Advertising, Business, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Networking, Publishing, Writing Business

The Future Of Self-Publishing 2019: Figuring Out The Next Move

Pic via Pixabay

Last year I made several predictions about the publishing industry and some of it came true.  So this year, I decided to put my psychic powers, okay, my powers of deduction to the test yet again and look into the future.   

Social Media Will Continue To Lose Users… Oops, I Mean Pivot

In September of 2018 Facebook reported a 7% loss in content consumption across their platforms; Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.  The flagship company itself, saw a 20% decline in consumption per person.  This could be due to the data and hacking scandals but nonetheless, sites like Facebook still boast over one billion daily users per day.  Even with the drop in content consumption, Facebook is still a powerhouse on the internet.  This means we have to be more thoughtful about what we post and why we’re posting it.  If you want to spend your time wisely on social media you need to make networking your number one priority and posting content your second.

Social Media Ads Will Get More Expensive

If you haven’t noticed, there is a fight for cheap advertising pretty much everywhere online.  Advertisers are now in a bidding war for key words just like in the early 2000s with Google Ads.  This time the fight is taking place on Facebook, which means ads will become more expensive if history is any indicator.

Voice Marketing Will Be A New Avenue For Authors

Everyone has heard of voice assistant technology like Amazon’s Echo, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant which have revolutionized homes all over the world.  These “smart speakers” can search the internet, control light bulbs and even adjust a house’s thermostat simply through verbal command.  Amazon alone sold over 50 million Echo systems and it’s predicted that 55% of adults will have some sort of smart speaker by 2022.  Advertisers have been watching closely and are creating ads and chatbots specifically for voice.  I know what you’re thinking, aren’t those called radio ads?  No, not quite, unlike static ads on the radio where a company speaks to a customer, these ads can not only speak but respond to customers.  I see publishers and indie authors using these ads to read excerpts and answer questions about characters and upselling them on other books or possibly getting readers to signup for mailing lists.  It’s not unrealistic to assume that indie authors will be adding this technology to their marketing toolbox very soon.

Influencers Will Continue To Be Vital In Marketing

As I explained in my previous post, Bookube For Indie Authors, both Gen Y and Z consider Youtubers just as relevant as stars like Taylor Swift and Kylie Jenner.  In fact, the top Youtubers, podcasters and bloggers are making more money than some television stars.  If you can reach out to an influencer, and get them to help you with promotion, it could help with book sales.

Defending Intellectual Property Is Going To Be A Real Concern For Authors

Over the past few years author and blogger, Kristine Kaythryn Rusch has sounded the alarm about publishing contracts.  That’s because things have dramatically changed in the publishing industry with contracts being the most important of them all.  Listing example after example, she presented how authors are foolishly signing away their entire copyright for paltry sums of money.  This should be unacceptable to a professional author but there are still those who refuse to educate themselves about the publishing industry.  

Even indie authors must be careful because book publishers aren’t the only ones looking to take your copyright, literary agents, television producers, media companies and even the movie industry would love nothing more than to get their hands on cheap intellectual property.  In fact, IP is considered a big thing in business and some companies are hoarding as much of it as they can like stocks, in hopes it will gain value in the future.

Amazon Will Lose Its Grip On Retail

According to an article in CNBC, Amazon’s Founder Jeff Bezos was asked during an employee meeting about the future of Amazon to which Mr. Bezos responded, “Amazon is not too big to fail. In fact, I predict one day Amazon will fail. Amazon will go bankrupt. If you look at large companies, their lifespans tend to be 30-plus years, not a hundred-plus years.”  He also urged employees to stay hungry and obsess about their customers.  It was a sobering statement made by a CEO whose company is being accused of antitrust activities by the European Union and has even had their Japanese office raided by law enforcement last spring.  Also, U.S. President Trump has voiced his concerns about Amazon on numerous occasions.

Nevertheless, it would be a smart move for authors to stay current with the retail world considering we do sell our books through stores whether they are online or brick and mortar.  It’s no secret that old box stores like Sears, Barnes & Noble and J.C. Penny are in big trouble and are either looking for a buyer or are filing for bankruptcy.  Now before you mourn the good ol days, just know there will be others waiting in the wings.  For example, there is a retail app called Wish, that most people haven’t even heard of yet which is now worth more than Sears, Macy’s and J.C. Penny’s combined.  No, I’m not telling you to sign up for Wish, I’m telling you that even though it seems like stores are being crushed, others are quickly rising to take their place.  This is actually a good thing, it means that the industry isn’t dead, it’s just changing.

Wrapping It Up…

It seems there is a recurring theme this past year and that was change, and depending on how you look at it that can be either a good or a bad thing.  I’m not the type of person to BS you and tell you that there aren’t challenges ahead.  Trust me, there are!  But there are also opportunities ahead, and believe it or not, our industry is thriving.  So go out there and conquer the publishing world but save a little for the rest of us. Oh yeah, and happy 2019!

Business, Indie Publishing, Publishing

Blockchain: Will It Change The Publishing Industry As We Know It?

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Recently, I read the whitepaper by The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) called, Authors & The Blockchain: Towards A Creator Centered Business Model which was published this past spring.  The report was an eye opener in regards to the potential of this latest technology that could change how we do business in almost every sector of the market from finance to yes, even publishing.  In fact, they refer to blockchain publishing as publishing 3.0 in this report.  Now before I move on, I know what a lot of you are asking: Rachel, what the heck is blockchain?  In short, it’s a digitalized and decentralized public ledger that records transactions made in cryptocurrency.  And for those of you not sure what cryptocurrency is, it’s basically digital currency that is encrypted and not issued by a bank.  This makes the currency more secure and cheaper to make transactions.  Blockchain is the software that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin were developed on.  I encourage you to read the whitepaper that ALLi published and if you’re still confused about blockchain’s definition, check out this Youtube video created by Simply Explained.

Blockchain either excites or frightens business owners as well as governments with the promise of eliminating middle men as well as making business deals 100% transparent.  Experts believe that in the next few years, blockchain will revolutionize every aspect of the economy.  In fact Goldman Sachs, as well as JPMorgan Chase, have invested heavily in the new technology.  So far only two companies called, Publica and Po.et have launched with the premise of independent publishing via blockchain.  I’m sure there will be more on the way as this technology evolves.

 

The Problems That Could Be Solved With Blockchain

Social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk, predicts blockchain will be the next big thing and offers a warning, “It’s gonna eliminate all your margins…When you make money by being in the middle and the internet and blockchain come along and they’re actually the middle, you’re in trouble.”  In other words, those who don’t provide value (literary agents) will lose in this new business dynamic.  This benefits traditional authors because they get a 15 – 20% pay increase just from this one elimination alone.  Here are more problems blockchain could potentially help all authors with:

  • Copyright Disputes: Products (manuscripts) are time stamped.
  • Piracy: Manuscripts are encrypted, so you can’t strip the DRM from the file.
  • Sales Reporting: Once a transaction takes place the entire ledger is updated almost in real time.
  • Late Payments: Payments are almost instant on blockchain because everyone was preapproved via cryptocurrency.

The Problems That Could Be Created By Blockchain

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t address the downside to this new technology, and some of it includes:

  • Privacy Issues: The ledger is public and unchangeable so there is no real anonymity.
  • Mistakes: Even the fastest and smartest computers make errors.
  • Consumer Reluctance: There’s no telling if consumers (readers) will follow authors from retailers like Amazon.  Also, there are several prominent voices within the financial sector calling cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, a scam.
  • New Overlords: Though there is hope that this will democratize the industry, there’s also danger in that new companies will monopolize this technology.

The Unknown Variable: The Publishing Industry Itself

Does this mean the traditional publishers will get onboard with this new technology?  Based on their response to the Kindle revolution in 2007, I doubt this will be implemented with any sort of speed.  In fact, I see them kicking and screaming into this new way of doing business.  It will most likely be the indie authors who yet again, load up their wagons and head off into this unknown frontier.  The publishing industry may be interested in the money saving aspect of it, but I doubt they’ll know how to execute.  Let’s be frank, many of them didn’t even know what metadata was a few years ago.

Blockchain has the potential to make things like fraud a thing of the past, and since the the publishing industry is rife with fraud I can see most authors welcoming this new transparency.   For example, in May of 2018, it was revealed that a bookkeeper at a prestigious literary agency had stolen seven million dollars from the agency.  This person had been stealing for years and apparently no one at the agency was paying any attention.  *Cue eye roll*  Also let’s not forget three years ago, when I talked about the case of Harper Lee, whose agent went to her nursing home and got Lee to sign over the copyright to the literary classic: To Kill a Mocking Bird.  So fraud and theft runs deep in the publishing industry and it will only get worse as intellectual properties become more and more valuable.  Blockchain won’t stop people from being shady but it will pull back the curtain and that’s what a lot of publishers and agents don’t want.

However, I believe it will be indie authors who will benefit the most from this technology because blockchain not only offers to make deals more secure but quicker.   The more and more I look at it, blockchain is a positive move for the publishing industry all around, but the question still remains, will we be able to execute?

Book Promotion, Marketing, Publishing, Social Media, Writing Business

Why Authors Need To Learn Social Media: The New Reality

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Image via Pixabay

Lately it is becoming more and more common place for agents and publishers to assess an author’s platform before signing them.  That means they are looking for authors who can reach the readers they are targeting.  In fact at the Digital Book World Conference & Expo in 2017, representatives from Hachette and Perseus admitted they are checking out author platforms and social media engagement then reporting those findings at their acquisitions meetings.  Like it or not, publishers are using social media as a measuring stick so wouldn’t be nice if we could impress or at least pass the inspection?

While doing research for my upcoming book Social Media Hacks for Authors, I came across several resources, in the form of courses and tutorials that can help authors who struggle with social media.  And here’s the plus, many of these resources are available for free directly from the social media sites themselves!  I understand that many authors can’t afford the more expensive social media courses so I went on a mission to find the help we all need for free or at the very least, real cheap.

Below I list several resources and no, I’m not affiliated with any of the services or products mentioned.

Direct From The Horse’s Mouth

Did you know that Facebook has its own set of video tutorials that cover everything from advertising to analytics?  Twitter, also has a Skillshare video featuring their marketing manager Sandra Vega and you can view it for free.  Below I list the top 7 social media sites in the English speaking world.

General Social Media Courses

If you want to go further in your education there are several websites that will help you with your social media marketing.  The course topics range anywhere from content creation to targeted marketing.  Some of these are free while others have both free and paid options.

Tip:  Take advantage of the free material and later, if you feel like taking a more targeted course like Mark Dawson’s Advertising for Authors then go for it.

In Closing

Don’t be discouraged if you’re not an overnight sensation because building a following takes time nonetheless, you do have to start.  Gone are the days where social media was optional, today’s authors are expected to have an online presence no matter if they choose to go the traditional route or not.  Yes, this is more work but it is also a good thing because whether we choose to go traditional or not, our audience will follow us, not our publisher.  It’s this connection to your audience that is the key to a long-term career and isn’t that what we all want?