As the pandemic cascades, we are experiencing unusual times with social distancing and other everyday life shifts. For those managing a publishing business, like many people, the future feels uncertain.
But here’s something for independently publishing folks: more readers are looking for content online. For book lovers spending more time at home, it makes sense to reach out to a world of fiction and nonfiction. And, it’s digital content seeing a boost, like ebook, print-on-demand, and audiobook formats.
In this article, I share the top five tips on how to rationalize your publishing business during difficult times such as the current Coronavirus pandemic.
Tip 1: Go digital in more formats
The traditional book publishing model relies heavily on selling print books in stores. But from recent impacts, traditional publishers’ print book sales aren’t doing so well. At a time of social distancing, digital modes are preferred.
So if you haven’t quite launched a digital publishing business yet, now is the right time. Three formats you can immediately and easily get into are ebooks, print-on-demand, and audiobooks.
Ebooks are considerably cheap to produce or even totally free if you use the right tools like PublishDrive’s ebook converter. On PublishDrive’s platform, you can be selling books to more than 400 online stores and thousands of digital libraries.
With print-on-demand, remember that print is still a popular format estimated to be $150 dollars by 2022 (Gen Z loves print). Today’s printing technologies make print-on-demand a viable and sustainable option by eliminating the hassle, high cost of advanced printing, and need for catalog storage.
With PublishDrive, you can reach over 160 million potential readers with 30,000 physical stores and thousands of digital libraries in the US, Europe, and China (goldmine market). Read more about print-on-demand publishing with us here.
Audiobooks are a great way to expand to a new audience, aka listeners. One in five Americans listen to audiobooks, and it’s the fastest growing online segment. This format is more expensive to produce than ebooks, but it can be worth it. Get this: indies earn more royalties with audio than any other format. It’s an opportunity to compete in a smaller (but trending) pond.
Tip 2: Go entirely remote with the right tools
With the digital publishing process, we are fortunate to have the ability to work online. For publishers, it’s possible (and even more time-saving) to go entirely remote with team members, freelancers, and/or whoever else to create beautiful books.
Here are the online tools I recommend for your publishing business:
- Writing: Scrivener, Microsoft Word, Google Drive
- Collaboration: Google Docs, WorldAnvil,
- Chat messaging: Slack
- Project management: Asana, Trello, Basecamp
- Video calling: Zoom, Google Hangouts
- Accounting/Taxation: Quickbooks, PD Abacus
For the ultimate list of self-publishing/digital resources, go here (in fact, bookmark it for yourself.)
Tip 3. Go wide with your books
Like many businesses, the publishing industry has its “big” guys. That’s why many publishers decide to publish only on Amazon. This helps them cover part of the market without increasing operational costs. Although a sensible choice for some, it’s not the best way to get the most out of your selling potential (especially during unpredictable times).
And personally, I have to ask: as a writer, wouldn’t you want your work shared with the most amount of people? Also, here’s the business argument: based on PublishDrive’s data, 61% of sales come outside of Amazon.
Tip 4: Aim for a steady cash flow
I know, easier said than done. But there are certain actions you can take to ensure you’re prepared for all the twists and turns. Let’s look at areas where you can cut costs and areas where you can increase sales.
Writing: Indie authors usually invest their own time to write a book. So besides your valuable time, writing a book is free. Paying a ghostwriter usually costs about a couple of thousands of dollars upfront. Another upfront way is where publishing companies sign writers through literary agents to become published authors with them.
Production: Having a completed manuscript is just one step. Then your manuscript needs professional editing and formatting. Invest in a good editor (from $1,000-$10,000 based on experience and book complexity) then try to pick up on the other stuff yourself. As a start, use our free ebook converter.
Cash in/cash out:
Distribution: You can sell directly to some stores or you can go through a distributor like PublishDrive. With us, indies save a lot of time and get extra perks like exclusive store listings and promotional opportunities.
Especially during a time when everyone can use a little help (and pay rent), be mindful of your royalty rates. Choose a partner who is transparent about it too. Check out PublishDrive’s royalties per store – they’re the same rates as selling directly to these stores. Furthermore, publishers take home at least 27% more royalties with us.
Marketing: Companies tend to cut marketing costs when there is a crisis usually due to the trouble of measuring its effectiveness. But for publishers, fewer promotions mean fewer sales.
There are free marketing tactics like using social media or asking readers to subscribe to your newsletter. Look for considerably cheap, but effective marketing tools for Amazon Ads, newsletter promotions, and even featuring options.
Overall, look at the balance of cash coming in and going out. Remember, you’re in this game for the long-run!
Tip 5: Promote, promote, promote
I’ll go straight into giving you my best promo tips. As I just mentioned above, marketing is a significant part of your business.
As online communication becomes the norm, keeping up with your audience is key. So I suggest using cheaper newsletter tools like Mailerlite or Sendgrid to manage email addresses and ramp up your email activity.
Another thing you can do is invest more time in sending out review copies. With PublishDrive’s tool, you can do that for free. In the same dashboard, access featuring options for stores’ front pages, categories, or newsletters with Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing/KDP Select), Apple Books, Kobo, Scribd, Odilo, Overdrive, Bookbub, and more.
I want to share another great promotion opportunity – one that PublishDrive has with Written Word Media promotions. It’s a platform made up of multiple book promo sites with a significant amount of readers. With PublishDrive, access channels to promote your books: Freebooksy (368,000 readers), Bargain Booksy (277,000 readers), NewInBooks (576,000 readers), and the #1 site for romance books Red Feather Romance.
Keep your publishing up and running, digitally
Recently, I’ve seen a 10-15% increase in ebook sales on PublishDrive. People are not giving up on reading books! Share your stories to the world digitally – with a laptop and wifi connection, you have all the means to.