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Register for the free webinar at the Author Learning Center.

Register for the free webinar at the Author Learning Center.

Along with losing weight, start exercising and quit smoking, one of the more common New Year’s resolutions is publish a book.  However, for most first-time authors, that task may seem confusing or unachievable. It does not have to be.

On Tuesday, January 7th at 7:30 pm EST, I want to give you some tips on how you can fulfill your New Year’s publishing resolution and make 2014 the year you become a published author.  Through the Author Learning Center, I will offer a FREE webinar titled, “6 tips on how to get published in 2014″.   Along with presenting helpful hints to get you to your goal, there will be a time for you to ask questions.  While there is no charge for the webinar, registrations are limited, so don’t wait to sign up.  Click on the link below and I look forward to hearing from you next Tuesday.

Register for the free webinar.

TheIndieBookPublishingRevolution-1The Indie Revolution in publishing has been a wonderful development. It has removed the barriers that used to exist between authors and readers and made it possible for anyone who has a manuscript to have a book available in distribution. However, just because everyone can publish a book, doesn’t mean everyone should. By that statement, I am not saying aspiring authors should not take advantage of the publishing opportunities that make this the best time in history to be an author. Rather,  I mean some authors may not have a realistic assessment of what it takes to put a good book in the market and attract readers. So here are five signs you may not be ready to publish.

  1.  You believe you are a one-draft wonder:  Most authors write because they feel passionate about what they have to say, but that doesn’t mean a good editor can’t improve on what you say and how you say it. Too many self-published authors believe their first draft is just perfect and they rush to publish that.  Good editing will only improve the work and make what you have to say even more powerful.
  2. Your daughter is an artist: Great book covers take more than artistic talent and too often authors rely on an inexperienced cover designer to create the book cover. Not a good idea. That’s why on this blog I have made numerous posts about how to design a killer book cover. Just search by that term if you want some great tips.
  3. You have never checked to see if anyone else is using your book title: I am amazed how many authors will chose a book title without ever browsing the internet to see if someone else is already using the title. Try to find a title that  no one else is using.  Sounds obvious, but too many authors get locked in on an idea and don’t do the proper research to have their title stand out.Bookshelf
  4. You have not browsed a bookstore in months: Don’t publish in isolation. Visit the local bookstore and look for titles that jump off the shelf for you. Take note of what is unique about the design. Also pay attention to your genre to see if you can spot any trends you can take advantage of when you are designing your book.
  5. You believe a platform is something a carpenter builds: That is actually a line I heard from an author when I asked what he was doing to build his platform. Bottom line is you need to start marketing and connecting with potential readers even before your book is available and then continue to build momentum once your title is live.

Archway logoArchway Publishing, the self publishing service of Simon and Schuster which is operated by Author Solutions,  has offered some outstanding webinars in the past year to help authors understand what they need to do to make their books as good as they can be. One of the presenters was Abby Zidle, senior editor at Simon and Schuster who did a presentation titled Top Ten Mistakes Writers Make. The webinar is free and you can watch it by clicking here. As a sampler of what you can expect, Abby offers some helpful tips in this 90 second video titled Avoiding Mistakes First-time Writers Make. Definitely worth watching if you are in the proess of workig on a manuscript.

Archway logoWhether potential readers are shopping in a physical bookstore or browsing online, the first thing they will see is your book cover. So it is vital that you give the proper attention to designing a cover that stands out from the crowd, is appropriate for the genre, but also draws the reader in to learn more.

In this video for Archway Publishing , Jason Heuer, associate art director at Simon & Schuster, shares advice on how to create an effective and compelling book cover. Definitely worth the watch if you are in the process of packaging your book for the marketplace.

Recently, I was asked what I believed to be the next big trends or issues around self publishing.  As I thought about it and shared my ideas, I thought it might also make a good blog post. See if you agree with my thinking and share your ideas in the comment section.

Editing is finally being recognized as essential by self-published authors.

This  seems like a “duh” statement,  but early on many self-published authors didn’t understand how critical editing was and so many books were not that good. All that has changed and most authors now work hard to find the right editor for their work.

Subscription models are cropping up everywhere. Authors have to figure out how to play. 

It seems like every week, there is an announcement about someone offering a subscription model for e-books. (See Scribd) It really isn’t that surprising when you see what happened in music. Books are simply following in the same path as the previous indie revolutions. The difference between music and books is you can sell individual songs from an album.  Not sure anyone would pay for individual chapters so how will authors participate?

Local stores like Books&books in south Florida are welcoming self published authors.

Local stores like Books&books in south Florida are welcoming self published authors.

Local independent bookstores are finally embracing and welcoming authors because they can create store traffic.

It wasn’t that long ago that bookstores would turn away any author who self published, but now bookstores are recognizing that a local author with a good book can drive traffic to the store.  So instead of rejecting them, they are welcoming them. That is unless you publish with Createspace. Most stores won’t accept those books because they believe Amazon has greatly undermined the retail market.

Hollywood is looking at self-published books more than ever for source material. 

A few years ago, I could not get any one in Hollywood to talk to me, if they were on fire and I had a bucket of water. But now the whole entertainment industry is looking for new ideas to feed the multitude of cable and subscription channels. And self-published books are a great source of new material. That is why we created The Hollywood Pitch database and the Book-to-Screen Pitchfest.

99 cents used to be a way to differentiate, but now every one is doing it so authors have to find new ways to use price.

Low price is always a purchase incentive and early on, many authors used a 99 cent price to build readership. Now it is a strategy that many authors employ so what will the next creative pricing strategy be to stand out from the crowd?  Time will tell.

Completing a manuscript can be a lonely journey filled with self-doubt, but these two videos from the winners of two writing contests serve as an inspiration to all writers that persevering to complete the work is worth the effort.  Laurie Norlander entered the Women of Faith writing contest last year and is now a published author. Her book, Mirrored Images and her story is featured in this video.

Another first time author, Stacey Navarro, shares her story in this video.  As a stay-at-home mom,  she wanted to write a book that was something her daughters  would want to read. That motivation was enough to get her to finish her manuscript and enter the Crossbooks writing contest. Her description of what happened when she learned she won is worth watching the video. As with Laurie, her words will be an encouragement to any one working on a book.

WD WestThis past week I had the opportunity to participate in a panel at the Writers Digest West Conference, with the title, The New Frontiers of Self-Publishing.  The panel was moderated by Phil Sexton from Writer’s Digest and had a variety of knowledgeable panelists, including Amanda Barbara, from Pubslush,  Dan Dillon, from Lulu, and Ashleigh Gardner from Wattpad.

I really enjoyed this panel because I thought there was a great mix of people from different places in the self-publishing space.  Here was my take away about what people think we will see next in the self-publishing space.

  1. Crowd-funding–We have seen it in film and music. Should see the same trend for books. Pubslush is focused on this area right now.
  2. Data driving marketing–More and more authors are realizing there is data available to them that can help them target their marketing and endorsements or reviews. Lulu has a proprietary program called Helix which many authors are finding useful.
  3. Hollywood is watching now–As content demand for outlets like Netflix and DirecTV and the myriad of cable channels, producers and studios are looking at source material for a wide range of shows and movies. Self-published books are a place they are looking at very closely.  At Author Solutions, we are seeing more interest than ever before from entertainment companies who want to have access to the titles our authors publish.
  4. Search Engine Optimization–More authors are becoming adept at learning how to tag their blogs and use keywords in metadata so that when people are searching for a particular topic, their book or web site or blog shows up in the results.
  5. More Hybrid Authors–Not sure who first coined the phrase, but this describes the author who choses to self-publish one book, but maybe chooses a traditional contract for another book. Or the author may keep the digital rights, but give the print rights to a traditional publisher. The point is the line between self-published and traditionally published author will blur and people will choose the best option based on the project.
  6. Local Bookstores will really embrace local self-published authors–We are already seeing this trend. Local bookstores see local authors as a way to drive traffic to the stores. Most still won’t take books published by CreateSpace, but otherwise we are seeing more authors finding success right down the street.
  7. Serializing work–more authors are realizing they can build an audience by giving readers pieces of the story in parts. It isn’t a new idea in publishing, but self-published authors seem to be seeing this as an opportunity.

What do you think? Are you seeing these trends? Are there other things you think I missed? Use the comment section to share your throughts.

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