Posts tagged marketing

Five Ways to market your book – the good, and the bad + More Blog Tour

0

extra1) FACEBOOK: Here’s the thing.  You can amass huge numbers of ‘friends’ on Facebook.  Maybe, as in my case, you have at least a vague idea why each of them is there, maybe you just clicked and clicked to get the numbers rolling.  Either way, you are not going to be able to resist trying to sell books there, so here’s a good, and a bad thing about Facebook.

GOOD – All of those with enough interest to follow you will know when you have a new book out, and some of them will read, review, and buy it.  Probably not very meany, because all 2,000 or so of THEIR ‘friends’ also have books, or etsy shops, or Kickstarters for videos of their cats with toy balloons, and they are busy marketing and socializing, just like you. (Note that tis “Good” is not all that good)

BAD – most of the people who will see your posts on Facebook already know you. They already know you write, they already know about your books, and have probably already made their decision about buying them.  Each time you tell them AGAIN, the filter around your posts grows, and you fall further into the gray area.  Facebook marketing, unless you spend a bunch of money on it, generally just markets to the same small group of folks, and in the case of authors mostly markets to other writers trying to market to you.

TWITTER: You may, like me, love the quick, witty banter of a service like Twitter.  I’ve made some long-standing friends there, and I’ve been with the service for a very long time.  Here are my good, and bad thoughts on Twitter marketing.

GOOD: – if you play your cards right, interact with a lot of people, build relationships and (holy grail of twitter) get onto the radar of people with real reach, Twitter can push the news of your new book a long way.  A single post about your book from the right celebrity can send people scurrying to see why their idol suggested it.  A simple retweet of a post asking to be retweeted has a lot less gas than one that actually originates with the celebrity  I am NOT saying you should start pummeling celebrities … just that if you can get their notice, you can sell books.

BAD – barring the time spent building relationships and the celebrity connections, if you mostly tweet over and over about your book, new reviews of your book, new places to buy your book, etc… lots of links with the words switched around?  No one is going to follow those links.  No one likes impersonal advertising, and particularly on Twitter, where interaction is the name of the game, spammy, scheduled posts about books people have already seen a hundred spammy scheduled posts about are more likely to prevent sales than to win them.

FREE GIVEAWAYS: There was a time when this was a great idea.  There have always been proponents of this method, and it doesn’t take much research to see that most of those really successful proponents were already well-known before they tried it.  Like anything else, it works better for a popular author than an unknown.

GOOD: – If you make use of the sites that will announce your book, plan ahead for your giveaway to be sure it’s promoted far and wide – plan the dates carefully and make sure the book you choose has good reviews / etc. you can really spread the word about your work.  If you are lucky enough to land a slot somewhere like Bookbub or Boookblast, the freebie can get real legs.

BAD: – Barring something amazing, follow-on sales are sketchy.  At one time Amazon counted free sales as “something” but now they have separate lists.  Once your free promotion is over, you go back to being ranked 650,000 that very second.  If you get lucky, you might coast a while on sales from the curious who found your book through a free promotion, got to it too late, and bought it anyway, but the lasting effect of free giveaways is not what it once was, and not likely to spur huge sales.  Also, if you get in the habit of doing these, interested readers just wait for each took to be free.  Also, some of the best promotions for what I will talk abut next, sale pricing, will not accept a book that has been recently free.

SALE PRICING:

THE GOOD – The .99, $1.99 and even $2.99 sale price is what the free giveaway used to be.  This method can work wonders, if you handle it correctly, and if you are patient but according to the experts in Tampa internet marketing,  you are going to need reviews.  I don’t think it’s wise to start such a promotion without 7-10 positive reviews, and it’s probably better to have more.  Plan your sale in advance.  There are services like Book Gorilla, Book Bub, Book Blast, where you can request a promotional day far in advance.  If they accept you, they cost money.  Spend that wisely.  Ranked in effectiveness, Book Bub has worked by far the best, but is the hardest to get into.  Book Blast has worked well for us, and is also much more economical than either of the others.  Book Gorilla seems not to have much affect on sales, but I have only been involved with it once, and have one friend who used it.  Sales were not affected much.  Note that Book Bub and Book Blast give you average download and sales numbers, while Book Gorilla – much like Kindle Nation Daily – only tells you how sales ranks changed, which can be accomplished with a very small number of sales.   The idea of the sale price is to get a lot of momentum, move up the sales chart, and then go back to normal price and try to sustain those sales.  The REALLY good thing about this is that whatever boost in sales rank you get – you keep it at the end of the promotion.

THE BAD – It doesn’t always work.  If you don’t promote it well, no one will see it – because no one was seeing it before the sale price.  If you try it as the sole means of promotion, you’ll just make less on the few sales you manage.  No promotion is any better than the effort put into it and the reach of its visibility.  Combining this with the first two, Facebook and Twitter, won’t help that much because – again – those people already know about your book.

BOOK BLOGS: – This is not a new thing, but it has grown into a PROLIFIC thing . A lot of people have set up shop reviewing books, talking about books, creating book clubs for group reads…here’s what I know about them.

THE GOOD – you can reach a solid network of readers if you can get your book into the right book blogs.  There are book bloggers with huge followings, not only on their blogs, but in their entire social media networks – you tube channels, Twitter, FB, Google +, etc. They can really create a buzz if your book catches their attention.

THE BAD – Just like with any good marketing source, there are a limited number of book blogs with the reach to really help sell books, and in those blogs, there are a limited number of slots for book promotion.  Most reviewers and book bloggers have policies on submission of titles, and most of the really good ones have become difficult or impossible to get into if you weren’t part of their network early on – or don’t manage to become part of their network later on.  Some have even grown into big book sites, with hundreds of thousands of followers.  Just like getting a celebrity to endorse your book – good luck getting into one of the important book blogs.  It’s not impossible, but is’t not easy.  The sad fact is that, while you might get another good Amazon review out of a blog post about your book – and that’s a valuable thing in combination with other promotions – most blogs are still fighting to find an audience.  A good gauge of how much reach you can get from a blog is to check the average number of comments they receive on posts.  I’ve been blogging here forever.  My traffic is (theoretically) pretty good.  No one ever comments.   Well, almost never.  They might today, since i’m talking about book marketing again…

When I have finished it, I will blog about my blog tour – still ongoing.  The jury is still out on this… You can be part of it by checking out all the posts, and interviews, and reviews that have accumulated this far.  Today I have a post over at FIERCE DOLAN’S blog – about romance in books, the erotic, and the subtle. You can read that post by CLICKING HERE….

ALSO – for those interested, I have posted a story here from my collection Etched Deep & Other Dark Impressions.  I wrote it when I was sort of caught up in the edges of the literary fiction scene… the poseurs and the literati, the infighting for a slot in the oh-so-posh pays not a cent hip ‘zine of the day.  It’s titled “Pretty Boys in Blue With Long Hair Dangling,” and it’s available from the Short Fiction Excerpts menu at the top of the page.

 

THE TOUR SO FAR:

My post about why I’m glad Nevermore was not published traditionally – read it at the What Readers Want blog!

How personal and North Carolina history affect the novel – read at the FLYING HIGH blog!

Read about mining history for your fiction at Christine’s Words!

Read about the cover art by Lisa Snellings at Workaday Reads

Read the review of the book, and the guest post on keeping your series new

Read the interview at One More Chapter

Read my post about writers – and reading – at Janna Shay’s blog!

Read My post – Everybody Loves a Mystery – here in this blog!

Read my post “Let There be Magic” at the main Buy the Book Tour Site!

Read my post about “The Dark South” at The Open Book Society Blog…;

Read about Genres & Why I hate them : ==> AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE

Listen to internet radio with BuyTheBookTours on BlogTalkRadio

READ THE Guest Post about History in fiction at MELISSA’S BLOG!

Listen to internet radio with BuyTheBookTours on BlogTalkRadio

Interview with me at the Blog of author Hywela Lin

Interview with Donovan DeChance at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Interview with Edgar Allan Poe at MJ Schiller’s Blog (join the discussion)

Get the details of the book tour – and the giveaways – at Buy the Book Tours…

BUY NEVERMORE! AT AMAZON.COM or BARNES & NOBLE or CROSSROAD PRESS

DOWNLOAD THE AUDIOBOOK FROM AUDIBLE.COM – NARRATED BY GIGI SHANE!

POD Print Book Sales – Some Math and A Cry for Change

2

HeartDragon2 coverI spent some time on the phone with a lady this morning that runs one of the bigger groups for independent booksellers in the south.  It was one more in a long string of conversations that have led to this post.  My goal here is two-fold.  One, I want to educate everyone, readers, booksellers who might not know, and authors, on the mathematics of a POD book and why the current situation sucks.  The second goal is to reach out to all of those same groups of people and work to find a solution.  Here toes nothing.

For the purpose of this post, I’m going to use one of my own novels – Heart of a Dragon.  This book is available in hardcover and in trade paperback, so I can show you the realities of pricing and distribution.

Out books are printed and shipped through Lightning Source.  Lightning Source, of course, is associated with Ingram, but we’ll ignore that for now.  Numbers:

Heart of a Dragon – Cover price  $12.99 Trade paperback.

Heart of a Dragon – Cover price  $24.99 Hardcover

Lighting Source has been very good to us.  There is a calculator on their site where you plug in the type of book, the number of pages, and then experiment with prices and discounts so you find a point where you can make a little money and your author also makes money.  It’s easy to use.

We have been discounting our books at 40 percent, hoping this would encourage independent bookstores to order from us.  I know most of them use Ingrams or Baker & Taylor, and so, I thought giving this discount would at least help.   On the above book:

$12.99 – 40 percent discount – we make $3.98 a book.  This is split 50/50 with our authors. The rest, we split among the company and the book designer we work with.  in other words.  Not much.

$24.99 – 40 percent discount – we make $4.53 a book.  Same deal.

That is what we make if we manage to sell a book through Ingram.  What I’ve been told is – they do not pass this discount on to booksellers.  They short discount it – probably no better than 15-25 percent in any case. Why?  Because we don’t allow returns.  To explain that.  If 100 books are ordered, and we accept returns, and only 30 are sold, the other 70 are returned to Ingram, probably damaged at least lightly, and shipped to us, and we have to buy them all at cost.  We have no warehouse.  It’s a problem.  So, we don’t allow returns.

The reality is that Ingrams WANTS you to discount your books 55% and accept returns.  If you don’t accept returns, and still manage to get up to 55% you might start to see some bookstore returns, but here’s the thing. For us to make the same amount on the books prices have to go up considerably.

HC – $32.99 – 55 percent discount we make: $4.39

TPB – $17.99 – 55 percent discount we make $4.29

Then, if we were to take returns, we risk having a pile of these laying around….

If people order directly from us, we can offer the deeper discount to THEM.  There may be a point in the middle where all this meets up.  We may have to raise prices slightly to give bookstores 50 percent without returns. Currently, what we have done (effective the end of June) is to lower our discount to 20 percent, cutting out ANY sales to bookstores through Ingram, but lowering the cost at B&N and Amazon and directly through us and raising the amount per sale that our authors will receive.  We don’t want to be for sale only on the Internet, but that appears to be where we’re heading.

What will fix all of this?  A Network of independent publishers creating a single source for booksellers to order from that is simple in the way ordering from Ingram is, but that does NOT cost a chunk of the profit to use.  Also, and those of you who have published through NYC know this, if we offer returns we have to change our accounting.  We have to keep a “reserve against returns” on print book sales for at least six months, meaning you wait longer to get paid for your books, and if they are returned, don’t get paid for them at all.  Then we have to have big “damaged book” sales and try to unload them at $5 – $10 a copy to cover print costs.

Another possibility is to make the information on POD books – cover art, description, price available in stores for customers willing to wait for delivery to their store.  Maybe laminated product cards?

It’s ridiculous that we can’t find a better way for this to work in this digital age.  Print on Demand has changed the availability of books, simplified the math and shipping – but not addressed the distribution.  The old model is designed to work well for people using standard, off-set printing, where you pay huge chunks of cash up front, order print runs in larger numbers, dropping the per unit cost, and allowing that 55 percent discount and returns, hope to do better than break even.  The really big companies can drop their per unit ridiculously low – and do – by printing literally hundreds of thousands of best-selling books that end up deep discounted, and still make money (while killing thousands of trees)   Those of us working through Print on Demand channels need a new method of aggregating the available titles and making them available to libraries and independent book stores in a way that does not inconvenience them out of the game.  Dealing with each of us separately does that.

We also need a way to get people into those stores requesting the books, because, in the end, that is the only way to get them to take the extra trouble – and who can blame them for that?  I’m open for suggestions, and would love to hear from other publishers using Print on Demand – how you work it, if you take returns, how bad has that been? If the higher prices don’t matter – I would love to know that too.  I am trying to make this print line a success..

I don’t know if what we need is a joint catalog put together by independent publishers, a network of e-mail and direct mail programs reaching out to bookstores, raising our prices and caving in…but I aim to find it.

Digital Book Marketing eBook & Audio – Post the First – Audio #1

1

Aliensinthebackyard_500There are a lot of similarities between the marketing of an eBook, and the marketing of an audiobook, particularly if that audiobook is done as a digital download.  There are also huge differences.  Nearly everyone reads.  They might not do it by choice, but you just can’t get through life without it.  Listening to audiobooks is an acquired taste – an experience many have blockages against – prejudices preventing them from giving it a fair chance.  I wrote recently about not making smaller boxes out of those you already have for marketing.  Audiobooks are already constrained by their own box.  There are fewer listeners than readers, though the audience is growing slowly.

There are fewer large, commercial review outlets for audio.  The old-school audiobook community is a very literary community.  While there are big markets for genre audio, the real attention goes to celebrity and award-winning narrators, NYC commercial authors, and publishers with deep pockets.  Advertising, banquets, even a simple nomination for an award that is supposed to be for the best in the field – cost a lot of money. It’s an infrastructure built through the old publishing industry, where audio was expensive, very few titles were commercial enough to make it through the studio, and for those that were deeply involved, there was money enough to sustain all of the above.  There still is – at the top – but the business is expanding, and if those of us doing audio at a lower financial level are going to compete, we’re going to have to have a bigger boat, and we’ll have to build it ourselves.  Anyone know how to measure in cubits?

There is good news.  New review sites have cropped up.  There is a site – The Audiobook Jukebox – that aggregates reviews from other sites, and from blogs, and they index them for easy access.  ACX – the program that has made audio possible for so many that it was not possible for before – has made the acquisition of review copies easy, and they actively encourage promotion through social media, blogging, networking, and other means, and they are knowledgeable, incredibly helpful folks.

That said, don’t put down your tools.  We still need that boat and it has to be one big mother ICEBREAKER of a boat.  We have serious walls to break down, and it isn’t going to happen overnight.  I’m going to start with just a couple of points and see if we can work up some discussion.

1) Unless you have Deep pockets, do not concentrate your efforts on the old-school marketing techniques for audio.  It’s a tough sell, even if you get yourself involved, and it’s unlikely you will overcome the “editors choices” and sponsored titles unless you are independently wealthy.

2) Do not separate your audiobook marketing from your eBook and print book marketing. Amazon has a new program called whispersync.  While there are still pricing issues with this, encourage people to pick up the audio AND the eBook when you can.

3) Don’t be in too much of a hurry.  Study your book.  Figure out who would sound best doing it.  Research voice talent and cast the best possible voice.  This is critical.  As a publisher, I made a few bad mistakes early on, and those books have suffered.  Don’t skimp on editing.  Listen to your book if possible yourself, and if not, find someone else with the time to do it.  Test your voice talent across the range of characters.  When you offer a sample to be auditioned, try to include as much diversity in that sample as possible.

4) Include your audio – and if possible your narrator – in marketing material.  Talk about the experience of the audiobook while you are marketing.  interview the narrator if you get a chance.  In other words, network.

 

 

The old world of audio treated narrators the same way tie-in and licensed novel markets treat authors.  You do the work, they pat you on the back, and you move on to the next project.  The new paradigm calls for teamwork; it’s now possible for authors and narrators to share the risk, and the possible success, of a project.  For that to happen, you also have to share the marketing…it’s likely that if they are not a major voice talent, the narrator will have a smaller fan base – but listen up.  THEIR fan base all listens to audiobooks.  The odds are only a small percentage of an author’s fan base does the same.  Work together.  Be creative.  Try to do interviews, and always – ALWAYS include the synopsis, the audio sample, and (broken record again) one-click-to-buy link.

I open this to the floor but here is what I’m looking for.  What are good ways to get more people to listen to audiobooks? Where can we turn to market that is not being covered now? What is the key to building the new audiobook infrastructure – not trying to retool the small, stuffy box that surrounds audio now, but to build something big – new – part of the digital revolution?  More to follow shortly, upcoming video marketing tactics from https://themarketingheaven.com/shop/youtube-likes/ will enlighten you on some contemporary means of advertising anything these days with the luxury of video.

Next post will be a report on how some eBook promotions we have tried, and are trying, stack up – and why. You will notice that I have included two one-click-to-buy linked images in this post.  The first, Aliens in the Backyard, is currently our best-selling audio title at Crossroad Press.  This title will is narrated by Kevin Pierce, and will also be featured in that next post, so stay tuned.  Trish & Rob MacGregor have written a number of very cool books, fiction and non fiction, and run a blog where they talk about Synchronicity.   The second book – INTERMUSINGS – is a collection of stories that I’ve written over the years in collaboration with others.  My co-creators include Brian Hopkins, Patricia Lee Macomber, John B. Rosenman, Rich Rowand, Stephen Mark Rainey & Brett Alexander Savory.  The narrator – Mr. John Lee – is a world class talent and one of my all-time favorite narrators.  His rendering of the story in this collection “The Purloined Prose” is worth the price of the book.

INTERMUSINGS:

These stories represent decades of collaboration between author David Niall Wilson and a wide array of talented authors. All have been professionally published – some have been reprinted and collected. All are the result of two muses meeting on paper. Meet a modern day Don Quixote, fighting Y2K bug nightmares, and striving to save the woman of his dreams. Learn how Edgar Allen Poe might have found his tales. Face off on a lonely mountaintop with Lovecraftian nightmares. Join a young man in a ghostly race to save a relative from cancer. Follow a cross-wired detective in his hunt for a lycanthropic killer bent on ending every serial killer she encounters. See what might happen when two minds fall into “balance”.

What if Dr. Watson was the client…and someone who was dead – was not quite there? Visit a science-fiction future where artists capture images in crystals. What if government control over sex and reproduction got out of control? Listen as a piano man drops back into the nightmares of his past. Finally – a sailor on his way home finds a place even farther away than he ever dreamed.

These are the tales of Intermusings – previously published as Joined at the Muse. This new audio edition includes an Introduction by David Niall Wilson on the art of collaboration, and a sneak preview of the first chapter of the collaborative novel Hallowed Ground by Steven Savile & David Niall Wilson.

Contents include:

  • Introduction by David Niall Wilson
  • “A Poem of Adrian, Gray” – with Brian A. Hopkins
  • “The Purloined Prose” – with Patricia Lee Macomber
  • “A Wreath of Clouds” – with Stephen Mark Rainey
  • “Moon Like a Gambler’s Face” – with Ricard Rowand
  • “La Belle Dame, Sans Merci” – with Brian A. Hopkins
  • “La Belle Dame, Sans Regret” – with Brian A. Hopkins
  • “Ribbons of Darkness Over Me” – with Brett A. Savory
  • “Death Did Not Become Him” – with Patricia Lee Macomber
  • “Within an Image, Dancing” – with John B. Rosenman
  • “Virtue’s Mask” – with Brian A. Hopkins
  • “Sing a Song of Sixth Sense” – with Patricia Lee Macomber
  • “Deliver Us From Meeble” – with Brian Keene

AUDIO SAMPLE INTERMUSINGS

ALIENS IN THE BACKYARD:

In the early morning hours of March 28, 2011, Charles and Helene Fontaine experienced something that shattered their beliefs about the nature of reality.

One evening in 1981, Connie J Cannon was on I-75 with her young son, en route to their new home in Florida, when they suddenly found themselves on a military base, with a man in uniform holding a gun to her head as three Grays stood nearby.

In 1979, Diane Fine was on her way from upstate New York to Vermont to see an obstetrics specialist for her high risk pregnancy, and experienced two hours of missing time. When she was finally examined at the clinic, she was told wasn’t pregnant.

In 1970, pilot Bruce Gernon was chased by something through the Bermuda Triangle and he has been talking about it ever since – to UFO Hunters, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, the History Channel, the Sci-Fi channel, and all their foreign counterparts.

These individuals have never met. But they share something significant. In 2003, a Roper Organization survey revealed that 33 million Americans may be abductees. Aliens in the Backyard is their story.

AUDIO SAMPLE ALIENS IN THE BACKYARD

 

-DNW

 

 

Boxes in Boxes – Bad book Marketing

0

zombie coverwebUp front, again, this is me talking.  I’ve been doing this a long time.  I currently run a successful publishing house.  I interface with, follow, and pay attention to hundreds of writers daily.  It’s just what I think…

I don’t care what people tell you about Social Media Marketing.  I don’d care if perky, smiling, very friendly online folks tell you they can get you X,000 of followers, friends, compatriots, groupies, etc…that you should do events, online blitzes, or any number of other things sure to turn you into the next Internet sensation.  Most of that is crap.  I’d go as far as about 95 percent.  Marketing, like anything else, is work – and many times it’s hit and miss.

Yes, you should have a Facebook Page, particularly if you have time to use it (Not your personal profile, but an author’s page where you talk about your books, writing, and things you believe would interest fans).

No, you should not have a new page for every book, or probably even every series.  You have a set number of people who see your marketing posts on Facebook.  You have another group (probably with some cross-over) on your personal profile.  Most of them won’t mind if you talk about your new book.  Most of them will mind if you endlessly post links to it with no new content.  If you take the “social” out of social media it’s nothing but an irritating spam-screen of dreck, and it will be duly ignored.

No you should not create an online “event” every time you launch a new book.  The only people who will see your event launch notice are the same people who would see a thoughtful post on the new book with a link if you just put it on your author’s page.  The more events you have, the smaller the box of folks who will agree to be irritated by it. Marketing is already hated in most cases.  Fans seek out the new work on their own.  Marketing is for people who are not yet fans, and pissing either group off is not the way to build your presence.

The key to successful Internet marketing has a couple of words associated with it.  REACH and DRAW.  The biggest key to marketing anything is to widen your reach.  A thousand “likes” on your posts on Facebook aren’t half the use to you that 200 shares are.  Those people sharing have different boxes that they play in, and if they share your posts, a lot of people who have never heard of you might see them.  For this you need DRAW.  You need interesting content- not too long – with the proper one-click-to-buy link in it.  It needs to look interesting enough to stop a scrolling mouse.  It needs to look worth the few seconds that clicking it entail, and once the person has clicked, it needs to very efficiently sell them your book.

MagicWagonwebTo recap.  Poke holes in your box and work from the inside out.  Do not pummel your ‘friends’ with endless marketing posts.  Do not make tiny boxes within your bigger box.  The same is true on Twitter.  Using some app that draws in smaller groups to talk is a good way to focus on a topic, but it’s not a good way to market…the only people likely to use that app and take the time already want your book.  That is “maintaining” your box.  If you want it to be bigger, you have to find ways to reach new faces – real faces.  Those perky smiley helpful people will not do this for you.  Mostly they will get you thousands of other hopeful authors looking at your posts wondering why you don’t buy their books – and a lot of fake people who never existed stroking your ego as your numbers skyrocket.  Marketing – like writing – is work.  There are no shortcuts.

And of course, a steady stream of new work.  Write.  ALWAYS have something new to talk about.  Never sit back and spend hours selling the one book you already wrote.  Keeping your name relevant, your work consistent in quality and output…these help build what – eventually – will be your fandom.  If you need it by tomorrow, you are probably out of luck.

 

-DNW

How Do I Sell My e-Book? A Publisher's Thoughts

9

I dun TOL' U   Teh eBook Cubber gotz 2 SIZZLE

I have seen far too many ‘gurus’ chime in on this subject, and after nearly a year in the business of growing a digital publishing company, I feel like I have some value-add to bring to the mix. I’m not a ‘guru’ and do not ever want to be considered one, but I have been doing this for a while now, and I’ve observed some things you might find usesful. It’s worth the effort, I think, to try and get it all into perspective in my own mind.

First of all, books are books. Stephen King’s eBooks sell better than those of a new writer no one has heard of. Blogs about and reviews of Stephen King books get more notice than those of lesser-known authors, and generate more sales. Authors – in short – who were already popular before putting their titles out in eBook format are still more popular than authors who were not. Authors who bring an audience from mass market publishing to their eBooks sell better than those with no track record. These are facts, and no amount of blogging, posturing, or tears will change them.

So what do you do?

There are solid answers. Covers matter. That said, you don’t need to go out and break the bank on a professional cover designer to get a very good, commercial cover. I’ve done some extensive analysis on our titles, and I can tell you that there is absolutely ZERO evidence in my data to show that the cover art is a huge factor unless it is godawful. If your little brother did it in Microsoft Paint, or you let Calibre generate it for you, or the colors are all mis-matched, you’re going to lose sales for the same reason a similar cover would not work on a print book. It looks amateurish.

That said, there is a lot that can be done with Photoshop, and there are people out there with some amazing artwork that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. You just have to look for them. Join the community at Deviant Art and meet some of the wonderful artists there. Browse the public domain photo sites. You may pay some for the rights to an image, but you can often find one you’ll like for a very reasonable price – or even free. Then all you need is to study some books, see what sort of font and text arrangement appeals to you, and find someone capable of dropping it onto your image. All that is a fancy way of saying – most of you aren’t going to make hundreds of dollars on your eBook right off the bat, and investing a bunch of cash in a cover is a serious risk that isn’t really necessary, in my opinion (and experience). Some of the covers we’ve used that I think are the most mundane have resulted in great selling titles, and several titles with amazing covers have not done well at all.

Copy-editing and format matter. If you just run a word document through some conversion program and slap it up, it’s not going to look good. If you don’t get at least one other set of eyes carefully going over your work, it’s not going to read well – it’s going to have typos. Almost no-one is perfect enough to write without errors…and though you may see them easily in another person’s work, you may also NOT catch them in your own. Do yourself a favor and – even if you have to pay a small fee for it – find a proof-reader worth their salt. Then salt them.

On most eBook sites you can assign “Tags” to your books. This might seem trivial, but it is not. There are whole groups out there cross-tagging one another’s books to bring the numbers of people “agreeing” with them high enough to bump them up the search ranks. On Amazon, for instance, if you search the word BLOOD – the book with the highest ranking on that search term is going to come up first. Also, books that have the word BLOOD in their title may start getting that book listed in the “related” products and sent out in “you might also be interested in” e-mail notices.

Price matters. If you are a known quantity,and you present new, original work, you can get more for your eBook. If you are NOT a known quantity, or if you are bringing back older work that can be bought used and cheap in print editions, don’t be greedy. If you charge the $2.99 league minimum at Amazon, you will get more per sale than you ever got from a print publisher per sale by a huge factor. Print books pay (average) 4-10 percent royalty. If you sell your book through Crossroad Press – for instance – you get 80 percent of $2.05 (about what Amazon pays us per sold title after deducting their “delivery” fee) – that’s a good chunk per sale, and it adds up fast. We sell new, original works higher – $3.99 and $4.99 – and those seem to be workable prices as well, but keep in mind what you are asking of your readers. Ignore everything else and buy my book. Give them as many reasons as you can.

Do a good write-up for the book. I sometimes have a hard time getting my authors to help with this, and I do what I can, but a good solid “hook” in the product description is crucial. In print publishing you usually have little or no input to what the publisher puts up as a description, but here – in the digital world – you can write it and even change it with impunity.

When you get reviews, respond to them positively, even the bad ones. Never drop to thelevel of a sour-voiced reviewer. You’re just playing into their game, and you’ll regret it before all is said and done. Remain professional.

Visit forums and bulletin boards and blogs that are related to a: your genre and b: eBooks in general. Be a pro-active part of their communities before blowing your own horn, or it will backfire.

Make sure your author info is available. Set up your Amazon Author’s Page. Set up your Smashwords profile. If you get reviews complaining about typos – proofread and re-publish. Never believe that because someone else did a thing, you can copy what they did and it will work for you…it’s not going to. Each book, and each author, is unique in some way, and requires an individual approach.

Product, product, product. If you have words sitting around out of print, or languishing for years without publication, I suggest you dust them off and get them out there. A body of work in eBook format can generate steady sales much more quickly and reliably than one, or two eBooks. One thing is certain – a story or novel on your hard drive for ten years unread made you no money at all.

The bottom line is – you don’t need a guru. You need hard work, patience, attention to detail, and the same bit of luck you always needed to succeed. It’s easier to get IN the door of digital publishing, but the doors are open very wide. In the old days readers clamored at the publishing door for more to read. Now those doors are big and revolving, and the readers disperse in all directions as they pass through. Latching onto them and drawing them to your work is a whole new ballgame. Pay attention, learn from what you see, don’t let ANYONE tell you the best way to do a thing is”blah blah” unless they can show that “blah blah” has worked for a lot of people over time. And just SAYING that it has worked isn’t enough. Show me stats on how that new expensive cover built sales. Show me, in other words, the money. And don’t do it by showing me someone already successful.

Also, don’t listen to tales of inflated sales. You can go to Novelrank.com and put in the AISN of any book there and track it. If it’s already being tracked, you just log in and add it to those you are tracking. This way, when someone claims a thousand sales, you can check, and if you see a title upcoming you want to keep an eye on to see if something someone did worked for promotion – you have some (albeit imperfect) stats. I’ve seen some eye-opening whoppers told on the net about huge sales that I observed personally through Novel Rank to be much smaller. Keep in mind that Novel Rank is not perfect, and that it only tracks from the moment you START tracking, so any sales prior to that you can’t see. Hype is what it is.

I am happy to offer advice if asked, but that’s all it is. I don’t know how to make your book sell better for CERTAIN – I only know what is working at Crossroad Press. We’ve grown in leaps and bounds, sales are up (best month ever happening now).

One last thing…Kindle Nation Daily sponsorship. While this is not a guaranteed success – I have found that if you listen to them – go in with a good cover price, a decent cover, at least a couple of good reviews on your book already (and not fluffy, gushing ones either – real reviews) – you can generate a good number of sales that last over several days…

We have sponsored several books there, and at least three of them did very, very well. I would recommend their service to anyone.

Enough for one day…

-DNW

Go to Top