Best of Times, Worst of Times for Book Authors

Guest Post by Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Welcome to the best of times and the worst of times for authors, especially self-publishing authors who must navigate the shoals of the constantly changing publishing world on their own.

The content platform opportunities available to authors keep exploding at what seems like the speed of light.

With Amazon’s launch of its own tablet – the Amazon Fire – and other tablets being introduced to compete with the iPad, readers can now read ebooks on a huge selection of phones, ereader devices such as the Kindle and the Nook, and tablets as well as on computers (by downloading, for example, the free Kindle software).

Yet with these opportunities comes the possibility of total confusion.

First, what price to put on your ebooks?  Free, 99 cents, $2.99?  The price of ebooks is all over the place. 

Sometimes on Amazon you may notice that the ebook has a higher price than a new copy of the physical book. And you may also sometimes notice the Amazon microcopy that the ebook price of a specific book has been set by the publisher.

Although I have no evidence to back up this theory, I believe it is safe to assume that, the more well-known an author is, the higher the price can be of his/her ebooks (within reason, of course). 

And it is probably equally obvious that the ebook of a just-released and much-anticipated hardcover book can be higher than if the paperback version of a hardcover has been available for some time before the ebook is available.

Plus the physical book price also presents challenges.  I personally believe that physical book prices in general need to be lower now that ebooks are so readily available.

The good news is that, if you self-published your books and ebooks, you can usually change the price.  This gives you the ability to test out different price points and even have “special price” days. 

(Warning: The prices are not always instantly changed, which may throw a monkey wrench into your marketing experiment.)

Second, once your books and/or ebooks are available online, you are faced with marketing.  And here again the marketing platforms seem to be multiplying “like rabbits.”

Before you start, take a deep breath.  There is only so much time for marketing if you also want time to write and have some kind of life away from your computer.

Different books may be better suited for different sites.  Thus your decision of the best places to invest your time and effort will not necessarily be the same as the decision of other authors.

No matter the subject of your books, I do recommend setting up a professional profile on LinkedIn because you want to be perceived as a professional writer.

And I personally am a huge proponent of Twitter if you are willing to engage in “conversation” on a daily basis.  Be aware, though, that this does NOT mean tweeting over and over again the links to your books.  It means exactly what “conversation” implies – sharing information of interest and responding to other people’s tweets.

While each day is a brave new world for book publishing and marketing, it is better to start with one small step rather than stand at the edge of the ocean afraid to dip in even one toe.

Plus the sooner you start the better.  The online engines that fuel the book publishing world are surging ahead, and you want to get onboard before you are left so far behind you’ll never catch up.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the marketing consulting company  Information on her books and ebooks can be found at


Posted on October 26, 2011, in Publicity & Writing, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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