Who will read your book?
Who will purchase your book?
Who will refer your book?
Writers who don’t know the answer to those questions may find themselves with a wonderfully written, carefully edited, beautifully designed book that never sells. But writers and publishers who can answer those questions are on their way to finding buyers for their “ultimate niche product.”
Although speakers and experts at the Independent Book Publishing Association’s Publishing University 2015 never downplayed the difficulties of publishing today, many of them were eager to share their wisdom and point out potential paths to success.
The first thing they want writers to understand is that the publishing industry is a business. Writers frequently forget that point when they get so caught up in the world they have created with their words.
Again and again at PubU 2015, I heard speakers hammering home this point. Books aren’t like the baseball diamond in the Field of Dreams movie; you can’t assume that “if you build it,” readers will come. You must build your book for the readers you know will appreciate it and then take it to them.
In a session titled “Profitable Sales Beyond the Bookstores and Libraries,” Sharon Castlen of Integrated Book Marketing and Brian Jud of Book Marketing Works reminded authors and publishers that there are many avenues to book sales–when you understand where your potential readers might be hanging out. But you can’t know where to go find those readers unless you know who they are!
So they said writers have to start with the questions listed above. Then, according to Jud and Castlen, writers should consider these questions: “What do (your potential readers) read, listen to, watch and visit on the Internet? Where will they expect to find your book?”
Rana DiOrio of Little Pickle Press said in a general session titled “Indie Publishing: Who Holds the Power?,” that writers and small publishers should “find your consumer directly and create a passion in that community.” When you have done that, then you can deliver the great content that community wants.
It’s not hard to convince writers that they should create great content. Convincing them to consider their community can be a bit more difficult, which is why organization like IBPA and events like PubU can be so valuable.
Audio recordings of many PubU sessions can be downloaded or ordered from http://vwtapes.com/independentbookpublishersibpaconferences.aspx.