Monday, October 28, 2013

The Educating of Myself Part 2: The Working World

Then I got a job--after three years in pursuit of a paycheck--at a bookstore.  Love my job.  But it has given me much greater insight to the changed nature, not only of selling books, but also consumer behavior in buying books.  On top of that, there is a major gap between customer expectation of a bookstore and what a bookstore *actually* has the resources to provide.  Which, has demonstrated to me, yet again, that an author must run his/her own publicity machine--or pay for someone else to do so, whether they are published by the big guys, or by him/her -self.   

What a career as an author looks like now is not the same as the one I expected to attain when I was a teenager reading: “How to get Happily Published,” or piling through Writer’s Digest’s “Writer's’ Market” in ‘98 through ‘05.

Scheduling events with authors and publicists and publishers, I get a further insight into the discrepancy between what people expect from a signing event versus what actually transpires.   Then, there is the impact of changing formats and what e-book popularity is going to make people expect from print.

We (humans) work off of relationships and identity, and reading, art, education have particular resonance and purpose internal to specific American communities.  The physical objects we take into our lives are indicative of our identity construction, even if we are unaware why, how, or what it communicates to ourself and our community.

Books, however,  are a different matter. I think that booklovers reading this know *exactly* what they mean to us and in our lives.  Especially that gorgeous, signed 1st edition by a favorite author…

But the motivation to buy, and what to buy, will change.  It is changing.  It is changing what is published.  It is altering the composition of the bookstore.  But the expectation of the  buying populace, even if they are modelling changed behavior over all, are not aware of this shift.  So what they, and what authors think, a bookstore does is different from what a bookstore is actually doing, or even capable of doing.  

The result is that we are entering an awkward in-between phase where we expect bookstores to be what they were ten to twenty years ago, without realizing that how we use them now is no where near the same way we used them ten to twenty years ago.

This changes how I will approach my own career.

1 comment:

  1. My writer's group leader and I both submitted short stories to an anthology. We were both accepted, and the anthology released Oct 3. In the weeks between the release date and our notifications, she was so excited about the marketing she contacted a local book store that hosts signings. Talking to the bookstore owner was an education - more for my writer friend than me.

    I've been around the blogs and seen how short stories are not exactly popular, and even less so if more than one author contributes. I really felt sorry for my friend as it dawned on her how little her self initiated marketing would be received in the reading/writing community. I doubt she'll submit any more short stories :(

    Disappoint is a bitter pill for an author to swallow after all the work and passion poured into a project. Still, that dream of the one book/story that launches a successful writing career is a dangling carrot. I know I still chase the fantasy - more diligently at times than others. It could happen, right?