We use Kickstarter as a means of connecting readers directly to the source. Yet Kickstarter is much more than just a tool for us, it's a part of our business model. We believe in evergreen publishing - where the resources and energy are spread throughout the process to create a product holistically.
There are many facets to marketing a book and building your platform as an author (i.e. gaining an audience over a variety of media). There are also a lot of articles, blogs, and experts telling you how to market correctly and which facets to put your energy into. It seems that one of the most overlooked (or abandoned) practices for authors are live events. That is, an author engaging an audience through a reading, signing, and/or speaking engagement. A launch party is a great way to kick things off but continuing to hold live reading and signing events will perpetuate the following positive results for new and veteran authors alike.
Add Value to Your Book
Just as an album signed by its band becomes more valuable, so does a book signed by its author. Readers that receive a signed copy of a book are more likely to recommend books throughout their sphere of influence, leave an online review for the book, or post the book to social media sites. There are even ways to encourage your readers to do this when meeting them face to face. Too many authors tell me that they don’t want to schlep their book, as if it is somehow beneath them. It was not beneath successful authors like John Grisham and Louise Hay, among others, who both started out this way. Remember that selling is marketing. Every signed copy that lands into someone’s hand is another person that can tell others about your book.
Engage and Energize Your Audience Directly
Beyond getting a signed copy in their hands, performing live and being able to speak with and shake hands with your audience makes them more engaged in your book and in you as an author. This is the reason why politicians travel on a campaign to give stump speeches instead of simply airing commercials, doing interviews, and reaching out on social media. It lets you get to know your audience and them to get to know you, to make a personal connection. People buy products from people they like and they suggests books by authors they like. Not only will you have made a personal connection, but you have a chance to ask your audience face to face to leave a review on Amazon, follow your blog and social media sites, or post your book on their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social media site. Even a small reading or book club can turn out to be a very intimate event and lead to some of your most ardent reader-promoters.
Rise Above the Internet Noise
The bad news is that there are more authors than ever trying to promote their books. The good news is that a vast majority of these authors are trying to promote solely by means of the internet. This kind of competition makes it even more difficult to get noticed online, but holding live events puts you into a unique class of author. Not only are live events a great way to seed your social media following by reaching fans through a noiseless medium, but it can add content about you are your book to the online world. Live events give not only you, as the author, but your audience something to post about online beyond a review of the book, excerpt from the book, or summary of the book. It is refreshing to read about an author having a great time with fans instead of another thinly guised plea for you to buy and promote their book. It is a great way to supplement your online efforts with additional advocates and unique news content.
Give the Media Something to Report About
Your book is out, you’ve sent out a press release about its availability to every newspaper and online news source in the world, but months later there is nothing new to excite the media masses. What to do? Though a book signing or author reading won’t make the front page of the New York Times, or much of a splash in any large city, it can garner attention in smaller communities with smaller newspapers. Not only can you get exposure in these smaller towns and cities, with a crowd that can become even more excited about this event that is more rare, more special to them, but most publications (even small town newspapers) post online now. This will help your online clout and give your book additional Google listings when it is searched.
Make More Money
While bookstores are the go-to place authors think of when they want to launch their book or have a signing, it isn’t necessarily the most effective and certainly isn’t the most profitable. We will cover this more in an upcoming article, “The Best Place to Hold a Book Signing”. One of the greatest benefits to having live signing events (outside of bookstores) is that it gives you the chance to become your own bookseller. This means that you make the lion’s share of the profit of the book because you don’t have a distributor or bookseller taking a huge discount—this portion goes back into your pocket. This is especially great for self-published authors who are trying to not only gain an audience but recoup the costs of publishing their book. If you do not want to appear like you are schlepping your book or seem like a salesman more than an author, have a friend or family member sell copies of your book at one table while you greet readers and sign books at a second table.
One would think that having great design for your brand is commonplace. Every business needs a logo, business cards, printed materials, packaging and/or labeling, menus, letterheads, websites, and advertising. All of these things must be designed, professionally by a designer, and curated to taste, lest they appear amateur and stale. However common sense this may seem, for many people or businesses with great products, services, or thoughts to share with the world, having great design is often an afterthought.
Design is necessary for the presentation of whatever it is that you offer the world. Your product, service, or voice, may be outstanding enough to impress itself on the public enough to be recognized on its own - if so, I personally salute you, you must have an amazing thing. However, it's not likely. Even if you have the best brand of something in the world, a potential customer is not necessarily going to know that it's yours from two feet away, unless they can see that it's clearly yours. This gets deeper and more complex depending on the kind of business you run, or product that you have. Even if you're a law firm, and you do not have an iconic logo, people still recognize the name, and therefore, the way that name appears on your presentation must be bold. Even your name in Helvetica, Bold, should be arranged on your advertising by someone who knows design.
On the note of recognition, but much deeper, is taste. Sure, you may sell coffee, and the taste of your coffee may be exquisite and recognizable without packaging. However, the look of what it is that you are providing should speak volumes on its own, about the taste that your company, or personal brand, is offering. This goes for anything that represents you, whether it's a postcard, a book cover, or even just a piece of paper. This also goes down to the very interior of your establishment or place of doing business. The taste of your establishment should be indicated in the way that the interior is designed. The way that the interior is designed should correlate with the taste of your printed and digital materials. Why would you spend $100,000 on the interior of your establishment, if you own an upscale restaurant, but not, by comparison, have designed materials that reflect the same quality?
Your business or brand cannot live in the hearts of the public without establishing an emotional connection. Whatever it is that you do, or share with the world, it should be done in such a way that you establish an emotional connection with your public. If you are a business that prides itself on efficiency, people know that they can find peace of mind with your brand. Without symbolism, or the structure of something concrete with which your audience can connect to physically and tangibly, but also psychologically, you cannot hope to build that emotional connection and memory easily. Design is method by which this emotional connection can be planted, it is fundamentally a part of the experience itself. It transcends style, and enters into the realm of how your audience thinks, and feels. When they want a certain experience, or a certain vibe, they think of your brand; how it looks, how it feels, how it sounds, how it tastes, and there is a correlation between all of these factors in that person's mind. Design is necessary to build an emotional connection with your audience, in the way that they see your brand in the world and in their minds.
Design is the foreground of the identity of every business. Taste, recognition, emotional connection, as well as many other factors, all collapse into identity. The taste of what you create and share with the world, or sell to the public, may indeed have established an identity of its own - but as stated in recognition, an equal part of that identity is the way in which you are presented. The way you present what you do is the same as presenting who you are, and great design is a part of all of that, down to the garments you wear. Myself, I tend to wear colors that are in sync with the tones of my brand. Even my shirts and ties all have a correlation with the colors we use in our branding. This is the level at which the design of your brand must be curated. Your business does not have a life without its identity. That identity can form itself over time. But ultimately, you must have a structure and a foreground on which to build it. Design is that structure. Hence, great design is an equal part of the infrastructure for the life force of your business.
Whatever you do for the world, or share with the world, it does not have life if it does not add value to humanity. The value of what you do speaks for itself. Intrinsic to that value that you are sharing, is what you have invested in that thing - be it time or resources. The worth of Investing in presentation and design of your identity as a provider of value is at least equal to almost any other investment you will make in your identity and services. Great design is the difference between bringing great value to people's lives, whereby those individuals who need you may connect and continue to connect with your products and services, or those individuals walking into the doors, or onto the website, of a less worthy competitor. Great design not only adds value to your business - sometimes, great design is the value that you are bringing; and it can sometimes be the sole different between a great product and a lousy product. Bring value to the world, and to people's lives, invest in great design for whatever it is that you do.
by Jeremy Gotwals, Founder at Holon Publishing
So, what does it take to successfully publish a book? This is perhaps the most relevant question we could possible ask on our web site/blog/etc.
his was definitely the most relevant question yesterday, when I ran into my old friend Gagan Singh, who I had last seen exactly a year prior on the same day, after nearly two-years of having graduated from Indiana University Kelley School of Business with his MBA. Gagan now lives in San Francisco with his newly wed wife, where he works at PayPal.
"Suppose I wanted to translate various Sikh writings into english and publish them as a book, what would I need to do?" Gagan inquired.
llow me to preface by telling you a little about Gagan (Pronounced sort-of like 'Guh-gun" ... think 'HUG - in' but 'GUHG-in').
ot only is Gagan a tech-savvy, highly knowledge, Product Manager at PayPal, who graduated from IU with his MBA... he's also is a spiritual brother of mine who practices the art of meditation and the spiritual disciplines of Yoga. He was known, during his time at Indiana University, as the "Urban Turban Guy," because he could always be seen sporting his bright-yellow turban (particularly at the Starbucks that all of us frequented on Indiana Avenue).
agan is also a trail-blazing Social Media expert. One who I definitely look up to in his areas of tech and web expertise. Gagan and I originally met at that Coffee Shop on Indiana Avenue, during his time in Bloomington. Outside of that beautiful coffee-shop, we spontaneously connected over music. We both chanted Sanskrit Mantras together while he played the harmonium and I played guitar. memory I hold close. I was only 20 then, and striving to find the next-step in my professional as well as personal/spiritual career.
So when Gagan asked me yesterday, what he should do about publishing his book of Sikh literature, my most immediate response was "Well, I think that you should crowd-fund the costs of publication, you-know? Like, throw a Kickstarter or something."
e ruminated on the topic for a moment while his wonderful wife listened intently outside of the Sample Gates, in Bloomington.
The main reason I mentioned crowd-funding to Gagan as the most direct means of publishing his work has to do with his already thorough command of his audience through Social Media.
He asked "But beyond that, what does that actually take?"
k, so let's talk about that answer.
"Well printing is actually not that expensive," I said to Gagan. The unit cost of most basic, perfect-bound, paperback books is less than $4. hipping can make things hairy sometimes. Hugely epic 400+ page books can be expensive to print. Full-color books can also be expensive.
"If you have a concept for a brand and/or niche, an image, a look and feel of your title, then getting it out there is not that difficult." I continued to explain. "If 100 people 'pre-ordered' your book for $15 then you would have a enough funding for each of them o have a copy of your book, plus a little bit more left over, to invest in the book's production." I also forgot to mention to him that, then, the book would be published, and available for Print on Demand and could be purchased through Amazon or directly through whomever was handling the publishing - including himself.
Gagan also asked "What would make someone want to order, buy, or invest my book if they don't know how good I am as a translator, or how skilled of a writer I am?"
told him that thus far, I was assuming that his network already had faith in his knowledge and abilities as a Punjabi/English translator, as well as a Sikh practitioner.
oreover, he's already spent years cultivating friendships, acquaintances and an internet following that was already interested in what he has to say. Which is necessary for every author today. The bottom line, if you yourself are not taking your message, your words, your story, or your creative works, to your audience, then you can't expect to sell books.
A lot of what I'm expressing here can also be found in Guy Kawasaki's book "Ape: How to Publish a Book", where he divulges the guts of what it means to truly take control of publishing your work today.
None of this necessarily accounts for editing, book-formatting, or graphic design. However, those are all human resources. Which is where an imprint or a physical publisher can come into play and be very useful. Otherwise, one can attempt those things themselves, or rope their friends into those tasks, but from experience - I would not recommend that. Unless you know what you're doing or your friends are professionals. Lest your book run the risk of winding up on one of those sites of lousy book covers.
Bringing all of these pieces together can take time and work. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you're releasing a finished product. Beyond good editing, branding is absolutely essential. o one will purchase a book that has a horrible cover. Besides this aspect of branding, retailers who could sell your book will ALWAYS want to know "Who published this book?" They will often turn you down if you tell them that it's self-published. Which is why this aspect of the publishing process should be handled artfully. Which is why we're not just a "self-publisher" at Holon. We're also partially playing the role of a traditional publisher, striving to create a brand that resonates with the same artistry and style that traditional publishers did in the 20th century. With new flavors and a new edge never seen before.
Let's say you want to "get-your-book-pubished," by someone else, by a third party, by a traditional publisher - who is paying for your book to be published.
First of all, the age of the literary agent is becoming obsolete. One no longer needs to be "shopped around" in this way to get ahead. Social media means that you can bring your book to the world directly. Moreover, traditional publishing fundamentally isn't what it used to be. It has its purpose, it has its place. You can acquire a deal, if that's your goal. However, control will not be yours. You might make 15% of royalties, if you're lucky. Ultimately, you, the author, will often know your audience better than your publisher - especially through Social Media. Which begs the question: why would you want a traditional publisher?
The biggest reason you probably shouldn't vie for a traditional publisher is simply that: you will be doing the same amount of work, either way. Only, one option leads to lesser control. If your burning desire is to get that call from your magical, far-away literary agent, in some New York or Seattle tower, who says... "Billy (or Sally), daw'ling! We have an offer from Random House! Fifteen-Thou' for your advance! They want us to fly to Manhattan right away!" I mean... it can happen. I also hear so many people who say "But, I want the rejection, so that one day, when I'm published, it will all be rewarding!" Which is also a fruitless attitude. Primarily because it doesn't involve any work in the "here and now." It implies that there's some far and distant realm of success that is detached from the work you're doing at this time, to actually get "there." Wherever "there" is.
The attitude should be "How can I share my work and ideas with the world?"
This is a beautiful attitude that will guide you towards success. This is the attitude that assists you in cultivating the best work possible, instead of searching for instant gratification. This is the attitude that will eliminate the distractions of fame and fortune, because publishing books is not about that.
If you get out there, if you keep up the pace, keep connecting with people, whatever your means - you will find great editors, great designers and people who will want to read your work. That is, if you are willing to put your ideas out there for them to try.
In reflection, I also want to tie it all together by mentioning my brief encounter with Gagan a-year-ago-yesterday. He walked into the coffee-shop by his lonesome. I hadn't seen him since 2010. I was just standing to get a refill of my coffee. We caught up on everything and I told him about Holon. What Gagan had to say was fundamentally one of the most important things that he could have possibly said at that time, which was something to the effect of:
"You can make a company about anything, but what you fundamentally want to share with people or market to the world are ideas. Ideas are what drive people. Ideas are what build great businesses."
This is also one of the most important facets of striving to be an author.
he sharing of ideas. Or experiences, as the case may be.
r perhaps just a really great story.
What does it take to successfully publish a book today?
atience, diligence, information. But also a willingness to leave your comfort zone and find the people that A) you want to work with and B) whom you want to read your work.
What's going on at Holon?
I'm happy to announce that we're releasing a spectrum of new titles right now, from historical-fiction novel Pride and Dignity by Rodolfo Walss, to Waldorf-inspired early childhood education book "A Child's Seasonal Treasury" by Smithsonian award-winning Author Betty Jones. We also have a daring satire by Virginia Author Peter Mason, "Heroes of the 21st Century", with many many more exciting titles to come in the spring. It has been my bountiful pleasure to work with these talented and dedicated people; as well it shall be our delight to share with you the many more titles we have to come, currently either in production or in the editing process.
But what else is Holon up to?
As we're beginning to unveil, Holon is much more than a publishing imprint, we're also a New Media company that specializes in Social Media. One of our latest and most exciting projects is our work on the social media campaign for the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Louisville, KY in May of 2013, which we will have much much to share about in the coming weeks. [See More: Dalai Lama, Louisville]
Social Media Marketing is the evolving trend in promoting your business or brand. We are just getting started at demonstrating what our business has been doing for over a year for other businesses - as well as artists - in developing their social media.
One of the things that I really love...
...about this aspect of our company is having the opportunity to actually work with our authors on managing their twitter accounts - assisting them in amassing followers organically, connecting with them directly.
We're just now showcasing our social media services formally on our site, with the first of what will be many infographics that illustrate our process from Social Media Management, Promotions, and also Content Creation. We hope to deliver to you the entirety of our unique business model with the same style and simplicity here.
The bottom line? Your brand needs followers that are not only fans of what you do, but that also support and sustain your brand as a community. That is what we aim to achieve at Holon - for each of the brands we work with.
- Jeremy Gotwals
Founder & President at Holon Publishing
Why Self-Publish? A quick glance at other publishing opportunities.
Anyone who has glanced at the hefty list of pre-publishing requirements has likely had something bordering a heart attack. Generally, our fantasies concerning publishing resemble young and hopeful writers sending off their manuscripts blindly into the great melting pot of big-name publishers. More realist fantasies might include the inevitable rejection letter and the returned manuscript scribed bloody with ink. The process, while necessarily heartbreaking, is still rather simple.
What our fantasies don’t account for is the thousand factors which lead up to this step; query letters, cover letters, synopses, follow-up letters, and then of course, the eventual rejection of a perfectly clean and hardly read manifesto of three or more years’ labor. There is also the matter of agents to deal with; the publishing houses that will reject due to lack of solicitation; the exhausted editors who take but a glance at the opening sentence before dooming the pages to the rejection table.
In short, mainstream publishing is such a heavily guarded field that it’s a small miracle that people even submit their pieces to the big houses anymore when they have a 1/19,000 per cent chance of seeing any actual feedback.
In lieu of publishing’s fortifications however, scribbled pages can still see clean dust jackets and even bookshelves without the added emotional turmoil. This is of course the avenue offered by self-publishing, a long-chastised and still relatively small market which has nevertheless allowed for authors such as Edgar Allen Poe and Oscar Wilde, and books such as Eragon and (of course) 50 Shades of Grey to make their way into the literary limelight (for better or for worse).
The arguments for self-publishing’s less-than-glowing reputation is relatively simple: everyone can do it. This is of course true, and yet it’s an answer that begs introspection. Everyone can self-publish, yet not everyone can write, much less write a book. For anyone who has tried, the process is tedious to say the least. To say the most; it’s barbaric, heart-rending, emotionally fulfilling and emotionally flushing; and beautifully satisfying in ways only writers can know.
Unfortunately, what writers feel or what writers know is seldom on the agenda of big-name publishers, whose concerns are business foremost and literature secondary. Editors and publishers can’t afford to make personal connections with the writer or the piece for fear that prejudice will muddle the true question: will it sell? (A question which goes very well explored in a recent Paris Review article: http://www.themillions.com/2012/08/a-right-fit-navigating-the-world-of-literary-agents.html)
Too often, writers forget this golden rule when submitting their manuscripts. The romanticism of writing takes precedence almost always for the writer, and when the coldly formal rejection comes, it is seen as a vindictive affront, which the writer might coolly disregard only after muttering the artistic cliché they just don’t understand me.
Editors, publishers, and agents however understand you and your work only too well. It is their job to understand your fit and to tell you when the fit won’t work, and for this reason one might as well bear the sting of rejection within the frame of “I think you should see other publishers.”
Self-publishing bypasses this process in favour of personal relationships and the quality of the piece itself, and not the quality of the piece on a global market. Because the manuscript is self-invested, publishing’s lavish display of formality is rendered superfluous, and the process becomes centralized upon the piece itself. In so many words, self-publishing is the writer’s market.
Unfortunately even in the writer’s market, writing doesn’t count for everything (or else the world would be far too simple a place) and the author feels particular concern for his audience; namely, whether or not there will be one. It’s a concern every writer faces and one that has but one remedy: confidence.
The best writing will infallibly speak for itself, regardless of where or by whom it is published. History comes to the author’s aid here more than anywhere, positing such notable self-published authors as Proust, Austen, Blake, Twain, Cummings, and Shaw.
It’s a tragic reality to think that, in the society of contemporary publishing, the world might never have seen A la recherché du temps perdu or Huckleberry Finn because of an editor’s bad day. Self-publishing is ultimately motivated towards the belief that this ultimatum needs not be completely encompassing. One may draw the distinction between two questions: big publishing’s can it sell, and self-publishing’s is it worth selling.
By Brandon Cook, Staff Writer @Holonpublishing & New Media Journalist http://brandonblakely.wordpress.com
By Brandon Cook, New Media Journalist @Holonpublishing & Student at Indiana University.
See his blog, The Brandon Blakely: http://brandonblakely.wordpress.com
J.K. Rowling has become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Following the release of her final series novel, the authoress of the ridiculously successful “Harry Potter” septet threw herself back into public controversy just months after the release of “Deathly Hallows” with the announcement of Dumbledore’s homosexuality. Late last February she announced a skeptically anticipated first ‘adult novel’, which she referred to as “new territory” that the success of “Potter” has afforded her. Being in the rare position of having both power and choice, Rowling must be respected for her choice to close Hogwarts and turn her attention back home.
Where it All Began
Thus, in September of 2011, it came to pass that the small vanity press I had been working for all summer would pass into the graveyards of other businesses that had been deemed obsolete by the coming era. "Web 2.0," "eBooks," "Social Media Marketing," these terms that are quickly becoming commonplace would be the death of many businesses that once had supremely successful enterprises...