Hey there word nerds!
Today, I’ll be sharing a recap of all the exciting things I discovered at Digital Book World (or DBW) last week.
2017 marks the eighth year of this industry-focused event, with a shift toward solution-focused strategies paired with insightful in-depth programming. This year was also the the first time DBW has run a segment of the conference exclusively for indie authors.
While this event is intended for the members of the publishing community—it truly is an industry event—there are a lot of things author can learn from DBW in order to thrive in today’s evolving landscape. And this doesn’t mean you need to be an indie author; even if writers planning to go the traditional route, there were a lot of important takeaways I got from digital book world this year. Listen in to the podcast recap below.
Three Main Themes at DBW
While I heard a lot of fascinating statistics and gained so many new insights into publishing, there were three main themes that rose to the top.
- Innovation: Cool new stuff that both publishers and authors are doing to connect with their audience and enhance the reading experience.
- Efficiency: To succeed in this business, it’s not just about working harder, it’s about working smarter, and this conference was brimming with awesome strategies and cool new tools I can’t wait to try.
- Sales: Let’s face it, if we want to create a sustainable career as writers, we have to understand sales. This means both knowing what the trends are now, and where the next opportunities might be.
This last piece is extremely important. It’s only when we understand the money piece that we can develop creative new ideas for earning a sustainable living from our writing. If we don’t know what’s going on in the industry around us, then we’re operating in a vacuum.
As I go through each of these three themes from DBW, I’m also going to give you a little piece of homework—an assignment with each one—so you can implement these concepts with concrete, actionable steps. Let’s get started!
What cool new stuff is the industry up to?
Hands down, one of the places where I saw the most creative thinking was in platforms, and I don’t mean your author platform, but social media and other tech platforms where both authors and publishers are doing cool creative things. Trends include…
- Audio! By far the biggest buzz at DBW is around audiobooks.
- Using Facebook ads to build your email list as well as to sell directly.
- Platforms that are offering unique reading experiences (like Crave) or increasing authors’ reach (like Wattpad).
How can you work smarter?
The two big areas of focus when it comes to efficiency focus creation and promotion.
- Finding new opportunities for your intellectual property (e.g. branded stories on Wattpad, capitalizing on audio rights, etc.).
- Agents play a huge part in helping authors make smart choices with their IP. While the query process can be tough, agents are still hungry to discover great talent.
“Any given Thursday, you can walk into a bar and hear people singing karaoke who are pretty decent. But as agents, we’re not looking for ‘pretty good,’ we’re looking for someone who can sing at the Met or who can sell out Madison Square Garden.”
—Regina Brooks, Lead Agent and President of Serendipity Literary Agency
- Understanding how to reach out to the media for publicity, and developing a multi-faceted PR approach.
- Take a “sniper rifle approach” to marketing and promotion, instead of a shotgun.
- Patience and persistence were common themes, especially at DBW Indie. You need to try different approaches but give them time to build traction (especially with SEO and digital tools).
What’s happening in our industry and what does this mean for authors?
Perhaps my favorite session was given by Peter Hildick-Smith, Codex Group founder and president. He broke down the sales process into three steps, then talked about different strategies pertaining to each one. These steps are: Discover, conversion, and sourcing.
- Discovery: Do readers know the book exists? How can we make potential readers more aware of books? Readers need two or more “exposures” to the book before they want to buy it, and that number goes up if the price of the book is higher. The good news is that the author’s connection to his/her audience can be a big influencer at this stage.
- Conversion: Now that readers are aware the book exists, do they want to read it? This is where cues like the cover and messaging around the book can make a big difference at this stage. Price and reviews/recommendations can also be a big influencer here.
- Sourcing: Readers know about the book, they want to read it, but will they buy it? Here is where things vary based on the specific book. Delivering a varied mosaic of information about the book (and where to buy it) from day one improves chances of sales.
About Digital Book World
Starting with the only conference designed to address the radically changing commercial publishing environment, Digital Book World has evolved into a year-round platform offering educational and networking resources for consumer publishing professionals and their partners — including agents, booksellers and technology vendors — online and in person.
You can keep up with Digital Book World and what they’re up to by following them on Twitter as @DigiBookWorld or be part of the online discussion via the hashtags #DBW2017 and #DBWIndie, for Digital Book World and Digital Book World Indie Author respectively.
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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome!