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“ The Times They Are a-Changin' ”

By Robin Cutler

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Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen And keep your eyes wide, the chance won't come again And don't speak too soon, for the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who that it's namin' For the loser now will be later to win For the times, they are a-changin'

This immortal anthem written in 1964 by Bob Dylan at the height of the civil rights movement in the US has been dancing around in my head of late. When I looked up the lyrics, I had forgotten that the second verse specifically calls on writers to not miss this chance. Dylan himself later said, “This is definitely a song with a purpose…I knew exactly what I wanted to say and who I wanted to say it to.” Even though our current time is more than a half century later, I think Dylan’s call to writers to lift, inspire and to tell the human story is even more important today.

The publishing industry has been changing for decades. But what I’m seeing now is a resiliency in the self-publishing segment especially related to traditional publishing models. It’s just easier, more expedient and in a lot of cases, more profitable to write, produce and make your book available through online channels, now that physical stores and libraries in our communities were largely offline during Covid. Many authors are finding success with sites like Bookshop.org (visit https://bookshop.org/shop/ingramsparkbooks) where a portion of each purchase benefits local booksellers ($6 million raised so far). Even big box retailers like Walmart and Target are selling more indie published content right along-side Amazon.

If you are writing and publishing content for a diverse community whether it be related to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic or physical disability, I think today is the best time to find interested readers.

To help your book be discovered by those readers, make sure your metadata (description, keywords and even title and subtitle) are reflective of your subject matter. Writing guest blogs on related sites as well as getting reviews from online and traditional media that pertain to your subject will really help you find your tribe of readers.

Finally, I just want remind self published authors that going forward you should just know that things are going to take longer than they did before so plan to always keep a 3-month supply of your books on hand. Don’t schedule any events or publicity until at least a month after your book is available and you have a supply of inventory. I see this through the end of 2022 so as the holiday season looms, don’t wait until the last minute to place your order.

The State of Publishing: Challenges, Innovations and What's To Come

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