As an aspiring author, you've poured your heart and soul into writing your novel. You've meticulously crafted each sentence, developed compelling characters, and created a captivating storyline. Now, you're ready to share your masterpiece with the world. But the golden ark is no longer getting your novel in a book store, especially in a dying high street?
In recent years, the retail landscape has undergone a significant transformation. Traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores, once a staple of every high street, are facing challenges due to the rise of online shopping and e-books. As a result, many bookstores have had to downsize or close their doors altogether. This shift has made it increasingly difficult for new authors to secure shelf space for their novels, with estimates ranging from 500,000 to 1 million new books published in the UK alone in 2022. So ask yourself...when was the last time I entered a book store and saw 500,000 to 1 million new titles on the bookshelves and what are the chances of my book being one of those. With the rise of self-publishing, the answer is getting close to being akin to winning the lottery. Bookshop owners are lost in a myriad of titles with the big five publishers monopolising the content you see.
Perversly, while physical bookstores are struggling, the digital world has opened up new opportunities for authors. Online platforms, such as Amazon and Goodreads, have become popular hubs for book lovers to discover new titles. By leveraging these platforms, you can reach a wider audience and connect directly with readers who are actively seeking out new books to read.
In today's digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial for authors. By establishing a website, blog, or social media accounts, you can create a platform to showcase your writing, engage with readers, and build a loyal fan base. This online presence not only helps you gain visibility but also allows you to receive valuable feedback and reviews from readers, which can further boost your book's reputation. Yet, many authors find the challenge of being marketeers difficult and it is. Online is even more wild west than the high street with the number of those new titles double or even treble than physically published. The rise of A.I generated titles has added even more fog to an opaque landscape. So- called 'authors' now spewing books out with little thought to the content but cashing in on a gullable readership.
Getting your book on the shelves of a physical bookstore is more than challenging, but word-of-mouth marketing can be a powerful tool in generating buzz for your novel, however, don't think it is easy. When readers discover a hidden gem and enjoy the story, they are not even likely to recommend it to their friends, family, or online communities. Sadly, many readers read and simply move on to the next book in the pile. Organic promotion can lead to increased sales and exposure, even without the traditional bookstore presence, but you can't wait for the golden moment.
Instead of solely relying on bookstores, consider exploring alternative distribution channels but be honest about the slog involved. Self-publishing platforms, such as Kindle Direct Publishing, allow authors to bypass the traditional publishing route and bring their books directly to readers but its a swamp, filled with poorly written novels which have not been curated, edited or seen any form of critique. Additionally, partnering with independent bookstores or attending literary festivals and events can help you connect with your target audience and gain exposure for your novel, but again be realistic. Many events are no more than a self-back-slapping exercise akin to a painful vanity trip.
While it may be disheartening that the golden ark is not getting your novel in a book store, it's important to adapt to the changing landscape of the publishing industry. By embracing online platforms, building an online presence, leveraging word-of-mouth marketing, and exploring alternative distribution channels, you can still find success as an author and the sad fact is, that your book doesn't even need to be good. There are literally tens of thousands of good books dying in the funeral pyre of neglect. The ultimate goal is to connect with readers and share your story, regardless of the physical location of your book and finding a few readers to become evangelists for your book is key. The high street is entering its death throes and the chances of getting a good book exposure online is that of a single tear in an ocean of sewerage.
These are the realities of publishing in 2023.