Writers Boon, a One-Stop Shop for Authors

The process for publishing has many moving parts. In addition to writing, editing, packaging, and distributing, there’s marketing and different strategies to consider. Writers Boon, a new platform, aims to help authors with everything they need to know when it comes to publishing their books. Read on for an interview with Carol Vorvain, Co-Founder and CEO of Writers Boon.

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Chickadee Prince, a Small Press and Pop-up Bookstore

chickadeeprincelogo3Pop-up stores are fun. Sometimes they’re themed, sometimes they sell unique things, and they often have an urgent, fun atmosphere, since they only plan to stick around for a set amount of time.

Chickadee Prince, a small press based in Brooklyn, is planning on opening up a pop-up bookstore, in addition to publishing new titles. Read on for a great Q&A with founder Steven S. Drachman, who created Chickadee Prince from a bookseller’s perspective. Continue reading

The Growth of Audiobooks

By Dieaxtimwald (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dieaxtimwald (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A few weeks back, I wrote an essay for LARB about reading in the multimedia age. A big part of the essay focused on audiobooks, which are growing in popularity each year.

According to QZ, audiobooks are growing more than ebooks. MarketWatch wrote that some audiobooks are selling more copies than their print counterparts, and according to The Digital Reader, “audio can outsell print when audio is treated as its original format and not produced as an after thought.” Continue reading

Music and Sound Effects in Books

By Tiffany Bailey from New Orleans, USA (Abandoned Art School 81) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Tiffany Bailey from New Orleans, USA (Abandoned Art School 81) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Audiobooks are gaining popularity, but sounds are making their way into ebooks as well.

Back in 2013, Google submitted a patent to trigger sounds in ebooks. According to GoodeReader, “The sounds would be triggered by events within the book, such as lapping waves, an ominous crescendo, or maybe an outdoor market. The new application would have the sounds stored on a server and would be pushed out to the eBook users are reading at the time.”

Now, the startup Booktrack, which synchronizes movie-style soundtracks with ebooks, has been busy expanding its reach. This year alone, Booktrack has partnered with Microsoft and Hachette’s Little, Brown. According to DBW, Booktrack Classroom, which is used in over 15,000 classrooms, is integrating with Microsoft 365. Continue reading

What Indie Authors Can Learn From Other Industries

By Adonts (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Adonts (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

As an indie author, it can be fun (and helpful) to learn about what’s going on in other industries. Joe Wikert outlined on DBW what publishers can learn from the podcast model, by offering easy subscriptions (which could arguably be similar to subscribing to blogs or newsletters), delivering content on a regular schedule, and delivering related content to your audience. To me, this could mean working with a network of people to promote each other, the way podcast networks work to help promote multiple podcasts. Recently, I joined a joint author promo mailing list, where about 50 of us each offer a free book for a giveaway, and then we all work to promote the giveaway. The last giveaway we did resulted in a couple thousand entries, and I got a few new people to subscribe to my mailing list.

Authors can also learn from airlines, according to The Bookseller. Airline prices rise and fall depending on the day:

But what if the same seat-pricing model were to be applied to books? A model where the titles would have lower prices on Tuesdays and be more expensive on Fridays. Where the R.R.P. on the back cover becomes as dynamic as a company’s share price. Where we compete to buy books like we do in an EBay auction.

One way to apply this is to heavily discount pre-orders, and slowly raise the price the closer to publication date it gets. Then, the price could continue to fluctuate based on “interest in the author, the genre, the topic, and personalized to the reader’s own interests.”

Indie authors also have a lot in common with independent app developers. One person on Reddit shared how they made over $700k from a premium game and hit #1 in the App Store (and the New Yorker even wrote about it). According to the post, it’s very hard to do as an indie, but what’s important is to release regular updates, cross promote to other games, and ask for reviews.

Another thing authors can learn from is content marketing, which is very similar to writing books. Drift wrote about what they learned growing their website from 200 to 27,000 visitors, and they found that blogging is an investment (so content published a while back can continue to drive traffic, much like the first book in a series can continue to generate interest), quality content is important, as is the amount of effort it takes to promote that content (community sites are great that way, as well as working with influencers), and data can only tell you so much, so it’s better to focus on big picture things in the beginning and not small tweaks.

DBW also advocates content communities, and recommends that authors share research, back stories, databases, and more to allow readers to see what’s behind the scenes and feel part of a community.

Related to content marketing is omnichannel selling. BookMachine shared ten things they learned selling at a conference, including the fact that most people make purchases online and many through their smartphone, knowing their path to purchase is important (so when possible, selling direct may be a good idea), when it comes to making a sale, email is much more effective than social media, social media is helpful for customer service, and things are always changing.

Gumroad’s post, “Nathan Barry’s Lessons Learned Selling $355,759 on Gumroad,” sums up everything nicely. Basically, Nathan recommends being able to contact customers (like in newsletters), pricing based on value, using email to build relationships and launch products, and selling in packages at different values.

What other industries do you follow? Share in the comments!

Technology Trends in Publishing

By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA (Lucas Giolito tries out virtual reality) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA (Lucas Giolito tries out virtual reality) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It seems like as we progress, all digital technologies are slowly converging, and it’s really cool to witness. Joe Wikert wrote on DBW about 2016 trends, which included bots and automation, augmented reality, and vying for attention.  Continue reading

8 Fun Trends in Reading and Publishing

By Tulane Public Relations (Girl in the Library  Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Tulane Public Relations (Girl in the Library Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Our culture is changing, and it’s exciting and fascinating to watch.

In literature, what used to be taboo is now trending. According to Broadly, gay characters are gaining popularity in teen fiction. According to Broadly, it started in 2003 with David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy novel, though in the beginning it was still considered controversial. Now, according to author Simon Curtis:

“[Teenagers] expect [that] the book better be fucking [diverse]. It shouldn’t be just straight white kids like how it has been for the past hundreds of years. They are hungry for other stuff.”

Another new development is how self-published books are getting more mainstream (not too surprising, since there were 727,000 ISBNs were registered for self-published works, according to Publishing Perspectives). Bustle wrote a list of 10 indie YA novels people should read, which includes Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner, a book about a woman warrior fighting mermaids (whose childhood friend is a mermaid), Awoken by Sarah Noffke, a book about time traveling in your sleep, and The Magic Shop by Justin Swapp, a book about a shop that’s a front for a magical community.

There’s also the “girl” trend. FiveThirtyEight explored how the word “girl” keeps appearing in bestseller titles, and about 1 percent of fiction titles will have the word “girl” in the title this year. It’s unclear why, though part of it may be due to the success of a few books with the word “girl” in the title, such as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, and The Girl on the Train.

Fan fiction is also growing. According to Slate, “Harry Potter launched a phenomenon that’s seldom acknowledged and barely understood, but that’s as powerful and lasting as the books themselves: the first massive internet-born fandom.” People were able to connect internationally, and form large communities that in some cases have become associates of studios, such as Warner Bros.

Dystopian novels are considered evergreen, according to Publishing Perspectives. This could be because the real world seems bleak (though some good/interesting things have come out of bad news, such as a pop-up print newspaper finding success in Britain after Brexit, according to the New York Times).

The Internet is helping out print books, according to the New York Times. In Michigan, the independent bookstore Brilliant Books uses social media to deliver great customer service, and attracts a lot of book buyers.

On the flip side, ebooks are being tailored to people’s commutes. In New York, a platform called Subway Reads delivers shorts and excerpts to commuters for free and lets them choose what to read based on the length of their time on the subway, according to the New York Times.

Last, the publishing industry is getting more transparent. According to DBW, Inkitt has posted its author contract online to create a greater level of transparency in the publishing process for aspiring authors.”

What trends have you noticed? Please share in the comments!

Giving Thanks, and Highlights from DevLearn 2016

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I recently passed the one year mark at my company (for my day job) so I’ve been reflecting a lot about the changes of the past year and how lucky I am. I’m a fan of the product I work on, and the people I work with are just awesome. It would take me too long to describe all the things they do and how amazing they are, but the short list is they’re dedicated, always on top of their stuff, always available when someone needs help, and, most importantly, they’re people you can hang out for two weeks straight and not get sick of (we did that this summer).

My new(ish) company in general cares a lot about investing in people, promoting diversity and inclusion, and letting its employees learn, grown, and find their own path and ways to make a difference in the world. Over this past year, I’ve gotten to learn about a whole new industry and product, create and manage my own projects, and do some amazing volunteer work. I got to meet STEM women from Africa, help assemble 3D-printed prosthetic hands for people impacted by war, and mentor middle-schoolers and help them learn about the wide variety of careers they can have when they grow up. I’ve also had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling: Petaluma, Anaheim, Montreal, and most recently, Las Vegas. These trips have been a mix of team bonding and attending conferences. Through them I’ve walked down the side of a 15-story building, done ropes courses, confronted my anxieties of standing in front of a crowd by singing with our team’s band, and learned so much from going to GDC, SIGGRAPH, and DevLearn.

DevLearn Keynotes

DevLearn is a conference about learning, and covers trends, technologies, lessons, and more about e-learning, for education, internal training, and external training. This year’s theme was creativity, and a lot of the things I learned at DevLearn I think can be applied to multiple industries, especially publishing. A lot of the focus was on storytelling, and how to get your message across in a meaningful, effective way. Continue reading

Book Marketing Tips for the Holidays and Year Round

By Ralph Daily from Birmingham, United States (Roasted American Turkey) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ralph Daily from Birmingham, United States (Roasted American Turkey) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a while since I’ve down a roundup of articles. Since the holiday season is coming up fast, here’s a list of helpful marketing-related articles (there’s even a few specific for the holidays)!

Holiday Specific

Growing Traffic and Followers

BookBub Tips and Tricks

Working with People

Trends and New Stuff

Helpful Tools

Self Publishing

The Fate of Reading in a Multimedia Age on LA Review of Books

larb

Recently, I had a great opportunity to write a piece for the LA Review of Books about what constitutes reading and literature. Here is an excerpt (click here for the full article).

IN MID-OCTOBER, the Nobel Committee for Literature awarded the Nobel Prize to Bob Dylan, “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” The announcement came shortly after the most recent Annual Arts Basic Survey (AABS) by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released data that found adults in the United States read less literature for pleasure. The survey said that adult Americans who report reading literature has fallen to 43.1 percent in 2015. The NEA defines literature as poetry, plays, short stories, and novels. Reading can be text or graphics (graphic novels), online or in print.

The results vary by state. According to the survey, Mississippi had the lowest percentage of adults who reported reading literature, at 21.7 percent, and Vermont had the highest percentage, at 62.8 percent. Tennessee had the lowest percentage of adults who reported consuming art via electronic media at 44.8 percent, which includes watching, listening to, and/or downloading programs or information about books or writers, short stories, or poetry read out loud, and Washington had the highest percentage, at 80.4 percent.

The NEA conducts several surveys in this area, including the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA). According to Sunil Iyengar, research and analysis director at the NEA, the first AABS survey was in 2013, with about 23,000 responses from American adults. The survey found that book reading has remained relatively stable, though with a steep decline in poetry reading. Iyengar also said that forms of poetry, such as spoken word performances, may not be captured by the reading question, “Did you read a poem in the last year or did you read a work of poetry in the last year?” He explained that the survey questions had to be kept short and simple in order to encourage people to finish answering.

The NEA isn’t the only organization to find a relative decline in reading. Publishers Weekly recently reported on a Pew Research Center Report that found “that 73 percent of Americans have read a book in the last year, largely unchanged from 2012 levels (although lower than the 79 percent recorded in 2011, when Pew began tracking reading habits).” That data came from 1,520 U.S. adults who responded between March and April 2016. To account for this decline, Iyengar cited the “many competing options for people’s leisure time,” but added, “We can’t say definitively what the reason is.”

Though there is no reliable data on why a decline in reading literature is taking place, Tom Jacobs from Pacific Standard offers one theory: “the rise of movies and other visual content on demand  —  which started in the 1980s with the VCR  —  is one likely culprit. After all, why read a novel when you have Netflix?” It’s true that books increasingly have to compete for people’s attention with other forms of entertainment, whether that be movies, videos, games, or something else. According to one recent assessment, Netflix users watched 42.5 billion hours of streaming content last year. Meanwhile, YouTube has more than one billion users, and according to the site, “the average viewing session is now more than 40 minutes.” There are also platforms like Steam, which offers a catalog of games to play on your computer. Steam shares consistently updated information about its users and games, as well as download stats. On October 30 alone, the site reached a peak of 13,081,501 users.

It’s easy to assume that people are reading less because of the myriad options they have to choose from. But is that really the case? What if we redefined what it means to read, as well as what constitutes literature?

Read the rest of the article here.