Elmore Leonard, one of our most respected mystery writers, offers some helpful information on the story writing process. This is another of the video interviews available on the Author Learning Center to help writers learn about writing, publishing and marketing books. I think you will find his insights inspiring and instructive. The key thing I think every successful writer eventually figures out is he or she needs to have a process to get from idea to finished manuscript.
Recently, I presented a webinar for Writers Digest with the same title as this series of blog posts. More than 2,000 people registered, which made it the most popular webinar in the history of Writers Digest. That tells me there is immense interest in this topic as the publishing landscape changes at ever increasing speed. So if you did not have a chance to hear the webinar, here’s the fifth secret I have learned from successful self published authors. They know how to use the power of social media to build a platform. More specifically, they have learned how to use the internet to connect them to readers and potential readers and get others to promote their books using their social media.
Seems like a simple statement, but the challenge is how do you find the time to keep up on social media given the number of options out there today. The key is you need to pick one one social media platform to be your hub. For most authors that means a blog or Facebook fan page. Then use technology like Feedburner to push out your content to other outlets such as LinkedIn or Twitter. However, no matter which platform you pick to be your hub, you need to have a plan or editiorial calendar. In other words, you need to have a schedule and set of topics you want to write about or promote. If you leave your posts to chance, then you will likely be infrequent in what you post and that is not good. Consistency is a key to building a following. If you have a blog, make sure your content is not just about your book, but about the topic you are interested in. You need to think about your book as just one of your platforms.
If you have a Facebook fan page, pay attention to what people comment on and what they like. It gives you an indication of what people are most interested in. Personally, I think a blog is the most effective way to build a following, but you may be afraid you don’t have time to write the blog your self or you won’t have anything to say after one or two posts. Not to worry. You can use other means to create content for your blog.
- Look for other posts on other news sources or blogs and repost those. (Of course, you want to give them appropriate credit.)
- Ask people who are also interested in the topic to do guest posts. They will then promote it out to there followers.
- Do interviews with people who can offer valued opinions or lessons on the topic of your blog
Clearly, this is a big topic that warrants more than just 500 words, but the key thing I want to make sure you take away is you have to be involved in social media if you want to build a platform today. So pick something to be a hub and get started. You will be glad you did.
Author C.M Rubin, who also blogs on the Huffington Post, recently posted an interview she did with Kevin Weiss, President and CEO of Author Solutions. Yes, they are my employer, but I think his comments are helpful and insightful as authors try to navigate the changing landscape of publishing. You can read the full post on the Huffington Post, but here are some excerpts I think you will enjoy.
Write, edit, design, publish, market, sell your own book and book rights with highly experienced publishing staff assisting you? The self-publishing opportunity has changed significantly.
Book formats and channels of distribution will continue to evolve, but one thing remains constant in book publishing – it’s a hit or miss business. Even the most experienced editors and publishers agree you often can’t predict where the next hit is going to come from. The high risk of book publishing – the advances, promotion and printing in a market where brick and mortar chains are disappearing and thousands of new products are released every month — explains why fewer new authors and even established authors are simply not getting book deals anymore. But everyone has a story to tell and everyone should have the chance to have his voice heard.
Kevin Weiss, CEO of Author Solutions, is one of the major game changers helping to spur the fastest growing segment in the publishing industry today — the self-published author. I had the pleasure to talk with him about the new technologies and services that are helping more authors achieve their personal publishing goals, as well as helping traditional publishers and passionate readers discover new talent.
How large is the self-publishing business in the US market today? Can you break it into print books and ebooks?
I’ll give you a few numbers, and then I’ll discuss them in more detail. Last year, there were approximately 225,000 ISBNs created for traditionally published books. In addition, there were approximately 2 million ISBNs created for non-traditionally published books (including ebooks) that found their way into the distribution channels. Many of those ISBNs were issued to authors who were bringing books back into print. Because of that, we can’t say for sure what the actual new self-published book numbers were, but it is safe to say that number has likely increased significantly over the past few years. Also, the current industry tracking doesn’t enable you to identify the split between new print and ebooks. However, I estimate the self-published book market is probably around 150,000 titles in total per year. Of those titles, Author Solutions will publish about 30,000 titles this year, and all of our titles will be published as paper and electronic books for all platforms. The other main players are Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes &Noble, and Lulu.
What’s your forecast for ebooks over the next few years?
Ebooks will eclipse print books. Our authors’ revenue from ebooks is up tenfold from last year. I would expect that to go up another fourfold during the next twelve months. I would not be shocked if in the next couple of years we will see ebooks at 40% of the entire market. Look at all of the ereaders and tablets that we are seeing in the market today, plus the fact that the prices are starting to drop on ebooks. In addition, this Christmas, there are going to be millions more devices given as gifts. What’s the first thing you do when you have one? You buy a couple of books.
Any special message to authors for the holidays?
There has never been a better time to be an author. You have more opportunity and choice than ever before. If you have been considering writing a book – do it! As Lisa Genova, author of Still Alice, who published with us because she could not get a traditional publisher to pick her up, said, “It just doesn’t do any good to leave that manuscript in the bottom drawer.” Thank goodness she didn’t because nine months after publishing with us she was picked up by Simon & Schuster and debuted at number 5 on the NY Times Bestseller list.
Finally, a message to all of the readers out there, support Indie authors. Encourage them through your purchases and comments. You will find some incredible reads out there.