Interview: Vahe Arabian @ State of Digital Publishing & Seek An Audience

Happy Monday, readers!

It’s been a while since I’ve interviewed someone in the business (publishing), and Vahe Arabian actually reached out to me first to be featured as a digital publishing expert in an interview on his site. You can read my interview by clicking HERE. And since I felt so honored, I wanted to respond in kind and feature him and his work on my blog.

It’s an exciting time, as ever, in digital publishing, and Vahe is taking advantage of the ever-changing landscape by building a network for those in the industry and interested in joining it. So, check out my interview with him below, and then go check out his site and join the growing network!

 

Tell us about your startup–State of Digital Publishing & Seek An Audience. Why did you start it and how did you start it?

 

When I was in university, I had the opportunity to intern at a startup comparison site (now Australia’s leading one that has also expanded overseas) and it excited me to see how they were building their audiences and brands.

Deep down, I knew I wasn’t as passionate in the topic(s) they were publishing, and so I continued my career in SEO & Content strategy consultancy within startup agencies. After 8 years, I’ve decided to pursue my digital media/publishing career and business through the inception of the State of Digital Publishing Network.

The State of Digital Publishing Network consists of State of Digital Publishing, an online publication which aims to provide professionals perspectives and actionable news/insights within the digital media and publishing industry, whilst Seek An Audience is the community supporting discussion, collaboration and discovery of new media and technology.

State of Digital Publishing originally started out as a blog, and I decided to start it for self-development purposes, but since switching to it full-time, I am genuinely trying to build it as a dedicated digital media/publishing editorial brand. Other brands also focus on media and advertising or just digital publishing (book publishing and design), but there are enough developments within this space worth covering it alone.

Within the first few months of State of Digital Publishing, I was surveying people for feedback and came to the conclusion that people were going to dozens of sites in order to find practical information for their day-to-day issues or skill gaps. In addition, the respondents were keen to having a network of contributors where they could ask advice 24/7. And from this, Seek An Audience was born.

 

Why do you feel it’s important to share the State of Digital Publishing and Seek An Audience?

I know how editors and digital media/publishing professionals are under-resourced and “time poor” (Going through the ropes myself currently!), so now, more than ever, it’s important to slow down and really focus on being practical in your audience development efforts.

The skill gap is widening between leading and smaller-sized digital media/publishing brands and startups, due to historically relying on paid media for growth. There are many things each side is doing that the other isn’t across, so it’s important to have an intersection where both sides can meet.

It’s not there yet, but I strive for the State of Digital Publishing Network to be this intersection.

 

You interview many people who are involved in digital publishing in some way. What are some takeaways or even common threads you’ve found so far?

 

It’s really interesting to learn about the interviewees’ background stories and how they got to where they are today.

What I found some of the common threads and takeaways to be are:

 

  • How people can similarly shape their careers based on lifestyle factors or prioritising on family first. This was especially apparent with female editors who have families.

  • The creativity and flair of responses from professionals working in larger media publishing companies and how their networks charged up engagement on State of Digital Publishing.

  • There are so many niches that people specialise in that I didn’t reaslise i.e. Gay Travel. So awesome!

  • The majority of respondents work remotely with basic tools and workflows (particularly Slack). So anyone can do it–it’s all about mastery and persistence!

  • In terms of the passionate problems professionals are trying to address, professionals who work in media publishing companies tend to focus on audience growth or team management problems, whilst remote/self-employed based editors focus on self-promotion or a passionate product or writing project they are working on.

  • The majority of respondents advised professionals starting out in the industry to get their work out there and practice writing ASAP!

 

These people are genuinely passionate in what they do and I’m fortunate to have profiled them (and you as well, Tamar!), especially considering that I have no prior history in working with any of them.

 

What would you say the state of digital publishing currently is?

 

It’s a mix of publishers trying to genuinely find the right content subscription model, with a focus on properly executing media distribution strategies (catering and publishing unique content on platforms instead of pushing it out) whilst automating basic roles and site features that can strengthen the overall content/product quality. All of this is aiming to to develop more sustainable businesses that rely less on advertising.

Last year gave publishers a shock in the system as advertisers experienced further decreasing revenue from advertising with the rise of ad blockers and fake news, but more platforms are providing publisher centric features to help build subscribers within their environments and encourage premium publishing. Snap, AMP and Facebook Instant Articles distributed media strategies have seen mixed results. There are also innovators like the Washington Post who already have AI written 800 general news stories and The New York Times creating an editorial bot to moderate user comments, removing once-required roles.

It’s an exciting time to be a publisher, and I anticipate to see proper segmentation of media brands based on their revenue models within the next few years.

 

How can readers support The State of Digital Publishing & Seek An Audience? Where can we find you?

 

Providing feedback in the type of answers and case studies you are looking at will be absolutely key, as this will allow The State of Digital Publishing network to build a long-term solution for our existing and new readers.

You can find us on the State of Digital Publishing and Seek An Audience sites, respective social media profiles and speaking with other editors and publishers all the time!

 

Is there anything else you have to share with us?  

We’re excited to be building new features and resources within the Seek An Audience community that will help existing users gain better opportunities with finding vendor solutions and network with other professionals within the space.

State of Digital Publishing will also be going down the path of covering unique stories whilst continuing our featured interviews.

So, watch this space 🙂

Vahe Arabian is the Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing and Seek An Audience. His vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and promote their efforts, and his passion is to uncover talent and the latest trends for all to benefit.

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Self Published? Promote Yourself!

Self publishing is now a popular and accessible way to get your work published. There are many positives to self publishing: you can decide everything about the book from the cover artwork, to the page size, to the lettering font, to the publication date.

Compare this with a traditionally published writer, and you will have a lot more leeway in deciding what you want and what you do not want for your book. Publishing houses tend to decide the artwork (with sometimes a little bit of input from you), they decide the publication date, and they also decide on the look and feel of the book as a whole.

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However, publishing houses also do put a lot of work in for you, their author. They will promote your book, get in touch with reviewers, set up giveaways on book websites, and they will also be able to get your book stocked in bookshops big or small. They will also contact literature events and festivals for you, so you can attend these spaces and read your work to an audience.

Self-publishing involves a lot of work from you, and that is something you should be prepared to do in order for your book to be accessed, seen and read by as many people as possible. Of course, you can employ freelancers to market and promote your book for you, but that can involve a lot of money and sometimes will not mean you get the results you want.

A lot of self published authors make the decision to promote themselves. This gives them complete freedom in connecting with other readers and writers, and they can develop a voice of their own on social media.

Websites like Facebook and Twitter are great and unique ways to develop an audience for your work. Facebook allows you to create a separate page from your personal profile where you can make an ‘author page’. This allows you to set up promotions for when you feel ready to, giveaways for when you reach a certain amount of page likes, and is great for blogger outreach – in the sense that you can connect with book bloggers on their personal Facebook profiles, see if they are the right blogger for you, and create a more personal relationship with them rather than just sending them a copy of your book.

Twitter is fantastic at creating instant connection between your readers – and you.Simply by using relevant hashtags, you will gain more followers, and you can also develop a loyal following of fans on there by posting photos, retweeting and voicing your opinion. The more followers you have, the more successful you will look – so get following and sharing!

Self-publishing is now a viable route which many writers are taking very seriously. You solely control your finances rather than a traditional publisher taking a percentage of sales, have the only say on what your book is going to look like, and generally have complete control over absolutely anything to do with your book.

Turn Your Idea For A Book Into A Business

If you have an idea for a book, chances are that you are really excited about the prospect of becoming a published author and joining the echelons of writers who are household names. You are dreaming of the royalty cheques streaming in, making you richer than you have ever been before, and find yourself daydreaming about attending highbrow literature festivals, with venues packed out at the just the whisper of your name. But, of course, you need to find the time to write your book first – and that can mean making some brave and hard decisions.

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It is not uncommon for writers to take breaks from their jobs in order to write a book, or even turn to part-time hours so they can have more time to themselves to write while still maintaining a cash flow. It can be really hard to actually finish a book – starting one can be much easier depending on your creative flow and the way you work – but getting down to finish a book can, indeed, take much longer than you initially planned.

It is also difficult to earn a comfortable living as a writer – let alone a lavish one – so you will need to do all you can to ensure your name is known and that your writing gathers a following. A finished book can take numerous edits and rewrites until is fully formed into the work that you want it to be.

If writer’s block is a problem sometimes, it can be tempting to delete all your work off the laptop, or scrap hard copies of it. Some writers work like this, and it works for them well as they tend to remember a lot of what they have written and adjust and edit it as they start again. Look at Paper Shredder Pros if you are a person who works better from their mind. However, never ever delete any work regardless of how tempting it may seem. Each word, each sentence, each phrase may come in handy one day, so keep all of your writing and even back it up in your computer.

Once your book is complete, it is then up to you to decide whether to self-publish or traditionally publish. Once your book is published, there is a chance you can make good money from it and earn your living that way – therefore, you could eventually turn your idea for a book into your own self-employed business, doing what you love!

Do not be downhearted when you get rejection letters. Every writer in the world has been rejected during their career. Even the most famous writers have received rejections only for their books to become bestsellers worldwide, and some of these books have even ended up holding an important place in today’s literature scene.

If you firmly believe your idea for a book has the potential to be popular and will be received well, then a good and astute piece of advice is this: go ahead and write it.

Building A Strong Reputation For Your First Book

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There are few moments more exciting in the writer’s life than just after you have published your first book. It is also a nerve-wracking time, however, as you are never quite sure just how it is going to go. Sales are not guaranteed, and it can be a challenge to figure out exactly how you are meant to sell it.

Fortunately, there are positive steps that are always available for you to take. As long as you are following these basic guidelines, it is much more likely that your book will get into more readers’ hands. To that end, let’s take a look at some of the best things you can do for the reputation of your book.

Build An Audience First

In many ways, one of the most important aspects of the whole experience is the timing. As long as you get the timing right, you can be sure that your book will at least sell some copies. But what do we mean by correct timing? Most of all, you want to make sure that you as a writer have some kind of audience, even before you publish your book. If you do not have anything in the way of publicized interest, then it is much less likely that people will buy your book.

In order to develop an audience, you can do a number of things. If you are not already active on Twitter and Facebook, make sure you sign up and start interacting. You might also want to gain interest in your local areas by giving readings at local events and the like.

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Image Credit

Design A Stand-out Cover

The old saying about not judging a book by its cover is not really fair – after all, who doesn’t do exactly that when they are scanning the bookshelves? The cover does make a huge difference to whether or not people pick up your book, so you may as well put a lot of effort into getting it just right.

Cover design is a whole art in itself, and a great cover is one which takes both the contents of the book and your personal branding into account. You might also find that using an online service like this Wattpad book cover maker helps to get the cover design for your book just right.

Branding

Personal branding is vital if you want to be taken seriously as an author. This much is clear, and your brand should be reflected in your book in some way. But the book itself should also have a distinct kind of branding attached to it. This simply means that wherever you promote it, you follow the same set of stylistic concerns.

This massively increases your chances of the book being considered as a viable option for purchase. If you are unsure on how exactly to market your book in this way, then you might want to consider getting some help on that part of the process. It really does make a world of difference.

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Can SEO Help You Sell More Books?

As a publisher or book author, the thought of search engine optimization – SEO – is likely to send chills down your spine. After all, creativity is what you are good at, and the technical aspect of SEO can be daunting, to say the least.

But the truth is somewhat different. Using SEO to sell more books is more straightforward than you might think. And, failure to invest some time and money into being more visible online could stymie your chances of success.

With this in mind, this post will outline what you need to get started in SEO. Let’s get started with some of the basics.

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Picture from pixabay

Answering a Question

The first step in understanding how to approach SEO for books is knowing how people use search engines. While your book is likely to rank highly when people search for its title and your author name, not many will. After all, nobody is going to know your name or your book’s name when you are just starting out.

So, the idea is to think about keywords – the phrases and questions people enter into search engines to find what they are looking for. Brainstorm everything you can think of that touches on your book’s subject matter.

Also, use tools like Google’s Adwords Keyword tool to help you identify popular words and phrases. Once you are done, you should have an extensive set of keywords that you can use on your website, or in your book’s description.

Optimize for all Search Engines

Don’t forget that Google isn’t the only search engine in existence. Sure, it’s vital that you optimize for Google, but you should also consider the likes of Bing and other search engines. Knowing about the latest Google update will be crucial to keep your book ranking high – but other platforms have search engines, too.

If you have an account selling books through Amazon, for example, it is imperative to understand how to rank well for your subject. Lots of self-publishing authors fail to do this, and they are missing out on a lot of potential.

Spreading the Word

Search engines follow links and place a good deal of importance on them. It is vital to get your book out there and in the hands of industry authority figures. Doing so will work in a couple of ways. First of all, if an industry thought leader reviews your book and recommends it to their followers, you will increase your sales.

Secondly, search engines place a high value on getting links from reputable websites. The higher quality of website that is linking to you, the better your rankings will be. Some of the most powerful links are from educational establishments or government websites. While it’s hard to get these links, it is not impossible – and it can have a significant impact on your search rankings.

Investing in SEO

Finally, investing in hiring a reputable SEO firm will pay off in the long-term. They can ensure that your site or sales page is optimized to perfection, while you can focus on your relationships with your audience. SEO is not magic, and anyone can learn how to do it – but it is time-consuming. Choosing the right firm to work with should bring you a good return on your investment. Good luck!