Since 2003, after my first novel was published, I've often been asked why my novels are not in every bookstore across North America. There are a few reasons for this, actually, but one of the main reasons is that the book industry just doesn't work like that. Yes, you'll certainly see the top 25 or so bestsellers in every store. These are big name authors who have proven time and time again that their books sell by the truckloads, and the 1 or 2 breakout authors whose book flies off the shelf at record speeds may be among them.
Believe me--I would be quite happy (and possibly a bit manic) to see my novels in every bookstore. It is a partnership between so many divisions of the publishing industry that helps increase a book's availability. I know one thing for sure, there are thousands of authors whose books have less exposure than my novels.
My publisher has been writing articles for Foreword Magazine, an industry standard for the book world, and his latest article touched on something I have believed since day one. If I want my books to sell, I have to do whatever I can to 'move' them off the shelves. I owe it to myself. Every author does.
The following is my reply to my publisher's latest article on Foreword's website:
In the years (okay, decades) that I've been researching the book industry, I've heard these statistics many times. And they're so true. I've also heard how publishers in the US are publishing nearly 200,000 new titles a year. This sheds some light on why my 3 novels aren't on every bookstore shelf. Can you imagine the size the bookstore would have to be to accomplish shelving every title? But it is a common assumption with aspiring or newly published authors that their books will be everywhere, in every store automatically. That's just not the case.
Today's authors have to take on the role of marketing even more than ever if they want to succeed. You can't wait for the sales to happen; you have to go out and get them. Book signings are a plus. I love doing them, meeting people and talking to fans. But most authors, including me, can't afford to tour all across the country 2-3 times a year. And publishers certainly can't pay for all of their authors to do so either.
I was the first author from Kunati Books to hold a virtual book tour (VBT). For one month, I blogged, wrote articles, answered intervews, spoke on radio shows--I loved it. VBT's are becoming more popular every year, and I believe that's where author tours are heading. Even bestselling author Margaret Atwood knows the trials of traveling; she invented the LongPen, a device that signs books with the author in one city and readers in another. I've signed up for that too.
I embrace the marketing of my novels and I am excited to do so. With three novels published, I am constantly searching for new ways, new ideas, and the majority of them involve online marketing. From my own experience, I can say that being computer savvy is a huge advantage as more and more authors are turning to internet marketing. Authors experienced in web design, HTML code, navigating the internet, and those who blog regularly and update their websites routinely have a headstart. I believe in working smarter, not necessarily harder.
Selling books is a partnership between everyone involved--author, agent, publisher, distributor, booksellers...they each have their role, and the common one is to sell books. Today's authors have to be bold, daring, open to learning, open to selling, persistent, and driven. That's how you become one of the 2.1% of authors who sell more than 5000 copies.
If you'd like a better understanding of the book industry, please read my publisher's article:
Staggering Statistics in Book Publishing can Read Like a Stephen King Horror Novel. Is There Any Hope for Authors and Publishers?
I invite you to leave a comment here and on the Foreword page.
What do you think about these statistics and the book industry's future?
~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention