Post by Abigail D. Hernandez

There is no doubt that the world of publishing is drastically changing, foregoing its traditional publication routes and instead, replacing its techniques with more modern and up-to-date approaches to publishing and marketing books. The introduction of digital media such as Amazon and E-books has made it possible for the business of publishing to flourish at such a rapid pace, that in many instances, traditional publishing houses seem disarrayed in trying to keep up. Present-day modifications are altering the ways in which readers interact and purchase their daily doses of novels and textbooks. They also bring major changes to the ways in which writers and publishers try to present their works in the best possible light.

For hopeful writers and artistic creators, this modernized change may seem overwhelming with an endless array of options presenting themselves for the sole purpose of publishing and marketing books and creations. Yet, from an optimistic standpoint, many hopeful creators can learn and adapt to these changes in order to take advantage of the plethora of opportunities that digital media has paved in the art of modern publication.

Recently, I had the great pleasure of interviewing my Alumni mentor, Jules Hermes, who has worked in publishing and marketing for well over 25 years. With ample experience in publishing, she has generously provided me with helpful advice for any future writers who are hopeful about seeing their work published. I have categorized her advice into three main points that all writers should be aware of, especially if they want to navigate and conquer the world of publishing.

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1. Self-publishing is the Future

Long ago, self-publishing was considered a risky move that would inevitably lead to debt with mediocre success. Now, the whole realm of self-publishing has been restructured with rising media platforms, such as Wattpad, taking center stage and dynamically changing the ways in which people seek to publish their own works. Hermes reveals that most big publishing houses now look on such media platforms to identify the most popular digital works, many of which are published and sold in popular bookstores, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Self-publishing also allows the writer to have more control over their work by cutting out the middleman or literary agent. Many writers are now seeing a rise in their income due to a much bigger turnover for each copy sold. Hermes wants young authors to understand that publishing on free sites such as Wattpad can actually result in many benefits. As a free marketing tool, it can propel authors to outstanding heights without them having to shovel out money from their own pockets to buy ad space and advertisements online. Self-publishing may seem like a daunting task, but nowadays, creators can instantly access digital platforms that allow them to jumpstart their writing careers—with a lot more control in the hands of the writer.

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2. Always Write for a Specific Audience

It’s no secret that writers should be aware of who they are writing for and what specific audiences are attracted to their style of work. First-time authors probably won’t have the necessary cash to shell out mounds of advertisements for their works. In which case, the best form of advertisement comes from word of mouth, where readers recommend works to other readers. Word-of-mouth recommendation is made easier by such sites as Goodreads, where it is easy for an avid reader to match a genre of writing they enjoy with specific authors or various book recommendations that fall under a specific category.

Since book recommendations play a big role in what type of books are generally successful, future authors should be aware of what specific genres are the most popular within a certain category. However, Jules relayed to me a hard truth: if you can’t convince people to buy what you write, you’ll have to write what they want to buy.

In general, certain genres seem better suited for self-publishing. Genres of self-help and nonfiction books are usually an easier sell since they can tap into a market need that is almost unquenchable. If future writers want to work in the genre of fiction, works that appeal to a built-in fan-base are usually more pampered for success. Trilogies and duologies in science fiction or fantasy tend to sell better than strictly literary titles since the arc of a story can slowly progress between two to three publications, giving it a greater chance of attracting a fandom.

Writers should ultimately focus their attention on one specific genre instead of switching back and forth between different styles of writing. Strictly sticking to one specific genre will actually help an author in advancing and crafting their writing style to suit that genre. Writers should also have a clear sense of what an audience expects to read within a certain genre and what trends or clichés need to be refreshed in order to really grip the audience’s attention for the full length of a novel.

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3. Be More than Just a Writer

The last piece of advice I received from my mentor was to become more than just a writer.

Inspiration for writing can bestow itself in many forms including inspiration from digital outlets like television, movies, and music. Hermes emphasizes the need for people to step out of their comfort zone and confront everything life has to offer. Hopeful authors need to network, go to events, listen to speakers, travel to distant places and interact with different kinds of people in order to broaden their viewpoint on life. Getting out of your comfort zone will not only gain you valuable contacts and networking, but it could also lead to new ideas or a new path that could lead to some additional success. Author events and conferences are great ways to connect with like-minded people in the industry and to also receive publishing or writing advice from experienced industry professionals. Becoming more than just a writer will definitely take some time since there is much more to experience than there is to write about. Yet, being a writer is one of the most important professions that utilize all kinds of experiences to retell a story through the eyes and control of an author—a job unlike any other!

The world of publishing can seem scary and confusing at times, especially for new and aspiring authors. Nevertheless, it is possible to conquer such a business and succeed while still having complete ownership and control of ones written work and creative compositions. Writers need to remember to be confident in their own work and after that, almost anything is possible.