2012 in review

Hello dear followers.   I suppose that the end of the year is for review.    Here is mine from WordPress.  Not bad for an author who reinvented herself, wrote a totally new blog starting with zero followers and finally, at age 50 published her finest work to date!   I’ll take that as success.   Thank you for visiting.   The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 14,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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Wanna get published in 2013? Here are some words of wisdom!

Bookmaze

Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo’s BookMaze

In 2012, Indie publishing soared.  Recently, a fantastic website for the how to’s on self publishing surfaced from cyberspace.   You, as a writer or wanna be writer should take a look.  Marilyn and Tom Ross run the website Self Publishing Resources.   It is chocker-block full of information regarding the world of Indie Publishing.   A one stop shop.   They have truly done their homework.

Take some time and read through the stats posted from one of their blog articles.   Some of the information you may have heard before, but at year end, it is helpful to review.    The stats are both staggering, yet motivational.   It is important before beginning any journey, that you have the correct information to keep you from running amuck down rabbit trails.

Many thanks to Marilyn and Tom Ross for their outstanding collection of this data.   Enjoy!

Excerpt from Self Publishing Resources a blog by Marilyn and Tom Ross:

  • The New York Times reported that “According to a recent survey, 81 percent of people feel that they have a book in them…and should write it.” If you do the math, that represents over 200 million people in the U.S. who want to write a book in their lifetime! No wonder self-publishing is thriving as never before!
  • A new survey found that 23 percent of readers polled have visited an author’s web site, while only 18 percent have gone to a publisher’s site. The survey, conducted by advertising firm Spier New York, surveyed 813 readers, 35 percent of whom were under 35 years old. The survey also found that 50 percent of those queried had purchased a book as a gift within the past year. Online purchases represented 28 percent of books bought, while 89 percent came from a brick-and-mortar retailer.
  • USA Today has added a searchable database of 10 years of bestseller data. You can find it on the page where their weekly bestseller list is posted. A key discovery: the all time best-selling writing/reference guide in the United States is The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. (Note that it was originally a self-published book!)
  • Consumers in the Northeast spend the most on reading materials, while spending is the lowest in the South.
  • Sales of religious paperback books represent a significant market share in today’s publishing arena. The new gospel on book sales has spiritual and religious titles crossing over into mainstream bookstores and taking upwards of 7 percent of all book sales. The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren for instance, has sold over 22 million copies. And this is not a New York phenomena: the publishers, agents, and authors are primarily a whole different group than the Big Apple players.
  • There is a new concept, “wag the long tail,” which means if you rack up enough small sales, especially consumer sales on the Internet, it will add up to big profits in the long run. Technology is turning mass markets into millions of niches. Independent presses, self-publishers, and authors can sell effectively into these micromarkets. This bodes well for new and mid-list authors, not to mention creative-minded smaller presses.
  • Blogs can lead to books. A blog is a great place to flesh out ideas, get reader feedback, and sometimes catch the attention of an agent or publisher.
  • The ratio of customers to bookstores is highest in Nevada, Texas, and Mississippi.
  • Statistics provided by publishers to the Association of American Publishers revealed that net sales in February 2006 were at $358.4 million, up 12.3 percent over the same period in 2005. Genre leaders were higher education and adult mass market paperback.
  • About 20 percent of online sales are of titles not available in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Projections are this figure will soon reach a third of all book sales.
  • Many famous authors and their books were rejected multiple times. Publishers turned down Richard Bach’s Johnathan Livingston Seagull no less than 140 times; Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind received 38 “no’s,” while Stephen King’s Carrie was turned down 30 times. J. K. Rowling’s original work was pooh-poohed by 12 publishers…guess who’s kicking themselves now that they passed on Harry Potter? And E. E. Cummings first work—The Enormous Room, now considered a masterpiece—was ultimately self-published…and dedicated to the 15 publishers who rejected it.
  • What element of a book is the most important? Seventy-five percent of 300 booksellers surveyed (half from independent bookstores and half from chains) identified the look and design of the book cover as the most important component. They agreed that the jacket is prime real estate for promoting a book. Find a great cover designer.
  • Speaking of promoting, niche magazines, which focus on a single topic, are becoming increasingly popular. This trend to specialization — everything from magazines on poker playing to horse people, from interior design and decor to wedding titles, from dog magazines to golf periodicals — provide targeted opportunities for promoting books on these topics.
  • It is good that these fragmented magazines exist. Book review column inches in newspapers have dropped by 20 to 50 percent.
  • University presses are rebounding. They increased their title input to 14,484 (up by 6.3 percent) in 2004, an all-time high. The growth engines were history, biography, and law, which represented 55 percent of the increase. A Princeton University Press title even topped the New York Timesnonfiction best-seller list.
  • From 8,000 to 11,000 new publishers enter the field every year; they are mostly self-publishers.
  • There are about 1.5 million books in print at any one time in the United States.
  • Bookstore sales by month would surprise the average consumer. You probably think December is the high month. Yet the big bounce is in January and again in August and September when university sales are made. The lowest month is April with only $0.987 billion in sales.
  • Some 300 to 400 mid-sized publishers exist.
  • 78 percent of titles brought out come from a small press or self-publisher.
  • California is the stronghold of small presses with approximately six times the number located elsewhere. Colorado and Minnesota also have large independent and self-publishing communities.
  • On the average a bookstore browser will spend eight seconds looking at the front cover and 15 seconds scanning the back cover.
  • The size of the small press movement is estimated to be $13 billion to $17 billion a year, as opposed to trade publishers who are responsible for bringing in $26 billion.
  • Nonfiction typically outsells fiction by two to one. However, at least 20 percent more fiction is being published these days via the Internet and (POD) Print on Demand.
  • Interest in poetry and drama has grown by more than 33 percent since 1992.
  • The average number of copies sold per title of a POD company that printed 10,000 different titles: 75 books.
  • One book per year is produced in America for every 2,336 people— in contrast to one for every 545 individuals in the U.K. Other countries ahead of the U.S. on a per capita basis are Canada (577), New Zealand (779), and Australia (2,041).
  • A poll of 2,700 U.S. Internet users, representing about 100 million U.S. Internet users, indicates that about 8 million unpublished novels and 17 million unpublished how-to books have been written by that Internet-using population alone.
  • Women buy 68 percent of all books sold.
  • Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased.
  • 52 percent of all books are not sold in bookstores! They are merchandised via mail order, online, in discount or warehouse stores, through book clubs, in nontraditional retail outlets, etc.
  • 64 percent of book buyers say a book’s being on a bestseller list is not important.
  • The #1 nonfiction bestseller for 2001 was the Prayer of Jabez, exceeding 8 million copies. Self Matters was #1 on the 2002 list with a mere 1,350,000 copies sold. John Grisham’s The Summonstopped the fiction list with 2,625,000 copies. The best-selling trade paperback during 2002 was, of all things, a cookbook: Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook. How-tos, memoirs, and religion were also strong sellers.
  • Parables, short tales of fiction that teach a life lesson, have many avid fans that drive them onto bestseller lists. One of the most recent is Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, MD. Dr. Johnson began his career as a self published author
  • Bookstores are famous for returning books to publishers. The industry return rate is typically 36 percent for hardcovers and 25 percent for softcovers.
  • It takes an average of 475 hours to write a novel. Fiction is considered successful if it sells 5,000 copies. Writing a nonfiction book requires about 725 hours. A nonfiction book is deemed successful when it reaches 7,500 copies sold.
  • The largest advance ever paid for a self-published book? A whopping $4.125 million. Simon & Schuster paid that for Richard Paul Evans’s The Christmas Box.                

We have researched a multitude of sites and publications to pull these facts together for you. They include the ISBN agency, Harris Interactive poll, Book Industry Study Group, Bookwire.com, Seybold conference, IBPA, the American Association of Publishers, Authors Guild, Lulu.com, Jupiter Media Matrix, parapublishing.com, Foreword magazine, Department of Commerce, Publishers Weekly, various news releases, Books in Print, R.R. Bowker, Forrester Research, Morris Rosenthal, Romance Writers of America, Shelf Awareness, U.S. News & World Report, Poets and Writers, M. J. Rose, Borders, and SIMBA information.

Self Publishing Book

Your self publishing bible.

If this information wasn’t enough, try this great book.   The Complete Guide to Self Publishing by Sue Collier and Marilyn Ross.   Now. . . grab that pen and start writing!   Consider using this resource to get your book out there BookBaby  You could be the one with the next best seller.

How to get tagged, tweeted, and most of all read!

Hawk on perch

Hawk your book in the right places!

Many authors will tell you . . . “writing isn’t the hard part.  It’s the marketing.”    As the market continues to get flooded by everyone under the sun who has had a book in their head, it becomes evermore important for a writer to create their presence, their brand, their own way on social media.   The recommendation from the pros in the book industry is to find your niche.   It will be the perfect niche that will hook your writers.

Initially, it will be easy for you to find other authors.   In following them, and they in turn following you,  your presence will expand on social media.  However, it will quickly become apparent from the frequented #hashtags out there, that gaining a following of only other authors will not sell your books.   Your numbers will go up to be sure.   But unfortunately, not your sales.  Only your mates that are fellow authors might buy your book.   For you see, other authors are trying to sell their own books.  You must find readers.   But a good start is to build your brand by promotion of fellow authors.

In building up a colleagial relationship with fellow authors, you must promote their books.   Tweet them, blog them, facebook them.   Extol your fellow author’s talents.  In turn, if they are savvy about book marketing, they will return the favor and promote yours.   One such writers conference that encourages such efforts is Lexicon.   According to the philosophy here, readers would much rather hear another author promoting a strong book, as opposed to an author screeching “Buy my book.”  As such, it is important that you promote brands that match your own caliber of writing and style.   Promoting every wanna-be writer out there, one whose material isn’t quality will water down your brand.   Preview their work, surf their blog and webpage, then if you like what you see, promote away!

Here are two examples of successful Indie marketing journeys:

The first is a pair of writers, Buck Steinke and Ken Farmer.    Both have presence on social media.   Their niche?  #historicalfiction and #militaryfiction.  As such, in developing their marketing plan, they booked themselves into events which characterized the themes of their writing.   Some of their most successful sales have been gun shows, military gatherings and cowboy events.  In these events, they dress the part in character.   Set up a display with objects related to the theme.  They visit.  Greet.  And yes, even flirt.   The results?  Sales.  Sales.  Sales out the wazoo!    One of their books, The Nations is now in the top 50 books on Amazon in historical fiction.    Wow! The Nations - a historical fiction in Amazon's top 100 - Ken Farmer and Buck Steinke

A second example is even more grassroots.    Brinda Carey is a survivor of incest and domestic abuse.   Her book tells of that story.   Brinda who initially found it hard to talk about the subject, must less write about it, found comfort in sharing her story to help other women.  As such, she speaks at women’s shelters, public health forums, groups which attempt to prevent domestic violence.  Her tweets and blogs are directed at helping other women break free of the imprisonment of domestic violence and abuse.    She provides them comfort and strength.   It is through her public speaking appearances that she has sold over 1000 ebooks in the first year of publication for her debut memoir, Don’t Cry Daddy’sHere.

Don't Cry Daddy's Here book on Amazon

A must read for anyone dealing with abuse!

Finding a niche isn’t easy.    Sometimes it is hit or miss.   From what I have learned in seeing a work of my own, Flying Solo published this year, I can already see the mistakes I made initially, that could have boosted sales.    But no need to cry over spilt milk.   A historical fiction, well written has no expiration date.    One advantage of the genre to be sure.    Take your time, do your research.   Explore and experiment with several multi-tiered layers of marketing.    Be a hawk!   But most of all, don’t give up and keep on writing!   The world is waiting to read your words.

Encore: as an author are you a peacock, a mockingbird, or a hawk?

peacock spreading tail

All show and no substance?

As an author, think about this question.   Are you a peacock, a mockingbird, or a hawk?  You might be asking yourself what birds could possibly have to do with being a writer?   But let’s take a closer look at all three.  See if you can identify with some of these characteristics, because their are more similarities than you might imagine.   Bet you will be surprised.

Peacocks are pretty, to be sure.   Colorful, flamboyant, and decorative.   But even though they are showy, if you look closely at the feathers of their brilliantly, vibrant tail; there is not much substance there.    Peacocks fan out their tales to be noticed.   At first, it is impressive.  Then you realize that underneath all that show,  is nothing but air.    Is your writing all showy?   Are you writing darkness and gloom because of the popularity and success of Twilight or Amanda Hocking?   Are you running raggard to attend every literary event?  Facebooking and twittering all over social media without anything real to say?  Or are you writing what you are good at writing?  Great stories with substance.   Tales that have a beginning, middle, and end.   Characters that have depth.  Locations and plots that have been researched and carefully plotted out.    Good covers are great, but it is the quality of the pages inside that count and will make people come back for more.

Mockingbirds, on the other hand, never stop squawking.  They twitter, and tweet a variety of chirpy tunes.   Short, loud, bursts in every possible call song.  Never sticking to one, just repeating what ever else they have heard around them.   If you listen to them, it becomes apparent  they are trying to attract attention from every angle.    From anyone who will listen.  First this tune, and then that.   Frustrated and fragmented that no one is paying them heed.    So, they change tunes, mimicking some other melody.  Some new authors know they want to write, but can’t find their own voice.   They chirp from this to that, trying to find their niche.   Slow down.   Find your true voice.   Then, sing it to the rooftops joyfully as your own brand.   Your unique author platform.    And stick to it.

Hawk sizing up a mockingbird
Sizing up meaningful tweets and twitters.

Now, consider the hawk.   Eyes on the prize.    Quiet and still as he calculates just the right moment to seize and capture.    The hawk sizes up the situation, calculates the risks, and strikes to take action.    At first glance, he may appear to just blend in, but on careful inspection, you will notice this intricate, exsquisite patterns woven within his feathers.   All aligned and symmetrical in attractive patterns.   Breast full of sustance with dynamic, sharp looking wings.  Proud, confident, and sure of who he is,  no need for overt showy-ness.   The hawk takes his time, hons his skills, and strikes with near 100 percent accuracy when ready.    Isn’t this the writer we all want to be?    Savvy about the business, sharp in our craft,  eyes on the prize, confident and patient, but fearlessly ready to strike when the moment is just right.     On some days, you may feel as an author that you vasilate between all three.    But try to stay focused.   Educate and train yourself on the literary world.    When you are ready,  be a hawk!

This post was originally published in July 2012, but was so popular, it was brought back.   Favorite post of the year by stats.