We’re coming into Thanksgiving week. We all have plenty to be thankful for. If you’re an author, you’re living in a time of history when it’s never been easier to reach the world with your message; that in itself is plenty to be thankful for! But let me give you ten specific reasons for authors to be thankful:
- For the first time in history, the world is truly your stage. The Internet has allowed anyone with a message to share it with the world. That’s a lot of people sharing, and it’s not always easy to have your voice heard above the noise, but the fact remains that the world is listening and now you can take the mike! Did I mention that it’s free?
- Companies have invested billions of dollars to help you reach your audience. Google, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Pinterest, and many other companies have invested in communications technology that they let you and me share to reach our audience, and they’re not charging us a dime. That’s something to be thankful for!
- You can work in your pajamas. Thanks to technology (again), for the first time in history you can make a living without going to work. You can create, collaborate, market, produce, sell and get paid all from home via your computer and an Internet connection. Sure the cost of gasoline is high, but why burn it commuting to work? Stay at home, work from home – pajamas are optional.
- You can have a conversation with readers – anywhere in the world. Writing and publishing are all about reaching your readers and creating relationships. Traditionally, authors would need to spend the six months after the publication of a new book traveling around the country to book signings, interviews and speaking engagements. That’s time-consuming and expensive! Today authors can hold virtual book signings, webinars (virtual meetings with your audience), and conduct interviews from home via the Internet with products like Facebook Live, Zoom, Go To Meeting, Skype, and YouTube.
- Industry experts give you free advice. Today’s digital marketing best practice strategy is called ‘content marketing.’ Basically, experts who want to eventually sell you something are happy to help you for free by giving you valuable content (like these weekly author tips). Our belief is that by giving value first, those who eventually need our products and services will come to know, like and trust us when it comes time to buy. Think of it like those free samples they hand out at the warehouse clubs, only these free samples help you sell more books!
- Office rent is free! Like we said earlier, technology has made it possible for us to make a living at home in our pajamas. But what if we don’t want to stay home? What if we need to get out to go to work? Not a problem! How many restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, and other public venues offer free wifi access and a place to do business just for showing up? I picked up one of our designers at the airport a few months ago and we stopped at a Starbucks. It was about 10 AM and I was amazed at the people, latte, and laptop in hand, who simply set up shop for the day at a Starbucks table. My designer said Starbucks was his office back home; he dropped his wife off at her traditional workplace and drove to the Starbucks across the street to begin his design work for the day. Maybe the rent isn’t free, but it can be had for the price of a coffee … or a Mocha Frappuccino.
- Really cool tools make your work easy. If you’re old enough to remember typewriters and public libraries you know you never want to go back to the stone age of being an author. Not only can we write and edit on electronic devices from desktops to cell phones (I know an author who wrote his first book on his cell phone during his daily train commute to NYC), the research sources of a thousand public libraries are a few keystrokes away via a simple Google search. Great software like Scrivener, Evernote and Liquid Story Binder designed specifically for writers helps us organize our research, outline, organize and produce our work from a single platform. How many times have you searched in vain for the piece of research or even your own file that you ‘stashed’ somewhere for later use? How about discovering, after your manuscript is finished, that chapter three really fits better after chapter five? These problems are solved as you go using these writer’s tools.
- You can collaborate with peers and colleagues – for free! Two of the Internet’s biggest Social Media platforms (Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Groups) include the ability to form and join ‘groups’ of colleagues and peers to collaborate on projects or just bounce ideas around. Imagine attending a writer’s group without having to bring cookies or buy coffee! And, since the group meets virtually, you can ‘attend’ on your own schedule. If you’re planning to collaborate with one or more colleagues on a project and you need a common workspace to communicate and keep your work in progress, try Trello project software. It’s powerful, intuitive, easy to use and, yup – it’s free!
- You can print 1 book or 1,000; it’s up to you. There was a day when books were printed exclusively on gigantic ink and paper machines called ‘off-set presses.’ Just the setup cost for an off-set press job ran into hundreds of dollars, making the idea of printing anything less than a thousand books per print run impractical. The result? Unless you could afford more than a thousand books, you couldn’t get your book printed. Today, digital technology allows authors and publishers to print books one a time, if necessary. It’s not as cheap as a thousand at a time, but it’s possible and affordable. ‘Print-on-demand’ companies like LightningSource and Snowfall Press can print one book or a thousand, on-demand and ship anywhere in the world; as a matter of fact, these two companies have multiple print locations so the actual book production takes place in the location closest to your book’s ultimate destination. Want to take ‘print-on-demand’ to the next level? The Espresso Book Machine actually prints books on-demand inside the bookstore in about five minutes, as your reader watches!
- You can sell your book without ever printing a single copy! Until a few years ago, books were made from paper and ink; today they’re made from ideas! Digital technology now allows us to carry a ‘book machine’ anywhere we go via our personal computer, iPad, Kindle or any of the other e-book reading devices available. Even our smartphones can be our own personal book machines. Last year I was changing planes in New York on my way to Tel Aviv. As I walked through the terminal I spotted a new book by a favorite author in the window of the airport bookshop. I didn’t have time to stop, so as I walked I pulled my Kindle from my bag, found and purchased the book from Amazon. The book was downloaded to my Kindle within 30 seconds. I enjoyed the book and the flight. As an author, thanks to e-books in all their formats, your can reach your audience and sell books without ‘printing’ a single page (I bet the trees are happy!).
Well, that’s it, ten reasons for authors (and smart publishers) to be thankful. There are so many things, beyond our work and career to be thankful for; take a moment this week to be thankful.
Have a wonderful holiday.