Publishing trends & key takeaways from Digital Book World 2018

Both traditional and indie authors walked away with plenty of information about the future of publishing at DBW18.

Digital Book World 2018
Editor Nicki Porter was a panelist at Digital Book World 2018.

 Last week we had the pleasure of attending Digital Book World 2018, where we spent four days learning about the hottest tech trends and best practices for modern-day publishing. Here’s a breakdown of what we felt authors should know after the show:

 

Marketing your work on social media

Authors – both indie and traditionally published” are constantly asking: How can I get my book in front of more readers? But by sheer necessity, self-published authors tend to be savvier than their traditionally published brethren: They don’t have a publisher’s (increasingly limited) marketing staff and budgets, and “today’s indie authors are better educated” than ever, says Robin Cutler, director of IngramSpark. They’re forming “a tribe, they go to conferences, they’re banding together,” she told the room at a DBW panel called “The Customer, Your Boss: Direct-to-Consumer Marketing.”

And not all genres are created equal on the marketing front: While all indie authors are learning the promotional ropes at a fast pace, “romance authors tend to be at the forefront” of social media marketing and selling books, Cutler admitted, noting that they’re particularly adept at reaching readers on social media channels and selling books to followers.

To begin creating a social media strategy for your own book, panelists suggested starting to follow authors who have audiences similar to your dream readership. Jess Johns from Ingram recommended using Followerwonk to analyze these targeted author’s audiences and start following their followers. It’s free to analyze 25,000 followers of one account on Followerwonk, but the tool has two price plans for users who want to analyze more profiles: $23/month for up to 3 profiles and $79/month for up to 20.

Another recommended tool at DBW was Hashtagify, which helps users identify the most popular hashtags in their niche and analyze what their competitors are doing on social media.

But no matter what your competitors are up to, remember to keep your goals from becoming too lofty: Getting 1,000,000 followers is incredibly difficult, but getting 1,000-2,000 dedicated audience members or email subscribers who are interested in your content is an achievable goal. Think about the users you follow on social media. Chances are they “give you something of value,” says Caitlin Churchill from Ingram. Ask yourselves: How can I do the same?

One value-providing tactic Churchill recommends is “give to get” strategies, such as giving away small sections of content or personalized content for free in exchange for an email address or a social media follow. “Any size publisher can do this,” including self-publishers, she says. “This is how you build a list.”

 And don’t forget about Wattpad, which may have been the most-recommended site for authors at Digital Book World 2018. But all of these promotional strategies shouldn’t begin when you have a completed manuscript in hand; instead, start a conversation with the content you’re currently creating. Ask yourself: What are readers looking for? And specifically, what are my future readers looking for? Delivering valuable content now will make promoting books so much easier in the future.