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By Porter Anderson for Perspective Publishing April 11, 2019

The Audio Publishers Association, Bookrepublic, and Bologna Children’s Book Fair have begun surveying various audiobook markets to give us a global overview of this growing format.

Availability of Audio is the ‘Game-Changer’

Amid so many programs and events last week at the 56th Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy, a new first-time effort at sizing up the international audiobook marketplace was introduced during a session called “Listen Up.”

The report is titled with appropriate caution “Global Audiobooks Data: Steps Toward Understanding the Size of the Market.” It’s the collaborative effort of the Audio Publishers Association (APA) and Bookrepublic with Bologna Book Fair. It was introduced during the fair by APA’s executive director Michele Cobb and by Marco Ferrario of Bookrepublic. Ferrario works with Storytel’s Italian operation as well as running Bookrepublic. The new work that Cobb has begun on understanding the international audiobook market will be of interest in Frankfurter Buchmesse’s (October 16 to 20) new Frankfurt Audio marketplace for the format and content and its centerpiece Frankfurt Audio Summit. As Cobb was careful to point out during an interview with Publishing Perspectives, there are obvious pitfalls in trying to assess audio in world publishing markets today. There’s no consistency or standard in data collection from nation to nation. And in some cases, online retailers withhold sales data as proprietary information, which means the industry can’t see and count everything.

Early Looks at a World of Audiobooks

From the report, ‘Global Audiobooks Data: Steps Toward Understanding the Size of the Market’ by the Audio Publishers Association, Bookrepublic, and Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Image: APA

Needless to say, if a reliable set of statistics can be developed on a general higher-level view of audiobooks on the world scale, many publishers, authors, and markets can benefit with the predictive and comparative analysis likely to result.

But of course, in the early stages of trying to develop an international view of the format, there are unavoidable apples-and-oranges comparisons.

For example, the new report cites 54 percent of American audiobook users being under the age of 45, and 74 percent of listeners preferring their smartphones as a leading device. In China, by comparison, available data indicates that an online audiobook platform like Ximalaya had as many as 40 million users daily at the end of 2018.

In putting together a first attempt at an overall picture, Cobb and her colleagues have identified several categories of geographical consideration.

Three “macro-areas” of key importance, for example, are:

  • The United States (with an estimated 2017 consumer spend of US$2.5 billion)
  • Europe (an estimated 2017 publisher data coming to $500 million)
  • China (an estimated 2017 publisher data of $470 million)

From the report, ‘Global Audiobooks Data: Steps Toward Understanding the Size of the Market’ by the Audio Publishers Association, Bookrepublic, and Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Image: APA

“Key areas” of growth are identified as:

  • The United States (46,000 titles in annual production, 375,000 now available)
  • China (7,000 new audio titles annually, 25,000 available)
  • Nordic countries (5,800 titles annually, 32,000 available)
  • “Audio strongholds” are a classification comprising:
  • The UK (some 14 million units sold in a year, 18 percent of them for children)
  • Germany (about 16 million units sold in a year)
  • “Developing markets” identified include:
  • France (1500 titles annually, 4,000 available)
  • Russia (1,800 titles annually, 16,000 available)

From the report, ‘Global Audiobooks Data: Steps Toward Understanding the Size of the Market’ by the Audio Publishers Association, Bookrepublic, and Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Image: APA

And “emerging markets” at this point are seen in Cobb’s estimation as including:

  • Spain (roughly US$1.5 million in audiobook revenue)
  • India (some $13 million in audiobook revenue)
  • Italy (about $7 million in audiobook revenue)
  • And among the broader observations the report is able to offer:
  • The robust UK audiobook market has benefitted from an “extensive range of English-language content”
  • “In Europe, the market has a range of maturity based on location, with plenty of room for growth”
  • China is seeing “a shift toward paid content”
  • The rise in audio interfaces and smart-speaker penetration (Amazon’s Alexa, etc.) “can only increase the desire for audio products)
  • “Web platforms are the key distribution channels. In addition to aggregating the publishers’ content, they are also taking on the traditional functions of physical bookstores, such as offering advice and customer service.”

More Audiobook Trends

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, Cobb’s APA has become the leader in describing and analyzing the fast-growing audiobook sector in the biggest market for the format, the United States. The organization’s annual reports are a key gauge in understanding the new popularity of this “reborn” format. Once hobbled by the inconvenience and expense of tapes and CDs, audiobooks are the big beneficiary of downloads and streaming distribution in many parts of the world. The plethora of devices—smart phones, smart watches, smart speakers, tablets, and others—has facilitated rapid adoption even among “reading-reluctant” audience segments such as men and boys.

In her presentation, Cobb mentioned several trends to keep in mind, most tantalizing among them the idea of listeners as “story directors” who with developing technologies may be introduced to more interactive audio experiences. She also tells us that sheer availability of material may be the biggest driver of audiobook development in a market. (This is a trend discussed with us by Sebastian Bond of Kitab Sawti at last year’s Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.)

“That’s really the game-changer,” Cobb says. “More availability. There are so many titles being produced that a reader will try an audiobook,” seeing that something he or she was interested in reading, “and then they stick with it. It doesn’t mean that is all of their reading, but a healthy portion.”

With APA survey support, Cobb has been explaining for years now the attractions many audio fans cite of being able to listen while doing other things, or—among some Americans studied—stopping other activities and focusing on listening to a book as a means of relaxation. What’s more, the digital disruption of how many books re released—with “windowing” various formats all but a thing of the past—has meant, as Cobb points out, that “If someone is going to take a book for the weekend to the beach, now they have options” of being able to pick up a new release’s hardback or ebook edition, or the audiobook. “And audio really has been simultaneously released” in many instances “for more than a decade,” Cobb points out.

And one of her more interesting observations is that audiobooks for children may move much more quickly if retailers learn to create “safe” spaces for them to shop and select what they want to hear without parents having to worry that they’ll wander into adult content. “When it comes to my daughter, something like Epic is perfect,” Cobb says, referring to the online curated retail site for children 12 and younger. “It’s a site that’s primarily for ebooks,” she says, though it does have a relatively small audiobook section.

“But more places like that, all children’s content, well-curated,” she says, will change the reach of publishing’s audio for younger readers in a way that parents can approve.

At the Bologna Audiobook Event

Part of BolognaFiere’s series of “flagship conferences,” Listen Up! was an extended session featuring a large panel of specialists who included, in addition to the APA’s Cobb and Bookrepublic’s Ferrario:

  • • Ingrid Bojner, CCO, Storytel Sweden AB
  • • Amy Metsch, senior vice president, associate publisher, Penguin Random House Audio
  • Francesca Rossi, digital sales manager, Mondadori
  • Patricia Stockland, publisher, Capstone Publishers
  • Carlo Annese, podcast editor at large, Storytel Italy
  • Aura Bertoni, senior research fellow, ASK Bocconi Research Center
  • Laura Forti, senior researcher, ASK Bocconi Research Center

 

The 2019 Sheikh Zayed Book Award winner in Children’s Literature Hussain Al Mutawaa counsels the publishing industry to promote issue-based children’s books.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief

Toward ‘Gentle Resistance’ in Children’s Literature

In the closing event of this year’s Sheikh Zayed Book Award program, the 2019 winners gathered on Thursday evening (April 25 on the main stage of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair).

Moderated by critic, researcher, and translator Khalil Al Sheikh and the prize’s secretary general, Ali Bin Tamim, the session followed the formal prize ceremony at Louvre Abu Dhabi on Thursday (April 24) and introduced the evening’s audience to this year’s group of winning writers, researchers, and language specialists in this program that awards a total of some US$1.9 million annually in prize money.

The program, created in 2006 and administered by Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, commemorates “the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi, and his pioneering role in promoting national unity and development.”

A Kuwaiti Poet Turns to Children’s Books

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the children’s literature category is one for which the Zayed program offers translation funding to publishers, to help promote the program’s goal of widening Arabic literature’s reach.

And the winner this year of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s prize in children’s literature is the Kuwaiti writer and photographer Husain Al Mutawaa.

Mutawaa’s bachelor’s degree in literature and criticism is from the College of Arabic Language at the University of Kuwait. And while he began work in literature as a poet in 2009, he turned to stories in 2015 and then to novels.

His first book, Turab, was published in late 2017. And the children’s book for which he’s been honored with the Zayed Award is Ahlam An Akoun Khalat Asmant (I Dream of Being a Concrete Mixer), published in 2018 by Al Hadaek Group.

In the book, Al Mutawaa carefully explores parent-child relationships, the issue of family expectations, and factors that go into making a young person into a self-directed responsible personality. This, as readers learn, may involve the dichotomy of what in life is destructive, what is constructive, and when one may be preferable to the other.

In Praise of ‘100 Different Monsters’

Publishing Perspectives had a chance to speak with Al Mutawaa after the session in Abu Dhabi and—with the expert assistance of one of the book fair’s simultaneous interpreters, Tariq Chelmeran—we were able to ask him how he sees the generally accepted problem of a waning interest in reading among children.

First of all, Mutawaa says, the problem of a weakening “habit of reading” in many parts of the world, the Middle East included, “‘is an extension of a problem with many of our adult readers.”

In too much work for adults, he says, “They enjoy reading, but we remove the knowledge aspect of reading,” in favor of entertainment. “And this transfers to the children.”

It’s one reason, he says, that the approach of gamey, playful fun experiences at public-facing book-fair events may not, actually lead children to want to read, but instead to look for other diversions.

A child’s choice, he says, in exercising what she or he wants to read, becomes all the more important when marketing approaches are seen to be “introducing toys into this sector by force”—by the populist peer-pressure of much of modern advertising, for example—can remove the elements of exploration and discovery, let alone imagination.

Al Mutawaa, in looking at children’s books themselves, he says, sees that “The more you add pictures, the more you lessen the impact of text.

“If 100 people are asked to read the word beast or monster,” he says, “the result should be 100 different monsters.” A literature that truly lives in its words should trigger in each imagination something different and personal.

But today, he says, there’s such a major overhang of visual content that each child sees the same monster, “the ‘typical’ monster,” so the imaginations of young minds are never set free to devise beasts of their own making, with personally impactful elements of meaning.

“Our ability to imagine weakens,” he says.

And the key—while it’s hard so far to see the best mechanism for us to use amid so much new and expertly made visual entertainment—is to “Think of a wave. And now think of standing up on it,” surfing. “This is what we’re doing. We’re riding the waves” of popular culture at this period in publishing’s development.

The remedy is? “To face the wave,” he says to take a stand, to resist the impulse to join in on visual and lightweight fun and to write content “that’s very close to the world children know, something that speaks to their reality” rather than simply offering “fun” and light-hearted distraction as so many entertainments do. “We have to find a way around this problem. Children read my material because they find details of their own lives here.” There’s a difference here, Mutawaa says, from his writerly point of view, between communication and entertainment. And the far more important thing to do is to communicate values. He talks of how he’s being told by young readers that they’re inspired when reading his work, prompted by it to read others.

“This isn’t me thanking myself,” he says, “but it’s about a kind of realism, our daily issues, from real lif

And one of his favorite responses from his readership so far, Al Mutawaa says, came from a 6-year-old girl who read I Dream of Being a Concrete Mixer and asked her mother, ‘Why are you trying to force me to be a doctor.'” The girl had found a sense of independence in considering what she might like to do.

And Hussain Al Mutawaa is ready with a phrase to help his colleagues in publishing think of new ways to approach literature, particularly for youngsters in an era of powerful, distracting, imagination-weakening imagery and bombardment: “gentle resistance.”

Resist the temptation to ride the waves of entertainment, he says. Think of resisting, with gentle, supportive treatment of real-world issues and information.

“Start with literature,” he says. “And create ‘gentle resistance’ to what’s all around the popular industry today.

 

Over the past few months, I have been labeled by some, as being an “Ass” or being too ‘harsh” in the newsletters that go out to the membership. While some of you can say that is the case, you need to know I am coming from a place of love and support, even when it appears harsh. It’s called Tough Love.

We are all grown-ups and, in most cases, have raised families. I am sure, at some point in time, you have had to use Tough Love to get your child or loved one in line and off a road that could damage them.

It is no different for me in how I am approaching you now. I see you as a member of my family and not a bag full of money waiting for me to reach in and take from you. When I have to pass on to the membership increase, the cost of events and programs, I do so with high anxiety, for I know most of you cannot afford the extra expense. But, at the same time, I have no means to foot the bill for all the programs and opportunities I have created that are designed to help YOU!

It is when I see family members sitting on their behinds and expect to be handed things without working for them, that I get frustrated and discouraged. After eight years of this, it’s time for some Tough Love. Therefore, that is why you are seeing my emails becoming a bit more forceful and direct. Consider them as a strong verbal wake-up call.

You joined this organization to become better at marketing and selling your books. To have access to more effective ways to get the word out that you exist and that your books are worthy of being read. That’s great and are the right reasons to join.

My job is to find new and innovative ways that are most effective for you to do that. And, I work hard every day to continually discover new and better means to help you succeed.

However, if you don’t use the services and programs, you will never find out what works and doesn’t work. You have to get off your ass, stop waiting on someone to do it for you, and get to work! Writing the book was the easy part, now it’s time to market it!

If you want to sit back and just write, that’s great! You need to plan on hiring people who will charge you thousands of dollars and let them rip you off while you get nothing in exchange for your money. But, when you do that, you give up all rights to bitch and complain because they didn’t do anything to benefit you or further your writing career.

There have been members who have joined our organization and expected us to sell their books and make them rich (no matter how many times I tell them we are here to help, NOT do the work for them. We simply provide effective tools for them to use). They seem to ignore that, and when they don’t sell hundreds of books or get rich quick, they complain that we are the problem and that we ripped them off.

I created all the various organizations, events, and programs to help YOU! I am not in it to get rich. If I was, the membership dues would be outrageous, and I would limit the number of people I help to a small number.

No other organization in the WORLD does what we do! I have been saying that for years. I continue to stay at the forefront of technology, programs, and other newsworthy items to give you the tools to stay one step ahead of the hundreds of thousands of other authors in the world.

There are over 9,000 published Texas authors, and it is my goal to help as many of them as I can. The reason for this goal is very simple. It builds a stronger family that supports each other. It creates opportunities that otherwise may not exist. However, we cannot continue to do all that we do if we are forced to raise prices or cut back on services due to limited funds. We MUST have more members working with us to help the family as a whole.

Most of you have been members for years and have grown extensively through the various programs and events. Share with your fellow authors in Texas and beyond the state line about what we do and what we have created.

As a family, we are stronger. As individuals, we have to work harder to achieve more. The choice is yours - Help us become a stronger family that includes some Tough Love at times or be the selfish individual who seeks their own personal glory!

Below are a couple of definitions of what Tough Love is:

Webster Definition of Tough Love: love or affectionate concern expressed in a stern or unsentimental manner (as through discipline) especially, to promote responsible behavior

Urban Definition of Tough Love: Another version of "being cruel to be kind." To show somebody some tough love today will save them heartache in the future but may cause a small amount of upset for the receiver immediately after the "Tough Love" has been dispensed. They would suffer more if you let them get on with their life with no interference from third parties.

 

Below are responses from fellow authors to the above article:

As a fellow author AND publisher, I have worked so hard to lead new authors in the right direction for marketing their book. It is not easy to get them out of the mindset of “my book is published, lets watch the money roll in”. So often they sell to friends, family and acquaintances and then wonder why no one else is buying. They can’t fathom why they aren’t being found on Amazon and end up giving up after about 6 months to a year. I spend so much time educating them on the marketing possibilities, and trying to push them to sign up with TAA BEFORE their book comes out. The ones who are willing to learn, eager to market and really WANT it, they have the staying power. The ones who don’t – well, let’s say, I know who I won’t see publish book number 2. Kathleen J. Shields -

 

Alan:
Before I get into my response to your comments about Texas Authors and tough love, Thank You!

To my surprise, the engineering culture in which I have spent 40+ years tends to be somewhat subdued when compared to the unfettered emotions of the literary world. I should have realized this long ago, but personal experience is a great teacher. With that said, the people I have met through Texas Authors have been remarkable and a source of tremendous encouragement. If for no other reason, that by itself more than covers the membership fee. Even at the old rate, I could skip dinner and a movie with the kids just one time a year and make up for it.

In my opinion, the resources and opportunities offered by Texas Authors are a bargain at almost any price. I now have access to more information than I could ever fully utilize. I didn't join the organization, or write a book for that matter, to strike it rich. I did it to make a difference, and Texas Authors has enabled that. Through this organization, I have achieved (quite literally) a fifty-year dream: write a novel that changes lives and then make it available to the largest audience possible. But could I have imagined that the work of a first-time author would win an award for best book in a state-wide contest? Not a chance without a group like Texas Authors.

Alan, do not assume that your efforts aren't noticed or appreciated (or even understood). Regardless of what the future holds, you have already ensured a life-altering change for at least one author.

Thank you,
JMA Ziegler (and Yes, winner 2019 Best Book Award in Women's General)

 

Dear Alan,
I wholeheartedly agree with your Tough Love policy for TAA. I appreciate all that you do for us and know that there is much going on behind the scenes about which we authors are not aware. I thank you for being our fearless leader and helping us to succeed with our book sales and promotions. Texas is lucky to have you!
Sincerely,Suzanne Gene Courtney

 

From the heart of a Texas Authors member:

I joined Texas Authors a few years ago. I sought the organization out because I had met an author who was a member and was happy with what the organization provided.

To this day, I’m very happy I became a member. It is because I am a member of this organization that many opportunities have been opened for me. I never once was led to believe Texas Authors would do everything for me. I went in KNOWING I had to do some work in order to move myself forward. Texas Authors never was and never has been a “handout” organization and it baffles me that anyone would join believing that. There is not a single word written anywhere that implies Texas Authors will do all the work for you and will make you a best-selling author.

What Texas Authors DOES and has ALWAYS said is basically the following…Texas Authors was created to HELP Texas Indie Authors have opportunities to sell their books at events created by Texas Authors and other groups. To clarify, this means Texas Authors puts the book event together for us. Once we sign up for the event, everything else falls to us. It is OUR job as THE AUTHOR in attendance to sell OUR books, not Texas Authors.

While I understand some events are a bit pricy and hard to attend due to distance and possible hotel expense, Texas Authors can only help us so far. Events go up in price because everything else goes up in price. Texas Authors understands this and that is why they offer the Book Festival Package to help with the cost of the table for these events. This package allows you to sign up for multiple events for the following year at one time for a discounted rate. So, my question here would be…why aren’t you taking advantage of that????

Now, I’m going to get a tad more personal. I would say please forgive me, but Alan is right it is time for Tough Love. So here goes mine…

Because of the success I have personally obtained by being a member of Texas Authors, I get highly irritated when I am at an event and authors start to break down early because they aren’t getting any sales or they’ve only had one sale…um…excuse me but…DON’T DO THAT!!! When authors start breaking down early it creates a domino effect and makes the event look sad and not worth walking into for the rest of the day.

And before you go blaming Alan for YOUR lack of book sales at the event. HE CAN’T MAKE PEOPLE BUY YOUR BOOKS and guess what NEITHER CAN YOU!!!!

You have to accept that not every event is going to be successful. If you are unable do that, then don’t sign up.

I don’t know what the magic solution is for all of us to be successful in selling our books. What I do know is this…Alan has done everything possible he knows how to do and then some. Alan has given up more than most of you know to see this organization continue to live and grow and thrive. He’s so good at what he comes up with, maybe we tend to put too much on his shoulders to get things done. So often, we gripe and gripe and gripe, but we don’t do anything ourselves to fix it.

K

 

My experience with Texas Authors has been nothing but positive.

Compared to the many other websites, agencies, or author services that offer to help promote and market Indie Authors, I have found that Texas Authors gives more bang per buck than any others, by far.

My experience with others has been that they always have their hand out -- wanting a large initial fee before they do anything.

By contrast, for my minimal yearly fee to Texas Authors I have: done two 30-minute radio interviews, my books in the e-store, my books in the Museum, gotten notifications of upcoming sales opportunities, won awards, gotten great press releases, had numerous networking opportunities.

Furthermore, my response time whenever I have a question or issue with Texas Authors is minimal to nil. With others, I have waited a long time for a response, or sometimes never gotten a response.

I feel that Texas Authors has MY best interests in mind -- that is something I can not say about other author services or marketing platforms.

I wish Texas Authors the best of success in growing our Author base, and its readership.

-- Sincerely,

Mike Hawron,

Multiple award-winning Author and satisfied Texas Authors member. Multiple award-winning Author and satisfied Texas Authors member.

June 5, 2019 by Diana Urban

At last week’s BookExpo 2019, the biggest annual publishing conference in the US, there were several educational panels featuring publishing professionals and book marketers. These industry thought leaders were buzzing about a wide variety of topics this year, from marketing debut authors to working with indie bookstores.

We’re excited to share some of the top book promotion trends and tips here for anyone who couldn’t attend BookExpo 2019!

1. Publishers are promoting big debuts early

For big debuts, marketing might start a year, or even a year-and-a-half, before launch. First, publishers send advanced reader copies (ARCs) to booksellers and librarians, even if they’re bound manuscripts. This is beneficial for two main reasons:
1. Sending bound manuscripts to a curated list makes people in the industry feel like they’re part of this book’s publishing process. This can create more enthusiasm, since they feel more invested in the process, and foster word-of-mouth promotion.
2. Early feedback can lead publishers to change the description and marketing copy to better reflect how readers are connecting — and want to connect — with a book. For example, if readers are especially engaging with a particular character or plot point, the marketing team may edit the book’s description and marketing copy to focus on those elements in the lead-up to launch.

Next, publishers send ARCs to consumers — whether via events like BookCon, online giveaways, or a publicist’s curated list of influencers and bloggers. Several publishers mentioned sending the galleys in waves, rather than all at once, so that each week new reviews appear online. This helps create repeat impressions for consumers over time. One interesting note: A publicist’s first instinct may be to go wide when sending ARCs, but that doesn’t work on every book. Being selective about relevant publications and bloggers can be a better approach for more polarizing books in order to solicit multiple perspectives evenly.

Thanks to panelists Rachel Chou, VP Associate Publisher at Celadon Books; Kaitlin Harri, Senior Marketing Director at William Morrow; Alex Nicolajsen, Director of Social Media & Digital Sales at Kensington; Dana Trocker, Marketing Director at Atria Books for these takeaways.

2. Publicists are making ARCs delightful to receive

When sending advanced reader copies, personalization and presentation can make a big difference. To grab the attention of booksellers, librarians, influencers, media outlets, and so on, including a personal note as to why you think the recipient will love this specific title can help. It may even convince them to read!

Fancy packaging also sends the message: “this is a big book that you should pay attention to.” You want people to open an ARC package and be delighted with the experience — it will make them more eager to talk about it on social media.

When the publicists at Celadon Books mailed galleys for the breakout hit The Silent Patient, they sent it to booksellers and librarians along with a personalized note. Later, they sent packages to influencers and bloggers that included props they could use when posting pictures to Instagram. This made the book pop in the #bookstagram hashtag and built early buzz.

3. Publishers are using display ads to promote debut books

Driving preorders and early sales for debut books can be challenging without the author having a built-in audience. But display advertising platforms like BookBub Ads let publishers target a fine-tuned audience based on comparable authors and subgenres, which helps publishers reach the readers most likely to be interested in those debut books. This gives them the flexibility to allocate their budget in ways that most effectively drive sales, rather than spending on broader campaigns for which the results are difficult to track.

For example, according to Alex Nicolajsen, Kensington launches a lot of smaller debut books, and they start running paid ads early using platforms like BookBub Ads and Facebook ads. Their budget allocations across these advertising platforms vary by genre, and Alex runs tests to see which genre is working best on each platform. She tweaks the budget accordingly, and continues testing different targeting and creative on each platform. 4. Publicity campaigns should start six months ahead of launch

According to a panel with the book publicity firm Media Connect, authors should work on building and growing their platform at all times, but they also shared a timeline authors can use in the months leading up to each individual book launch. They recommended determining a publicity goal early so that you can focus your time and effort on the outreach that will help you achieve that goal. This might seem obvious, but it can help you avoid being scattered or overwhelmed. Here is an example publicity timeline:

6+ months prior to book launch:
• Create an author website.
• Brainstorm ideas and craft a publicity plan.

5 months prior to book launch:
• Develop a press kit and media pitches.
• Pull together a media list to send ARCs to.
• Start to get blurbs from other authors. (Note: Other publishers recommended doing this much earlier than five months before launch!) 4 months prior to book launch:
• Send ARCs to long-lead media (e.g. magazines, morning TV shows).
• Select and schedule book signings and appearances.
• Research the media you plan on approaching to personalize pitches.

3 months prior to book launch:
• Follow up on long-lead media (e.g. morning TV shows usually book three months out). • Continue to query bookstores and speaking opportunities.
• Write opinion editorials on your areas of expertise, even if only tangentially related to your book. (This can open up broadcast opportunities as well.)

2 months prior to book launch:
• Start scheduling radio and non-morning show TV interviews.
• Approach online book reviewers.
• Reach out to local media for interview opportunities.
1 month prior to book launch:
• Finish ARC follow-up.
• Contact more online reviewers.
• Reach out to bloggers, daily newspapers, newswires, and weekly publications.

Thanks to panelists Brian Feinblum, Deborah Kohan, Paul Sliker, Stephen Matteo, and Jacqueline Mahalick, all from the book publicity firm Media Connect, for these takeaways.

5. Niche marketing effectively drives sales

Your promotional efforts — whether you’re running display ads or soliciting interview opportunities — should be all about reaching the most relevant audience possible, rather than trying to get the most impressions possible. For example, appearing on a niche podcast could end up selling more copies of a book than securing an interview on national TV, according to the panel from Media Connect. It’s all about reaching the right readers with the right message!

According to Alex Nicolajsen at Kensington, the most important thing at the start of any campaign is identifying your target audience. Research what those readers are reading, and where they’re spending their time online. This will let you select the right niche channels and target your advertising campaigns to readers more effectively.

6. Authors are collaborating directly with indie bookstores

Bookstore events have been a great way for authors to connect with local communities on a more personal level. To help authors better take advantage of these opportunities and make these events as successful as possible, a panel of booksellers shared some fantastic tips for running bookstore events.

  • Build relationships with bookstores early

Booksellers prefer to host events for authors with whom they already have a relationship. They want to know that you’ll continue promoting the store after your event — a relationship should be a two-way street! So work on building those relationships and being a loyal patron at each of your local bookstores well in advance of when you’ll need to approach them about an event. (And if you’re not a local author, be prepared to explain why the event would be successful for you and for the store.)

  • Use events to personally connect with readers

Instead of thinking of bookstore events as a way to promote yourself and your book, think of it as a way to connect with readers. Don’t just do a reading — instead, talk about your experience writing the book, and leave plenty of time for Q&A with the audience. If you have people coming to the event who haven’t seen you in years and want to catch up, the event isn’t the time to catch up with them! Give all of the readers and attendees equal attention. And when the event ends, stay late and spend time with the readers who came out to the event specifically for you. That personal touch goes a long way. For example, author David Sedaris is known for spending hours talking to fans. Fight the urge to run off to dinner with old friends in town!

  • Continue supporting the bookstore after the event

It’s important to continue supporting the bookstore after the event, both as an act of goodwill, and to maintain the relationship so you can host future events there. Once the event ends, thank the bookstore staff, even if the turnout wasn’t what you had hoped. Buy a book or product from the store to show your support. If they have a bar, stick around to get to know staff (and the readers who stay late!). Afterwards, share photos of the event on social media, and direct people to the store for signed copies, linking to the store’s website. Finally, send them a handwritten note to express your gratitude.

Thanks to panelists Kelly Estep from Carmichael’s Bookstore, Jenny Cohen from Waucoma Bookstore, Alyson Turner from Source Booksellers, and Jake Chumsky-Whitlock from Solid State Books for these takeaways.

7. Predictions for publishing in 2025

Margot Atwell, Senior Director of Publishing at Kickstarter, made five interesting predictions about the state of publishing by 2025. She also shared her thoughts on how publishers can ensure a sustainable writing and publishing ecosystem moving forward.
1. Publishers will hire and publish more diversely. However, there’s a lot of work to do — 13% of children’s books published in the last 24 years featured multicultural content, and only 7% of new children’s books in 2017 were written by POC authors. Moving forward, publishers should diversify their publishing staff, take risks on different books, and put resources behind books that represent people from marginalized backgrounds.
2. Publishers will flee expensive cities. They’ll become more spread out, with new literary hubs cropping up in more affordable cities. Their employees will work remotely, online. This shift will lead to a lot of innovation for reaching readers as well.
3. Publishers will become more community-driven. They’ll find ways to connect with readers beyond the page, such as on Instagram and YouTube. Publishers should invest and innovate in multimedia campaigns to lead conversations and delight readers.
4. Publishers will use data to guide their thinking. Margot recommended that the industry de-prioritize platforms that lock out publishers and authors from accessing data to their own consumers and discovery patterns.
5. Publishers will work on different types of content. Readers are interested in subscribing to digital content providers like Serial Box and Patreon, and publishers should determine how to vary their revenue streams with subscription services.

The following article was sent out to our membership. At the end of the article, you can read the responses that we received from our members and fellow authors.

 

Book Sales Continue to Decline

Book Sales dropping is nothing new. We have been reading reports on how books sales have decreased over the past couple of years, with only a slight gain in some quarters, just to drop back down. Yes, audiobook sales continue to increase, which goes to show that people are too busy to sit down and read a paperback book.

This hurried aspect of our lives continues to show itself in many ways. People are reading more short articles, short stories, and other short items and not really getting the full picture. This is true of the news, and of books.

I previously proposed this question to you, the authors, and membership. What are YOU doing to help change that? We know you are committed to writing the best story you possibly can, but that is just not enough, and here is why.

As an author, you want to make a living from your book sales. You want to enjoy the leisure life of writing and if you can accomplish it, hire other people to do the marketing and selling of your books. I want that too. I have tons of story ideas in my head, and I don’t have time to write them. So, in order for us to reach that point, we must have increased sales of books, eBooks or audiobooks.

That leads to the next piece of the puzzle, and that is to encourage people of ALL ages to read more. Thus, the question of the year…What are YOU doing to encourage more reading?

Tell us what you are doing, and we will share it with your fellow-authors on our website so that we, as a Family of Authors, can work together to build more readers from the youngest to the oldest ages possible. We must find ways to encourage the purchase of all types of books so we can succeed and make our fair share.

We need to discourage the lending of our books or the resale of our books to used bookstores. After all, we are not making any money from those sales. We, as a Family of Authors, need to be creative and think outside the box to motivate more readers of ALL ages.

Send us your call to action to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Author Responses:

 

I am trying to get myself invited to schools to give talks on writing.
I often post items on Facebook and Twitter about how much good writing is for a person's health and for the health of the brain. In my many talks I often talk about the need of people to put away the computer and read. I know that a person has to hear a message 17 times to learn it. We all need to be saying on every social media - a concise message of SAVE YOUR BRAIN, LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE - turn off the TV and cell phone and pick up a book.
Take care,
Curt Locklear

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief for Perspective Publishing

 

First Wave’ Deadline is July 15

A deadline has been issued by the Audio Publishers Association (APA) for the “first wave” of submissions to its high-profile Audie Awards.

Submissions are due July 15 for titles published between November 1 of last year and August 31. A second wave of submissions, covering titles published in September and October of this year will be due October 2.

Guidance from the APA assures publishers of the organization’s leniency and understanding of production and distribution challenges.

“We know that not every title will be ready for distribution by the first submission deadline,” the APA staff writes. “This is okay. Please do your best to submit titles by each deadline, but know that we will be lenient in imposing the late fee for titles published after the submission deadline No. 1 but before the beginning of the second entry period.”

There are no rule changes from the 2018 Audie Awards guidelines, and those entering will find full information here. Once more, for example, titles can be submitted in only one category with the exception of narrator categories and for the Audiobook of the Year award. An Audiobook of the Year award requires submission of a supplemental form (provided on the site) for use by jurors. That form is due October 31.

As with the change in timing that occurred this year, the 2020 Audies will again not be awarded during BookExpo but instead will be presented at a gala on March 2 in New York City.

Finalists are to be notified in January so that there’s time for extensive visibility to the news media and industry prior to the awards announcements through an extensive display on the APA site

Categories of Entry

  • The Audie Awards are a large competition, with 24 categories, which is one reason that the program is considered by many to be the leading competition in the field. The descriptive notes on these categories are written by the APA.
  • Fiction: For excellence in narration, production, and content of a fiction audiobook. This category is for titles that do not fit into specific fiction categories.
  • Literary Fiction and Classics: For excellence in narration, production, and content of an audiobook of literary fiction or a classic.
  • Mystery: For excellence in narration, production, and content of a mystery audiobook, usually featuring a protagonist trying to solve a crime, such as murder, committed early in the story.
  • Thriller and Suspense: For excellence in narration, production, and content of a thriller/suspense audiobook, usually featuring a hero racing to stop a catastrophe.
  • Science Fiction: For excellence in narration, production, and content of a science fiction audiobook, involving an alternate reality based on possible science (however far-fetched).
  • Fantasy: For excellence in narration, production, and content of a fantasy or paranormal audiobook, involving a world of magic and fantastical creatures brought to life. For example, the story may contain fairies, wizards, vampires, zombies, ghosts, werewolves, etc.
  • Romance: For excellence in narration, production, and content of an audiobook of romance, including romantic suspense, historical romance, erotica, etc.
  • Nonfiction: For excellence in narration, production, and content of a non-fiction audiobook. This category is for those titles that do not fit into the specific non-fiction categories 9-11 below.
  • History and Biography: For excellence in narration, production, and content of a historical or biographical audiobook (these two categories are combined since a biography is an account or history of a person’s life).
  • Autobiography and Memoir: For excellence in narration, production, and content of an autobiography or a memoir. Both of these are an author’s account of their own life, whether straightforward (autobiography) or as a literary story drawn from the person’s life (memoir).
  • Business and Personal Development: For excellence in narration, production, and content of a personal development or motivational audiobook.
  • Faith-Based Fiction and Nonfiction: For excellence in narration, production, and content of a spiritual or faith-based audiobook.
  • Humor: For excellence in narration, production, and content of a humorous audiobook.
  • Short Stories and Collections: For excellence in narration, production, and content of an audiobook that consists of stories, essays, anecdotes, or other short prose or poetry elements.
  • Original Work: For excellence in narration, production, and content of an audiobook that is not based on a print work.
  • Young Listeners: For excellence in narration, production, and content of a children’s audiobook for ages up to 8, including audiobook + book sets.
  • Middle Grade: For excellence in narration, production, and content of a children’s audiobook intended for middle readers, ages 8-12.
  • Young Adult: For excellence in narration, production, and content of a teen audiobook, ages 13-18.
  • Best Female Narrator: For excellence in the solo reading of an audiobook by a female, any category.
  • Best Male Narrator: For excellence in the solo reading of an audiobook by a male, any category.
  • Narration by the Author(s): For excellence in the reading of an audiobook by the author or authors of that audiobook, any category.
  • Multi-Voiced Performance: For excellence in a multi-voiced performance of an audiobook, which includes multiple readers with little to no interaction, any category.
  • Audio Drama: For excellence in a dramatic audio performance that includes actors portraying one or more fully voiced characters and uses interaction and dialogue as key elements. Audiobook of the Year: This award recognizes a title with high-quality content and production values, standing as a benchmark of excellence for the industry. The Audiobook of the Year should serve as a worthy ambassador to new and current listeners, and be a paragon of audiobook art. Additional items considered by the jury include success of marketing and publicity, visibility, impact, commercial success, and recruitment of new listeners to the format. Submission must include an Audiobook of the Year supplemental form (due no later than October 31), which will aid the judges in determining finalists. The winner will be chosen by a panel of celebrity authors.

Judging Notes

The judging process for the Audie Awards goes in stages.

The initial stage is a qualifying round in which at least 30 minutes of each submission is listened to by judges, who then recommend whether the entry should move forward. The recommendations of several judges are compiled and titles are moved forward or not based on those aggregate recommendations.

In the second round, new judges listen to complete audiobooks submitted and then rank the titles they’re hearing.

A third set of judges then score the titles ranked for performance, direction, production, and content.

“Judges,” the program writes, “are selected from a wide variety of listeners, which includes audiobook fans and experienced evaluators, whose common enthusiasm for the format results in selecting the best productions that meet the organization’s four criteria: performance, direction, production, and content.

Audies judges are required to keep their judging assignments confidential. Full information and instructions can be found here.