Not Your Grandfather’s Publisher’s Marketing Plan

I’m starting to think everything I’ve learned about the marketing of writing – from articles in trade magazines, presentations at conferences, and so forth – is on the verge of obsolete. The driving force, of course, is the Internet. But it has some accomplices in young writers who haven’t been indoctrinated into the old ways.

I’m acquainted with a handful of teen fanfiction writers. They all hang out together on the internet with other fanfiction writers and readers from around the world. They critique each other’s work; they encourage one another; they provide prompts and other creative nourishment. And some of them write in areas other than fanfiction. A couple of them have novels under their belts. And one young woman recently showed me the stats for one of her fanfiction stories: over 2,000 views.

When she’s ready to promote her marketable writing, her fan base is there already. I believe she could easily publish a book herself, send out a general announcement, and move 1,000 copies with little effort.

While middle-aged writers are still paying hundreds of dollars to attend conferences in order to meet the editors and agents who will give them the inside scoop on getting their work out. I have received my clue, and I’m willing to share. The inside scoop no longer belongs exclusively to the editors and agents. Writers who have grown up with the Internet are creating a new world of publishing, with its own rules. Good for them.

Overused Book Titles

In addition to writing, I work in a public library. This gives me an opportunity to notice when certain book titles have been overused. Looking for a book called The Gift, because your friend recommended it, but you can’t remember the author? Okay, well, sure. No problem. None at all. Let’s spend the next twenty minutes reading through the descriptions of the sixteen different books we have with that title in an effort to figure out which one it is. Authors and publishers, consider yourselves put on notice. I will actively discourage readers from any new book titled The Gift.

Here are more titles on my list for recommended retirement:

Twilight – Did you know about a dozen authors thought of using this before Stephenie Meyer? Time to let it fade into darkness.

On Thin Ice – Don’t go there; too many writers already have.

Redemption – This title is beyond itself

Forever – Which is how long it will take to narrow down the search to the one you’re seeking, if you don’t remember the author’s name.

The Return – It keeps coming back into the publishing world.

Reunion – Publishers keep revisiting this title, too.

The Search – Didn’t go far enough for an original name.

The Secret – It’s enigmatic why you’d want to have your book confused with so many others of the same title.

Sanctuary – It can blend in with the crowd and never be found.

The Island – Where overused book titles go for sanctuary.

In Too Deep – But if you can find your way out, maybe you can build a new title for yourself.

The Problem With Getting Published

It occurs to me the main problem with getting published – the paid kind of published, mind you – lies in all of the work you have to do that’s not writing. Selling is what I’m talking about. I don’t like selling; I’m bad at it. I’d prefer to sit down and write whatever catches my fancy, then have people come knock at my door. No, wait, my house is a mess, so I don’t want them knocking on my door.  Here’s what I want: for people to email me on a regular basis asking if I have any writing available for sale, anything at all.  

“Yeah, I got some poems I could let you have for, say $50 each.”  I’d reply. I’m not greedy, after all.

Then I would email them the poetry and they would drop money in my bank account. That way I could focus on the writing itself. And boy howdy, would it ever boost my productivity!