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The following article may not completely apply to you as an author, however, there are many attributes in the article you should read to get a better sense of our future readers. This, as a marketing concept, will prove valuable.

Originally printed Publisher Perspective by Porter Anderson on December 13, 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, Canadian reading and writing platform Wattpad has produced a series of readership trends based on its users behavior. These trends offer publishers some insights into the interests of Wattpad’s 60 million monthly users.

In terms of tech, for example, Wattpad Studios’ partnership chief Ashleigh Gardner says the second-screen phenomenon—in which television viewers simultaneously use mobile or other devices to share and interact with the content their are watching on TV—is becoming more influential.

“Even in binge-watching,” Gardner says, “people are going through content so fast. We see people wanting more” of a show they’re sharing. That’s the point at which fan-fiction writing kicks in and the writers and their readers on Wattpad basically keep the party going, extending and embellishing storylines, generating new action for characters and plot points. The second screen of choice, then, becomes the Wattpad app on which the viewers are searching out new work that appears almost as fast as they can search for it.

“They’re coming to Wattpad,” Gardner says, “to stay within the worlds of Riverdale [the CBS-Warner Bros. show based on Archie Comics] or Stranger Things [the Duffer Brothers’ show on Netflix]. Every show we see on TV, we find fan fiction about on Wattpad.”

It’s Riverdale that’s had the biggest response this year in Wattpad’s tracking of the action on the platform. Content based on that series peaked in terms of reading minutes by users in October, when the system recorded 7.9 million minutes on Riverdale-related material. Some 54,000 story uploads related to the show were counted throughout the year. Also in October, Stranger Things drew almost as many users, recording its own high of 7 million reading minutes in material related to that series.

But it would be a mistake to think that all is entertainment and TV gossip among the more-than 60 million readers and writers at Wattpad.

“It’s been great to see how our users are responding to social movements,” Gardner says, referring to a particularly strong uptake on the #NoMoreBullying movement. One example of this is a paranormal tale called #FatGirlMagic by the writer known as @ClaireKann and responding to the #BodyPositivity theme. Gardner’s team has seen as many as 8 million reading minutes per month going into material based in such widely hashtagged topics and interests.

A related such focus, for example, could be seen in #FreeTheLGBT, a push to increase the number of prominent LGBTQ characters in fiction, and this was a big one, with an average 13 million reading minutes monthly. As many as 2,500 new story uploads were made with the tag following the pride activities of June.

The writer known on the site as @Vapid_Ink scored big in 2017 with Vigilante rising to massive popularity in the action category: the story pulled more than 2 million reads. The #MeToo movement in sexual harassment awareness has been a major trend on Wattpad this year, but it’s so far been harder to track because the hashtag is applied less precisely than some others are. #MeToo can refer to many things, in other words, and not always to issues related to sexual harrassment.

Diversity interests in wider terms drove 4.8 million reading minutes a month to a “person of color” tag (#PoC) . The system tracked an 84-percent growth level during the year for genre stories with diverse characters, too. If publishers have needed any evidence to support a readership’s interest in more diverse character sets, look no farther than Toronto where they could see more than 30 million reading minutes monthly going into tags including #DiverseLit, #Diversity, and #LGBTQ+.

In 2018, Try Werewolf K-Pop Killer Clowns

Here are several more trends that Wattpad’s staffers are reporting tracking this year. Gardner confirms that some 70 percent of the platform’s active user base is female and remember that roughly 90 percent accesses the content on mobile devices.

• K-Pop has been especially popular among Spanish-language users of the platform, which supports some 50 languages. In January of this year, Latin American users shared 12,000 K-Pop story uploads and by July, that trend had increased to 21,000 story uploads. • English-language readers seem to love Korean music, too, hitting more than 50 million monthly minutes of K-Pop reading time for the first time in 2017.

• Zombies are an abiding passion for the mostly-millennial crowd of readers and writers at Wattpads, with the writer @CrystalScherer pulling in more than 600,000 reads since January for her The Virus Within.

• Werewolves, however, seem to be another unholy grail of popularity among horror and sci-fi fans on the platform. Some 196 million minutes each month went to werewolf stories–that’s more than 136,000 days of time–and that’s over a measly (by comparison) 13 million monthly minutes going to zombies.

• The preponderance of women’s readership on the platform can lead some to think that the whole picture there is romance, but in 2017, but in fact, romance-and-something combinations in terms of genre interests have gained grace this year among Wattpadders. Romance and action seems to have been a favored combo, with romance readers gravitating toward mafia stories and bad-boy bikers. As do we all, surely.

• As long as we’re in the neighborhood, material relating to the boy band Why Don’t We was attracting almost 20 million reading minutes (13,888 days) per month by August. This one is an especially global attraction according to the sites’ officials, who say they expect WDW fandom to reach even more feverish heights on the big platform in 2018.

• And as we’ve mentioned in earlier coverage, cannibals seem to have taken on special meaning for many Wattpad regulars. They and killer clowns were two surprise quick gainers on the site, rising in the stats to 9,000 story uploads in September and October.

‘They Want To Participate’

If any over-arching message is inherent in all the data coming in from Canada at the end of this year, it’s engagement.

Gardner was at the FutureBook conference in London on the first of December, shortlisted for this year’s Disruptor of the Year FutureBook Award sponsored by the Frankfurter Buchmesse. She heard Eliza Filby’s closing keynote, as covered by Publishing Perspectives, on the rising influence of Generation Z and listened carefully, of course, as that group’s readers now are moving into range of Wattpad’s offerings—the minimum age for participation on the site is 13.

“While we’re extremely popular with millennials,” Gardner says, “we’re seeing more and more of the younger group on the platform, too. The 13-to-16 group is a flourishing community online, and that ties into a lot of what Eliza was talking about.

“They’re not just consumers,” she says, “they want to participate, they want to write their own stories. We see readers who want to write their own stories. They want to be heard. They want to consume the art their friends are creating. They don’t want celebrities to be out of reach, they want to be able to reach out to them,” as readers at Wattpad interact with their authors.

And there’s one more thing that publishers might do well to mull along with the wine over the holidays: speed to market. One of the most striking elements of success at Wattpad is how quickly new content arrives for readers on the platform in reaction to real-world events. Much as we see in the second-screen dynamic, the readers and writers of Wattpad are working far, far faster than much of trade publishing is used to working.

“They’re not just consumers. They want to participate, they want to write their own stories. They want to be heard. They want to consume the art their friends are creating.”Ashleigh Gardner

Gardner recalls #AlexFromTarget, the cashier whose photo went viral. “Its fascinating to see how quickly people will start to write stories about news stories or memes” for the platform. “A girl had secretly taken a photo of her checkout guy at Target, and he became a teen-heartthrob. The amount of fan fiction we saw about #AlexFromTarget immediately spiked in the next 24 hours, and you still see stories written about him today,” more than two years later. “Some were so inspired by that moment that they wrote the meta-fiction about him, and what it must have been like for him to have people so in love with him. “When it comes to reactions, the creativity and the speed happens as soon as the inspiration hits.” And this presents a challenge to traditional publishing.

“That lag to market,” as Gardner puts it, has also meant that the startup of some partnerships with publishers have taken awhile to put into action. But more of these deals will be introduced in 2018, she says.

“I’d like to see the industry get to a point where the trends” tracked in real-time on Wattpad “are being listened to. No one in the industry has as much of a direct reader connection as we do.” The potential, she says, is “to be able to show them, ‘This is what people want,'” to capture new market energy on the way up.

 

These set-and-forget marketing tricks help make books more discoverable

By Mark Coker | Originally published in Publishers Weekly on Nov 17, 2017

 

Marketing is critically important to a book’s success, yet time spent on marketing means less time for writing. Here, I share 10 set-and-forget tips to put an e-book’s most important marketing on autopilot. These tricks work 24 hours a day to make an author’s books more discoverable to readers.

 

1. Add These Three Sections to Your Back Matter

These sections drive sales and build an author’s social media following:

  • About the Author: A short two- or three-sentence bio to humanize the author.
  • Connect with the Author: Listing social media hyperlinks will make it easier for new fans to start following authors and subscribe to their mailing lists.
  • Other Books by This Author: The reader just discovered a new favorite author, so help them find their next read!

 

2. Add a Discussion Guide

It’s great to sell one book to one reader, but if the reader’s a member of a reading group, that could mean even bigger sales. If they see a reading group discussion guide at the end of the book, they’re more likely to recommend the book as for the group’s next read.

 

3. Add Sample Chapters from Other Books

The reader just finished the book, they loved it, and now they’re ready to read more. Let them jump into other e-books by offering generous samples of other titles.

 

4. Do a Sample-Chapter Swap with Another Author

Many indie authors have friends who also write in their genres or categories. Offer to swap sample chapters. Each author places the other author’s sample chapter in the back matter of their books. Be selective. Only swap with quality writers who target the same readership.

 

5. Add Enhanced Navigation to E-books

E-books support a hyperlinked table of contents. If the author adds the enhanced back matter recommended above, they can advertise and link to those sections in the table of contents.

 

6. Make at Least One Book Free

Free e-books get about 30 times more downloads on average than books that cost money, which means that more readers are exposed to the enhanced back matter. Nothing hooks a reader like a free first book, especially for series. Authors who write standalone books should consider running free promotions of priced titles to help introduce first-time readers to their bodies of work.

 

7. Editing Turbocharges Word of Mouth

Good books aren’t good enough anymore. An author only gets one chance to wow a new reader with a five-star reading experience. It’s the five-star read that leads to the ultimate form of autopilot marketing: reader word-of-mouth. To maximize reader satisfaction, hire a professional editor, preferably one with experience editing other books that became bestsellers in the same genre or category. There are multiple types of editing:

developmental editing, copy editing, and proofing. Each is critically important, and none can be skipped. Developmental editing is the most expensive but will have the biggest impact on reader satisfaction.

 

8. Work with Beta Readers

Beta readers are test readers. They read the author’s book prior to publication and provide feedback to help guide the final revision. A properly managed beta round could provide feedback similar to that offered by a developmental editor. To learn how to run a beta reader round, check out my December 2016 column, “Making the Most of Beta Readers,” or listen to Episode 5 of the Smart Author Podcast.

 

9. Occupy Multiple Price Points

Readers harbor pricing bias. One reader’s bias will be different from another’s. Some readers will only try a new author if the book is free, while others will only try the author if the book is priced under $3.99. Other readers will avoid low-cost e-books altogether for fear that lower prices indicate poor quality. By occupying multiple price points, the author can accommodate a wider range of pricing biases so that more readers will give the work a chance. Once the author earns the reader’s trust with one book, price is less of a factor.

 

10. Always Release with a Preorder

Books released as preorders sell more copies because preorders enable more effective book marketing. Much of this benefit is on autopilot. Indie authors can get their books listed for preorder up to 12 months in advance of release. During this entire preorder period, these upcoming titles are merchandised alongside the author’s other books at retailers. It means more months of selling time.

Mark Coker is founder of Smashwords and the host of the new podcast Smart Author.

 

• January 25, 2016

• by Chloe of Written Word Media

The past few weeks have seen some great articles published on what to expect in the publishing world in 2016. If you haven’t had a chance to read Mark Coker’s, founder of Smashwords, or Jane Friedman of Publisher’s Weekly’s forecasts and predications for the coming year, fear not. We have read all of the articles written by industry professionals and top indie authors so you don’t have to. Below we have compiled a list of the trends that will impact indie authors the most, with specific takeaways on how you can best navigate them.

 

1. Indie authors will continue to take up a growing percentage of the market

Mark Coker from Smashwords discussed the growth of indie authored books, which are estimated to compose up to 20% of the book market. Indie books are continuing to take share from traditional publishers due to their consumer friendly pricing – indie titles retail at an average price of $2.99 to $3.99 while traditionally published books retail between $7.99 and $14.99. Readers are factoring price more and more into their purchasing decision and opting for high-quality, lower-priced (usually indie) titles over the more expensive titles put out by traditional publishers. The ability of indie authors to offer their books free, either for a limited time or as an intro to a series, is another advantage indies have over traditional publishers. Free is a very powerful discovery tool and one that readers are using more and more. Traditional publishers rarely offer their books for free, so all new titles and authors that are discovered through free promotions will be indies. All this combines for a growing market share for indies.

What this means for you: Continue to put out quality content at consumer friendly prices. Continue to leverage free promotions to spur discovery and lure readers away from pricey, traditionally published titles. Increasingly your competition won’t be traditionally published authors, but other indies.

 

2. Amazon cracks down on quality of content

As of February 3rd all eBooks offered for Amazon Kindle that have been reported to include typos, formatting issues, or other mistakes that lead to a poor reader experience will be removed from Amazon until the mistakes in question have been fixed. Readers attempting to purchase a title that has been reported to contain errors will be confronted with a message stating “Item Under Review”, and you will not be able to purchase the title.

What this means for you: Finding a great editor and formatter for your eBook just became even more important. There are a variety of repercussions here, including the failure of a marketing plan if your book is taken down in the middle of a paid promotion. Here are our 5 tips to make sure you comply with Amazon’s new guidelines.

 

3. Mobile internet usage continues to grow

Joanna Penn and Jane Friedman chatted about the global shift in internet usage to mobile devices, weighing in on the importance of websites and content that can be read easily on a mobile device. Between 2010 and 2014 smartphone internet usage was up 392%, and that percentage is only going to continue to rise.

What this means for you: Make sure your author website is mobile friendly. If your website is not mobile friendly it will be hard to navigate for up to 60% of your visitors.

 

4. Amazon borrows grow at the expense of sales

More readers are accessing books for “free” through the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (KOLL) and Kindle Unlimited (KU) than ever before. Fortune reports that Amazon Prime is now in 38% of American Households. Prime membership grew by 40 million members in December alone to reach an estimated 80 million people. One of the benefits of Prime membership is access to the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library that allows Amazon Prime members who read through a Kindle to choose one book from the library every month to read free. Similarly, Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service open to both Prime and non-Prime members. When you enroll in KDP Select, your books are automatically included in both Kindle Unlimited and The Owner’s Lending Library. What this means is that as more readers join Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited more and more books are being “borrowed” by readers instead of being bought. If you are not enrolled in KDP Select your book sales may suffer too as Amazon tends to give merchandising priority to books enrolled in KDP Select.

What this means for you: If your book is enrolled in KDP Select, you may see borrows going up at the expense of book sales. We are hearing from KDP Select authors that running a Bargain Booksy promotion has resulted in sales AND an increasing number of borrows, lending credence to this trend. If you are not enrolled in KDP Select, you will need to do all the legwork in promoting your book to readers, since Amazon won’t surface your books for you. You will have to leverage your reader community, social media and deal sites to push your book up the Amazon charts so readers on Amazon have the ability to discover your books.

 

5. Free works as a marketing technique- especially for series

A Smashwords survey found that series, consisting of at least three books, in which the first book is perma-free sold more copies overall. This year we interviewed Mark LeFebvre from Kobo Writer’s Life and he shared that 45%-55% of readers who download a book while it was free and read it, go on to purchase more titles by that author. These readers go on to become some of your biggest fans and paying customers.

What this means for you: If you are publishing a series or multiple series, make the first book in the series permanently free.

 

6. Email marketing is proving to be the most efficient way to drive sales

Traditional publishers and indie authors alike plan to invest time and money on reaching readers directly through email marketing in 2016. This is the most effective way to drive sales of your new titles, since you can control the message and know that you are hitting an audience that cares about your work. There are two email marketing tactics that publishing professionals will deploy in 2016: newsletters and book promotion services. You can only send a newsletter if you have a mailing list, which is why both indies and traditional publishers are investing in building their lists. In addition to growing personal lists, publishers and indies will continue to utilize ebook promotion services that have large lists to drive book sales and revenue growth. BookBub is the largest player in the book promotion space followed by companies like ours (Bargain Booksy, Freebooksy) who are continuing to invest in and grow their lists.

What this means for you: Look up the best promotion sites for your genre and come up with a promotional plan. Stack and stagger promotions to keep those sales rolling in. You should also start growing your own email list. Mailchimp is free until your reach 2000 subscribers, so they are a great place to start managing a list.

 

7. Physical book sales are on the rise

Physical books sales were up in 2015, proving that readers still like the feel of a book in their hands. Many of these books are purchased on Amazon, making offering your book available through print on demand services such as CreateSpace prudent. Additionally, one segment of the reader market that remains difficult for indie authors is placement in brick and mortar stores. We recommend designing and formatting your books for eBook and print, then contacting your local book stores to see if they would like to host an author event and stock your books.

What this means for you: Design your books for ebook and print and list them through CreateSpace in order to reach additional readers who don’t read ebooks. Order copies of your book and bring them around to local book stores; Indie Bookstores are sometimes willing to work with Indie Authors as well.

 

8. The International eBook market continues to grow

The international audience for eBooks is growing. The United States and Canada beat the rest of the world into the eBook trend with almost 30% of readers consuming eBooks. The United Kingdom has long been third on the list of eReading nations, but France, Germany, Italy, and Russia are seeing growth in the percentage of readers who enjoy eBooks.

What this means for you: One way to increase sales this year is to expand your distribution to include countries other than the United States and Canada. Most platforms (Kindle Direct Publishing, iTunes, Kobo) make it easy for you to distribute your book worldwide with a few clicks of your mouse. It’s time to make sure your books are available around the world.

 

9. Readers Cry: “More coloring books and bad boys!”:

Hey, it’s a fact of life that everybody likes to feel good, and what better ways are there to feel good than to sit down with a nice relaxation coloring book or particularly enticing erotic novel? Adult coloring books and erotic romances continue to be popular.

What this means for you: If you’re writing erotic romance, you’re going to see another good year as your genre continues to be very popular. If you’re already publishing coloring books you’re well-positioned to continue cashing in on this trend. If you’re thinking of entering the adult coloring book market, beware, as it is quickly becoming saturated with new players.

 

10. The world is starting to understand Indie Authorship as a choice

For years readers and the press assumed that the indie author was only publishing their works themselves because they couldn’t land a deal with a publishing house. They didn’t seem to understand that many authors were making the choice to stay indie, choosing to laud those who managed to “make it” into a traditional publishing deal. As the publishing industry continues to be watched by the masses, the truth behind the numbers is coming out and readers are starting to understand that being an indie author is often the most lucrative choice. Now we just need to convince the press to pay indie authors their due. Publisher’s Weekly believes that it will take a major news outlet like the New York Times Book Review consistently reviewing indie titles for a full industry shift to occur. Will 2016 be that year?

What this means for you: Keep writing and reach out to local press in your community to review your book.

 

About

Texas Authors, Inc. is a nonprofit organization designed to help Texas Authors learn how to better sell and market their books.

We work closely with our partners DEAR Texas, Inc., and Texas Authors Institute of History, Inc., both nonprofits that have created additional programs and events for Authors.