These days, a great deal of shopping is done online, including books, music, movies, clothes, house wares and appliances—even cars and houses. Online is a HUGE mall and that’s the way you have to look at it. No it hasn't replaced concrete stores, but that doesn't reduce the validity of online sales, or online promotion. Why?
Face it, we’re a techie generation and the technology is there, in ever-increasing numbers, to facilitate online selling and buying. Studies track how much time the average person spends online for things other than working. While I don't have the figures at my fingertips, it’s a huge block of time. Computers can do about anything a TV can—provide you with the latest news, music, TV shows, movies, and books. Cell phones can hook you to your computer and access the Internet. C’mon. The Internet isn’t going anywhere unless some catastrophe happens to eliminate it. Naysayers have to get with the times. Which is why e-Books, Print on Demand or digital technology, and traditional published books in e-book format, aren’t going to go away, no matter how many opinions there are on what constitutes a real book.
If online sales weren’t valid, why is every paper catalogue put out have an online store? Why are even major manufacturers providing an online presence and a venue to sell their products? Everyone from attorneys to roofers sell their services on line. Manufacturers from Beer to Xanax use known personalities to sell their products. These personalities and stars are known because of their activity in sports and on the silver screen—and known on the Internet. Why? Name and face recognition.
Hollywood sells their products online. Their products are stars, producers, movies, and TV shows. The music industry is the same. Just about everyone who sells something has a website. It’s real. It’s today, not yesterday.
For instance, in Hollywood of old, anything that got the actors, producers, and the name of the movie or show, in the paper was publicity. It was encouraged, it was “leaked”, it fabricated. Paparazzi are still everywhere with hopes of catching something to write about and sell on the citizens of the movie and TV industry. But now, it’s not the papers that get it first, it’s the Internet and the publicity grinders make sure their people are on the internet. It’s the same method, different focus. Actors get known on the screen by the body of their work—if that was enough we wouldn’t see them in print or on the Internet. Personalities sell products. People want to get to know something about the actors not just the shows/movies they’re in.
If you’re an author and your product is good, you are going to sell it—if people know you have a product. How are they going to know? Today, it’s the Internet. Authors have to have an Internet presence. Social networks (no doubt there will be other ways in the future) provide a way for the authors to become known and to build a readership base. If the author is a known presence, then readers will know who these authors are, may have even chatted with them online. Readers will know the books, the storylines, and release dates. Consequently, authors will have better sales both online and where ever books are sold.
I’m not discounting the other avenues such as book signing events, speaking to book clubs, newspapers, radio, and TV, but, unless you have an existing platform for it, unless you already have name recognition, this may not increase your sales appreciably. Local, versus the World Wide Web. This is especially so given our present economic situation and the money spent to do this physically. The old ways vs. profits made? Getting known on the Internet can increase your sales. It’s free. Will it give you over night success? Pfft, not usually, in fact rarely.
It takes time and work to garner success. It may not seem like you’re getting anywhere in the beginning, but this is a long-range goal. The amount of publicity also depends upon how you promote yourself as an author and it depends upon how soon you start with gaining name recognition on the Internet before your book is released. It takes a lot of focused time and work.
My thinking on it this is if you go to all the trouble and time to write a book what’s the point if you’re not going to take the time and work to sell it? Or ignore the new ways to gain name and face recognition.
To the Naysayers, I again say, times change and either you change with the times or get left behind.