The three A's of the digital book business for people already in the game

Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords
Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords


So, you’ve already published on KDP, played around with free days, adjusted the prices of your book/s, Tweeted, FB’d, etc.

That is so 2012.

What’s next?

Here are my three A’s of the 2013 digital book business for those already in the game.

1. Advertising.

Whoa, you say.  I thought social media turned all writers into best-selling authors without having to spend a red cent.

You thought wrong.

The advertising prong has two components.  First is advertising you buy on third party sites. The challenge here is to find a paid promotion that will generate more revenue in book sales for you than the ad costs.

Good luck.

The second prong is when other people pay you to advertise on your site.

Sounds like a good plan, right?

It is except that to make your site attractive to advertisers you first have to develop a strong following, a good number of what the SEO guys call “unique visitors.”

To execute the second prong you must develop a site, provide tons of fresh content on it and keep at it long enough for people to find you.

That should consume most of 2013.

2. Ancillary services for authors.

Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, published his 2013 predictions a few days ago.  He listed twenty-one trends (read Coker’s blog here). One that really caught my eye was number 14.

14.  In the self-publishing gold rush, more money will be made in author services than in book sales

With the shift to self-publishing, writers must carry the publishing burdens once borne by traditional publishers, such as the cost of editing, proofing, book production, packaging, and distribution, as well as backoffice tasks such as accounts receivable, accounts payable and year-end tax reporting.  Third parties are building businesses to serve the needs of indie authors.  Most indie ebooks sell poorly at first, so it’s not uncommon that writers will invest an amount of money in their books that far exceeds their near term return.

This is a problem.  Writers want to publish books that reach readers, but to reach readers they must produce books that are as good or better than what the big NY publishers are putting out.  This means writers must invest time and talent in their books, and if outside talent is required, it usually costs money.  With this burgeoning demand for professional publishing services, thousands of service providers will open up virtual author services shops in 2013.  The challenge for writers is to procure the highest quality services at the lowest cost.  Plenty of scamsters and over-priced service providers will be standing by to help.

He may very well be right about that.  As more people flood into Indie publishing works that rank high on production value will stand out from books that look homemade. This means the cottage industries of editing, formatting, cover designing, etc., that do a good job at a fair price should flourish.  Investing in these services is one of the best way an author invests in herself.

If you have the ability to provide these ancillary services to authors, it’s time to hang out your shingle.

3. Authoring more books.

From what I have read, the one idea more people agree on than any other in the digital book business is that an author needs multiple books in order to be successful.  To put it the other way, the one book author has the toughest time of it. If you have just finished your first book, start your next one. If you have five books behind you, get number six ready.  Have at least one book in progress all the time.

Happy New Year.

Never give up.

(Stephen Woodfin is an attorney and author.  He has written five novels and has three more in the works. Click here to visit his Amazon author page.)



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