Week 5: Turning Pages and Opening Wallets

Taylor P -

Salutations, everyone, and welcome to week five! It is hard to believe that my project is halfway over; really, that means I need to get to work on my book. It will be published next month, and I am still wrapping my head around the fact that I am going to accomplish my biggest goals for high school: passing AP Calculus and publishing a book! But, I digress. This week, I researched the huge world of marketing and barely scratched the surface. I conducted more interviews and started organizing my poetry collection for my book. Overall, it was a great week! 

Firstly, I dove into the world of marketing. I underestimated how intensive the process of book marketing is, so learning about it this week certainly opened my eyes on how much work every step of publishing takes. Traditional publishing takes on a less burdensome marketing plan for authors, but that does not mean traditionally published authors get to sit back and relax. Within most contracts, they are required to attend readings, signings, presentations, and more to promote their books. Publishing houses market the books on their websites, within stores, and in online forums (like Barnes and Noble emailing me every week with more New York Times Bestselling novels!). 

Self-publishing, on the contrary, takes the most work when it comes to marketing. Because the author is completely in charge of their book, they are responsible for making sales. Authors, according to the IRS, are actually considered small business owners, and businesses rely heavily on a brand and marketing strategies to survive; therefore, authors must do the same. So, what does that take? Involved in marketing are many things, including but not limited to: an author logo, an author bio, a website with a blog, contact information, and news about books, book reviews, promotions, and the biggest of all: social media.

For all my Gen Z friends, I am sure you are familiar with #BookTok! I discovered how valuable social media is in selling books, especially with indie authors. “BookTok” is a side of TikTok where authors and readers promote novels by sharing themes, stories, or simply the aesthetic of the book. It has grown immensely in popularity (and, of course, devours my entire feed). This side of social media has driven book sales up immensely and makes it easy to share. Social media is the biggest marketing platform through which authors can find success. So, it seems I need to get out there and start making some new Pinterest boards.

Overall, successful marketing takes a huge amount of effort for both authors and publishing houses. There are many avenues through which one can find sales, but social media is currently the most powerful of all. I am grateful to live in this day where I can witness this success and become a part of it myself. 

Lastly, I conducted two interviews this week that I was really excited about due to the genre of writing: fantasy! I have been the biggest fan of the fantasy genre since I was a kid through video games, movies/shows, and especially books. One unexpected thing about these author interviews is how absolutely stressed they make me. I am a total introvert, so conducting interviews with authors I have never met caused me lots of anxiety. However, they’ve all turned out great, so I need to tell my anxiety to take a break!

The first author I interviewed was Bruce Paul, author of The Legend of Artama series. It began as a children’s parable with the first book and expanded into a speculative fiction story with the second book. Now, as Bruce prepares to publish the third book of the series, he reflected a lot on his marketing strategies. He first self-published with Amazon KDP, but he hired professional help to design and edit the book. Then, once he met the owner of Writers Publishing House, he was able to go through with hybrid publishing and learn how to successfully market. One word of wisdom I appreciated from him was that he said, “you can’t tell a book by its cover, but you can sell it by its cover.” He hopes to make his third book’s release a marketing success soon! You can buy his books here!

Bruce’s first book in the series!

I also interviewed Matt Peterson, author of Paraworld Zero. He was traditionally published with a company that went bankrupt—despite that, he had a ton of knowledge to talk about with me. He is well-versed in the publishing world, and he credits a lot of that to reading books about grammar, editing, and publishing. To first become published, he sent his book to hundreds of publishers and tried to query agents. It turned out to be quite successful for him! However, his publishing company presented him with difficulties, so he ended up hiring an editor on the side to ensure his book was professional. At the end of the day, he said, “it doesn’t matter how good your book is—it’s all about distribution.” Learning how to get books on shelves takes a lot more than you might think! His main pieces of advice for me were, “learn the trade, edit, and read books about how to write books.” He taught me a lot, and I was glad to get to interview him! You can buy his book here, visit his talk show here, and read through his website here.

Matt and I had a great discussion about the complexities of traditional publishing!

I have two interviews next week which will be my last. Once I interview all authors, I will analyze their strategies and compare to ensure my book will be a success for this project! 

Until next week, in the words of Tanjiro Kamado, hard work is the sum of daily efforts! It can be one step at a time—move forward! 

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    Hi Taylor! Are you planning on trying out any advertising strategies for your book or is your project focused on publishing the book? I can't wait to see the final product!!
    Taylor Phelan
    Yo yo yo Zoey, good question! I am thinking of making a marketing plan, but I probably won’t be able to fully advertise. This book is mostly just a product for this project; in the future, however, I’ll use those strategies to build my professional author platform. :D
    Hi Taylor! I had no idea that authors would be considered small business owners, but that makes so much sense! I also found Bruce Paul’s comment on selling a book by it’s cover super interesting. Do you have any cover ideas for your book?
    Hey, Maddie! In my week 6 blog, I am going to give a sneak peek of my book cover, designed by Sidney from our class :)! For some reason, I have visualized this book cover since I was a kid, so I’m excited to make it come to life.
    Hi Taylor! That is interesting that authors are categorized as small businesses! Does this mean authors can have payed employees? Is that a common practice for most authors?
    Taylor Phelan
    Hey, Gianna, great question! Authors do hire professionals to help make their books successful, but I am not sure if that qualifies as employees. I will definitely look into that!

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