Posted On May 24, 2017 by Print This Post

Keeping up with the fast-changing self-publishing market by Ruth Kaufman

Just a few years ago, self-publishing was unexplored territory for authors and readers alike. Today s-p has advanced to the point where it’s hard to keep up. RUTH KAUFMAN offers a road map of sorts, to help you navigate the ever-changing world of self-publishing. Scroll down for details of Ruth’s giveaway!

As a self-published (s-p) author, I believe it’s essential to be aware of as many of the services, sites, tools, trends, updates, developments and best practices available. Each author needs to be aware of the options before deciding which suit his/her current situation, goals and business plan. Because s-p authors are also entrepreneurs, we’re responsible for and have control over every aspect of our books well beyond writing the manuscripts. But whenever I think I have one facet of the process or market under control, I come across some new information or development I need to research and perhaps implement.
There are so many choices, options and so much information and misinformation about s-p that following gurus and successful authors can be both helpful and overwhelming. Dozens of books, classes and workshops at various price points are offered, enticing you with marketing copy about how much you’ll learn and how this will help you sell more books.
I could spend all day reading articles on the internet and comments in Facebook groups. I worry I can never accomplish all that some authors have, and feeling behind the curve can be intimidating or even depressing. For example, when I read detailed advice about what’s believed to work best with newsletters and automation strategies, there can be so much jargon it’s like they’re speaking a foreign language. I’m collecting these gems, because now that my website redesign is complete and I have a new newsletter provider, I’m ready to move forward with more advanced techniques.
Be aware that a new idea/technique/marketing effort that so-and-so swears by or that sounds like a great idea may not work for your genre, a particular book, or even at the time you try it given whatever else is going on in the marketplace and world.
One example is changes in book production platforms. I produce my Amazon e-books via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and my print books via CreateSpace, separate platforms requiring separate accounts. When I started s-p in 2015, you could also produce e-books via CreateSpace, but the vast majority of the advice I read said not to do that because of glitches/issues.
Another example is KDP’s print book option called KDP Print introduced last September. At first, having just one account for my Amazon books sounds much easier. When you dig a little deeper, you learn that KDPP has different features and benefits than CreateSpace. And it’s still in beta, which may in itself be off-putting to some or exciting to others who are early adopters. I decided to stay with CreateSpace, a choice reinforced in mid-May by a guru I follow.
Earlier in May, BookBub, the popular discounted and free book promotion site and e-newsletter known to offer some of the best returns on investment despite the often-high cost, added preorder alert ads. When I first read about it, questions popped into my mind. Could I participate, and if so, how and what does it cost? I’ve already seen some positive results posted, will others agree?
I want to know some things about products/services/approaches I don’t use, in part because I’m also a self-publishing coach and workshop presenter, and in part because I need to know why I’m not using them if they’re so great, more efficient or cost-effective. Awareness of available choices helps retain confidence in your choices, or if you adopt something new to you may improve your workflow, satisfaction with the process or sales. For example, I hire a formatter because adjusting spacing and resolving coding glitches makes my eyes glaze over. Yet I’m learning more about Vellum, which recently announced a 2.0 version available June 1. Is formatting something I could or should do myself?
One approach is: if product/service/task completion X costs Y but would take me Z hours (and perhaps some frustration) on my own, should I farm it out?
Many s-p authors hire cover designers. That doesn’t mean we can forego all knowledge of what makes a great cover. I still want to be aware of trends and covers on bestsellers in my sub-genres so I can decide if I want to go with the flow or deviate from it.
Do your due diligence before spending a lot of money and time on any advice or industry news. Is this person’s information correct? Does it pertain to you? Is it worth the time/money/effort to learn more or implement? Unfortunately, sometimes you don’t know until you try. On occasion, I’ve missed those minutes I won’t get back after listening to part of a free online workshop that, IMO, didn’t live up to its marketing.
Given the flood of information and unrelenting changes, what can you do to stay informed at a level that’s right for you? Suggestions include:
·         choose a limited number of industry professionals, authors and groups to follow. Every so often, check out an author or group that’s new to you to assess its value.
·         do some industry research each day or week, but limit the amount of time you spend.
·         consider what each bit of new information or development means to you at this stage of your writing career. Some things may come in handy down the road, so keep a file that you doublecheck when you’re ready to take action.
·         make sure the info you’re reading is actually current. Dates on some blog posts and articles may be hard to find. What’s too old depends on the topic, but in general, the more recent the better.
·         set Google Alert searches to run on several topics you want to follow so info comes to you when it’s released instead of you having to remember to search for it.
·         determine your ROI for spending time and effort on executing X process or strategy or reading about Y new development.
·         start a list of main topics, such as cover design, formatting, book release, newsletters, marketing and create your own database of information of interest or use to you so it’s easier to find when the time is right. Make sure to update it so you don’t rely on old/expired advice.
·         tamp down the fear/worry of missing something essential or not knowing what “everyone else” knows or doing what everyone else does.
·         know that content is king, and that writing your next great book may be the best approach of all.

***

What have you found to be the most helpful sources for s-p information? I’ll give an e-book of my first medieval, At His Command, or my novella, My Enemy, My Love to a random commenter.

***

Bio:

Ruth Kaufman is the author of the Amazon-bestselling Wars of the Roses Brides trilogy. Upcoming releases include humorous women’s fiction novels My Life as an Extra and My Life as a Star, and perhaps more books with “My” in the title. Accolades include 2016 Booksellers’ Best Award Best Historical and Best First Book winner and Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® winner. She’s also an actor and voiceover talent, freelance editor and storyteller with a J.D. and a Master’s in Radio/TV who enjoys singing in a symphony chorus. Learn more at www.ruthkaufman.com and www.ruthtalks.com.
LINKS:
Twitter  @RuthKaufman https://twitter.com/RuthKaufman
Facebook Ruth Kaufman Author & Actress https://www.facebook.com/ruthtalks
Resources include:
Facebook Groups:
Gurus:
Jane Friedman  https://janefriedman.com
 
Podcasts:
Upcoming book, releases 6/15: My Life as an Extra
Chicagoan Marla Goldberg must rebuild her life at forty-one after an unexpected divorce. While adjusting to singlehood, trying to improve conditions at the radio station where she’s an account executive and fit in with her successful family, she dips her toes into the daunting dating pool.
Marla yearns to fulfill her long-held dream of being a full-time, working actor, yet can’t quite believe, “Leap and the net will appear.” Being a movie and TV show extra teaches her meaningful lessons, but she must learn what for her is the hardest lesson of all: how to feel special and valued when you’re not the star.

Wars of the Roses Brides Trilogy

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Discussion

12 Responses to “Keeping up with the fast-changing self-publishing market by Ruth Kaufman”

  1. Ruth – Thanks so much for all this great information. I’ve bookmarked this in case I decide to go the s-p route in the future (at this point, I’m still trying to get the story right). Publishing of any kind is such a big step, but I think SELF publishing comes with an extra load of worry. There are so many steps to take, so much to learn – posts like yours are so helpful, I think they take a lot of the fear, and a lot of the drama out of the s-p process.

    Thanks so much for a fabulous, informative post and thanks for hanging out with us today!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | May 24, 2017, 12:18 am
  2. Thanks very much for an informative post!
    As a newbie in writing, I find the amount of resources available overwhelming. I’m focussing my time on learning as much as I can about the writing craft and that involves reading craft books and newsletters, and participating in webinars.
    With so much information out there, it is easy to lose a lot of time searching for the right “guru” to follow.
    I’m glad to see two of my gurus on your list Joanne Penn and Jane Friedman. Both Ms. Penn and Ms. Friedman have great reputations in the writing world. I have listened to Mark Dawson and Tim Grahl, but haven’t checked them out thoroughly yet.
    I have to say Romance University offers a wide variety of advice for writers – a wealth of knowledge for all of us.
    Again, thanks for the post!

    Posted by Rose Kerr | May 24, 2017, 8:47 am
    • Rose – I’m so glad you’ve found RU helpful. We strive to bring you all kinds of good writing information. That’s how I discovered RU, way back when. I need all the help I can get!

      That’s a great list! I’d add Mary Buckham, Debra Dixon and Donald Maass. I’ve also attended really helpful/informative workshops from Virginia Kantra, Jennifer Crusie and Suzanne Brockmann. Of the many writing blogs, I’ll mention three – Writer Unboxed, Anne R. Allen and Ruth Harris’ blog and K.M. Wieland’s Helping Writers Become Authors. I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting.

      Posted by Becke Martin Davis | May 24, 2017, 10:44 am
      • I would also add Elizabeth Spann Craig. She is a cozy mystery writer, BUT her blog has lots of information on the craft of writing and the business side of writing. On Sunday morning’s there’s a roundup of posts by writers of different genres. It’s called: Twitterific Writing Links.
        I do read Writer Unboxed, Anne R.Allen and Ruth Harris and K.M. Weiland as well.
        So much to learn 🙂

        Posted by Rose Kerr | May 24, 2017, 12:03 pm
  3. Hi Rose,

    I still feel overwhelmed at times because there’s so much info to assimilate and sometimes I don’t know what I need to know. It’s definitely a process, one I’m working on enjoying more.

    Posted by Ruth Kaufman | May 24, 2017, 9:15 am
  4. This was a really helpful breakdown of a topic that can feel overwhelming. You’re right in that an author can feel bogged down in all there is to do, and the feeling that everyone knows more, and is doing it better. One thing I’ve been doing these past few months is to read a chapter from a craft or marketing book each day during my lunch hour.Its a low stress way to learn, and not cut into writing time. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and good luck with the new release. I’m looking forward to it.

    Posted by Elizabeth Harmon | May 24, 2017, 9:24 am
  5. Hi Elizabeth,

    Your lunch hour idea is great, thank you for sharing…and for looking forward to my next book!

    Posted by Ruth Kaufman | May 24, 2017, 9:31 am
  6. Thanks so much for hanging out with us today, Ruth!

    Check back in a day or two to find out who won Ruth’s giveaway!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | May 25, 2017, 1:00 am
  7. Thank you for your article.
    Since you asked what has been the most helpful in self publishing for me, I would have to say it is two different podcasts that I listen to on youtube: the creative penn, and the science fiction and fantasy marketing podcast. They each run about an hour and interview a new guest each week. The subject matter varies and they discuss information which is helpful for all genre writers. They seem like nice folk too, who want to help others.
    Lois

    Posted by Lois | May 25, 2017, 2:48 pm
  8. You’re right that feeling behind the curve can leave you depressed. And that each option has benefits and drawbacks. A one-click for print or ebook might be great for some, but not someone who wants to control the look of the print book, not turn it over to a computer.

    Thanks for the post.

    Posted by HELEN HENDERSON | June 15, 2017, 9:10 pm

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