The Market Did What?
As fiction becomes more and more digital, writers have a wider scope for new platforms on which to publish – from Amazon imprints to Smashwords and everything in between.
The World Wide Web has, in fact, become our deliciously smoked digital publishing oyster.
Or has it?
With independent authors and smaller imprints and presses giving traditional publishing houses a solid run for their money, there is far more diversity and opportunity in the market.
For hungry new authors, this means that publishing your novel electronically is an affordable way to enter the market.
But, there’s a flip side. Competition. A lot more competition. And clutter. Lots of clutter.
You’ll be fighting for your voice. You won’t have the marketing megaphone of the bigger publishers to amplify your voice.
How to breakout?
In a crowded, noisy, and often fractured market, to stand out and make a name as an author, you may want to take heed of these six big shifts digital brings to independent and self-publishing.
① Digital has shifted the power from traditional publishing.
Today independent and smaller presses make up almost half of the fiction market. Amazon, in fact, is now as powerful as any established publisher, like Penguin or Headline.
As an author, you should find out how Kindle Direct Publishing works and how you can use the clout Amazon offers in terms of marketing and promotions to boost your own book sales.
② Digital has shifted genre.
When you’re self-publishing, you have far more elasticity in terms of genre. In this format, you can have hybrid genres or reach niche audiences.
While genre is important, it is even more important to know your audience and understand the mood and trends of the market. If you can adapt your storytelling to reflect this, you could have more success in the market.
③ Digital has shifted the lifecycle and lifespan of a book.
While a novel has limited ‘shelf time’ in a bookstore, it doesn’t have the same constrains in the cyber store. You need to release a new book a regular cadence to stay relevant.
Most traditional publishers will only release a new title every six months or so. But, in eBook form you can release a book or series in a shorter space of time.
④ Digital has shifted the behaviour of readers.
Just as digital media channels, like Netflix, have changed the way audiences consume entertainment – with ‘binge watching’ and different length in formats – digital has also influenced the way readers read.
Today, impatient readers want to have a whole series of books available. And they are also more comfortable with shorter well-priced novellas in ebook form.
⑤ Digital has shifted the way books are marketed.
You have to market, PR and sale like a pro. You have to have solid social media skills and presence and learn how to do a basic email marketing campaign and blog tour.
Investigate niche social media platforms like Goodreads, which not only creates a community of passionate readers but connects authors with their audiences in direct and authentic way.
⑥ Digital has shifted more control to the author.
In independent or self-publishing, the writer has a lot more clout over almost every element of their book. While that is awesome, it also means a writer has to be a lot more knowledgeable about every element.
No one wants to get into the publishing race with a go-kart while others are racing a Formula 1 Ferrari. As a writer, you need make sure you have great cover art, slick copy editing and design formats.
In the future, the author will have to be equal parts creative genius and savvy business person. And, as a last word, nothing takes the place of craft. In print or online, storytelling must come first.
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