Tag: author (page 1 of 5)

5 Things Authors Can Do To Thrive in the New Publishing Paradigm

CGApproved1) Must be hybrid or have a plan to be hybrid. Unlike several years ago, I tend to encourage an unpublished author to try to get an agent and get traditionally published, That might seem odd but the flood of content has made succeeding at self-publishing perhaps more difficult than the arduous traditional publishing route. Unless a new author is an expert at the following things listed below, then you need what a publisher can provide. However, even as you’re doing that, be writing the next book and consider dual careers, traditional and indie. For traditionally published authors, if you haven’t already gone hybrid, start. Because once you are no longer frontlist at a trad publisher, the odds of you getting the rights to you backlist back are slim and that publisher can barely promote its frontlist, never mind your backlist. You need that monthly revenue from the indie side.

2) Discoverability. This is the buzzword on everyone’s lips. I don’t have the secret. If I did, I’d be doing it, and then everyone else would be two weeks later. We do a lot at Cool Gus for discoverability, understanding it doesn’t lead directly to sales, but it does give us wider reach: Slideshares, book trailers on Youtube, direct brain transmission, Facebook, blog, extortion, Twitter, Medium, MRIs, Instagram, etc. We spread the word far and wide, while also doing #4 below.

3) Engagement. This is the step I have to make beyond simply being discoverable. It’s not enough to be out there, I have to be out there and be active. I’ve got get people interested in me and my books. That means always responding to people, putting interesting conversations out on social media, face to face interaction, always having a book ready to give away, giving away lots and lots of eBooks. Signing books. Mailing and giving out swag.

Briefing Room4) Find your niche. I’ve written whatever the heck I wanted to over three decades. Which is not a good business plan. I’ve got thrillers, historical fiction, romance, science fiction, nonfiction, suspense, you name it. I was thinking last night I should write some horror as I just wrote a ‘ghost’ into my current Time Patrol book. But I also understand you can’t get discovered everywhere. We’re building my new web site at bobmayer.com and it’s focused on one series, my current one, Time Patrol. Everything else is secondary. It’s also organic in that every Wednesday there’s a new briefing on a historical event covered in the books. My goal is to own a chunk of the top 100 in the bestseller list in Science Fiction-Time Travel. I’m looking at the new time travel shows coming out on TV this fall and targeting those audiences along with existing shows such as Doctor Who, 12 Monkeys and others. So find you niche and own it!

5) Think beyond the norm. At Cool Gus we’re already working with one very popular app that has nothing to do with books, but does reach the target audience for our romance authors. We’re looking at mutually beneficial relationships like that to extend both sides reach. We’re also using Cool Gus, yes, the man himself, well, beast, in our marketing because frankly, he’s much more interesting than me. We’re tying in our author Amy Shojai’s nonfiction on pets and her fiction (which features dogs) into that. We’ve also got Cool Gus, in the vein of Sherman and Peabody, introducing our new series of time travel videos. We can’t chase what others are doing, because they’re already doing it. We have to come up with new and innovative ways to reach readers.

Bottom line? After three decades making a living as an author, I firmly believe it’s the best time ever to be a writer. Because we can control all of the above. Our career is in our hands!

5 Reasons Publishing Hasn’t “Plateaued” that authors need to be aware of

publishingThe manta in the industry is that everything’s cool. Everything’s fine. eBooks have plateaued, the changes have been weathered and it’s business as usual.

That might be fine for most people in the business, but my experience over the past quarter century as an author is that the minute an author thinks they have it made, their career is over. The only constant is change. We’ve seen a lot of change and while it would be nice to believe all is static, my prediction is that we’re in for some very dramatic changes in the next three years that authors need to be prepared for.

fwNLezdWhat made Special Forces so ‘special’ was our planning. We contingency planned the heck out of everything. I’ve followed a career path in publishing that doesn’t exist according to pundits, yet I’m still here. I’m also a publisher now, a spin off on a contingency plan that has yielded great results.

Here are five things I believe authors need to be aware of and plan for:

  1. Another dramatic loss of shelf space. This impacts the mid-list author. Reports of Barnes and Nobles demise might be premature, but the reality is, even in its stores, its swapping books out for other merchandise. They’re not going to swap out James Patterson for a stuffed animal, but they will replace a dozen midlist authors for a shelf of soft cuddly thing. Other major retailers have also cut back on shelf space.
  2. The rise of Print on Demand technology in kiosks and bookstores. I don’t think Amazon is going to dramatically expand its brick and mortar stores, unless it’s part of a greater distribution plan. But I do foresee Amazon opening kiosks in high traffic areas such as malls and airports with POD machines that can spit out a print book on order, while your credit card is still being processed. Cuts down big-time on the Achilles Heel of publishing: shipping and returns. But this means print from these outlets will have the same issue eBooks do: discoverability, since there will be no shelves for those other than . . .
  3. Airport authors will command more and more of the market. I was walking through SEATAC a few weeks ago and glanced over at the mass market rack in a store: Tom Clancy, James Patterson, John Grisham. And not just one title from each, but multiple titles. Like any other business, publishing and stores are going for bang for the buck.
  4. Amazon Publishing outgrowing some of the Big 5. Amazon has already had successes in its various publishing imprints. As it takes more and more of the market (and it IS taking more and more of the market) those imprints will correspondingly eat up more and more of it. My experience with 47North and talking to other Amazon authors is that Amazon takes more chances and changes much faster than traditional publishing. Which means some of the top authors there are going to become: Airport Authors.
  5. I’ve been saying this for years, but the vibe I’m getting is stronger and stronger: several big name authors going hybrid and some, eventually, going completely indie. We see the creative discontent among many traditional authors. I think that will be the primary motivation: creative control. But there is also the factor of higher royalty rates. New York had a choke hold on print distribution, but every passing year that becomes much less of a factor than discoverability. For those authors who already have discoverability, the benefits of traditional publishing are growing less and less. The biggest impediments to this are several:
  • fresh green grass with bright blue skyAgents who don’t see the value of monthly checks on the back end and focus exclusively on the advances. The hybrid authors we work with at Cool Gus very much like having that consistent monthly check come in, instead of depending solely on intermittent advance checks and twice a year royalties.
  • These hybrid authors like knowing that their marketing and promotion efforts lead to a direct result: income, at a high rate of return; not vaguely, perhaps, earning out an advance.
  • Contracts with non-compete clauses. It will take time for some of these authors to write their way out of current contracts.
  • Fear of the unknown. Having been nuzzled at the breast of being a bestselling author for NY, life outside of that is frightening. It takes us almost an hour to give a traditional author an understanding of what we do at Cool Gus; essentially most of what a traditional publisher does, except with the concept of being much faster, much more responsive and giving the author complete creative control. We also understand something critical: publishing is organic, not static. Not just eBooks, but even print books.

These are not discrete predictions. Each affect the other. What this means is that even if just one grows faster and faster, it will effect the other. This means we will see dramatic change across the board much more quickly than almost everyone expects.

BTW– will post another blog with some suggestions on how to negotiate these changes.

And, the next Write on the River Workshop will be in October. Email bob@bobmayer.org for more information.





True Grit. Writer Style.

true gritThere is a word that applies to successful writers: GRIT.  Science has too long focused on intelligence & talent as determiners of success.  And it’s not.

Tweet this! The key to success is to set a specific long-term goal and to do whatever it takes until the goal has been achieved.

That’s called GRIT (defined as courage and resolve; strength of character). Duckworth did a study in 2008 at West Point. GRIT was the determining factor of Beast Barracks success. My plebe squad, back in the old days when men were men and the sheep ran scared, had five members. Three of them didn’t make it to Christmas the first year. They weren’t bad people; they just didn’t really WANT it. It’s the same in Special Forces training. There are those who go into it because they want to wear a green beret (you know, like Girl Scouts do). They don’t make it. The ones who make it want to BE a green beret. There are those who want the lifestyle of ‘author’. They never get published. The ones who want to BE an author make it. Way back in 1869, Stephen Jay Galton wrote a book titled: Hereditary Genius. He found that ability combined with zeal & capacity for hard work trumps talent.

Successful people have a growth mindset. The problem with many talented people is that they know they are talented; they think that they already know everything they need to know. So they never adapt and change and grow. A growth mindset person believes they can always learn more.  Successful authors are always expanding their craft and their business savvy, especially in today’s rapidly changing publishing environment. If the key is to set a long term goal and doing whatever it takes, the first question is:  Do you have a long term goal as a writer?  I call it the Strategic Writing Goal and discuss it in more detail in Write It Forward.

The Hierarchy Of Goals

  • Overall Writing Goal. (Strategic)
  • Book goal. (Supporting)
  • Business goal (Supporting)
  • Shorter range/daily goals (Supporting)

Let’s talk about your strategic writing goal. It can be anything, but it’s important that you lock it down. Some broad examples: I will be a NY Times best-selling thriller author in five years.

  • I will write my memoir for my grandchildren in the next three months.
  • I write part-time simply because it is a hobby and spend an hour a day on it.
  • I want to be published within 2 years by a major, traditional press.
  • I will have my book in print within 2 months via self-publishing.
  • I will earn X amount of dollars per month indie publishing in six months.
  • I will write a book that will help people with —– and spend the next three years using it to bolster and complement my speaking career.

The Importance Of Your Strategic Goal

It starts your creative and practical process.  Everything you do is going to be slanted to support this goal.  Your strategic goal determines your supporting goals. Writing it down and posting it where you can see it every single day helps keep you focused.  It determines how you approach the publishing business.  It is also the core of your work regime.  It is the core of your marketing campaign. All supporting goals must align with it in the hierarchy.

One of the things I did this year was sit down and look at my supporting goals. The last several years I’d been all over the place with my focus. Writing stand alone books. Writing a short series because I loved the idea: Burners. Writing another Horace Chase book as part of the Green Beret series. I’m proud of all those books, but the reality is that this supporting goal wasn’t supporting my strategic goal. I re-evaluated, balanced what I was passionate about (emotion); interested in (intellect) and what made business sense (reality). I decided to focus on pushing the Time Patrol series forward. It combines everything I want to do as a writer. Writing about science fiction and history allows me to delve into those things I am most interested in and feel the most about. And realistically, putting books out in the same series made sense. I’m seeing that now as D-Day just came out and I’m seeing sales go up in the series overall.

Rooster Cogburn: I mean to kill you in one minute, Ned. Or see you hanged in Fort Smith at Judge Parker’s convenience. Which’ll it be?

Ned Pepper: I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.

Rooster Cogburn: Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!

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