Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
The New Year is a natural time to look ahead and imagine how things could be better. Here are eight resolutions to consider for the readers of Digital Book World. I’ve listed two for each of the categories of people who read this site: two for publishers, two for indie authors, two for eBook readers, and two for the whole digital book community.
1. Resolve to not to resent Amazon’s success.
If you’re a publisher concerned about your ability to generate sales, in 2014, resolve to be part of Amazon’s success. Don’t fight it. Join it. Here’s how: Regularly monitor Amazon’s Kindle sales rankings. Encourage your authors to be active in Author Central. Test new keywords and vary your pricing. Amazon is its own ecosystem. Become attuned to is ebb and flow.
Amazon made remarkable strides in 2014. This past holiday was the best ever for the leading digital book reseller. Amazon took in 36.8m orders on Cyber Monday. For those who can’t comprehend such a large number, that’s 426 items per second. Not all of those orders were ebooks, in fact ebook sales generally dip in December, but it’s an example of Amazon’s amazing ability to generate sales.
2. Resolve to encourage aspiring authors.
You’re probably working in publishing because you love the magic of the written word. Guess what? Aspiring authors love the same thing. They’re just at a different stage. In 2014, when you interact with people trying to break into the business, remember we’re all in this together. Today’s novice might be tomorrow’s worldwide sensation. And even if that’s unlikely, it never hurts to treat every single writer like they’re courageous, unique artists—because they are.
For Indie Authors
3. Resolve to get to know your readers and reach out to them.
A great book gives readers the feeling of having a direct connection to the author. Authors, however, don’t always have a direct connection to their readers. But with a little effort, authors can close the gap. Find your fans on Goodreads. Use Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest to seek out people interested in the subjects and themes of your books. Open a dialog. Your involvement can help increase sales. Their ideas can inform your next book. Plus their enthusiasm feels great. And you might make new friends.
4. Resolve to make sure your book is the best it can be before selling it.
Self-publishing makes it possible for anyone to distribute a book online. Indie authors can be eager to sell their book quickly. But books, like children, take years before they’re ready to go into the world on their own. Before you sell your book, even after you think it’s perfect, take a few months and ask at least a dozen people to read it. Request their honest feedback. Then revise. When you think it’s finally ready, go back again and check your continuity (was the character holding a suitcase…but now running down the street? What happened to the suitcase?). Check for typos (a spelling checker only alerts you if the word is spelled wrong, not if it’s the wrong word altogether). And, if your typing skills are anything like mine, hire a good proofreader. Or two.
For People Who Read eBooks
5. Resolve to read a couple of books outside your genre.
Every reader has a few favorite genres. You might be comfortable only reading historical romances this year. But why not try in a sci fi book in 2014? Or learn what New Adult is all about? It’ll be good for you and you might have fun, too.
6. Resolve to recommend the books you love.
More than any other comment, I hear this from people: “It’s hard to find a good book.” But there are thousands of wonderful books out there. Why is discovering a great read so difficult? It must be because people aren’t talking enough about the books they enjoy. So this year, when you’re making small talk at a soccer game, mention that awesome mystery you just finished. When you get to the last page of an engrossing biography, post a review online. Your friends will welcome the tips and the authors will appreciate your enthusiasm.
7. Resolve to actually read those books you talk about.
How many people had an opinion about J. K. Rowling’s mystery “Cuckoo’s Calling” or E. L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Gray” in 2013? Okay, how many actually read those books? It’s great to chat up the latest sensation (see above resolution to recommend the books you love). But it’s not fair to the author or your listeners if your opinions are formed by the media and not by your own experience of the book.
8. Resolve to thank the teachers and librarians in your daily life.
We live in a rich literary world thanks to millions of teachers and librarians dedicated to serving readers of all ages and skills. They foster a love of reading, spread the word about good books, and help open up new worlds of knowledge. The systems they work in, with limited budgets and restrictive policies, often make it hard to be as effective as they would like to be. And lot of their most important work goes unnoticed. So give them the boost of an extra “thank you” next time to you see them. Our lives are better off because of teachers and librarians. Your appreciation doesn’t cost anything. Be generous with it.
What are your resolutions for 2014?
I’m a resolution maker. But not so much a resolutions keeper. If you’re like me, check out Wali Collins’ online event “How to Make Resolutions that Really Stick” on Shindig Wednesday, January 8 at 8:30PM EST.