New or unpublished authors are always looking for ways to gain favorable exposure and land book deals. There is the all too familiar chicken and egg dilemma. You can’t get an agent if you’re not published; and you can’t get published without an agent. The web abounds with advice for cracking this problem. For most new authors this probably doesn’t work. I have heard many authors recite the number of rejections they have received as a kind of badge of belonging to the writer community. Many try to get some recognition by entering contests. But finding reputable contests can be tricky and contest entry fees can mount up.
Blog to book is another pathway that has worked for a number of new authors. It will no doubt continue to gain ground as the blogosphere matures and agents and publsihers learn to mine it. But currently, success is more serendippity than strategy.
A better route for authors, agents and publishers might be the concept of an online author exchange. What’s an author exchange? It’s a place where authors can showcase their work, build an audience and achieve visibility with participating agents and publishers. What would an author exchange look like? Here are some thoughts:
- A “fully instrumented” blog for each author designed to show off the work, provide a bio and background, and measure audience reactions
- A search the book capability whose scope authors could control
- Ability to easily create podcasts of book content (especially useful for fiction writers)
- Create author “pitch cards” with summaries of key audience statistics for blog and podcast – unique visitors, pages views, downloads, time spent, etc.
- Pecha kucha style narrated book pitch turned into a video (20 slides, 20 seconds each = 6 minutes, 40 seconds); this is the economical version of a full blown book video
- Audience ratings, reactions and tags
- Robust search capability that would give agents and publishers a way to quickly find the authors that might be of interest. Ideally they would be able to set triggers and be alerted automatically when their criteria are met.
And, of course, some enterprising software developer would create a widget to encapsulate all this functionality and allow fans to follow their favorite authors on websites or personal pages in social networks. A well conceived author exchange would give new authors the exposure they crave. Busy agents / publishers would have a tool to improve the signal-to-noise ratio and find those proverbial diamonds in the rough.
I would welcome more thoughts on the concept of an author exchange.