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Authors: Don’t overlook audio

Audiobooks are on the rise, particularly in retail. This is the ideal time for you to reconsider audio publishing. W.F. Howes Ltd’s Acquisitions Editor, Rachel Gregory, looks at how you can get involved.

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What traditional publishers can learn from indie authors [PART 2]

This is a guest post from Ricardo Fayet. Ricardo is an avid reader and startup enthusiast who has been studying the publishing industry with interest for several years. He co-founded Reedsy, to help authors collaborate with publishing professionals. 

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What traditional publishers can learn from indie authors [PART 1]

This is a guest post from Ricardo Fayet. Ricardo is an avid reader and startup enthusiast who has been studying the publishing industry with interest for several years. He co-founded Reedsy, to help authors collaborate with publishing professionals. In this two part post, Ricardo shares what publishers can learn from self-publishers. 

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How to copyright an ebook: Facts and myths [FOR AUTHORS]

Do you know what’s the difference between DRM, ISBN and copyrights? If your answer is a clear yes, well done, you can stop reading. But if copyrighting is an issue that makes you frown, read on: we talk about different file formats, international rights, whether you have to pay anything and more.

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Stuart Bache design

5 author tips for briefing your designer

Stuart Bache is Art Director of Books Covered, a design agency for publishers, independent authors and literary agents. Here he shares his top tips for authors briefing designers. 

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Amazon: How to get your book to appear alongside the Best Sellers [Winning blog idea July]

Each month BookMachine offers a community member, with great ideas, the chance to write on the site. July’s winner was Richard McCartney, with his tips on making it onto the Best Sellers list.

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8 essential steps to successful self-publishing  

A former journalist and author, Jon Watt is now Country Manager of Type & Tell, an innovative new self-publishing services provider offering free book layout and 100% author royalties. Here he shares his top tips for succeeding in the competitive world of self-publishing.

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Working with self-publishing authors – Part 2: expectations and implementation

In Part 1: An industry of opportunitySophie Playle explored who self-publishes, why and how self-publishing has developed over the years, and what this means for editorial freelances. In this post, she’ll be looking at the more practical elements of working with self-publishing authors.

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Self-publishers, you are your own project manager

Independent authors are often criticized for being too quick to hit publish. This observation carries the veiled assumption that they do this because they are overly eager to get their book to market. But just as often, authors publish before they should because of publishing fatigue. They lose steam during the last stages of book production—the last 10 percent—and they hit publish just to be done with it. And when this happens, they leave important tasks incomplete.

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6 essential online tools for self-published authors

In this blog post, Chris Singleton – director of digital marketing company Style Factory – highlights six tools that can help self-published authors handle the business side of being a writer.

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Working with self-publishing authors – Part 1: an industry of opportunity

The self-publishing boom has happened and it’s here to stay. Options are increasing for writers choosing to take ownership of the publication of their books, and so are opportunities for editors.

Who self-publishes?

Many self-publishers are writers who have not managed to seduce the necessary gatekeepers stationed along the traditional publishing route – not necessarily because their writing is not of publishable quality, but because the publishers don’t believe in their potential to make money in the market. Fair enough – publishers are businesses, after all. Now, though, writers can choose to take their own risks. Many writers decide to self-publish simply for the freedom of it all. Some even decide to leave their publishing houses and go it alone because they see it as the better option. (Hello, 70% royalty …)

Rising quality, rising numbers

No longer seen as a practice in vanity, many self-publishers are now fully aware of the challenges they face, and how best to overcome these challenges. As a result, there is a new breed of independent (indie) authors: they are both literary creatives and publishing entrepreneurs. Did you know …?
  • Self-published books’ share of the UK market grew by 79 per cent in 2013*
  • 18m self-published books were bought by UK readers last year, worth £59m*
  • The Big Five traditional publishers now account for only 16 per cent of the e-books on Amazon’s bestseller lists**
* The Guardian, ‘Self-publishing boom lifts sales by 79% in a year’, Jun 2014 ** Author Earnings report, Jul 2014 According to an article posted on Publishing Perspectives (Oct, 2014), literary agent Andrew Lownie believes that in 5–10 years, 75 per cent of books will be self-published, 20 per cent assisted by agents, and only 5 per cent traditionally published. Whether he’s right or wrong is another matter, but it just goes to show how much of an impact the independent author is having on the publishing world.

A wealth of resources

Technology is the catalyst for these opportunities. The e-book format and print-on-demand (POD) services like Smashwords and Lulu provide affordable production. Companies like Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble provide the marketplaces. Every service in between, from editing to cover design, can be found online, and through new marketplace websites, too, such as Reedsy. And with the Internet, indie authors have a wealth of information at their fingertips. Not sure how to get your book on the shelves at Waterstones? Or perhaps not sure whether you need to buy an ISBN (or that you know what to do with it)? Never fear, Google is here.

A digital revolution

The Internet is a big deal. I mean, it’s a serious game-changer – in so many ways, but especially for the publishing industry. (Truth be told, I don’t think traditional publishing houses have quite caught up yet.) At the click of a button, people can access the specific information, entertainment or inspiration they’re looking for. This means that businesses no longer have to go hunting for punters in the old, traditional ways (posters, flyers, radio adverts), because those clients are actively seeking them out. Instead of a scattergun approach to marketing (least effective), businesses can use targeted pull-marketing (most effective). What does this mean for the independent author? Well, instead of spending all their time writing alone in their studies, they are now able to connect to their readerships online – through social media, blogs and websites. Remember the publishing house that was concerned there wasn’t a market for that book? Doesn’t matter, because the indie writer can build their readership from the ground up. That’s the power of the Internet.

What does this mean for editors?

In a word: opportunity. Self-publishers used to have a bad name. Some still do – but it’s no longer a sweeping generalisation. In the end, poor-quality books will sink and good-quality books will rise. Indie authors are cottoning on to that – and they understand they need to invest in their own quality control. That’s where we come in. Sophie Playle, of Liminal Pages, is a freelance editor who specialises in fiction and often works directly with writers. For brownie points, connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn. (Please note: No real brownies or points will be awarded.) Sophie’s post was originally published on the SfEP blog. The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) is a professional organisation based in the UK for editors and proofreaders – the people who make text accurate and clear. Formed in November 1988, the SfEP has more than 2,000 members who provide editorial services to publishers and a wide range of other organisations and individuals. The SfEP promotes high editorial standards and works to uphold the professional status of editors and proofreaders. Its Directory of Editorial Services provides contact information for experienced SfEP members, including details of the skills, subjects and services they offer.

5 tips for getting yourself PR-ready

Congratulations, you’re writing a book. You’re probably thinking, ‘I just need to get this finished and then I’ll begin to think about how to promote it.’ My advice would be, start thinking now. It’s never too early! Here are my top 5 tips to get your book and yourself PR-ready:

1) Book your publicist early

If you’re planning on hiring a professional publicist, bear in mind that they’re likely to want to start thinking about the campaign about 4 months ahead of publication. Good PRs get booked up, so start your research early.

2) Have a clear idea of ‘what’ your book is, and who your target audience is

When the project is close to your heart it can be hard to stand back, be objective, and accept that your book won’t be for everyone and to really pin down who it is you’re trying to reach. Your publicist will read your book, of course, but your help here is invaluable too. I can’t stress how crucial it is to nail your audience – in order to create a targeted campaign (meaning one that results in book sales) your publicist needs to identify the media consumed by the audience you most want to reach. Are they the well-heeled, middle classes in the Home Counties who might enjoy their subscription to the Times or Telegraph; are they ‘heat seekers’ looking for their next beach reads; are they urban types who want to be ahead of any new trend?

3) What is the USP – what is it that makes the book, or your personal story, original?

Is it a non-fiction book that contains brand new research?  What are the most salient, newsworthy points? Are you uniquely qualified as an author on this particular subject? For example, bestselling crime writer Kathy Reichs is also a forensic anthropologist, so you always know that the science in her books is going to be spot on. That is her USP.

4) It’s all about the angles…

A publicist will be trying every avenue to get you publicity, so give them as much info as possible.
  • Be honest with yourself, and know what you’re happy to talk about.
  • Do you have an interesting career, or hobbies?
  • Do you live in a particularly stunning house that would lend itself well to photoshoots?
  • Are you well connected? For example, maybe you have a famous brother, and your publicist could pitch you to ‘Relative Values’ in the Sunday Times.
  • Do you have local connections – always handy for regional media.
  • Are you a police officer who could write about all the things that police procedural novels normally get wrong? Are you a Doctor who sees countless mistakes in medical dramas? Your publicist will be able to place a piece on this that will in turn link to your book.

5) Utilise social media platforms and begin to build relationships

Twitter can be a godsend for authors, enabling them to engage with like-minded souls who might be interested in hearing about their book. Don’t be all ‘plug plug plug’ – let your PR do that for you – instead, find people talking about books that you like and join in. Lots of book bloggers are very active on twitter and engaging with them early can be hugely beneficial when the time comes for your book to be pitched. Everyone remembers the person they had a lovely back and forth with about a shared interest. Your publicist is there to do everything they can to get your book to the widest audience possible. Have an open discussion at the outset about your hopes for the campaign, and find out what their plans and their vision is, so that everyone is working to the same goal.  Good luck. Emma Finnigan has been promoting books for almost 20 years, at both the Orion Publishing Group, Penguin Random House and most recently as Director of Emma Finnigan PR Follow her on twitter at @EmmaFinnigan.

Book design for self-publishing authors

What is book design like when you choose to self-publish your work? Mathias Lord of Hewer Text fills us in. Book design is something readers appreciate but usually don’t notice. However, if you are a self-publisher, it is crucial to know about book design. What is it, and what are the main differences between book design in traditional publishing and self-publishing?

What is book design?

Today the term usually refers to both cover design and typesetting. In short, the former consists of everything on the outside of the book; the latter everything between the covers. Seen from a marketing perspective, cover design is supposed to grab your attention, whilst typesetting is meant to be invisible, insofar as it allows the text to communicate clearly and without interruption. Cover design involves creating the picture or illustration, the word art (title, author name etc), and placing various other information (like quotes and blurbs). It’s the initial pitch that makes the casual browser open or buy a book. Typesetting is less artistic but more complex. It deals with everything from the broader layout and presentation to specifics such as fonts and line spacing. This is all about making the text flow, look professional and comply with industry standards. There are many formatting rules and details in publishing, and self-publishers will benefit from understanding them. Readers and writers often think they can do typesetting themselves, but it is a bit like saying that because you’ve ordered the same drink hundreds of times, you can recreate it yourself. (If you do, it may not taste very good!).

Traditional VS Self-Publishing

1) Control

So how do these processes differ in self-publishing? In essence, the author has more control. The execution is similar, the quality exactly the same, but it’s the author who calls the shots. It usually happens like this: The designer and typesetter are given a brief by the author, either specifying what they desire or simply throwing a few ideas and images at them (like which books they like and want theirs to emulate). Once they have a draft, the author receives this and gives feedback. The number of editing sessions varies, depending on how specific the author has been, and how much they are willing to spend on the services.

2) Time

Self-publishing is fast. You can have a draft illustration within weeks, and the feedback and edits can be completed quickly and directly. Why is it so fast? Think of it like this: when a traditional publisher commissions a designer or typesetter, the drafts have to be run by several departments, who all have multiple book projects to juggle, and differing opinions about how the book should look. This interdepartmental coordination is time-consuming and often side-steps the author. In self-publishing, however, the author is the boss and the customer.

3) Challenges

“With great power comes great responsibility” Although this control is mostly positive, it does come with challenges. The author cannot just sit back and enjoy the ride. They need to stay focused. Neither should they try to dictate every minuscule aspect of the book. This will delay the entire project and does not usually result in a better product. Because there is so much to coordinate and finish before the book is published, it is wise to make a time schedule and stick to it. Limiting the amount of feedback and editing sessions with the designers will save authors a lot of time and money without reducing the quality of the end product. Ask yourself: is this important? Can it wait and be delivered with other feedback? Bottom line? Don’t try to bite over too much. As a self-publishing author, you have control but also responsibility. Writers should go into the self-publishing process with a plan but also an open mind. Designers and typesetters are patient, helpful and professional but work much better with an organised author. Mathias is the self-publishing director at Hewer Text (HT-Publishing). He is in charge of coordinating self-publishing projects and consulting with authors. Follow him at @hewertext or contact him at mathias@hewertext.com.  

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