Don’t Go It Alone – Create A Successful Publishing Team

teamLast week I received a couple of emails from authors asking for updates to their websites. Nothing out of the ordinary for my line of work. Except that I suddenly realised that these two authors were in fact the very first authors I ever worked with, many years ago. I am proud to still be working with them and that we have built such a strong working relationship.

On the same day I read an article on the modern publishing industry and how creating good books is no longer about simply deciding on a publishing route and waiting for sales. In today’s marketplace there is a much bigger demand on authors, regardless of which path you choose. From design and social media to publicity and marketing; there are far more areas of expertise that a successful author will need to investigate in order to reach their target audience and make a success of their work. Surrounding yourself with a strong team from the outset and not attempting to do everything yourself can be the key to success.

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hands.” – Neil Gaiman

Whether due to time, lack of knowledge or financial constraints, authors are attempting to do what many professionals spend years training for. Book cover design, editing, publicity and marketing are all specialist areas. There is a cost to finding experts in these fields, however you will find that by surrounding yourself with a strong team will certainly make your life a lot easier, enabling you time to do what you do best and write. Remember that each individual expert you hire will be joining together to achieve one common goal: creating awareness of your book and ensuring it’s the best it can be. And it is this that ultimately means more sales and more readers. Remember that you are primarily an author, and unless you have a background in these areas, it can pay off in the long term to invest in some help. Once you have established these readers, it makes future work much easier to offer to market.

It can sometimes be a little trial and error in finding the right team. I work with many repeat authors, as well as working on many different projects with authors I’ve worked with in the past, and I’m proud to say that they would recommend me. I’ve also worked repeatedly with others in the book industry whom my authors praise highly. So that may be the best place to start – talk to other authors, or members of your existing team and ask if they have recommendations in the area you are researching. One thing I have learnt from being in the publishing industry for some years is that it’s not always the big companies that have the best reputations, but the smaller businesses and freelancers, so be sure to do your research.

“In a well-made book, where designer, compositor and printer have all done their jobs, no matter how many thousands of lines and pages, the letters are alive.” – Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographical Design

Successful book publishing is about investing confidently in your work and building momentum. No reader will have the confidence that your work is good enough to read if you don’t. Building a successful relationship with experts will mean you have a group of professionals in your corner, furthering the connection between you as an author, and your readers.

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A Quote On Writing That I Just Had To Share

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

Ray Bradbury

Why You Should Use Video Media to Market your Self-published Books

One of the challenges to indie authors in marketing their self-published books is that people simply don’t have the time to browse the web like they used to. It can feel as if there is a narrowing timeframe in which to generate interest in your work.shutterstock_173650184

With thousands of authors and books competing for attention, it can seem impossible to stand out from the crowd. Information needs to be delivered in a much more exciting, interactive manner, and most importantly, fast.

Different techniques are necessary to deliver information online, due to the varying ways internet browsers view material online. An ever increasing amount of people browse via their mobile phones, which means your page of text can become too daunting to read.

This is why many individuals and companies have taken to ‘vlogging’, replacing long articles of text with videos of themselves speaking about what they would have once written, conveying information in a much more graphic medium. The written word will never be replaced, but video can be a creative way of delivering information and reaping the rewards.

Videos displayed on websites can not only increase traffic, but keep visitors engaged up to 88% longer.

With that being the case, video media and book trailers have become increasingly popular, but are still viewed with some skepticism. Authors by nature perform most of their work ‘behind the scenes’ and are more often than not simply not used to such intrusive promotion.

Which Video Option Would Work for You?

There are many options for videos apart from book trailers that authors can consider creating. Website introductions, readings, interviews or announcements can create an interactive feel and convert information into sales.

An author I recently worked with created a hilarious video of spoof reviews. Some types of video media also have the added bonus of ‘meeting’ the author. Being able to put a face to the name and making your brand memorable has huge advantages for future work and tempts visitors to return.

Marketing professionals worldwide are reporting that video converts better than any other medium, and this is mainly down to its ‘sharability’. In fact up to 92% of mobile video viewers share videos with others, meaning your audience just expanded more than you could ever reach in isolation.

Where to Share Your Videos

Once you have produced your videos, there are many platforms that you can develop to reach your audience. The most obvious are your website, blog, social media, Youtube and Vimeo, where uploading is simple. Others that many don’t consider is uploading to your Amazon, Goodreads or Huffington Post profiles, as well as perhaps your publisher’s website. If you are planning to produce regular videos, uploading to the same accounts each time and creating a channel for your media is a must, so that once you have caught their attention, readers can easily find others.

Using Metadata to Broaden Your Views

Naming your videos and adding useful tags when uploading to certain platforms is also key to allowing readers to find you. Much like a blog, using tags for your particular audience and genre, as well as your author name gives you a much greater chance of appearing in their search results.

This explosive growth in popularity is allowing authors to reach a huge audience via visual means, deepening that all-important connection between author and reader and keeping your name at the forefront of their consideration.

Practising What I Preach

What better way to illustrate my argument than with a video?

OVER TO YOU How has using video impacted your book sales and visibility? What’s your top tip for using video media in book marketing? Join the conversation via the comments box!

This post was originally published at ALLi’s How to For Authors – http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/why-you-should-use-video-media-to-market-your-self-published-books/

Five Prominent Ways a Busy Author Can Market Themselves Online

372913b0c48d2b1442aaf7fa23cb9feeOver the last decade the internet has changed the lives of writers dramatically. It has tested the publishing industry to the max, and is still consistently changing, forcing publishers, authors and marketing professionals to adapt, in order to make the most of what is probably the least expensive, but most effective form of promotion.

As an independent author, it is imperative that you have a plan in place to showcase your work online and get noticed. The single most effective way to achieve this is by building a strong, professional and branded online platform. By planning in advance and ensuring you have ample amount of content to keep your visitors genuinely interested, your author name will gain vital visibility.

There are plenty of ways to achieve this, but I am going to go through the easiest and most prominent five that will ensure you have the knowledge to start building your platform effectively.

 

Author Website

There is little to no point marketing online and getting yourself noticed if you have no focal point to send interested parties to. A well designed and branded website is the perfect place to host your marketing material as well as detailed information that readers and those in the industry may be looking for after your promotional efforts have paid off. It should also include a way to contact you, so that future opportunities may develop. A website should have static, easily navigable information that provides detailed information effortlessly, and should be designed to appeal to your target audience.

 

Blogging

A blog helps writers connect with their readers, the industry and those interested in the topics you write about. A blog can be used to display your expertise in specific subjects that relate to your work, or in writing itself, further legitimising you as an author. The posts should be written in a professional manner, much like your books, so that visitors can assess the quality of your work. Unlike a website, a blog doesn’t necessarily supply static information, and therefore should be updated regularly to keep readers returning, and also providing a link to your website, where potential readers can find out more about you, and purchase your work.

 

Video Media

With advances in technology, book trailers and video media are fast becoming a popular medium to promote your work. The issue is that in today’s online book sector, there is a narrowing timeframe in order to generate interest. Nowadays information needs to be delivered in a more exciting, interactive manner, and most importantly, fast. It has been found that the average internet user will remain on a website around eighty percent longer if there is a video to view. Videos have also seen the largest rise as a piece of sharable media, meaning your book trailer can be shared all over the world 24/7.

An ever increasing amount of people browse the web via their mobile phones and tablet devices, meaning your page of text may be too daunting and perhaps too small to read. Book trailers are great ways to gain instant attention, tempting visitors to look further and stay longer, as well as share with ease on social media. There are other options for video media apart from book trailers that authors can also consider. Anything from website introductions, readings, interviews or announcements can create an interactive feel and convert information into sales.

 

Podcasts

Following on from video media, podcasts are another effective, interactive way to promote online. Audio interviews, reviews or discussions with authors and industry professionals can all stir up interest, giving you a voice in your field of work. It is also another highly shared form of media, meaning that you can reach a far wider audience than would ever be achievable in isolation. It is also very easy to produce and doesn’t require much technical know-how.

 

Social Media

Connecting with readers and others in the book world online gives you valuable visibility and enables you to network in a way authors from the past would have never imagined possible. You can use it to share your work with readers, discuss being a writer with other authors, as well as opening the door to new opportunities. Agents and publishers freely admit to searching for potential new authors online, and in some cases, such as Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh, even accept pitches’ via Twitter.

There is an etiquette with social media that many authors are yet to grasp. Although it is a valuable promotional tool, simply shouting ‘Buy my Book’ and providing a link is a poor marketing strategy. Instead, providing snippets and links to reviews, links to your blog and video media is a much less demanding, but effective way to gain genuine curiosity.

As with any marketing, too many authors make the mistake of producing poor promotional material, with little design or production experience. It’s always good to remember that being an independent author isn’t necessarily about doing everything yourself, but about surrounding yourself with experts and creating a strong team and investing where it counts.

How Your Online Platform Can Take You From Self-Published to Securing a Major Publishing Deal

2BE7EDDB00000578-3219546-image-m-9_1441198840264You may remember a month or so ago, a children’s book made headlines, claiming to guarantee sending your children to sleep at bedtime, and today, it has made headlines again, after it was announced that Penguin Random House have snapped it up, and is due for release in October.

Author, Carl-Johan Forssen’s story, The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, started its journey as a self-published book, which was translated into English last year, using Amazon’s self-publishing system, Createspace. After reaching No.10 on the Amazon book chart, it began at times outselling high-profile titles such as Go Set a Watchman and Grey.

Many writers now start out as indie authors, either consciously or not, hoping a major publishing house may pick up their work after the success of ‘going it alone’. Whether you admit it or not, it’s every writers dream to have their work read by a wider audience. Today’s news seems to reiterate the point that I make on a regular basis, that mainstream publishing houses are clearly listening to what the market is doing, even outside the bigger works.

The managing director of Penguin Random House Children’s UK, Francesca Dow, said in a statement: ‘We’re thrilled to be publishing The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep—a phenomenon that’s grabbing people’s attention all around the world.

‘We are excited now to be bringing this book to an even bigger audience here in the UK and internationally.

‘As a publisher we want to publish books that speak to people and have the power to support them.

‘This book is very clearly doing that.’

I have seen many authors wanting to achieve this dream, only to fall at the last hurdle for one reason or another. When speaking with authors at events, many are surprised to hear that agents and publishers may research them online prior to making any offers. It’s easier than you may think for publishers and agents to find your details and review how you interact with your audience. This can be done over social media, via interviews, or looking at your own website. This is a vital reason why your online platform should display outward professionalism and encourage the confidence of not just readers, but clearly industry professionals too. If you do not have a website or an online presence at all, publishers and agents can view this as a significant negative against your name. It will take more work in marketing terms to publicise you and your work if you refuse to embrace what is probably the least expensive, but most effective platform for publicity in today’s market.

It also means that publishers or agents may find it extremely difficult to even find your contact details in order to discuss future opportunities with you. The publishing industry is no longer simply about sending in submissions and waiting to hear back. This story demonstrates how the professionals are keeping their ear to the ground and seeking out future titles. If you cannot be easily found, you may be missing out on advancing your writing career.

If you look at Carl-Johan Forssen’s website you will see a very well presented site that immediately conveys legitimacy and professionalism in his field of work. We don’t know whether Random House took note of his online platform or not, but it would have certainly added to their confidence in him as a professional and an author if they had.

It’s never too early to assess whether you could present yourself more effectively online, and if you’re looking for advice or a friendly critique, please get in touch by email (contact@authordesignstudio.com) or via Twitter (@authordesigner).

How to Ensure Your Author Website is Working to its Full Potential

Author Design Studio

Once you have a website as an author, there is a myth that it will just work and pull in thousands of new sales. To some extent it will work, but as with anything, people (most importantly readers) will need to know it is there to benefit from any sort of promotion, and this takes some time and effort. If your website isn’t pulling in as much attention as you hoped, here are a few elements you may wish to check you’re doing correctly.

Is Your Design Working?

The first question to ask yourself is whether your design is working. A website design, and in fact all elements of your book promotion should appeal to your reader in the same way that your book cover needs to. It needs to be branded, professional and targeted to your market. Lack of branding can confuse a reader to believing they haven’t come to the correct website and lack of professionalism can damage your author image. It may be that if they see a badly edited or designed website, this may reflect onto your writing and books. If you put them off with your promotion, you are going to lose their attention very quickly. Professionalism creates a great sense of legitimacy in you as an author and your work before they’ve even picked up the book.

If you feel your design isn’t as professional as other authors that write in your genre, spend a little time on some design research. It is likely that as an author, you read, or have read, in the genre you write, so take some time out to browse popular authors to see what they are offering from their websites, and how their design is pulling in your potential readers.

Another question I come across a lot is authors who write books in two genres. Do you really need two websites for each market? The answer depends really on what the genres are. If they compliment each-other, then it’s possible that you will be offering books to readers that read both styles; for example historical fiction and historical non-fiction. However if your books are polar opposites (I’ve seen websites offering sweet historical romances and modern erotica), then you need to consider using separate websites. You want to avoid deterring readers at all costs. You also need to ensure that your brand is represented, and it may be that this isn’t consistent over your two different genres.

Remember, statistically you have three seconds to convince your website visitor to stay on your website. I will give you a few tips on how to do this, other than having the correct design, in a later post.

Is Your Content Working?

After looking at the design, you will want to concentrate on exactly what your author website contains. Is your existing content offering visitors something they are looking for? As I just mentioned, it’s down to the three second rule. You need to immediately let you visitor know they are in the right place (design), where you want them to go (content and design) and how to get there (content).

Assuming you have covered the first point of design, you then need to let them know what you want them to do. You can do this by ensuring your content is clear and not overwhelming. Your book/s should have prominence, with an immediate link to ‘find out more’ and purchase links. You also need to provide a clear navigation to other pages. This can be done through a menu, making sure the links are clear and concise. Don’t name your pages with quirky titles – you may know what it means, but you readers may not. In other words, the page that contains information on your books, should be labelled in your menu as ‘Books’, not ‘My Library’, ‘My World’ or ‘Offerings’. Keep it simple, so that people can easily navigate around your website. You will also want to ensure that any references in your text to your book are linked to the Book page. That way, if people are reading, they don’t need to scroll to the top of the page to find the menu again. I know this sounds particularly lazy, but any encouragement is essential.

When it comes to the amount of content you provide in your website, this can vary enormously between author’s websites. Some have thousands of words on each page, which quite frankly, unless you’re JK Rowling, people aren’t going to read or take that much of an interest in. You want them to read your book, not pages and pages of content on your website. Remember that your website is ultimately a selling tool, and a place for current readers to find out more about you and your other works. People get very bored, very easily, so keep what you write shorter (around two to three paragraphs is ideal) in order to keep their attention. I will be talking about exactly which content you want on each page in a later post (exactly so as not to overwhelm you…and keep you coming back – I do practice what I preach!).

It’s not just the amount of content you need to consider though, you will also want to consider the quality. Does your website offer something that readers can’t find anywhere else? People love to believe they have found something exclusive, so offer just that on your website. For example 43% of readers agree that they will return to a website if it offers free short stories from an author they like, and 33% admit to wanting a free sample chapter prior to buying a book. Both these can be offered on your website.

Another way to bring people back to your website is via Newsletters and Blogs. If you have the time, you can spend a short while on a daily, weekly or monthly basis writing a few hundred words to let your followers know that you have something new to offer them, some news to share, or an interesting discussion on the topic of your work. It is important again not to overwhelm them with too much information, or too frequently. A newsletter does provide visibility, but people will all too quickly delete a newsletter emailed to them without reading it if it lands in their inbox too often. A blog on the other hand allows them to drop in when they have the time. There are obvious advantages to both, and some authors will use both for assurance that they’re reaching as many readers as possible.

If you have any questions about design and content, or would like a friendly critique of your website, get in touch with me at contact@authordesignstudio.com or tweet me on @authordesigner.

I will reiterate the point that if you keep your website updated (no reader enjoys an out-of-date website), then you have more reasons to pull in visitors to your website. And of course, a website is one of the best promotional tools, which you can update as often as needed, so take advantage of it! It doesn’t need to take very long, but can have a big effect.