Pandemic publishing is sure to stay with us in 2021. As with other businesses, indie publishers have been met with challenges due to social distancing, work-from-home, reduced revenue and more. At the same time, people are reading more than ever. And, because indie publishing is usually a solo journey done out of home offices with books sold remotely through online platforms, the way authors work independently hasn’t changed much.
This balance of new challenges and same-old, same-old is reflected in our list of Indie Publishing Resolutions for 2021. Social distancing means finding new ways to promote books that don’t depend on getting together. Audiobooks have exploded. Yet, the need for standout cover design, great typesetting and solid author platforms never change.
Enjoy our list of Indie Publishing Resolutions for 2021, and let us know which resolutions you plan on implementing!
Plan a virtual book launch
Zoom is so ubiquitous in 2020 that it’s become a verb: Let’s Zoom! Much like Jello is synonymous with any gelatin dessert, to “Zoom” means any video conferencing platform including Facebook Live and more. Savvy authors are using these platforms to connect with readers and launch books.
See our blog post from earlier in 2020 with tips for planning online book launches and connecting with readers virtually.
Collaborate with an indie bookstore for a virtual book reading
Thinking along the same lines as virtual book launches, indie bookstores are coming up with new ways to survive that don’t include walk-in traffic to their stores. Some are holding virtual readings with book groups. If your local bookstore isn’t yet holding virtual book readings, make it a priority to approach them early in 2021 to discuss the possibilities.
The neat thing about virtual book readings is that you can connect with indie bookstores outside of your community. You, the store and your readers no longer need to be in the same town.
2020 also saw a growing backlash against big-box, online book retailers such as Amazon, which has profited enormously through the massive increase in online ordering during the pandemic. In response, online indie bookstores have been popping up. As virtual bookstores, they seem natural for virtual book groups, book launches and author readings. Make it a resolution to connect to three indie bookstores in the online space in 2021!
Create a realistic budget for publishing services
We are constantly approached by authors who have set themselves a very low budget for publishing. Perhaps swayed by articles and google search results that promise free cover design and the ability to self-publish for free, some authors we speak with express surprise when we tell them that our cover design services aren’t free and that self-publishing will cost money.
When you get right down to it, the act of publishing a book by yourself is nothing more than uploading a file to Amazon KDP, which is, indeed, free. The true cost lies in turning that file into something that is pleasurable to read, will garner great reviews, and sell well. All that Amazon KDP requires (and IngramSpark for that matter) is cover and interior files that meet certain specifications; their specs are purely technical (technical enough to send authors our way when their files are rejected, but that’s another story). Compelling cover design, books that sell, typo-free books, and enjoyable reading experiences are not part of their specifications, which is why so many bad books make it through to Amazon.
Here’s a blog post from earlier in 2020 that takes a realistic look at the cost to self-publish. Read it to get a better understanding of what you’re giving up by taking the “free” route.
Record an audiobook
The audiobook trend continues! People are plugging in more than ever to listen to their books, and indie publishers who don’t jump on this trend are missing out. If your book has seen good print and ebook sales, offer your readers an audiobook option as well. Here’s a link to more information on what’s involved in recording an audiobook.
Get compensated properly
Publisher compensation, also known as “royalties” or “how much do I get paid?,” is another perennial pain point for indie publishers and an ongoing source of confusion. I understand why the confusion exists, and it has to do with the varying publisher compensation models of self-publishing companies and publishing services companies like 1106 Design. As these companies are usually the first point of contact for new authors who are exploring the world of self-publishing, authors are going to accept whatever a company says.
Here’s a simple truth: understand how publisher compensation works or run the risk of getting ripped off.
So, here’s how it works.
Let’s just deal with two book formats for now: print and ebooks. Print books can be printed on-demand, and there are two main companies that do that: Amazon KDP and IngramSpark. While both platforms distribute books to Amazon and other online retailers, as well as bookstores, there are legitimate reasons to choose one over the other that we won’t get into right now. Here’s a blog post from our archives on the difference between Amazon KDP and IngramSpark.
Bottom line: Amazon KDP and IngramSpark are your choices.
They are also the choices of almost every other self-publishing company or publishing services company that promises to print your book on-demand and distribute it.
The little-known secret is that authors can open accounts directly with both platforms and get paid by them straight into their bank accounts. This is 1106 Design’s model: we’ll help you open the accounts with Amazon KDP and IngramSpark and upload your files, but the account is in your name. You set the retail price of your book, the print-on-demand company deducts the cost of printing, Amazon deducts its retail fees (as do any other bookstore or online retailers), and you get the rest. If you do it any other way—if any other company inserts themselves between you and the print-on-demand company—you’re also paying that company a portion of your publisher compensation. They aren’t doing anything magical that you can’t do yourself, so why give them a chunk of your royalties?
Ebooks work in a similar fashion, except, of course, the printing. You can sell your own books directly from Amazon and distribute them through IngramSpark to major online ebook retailers. If a company promises to do this for you, understand what you are getting and how much you are paying for the service.
Establish my author platform
It’s 2021. Just do it already. ‘Nuff said. Here’s a blog post about building your online presence.
Get ready for 2022! Write that business book now.
Many businesses have struggled in 2020, and while there’s good news about vaccines, things won’t be much better in 2021. If your business has survived this far, get ready for the post-pandemic boom. Or, if you’ve been thinking of starting a new business, perhaps now is the time. The Roaring ‘20s came on the heels of the flu pandemic of 1918-1920? Could the same thing happen this time?
Thinking along these lines, 2021 is a good time to get your promotional strategies in place. Perhaps that means a refreshed strategic plan, a new marketing plan, revamped branding, and your thoughts and ideas captured in a book. Books are the new business cards and a book could be a fabulous way to launch the new you in 2022.
In 2021, put your mind at ease by contacting the professionals at 1106 Design. When your manuscript is ready, we’ll give you a realistic assessment of what needs to be done and how we can help. Contact us today!