By Suzanne Kuhn
They were the best of authors, they were the worst of authors.
I have had the privilege of traveling and serving hundreds of authors over the years. These range from self-published to multi-published New York Times bestselling authors. I have noticed three things that make some authors either epic or tragic.
Timeless Authors Embrace Change. The only thing that is constant is change and if there is any industry that constantly changing, it is publishing. What worked 25 years ago doesn’t work today. If you as an author are not making sure you are reader relevant today, you surely will struggle with keeping your audience tomorrow. Longing for the days of “my publisher did this” or “my publisher did that” is as productive as trying to stick an 8-track into a jump drive slot. Your publisher has a limited budget and only a basic plan to promote your book. We tell authors that writing the book was only the first part of the job; the next part is finding readers. The only sure way to find readers is to consistently reach out to readers. Some of the things you do may fail, but doing nothing will always fail.
Current Authors Read More. The most read authors are often the most well read authors. I recall inquiring about the reading habits of a former NY Times bestselling author. I was appalled to hear nothing currently, and very little from even years ago. It did not sit well with me, but did not really impact me until I met another NYT author and asked the same question. This author reads a book a week, both Christian and general market, fiction and non-fiction, adult and YA. This author said, “if I don’t know what is being written and read, I can’t stay relevant as an author”. This is intentional. If you want to engage today’s reader, you must write what they are reading.
Tomorrow’s Authors Keep Engaging. When starting to work with an author, I ask them how much time they have to give to promotion. I also ask them how long they intend to follow through with these and with future efforts. The second question may be more important than the first. Authors will come to us with a 10 year old website or social media on automatic pilot, and wondering why their engagement is flat. Your digital footprint must always move forward, making fresh steps as the older steps fade or archive. If you are a speaker, you need to keep speaking. Six months of silence or absence is a lifetime digitally. Engage is a verb connoting action.
The truth is, this is a great time to be an author. The playing field is more level than it has ever been. I have met and worked with authors that have created their own luck. Will you be an epic author or a tragic author? The decision is yours.
Suzanne Kuhn of SuzyQ has 25 years of book retailing and event sales experience. Her knowledge in the book-retailing venue gives her an edge when coaching and training authors in reader engagement, developing promotions for increased sales and reader loyalty, and coordinating live events. Suzanne truly believes in the power of Christian literature to impact and change lives.
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Wonderful post, Suzanne! Thanks!
Suzanne, Great advise. I have been blessed to hear you speak on a few occasions. I practice what you teach. The results are amazing. Within a few weeks I was asked to write an article for a few online magazines; all because I tweet my blog posts. You are amazing, smart and funny. Thank you again for the great advise.