Friday, September 13, 2013

Technology Offers New Opportunities for Non-Fiction Authors - Online "Mash-ups" - A New Kind of Book?

I have spent a lot of time learning as much as possible about the industry of publishing in general and self-publishing specifically. I am certain I have barely scratched the surface of what there is to learn and the target seems to keep moving.

The first big boon for self-publishers was the advent of the internet along with Amazon, opening the door for self-published authors to have access to customers. Print-on-demand technology combined with a business model relying on POD made self-publishing financially viable for authors.

eReaders were the next big technological shift. It took a while for the device and concept to catch on but Amazon's Kindle has changed things in a big way, making it even easier for authors to publish and sell their work.

More changes are in store, of that I have no doubt. The future will be interesting in the field of self-publishing.

One of the challenges I currently face, and I am not alone, is I am selling more books than ever before, both paperback (POD) and ebook (95% of which are Kindle sales). Yet I am not earning the income I need to earn.

Even with a 70% royalty, I earn less for a Kindle edition than I do for the same title as a paperback. The pricing structure required by Amazon to receive the 70% royalty puts a cap on what I can set as the list price for the book. I am not complaining mind you, just stating a fact.

The pricing structure combined with the fact customers are not willing to pay nearly what the information is worth for in a Kindle book edition, forces lower list prices to generate sales. Again, I am not complaining, just stating the market forces at work for MY BOOKS. I do not want to speculate how market forces are impacting list prices of other authors.

The challenge as I see it, is how do I provide enough perceived value for the information I am selling for the customer to decide the price is in fact a reasonable one for the value received by the customer.

Technology has been the driving, and disruptive, force behind the changes in publishing and self-publishing. It make sense to look to technology for a solution and I believe I have found one, at least for me and possibly other non-fiction authors. It might even be a possible solution for the right fiction author who has the creative vision and technical skill required to pull it off.

On-line "mash-ups." 

Mash-ups are a combination of video with on-screen print information. Think You-Tube with printed information embedded in the screen along with the visual content.

School teachers who teach via distance learning or a lap top schools have been doing this for awhile. Since I teach at a lap top school that offers its summer school classes as "blended courses" (three days on campus and two days via distance) I have some experience in dealing with mash-ups.

It occurred to me this is the approach I need to earn what my non-fiction books are worth. Writing the book is the time consuming part. It can still be sold as a stand alone item or given away as a marketing item in the case of an ebook.

The real value is in the author's knowledge. The online mash-up allows the author to create online "class sessions" while offering downloadable print information at the same time. Even better, the author can offer "action steps" or guided projects to help readers/students through the process of taking the information presented and actually using it.

This is a lot more work than just writing the book. But, it gives the reader/customer much greater access to the author's knowledge base and provides a guided means to actually utilizing the information. 

Yes, it is more work for the author, but this approach dramatically increases the perceived value of the information to the reader/customer, allowing the author sell the information for a much higher price.

How does one go about doing this? You'll have to stay tuned in for a future post on how I am going to do this!