The path toward a career as a novelist
is a notoriously difficult and precarious one. Unusual talent is of course
essential, but by itself that's rarely enough. There's the well-worn cliché of
a frustrated author guarding a box of dusty manuscripts under the bed,
alongside a faster-growing collection of rejection slips. Sadly, this image is
the norm rather than the exception. Traditionally, a successful novelist needs
to see the happy convergence of talent, persistence, a tap into the zeitgeist,
and - of course - a willing publisher.
However, the last decade has seen a
dramatic shift of the tectonic plates under the publishing industry. As in so
many areas of society, technology is having a profound impact. Most pertinently
to aspiring authors, digital publishing is becoming a realistic route toward
getting their work in front of an audience, forging a more direct link between
writer and reader - with none of the complications of a printed edition
required. How is this change happening?
Only a few years ago, print was the
only viable way for readers to enjoy their passion for fiction. Although the
internet spawned a whole subculture of writers' blogs and readers' discussion
forums, serious reading on a typical computer monitor was hard going.
Smartphones, tablets, and perhaps most importantly Kindle has changed that.
Reading fiction on a device is now
commonplace, and in some genres, digital readership
levels are even surpassing those of printed word. Today online publishing
platforms such as Inkitt are no longer the province of the tech-geek, but true alternatives to
the traditional structure of agents, publishers, printers, and book retailers.
How Young Adult
Fiction Fits In
This new way of reaching the reader has
particular ramifications for writers of young adult (YA) fiction. Despite the
common perception of the genre targeting teenagers and adolescents, its
readership is in reality highly diverse, covering all ages and backgrounds. Of
particular interest, however, are figures compiled by the Bowker publishing research
55% of YA novels are bought by adults — 28% of which are made up of the 33 to
YA fiction fans are also likely to be
heavy consumers, typically reading at least
one work per week, and will often fit their reading into commutes, lunch
breaks, and other daily routines. This is fertile ground for fiction to be read
via smartphones while on the move.
Further figures from the independent publishing
company Blooming Twig shows that the young adult fiction market is worth over
$2.87 billion a year. Clearly, there are huge opportunities surrounding digital
publishing, but the market is also saturated. Amazon, for example, boasts over
4 million digital titles across all genres, and the average digitally published
work will make little impact without promotional help. Luckily, today's digital
arena also offers an extremely powerful way of getting the word out about new
fiction: social media.
How Social Media
Mainstream media often portrays Facebook, Twitter, and their lesser-known rivals as: at best, time-sinks full of cute cat videos, and at worst, playgrounds for purveyors of fake news or dubious commercial propositions. Although there is at least some truth to this caricature, social media can offer huge benefits to writers of romantic fiction.People visit social media for entertainment and distraction. They often read it while on the move, or otherwise at a loose end. They're looking for a little escapism, and tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time in pursuing it.
Emerging from the Twilight
– On Word of Mouth Creating Buzz
A prime example of a work which
achieved stellar success on the back of social media is
the infamous 50 Shades of Grey. This international phenomenon began its
life as a series of fan-fiction shorts, based around Stephenie Meyer's Twilight
series, and created expressly for sharing among online romantic fiction
Patricia Doma, Head
of Communications at Inkitt