Self-Publishing News: 3.26.2018 – Publishing Trends Roundup

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And now for the news!

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!

Fancy that–this week, self-publishing made The Verge! This week’s article by Verge contributor Shannon Liao focuses in on self-publishing platform Smashwords, which recently announced plans to partner with indie audiobook maker Findaway Voices. The deal hinges, Liao writes, on making it possible for “Smashwords’ authors and publishers [to] find professional narrators more quickly and hear voice actor recommendations from an online casting support team. There will also be estimates of production costs and stated hourly rates for voice actors, ranging from $150 to $400 an hour.” That may sound like a lot, and it is, as the average audiobook lasts in excess of six hours, but it does indicate progress for authors who previously had no access at all.

This is not the first time that a self-publishing company has partnered up with an audiobook company, but it is the first time it has made mainstream news indices like The Verge. Here’s hoping there are many more fruitful partnerships ahead–and not just because this is an excellent service idea, but also because more competition will drive the price down for those authors who really can’t afford the service, just yet.

If you’re wondering why we’re forefronting Facebook this week, then here’s a quick summary of events: recently, the social media heavyweight was implicated in election profiteering (which is not illegal) as well as the dissemination of private user data for profit (which is illegal, or at the very least a grey area) and exploitation by a political entity, which is not quite the same thing. Many Facebook users are outraged, and others are concerned that this marks a transition in the social media industry from providing services in exchange for harmless, benign, and politically (mostly) neutral data exchanges (such as the hosting of annoying ads in the margins of your home page) to a social media industry which ruthlessly exploits its users the same way that everyone else seems to. Many people have decided to quit Facebook altogether as a result. Enter Bruce Shapiro of The Nation, who argues a different take on the subject: that Facebook, a de facto self-publishing platform, “for all its flaws, […] remains a vital tool for political activism.” Shapiro argues we ought to regulate Facebook, transforming it into something more like a public utility, so that these functions can remain available to us without (as much) risk of it being put to political and profiteering ends. This is a strongly-worded take on the subject, but it would seem that the time for strongly-worded takes has come. What happens next depends on us, and our elected representatives. Is Facebook really a self-publishing platform? Should that figure into the debate? We’d love to hear your thoughts, here or on Twitter at @SelfPubAdvisor.


As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.


How to Market Your Book on Facebook


Immediately after you’ve published your book, it’s time to get into marketing. Here’s what you need to understand in order to jumpstart your book marketing campaign on Facebook.

  1. You need a fan page – NOT a personal page.

Personal pages and fan pages function very differently. A fan page offers a one-way relationship between you and the fan; fans see your updates, but you don’t see theirs. A person only needs to click “like” to immediately become your fan. With a personal page, a potential fan has to send you a friend request, which is an intimidating barrier for people who don’t actually know you. Even more importantly, personal pages have a friend limit and only fan pages give you data on how fans are interacting with your posts.

  1. Any given Facebook post will only reach a small percent of your fans.

Fans are people who clicked “like” on your page, but they will not automatically see your updates.

Facebook has become so popular that it had to develop an algorithm to prioritize the flood of posts available for a person’s news feed each day. Say, for example, that one of your fans is a fan of 100 other pages and has 400 personal friends. All of those pages and friends represent hundreds of possible messages going to that person’s news feed. Only a few of those messages will be shown. Your new fan may actually never hear from you again, depending on whether or not you understand number 3…

  1. Likes, comments and shares mean almost everything on Facebook.

Facebook chooses what to show and in what order based on which friends and/or pages a person engaged with in the past. “Engaged with” means the person clicked, liked, shared or commented on a post.

If a fan doesn’t take one of those actions on your posts regularly, the algorithm will decide they aren’t really a fan, and that person will rarely, if ever, see your content again. You could have 10,000 fans but literally be talking to a near-empty room if Facebook is methodically removing your posts from their feeds due to lack of engagement. That means you should write every post in a way that facilitates likes, comments, or shares.

  1. Small tactics can make a big difference in driving “click engagement.”

Here are some tips for encouraging clicks:

  • Experiment with post timing. The average post is only shown in feeds for about 3 hours. If most of your fans are on Facebook in the evening but you always post in the morning, they’ll never see you.
  • Be concise. Studies have shown that posts between 100 and 250 characters (less than 3 lines of text) receive about 60% more likes, comments, and shares than posts greater than 250 characters.
  • Use different types of posts. Some fans click mostly on links, others engage mostly with questions, and some click mostly on photos. To maximize the number of fans who engage with you, use a variety of post types.
  1. Your cover photo is premium real estate to market your book.

You have 851 x 315 pixels worth of space to market your book. Use this space to show off an image of your book. You can also promote a tour or giveaway here.

  1. Connect Facebook with promotional apps.

Use Facebook to successfully host a book giveaway with apps like WooboxRafflecopter, or Shortstack on your Facebook page. Be sure to advertise it on your cover photo space. Or use a video app to create a book video to post on your Facebook Page (or purchase a book video trailer).  Show your readers the author behind the writing. People connect with those they can relate to and adding a video of your book will increase interest. Plus, Facebook’s autoplay video feature will entice users to pay attention.

  1. Link Facebook with a way to purchase your book.

Be sure to link to your online shop (whether that’s on your publisher’s site, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your own website). Dedicate a button on the dash below your cover photo for “Shop.”  This will be more successful if you regularly post positive book reviews on Facebook. Reviews are among the best ways to get more eyes on your book. Not only can you get in front of the reviewer, but the reviewer may also recommend your book to others. Don’t expect people to automatically review your book. Actively ask for reviews on your Facebook page.

  1. Use the “Promote” feature.

Under each of your Facebook posts, there is a button that says “Promote.” For a relatively small amount of money, you can get more of your fans to see specific posts. The cost depends on your particular fan base, but typically runs around $5 per thousand people you want to reach. You can also promote your post so friends of your fans will see it. Paid promotion is a great tool for getting important posts in front of as many people as possible. It’s also a great way to get back into the feeds of people you’ve lost due to lack of engagement in the past; if a person engages with a paid post, they’ll be more likely to see your future unpaid posts. Paid posts give you a chance to win fans back!

  1. Be consistent and generous.

The key to engagement is consistent posts that your fans consider valuable. Try to post daily. From time to time, post an image of your book and an offer they can’t refuse, such as free chapter of your new book. The most important thing is to grab people and bring them onto your page. Make sure you use the word “free” in your posts. You want to offer them something to reward for them visiting your page.

brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

In Your Corner: Nixing the Social Media

I know, I know, who cuts social media marketing in the modern era?

Well, consider the question. It is entirely possible in the age of social media saturation that many people are at or past a tipping point into social media exhaustion. After all, we’ve been exploiting the digital sphere in every possible way we can imagine ever since it was invented, practically speaking, and people are growing weary of quite a few “overdone” mainstream marketing moves, including holiday sales. Consider REI’s “opt outside” program, a push-back and against Black Friday insanity.

(Incidentally, this is nothing new. The Puritans banned Christmas/Yuletide carols back in 1600s, claiming that to sing them was a political act and an embrace of a “‘popish’ and wasteful tradition […] with no biblical justification” and we all know how far, literally, they were willing to go to enact their beliefs … so, you know, there’s nothing new under the sun.)

Back to book marketing. One of the very good reasons why some authors are pulling away from social media is that they’re over-extended. That is, they’re trying to do too much with too little (time, energy, money) and need to refocus on areas where they see good traction and meaningful engagement. Spending lots of time on maintaining a Twitter account with a following of 25 is a waste if one has truly tried all of the tips and tricks of the trade, particularly if one has, say, a robust following on Facebook.

Growing up, my father always told me time is money. He wasn’t wrong.

time is money

As author and blogger Delilah Dawson writes on WhimsyDark:

We are glutted with information, and yet our answer to “How do I get people to buy my book?” is social media marketing, which is basically throwing more information out into the void.

She’s got a point, too. More information isn’t always what’s needed; meaning and value are what’s needed, and most appreciated, by readers and book-buyers today. Just tweeting or blogging is not enough … each tweet and blog post must provide something the reader can’t get anywhere else, and which adds in some measurable or immeasurable way, to the book-buyer’s life.

Otherwise it’s just white noise. And as Nancy Peacock writes, there are a lot of small ways in which social media can eat away at our happiness and our productivity as authors:

Something was going on in my brain and I knew it. I knew I was in trouble because I could not focus on the book I was trying to write. There’s always self doubt with writing, but this was different. This was more than the question of whether or not I’d be up to the task. I couldn’t concentrate long enough to even enter the flow. My mind was fractured and splintered, my spirit in constant agitation. I felt like I was failing at everything.

I think we’ve all been there, and we may even be there more often than ever now that our computers have become hubs for all manner of distractions, including (as Peacock details later in her piece) social media in all of its forms.

Srinivas Rao, in an excellent piece for The Mission, writes that quitting social media can actually improve quite a few aspects of the author’s life in addition to providing more meaningful content. Says Rao, the benefits include “less anxiety and more happiness,” “presence,” “increased focus,” and “improved productivity.” I don’t know about you, but this month those benefits are sounding preeeetty fantastic.

So, this November, take a moment to consider the possibility of nixing social media. If your immediate knee-jerk reaction is “but I have such great followers!” and it feels like shutting down something vital and important to your creative recharge process, then maybe this isn’t a move you need to make. But if your response is more along the lines of “well, I don’t see much engagement there anyway” or “I probably won’t miss it” … then maybe it’s time to take a step back from marketing your book on social media, or at the very least refocus your efforts on platforms where you have a good toehold.

I know this isn’t a terribly popular sentiment, especially to the companies (like Twitter and Facebook) who monetize your access to social media and turn a profit off of the free content you’re posting on them, but not everyone needs to use every tool in the toolbox. It’s always, always about picking the right tool for the job. Let the other tools wait for authors who will find them better suited to their work, and focus on being “you” and the “best you” possible, in branding as well as other efforts. And as always, we’re here to help support you in your decision!

You are not alone. ♣︎


ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

In Your Corner: Use Facebook to Promote Your Book!


It’s not exactly breaking news anymore when we say “Facebook can help you sell books and create a platform!” to our readers here on the blog, since we’ve written about it before and maybe even a brace, a thicket, a luxuration of times—but it can never be said frequently enough, in my opinion.

Facebook can help you sell books and create a platform!

There, whew. We can all go home now.

Or can we?

There are hundreds upon thousands of resources out there specifying how and when to take advantage of Facebook, but the greater challenge is deciding which of those multitudes is actually useful for you, isn’t it? Being “findable” (there’s a five-dollar word for you!) doesn’t mean much if the platform isn’t providing you with something sustainable and enriching on your own terms.

Here are my top five recommendations for putting Facebook to work:

  1. Build a fanbase. Facebook is great as a bulletin board space, but its real power is in mobilizing large groups of people who all share a passionate interest in something, and you won’t mobilize anyone if you yourself aren’t on your page, engaging with readers, reviewers, and more generally, fans—on a regular and sustainable basis! Make it worth their while, too: upload “behind the scenes” videos and create events, use QR codes to direct traffic to your page and paper-bomb your town with it, guerrilla-style! Once you have a large fanbase, you’ll be able to do pretty much everything else that you want as well.
  2. Use your Facebook account to link with other websites. Whether it’s your email signature or those wonderful “log in using Facebook!” ancillary websites, which allow you to create and link your Facebook account in order to streamline the login process, interlinkage is a useful stratagem on many fronts. It gets your name and face out there, yes, but it also makes it extremely easy for fans to follow your movements around the internet—from Twitter to Instagram to Goodreads to Ko-Fi to Kickstarter and more! That way, even though you’re making use of all of these websites’ useful and peculiar features, you’re working with one central account.
  3. Go elsewhere. By this, I mean: use your Facebook account to interact with other authors, on their turf. Facebook is about community, and no community thrives when it’s one-sided, so don’t expect everyone to come to your page without first having something to offer on theirs! You can do a little market research while you’re at it, too, and steal ideas from authors whose pages reflect the kind of presence you yourself want to establish. You can share specific posts that you enjoyed on your own timeline, which also builds that community spirit.
  4. Keep it visual. You’ve probably heard the word “clickbait” floating around on the interwebs, but if you haven’t, the term refers to material which takes full advantage of social media users’ predilection for clicking on links which have immediate visual appeal—usually a catchy image or an equally catchy, brief, and possibly controversial headline. You don’t need to dip into the controversy side of things, but you too have a good reason to pay attention to this particular market trend, and to pay attention to the psychology behind it! Facebook users are equally as visual as those on Instagram and Pinterest, so don’t skimp on posting images to your account and your timeline. Photos bring in clicks and views more than anything else! It doesn’t just have to be images of your book, of course, although some of my favorite accounts carry out a kind of “book scavenger hunt” or “book road trip” activity, where the author takes pictures of their books in interesting locations—or ask readers to take pictures and then share those pictures to your timeline as well!
  5. Make a meal of Facebook Insights. This is the Facebook equivalent of Google Analytics, since even without a paid account, Facebook keeps detailed track of what users are looking at your page and when, how long they spend, what they interact with, and more! It’s profoundly useful, for example, to know when your “peak viewing” period is—when the highest percentage of people access your page every day—and post new material right then, for them to enjoy. It’s also useful to know, for example, that your readers really do prefer your images over your text posts—and by a factor of … well, it will vary from person to person! Once you know your fans’ habits, it may be time to explore paying for a Facebook ad … or you may not need one, depending on the circumstances!

However you choose to use Facebook, you’re not wrong. But there may be a few things you can tweak in order to do even better, as I am learning every day.

You are not alone. ♣︎


ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

An Indie Author’s Social Media Primer | Summary Edition

Well, it’s been quite a project, this social media primer of ours!  I hope it’s proven as useful to you, our readers, as it has been enjoyable for me to write!  I thought I’d take a couple of minutes to take a lingering glance in the rear-view mirror, and write a bit of a retrospective on what it means to carry out a social media marketing campaign–and how a primer fits in.

We’re here,” I wrote in that initial blog post, first and foremost, to talk about how to market your self-published book.”  And therein lies both the value and danger of social media as a marketing tool.  If you really are using social media effectively, as a natural and organic extension of your existing work and personality, then you’ll most definitely benefit, and your book sales will most definitely benefit as well.  If you approach social media as an all-purpose tool and the only tool you need in your toolbox–or if you present yourself falsely, inauthentically, or otherwise find yourself at odds with your fans–or if you bite off more than you can chew–or if you find yourself slipping into social media as just another time-waster–then you’re missing the point of being an author on social media.  These are the pitfalls, or at least a few of them, and they should not be taken lightly or underestimated.

social media

Here’s the trick to being a self-published author on social media:  You must always remember that you are, first and foremost, a writer.  And as we’ve said before here on Self Publishing Advisor, the absolute best decision you can ever make in marketing your book is to write another book.  If social media helps you spread the word, and helps you keep writing, then it has a place in your campaign.  If it distracts you, or distresses you, or eats into time you would otherwise spend writing, then you should revisit the expression “effective marketing.”  There is, however, a great deal of value to trying something new, especially when you hit a roadblock.  It is my hope that, by providing a primer guide to each of the major (and some of the minor) social media platforms, I may take some of the guesswork and fear out of launching yourself into the world of social media.  Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to bypass some of the misery and second-guessing and mistakes that I myself have made over the years–and find a new home, a new community, and an engaged readership in some unexplored corner of our digital universe.

The List:

  1. First Thoughts
  2. Twitter
  3. Tumblr
  4. Instagram
  5. Snapchat
  6. YouTube
  7. Pinterest
  8. Goodreads
  9. Etsy
  10. LinkedIn
  11. Flickr
  12. Facebook

Thank you for helping me build this Social Media Primer!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, 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,