Today’s Bestselling Authors Are Multimedia Stars
During the year I wrote my first novel, I was very outspoken about how I wanted my book to be published. In writers forums, on social media, and during NaNoWriMo camps, I would trumpet, “I’m going traditional! I’m going to land an agent and a big publisher if it kills me.”
My pitch letter was a bait and tackle shop of enticement and intrigue. I ignored naysayers and sent out hundreds of queries. What did I get for my years of effort? I got a few manuscript requests, some tidbits of quality advice, but mostly, what I got was a mountain of auto-replies and form letter rejections. In other words, I got a metric ton of disappointment. Kill me, it almost did.
My dream of retreating to an idyllic mountain sanctuary while my agent, editor, and publisher handled all my bidnezz vanished in the mist. At best, the novel was it was a diamond in the rough. This is typical and expected — it was my first book and it was written during NaNoWriMo — but try telling me that back then.
Years have passed and I am a much better writer thanks to daily practice. In fact, the tables have turned, and I am the one who receives queries FROM bestseller hopefuls. I’m in the business of marketing self-published authors.
With a great deal of compassion and sympathy, I now “get it.” To take an unknown author and propel her to superstardom is A LOT of work. In the old publishing paradigm, it has to be a sure thing. Even if your book is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius, as a newbie, getting picked up, signed, and sold through the traditional process is a 1 in 10,000 shot.
YOU ARE in the Right Place at the Right Time
You might be saying, “Yeah, well that’s a bummer… Why are you telling me this?”
I’m telling you this because it’s not a bummer, it’s a huge opportunity. This is probably the best time in history to be a writer!
What my former insistence on landing a top agent showed me was that the old publishing industry is antiquated, going the way of DVD stores. In fact, I’ll go as far as to claim that, at its worst, the old-guard is harmful to literature as a whole.
Let’s examine a similar industry that’s a little further down the road of the digital revolution: the music industry. Imagine that you are a musician in today’s market. What are you doing to market yourself these days? Are you sending your demo tape to the same top-ten record companies hoping to get signed? No! If you are smart, you are playing live, touring, publishing your own music or working with a small label. You have a website, imagery, a brand, a YouTube channel, and a bunch of followers who have found you through various channels.
Being an author is no different. In fact, writers have an advantage because they have an additional medium (their primary one) in their arsenal: the written word.
Today’s Authors Are Multimedia Stars
Today’s authors are not restricted to books. In fact, to cling to the old mindset is to hobble yourself. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, immersion is essential to attract and keep the attention of an audience that is on to the next stimuli within minutes, if not seconds.
What do I mean by immersion? An immersive experience uses ALL the multimedia channels available to you, including books, ebooks, audiobooks, video, live video, short-form and long-form written content, online courses, email, messaging, podcasts, and live events. Immersion is applying your author’s brand across these channels to create a personal, fun, almost game-like experience for your audience. In other words, it is an integrated world of YOU and your knowledge and imagination.
As a digital age author, you are rewarded with independence, knowledge-sharing, and content accumulation and looping. Looping is where each medium feeds the others and expands your body of work. Blogs can be collated into books, books into courses, courses into videos, and then back to blogs. The whole shebang is delivered to audiences who, in turn, inform and ask for more content. The content loop continues with more books, blogs, videos, etc. As long as you have something to say or new ways to deliver your message, this loop is endless. This is good news!
The New Publishing Paradigm
As you develop an extensive platform, you will not need the services that traditional publishers offer any longer. The irony is, that’s about the time agents and publishers come knock, knock, knocking to ask you for a contract and a percentage. How the whole structure will shift remains to be seen, but if you are adaptable, own your power, and have faith in your abilities, whether you are a self-published one-man-show, you hire a marketing and production team, or you sign with an agent and a publisher, you win!
This is an exciting time to be a writer. Long gone are the days of sending out double-spaced reams of manuscripts in the mail on a wish and a prayer. You have control. The new paradigm is shaped by us. Together, let’s create a world of creativity, innovation, diversity, and wonderful words.