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Writing and Publishing

The Power of Podcasting: Four Reasons to Have an Author Podcast

It seems people are jumping on the podcasting bandwagon. They want to grow their audience and build their platform in order to sell their books (or whatever other product or service they have to offer).

This makes sense. Look at the recent surge of interest in audiobooks, with people who “read” books by listening to a recording. They do this during their commute to and from work, as they exercise, or when they attend to projects around the house. They have become voracious “readers” without ever opening a book or turning on their e-reader.

Podcasting extends the audiobook mindset. A podcast simply becomes another audio expression for these folks to consume.

Here are some of the benefits of author podcasts:

Another Channel to Reach Readers

A natural communication channel for writers is the written word. Blogging connects nicely with that. Readers read books; readers read blogs. It makes sense, a lot of sense. However readers who listen to books won’t likely read a blog, but they will likely listen to a podcast. With podcasting, writers have two ways to reach their audience.

Another Means to Connect with Readers

When we read a book or blog post we use the sense of sight to see the words. When we listen to a book or a podcast we use the sense of sound. With audio, we use voice inflections, interject emphasis, and add timing to each sentence as we speak. These benefits of audio all allow us a better means to connect with our audience.

Another Creative Outlet For Authors

Writing is a creative art; so is speaking. Both communicate but in different ways. Both provide creative outlets, but which tap different aspects of our creativity.

A Fun Break From Writing

No matter how much we like to write, we all need to take a break. After all, once we spend a full day working on our book, do we really want to spend another hour writing a blog post? Not likely, but spending that hour on podcasting provides a nice alternative to writing. Then we can return to writing with a refreshed perspective.

Given these great benefits, you might be ready to jump on the podcasting bandwagon. Not so fast. First, you need to consider whether podcasting is right for you. Next week I’ll look at my experience with podcasting, which should provide some more insight into this intriguing communication option.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Should You Produce Audiobooks?

Audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment of the publishing industry. And the demand for audiobooks will remain strong. Younger generations love audio, a habit they will retain as they grow older. Therefore, audiobooks are something we should consider.

But audiobooks are also expensive to produce, much more so than e-books and print books. So before jumping on the audiobook bandwagon, authors should proceed with care. It can be a huge investment that takes a long time to produce a return, if at all.

Some successful indie authors have worked out revenue-share agreements with book narrators, where the narrator doesn’t charge anything upfront and agrees to split sales revenue, often 50-50. But narrators only make these revenue-share agreements with authors who have a history of selling books. Therefore, this option is unavailable to many writers.

This means if we want to have an audiobook, we need to pay the production costs ourselves. This price can be several hundred dollars per finished hour of audio. And though the author will keep 100 percent of the book sales, they also take on all the financial risk.

But technology stands poised to revolutionize audiobook production. Already, tools exist that can produce a near-perfect text-to-speech rendition of a book. But currently, major book retailers prohibit the sale of these automated productions. I’m confident this will change.

Even more exciting is the future possibility of a computer being able to cost-effectively sample our voice and then produce a narrated book that sounds like us. I don’t know how soon this change will happen, but it will occur.

Personally, I’d love to have all my books in audio, but it’s not a good business decision for me right now. But that will change, and when it does, I’ll produce audio versions of all my books.

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Writing and Publishing

ISBNs and Indie-Published Books

Do you wonder about getting ISBNs for your indie-published books? It’s not too important to have an ISBN for e-books. I’ve heard of several successful indie authors who see no point in it.

However, having an ISBN does make a book seem more professional and part of mainstream book publishing. But aside from the image it conveys, I’m not aware of any tangible advantage for e-books.

You don’t need ISBNs for print books either, but I think they’re important. They facilitate ordering and tracking. Though bookstores typically don’t want to deal with self-published authors (unless you are local or have a connection with the manager), they will need the book to have an ISBN to order it and track it in their system.

In the United States, buy ISBNs from Bowker.

Note that you need one ISBN for each format your book is in hardcover, paperback, e-book, audiobook, and so forth. If an organization will provide an ISBN as part of its services, look carefully at what you may give up when you use their ISBN.

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Writing and Publishing

Consider the Future of Book Publishing

What do the days ahead hold for those of us who publish books?  What is the future of book publishing?

Given the rapid changes the industry is undergoing, we anticipate a different tomorrow, but just how much different will it be? Will today’s roles even exist in a decade or two?

Predicting the future or even anticipating what might lie ahead in the years to come is a difficult task. Although the details are unclear, three general outcomes remain assured:

Consumers of Content

Barring a cataclysmic apocalypse with survivors reduced to a subsistence life, there will always be people who will desire and consume content. Generically called art, entertainment, or education, this content could take many forms, including print, audio, video, multimedia, or interactive, but regardless of the formats, consumers will want content.

Producers of Content

As long as an audience exists, content producers will be in demand. Writers will supply content: writing, creating, inventing, and envisioning. In a way, writers will become artists, producing art for their patrons. Their art may take many forms, beyond merely the writing out of their words.

Facilitators of Content

Idealism suggests that future content producers will directly connect with content consumers. While this may happen in limited situations, middlemen will facilitate the transaction in many cases and facilitate the creation in most instances. The transaction facilitators will mass-produce and distribute the content.

Therefore content facilitators will provide today’s agents, editors, graphic designers, and publicists with tomorrow’s work, aiding tomorrow’s writers with their content.

The future of book publishing will be much different. However, as long as we can adapt, there will always be opportunities for today’s writers, editors, designers, agents, and publishers. The future is indeed bright—for those willing to see it.

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Writing and Publishing

What is the Future of Book Publishing?

Will book publishing follow the path of the music and movie industries?

When people look at the future of book publishing they often draw parallels to music and video. In many ways this is instructive, but not in all cases. What does the future hold for digital books?

Digital Music and Video

Look at the history of music. With music, there were 78-rpm records, cassettes, 8 tracks, vinyl records, CD, and iTunes/iPods.

Next, consider the progression of the video. With video, there were Beta tapes, VHS tapes, video disks, DVD, and Blue Ray.

Digital Books

Music and video both show a user progression of format and consumption to the digital realm. One might conclude, therefore, that printed word will give way to the digital world that print books will cede to digital books, be it e-books or audio.

I don’t see that happening, at least not completely.

To say that e-readers will completely replace printed books is like saying iTunes will replace concerts or Blu-Ray will replace theater. It’s not going to happen.

E-Readers

True, e-readers may one day dominate the reading public’s preference, but just as there will always be demand for concerts and theater, so too for the printed word. The key for authors and publishers is to embrace both options, not pick sides.

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Writing and Publishing

3 Types of Self-Publishing

Explore the 3 Types of Self-Publishing: Print, E-books, & Audio

Self-publishing once vilified as an exercise in vanity, is now accepted as a viable option by most everyone—except perhaps those who earn a living in traditional publishing. Consider the three self-publishing options.

Three Self-Publishing Options

There are three segments to self-publishing: e-publishing (for Kindle and other e-readers), POD (print-on-demand), and audiobooks. Some POD vendors will also produce an e-book version, allowing for one-stop-shopping.

Of the three, POD may be more satisfying to the author. POD gives them something tangible to touch, see, and show. Whereas e-pub may be more profitable, having no printing, storing, or shipping costs.

Audiobooks reside in the middle. They have a higher production cost than e-books but also enjoying the ease of digital distribution. Ideally, the self-published author should consider all three. But start with e-books, followed by print books, and wrapping up with audiobooks.

When it comes to profit per unit sold, both print and e-books surpass traditional publishing, whose royalties are much smaller in comparison. Of course, traditional publishers have a more extensive reach, greater connections, and bookstore distribution, so the lower payment per book is often more than offset with a much higher sales volume.

Whatever route an author takes, there are pluses and minuses to each. Therefore, the key is to become educated, know your strengths, weaknesses, and available time. Then find the best match for your situation, personality, and goals.

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Writing and Publishing

Why Printed Books Are Still Relevant

Though e-books receive all of the hype, printed books are still important, for both readers and authors

People like to talk about what is new, what is exciting, and what is fresh. That’s why the book publishing industry has so much buzz about reading digital books and listening to audiobooks.

I’m not going to dismiss those options—because they’re exciting opportunities for authors—but I do caution against overreacting. While digital and audio are fun, sexy, and viable, print is still king. Seriously.

Printed Books

Printed books have a proven history. Printed books have ardent supporters. And printed books do not require a device or a charged battery. They are always on and always available.

Print still has a role to play. Just look at libraries and bookstores, especially the local bookshops that have figured out how to compete against the national chains, online shopping, and electronic book consumption.

And don’t ignore the fact that Amazon has a physical bookstore. They wouldn’t do that on a lark. Though it may be years before we know why, be assured they have a well-reasoned business strategy for doing so.

There is also mounting evidence that younger generations prefer printed books. They like to unplug and immerse themselves into a good read. And at colleges that only provide e-textbooks, some students, out of frustration, will actually print their own copy of the text using their PC printer.

While some independent authors shun print and do only e-publication, they miss an important, and possibly growing, market. A success book publication strategy needs to stand on three legs: ebooks, audiobooks, and print books, which include paperback and hard cover.

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Writing and Publishing

Do You Believe in Print?

Despite Interest in Audio and E-books, Don’t Write Off Print

As writers, our books can appear in three primary formats: printed books, e-books, and audiobooks.

Audio Books

Audiobooks have enjoyed a resurgence of late. Gone are the days of books on tape. Now it is digital files that readers listen to from their smartphones. This form of consumption has soared in the past couple of years, especially among younger generations. Audible books have also received a lot of buzz in recent months among the writing community. It seems I hear more about audiobooks than e-books nowadays.

E-Books

Reading books on devices is still popular. I hear the reader of preference has shifted from a dedicated reading device to a smartphone. However, many mainstream media have actually reported a decrease in e-book consumption.

Yet indie authors are quick to point out that a significant percentage of independent authors do not use ISBNs. This means no one tracks their sales as a whole. They maintain, though unverifiable, that e-book sales are grossly under-reported and are actually continuing their upward sales assent.

Printed Books

That leaves a print. For some 500 years, the print was the only reading option. While prognosticators have predicted the demise of printed books for the past several years, its death has yet to take place. Yes, it’s market share has declined, but readers still consume printed books and many prefer the tactile, and even olfactory, the experience of reading them.

Mainstream media also reports that younger generations are returning to print, apparently preferring to unplug and immerse themselves in the printed word. Besides, you don’t need a smartphone to read a print book. You don’t need charged batteries and you don’t need a signal to download content.

Do you believe in print?

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Writing and Publishing

How Do You Get an ISBN For Your Book?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It’s a globally accepted standard for identifying books. Your book needs an ISBN if it is to be viable: most retailers require it, and it helps people find your book.

Probably the only reason not to have an ISBN is if you aren’t going to sell your book and don’t care if people read it. But if that’s the case, why write or publish it in the first place?

If you go with a traditional publisher, they will provide it. Easy peasy.

If You Self-Publish, You Must Get Your ISBN

Though you may be able to buy it from the various organizations that help writers self-publish, all ISBNs originate from Bowker. I suggest going directly to them.

Don’t be shocked, but a single ISBN costs $125, while a block of ten currently runs $275. Each version of your book needs its own ISBN, so you could quickly burn through four: hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Some companies that support self-publishing buy ISBNs in bulk and then provide them to clients at a discounted rate. However, before you go that route, carefully investigate the details to make sure you are aware of any limitations. This isn’t to imply there are dangers with this option but simply a warning to check before buying.

There is more to learn about this topic, but this will get you started.