BiblioCrunch and hundreds of writers and book professionals came together at The Sheraton Hotel at Midtown Manhattan for the Self-Publishing Book Expo. Perhaps the most striking part of all this was the date: October 27, just before Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast. We hope our readers and all who attended the event made it through the storm safely.
Many book writers hopeful to spread their work to a large audience came to the expo looking for advice, and why not? The self-publishing model has made getting stories into the public sphere much simpler than it was a decade ago. Outside agencies were once the only way to get stories to an international audience or to find the right people to polish a work to its most pristine form. The Director of Author and Publisher Relations at Amazon.com, John Fine, made it clear that this is not the case anymore. “There’s a great opportunity that didn’t exist before, whether it’s publishing a book, reaching an audience or writing a better book,” Fine said. “The opportunity to do those things has expanded exponentially.”
Despite that, this new possibility also brings many new questions from those who want to try this new method of exposure. The self-publishing expo provided the perfect outlet for getting answers.
As I went to the panels and spoke with the attendees at the event, a question popped in my mind. Sure, It must be fruitful of consumers to have so many books to choose from in bookstores. But how can someone standout amongst millions of authors with millions of self-published stories?
While finding a fantastic marketer is the most apparent solution, authors may find other options more intuitive. Publishing a story as an audiobook is one way to reach a more focused demographic with much less competition. Sherri Wilkolaski is a consultant of Infinity Publishing and it’s audiobook branches. She recommended that self-publishers take note of the audio format. “You have millions of print publications, all these ebooks out there,” Wilkolaski said during a conference on audiobooks. “But for someone who’s an audiobook listener, if I want to listen to audiobooks, my selection is limited.”
Authors can also side-step the monetary competition by putting their work online for free. That might sound crazy, and to those who knew author Brittany Geragotelis, it did. “I was told by people in the publishing world that you never give books away for free,” Geragotelis said during a panel on self-publishing tips. “But I had six books sitting on my desktop. So I decided to give it a try.” She began publishing her story, “Life’s a Witch,” on WattPad, an online outlet for free ebooks. The book earned 18 million reads in just one year. Fans clamored for a print edition of the story, and Simon & Schuster gave her a six-digit sum for the publishing rights.
While incredible success stories happen in this trade, writers cannot forget that about the thing that matters most: the story itself. While new alternatives exist to reach an audience, the quality of the content needed for most successful works to launch has not changed. “I don’t want to kid you,” Fine said. “It has not gotten easier to write a book. That is not easy. And I don’t want to make it sound like it is, and nobody should tell you that it is.”
Still, don’t fret about having to settle for a particular theme just because the mass market is attached to it. A book can succeed without feeding into major trends. Take Darcie Chan’s novel, “The Mill River Recluse,” which has now sold around 700,000 copies. “I’ve gotten a lot of letters from people who have read the book, which is about as far from paranormal as you could get,” Chan said during a panel on self-publishing advice. “And they’re like ‘thank god, there’s a story that has no vampires and no witches and no ghosts and anything strange like that.” she added. “I do think that there is a big readership out there waiting for stories that have compelling characters with a romantic element that are emotionally moving.”
Of course, there is the in-between, that moment when you have a manuscript for your story but need to take the next steps before your work is ready for the masses. We spoke with many people at our BiblioCrunch table, some who had plans to publish a book in the future who could use the help of different people in the business. We let them know that our platform can connect them to many experts, be they agents, publishers, cover artists or other professionals. These authors seemed excited about how the BiblioCrunch network could help them see their works meet a standard fit for the mass market. When most of them heard about our database of publishing experts and our consultation services for authors, they were quick to sign up for the service. Lest to say, we welcome the exposure and our new users.