

With margins low, distribution costs rocketing, limited or no marketing budgets for all but the top 15 percent of titles, and little major media interest in all but the biggest authors, book sales drop a little more each year and fewer and fewer authors can live off their fiction efforts.”

Risk-adverse publishers lead to author marketing

Lee continues:

“Outs has become a risk-adverse industry that more and more puts all of its eggs in the same baskets year in, year out: a few brand-name authors, yet there are more than one thousand traditionally published every month.

These days even some of the biggest and best authors will attest that their job is as much about selling as it is writing, because the support theyy get from their publishers is no longer enough to spread the word among bestsellers, let along readers. Authors hiring outside publicists and webmasters, buying additional advertising, subsidizing book tours, not just talking about marketing but doing something about it…all these things are no longer the exception but the rule.”


My intent in sharing Lee’s quotation is two-fold. First, I want to draw attention to Killer Year, Stories to Die For…from the Hottest New Crime Writers, which offers an uncommonly satisfying reading experience. Second, Lee’s final paragraph detailing the marketing tasks which authors must be prepared to undertake is an accurate and concise description of the responsibilites that all authors must be prepared to undertake.

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