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Guest Post: Laura Dawson of Authorweb

Reprinted from LJN Dawson’s Authorweb site – a site that offers services for self-publishers, such as:

• Get listed (or enhance existing listing) on Amazon/B&N.com for print sales
• Enhance your listing with Books in Print
• Enhance your listing on FiledbyAuthor and other websites

The Danger of Obscurity

“Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.” – Tim O’Reilly

I went to college to be a writer. I took all the writing workshops there were, wrote upwards of three hours every single day (it helped that it was an all-women’s college), and moved to New York to Be A Novelist.

In 1987, here was how you Became A Novelist. You wrote short stories and shopped them around to The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and other mags. You treasured your rejection letters, especially the handwritten ones. You got published in literary journals attached to colleges in the midwest, and collected those stories. You shopped that collection around to literary agents. You treasured your rejection letters, especially the handwritten ones. You got some interest from publishing houses that encouraged you to go ahead and write your novel. You slaved away at your novel every day after work. You shopped it around to literary agents, with your pile of short stories. You treasured your rejection letters, especially the handwritten ones. You had babies, got promoted, and eventually….you had a bunch of manuscripts and some lovely rejection letters and a sort of bitter taste in your mouth.

My friends, life is just too short.

And thank God for technology – now we can publish our own work through services like Lulu or iUniverse or Lightning Source. We can have the satisfaction of printed pages bound in covers – without the stack of rejection letters and endless waiting and no resolution.

Here’s the thing, though. Without the big publisher powerhouse behind you, that book is pretty much ALL you’ve got. What you’re still missing is an audience, readers, people connecting with your words and being moved by them. You’ve got a thing, an object. How to get that object out into the hands of people who will want it – they just don’t know it exists yet?

There are lots of independent author marketing services out there – and we’re putting together a directory right now, which we’ll be launching as soon as it reaches critical mass. There are lots of independent author PR reps – and again, they’ll be listed in our directory. These folks do vastly valuable work – they’ll get you on local radio shows, TV, help arrange bookstore readings.

But how do you reach out beyond that?

The web is probably the biggest mass marketing tool there is – and it’s cheap! Google Book Search is one way of making sure that your book comes up in search results whenever anybody’s looking for information on the topic you’ve written about. And it’s free!

Amazon lets you upload your book for distribution on the Kindle – so all those folks out there who’ve bought this cool gadget can download your book! I’ve got a Kindle and I’ve found a lot of interesting, new stuff available that I never would have found anywhere else. Amazon’s also got an iPhone app so even those without Kindles can read Kindle books! (DH does that, and he loves it.)

By making sure your book is registered with Books in Print and has the right identifiers – ISBN, ISTC, DOI – your book will be listed on just about any online bookstore…not just Amazon. Books in Print has recently lowered the price of their identifier services – which is great because it’s absolutely essential to your book getting found on the web!

Of course, with all these tools, there are forms to be filled out, agreements to be negotiated. Most of this is pretty standard stuff, but it gets tedious. (As tedious as collecting rejection letters!) And…most importantly…it cuts into time that’s better spent writing!

So that’s our value here at AuthorWeb. We’ll slog through this for you.

However, if you DO want to know how to do these things yourself, we’ll tell you. It’s not like we’re going to make a big secret out of any of this – because none of it is rocket science; it’s just arcane and byzantine and a pain in the butt – it’s just that if you’d rather not go there…we’re here for you.