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Selling Your Book in the Digital Age

Updated on October 8, 2013

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A one day symposium was recently held at the NSW Writers Center in Roselle, Sydney to focus on how a writer can promote themselves in a digital age of perpetual and ongoing change in the publishing world.

This is a review of my day at Open Access

The symposium brought together many from the publishing industry; agent's, publicists, booksellers and authors to share their journeys, experiences and lesson's learned.

If you are an author hoping to be published the volume of information out there regarding choices for the pathway to publication can leave you a little overwhelmed and unsure of how to decide on the best option.

Should I self publish; How much will it cost? Where do I find an editor? Should I go the traditional route and pitch to a publisher? What about ebooks..Kobo..Amazon..Ibooks.. Smashwords..which platform is best? Do I need an agent? Is a publicist necessary? These are all questions that tumble through our minds about publishing options that beg to be answered.

Taking in a day like Open Access can answer some if not most of the questions an author seeking publication in the changing publishing climate might ask.

For most of us who are hoping to do so the facts for publishers and writers a like are that it is quite a challenge to get a book into the hands of a reader, whichever platform you decide upon. Advice from those that have met and worked through the challenges of doing so can be extremely helpful.

Don't Get Left on the Shelf

The lovely Anna Maguire having worked previously in publishing for 25 years and is now a Digital expert teaching authors about digital publishing started the first session of the day. Anna who can be found on twitter on @crowdfunditnow is the author of the cutting edge Crowdfunding book concept; 'when a group of people pledge or donate toward a common goal' a new possibility for publishing.

Anna made it clear that;

'Digital Marketing at scale is your best bet'

And that as authors we need to prepare ourselves for people to discover us'

Using a stellar quote from Constantin Stanislavski... 'Discovery is conscious preparation for an unconscious act' asked us to consider and find where our readers 'hang out'.

To develop an online presence before you publish

Have other books ready to go

Start with the best book you can and just work really hard from there.

Banafsheh Serov a Bookseller and the 2nd speaker for the morning gave her tips for promoting your book well in a refreshing, heartfelt and enlightening session. Banafsheh born in England, spent her childhood in Iran, fled the country during the Iran/Iraq war has written the true story of her and her families escape titled 'Under a Starless Sky'. Banafsheh now owns and runs a small chain of Independent stores. She suggested;

Have a good story

Embrace all platforms

Get a good editor

Have a good web site/blog

Target your audience

Think about the image you want to portray to entice your audience. Think of something unique and use it across platforms so readers know what to expect.

Make up your mind how, where and how much you want to promote your book

Decide what it is you want to highlight about your book

Use your social media platform to advertise your launch

List all of your social media contacts @ the end of your book

And very importantly make it clear where you can buy your book

The Author as the PR machine

The next panel of speakers gave us lots of insightful, useful information. I've included some their tips on how to go about selling our work;

David Henley author of (The Hunt for Pierre Jnr)

To compete with the Game of Thrones/ Fifty Shades of Grey etc you need a lot of books ready to go as audience expectation for follow ups are high with the current trend for book series.

Work hard and be patient

Brendan Shanahan Journalist and author of ( In Turkey I am Beautiful and Mr Snack and the Lady Water) he is based in Sydney.

Choose a web site/blog/social media platform that is easy to update and change so that people can quickly find you and easily buy your books

You have to work hard on Social media so that people remember you

Alex Hammond a Melbourne based thriller writer (Blood Witness)

Most Important - Know how to package yourself as an author

Be prepared to do your own book launch for friends, family and interested people

Alison Tait author of (Career Mums)and freelance writer and blogger

Alison steadily built her career over 4 years and went to the publisher with a thriving social media platform

Build up your online presence before you publish

Become involved in a online writing group

When asked the question how much promotion is too much Alison stated "think about what you don't like online and change it - talk about some other interests not just your book and don't tweet FB blog more than 1 in 20 times to advertise your book.

How Did You Sell That Book? Publicity Campaign Case Studies

Chris Allen author of the Intrepid series (similar to Mathew Riley) and Sarah Allen -Chris's wife and social marketing expert.

Websites can become stagnant, people don't stay there. They stay on FB and twitter but they will come back again and again to your blog if your blog is conversational.

Be yourself, don't pretend to be somebody else

Be useful, go out and find how you can go about it and places where you can promote your work

Build a relationship in the community both local and online

Visualize success - clear understanding of where you need to go and how to start promoting

Get guidance for marketing and promotion

Don't take any offer

Do your best, hang on, don't give up

Debbie Mcinnes arts publicist

If you ever do an interview set about preparing and carefully constructing the interview don't share too much

Share small amounts of succinct information

Only approach appropriate media ie those that are interested in YA books

When working with a publisher make sure if you have a question or concern talk it through so there are no surprises

Bringing Books and Readers Closer Together

Chaired by Linda Funnell, currently a freelance editor and literary agent has had extensive experience as a publisher with Harper Collins, editor and literary agent.

Kath Cuthbert well known in the romance industry as a reviewer, writer and advocate for the genre.

Know your audience and what they want and give it to them

Use Key words that amplify your uniqueness ie If writing a paranormal romance for young people say new adult fantasy - if it is a series advertise it by saying your new book kicks off the series

Try to drive the reader to your book by the use of feeling and emotive language

Tell the reader by the choice of cover the important elements that you want the reader to know

Try to ensure the look of the book hasn't been done before

Know where your reader is reading - Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter, iBooks, FB

Think about putting together a pack, show bag, something unique to advertise your book

Enlist the help of online street teams - a group of readers that help promotion

Make a you tube trailer yourself with the best possible professional help available

Bethia Thomas Digital Marketing Manager at Bloomsbury Publishing Sydney

Some key ingredients for YA books -

Build up your social media presence

Watch what # hashtags are trending

Create a Pinterest board of images

Create a playlist soundtrack and have it on your blog

Make a book trailer but enlist expert help

Brett Osmand currently Marketing and Publicity Director and Head of Digital at Random

Random House do a lot of reader research which gives them a clear understanding of a readers values and attitudes towards reading ie where they shop, how much they spend on a book. In self marketing it's important to do some similar research ie who your audience is; what type of reader will read your work; where you will find them, where they hang out and will buy your book; is their a need for just digital or for hard copies to be available.

January is a good month for marketing new authors

Can Self Promotion be a Creative Act?

Self promotion is a must in today's publishing climate

No longer limited to a publicity campaign and author tour self promotion is a 24/7 plan

Kristen Krauth author of ( Just a Girl and Wild Colonial Girl)

Publishers don't have the resources for promotion

A lot of sifting is needed to find your audience

Start a blog while writing your book and start to mention it slowly

Make sure your blog is on Goodreads

When your book is out set up an author page on Goodreads

Make your launch memorable, aim for something unique

Unfortunately I had to leave shortly after the last session had begun and wasn't able to hear from the last of the speakers but I like many people that attended on the day will take home a wealth of knowledge from the authors and professionals in the industry that shared their expertise.


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    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I know I've read this before, but I'm still looking--not doing--at self-publishing, and it helps to review this. It's a great resource. It's pinned on my freelancing board for reference!

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      I think you are right it looks like most writers go by their real name these days & no I didn't no that!!thanks for dropping by.. Cheers

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 4 years ago from Sydney

      I guess what I'm saying is that I deeply resent the invasion of my privacy. In the past, many writers have been hugely successful using a pseudonym, but it seems that's just not possible now. Marisa Wright is not my real name BTW

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thanks Victoria and I apologize for the delay in replying, just back here & noticed yours.. yes there was a little discussion about that but more on a way forward accepting the digital phenomenon.. glad you found it helpful & thanks so much for dropping by..cheers

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Don't despair Marissa it's not as hard as it seems..but it does mean we have to learn how to promote our work..if we don't get it out there how will

      anyone know about it to buy it..let me know if I can be of further help when your book is finished..cheers

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 4 years ago from Sydney

      I'd love to get my novel published (if I ever get it finished, LOL), but the process sounds far too exhausting. I want to sell a book, I don't want to sell ME, and it seems that I can't do one without the other these days.

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      No worries Jodah, really glad this is helpful for you..but don't be nervous try to work out what's best for you, which is not necessarily the easiest way

      My advice would be to find a writing mentor you admire and trust and listen to their advice..all the best..cheers

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Wow carter, what a helpful and informative hub for people like me. It makes me nervous just thinking about how to publish and there is conflicting advice. Thank you for sharing this information. As someone else said, reading this hub is almost like having attended the writers symposium. I will bookmark this hub. Voted up.

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thanks for dropping by Vespawoolf really happy you find my hub hoped it would be!! Cheers

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      This Hub is a great source of information! I have bookmarked it so I can come back and really assimilate all of these useful suggestions. Thanks so much for putting this into writing! I wish you success.

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Hi Vellur, thanks for dropping by and reading my hub, I hoped others would benefit by reading this, Cheers

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Great tips and information on selling books. Thank you for sharing.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      This is great information that I'm going to pin. I would like to learn more about the digital publishers vs. the traditional. Did they speak much about that? There is just so much to know. Thanks for writing this up! Very helpful!

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Absolutely agree Midget.. a good editor that serves an author well is invaluable!! Thanks for dropping by.. Cheers

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Useful tips! We'd have to really pick a good editor who can serve us well. Thanks for sharing!

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Hi my_girl.. gosh I'm just trying to figure it out for myself..hard to say but its really what works for you..the choice is huge with so many of the big publishing houses that offer their own digital imprints now such as Random House & Harper Collins..Amazons Create a Space & Smashwords are an easy alternative.. I think it's best to take a look @ what's on offer & work out which suits you best.. And good luck if you are about to publish..Cheers

    • my_girl_sara profile image

      Cynthia Lyerly 4 years ago from Georgia

      Which digital publishing houses do you like?

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      You r very welcome Lorne, so hope it helps..cheers

    • Lorne Hemmerling profile image

      Lorne Hemmerling 4 years ago from Oshawa

      This is wonderful! Thanks!

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Oh thanks so much Til, for your votes etc much appreciated..I sure hope so!! I came out with my head buzzing with ideas for the next stage..really felt I knew what my next step is now and how to go about it..cheers

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Glad you enjoyed it La Thing & thanks heaps for votes etc..I found the info really timely for me in the throws of publishing.. I hope it's useful for others as well..cheers

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Appreciate your votes & passing this on Gypsy..that is what I hoped that as many people as possible would benefit..cheers

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thanks so much Mar, it really was a fantastic learning day for me..felt like a bit of a sponge soaking every last information drop great I just had to share it..Cheers

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Wow! Not only did you learn a lot but we did too. You've shared this so well I have a feeling there will be books published, promoted and sold because of your help.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting. Shared too.

    • LaThing profile image

      LaThing 4 years ago from From a World Within, USA

      Hey Carter, great hub with lots of info. Very informative! Enjoyed it much. Voting up and everything.....

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and interesting. Thanks for the most helpful tips. Passing this on.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Wonderful, useful and doable tips, Mary. Thank you for sharing what you have learned with us. Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Glad you found it useful hoping others would too..


    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thanks so much Eddy learned so much thought others might benefit as well..


    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Hi Bill, thanks for dropping by, yes it was a fantastic day & with a great variety of such interesting speakers the day finished far to quickly..learned so much thought I'd pass some on..Cheers

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 4 years ago from Athens, Greece

      Interesting and useful hub with lots of valuable tops and advice.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Interesting and so very useful.

      Voted up and enjoy your weekend.


    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Carter. Sounds like a day well spent. Thanks for sharing this great information.

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thanks Peg that's good of you to say..I just felt I gained so much from it that I thought others would as well.. Cheers

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thanks so much Billy - yep I for one need all the help I can get..( thats why your help is so valuable) So I figured others could use this as well..thanks again Cheers..

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      This was nearly as good as attending the seminar in person. Thanks for sharing these important tips here. I learned quite a lot on a subject that is of real value to me.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Valuable information, Carter. The more info we all have the better our chances. Thanks for this and have a great weekend.


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