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“Discovery as the Next Big
Obstacle of Self-Publishing”
So you think you’re an
Yeah! I'd love to write a story, I’ve been thinking about it
for years. I’ve even played out the scenes and the characters in my head.
Self-publishing seemed like the best way to go, but who would read my book? How
would they find it? Would I have to learn how to create an eBook or online
distribution platforms? Without reviews, would anyone bother to read the about
section of my book? How do I discover my audience? Must I blog, post, and
create marketing campaigns to target these Individuals? Do I really have a
chance to be discovered as the next big self-publisher? Have I got what it
Ok, that wasn’t meant to scare you.
These are valid questions to ask, as a writer or aspiring
author in this new era of self-publishing. It will help equip your mind to
think and strategically plan for the challenges you’ll face when published.
There’s thousands of How to Publish For Dummiesarticles to help achieve your dreams of getting your
story to market. Instead, I believe it is more important for my first blog to
draw attention to the issue of discoverability for self-publishers who are or
will be facing an even greater challenge in expanding digital markets. I will
also share how this led to founding Spark Authors Inc. in an attempt to tackle this
burning hair problem.
The good old days of
Traditional publishing provided
answers to many of the questions asked above. Big publishers, with their army
of literary professionals and connections, mastered the art of getting author’s
stories from rough draft, to market ready, to mass production.
I’ll spare you the details of the long, drawn out traditional
publishing process and attempt to give you the condensed version.
You’ve worked hard to remain focused in the “authors’ zone”,
writing word after word, determining the best sentences, characters, scenes,
and plots to generate a compelling story. Finally, you think your work is market
ready and scramble to find a literary agent. The agent goes from publisher to
publisher, facing rejection after rejection, in hopes of getting you a deal.
Your luck has changed! A big house publisher believes in your
story. Your agent negotiates a deal and you sign a contract. Then the real fun begins.
Your manuscript goes through the chop shop. The publishing
house edits the content, and makes decisions on formatting, designs, titles,
covers, print, pricing, distribution plans, and finally, so called marketing.
Though you may have a say in this process, you will have little influence on
the final choices.
Sounds great doesn’t it? Uh, not so fast!
The time for this process can range from 1-3 years before
publication. The publisher bought control of many of the rights, and thus, can
choose to proceed how they wish. More painfully, the publisher keeps a large
percentage of the royalties, usually 60-80% depending on the authors’
popularity or the agents’ negotiation skills.
Some would call this fair. “Come on! I mean look on the
You received an advance. They took on the heavy load of
publishing. You can be distributed domestically and internationally. Best of
all, the big publisher’s name holds weight and can go a long way.
Yeah! Ok. Are there any other options out there?
Great time to
self-publish an eBook
Then, Self-publishing arrives,
giving author the complete freedom and control to manage their success, due in
major part to the success of eBooks. Though still an infant, it’s proven to be
a disruptive force for the traditional publishing model that once dominated for
To self-publish means an author
needs to learn the skills of traditional publishers and to use these skills to
achieve equal or greater success in his or her print or eBooks. With the aid of
computers, smart phones, tablets, and future electronic-papers, this industry is growing
with unforeseeable potential. Though there is still a relevant demand for
print, eBooks have been the more popular choice for self-publishing, surpassing hard covered books for the first time in 2012 Q1. The
market size and growth opportunity are evidence that the writing community
values this new age publishing. E-Book sales are projected to grow from the
current $3 Billion to $11 Billion by 2016, with over 300,000 new self-published
e-books per year.
Sounds like the perfect time to get
in on the action.
Self-publishing may seem easy for a segment of “tech savvy”
individuals; it’s not so easily grasped by a great deal of authors. The
industry has evolved, giving birth to a fleet ofcompanies like Amazon KDP, Createspace, Barnes&Noble, Fastpencil, wattpad, LuLu, Smashwords, Bookbaby, BookShout, iBooksAuthors, Red-Staple, and BibliCrunch, just to
name a few. Writers can receive editing, eBook conversion, formatting, cover/interior
designs, print, distribution, and marketing on these platforms. Thanks to these
companies, self-publishers can step their game up to provide quality eBooks for
readers. This was extremely important for self-publishers to gain respect and
marketability among readers and fellow authors alike.
in paradise for self-publishers
Putting to rest the dogma of self-publishers lacking the
ability to provide quality material was a victory for self-publishing. As
readers adapt to the popularity of eBooks (shown by the data above), authors
will gain confidence to publish content once filtered by traditional publishers
on their own. This, in turn, will expand the virtual library of eBooks;
consequently increasing competition, and the difficulty of being discovered.
Authors scramble for recognition
with few tricks up their sleeves. Popular
promoting strategies include obtaining high ratings and written reviews,
entering a contest, getting on the best sellers list, lowering book prices,
giving away free books for a period of time, giving away older books for free,
joining book clubs, or having a press release. Online promoting strategies
includes having websites, social media platforms, email lists, blogs, banner
ads, keyword tags, or paying for expensive marketing that may or may not
Sheesh! All you wanted to do was be
an author, not start a business.
With this entire arsenal to choose
from, first time self-published authors will still face an increasing challenge
to gain popularityin the
midst of an expanding eBook content market. Retail giants are going global in
an effort to capitalize on this growing trend. This can be viewed as an
opportunity for both established and first time authors to increase sales in
the global markets. Nevertheless, it still remains an uphill battle for first
time authors with no “street cred” wishing to enter the playing field.
Is there still a room for
innovation in self-publishing that improves discoverability for first time
It’s easier for an established author such as J.K.
Rowling, E.L. James, or Amanda Hocking to gain online exposure if they publish
a new eBook. These authors require little to no marketing due to their household
name recognition. How do we give new writers who choose to self-publish a
chance to be discovered?
Discovery must begin from the very inception of
writing a story. Authors must provide an experience for readers that generates
a buzz during the birth of story process. They must build a brand that readers
desire to be part of. Granting readers exclusive access to join in on your
experience of creative writing where they can collaborate, get points for
rewards, and discover new talent from the very start is a model that benefits
both parties. Acquiring loyal fans and providing an incentive for readers to share their experience online will launch a viral campaign for your story, thus increasing your chances of discovery.
By introducing these gamification elements, we at
Spark Authors want to create a fun platform that helps readers discover new
authors and rewards them for collaborating.
where do I sign up?
Spark Authors Inc.is building a gamified ebook community where readers help writers get discovered! Collaborate with friends or Share stories you love for points, rewards, badges, achievements, leveling, stats, and rank.
We use game mechanics in order to influence readers to perform actions neccessary for an ebooks success like
reviews and social sharing. Points are given to users as incentives for
virtually every type of engagements on eBooks (e.g., commenting, liking,
following, reviewing, editing, creating story topics, reading, but most of all sharing).
Authors can add cool rewards on their eBooks’ to enhance the experience. Our
mission is to increase discoverability by stimulate peer-to-peer word-of-mouth marketing on social media.