We had a great show reviewing publishing events in 2012, and looking ahead to the New Year, with our guest Amy Collins.
About our guest: Amy Collins is the owner of New Shelves Book Distribution, a full-scale book warehousing, sales and fulfillment company selling publisher’s books directly to the national chains and independent bookstores in North America. You may reach Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.newshelvesdistribution.com
Small Press Success: We’re approaching the tipping point for small presses and bookstores – this refers to indie publishers, micropresses, whatever you call them – the old urge to not take them seriously is ending. Now we’re going to have to take them seriously. There was a shift in 2012 toward small presses coming into their own.
Bookstores: They are becoming less relevant as booksellers. There is still a need for them. How much more can they weather in this all-digital society? Chain and independent bookstores have shifted and become community centers that sell coffee, games, Moleskines, etc. Books aren’t pushing bookstores’ growth, it’s everything else. But it seems like there will be a sharp drop in people buying books from bookstores. The browseability factor doesn’t apply to the younger generation; they know how to browse online.
Self-Publishing: Fifty Shades of Grey – which began as self-published fan fiction – was not a fluke. These kinds of books will become common.
Literary Agents: Literary agents are on the cutting edge of the changing publishing industry and they will be paid for their expertise. There has been resistance to this development but as agents move beyond deal-making into marketing and publicity they should be paid. Publishing Insiders discussed this in a roundtable with agents in 2011: http://www.amarketingexpert.com/publishing-insiders-wrap-up-literary-agents-and-their-evolving-role-in-publishing/
Libraries/Librarians: In certain parts of the country libraries are growing. Their budgets aren’t growing but the demand for them is growing as more people go to libraries to find books, videos, downloads, etc. Libraries in Arizona, Florida and the lower Midwest are seeing this growth.
eBooks: Why are publishers still fighting this trend? If the music industry taught us anything it’s that sharing the product increases sales. A wish for 2013 is for all publishers to allow libraries to loan out eBooks.
Hot genres: The hot genres include contemporary romance, espionage, women’s fiction, thriller, suspense, cozy mysteries, and hard-hitting mysteries. These genres do well partly because publishers price the books right, often starting at $2.99 to hook readers on the first book (subsequent books can be priced higher).
Reviews: Authors no longer have to go through the gatekeepers to get reviews or to be discovered. Authors should go direct to consumer – book reviewers are so inundated that authors can’t rely on that approach alone. For instance, take advantage of the many fan forums for digital readers (Kindleboards, Nookboards, etc.). Join Goodreads and Library Thing and build a fan base of readers/reviewers. These are the people who will follow your career.
Social media: There are several measurement tools like Klout for discovering how effectively you use social media. These tools measure engagement as well as followers. It is important to take time to get to know people; that’s how you can build a following. (The quickest way to lose that following is to constantly plug your book). Video and photo posts are very popular and get the most views on social media. Using photos when you post content is a good idea. Keep videos to two and a half minutes or less (preferably less).
Freebies: Nothing sells a book better than a book. It’s not about just giving away a book; you’re giving readers a sense of who you are and building the trust factor. At AME we’ve seen authors do well with their initial giveaways and then build a following/readership from there. Giving away your books is marketing. If you have a terrific book get it out there, there are so many print and eBook giveaway options from Kindle Direct Publishing to Library Thing, Goodreads and more.
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Happy Holidays, and best wishes for a successful 2013!