Monday, August 31, 2015

Part The Second: This Is Not Your Mother's Publishing Career

Part of a three blog series today with my pal Josh Lanyon.

 Continuing our THIS IS NOT YOUR MOTHER’S PUBLISHING CAREER conversation over at LoveBytes….

To recap we were talking about the issue of Discoverability, which leads us to:


Orange you glad it's a Lanyon?
L.B. - “I’m not good at promotion.” I haven’t met an author who doesn’t speak those words at some point. I, personally, am really not good at promotion. I leave this up to Lanyon, who has a freaking Etsy store where people actually buy the stuff! 

Left to my own devices, I would not have much of anything. Thank God for readers (and that’s an upcoming bullet point).

I actually disagree that you’re not great at promotion, because though you don’t post a lot, you’re always real. Which I believe to be key. You give real peeks into a real life and it’s a life with more going on than your books. Also you’re very good at real life networking—which is HELLO, how we got together.

And by “together,” I mean friends. But that leads me to some of the dubious things I see in promotion. Like authors talking mostly to other authors. Or depending too heavily on one’s gender or relationship status. Let’s be honest, being a guy in this genre can get you initial interest and attention. But that only takes you so far. Eventually, you gotta deliver the goods. Readers may adore you personally, but if the books aren’t all that, they just won’t keep buying them, however much they like your Facebook posts.

Here’s a fact. Six hundred likes on your FB posts does not automatically equal earning a living at writing fiction.

The hard truth is if you personally know all your readers, you’re in trouble. You need to be selling thousands of books on a consistent basis, your readership needs to expand way beyond the social media platforms you use. You need to be selling primarily to people who don’t know you from Adam. Or Eve. And don’t give a shit.

Exactly. Actually, I find that the more readers know about an author, the more likely they are to become disillusioned and not want to read/buy their books. That’s why I maintain the mystery. Not really. Also, promo is constant upkeep, and everyone is aiming to find the next hook to gain more readers. There are a few authors who do this exceptionally well (Tessa Dare comes to mind). Fresh, fun, inventive promo is a full time job. Authors could hire someone, but at that aforementioned 17-34K—who can afford it? This is where branding comes in handy. If you’re good at branding.

But if you’re spending all your time online, when do you find time to write? 

L.B. – Well, you just have to chain yourself to your chair. Love the chair. Be one with the chair.

Do as I say and not as I do? ;-)

L.B.— I decided years ago that I could not and would not chain myself to a chair. Which explains why I am not making a cushy living writing.

Reader interaction and involvement

This, I think, is one of the biggest differences from the old days. I think it’s both one of the very best developments in modern publishing—but also one of the most disconcerting.

Now days there is an expectation that authors will be accessible to readers. Even literary authors feel the pressure to get on social media and interact.

So we went from a profession with little or no contact with our audience, to a sometimes overwhelming amount of feedback. For example, look at Goodreads where readers can vote on books that haven’t even been written yet! That can be pretty intimidating. In fact, in some ways, the reader is increasingly close to being part of the creative process.

L.B. - Goodreads is the devil. I do not partake. I am a rock. I am an island. (As reflected in my sales.)

LB Gregg Wine Shop and Theme Park
On the plus side, holy moly! Readers will set up your author store.

L.B. - Okay, that would be nice. An L.B. Gregg store, which would look more like a wine shop than anything else.

 I want to shop at YOUR store.

Anyway, beyond offering the obvious support of regularly buying our books (which continues to be the single most important thing a reader can do to support an author), the contemporary reader also reviews. Sometimes casually on social media or sometimes more formally through blogs. This notion of the “citizen reviewer” is a sea change in itself. Readers “buzz” books they like through word of mouth, which is an informal equivalent of a bookstore hand-selling your work. It’s a huge development in the reader/author relationship.

But that’s only the first tier of modern reader engagement. In the second tier, we have readers serving as support staff, offering to “beta” read or do research, creating covers, helping with translations, formatting…you name it! We have readers who are so engaged, so invested that they become what is referred to in the business as a “street team.” At this level of engagement, readers will organize your launch parties, drive your social media, etc. They become partners in your success.

L.B.-- THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN TO ME. I am in awe of authors who cultivate a Street Team.

I don’t know how this happens either. I mean, it happened for me, yes. But I still don’t understand how or why. I know that I am very grateful, and that I can’t imagine my life—let alone my career—without these reader friends by my side.

And this doesn’t even take into account the readers who send gifts or contribute financially to various author-driven causes.

Ce and Dan Return!
Which leads us to…well, no, it doesn’t but it’s our next point which we will continue to discuss and debate over at my place!


L.B. GreggWhen not working from her home in the rolling hills of Northwestern Connecticut, author L.B. Gregg can be spotted in coffee shops from Berlin to Singapore to Panama -- sipping lattes and writing sweet, hot, often funny, stories about men who love men. Buy her books here:

Josh Lanyon – A distinct voice in gay fiction, JOSH LANYON is the multi-award-winning author of nearly seventy stories of male/male mystery, adventure and romance. Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews award for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner, a four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, and the first recipient of the Goodreads M/M Romance group's Hall of Fame award. Learn more at


Josh Lanyon said...

Oh my GOD. I tried to leave a comment and the blog insisted I verify a bunch of blurry photos I could barely make out before it would let me post! ARGH. It took me three tries.

So all I wanted to say was, I wanna go to your theme park. :-D

scwynne said...

LB Gregg Wine Shop and Theme park? I'm IN! Do you have a KickStarter thing set up where I can contribute? :) But in all seriousness, I appreciate the inside information from you two little writing rascals.

Johanna O said...

I'd join L.B.'s "street team" any time... :-)

Thank you for these blog posts, L.B. and Josh. They were all very interesting — even from just a reader's point of view.