I wanted to briefly start with a couple of rather fascinating realities from 2016. 2016 brought with it lackluster sales in print publications again. The market has been dwindling for some time but the drops were considerable between 2015 and 2016. While there are a lot of factors at play, one important reason, as reported by multiple New York publishers including Penguin Random House, is that eBook performance has been poor. This negatively affected their earnings. And, did you know that Amazon now has a real life, non-internet-based bookstore, based out of Seattle? They do! And they plan to continue building more pop-up stores across the country. The purpose is to highlight Amazon’s hardware but also to change its relationship with the consumer.
Undoubtedly, there have been significant changes in the world of children’s literature over the last two decades and now, more than ever, writers have a selection in exactly how they release their publication and in what format. Writers can go the traditional route and try to publish their manuscript with a publishing house, or they can choose to self-publish, or more recently, some are choosing a middle ground format with hybrid publishing.
Traditional Publishing vs Self Publishing
Traditional publishing entails a publishing company purchasing the liberties to the writers’ manuscript or written work. Anyone who has tried to publish this way has likely received a number of rejections before they received an acceptance (if an acceptance was offered at all) as this is a difficult industry to become established within. The process of traditional publishing starts with the writer completing a manuscript and then sending a proposal to a publishing house. The editor will read and consider its appropriateness for their House and either give a stamp of approval to move forward in the process or issue a rejection letter.
Self-publishing is a sector which continues to grow at a rapid rate and one that permits the writer to be in control and independent—but at his or her own expense. So, while you get to complete control over content, design, publishing schedule, rates, promotion, etc. you are also responsible for the complete cost of generating your manuscript, as well as all costs of marketing and circulation
People who self-publish generally create a digital format, although many different routes are available. If you are selling at an online store expect the store to take a percentage of the profit, but since they require minimal remuneration, you will find the entire process can be done very cheaply.
If you are looking for prestige, you will want to stick to a traditional publishing format—at least for the time being. Self-publishing doesn’t have the legacy which comes attached with a traditional house but the market is constantly growing and improving, so try not to get discouraged! Look at famous author Virginia Woolf, who started Hogarth Press in 1917 with her husband so they could self-publish their own work. Or Beatrix Potter, who decided to self-publish because her unique vision was not popular among traditional publishing houses. Many influential writers chose self-publishing and became wildly successful.
So, What is Hybrid Publishing?
First of all, hybrid publishing is an umbrella term that consists of various publishing models, but envelops the middle ground between self-publishing and traditional publishing. It is where the author will put resources into their own work (i.e. raising money, etc.) in exchange for having more control and not being at the impulse of their publishing distributors. It can be thought of as a co-publishing venture or distribution deal. There are many ways a hybrid publishing relationship can play out, ranging from the author simply fronting some funding up front in exchange for cost of production, to a partnership publishing model where the authors absorb the risk in exchange for higher royalties, or even the agent-assisted model where the writer is published under the agent’s imprint. If you choose to go this direction, be very careful in your choice to make sure you aren’t paying into a scam and that both parties risk and investments are equal.
Take for instance, the former virtually run hybrid company Booktrope, who did not pay salaries but awarded each involved individual a percentage of the profits. Tess Thompson wrote the book Riversong and sold over 100,000 copies using Booktrope as a hybrid publisher. But with the hybrid model comes uncertainty and hundreds of authors were left scrambling when Booktrope recently closed its doors due to issues with their marketing model. So, take the time and do your research and make sure you are satisfied with the business model and methodology the hybrid uses.
Authors who might succeed with this type of publishing include authors with disposable funds who can hire services, or perhaps business owners who are attempting to establish new customers. Experts who are looking to establish themselves in their field and just need a little more support than what they have publishing by themselves are also great candidates for a hybrid.
Cheap Way to Promote your Book
Regardless of what sort of book you have put together and how you choose to publish it, advertising your publication is the key to its success or potential demise. There are numerous strategies to utilize when outreaching to your target audience and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get it done. Here are a few inexpensive methods to promote your publication.
Take the time to create a full website that includes a book blog. Use this to keep readers updated and as a venue for suggestions and comments. Make sure to include sneak peaks and sample chapters of your book with a link to your Amazon purchase page. Always include your contact information and make yourself available to the reader.
Set up virtual blog tour where you drop by a different blog each day at a set time over the period of a month. Essentially you just post a blog at the appointed time with content containing anything from information about yourself, a book review, an interview, etc. Blog tours are not just for self-published authors, and large publishing houses have begun taking advantage of this awesome exposure opportunity. Prices for blog tours vary and you really want to do your research and find blogs who make the most sense for your content and have a strong readership.
Get reviews posted to Amazon! If you want to watch your numbers start to rise, contact as many people as you can and ask for an honest book review.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA! This one cannot be stressed enough. Get out there and start marketing yourself by holding contests or giveaways and have fun with it. Social media can help you interact with and broaden your fan base. Use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. and spend at least 15 minutes a day on each.
Update your email signature! This is easy enough, just make sure to include your contact information (Website, social media links, email, etc.) and then include a blurb or favorite quote from your book.
Consider making a book trailer to capture the attention of your audience and spark peoples interest in your manuscript.
To summarize, innovations in publishing continue to develop more each year. Who knows what the future holds? Next month some company may release a product that will change publishing forever. Everything is rapidly changing and what used to make sense in the world of publishing for some, is no longer applicable. Ultimately, no matter which route you choose the key to a successful publication is centered around how you market and promote the book. Traditionally published books can fail too if not marketed appropriately.
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