Constant Evolving

 

Reading a collection of words, more commonly known as reading books, has been the oldest form of entertainment for the privileged. As time has gone on and reading has become necessary and accessible to more…and let’s be honest here, illiteracy is an issue and we should acknowledge that…we want to ask the question: what’s next?

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We have traditionally-printed novels, in the masses. There are eBooks, in the millions, for those who like to read on the run. The technology which has given us audiobooks makes it easier for those just as busy to listen and work, not losing out on the art of reading. Visual storytelling, choose-your-own adventure stories, Kindle in Motion…the list goes on!

But what technology is on the current rise? What can inspire the next generation of readers – to keep the act of reading alive?

Do you see yourself creating a robot, or purchasing one, to have creative discussions with about the books you’re reading? Or maybe using voice tech, we can pick and choose who we want to narrate the book we’re reading when it’s convenient for us.

What do you think is next? And what’s your favorite way or ways to read?

We want to hear!

Pirate’s Life For Me…?

Ahoy mateys! It is I, Captain of the HRM ship, here to tell you: PIRACY. IS. NOT. OKAY.

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I love a good Captain Jack Sparrow gif…but hey, he’s a pirate too.

We’ve been seeing complaints online and receiving alerts from our own authors about “piraters” uploading whole e-books and audiobooks onto various platforms across the web, which is both frustrating and saddening. No one wants to see their work uploaded onto book platforms like iBooks or Google Play Books without their approval, especially if it is being sold for even the smallest amount of money. But most pirated material is put out for consumption for free,  that’s even more of a reason to freak out as an author. People downloading their books for free when they depend on this money to support themselves and their families (not to mention all the hard work and long hours they put into it)?! This is blasphemy!

Yeah, okay, a lot of people try to reason out the pros and cons of   piracy across all platforms…but at the end of the day…someone is making dirty money. Take a bath, why don’t you?

The theory goes that if it is free, shouldn’t you be happy that the book is at least getting some exposure? And if someone reads your book, becomes a fan, and wants to support your writing career, they’ll start to contribute to your newer titles…I suppose that is a good thing? At the end of the day though, it’s just not the life for me.

Is it worth putting up a fight to save your titles? In my opinion: Yes. It. Is. There is this incredibly detailed article talking about the steps to taking down a pirated book. Read it if the pirate market is bothering you to the Nth degree, it certainly has been here at HRM recently.

Since most of our agency’s authors have audiobooks through a publisher, it’s important to know that audiobook piracy happens as well. We have been finding full books up on YouTube and iBooks (make sure to check the podcast section as well, many free audiobooks end up there). Each publisher has their own process for getting these audiobooks taken down. They use sites such as DMCA, Digimarc, and MarkMonitor.  It also doesn’t hurt for you to send a Takedown Notice to the website you found your pirated audiobooks on either. We could use all the resistance we can get.

Protect the booty!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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It’s December 1st, meaning there’s only a month left of 2017. Looking forward to the new year, I have been browsing the prediction of publishing trends for 2018. If you’re stuck on what moves to make next in your publishing career, keep reading this post to see what publishing professionals are expecting to see for 2018!

  1. Digital Fatigue

    With the rise of the use of technology, many dedicated readers are taking a step away from their Nooks, their Amazon Fires, or their Kindle apps on their phone to dive back into the good ol’ days of traditional publishing, specifically paperbacks. Since 2016, e-book sales have dropped 35.9% and Nook earnings have dropped 26%. If you’re a reader taking a break from your cell phone or tablet screen and picking up a good book, I applaud you! If you’re a writer and wondering what to do with your fresh manuscript, looking into traditional publishing might be your New Year’s resolution.
  2. The Rise of Indie & Hybrid Publishing

    Indie publishing has taken over the publishing scene, but so is hybrid publishing right there next to it! From what it looks like, hybrid publishing may be bumping indie style out of the way to take the crown. Authors want to work with professionals who are familiar with the craft of publishing and hybrid publishing provides the professionals from the bigger companies to help the indie publishers make their mark in the world. Just keep in mind the market shares for self-published books is 42%, which is greater than the shares for big publishers at 34%.

  3. Longer E-Book Shelf Life = Increased Competition

    E-books enter a digital cloud and it’s pretty hard to delete them from the internet once exposed. With there being millions of books on the Amazon Kindle app, as well as on other platforms, it’s very easy to get lost in the mix. As a published author, if you’re seeing your sales decline/stagnant, revisit your titles and see what you can do. Maybe a new cover? Book description? Or even utilize some marketing resources to revitalize the title of your book. Or if you don’t see any improvement from there, publish more books! The more books you have available to readers, the better chance you have to get readers to buy.

  4. More Books, Stagnating Readership

    Although 73% of Americans read at least a book a year, there are so many books! “Discoverability” should become your best friend as a writer to help gain more exposure with your titles.

  5. Audiobooks are GROWING

    I saved the best for last! In 2013, 20,000 audiobooks were released. In 2014, 36,000 audiobooks were released. In 2015, valued at $2.8 billion, 43,000 audiobooks were released for the growing community of audiobook lovers! Kindle Unlimited is on the rise, as well, with access to 2,500 audiobooks for a great price!

Judging A Book By Its Cover

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If you are travelling down the self-publishing path, then creating a book cover is going to be another part of your publishing journey. After walking through aisles and aisles of books at the local B&N, I started to notice the similarities amongst some of the genres. There’s a cycle a writer should keep in mind when creating the cover to their book. If you were the book, the process would go a little something like this:

  1. Get noticed by the potential reader browsing all your friends on the bookshelf or Amazon page.
  2. Either you’re picked up or clicked on, because you’re just that interesting.
  3. If you’re exactly what the potential reader wants, they’ll buy you.
  4. Of course, they’ll read you.
  5. After they’re done, they’re going to talk about you to other people. They’ll entice their peers with your inspiring and rich content.
  6. Let this process repeat.

But, how can you get to step one? A good cover takes a couple different factors into account. For a fiction novel, you won’t want to include too much text. The title, author name, and maybe an essential quote from the book or a shortened quote from a reviewer is more than enough to do the trick. When you add too much text, it becomes too much for a the reader to consume or it might reveal too much about your novel. This can cause the reader to quickly put your book back on the shelf or scroll onto the next book. Quick catchphrases or quotes can sometimes be a good subheading – but make sure it doesn’t go much beyond a sentence. If images help your novel pop, make sure the image used is significant to the plot of your novel. It becomes visually appealing when a story about a dog, has a dog on it (or whatever the story may be). When you pick the right image, a reader can get just as much information about your novel from just looking at the cover as they can from reading its summary.

Let’s use Caraval by Stephanie Garber as an example. The cover of Caraval is a happy medium between being too boring and too active. The bright white color font of the title pops out at you, so you are immediately drawn to the title. The lettering intertwines elegantly with the star design without being too intrusive, adding a little extra pizzazz without hindering your ability to read the text easily. The glittery stars within the star design, against the space background, flow together in a simple manner. When creating your cover, you want to reflect the story you’re telling. In Garber’s novel, her main character, Scarlett, must find her sister in five nights while being surrounded by magic and performances (therefore, the star design on the cover mirrors the nighttime or bursts of magic within the novel).

If you are a visual artist, as well as a wordsmith, you might want to take it upon yourself to create your own cover because you know the image you wish to convey to your readers better than anyone else. Or recruit someone you may know or a trusted cover designer to work with you to create the perfect cover that will bring your story to life. Regardless of how your cover is made, you want to be able to appeal to your readers and represent your book in an exceptional way that wouldn’t allow it to be looked over by browsers.

The Success of Content

The more content there is out in the world and the more accessible it becomes, the more people will read or listen to that content. This is true with the audiobook industry. In a January 10th article, Marketwired published some interesting results about library trends for 2016. When I worked directly in the audio publishing world, I constantly saw the rise and power of the library. As more audiobooks were becoming available to them and the more they made those audiobooks accessible to their patrons via electronic borrowing  sites, the more sales increased weekly, monthly, and yearly. Now, as a literary agent I continue to see the rise of these sales within libraries and their borrowing sites and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop any time soon.

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In 2016, there was a huge increase in borrowed audiobooks thanks to digital sites like Overdrive. There was a 34% increase in audiobooks borrowed from local and school libraries’ digital catalogs compared to 2015. The growth is attributed to many things- an increase in digital bookclubs hosted by librares, more people listening to audiobooks (which jumped 67% on Overdrive), more young adult readers using library services, and an increased participation from international and multi-language readers.

The most popular library borrowed audiobooks for 2016 were:

  1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Keep writing, because people are reading. Keep creating audiobooks, because people are listening.

Write on.