In this post, successful indie author Toby Neal shares her insights about the ever-evolving world of self-publishing, and how the trends both impact and benefit authors and readers.
I follow a number of industry blogs/websites including The Shatzkin Files, GalleyCat, Seth Godin’s Blog, and Publishers Weekly, just trying to keep marginally abreast of what’s happening in the publishing world. I’m excited about this new year in publishing. I think it’s going to continue to become a marketplace driven by readers and writers with great books and business savvy. Based on my constant study of the trends, here are some of my predictions for 2013:
- Ebooks will finally outdistance hard copy in total sales (yay for those of us whose ebooks make up the bulk of our sales!)
- Big publishers, beginning with Simon and Schuster, will increasingly offer printing and distribution to indie authors with huge numbers of ebook sales.
- Amazon will discount big name author ebooks and discontinue some of the promotion that has favored indie authors.
- “Freebie” ebook promotion on Amazon and other sites will continue, but may lose steam due to saturation.
- The Big Six publishers will continue to consolidate with each other and streamline their systems to fight back against Amazon and other online distributors.
- Ebooks will be increasingly “bundle-packed” and become available as group downloads or as continuous streaming through subscription services (like Spotify and Pandora for music).
Based on these trends, several strategies will benefit readers:
- Get an e-reader and jump on the train! Prices should be coming down, and now is a great time to get hundreds of books that are either free or inexpensive. Yes, there will be coal in the scuttle, but there will be a lot of diamonds, too, and look to reviews and sites like Kindle Book Review to help you sort through them.
- Find indie and new fiction authors you like and follow them. This is a great time to find affordable, unique voices who may not have been published in the past.
- Sign up for freebie sites and never buy a book again! Kindle Top 100 Free is an amazing place to shop. I downloaded the King James Bible there!
Strategies that benefit authors:
- Continue to focus on building an individual, loyal fan base for your books. The great advantage of self-publishing is that there is no middleman and we can reach readers directly. I’m doing this by promoting my email sign-up for new titles, strengthening relationships with readers via Facebook and Goodreads, and hand-selling books locally via speaking gigs with Rotary. Those emails represent your true fans and are worth gold!
- Give a call to action to your fans. Ask them to leave a review, give your book as a gift, call the local bookstore and order through them (to build awareness and support local). People love to help with something they care about—and helping you make it as a favorite indie author, continuing to write their favorite books, helps engage them. They make a difference, and they love knowing that!
- Be prepared to Go Big if your numbers support it and get your own print book distribution deal. Simon and Schuster has done this for several authors whose numbers (over 500,000 in sales) had the clout to carry it.
- Think of ways to do your own “freebie” distribution and keep your books going out to discover new readers. For instance, I hope to “bundle” my ebooks with other items like movies and gift baskets for Hawaii tourist promotion.
- Get an agent and treat them great! Agents are still important. I need my agent, self-published or not. I care about him, and I don’t want him to retire (like my other one did)! I send him encouraging notes and little gifts … after all, he’s not getting paid until we both do, and with the Big Six becoming the Big 3, we only have a few places to shop books.
Note from Molly: Toby has experienced great success as an indie author and is a savvy marketer. Her books have gained widespread regional appeal in Hawaii, and she has just released her latest, “Broken Ferns.” At least five book clubs have read one of her titles and she’s guested in person and via Skype for three of them. Vacation rental owners have ordered boxes of her print books for their guests and her fans give them as gifts. She’s often approached to donate print copies to auctions and other events. There’s a waiting list for her series at her local library. To me, Toby’s print book marketing successes are something to aspire to and provide great incentive for all self-published writers! Makes me proud to be an indie, and excited to hold my own print book sometime this year.
Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii and makes the Islands home after living elsewhere for “stretches of exile” to pursue education. Toby enjoys outdoor activities including bodyboarding, scuba diving, photography and hiking as well as writing. A mental health therapist, she credits that career with adding depth to the characters in the Lei Crime Series. Her latest novel, Broken Ferns, launched recently, and Torch Ginger is free on Amazon for a limited time (I got mine!). Visit Toby Neal’s Blog and follow her on Twitter!
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