Decluttering … Digitally!

In the age of computers, our desks are not the only things that can get cluttered, but also our desktops, websites, social media platforms and web browsers. If you’re as OCD as I am, this type of clutter will be as, if not moreso, bothersome as the more tangible clutter we find lying around our homes.

So this week I’d like to take a look at the ways in which we can declutter digitally, something that is especially relevant for 21st century authors who utilize the ever pervasive technology of computers.

decluttering digitally

 

  • Streamline your author website

 

First off, if your domain name is anything beyond a combination of your first and last name, or some super vague play off of your favorite sports team, consider changing it, and if [yourauthorname].com isn’t available, try .org, .net or some other version of that.

If you use some free website hosting platform such as WordPress, make sure you choose a theme that is aesthetically appealing, and if you’ve had the same one for a while, consider changing it up.

Make sure that you have clearly branded yourself on your homepage with the type of writing you do and be sure to use relevant tags on all of your posts. If you have an outdated bio and/or photo, consider cleaning those up and making them fresh.

Don’t just have a cluttered list of all of your  books for readers to try and sift through. Create a page for each that they can easily purchase from. Be careful to not have too many pages though, as more isn’t always merrier. Also be sure that they’re labeled clearly–don’t try to get too creative and distract your readers from the content of your page.

  • Streamline your social media presence

Speaking of less sometimes being more, let’s talk social media. Now we all know we hate those folks that clog our newsfeed with 1,000 posts a day–from pictures of babies to overly political rants/links to news articles to inspirational quotes plastered over scenic backdrops of places you’ve never been. Those people tend to get “unfollowed” by me, meaning I could miss a lot of things they are posting that actually interest me.

First off, I highly recommend having a separate author page, so if you do post things like I mentioned above, they are not getting sent to your audience who probably does not care to see them. With your separate author page, be sure to only put out content that helps to promote your brand and the image you want your readers to have of you. If your post doesn’t meet that criteria, scrap it or delete it from the Timeline. You want readers to go to your page and scroll down and get a feel for you as an author right away.

  • Organize your documents!

This one may seem straightforward, but I know how easy it is to just save things with random titles in that all-embracing folder of “Documents.” However, when you go to look for that chapter outline you made four months ago before you even started your book and you named it something obscure that you can no longer remember…you’re going to waste precious time trying to hunt it down.

Folders are your friend. Create a folder for your manuscript and subfolders for planning, characters, chapters, etc. Each time you save something, plop it in the according folder and back it all up on Google Drive, or some other free online storage host, lest you fall prey to the almighty computer crash.

***

Hopefully these few tips will help you declutter your digitized reality, which has become almost more real than reality itself.


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 selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Why the Digital Census Matters : A Retrospective

Here on Self Publishing Advisor, we strive not just to keep up with the current trends, but to try and keep a little ahead of the curve–which is why I spent the last five weeks unpacking the results of The Bookseller’s 2015 Digital Census (as described in the FutureBook).  For those of you who are perhaps checking in for the first time, The FutureBook collates information from those involved in the digital publishing industry (whether through traditional or “indie” means) and summarizes the top five current market trends.

[ I’ve broke down each trend, and you can find posts dedicated to each point linked at the far bottom of today’s article. ]

Reviewing the 2015 FutureBook and Digital Census findings has been a wonderful and enlightening experience for me–and hopefully it wasn’t entirely useless to you, as well!–but it’s not the whole picture.  It reflects our attitudes, hopes, and concerns at a specific, limited moment in time.  And ultimately, the FutureBook’s timeliness lends the material contained therein both its value and its constraints:

We need the Digital Census because without it, we wouldn’t know where our experiences as indie and self-publishing authors fit within a larger story–and we need the Digital Census to keep happening because there’s nothing static about the book industry.  As the FutureBook’s editors have said, the survey from which the Census information is collated was designed to “reflect how the sector is continuing to change [….] It asks [authors] what about what their perspective on the book business is, and how we can help them take their innovations to the next stage.”  Change is change, and digital publishing as well as self-publishing must continually reinvent itself to remain a force to be reckoned with.

Those constraints I mentioned? The Digital Census only touches upon those publishing matters which pertain to works that make an appearance in pixels.  It’s not a complete picture of the publishing experience, whether we’re talking about traditionally-published or independently published authors.  So while the Digital Census is an important piece of the puzzle, it’s not the be-all and end-all of information gathering for us here at Self Publishing Advisor.  Like clockwork, industry titans like Publisher’s Weekly and HuffPost Books release predictions for the upcoming year.  Bowker just released a report in November on the top concerns in the self-publishing market, while Author Earnings publishes its reports every few months.  It is my goal in 2016 to keep you “in the know” on all of these reports–because we all know one thing to be true:

knowledge

You don’t have to be evil to recognize the power knowledge can bring–because power isn’t necessarily about the subjugation of others.  Power, in the world of self-publishing, is the ability to take hold of your own narrative and shape it however you please.  Just as empathy and cooperation will trump behavior in line with a “survival of the fittest” mentality (every time, according to behavioral scientists and psychologists), indie authors know that power is something we all benefit from cooperatively and collectively.  This is why, think, the self-publishing industry is such a rich and complex network of community forums, relationships, and partnerships.

All of this is a little beside the point, perhaps, but it’s worth noting that what we do with the information we collect is equally as important as the fact that we collect it.  Many of the reports and information sources, like Author Earnings and the FutureBook itself, are born from a desire to help the indie community!  And that’s the kind of generous impulse I can thoroughly stand behind, especially as we navigate the holiday season.

 


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 selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Demystifying the Digital Census, Point by Point:

One: Mobile overtakes tablets and dedicated e-readers as the device of choice

Two: Digital sales are still growing, but they are also slowing

Three: Self-love levels recede as many indie authors report lower satisfaction levels

Four: Publishing remains very much divided on matters digital

Five: … And the majority believe publishers remain unprepared for what’s coming.

Demystifying the Digital Census : Are Publishers Unprepared?

For the last month, I’ve been unpacking The Bookseller’s Digital Census material (as made available in the FutureBook publication).  The FutureBook‘s editors, Porter Anderson and Philip Jones, distill down the collated information into the top five current market trends for authors, publishers, and others invested in the digital publishing industry.  You can see my thoughts on the first four points by following the links below:

One: Mobile overtakes tablets and dedicated e-readers as the device of choice

Two: Digital sales are still growing, but they are also slowing

Three: Self-love levels recede as many indie authors report lower satisfaction levels

Four: Publishing remains very much divided on matters digital

 

This week, I’m going to take a look at the 2015 Digital Census’ fifth and final trend as laid out in the FutureBook.  According to Anderson and Jones, the last (but certainly not least) point raised by the data is one that ought to prompt serious thought among publishing professionals:

futurebook

The future is a tricky beast to anticipate with any degree of precision, but it may prove more than useful–it may in fact prove necessary–to think about what’s coming before it arrives.  I’m speaking specifically about the future of indie, hybrid, and self-publishing–and it looks like I’m not alone, given that the data collected in the Digital Census comes from end-user perspectives rather than data sets from industry retrospectives.  (And Amazon is notoriously coy about releasing its internally-gathered data, so … draw from that what you will, I suppose.)

touch screen future

 

I’m not particularly depressed over the general feeling that the industry isn’t foresighted or flexible enough to adapt to future change … because I know that indie authors themselves are.  Clearly they are, or else they wouldn’t be eyeing the industry so critically!  And indie authors must apply their future-thinking in order to stay ahead of the curve and remain the avant-garde, changing what needs to be changed about the publishing industry from the outside (or, in the case of hybrid authors, partially so).

I’m also hopeful because, as the FutureBook indicates, indie authors and other book-lovers espouse the increasingly optimistic outlook that people are actually reading more than ever before.  They might not be reading the say way or the same kind of book as they used to, but they are reading, and many of them are becoming writers themselves–again, in new ways and by finding new avenues for narrative-building and storytelling.  This is an exciting time we live in and I, for one, can’t wait to check back in with you after the 2016 FutureBook is released and we see what else the world of digital publishing has to offer.

 


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 selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Demystifying the Digital Census : Digital Sales Growing, But Slowing

Last week, I began a series in which I’m applying a microscope to the results of FutureBook‘s Digital Census of 2015 and breaking down to its component parts just what the fallout will be for you and me as indie and self-published authors.  FutureBook, an annual project of industry titan The Bookseller, has been hitting the books for five years now and has become the standard-bearer for those elements of the publishing (and specifically, digital publishing) revolution that range from mainstream (like Amazon) to cutting-edge, innovative, or brand new (like Goop and Medium!).

ebooks

The fifth annual FutureBook conference was held, in part, to evaluate and respond to the Digital Census of 2015, in which record numbers of readers and writers and bloggers and publishers (of traditional or indie ilk alike) and other industry experts reflected upon the ways that has changed or the ways in which they foresee the industry changing, all while indexing their hopes and concerns for where the Book as an object and industry and personal revelation is headed.  The data was condensed down to five talking points which in turn guided and shaped the course of the rest of the conference, and which indicate our ever-evolving relationship to publishing.  These points are:

  1. Mobile overtakes tablets and dedicated e-readers as the device of choice […]
  2. Digital sales are still growing, but they are also slowing […]
  3. Self-love levels recede as many indie authors report lower satisfaction levels […]
  4. Publishing remains very much divided on matters digital […]
  5. … And the majority believe publishers remain unprepared for what is coming [….]

Today I’m going to examine the second of these points, having addressed #1 (the rise of mobile) in last week’s post.  Here’s what the final FutureBook publication says about digital sales, which continue to demonstrate significant growth––although perhaps also showing signs of plateauing :

digital sales

The data meshes nicely with a series I just finished two weeks ago (“The Current State of E-Readers | An Author’s Guide“), in which I lay out the reasons why slowed growth in both ebook and e-reader sales is both a cause for concern (less overhead profit coming in) and for optimism (a diversified, stabilizing market with more competition and more options for authors).  Much of the research I gathered there applies here, so I don’t want to sound like a broken record and repeat myself––but I do want to emphasize the last line in the FutureBook article:

“Publishers have found that digital technology makes producing and delivering audio much more straightforward, but many are concluding that apps are not worth the candle.”

I think this is an important sentence because nowhere else in the article do audiobooks earn a lot of love, and even in the data mentioned above, the statistics for digital audiobooks is combined with that for digital e-books (that is, the text-based variety that doesn’t involve voice actors and snappy narration). And if there’s one segment of the digital publishing industry that’s neglected here and deserves a second look, it’s the digital audiobook!  Readers love them, and so therefore authors are beginning to pay attention.

We all have probably heard about Amazon’s merger with Audible and their ACX offerings for digital audiobooks by now, but what we don’t know (necessarily) is that there’s a whole niche market out there for authors looking to self-published audio books outside of the ACX/Audible/Amazon umbrella.  This Publisher’s Weekly article, for example, takes a look not just at ACX but at smaller companies without big corporate backing, like Open Book Audio and Spoken Word––and other media are starting to take note, including MediaShift and Author Marketing Institute.

As with all aspects of self-publishing, producing an audiobook (either with or without ACX/Audible/Amazon involvement) is a time- and energy-intensive process that deserves both careful and cautious consideration before you decide to commit … or not to commit.  But if there’s anything I’ve learned from my years in the publishing industry, it’s that readers are inherently voracious and will devour good words wherever they find them and in as many formats as they can discover them … and that there’s no such thing as “standing still” when it comes to the evolution of book distribution technology.  We have, as authors, a responsibility to remain at the forefront of the digital evolution––not hanging back and attempting to deny the inevitable progress from one mode of consumption to another, but leading the way and cutting new paths for those who follow.  Only if we innovate can we stay relevant and useful to our readers.  And I fully believe it when I say your book deserves to be heard.*

 

* and yes, I know that’s a terrible pun!

 


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 selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Amanda Hocking’s Road to Success with Indie Publishing

Today’s post is by book marketing industry expert, Kelly Schuknecht.

Amanda Hocking has become an indie and digital publishing super star.  The author of 17 books, she began self-publishing them as e-books in April 2010, and what a year it has been!  She has earned over a million dollars in royalties and landed a traditional publishing contract for her next series.

How did she do it?  Amanda writes young adult paranormal romance, and prices her books with a marketing strategy in mind.  She published the first book in each series with a price of just $.99 to encourage sales.  Once readers were hooked, the price of her second book in the series was just $2.99.  She would set the price of the final book in the series at about $8.99.  When readers would purchase all of the books in the series, Amanda would make “a pretty decent profit.”

Hear about Amanda’s road to success in her own words in this Associated Press video:

 

DISCUSSION: How do you use marketing strategy when you set your pricing?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT:
Kelly Schuknecht works as the Director of Author Support for Outskirts Press.  In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.