an essential for writers. They are, it seems, expected not only to write the book but to sell it as well - and not just sell it to an agent and the publisher but to sell it to the public.
Okay, they have always had to do some of this but now they are expected to do even more of it, most of it. Some writers even self-publish and that means doing everything themselves. I will not go there but the idea of a writer, published by someone else, doing virtually all their own publicity is more than a little disturbing to me. What is the writing paying the publisher for this 'privilege' - because that is the way that it works. Someone has to be making money out of this. It is not the writer and, I suspect, not the agent. It has to be the publisher. The writer has to go out and sell the publisher's product. Of course they say, "But it is your product. You created it."
True, but they bought it.
However it seems to be a fact of life so then there is the networking. There are the internet tools like Facebook and Twitter and blogs, there are talks in schools, libraries, bookgroups etc. There are, if authors are fortunate, signings in bookshops etc etc. There is word of mouth. A good book gets talked about - if you are lucky.
Nicola Morgan is doing a 'social networking experiment' here:
http://helpineedapublisher.blogspot.com/2010/08/social-networking-experiment.html and I will be interested to see how well it works - rather well I suspect because Nicola is already well known. She is 'involved' in not just writing but in the social network of authors who attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival and other like events. Nicola has done a stint as President of Scottish Society of Authors - work yes, but also invaluable in getting one's name known. She sells herself to schools and has diversified into selling assistance to other writers as well. It is all hard work.
There are also writers who do not need to do any of these things. They write the next book and there is only a small chance that they will have it rejected. Such people are few and far between. What they write is not necessary uniformly good, indeed may not be good at all. They have a 'name' however and, like certain brandnames, the 'name sells'. Like Mozart or Monet there is an assumption that all their writing (or music or painting) is outstandingly good. I can think of a number of writers who should have been confined to the dustbin long ago but they continue to be published. They sell. People go on buying because Big W or Tesco stock the book and play a loop with a teaser designed to sell it to you in store. These writers largely get the work of selling done for them. I am not sure it does any writer any favours. The profit margin has to be low.
So, we are back to the networking. I think people probably need to talk more about the books they read. There are book groups of course. People talk about books there but, outside that, they talk about football and films. They do not talk as much, if at all, about books.
So, what is it about books? Why is it we cannot seem to network about books?