This is indeed a great time to be an author. No longer must manuscripts disappear into the drawer, never to be heard from again, lacking only a publisher’s best guess. Now, no matter what people think of a book, it can be published and try and find its audience.
Everyone, in short, has a shot, and the more people with e-readers the easier it will be to put a book out there to try and reach them.
But it’s still important to remember and acknowledge: Not everyone has an equal shot.
The author backed by a publisher and with marketing and who has their book out there in large numbers is still going to have an advantage over an author who is unknown. The author out there with a blog or active in discussion Forums is going to have an advantage over the author who quietly uploads their book to Amazon. Like it or not, celebrities are going to continue to sell a lot of books.
And in fact, there is even some growing evidence to suggest that rather than level the playing field for everyone, the rise of e-books is leading to more polarized sales between the bestselling haves and microselling have-nots. Not less, more.
What does it mean? Well, aside from writing the best book possible, it pays to make your odds as good as possible. Self-published or traditionally published, it means trying to get your book out there to publicize and to make yourself known.
At the end of the day, the book is still the most important factor. All the marketing in the world can’t make a hit out of a book that the public doesn’t want, and hits can come out of nowhere will the tiniest of beginnings. It’s just that the odds are better for the book with the bigger initial boost.
I don’t know how productive it is to bemoan that authors are now expected to self-promote, whether they’re traditionally published or self-published. It isn’t good or bad that authors are now expected to do promote, it just is. It’s the time we’re living in. The days of being “just an author,” if they ever existed, are no more.
Everyone does have a shot, but the best shots go to the authors that are able to give their books a boost.