Some of my best friends are authors, but that doesn’tmeanI’veread all their books. I admire some successful authors and many more not so successful. All of them bring a wealth of experience to the table and plenty of advice for other authors. You can choose to heed the advice; try using it to avoid some of the pitfalls they experienced, and maybe even achieve a little of their successes. Alternatively, you can plough your own furrow and see what comes.
All those years of trade shows, launch parties and writer meet-ups. I can’t believe he’s never read any of my Methane Man books. I mean I had to read that shitty historic novel he released last year and I hate that kind of stuff. A day and a half of my life wasted and he can’t be bothered to read just one Methane Man book! I sell as many books in a week than he sells in a whole year!~ My Author Friend
I know the author community appreciation society only too well in light of the above. It’s a thorny issue to broach, but I suspect it’s a reality for many serious writers managing a public and private persona and embedded within an author community. Like many other artistic fields, there is either an undying admiration or absolute loathing for a fellow artistic solider. We’ve long been sold the romantic idea of the writer as a reclusive and isolated soul, hidden away under candlelight in the shed at the bottom of the garden or the artisan scribbling away on a balcony overlooking the sea. For most writers, it’s probably more about snatching an hour or two in the evening after work and finding any space in the house where there is comfort and no distraction.
The publishing industry’s politics have become vested in two great parties: The Publishers Party might be most easily considered our conservative wing. The Authors Party comprises the upstarts at this point in history, so we might see them as the more liberalizing influence on the biz.~ Porter Anderson
A fast and gracious tradition has developed among many of the seriously successful players in the entrepreneurial writers’ camp. This kind of “bring everyone else along with us” approach might be thought of as a true plank in The Authors Party platform. Community is not only where these people excel, it’s also an engine of their operations.~ Porter Anderson
And it’s worth considering as you watch the rank and file of the author community rightly follow the business moves of these bestsellers, that those same, applauding author-fans may be the last to actually read their heroes’ work.~ Porter Anderson
Books are no longer physical objects made of paper pressed with ink. We get introduced to books through different mediums. Sometimes by chance, accident, word of mouth, reviews; less so now through adverts or physically browsing the shelves of bookstores. If I want a book to read, I don’t go to an industry trade show. As an author, you sell rights and engage communication with agents and publishers at trade shows. You go there to bring yourself up-to-date with the book industry and network with colleagues. I also don’t expect to find many of my potential readers at a publishing trade show. But in light of recent trade shows like the London Book Fair and BEA, that landscape may be shifting somewhat. It’s not so much down to what the industry, the industry is doing differently there; it’s down to what authors are doing differently at trade shows.
Personally, the books on my shelf are predominantly non-fiction. I’m highly selective about the fiction I read and I tend to go for the literary and experimental novel. Many of the very successful heroes of the self-publishing and hybrid publishing community don’t write in the genre or fields I like. In fact, if anything, I’m not so sure there is such a diversity in the top books from mainstream published authors and what we see from the cream of bestselling self-published authors. If Howey, Freethy and other influential voices all start writing experimental fiction, or books on aviation, UFOs, the paranormal, astronomy—I just might take a punt and read the books they actually publish.
And, yes, I still read self-published books, and books from micro-presses, for the very reason that some areas and subjects I’m interested in can be very niche.
Many of the books I read also have to do with the work I do or the areas of interest I research for trade articles. It can often leave limited time for more casual reading and I note from Porter Anderson’s piece that some replies he received to his questions from author-fans over the past three weeks were answered with; “I’d like to but I just don’t have the time.” I can understand that. It doesn’t mean I’m a low-count word reader. I probably have to consume more than 150k words per week just to do what I do professionally. Our reading habits are changing now, and how and where we read and consume information, whether for pleasure or work, has dramatically changed in recent years.
Authors need to recognise the difference between their support network and the real audience they need to target and promote to.
The self-publishing community needs to continue to reach out to cooperate with the trade industry. It should not become a self-sufficient exchange community where authors use the admiration of fellow authors to survive and render value on the books they write.
In light of Porter Anderson’s question—maybe all authors should really be asking the question; is Hugh Howey buying and reading my book?
Stand aside author-fans and let the real readers make their way to the front of the queue!
In the meantime, I’m just happy to read the books I genuinely want to read rather than the books I feel obliged to read.
Mick Rooney – Publishing Consultant