The Challenge of Author Education

With so much great information available on how to publish and build a platform, the challenge for authors is finding the right advice at the right time. Most authors I speak to struggle not with finding reliable information but knowing which advice is right for their particular situation. Adding to the confusion, even sound advice can become quickly outdated with the rapid changes in publishing, social media, and web technology.

One solution is to find a few names you trust in the industry, follow them, and filter out much of the rest. But curation requires that these trusted voices to be clear about who their audience is for each piece. This is key, because right now there is a wide range of both needs and expertise among authors.

Just how wide this range extends was brought home to me recently when I interviewed Kristen McLean, CEO of Bookigee, about author education and book marketing. Always articulate and insightful about publishing, Kristen identified five different groups of authors with very different needs:

  • Aspiring authors trying to figure out the marketplace for the first time
  • Self-published authors putting out their first book through non-traditional channels
  • Authors who have been published before and are interested in trying something new
  • Authors who are in pre-publication mode and need to launch their book
  • Established authors marketing their backlist

Kristen and others in the publishing startup space are actively looking at ways to target information based on authors’ specific needs. Those of us who write about author education can aid this process by making it more clear what type of author will benefit most from our articles. And authors are best served by keeping a few guiding principles in mind while searching for useful advice on publishing and platforms.

  1. If you haven’t done so already, identify your first goal. Do you need advice on pitching a manuscript? A social media strategy for finding your readers? Guidance on self-publishing? Focus on one thing first, and don’t get distracted by the rest until you have your answer and are on the road to implementing it.
  2. Sometimes you need tactical information, and sometimes it helps to look at the big picture. Periodically allow yourself time to keep up with trends. If you fall down a rabbit hole into some fascinating new media space, that’s fine. Just come back up again and focus on your next task at hand.
  3. Information overload can quickly become emotional overwhelm. Remember to pace yourself, and leave enough time to actually write. Platform-building is a long-term project, and is of no real use without great, well-written ideas to share.

To learn more about Kristen’s ideas on author education and book marketing, here is the full video of our conversation.