PublishDrive Blog

06
Aug

Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

When you finish writing your book, you inevitably face the question: self-publishing vs. traditional publishing? Should you go chasing agents, or upload your book to Amazon, and get on with it? This is a difficult question, and we hope that we’ll be able to answer it for you. But before going into the details of the most debated area of publishing, let me reassure you: it doesn’t have to be either this or that.

Whatever decision you make, it won’t last a lifetime. Many of today’s successful authors went both ways. The so-called “hybrid authors” have published books both traditionally and as self-publishers. Sometimes the very same books!

If you are here because you would like us to condemn one of these two ways, you are in the wrong place. We honestly believe that indie authors, indie publishers, and the big five can peacefully share the market. The right solution for you depends on your book, your circumstances, and your preferences.

In this article, we are exploring the reasons why somebody might decide to go for self-publishing or not, debunk some myths surrounding self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, and list the pros and cons of both ways.

(This is an older article that had been refreshed with new content.)

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30
Jul

Publishing Poetry in 2018: Trends, Tips, and Tricks

“I was broke. I was a student and I published Milk and Honey with like zero dollars ‘cause I was able to design, write and edit all of it. This is what I did when I was supposed to be studying for all of my exams.” said the bestselling, 25-year-old poet, Rupi Kaur, in a recent interview with Jimmy Fallon. Kaur’s friends and family were encouraging her to become a lawyer and try to convince her to abandon her aspiration to publish her poems. Now she is telling her story about publishing poetry to a 2.5-million audience on American television.

Nothing shows poetry’s popularity better than Kaur’s appearance on late night tv. The genre is flourishing; it’s more popular than it has been in the last twenty years. So, if you want to publish your volume of poems the time is now!

In this article, we’ll go over the recent publishing trends in poetry and then tell you how to publish the words that will inspire readers for a long time.

publishing poetry

Taken by Norman Walsh on 19 Jan 2015 with a E-P5. (Click the picture for link.)

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20
Jul

Key Takeaways of ThrillerFest 2018

If you attended ThrillerFest 2018 (July 2018 NYC), the annual conference of ITW, International Thriller Writers, then you know what a great experience this event is for book people who have a special interest in thriller fiction. The gathering was created in 2004 by successful, bestselling authors to bring thousands of writers, readers, publishers, producers, editors, and agents together to promote and support thriller authors everywhere.

If you did not have the chance to attend this friendly, educational, career-enhancing conference, put it on your list for next July in NYC. For now, I offer a few key takeaways from the various panels I attended that were peopled by high-profile authors and professional book marketers who gave their time over the 4-day event to help newbie and debut authors on their journey to publishing success!

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18
Jul

Overview of the Chinese Book Market

PublishDrive signed a contract with retail giant DangDang, often dubbed as ‘the Chinese Amazon’. To celebrate this partnership, here is our analysis of the Chinese book market. We are grateful for the data shared by German Book Office Beijing, information shared with us by our new partner store, and other sources credited below.

With almost 1.4 billion people, China is the biggest market in the world. Its power and influence have for a long time been disregarded by Western publishers. However, more and more people discover the Chinese market and the possibilities of publishing in China could bring them. This article is aiming to provide an overview of the Chinese book market, analyze the trends and discover some opportunities that could benefit authors and publishers.

Demographics

As summarised in Foreword Reviews, China’s population is not only the largest of the world but is undergoing major changes. These changes make it even more attractive. Sociological trends, just as the fast-growing urbanization and the strong economy result in a strong and educated middle class. These people are eager for Western titles but also cultivated in Chinese literature. The recent abandonment of the one-child policy is expected to further boom the population. The sociological findings are also supported by numbers, as can be seen in the next paragraph. To sum up, these socioeconomic changes make China one of the most sought-after markets today.

Chinese book market in numbers

Although the Chinese book market is usually quite secretive when it comes to its numbers, valuable fresh data has been provided for last year’s Beijing Book Fair. OpenBooks, the Chinese equivalent of Nielsen BookScan has released some current numbers. They estimate the total volume of the book market to be between 20 and 23 billion USD in 2016. The total turnover is increasing by an average of 0.3% yearly. Online book sales have accounted for 45% of total industry turnover (GBOB, Chinese Book Market Data (2017)).

According to data by Chinese Academy of Press and Publication, 58.4% percent of the population regularly reads books. This amounts to around 812 million people altogether. Increasing the percentage of readers is part of the state agenda. The Chinese People’s Government is promoting reading with nationwide campaigns, reaching up to 800 million people at a time.

The three most important distributors are DangDang, Amazon China, and JD. All three of them are committed to offering a safe and protected environment not only to their readers but to their publishers. They are using different kinds of DRM technologies and offering books through different channels and on different devices to fight ebook piracy.

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04
Jul

Create An Author Website For Free Using Wix

This week’s guest post by author Jules Fier underlines the importance of creating an author website and gives you a step-by-step guide to creating one using Wix. As the guide had been made for the layperson, everyone can easily follow it: there is no programming knowledge needed.

Importance of an author website

There is less and less spoken about the importance of an author website. With social media (Twitter, but mostly Facebook) available for everyone, Amazon and Google Play offering author pages, and GoodReads making it possible to interact with readers directly, author websites have somewhat become less interesting.

But not rightly so.

Jane Friedman has written a great article on the importance of still keeping an independent author website, outside of social media. Her reasoning includes keeping your independence (as much as it is possible) and be in control of your content and layout. Another important point is SEO: it is unlikely that your Facebook author page would rank as highly on Google as your website.

Main purposes of an author website

Before you start creating your website, sit down and think about the primary goals you would like to achieve with your site. It is possible that your author website will be the first (or only) thing an agent, publisher or readers see about you. Would you like to put yourself (your personality, your journey) in the center or your books?

Goals often include:

  • Showcase you as a “brand” and summarizing all your activities on one page
  • Offer the first impression to agents, publishers, and readers
  • Run a blog
  • Start a newsletter
  • Share book-related extra information (including pictures and videos)
  • Sell your books
  • Interact with your readers and followers directly

Depending on where you are in your publishing journey and what your plans are, your goals with the website could be entirely different.

In the following, our guest author Jules Fier will share his experience creating an author website using Wix.

About the author (Jules Fier)

Just a person who has traveled the world and also into the horror genre (but still actually love other ones too). I grew up reading horror fiction written by the original masters of teen horror like Lois Duncan, R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, as well as other authors of teen horror, and of course the more adult-oriented ones like Bentley Little, Brian Lumley, Gary Brandner, Clive Barker, and all the rest of them.

My book What Happened Last Halloween Night is a young adult horror fiction that’s highly inspired by Jack Willamson’s Darker Than You Think. I also have a teen horror series called Witch’s Street and confess that my idea to write the series comes from teenage years (and even today) of having grown up reading R.L. Stine’s Fear Street. I always wanted to write my own teen horror series, and I am pretty much a big fan of horror TV anthologies. The only difference between my series and Fear Street is location and geography, as it is set in the UK rather than the US.

A step-by-step guide to creating an author website using Wix

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11
Jun

Series of Books or Book Serials: What’s the Difference?

The following article could not have been made without the help of PublishDrive author Gabriel Wolf. We are grateful for his insight on the topic of book serials.

Series of books or book serials: What is the difference?

Categorization of multiple episode television programs is fairly common: everybody knows that the BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice, the sitcom Friends, and Stranger Things are all substantially different formats, and viewers start them with different expectations. The same is true for books as well. However, there are still many people who don’t know the difference between a series of books and a book serial.

As an author, you have to be aware of whether you are writing a series of a books or a serial, and have to follow (or break) genre expectations.

In a series of books, each book can be read individually. They are usually built around a certain character who doesn’t age or set in the same world, and you can get away with reading them in any order you wish (eg. Discworld by Terry Pratchett). No mysteries or questions go unanswered between two books.

Book serials, on the other hand, have an overarching story line. The characters age and change: like in Harry Potter. Often, they come in episodes or parts shorter than a novel: 80-100 pages long instalments. Episodes (whether novel-sized or chapter sized) are separately published in ebook format and get their own cover. Once a story arc has been finished, the author groups the parts together and publishes it as a novel (often called a ‘season’). The book receives a title, a new ISBN, and usually also appears in print form.

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06
Jun

Get to Know the Team: Interview With Author Success Coach Adam Woods

We are happy to welcome Adam to the team as Author Success Coach. The program is currently in beta, but more details are to come.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background?

My full name is Adam Friday Woods. I am an author, speaker, co-founder of YouthLeadershipBuilders.com (currently in beta), and now an Author Success Coach at PublishDrive. I’m from Northern California, about 80 miles outside of San Francisco. I have been married for almost 16 years and have 4 children.

I have always been a people person, so it makes sense that I went into sales and marketing early on. Later, I went into management and have been a Sales Manager, Territory Manager, and most recently a General Manager.

Why publishing? How did you end up at PublishDrive?

I studied business in college, however; I also took many literature and writing classes during this time and my love for writing evolved. After many years of hobby writing, I began writing stories to my children. In 2016, I wrote a kids’ fable in verse. After I had the story edited, I knew I should get it published. So I began the process by connecting with an illustrator, and started navigating the self-publishing world.

During this process, I shared my book with several people. I connected with a motivational speaker and he encouraged me to create a keynote speech on the message of the book, and to begin doing speaking gigs on the topic. So I did just that, and have been doing inspirational speaking for the last few years. My message is mainly targeted to youth, ranging from elementary school to high school ages, but I do speak to corporations and other organizations as well. (More info here.)

The self-publishing journey has its challenges. Navigating the different platforms and options can be time consuming, learning new concepts can be difficult, and choosing the right options can be stressful. Authors will run into many problems along the way, but after you go through the process, it becomes quite rewarding. Hence, I began looking for a more rewarding full time career within the industry. I wanted to help authors navigate the self-publishing’s turbulent waters. This is how I came to find PublishDrive.

Author Success CoachContinue Reading…

17
May

GDPR for Authors: Are You Compliant?

The new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is coming to effect shortly (May 25), and has definitely created a lot of buzz. GDPR for Authors aims to demystify the new regulations and explain what GDPR means for authors, publishers and bloggers. If you have completely missed the news: it is still not too late to start preparing!

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for general guidance on GDPR and is not legal advice. We’ve tried to ensure that all information is accurate, but please contact an adviser or solicitor for more help.

gdpr for authors

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30
Apr

How to Create a Book Cover for Free

While everybody agrees that creating a beautiful book cover should be the work of an artist, hiring a cover designer could be very expensive. What happens if you can’t afford a designer? Can you still sell your book on Amazon or upload it to Wattpad? Yes. It is possible to create a book cover for free: you just need to learn the business very well to make one that looks professional.

In this article, we’ll explore the main steps of creating a book cover; what are some free online apps to use to design your own book cover; and what tools are required. Self-publishing a book is never easy, and an amazing cover can help you get it right.

To read more about ebook covers, check out our other articles in this topic:

(Article was updated with more information on May 22, 2018.)

What you’ll need to create a book cover for free (checklist)

Before we start looking for the best app, let’s have a look at what you might need. (You can use the links to jump to the correct position within the article.)

1 Your title and your author name. There is no need to put anything on the cover other than the author’s name, the title and the subtitle.
2 A suitable image or images. These will be used as the main part of your cover. It is uncommon to create completely typographic covers unless the book is literary fiction.
3 A genre-specific font. Serif or sans-serif?
4 An editing app. You can use an online service or get a professional photo editing software.
5 A feedback group. Just as you wouldn’t publish a book without getting somebody to read it first, you can’t publish a book without getting feedback on your cover either.

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16
Apr

Google’s Talk to Books: Will it Improve Ebook Sales?

I’m all for AI and chatbots – I even designed one! -, but every time I hear ‘use artificial intelligence for book discovery’, I’m sceptical. I didn’t see anything worth looking at since Oyster was closed down, and when I heard that Google has launched Talk to Books, I wasn’t sure what to think. I’m a big fan of everything Google, but most of their new features get shut down within a few months. (Remember Google Buzz?) Anyway, I have tried Google’s free to use AI features a few months back (Google Vision and Natural Language Processing), and I was hoping that Google will soon use these tools to offer better discoverability to the books in their catalogue. Maybe even increase sales?

Google Books

If you are not familiar with Google Books: it is Google’s enormous project, scanning books from all over the world and making the content searchable. The project has not always been everyone’s favourite, but they have recently overcome some copyright challenges, and are working continuously on making information freely available for everyone. It is not only public domain books and legal documents that form Google Books’ catalogue: they have access to the text of all books distributed through Google Play Books as well. Publishers and authors signing up to Google Play Books agree to their books being part of the Google Books project. It doesn’t mean that the whole book will be available on Google Books. It will, however, make the text searchable.

Why the long lead in?

Because it is exactly the gargantuan Google Books database that is used as a basis of the new project, Talk to Books. (The other new lab project is called Semantris, and it is clearly ruining the effectiveness of my workday. It is a word association game: try it, and you will no longer need Tetris. Hey, don’t blame me!)
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