True or false: Cell-phone subscriptions almost equal the number of people on this earth.

Yes it’s true! We’re talking about billions of people here. Mobile data users’ traffic has been doubling year after year and has been measured as 12 times greater than total internet traffic. With an anticipated growth rate at 66% each year, we take publishing on mobile devices seriously, especially with the increase in the use of ever smaller devices like smartphones, with screens too small to read books effectively.

Even though the story is an ancient art form, the rate of change in how to deliver your story is accelerating. The great migration to mobile devices is more than well underway; so how do authors adapt to grow new readers for books in the huge and growing mobile phone audience? By adding your voice early, fortifying your mobile author platform presence, and finding ways to increase your mobile and audio exposure, you’ll increase your audience for your writing and books.

Herein lies good news for authors: the massive amount of downloads on smartphones is opening new doors to connect with audience in new ways. A growing number of publications is available for download on mobile devices by authors and publishers who are already reaching out and growing their numbers of sales through smartphones.

 

Why Did Audible Sell to Amazon for $300 Million in 2012?

Does Amazon see the future growth of audio books as a solid reason to spend this whopping sum for an audio books division? The answer is “Yes”.

Thanks to mobile devices, a new pattern of reading is emerging. The New York Times, Fortune Magazine and the Wall Street Journal have all noted that mobile devices are changing the nature of book readers. Readers like the convenience of listening to either small portions or in long spurts on mobile devices whether they are commuting, working out, cooking dinner, or falling asleep. This is a far cry from settling down with a long paper novel on a winter’s night.

Readers are consuming books in new ways with mobile devices and connectivity. We demand more choices now, and enabling technologies are emerging to meet the demand. For example, Audible gives readers the choice to switch back and forth, in one moment listening to audio and in the next moment reading words from the same book in ebook format to suit our mood.

Audio books and app downloads on mobile devices are continuing to dramatically increase. Per the APA (Audio Publisher Association) audiobooks sales are increasing faster than ebooks., and Apple alone has acknowledged that 50 billion apps were downloaded since the App Store opened in 2008.

Here are easy ways for authors to deepen connection with the growing mobile audience.

 

First, Use the Author Platform Checklist for Mobile Devices…

Increase your findability with your mobile audience as readers search for topics and books that interest them and appear in all the places your mobile audience is most likely to hang out.

1. Optimize your blog and author and book web sites for smaller mobile devices.

Too many authors get lost by forgetting to optimize for mobile devices. Small screens are a big consideration in creating your sites and blog. Reduce sites to a simple design and then search for your own sites on your mobile phone. Test your sites on your phone; if they don’t work right, you’re missing out on a large percent of potential viewers. We recommend using WordPress to create sites that fit all mobile devices.

2. Create a separate email address for web site contacts and blog comments.
Interaction with readers will happen a lot quicker if you’re able to check emails easily on your mobile phone and respond to audience emails while you’re stuck at an airport, on public transport, or standing in line at the checkout stand with time to kill. Those “found moments” add up.

3. Install the Big Four social network apps on your mobile phone.

When it comes to building platform, take the easy route to “succeed in the feed”. Check in and connect with your audience wherever you are and share items and thoughts you know your readers are interested in quickly without waiting to get to a laptop.

4. Increase YouTube and Vimeo presence.

Create book trailers and upload videos and appearances to the video sharing sites. People love passively watching video on mobile phones as entertainment and “edutainment” so increase the chances your readers will connect with you via video on their mobile phones.

5. Fully load your information on the big bookselling sites like Amazon.

Too many authors forget that Amazon is a billboard to the world, so be sure to load your Author Central presence with more than your bio; include your Twitter feed, blog links, video links, and media review comments.

 

…Then, Use the Power of Headphones

There is nothing better than a pair of headphones plugged into your mobile phone to reach your readers’ ears in a direct and personal way. Here are top three ways that authors and publishers are adapting to the huge, growing, and actively listening mobile phone audience through audio versions and adaptations of books.

Not Your Grandma’s Audio Book

Companies like Audible, GraphicAudio, Scribd (digital subscription plan) Skybrite (streaming audio) are growing in sales and offerings. Check out announcements on newly created audio formats for books like the new “Starling Project” an audio with no printed book, with parts acted out by actors and accompanying sounds. Read more about it in the NY Times: “An Art Form Rises: Audio without the Book”

Podcasts as Online Radio: What is Old is New Again
Online radio for authors via podcasting is on the rise and is fast growing as a popular format for consuming books. Podcasting by authors is steadily growing with a number of successful book podcasts. Recently the successful “Serial” broke new records on listening audiences. This true crime story is presented in episodes created by the producers of NPR’s “This American Life.”

Over 5 million downloads over a 6 week period indicates a trend. In the coming year, GraphicAudio will be releasing a few original podcast series including a fantasy and a Western crime story in installments, with accompanying sounds.

 

Mobile Apps: Better, Bigger, and More Empowering Than Web Sites

Check out authors and publishers who have created apps. You can read more about these publishers’ apps at:

Penguin/Random House App: “The Volumes”

Bloomsbury, Disney, HarperCollins Children’s Apps

Hero Universe, a division of MindCures Self-Help/Accelerated Learning

MindCures is a rising company to watch, with a growing list of health/success/wellness Apps based on successful books. These apps are not book duplicates: instead, they are a scripted into a series of affirmations that overcome mental resistance, helping us to build a business, a better life, and even an author platform!

Our own newly created app adaptation is about to be released for our print book: Build Your Author Platform: The New Rules. Our app is designed to help authors to overcome any and all resistance to building platform. We’re thrilled to share the same app shelf as apps created from successful authors’ books by such authors as Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Stephen Covey, and Jack Canfield.

 

The Future: Arriving at a Quickening Pace

As a Literary Agent in the fast paced publishing world, I have to think ahead. My thoughts live at least a year from the time an idea is generated to the time a book is released. At my desk, there’s no “today” in real time; it’s all about next year. I’ve learned this especially from the tech author clients I’ve worked with for decades, and now examine all ideas through the lens of the future. We just need to get there before anybody else arrives!

So climb into this mindset for a moment and take a look at the IDC report issued today.

You’ll find current technology trends and their predictions report for 2015 indicating a“quickening pace” of people moving from the older technologies to replace them with newer ones, especially mobile devices and social networks. As author platform builders, we intend to get there quickly, welcoming our readers as they arrive.