We’ll be back next week with more fresh & original content to get you through the self-publishing process!
Yes, yes, it’s Christmas! And we know you have some yuletide carols to sing, some gifts to open, and some people to see. We’ll keep it short, but we wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas first! Here are some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically regarding publishing trends within the publishing industry, and their implications for all authors!
First off, the really really good news: Outskirts Press (with whom many of our writers over the years have worked) are offering a really spectacular deal this holiday season, with $800 off the package price of any of their One-Click Publishing suites. These suites already offer really spectacular discounts by combining services in order to drop prices, so this discount means that for a couple of days over this Christmas season, you’ll be getting everything at rock-bottom price. And if you’re not ready to commit to one of their One-Click Publishing suites, they’re also offering $300 off the package price for their Ultimate and Full-Color publishing services, which are excellent as well. Check out the press release (at the link) or visit their website at www.OutskirtsPress.com for a Christmas present all your very own!
Have you been thinking about self-publishing this holiday season, maybe taking advantage of that sweet deal (above)? Shirley McMarlin of the Tribune-Review has some words of wisdom for you as you move forward. Some of them are warnings, some are encouragements, but they are all of them very wise indeed. Take a peek as she explores some of the ups and downs of both traditional and self-publishing platforms, and digs into those specifics which sell books (it’s not always what you might expect!). Nobody ever said it would be easy … but with experts like McMarlin around, it’s certainly easier to make the right decision to fit your needs.
Oh, who are we kidding? We love a good and positive story during the holiday season, and Jeff Polman’s piece for HuffPost earlier in December truly fits the bill. Herein Polman shares how, as a previously self-published author, he made his first foray into traditional publishing … and then turned right around and returned to self-publishing. Why? He’d written a book he loved, in a voice he felt at home in, and afterward discovered that agents and publishers were looking for some specifics which would require him to rewrite the entire thing to suit. Rather than do that–and sacrifice his original vision for this newest book–Polman went his own way, again, proving the (maybe not-so-) old adage that self-publishing is a refuge for those creators who want to maintain creative control over their work. Read the full article for more!
Yes! Self-publishing is about more than books! We’ve written before on how the self-publishing industry has its roots in everything from printed literature like books and comics and magazines to digital materials like ezines and so forth … but this might just be one of the first times we’ve seen games brought into the conversation. And we love it! the Xbox (and its archcompany, Microsoft) might just be opening its doors to independent games publishers and creators, who formerly were barred from seeing their games used on the platform. This would be, if it truly comes to pass, a massive move in reshaping the gaming industry, with repercussions which will be felt for years to come. Indie game designers have been making inroads into the industry for a while, but the Xbox remains one of the primary hardware components to gaming, and this decision places a thumb very heavily on the scales in favor of the diversification and democratization of game-space. Read the full article, courtesy of Matt Liebl and GameZone, here.
This is the time of the year when there’s snow on the roads in my part of the world, the days are short and dark by five in the evening, and everyone’s going a bit stir crazy. Tensions are at a fever pitch, but so too is that special brand of optimistic cheerfulness which washes over and around the people I care about. Some people may not celebrate the religious aspect of the Christmas holidays, but you can’t help but love some of the perks they bring with them: hot cocoa and cider to drink, quilts and kittens and friendships to keep us warm, generosity to celebrate in giving and receiving.
It seems almost callow, perhaps, to talk about marketing in the midst of all this good-feeling. What does the commercial machine have to do with empathy and generosity?
Here’s the thing: What’s good for you as an author and what’s good for your relationships is also good for business.
I’m not just talking about the “family-friendly” or “family-owned” propaganda issued by big businesses like Starbucks or Chipotle or REI; I’m talking about your relationships on a personal level, and starting from the ground up. The real revolution in how we do business has to start with actual human connection rather than the cold and soulless opportunism that we’ve been taught is the marker of successful companies and their high-level officials.
So this Christmas, I’m not going to encourage you to break out a couple of new strategies for self-promotion success for several reasons–including the fact that we’ve already done so in past Christmases: here, here, and here––but rather to refocus on what you consider the most valuable and worthwhile aspects of your relationships. I guarantee you this: if you put your friendships and your loved ones first, the rest will fall into place. Friends want to hear about what each other do and love and are working on, and when your relationships are in tune you’ll know instinctively when it’s a good and natural and 100% organic moment to do so.
Who you are as a writer fits within a broader framework of who you are in connection to the other people in your life. Authenticity isn’t just nice; it’s imperative. It just makes sense that what’s good for your relationships would be good for spreading the word about your book, and the ingredients for a joyful and happy holiday season would also be the perfect recipe for a productive time for you as a self-publishing author!
You are not alone. ♣︎
Remember our “Ringing in the Holidays” post series from late last year? Wouldn’t it have been oh-so-much easier to execute the perfect holiday book sales plan if you’d started just that little bit earlier in the year? Well, I’m here today with a reminder as you start to look down the barrel of yet another end-of-year holiday frenzy: it’s time now! If you want to put your holidays in order, you have to start thinking about your marketing plan today. Yes, in August. If not July!
So let’s make a plan!
First stop: Who’s your audience? You’ll be able to plan an effective strategy only if you know who your ideal readers are–or who their parents with the pocketbooks and credit cards are, in the case of children’s books–and where to reach them, either online and in terms of raising awareness about your book, or in person through events and a campaign that they can conveniently connect to.
Second stop: What’s your format? If your book is digital, then giveaways are a must. An absolute must! There are also some great freebies–free chapters, free peeks, etc–that you can do by integrating your material into your website, social media, and so on. Make sure you give your website a facelift if you haven’t in a while–you want to be ready for the holidays, not just responding to them when they happen!
If your book is print, then yes–giveaways are still a must! But also book signings, book readings, and perhaps even workshops and teaching opportunities. The more ways–and the more creative ways–you can put your book into the hand of a potential buyer, the higher your chances of actually getting that buyer to pull out the pocketbook! Print books offer a great opportunity to distribute shiny merch like bookmarks, postcards, and so on to readers–even when your book may not be present or being sold! Think of the places people pick up their merch–banks, hotels, libraries, restaurant waiting areas–and partner with local businesses to see about featuring your book in these places.
Third stop: Get a move on! By the time those holidays roll around–whether Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas–it’s already too late to put together a comprehensive plan to reach new readers at that time. You really have to think ahead! Which is why we’re here. We’ve been there. If we’re honest with ourselves, we still are there. We know what it’s like–but here’s a guarantee: if you plan ahead, you will sell more books than if you don’t.
Sure, we can take it easy on ourselves, and feed ourselves the same line we did last year: “Oh, but there’s always next year.” And it’s true, for most of us. There will be more time to perfect our methods. But for this book, and this year, there isn’t a moment to waste–and it really would be a shame to push back our perfect holiday season another year simply because we let ourselves off of the hook today. Because for as many wonderful and eloquent “New Year’s Resolutions” posts we put up here on Self Publishing Advisor that we really do intend to keep, there’s always something that gets away from us. So we keep at it. Better todays mean better tomorrows mean a strategically stress-free Fall and Winter 2017!
But don’t worry, I’m not saying I’m anywhere near perfect. All we can ask is that we get a little bit better every go-around, right?
You are not alone. ♣︎
It’s almost Christmas! Which is to say, quite a few feast days and religious holidays are fast approaching. What will you be doing this holiday season? How will you spend the day?
Among other things, we here at Self Publishing Advisor will be spending Christmas celebrating you. Because you’re awesome, and you have been so incredibly kind to us as readers and supporters of all things self-published and self-publishing. We couldn’t have asked for more generous-hearted, more wise, more curious and inquiring minds than than you. You keep us young, you keep us honest, and you keep us on-point in collating, generating, and celebrating the advances made in self-publishing over the last decade.
I’m new to SPA, but the blog itself has been around for quite a while. We had our eight-year blogiversary just a couple of months ago. In the age of the Internet, eight years is a massive accomplishment! So thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts, for being the massively accomplished and wonderful people that you are.
We hope you get a moment today and every day through the holidays to pause, catch your breath, and find yourself some headspace. It’s a frenetic time as we close out the year, but we’re here for you, and we’ll be here every weekday and Saturday with more quality content to keep feeding that hungry heart and mind of yours. If you have any suggestions as to content and themes as we move into a new year, we’d love to hear those too! We want to deliver material that you actually want to read, so burn up our comments section a little, okay? Or drop us a line in private–that’s fine too.
Thank you, dear readers, for another wonderful year.
Christmas is over. You made it. Time to briefly pat yourself on the back, fawn over all of your presents, and then get back to work.
Sure, you could sit around until New Year’s Day to kick back into gear, but that carries the risk of you being too tired after a night of celebrating, or the risk that you’ll just want to soak in some last minute relaxation before returning to your day job. These crucial days don’t have to be unproductive, and your resolutions don’t need to be arbitrary goals that last (or don’t last) just one measly year.
Let’s start by reflecting on last year. What were some bad habits that need work? What were some positive habits that need to be reinforced? Look back and try and identify which writing practices, marketing strategies, and other routines in your life contributed to your success over the last year.
Once you’ve drawn from the past, it’s time to look toward the future! You don’t need a laundry list of resolutions that will only make you feel guilty for not living up to. Instead, pick a few essential ones and concentrate all of your effort on actually fulfilling those.
If increased productivity–be it on the marketing or writing front–is on your resolution radar for the year, it’s best to begin by honing in on your organizational skills first and foremost. Forming good habits will lead to good practices and routines, and this will lead to good work.
Buy a calendar or planner. If you’re looking for one that you will guide your marketing for the year, Outskirts has a specific marketing calendar that will draw your attention to some of the most important deadlines and most helpful marketing options & services in the industry.
Once you have your calendar or planner, start writing your goals down in it. Planning out your weeks and months in advance is great for two reasons. One being that it keeps you accountable, and two being that it helps prevent you from overbooking yourself and creating writing goals that may interfere with other things you may have going on in your work or personal life.
Always overestimate the time you’ll need to achieve the tasks you have laid out for yourself–this way, if/when you finish early, you have time for relaxing and extracurricular activities. (Having life experience helps with the writing process too you know!)
Routine is a great way to ease the burden of a giant workload. If you have only have 30 minutes on Fridays for marketing or writing, that’s still 30 minutes that you’ve cut out from your planned effort on Monday! Chipping away at your to-do list will make your work feel less overwhelming than trying to sit down and just get everything done at once.
When initiating these new routines and plans, remember, don’t be too hard on yourself. Making serious life changes is not always an easy thing, and sometimes life will get in the way. Make sure the expectations you’ve set for yourself are realistic and reward yourself when you reach milestones in your goals! Most importantly, enjoy your work and embrace the New Year.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠
Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years. What’s stayed the same? And what’s changed? We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.
[ Originally posted: December 24th, 2014 ]
I know it’s a bit early to be setting my New Year’s resolutions in stone, so I’ll consider this post something softer than stone, more easily reshaped, but still very much real and solid and tangible––perhaps something like the digital version of putty or artists’ plaster, which will slowly resolve itself into fact.
My real reason for getting started early is twofold: I want to give myself the time to really think through the list, and I want to give you the time to put some of my resolutions to your own good use as 2015 rolls in. And so, with no further ado:
I resolve to …
#1: Host a new kind of marketing event.
I must admit, I’m fairly predictable when it comes to planning marketing events––I know what I’m good at, and what I’m comfortable doing, and that pretty much boils down to short readings and Q&As at local libraries. In 2015, I resolve to try something new, or rather, to plan and attempt to execute at least one event that isn’t a reading or a Q&A session at a local library. You’ll note I used the hazy word attempt just now. I think it’s important to put together a plan and to make a few phone calls, but not to shackle myself to an impossible agenda. If, for example, my (very-beginning-stages) notion to put together a bi-weekly podcast proves an enormous drain on my time and energy, then I may need to reevaluate in a few months.
#2: Attend a new kind of marketing event.
If I’m predictable about the kinds of events I host, then I’m even more predictable when it comes to the events I attend. This last year, I’ve been a regular on the book-signing and book-reading circuits, but these are not the only events out there. I need to diversify what I do so that I can become both a more well-informed reader and a more effective marketer myself! In 2015, I resolve to attend at least one webinar, book festival, or other marketing event that is a little outside of my comfort zone. Even if I have to travel a couple of hours to make it, or rearrange my work schedule for a few days, I intend to make this resolution a priority.
#3: Learn some new code.
I know a little HTML, but I’ve been out of the coding game for a spell. It’s time to dive back in, particularly with an eye for coding––whether HTML, CSS, Java, or some other programming language––that can boost my digital footprint. In 2015, I resolve to read at least one book on the subject, or attend a class, or otherwise broaden my understanding of at least one of these codes.
#4: Try out a new digital device or software application.
There are any number of apps out there which I can download to my iPad or e-reader which can help me keep track of my ongoing efforts at self-promotion––and many which can actually help me improve. In 2015, I resolve to research, discover, and incorporate at least one new digital device, program, or app into my life, with a specific intention to boost my marketing efforts. This resolution may actually pose a good challenge, since I have little to no idea of where to start. There are so many possibilities! The real trouble is narrowing the options down to just … one.
#5: Launch a new round of SEO campaigns.
I’ve written extensively about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) before. Now it’s time for me to practice what I preach! In 2015, I resolve to put into effect a rigorous and updated SEO program to boost web traffic to my websites. I’ve dabbled in a great many of the strategies out there at one time or another, but with little accountability and thoroughness. This time around, I want to be more organized about my SEO efforts––and more regular. It’s not enough to apply some of the techniques some of the time––I need to apply most of the techniques on a regular basis, or else it’s all just wasted effort. Readers respect reliability!
#6: Establish ambitious goals and healthy boundaries for my social media presence.
Just as I’ve casually speed-dated most of the SEO stratagems out there without committing to any one plan, I’ve felt my way around all or almost all of the major social media platforms––Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Blogger, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and many others––without putting into effect any rigorous plan of action. I’ll post a picture to Instagram one day and forget about it for a few weeks, then write ten tweets in quick succession, only to let my twitter handle lapse for months on end. In 2015, I’ll put together a calendar, and a schedule, to better handle my social media accounts. I pledge to dismantle the accounts I don’t actively use or am failing to use effectively, and pour my time and energy into the outlets that do effective work for my self-promotion. I pledge, too, to make a habit of timing my posts, so that readers know when they can expect to see something new show up on one of my websites.
… and you’ll have to stick around until next Wednesday for the other six. In part because I’ve reached my word limit for the week, and in part because I want my final six resolutions to be even better than my first six!
Can it really be––almost––2015? It’s hard to believe, sometimes, that this entire industry has been born and made, and remade, and evolved into endless permutations––all within my lifetime. All within living memory. The printing press has been around since the 1300s, but since then the process of making and selling books has never seen such a rapid and total transformation as it has within the last twenty years, and perhaps even the last decade. Digital publication and distribution, e-readers, self-publishing, collaborative writing forums, viral marketing—we live in an exciting time that shows no signs of slowing down. I, for one, hope to match the broad spectrum of these changes with a few, specific, targeted evolutions of my own. I’m going to start small, here, in the new year. In 2015. I hope you’ll join me!
– by Kelly Schuknecht
Originally my goal was to revisit this blog post after just one year of labor–perhaps in early 2016–but life being what it is, and my memory too, I instead am coming to it now at the tail end of two years of work. And yes, since it was originally a two-parter, I will be revisiting it in two parts … but all that is just scaffolding. It’s not why you’re here.
You’re here to find out if I succeeded or not!
You might have noticed there were 12 New Year’s resolutions mentioned in the title of this blog post, and 12 in the original (split) post from 2014. Never fear–I’ll be getting to the remaining six next week! But before I get there, I wanted to drop you, dear readers, a quick line to ask: how did you do on your resolutions for 2016? How about 2015? And what do you hope to accomplish in 2017?
Thanks for reading. If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them. Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can. ♠