The Current Trends in Self-Publishing You Should Know About

Self-publishing is constantly changing, adapting to new technologies and evolving to accommodate the author. New technology is constantly entering our world which continues to drive massive change for eBooks.

The internet constantly evolves and so do the way we write, publish and consume content. eBooks are not here to replace printed books; they are just another platform that provides numerous benefits over books.

What I found is that many key points are as relevant today and as they were back in 2014 when I first wrote this post. The key difference is that the advancements in technology, digital marketing and the creation of new tools have changed the way to promote eBooks and build our author platform.

1. Your Author Platform and Brand is Becoming More Important

Your author platform and brand is so important that we have devoted an entire section in our Academy on this topic. As an author you want to connect with your target audience beyond just your eBook.

Your author platform is your ability to reach both new and existing fans. We know that authors who can build, maintain and leverage their platforms will often experience a greater competitive advantage over those authors who decide not to put time into their platform.

You may increase your visibility online via your blog, author website, social media accounts or by partnering and leveraging the online power of ‘influencers’ to help you gain more publicity.

If you are noticed by your target audience, then you have a greater chance of selling more eBooks.  It is about being found and standing out from the crowd. Once you have established yourself as a best-selling author then readers will buy your eBook just because of your name.

2. Publishing an eBook is getting Easier

It is now very easy to have your eBook distributed and sold in the major online stores. Aggregators will do this for you. The problem for authors is getting noticed among the millions of eBooks that are flooding these stores.

How are you going to sell any eBooks if your eBook appears on page 200 of an online store? You won’t. You have to take control of your own eBook marketing and promotion campaign if you want to succeed. This is what self-published now must do.

Too many self-published authors fail because they do not follow through in marketing and promoting their eBook. If you think that once you publish your eBook that you will start to sell thousands of eBooks and the crowds will come rushing towards you then sadly you are in for a big wake-up call.

Most self-published authors who are members of our Author Academy are now realising that you do not have to pay thousands of dollars to a service provider to promote your eBook. We have heard of horror stories of one such company that would charge over $10,000 for marketing and promotion packages and then never deliver on what they promised.

3. The Majority of Adult Fiction Sales Come from eBooks

Independent authors find that the majority of their adult fiction sales come from eBooks with an ever-increasing demand for audio-books being experienced. As a published or first-time author, you should focus your time, resources and budget on driving eBook sales. Reports are showing that over 70% of adult-fiction sales were from eBooks.

If you are a first-time fiction author, publishing your work as an eBook is an affordable and easy way to enter the market. If you are self-publishing for the first time then you should focus your time, resources and marketing budget on driving eBook sales.

4.    You Should Write More eBooks to Sell More eBooks!
The best-selling authors can often have several eBooks in the works at one time. If you have published a top selling eBook then the last thing you want is for your readers to have to wait until your next eBook comes out.

Your ability to write and publish multiple eBooks every year is essential to staying in the spotlight. James Patterson and Hugh Howey are masters of this. Both are prolific in their writing. The more eBooks you have available for sale the more eBooks you will sell.

5.    eBooks are Being Published First
In previous years authors would publish their book first and then follow-up with an eBook. Now many authors are publishing their eBook first and then going down the printed book path. Ideally, they should come out together and can even be bundled together as a packaged deal for readers.

6.    You Must Connect on a Personal Level with Readers
Our members are finding that now more than ever you must create a personal connection with your fans. They may live on the other side of the world and you may never meet them in person but you must reach out to them. You can connect with them via sites such as Goodreads or via your own author blog

7.    Novellas and Shorter Non-fiction eBooks are Gaining Popularity
No longer do you have to write an exceptionally long eBook. Readers are moving towards eBooks they can read in a short time frame. Some authors are finding that they can produce 2-3 eBooks for what they normally would have combined in one long eBook.

Many non-fiction authors are also writing eBooks that are 50 pages or less. We live in a world where consumers have a short attention span and want the answers to their questions immediately.

8.    Niche Genres and Categories Are Growing in Non-fiction
Many readers buy non-fiction eBooks to solve a problem, learn something new or to gain information on their topic of interest. As a result they want to get this information fast. Long drawn-out eBooks are not what readers are wanting. Readers are ‘time-poor’ and want the answers to their questions quickly.

9.    Social Marketing Keeps Rolling On
The key to social media is finding where your target audience hangs out and then go and meet them. You should use social media as a form of communication with your readers. The mistake is that some authors still use social media to directly sell to their readers.

As with most, you will find that if someone feels you are providing little content of value and are continually sending out cold hard sales messages then they will click off. Use social media to build a relationship with your audience.

10.    Metadata Can is Very Important in eBook Discoverability
Search engines and portals use key words and terms to provide viewers with the information they want. Strategically place key words in your titles, headlines, content and tags to help people find your eBooks.

11.    Your eBook Cover Can Determine Your Success
For financial reasons some authors choose to design their own eBook covers. Unless you have some graphic design skills you are unlikely to produce a quality cover. Why put in all the work writing your eBook only to turn people away at the door? That is, people do judge a book by its cover. Professional covers can help you to sell more eBooks.

12.    Creative Marketing Makes You Stand Out from the Crowd
In our ‘eBook marketing’ department we have provided you with many common and successful marketing techniques. We have also provided you with some very unique and surprising techniques.

It is often the authors who are creative in their marketing who can distinguish themselves from their competitors. Be different! Find platforms to get your eBook at the front.

13.    Readers Love Free eBooks and Chapters
When you shop you want to sample the product or try on the clothes before you buy. The same applies to readers and eBooks. They want to read a few chapters before committing to buying the entire eBook. Provide your readers with some free chapters.

You can also provide free content, sample chapters, special reports, interviews or video on your author website.

14. Indie Authors and Small Presses Continue to Experience Success

According to a recent ‘Author earnings’ report; small presses, Indie authors, and Amazon imprints account for over 50% of market share. This continues to show the growing acceptance and respect towards independent authors who self-publish or publish with a lesser known publisher.

15. Amazon Imprints Continue to Command Top Spots

Amazon has thirteen active publishing imprints with each one catering to its own genre market. In 2016, 7 out of the top 10 Kindle best-sellers were books published by their imprints. Undoubtedly, Amazon is the clear leader in online eBook sales so you must include Amazon in your list of preferred retailers for your eBooks.

16. The Popularity of Audiobooks is Growing

Readers now have multiple formats to choose from including paperback, eBooks and audio books. Audio will continue to become more popular as people can listen to audiobooks and podcasts through the devices.

Amazon’s Echo (Alexa) has been a huge seller which will only contribute to the uptake of audiobooks and podcasts through the devices.

17. International Audiences Provide Opportunities for Growth

Back in 2004 I realised the opportunity to sell to customers internationally. I quickly moved from the daily grind of printing and mailing my printed manuals to selling eBooks (in PDF format) from my website.

Today, I am a strong advocate for expanding your audience internationally and selling eBooks outside of the already established markets of the US, Australia and the UK. China and India are two examples of countries where eBook sales are booming and will continue to grow.

Limiting the sales of your eBooks to just a few countries will result in limited sales so keep this in mind when choosing your distribution platforms.

18. Authors are Supporting Fellow Authors through Collaboration on Promotions

I have always found that independent authors, although in competition with one another, are often willing to assist fellow authors. More often than not there is a mutual benefit in promoting each other’s eBooks through posts, group giveaways, interviews, recommendations.

19. Publishing Contracts are Changing
Publishers are changing and re-working their contracts all the time. They need to. New developments within the industry are forcing them to be willing to give up some power and control to meet the requests of authors and agents.

My Advice:

  • Source help from an agent if you do not know where to start with a contract.
  • Be willing to negotiate the terms.
  • Do your due diligence on the publisher.
  • Have everything you want in writing
  • Make sure they put into writing what they will do for you.
  • Consider retaining the rights to your eBook.
  • Be willing to walk away from a bad deal.
  • Self-publishing is a great option.
  • Read the fine print.

20. Self-published Authors and Literary Agents

I believe agents still have a vital role in many publishing deals and helping authors to enter new markets. Many authors will tell you that the help and advice from their agent is what helped them to be successful. I have no doubt about this.

However, I am finding that fewer authors are sourcing the help of agents. It is just that their role has evolved and due to self-publishing their services are not a ‘must have’ in order to become a top-selling author.

The trend with agents is similar to publishers in that contracts are changing and evolving to meet the current climate. Typically agents will take a 10 – 15% commission for every book they sell. But it is now more complicated due to digital publishing.

What if you are already selling your eBook and only want them to represent you in a print book publishing deal? It can get complicated.

Many authors are now succeeding first with their eBook and then considering publishing in print. Publishers are now seeking out successful eBook authors with a strong platform to take on under their wing. This direct approach is changing the traditional roles of agents and publishers.

21. Crowding will Result in Increased Competition between Authors

In years past, when a book stopped selling it was removed from the shelves, no longer discoverable by readers. This is still true for the ‘bricks and mortar’ stores but now with the online retail model thriving; retailers don’t have to limit their ‘shelf space’ and as a result books stay available and discoverable for much longer.

Books are no longer destroyed and they can live indefinitely waiting to be purchased and printed on demand. This means that the competition only continues to rise as not only do new books enter the online stores from first-time authors, but previously published authors continue to write new books as well as republish their backlists.

Just like paperbacks, eBooks can live forever thus making the online stores more crowded than ever. This is why you need to be creative with your marketing techniques and stand-out now more than ever from competing eBooks.

22. New ‘Self-publish’ services are Springing-up

As technology, social media and the internet evolves; new ‘self-publishing services’ are being offered to Indie authors. These includes: advice on how to self-publish; how to promote an eBook; editorial services; assistance with developing a plot; formatting and digital marketing. Self-publishing has emerged as a process for indie authors.

23. The Copy Editor Is Now In Strong Demand

In our Author Academy you will learn how to complete many tasks to successfully self-publish an eBook all on your own without assistance.

If there is one task that I strongly advise you seek professional assistance on then it would be acquiring the services of a professional copy editor. While I offer tips on how to edit your eBook, these are only tips to help you with your initial draft before you submit it to an editor.

23. Mobile Devices Rule

We live in a world where we are constantly connected to the internet through a mobile device so you must ‘build’ to serve the mobile user. You can access online content either through a browser or a mobile app. Whether it is your website, or reading your eBook, you want your readers to have the same experience whether they are on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

When it comes to your author website you must make sure it is responsive and mobile-friendly. A responsive website automatically detects the browser and device that it is being opened in and scales itself accordingly.

A mobile app is different from a responsive website in that it is downloaded onto your mobile device. Once downloaded, it can either be used when online or, in some cases, depending on how the app is built, offline.

Summary

If you stand still as an independent author then you will likely get left behind as new authors with a greater drive for success will move in capture your target audience’s attention. You must continue to engage and communicate with your readers about your next release.