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Maintaining the Long View


As authors, it sometimes feels like we are bombarded daily with information on how to be successful, some of it more useful better than others. Sometimes this information is on the craft side of the equation—how to be a better writer—and sometimes it is on the sales and marketing side—how to sell more books.

And when it comes to selling books, whether traditionally published, Indie published or self-published, the question for every author remains the same: How do I separate my title from the white noise generated by thousands of authors shouting into the void, all with the goal of creating some buzz for their work?

The answer? I wish I knew. If you’re reading this post in anticipation of learning the secret, you might as well stop reading right here, because I don’t have it.

But here’s what I do know: Forever is a long time, so whatever you do, if you’re serious about your work as an author, prepare to settle in for the long haul. Joe Konrath has said it a lot on his popular blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: Ebooks are forever. What sells sluggishly this week or this month or this year, may suddenly take off next week or next month or next year. Or maybe even five or ten years down the line.

A lot has been made of the slimy hucksters who have taken advantage of the ebook revolution to throw poorly-written, poorly-edited trash into the electronic marketplace with the goal of making a quick buck, in the centuries-old tradition of hucksters who have invaded every industry at one time or another.

Here’s the thing, though. Forever is a long time. Ebooks don’t go away, unless the publishers of those books remove them from circulation, so the more time goes by, the more titles will compete for the attention of the reading public, which will have the luxury of becoming more and more discriminating as the number of potential reads piles up.

What this means is that if it is difficult now to get the attention of readers, it is only going to become more so as time goes by. The hucksters will quickly come to the conclusion their time would be better spent elsewhere—instant weight loss is always a reliable seller to a gullible public—and the world of publishing will once again become the domain, mostly, of storytellers and people with a message.

But if the growth of the Internet and electronic media has taught us anything, it’s that our words and actions are now preserved for posterity in a way that was never possible in the past. What you as an author do in the name of promotion or marketing today will remain accessible to the public for the foreseeable future. If you’re serious about building and maintaining relevance over the long-term, it is more important now than ever before to act as a professional.

A poorly-written or poorly edited book, a public meltdown over a bad review, the bullying of readers or other authors, are all things which could come back to haunt an author months, years or even decades down the line.

It seems to me the point is clear if you are serious about your work as a writer. Promote your book, sure, but you’re better off concentrating most of your efforts on what will be most important over the long haul: writing. It’s been said that the best way to promote your book is to write another book, a better book, and I believe that has never been more true than it is now.

So think about the long haul. Get writing.

Guest post by Allan Leverone. Allan Leverone is the author of the Amazon bestselling suspense thriller, THE LONELY MILE, as well as a previous thriller, FINAL VECTOR, and a brand-new supernatural suspense novel titled PASKAGANKEE. He is the author of the horror novellas, DARKNESS FALLS and HEARTLESS for Delirium Books, and is a four-time Derringer Award Finalist for excellence in short mystery fiction as well as a 2011 Puschart Prize nominee. Allan lives in New Hampshire with his wife of nearly thirty years, his family and a cat who has used up eight lives.
 
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