Do readers & writers want ‘real books’ or ‘ebooks’?

This is a big question for readers. And writers. Because writers are readers (or if they’re not, they should be!).

This time last week the first boxes of paperbacks of my second novel FIND ME arrived. What a moment. The book has been available as a Kindle for a little while now and when I hit the publish button there was a moment as well. But it was nothing like the moment when Deb in the post office opened the very first box to reveal stacks and stacks of books. And the response from my readers to the arrival of the paperback has far exceeded my expectations. And my supplies. Within two days I  had to place a new order.

So it got me thinking about the question we are asked every single day. What do readers want? Real books or ebooks?

I remember when a close friend received one of the very first iPads to arrive in Australia. To her it was a new gadget, a new toy and a MUST have. When I questioned her about why she MUST have this gadget it wasn’t because it was shiny and new, it was because she wanted to take it on her next holiday to Bali. With books on it. Goodbye heavy bag full of paperbacks. Hello shiny new toy with books on it.

And so it began. And so it continues.

I love laying in bed late at night with the iPad screen dimmed to the perfect light. You can read for so much longer this way for one simple reason – it takes no energy to turn the page. Just a tiny flick of your finger and there you have it – a clean new page full of words.

But as a reader, and a writer, the shiny new gadgets for reading ebooks that come onto the market every single day will never replace the lovely, beautiful, tactile sensation of holding a ‘real book’ in your hand. Running your hand over the cover – have they used gloss or matt finish? Is there any raised lettering? And then you open it. What kind of paper have they printed on? Is it cream? Is it white? You then have a flick. There are no words to describe the first flick of the pages. And once you have gone through all the motions, you sit in your most favourite reading place and so it begins.

And so it continues.

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Top 5 PR tips for new indie authors

New indie author and PR agency owner Melissa-Jane Pouliot

New indie author and PR agency owner Melissa-Jane Pouliot

By Melissa-Jane Pouliot

I am a new indie self-published author, as well as the founding director of PR firm mp|media solutions, which I established in 2000 after leaving my hectic deadline-driven world as a newspaper journalist. I work with businesses of all shapes and sizes, new and old, successful and extremely successful. Here are my top 5 PR tips for self-published authors at the start of their journey.

1. Treat your foray into the brand new world of publishing as a start-up business

You’ve dreamed the dream, you’ve finished your book. But wait, before you go any further you need to set up yourself as a business. After all, the ultimate goal is to sell books for money and hopefully one day give up your day to pursue your ultimate goal of being a world-famous author. So the first step is to set up your new business. You’ll need a tax file number, bank account, a marketing plan, an accounting program to keep track of bookshop orders if you are printing paperbacks and so on and so forth.

2. Hit publish, then make it happen

You’ve got an awesome cover, you’ve got it laid out and have hit the publish button. Phew, job’s done. No way girlfriend (or boyfriend!), writing and publishing is the easy part. But your friends and family have told you it’s brilliant so the rest of the world will think the same! Wrong again. Your book is one in millions and millions so you can’t just sit back and wait for people to buy it – whether it’s sitting in a virtual or real bookstore. It’s up to you to make it happen. You are in control of your marketing and you need to cover all bases.

3. Be realistic about what you can achieve
Just because you have written the best book ever written, doesn’t mean you can make a living from it. Don’t expect to be an overnight success – yes, this does happen but for the majority of people in business, including the book publishing business, you need to really work at it. Remember to be realistic about what you can achieve – the whole time you are marketing this book you need to be writing your next one and planning the one after that. Recognise that you are only one person so try not to get too overwhelmed when the overnight success takes more than one night.

4. Adapt to change
Embrace new technology! Always look at ways to streamline, be more efficient, maximise sales – just because you’ve done it the same way since day one doesn’t mean that’s the way you should do it on day 100. Look at what other successful self-publishers are doing and see what works for you. The important thing is to be adaptable – your product will not change but the way you market and sell it needs to.

5.Know where you’re headed and don’t get sidetracked
Okay, so I’ve told you to adapt to change, but you need to be careful that you don’t spend all your time adapting and no time reaping the rewards of being so adaptable! Every day new technology hits the market but just because it’s new and hip and happening, doesn’t mean it’s for you. Know what your business is all about and stick to your goals while testing new ideas along the way. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t bother with it. Also, don’t be adhoc. Build social media into your business plan so that it has a purpose and you’re not just pissing about on the Internet/Facebook/twitter/Instagram/Tumblr/Wattpad/Wordpress/Pininterest and so on and so forth!

6. Talk to people about who you are, the world famous author, but always remember to K.I.S.S.
I needed an extra one! This one is vital. Whether it’s online, face to face or over the telephone you need to tell people who you are, what you do, why you do it and how well you do it. You are your best form of PR and you will need to give up a bit of yourself when you’re promoting yourself as the next big thing to hit the book writing world. But you need to Keep It Simple Sally – you need to have clear strong messages that people can quickly and easily understand and connect with. Be consistent, clear and interesting while being true to yourself.

People will feel so inspired that they will go out and buy your book, review it on Amazon and GoodReads, tell their friends to buy it (and not lend it) then send copies to Ellen and Oprah on your behalf!

 

 

3 top book publishing tips

TWM_Be originalHere are 3 top publishing tips from Melissa-Jane Pouliot, an Australian self-published/indie author whose debut novel “Write About Me” has reached #1 several times on Amazon and has become a high-profile platform for raising awareness around the world about missing persons – the theme of her novel, inspired by a true family tragedy.

1. Stick to your own writing style, even if you are told it is not strong enough for the current fiction market. 

I have a simple, straightforward style. Coming from a media writing background, I am trained to write in active voice and short sentences. In the media world you have to tell the story within the first three paragraphs. Flipping into fiction writing was a challenge when it came to being descriptive and filling in the blanks and you could finish my first draft in about two hours. But there is a balance between long and boring and too quick and slick – just stick to your own writing style and writing goals.

My writing goals are to minimise overwriting, be true to my characters and create a pace that keeps people’s attention and keeps them turning to the next page. Your style might not be considered as literary genius, and you do have a responsibility to your readers and yourself not to stray too far off writing that makes sense – but every writer has their own individual style that makes their writing “theirs”.

It is also important to edit your book, but it’s just as easy to over-edit your work. Be careful not to lose your characters and plot through over-editing. This is another fine balance that all writers are constantly aiming to achieve.

2. Maximise every single marketing opportunity that comes your way.

First of all you need a marketing/media plan – no easy feat when you’re trying to finish a novel! This starts well before your book comes out and can be overwhelming – even for someone like me who has a strategic marketing and media background! Notebooks are perfect for this. Scribble down ideas when they come, then don’t forget to reopen that notebook at least once a week to remind yourself of all your brilliant marketing ideas.

The marketing tools available for self-published authors are a mile long, and the options and opportunities match the number of stars in the sky. Facebook, twitter, wordpress, Instagram, Tumblr, SnapChat, traditional print media, online blogs, author groups, literary associations – honestly, where does it start and finish? So you need to stay focussed and select the tools that you believe will work best for you – and that you can afford.

Then you have to be prepared to drop everything else in your life when a marketing and media opportunity hits you in the face and make sure you get the absolute maximum exposure for your book. Because once that opportunity is gone, it’s gone. Old news is no news – new news is news. 

It’s important to remember you don’t have to do everything right that very second – map out a plan, be prepared for the unexpected, and do the very best you can as that’s all you can do.

3. Keep in close touch with other indie authors – and write down every little thing they say as you’ll never know when it will come in useful for your own self-publishing journey.

Once you start looking you will find so many self-published authors trying to make it big in one of the biggest ponds in the world. Where do you belong? Is your novel best listed in mystery? Or Crime? Or Literary Fiction? Who is your audience? How do you find them? It can be likened to trying to find the missing plane from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – and that is not being flippant in any way. Finding your own place on the giant bookshelf where your readers have no shortage of options is one of life’s biggest challenges and for many, biggest mysteries.

So you need to seek out other indie authors and share share share – we are all in the same boat and none of us want to be left at sea.

Write About Me hits more shelves

It is so fantastic when new stockists come online @ The Word Mint! This week a batch of personally-signed copies of “Write About Me” are making their way to the shelves of Tamworth Newsagency in NSW, who are among a number of new stockists who want this self-published book by a brand new Australian author on their shelves.

WriteAboutMeConfrontingPicWhen Melissa-Jane Pouliot first published her novel and set up The Word Mint, we weren’t sure how we’d get it into bookstores but it seems that although we don’t have a huge publisher/publicist and distributor behind the book, it is still gaining significant traction and popularity having reached #1 on Amazon several times prior to Christmas and our list of stockists growing each week. Most importantly, Melissa-Jane gets at least one personal message a day from a reader who has been moved by her book, and she is getting some great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

In terms of paperback sales in Australia, we have needed to increase print runs significantly over the past two months to meet demand – thank you! Doing all the marketing, networking, social media, research and distribution ourselves The Word Mint still has a lot to learn but learning as we go along makes the journey so much more exciting!