Being an author has become so much more than just being able to write a good book, especially in the indie publishing world. That’s why it’s so important to keep up with trends—they could very easily be the deciding factor of whether you sell 10,000 copies or 100. Think your style might be missing something? Take a look at our chosen top trends for self-publishers to know:
1.) The shift from author to authorpreneur.
You’ve probably heard the buzzword “authorpreneur,” yes? It’s pretty catchy; but it’s oh so much more than that. Authorpreneurship encompasses the soul of the self-publishing world: you are not only a writer; you are a business professional. Your book is your commodity, and you are dedicated to not only its creation, but also its marketability. You will be proactive with your audience and you will seek out readership. You will become a brand.
This has become more and more important as self-publishing becomes more and more enticing to authors. Traditional publishing houses know the game; they specialize in the details—cover design, format, distribution channels, marketing platform, social media strategy, etc. If you decide to self-publish, this is now your game. Self-publishing has lost a lot of the stigma it used to have; the best way to completely leave that stigma behind is to keep publishing not only good books, but good books with good strategies and dedicated authorpreneurs.
2.) The importance of metadata.
Going right along with the importance of being an authorpreneur is the importance of latching on to metadata, especially if you plan on offering your book as an ebook. Metadata is the catalog of information that sets your book apart and makes it accessible to readers. This includes the title, author name, author bio, summary, ISBN, images (both cover and interior), jacket copy, genre, etc. It’s your categorization on the digital bookshelf, the information that should pull your Vermont-based vampire love trilogy to the forefront when someone searches “northeastern paranormal series.”
It’s crucial that you’re able to identify and precisely classify the metadata of your book—it’s your prime online marketing tool. And with so many readers buying strictly off of Amazon, your book needs to be as searchable as possible.
3.) Branch out to increase readership.
As we all know, the success of any book is in the prominence of its existence; no matter how stellar the content, the book will never sell if no one knows it’s out there. And in today’s world, people receive information from so many different sources that it can be frustrating to even know where to begin. That’s why branching out is so important.
A social media presence is vital, but what sort of presence? Will you stick strictly to Twitter, or will you include Instagram contests? Will you start a blog so readers can follow your writing progress? What about a vlog (video blog)? Will you feature in a guest blog post? As far as format goes, have you thought about putting in the extra time and money for audio-book formatting? Is your book something that you think people would be interested in listing to while commuting?
Making the information about your book (and your book itself) accessible to as many people as possible is key. So branch out in ways that never occurred to you before—it might just be that you’ll hit a readership goldmine.
4.) Enter serialization.
Not your typical trilogy situation, but similar. Think of how much you do on a daily basis—how much information you take in, especially. It can be hard to sit down with a book and just read; often, you can only read one chapter at a time. That’s where serialization comes in: the publishing of a book one chapter at a time. It’s especially hot in genre fiction and fan fiction and has become extremely popular on sites such as Wattpad.
Serialization offers the same fan-obsession as a weekly TV show—the reading is episodic, it keeps the audience hooked. It also provides a hefty monetary benefit. Imagine pricing your ebook at $2.99; now imagine pricing it at 99¢ per chapter—not too shabby if your book has 30 chapters.
5.) Thoughts on fan fiction.
With the availability of so many publishing platforms, fan fiction is becoming more popular and specified every day. What used to be “sexy alien” fan fiction is now “sexy alien firefighter saving damsels from volcanoes” fan fiction. Not only is there a place for it, there’s an audience for it—you just might have to do a little digging.
If you are writing fan fiction or plan on writing fan fiction, it’s especially important to do your audience research. Going off of the tip above, it might be that publishing an ebook on Amazon won’t be nearly as effective at reaching your audience as posting a serial story on Wattpad or FanFiction. Certain fan fiction is preferable on certain publishing platforms—it’s up to you to figure out what those might be. If you have an idea, run with it; but market it in a way that others are able to run alongside of you.
6.) Hybridization of publishing.
A lot of the credit for the gained momentum of self-publishing is due to the success stories of indie-authors—something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by authors publishing with traditional publishing houses. Many midlist authors who tend to get the backwash of attention from traditional publishing houses have begun to move over into indie-territory, as well as better-known authors who are still having trouble finding a publisher for their most recent manuscript, or who have out-of-print backlists for which they want to regain the rights and publish themselves. Hence the up-and-coming popularity of the hybrid model.
Hybrid publishing offers a good deal of flexibility to authors, which is something that is becoming more appealing as marketing strategies become more personalized. Self-publishing has become much more prominent, losing a good deal of the bad taste it held before; some authors may not be ready to take the full leap, but their willingness to toy with hybrid-publishing promises to make hybrids much more popular.
7.) Traditional boundaries being blurred.
Where we’ve run into this the most is in the ebook world. It used to be that traditional publishers had a price floor—usually around $4. It was easy for indie-publishers to distinguish themselves and to catch the eye of a certain audience by offering the lowest price. This isn’t the case anymore. There are reasons that certain self-published authors have been able to make a boatload of money from pricing ebooks so low, and these things don’t go unnoticed in the traditional publishing world. The lines are beginning to blur; what used to be a classic indie move is no longer indie-specific.
So why does this matter? If traditional publishing is moving into indie territory, it’s because indie is doing something right, right? Well yes, but it also increases competition. Authorpreneurs are going to have to actively search out new strategies; there is no relying on the traditional indie path, because it simply doesn’t exist anymore. Indie-publishers need to constantly be brainstorming new ways to reach their audience, innovative methods in marketing.