Self-Publishing News: 3.26.2018 – Publishing Trends Roundup

Word MARCH. Vector decorative unusual object

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.


spa-news

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.

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Self-Publishing News: 2.26.2018 – Publishing Trends Roundup

February concept. stationery and notebook, business background

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!

Our first stop on this week’s tour through the week’s news when it comes to publishing trends is the UK, where The Bookseller‘s distinguished contributor, Gordon Wise, offers up a salient and timely defense of … well … the country’s success! Or rather, the successes of the Association of Authors’ Agents (or AAA, not to be confused with roadside assistance). This organization, which is now more than 100 member institutions strong, provides vital services to these members, not least its ability to raise the profile of publishing at large. Writes Wise, the AAA has become “a named body that the Intellectual Property Office has consulted on various publishing-related matters,” including matters as lofty as Brexit and the goings-on at 10 Downing Street, where the Prime Minister makes his home while in office. But this isn’t just a celebration of hard-won successes already in hand; it’s a rallying cry for industry professionals in a country riven and likely to continue being riven by deep political and cultural conflicts–many of which have the potential to impact all creative industries. A worthy read!

Next we move to Australia, where the BooksAndPublishing.com.au website has recently posted a report on the findings of a Macquarie University study into innovation within the Australian publishing industry. The full article is restricted to subscribers, which many of you may already be. If not, you’ll have to be content with the highly suggestive hints delivered in the first paragraph, or you can sift through the research summary published on the Macquarie University website (go to: https://www.mq.edu.au/newsroom/2018/02/08/australian-book-publishers-lift-their-game-to-be-more-competitive-but-some-are-faring-better-than-others-new-study/ for more)! The general consensus seems to be: yes, everything’s not perfectly peachy, but Australian authors and publishers are finding a way, and one of the contributing factors to their adaptability is the rise of self-publishing!

Last but not least, we go to Gillian Tett of the Financial Times, who recently published an article digging into that very same rise of self-publishing, only from the perspective of a mother to young writers–writers who are taking full advantage of the many self-publishing options open to them, including Wattpad and others. This article, which reads more like a journey of self-discovery than it does an exposé or a crunching of the numbers, provides a valuable insight not often to be found in reflections on self-publishing: what it’s like to come at the industry from the outside, and from a place of personal connection to very young writers, writers who are completely untethered from traditional publishing’s stifling expectations and even the first wave of self-publishing companies’ insistence on following the form as closely as possible. A fascinating aspect of this transition to the brave new world of second- or third- or fourth-wave self-publishing is that it’s firmly rooted in the social–not just social media, but the social motivation, a desire to write for others and place one’s work within the larger ongoing conversations of one’s peers. It’s an insightful look, and well worth reading the full article!


spa-news

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.

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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. ♣︎


Elizabeth

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: Making Your Presence Felt

It would be hard to get to 2016 and not feel convicted of the importance of social media in selling books–and, just as importantly, in selling readers on you, the author. The power and influence of social media is uncontested–after all, it has helped feed and foment revolutions in the Middle East, toppling dictators and spinning the mythological webs that create internet celebrities. They have also, demonstrably, created the framework by which self-published authors become self-sufficient and successful. Authors like Lisa Genova (Still Alice) and Hugh Howey (Wool) often credit their devoted social media fanbase for moving their books out of obscurity and into the blockbuster realm.

With that kind of a recommendation on the table, it almost seems a waste to not partake in the wave of social media platforms developing today, right? But wanting to start developing your social media strategy and actually building it from the ground up are two separate propositions. And ultimately, it’s hard to know where to start.

Luckily, there’s not so much one way to get it wrong, but rather so many ways to get it right. This is because there are so many platforms out there, including:

And so many more! Because social media is a moving target–for example, the short-video-hosting platform Vine, owned by Twitter, was shut down recently for its inability to turn a profit for company shareholders–there’s no predicting which platforms will be on the ascent in a given year and which will be on its way out, like the age-old example of Myspace, a platform which more or less lost all of its users once Facebook became peoples’ primary conduit of digital social contact.

This changing landscape isn’t a bad thing, in the end. It’s a strength! It means that yes, you need to be willing to continually adapt to new platforms and to pick up new skills, but it also means that if you’re not all that good at one, you can always capture your readers by making a comprehensive social media presence, rounded out with a variety of different smaller presences that weave together into something greater than the sum of their parts.

I guess what I’m saying is: Try everything. Try everything, and don’t hold on too tightly to any one of those things. Experimentation is the mother of invention, as is necessity, and these two forces will keep your social media presence in a constant state of evolution, well-suited to the M.O. of the Internet itself. Maybe soon we’ll have options to network not just with our friends and our refrigerators, but with our books as active participants themselves. Can you imagine what that might look like? I’d bet you five dollars that someone out there is already figuring out how to make it happen. And that’s the wonderful thing about change: it’s wild and wonderful and asks very little of us except the will to keep up!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

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.

From the Archives: “Using Listmania to Promote your Self-Published Book”

Welcome back to our new 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.

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[ Originally posted: August 22nd, 2008 ]

If your self published book is available on Amazon.com, there are a lot of ways to promote it.  Since Amazon sales should account for a large percentage of your overall book sales, this site is a good place to concentrate a lot of your efforts.

I’m going to tell you about creating a “listmania” list on Amazon. Have you ever noticed when you browse for something on Amazon, there are lists that are related to that subject that are mentioning other books and/or products?

By strategically listing products on your lists, (including YOURS of course), you can start to generate more traffic to your book listing.

Here’s how YOU can create just such a list:

Sign up for an Amazon Author Connect account if you don’t have one yet. Or sign-in to your current account.

Click on your personal “store” on the top tabs. Then select “Your Profile” from the sub-menu.

You will see lots of things you can personalize, including your bio and your online photograph.

But scroll down and you will see a section called “Listmania!” And this is where you create a listmania list.

Creating a Listmania List is a good way to increase exposure for your book.

Obviously, you want to ensure that your book is on your list.

But the real trick to a successful Listmania list depends upon the OTHER books you put on your list, the ones written by other people.

There are two ways to go about it.

1 – Adding books to your list that are applicable to your subject. The idea behind this concept is easy — if someone reads your list because they were browsing a similar book, they’ll be more apt to buy YOUR book because they’re interested in the subject.

2 – On the other hand, you can add very popular books to your list, since more people may have a chance of seeing it, even if fewer of them will be interested in your book.

I recommend creating multiple lists and trying different tactics to see which is more successful. Amazon lets you track the number of times your list was viewed. Use these numbers to create better lists in the future.

If you have more specific questions about creating a listmania list, the Amazon FAQ will help you.

Amazon Listmania

So here’s the thing: Listmania doesn’t really exist anymore!  Back in 2013, Amazon ceased offering support and guidance on using the Listmania interface, and it was entirely dismantled and rendered unusable over the months following.  (Adrienne Dupree over at Leave The Corporate World Behind even wrote a lovely little lament to mark its final passing.)  And this fact means that, on the one hand, we have to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to our original post … but on the other hand, this presents the perfect opportunity to present you with new and fresh ways of utilizing Amazon for your self-promoting and self-marketing ends (as a self-publishing author).

First, we need to break down exactly what Listmania offered the average author.  Essentially, this featured compiled lists–and this makes sense, given its name–but it was not to be confused with Amazon’s wish lists, gift lists, and registries, or even Goodreads’ Listopia lists (which still exist).  These lists were designed to focus a reader’s attention on products that were similar or in some way related to products that a customer had already been viewing. By strategically listing popular products on your lists, including your own book, you were–in theory–able to generate more traffic to your book listing when people viewed your Listmania lists.  This brings us full circle to that one key word I’ve been lobbing around a lot lately: findability.  An Amazon Listmania list was supposed to render you and your book more findable, but to many people it remained just another one of the giant retailer’s many algorithmic mysteries.

And yet … findability remains important.  There simply are better ways of going about it!

Here are my top 3 recommendations for filling that gaping hole in your heart once occupied by Amazon Listmania:

  1. Start a Pinterest page.  Not just any Pinterest page, mind.  (And I’ve written about Pinterest recently in depth, so I won’t make like a broken record and repeat myself too much here.)  Whip up a Pinterest page (or “pin” to a “board”) where you collect together other books along with other somehow related objects that your ideal reader might want to purchase.  For example, someone who reads Hugh Howey’s Wool might want to pick up some tickets to tour the Titan Missile Museum outside of Tucson, or perhaps some Wool-inspired art prints.
  2. Create a public Amazon Wishlist.  This is easy to do, and it serves much the same function as a Listmania list–only, you’ll have to do a touch more legwork to advertise the list’s existence, since these wishlists aren’t necessarily designed to be searchable.  For more information, hop on over to the Amazon how-to page for wishlists, and peruse at your leisure.  Each wishlist is shareable across any platform you might wish, and you can snag a web link to copy and paste into emails or Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, or any other kind of social media feed you can imagine.
  3. Take a stab at an entirely new social media platform.  The reason why Listmania disappeared is that nobody was using it, or at least, too few people were using it to make it worth Amazon’s efficiently allocated time to advertise and maintain.  It had a function, but it wasn’t one that really connected with Amazon’s user base.  To make yourself findable these days, you must needs throw yourself into the post-millennial age, and go where your readers are.  I’m not necessarily an advocate of just trying anything–you should always do a little cross-demographic market research to see if your readers actually are the sort who use Snapchat or Instagram or Tumblr or Twitter–but as a good friend told me last week, “Just doing what you’ve always done and expecting things to improve is a special kind of lunacy. Sometimes you have to innovate.”  So–innovate, with calm but cautious optimism. ♠
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.

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 selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  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 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.

An Indie Author’s Social Media Primer | Facebook

It should come as no surprise that we’re going to take a quick look at Facebook as we work our way down the list of social media platforms the digitally-savvy indie or self-published author should consider using when launching a comprehensive self-promotion campaign.  And it probably is similarly unsurprising that we’ve looked at Facebook beforeseveral timesso many times–and that we’re just one blog among many to have done so.

Facebook

There are, in fact, so many resources out there about how indie authors can make use of Facebook, that the greater challenge is not in finding information–in contrast to, say, my posts about Etsy and Snapchat and so on–but in discerning which information is actually useful!  To that end, I’ve compiled and curated some of the better (and more well-maintained, that is, up-to-date) resources below for your easy review, as opposed to listing our own “best practices.”  My hope is that you’ll find all the appropriate details you might need at your disposal in order to navigate the intricacies of the complex proposition that is Facebook.

Debunking the Great Facebook Myth: “It’s just one giant moving target–there’s no point to trying to master anything about Facebook, because it’s just going to change again in a few months!”

While Facebook’s developers are constantly tweaking the algorithms and codes and format of things (it’s true, we must admit), the website itself remains fairly stable in a number of ways.  First of all, the fact remains true that Facebook is where the people are–the people, the relationships, the possible connections, and the real market for your books.  Consider this infographic, courtesy of Rebekah Radice:

Social-Media-Active-Users

The people are staying put, and sticking by Facebook, despite the not-uncommon doomsday forecasts to the contrary.  But that’s not the only aspect of Facebook that is stable: the features may alter a bit in form and function, but the concept of what you’re using those features for remains the same.  I’ve written a great deal throughout this series of primers about social media marketing targeting certain specific pillars of the online experience: findability, adaptability, usability, and authenticity.  If any of these four aspects is missing from an author’s social media presence, they’re bound to suffer.  If, however, you are conscientious in maximizing your Facebook presence, as these resources should help you to do, then you’re practically guaranteed to grow your reading audience.

Top 5 Best Resources:

1. “The Power of Facebook for Authors” by David Henry Sterry over at The Author Online.

2. “30 Ways to Build Your Fanbase with Facebook” by the folks over at Duolit.

3. “My Experiments with Facebook Ads” by Rami Ungar over at Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors.

4. “Facebook Ads: Should Indie Authors Buy Them?” by Joel Friedlander over at The Book Designer.

5. “7 Essential Elements for an Author’s Facebook Page” by Antonella Iannarino over at the David Black Agency’s official blog.

And a bonus additional resource:

The tag archive for “Facebook” over at ALLi‘s “How-to For Authors” blog.

Please keep us posted of your own successes as you experiment with new platforms.  You’re our most inspiring innovators, and the internet is your laboratory.  We can’t wait to see what you do!  And make sure to check back next week, as I wrap up this social media primer with the all-important summary edition!

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 social media know-how. ♠

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.