Keeping up with book trends and sales? Don’t worry. We are too. There will always be highs and lows, one extreme to another. This isn’t really a trend but just a little something we noticed in the office. Everything is so simple.
Sure, writing the book isn’t simple…getting the book to be noticed by an editor/publisher isn’t simple…the process of production isn’t simple…but when the final product of the book is in the author’s hands or a trusty reader’s yearning finger tips…do they just look at the cover and think, it’s so simple? We’re referring to the cover art itself. And because we came across a list of books in which the title said, “Most Beautiful…”, we thought it was about time we sit down and chat about cover art. Again.
Calling something beautiful is subjective to the writer of the article. Some of the titles on this list have been hyped up and plastered all over the internet, they were bound to become bestsellers. But there was one common thing among the covers we needed to stress. They’re so simple. There’s nothing wrong with simplicity but the simplicity of these books has helped bump up sales revenue. Many fiction titles are beginning to look…uniform. Once again…there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s getting money in someone’s pocket, regardless.
We’re not here to dictate what you should do with your book. But if you find yourself in need of change and you could envision a bit of abstract art or an object as the cover of your book, then maybe it’s time you send out a few emails to the cover designers out in the world. You may appeal to a new crowd looking for the simple covers that get them wondering what the heck the cover is trying to tell them.
Thank goodness we live in a digital age where all we have to do is delete and upload a new image.
Writing an author bio that intrigues people enough to invest in your product will serve as the bridge between you and your readers. Everyone can write the, “I grew up with my nose in a book…” and that’s where I found my inspiration to write type of thing. What people really like to see and remember is you- the actual witty and accomplished person that you are. Your fans love your writing and they want to love you too.
So, let’s talk about some points you may want to consider sprinkling into your bio to make your fans giggle a little.
Don’t bore your fans with some jargon that doesn’t explain who you are outside of your writing life. If you aren’t a writing prodigy who rose to fame by writing a life-changing, coming-of-age novel, then I can safely assume you probably haven’t quite graduated to a full-time author quite yet. Tell your reader what you do by day and unveil your nighttime persona. Sometimes people like to see how dedicated others are to their craft, and we all know working full time can be tedious to a writer’s habits.
If you’re trying to reel in a new reader – it might be cool to give them a taste of your writing through your bio. Describe yourself the same way your narrator might, or make yourself into another character in your story (except that you’re not involved in the plot, just an innocent bystander). Paint a pretty picture (or ugly one, we won’t judge) of who you are or who your pen name is. Fans and readers alike would love to know the nitty gritty details.
Some people like trivia. Add a bit of trivia to your bio. Just like John Scalzi’s bio. It’s worth checking out.
I’ve heard here-and-there how readers like to see the relationship the author has with the publishing industry if that relationship exists. If you’re working as an editorial assistant and hid your manuscript in your file cabinet (with other author files, whoops!), I bet someone will get a kick out of knowing where your manuscript was written. Oh, and apologize to Sue or Greg (your boss, duh) about not turning your project in on time. They deserve the apology!
“Don’t panic. Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends’ embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce…Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way. And if all else fails, there’s prayer. St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers, has often helped me out in a crisis. If you want to spread your net more widely, you could try appealing to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, too.”
Audiobooks are a great source of extra income for many authors, an extra revenue stream that otherwise wouldn’t be there. The audiobook market within the United States is a booming industry, increasing each and every year. Putting their success here in America aside, the possibilities for the future of audiobooks is still endless. According to an article in The Japan Times, audiobooks in the U.S. account for 10% of book sales- amounting to a $160 billion industry. But, this isn’t the case internationally. For example, in Japan the audiobook industry caps off at $5 billion. On the international scene, audiobooks have so much left to do and leave so much to be excited for in the future.
Audio publishers, like Audible, are just beginning to figure out how to be successful overseas. Recently, Audible launched an international initiative in countries just like Japan. In these countries they offer unlimited audiobooks for a monthly fee. The pay per book model that we have in the United States and the United Kingdom just doesn’t work in most other countries. There just isn’t enough awareness or accessibility to audiobooks that are needed for such a model. So, publishers are starting to get creative.
The use of smartphones and their apps are greatly changing the audiobook landscape in countries like Japan. These apps offer easy access to audiobooks that once wasn’t there. In Japan, many people use public transportation and are looking for things to entertain them on their long commutes that don’t pack a lot of weight- downloadable audiobooks are the perfect answer. Febe, a downloading site, was launched in 2007. The site offers over 19,000 books on a variety of topics and genres. Since it’s launch, the number of users has increased from 2,000 to about 180,000- proving that if the content is there and accessible, people will use it.
There is still a long way to go with cultivating a real audiobook culture overseas, but the future is very promising. Audio publishers have found that the key to stimulating interest in audiobooks abroad is to use famous people, poets, or authors as readers. Since it’s a relatively new market, there needs to be something that pulls the listener in to giving the whole audio thing a try. This poses a slight problem because production costs of making an audiobook are already pretty high, let alone needing to commission a celebrity to do the reading. High costs along with low recognition of audiobooks are audio publishers two biggest obstacles when thinking of expanding abroad. But if the audio trend does catch on, the risk will be well worth the reward.
Another year is upon us. We all have a new “to-do” list, a new set of goals, and new adventures awaiting our arrival. Thanks to our friends at Written Word Media, they are making this year a little bit easier on us already. They have compiled a Top 10 publishing trend list for 2017 and I have to say, they are spot on. Take a look at the list below for things you should be looking out for to make this year your most successful yet.
Fiction sales are driven by e-books. The large majority of adult book sales are digital, especially for fiction. So, if that’s the genre you write in you will want to focus most of your marketing power there.
Indie authors and small presses will keep growing. It’s no secret that the “Big 5″‘s market share continues to drop year after year. But, it’s encouraging to know that over 50% of the market share is made up of small presses, indie authors, and Amazon imprints. The good news is that you can drive your own success this year. The bad news is that simply pricing your e-books low won’t alone garner yourself a readership. With all indie authors and small presses pricing their books low nowadays, marketing and visibility is really going to be key this year.
Amazon imprints are dominating. I am getting more and more requests from my authors to submit their work to Amazon imprints. In fact, for many of them it’s the only publisher they would be willing to sign with and I don’t necessarily blame them. In 2016, 7 out of the 10 Kindle bestsellers were from Amazon imprints. If you can’t actually be published by them, Written Word makes a good suggestion- market your books with theirs since they give their own books preferential marketing spots.
Kindle Unlimited will keep expanding. More and more readers are seeing the benefit of the Kindle Unlimited program and Amazon markets the program tirelessly. This will likely affect single unit e-book sales and force more authors to become a part of the program.
Crowding is changing the game. One of the benefits of digital publishing and digital bookstores is that there is endless bookshelf space. Your book can sit up on that “shelf” as long as you want it to. Now, new books not only need to compete with other new books, but with older ones as well. If you have successful backlist books, don’t neglect them- redesign the covers, write new summaries/blurbs, get new reviews, and focus some new marketing dollars/strategies on them too. The more books you have available and easily accessible, the most chances you have at succeeding in a vast e-book world.
Audiobooks will only get more popular. If I haven’t told you this enough already, I will say it again- the audiobook market is continually growing every year. You should always try to make your books available in as many formats as possible.
Marketing will determine success. If you don’t market, then you can’t expect to succeed. The digital age is making it easier than ever for the average person to effectively market their own books. E-mail marketing has always been a popular and effective marketing tool. Also, websites such as BookBub, Freebooksy, and Bargain Booksy are excellent tools as well.
Facebook ads will decline. Facebook ads have become extremely popular in 2016. Their popularity and higher demand has led to higher costs for these ads, which in turn hurts your return on investment. Don’t be afraid to try other advertisement tools this year as well, like Amazon ads.
International audiences are a great place to focus for growth. A great way to expand your audience this year is to reach out to international markets as we are seeing an increased involvement in their readers year after year. International rights can be scary waters to navigate, but the potential is well worth it. There are so many readers outside the US and UK, it would be a shame to not tap into those resources.
Authors will continue to help each other. There is very little in life that can done alone. We are seeing more and more authors banding together and that won’t slow down in 2017. Many authors are starting to co-write books or create box sets together. It also warms my heart to see an author blasting their own social media sites for another author friend. Work on expanding and creating an author support system for yourself this year. After all, we are all in this together.
Here’s to another crazy, but successful, year. Write on!
I cannot believe how quickly 2017 is approaching! I feel like I was just basking in the summer sun, toes buried in the sand, watching the ocean waves roll in. Or maybe that was just last nights dream? Either way, 2017 will be here before we know it- literally. This morning, I was browsing through some recent publishing deals and let me tell you, 2017 is going to be an awesome year. We are leaving behind one successful publishing year and rolling seamlessly into another one. Below are a few of my favorite books to look out for in the new year by major publishers:
THE BAD MOOD AND THE STICK by Lemony Snicket, with art by Matthew Forsythe (Little, Brown Children’s) to be published in Fall 2017.
SWEET BABY JAMES: A POP-UP LULLABY by singer/songwriter James Taylor- a three dimensional picture book with scenes that bring the lyrics to this popular song to life (Blue Rider Press) to be published Fall 2017.
TEAMMATE by David Ross, former Chicago cubs catcher (Hachette Books) to be published May 2017.
Writing is one of the craziest things. Yes, I said it. It’s crazy! On the surface it seems like such a relaxing and simple task, but really it’s so much more than that. I think there’s a small part in all of us who wants to be a “writer.” We all have thousands of thoughts that run through out minds on a daily basis, we all have that one awesome book idea, and we all think that what we have to say is way more important than the person sitting next to us. The truth is, writing isn’t for everyone. Not everyone is meant to be a writer. To be a true writer you have to be a special kind of person. A writer needs to be patient, but driven. Self-disciplined, but connected to the outer world. A multi-tasker, but focused. Flexible, but determined. Creative, but conformed. Writing pulls you in so many different directions in the course of just one page, one paragraph, one sentence which makes it one of the most unpredictable careers or hobbies out there.
I started to think about just how crazy writing is this morning when I came across an article in The Huffington Post titled ‘5 Things You Need To Know About Writing Before Becoming A Writer.’ It really put the whole process in a clear perspective that made me stop to think about the mental stability of us all. Why do we do it? Writing seems harmless and fun but when you start to peel back the layers, it’s way more than you can ever imagine.
My brain is whizzing at about 1,000 miles per hour about these ‘5 Things To Know,’ so here we go:
Writing is difficult. To do it effectively, it’s probably one of the most difficult things you will ever do. And guess what? It never gets easier. Every time you sit down to write even just a few simple words, you may feel like you have been hit in the face with 1,000 bricks. I know this because today is one of those days. And last week was too. And the month before that. Every time I sit down to write a quick blog post, nothing profound, nothing revolutionary, it’s like pulling teeth. Yes, some days the words come out easier than others, but I would never say the process in general was ‘easy.’ You always second guess your opening sentence or your last word. You always struggle to find that one word that truly describes how you feel or want your readers to feel. You always wonder if you could say more or if you should of said less. I also know writing is difficult because I can think of hundreds of others things I rather be doing right now- like laundry, mopping the floors, or washing dishes. And I never want to do those things.
Throw Out All The Rules. In school we were all taught the basics of grammar and the ‘right’ way to construct a sentence, essay, or research paper. As we grew into our own writing and found our ‘spot’, our genre, we were introduced to a whole new set of rules. What you can and can’t write about. How the story is supposed to end. What types of characters you should create. Which surprises you are allowed to throw into your writing, and which ones you should leave out. What a writer really needs to do is ignore everything they have ever learned, which is much easier said than done. To set your writing a part, it needs to dabble outside the mainstream. It needs to say, ‘HEY, LOOK AT ME!’ But every time you misplace a word, use informal language, adopt a risky tone, or create a controversial character your heart will skip a beat. You will have every urge to erase the whole damn thing because you just read an article about how a romance isn’t supposed to end that way. And it will take every ounce of courage to carry on.
Writer’s Block Will Happen. And when it does it will be one of the scariest and most frustrating moments of your life. You will start to second guess everything you have ever written. You will start to wonder if you are even cut out for the job. You will have an urge to keep writing and the words that are coming out will be complete garbage. And you will know it too. This is when there is literally only one thing you can do- stop. You need to stop. You need to throw that self-discipline into high gear and force yourself to walk away. You might just need a few minutes, you might need a few hours, or you might need to come back to it tomorrow. But don’t fall victim to losing some of your best work because of ‘the block.’
Writing Doesn’t Work Around Your Schedule. You might plan out the most perfect day. A quick morning run, a nice hot shower, followed by a few productive hours of writing with a few delicious cups of coffee by your side, then a healthy lunch at the cafe down the street and quite stroll through the park, with a few more productive hours of writing under a beautiful willow tree. I hope you get those days, I really do. But it won’t always work out the way you want it to- I can promise you that. The words might be get stuck in some far away galaxy that morning and finally make it down to Earth half way through that veggie wrap. You might need to push all those healthy habits aside right then and there. When creativity strikes you need to pull out that laptop or notepad and let the words dictate when you will write them. Flexibility is key.
It’s Extremely Satisfying. Through all the craziness you need to keep your eye on the prize- the finished product. To form the perfect sentence, to create a realistic world out of white paper, or to finally choose that last word is a feeling that cannot be described, only experienced. Everything you said you ever hated about your writing and every time you said you were going to quit will simply disappear as if it never existed. You may even feel like a completely different person, completely misled or fooled… until the next time you sit in front of a blank page.
It’s A Window To Connecting With People. Although the process of writing is personal and intimate, once finished your writing reaches complete strangers. There are going to many people who could care less about what you wrote, but there will be others who stopped in their tracks all because of the words that you strung together. You might inspire them, you might change their perspective, or you just might simply entertain them for a few hours. Talk about pressure, huh? The beautiful thing about this connection is that you can’t force it. It’s either going to be there or it won’t. So don’t overthink it. Your natural words will connect you to someone, somewhere better than anything else.
Hershman Rights Management (HRM) officially launched in July 2015, so you know what that means? Yes, you’re doing your math correct- it’s been over a year! We couldn’t do it without all our amazing authors and publishing partners. We have so many people to thank for making our first year such a success. At HRM we pride ourselves on our customer service. It is always our primary goal to keep our clients happy. In order to continue to reach that goal, HRM needs to focus on growth and adapt to every fluid market.
That’s why we are rolling out a couple new things this month. First, and most importantly, we have created a new way in which authors can submit their already published work to us for consideration of representation. Check it out on our new ‘Submission’ Page. The best part? Your answer is instant! If we think you will be a good fit for HRM based on the information you provide on the form, you will know about it right away. If you aren’t… well, you will know that too. We are so excited about this new addition to our agency because the concept of instant results/answers in the literary agency industry is innovative and a first of its kind. Every author knows the harrowing pain of waiting for months just to hear that your work has been rejected. At HRM, we want to eliminate that wait time as much as possible and we have the newest technology that will allows us to do just that.
Second, we are looking to expand our social media reach and visibility. We just launched HRM’s Facebook Page, so we definitely think you should all head over and check it out. Give us a ‘like’ if you dare. Even if you aren’t a part of the HRM family it will be a great place to stay up to date with everything we are doing and everything our fabulous authors accomplish.
There were five reasons HRM decided to amp things up in this way:
We need to be accessible. It’s easy to have a standard contact form on our website that just filters to an e-mail address with an ever growing pile of mail waiting to be answered. Anyone can do that. It’s great to get that mail and see that your business is getting recognition enough for people to reach out to you, but the ability to follow through on those contacts in a timely manner is what really matters. We need to be able to give our potential clients answers- quickly. We want to be an open channel of communication, not a dead end. We hope that with instant conditional offers for representation, we will be better able to serve our authors and give them a brand new tool to help them reach their career goals that they won’t be able to find anywhere else.
We want to be visible. We want authors and publishing professionals to know our name. We want to automatically be seen as a trusted service because well, we are! We have helped many authors advance their career over the last year and we want other authors who are looking for help to know that.
Our client’s (and potential client’s) time is important. The one thing I hate the most is wasting people’s time. It’s a priceless commodity that we can never get back. If we aren’t going to be able to help you, I want you to know that right away so you aren’t sitting around waiting for a hopeful answer. If we think we can help you, I want you to know that right away as well. I want to start working with you as soon as possible so we can start accomplishing your goals together. Your book sitting in a submission pile isn’t doing anyone any good.
We always need to be growing. We can’t get comfortable. Sometimes, we need to push ourselves outside our normalcy and comfort zone to truly succeed. We will never know how successful we can be if we just do the same thing day in and day out. We need to push our limits in order to see just how big we can grow.
We need to have the ability to adapt.Being in the publishing industry, it’s no news to us how important the digital world has become. Therefore, we need to use the digital industry to our advantage to both grow our business and reach our desired clientele. There isn’t a person (let alone author) who doesn’t spend part of their day on some form of digital outlet. The prime way to market a business or product has become digital. You need to go where your clients are going, you need to reach the markets in which they visit every day. By making our submission process and business name more digitally friendly, we hope to reach our masses in the most appropriate way possible.
Buckle in for another innovative year and please, write on!