To encourage novices in surface design, Spoonflower has published “The Spoonflower Handbook: A DIY Guide to Designing Fabric, Wallpaper, and Gift Wrap.”
Not long ago, few artists ever had the chance to design fabrics and wallpaper because printing even a few yards required a significant financial investment. Today, thanks to digital, print-on-demand printing, anyone with a computer, Internet connection, and idea can upload a file and have their design printed on a yard of fabric, wallpaper, or wrapping paper.
Spoonflower, a North Carolina-based start-up, prints short runs of fabrics, peel-and-stick wallpapers, and wrapping-papers for hundreds of thousands of creative people worldwide. Spoonflower customers then incorporate their printed designs into thousands of creative projects for the home or wardrobe.
For example, the handbook shows you how to use digitally printed materials to make:
A world traveler pillowcase with map designs
A stuffed gnome toy
Pet silhouette hankies
Zippered fabric pouches
Autumn leaf table wrap
Typographic wrapping paper
Food for thought table runner
Photo panel wall art
Damask shower curtain
Family portraits necktie
Coloring wallpaper and desk wrap
Designs on peel-and-stick wallpaper can be used to personalize your laptop, tablet, phone, and other flat surfaces.
Written in easy-to-understand language, this beautifully illustrated, 207-page book covers everything from design equipment and software to working with photos, colors, scans, repeats, and vector files. It talks about sources of inspiration and explains how to source images and use them legally.
The book was written by Spoonflower co-founder Stephen Fraser with Judi Ketteler and Becka Rahn. Jenny Hallengren provided the photographs. It was published by the Steward, Tabori & Chang imprint of Abrams.
According to Fraser, the project ideas and information in the Spoonflower Handbook can help everyone from quilters and crafty parents to professional artists and aspiring fashion designers: “We set out to create the most approachable book possible…This book is about the joy of making something mingled with the challenge of learning new things.”
The Creative Group (TCG) has released its 2016 Salary Guide. The free 32-page guide features salary ranges for more than 120 positions in the creative industry. The positions are grouped into five categories:
Design and Production
Interactive Design and Production
Content Development and Management
Advertising and Marketing
According to Robert Half analysts, creative and marketing staff can expect average starting salary gains of 3.8 percent next year.
Content strategy and mobile development roles are in particularly high demand as organizations focus heavily on initiatives that enable them to connect with customers anytime and anywhere.
The guide also includes local variance numbers that enable employers to calculate the adjusted low-to-high salary range for specific cities. For example, average starting salaries in Cedar Falls, Iowa are about 87% of the U.S. average salaries published in this guide. In San Diego, California, the average starting salaries about 123% of the U.S. average salaries.
The content is directed at potential employers of full-time, part-time, contract-to-hire, and freelance creative professionals. It includes sections on:
Seven Sizzling Hiring Trends
Eight Essentials of an Award-Winning Team
Qualities to Look for In Job Candidates
Hiring for Your Environment
According to the guide: “Employees at all levels who specialize in mobile and responsive design continue to be in strong demand. Professionals skilled at creating content for the small screen are also become more sought after as wearables and other mobile devices gain in popularity.”
TCG identified eight essentials of an award-winning creative team:
a digital strategist
user experience designer
user interface developer
front-end web developer
web content writer
Three new roles that bubbling up in the creative world include: creative technologist; customer experience designer; marketing automation manager.
In addition to identifying salary ranges, the guide includes tips for hiring the right creative professionals for your particular company culture, retaining the best talent, and working with freelancers.
For example, the guide advises companies to “Highlight the unique attributes of your workplace culture on your website and in job postings. Make sure your hiring managers can easily articulate why your business is a great place to work.” The TCG guide also notes that “Many workers who feel they deserve a raise won’t even ask for one before deciding to resign.”
Employers should benchmark their salaries proactively against those of other companies in their region and industry. “In addition to offering competitive pay, employers need to consider salary discussions more often than the scheduled annual review.”
Freelancers Are Hot
In the “What’s Hot” list of “7 Sizzling Hiring Trends,” the report notes that “Indie creatives are in demand.” Agencies and in-house creative departments are using freelancers to help manage workloads and provide specialized skills that don’t exist internally: “In many cases, they are extending full-time offers to consultants who have proved successful in their roles.”
About The Creative Group
The Creative Group is a division of Robert Half, a global leader in professional staffing and consulting services. TCG specializes in placing interactive design, design, and marketing professionals on a project, contract-to-hire, and full-time basis.
Last year, PDN PhotoPlus Expo attracted more than 21,000 professional photographers, photography enthusiasts, filmmakers, students, and educators from around the world.
“Our vast schedule of photo walks, master classes, conference seminars, keynotes, and portfolio reviews, combined with our large expo hall filled with hundreds of exhibitors demonstrating the latest imaging technologies, has created a wonderful playground for anyone who loves the visual arts.” explains Jason Groupp, Director of Education and Membership of the PHOTO+ Group
The expo features 220 exhibitors and thousands of new products. The educational programming includes over 80 seminars, keynote presentations, and special events. Whether you need to learn basics such as posing, lighting, retouching, editing, and printing or explore niches such as portraiture, commercial, or travel photography, the program has sessions that can help.
Business development programs at PhotoPlus Expo can help you find ways to expand your range of products and services and update your skills.
For example, here are a few of the courses that will be presented during the 2015 Conference.
The Headshot Game and How to Play it! Peter Hurley will explain how to forge a career in a hot genre that helps professionals of all ages improve their digital identities and establish personal brands. Hurley offers valuable insights about how he developed one of the most successful headshot businesses in the country.
Learning to Thrive as an Artist: Business, Marketing and Style for Photographers Commercial photographer and director John Keatley discusses one of his biggest passions—business! He will explain why photographers need to develop both an artists’ mindset and an understanding of the skills needed to market your work.
An Artist’s Journey: Surviving the Evolving Photo Industry Jeremy Cowart, one of the most influential photographers on the Internet, will explain how to stay relevant in an industry in which new apps, new cameras, new tools and new technologies are released every day.
Focus on Filmmaking
It’s Moving! Tips for Photographers Who Start Shooting Video
European cinematographer and filmmaker Nino Leitner will share tips for photographers who are starting to shoot video. Where are the similarities in shooting practices and workflows? Where are the differences? Learn to avoid the typical caveats and get inspired to think about your images in constant motion.
Creative Concepts for Event Filmmakers
From single-day creative shoots to high-end, multi-day scripted productions, cinematic storytelling can reach far beyond a live event and command high value. Learn how Los Angeles–based Pacific Pictures has become one of the world’s most sought after studios by creating and selling some of the industry’s most prolific live event concept films. Award-winning filmmaker Kevin Shahinian explores creative storytelling techniques and cutting-edge, conceptual film productions that can take your documentary filmmaking skills and business to a higher level.
Do you shoot by yourself, handling all the lighting, audio, directing and carrying around all your gear? With the right approach and tools, the New Age filmmaker can accomplish anything independently. Joe Switzer will discuss topics such as project management, outsourcing and the corporate project workflow.
Filmmaking Essentials For Photographers
In this class for emerging photographers and professionals pursuing new markets, Eduardo Angel will demystify the most common filmmaking terms and shooting techniques. He will also cover the most essential selection of gear to increase the production value of your video projects and provide an overview of the business of motion. After this class, you will have a better understanding of the similarities and differences between the disciplines of stills and motion.
Printing Skills and Innovations
Another way photography pros can distinguish themselves is through skills in fine-art printing and conservation framing or by offering high-quality imagery on durable, ready-to-hang aluminum or wood panels or as brilliant, extra-large backlits. Four PhotoPlus Expo sessions can bring you up to speed on the latest workflows and options for in-studio and lab printing.
The Craft and Passion and Fine-Art Digital Printing According to Stephen Johnson, making a photographic print has always been a challenging process. It could involve days in the darkroom, and deep consideration of the results and possibilities. He contends that the time, craft, and care needed to make a fine print in this digital age is not dissimilar. The processes are very different, but the attention to the craft and need for passionate concentration on the potential beauty of the photographic print remain. Focusing on pigment-ink photo printers, he will discuss workflow issues, color management, adjustment layers, color-cast corrections, custom profile generation, editing, and inspection. He will also explore print aesthetics in the digital age: What makes for a beautiful print? Do new possibilities enhance our notion of what photography can be? Or are we merely trying imitate traditional photographic processes?
The Basics of Fine Art Printing Rocco Ancora will encourage photographers to take control of their own printing. He will explain how to choose the right printer for your business and how to determine the right media for the print. As he demonstrates how the digital capture-to-print process comes together, he will explore a world of new possibilities and digital imaging practices.
The Basics of Custom Framing: An Overview for the Photo Industry Framing industry expert John Ranes will explain the essential elements and equipment photographers need to expand into custom framing. Topics to be covered include: conservation framing, sourcing options, and revenue-enhancement offerings. John will review pricing, costs, margins, and volumes to help you determine whether custom framing is right for your photography business.
The Latest Technologies for Large- and Very-Large-Format Printing and Production of Brilliant Backlits Renowned image permanence expert Henry Wilhelm and several of the world’s most accomplished printmakers will show how new printing processes are expanding the definition of photographic prints. For example, new flatbed printers can use very long-lasting UV-curable pigment inks to produce visually stunning prints up to 10 x 20 ft. on a wide variety of substrates including acrylic, sheet aluminum, Dibond, glass, plywood, uncoated artists papers, and traditional gesso-coated artist canvas. When UV-curable inks are back-printed on acrylic or glass, you can produce brilliant LED-illuminated backlit images at a wide range of sizes. With the dye-sublimation process used to make ChromaLuxe prints, images are infused directly onto specially coated sheets of metal or wood, and table tops. Photo labs can ChromaLuxe prints in sizes up to 4 x 8 ft. The ChromaLuxe prints are extremely resistant to scratches and abrasion and require no additional mounting or framing for display.
According to research by The Creative Group, 21 percent of advertising and marketing executives interviewed plan to expand their teams in the second half of 2015. This compares to 33 percent in the first half of the year and 12 percent one year ago.
The majority (65 percent) of respondents said they expect to maintain staff levels and hire primarily to fill vacated roles in the next six months.
“With continued demand for creative talent and a shrinking pool of skilled applicants, it’s more important than ever for companies to move quickly when hiring, or they risk losing out to more nimble firms,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. “Offering competitive pay and perks that support work-life balance can be instrumental in attracting candidates with hard-to-find skills. Salaries that were competitive even a year ago likely need to be re-evaluated.”
The national study was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service for interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on more than 400 telephone interviews — with approximately 200 marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 200 advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.
Marketing and Advertising Specialties in Demand
When executives were asked in which areas they plan to add staff in the second half of 2015, they reported a range of specialties. Creative/art direction and account services topped the list (27 percent each), followed by content marketing and interactive media (26 percent each).
Advertising and marketing executives were asked, “In which of the following areas do you expect to hire in the second half of 2015?” Their responses:
27% Creative/art direction
27% Account services
26% Content marketing
26% Interactive media
25% Brand/product management
25% Web/design production
25% Media services
25% Public relations
24% Digital marketing
23% Marketing research
22% Print design/production
21% Customer experience
21% Social media
18% Mobile design/development
(Multiple responses were permitted.)
Recruiting remains difficult for advertising and marketing executives: Forty-two percent said it is challenging to find skilled creative professionals today, up one percent from six months ago.
Hiring managers at large advertising agencies (100+ employees) and large marketing departments (1,000+ employees) expect the greatest difficulty, with 55 percent of respondents in each group reporting it is somewhat or very challenging to find the talent they seek.
When asked which areas are most difficult to fill, the top responses were brand/product management and account services.
About The Creative Group
The Creative Group (TCG) specializes in placing a range of highly skilled interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms on a project, contract-to-hire and full-time basis. More resources, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and TCG’s blog, can be found at creativegroup.com.
Gatekeeper Press is a new full-service publishing house and distribution aggregator for independent authors who want to produce and distribute high-quality books in both digital and print formats.
Launched by Price World Publishing, Gatekeeper Press wants to open the gates of the book-publishing world by offering high-quality services to authors for the lowest-possible prices.
What makes Gatekeeper Press different from other companies offering similar services? “Everything,” says Rob Price, CEO of Price World Publishing. “Our prices are the lowest, and our payouts are the highest. Gatekeeper Press authors earn 100% of their royalties, retain 100% of their rights, and our distribution arm reaches readers around the globe.”
The company offers four services: eBook Conversion and Distribution ($249), Paperback Design and Distribution ($249), Cover Design ($189), and Editing and Proofreading ($10.50/1,000 words and $6.50/1,000 words). Prices are lower when the services are combined.
Price, who has been a publisher since 2001, says Gatekeeper Press can offer low prices because of low overhead, an existing publishing infrastructure, and efficiencies.
Gatekeeper Press’ distribution network includes 14 eBook outlets, including Amazon Kindle, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Scribd. Print-book distribution is provided through Amazon.com, Amazon Europe, BarnesandNoble.com, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and NACSCORP.
Gatekeeper Press doesn’t require pre-formatted files and doesn’t charge extra to include the graphics, images, or audio or video files used to create enhanced eBooks.
Authors receive 100% of their royalties and can choose to have their books pulled from distribution at any time for any reason.
The company offers free 30-minute consultation sessions, free sample editing, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
If you become a Gatekeeper Press author, you will be assigned a U.S.-based publishing professional called an “Author Manager.” Once your book is published and distributed, you will be paid monthly. Plus, you will be able to view your sales online and see which venues are generating the sales.
Price, the newly elected Treasurer of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), believes “No one out there offers anything close to what we do. We’ve beta tested our service and have received nothing but amazing reviews.”
According to renowned artist-author-printmaker Harold Davis, Photoshop, DSLRs, and pigment-ink printers have empowered artists to produce photographic works that go far beyond what they could print in traditional darkrooms. Now that digital capture equipment, processing software, and printing technology have matured, he believes digital photography has emerged as an entirely new art medium.
With his background as a classically trained painter, accomplished professional film photographer, and meticulous printmaker, Harold Davis is proud to be at of the forefront of this new art medium. Through his experiments, craftsmanship, and unique insights, Harold Davis is expanding the definition of photography to include realms that go beyond documenting the decisive moment.
Harold Davis describes his current work as “Digital paintings that use photographs as the medium.” With the power of Photoshop and advanced digital printers and inkjet media, he believes that photographers who have the vision to tie it all together can craft images and styles that are uniquely their own.
To put his concepts in perspective, let’s review how digital photography workflows have evolved and why traditionalists in the art world must overcome some misperceptions about how Photoshop is being used.
Photoshop Preceded Professional Digital Cameras
First, it’s important to remember that Photoshop and digital photography didn’t always go together.
In an interview on Adobe’s website, one of Photoshop’s creators Thomas Knoll explained that the first few versions of Photoshop were primarily for graphic arts and publishing. Photography workflows weren’t practical with Photoshop until inkjet printers enabled photographers to scan their film, manipulate the file in Photoshop, and then print each image without the cost of making film separations for each photo.
In the mid 1990s and early 2000s, DSLR cameras became more powerful and less expensive. The popularity of Photoshop surged, because digital photography made it faster and easier to bring digital files into Photoshop.
To inspire the huge new wave of photography enthusiasts to “shoot like the pros,” the digital camera and printer manufacturers encouraged professional photographers to adopt digital photography and the “digital darkroom” in which Photoshop was used in conjunction with pigment inkjet printers. This required the technology developers to make products that could generate digital prints that were as good as (or better) than the prints that buyers expected from professional film photographers.
This took a while, because many established pro photographers were reluctant to change. Many photography pros might still be shooting film if their editorial and advertising clients hadn’t demanded the workflow and cost benefits that digital capture provided.
Unfortunately, eager newcomers to professional photography never learned how to shoot film. Many regarded Photoshop as a fast way to “fix” photographs that weren’t properly composed or lit on location. Plus, graphic designers routinely “doctored” images of models and celebrities that would be featured on magazine covers. Because some of these photographs looked “unnatural” and “off,” photographs that were “manipulated” in Photoshop were initially shunned by photography contest organizers and art collectors.
Those attitudes are changing because most professional photographers today have become much more skilled in the nuanced use of Photoshop. Digitally manipulated images have become the norm – in print and online. Most people really can’t tell if an image has been “Photoshopped.”
So now, photographic artists feel free to experiment and explore everything that’s possible with Photoshop. In addition to replicating film photography, Photoshop can be used to execute the artist’s inner visions.
Photographic artists such as Harold Davis don’t necessarily care if their work looks like a traditional “photograph” or not. They make images and visual stories that until now could only exist in their mind’s eye. Today, if an artist can dream it, they can depict it in photographic art.
Experience in Multiple Disciplines Pays Off
Harold Davis thoroughly understands the vast differences between film and digital photography because he has such an eclectic background. In the 1980s he supported himself as a commercial film photographer after studying painting in college. In the 1990s, he took a break from art and photography and wrote books about software and computer programming. He missed all the technology iterations that professional photographers struggled with as the digital imaging tools matured.
By the time Harold Davis’s publisher asked him to write a book on digital photography, most of the quality and permanence hurdles had been resolved. Digital capture, processing, and printing technology had become incredibly powerful, versatile, and accessible.
When Harold Davis picked up a DSLR for the first time in 2004, he quickly discovered that with Photoshop and new advances in printing media, he could combine his love of painting with his love of photography. He quickly recognized that his Photography 2.0 digital photography career would be vastly different from his Photography 1.0 film photography career.
One collector of Harold Davis’ work appreciates his unusual and effective use of technology in support of the classical tenets of photographic art and is excited about its possibilities: “I would compare his work to Ansel Adams’ and Edward Weston’s work during the crucial 1930s and 1940s time frame.”
Inspiring Others to Make New Forms of Photographs
To inspire other creative souls to push the boundaries of what’s possible with digital photography, Harold Davis leads workshops, posts webinars, and write books on topics such as Monochromatic HDR Photography, Creative Black & White, Creative Landscapes, Photographing Flowers, and Creative Lighting.
His newest books encourage photographers to develop their own visions of what a photograph might be. In his award-winning photography book, The Way of the Digital Photographer, Davis emphasizes that previsualizing an image today not only includes how a shot will be composed and lit but also how it will be processed in Photoshop and printed. Creative choices can be made during every phase of the process.
His next book (which Focal Press has scheduled for publication in August, 2015) is entitled Achieving Your Potential as a Photographer. The book presents an organized and cohesive plan for kickstarting your creativity and taking the resulting work into the real world. The concepts are accompanied by a workbook of exercises that can help you refine your thinking and skills.
Making Artisanal Prints and Limited Edition Portfolios
In a recent post on his blog, Harold Davis answered questions about “Making the Artisanal Inkjet Print.” Unlike the inkjet prints you buy from places such as Costco or giclee printmaking studios, artisanal inkjet prints are crafted one by one in the studios of solo artists. They take their time and fret over every detail. Taking into account file preparation, printing, and post-print issues, Harold Davis says he might spend five to ten hours making one print. Sometimes, he prints the same image 20 times until he gets the desired result.
“Just as much craft, skill, and artistry go into making a good artisanal pigment print as ever went into a print made in the chemical darkroom,” says Davis. His printer of choice is the Epson Style Pro 9900 with its Ultrachrome HDR pigment inks.
He considers paper selection an important element of the printmaking process and has experimented with a number of different papers. Because he is a huge fan of the range of Moab photo and fine art papers and an expert printmaker, Harold Davis was named a Moab Master in 2012.
Harold Davis numbers and signs each print he makes, but doesn’t sell limited editions of single prints. The concept of “limited editions” arose from printing processes in which it made sense to destroy the plates after relatively small number of copies were printed. But most photographers are unwilling to destroy any of their best files that could be used to make additional prints. So if a “limited edition” of one size print sells out, they might simply change the size of a print and call it a new edition.
“What I affirmatively do is keep track of my prints,” explains Davis. “That way, I can look up how many copies have been printed of any one image. Knowledgeable gallerists and collectors I have discussed this with tell me that this provides them with all they really need – a good sense of how many copies of a given print have been made.”
Harold Davis does make limited editions of the portfolios he prints. The first portfolio he made (in collaboration with his wife, graphic designer Phyllis Davis) was called Botanique. Each collection contains 21 original floral prints that emerge delicately from the hand-assembled presentation box. The images are printed on a variety of substrates, including Moab’s Moenkopi Unryu Washi, Moenkopi Kozo Washi, Moab Slickrock Metallic Pearl, Moab Lasal Exhibition Luster, and translucent archival vellum.
Because so much work is involved in hand-crafting each portfolio, Botanique is limited to an edition of 25 copies. Each book is hand-signed and numbered, and accompanied by a 9 x 12 –inch print of Harold Davis’ popular “Red Poppies” image.
Harold Davis has also released a portfolio entitled “Monochromatic Visions” and is currently working on “Kumano Kodo.”
Monochromatic Visions consists of twelve high-dynamic range black and white prints, created in an edition of 12 portfolios (plus three artist proofs). The idea of the portfolio is to show the capabilities of new high-tonal range black and white printmaking in the context of an apparently classical portfolio presentation.
A Modern Pilgrimage: The Kumano Kodo portfolio is based on photography of Harold Davis made during his journey through rural Japan in 2013. This portfolio is unique, hand-assembled and strictly limited to 12 copies plus 4 artist proofs. Each copy is hand-signed and numbered, and embellished with the artist’s hand-applied personal Japanese inkan.
The primary portion of the portfolio is printed on one continuous 16 ½ foot long piece of archival Japanese kozo washi produced at Awagami on Shikoku Island, Japan. (This paper is distributed in the United States as Moab Moenkopi Kozo.) This printing technique combines traditional paper with technological innovation and ideas into a handmade artist book creation.
The portfolio is wrapped in a cover showing a view of Kumano Sanzen Roppyaku Po, meaning “the view of 3,600 peaks,” from a high pass on the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail. The cover is printed on a single piece of archival, mould-made cotton paper.
Webinars and Workshops
To learn from Harold Davis, you can watch some of the webinars he has posted, order one of his books, or apply for an upcoming workshop in several locations in California, at the Heidelberg Summer School of Photography in Germany, or the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport, Maine. In October, he will lead a 15-day photographic adventure to the Sea-Girt Villages in Italy.
Harold Davis is excited to be pioneering new forms of photographic art. He believes the type of prints and portfolios he is currently creating could never have been produced before because the technology simply didn’t exist: “I am able to create in a domain where many techniques and crafts have come together for the very first time.”
“Times of disruption bring great opportunity,” says Harold Davis. “Basically, digital photography is emerging as an entirely new art form.”
The 2015 PubSense Summit, March 23-25 in Charleston, South Carolina, helped aspiring and emerging authors understand the three major ways to publish their work: traditional publishing, self-publishing, and hybrid publishing. Authors who pursue hybrid publishing use self-publishing to start building an audience, then seek traditional publishers to help them expand their reach and audience.
The stellar line-up of PubSense speakers and panelists included:
Robin Cutler, general manager of the IngramSpark program
Other PubSense panelists included authors, literary agents, independent booksellers, and executives with small publishing firms and companies that offer author-support services.
Exhibits showcased services can help emerging authors with website development, video book trailers, legal issues and liability coverage, marketing, editing, cover design, publicity, trade-show representation, and global distribution.
Here are a few key points made during the sessions I attended.
As an author, you are an entrepreneur. You are the business manager of the content you create. You can choose the goals you want to achieve with your writing, then build a team that can help you meet those goals. Ideally, your primary goal will be something you are passionate about – not just the number of books you think you can sell.
Traditional publishers still are the best (and only way) to get your printed book into traditional bookstores beyond your local market. Because shelf space is limited, bookstores seek certain genres/sub-genres of books they are confident they can sell. The big publishers have well-established sales relationships with the bookstores.
Small, independent presses can be a good option for debut and mid-list authors. Amidst all of the turbulence in the publishing business, debut and midlist authors often get very little personalized attention from the big, consolidated publishing companies.
If you choose to self-publish, your local bookstore may opt to sell printed copies of your book. But you can increase your chances of getting your book in the store by becoming a regular customer, getting to know the store employees, and promoting events that will help bring other people into the bookstore.
Self-publishing is the best path if you want to write about whatever topic you choose (regardless of “trends” in the market, or whether the manuscript has commercial potential). The global market for books that can be read on mobile devices is so vast that you can be confident that your self-published books will appeal to some people.
To find readers for your self-published books, you need to plan how you will produce, distribute, price, protect, and promote your books. Start with a clear vision of how you define success.
The avenues for bringing your work to market are multiplying. Amazon is still the dominant online seller of books, but new platforms are emerging to promote curated collections of self-published books. Organizations such as NetGalley, Chanticleer, and Foreword Reviews can help you connect with people who will review your books.
Author events are still great places to meet face-to-face with readers and other audiences. But if you want to expand your reach, you must use social media and online marketing to reach the biggest audiences with the least amount of effort.
Don’t overlook legal issues such a copyright, libel, privacy rights, permissions, and partnership agreements. Consider buying media liability insurance, because even if you do everything right, you can still get sued. If copies of your book are sold overseas, you can get sued in a country with libel laws different from those in the U.S.
Keynote: Taking Your Author Business to the Next Level
In her keynote PubSense Summit presentation on authors as entrepreneurs, Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn blog, emphasized the publishing revolution has greatly empowered authors. She suggests that writers think about the many different ways they can turn a single manuscript into multiple products that can be sold on multiple platforms to generate multiple revenue streams. Unlike traditionally published books that may only get a short burst of publicity after publication, self published authors can create a book once and keep selling it forever.
You can start with a Kindle e-book, said Penn, then make it available as a hard-copy, print-on-demand book, and convert it into an audio book using Amazon’s new www.acx.com service. Plus, you can sell your book through platforms such as Nook and reach a global audience through Kobo.
Here are some other takeaways from Joanna Penn’s presentation:
Don’t be afraid to try new platforms or to start small. At first, your income streams will be trickles. But they will grow over time if you keep promoting your book and distributing your work in new forms. Eventually, many small streams of revenue can turn into a larger cash flow.
When you produce and distribute e-books, hard-copy books, and audio books, you are creating assets that can put money in your pockets for years to come. Because the copyrights won’t expire until 70 years after your death, these assets can provide income for your children as well. By exploiting different formats, you can expand your customer base and reach different groups of readers.
Be consistent in identifying yourself as an author on social media. All of your social profiles should start with the same first few words.
Think global, mobile, and digital. Having a website is still important because social media platforms keep changing how they operate. You can control the look and content of your website, and use it to build an email list for direct marketing to your fans. Make sure your website can be viewed on mobile devices.
Pay attention to technology trends and cultural shifts that will change how and where we read and buy books. For example, people who start reading e-books on their tablets and smartphones will soon be able to pick up where they left off when they listen to audio version of the book in their cars. The trend toward living in smaller spaces and owning fewer things will accelerate the migration to e-books. The transformation in brick-and-mortar retailing may lead to easy-to-browse virtual bookstores. .
The importance of design can’t be overstated. As readers spend more time viewing content online, we expect everything we read to meet certain basic standards of quality and design.
Develop a fan base. Collect e-mail addresses of your biggest fans and send them a newsletter to keep them informed about the progress of your next book.
Be a Great Writer!
Although the number of books published each year is rising, one of the literary agents at PubSense panel reassured attendees that it is indeed possible to build a thriving career as an author. The agent emphasized that the best way to get noticed is to be a great writer: “If you’re a strong author, you’ll be fine.”
Additional details about the PubSense Summit speakers and their can be found in blog posts on the 2015 PubSense Summit website. Dates for the 2016 PubSense Summit have not yet been announced.