Who doesn't love getting comfy in bed and curling up with a good book on a rainy day? There's something about the sound of rain hitting the roof as pages turn that puts me at ease. But to be honest, I couldn't tell you the last time I actually visited a bookstore. My entire library of books has been transformed into zeros and ones that display on my iPad or iPhone whenever they're summoned.
Bookstores around the country seem to be closing, or at least transforming into department stores. But don't let the failure of brick-and-mortar bookstores fool you into thinking that books are becoming any less popular. Somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books are published each year according to Forbes. This is up from approximately 300,000 in 2005, and the trend line is only increasing.
1. Self-Publishing is an Accessible Promotional Platform
The great news for aspiring writers is that the barriers to publication have largely been removed. Publishing a book can be as simple as writing a few drafts and then uploading it to an online publication platform, like Amazon. Or, you could go with a more sophisticated approach; hiring an editor and cover designer to help your book really pop.
Even if you choose to go down the path of publishing a physical copy, there are a variety of services available for on-demand printing of self-published work; on-demand printing negates the traditional overhead and logistical nightmare involved in mass marketing a hard copy. You could potentially go from a concept to holding the first edition in your hands for less than $500.
2. Ghostwriting: Good or Bad Idea?
With the success of e-readers and new publishing platforms, it's clear that the publishing industry has transformed itself into a strong 21st century industry. So, as an entrepreneur, I began to ask myself: could my personal brand benefit from publishing a book?
As I was building my brand, I realized that I needed to do more than simply email my subscribers and publish posts on social media. I was becoming a recognized expert in my field, and my followers represented an opportunity to better monetize the information I was already sharing, while creating a new platform to solidify my reputation.
The only problem with creating a book is finding the time to draft, edit and design the book itself. I could definitely benefit from a book published under my name, but would the time spent writing it steal away time from more important tasks?
I quickly started researching the best methods for finding and hiring a ghostwriter. After I had narrowed down the list of available candidates on sites like UpWork, I started investigating the ins and outs of ghostwriting contracts. The resources I found helped me understand the importance of securing every right to the work I wanted to commission; film rights, audio rights, artistic rights, foreign rights and more. There are a variety of specific laws surrounding copyright and legal ownership that impact the ghostwriting process. It's important to not only find the right candidate, but negotiate a strong contract that protects your rights.
Hiring a ghostwriter certainly saved me a ton of time, and it allowed me to grow the foundation of my presence online in a niche market. I learned a great deal about the broader publishing market while working with 3rd-party publishing partners. The experience gave me a peek behind the curtains; seeing how the publishing market has evolved with the demands of a digital world.
3. Understanding How eBooks are Promoted
After a book is written, authors and influencers have to decide how they're going to promote their content. Based on my prior experience as a successful online marketing consultant, I discovered that the process of promoting a blog and an eBook share a lot of similarities. It comes down to building a strong network of back-links and reputable online mentions from influencers. Building excitement around an eBook is significantly easier if you have a social media presence that includes a loyal band of followers.
4. Promotion Starts with a Data-Driven Topic
Hopefully, the concept for your book was data-driven; meaning that the most popular / engaging content from your other platforms helped shape the direction of your eBook. Data and numbers are your friend. Depending on the size of your audience, you can draw generalizations about the broader market by analyzing their activity. Use the insights from past audience interactions to cater the content of your eBook to drive excitement and engagement.
5. Building Social Media Buzz
Once you've created an eBook that covers a killer topic, or series of topics that are important to your target audience, it's time to start growing your network. I found that publishing articles on my LinkedIn profile helped me generate buzz. At the end of the article, I would include a teaser or reference to my book, along with a link. These same articles could be shared via Facebook, although on the more casual social platforms, I found that articles didn't perform as well as raffles and giveaways. The good news is that it's possible to promote an eBook via social media and other platforms with very little investment of capital.
The exciting news for readers and authors is that it's never been easier to create a book, publish it and then self-promote it. The internet has created a platform where anyone can share their idea. If you're willing to put the time in, it's very possible to take the same content that you use for a blog or social media presence, and package the information into an eBook. As an entrepreneur, I've seen first-hand the power of the eBook publishing market. The only question that remains is how will you contribute to the market? Will you just read veraciously, or will you also contribute your unique life experiences to the zeitgeist?