Bowker’s 2013 annual review noted that 25% of spending in the romance category is for ebooks. Compare that to 6% dedicated to ebooks in cooking and 5% for one publisher’s illustrated books, and you’ll see that self-published authors who write romance are taking advantage of the latest technologies.
Check the Smashwords bestseller list any week and you’ll see that romance dominates their listings. Frequently 8 out of the top 10 books are romance: paranormal romance, historical romance, and a slew of other subcategories…but all under the same genre umbrella.
Romance has long been a high-sales category. Readers are voracious, often zipping through 3 or more titles every week. They want what authors can provide: a faster publication schedule than big publishers have traditionally provided, more unique plotlines and character developments than publishers have been willing to experiment with, and a more direct connection with authors through social media.
These three reader benefits have allowed self-published authors in other categories to achieve success. Take a tip from your romance-author friends. Write the books you want to write then get them out there. Connect with fans and listen to what they’re saying. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat!
The numbers for 2014 aren’t all in yet but things are looking good for the publishing industry’s ongoing recovery. For the first time since 2008, when the economic meltdown impacted book publishing and book sales, the number of print books sold is set to rise.
Last year, print sales rose 9.1% during the holiday compared to the previous year’s increase during that time. The expectation is that 2014’s holiday season will boost the numbers even further.
As we’ve seen so often in other statistics, juvenile and young adult fiction rose significantly during 2013’s holiday season, a whopping 27.3% for that year. Adult fiction rose 6.1% that season, while adult nonfiction continued around the same numbers as posted in 2012.
To give you an idea of what these percentages mean, adult nonfiction unit sales totals were 36,983,000 during the holiday season in 2013. That year, adult fiction sales totaled 18,522,000, juvenile nonfiction came in at 8,641,000, and juvenile fiction sold 31,935,000.
Even if you’re self-published, these numbers matter. They indicate that people are once again spending on books of all types. Jump into a new marketing campaign now to reap the best results.
Bookcase Literary, established in July 2013 in Brazil, helps self-published romance authors sell foreign rights. Meire Dias and Flavia Viotti launched the innovative approach because they saw that self-publishing is mostly centered inside the United States. They knew authors didn’t have access to international publishers and yet readers worldwide want to read American authors.
In less than a year, they have sold 28 titles. They have also become co-agents with Rebecca Friedman, opening the path to new deals and possibly an expansion of their focus to other genres in the years to come.
Whenever I help clients self-publish, one of the important considerations is how they’re going to reach readers. Too often clients tell me they have already bought marketing services from the company that will produce their book…only to discover that what they’re really bought is PR.
PR is public relations. It’s defined as the management of the spread of information. PR services usually include press releases, feature articles, and author interviews. It sounds like the right step: authors want readers to know about their books, and PR can alert them to the book’s availability, message, theme, and impact.
PR is a powerful tool. The number of individuals who discover an author and their books can reach hundreds of thousands for a single press release, article or interview. But the key is that PR only spreads information. It doesn’t generate a purchase.
Marketing is different than PR. Marketing is geared to generate the purchase of one or more of the author’s books. Marketing plans vary according to the book’s content, the author’s short- and long-term goals, even by the types of distribution channels lined up for the book. Generally, however, marketing aims to generate sales rather than publicity.
Very few of the companies that produce self-published books for authors offer actual marketing services. If you know of one, I’d love to hear about it! Meanwhile, know the difference before you buy. You’ll make wise decisions that can support your career for years, and many other books, to come.
Self-publishing is truly coming of age. The force and energy behind this movement is so intense that agents have for several years been offering adjunct services like marketing, assisted publishing, and the like to self-publishers.
Because of these new services, the AAA has laid out new guidelines for their members. The guidelines encourage members to provide their terms of business with regard to all services offered in writing. These should include any costs associated with the agent’s assistance and who will pay those costs.
If you haven’t heard about agent-assisted publishing, it can be a real boone. You’ll have access to the agent’s network, including connections at the media outlets that feature articles, interviews, and reviews of authors and their books. You’ll also tap into their marketing savvy as you reach out to readers.
How do you connect with an agent for this kind of relationship? You create the same pitch items you would if you were submitting to their firm for representation to traditional publishers: a query letter, book proposal (for nonfiction) and a synopsis, bio, and marketing overview (fiction).
Paper Lantern Lit is a boutique literary development company bestselling author Lauren Oliver cofounded with former HarperCollins and Razorbill editor Lexa Hillyer. They look through self-published books to find those that deserve more attention then rerelease them under their name. Now they’ve added The Studio, a digital imprint, to produce ebooks.
If you’ve already self-published one or more of your books, check out Paper Lantern and The Studio. It might open new doors!
If you’ve ever considered self-publishing a children’s picture book or a chapter book (which also has a number of illustrations), you know the cost can be out of most people’s reach. Amazon has developed a program that helps you create and market a children’s book without having to spend a huge amount of money.
KDP Kids is the new children’s-focused illustrated and chapter book category in the Kindle Store. Amazon is also offering the Kindle Kids’ Book Creator for the creation and production of kids’ digital titles in a Kindle format. Authors can prepare their prose or illustrated books, upload them to KDP Kids and use a variety of filters for age, grade and reading levels to place the title and attract the specific customer leveled for their titles.
KDP Kids authors will also have access to marketing tools such as Countdown Deals and Free Book promotions. They are also eligible to enroll in Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s e-book subscription service, and the Kindle Lending Library.
Representatives of Publisher’s Weekly and Kobo, the ebook reader that is very indie friendly, both noted that the room where the self-publishing events took place was so crowded they could not see the front of the room. One had to use his cell phone to look over the crowd to see the speakers and panelists. This is only one of the many indicators of the popularity of self-publishing, and the extent to which it is disrupting (in a beneficial way) the old-school methods of the publishing industry as a whole.
The 2014 Digital Book World survey found that among 9,200 authors surveyed, those that had been traditionally published were moving in number to self-publishing.
The authors felt their experiences with publishers were less than anticipated, and so felt the publishers had underperformed with their books. This might of course be a case of authors who don’t understand the industry expecting too much of any company that offers marketing services but is more likely due to a number of factors like lack of creative control, the long production schedule, and the short shelf life publishers are willing to offer.
For those who turned to self-publishing, only about 16% regretted their decision and decided to return to traditional publishers. For the rest, the trade-off they made in lack of distribution and marketing support was made up for in other ways…including the amount of royalties they gained.
Beatrix Potter, fed up with rejections from publishers, self-published The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1901.
Now there’s a success story!
Short books have gained a lot of credibility in the publishing arena. Still primarily the purview of self-published and indie authors, shorter books are having an important impact on writing careers.
Shorter works allow authors to generate more titles in shorter timeframes. Since algorithms and search results are going to be pushed in part by the number of titles available, this is no small point.
Shorter works also allow authors to constantly offer readers something fresh and new.
Short works can provide an opportunity to work in a new genre or category with less risk than creating a longer work.
How do you use short books to your advantage?
We all gripe now and then about how well celebrity bios sell. Well, 2014 is projected to be the year when a different category outsells that standby.
The self-help category is poised for another huge boom. Works that are intellectually “credible,” meaning those that are reflective and offer something readers will find meaningful, will fuel this boom.
If you have something in the works or an idea for a project that fits this category, get cracking! Now is the time to grab for your breakout success.
Smashwords, one of the largest self-pub sites, continued growing in 2013. The company added 25,000 authors. The number of titles it offers has nearly doubled to over 275,000. Its authors earned $20 million in just that year.
Changes on tap for 2014 include better marketing opportunities, enhanced reporting tools, and better trending information feeds.
Quite a bit of chatter is going around these days about how self-publishing is shaking up traditional publishers. In some ways it is a war between sides that are battling for attention from the same pool of readers. WIthout going into all the other elements, let’s remember one key fact:
Self-published titles represent 10% of the current market.
This means that a number of places where books traditionally are distributed–brick-and-mortar bookstores, big-box retailers, shopping clubs and the like–aren’t paying very much attention at all to self-published titles.
When considering your career, take all the details into account to find the best path for you and your work.
With a growth rate over 400% in the past 5 years, self-publishing is actually turning out to be a benefit for traditional publishers.
More publishers than ever before are signing authors who self-published their books. Indie authors have finally found their ways onto some of the top bestseller lists, which is eye-opening considering that many lists are compiled by newspapers that still refuse to review indie authors.
Nowadays, I tell clients that they can self-publish at the same time they are querying agents and publishers. If the self-published route doesn’t work out, no harm done. If they hit it big, though, they have even more appeal for traditional publishers to take a close look.