London Book Fair Seminars: Debut Authors

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I went to the Reach for the Stars: Aiming High for Debut Authors seminar. The discussion centred on how debut authors and their publishers can use marketing, particularly with social media, to generate more interest for an unknown author from readers and retailers.

Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:

  • with social media, there is now the opportunity to create buzz before the book is even out
  • editors and authors need to contact bookshops and get retailers interested in publicizing the book by explaining why the book is good for them
  • authors need to use social media that is right for them, and create genuine content as a way of interacting and connecting, NOT selling
  • bloggers are great tools for creating pre-publicity for a book
  • communication between publicists and authors is key

Discussion: How Much Should an Author Market Themselves?

It seems that authors are expected to take over more and more responsibility for marketing themselves and their work through social media. But as the panel said, social media activity doesn’t really equate to sales, it is more a way for authors to engage with a reading community. And this is great for authors who excel on social media and are encouraged by the conversations they have online; but what about authors who don’t like social media? Who find that it kills their creativity and takes time away from their writing? Who hate promoting themselves and being in the limelight?

In my opinion, these authors should not be forced into an activity that should really the publisher’s role. The author’s one and only responsibility is writing; if an author is prevented from writing because they are spending too much time marketing themselves, then the publisher is not doing their job. One of the main reasons for an author to choose to publish with a house (rather than self-publish) is that a publisher can professionally handle the editorial, marketing, and production responsibilities, allowing the author to spend their time writing. I think it’s time for publishers to put less pressure on authors and get more creative with their marketing campaigns.

Do you agree? Or do you think in this day and age, authors have even more responsibility to develop an online presence? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

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