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One of the most significant changes in publishing in the past decade has been the shifting by publishers of the responsibility for promoting authors’ books from themselves to the authors. In the past, publishing houses actively publicized their authors’ books. They operated large, active, in-house publicity departments that were fully engaged in promoting the titles on their lists. Most notable authors were sent on extensive, nationwide book tours, for which the houses picked up the tab. Now, with the exception of the biggest, bestselling, and celebrity authors, those tours are a memory, and whatever tours are booked are far less extensive than those of the past.
Attorney and Strategic Advisor, Peter Hoppenfeld, discusses the power of the platform. He says, “Authors today, more so than ever, must be sharing their ideas on multiple platforms (website, blog, video. Face Book, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc, etc) and must be actively and proactively involved in building an audience or community. What works for some may not work for all. It is important to find your “magic sauce;” the mix of message and audience that builds your brand and gets your book and your message to your ideal community.”
Somewhere along the line, publishers made the unilateral decision to shift the publicity burden from themselves to their authors. Now, they consider authors their “promotional partners,” which means that the authors are expected to do most of the work and fund much of the publicity. Authors are expected to vigorously promote their books and to do so at their own expense. In-house publicity departments have been pared to the bone and are now manned by a few overworked publicists who constantly struggle to keep up with their responsibilities.
In addition, publishers have erected a substantial new barrier that has made it difficult for many writers to get their nonfiction books published. Publishers call it the platform requirement, which essentially means that publishers want authors who have continuing national visibility and an established following. In short, publishers generally won’t publish business, psychology, parenting, relationship, and other books for authors who don’t have national platforms. They require authors to create and maintain strong social media connections and presence.
Today, publishers want authors who can sell their books because they make frequent speaking engagements; regularly write articles or columns; and have strong media and Internet presences, large mailing lists, government posts, faculty positions, or professional affiliations. To further narrow the field, many publishers have extended the platform requirement to previously published writers.
Reprinted from “Rick Frishman‘s Author101 Newsletter”
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