More people than ever are self-publishing their writing. In 2017, for the first time, the number of self-published books reached over a million. The market is growing steadily and it’s a great time for indie authors. Here are some common trends in the world of self-publishing.
An online presence is essential
The barrier to entry has never been lower for self-publishing authors. While this means you can start publishing your work right away, you will need a way to stand out from the crowd. Almost all successful indie authors are actively promoting their books. To see decent sales, current authors need to maintain an online presence.
A successful author website must be fast and clean. It must be mobile-friendly and optimised to rank highly in search results. A common tactic is to combine an author website with a blog. You improve your search-result ranking with regular blog posts. And you promote your books at the same time. As well as running a site, it is best practice to run a social media campaign. The more followers you have the easier it is to make book sales.
It is more important than ever before for an author to know their audience. Selling your work requires focusing on a specific group of people. I’m not suggesting you have to stifle your creativity. Don’t write crowd-pleasing work that you aren’t proud of. I am suggesting that your marketing efforts have to focus on the people who read your books.
Find out who your readers are. What forums do they visit? What communities are they a part of? Join those communities and post on those forums. Learn as much as you can about them.
When you know your readers you will know how to market to them.
For example, you may be a fantasy writer. If your readers are big fans of Game of Thrones, you can write a blog post on “5 books that are better than Game of Thrones.”
Confusion in the mainstream media
For a long time, everyone was talking about how print is dead and ebooks are the big seller. Then they flip-flopped and print was the big thing again, and digital was dying.
Mainstream media seems to grab the first piece of information that becomes available. What they publish is not gospel.
In fact, many self-publishing authors make a comfortable living from their books. As long as you are prepared to do the marketing, then sales figures across the industry don’t really affect you.
Jeff Bezos recently revealed some interesting facts about Kindle Direct Publishing royalties. In 2017, over 1000 indie authors surpassed US$100,000 each. And keep in mind, this is a platform where you can publish your book in under five minutes.
There are more resources available than ever before and more ways to sell your writing. How well your book does is in your hands.
Many publishers have found subscription services to be profitable. They are a great way to hold onto customers too. Subscription services offer readers the chance to read as many books as they want for a monthly fee. This increases exposure and can mean more opportunities for revenue.
Kindle Unlimited is the most popular subscription service. It requires that you publish your book exclusively with Amazon, but it is the exception.
Most other services are open, and more are becoming available all the time.
Audio is growing
Many readers are turning to audiobooks. One reason is that people often don’t have the time to read a book. This is good for authors as it provides the opportunity for another income stream.
Audiobook sales have been growing steadily since 2017. This year is expected to be the biggest yet.
There are more streaming services available to authors who create audiobooks. Amazon’s Audible has expanded its reach. There are some new developments at Apple books and Kobo audio as well.
Producing an audiobook is also becoming a lot easier. All you need is a reasonable microphone and a quiet place to record yourself.
If you’re willing to spend a little, you can use a freelance narrator. Online platforms such as ACX or Findaway Voices offer studio-quality narration services.
There are alternatives to publishing a book. A newer trend is to publish directly to the internet.
Some authors are publishing their books as a website or series of blog posts. They receive payment by showing Pay-Per-Click advertising or affiliate links.
This method requires solid SEO to promote your site. Most likely, you’ll need an active social media campaign as well. But this is the easiest method of publishing so far.
It remains to be seen if this will take over as the dominant media for self-publishing authors.