Writers' Forum - December 2023

Survey Results: The State of Indie Authorship

Word of the Year 2023

Best Book Marketing Articles in 2023

2024 Literary Calendar


Survey Results: The State of Indie Authorship

The Written Word Media survey is in . . . with more than 2,000 responses, this is their biggest sample ever. It’s divided into sections and provides key information on author income, book marketing, book pricing, cover design, how authors distribute their books, and more. This is quite the treasure trove of information.


Word of the Year from Merriam Webster

The word of the year is ‘authentic.'  Other words that stood out throughout the year are also noted in this article:

rizz, deepfake, coronation, dystopian, EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony), X (as in the social media platform formally known as Twitter), implode, doppelganger, covenant, indict, elemental, kibbutz, and deadname.

The Best Book Marketing Articles

Both BookBub and well-known book publicity guru Sandra Beckwith (BuildBookBuzz) have listed their most popular book marketing articles of the year. Many of these have been featured throughout the year in the Writers’ Forum but are included here in one tidy bundle for you to bookmark.

BuildBookBuzz Best Marketing Articles of 2023

Top Book Marketing Articles from BookBub in 2023

2024 Literary Calendar

I love getting this in my inbox every December from Sandra Beckwith! You won’t want to miss her Comprehensive 2024 literary calendar that showcases 163 opportunities for supporting reading and writing.

The Latest on AI in the Writing and Publishing World

Is There an Ethical Way to Use AI Writing

Jonathan Bailey’s article for PlagiarismToday asks a very important question, and one I think we might be asking ourselves for years to come as AI becomes more and more prevalent in programs and online systems or social media platforms that we use on a regular basis. This article is definitely worth a read HERE.

Audible’s Virtual Voice is Flooding the Market

Brian’s Book Blog has a comprehensive looks at how packed the audible market is getting with books narrated by virtual voice – that is AI. When the author of this article was searching for a book on Audible and had to slog through tons of AI narrated titles, he took note and decided to compile some data. I like his recommendation that shoppers should be able to be able check a box to allow them to have a choice in seeing or not seeing AI narrated books. Interesting dive into the data overall.

In a related article – Kare Commins (more than a year ago) penned this article in defense of ‘real narrators’ for audiobooks on how narration is “Much More than ‘Just Reading’.”

Meta Used Copyrighted Books for AI Training Despite Its Own Lawyers’ Warnings, Authors Allege

Katie Paul writing for Reuters details how chat logs of a Meta-affiliated researcher on Discord potentially show that Meta was warned by its lawyers that its use of a library of book for AI learning/programming may not be protected by U.S. copyright law. 

Add a Luke Skywalker Moment to Give Your Main Character a Bitter Choice

Using a relatable Star Wars analogy, Janet Fox pens this educational post for Jane Friedman’s blog. It’s really brilliant advice on “how you can create a truly memorable story by giving your main character a righteous motive, a flaw, and a series of escalating decisions leading to the balance edge of an impossible choice.” Read it here. 

Five Questions to Ask During Chapter One Revision

Kristen Overman gives us these tips on the Good Story blog asking five essential questions for chapter one revisions AFTER you’ve written your entire first draft: "Where does your story truly begin?” * “What do we need to learn from chapter one?” * “How do you introduce the character?” * “Do you back into the story?” (this means information loading) * “How much backstory should you use?” And so much more – this is a really excellent set of tips to make your first chapter grab the reader’s attention immediately.

Agents and Editors Aren’t Always Right About Market Potential

Jane Friedman’s article that follows one particular author’s path to publication shows how the publishing industry is overly focused on past sales as a predictor of future success, particularly in the nonfiction arena. This is a fascinating look overall at how traditional publishing isn’t keeping up with industry shifts.

Direct Sales with Book Vault

Direct Sales have been one of the hottest topics this year for indie authors. Alex Smith discusses the process on Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Show. Read the transcript here or watch below. 

Aggregation with Publish Drive and AI Survey

Another podcast from the Self Publishing Show dives into Publish Drives aggregator services and why you might like to use them, as well as how they’re planning a year-long survey on where authors sit on the use of AI. Check it out here. 

Information for Authors about Spotify’s New Audiobook Service

Subscribers to Spotify Premium can now “stream up to 15 hours of audiobook content per month from a catalog of over 200,000 titles.” Immediately, my question was how are authors going to get paid, because we all know that musicians / musical groups get paid very little for the listens on Spotify.  Luckily, at least so far it appears that Spotify is paying for each audiobook as a ‘purchase’ with the ebook royalty earned based on the contract the author has with their publisher. The sale being triggered when a listener gets to between 10 – 20% of the book’s content.  Hope that lasts!

How to Find Time for Book Promotion

Sandra Beckwith provides another great piece of advice . . .  can you tell I’m a fan?? You should be, too! This is an essential article for the end of year when we’re making resolutions on what we’re going to do better in 2024.  She gives 8 tips for how make time for book promo . . . I think the best advice on this list as to create your social media posts in batches and be willing to hire someone to do some of the easier tasks. See if her other six tips can get you on the right track in 2024.

The Best BookBub Ads of 2023

I love checking out what’s worked best for author ads on BookBub. I have had varying degrees of success on that platform, but I’ve yet to really knock it out of the park with any of my ads. I’m going to bookmark this article for my next attempt and see what I can replicate for my own books. One thing I’m already noticing is that they all have a good summary or review line that lets the reader know exactly what they’re getting with the book. See what you think of these ads here: 


Social Media Network Report Card from Chuck Wendig

He subtitles his article as follows -- Translation: I’m on Threads Now.  LOL This is a fun/funny look at the different platforms  . . . including why he’s on Threads now instead of X/Twitter. Also, there’s a brief discussion of Bluesky, Mastadon, Instagram and others.

X Remains Primary Social Media Platform for Publishers

The Bookseller blog says publishers indicate that X/Twitter is still their primary platform for engagement while they are branching out to Threads, Bluesky, and Mastadon. At the moment, I remain on Twitter as well because I’m in the middle of my agent query search and I often find discussions there on manuscript wish lists and other relevant info I can use in my queries.

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