Saturday, April 20, 2013

You've got to go with the times...


The Publishing World : The Times They Are Changing
This is my humble opinion of how the times have changed and my personal experiences in this new book world. 

    So, you want to write a book. You want to follow your dream. You want to pour your heart out on paper, sit in front of your typewriter, drink way too much coffee and toss back enough corn chips to make your doctor cringe, and then toss your heart out there on a platter, be a true artist, be a bestseller, meet & greet your fans, be loved and known and make a good living, toss fan mail up in the air and wallow in it on your bed while you giggle like a school girl... no? OK, that's just me, but you get my drift. 
   And all of these things are great. They're awesome. They were what I thought writing was all about. I thought, writers were rich, must be. Writers are eccentric and aren't normal people. They sit around and drink exotic teas out of porcelain cups on their verandas and think up more things they needed to spend their money on. Go ahead. I'll wait while you calm your laughter at the absurdity.  I'm sure Stephen King and Stephanie Meyer are the only ones who would have the capability to do that, but in my mind, I just had no clue as to the life of an author. And what I described above was what I imagined. It's what you see on TV, when a struggling, starving writer sits at his typewriter and never sleeps. It's inspiring! It makes me think about honestly how much better we, as authors, today have it than authors of twenty years ago.
    The writing world has changed. (GASP!) I know. And people don't like change. (BIGGER GASP!) I know! I know! I used to be one of those people until we had to start traveling with my hubby's job. We lived in GA, FL, IL and NY. It was an amazing few years of our life. It was great and a very good lesson for me to accept change. 
    I've talked about my publishing story several times. I never even thought about being an author, ever. I would have laughed at you had you said such a thing. I hated to read. Hated it. Then I saw a movie and knew there was a sequel book that came after that movie. I wanted to know what happened, so I picked the book up. I didn't expect to enjoy it, just to learn what happened next.
   Talk about a revelation! I loved to read! I had just been given the wrong books to read all my life! So, we were in Illinois and I was bored out of my mind when my hubs was working 7 days a week, 12 hours a day there. So I started reading. And I kept at it until I literally read every single paranormal book in the YA section of Borders. Then one night I got an idea. A sort of dream about a book idea. I wrote it down and started to get intrigued. If I loved reading so much, I would probably love to write just as much. So I started my first book Collide. It was my obsession! Long story short, I wrote 4 more books before I even thought about publishing. I thought my stories were just jumbles of words and weren't really 'books' and no one would ever want to read them. After 25 rejections from agents, I believed that was true. When my hubs started to complain that I was spending too much on books, he said his friend's wife had a Kindle, and I should look into it. So I did and downloaded the free app to my phone. The very first Indie book I read was M. Leighton's Blood Like Poison. And the kicker? It was only .99. It made me wonder why this publisher would sell it for that cheap when all the other books were more. And that welcomed me to the world of indie\self publishing. So I threw 3 of my books, the first in 3 different series out on Amazon, fully expecting everyone to say how bad they were and I'd pull them off and at least say that I tried. Writing was fun, and even if no one else loved my stories, I didn't plan to stop.
    So color me surprised when people not only bought the books, but left reviews saying they loved them. And then I started getting emails saying how much they loved them. I was floored in the best way!
   What's the point of all this? Well see, here's the thing. I would never have known that books could be on your phone or computer or anything else that was not paper in my hands had it not been brought to my attention. I assumed a book was made of paper and you either got accepted by an agent for publishing that book or you were outta luck. Damned to be a starving writer, doing what you love. 
   That's no longer the case. This isn't a post for traditional publishing VS self publishing, this is about learning to go with the times. And if you don't, you'll be left behind. I was one of those people until my eyes were opened. By the internet.
   Example. I remember talking to different authors where they talked about all the ways they planned to shoot themselves into stardom. (Their words, not mine) The means of that was to go to every 'booky' event they could find, meet every person that had anything to do with books, have all these fancy signs and things for all the signings and events they had planned, spent so much money on gas and airfare, went and spoke at their local library and put ads in their paper, tried to meet up with bloggers and fans in person to discuss books. Unfortunately, they weren't having success.
    They asked me for advice, what should they do more than they were already doing. That they were spending so much money and time on all these events but seeing no return or book sales for it. I tried to explain that that was no longer the way to go. Things had changed and they needed to embrace the internet and all it had to offer. Signings are great, book festivals can be amazing, libraries are a great place to meet readers, but that stuff comes after you've done the footwork to get your books out there and get people buzzing and buying them. How do your readers even know about a book signing you're offering? The internet!
   Book signings are your reward for all your hard work that you've put in. Book signings and events are no longer the means to reach readers. I know some people are going to disagree. And I know, I've met new people at events and they've told me they were buying my book when they got home or even bought one from me there. And that was so awesome. I felt amazing to see that I literally reached a new reader that way, but what I'm talking about is not 1 or 2 or even 20 readers. 20 readers does not a successful author make. I'm talking about reaching the people with a megaphone. I'm talking about reaching people with a platform that puts readers who are in your exact genre for your book, not just randomly, but right in the niche. 
    THAT is the key to any success as an author, however you define success. You have to find your audience, your target, your niche. How do you find the right place for your books, book blogs that will go great with your book, readers who are looking for recommendations for a book like yours?? The internet!
   Those people I was talking about, those authors who struggled so much and tried so hard, literally worked their butts off to have success, who asked me for my help? When I gave it to them, to embrace the internet, they said they had no interest in social media or didn't enjoy it or know how to work it. Um, neither did I! It's a learning curve, but a necessary one. Facebook, Twitter, your blog or website, book blogs, book tours, guest posts, interviews, Goodreads (Grrr).... and when I say Facebook & Twitter, I mean it. Talk to people! Post funny (appropriate) things! Post discussions on your fan page. Posting your book link over and over is NOT what I'm talking about. All of those things, no matter how much you don't enjoy them or think you don't need them. YOU DO! Like I said, book signings are the reward for getting the work done. By work done, I mean on the internet, social medias, get reviews going on books blogs, connect with other authors and bloggers and most importantly, your fans and readers, who have this awesome opportunity to reach out to you directly. On the internet!
   Now, I have a paperback addiction. A huge one. But I'm not in denial that eBooks, no matter how much some people don't like them, are the way the world is going. If you don't embrace that - and that doesn't mean that you have to leave paperbacks behind, it just means that you have to make room for the future - you'll be left behind in this new publishing world. Same thing goes with self\indie published authors. If you don't embrace them, you'll be left behind because look around, they're serious, they're fierce, and they're here to stay!
    My agent, Jane Dystel, said the same thing about authors who don't want to embrace the future of the book world in an interview on DigitalBookWorld.com, "They’re not observing what is going on in the business and I find it surprising because it’s the business they want to participate in and if they don’t change their minds they’re going to be left behind."
   I completely agree with her. My mother-in-law (who I love) says the same thing as some of those authors. That paper books are the only way to go and we're almost like spitting on tradition for moving on with technology. I see the point, but again she's a reader, not an author. As an author, you HAVE to embrace this new publishing world. On the internet.
   I think about when I first started reading. We weren't rich by any means, but we weren't poor either. But hardcopies of books are expensive. I think back to when I could only buy two or three books a week because of our budget. Which I know to some is plenty, but to a girl who read a book a day like tons of others, it wasn't enough. Then when I got my Kindle going, I could read 12 books for the price of one hardback! My life changed. If I hadn't embraced the new technology offered to me, I doubt I would have ever found Indie books and become an author myself. 
   eBooks make it possible for those who don't have the financial means to walk into a bookstore and get whatever they want a way to read!! How could that be a bad thing? It gives rabid readers the means to buy more books than they normally would be able to. It gives authors a more cost effective option to give out review copies. It makes it easy for someone like me who lives an hour away from the nearest bookstore to not have to wait to read a new release days later. It's downloaded instantly. And I honestly am shocked that the fact that eBooks save trees doesn't come up more often in our world today.
    And as an author, the majority of your revenue is eBook sales. I've done pretty well with paperback sales, but compared to eBook sales, just numbers, it's nothing in comparison. I wouldn't even be able to make a living this way without eBooks and it has opened up a whole new world to readers. They're able to read more books which means they'd read things that they might not usually read and break out of their genre to explore others. And as stated above, we make our living on the internet so we should get out there and market ourselves on the internet. The driving force behind sales is word of mouth, when someone reads your book and tells other that it was a good read. Book blogs are a great way to do that. And when readers see your book cover several places, they'll remember it and want to see why so many people are talking about it. They'll buy it. On the internet.
    Just step back and look at our world, not just books, but everything. How much has our world changed, not just the last years, but the last year! It's amazing. It's made so many opportunities for people that wouldn't have bean there before. As an author, you use the internet to publish your works, (whether self or traditional) our books are found and sold on the internet so why is it so hard to see that if you're books are sold on the internet, that the best way to sell and market those books ourselves is...the internet. Work your butt off at it! There are so many resources available for you to teach you the best ways to do that. Don't let your hindrance of the unknown or your dislike for the way things are going get in the way of your success.
    Bottom line? Whether you're in love with technology or not, it's the direction our world is going. 
    Embrace it or get left behind. 

Jane's article can be found HERE.


14 comments:

  1. I love a great e-book. E-readers make it easier for me to carry a load of books with me all the time. And when I love one so much, well... I get it in paperback too so I can touch the written masterpiece! In fact, I do believe some of the first ones I downloaded were YOURS! <3

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    1. Thank you, Carole! :) I do the same thing and my shelves at home are overflowing with my paperback addiction!

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  2. I agree 100% with you. Embracing the Internet is necessary for authors. Ereaders are here to stay, the Internet isn't going away... Everyone needs to just buck up and learn how to live with it and use it to their advantage. I know as a blogger it is a necessity, I wouldn't be writing if not for the world wide Web. I. Thank you also for publishing eBook. You mentioned it allows people to read for an affordable price. I wouldn't be able to read near as much without my (beloved) Kindle.

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    1. Yes! The internet has made it possible for bloggers, too! It's a win\win if people just embrace it. :)

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  3. In the past 5 years I have bought many books. Like you, I am a one book a day reader (or else!) and I have to say, since I got my kindle on mother's day 2011 I have had my eyes opened. Books for $.99? Books for...gasp...FREE???!!! My intake has dramatically increased as I have so much more access to good books than I had with hardcopy novels. I am an amazon addict. I know I have a problem...and I love it. I love indie authors. Maybe I'll be one some day...maybe not, but I love your opinion and insight! Thank you!

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  4. I was totally a "paperback" kinda girl and told everyone "Nahh, I won't get an e reader - I prefer to have a paperback right in my hands" - ha - I succumbed to an e reader & my reading habits changed tremendously. I now can afford, like you said, several books for the price of one hard copy. However, I'm totally like Carole above - when I find a book I love, I still go get the physical copy for my bookshelf. Call me paranoid, but living through cassette tapes, to CDs, to now iTunes digital downloads, I'm afraid ill eventually lose my ebooks when some new form comes out - paperbacks are my safety net - they'll always be there :) <3

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    1. Ha. Yep. You just have no idea my paperback obsession. :) I do the same thing. I buy my favs in PB.

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  5. I totally agree. You've got to follow the trends or be left behind. It's sad that people still rebel against it. Things have changed and they are never (probably for the better) going back that way.

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  6. I also agree. I got my ereader for Mother's Day a couple years ago and I've read more books on it than I have in my entire life. I always had a problem with reading books through school..couldn't read the black and white without the words all running together, or falling asleep. With my ereader (although black and white) I can read anything and read for hours upon hours. Guess I'm trying to catch up to all the fun I missed.

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  7. I love my kindle. it allows me to bring books any place I go. when we go on vacation I don't have to leave my book i was reading due to space. its on my kindle or on my kindle app on my phone. so I can keep reading my indie authors books. what's so great is you can loan a book to your friend and not have to worry about it getting lost. They get the book for so many days and then it comes right back to your book listing. I do have a few books that I will always have both the eBook and paperback for and that's just me. I myself never would have found out about eBooks and the kindle if it wasn't for my friends who drive semi trucks for a living. They have limited space and books take up to much room. So a lot of the one that I have known for years have ereaders. I did my research with them and the internet before I found the one I wanted. Then I just started looking for books to read. Just like you said my book was 99 cents. I read that book and was hooked. Then I started finding the authors I was reading Facebook pages. So I started leaving reviews for the books and I would talk to the authors on their pages. Its great that you take the time Shelly to talk to your fans. When I was younger there was no way I was ever going to meet my favorite author and I still haven't talked to him via any social media site. So I have lowered him on my list of favorites and moved up a lot of the new indie authors who take time out to talk to us. Another thing that has helped having this eBook technology, I have gotten my 10 year old daughter to enjoy reading. She loves that I can find kids book for her to enjoy as well. The times are a changing and if any new author doesn't notice this I don't seem as much success for them which is really sad.

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    1. Exactly! I'd be scared to take books on a plane. Their precious and I don't trust them in my bag :) Good point on the traveling! You can take a 100 books with you and it fits in your purse. Thank you, Rachel!

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