Book Expo America: Part 2

Since my last post, I’ve finished 2 more Finals and only have one left (next Tuesday), and school ends next Thursday! Hallelujah! I need to catch up on sleep and restore my sanity before diving into my rewrite of 7th Heaven. Anyway, I promised to post my extensive notes and offer a few anecdotes on what I learned. Here goes nothing.

“PERSPECTIVES IN PUBLISHING” with Guy Kawasaki and Leigh Haber

First things first. Leigh Haber barely talked during this seminar, so if you want to know about her, click on her name above because it’s the first and last mention of her in this post.

Now onto the interesting notes.

  • The stigma against self-publishing is NOT TRUE. It’s lessening as we speak, too. And while there may be bad books that are self-published (there are also bad traditionally published books, too), the self-publishing revolution is democratizing the book business. And it’s a meritocracy or social darwinist environment (forgive me, I had my History final yesterday and it’s still on my mind).
  • We need to think of self-publishing as “Artisanal Publishing,” because no one goes up to an artisanal chef/cook, winemaker, or anyone other than authors and says, “you’re a loser because you couldn’t make it in the traditional outlets.” And anyone who does do that clearly doesn’t have manners, so you can ignore them and move on with your dream, whatever it is.
  • NEVER name your self-publishing company after yourself. It’s tacky and screams that you’re self-published. Nononina Press who published Guy’s book APE is the first two letters of his four childrens’ names combined. It’s unique and has a history, a great way to go. (Yesterday I was tweeting to Guy’s co-author of APE, Shawn Welch, asking about whether I needed my own ISBN and he said, if you’re printing, you should. If you’re doing only KDP, stick with the ASIN. If you’re distributing eBooks/Print books outside of Amazon, definitely get a 10 ISBN block from Bowker for $250).
  • Need to be an Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur (APE) to be successful at self-publishing). Did I mention you should buy the book? It’s my new Self-Publishing Bible. More royalty means more responsibility for you. You still need to do all the jobs done by a team in traditional publishing (either by yourself or with help from friends, crowdsourcing, and professionals). These jobs include: editing (developmental, line-editing, and copyediting), layout, book cover design, and publicity. And of course, writing.
  • Platform is the most important thing besides a good book. And now is the “golden age” of social networking. Guy tweets 25 tweets per day (around 2 hours total), between 7am-7pm Pacific Time and stops after 10pm Pacific Time to avoid spammy replies. He also recommends repeating tweets in 8-hour intervals for more exposure (because no one, besides me, scrolls through old tweets).
  • Guy recommends amassing 10,000 followers in 6-9 months (people who say numbers don’t count are lying.) Those are Guy’s words, not mine. But I believe him. Anyway, how does one accomplish this feat? Provide value to your followers. Share useful links and then ask for reciprocation from people who have been loyal? You can use Guy’s website Alltop.com (a website that agregates top blog posts from all over the internet about mostly any topic, use the alphabet on top to find your topic). For us writers, writing.alltop and publishing.alltop are particularly useful. For me, romance-novels.alltop is also helpful since I write that genre.
  • Guy absolutely loves Amazon for both CreateSpace (henceforth referred to as CS, a Print on Demand platform) and Kindle Direct Publishing (henceforth referred to as KDP, a DIY eBook reseller platform). Amazon sales are 75-80% of sales. “You can just focus on Amazon resellers (CS and KDP) and be done with it.”
  • Downsides of Self-Publishing: lots of responsibility (see the 4th bulletpoint of this list), very hard to achieve best-seller status (Amanda Hocking is the exception, not the rule). Extremely hard to get your book into a physical bookstore. No one to help you negotiate foreign rights.
  • Guy disapproves of Blogging a Book, it’s a flawed system (there’s not continuity, one of the hallmarks of a book, regardless of being fiction or non-fiction).
  • Guy writes his books by “vomitting his words onto the page.” Hemingway said to “open a vein and let your blood spill out onto the page.” Guy also says, that “Writing is like flossing. You need to do it every day.”
  • Always hire a professional cover designer ($1000) and copyeditor ($1500). NetGalley is amazing for publicity ($1500). You can do layout on your own from scratch, with a CS Microsoft Word template, or with a pre-formatted template (I bought one from Book Design Templates).
  • Crowdsourcing is amazing for feedback on content as well as financing (but that’s addressed in APE, Chapter 7). Guy uses a locked Google Doc and sends his finished manuscript to 10 people at a time (revising based on their comments). He has those people fill out a form with their name, website, and other basic info, and makes them promise not to send the book to other people. Then he sends an email to all his followers who’ve read the book in earlier stages and asks them before publication to leave a review immediately after release. He sends them the finished copy for free as a thank you.
  • In his seminar, Guy said fictional novels only need eBook (but in APE, it says that print still owns 90% of the market, besides Adult Fiction), so I’d say still print your book. Anyway, novel eBook prices he recommends are based on what type of author you are: first-time authors should charge $0.99, second-time authors can charge $2.99, and after that authors can charge $9.99 for their books. (These are the most popular price-points in eBook sales, in between prices don’t fare very well at all).

Click to see my signed copy of APE again. There’s more below 
“SELF-PUBLISHING: Disrupter or Defender of the Book Business?” with Angela James, Christopher Kenneally, James McQuivey, and moderated by Keith Ogorek for C-SPAN2 (see the panel here)

  • McQuivey: self-publishing is a boon for book publishing because a lot of risk has been removed from the equation because it is author and reader-driven, quickly revealing what sells and what doesn’t. Consumers like ease and gratification of this new publishing landscape.
  • Kenneally: “Second Gutenberg” (who invented the printing press). Self-publishing shifts power to authors. AuthorSolutions has paired up with Penguin, who has always been a “disrupter” of the business by democratizing reading from their start.
  • James: Harlequin has always been very forward-thinking, especially concerning the electronic revolution. Examines self-published titles to see what readers want. That’s how New Adult (books with protagonists who are aged 18-21) came about. Also, the romance genre was one of the earliest adapters of self-publishing. This direct consumer model means that products are getting better. HOWEVER, she recommends to try for traditional route (agent, editor, publisher) before self-publishing if that is ultimate goal because a “test-run” with self-publishing may not turn out well and then most agents won’t want the book because a) it doesn’t have “debut” status anymore and b) it didn’t sell well.
  • Kenneally: Hybrid authors (who publish both independently and with traditional publishers) are the smartest. Google Analytics is an amazing marketing tool, so is Goodreads (Guy Kawasaki agrees in his book APE).
  • James: communicate with readers and create a “street team”
  • Kenneally: Know your audience and choose 1 main platform (Guy agrees).
  • James: One reason it’s hard to transfer from being a self-publishing success to a traditionally published success with the same book is because most self-pubbed bestsellers are at low prices (that traditional publishers can’t replicate).

And… that’s it! Hope you enjoyed my notes on BEA! This was much longer than expected, so Part 3 will come on Tuesday (6/11) and I’ll talk about what I learned in general. Until then, happy reading, writing, etc!

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