Once upon a long time back, a writer’s work ended after the manuscript was submitted to a publishing house. After that, all that the writer had to do was to work on rewrites the editor demanded, and go over the edits and the proofs and maybe do a book reading or two.
The scenario has done a complete volte face now. Today publishers are not just looking for perfect and polished manuscripts that require very little editing, they are also looking for writers who come with ready made platforms: blogs, websites, facebook like pages and twitter followers.
This way the publishing houses with limited budgets to market each writer, do not have to spend a lot of money if writers arrive with marketing packages and are willing to plug all gaps to give their books a leg up and the much needed visibility.
In this scenario, it becomes important for writers to be a part of several forums: book clubs, writer’s guilds, facebook, twitter, other social networking sites and start their blogs and make connections with other writers and their readers.
Many writers wait too late to join and build platforms. By then their books are out and have faded from memory. I realized the value of Facebook a year and half back, when a good friend of mine who never reads books, mentioned an author’s book launch. At my raised eyebrows, he sheepishly admitted that he had read about the book on Facebook as the author and he had few common friends, and the common friends had shared the launch photos.
I was impressed. If genuine book haters (my friend is one of them) become aware of book launches via facebook, then what about book lovers like us. Social networking sites, though a big time suck, can be a huge blessing for us if used effectively.
The ideal time frame is to slowly start making genuine connections with the writing fraternity: writers, publishers, editors and agents, and also the readers when the book contract is signed, maybe even before its signed. Practically everyone is on facebook and is net savvy, so making connections is not that difficult. This way people are familiar with the writer’s name even before the book is released. The point to be noted is connection and not forcing oneself on others. If the writer comes across as too pushy, there will be no denying the fact that people will shy away from such a person.
These connections help in spreading the word when books are launched, in the way of author interviews, giveaways, book reviews and guest posts. Waiting too long to take the plunge doesn’t take the writer far. Writing is time consuming, so it becomes all the more important for writers to do everything they can to give their books visibility and spread the word around.
I was one of the late starters. My first lot of books have faded from public memory. I didn’t do much to market them, other than the mandatory newspaper interviews organized by my publisher.
My advice to other writers would be to get Market Savvy. Are you all big time social networkers? At what stage of your writing did you all start building a platform and making connections. What are you all doing to give your books visibility? Which sites have you joined? We would love to hear your views.