So a couple of weeks ago I attended CopperCon in Mesa, AZ. While I was there I met several authors. Some were published multiple times while others have yet to put pen to paper for the first time. Some had paper books while others were digitally published. Old, young. Newb, veteran. Self-pub, traditional and everything in between. I loved seeing that kind of professional diversity. It certainly made for good conversation. Also, I found it interesting to look at the various authors and how they've handled the changes in the industry. Social media, crowdsourcing and ebooks have changed publishing without a doubt. In fact, it was great to see people at my social media panel who were curious about how to use it to the benefit of their careers.
One author I met was an older woman writing under a gender neutral name. I sat in on some of her panels and learned that she has an agent, is traditionally published as well as self-published. Other than a print-on-demand (POD) service, her work is in digital form.
She seemed like fun, but I forgot to swing by and pick up her card. So when I got home, I did a quick Google search for her. Three other authors of the same name came up instead of her. No website. No Twitter or other social media. No reader outreach. So, I checked Amazon. Surely as an epublished author, I'd be able to get directly to her content that way.
After wading through several pages of content from these same-name authors and their work, I finally--finally!--found her books.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this boggles my fucking mind.
Now, I'm sure you're thinking, "But, Jamie, different strokes." And that's true. I'm all for diversity and going the route that is best to meet your goals. But, I'm flabbergasted by the inconsistencies of this author's strategies.
While at the Con, it was clear this author was there to sell books. She had bookmarks and bendy straws and postcards and swag to pass out to the masses. Good. Something people can take with them with your name on them (that I forgot to grab). Although I'm curious as to how a bendy
straw is relevant to her and her work---unless it was just a cheap bulk lot item to give out---it is fantastic that she is taking this step.
Also, as her publisher has a POD option (that I couldn't find), the bookmarks are not a bad idea. Especially for book lovers. We love, need and lose the shit out of bookmarks. So these were good, too. And they had her book cover and purchase info on them as well as cute little charms. (The Fonz approves.)
However, if your material is going out in a digital format, you need to have some bit of yourself in the same place.
Not only that, but fans, potential readers and colleagues are going to look for you. You need some sort of presence online and it needs to be the first thing that pops up in a search. Other authors have the same name? Either pick a different pen name (which this was) or make your presence stand out as unique.
I don't understand how someone who is so business-focused can ignore this huge portion of the business itself.
Not only that, but in a panel where she and a colleague were supposed to give newbs info on epublishing, she pooh-poohed ebooks. (And got the names of ebook vendors wrong. It's "KOBO", not KOBE. Grr!) This isn't just biting the hand that feeds, it's shooting yourself in the fucking foot. If you are selling ebooks, don't tell people print is king and always will be and ebooks are nasty. Doing so devalues YOUR WORK. You've just told that audience that your books are sub-par because they're digital.
Digital content has beefed up its game over the last 5 years or so. Outlets are vetting material and ebooks are not something to be ashamed of. While there are still some who see print vs ebook as a value judgement, the trends are pulling digital media out of the shadows and letting it shine.
And again, I get that different people have different goals and that there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat. And I know that and online presence and the auguries of social media can seem scary. We are writers and many of us prefer dark corners and basements away from the world where we can toil and double our bubble. A good many writers are introverts. Even the most sheepish of our ilk need to have something online in this day and age.
Readers crave content. They thrive on connection. When they can't get your next book, they want your blog, short stories, tweets. Whatever. There are options for you (but that's another blog post) if you're more likely to blog from within your shell, but you need something.
So here's a question for you. How much are you willing to dig for an author you've never read?