The Last Word by guest author p.m. terrell T his year marks the 30th anniversary of my first book release. Way back in 1984, the Technological Stone Age of Publishing, less than 65,000 titles were published. The vast majority were through traditional, royalty-based publishers with only a small percentage through subsidy presses. Fast-forward twenty years and in 2004, more than 295,000 books were published, and less than 40,000 of those books were fiction. A mere 19,730 (or 7 percent) were printed through non-traditional means, which includes self-published books, reprints of books in the public domain, and print-on-demand books. By 2010, that number had swollen to more than 4,000,000 titles, 3.8M of which were considered nontraditional releases, comprising a whopping 95 percent of all new titles (all of these figures were obtained from Bowkers Books in Print). The challenge in today’s publishing environment is not how to find someone who will publish your book. Instead, the challenge is how to get your book noticed when there is so much competition in the marketplace. Even traditionally published authors are finding it more difficult to be seen, heard and noticed when nearly 11,000 new titles are released each and every day. Some authors will try the traditional method of signings in book stores. With less than 1 percent of all books published winding up on coveted book store shelves, it has become more difficult to schedule these signings unless you or your publisher has established a relationship with the bookseller. Take a look at the imprints rep resented, and you’ll find that 99 percent of those carried are from the largest publishing conglomerates. Other authors will reach out to libraries, societies and special interest groups. A ballooning industry is that of Virtual Book Tours, where authors visit blogs around the world that provide excerpts, synopses, buy links, guest blogs or interviews. Still others connect directly with their readers through social networking, whether it is Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, personal blogs or other sites where readers connect with one another and share information on books they’ve enjoyed. 38 Southern Writers You’ll find seasoned authors and newbies at any of the writers conferences or book fairs, such as Book ‘Em North Carolina (www.bookemnc.org) where authors connect directly with readers and gain new fans, and where readers discover new authors. And there are still the traditional advertising venues that include magazines and newspapers (both in print and digital), radio interviews and promos, and television appearances. So which method works the best? In 30 years of writing and having seen monumental changes, especially over the past five years, I’d have to say that all of these methods work when they are used in combination with one another. Each book that is published is a product, and each successful author must be committed to a sustained marketing campaign that includes personal appearances, internet exposure and traditional advertising. In years past, traditional publishers pushed a three-tosix-month campaign, during which the book either took off or it flopped. All of that has changed in recent years. Now book marketing is no longer a sprint; it is a marathon, sometimes lasting years. The vast majority of new authors with visions of the bestseller lists will give up when they discover their books are not considered the best thing since sliced bread and the public is not clamoring for them. That leaves only a minority who will recognize that writing for publication is an industry and the only way to succeed is in learning everything possible about how it works and how it reaches readers. Sometimes the road to success lies simply in staying in the game. n p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 18 books, including her newest release, The White Devil of Dublin. A full-time author since 2002, the North Carolina author is best known for her suspense/thrillers and historical suspense. Learn more about her at www.pmterrell.com.