Driving Blind

This week, I’m over at the International Thriller Writer’s Roundtable, talking about ereaders versus paper books: http://www.thebigthrill.org/2011/01/coming-january-24-30-printed-book-or-e-reader-why/. I mention this more than just to get people to read my semi-intelligent ramblings on the subject. It’s more about the effort to get my name out there. When it comes to those intangible things that get books and authors noticed, beyond just writing a good story, authors are typically driving blind.

The point is, there is no sure-fire way to ensure success in this business. As an author, the only thing we have any real control over is the writing of the book. Once that is done, achieving success in publishing is or at least often seems to be an exercise in chaos theory. Something that works for one author will do absolutely nothing for another. Sometimes success is achieved when no credence was given to a book in the first place. The sad fact of the matter is, many great books out there fall by the wayside and never achieve any sort of success, despite the efforts of many. We blog and tweet and and post on our walls. We guest post, create trailers, do booksignings and readings, and more often than not, we don’t see a lot for the effort. We try all of these things, invest our time and energy into all of this, for what I think is one major goal. Word of mouth.

Everything we do as authors, what publishers strive to do with all of their promo and ad dollars, is generate “buzz” for lack of a better term. We want people to notice and remember. The one thing that seems to always generate success for a book is to get people talking about it. You want enough people to notice and talk about noticing you to reach the oft-quoted “tipping point,” where the reading public ends up doing the work for you. Authors can do a bazillion different things, publishers can invest thousands of dollars, but it’s readers who make the success of the book. All of this driving around blind is with the purpose of reaching that goal. I do all of these things, mostly without any real clue about what will work or not, in the hopes that people will remember who I am, enjoy my book, and in return, talk to other people about it.

Nothing works better than having people go around and say to others, “Hey, have you read this book? I think you’ll really like it.” I’ll just keep at it, doing all of these things, hopefully writing more good stories, and pray that I start to hear people saying those words.


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