As a Gen X-er, I’m of the age where I clearly remember a time before the digital age took over, even if I have embraced the new technology that has replaced it. I remember having to wait patiently for the newest book in a series to be released, then for my parents to drive me to the book store, but now I sign up for a pre-release online and it gets delivered directly to my Kindle app.
As for your favourite authors, you only ever had the chance to meet them at book signings, or if they were in town for a convention (which was rare over here in the West). You might have been part of their newsletter mailing list, and would occasionally come across an interview with them in the weekend paper but otherwise, interactions were limited, and almost always a one way street, unless you were sending them fan mail.
In today’s digital age, it is much, much easier to interact with your favourite author. With the advent of social media, readers no longer have to be the passive half of author communication. You may still receive newsletters and read interviews, but now you can join their Facebook group and actually participate in discussions with them. You can retweet their latest thoughts and add your own commentary. You can follow their Instagram page and gush over their character inspiration pictures.
Authors are no longer held apart on a pedestal, but are accessible, approachable, and available. Of course, the flip side of this is that authors now have to be accessible, approachable, and available. They have to have the time to devote to their readers, to build a following, to be active and engaged on social media. Gone are the days where a press release, an interview or two, and an ad in the paper would sell books. Authors have to not only have their own groups on social media but be part of other groups where they participate in giveaways and competitions, promote their works, and interact with readers.
Then there’s the various teams they need to help market their book. Beta teams read the book first and pick up on plot holes, any world rules that are confusing, or any other major errors. ARC teams get advanced reader copies and are then expected to leave reviews on multiple sites, in groups, and on Goodreads. Street teams come into play once the book is released and they post to different book recommendation groups to promote the book and drum up interest. An author has to manage these teams, as well as reward them (as it’s mostly voluntary work) which also adds to their work load.
The extra mile that they are expected to go to in this market, whilst great for readers, can make it hard for many authors, especially for those who have day jobs to keep themselves afloat until they ‘make it big’. Which leads me to my final question?
Just when do authors find the time to actually write?