Monday, 28 June 2010

The Solution to Bad Times for Authors

Nicola Morgan, who writes the Help I Need A Publisher blog, wrote a blog post recently entitled When Will There Be Good News? about the sad and depressing prospects facing authors at the moment. Sadly and depressingly it's true: lots of authors are being dropped, or having their advances cut back to miniscule proportions. Nicola outlines what the causes are (recession, cost-cutting), and what she's going to do about it - diversify! But I thought she missed one cause, and one solution.

The Problem: Supermarkets.

If your book doesn't hit the supermarket shelves it will be practically impossible for you to feature in a best-seller list. Why does that matter? Because of EPOS (electronic point of sale - in effect, the bar code) anyone can look up exactly how many books you sold. Then, when your next book comes around they make a prediction of future sales based on that figure. No allowances are made. It's really hard. Especially when getting into the supermarkets in the first place is rarely a reflection of the quality of the book, it's about the cover and how much the publishers are prepared to invest in the book. Places on the shelves are paid for...

The Solution: Us

You, me, everyone who reads. If you read a book you love (or even like a lot) then tell your friends about it. Give copies as presents, write reviews on Amazon, tell people on Twitter and Facebook, get the word out. If you want an author to keep writing then you have to support them. Buy their books new rather than getting them from a second hand shop and if you're seriously broke, take them out from the library so the author can get some money from it (about 6 pence per loan, and it does add up). But above all else get out there and talk about their books. It's called word of mouth and it works.

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Talli Roland said...

What a great reminder to support authors! Before I was on the publishing track, I had no idea how important it was to write Amazon reviews, to actually talk about the books you love and encourage others to buy them, too.

Sarah Duncan said...

Yes! I didn't realise either. Now I'm constantly telling people to put reviews up on Amazon for books they love. Word of Mouth rules!