It was the London Book Fair (LBF) last week.
It is primarily a rights fair where publishers come together to sell the rights of the books they hold into different languages and territories.
However, it is still, a wonderful place to be and attend if you are an author.
First of all, you are surrounded by so many books! And second, of all, you are surrounded by book lovers so you can talk books all day long and not feel like you are boring anyone with the amazing new books you have just read or the book you are dying to recommend to someone 🙂
In addition to all of this going on, LBF has a special breakout section for self-published authors at Author HQ. (Check my tweets on Twitter under #AuthorHQ).
This is a section upstairs where they held back to back conferences with some of the most successful indie- authors of the day.
The authors included:
- Mark Dawson (who has sold 2 million books)
- LJ Ross who knocked off Girl on the Train from the No. 1 slot last year and sold 750,000 copies
- Adam Croft who made £1 million last year with his books
- Joanna Penn who has sold over 500,000 copies of her book and makes a multiple 6 figure income
- Rachel Abbot who has sold 2.5 million copies and has written six books
- Keith Houghton, a hybrid author, who has sold 500,000 books
Collectively this panel has sold over 5 million books!
This is so incredible and goes to show how it is possible to be an author, and a well-paid author in today’s world of you chose to take the independent route to market, or as I like to say, be an author entrepreneur.
You no longer have to wait to be picked. You can pick yourself.
You can choose to write the book you want, engage with professionals to make a quality product and run your own author business! This is the stuff that gets me so excited!
What makes these authors so successful is that they are not just authors but entrepreneurs. They run a business through their writing. But it’s not just about the writing, but having the right mindset.
You need to treat the writing as a business. You need to understand marketing and promotion. You need to create a product your market wants. And above all, you need to believe in yourself.
Another one of my favourite highlights was what Adam Croft said when asked what his number one advice was.
He simply said, ‘a lot of hard work’.
I think in today’s world it can seem like everything is happening overnight and it can seem overwhelming.
Perhaps we need to stop obsessing about how many followers we have on Twitter and instead focus on what really matters; doing the work.
And Adam bought this home perfectly.
We need to stop reaching for the next shiny object and instead cultivate the right attitude, and that is putting in the effort.
Adam didn’t make £1 million from his books by chance.
He has been consistently writing for years, puts in the hours into his craft and deliberately learns about marketing. He invests in himself regarding education and by producing quality products.
If you missed LBF this year, I would highly encourage you to go next year.
The last time I went, I had no author friends and had no clue what I was doing. But one year on, I have started to form friendships and connections with authors and have written my book which is now undergoing the final editing stages.
It’s also great opportunity to learn and network with other authors, and I got to meet many authors who inspire me (thanks, Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, Rachel Abbott, James P.Sumner).
Here is a summary of the panel discussion that was held with Joanna Penn, Adam Croft and Gabriel Mercer on how to sell more books:
Joanna shared generously (as always) how she has created a business around her writings and I would encourage you to download her slides here: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/lbf17/
(1) Multiple Formats
You can get your book out in multiple formats such as e-book, print and audio. Then multiply this by the different languages you can have your book translated into, and these are all different income streams!
If you have a non-fiction book you can expand into even more income streams by creating:
- online courses
- live events (Joanna and Orna have live events coming up this year, check them out here)
All of these contribute to multiple sources of income.
(2) Sell on multiple stores
If you are new to self-publishing you may be thinking that Amazon is the only place to sell? Not true! There are many more stores you can sell your books on including:
- Direct Sales
- KDP Paperback
- Translations via Amazon Crossing
(3) Sell in multiple countries
The biggest ebook markets currently are:
…but this is just the beginning!
As more and more countries become online and ebook consumption becomes more mainstream (because in some countries this is still a relatively new concept), this will open up even more markets for us to sell our books.
Joanna shared with us this picture on how many books she has sold globally. And she has done this all by herself with no publisher!
Photo credit: Joanna Penn
Via Kobo her books are on sale in 190 countries and she has sold her books in English in 83 countries which is remarkable.
Note that she didn’t need to translate her books into other languages because English is such a common language.
In fact, the population of English speaking people are increasing.
For example, the UK has 65 mn English speaking people and India has 125 mn!! The USA has 298 mn!
Photo credit: Joanna Penn
When I saw these figures, it blew my mind. As an entrepreneur, you need to think big and go beyond the book. If you are writing in English, then you can sell your books globally.
(4) Write more books
It is difficult to make a living out of one or two books.
Think about creating more products.
Both Mark Dawson and Joanna Penn have written more than 20 books. More products lead to more income.
(5) Bundle your products into Boxsets
Create boxsets if you have three or more books.
These box sets can be grouped by theme if you are writing non-fiction. They create more value for the reader and are a bargain, and in most cases, you get higher royalties as well.
Joanna also noted that its easier to hit the bestseller lists when you give your customers a bargain.
(6) Write books that people want to buy: by search term
Joanna Penn changed her title ”How to love your job or find a new one” to ”Career Change: Stop hating your job, discover what you really want to do with your life, and start doing it!
This is because this is what people are searching for online.
(7) Write books that people want: by genre
A report by Author Earnings showed that 69% of all books purchased where genre fiction.
Of course, don’t write a book in a category that sells well just because it sells well. You need to write the book you want and then see how it can fit into the right market. You need to enjoy the process of writing! Let’s not forget that shall we.
(8) Rebrand and re-cover your books
As an indie-author, you can change the covers and titles of your books which is exactly what Joanna did.
Photo credit: Joanna Penn
This is the great thing about being an author-entrepreneur. You can change what you want and react to the market quickly. How exciting!
I am currently in the stage of finalising my book title and can’t seem to nail down the title I want. But I feel better knowing that if the title doesn’t sell, I can always change it. So I should just make a decision and get a move on!
This is what I find so exciting about self-publishing today! You get to be the creative director of your own business, and you can change and update things according to feedback whenever you get it.
The publishing industry is constantly changing and evolving, but the great thing about that is that you can also change and evolve your books whenever you get feedback. Nothing is set in stone.
(9) Write a branded series
This applies to other fiction and non-fiction. This also makes it easier for your readers to find you and helps to build your author brand.
(10) Write shorter books (40,000 words) such as HM Ward and SJ Scott
You don’t have to write long books. Authors are making a great income writing shorter, focused books in a particular niche. SJ Scott writes books in the habits genre and each
SJ Scott writes books in the habits genre and each book is around 20,000 words long but they sell very well.
(11) Learn marketing!
I know that this is a new area for me that can be daunting. Especially as an introvert, I am not comfortable with pushing my book out there.
But as an entrepreneur you need to understand that you are creating value and marketing is a way to communicate and share what you have created with the people who want what you have created!
There are many options available so pick one and get started. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking you need to do them all:
- Social media– where are your readers hanging out? Target those platforms only. You don’t have to be everywhere, just where your audience is!
- Try some paid options such as BookBub, Facebook Ads or Amazon Marketing Services
- Speaking opportunities
- Podcasts (either your own or get onto one where your readers are likely to be)
Compared to last year, I feel more confident and empowered about how to run a business through my writing.
My book is almost ready and will be out this year too. It’s all about taking small but consistent action on a daily basis if you want to run an author business.
- Joanna’s slide presentation can be found here.
- You can sign up here to get the first chapter of my book for free as well as more exclusive freebies when the book launches.
- You can also read a short excerpt of my upcoming book ‘Escape The Cubicle’ in this blog post.
- You can read my review of LBF when I attended last year in 2016 here.
Did you go to LBF? Share your learnings and experiences here.