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6 Ways Readers and Writers Can Make A Difference for the Publishing Industry in 2017.

1. Writers - Be serious about your craft.

Like many authors, I spend the greatest portion of my life emerged in writing and the book community. I love creating characters that breathe, and settings that transport my readers into my pages. Readers rely on us to create quality books, well-thought out stories that keep them engaged and transport them out of reality for a time, which is exactly what they deserve. Many authors take this seriously, but undeniably, there are those who only look at publishing as a revenue stream, and not as a serious craft. For those of us who breathe and bleed words, this is heartbreaking to witness.

2. Readers -Don't buy books you haven't vetted, no matter how low the price.

I hate to see readers wasting their money or impulse one-clicking on books that just end up lost in a sea of unread books on their readers. I don't know any author who writes a book to NEVER have it be read. It doesn't help authors be successful, and it ends up being a waste of money for readers.

3. Writers - Appropriately value your own work.

Over saturation has taken it's toll, and it's more and more difficult to make a living writing books. Writers are having more sales, releasing more titles at $0.99, and offering more free books. Sales and loss leaders can be good when it's a promotion designed to reward loyal readers or find new ones. But, when I see writers at NYT Bestseller-level releasing a new book for less than a dollar, I cringe. This is a book they have spent weeks or more likely, months, writing. Money is spent on editing, professional covers, formatting and promotions. This is a career. Treat it like one by pricing your books based on what you have invested in them.

I get it, times are tough, but if you don't value your own books, you can't expect your readers to value them. Only we can change the expectations of readers. There are only 100 places on the NYT and just 150 on the USA Today bestseller lists... so a low price isn't going to improve your chances of landing on one. Not when 70,000 books a month are published on Amazon, alone.

4. Readers - Expect to get what you pay for.

Chances are if you take a minute or two to scan the sample pages or learn more about an author, you won't mind paying a fair price for a book. Even better, you won't spend money on books you'll never get around to reading. What's a better bargain; five $0.99 books you forget about, or one $4.99 book you adore and read over and over?

Like I mentioned before, authors routinely have sales, freebies and giveaways to reward their readers and we want to give you things when it's possible, but you shouldn't expect it. If your favorite authors can't make a living at writing, they might stop publishing, and that would be a tragedy. If you're willing to pay $5 for a slice of pizza or a cup of coffee, it shouldn't be too much to ask for a well-written, well crafted, well-plotted, full-length novel.

5. Writers - Don't put all your books into one basket.

We've already seen the effects indie publishing has had on the traditional market: forcing big publishing houses to merge, small publishing houses out of business, and brick and mortar stores closing their doors forever. So think about one giant ebook publisher trying to own the market by refusing to let their authors participate unless they agree to pull their book from every other sales platform worldwide. Also, you'll never land on a bestseller list if you are enrolled in KU. Most of the lists require sales across all platforms, and that isn't possible with the exclusive clause.

6. Readers - Realize that subscription services aren't all they seem.

Kindle Unlimited is an amazing thing. Read all you want for $9.99 a month! This is awesome if you're a ferocious reader, but not all of the books you want to read will be available. At least, I hope they won't. Monopolies in any industry are bad because they destroy competition, and it will be no different in the literary world. If readers have only one place to buy, or authors have only one place to sell... we'll have even bigger problems than a saturated market.

This is what happens when that occurs: A. Pricing control is taken away from from authors. B. Readers end up paying more for books as prices increase and subscription rates increase. C. Royalty rates get slashed.

We all need a viable and vibrant marketplace in order to keep our shelves and eReaders filled with quality and engaging books. When we, as writers, are committed to quality and smart about how we go to market, and we, as readers, value what we choose to read, it's a win for everyone. Let's all play our part in 2017 and beyond.

Have a Happy and Blessed New Year filled with reading great books!

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