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5 Key Lessons for Authors and Self-Publishers from Neil Gaiman

5 Key Lessons for Authors and Self-Publishers from Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman (source: Wikipedia)

Neil Gaiman, one of the world’s most beloved authors, gave the keynote speech at last week’sDigital Minds Conference and although his audience was primarily made up of book industry executives, his talk was just as relevant to authors and self-publishers. If you haven’t seen it already, the full presentation is now online and well worth watching.

For me, there were five key lessons to draw from Gaiman’s talk and I have taken the liberty of both paraphrasing him and, in some cases, expanding upon his ideas.

1. Be nice

Gaiman recalled a time when he was sharing a signing with a big-ticket crime author, back before he found himself on the bestseller lists. Incredibly Famous Author, who remains anonymous for the duration of the anecdote, made a scene when presented with an ex-library book on the basis that he ‘got nothing for it’. In response several people in Famous Author’s queue defected, buying copies of Gaiman’s book and waiting in line for him to sign it.

All authors, and especially self-published authors, should bear this in mind at all times. It only takes one example of obnoxiousness for someone to change their mind about buying your book and, on the internet, such examples can travel widely. Instead, give people something to love, give them something to remember and to treasure. Give them an opportunity to take a chance on you; don’t give them a reason to change their minds.

2. Readers discover authors they love, they don’t buy them

People find their favourite authors through word of mouth, not by going into a bookshop and buying a book. They are introduced to their favourite authors by being given or loaned the book by a friend, or by borrowing it from a library. Said Gaiman:

“We don’t normally find the people we love most by buying them. We encounter them, we discover that we love them, which is why I decided early on I was never going to go to war [on piracy], I was just going to encourage, I was going to go for word of mouth.”

3. What is valuable is what is unique

The publishing is in the business of producing lots of things that are identical, ie copies of books. But people buy things because they are unique, because they remind us of an experience, because they have some emotional impact on us. We need to appeal to people by producing beautiful objects. We need to festishise books and give people a reason to buy them.

4. Make yourself heard

We live in a world of abundance now. The days of scarcity, where it was hard to find things, are over. The question is how do we make ourselves heard? How do we find the signal in the noise? And how do we make ourselves heard? A world in which there’s too much information means we no longer rely on gatekeepers but on guides and on word of mouth. That means you have to get out there, you have to be a part of your community, and you have to be the signal, not the noise.

5. Be lucky, be a dandelion, try stuff

For me, this was the most important part of Gaiman’s talk and it starts about 15 minutes in. Mammals, he reminds us, have a small number of offspring and nurture them, pouring all their energy and resources into helping them grow up. Dandelions, on the other hand, produce many, many seeds, the majority of which will never germinate, but — and it’s an important but — some will.

We should, he says, throw our seeds to the wind and see what works. Not everything will pan out the way we hoped, and he gives some good examples of failure, but enough will succeed. It’s important to remember, however, that just because something works well once for someone else does not mean that the same thing will work for you. Sometimes it won’t even work again when the same person does it. Gaiman’s model, he tells us, is this:

“Try everything, make mistakes, surprise ourselves, try anything else, fail, fail better, succeed in ways we would never have imagined a year ago or a week ago.”

Too many authors and self-publishers are looking for the One True Path To Success, but that path doesn’t exist. Tactics that seem to work for one author fail for many others (although we’ll never know how many as no one counts the failures). And strategies that worked once upon a time no longer do. So we have to be inventive, try things out, not get disheartened when we fail, and just keep on being creative, no matter what.

There are more opportunities out there now than we can count, more chances to throw our dandelion seeds to the winds than ever before. There has never been a more exciting time to be a writer than now.

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Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Self Publishing

 

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Is LinkedIn Trying To Get Into The Self-Publishing Game with Pulse?

BookWorks

Almost everyone these days has a LinkedIn account, whether they need one or not — in fact I can’t tell you how many of my actor friends got one in college and never check it! But when you’re in a more straightforward profession than acting, or if you’re looking for ways to put yourself out there, it’s worth having a Linkedin profile.

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However, in the world of publishing and personal branding, Linkedin gets forgotten much of the time. Who needs a Linkedin when you already have a Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and personal website, you might say?

Linkedin has apparently noticed this and, like Barnes and Noble, wants to make more of themselves in the self-publishing industry. Yesterday they announced the purchase of Pulse, a “social reading company” (sort of like an RSS feed, but prettier) as part of their first step toward becoming a “professional publishing platform.”

Here’s what…

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Barnes and Noble’s “PubIt!” is relaunched to entice self publishers

BookWorks

nook-pressAs far as easy, straight-to-e-reader publishing goes, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is still the reigning champion, in no small part because the Kindle still remains the leading e-reader on the market. Barnes and Noble has had its own self-publishing software for years, but you wouldn’t know by the numbers; while PubIt! attracted 20 percent more independent authors every quarter, Kindle is already overflowing with them, to the point where 27 of Kindle’s top selling 100 books are self-published. And while 25% of books on the Nook platform are self published, between CreateSpace and KDP, that number is most likely much higher on Amazon’s vast marketplace

Nook fans will be happy to note that Barnes and Noble is looking to change all that, however. Yesterday they announced the relaunch of their self-publishing program under a new name, Nook Press (which already sounds much more enticing as a publishing platform, in…

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Amazon to buy GoodReads

BookWorks

goodreadsExciting news! According to Galleycat, yesterday Amazon reached an agreement to buy the popular social networking site GoodReads, which we mentioned in our recent article about social media.

Here’s what the press release says:

“Amazon and Goodreads share a passion for reinventing reading,” said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon Vice President, Kindle Content. “Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books and, with Kindle, Amazon has helped expand reading around the world. In addition, both Amazon and Goodreads have helped thousands of authors reach a wider audience and make a better living at their craft. Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike.”

 

“Books – and the stories and ideas captured inside them – are part of our social fabric,” said Otis Chandler, Goodreads CEO and co-founder. “People love to talk about ideas and share their passion for the stories…

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Phase 2 of a successful book marketing campaign: Once you submit your manuscript.

The Indie Book Writers Blog | Self Publishing | Get Published

In an earlier post, I introduced the idea that there are three phases of a successful marketing campaign. The first phase is Before You Submit Your Manuscript. Phase 2 is Once You Submit Your Manuscript. This is when you truly begin to prepare the groundwork for the launch of your book.

marketing-381x300Here are the key things to focus on during this critical phase.

DEVELOP YOUR BOOK’S MEDIA “HOOK.”
Sometimes called the “elevator pitch,” this is the two-minute speech you would give to get media outlets
interested in featuring your book. Above all, make sure your pitch is brief, clear and unique. Don’t just talk about your book, but make sure you talk about the topic of your book in your pitch.

PLAN YOUR BOOK LAUNCH EVENT
One of the key elements of your marketing plan should be a book launch party. This is a way to generate

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The 3 phases of a successful book marketing campaign

The Indie Book Writers Blog | Self Publishing | Get Published

Marketing your book can be as fun and creative as the actual process of writing a book — if you have the right
plan. In fact, developing a marketing plan is one of the most important tasks you need to complete in order to promote
your book successfully.

As with any good book, a good marketing plan has an effective beginning, an engaging middle and a powerful end. Think about it in three phases:

PHASE ONE: Before You Submit Your Manuscript

PHASE TWO: Once You Submit Your Manuscript

PHASE THREE: After Your Book Is Available for Sale

Marketing planOver the course of the next three posts I am going to address some key things to think about during each of these phases to help you create the most successful marketing plan you can.

PHASE ONE: Before You Submit Your Manuscript

The time to start thinking about your marketing plan is before…

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Publishing Wars: Traditional vs Self

Living in Other Worlds: The Life of a Fantasy Writer

Maybe some of you have been waiting for this one. And after a long, busy week (where I may or may not have forgotten to post yet), I’m finally going to tackle the subject.

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Now, before I begin, I want to start off by saying I am not an expert and anyone who claims to be an expert (unless they have legitimate credentials and experience) is really not. There is blog after blog filled with writers rambling on about self-publishing and traditional publishing. They claim to be experts. Most aren’t. So don’t take what you read and think it the absolute truth (this just so happens to be a smart thing to do with just about everything).

Let’s look at a quick list of pros and cons.

Traditional: They have editors to look over your work, some (note some, you still have to do promotion yourself) publicity that will work…

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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Self Publishing

 

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