Apple has just bought a digital-publishing start-up, in what look like the next step in a shift towards more focus from Apple on content-sales. Good news for all of us.
This latest acquisition is aimed at the magazine market and will likely be integrated into the iAuthor ebook creation tool, or run alongside as a dedicated e-magazine creation tool, allowing small publishers and individuals to produce e-zines of comparable quality to the content currently available from the big players.
E-zines are an area in which indie authors would do well to invest some serious thought.
Not ideal for everyone, but for many – especially those planning image-rich non-fiction, etc – a periodic e-magazine (quarterly, for example) would be a great way to reach a new readership who are regular magazine readers but not so heavily invested in reading books.
Apple already has the software to make great illustrated books, and for those using them it should be a small step to producing e-magazines, especially when this new acquisition is integrated.
But other authors should not feel left out.
Consider: we all pay out for covers for our ebooks, and many of us invest substantial sums finding a graphics artist who can deliver a bespoke cover that embraces a character or theme.
The next step is to get closely involved with that cover artist and develop a bevy of bespoke illustrations that reference the characters, locations and events in the story.
This is especially ideal for fantasy and sci-fi, of course, but equally applicable across any genre, and particularly valuable for a series, or where building an eco-system where different series – even in different genres – are linked, affording a bridge for readers to cross genre with the author.
This can be done as a one-off on a website, for example, but only existing readers will know about it.
Pinterest is the next step up. A lot of authors use Pinterest to promote their book covers. But very few use it to promote their book’s content in a visual way. An opportunity missed.
But stepping beyond that, think about a quarterly e-magazine.
For any author with multiple titles, having a graphics designer on hand to provide consistent-quality and consistent-style illustrations would open many doors.
Most obviously your ebook readers would want to buy the e-zine. Magazines are marketed in a separate sphere from ebooks, so your e-zine will reach a new audience who may then buy the ebooks.
For writers in genres like fantasy in particular this might open the doors to comics and games based on your created world. And of course having a breakout game on your hands could make you forget all about writing books!
But for all authors there are serious opportunities ahead.
For example, writers could open up to fan-fiction and fan-art, and use this to provide content for the e-zine. No payments made, of course, but the contributors get full credit and a free ride to be seen before all your readers. If your readers like their work they can then buy the contributor’s own stuff. Obviously you have total editorial control, so the only material that would be allowed through would be approved by you.
And it doesn’t just need to be existing fans of your ebooks. If you are producing a non-fiction journal about animals, for example, these are pretty much guaranteed to find a very receptive audience among magazine readers. And many of these readers – readers who will have never seen your books – will have their own animal stories and photos to share. At least some will be good enough quality to use as content for the next issue.
And of course anyone who does get included will be sharing like crazy among their friends and e-contacts when the new edition is published.
For authors of books aimed at younger readers, again, the opportunities are endless. Not least inviting the young readers to submit their own drawings and thoughts on the book and characters. They and their parents will be delighted, and in a school environment word of mouth and ease of e-transmission could see your e-zine gain new readers in leaps and bounds.
But the same goes for books across all genres. Anything from romance to diet books, from erotica to cookery, from thrillers to history books.
And so much cross-over potential. All that research for your thriller set in Cold War Prague, your cozy mystery set in Barbados, your thirteenth century historical romance, or your dystopian sci-fi epic about climate change could find a receptive home, while also letting you test interest in new projects. And of course slipping in a mention for other books you may have in other genres.
Yes, you can do all this on a website or blog, but who will see it that doesn’t already know your books, and how will that add to your earnings?
E-zines bridge that gap, boosting your income and boosting your reach and readership.
Don’t dismiss the idea out of hand because you haven’t the time or skills to do it yourself. Just like with formatting and cover design, there are plenty of people who can and will for a one-off fee.
Or consider this: try putting the word about on graphic design sites and the like that you are looking for artists willing to help develop your fantasy novel (or whatever) on a profit-share basis. They’d do most of the hard work, and probably have the design expertise too to take it to completion.
If you offered a 60-40 or even a 70-30 in their favour on all net proceeds from the project (not from your existing ebooks, etc, just the stuff they work on) you’d likely get a lot of interest and have very little to do yourself.
It’s a great deal for them ,earning more than you, so giving them every incentive to go that extra mile. And for you it’s 30%-40% of something, rather than the 100% of nothing you are earning right now in this format.
We’ve mainly referencing Apple here because of the ease in which you can already create e-zine style ebooks with Apple software, but ebooks and e-zines are not the same thing, though Apple is closing the gap.
But once you have the Apple version done it will then be a lot easier to create (or pay someone to create for you) a version compatible with Amazon’s e-magazine store and the epub magazine stores of the other key digital players like Nook, Google Play, etc. And you can also put them direct on web-sites yourself either free or with paid access.
Beyond this there are the specialist e-magazine retailers like Magzter and Scoop which have global reach and open up vast numbers of potential readers you won’t come close to by just being in the ebook stores.
Don’t get trapped into the rut of an ebook-only existence. We are witnessing, and are party to, far more than just an ebook “revolution”. We are witnessing, and are party to, a global New Renaissance.
POD and audio are two obvious ways in which indie authors can reach new audiences who may never read a digital book, but there are plenty of others.
E-zines are one of them. More on other options at a later date.
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