There has (always) been a lot of attention paid to categorizing authors under a variety of adjectives: aspiring, published, self-published, bestseller, genre, literary, hack, famous, unknown, and so on. Of late, the distinction between the traditionally-published and the self-published author has been at the fore. I wrote about that particular distinction a while back…
But from a marketer’s point of view, authors are all the same. They wrote something, they wish to make it available, and nearly all of the time would like for people to find it and read it. And most of the time buy it.
I roll with the straight definition of the noun “author”, particularly the two usages below:
- a writer of a book, article, or report
- someone who writes books as a profession.
Also the straight definition of the verb “publish”:
- (of an author or company) prepare and issue (a book, journal, piece of music, or other work) for public sale.
- print (something) in a book or journal so as to make it generally known.
- prepare and issue the works of (a particular writer).
So, for my purposes and by definition authors (any and all authors) write books (or journals or…anything written). And to publish is to prepare and issue that work, either with the intent to sell it or make it “generally known.”
Authors are authors and they write. For a marketer like me, that’s enough on the subject of classifications. Done.
Because what I really care about is…
This is the real way in which authors are different; they all have different audiences — existing and/or potential — often depending on who they are, what they write, and how those attributes map to consumer (reader) attributes. What that means to a marketer is that an author’s business arrangements are of only tangential interest. In my case I find them “good to know” so that I can “aim” properly.
Of course, different authors may have different goals. Those matter. And different paths to their audiences depending on how, and by whom, they’re published. Those also matter. But only in that they are facts to take into account as I go about identifying audiences and how best to make those audiences aware of a given author or work . For example, if an author is in KDP, that necessitates a certain “aiming” of the efforts and attributes I may be looking for in potential audiences (use of Kindle devices or the Kindle app might be nice…). If published by a “traditional” house, the geographical physical distribution plan may matter to me. Profitability may matter but that depends on how it is defined. It all depends. Every single time it depends. None of these variables, however, fundamentally alter identifying and reaching an audience.
Successful marketing is all about being audience-centric. That requires an understanding of the people who constitute the audience, where they are online and when, what they like and believe in, and what semantics they use when they’re talking about or searching for things that cluster around the author or the content/themes/etc. in the author’s book. It requires research, using tools to gather and interpret data to develop the proper technical and content strategy to ensure maximum efficient reach using all tactics and platforms — inbound, outbound, earned, paid, search, social, etc.
In marketing terms, the funnel is always different. But it is always a funnel. Which leads us to…
The bottom line.
Authors “get to market” in different ways. Sure. They are received differently by readers and critics. Yup. But in the end, they write books and release them into the world. In my opinion, the best marketers take into account the facts of how an author or a title is released but they judge not. For them, the bottom line is this: deliver the right message to the right potential customer at the right time, measure success, and adjust. Then lather, rinse, repeat.