Navigating The New World Of Publishing
by Deatri King-Bey
Anyone with access to a word processor and the Internet can become a published author, but most do not become successful authors. We all know the publishing industry has changed drastically since the introduction of eReaders, but how many authors (traditional, self, or aspiring) truly understand the changes and how to navigate this new world?
Step Away From The Treadmill
I belong to a few writers groups and am amazed at what great shape many of the authors are in. They run on the publishing treadmill like nobody’s business, so I reckon they should be in great shape.
With each book they pump out, they follow in the footsteps of Amanda Hocking and John Locke (authors who self-published and sold over a million copies of their eBooks) by working Facebook, Twitter and many other social networks to get the word out about their books. They combine resources with other authors to find low to no-cost ways to promote each others’ work. Run, run, run on the treadmill they go. Again, in excellent shape, but unfortunately, they are so busy running, they don’t realize they aren’t getting anywhere.
But aren’t they doing as Amanda and John did? No, not really. It’s time to step off the treadmill. There are proven, less exhaustive ways to become a successful author that actually get you to where you want to go.
The Field of Dreams
A decade ago I started in the publishing industry as an editor for Third World Press. This 40+ year old publishing house has released numerous NYT bestsellers, has a few million-plus-books-sold authors, and has way too many awards to count. Over the years, I’ve bounced around between publishing houses and become friends with authors who have nice-sized backlists and a good reader base. Ready to capitalize on the electronic age, many of my author buddies have self-published their backlists and—CRICKETS.
Well, not that bad. But their backlist and newly self-published titles don’t sell nearly as well as they expect. There are three teeny, tiny items they didn’t factor into their projected sells:
- With a backlist, their reader base likely already has these titles so they are marketing to the wrong target audience.
- When they self publish a book, they no longer have the reach of the traditional publishing house behind them. Publishing houses keep track of orders from their website and have extensive mailing lists and other opportunities to promote new works of authors who publish through them, not the authors’ self-published works.
- They market as if the book is from a traditional publishing house.
Divide And Conquer
I read publishing industry and author blogs daily, and lately I’ve come across quite a few self-published authors who bad mouth traditional publishing. There are pros and cons both ways, but this sounds more like sour grapes. Then you have the traditionally published authors who have had it pounded into their heads (usually by the publishing industry) that self publishing is only for authors who aren’t good enough to sign book deals, that self-published books are low-quality and thus, so are the authors.
I need for everyone to take a step back, inhale, exhale and release. It’s a new day and age, folks. Do not allow insecurities or the industry to divide and conquer. Authors, you need to capitalize on the strengths of self and traditional publishing to build your own high-quality brand.
Self-published authors love to point out Amanda Hocking’s success story as evidence of why they don’t need traditional publishing. I like to use her example to show why all authors should go both routes. Let’s break out the numbers. For argument’s sake, let’s say Amanda sold her million copies in one year. At $0.99, that would be approximately $333,000 in royalties from Amazon’s digital services. Wow, that’s great.
With her doing so well, why do you think she signed a traditional publishing deal? Here are a few reasons: James Patterson, $80 million, Danielle Steel, $35 million, Stephen King, $28 million, Janet Evanovich, $22 million, Stephenie Meyer, $21 million in sales last year. Self publishing is the new “agent” of the industry.
I’m sure I'll have traditionally published authors saying, “Wow, I need to stick with my publishing house.” Yes and no. The publishing world has changed so quickly that many traditionally-published authors aren’t in the position to just self publish their books and keep all of the profits. This is more than not knowing how to put out a high-quality product, but also includes reaching the market they’d gotten used to their publisher reaching for them. Now don’t get me wrong. Many of them do have a direct connection to a portion of their base, but not a large enough reader base to reach multi-million dollar paydays.
Bring It All Together
So where do we go from here? What to do? What to do?
It’s time to bring the traditionally and self-published authors together. Whether you go the self or traditional route (and you should do both), you need to release high-quality books and grow your loyal reader base. You need to become a brand.
There are no guarantees, but there are proven steps you can take to help you become a successful author. The last year or so, I’ve been inundated with questions from authors about how to navigate this new world of publishing. I’ve been asked everything from how to format print and eBooks to how market and how to write to a target audience. As many of the questions were repeats, I wrote a book to answer those questions and more. Its titled Become A Successful Author, which is currently available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and will be released in print in February 2012.
On my website, Become A Successful Author, I’ve scheduled guest bloggers to give more insight into how you can become a successful author. We can do this.
Thank you for your time. Now go out there and be more than a published author: Become A Successful Author.
--------------------------------------------------------------The publishing industry has shifted 180° in the decade I’ve worked in it. The traditional route is no longer the only way to become a legitimate published author, and self publishing is no longer a dirty little secret. As an author, should you travel the traditional or self published route? Become A Successful Author does not tell you to pick one over the other or pit one against the other. Become A Successful Author gives you steps to capitalize on the strengths of both to build a strong brand readers can’t get enough of.
What is branding? How do you grow a large, loyal reader base? How do you break into traditional publishing? How do you publish your backlist? How do you format a book? How do you find your target audience? How do you market your books? It’s all in there and a whole lot more.
With the advances in technology, anyone can be a published author, but not all authors are successful. Keep your focus: Increase the quality, credibility and visibility of your brand.
Become A Successful Author Table of Contents
Purchase the eBook from: Amazon or Barnes &Noble
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deatri King-Bey, a women's fiction and romance author, has edited for authors such as L. A. Banks, Beverly Jenkins and a host of others. In 2008, her title Whisper Something Sweet won the Emma Award for Best Steamy Romance of the Year. In addition, Deatri writes dangerously sexy suspense with Curtis L. Alcutt under the pseudonym L. L. Reaper. Their first installment of the Black Widow and the Sandman series is available in book stores everywhere. She currently chairs the Romance Slam Jam Organization, a place where readers and authors of Black romance meet. She writes, edits, conducts workshops and whatever else she can get into.
On a personal note, Deatri graduated Magna Cum Laude from Chicago State University and raised three fantastic daughters who have given her three fantastic grandchildren. She fell in love with and married her hero while they were in the military together. Currently, she lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband of twenty-four years.
Peace & Blessings,
Stay focused. Be deliberate. Believe.