(Almost) Ending the Year On Some Trendy Business

We know, we know…it’s not our last post of the year, but it’s close to it! We figured it would be good for anyone looking into getting published to get the heads up: the results are in, publishing trends are here.

Before we get started though, we want to direct you to the source in which the general info comes from. Opinions and advice are ours! But check out this blog/publishing service.

Let’s get right into it!

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  1. First and foremost, is the decline in reading going to push writers away from publishing their work?

    We vote a big fat NO. Reason being, we see the decline in reading as a way to push writers to treat their work with care (and to get into e-Pubbing, but we’ll discuss in a second.) Getting all the pre-publication shenanigans out of the way is something so many people don’t truly pay attention to – so maybe, it’s time we give our precious work some TLC and hire a few people to take a look at what we’ve got.

  2. Print books remain #1. What does this mean for you?

    While everyone (or maybe it was just me) believes that eBooks are the only way to read now, we come here to confirm: this is not true. Print books remain the champion of reading (even if less people do the act of reading.) Now, before you comment and say, “getting my book printed will cost so much money” or “I can’t seal the deal with PRH or Tor or any of those big publishers!” Don’t forget about print-on-demand: the most efficient way for a self-published author to get their book in physical format! So you can still make your way into the print market without a major publishing deal (sorry, big guys.)

  3. Audiobooks are still on the rise!

    We love audiobooks here at HRM. We talk about them enough to say we’re not surprised they’ll continue to rise come the new year.
  4. We’ve talked about it once, we’ll talk about it again: hybrid/collaborative publishing is important and will continue to rise in popularity in 2019. Why should it be important to you?

    Hybrid publishing and collaborative publishing are important mediums to self-published authors (or writers looking into self-publishing.) We want the quality of a major publisher (you know, the big tough editors and the fantastic printing jobs) but since deals from them are far and few between, we need an alternative. An alternative where we have creative flexibility and control over the work in question. These mediums are just that. They provide the quality care to your work as well as giving you the power over it – with consideration, of course. Major publishing houses ensure a bigger paycheck, but why not get your foot in the door to start?

  5. Marketing is your best friend.

    We talk about marketing a lot on this blog. It’s an important part of being a writer/author who wants exposure. If you’re interested in keeping up with a variety of marketing tactics, just use the search bar for this blog and we guarantee you’ll come across something.

 

Happy Holidays, everybody!

Meanings Here and There

A lot of prominent writers (the ones who land traditional pub deals, go on talk shows, get to see their books become films…) tend to write with deep meaning between the lines. A writer can use ways to create meaning behind the face value of the story using symbolism, their protagonist, and general commentary on society outside of the fictional tale.

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Research becomes a writer’s best friend in this scenario. When research is applied to the writing, particularly in the setting, creates meaning for the story as a whole. Knowing where your story will take place will help narrow down symbolism as well. Check out folklore, mythology, any literary history of the country you choose. Even names contain meanings sometimes.

You also have to keep in mind that your subconscious will become more apparent in your writing and the only person who will notice is you.

Re-read your draft and see if you’ve executed the story and given the deeper meanings justice. And if you haven’t, well…what are you waiting for? Get back to it!

Metadata & Me

A little late to the BookExpo train, but we’re here to update you all on one of the most important parts of our day.

In our opinion, the best panel we attended was the impromptu one. Long story short, the panelists who were supposed to be in attendance and speak got stuck somewhere else and two agents took over halfway through the wait.

One of the most talked about points of the conversation was about metadata. In book publishing, metadata was stressed so much and we’re here to help you understand why.

What is metadata? … I asked myself the same thing. I knew it had something to do with the discovery of online destinations, but I didn’t know the breakdown. Book metadata, specifically, consists of the details that help the exposure of your novel on the internet. But what does it consist of? Let’s talk about that.

Before the publication of your novel, you should consider opening up another document and writing out three basic points:

  • Keywords / key phrases
  • Book description using keywords
  • Author bio, using keywords

Do you see the common trend? I do. Keywords.

Keywords will become your best friend and your book’s best friend. But stay away from the generic words and “less important” ones. Your work could easily get lost or misplaced on the internet. Double check those words on a search engine to see what comes up. If it is similar to your work, then you hit the jackpot.

good to be back.gifYour list should be narrowed down to 10 – 20 words. You’ll be able to use this same tactic for the book description and author bio to reach a max audience.

To continue to thrive in the market, revisit this and re-brand yourself every so often. When you do this, you’re re-entering the market to a new wave of potential readers and fans.

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 World of Wattpad

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In 2006, Wattpad was created. With 11 years under the company’s belt, the free platform for writing has accomplished plenty. People behind Wattpad have built ties with major publishing houses (yes, we’re talking Random House, HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, and Sourcebooks). One success story from Wattpad is Anna Todd with her AFTER Series, originally published online. Of course not everyone gets to see the rise to fame like Todd did, but services like Wattpad are making their mark on assisting authors to get noticed.

From 2014 alone, 85% of Wattpad’s traffic and usage came from mobile devices. Each month, there were 35 million unique visitors, including users. OVER 100,000 chapters are uploaded each day and OVER 2 million dedicated writers use the service

If you’re not involved or familiar with the platform, Wattpad provides a few different services. As a member, you have access to “Clubs,” which are groups for members who seek help from one another or feel the need to discuss topics relating to writing. Wattpad is also known for The Wattys- an award system created to reward writers for their stories with members participating in the votes. There are also many writing contests held for writers to challenge their own ability and to earn some credentials to their name. There is a collaborative space for beginners to learn from the stars of Wattpad how to navigate the website and how to create a fanbase. Lastly, Wattpad also hosts a writing exercise for participating writers called #JustWriteIt, a 30-day writing challenge.

As a writer, there are some pros and cons with joining Wattpad so if you’re interested in being published or if you are still deciding if the service is right for you, you will want to consider both sides:

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Write on.

The Publishing Journey: One of Many To Come

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If you’re new to the publishing world, it’s alright to feel completely overwhelmed and lost at times. The publishing world can often feel like a foreign country to beginners or sometimes even its own planet. All the greatest writers had to start somewhere before they became a published author, and trust me they all felt the exact same way you are. At least now we have Google to guide us, right?

The business of publishing is quite interesting from the outside looking in, but if you haven’t had the opportunity to publish your first novel, you may be a little weary of what to do and where to go. The intimidation (and/or high level of anxiety) of sending your manuscript to a literary agency or one of the big five publishers should not discourage you. It’s an exciting time to finally be able to bring your hard work to life. At HRM, we develop submission plans for our authors that would best showcase their work while making sure we target the best potential editors for a successful deal. We have constructed a list of things that we keep in mind when searching for publishers for our authors. Perhaps this will make the submission process tad bit less scary: Who’s going to be YOUR target? Before you even start the submission process, you need to reflect on the manuscript you’ve produced. You probably thought about it before writing it, but if you haven’t, ask yourself: who would I want to read my masterpiece? What genre can I market this book as? These few questions can help narrow down the search in publishing options.

  1. Be aware of your online presence! In this technology-based era, publishing has turned towards audio, e-books, and other new forms of reading options. As for authors, becoming more active online can help you grow a fanbase much better than word-of-mouth (although that definitely still happens too). This helps publishers see how popular you are amongst peers/fans. If you already have a built in fan base, that’s a huge plus for publishers.
  2. Know how publishing houses work… Each house is different. Sometimes they market to a certain age group or focus on publishing a particular genre. Search the publishing house website for their company goal; therefore you can compare your own goals as a writer to those of the house.
  3. Check the performance of the house… Once you’ve narrowed down a list of publishers you envision yourself publishing with, research some previously published books by these particular publishers and how well they sold. See if they marketed the book correctly online as well as how they presented the book to the public.
  4. If you need help with PR, check out the houses PR department. If online presence has been a struggle for you, a publisher’s PR department is going to be important to you. When you’re checking the performance of the house on their social media accounts, check what they post about, how people react to it, and if it is done effectively. If nothing else, it can assist in your own social media brand and following.
  5. Don’t feel discouraged from rejection! If there is one thing you should expect in any industry, it is rejection. Accepting your defeat doesn’t mean you’ve given up…it just means you’re onto the next, and hopefully better, one!
  6. Last, but not least…HAVE OTHER PUBLISHING OPTIONS!!!!! Sending your manuscript to ONE publisher makes landing a publishing deal impossible. Send your manuscript to ten, maybe even twenty possible publishers, and see what kind of reaction you get from there. If you don’t receive any bites, do a second or even third round of submissions. Finding the right editor for your work is a formula that could take months or years to figure out. Be prepared to explore other options, even if it’s a completely different route than you had originally planned.  Stepping stones will always assist in you getting to your end goal, even if it takes a few extra steps along the way.

The Instant Approval Process

It’s been about six months since we launched our new ‘Submission Page’ and it’s about time we talk more about this revolutionary process.

As manager of Hershman Rights Management (HRM), a literary agency founded in July 2015, I am always looking for ways to better serve my authors and future authors. HRM represents about 100 authors and has successfully sold hundreds of their titles to audio publishers such as Audible, Tantor Media/Recorded Books, Brillance, ListenUp, and MMB Media to name a few. We have also assisted our authors in expanding their works internationally with our most popular translations being into Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Turkish, and French.

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As a literary agency, we constantly receive submissions and queries from authors for unpublished works through our ‘Contact Page.’ We love hearing from new talent and cherish the opportunity to be one of the first eyes to peruse the fruits of their labor. But, we also love working with our many self-published authors and have started an Instant Approval Offer Process (IAOP) to make their submission process easier and more accessible. If you are a published author (either self-published or traditionally published) and are looking for ways to expand your reach via audiobooks, foreign translations, etc. then our instant approval process is just what you have been looking for. IAOP allows published authors to enter in some simple information about their work based on criteria that we know publishers are looking for. If your information matches the criteria, you will instantly be given an opportunity to be represented by HRM.

The IAOP is helpful because authors no longer need to wait extended amounts of time to hear back from a literary agent or publishing company they might attempt to query themselves. Representation by HRM allows authors to invest more of their time in writing more books rather than trying to figure out the audiobook process or international publishing process themselves, which often times becomes much more complicated and confusing than the author initially imagined.

The goal of the IAOP is to allow authors who like the freedom of being self-published, but still want to explore other avenues in which they can profit off their work, to get a hassle and worry free offer from a literary agency designed to cater to their specific needs.

See below for a brief FAQ about our IAOP:

-How long does it take to hear directly from HRM after I am approved for representation?

If after filling out the form you receive an approval for representation by HRM, you will hear from us within 48 hours with some information about our agency and a draft contract for you to look over.

-What happens if my information doesn’t match the criteria you are looking for?

The simple answer, nothing. If you don’t get approved for representation, you are more than welcome to keep trying once you have garnered more sales, reviews, or social media followings for your work. If only some of your information matched our criteria you might get a message saying that we need to further review your submission information before we can make a decision about whether or not we think representation by HRM would be a good fit for you. Fingers and toes crossed!

-Are there any obligations when filling out the IAOP?

Nope, there are no obligations on either party when filling out the IAOP. If you get approved for representation and after talking more with HRM you decide you aren’t interested, that’s perfectly fine. You are under absolutely no obligation to sign on for representation with HRM just because you did the IAOP. We also aren’t obligated to extend representation to you if we don’t think we would be able to help you in any way. The last thing we want to do is spread false hope.

To learn more about HRM, click here.

To use the IAOP, click here.

Write on.

 

10 Publishing Trends for 2017

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.

2017

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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!

The Publishing Battle

What do to with your work once it’s finished is sometimes one of the hardest decisions for an author. You have worked so many unpaid manhours on your latest piece and you want to make sure you showcase it in the best way possible- in both monetary and artistic ways. Now more than ever with the rise of self-publishing, authors are often questioning if traditional publishing is worth it. As a literary agent, I see many authors faced with this choice, many feel lost and somewhat skeptical.

I am very pro-indie. I understand the numerous benefits self-publishing has to offer. The freedom, the creative control, the deadline free atmosphere, monetary control, and most importantly the feeling of self accomplishment. Your book reached the Top 100 on Amazon because of you. With that said, I am also a huge fan of traditional publishing. A publisher can offer you things that are very hard to get on your own, or at least are very expensive and time consuming to get on your own. They are equipped with trained editorial staffs, the best marketing and publicity connections, wide distribution channels, and fabulous designers. They take the bulk of the work out of your hands so you can focus on well, writing.

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All these feelings and opinions of self-publishing versus traditional publishing were perfectly summed up for me in a recent interview with author Kiera Cass by Preen. Before hitting her stardom, she ventured into the self-publishing world so she has a great understand of both sides from an authors perspective. Here are a few things she pointed out about her experiences:

  1. The stigma of self-publishing has gone away.

At the beginning, admitting you were a self-published author always came accompanied with eye rolls and huffs. No one took self-publishing seriously. It was assumed that if you were a self-published author that it meant that you couldn’t get a literary agent or traditional publisher to give you a chance. Sometimes that is certainly true, but now more and more authors are choosing to self-publish. It has become a proven science that if done correctly, can actually work. We have seen many authors become household names with self-publishing which is totally changing the game.

2. Editing is one of the hardest parts of self-publishing. 

Just because you are a writer, doesn’t mean you are a good editor. Sometimes when we review our own work especially, we are blind to our mistakes and areas of improvement. That’s why having an editor is super important and something I really can’t stress enough. Editing can make or break your success. Hiring a good editor can be very costly when you self-publish, making it a key selling point to seeking a traditional publisher.

3. Self-publishing is all about control.

It’s no secret that most authors are drawn to self-publishing because the amount of creative control it gives them over their work. Every decision is completely and utterly all theirs. The absence of deadlines also relieves stress. You can work at your own pace and if you don’t finish something on time, no problem- just simply push back your publication date. The control also allows you to publish books quicker instead of waiting for when your publisher has room in their catalog for you. You can publish a book every month making yourself a lot of product with more chance for revenue.

4. Traditional publishing allows you to polish your work.

Traditional publishing enables the author to focus on what they do best- writing. Your editor will work with you create the most polished version of your book possible. You have worked so hard on it, why not make it the best it could possibly be? Not only will the inside of the book be sculpted but the outside will match the amazingness on the inside. Your book cover is what attracts readers, especially for a new author. A good graphic designer and marketer are key components of a book’s success, which can be very hard to come by on your own. Publishers have everything you need, all built into one place.

5. Self-publishing builds a fan base.

Many self-published authors will notice that they can garner a fan base for themselves just by running a few quick promotions, contests, or giveaways. These type of marketing strategies basically sell themselves and encourage people to talk about you and your book(s). Once people are talking, you can just ride that wave. If you then decide to seek a traditional publisher, it’s enticing for them to see that you already have fans and somewhat of a built in audience who have been cheering you on since day one. That helps justify their investment into you as one of their authors.

6. Self-published authors are writers.

More and more awesome books are coming out of the self-publishing world. Readers are stopping to give these books a chance and discovering that many of them are actually really good. Most importantly, publishers are realizing the same things too and starting to pick up these authors. It’s hard work to be a successful self-published author and there’s no negative stigma about it.

Write on.

Embracing The Digital Age

Writing is a scary process. It’s one of the few times we can let ourselves be completely vulnerable. We pour our heart and souls onto the paper and then all of the sudden, it’s there- ready for the rest of the world to see. Unfortunately, the publishing process is just as scary. Especially into today’s publishing landscape, there are so many options an author needs to consider. Do they want to try their hand at a traditional publisher? Do they want to immerse themselves in the indie world? Do they want to seek a strictly digital publisher? The digital age has changed so much about book publishing its very easy to become discouraged.

Today I can across another Huffington Post article that highlighted five things that all authors should know about publishing in the digital age. Perhaps the article will ease your mind, maybe it will ensure you that despite all it’s challenges it is possible to succeed in today’s publishing market. Or perhaps the article will increase your anxiety even more, bringing to light more things that you had never even thought of. Either way, the article addresses some important issues that our digital age has created for authors and book publishing. So take a deep breath, read it for yourself, and know that you can do this.

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  1. Traditional vs. Indie

The indie world has opened up a mass amount of opportunity. More authors than ever have the ability to publish their work, share it with fans, and most importantly- make money off of it. But now every author is faced with the dilemma of going with a traditional publisher or acting as their own. Being your own publisher allows you to find your own success, work on your own terms, and maintain absolute creative control. The freedom comes with a price tag of a lot of work, many logged research hours, and a host of lingering questions. If you decide to seek out a traditional publisher, the work that will need to be done on your end in terms of producing the book decreases dramatically. But now you need to decide which publisher is right for you and what your expectations are.

2. You need to market your own work.

The world of social media has made it easy for everyone to become a marketer and once you write your first book, you aren’t just an author now but a marketer as well. Even if you have a traditional publisher, the role of social media is instrumental to your success. Your publisher just isn’t going to have the amount of time needed to appropriately dedicate the hours into growing your social presence, so you are going to need to do it. Everyone loves being able to connect with their favorite authors, see what they are up to on a daily basis, and keep track of their upcoming projects. Being visible is the best thing for your writing career. Once people are invested in you, they will be invested in your work as well.

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3. Print On Demand Books.

Bookstores rarely stock print on demand books, so this is something you should be aware of before making any distribution/publishing decisions. Bookstores want to be able to return their stock if it doesn’t sell, so the print on demand model just doesn’t work for them. The article points out a couple ways in which you may be able to get around this, so check it out.

4. Distribution.

So, you have this lovely physical book- how do you sell it? Finding a distribution company can be next to impossible, especially if you are a new author. Most distribution companies like to see a successful sale history, so if you don’t have any to show them then you just might be out of luck. Your best bet is to wait until you have some (good) digital sales. The good news? Digital sales are growing by leaps and bounds, so don’t sweat it.

5. Pitch Your Work.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your book (and get used to it). Put yourself out there and pitch your book to whoever you need to in order to get the job done. If you don’t get yourself out there, the likely hood of them coming to you is very slim. You will also need to prepare yourself for rejection. It’s one of those unavoidable harsh realities of writing and publishing. That one “YES” will make all false hope worth it. If not, don’t get discouraged- you can always do it on your own. If you don’t ask, you shall never receive.

Write on.