Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Check out this great and data rich article on indie author earnings.  Eye opening!

http://jakonrath.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/me-hugh-howey-and-legacy-john-on.html

It’s been two years since I’ve published a brand new book.  (I kind of had the first line from “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies in my head when I started this post.  Don’t remember it?  Take a second: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7vp28mGD7g).  For 1.5 years of that time, I spent most of it as I think authors hit by “writer’s block” do.  Making excuses but no progress.  (Okay, at this point I had to shut the song off, ’cause there was no way to write this with all that yapping going on).  Finally, like a cruise ship at sea, I started to turn my perspective around.  I started to write again.  Here are two things I learned from that downtime, and that will hopefully help you get through your own when it comes (because it will come):

MAKE PROGRESS AT ALL COSTS

No, General Eisehhower, do not take this too seriously.  Don’t alienate a loving spouse.  Don’t ignore your kid’s functions.  Don’t lock yourself in a room for three months with nothing than a generator and a computer (you need Vitamin D, for Pete’s sake–another aside, who the hell was Pete and why are we thinking about his sake?)  What I mean is do not let excuses get in the way of your writing.  And, what I mean by making progress at all costs is the following.  Keep pushing your next manuscript forward.  Even if you can only muster 100 words a day, keep moving forward.  Stasis is our enemy, as authors.  Set up a Google Drive account and put the text of your next book into a file on your Drive.  Why?  This eliminates the excuse that your book is on a home computer, and you’re on a train commuting to work.  You can open your Google Drive anywhere you can get connected, on any device.  That means you can basically write anytime you want, from anywhere.  It gives a new meaning to the phrase, “Toilet Book,” doesn’t it?  (I feel like putting this into citation format: See Seinfeld, “Toilet Book” episodehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NygOFsExGMU).

All right, you’ve agreed to set aside excuses and to push forward at all costs, yeah?  Good.  Now, what was the second part of my epiphany?

TO BE AN AUTHOR, YOU WILL WORK YOUR ASS OFF

I need you to notice something that is going to make you a bit sad.  I didn’t title this next section, “To be a Successful Author…”  You know why?  Because, even if you work your ass off it doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be successful.  But, I can guarantee you that you won’t be an author, or successful, if you don’t do it.  What do I mean by “working one’s ass off?”  I say the following with a bit of pride, particularly for all of us authors who are still balancing the woes of a “regular” job and writing.  (To those authors that aren’t slaves to the grind of someone else’s dream, and who get to write 100% of their time, I salute you with a kiss blown from a hand that’s holding up a middle finger–hopefully those authors get the love and joking sarcasm that comes from this gesture).  It means waking up before the rest of the world is awake and writing down an idea that couldn’t stand being pent up in your head.  It means holding your smartphone over the side of the bed so that the light of the screen doesn’t wake your snoring spouse while you make edits to your book.  It means that instead of watching the next episode of CBS’s hit de jour, you’re reading books in your genre to perfect your craft.  It means that you will work your ass off, without knowing whether your book will sell, whether a publisher will pick it up, or even if people will like it.  Talk about a leap of faith, huh?

YOU CAN DO IT

(I don’t think I need to reference that one for you, right?)

It’s true, you can do it.  You just need to start.  You need to run the first block, and everyday thereafter take it one block, or even one step further.  I know hundreds of authors that are doing this on a daily basis—and they would all tell you they’re successful, in one way or another.

 

According to this article, Amazon is starting to raise prices on certain types of books.  Why?  Because it can–no competition.  

Read up and let me know what you think: http://www.cnbc.com/id/100866228

I started the AmazonLikes hashtag in August of 2011 out of a pretty simple observation.  There are hundreds of thousands of authors that have published their books on Amazon.  There are thousands of authors that I have followed or have followed me on Twitter.  Yet, I consistently see people struggling to get any “likes” on their book(s).

You may first ask, why does it even matter?

Good question.  It matters because there are hundreds of thousands of ebooks on Amazon.  Millions of paperbacks.  How do you sort through big lists when you have to?  Easily identifiable markers.  So, on Amazon, what are those markers?  For a book, it’s the cover image first, then the review ranking, then the number of “likes.”  To answer your question then, if the number of likes is the third most important thing people use in considering whether to consider your book further, should you ignore that?  To analogize that to something, such as sports, do you think a good pitcher in baseball will focus on their first two types of pitches, but ignore their third and fourth?  Nope.  Not a good one, at least.

So, if you’ve bought into the importance of the number of “likes” on your book’s page, then read on.  If you’re still a skeptic, best of luck to you.

With that framework in mind, I set about to figure out a way to increase likes on books.  There were already groups in Goodreads and elsewhere that focused on the venture.  I participated in those groups, but I found a couple things out.  First, people don’t reciprocate as well as they should.  Second, the groups were rather small in nature (i.e. 20-40 authors) so the number of likes that could be obtained was limited.  Sitting at a small desk at a hotel room, and talking to an awesome author named D.A. Graystone (check out his book Two Graves), I came up with the idea for #AmazonLikes.  

For people unfamiliar with it, here’s how it works.  You create a tweet that includes your book’s title, the link to it on Amazon, and the hashtag #AmazonLikes.  That’s it.  You tweet it.  Because you have included the hashtag #AmazonLikes, the post immediately goes into the hashtag stream.  This means that if you perform a search for “#AmazonLikes” on Twitter, your tweet as well as hundreds of others from authors doing the same thing pop up.

Getting it now? :)

What #AmazonLikes has created then, is a stream of authors tweeting their book’s link to each other.  People that participate can simply click on those links, like the books, and go to the next one.  If we do something SIMPLE, like going into the stream and liking 1-3 books a day, the results can be tremendous.

That’s where you come in!

Tweet your book’s link to #AmazonLikes.  You don’t have to ask someone twice to do something beneficial to them.  So, what I’ll ask twice is for you to get into that stream and help other indie authors out.  Without each other, we aren’t much.  Together, as we’ve seen, we’re a force to be reckoned with!

So, I just read this article by Derek Haines, which is edgy and maybe a bit over the top.  But, a lot of it resonates with me at the same time. Specifically:

(1) Reduction of the value of our free downloads.  This 100% happened.

(2) The Amazon review purge.  This 100% happened.

(3) Changing of algorithms to reduce the success of indie books in comparison to big six books, including Amazon’s new imprint (Thomas and Mercer).  Remains to be seen.

Read the article by Derek Haines, entitled “Self Published Authors Get Ready, You’re Being Dumped” http://www.derekhaines.ch/vandal/2012/11/self-published-authors-get-ready-youre-being-dumped/

Ask yourself this at the same time.  Have the price of indie books, including the fact that we are flexible enough to offer our books for free, forever changed what consumers are willing to pay for books?  Stated otherwise, will consumers still pay $12.99 for an ebook, which is the thievery rate the big six charge?  It would be nice to know that, at a minimum, we changed that.

A couple quick updates, thoughts, and possible points of clarification.  First, Amazon hasn’t taken the Change.org petition seriously yet.  Maybe I don’t blame them.  What impact could 210 signing indie authors have?  That’s why we’re pushing for 1,000.  And, if that doesn’t get their attention, then we’ll get 2,000.  We will push until they will dialogue with us, which is all we have requested.  Sign it here today, just take a second and you’re in good company: http://www.change.org/petitions/amazon-stop-arbitrarily-removing-customer-reviews-from-indie-author-books

Next.  I am starting to get information that Amazon is adding another dimension to pulling reviews.  It is not set forth in any of their guidelines, but it could be called associated review pulling.  What does association mean?  Anyone in your family.  Friends.  People you work with.  Reviews from all of these types of people have been removed and/or blocked according to various people.  They are being told it is because they have a “financial interest” in your book, but that’s obviously a load of crap.  That’s just the catchall phrase they’re using to justify their actions.  So, in the future, it may not be possible to have anyone you know write you a review.  Just awesome, huh?  Let’s make it harder for indie authors.

Finally, just got done reading an interesting blog post on the review issue.  It includes another description of what that blogger calls “linked” removal of reviews.  It is called “Update on Amazon’s Disappearing Reviews: Konrath Continues Bold, Pro-Lies Stance; Amazon’s Policies Clarified” by Ed Robertson:  http://www.edwardwrobertson.com/2012/11/update-on-amazons-disappearing-reviews.html

This all stinks of so many other situation where if there was just transparency, there would be no speculation, rumor, and angst.  Amazon could easily step up and give some clarity/description on this whole issue.  In fact, that’s all most people are asking for.

 

QUICK TIP #5CATEGORIZING YOUR BOOK

I’ve been organizing promotional events for a while now, and when sorting through authors’ books to invite or consider inviting, a recurring theme pops up.  I can’t tell what the heck category the books fall into.  To underscore this point, and to affirm that I’m not just some dolt that can’t figure out a book’s category, imagine you walk into a bookstore (you remember what those were like, right?) and the shelves are filled with books.  But, to your dismay, none of the shelves tell you what kind of books you’re looking at.

Now, imagine that, but on a website with millions of products, and hundreds of thousands of books!  Starting to understand the problem now?

My suggestions.  First, don’t hide the ball with readers.  Maybe you’re afraid that if you categorize your book, some readers won’t like your category and won’t buy your book.  Guess what?  That’s a good thing. You want some thriller junkie reading your romance and leaving it a bad review?  Or, you want some 70-year old devotee to steamy romance novels picking up your zombie apocalypse novel by accident?  Nope.

So, put the genre in the title like I’ve done, or place it prominently in your Amazon description.  Remember, the easier you make it for potential readers, the more sales you’re likely to get!

Really interesting article here on the purchase of reviews–primarily positive reviews.  By David Streitfeld of the New York Times:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/best-book-reviews-money-buy-131408538.html?page=1

On June 4, 2012, I wrote a blog entitled “Going Free as a Group–Does it Still Work?”  I published the blog right before I banded together with seven other great authors to gain maximum exposure for our two free days (June 4th and 5th).  The event was called #Reads4Free.

Quite honestly, I was a bit skeptical regarding what type of results we would get.  After all, none of us had ever organized an event of that magnitude before.  Right as the event was getting ready to start, I had resigned myself to the possibility that the countless hours we had poured into preparation would not yield the results we wanted.  Results that were intimately tied to the excitement we all felt about the event.

FORTUNATELY, THE DOUBTS WERE ILL-FOUNDED

What occurred June 4th and 5th was actually a bit startling.  Let’s start with some of the stats.  Seven of the eight books involved hit the top 100  free books on Amazon.  Doug Dorow’s “The Ninth District” topped out at #5 overall.  Rob Guthrie’s “Black Beast” topped out at #9 overall.  My second thriller, “Allegiance,” reached #15.  Elise Stokes’ second YA adventure book, “Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula,” reached the top 35.  The only book not to reach the top 100 still performed extremely well for its genre–anthologies–which generally do not climb as high as individual novels.

IN ALL, WE SURPASSED 75K DOWNLOADS IN THIS SINGLE EVENT

Gulp.  Yeah.  Over 75k books downloaded in the first #Reads4Free event.  A first event where we undoubtedly had hiccups and mistakes.  A first event where kinks will be ironed out for #Reads4Free redux.

Climbing the free charts is exciting and worthwhile in its own respect.  It means you got exposure.  People have your book in their reading device, and setting aside debates as to whether they will read it, the first step in doing so is owning it.  However, we’re in this profession for another reason, as well.  To make some money.  Especially as indie authors, we are juggling a job (or multiple jobs), families, marketing, promoting, networking, events, etc., so more than anyone else, we are relentless about the pursuit of our singular dream–making writing our full-time and only job.

So, it was important to track books after the free event, and how they performed once they went paid.  It was painfully obvious that the heyday of KDPS had passed.  With the numbers of downloads each of our books received, some of those books should have gotten into the top 50 paid books as well.  In the US at least, Doug Dorow’s book was the only one to reach that level.  However, fear not (at least, not yet) because there was a positive impact on most of our books.  Specifically, all of us had a nice bump in paid sales that we were able to maintain with other methods such as pricing and advertising.

Here are the things I took away from the event:

  1. Going free on your own and doing no pre-free preparation is absolutely off the table.  Won’t work, and in fact, could hurt your rankings.
  2. Going free as a group that works hard and works together is still viable.
  3. Going back to paid is a rough ride, but through pricing and particularly, with some well placed ads, you can mitigate that transition.

That’s dem apples.  If you’re interested in being a part of a future event, email me at publisher@rogue-books.com.

You know what I love about being indie?  My world isn’t a cloistered cave of writing and talking to just my editor and/or agent.  My world is literally full of thousands of other indie authors that brighten up everyday for me with their generosity.

GROUP FRIGGIN’ HUG

Okay, that bit of sentimentality aside, I’ve actually got a point here.  Let’s start with Kindle Direct Publishing Select.  When it started out, you could go free on your own and get thousands of downloads.  But, like anything else in this (insert expletive) world, there’s no free pass to success.  Honestly, some days I wish I would wake up with two things: (1) perfect vision, dammit, and (2) about 50 million dollars.  I digress.  So, no free pass to success.  What does that mean several months after KDPS started?  Going free and doing it solo–not so successful anymore.  And you’ve heard it from a whole bunch of people who continue to do the same thing and expect the same results.  Bottom line, those results ain’t there, so we’ve got to adapt.

What’s a way to deal with this?  Think like an indie my friend.  Going “solo free” (I’ll coin that term right here) is so freaking traditional author.  Going free with a group of great indie authors?  Now you’re thinking.

Let’s get one thing straight.  Going free as a group is nothing novel.  There are other groups that do free events.  However, there’s no way any one organization can provide all of your promo needs.  For one, it makes sense to diversify your advertising dollars.  For two (can you say “for two”?), if you have multiple books, then a single organization may not have enough free events for you.  That’s kinda where I was, which is why I did the following.

Through my publishing arm (haha, always wanted to say that.  My publishing arm are these two hands, and when I can get his lazy ass going, one of my dogs), I have organized eight of the most excellent indie authors I know to go free as a group.  Of course, I know more than eight excellent indie authors, but there will be more events.  The point?  We have worked our tails off to put this event together (another reason to pay the IBC their entry fee and sit back while their staff run the promo for you!)  We have canvassed the entire world of indie publishing and advertising, or so it seems.  The bigger point.  THERE’S NO WAY YOU COULD DO THIS AS A SOLO FREE.

This world of publishing changes so damn quickly, so who knows how long going free as a group will be successful.  However, we indie authors are the small tribe that can adapt to change on a dime.  Let the bureaucracy of the traditional publishing world die.  In the meantime, we’ll evolve, come together, and take advantage of whatever we can to sell more books.

With that being said, here are the awesome authors involved in the group event, appropriately titled #Reads4Free.  You, my dear indie authors, owe it to them to go download their free books.  Just as we will owe it to you when you go free.

FREE ON JUNE 4TH AND 5TH  ONLY

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Oh GOODNASS, don’t those books look sexy?  Check them out on the webpage we built.  Seriously, they look dead sexy there, and you can find out more info about what you’re downloading.  Click on any cover to be transported (the click comes with a drop of acid).  Or, just click on this hyperlink: http://www.rogue-books.com/#!Reads4Free/cj6w

Over and out my friends.  If you’re interested in being part of an Indie Book Collective event, or another of my #Reads4Free events through Rogue Books, then just send me an email at enemyinblue@gmail.com.