Insights from Digital Book World 2014

by | Jan 23, 2014 | Book Marketing Basics

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I was invited to Digital Book World to speak on a panel about what’s working when it comes to social media. But first, here’s a recap of some of the best tweets and I think you’ll really be surprised by some of the findings:


eBook Sales, how are we doing, really? Turns out, fiction really cleans up in this market. Here are the numbers:

60% of sales come from adult fiction with only 27% adult non-fiction, and where does the rest go? The smaller percentage goes to children’s books.

One of the biggest messages from this event that I heard over and over again was this: Everything works better when you have relationships with your reader.

This means reaching out to your reader, dialoging with them, thanking them for a review. Here’s how you can thank folks for their reviews on Amazon:


To that end,

Author name recognition important, but famous name is not enough. Fan loyalty is the key. #DBW14 Peter Hildick-Smith, Codex Group.

@Bookgal: Marketing is a convo w/the reader, focus on one reader not the masses. This makes the convo focused & interesting. It’s a big dif. #DBW14


And this tweet goes to pricing. This is why I don’t recommend that authors go full–price on their first book. You can charge more once you are a brand and have some books out there:

@mrmullin: People willing to pay 66% more in ebook for author with brand equity with a fan base, according to Codex. #dbw14

“Create more value than you capture.” Every author needs to apply this! Lessons from @Uber @timoreilly #DBW14


And what are major publishers looking for? They’re looking for big overseas sales. This per Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster:

“Looking forward to huge digital growth overseas. Markets are growing quickly and catching up fast.” per Carolyn Reidy #DBW14 #ebooks


In fact, the numbers of non-English speakers is pretty amazing:

#dbw14 2 billion #english speakers globally;1.4 are non native English speakers– @Nielsen


Annual Writing Income (survey done by F&W Publications) – I would think that this is average, though I would also say that when viewing this, you should consider the numbers. There are a lot more books self-published so the numbers are bound to be lower, especially when you figure that 1% of these authors publish a book that’s actually saleable.

How much do authors make?










According to Dana Beth Weinberg, who presented on reasons why authors would want to self-publish or why publishers should be worried that so many authors are going the indie route, here’s a slide she shared on “the math” behind indie royalty, vs. traditional. Her comparison at the bottom to the fans is juxtaposed to the comment earlier in the conference that an author needs 50,000 fans to make a difference:

Here's how much indie authors can make!









I took this picture because I think it speaks to our marketing, just in general. We often subscribe to old, outdated theories that really no longer work. It’s really important to learn what’s new and what’s actually working, versus just doing stuff because it feels productive. This session was led by Emanuel Rosen, author of The Anatomy of Buzz.

Why Your Marketing Doesn't Work










The above is particularly true when you consider the following, too:

How do consumers buy?

Consumers today are influenced by other people more than by marketing. Brand is getting less important, not more. @EmanuelRosen

When consumers rely on user reviews persuasion no longer works. This was particularly staggering. Remember how the old sales model was that you needed three tiers of pricing to get folks to buy the medium-priced item? That’s just not true anymore, according to Emanual Rosen, who gave a fascinating presentation about the new world of sales:

Sales theory was have 3 tiers of pricing: high, med, low – which will push more sales to medium price. That’s not true anymore.

Here is a great clip on how consumers buy, when market research makes sense, and when it doesn’t. Turns out, people are heavily influenced by other people:



Is branding important? Emanuel Rosen seems to disagree. Very interesting clip!

Brad Stone, author of Everything Amazon, was the highlight of the final day at Digital Book World and presented a very interesting session on Amazon. Here he talks about the Amazon mindset:




Lots of conversations were overheard in the hallway, one publisher had this to say: It’s too late to battle Amazon because we let them ride for so long. Making new startups really hard.

And this in a Tweet:

@Tom_Chalmers: Nice to see it said – ‘Publishers should be working from massive consumer databases and speaking directly to customer’ @MikeShatzkin


Are you on Wattpad? If you’re not, you should check it out, their traffic is tremendous. Here’s a quick tip for more exposure there:

@wattpad does very well in mobile. Readers selecting short stories. Romance, mysteries, sci-fi are huge.



On a panel about community, Sarah Wendell, co-founder of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books said this about why she does not force everyone to her website and why she posts in a variety of places online:


@smartbitches better to interact with people where they are, instead of bring them to site, so goal is different to website traffic

If you want to check out more tweets from this fantastic event, search the hashtag: #DBW14 on Twitter!


And Best query letter – Every!

2014-01-15 10.53.18









And finally, here’s a write up from my session:


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