The Business of Writing

The creative output of writing is very satisfying. It might be fraught with challenges but once completed, the writing project has substance to it that can then be shared with the world. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a poem, novel, memoir or self-help book, there will be a place for it to live.

What many don’t realise is that this is just the start of the book journey. Once the thing is written, it’s time for the writer to take off the creative coat and put on the business coat. There’s no way to avoid it no matter which way you publish. Even if you’re lucky enough to land a traditional publishing deal, you will still have to be involved in the promotion and marketing of the book.

The Art of Self-promotion – and how to teach it to your authors with Karen Andrews, Angela Meyer & Blaise van Hecke (photo by Les Zigomanis).

Last week I attended the Independent Publishing Conference at the Wheeler Centre and immersed myself in all things books and publishing. It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve been doing this, there’s always something new to learn and the industry is changing constantly due to changes in technology. I was also part of a panel called ‘The art of self-promotion – and how to teach it to your authors.’ I don’t pretend to know everything about promotion but I know more than some. I also learned a lot from the many other sessions throughout the two days.

Here are my top three take-aways:

  1. Metadata is king – make sure that your book has as much data attached to it as possible. This starts with your ISBN registration and can be added to through TitlePage (you need to be a member of the Australian Publishers Association) and the data required if you are using print on demand. Ensure that you add as much information as possible including a cover image, author bio and reviews if you have any.

Why is data important? It helps with discoverability online as well as by bookstores and libraries if a customer asks about your book.

  1. Audio books are popular – thanks to platforms like Audible they are becoming more accessible and consumers love them. This has created another income stream for the book. Many traditional publishers are starting to include them in the contract of a book along with the print book and ebook. Companies such as Bolinda create audiobooks but at this stage they are not cheap to produce. This won’t stay like this for long as people realise that this is a gap in the market and solutions are created.
  2. Marketing is tricky – this remains the hardest part of the book journey (just like marketing any business is hard) but thanks to social media, there are many new opportunities out there. There is a definite gap in the market here, which is a great opportunity for people to fill. The best way to get your book out there is by word of mouth and book reviews are vital for this. Check out bookbloggersaustralia.com.au for opportunities to have your book reviewed, and check out Goodreads to set up your own author page and ask people to review your book.

There were of course many more great things that I learned at the conference but these three things are really important to have in place for the success of a book. I highly recommend you attend the conference next year to learn more.

As a writer, you may not like the business of writing. But you know what? If you don’t get down to working on it, your book will not get into the hands of your readers and it may as well sit in a box in obscurity.

Blaise the bookchick

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