Write the Damn Book Already

Ep 70: Self-Publishing Predictions for 2024

January 10, 2024 Elizabeth Lyons
Write the Damn Book Already
Ep 70: Self-Publishing Predictions for 2024
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode of the Write the Damn Book Already podcast, I unveil my 6 predictions for 2024 in the world of self-publishing. I hope to continue to lend transparency to the self-publishing process and the growing opportunities available while helping you determine whether self-publishing is the right approach for your first (or next) book. 

As we tackle the nuances of self-publishing today, you'll learn about:

  • Assembling a team of professionals as a self-published author (it's critical and doable!) 
  • The still-circling myths (and truths) surrounding the self-publishing model
  • The ways bookstore distribution is shifting 
  • The new "desired" length for a debut novel 
  • The significance of branding in an author's career
  • The burgeoning role of AI in publishing 
  • The implications of having a strong and intentional marketing strategy in a newly AI-heavy landscape. 

With advice on maintaining visibility and the necessity for intentional outreach, this episode will inspire you to foster a community around your work, helping you stand out in a crowded market. 

Guygiene lets you equip your young guy with a monthly box of confidence that introduces cool personal hygiene swag from top brands,  developed just for teen and 'tween boys.  

Get 15% off your first box by visiting GoodGuygiene.com and using code writethedamnbook at checkout. 

MOCKUP SHOTS DEAL

I've used MockUp shots for years to create attention-grabbing images great for social media.

It usually costs $207, but they're offering a 60% discount on lifetime access with lifetime updates. It's a great way to get an unheard-of price on a product that will make you money and that you will end up using all the time.

Click Here for 60% off >>


Write the Damn Book Already is a weekly podcast featuring interviews with authors as well as updates and insights on writing craft and the publishing industry.

Available wherever podcasts are available:
Apple Podcasts
Spotify
YouTube

Let's Connect!
Instagram
Website

Email the show: elizabeth [at] elizabethlyons [dot] com

The podcast is a proud affiliate partner of Bookshop, working to support local, independent bookstores.

To see all the ways we can work together to get your book written and published, visit publishaprofitablebook.com/work-with-elizabeth

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Write the Damn Book Already podcast. My name is Elizabeth Lyons. I'm a six-time author and book editor, and I help people write and publish powerful, thought-provoking, wildly entertaining books without any more overthinking, second-guessing or overwhelm than absolutely necessary. Because, let's face it, some overthinking, second-guessing and overwhelm is going to come with the territory. If you're anything like me, I believe that story and shared perspective are two of the most potent ways we connect with one another, and that your story, perspective and insights are destined to become someone else's favorite resource or pastime. For more bookwriting and publishing tips and solutions, oh and plenty of free and low-cost resources, visit PublishAProfitableBookcom and for recommendations of fabulous books. You've possibly never heard of bookwriting inspiration and the occasional meme so relatable. You'll wonder if it was created with you in mind. Follow me on Instagram at Elizabeth Lyons. Author. Hello everybody and welcome to this.

Speaker 1:

I think this is the first episode. No, it's not. It's going to be the second episode of 2024. The first episode was incredible, actually, with Sarah Lynn Brock. If you have not listened to that, it was just last week. I rarely know what day it is and I think 2024 is going to be a year of not knowing not only what day it is, but what month we're in. The fact that I live in Phoenix really doesn't help, because we have one season here, truly. And it's even more confusing because it's currently January and all of the leaves are falling off the trees. This is what happens here in Phoenix. We have fall in January. It's kind of funny too, because all the little kids will go for walks with their parents and they're throwing the leaves up in the air and I think, oh my gosh, if they ever move to the Midwest or the East Coast, they are in for quite a shock, as it does not look like that in January in the Midwest or on the East Coast. Today is going to be a solo episode, and then later this week I cannot wait to interview Jessica Saunders and chat with her about her debut novel, love Me, which will be out one week from today, on the 16th of January 2024.

Speaker 1:

So that episode will air next week, but for today, what I want to chat through are some of my personal predictions for the self-publishing world in 2024. Most of it is what I'm observing. Some of it is, admittedly, maybe in a biased way, what I'm hoping for, but I think they're all back. All of my predictions are backed in some way by what I'm seeing actually happening. Another person to check out, if you haven't already, in terms of traditional publishing predictions, is Carly Waters. I think I fangirl over Carly Waters to the same degree I fangirl over Nealey Alexander and Anne Garvin, but she does Carly does a thing every year. She did it in 2023 and now she just did it last week for 2024 about her predictions about for the year, and then she'll come back at the end of the year, the beginning of the following year, and kind of recap where was she right and where was she not right. So I'll do that too, because I have no problem being wrong.

Speaker 1:

But, having been in this space for now 20 years and watching it evolve, and watching it evolve to such a huge extent, I thought it would be fun to summarize what I'm seeing happening and continuing to happen and how authors who are considering self-publishing in any way, shape or form, meaning even a little bit, even as a backup plan, or maybe it's just hey, I'm self-publisher, bust, you know, this is the route you want to go. This might give you either a little more confidence in the approach, a little more understanding of the approach, et cetera. My overall summary, and then I'm going to do this the way Carly does it and I'm going to give you all my points, of which there are seven, and then I'll go back and speak to each of them in a little more depth. So overall, I think in the self-publishing realm there are a lot more options. There are going to be a lot more options, and I will expand upon that over the course of the next seven points. That is a good thing overall. I think it's perceived lots of times as a bad thing because it just adds to the overwhelm and the noise. It just creates more opportunities for aspiring authors, first time authors and, frankly, even experienced authors to kind of get caught in the labyrinth of what's the right choice and feeling as though if they make the wrong choice they're ruined forever and their career will never recover or get started.

Speaker 1:

To begin with, I am not someone who has that mentality about it. I really am a hey. If plan A like intentionally, choose your plan A, and if that doesn't work, there are 25 other letters in the alphabet and if you need to, you can start doubling up on letters. We can always have a plan AA If you got to come back around again.

Speaker 1:

But for me and this is going to come full circle, somewhat coincidentally, but what a beautiful thing with point seven is I've always been a person who believed in the phrase jump and grow wings on the way down. I still believe in that, but I've added something to it. So someone said to me not that long ago okay, jump and grow wings on the way down, but at least give some consideration to how you're going to build the plane that you're going to jump from. In other words, have don't go at everything quite so willy nilly like. Have some sort of a plan that you're then willing to modify. And for me, I've always been a person who took great pride, for some reason, in just being like nope, I'm not going to grow. And I honestly think that behind all of that, all of that fear of creating a plan, was what if it's the wrong plan? Therefore, if I just go all at this ad hoc, then I'm just that's the type of person I am right. That's what I can tell people.

Speaker 1:

I don't have a plan. I've never written a business plan. I rarely have a content plan. I don't have a plan for my weekends, like it's just whatever happens. But is there a way to make that. I'm a big fan of efficiency, so the question started to become okay, this is starting to feel inefficient, like I might have to acquiesce here and admit that this isn't working quite as well as I've been saying that it is. So, yes, I love I'm so sick of the word pivot, but I love doing it and I love coming up with a new option for things and figuring out how to. I believe there's always a solution, even if it isn't the first seven that I come up with.

Speaker 1:

But what if I could change it up such that I figure out a plan for growing the wings? Like, let's have an idea before I jump out of the plane. Let's build a solid plane, or feel solid enough, let's go up in it and then, before we jump out of it and like, let's modify wings on the way down is a much better way to look at it than build. Let's build them before we jump and then, when we jump, if they're too long I'm going to take this metaphor way too far. You know I do that If they're too big or too small or awkwardly placed, we'll adjust on the way down. But that is much more fun and rewarding than jumping realizing you're at 12,000 feet above the ground with no wings at all and being like, okay. So a plan A is a little insight into where I am with all of that, but hopefully, if it sounds like something that you do for similar reasons, maybe that's helpful.

Speaker 1:

Again, I'm not asking anyone to go 180 degrees in the opposite direction. We're just introducing a new element into this that I think will be extremely beneficial for those in the publishing space. I am someone who loves all of the options and the fact that there's always another approach to try, because, yes, if there were only one or two, we could say, well, pick one and if that doesn't work, do the other. But then once those two have been utilized, now what do you do? So I happen to love it, but I understand and have experienced most certainly, and continue to experience, the overwhelm that comes with all of the different options. And one of Carly's predictions, actually for the traditional world, is one that is also a prediction of mine for the self publishing world, and when she said it gave me a lot of anxiety because of the overwhelm. But the more I've had time to sit with it and sort of process it, I've recognized it's an opportunity, not something to be overwhelmed by. So all right, in no particular order, the top seven predictions I have for self publishing in 2024.

Speaker 1:

Number one overall so I see there being an expansion of self publishing. I see it becoming even more of an option for people and there being a lot more access and understanding, and I'll get into that. Point number two I see more transparency. Point number three a better understanding of the different paradigms, and what I mean by that is traditional versus hybrid, versus vanity, versus self versus small press. There are all these terms and I think sometimes well, I don't think I know Many times we get lost in those and confused by them.

Speaker 1:

Number four is shorter works, but hang on to your hat, because I do not mean that you can write a 12,000 word book. I mean you can do whatever you want, but I've never been a proponent of that. I know that that is a thought. That's out there, it's a model. That's out there, that's fine. It's just not where I live. That's not what I mean, but I'll get to it.

Speaker 1:

Number five continued shifts among the three paradigms. Number six is and I laugh because this is like the bane of all of our existence right now lots of AI conversations. And number seven is a much more intentional focus on content and marketing. And yes, I have my hand raised here because I am revelation coming from Liz, so let's go back through. First of all, when I explain these, I'm actually going to combine points one and two. In hindsight, I really have six points, not seven. So let's just streamline this a little bit and combine points one and two about the expansion and the transparency into one explanation.

Speaker 1:

When it comes to point number one the expansion of self-publishing what I mean by that specifically is, I think, that there is becoming a lot more discussion and transparency and therefore understanding of what self-publishing was and is and can be. So there is still a stigma, I believe, associated with self-publishing. There is still a thought among aspiring authors, there's still a thought among some readers, that self-published means that a big house wouldn't take you on, it's not good enough, you aren't good enough, your work isn't good enough. This may be an area where I have more hope than proof, but I am seeing within the self-publishing community so many more conversations about what this approach really is all about and why it's so beneficial that more people are feeling comfortable and confident moving in this direction. To be clear if this is the first time you've ever heard me speak.

Speaker 1:

I am not opposed to any publishing paradigm or model, with the exception of vanity publishing, which is basically publishers. It's a business. They'll take anything that comes across their desk, they'll take a lot of your money, they'll make a lot of promises and nothing comes to pass. I am absolutely opposed to that. I am not opposed to traditional publishing. I'm certainly not opposed to small press. I run one and I'm most certainly not opposed to self-publishing because it's all I've ever done Although now I would consider that my books are small press published because it's my publishing house and I've published over 60 books, six of which are my own and the rest are for other people.

Speaker 1:

But I started out very much as a self-published author and continued that way for many, many, many, many years and I guess, for semantics, I still am. I think traditional publishing works really well for a lot of people. I have a lot of good friends who are traditionally published, don't want to do it a different way, and I think self-publishing works really well for a lot of people with the same arguments. So I'm not pushing one over the other. What I'm pushing is a better understanding of the reality of one versus the other. So removing the myths and misconceptions about traditional and self and van like all the different things, that's where my focus is and has always been. And admittedly, I know far more about the self-publishing space than about the traditional space because, aside from anecdotal evidence from my friends who have done it and are doing it, I have not done it so I can't speak from personal experience within the traditional publishing space.

Speaker 1:

Through these conversations I think there is becoming much greater awareness of, for example, distribution channels. There is a wide myth that's still alive and well that if you are self-published you cannot get into the same brick and mortar retailers that you can if you are traditionally published. That is not true. There's also, on the flip side, a myth that if you are traditionally published your book will be stocked by every single brick and mortar retailer. That is also not true. Every airport, all those sorts of things.

Speaker 1:

And lots of times people will be a little bit hell bent on traditional publishing because they want that access, they want that distribution. Sometimes it's an ego play, it's like I'm not a real author, my book isn't real if it's not in a bookstore, and sometimes it's a misunderstanding of the financials involved in that and logistics involved in that, and this thought of, well, barnes, noble or Waterstone or whomever will sell all of my books. For me, that is not the case, no matter your publishing choice, whether yourself or traditionally published. So I think that through continued conversation, just like we have continued conversation you know, if you're a woman listening to this the conversations about para menopause and menopause are as high, thank God, as they've ever been, and I think 2024, if I were to make predictions about that, which I'm not, it's a year it's probably the most heavily discussed, one of the most heavily discussed topics of 2024 in terms of really educating women and letting people know how they can navigate that life transition. It's different, obviously, but it's the same in the sense that I think there's I hope to there's going to be a lot more conversation about what it really means, in terms of distribution, to be self-published versus traditionally published, what's accessible to whom. In other words, can you get into bookstores as a self-published author, are you guaranteed to get into bookstores as a traditionally published author, etc. And also how all of that really works.

Speaker 1:

So, whether you are traditionally or self-published, I am a firm believer that, essentially the way to look at brick and mortar bookstores is you're kind of selling on consignment, which is why you don't get paid, or your publisher does not get paid for 90 days from the time that the books are ordered, because there is that return window and most brick and mortar stores require a return policy. You get paid at the 90-day mark, assuming there weren't returns. But if there were returns, in many cases the onus is on you, either to pay for the shipping on that or to just allow them to and I cringe every time I say this but destroy the book, because sometimes financially it just doesn't make sense to pay for them to return a book to you that probably will not be in great shape, probably not be in resellable shape, just so that it's not destroyed. It's going to end up being destroyed anyway, unless you just give it away, which I'm a huge proponent of. I mean, if you want to get them back, if you want to pay to have them returned and then put them in free libraries or whatever, that's delightful, but most people, from a business standpoint, won't choose to do that. And the last part of this overall expansion is greater access to industry professionals, as your team and I'm putting team in air quotes and the reason is because, when I ask people what they're looking for in a like, when they're trying to decide which publishing approach is best, again air quotes for them for this particular book, because you can switch it up book to book to book, you don't have to stay with one. One of the most common answers is I want a team and, frankly, within this podcast, when I speak with authors, one of the points that's made over and over again is that authors don't write and publish books in a vacuum. It is a team effort and they are not wrong.

Speaker 1:

There is a misconception that if you are with a traditional house, you will have this team that's available to you 24 seven. They're walking you, they're holding your hands, everyone's you know they're bringing you coffee, whatever they're doing. I hope that sometimes the case, but I think most of the time it's not. On the flip side, there's this notion that if you're a self-published author, you can't have a team. You are a 100% solo act, and that is not the case for every self-published author. I know of work with et cetera. They have an editor, just like you'd have an editor at a traditional house. They have a cover designer, they have a book launch team. Sometimes their book launch team is actually far bigger and more robust than it is when they're with a traditional house, because they're not necessarily encouraged when they're with a traditional house to think about that team, whereas with a self-published, as a self-published author, they're not assuming that they have that built in marketing with a traditional house. So they're setting up their launch team and their marketing team early. So you still can have and most self-published authors do have a team.

Speaker 1:

One of the benefits I think of self-publishing is that you get to choose that team. So you get to choose your editor, your cover designer, who's on your launch team, all those sorts of things. And I have traditionally published friends who love their traditional team. They love their editor, they love the marketing team, they love their publisher, like all of it, and so they feel like they absolutely have that team that they're looking for, which is amazing. The key is don't think that as a self-published author, you're truly, you have to be a lone ranger, because that's not the case. I also think that in the realm of sort of merging the true you know, when we say traditional publishing, most people including mine brains automatically go to the big five. I think we're going to see a big expansion in terms of I don't want to call them hybrid because that's getting confusing, but what I do call them is boutique traditional firms. So Zibi Books, rise Books, I mean, there are so many and they keep popping up, even at Finfillis Press.

Speaker 1:

I've done a couple of what we could call boutique traditional deals where they're not author financed and there's a joint effort and there's a joint back-end return and it's the minority, not the majority, of the works that I published. To be sure. My goal as a small press and as a hybrid small press is really to just provide partnership and knowledge and legwork for the majority Like it's mostly my clients who I end up publishing because at the end they don't want to wait on the traditional house and they don't want to take on the legwork or they're just terrified. They want a partner to help them do it and they know I've done it, you know X number of times, so they just hire me to do it. But even I have dipped my toe into the smaller world of hey, I believe in this so much. Let's come up with an alternate arrangement. That's happening more and more. Even like I would consider Lake Union, I wouldn't consider it boutique because it's Amazon, but it is a smaller conglomerate, if you will, and the authors who I speak with, who are published with Lake Union, love their teams at Lake Union. So we have these smaller, traditional houses Again, I refer to them as boutique houses, but that are popping up that offer some of the same.

Speaker 1:

I don't know if you want to call it cloud or prestige, as the big five, but without the corporate aspect of it. So the advances are smaller, which, for a lot of reasons, can be great. The team is more of a team. You feel like more, you don't? You feel like less of a number and more of a sense of partnership with your crew. But even that is not like. That option isn't going to be accessible to the majority, because they are curating their books very, very carefully and their rejection of your book may not have. They may fall wildly in love with your book but not be able to take it on because they've just acquired a book that's quite similar.

Speaker 1:

And these smaller houses are putting out a smaller number of books, and so they don't want to have, for a lot of reasons, but two memoirs about the exact same type of journey. They want a diversification in their catalog, and so those authors who are hearing no from those smaller houses as well just need another option, and that's why I think the expansion of the awareness and the transparency and the understanding of the self publishing world is only going to continue to help get more amazing stories out into the world. But number two, I think that overall, there's going to be just a lot more transparency and awareness of how the publishing world as a whole works. That information is going to be much more readily available and talked about. You could call it honesty, you can call it transparency, you can call it understanding of where and how people are selling books, and I think this is a huge benefit not just to self published authors but to publish authors across the board, regardless of how you publish.

Speaker 1:

So, within Jane Friedman, if you follow Jane, if you don't go follow her, because she's also amazing she has a hot sheet newsletter that comes out. It's a paid subscription, it's worth every penny and more. It comes out every two weeks and it basically chronicles what's going on in the publishing space, and in one of her last hot sheets from last year it was noted statistically that 72 percent, 72.1% of all print books print books this is important will be sold online through e-commerce, and the reason that's important is because so many authors, regardless of the publishing approach that they're looking into, they don't think or believe that that can be true, and it contributes to their feeling of I have to be in bookstores and it's no longer anecdotal. So we now have the concrete data that says that the vast majority of even the print books not just the e-books, which makes sense, but the print book, I mean, of course it makes sense, it's the only option are being sold online, and it does start to make people think a little bit differently about how important it is to have your book in a physical bookstore. Now, let me be clear I love a physical bookstore, like I love them, especially the Indies. I will support them all day. I will buy a book there before I'll buy it from Amazon, et cetera, just because I love what they do and I love their passion for what they do. Look, they're running a business, so they are understandably a lot more particular about what they're stocking and where in their store it's being stocked. So if you get your book into a Barnes Noble but it's way in the back spine side out, nobody knows it's there it's probably going to just collect dust.

Speaker 1:

And I think these sorts of actual I think in the last couple of years, these, I guess, thoughts or notions that people were proposing ie this percentage of books is sold online they were more anecdotal than data driven and so we're starting to see the actual data that I mean. I don't know, I guess you can disagree with data. People do that, but I don't. So there's the data right, as long as the context is correct, there's the data. Point three a better understanding of different paradigms.

Speaker 1:

Again, I think that people are going to start talking more about and, especially as with the book talk, community and et cetera, we have more self published authors. It's the exception, not the rule, but we have more self published authors making us, again, air quotes splash because they have more access to their readers. At the end of the day, in all the years that I have been in this space, I have never known a reader to hear about a great book and go, oh, who published that? And then make a decision on whether or not to buy it because it was or wasn't published by one of the big five. I have not known that to be the case If the book is self-published and it's poorly executed like the author designed their own cover or the interior is not formatted correctly, it's not to book standard Then I can see that becoming a problem. But now that we have people doing the lion's share of the marketing and not the publishing houses, I think that aspiring authors specifically, though, and even authors who have written several books, are getting more curious about the self-publishing space, because the thought process kind of is what I'm hearing is, if I don't, if I'm not insistent upon having this particular team, I now know how to do all this, like I now know that I'm going to be doing the lion's share of my marketing. I want a little more say over my cover design and my interior creative. I want a little bit more say over my creative period, in other words, which edits are mandated versus merely suggestions. I think that people at all different levels of this industry are starting to give more consideration to the different options that are available to them and not simply assuming well, I have to stick with this or I have to go with this from the jump.

Speaker 1:

Okay, next one. Now let's talk about length of books. This one is thanks to Carly Waters. This was a prediction that Carly had, that I'm starting to hear some stuff about in the self-published world too, because, again, this part of it isn't really dependent upon which publishing paradigm you go with. That's shorter novels. We are not talking about a business book that's only 12,000 words long, written in a weekend and now is making a bajillion dollars. I think you know how I feel about that. But novels specifically, it used to be that 80,000 words was kind of the sweet spot. Certainly, if you're into, if you're writing dystopian or thriller, you can get even some romance. You can get more toward 90, 100, 110,000. And, to be clear, that's usually the case if you're needing to do a lot of world building, which happens much more with the dystopian stuff.

Speaker 1:

My oldest daughter for Christmas I bought her one of Sarah Moss's. I think it's like book six in her second series. It's war and peace people. I think it's between 700 and 800 pages long. When you've built a following like Sarah Moss has built, you can do that and even still it's like oh man, this thing is big. I remember when I bought Abraham Vergis' recent novel the Covenant of Water. I love Abraham Vergis and to hold this book in my hand it was like oh man, this is weighty, this is hefty. And then I remember kind of flipping through and thinking this is a lot of words to read, right, because it too is six, 700 pages long, worth every second. And I read that one slowly because it's an art. I mean truly, the way this man puts words together is an art.

Speaker 1:

But for the most part, if you're a debut novelist, maybe coming down a little bit from 190, 80 to around 70,000, 65, between 65 and 75,000 words can be very much a sweet spot. And I think that's for a couple of reasons. One, in the self-published world you get to green light yourself, so you get to decide when the book is ready to go. You do not have an editor at a big house saying it's not ready yet, it needs more, we need 10,000 more words, we need to cut out 10,000 words. Whatever the case is, and I think a lot of first time authors get to a point where they don't want to overthink it anymore.

Speaker 1:

When you've never written a book, the idea of writing 30,000 words can sometimes feel really daunting. It's like a weird number. If you've never done it, you think how hard can that be? And then you sit down to write and you've written for 45 minutes and netted 1700 words and all of a sudden it's like oh my God, how am I going to get this to 30,000? People do it all the time. It's absolutely doable. But if you've had that thought, you are not alone.

Speaker 1:

So having this mindset that, okay, I can write this novel and it can be 65 or 70,000 words as opposed to 100,000, sometimes feels really good and furthermore, it allows an opportunity for the reader. As long as you've done it well, as long as you've actually told a well-rounded story in that many words, it can be a way to sort of incentivize readers, to give you a chance Because, again, you're new. So it's like, once you get to the Sarah Moss level, she could write a 3000 page book and people would buy it. But if you're brand new and no one really knows what to expect, no one knows your writing style, how you tell a story, and on and on, they're going to probably opt for something that's a little less overwhelming, not to mention just like carrying that thing around. So I think that's actually I think it's a good thing, again, not because we're going to get ourselves to 10,000 word novels, because may that never happen but or nonfiction, either way, I made that not happen, but because, like, that's not a book, that's a pamphlet, that's a glorified pamphlet. I said it. But because I think it's just, it's more on principle that I like it because it's changing that old, it's reconsidering the thought of it's always been this way, so it has to continue this way versus yes, it's always been this way, but is it okay now to shift it a little bit? For these reasons, that's why I like it more than anything else.

Speaker 1:

Okay, point five a continued shift, or shifts among all three or four or five paradigms. So traditional, hybrid self. There's a. It's a constantly changing machine, especially in the traditional world. There are now a lot of layoffs happening.

Speaker 1:

People still don't understand the self publishing benefits. There are stigmas associated with self publishing. People don't understand the difference between a hybrid and a vanity publisher, and so you see a lot of stuff out in, specifically, facebook groups where people will say things like never, ever, ever pay someone to publish your book, and really what they're saying without realizing it is never pay a vanity publisher, like don't just give someone your money and think that you know all these great things are going to happen. But we are definitely at a point where I wish that belief system weren't as alive as it is, because it's kind of like the telephone game. It starts a really bad thread of conversation that's wildly misinformed within these self publishing groups where, you know, maybe somebody had a really bad experience or knows somebody who had a really bad experience, or just has their own preconceived notions about what it means to pay versus not pay, and it just starts.

Speaker 1:

It creates panic among people who have not published before and maybe we're considering working with a small press that's author financed or in some way author subsidized, which, to be clear, as an author, in most cases you are going to be subsidizing the release of your book in some way, shape or form, even if it's only via investing some of your own money in a side publicist, which people do even when they are traditionally published. They will invest a portion of their advance or a portion of their own savings in an outside PR group, because the publishing houses staff are spread incredibly thin more thin than ever, from everything that I'm hearing and they give 90% of their marketing budget, understandably, to the top 1% or 2% of their authors and from a business standpoint it makes sense to me. From an author standpoint it sucks, but from a business standpoint it makes sense because the publishing house is putting 100% of the investment into the book, and so they need that one runaway every year. Every publishing house is counting on that one runaway best seller to balance the scales for all the books that they fell in love with and hoped would do well, but just didn't outsell Like they didn't sell the way that they hoped that they would in that particular year.

Speaker 1:

So all of these shifts, when we hear about different things happening, publishing houses being acquired or sold or forming a bit of a monopoly or whatever the case may be, I think it makes people nervous and confused and concerned, not to mention all the noise and all the chatter on social media, some of which is not correct, and I think having voices of reason in the space to more thoroughly explain okay, this is what's happening and this is what that really means will help to for lack of a better phrase calm people down in a really good way. I know we don't say it. Saying calm down to someone rarely has that effect, but that's what we want. We want everyone to feel a little bit less like whatever. That is about the fact that all these things are changing. And now, what does that mean and where do I go and what do I do? Point six lots of AI conversations. Oh my God, I mean 2023, I think, was the year for AI conversations. I'm seeing people now transitioning.

Speaker 1:

Yes, there's still ads out there that are like you can write your whole book with AI. Please don't do that. That's not a good idea. It doesn't work well. I mean, if there's one thing that we cannot replace ever with AI, it's humanity. We just can't. You cannot replace emotion. You cannot replace the way that people, artists, string words together. You cannot replace the way that creatives put paint on a canvas, whether that's literal or a metaphor, it can't be replicated. I hope it can never be replicated. I don't know what's coming, but I hope that can never be replicated.

Speaker 1:

Now, that said, ai has its place, and this was the portion of Carly Waters 2024 predictions that had me running for the Xanax that I don't own but probably need to, and that was that there's just more right Like, you can take today a podcast like this one and you can put it through an AI channel and you can create from that six social media posts, a blog post, an email, a tweet, whatever they, an X. I don't know what the? What do you call it? I don't know. Whatever you're doing, you can do that with the click of a button. That isn't, in my opinion, necessarily a bad thing air quotes. What it is is an over like. I'm all about efficiency, right, and as a society, we've been increasing our efficiency through technology since the beginning of time, so I don't have a problem with that. What it does, though, is it just puts more noise out there. So if, in the click of one button, I can create, let's say, 10 social media posts, then so can you, and so can everyone else. So now it's just a fire hose of information, of content and of where. Who do I listen to and what am I listening to?

Speaker 1:

That's the piece that took me to my seventh prediction, and this is the one. I have asterisks all around this, because this is what I think is the biggest not only prediction, but this is almost an imperative, regardless of whether you're self publishing or traditionally publishing, but certainly if you're self publishing because, again, it's driven by you, like if you are a self published author and you lie on your couch all day and never, ever, ever, ever post, I can almost guarantee you that your book isn't going to sell If you're a traditionally published, unless book talk or someone is doing it for you. I hope that goes without saying Like, if you've hired someone to do it for you, then you have someone doing it for you. But if no one is speaking on your behalf as a self published author and I see it not just in my own book sales but in all of my clients book sales the minute they stop talking about their book. And this does not mean that you have to be on a thrice daily posting schedule, because there is no hard and fast rule for any of this. But if you stop talking about it, if you get out of the energy of your book product service, so will everyone else, because our brains are. I mean, in the two minutes after someone said oh my gosh, you have to read this book. Someone else said you have to get this eye cream and also these gummies for paramanipausal bloating, like, and you're like well, which is most important. And so you forget about two out of the three within four seconds. I've said it before. The old data said look, someone needs to see something seven to 12 times before they actually invest in it. Now that's gone to like double digits and I don't know what the actual data is on that, but I've heard it over and over and over again by people in the know in that area that because of the congestion and the noise, that's how often we have to hear about these things. So authors and I'm just gonna speak towards self-published authors but they have to get more intentionally focused on their content and their marketing. Now, before everyone panics and goes I hate marketing, I hate sales, I'm terrible at it. You are listening to the poster child, for I hate sales, I hate marketing, I am terrible at it. I don't wanna do it. I wanna sit in my corner and write my books and talk to people about the, but I don't wanna market One of my dear friends, jen Hansen-Dapala, who runs the author circle over at Mixed as Media and I will put her information in the show notes because if you are not following her as a published author or as an aspiring author, I just do it.

Speaker 1:

She's magnificent, she's an author marketing. I'm gonna use the word guru, but I mean she is an author marketing person. That is where her passion is is helping authors be seen and have their books be seen. She is a huge proponent of a content marketing strategy. Last year, probably the same time last year, she and I were chatting and I was feeling overwhelmed and antsy about the fact that, like I am a willy-nilly poster meaning I post just ad hoc, like I am a pancer if there ever was one when it comes to emails, social media posts, all that sort of stuff and I defended and justified that for years and years and years, like, look, when I'm creative, I'm creative, and when I'm not, I'm not. And it's working for me. I can tell you at this point I have admitted I have had to come to Jesus or come to everyone that it is not working anymore. And I put my tail between my legs and I texted her this morning and I said hi, it's me. Remember what I said about how I don't do content strategy. Yeah, can you send me please your template for putting together a content strategy, because without it I will just get on the couch under my heated blanket and we're done With all the noise again.

Speaker 1:

Let's go back to point number six, with all with the increase, the incredible increase in noise and content out there. It really is a situation of every post counts, which is not to incite fear that, oh my God, if I post something air quote, bad, am I done Like, let's not go that far? But if we're just randomly throwing shit pardon my French against the wall, it's not gonna work in most cases, or and or. If it does work, you won't even know why or how to replicate, and that happens all the time. So I'm very honest about my feeling about people who are like oh my God, my post went viral, my one post went viral, and so now I can teach you how to go viral? No, they can't, because they actually don't. Not only do they usually not know why their post went viral, but their circumstances are often different. We're out of context now, and context matters. So if they have 75,000 followers and you have two, or if they are posting about something that just rode a wave, a trendy wave, and you're not like, there are too many things to try to figure out. There are some people in the space who know how to absolutely help you make your content more relevant and attract the right people, but the idea of I went viral once and now I can help you too is insane, because most people, myself included, have no idea why they went viral. It's like what ends and many, many cases. It's an unrelated like. I had one thing go viral in 2023. It's horrifying, like it was an experiment on my part to test out this whole stitch feature, but the post has nothing to do with what I do, so it was attracting the wrong followers. It was attracting the wrong attention. It was just like it was kind of just a waste.

Speaker 1:

Authors in 2024 are going to have to get more creative with their marketing and their content, more strategic about it as well. Now the beauty is we can get more creative. There are a million things we can try. Again, 26 letters in the alphabet. Start doubling and tripling them up if you need to. There's always something new and that's why I love groups like I have the book writer collective. Other people have other groups where people can come together and say, okay, here's what I tried and it worked, or here's what I tried and it didn't work. But then someone else can say, well, it didn't work for you, but you know what that might work for me. Because, fill in the blank, I love those sorts of conversations because it continues to remind all of us that there are new and exciting and different ways that we can try something. And if it doesn't work, air quotes around the word work. It's going to be forgotten within less than a minute because that's our attention span these days.

Speaker 1:

Another area of this that's really important is author branding versus title branding. So many times someone will say, oh my gosh, have you read this book? And they'll give you the title. Or have you heard of this book? And they'll give you the title and you'll go no, or let me flip that. They'll say, have you heard of this author? And they'll give you the name and you'll say, no, I've never heard of that person. Well, they wrote insert title oh yeah, I've heard of that. So so often we identify with titles because that's what's being talked about is the title, not the author.

Speaker 1:

The challenge with that is one I've experienced in my own career as an author, which is that when you, if your book, gets a lot of press but not your name necessarily, then when you release your next book, you sort of make the assumption that the book will sell as well as the first one because, I mean, it's still you. The problem is, people don't know it's you. So unless they're compelled to follow you and to get into your circle and to start building that relationship with you. They won't know that you have another book coming out. This is why my third book completely flopped and listen, if I may say so, it did not flop because it was a bad book. This is a great book. I love this book. I mean, if you're a mom of one or 27 kids trying to figure out how to make all this work and you're looking for some rules like borrow mine or adapt them in some way, that's what the whole book is is the rules of how I attempt to most of the time. I mean that's why the subtitle is 32 rules of a mostly balanced mom. It's how I did it. Do it whatever and miniature self promotion.

Speaker 1:

I have signed copies available in my TikTok shop. I'll put the link in the bio because I have 2400 copies underneath my stairs. This was before print on demand. People knew the brand, but they didn't have the twins for the twins books. But they didn't know me. They didn't know my brand, if you, if you will. So then when I wrote another book, still about parenting but not about twins, there was no putting two and two together and going oh, I love these books. So now maybe I'll like this book. It was like a total is like starting all over again.

Speaker 1:

So really building what this comes back to is building relationships with readers and building community with readers. So not having it be just about getting your book on their shelf, where it may or may not mean if your TBR pile is as high as mine, my God, it's anyone's guess how long it's going to take people to get through all the books they keep accumulating, but to compel them to want to read your next book because they feel a connection with you. So continuing to nurture that and this comes back to point number one is the way to nurture that is to have intentional content where people know you know they see your post flowed as they're scrolling and they want to stop Because they know you're going to entertain them, educate them something, something that compels you to stop. And that leads me to the third and final point within this point seven, which is content planning is going to be important because it allows you to be more than a needle in a haystack without being sterile.

Speaker 1:

The thing I truly believe kept me from being a content planner for all these years is I saw it as so sterile and at heart I think I'm a pretty creative person like I bounce from thing to thing. But that carried over and I would bounce from thing to thing in the way that I posted. So one day I'd be posting about my DIY adventures and then one day I'm posting about someone else's book, and one day I'm posting about my book and then I'm posting about a workshop, and then a course, and then templates, and then I'm editing and now I'm on the beach in Santa Monica and now I'm like it doesn't, it didn't, there was no plan. Now could I have posted about all those different things still absolutely as long as I knew what central thing they were tied to? All of a sudden it made sense to me why people have a monthly theme or a weekly theme or a daily theme like Wednesday word. I just made that up. That's terrible. I'm not going to go that far, like I'm not going to do motivation Monday, because that's just not me. It works for a lot of people, by the way, but it's not me. But in theory it could work in the sense that, okay, mondays I'm motivating people to get their book written Tuesdays, but it's all got to tie together so that people aren't incredibly confused when they see my posts.

Speaker 1:

And if you're someone who does a lot of things. If you're a coach or you have your hands in a lot of things, it can be difficult for your author career To stand out because you're always posting about what you do professionally. People forget that you're an author too, and further they forget what you actually do professionally. The number of times people have said, hey Elizabeth, can you recommend an editor to me? And I've said Well, did you know I edit? I mean, if you don't want to work with me, no problem whatsoever, I'll recommend other people. I've got a list. But and then they're like oh my God, I had no idea and it's because I posted about it once three months ago and then never again. So I've been watching how other authors are doing this, specifically authors who run businesses too, but also authors who are just off, like that's their main thing that they do, or it's at least the main thing that they post about.

Speaker 1:

And there's always this thought when I talk to authors of I don't want to bug people, I don't want to post all the time about my book or me. It feels really self-indulgent. Okay, so don't. There are tons of solutions to that. If you're a romance writer, you can post about other romance writers. You can post about romance in general. You can post a romantic picture of something like that.

Speaker 1:

That's a whole different conversation. But please remember that out of every 10 posts you make, your followers are probably seeing one of them it's not like you're stuffing it down their throat and they have the option at any given point in time to unfollow. I have people I follow religiously and I still don't see every single one of their posts. So, again, it's a separate conversation. But it's to make yourself feel better about the fact that, to get out of this mindset of I'm bugging people or I'm being self-absorbed and self-indulgent and all I ever talk about is me and I'm sick of talking about me. There are a lot of ways to talk about what you do without talking about you, but the alternative to that is what I've been doing, which is talking about everything under the sun and just making the assumption that people understand who the hell I am and they don't.

Speaker 1:

So content planning more intentional focus on the marketing so that you're not a needle in a haystack, so that you do stand out to your people. Nobody needs all 8 billion people on the planet to be their readers. Most people are only looking for a few hundred, a few thousand people. That's a sustainable career right there. If you have a few thousand people who will buy everything that you write, especially if you're a self-published author, and so therefore, your profit margin is, you know, higher. Yes, your financial outlay upfront is also higher it's not nearly as high as most people think, but it is higher. But your return on that investment is also higher and you have much more control over it.

Speaker 1:

So, adding that in with all the new fun and different creative ways that you can get your book out there, keep it out there, continue to build new relationships I find incredibly exciting, and the other authors with whom I speak, whether they are self-published or traditionally published, have, for the most part, felt the exact same way, because, again, even if you're traditionally published, you're going to need to figure out ways to get creative about getting your book out. The big difference is you may have to ask permission for a few things, or you may have to ask for some help with a few things like IE. If you need to send arcs off, if you need to send copies off, those sorts of things, you got to request that from your publisher, but the upfront legwork is still you and I promise if you're traditionally published, your publisher will love you if you are out there making a concerted effort to get the book out there, as opposed to just sitting around and thinking, well, my publisher is doing it, that's their job, it's not. I mean, we can debate whether or not it is, but that's not what's happening. So those are my seven big thoughts, predictions, hopes for 2024 when it comes specifically to the self-publishing world, even though a lot of that did cross over into the traditional publishing world because there is crossover and I think there's more crossover than most people realize. Unless you are at the top 1%, I mean, if you're Emily Henry, there's no crossover. If you're Sarah Moss, there's not a lot of crossover. If you're within that mid-range, I think there's a lot of crossover in experience and expectation and opportunity.

Speaker 1:

So again, this is not a pitting one against another. I hope I will never do that, because that isn't my goal. My goal is for people to be well-informed, make a decision that feels the best for them for right now, for whatever reason, and then move forward with that with as much confidence and conviction as they possibly can to get their book into the world, knowing that every other author, for the most part on the plan whether they've written one book or 75, has the exact same concern and fear every time they release or begin to write a new one. That is universal. So if you have questions, comments, thoughts oh my gosh please let me know. You can DM me on Instagram at Elizabeth Lyons Author. You can email me, elizabeth, at ElizabethLyonscom.

Speaker 1:

Again, the next episode, which will be next week, so January 17th I believe, will be with the incredible Jessica Saunders. I cannot, I can't, wait for that. I hope you're all having an incredible start to your 2024, and I'll talk with you again soon. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, this is your friendly reminder to follow or subscribe, leave a quick review and share it with someone you know has a great story or message but isn't sure what to do next. Also, remember to check out publishaprofitablebookcom for book writing resources and tips and to see all the ways we can work together to get your book out into the world. Again, thanks so much for listening and I'll talk with you again soon.

Predictions for Self-Publishing in 2024
Comparing Traditional and Self-Publishing Paradigms
Author Teams
The Length of Novels
Shifting Paradigms and AI Conversations
Content Marketing, Avoiding AI Book Writing
Authors in 2024