Friday, October 4, 2013

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Most people think that authors are literary rock stars. They sit in their posh studios writing down made up stories, and when they're done cashing their million dollar checks they take vacations to go to book signing events or conventions to rub elbows with the unwashed masses.

It's not like that. It's more like this.

We who are about to write, salute you!
In the coliseum of modern entertainment, authors have become the new gladiators. We create a personal experience, a unique brand, and in many cases a persona just to get noticed. We practice, sharpen, and edit ourselves until we reach the peak of our game. We are not there to perform for the publishers, the Caesar who sits above the game and decides yay or nay on whether we publish or perish. We are there to perform for you. The Mob.

The Truth of the Metaphor

It's a little sad, but it's true. As I said in this post, publishers are not interested in art. They're not interested, by and large, in literary merit. They don't really care if the books they publish are going to remembered for years to come as the books that set the standard of the age. What publishers care about is whether or not they sell books. As with the gladiators of old, the arena masters care about how well their staff of authors plays with the crowd. The louder the crowd roars, the more support they throw behind a particular author, the longer and more fruitful that author's career will be on the bloody sands of the bestseller lists.

So if you want to see an author succeed, you need to raise your voice and make sure those on high can hear you loud and clear.

How to Support Your Favorites

Now that your illusions about how easy your favorite artists have it has been irrevocably shattered, you might start to worry. After all if the audience goes silent then it doesn't matter how long the gladiator in question has been the champion; the blade's coming down. Unless you and all your fellow fans start making yourselves heard, that is.

The best way to do that is of course to buy books. Publishers notice when people buy books, and they make sure to do more promotion for authors who's books fly off the shelves. Unfortunately money is not an easy-to-come-by commodity, no matter how big of a fan someone is. Fortunately you can raise a ruckus even if your pocket book is a little on the lighter side.

The next best thing you can do is to help promote authors you like. For instance, if someone wanted to help promote me, I would ask them to follow my blog here, and to drop by my author Facebook page, to follow me on Tumblr, and to drop by my Goodreads page to see what books I have available. I would also ask my readers to leave reviews of the books they'd read, and to help me signal boost posts about my work. Sometimes all it takes is for one person to start the wave for the rest of the bleachers to join in, and that will catch everyone's attention.

Is That All it Takes?

Yes and no. If an author writes a novel that is a smash hit, but doesn't do anything else (the literary equivalent of pop music's one-hit-wonders) then that one splash in the pond is going to stagnate pretty quickly. The same is true of an author's fan base. Someone who writers a book review that goes viral has done a great service for that author in the short-term. But the wheels turn on constant awareness. Authors have to keep writing, and fans have to keep talking them up.

Lastly, remember this. Cheers are contagious, especially in crowds. The louder you cheer, the more interested your fellow mob-members are going to be. Pretty soon they're going to be cheering right alongside you.

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