What I Learned

Last Saturday the Sisters and Misters of Central Coast Sisters in Crime launched their inaugural one day conference for writers and would-be writers, Writers In Action. It was a great success. And I’m gonna tell you a few things I learned.

But first let me say “Thank you” to those who purchased CANAAN’S SECRET on Pre-Order so far. I know you’ll enjoy it, it’s a fast paced, engaging and entertaining read. You have already lifted it in the Amazon rankings. That helps me, you, and Amazon (no losers here).  If you forgot to buy yours, you can get it here now.

Now back to business. As we have said repeatedly in this column, book publishing today is undergoing tremendous change. To begin, we now need to ask ourselves what kind of book we want to publish? Because the processes and timing are quite different. To my mind, of the three essential elements for creating a book– writing, publishing, and marketing – only one (writing) is consistent to both e-book and paperback. During publishing and marketing the processes diverge. This divergence grows wider with every change in digital processes.

Much of what is new, as I learned at the Writers In Action Conference, supports this growing divergence. For instance, CreateSpace in various and subtle ways seems to be distancing itself from the Amazon Kindle process. Some helpful functions no longer exist. Ingram Spark, I understand, expects fully professional folders for acceptance. Ingram is the way to chain bookstore shelves for your paperbacks, CreateSpace less so. If you want best exposure for your paperback, you’ll want to utilize both.

Meanwhile, the e-book platform remains solidly with Amazon Kindle, with iBook and other pretenders lagging far behind. The old way to go (meaning what, 2 years ago?) was publish your paperback first, with all the formatting and interior design done, then turn to crafting your e-book, a much simpler process, generally.

I see less value now to that approach. It takes longer and longer to publish your paperback, even as an Indie publisher. Not the years a traditional publisher may require, but certainly months. Why? Because competition for you book is exceedingly strong and growing more so daily. Therefore, you want to give your book its best chance. It goes without saying it must look great, inside and out, on the correct paper, with the correct font, and so on.

But before printing, you want reviews, you want beta reading of the book in print, and final checks. The best way to do that is create ARCs (Advance Reader Copies). These are similar to the finished product but have marketing information on the back cover rather than the usual material. They do not have ISBNs.  You send these to bookstores or readers who will review it and so create your market avenues for the arrival of the actual book. But before you launch the book, you should consider the best calendar day to do so. Have your press release ready to go for that holiday, be it Mother’s Day or Readers Day, thus assisting your local reporter who may otherwise have nothing new to say about Mothers or Readers.

Marketing your paperback requires an entirely different approach as well. You can’t sit on your butt in front of your computer for this one; you must get out among your readers and sell. Social media is the avenue to sales for ebooks, but not so much for paperbacks. You will need to organize launches, signings, talks and the myriad of inventive ways there are to put yourself in front of potential buyers.

I foresee a future where authors specialize in either ebooks or paperbacks as publishing methods change and grow and marketing avenues and processes diverge more and more.


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