WANTED: A 21st Century Author Promoter
I love writing.
I love sitting down with half a dozen fresh Blackwing 602 pencils, sharpening them to a razor edge and filling up pages of a notebook with the words of a new novel. I love sitting in front of my Royal Quiet Deluxe typewriter and banging out pages. I love typing those pages into my Mac, printing them, revising them by hand, and then entering those revisions back into the computer.
I love spending my mornings while my mind is fresh, sipping Sumatran coffee and writing the new long novel I’m working on. I love working more on that book over lunch in my favorite Asian restaurant, Momiji in Rhinebeck, NY. I love using my afternoons, while sipping still more coffee, to edit the draft of another book.
I love reading my work to audiences and giving interviews to radio and newspapers. I love meeting readers and teaching and encouraging young writers. I love writing the occasional blog entry when I have something to say, and I love traveling to new places that inspire new pieces of writing. In all, I love everything associated with the writing part of being an author, and I even love some of the self-promotion work—in small doses.
What I don’t love about being an author is all of the having-to-be-online-social-media-sales-and-promotion stuff. I resent it because it prevents me from focusing on writing new work. It also drives me crazy because the new publishing world is constantly changing, and the time that I invest in it doesn’t help me to become a better writer.
Over the past several years since I’ve independently published, I’ve looked critically at my talents and determined that mine do not lie in the areas of social media, sales and promotion; my talents are in the writing; and therefore I need to partner with someone who is better at these other important tasks.
But in order to do this, I need someone great at social media, digital marketing, promotion and sales. So, without further ado…
WANTED: Tech-, media- and digital marketing-savvy bibliophile to serve as the promoter and “literary agent” of an independently published 21st century author. As much as s/he loves my books, the ideal candidate loves gaming the social media system, dissecting the Amazon algorithm, manipulating keywords and metadata, and coming up with new ways of being heard in a noisy digital world. This person would manage my social media presence, tweak my presence on all sales platforms, secure promotional and advertising opportunties for me and my books, and, in general, boost sales of my work.
In essence this person would serve as a 21st century literary agent, but instead of attempting to sell my manuscripts to traditional publishing houses, s/he would be marketing my work to readers. This person would make his/her own hours, and would work wherever s/he wanted. And for compensation, this person will receive 20 percent of all of my book sales, with bonuses for various benchmarks (e.g., if one of my books made the New York Times Bestseller List).
Under the antiquated traditional publishing model, a literary agent typically received only 15 percent of an author’s sales. Because the Author Promoter job would require the candidate to have and/or develop a multiplicity of skills in internet research, marketing, social media, digital publishing and advertising, and because the job pays strictly commission and bonuses, the Author Promoter would receive 5% more in commission than traditional literary agents.
Yes, the job pays only commission and bonuses, but you would be stepping into work for a publisher with a good-sized catalog already in place: four books in a mystery series, a literary novel, a book of short stories, and a collection of plays. In the coming year, these will be followed by a book of memoir, a Paris travelogue/memoir, and another novel. You would not be stuck selling one widget; there are several products to sell, and more will be coming all the time.
I am a self-taught writer. I do not have an MFA degree or a Ph.D., nor have I ever taken a creative writing class. Majoring in philosophy in college and working as a newspaper reporter after college were my two training grounds as a writer. Otherwise I learned to write entirely on my own, or, as one of my writing idols, Jack London, characterized his own development as a writer, I had “no mentor but myself.” I learned to write fiction by reading thousands of books, and by writing millions of words (most of them bad). I am a writer in the tradition of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Cheever, Anton Chekhov, and Mark Twain, in that I learned to write by studying the great writers, and by writing.
I mention my development as a writer because I want you, the potential candidate to understand something: I don’t care about pedigree. Whether or not you graduated from an Ivy League college, or dropped out of one, or didn’t attend college at all, or even dropped out of high school—I don’t care. All I care about are a willingness to work, the ability to learn from mistakes, and positive results—book sales. I’m a pragmatist. Good grammar and spelling are important, too, but more important is a desire to learn.
So, how about it? Do you have the vision, imagination and marketing and tech savvy to make me and my books a household name?
If so, and if you’re interested in the job, here’s how you get hired: just start doing the job. Right now. Find my books on Amazon and other online sellers and study their listings. Analyze their presence online and figure out their strengths and weaknesses. Then start a guerrilla marketing campaign—something clever, simple and that doesn’t cost you anything—on social media or in another realm that makes more sense to you. When it’s in place, contact me and direct my attention to it. We’ll then have a Skype meeting and discuss your ideas, and see if our personalities would be a good fit. If they are, and I hire you, you will receive 20 percent of all of my sales of all of my books.
That’s my proposal. I look forward to hiring my 21st century author promoter in the coming year. Thank you.