On being “Discovered”

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I was recently asked what’s the biggest hurdle I face as an indie author. Easy answer.

Discoverability.

Let me be honest  … I don’t write novels just for the fun of it. Just to have a gotcha over old drinking buddies. I’m in this because I’m itching to be a mainstream, bestselling author. And I can do it. All I have to do is get …discovered.

So … what’s preventing that, I ask myself. Good question, I answer myself. (This writing business tends to make you go wacky.) Maybe the gods ordained that I have to wait until my third book is finished, ala J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. If the publishers could whiff on her a few times, they could certainly whiff on me. Or maybe not until I finish my eighth book like bestselling mystery writer Sue Grafton had to do. (Note to publishers: I’d rather you whiffed on me two times like Rowling rather than eight times like Grafton.)

The stats on being published mainstream are not pretty.

Author UNfriendly. Consumer friendly.

Before e-Books became popular (circa 2008), the book world tended to be author unfriendly, but consumer friendly.

My first book, The Oath, was published in the year 2000. At that time there were twenty-four million manuscripts looking to be published. Of those twenty-four million, the publishing cartel in New York deemed only one percent (or 250,000) worthy enough for you to read. 

But I didn’t care because I was on my way to being part of the 250,000 chosen ones. I scored an agent to represent me. (On my very first book. I was pretty jazzed. Watch out world.) I gave him a six-month exclusive, and then … and then, I never heard from him again. Well, I take that back. I did hear from him again. Six months later. He wrote telling me he had submitted my manuscript to five publishers with no success and could he have another six-month exclusive. In those years, I knew exactly zip about the book business, but … five publishers in six months? Didn’t seem to me like he was out there on the front lines fighting like hell for me. But I was working full-time and didn’t yet see myself as a full-time writer. Not relishing the hassle of finding another agent, I took the manuscript back and published it myself.

Author friendly. Consumer UNfriendly.

Since the year 2000, however, the book world has turned upside-down. While 250,000 books were published in 2000, in the year 2014 there were an estimated fifteen million books published.

Because of the ease with which books can now be published electronically, coupled with the advent of POD (print on demand), anybody can publish a book (and by the numbers quoted, it looks as if everybody has). Author friendly for sure, but now decidedly consumer unfriendly. As a consumer, the old gate-keepers are no longer the only voice telling you what books are worthy enough to read. Now it’s partly up to you to sort through the clutter. To find that perfect book. 

Given this environment, how do you become Discovered?

First and foremost remember: you can only be responsible for those things over which you have control.

What might some of those “things” be?

  1. Know your audience.
  2. Write books that appeal to that audience.
  3. Write those books well.
  4. Within reason, establish a social media platform to help build a brand name I.D.
  5. Finally, query agents in a professional and respectful way (knowing that not all of them will fall in love with your work). 

 

As soon as my third novel is out, you’ll be the first to know if you click “Follow” in the sidebar menu of this page. Not only will I be grateful, I’ll even send you the first chapter of my novel free. (Already a follower? You can request a sample of The Custer Papers via email at denniskollerauthor@gmail.com or comment below.)

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