Interview with Keith Ogorek, Author Solutions
PUBSLUSH speaks with Keith Ogorek, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Author Solutions, about the publishing revolution, indie publishing, marketing tips for authors, and the future of publishing.
PS: What role do you play, apart from Author Solutions, in the publishing revolution?
KO: I actually started as a consultant at Author Solutions because I was an author who had used the services of AuthorHouse and the president of the company at the time asked my opinion about their marketing. So my engagement in the indie publishing revolution began as an author, which I would be even if I didn’t work for the company. That experience though has helped me in my role at ASI because I believe it gives me insight into the challenges, fears and triumphs that come with those brave few who have the tenacity to finish a manuscript and put it out there for people to judge.
PS: What role does Author Solutions play in the publishing revolution the industry is currently experiencing?
KO: I like to say that we didn’t necessarily start the revolution, but we have been the most passionate advocate for it. I wrote a whitepaper four years ago titled The Next Indie Revolution, which suggested publishing was going through a change that we had already seen in film and music. Since then we have spoken about it at numerous conferences and have published other whitepapers and videos that have promoted the idea of the indie revolution and its benefits. In fact, when Harlequin was vilified by the Romance Writers Association for launching a self publishing imprint, our CEO released a video that pointed out the indie revolution was great because it created more opportunity for authors and more choice for readers. How could that be a bad thing?
PS: How would you describe “indie book publishing” vs “self publishing”?
KO: Some may argue, but I would suggest we were the ones who started using the term “indie publishing” as a substitute for “self publishing”. As I mentioned earlier, I actually wrote a white paper to make that point. So in practice, there is no difference between the words. They describe an author who invests his or her resources to get the book into the hands of readers. However, even though there is no difference in the action associated with the words, the connotation and perception between the two is significant. The fact is when a person invests their own time and resources to professionally package their content and distribute to an audience that is “indie”. The problem was that term was only being used for film makers and musicians, but not authors. In fact, if a film maker or band invested their own resources to produce a finished work, they were thought to be cool and respected. If an author, did that, they were a second class citizen. That didn’t make any sense, which is why we began to talk about authors who “self-published” in reference to film makers or musicians and not traditionally published authors. We have been consistent in that message and slowly, the perception and connotation of self publishing changed from a lesser choice to something that is respected. It has been amazing to watch and actually quite fun I might add.
PS: What’s your advice for aspiring authors who feel they have the talent, but aren’t sure the next step towards publication should be?
KO: I get asked this question a lot so I have done a webinar, titled, Six tips on how to get published. It is available on the Author Learning Center www.authorlearningcenter.com . But the short answer is make sure you are clear on who the audience is for your book and what your goals are. Then invest in editing to make sure your book is as good as it be. Finally, understand the differences between DIY indie publishing, assisted indie publishing and traditional publishing. Then based on your goals, talents and budget, choose the best publishing option and get your book in the market. No reason to die with a manuscript in your drawer.
PS: How can an author best market themselves and their book?
KO: I hate to do this for two questions in a row, but I do webinar titled, Seven Secrets of Successful Self Published Authors and cover this topic in more detail, but I think the most important thing an author needs to do is have a clear picture of who the audience is for the book. Without that, you can waste a lot of time and money and never connect with readers. So assuming you know who your audience is, I would make sure you have a social media presence. I am a big advocate for having a blog and using something like Feedburner to push it out to all the other platforms. I would also think about where the audience for the book might congregate and think outside of just selling in bookstores. That way you can create a groundswell for your book because word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool there is. CS Marks is an author who has done that well. She has a fantasy trilogy that has sold tens of thousands of copies. It is well written, but she really knows her audience.
PS: Where do you see publishing heading in the next couple of years?
KO: It is absolutely the best time in history to be an author and the most unsettling time to be a publisher. So I think in the next few years, we will see traditional publishers accelerate their interest in self published books and they will look for alternative revenue streams. Agents will become more coach and less sales person for authors. They will try to remake themselves as author advocates and in many cases point authors to self publishing first to build a following. While chain book stores are in decline, well conceived independent book stores will thrive and expand. The key is they are not just a bookstore. They are a gathering place for the community and so they embrace book signings and all types of authors. A great example is the booksandbooks stores in the Miami area. They are run by Mitch Kaplan and they are a vibrant enterprise. Hollywood will look to indie published authors more and more for potential ideas to adapt for film and television. Bloggers who vet books and are well respected by an audience will become even more influential in purchases. And let’s not forget digital. It is a trend that moved very quickly and made book buying an impulse purchase. I think we will continue to see e-book sales increase, while hard cover will become available only in libraries and for collectors.
Thanks, Keith. It was a pleasure speaking with you!