Being truly successful in this business takes a lot more than a single book and sales for that book. It is about building a name and a brand for the products you are selling. It is about making a name for yourself (and yes, it should be a positive name). It is about building a reputation and a connection with your readers so they know they can trust you. They need to believe that when you put a new book out there, it will be good.
We are, unfortunately, living in a world of immediate gratification. We want things now, which, has really resulted in the rise of so many self-publishing opportunities for authors. What I see, however, are authors who might just be missing the point of everything I just spoke of in that last paragraph. One book does not make a brand. One book does not make a reputation. One book does not create that bond between the reader and the author built on trust.
There is a communication theory that states people will remain in a relationship as long as they feel they are wanted. In publishing, your readers will remain with you as long as they feel they are wanted. They will stay as long as they feel they are important. They will stay as long as they know you are giving them the best you can do with each book. This level of trust takes time and honesty.
There are several publishers and editors that I really love placing authors with because of their commitment and dedication to growing authors and building careers. I know their are others out there that do the same thing so don't get offended if I don't mention these people or publishers. The two publishers right now that stand out for me at this moment, early in the morning with only one cup of coffee are Sourcebooks and Harlequin (and yes this includes the amazing Mills and Boon Team). When an author signs with these two companies, they know they are in it for the long haul and they have an entire family backing them to build their careers.
If we want to look at this from the editor standpoint, you really see that dedication from people such as:
- Mills and Boon - Jo Grant, Flo Nicholl, Laura McCallen, Linda Fildew....actually, I probably have to mention everyone of them over there since they do work as a team on so many projects.
- Harlequin - Susan Litman, Gail Chasen, Allison Lyons, Stacey Boyd, Kathleen Sheibling, Mary Theresa Hussey, Paula Eikelhoff... You get the idea.
- Harper Collins Impulse - Charlotte Ledger
- Amistad - Tracy Sherrod
- Sourcebooks - Hats off to the amazing Deb Werksman and her entire staff.
- Grand Central - Leah Hultenshmidt
- Berkley - Kate Seaver
- again, the list goes on and on.
Over the weekend, I want to give you all a homework assignment. I want you to think of what you are doing to build that "reputation" with your reader. What are you doing to build your brand? What are you doing to be that person people can say is a successful author? Remember to go beyond the tangible things such as "I have an active social media and I am making a lot of book marks to go out to all of the conferences." If that is all you have, you might be missing the mark. This is about introspection and inward thinking.
And for you published authors out there, especially if you have an editor I mentioned above, make sure you take the time to truly thank them for what they are doing. They are busting their butts for you day in and day out.