November 6, 2014

Lessons authors can learn from Taylor Swift

An article in the November 5, 2014 edition of The New York Times tells how Taylor Swift uses social media, namely Twitter and Instagram, to keep in touch with her fan base and then use those platforms to turn her songs into number one hits. The Times quotes Matt Britton, CEO of youth marketing agency MRY, saying “she has been able to take one person and spread herself out into millions of itty-bitty pieces of Taylor Swift and touch as many people as possible. When you do that, you generate a kind of advocacy and excitement that no level of advertising could.”

Claire Thompson, a thirty-year-old LA based entertainment lawyer, says “she (Ms. Swift) pops up (in her social media) like all my friends do. It makes you as a fan feel like you’re a part of her life.” Adding, “it makes you as a fan feel like you’re a part of her life.”

Authors often think of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) as a distraction. Something that they have to do to satisfy their publisher, rather than a means of engagement—truly caring about those who read and interact with their posts.

Some authors believe they can write a book, have it published and then magically watch as their book sells. And, true, there are some rare cases where this does happen (Salinger comes to mind). But that is the exception and not what happens in the real world where every book is competing with thousands of other books.

At Principia we help the authors in our community to find their readers and ultimately sell their book. We invest hugely in our Web presence, the marketing of our Facebook page and in providing one-on-one counseling. But we do not stand on street corners with a bullhorn shouting and coercing people into purchasing our author’s books. And we don’t push books onto bookstore shelves only to have them returned unsold weeks later. From the beginning of publishing, authors have been key in selling their books. I often say that nobody ever wants to interview a publisher. It’s all about the author. Is an author willing to do what’s required to introduce their message to an often way-to-busy world? Am I willing to do whatever is required to support the efforts of our authors? Absolutely. I’m available always as are all the members of the Principia team. We want our authors to succeed and do everything we can to put the tools in their hands to get in front of prospective readers.

It’s time for authors to step it up and enter into what celebrities like Taylor Swift already know. The one who cares most about what an artist, musician or author does are the artists themselves. And we will do everything we can at our end to help in spreading that message.

By Dirk Wierenga, Principia Director of Publishing

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