We had a great show to begin our Smart Self Publishing series, with special guests Grael Norton of Wheatmark and Mark Coker of Smashwords.
We started out with a tip from Search Marketing Expert Susan Gilbert, who observed that just as publishing is changing rapidly, so are social networks. We are all familiar by now with Twitter and Facebook, but there are also new sites to check out. One of the latest is http://dailybooth.com/ – where you can share yourself in real time through pictures. It’s difficult to predict how dailybooth will do – it could be the next Facebook phenomenon or fade into obscurity like FriendFeed. But, the site is simple to use and worth checking out!
For additional resources and tips check Susan Gilbert’s website, http://www.susangilbert.com.
About our guests:
* Grael Norton, Acquisitions Manager, Wheatmark, Inc. helps authors get their manuscripts ready for market and coaches them on publishing success. He’s also a Senior Faculty member of the Authors Academy, where published and aspiring authors learn how to sell more books. Wheatmark, Inc., helps authors write, produce, and distribute their books successfully – even if they’ve never written a book or distributed a product before.
* Mark Coker is the founder of Smashwords, where more than 3,500 serious writers and 100 independent publishers publish and distribute and have complete control over how to sample, price and market their books.
In many ways, there has been a revolution in publishing, and growth has occurred at a tremendous rate. In particular, publishing has opened new doors for indie authors who choose to self publish, and they now have numerous options and opportunities – for both print and digital publishing.
Strong writing, good editing & compelling covers matter
Quality is important – there are more books published now than ever before so competition is fierce. Books that make a great first impression – (yes, you *can* judge books by their covers) – will attract readers. If the content is well-written and edited, readers will become fans and help spread the word about you and your books.
This means that some of the “basics” associated with traditional print publishing still apply, Grael noted. Getting published is no longer a challenge, but publishing a *quality* book is the challenge now. Authors need to ensure their book is well edited – have friends, other writers, and an editor, go through the book carefully. Get rid of typos, poor grammar, etc. Consumers want quality books and books that aren’t up to standard won’t sell well – and also stand the chance of being “outed” on sites like Amazon.com, where reviewers will make note of shoddy quality. Don’t let that be you!
Book covers are also vital – Mark agreed that even for ebooks, covers matter. They may appear online the size of a postage stamp, but a well designed, compelling cover will attract readers. Authors can and should check out book covers on Smashwords, Amazon.com and in bookstores – it’s a great way to get a feel for what other authors in your genre are doing.
Getting started on your self publishing journey
At Wheatmark, authors undergo an assessment before publication, starting with an editorial and positioning analysis. The editorial analysis ensures the book is professionally edited (to avoid the scenario of the book receiving scathing reviews that highlight every mistake). Positioning involves determining what markets exist for the book and how to reach those readers.
All authors dream of seeing their book in bookstores, and while it’s certainly worth pursuing, it’s also critical to ensure that you don’t overlook other opportunities, Grael says. The setting and/or topic of your book may determine additional marketing opportunities. For instance, if you’ve written a book about golf (fiction or nonfiction), having your book available at golf shops can expose you to more readers more directly than any other option.
Smashwords allows authors to upload their books directly onto the site and it’s a simple process that begins by signing up and becoming a member. Remember that quality still counts. As Mark says: Write a great book. Then write another great book. Authors also need to make their books available at as many online sites as possible in order to reach the most potential readers. And, consider giving away some books for free. Not all of your books, of course, but a great way to get noticed and build a fan base is to offer a book or two for free to lure them in.
The most successful authors on Smashwords tend to write a lot of books, and each book builds an audience for the next. (You can check out 7 Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success by Mark here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker/the-seven-secrets-to-eboo_b_751743.html).
Ebooks – a revolution in progress
The ebook revolution has exploded in the past year; the Digital Book World conference underway this week has covered a number of aspects of digital publishing, including pricing. The traditional publishers seem unsure of how to proceed in this new world, while many enterprising indie authors have found a way to quickly, easily and cheaply publish their books *and* find an audience. Indie ebooks are priced lower than their counterparts from the NY publishers, and the indie authors also earn higher royalties (Success stories, tips and all things indie ebook publishing are available at http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/).
Considering how versatile digital books are, this is one area that authors shouldn’t overlook. Readers don’t even need to own a digital device in order to read ebooks. Smartphones have free apps that allow you to download and read your digital books, such as Kindle, Kobo and aldiko (an app for the Android phone). Having your books available in multiple digital formats ensures you can be found one way or another by the millions who read ebooks. In fact, USA Today has reported for the past couple of weeks that the ebook editions of several of its bestsellers have outsold their print versions.
It’s a great time to be an author with all of the options for publishing and marketing available. There are also many ways to get help on your journey.
To learn the 7 Steps to Publishing Success, visit http://www.Authors-Academy.com. This an inexpensive, monthly continuity program from Wheatmark involving teleseminars, webinars, and Q&As. The current series is “Secrets of Highly-Paid, Highly Successful Authors.”
Visit Smashwords at http://www.smashwords.com/.
Please join us Feb. 8, 2011 for the Smart Self Publishing Series, Part 2: Becoming Your Own Publisher
Why would an author want to bypass traditional publishing and go it alone? There are myriad reasons to self publish, including the ability to keep your rights and creative license. But, there’s a lot you need to learn first: is your prospective publisher reputable? What should your contract cover? How will returns be handled? What will the process cost? What can you expect in royalties? Where and how will you distribute your book – and more, which we’ll discuss with our special guests, including Eric Kampmann, president of Midpoint Trade Books.
About our guest: Eric Kampmann is President of Midpoint Trade Books, a leading sales and distribution company designed to provide crucial services to today’s independent publishers. Midpoint has built its excellent reputation as an innovative and powerful sales driven company designed to help independent publishers compete successfully in the trade book marketplace.
Kampmann is also the Publisher and President of two publishing companies: Beaufort Books and Moyer Bell. Beaufort gained national attention in 2007 when it published the national bestseller If I Did It in partnership with the family of Ron Goldman.
Kampmann has taught courses on book publishing at Harvard, Columbia, NYU and numerous publishing and writers conferences. He is the author of The Book Publishers Handbook (2007).