Beyond the 'Zon
Building a diverse income stream in the publishing industry.
A workshop by Alexis Anne
Who are the players?
Radish & Wattpad
Overdrive & Libraries
In the publishing world we've paid a lot of attention to the music industry because, like ours, it has gone through a massive transformation due to the digital revolution and rise of the cell phone and tablets. And for a long time we were able to look at what was happening in music and know we'd experience similar waves in publishing.
But as we look ahead at 2018 and beyond I believe we'll start seeing more parallels with the television industry. (Hat tip to author Lindsay Emory for this theory!) Kindle Unlimited isn't going anywhere and as each of the book distributors grow and change to remain competitive, I believe we'll see more options available to authors. Similar to the way Netflix, Amazon, HBO, and Starz offer viewers different streaming opportunities and develop projects that are exclusive to their platforms.
I love my Netflix originals, I have HBO almost exclusively for Game of Thrones, and Amazon gives me both streaming of older shows and movies I can watch as part of my package or to purchase and keep, along with original content.
Readers may find similar options in books very soon.
So instead of demonizing the KU machine, we need to start thinking of it as an opportunity that we can use as part of our distribution options. You could fold an entire backlist series into KU for three to six months in order to reach KU's unique subscriber base. Kind of like watching FRIENDS in between binging a new season of Bosch. Maybe your Kindle readers prefer your sweeter side so you develop a series specifically for your Kindle readers, while your iBooks readers want your steamier side. By targeting readers and matching them up with your content you may find a winning combination!
Exclusive to Apple devices
Young users (think YA)
Actively works with indie and trad for promotional opportunities
Steamier stuff does well
Offers print book options
A new Nook tablet
Canadian based (now owned by Rakutan)
Actively works with indie and trad for promos
On all Android devices
Pricing issues for indies
app reading only
uses Candy Crush model of coin-buying for chapters
actively looking for non-erotic content
readers are younger and based around the world
Go Direct or Use an Aggregator
If you're publishing the book yourself you have the option of creating an account with each of these distributors yourself, uploading your content directly, and having total control over your product, or you may simplify things and use an aggregator. The only downside is that they will take a small percentage and you won't have as much control.
If you choose to go with an aggregator you will want to use either Smashwords or Draft2Digital.
D2D is very involved in the author community and is usually at every conference. They advocate on behalf of their authors for marketing opportunities with the distributors. They also run Books2Read, a universal link creator.
Non-US Markets to Breakout with New Readers
Australia & New Zealand
Kobo’s new audio offerings
Apple Books back in the audio game (plus podcasts!)
More ways to listen (Alexa, iHome)
Rethinking Product Packaging
Usually you write a book, develop a single marketing plan based on the book, and push it out. But in today's marketplace and with the ever growing readerships based on different distribution channels, marketing needs to be more targeted. It's not one great book you're marketing. It's several different marketplaces that you're selling your product to and it makes sense to tailor your product to each one. Remember that television idea from above?
Your Canadian-based Kobo readers have different needs/wants/desires/opportunities to one-click than your Kindle, Apple Books, library readers.
Kobo does a great job with keeping series together, suggesting the next one to read, and giving the reader and idea of how much reading time they're in for when they pick up your book. Here is my Tease product page on the Kobo website:
Apple Books does a great job of getting readers to stay with you. They offer extremely long pre-order windows with no assets required. You can also easily change your release date and add "Sneak Peek" content. They routinely feature "Free First in a Series" books and run seasonal sales. They also feature exclusive pre-orders. Here's a look at my Tease product page at Apple. You can see they also do a great job of directing the reader to continue the series.
They also offer opportunities to include screenshots of the inside of your book to your product page as well as the ability to upload a specific sample of our book.
Nook readers are extremely loyal. Bookbub ads (not features) is a great way to target them!
Diverse Streams of Income
Last year I made more money at Apple than Amazon. A big reason for that is the series push Apple provides and the pre-orders they allow me to put up early. My readers know me and they know I'll put out a good book so they immediately pre-order the next one I have up for offer, allowing me to amass a large number of sales on release day. Plus at Apple those pre-order sales count double to your rank. Once when they order, and once again on release day, pushing your new release to the top of their paid charts.
But nothing is ever guaranteed and readers have the freedom to change their minds about where they purchase books, so by having my sales split between Amazon and Apple, and then supported by all the other vendors and affiliate opportunities, I am able to weather the ebb and flow of the industry with a relatively steady paycheck. Here's a look at my average non-release month breakdown:
Thank you for attending one of my Beyond the 'Zon workshops! I hope these slides help you on your publishing journey. Remember trial and error is your best friend. What works for one author will not work for you, but by trying different techniques for reaching new readers you will find your magic combination! Good luck!
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AlexisAnneBooks @ gmail.com