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In 1989, soon after the release of her novel The Queen of the Damned, author Anne Rice released another supernatural page turner about another immortal (but not vampiric) hero from ancient Egypt called The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned. Much more of a period high adventure than her vampire novels, The Mummy was a success and instantly found fans. The tag at the end of the novel promised more adventures of Ramses to come, but for various reasons, those adventures never came.

Now 28 years later, the sequel has finally arrived in the form of Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra. This novel is special for another reason besides being a sequel long in the making: it’s Anne Rice’s first writing collaboration with another author, and the author just happens to be her son, novelist Christopher Rice.

“Fans had been asking me for a sequel to The Mummy for years,” Anne said, “And I got this idea that I thought it would be wonderful if Chris and I could collaborate. As it turns out, he did most of the writing on the book and most of the heavy lifting in terms of the plotting. We had a meeting and made a road map of the plot, and he produced the first draft and the final draft. And then I went over it and added a number of things, particularly with the older characters from the first book. His focus was very much on the newer characters that he created for the sequel. Except for Cleopatra…he wrote a lot about her. He really came to understand that character, and it worked out really well.”

On collaborating with his mom, Christopher Rice told us, “I wrote a draft, I submitted it to her, and she did a really intensive read. Then we sat down together and pulled it apart, talked about what was working and what wasn’t, and she sent me off with marching orders to write the next draft. And a lot of those marching orders were to emphasize the mysterious nature of immortals and not have them flinch or react in the same way an ordinary human character would.”

Of all of Anne Rice’s worlds–vampires, witches, ghosts and werewolves—they chose a sequel to The Mummy as their first mother/son collaboration because of the fans. According to Christopher, “The reason it’s The Mummy is that everyone wanted a sequel to that book, and there wasn’t one. I was present, for year after year at my mother’s book signings, and saw people come up and ask, ‘When is the next Mummy book?’ And her attitude was, ‘I don’t have the time to do it on my own.’”

Much like Anne Rice’s second vampire novel, The Vampire Lestat, expanded upon the backstory of the vampires, it seems this second Ramses novel will expand upon the mythology introduced in the first book in a big way. “We do explore the origin of the Elixir of Life and where it came from, and the backstory of how Ramses got a hold of it” said Anne, “We love exploring the mythological background. Christopher was responsible for writing a lot of that.”

The elder Rice has made a name for herself over the past 40 years writing about various kinds of immortal beings, but the kind of immortality Ramses has is more of a “no strings attached” kind of immortality. Anne explained, “It’s very different. The vampires are very much a metaphor for the outsider and the outcast, and for people who walk in darkness, and that’s not true for Ramses. The vulnerability for Ramses is that he can be captured, and somebody could force him to tell them the formula for the Elixir of Life and make other immortals. And also, he can’t biologically have a child. He has to decide when to give this Elixir to someone, and it’s not something that can be done lightly. To me, it’s just a different way of writing about immortality.”



After Three Decades, Anne Rice’s Mummy Sequel Is Finally Here

Good things come to those who wait and if you’re a fan of Anne Rice’s beloved book, The Mummythe nearly 30-year wait for the sequel is over.

In Ramses The Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra, authors Anne Rice and Christopher Rice (Anne’s son and the author of 12 books) take readers on a fantastical throwback frolic through Edwardian England (circa 1914) after Ramses the Great, the former pharaoh of Egypt is awakened.

Here is an exclusive, chilling excerpt to sample from the book.


From the iconic and bestselling author of The Mummy and The Vampire Chronicles, a mesmerizing, glamorous new tale of ancient feuds and modern passions.

Ramses the Great, former pharaoh of Egypt, is reawakened by the elixir of life in Edwardian England. Now immortal with his bride-to-be, he is swept up in a fierce and deadly battle of wills and psyches against the once-great Queen Cleopatra. Ramses has reawakened Cleopatra with the same perilous elixir whose unworldly force brings the dead back to life.

But as these ancient rulers defy one another in their quest to understand the powers of the strange elixir, they are haunted by a mysterious presence even older and more powerful than they, a figure drawn forth from the mists of history who possesses spectacular magical potions and tonics eight millennia old. This is a figure who ruled over an ancient kingdom stretching from the once-fertile earth of the Sahara to the far corners of the world, a queen with a supreme knowledge of the deepest origins of the elixir of life. She may be the only one who can make known to Ramses and Cleopatra the key to their immortality—and the secrets of the miraculous, unknowable, endless expanse of the universe.



Prolific romantic fiction writer exposed as a plagiarist

A prolific, self-published romantic fiction novelist has been exposed as a plagiarist after a reader spotted that she had switched the gender in a tale of romantic suspense to turn it into a gay love story.

Becky McGraw, a New York Times bestselling writer, was alerted by one of her readers about the similarities between her own novel My Kind of Trouble, in which Cassie Bellamy falls for bad boy Luke Matthews when she returns to her hometown of Bowie, Texas, and Laura Harner’s Coming Home Texas, in which Brandon Masters falls for bad boy Joe Martinez when he returns to his hometown of Goldview, Texas.

“She emailed to ask if I’d started writing gay romance under a pen name,” said McGraw, whose editor subsequently reviewed both books, and highlighted the similarities. These have also been extensively detailed online by novelist Jenny Trout; Trout has provided screenshots and extracts from both books, and writes that “Harner’s clever trick here was to pick a book that was not M/M [male/male], but M/F contemporary romance. As far as readers go, there isn’t a lot of overlap between the two genres.”


McGraw writes: “Since she’d gotten the call from Imelda, the closest thing to a mother that Cassie had known since her own mother died when she was ten, Cassie had been in that mode. Once she decided she needed to come back, the memories she thought she buried ten years ago would not leave her alone. Thoughts of Luke Matthews would not leave her alone.”

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Harner, whose Amazon profile says she has written more than 50 novels and sold almost half a million books, writes: “Since he’d gotten the call from Isabella – the closest thing to a mother that he’d known since his own mom died when he was nine – Brandon seemed to be stuck on a never ending sentimental highway. Once he decided he needed to come back, the memories he thought he buried long ago wouldn’t leave him alone. Thoughts of Joe Martinez won’t leave me alone.”

“Her book was almost a word-for-word, scene-for-scene duplication of my book, except the characters’ names had been changed, and short M/M love scenes had been inserted,” said McGraw. “The only scene she didn’t include was the epilogue, which couldn’t be altered to an M/M scene. It involved the heroine in labour and the hero having sympathetic labour pains.”

McGraw is intending to take legal action against Harner, who has pulled the book from retailers since McGraw first posted about the situation on Facebook, along with her Deuce Coop series, which was revealed to be similar to Opal Carew’s Riding Steele novel, again a straight romance turned into a gay one. The similarities were laid out in a second blog post by Trout, who wrote that “it’s almost impressive how much Harner was still able to plagiarise from Carew here, given the fact that the characters are of mostly different physical and clothing descriptions”.

Responding to the Guardian in a statement, Harner said she realised she had “made mistakes”. “I own them, and I will deal with the consequences. In transforming two M/F romance stories into an M/M genre, it appears that I may have crossed the line and violated my own code of ethics,” she wrote.

“For those who know me best, you know that responsibility for my actions begins and ends with me. I will also add there are some personal and professional issues I’ve had to deal with in the last year that have stretched me in ways that haven’t always been good for me. I write about certain concerns related to military service for a reason; however, I am not offering that as an excuse. I just think whenever someone acts so out of character, it’s helpful to ask why.”

Harner added that she was “working to address concerns raised by two authors who have accused me of plagiarism”, saying that she would provide a more complete statement later this week. “Until then, please do not judge me too harshly.”

McGraw, however, urged other romantic fiction novelists to check Harner’s backlist to see if they recognise their work. “Considering that Laura Harner, AKA LE Harner, has ‘written’ in seven or eight genres in five years, started series in those genres, and published 75 books so far in that span of time, I’d say everyone in every genre needs to be concerned, both indie and traditionally published authors,” she said.

Trout added that there was “definitely shock” about the situation, but that she was “surprised that there isn’t more shock from authors”. She pointed to “this unwritten law in the world of romance, young adult, and new adult authors and readers. I call it Be Nice, in which every author is expected to be supportive and enthusiastic of every other author, regardless of bad behaviour. And a lot of authors exploit Be Nice to do really awful things to each other, because they know they’re not going to be called out.”

The only way, Trout said, that plagiarism will be taken more seriously “is if readers are willing to call it out when they see it, without making excuses for it or saying, ‘it’s OK, because I like this plagiarised version more’, which does happen, and if authors are willing to stand up for other authors.

“When someone takes something from you, you sort of look around to see if anyone else notices it, if they’re going to be on your side if you say something. And most of the time, the answer you get is that no one wants to be involved. So authors stay silent and hope it goes away, or they’re advised by their publishers or agents to just ignore it and Be Nice. Until there isn’t incentive for people to plagiarize, until there are actual consequences to their actions, then it’s never really going to stop.”



Catching up with Anne Rice ahead of her fan club’s annual Halloween ball

When Sue Quiroz met horror author Anne Rice at a book signing in 1988, Quiroz got more than an autograph in her copy of “Queen of the Damned.” 

“I remember vividly what happened that day,” said Rice from her home in Palm Desert, California. “Sue came up to me and asked if she could start a fan club for me, and I said, ‘Not for me. But Lestat would love to have a fan club.’ ”

Quiroz became chief of the fictional vampire’s official fan club, and Rice got a lifelong friend and sometime personal assistant who heads up the annual Anne Rice Lestat Vampire Ball, now celebrating its 29th year in New Orleans.  


The exact name of the ball can change to reflect Rice’s most recent work: This year it’s the Atlantis Ball, Oct. 27 at the Republic. The name is a nod to 2016’s “Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis,” the latest in the 12-volume “Vampire Chronicles.”

The road to Rice’s megawatt writing career began with the 1976 novel “Interview with the Vampire,” which grew from a short story she wrote on a whim.  “When it became so successful, I realized that the vampire was a perfect metaphor for the outsider, something many people can relate to,” Rice said.

“The Vampire Lestat” emerged in 1985, launching the wildly successful “Vampire Chronicles” franchise.  Paramount Pictures has just optioned “The Vampire Chronicles” for an upcoming television series.

These days, Rice lives in California and collaborates with son Christopher Rice, a well-known author of 12 books in his own right. The pair are working on a sequel to “The Mummy,” the novel that ended with a cliffhanger when it was published in 1989.

“Fans had been clamoring for a sequel, but the vampire world so took off that there wasn’t the space or time to continue on with ‘The Mummy,’ ” Chris Rice said. “Collaborations can be tricky, and every author is different, style-wise, but I was noticing more and more that famous authors were collaborating in the mystery and romance world.

“Author James Patterson is the most obvious. He has numerous collaborators. He couldn’t crank out novels at the pace readers are hungering for them without collaborators. But a collaboration with my mom meant entering a world that had already been built and involved keeping a certain tone that longtime fans related to.”

Added Anne Rice: “Our first step was to hammer out a plot with sketch pads and felt tips. It’s never more than a tentative roadmap, but from this, Chris wrote the first draft of what would eventually become ‘Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra.’ ”


“The core of how we did it was passing it back and forth,” Chris Rice said. “I don’t think either of us could have endured sitting side by side in a room writing together. So we went back and forth, making modifications along the way. …

“There was one place where Mom was certainly right. I thought Cleopatra should be a villainess, saying we had to have a monster in the story, but Mom thought she was much too complex a character to put her in a box like that … and she was right. If left to my own devices, I could progress a whole story through action and violence, but that is not entirely what smacks of an Anne Rice novel.”

Added Anne Rice: “There’s been an incredible appreciation of my work, as evidenced by the wonderful fans, like those who come out for the Halloween balls in New Orleans. One year, we had around 8,000 people in the ballroom. People came from all over the world dressed as characters from my books. When I attended in 2014, I was just so impressed.”

The mother-and-son duo are on a publicity tour for the new book, so she won’t be at the ball this year. Quiroz is expecting about 1,200 people at this year’s event at the Republic.

For fans of both the costume balls and the novels, there’s not much longer to wait. This year’s Atlantis Ball (tickets at arlsfc.com) takes place Oct. 27, and the new Rice collaboration, “Ramses the Damned,” hits bookshelves Nov. 21.



Kasani’s Cafe’: Simple Recipes for Healthy Living Free Download on Amazon

Cookbooks have been around for well a long time now, dating back to time immemorial. The earliest cookbooks started from lists of recipes, currently known as haute cuisine, and were for recording author’s favorite dishes. Others were for the training of professional cooks for noble families, which made them short of content as peasant food, bread and vegetable dishes that were considered too simple for a recipe. 

When it comes to Mediterranean foods, just know you are getting yourself into one of the healthiest diets in the world. A 2015 release of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines proposed this diet, besides its recommendation by several researchers too, with Ancel Keys, Ph. D being the first one to promote this diet after Second World War. According to a study by Keys and his colleagues, people in areas such as the Mediterranean where this eating style was popular had higher cardiovascular health than those in the US. Twenty awesome recipes are included in this book. Surrounding the Caribbean and Mediterranean Diet.

Table of Contents 

Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Cookbooks
The Mediterranean Example; Grains, Veggies and Fish Diet
Mediterranean Chicken Stew with Cinnamon Couscous
Grilled Shrimp served with Garlic-Cilantro Sauce
Easy Seafood Paella Recipe
Jamaican Fried Snapper Recipe
Jamaican Steamed Fish Recipe
Baguette Recipe
Classic Potato Salad Recipe
Mexican Rice Recipe
Spaghetti Pasta Carbonara Recipe
Greek Potatoes Recipe
Simple Baked Chicken Drumstick Recipe
Chicken Cacciatore Recipe
Table Of Contents Continued:

Balsamic Glazed Chicken Recipe
Cajun Jambalaya Recipe
Lemon Cream Pasta with Chicken Recipe
Sea Bass Cuban Style Recipe
Skinny Turkey-Vegetable Soup Recipe
Vegetable Lasagna Recipe
Cilantro Lime Shrimp Recipe
Greek Sorghum Bowl with Artichokes and Olives

Top 7 Ways Authors Are Using Instagram

Words are for us as writers what computers are to office workers. They are the lifeline to pretty much every facet of our work. Not only do we use them to communicate our art form, but we obsess, play, hate, love and need them in order to do what we do. Sometimes we need a rest from all the word playing—and hating.

Where can we find that rest without cutting ourselves off even further from social exchange, but also without having to use even more words? It can be done—with Instagram. Not only can you use Instagram, but as an author, you should be using Instagram. For more than one or two reasons.

There are a lot of authors who use Instagram in ways that may be entertaining. It’s entertaining in the same way the crazy lady in the grocery store is who pulls out every gallon of milk from the dairy cooler in order to get the one that has the furthest date of expiration. Yeah, it’s weird and maybe a little funny, but mostly kind of pathetic.

There are plenty of famous authors who evoke that kind of reaction on Instagram. Don’t be one of those authors. Instead, consider some of the following rational ways to use Instagram to help further your author name and influence.

  1. To Follow Bloggers Who Review Books
    This reason really shouldn’t have to be explained. I mean, duh – if you follow enough book-bloggers, you increase the chance that one or more of them will review your book, which is read by said blogger’s audience. Whether that audience is 100 or 100,000 – isn’t it worth it to reach that amount of potential buyers of your book for free?


  1. For Self-Promotion and Marketing
    Instagram can be used for promoting your name or your newest book. You can host a contest with a free copy of your book as the prize. You can ask for photo submissions that revolve around the theme of your book or you can just use photos to connect to your fans and readers. As BuzzFeed’s article on book covers altered to include James Franco shows us, humor can be a great marketing strategy.

Inspire Yourself and Your Fans

Visual imagery can be the source of inspiration on a daily basis. All you need to do is catalogue it and you have your own visual diary for defeating the worst case of writer’s block. Not only can these photos inspire you, but they may equally inspire your readers and fans, who will in turn, recommend their network to follow you as well. Many writers use inspirational tweets and Facebook posts to reach their readers. Your followers will respond well to inspirational messages that reaffirm their beliefs.

Collaborate with Your Fans
This could be a marketing project or it could be research for a new novel. Projects can range from social research to just-for-fun, to things like #100HappyDays, which seems to be a combination of both. 100HappyDays is inspirational, fun, challenging and engaging. Hosting a project like this could provide you with tons of material for your next book, or it could simply attract a ton of followers — aka, readers.

  1. What better place to advertise your stunning new book cover than Instagram? Book covers are certainly one of the most powerful tools you have in your arsenal for attracting a new reader. I don’t know about you, but if I come across an author I’ve never heard of, but they write in a genre I like to read and they have a fantastically interesting book cover – I am much more likely to purchase that book. By the way, this is also another reason to never cut any corners on your cover art.


  1. Give Fans/Readers an Inside Look at Your Life
    You don’t have to reveal all the skeletons in your closet, but a few pictures of your most recent vacation, your adorable pets, a weekend trip to the harbor and a ride on a boat will get you noticed — people love this kind of stuff. The more you draw in your readers and fans by showing that you’re just like them, the more they will be inclined to follow you and interact with your more professional work.
  1. Follow Other Authors
    Especially if you are a new author, following more experienced authors certainly can’t hurt. Even the most experienced author is not exempt from gaining insight from other authors. Networking with other authors as a new or previously unpublished author can be eye-opening and present you with opportunities you may not have otherwise come across.

Instagram is one of the best social apps you can use as an author, because not only does it give us a rest from all those words, but it can be used in so many ways—personally or professionally. You just have start thinking less in words and more in pictures.



6 of the Most Prolific Authors

Every day we get up, drink a gallon of coffee, and head to the computer to see if today is the day we’ll actually accomplish something. Spoiler alert, the answer is usually “not as much as we hoped, unless you count number of cat photos Liked.” Between Facebook notifications, tweets, and tantalizing daily deal emails (not to mention actual coworkers), there’s no shortage of distractions to—oh, hang on. Gotta update my status.

Right. So, for most of us, getting things done is easier said than…done, but there are always those outliers who seem immune to this very real phenomenon. Take, for example, the six authors below, who managed to churn out hundreds or even thousands of published works during their careers. True, some of them had the advantage of being alive before the internet existed, but their collective output is still enough to make the checked-off items on your to-do list look positively insignificant.

Charles Hamilton
The London-born writer put pen to paper at a very early age and never set it down. Historians estimate he wrote a total of around 100 million words, most as short stories for magazines. If you divide that word count by the length of an average novel, old Charlie published the equivalent of about 1,200 books. That earns him the gold crown as the most prolific writer in history.

It’s often difficult to attribute work directly to Hamilton since he used over 20 different pen names throughout his career. Does Cecil Herbert ring a bell? T Harcourt Lewelyn? E.S. Turner? How about Frank Richards? That last one was Hamilton’s most-used nom de plume, and it’s also the one associated with his most famous creation, Billy Bunter. “Famous” if you were a boy between 1908 and 1940, anyway.

Barbara Cartland
If you’ve ever read a romance novel, chances are you’ve heard of Barbara Cartland. The author produced just over 720 novels in her career, many of which were nuzzled into into her specialty niche: Victorian-era romance. She holds the Guinness World Record for most novels written in a single year: a healthy 23, or two per month. Kinda makes NaNoWriMo participants seem, I don’t know, lazy. Cartland’s publishing credits didn’t end after her death in 2000. Several manuscripts were released posthumously as the Barbara Cartland Pink Collection. Go ahead, try to stop her from writing.

Isaac Asimov
One of the “Big Three” hard science fiction writers of his era, Asimov is credited with over 500 published works covering almost the entire Dewey Decimal System. He’s best known for sci-fi classics like I, Robot and the Foundation series, but he also wrote history books, screenplays, mystery short stories, and “explainer” columns in magazines to introduce complex scientific concepts to the masses. Basically, you name it, Asimov probably wrote it.

Corín Tellado
María del Socorro Tellado López, who wrote under the name Corin Tellado, published over 4,000 works in her lifetime. Like Barbara Cartland, Tellado worked in the romance genre, only her stories weren’t as steamy. She lived in Spain and needed to keep erotic content out of her tales to avoid censorship, resulting in a stories of characters in modern-day settings who could only hint at the passion that boiled in their loins. Despite the relatively tame content, Tellado sold over 400 million books, so she was certainly doing something right.

Stephen King
While he may not have numbers as high as the others on this list, you can’t ignore the writing force that is Stephen King. Since his 1973 debut novel, Carrie, King has released over 60 full-length works of fiction and almost 200 short stories. He’s created screenplays and written both comics and nonfiction. Just about every idea that comes out of his brain is eventually adapted into a movie. All he needs to do is live long enough, and he’ll have a comfortable spot with the other insanely prolific writers of the world.

R. L. Stine
Most of us know R. L. Stine as the author of Goosebumps and Fear Street, the long-running horror series aimed at tweens and teens. They’ve been going strong since the early ’90s and make up the bulk of Stine’s 400-million career sales figure. At one point, he was writing new installments at the rate of one every two weeks. One book. Two weeks. 



Publishers rejected me, but I went on to earn six-figures selling 1,000 books a day

Millions dream of quitting the grind and replacing their income through a rewarding, creative endeavor.

And what could be simpler – and more glamorous – than writing a bestselling novel?

After years of not knowing how the next month’s bill would be paid, thriller writer Mark Edwards is among a new and growing elite of high-earning authors who broke away from traditional publishing routes and self-published online.

His seventh solo book, The Lucky Ones, realized this week, comes five years after he walked out the last in a succession of dead-end jobs that included manning customer complaints line for a rail company.

The average British author earns just £12,500 a year, according to the Society of Editors, while Mr Edwards now takes home a comfortable five-figure income.

And the advent of ebooks played a major part in his success.

“When I started writing at 23 and trying to get published, no-one had heard of Amazon”, says Mr Edwards, now 46.

“I wrote four or five novels over the next five years and spent all that time trying to get an agent. The internet barely existed. You had to buy the Writers’ and Artists’ Handbook and write to every agent with a synopsis and the first three chapters with a stamped address envelope.


“You be constantly getting these brown envelopes coming back, thudding onto your doorstep with rejection slips.”

Then, as today, writers need agents to put their work in front of the publishers who hold the keys to bookshops. He eventually got an agent in the late Nineties but it was the first of many false dawns. By 2001 he still didn’t have a book deal, had been “dumped” by the agent and was back to square one.

But his luck looked to have turned when the BBC bought the “option” on Killing Cupid, a new novel he’d co-written with Louise Voss, a long-time collaborator. This meant the broadcaster had the rights to turn the book into a television drama.

“They paid us a small amount, about £2,000, but it was the first money I’d ever earned from writing”, he says.

“But the BBC option never came to anything, as happens to 99pc of these things.”

All this time Mr Edwards was juggling writing in his spare time with a full-time job. First at the Child Support Agency – a now defunct Government body that dealt with child maintenance – and then at Connex, the predecessor to the South Eastern rail franchise.


“I was working on customer services, it was dreadful”, he remembers.

“I was on the phone all day being shouted at by commuters and answering complaint letters which always contained the phrase ‘beyond the wit of man’”.

“But the thing was these were the kind of jobs where you didn’t take it home with you. When I finished for the day I didn’t think about it. I was able to completely separate work and writing time. It also drove me on, I thought there must be something better than this.”

Eventually he got a job he actually liked, at a publisher in London, which presented another problem. More happy at work, he was quickly promoted and spent gradually less and less time writing.

“By 2007 I’d pretty much given up on being an author. I had a career and started having children and I didn’t have the mental energy any more. My day job and family took over my life. I thought ‘well I’ve given it my best shot, it didn’t work out’ but I could go away with some pride at having tried.”

How ebooks changed the game

Then, in 2010, Amazon launched its successful ebook reader, the Kindle, in Britain. Hundreds of thousands of new book were suddenly available far cheaper than traditional paper and hardback copies. Over a million out-of-copyright titles could also be purchased, often for pennies.


The launch fuelled a boom in self-publishing. For the first time there was a route for aspiring writers to circumvent agents and publishers and release their work at minimal cost.

Kindle Direct Publishing, the best known, gives authors two royalty options. Ebooks priced for a minimum of 99p, and less than 3 megabytes in size, earn a 35pc royalty. Or you earn 70pc royalties but the minimum price is higher, at £1.99. (See box for details).

“I read about how American authors were self-publishing and have quite a bit of success. Louise and I decided to publish Killing Cupid, the book the BBC never did anything with.

“I bought a cheap stock image and got my sister-in-law, who’s a graphic designer, to make the cover and I formatted the books myself.

“We priced it at 99p, which meant we got about 30p a copy. On day one we sold two – one to my mother-in-law and one to my boss. I spent all my spare time trying to get people interested, I was using social media and blogger, and completely neglecting my family.”

Eventually the book got into the Top 100 on the Kindle charts. At the same time the pair published another book, Catch your Death, which took off, quickly selling 1,000 copies a day. In a few months, the books were number one and two in the best-sellers’ list.


They were the first self-publishing British authors to get to the top spot on Amazon. Self-publishing was big news in 2011 and TV appearances followed. This led to a four-book deal with HarperCollins, one of the world’s largest publishers, and an advance of roughly £50,000 each.

It was then that Mr Edwards decided to take the plunge. He quit his job for good and moved out of London, to the West Midlands where property was cheaper, to focus on writing. But again the dream was derailed.

‘The bookshops were full of erotic novels’

“The summer of 2012 was probably the worst possible time to bring a book out. Bookshops were full of erotic novels trying to replicate the success of Fifty Shades of Grey and the London OIympics were on.

“The books came out and disappeared without a trace.”

By the time the third book, All Fall Down, was ready to be released the deal had turned sour.  HarperCollins told them no shops would stock the fourth book; Edwards doesn’t think they’ll ever sell enough copies to pay back the advance.

His big break in tatters, Edwards was having sleepless nights.

“I had a mortgage, two children and one more on the way and had maxed out my credit card and overdraft limit. We really were one unexpected bill from disaster.”


In one last throw of the dice he updated a book he’d started a decade a go but never finished. He calculated he needed to sell 20,000 copies of The Magpies at £1.99 to clear his debts.

“I remember lying in bed on Good Friday clicking ‘refresh’ and realising that it wasn’t working, I wasn’t going to get anywhere near the number of sales I needed”, he says.

“But suddenly things turned around. A couple of hours later I hit refresh and I could see sales coming in really fast. The book started going up the rankings. I dropped the price to 99p and it kept climbing until it was number one. It was such an incredible relief.”

At its peak, the book sold 3,000 copies a day for two months. Amazon’s own publishing company approached him and signed him to its crime and thriller brand Thomas & Mercer. Since then he’s had six solo books published and sold over two million books.

Now earning over £100,000 a year, Edwards has bought a bigger house and begun to save into a pension for the first time. He gets monthly royalties from the first four books published by Amazon but says it’s difficult to know how much he’ll be earning beyond the next year or so.


He worries that the public’s appetite for the thriller genre may be waning.

“I never feel like I can rest on my laurels. I’ve seen it go wrong before so I’m determined to keep working, hopefully for ever.”

Mark Edwards’ latest book – The Lucky Ones – is published this week. A psychological thriller set in Shropshire, it follows a detective on the case of a serial killer whose victims die smiling. 



Why Nonfiction Audiobooks Are The Perfect Choice For First-Time Listeners

Before I started listening to audiobooks, I will admit, I was a bit skeptical of the idea. A hardcore bibliophile, I have always felt a certain attachment to physical books, but once I tried listening to my first nonfiction audiobook, I was obsessed. If you have never tried this kind of “reading,” nonfiction audiobooks just may be the genre that gets you hooked.

Audiobook listening is a unique way to experience a book that is not only convenient for the reader on the go, but enriching to anyone who wants to be told a story the good old-fashioned way: out loud. Whether you’re listening to a novel narrated by your favorite actor or a memoir read by the writer herself, audiobooks give you a new way to connect with your subject matter and the story itself.


Like traditional reading, audiobooks are amazing across genres, but when it comes to the best audiobook listening, there are even more benefits when the genre is nonfiction. Nonfiction is a broad genre, and under it’s bookish umbrella you can find everything from memoirs and biographies to historical and scientific writing.  So whether you’re trying to learn about a new topic, understand another language, or get through a difficult read on an intimidating subject, audiobooks are there to help you understand and enjoy.

A lot of people avoid nonfiction books in favor of fiction for fear that nonfiction is dull, boring, or hard. As a huge nonfiction reader, I can tell you firsthand that the genre has plenty of excitement, emotion, and interesting action to keep any reader interested. But, if you are still worried that a nonfiction book on World War II will be too tedious to get through, audiobooks may just be your new best friend.

With an audiobook, narrators help enhance the story in new and exciting ways that simply reading words on a page can’t do. By using interesting tones and audible emphasis, or incorporating addition audio clips and other voices and even other actors, audiobook narrators have the power to to turn even the most mundane chapters into engaging story hours just like that.



How to Become an Amazon Best Selling Author

Research other titles in your book’s genre among books that are on the Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store list. To find a Kindle book’s sales rank on Amazon – scroll down and look for “Product Information.” If the book is in the “top 100” it will be given a sales rank for its categories. If it’s not in the top 100 no sales rank will appear in “Product Information.”

Notice whether the top books in your book category all contain the same “keyword” or phrase. Use the Amazon “type ahead” feature (the search bar on their site) and type in your key word or phrase and you’ll notice how it “types ahead” suggesting book titles for you. “Type ahead” phrases result from many people searching for a particular title. Incorporate that phrase or keyword into your title and your book will be found more easily on Amazon.

2. Have your book professionally edited.

Books full of typos, awkward sentences and grammatical errors are returned for a refund more often. Amazon rarely questions a return so do whatever you can to avoid that. The money you spend on professional editing is well worth it.

3. Pay to have your book formatted properly.

Amazon Kindle books look best with “Mobi” formatting. While you can upload a book to Kindle in a Word document it may not lay out properly, so do not skimp on paying to have your book formatted.

4. Create an attractive cover.

People do judge a book by its cover. When you go on Amazon the first thing to attract your attention is the cover. To create a good cover, spend some time browsing books in the same genre as your book. Pick the top 10 or 15 selling books and study their covers. Look at the typography, the layout and the color choices and take notes. You’ll come away with some excellent ideas for your own book.

5. Choose the right category for your book.

Categorizing books lets readers search for the topics they are interested in. Amazon leaves it to you to categorize your book when you upload it to your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account.

To help readers find your book ask yourself this question, “If I were looking for my book, what categories would I look under?” Then list all the categories you think your book might fit into.

Next, research the top ten to 20 books selling on Amazon which are like yours. Check out how they categorized their books under “Product Information” and categorize yours similarly. Amazon allows you to choose two category paths. Make sure you take advantage of this and fill in both.

Drill down on the categories so that your book will stand out among its competition. For example, if you write a self-help book – don’t end the category path at “self-help.” What else is your book about? Add another related category sub-path beyond “self-help” to your book and then another until you’ve covered every possible sub-genre to your book might be searched for under.

6. Pick the right keywords.

When you upload your book to KDP you are given up to seven keywords or phrases to use for your book. Do your homework by researching keywords and phrases that people might search under to find your book. And do make sure to use all seven!

Use the type ahead feature on Amazon to see if any of the keywords or phrases you have in mind come up. Use the ones that come up on Amazon as they directly relate to on-site searches for books.

Check out popular keyword searches on Google AdWords too but, use these only if necessary after you’ve exhausted all the keywords and phrases you found on Amazon first. Amazon is its own search engine so when you identify a keyword or phrase on Amazon it is showing up because it is a popular search – so use it. (You can also go back and change keywords. This allows you to experiment with what works best for finding your book.)

7. Write a good description.

Amazon gives you up to 3000 words to write a description. Use as many words as necessary to write a compelling description for your book. This is your book’s “sales page” so put on your copywriting hat when you write it.

8. Price it right.

People will not buy an overpriced digital book unless you are a famous author. If your book is less than 100 pages don’t price yourself out of a sale by listing it at the top price range ($9.99) for getting a 70 percent royalty on Amazon.

After playing around with the pricing on my books I found that, “less is more” in terms of book sales.

9. To give your book away or to not give your book away – that is the question.

Amazon has a program called Kindle Select. You enroll your book for 90 days at a time. You cannot be selling this book on any other websites including your own during the time your book is enrolled.

Enrolling your book in KDP Select allows “borrowing” of your book for free by Amazon Prime members. It also gives you the option of choosing 5 days out of the 90 days your book is enrolled to give your book away for free.

I enrolled my second book in KDP and gave away 464 free copies over two days. The book also rose to #1 in Free books in the Kindle store but, as soon as it wasn’t free it quickly sank right off the best-selling list. Before I gave it away for free the book was selling just fine and consistently ranking between #10 -20. It took nearly two weeks for it to rise back up again and to re-appear on the best-selling list.

My theory is that I saturated my market too quickly. I’m not likely to give my book away for free again. You may feel differently though and you should experiment with this. Some people love it and rave about it. If you are using your book to develop leads for your business and not to create passive income then definitely go for it. “Free” does sell.

10. Get reviews.

Give your book out to people and ask them to read it and please put a review on Amazon. Amazon reviews do help sell your books. Never ever pay for reviews. All reviews must be genuine and come from the heart of your reader.

11. Promote your book!

Display your book prominently on your blog. Write posts related to your book’s topic where you can showcase the book. Link to your book on Amazon and put that link in your posts. Start a fan page on Facebook and promote your book there. If your book is selling – thank buyers by tweeting on Twitter and a posting on Facebook. If your book hits the best-selling list – announce it on Facebook and Tweet about it. You’ve got to create your own buzz.

Organize a virtual book tour where your blogging friends can interview you about the book or review the book. Write guest posts related to your book’s topic and mention the book in your post.

Always keep your eyes open for ways to get publicity for your book. Offer to giveaway the PDF of the book to a reader who leaves the best comment about why they want to read the book and has shared the book on social media.

These are the strategies I use and they are working – and with a little effort and planning they can work for your book too. Here’s to seeing your book on the Amazon Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store List!



How To Create a Podcast That Brings in More Business

If you have an inquiring mind and speak clearly, chances are, you would excel at podcasting. A podcast is like a radio show that you produce, but people can listen to it any time they like and you can record it any time you prefer. There’s no set schedule, and the equipment you need to get started is inexpensive. All you need is a theme for your show and some good ideas.



Have you ever listened to the radio and thought, “I wish I didn’t have to listen to all these ads”? If you’re like me, 99 percent of the time the ads on the radio are for things that don’t even apply to you, your interests or your needs. I often wonder about the advertisers — are they really taking the time to test and analyze whether their money spent on radio ads is actually converting? Or are radio ads just a strategy some marketing consultant told them to implement and no one is paying attention to see if there’s a return on investment?

Imagine the difference in experience when someone is listening to a high quality, informative, interesting podcast that’s ad-free. At the end of the podcast, perhaps the host (you) says, “If you’ve just heard this podcast, you earn a promotional code! Enter the code ‘WINNER’ on our website and get 10 percent off all our new…” Or “Get our free ebook on this topic at…” If you just gave 15 to 30 minutes of quality content, you’ve earned the right to pitch. And your audience is much more likely to trust you and follow your direction because you’ve earned the right to pitch to them respectfully and fairly.

According to an article, “The Rising Popularity of Podcasts,” there are six reasons a business owner should consider podcasting:

  1. It doesn’t take much to get started.
  2. Podcasts are perfect for storytelling.
  3. They’re extremely convenient to consume (most are only 15 to 30 minutes long).
  4. You can become known as an industry expert.
  5. Your listeners are in it for the long haul (because they subscribe).
  6. You can reach a new, targeted audience.

How to set up your podcast

There are three phases to setting up a podcast.

Phase One: Show format

Before you decide on your show’s format, answer the following questions:

1. Do you want to produce your show every week? Every other week? Monthly? Don’t do a daily show unless you have a clear strategy in place. Start weekly or twice a month. That’ll be plenty.

2. Will you have guests? (Most do!) Who are the top 100 people you’d like to interview? (Hint: Choose people who have big lists to promote your interview of them to, or who are exceptionally interesting, or whose friendship could really grow your business.)

3. What’s your one specific statement? My literary agency’s statement is “We sell good books to good publishers.” If I were doing a podcast for that company, that is the last thing I’d say at the end of every podcast, so people remember it. If you have a USP (Unique Selling Proposition — something your company does to make you unique or rare in your category), put it on an index card so you can use it at the end of your podcasts.

Phase Two: Set up your studio

You don’t have to start out with anything expensive. To start out, you’ll need the following items:

  • A quality microphone
  • A pop shield that goes over the top of the microphone (about $20)
  • An extender arm to move the microphone closer or further from your mouth
  • Headphones that don’t “leak” sound (in-ear or cupping your ears)

Phase Three: Launch like a linebacker

First you need to arrange a time to talk with your first guest. Then do some research about your guest and prepare a list of good questions that you want to ask him or her. (Decide if you want to share the list with your guest in advance — it’s not mandatory!)

Prepare yourself and your space. Put the dog outside. Shut your office door. Unplug the phone and turn off your cell. Get rid of ambient noise (air conditioning, forced-air heating, a fan etc.). You don’t need a swanky sound-proofed studio to do this. Take a few breaths and remember that this is your first podcast, and it’s normal to make a few mistakes.

When the time comes, thank your guest, tell them how excited you are and promise them that you will give them time to pitch their book, song, product, website or whatever it may be at the end of the interview.

Hit record when the conversation begins. Relax during the interview. Pay 100 percent attention to your guest. Talk naturally, but get your questions in, unless something more interesting happens, and you find yourselves walking down a different but fascinating conversational path.

At the end of the interview, ask your guest if there’s anything else you should have asked; prompt them to talk about their product or service and repeat the URL after they mention it.

Stick in your call to action — “Come to the website to get your discount code” or “Free ebook” or whatever it is that you want to pitch — and remind your audience when the next episode will be released. Tell them where, and how to get your podcasts. Finally, end with your USP, give the audience the hyperlink one more time, and thank them for listening. You did it! Podcast one is complete!

Publishing and promoting

Where do you put your finished podcast? How do people find out about it? When your audio file is ready to go, you can upload it to a site like www.LibSyn.com, which hosts podcasts in the same way that Vimeo or YouTube host videos and the same way your website host sponsors your website. From there, you promote it and make it available in various distribution arenas. The website http://www.LibSyn.com creates the RSS feed (Rich Site Summary) that you can use to connect to sites like iTunes, www.Stitcher.com and Google Play.

Podcast expert Stephen Woessner advises, “Just because somebody doesn’t have a network or a platform or a [mailing] list already doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start one. Go spend a couple hundred bucks on a Facebook campaign, create a website, link your website to your podcast, which you’ve uploaded to iTunes, and use Pat Flynn’s Smart Podcast Player. Drive people to your website, give them a great gift to open the podcast link.”

Making money from your podcast

Once you have a lot of regular listeners, you can:

  • Sell sponsorships 
  • Have people pay to be interviewed by you
  • Sell advertising (like a radio station does)
  • Sell from the podcast (an ad at the end, a pitch during)
  • Convert listeners by giving them something on your website and then having your reps sell to them directly.

There are pros and cons to each option. Think it through before you determine your strategy.

All the podcasters I know consistently describe it as the single most important thing that exploded their lead generation. Of course, we know that once upon a time in the history of American business, the cotton gin and the telegraph did similarly amazing things. But heck, you’re here now. May as well take advantage of the technology that’s working at this moment in history.



Mastering Drones by Adidas Wilson on Amazon and ITunes

Wesley Snipes fights evil with his pen in exciting ‘Talon of God’

Got a cloaked warrior fighting evil at night and carrying one seriously epic sword? Naturally, you need Wesley Snipes involved.

Talon of God (Harper Voyager, 368 pp., *** out of four stars) isn’t a Blade movie and Snipes isn’t playing an action-film character. Instead, the actor makes his debut as a novelist with a pretty entertaining supernatural adventure about the war between angels and demons — literal and metaphorical — on the streets of Chicago.

Co-written with fellow first-timer Ray Norman, Talon centers on young ER doctor Lauryn Jefferson, recently out of med school, who’s become estranged from her strict Baptist preacher dad and rapper younger brother.

After getting off a long shift at the hospital one night, she encounters something surreal: one of her patients, a homeless man, turns into an otherworldly monster. Then the situation doubles down on the weird when a tall stranger on a motorcycle walks into her life and saves the day with old-school weaponry and holy water.

Together with her vice cop ex-boyfriend Will, Lauryn and the stoic protector named Talon unearth a plot to use a sulfur-laced drug additive laced to infect the populace of the Windy City and ready them for a mass demon possession.

Talon reveals himself to be part of an ancient sect of warriors and sees something special in Lauryn — not to mention that the substance affecting everyone else doesn’t work on her — and her initial skepticism turns to respect as the scale of the threat becomes apparent.

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Themes of faith abound through the narrative. While not a big talker in general, Talon speaks mostly in Bible verses and lines from the Gospels, and other parts of the Good Book inspire chapter titles. But Snipes is never holier-than-thou, instead weaving Christianity into the plot naturally and making it fascinating rather than sanctimonious. (The author puts a little spin on it, too, naming the book’s devilish big bad Christopher St. Luke.)


The religious bent also works well with the aspects of science and procedural storytelling. The green slime that becomes the chemical agent potentially spelling apocalyptic doom for the city fuels some of the more action-packed scenes, and turning drug addiction into a hellish outbreak is extremely effective.

With Lauryn, the novel introduces a female character who’s grounded in terms of her family and way of life but also a cool heroine with whom you’ll want to spend more time.

Snipes has been in Hollywood long enough to know he should lay track for a sequel. Lauryn acts as a counter to some of Talon’s more over-the-top elements.

Old-school fans of Passenger 57 and Demolition Man will appreciate that Snipes has just as much punch with a keyboard as with his fists, and the realm of urban fantasy has an impressive new disciple.



33 Strategies of Kama Sutra by Adidas Wilson

Amazon Best Sellers Number 4

I just hit Amazon best sellers list in a certain category and I couldn’t be more happier with the hard work and determination I post everyday. I want to succeed as bad as I want to breathe. I always say, Universe do you hear me ! My name is Adidas Wilson, and this is my life. To produce quality content, to master my craft. To keep grinding because tomorrow is not promised. #Motivation 

Willow Grove author sues writers, Netflix for allegedly stealing his story for frat film

Is the Netflix original film Burning Sands, about the torturous travails of fraternity hazing, actually original?


Or was writer-director Gerard McMurray’s feature, which premiered on the streaming site in January, actually lifted from a novel of the same name by Al Quarles Jr., a Philadelphia School District administrator and author?

Both novel and film are set at predominantly black colleges and tell the story of straitlaced students who respond to the pressure to fit in by rushing a fraternity. Both stories focus on the sometimes inhuman treatment of pledges by older frat members.


Quarles’ attorney filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in Pennsylvania charging that McMurray and co-screenwriter Christine T. Berg plagiarized Quarles’ two-volume novel Burning Sands, which he self-published through Amazon in 2014.  (The suit can be accessed online here.) The suit names Netflix and Mandalay Entertainment in addition to the screenwriters.

“Al is a great guy who put his heart and soul into these books,” Philadelphia attorney Brian Lentz said Tuesday. “We think that the evidence will show they took his creative work without his permission.”

A Netflix representative Tuesday said the subscription service would not comment on the suit. Calls for comment from McMurray’s and Berg’s lawyers were not immediately returned.


Quarles, 50, of Willow Grove, said he was shocked to find the film had “as many as 100 points of similarities” to his books. “There are some differences, but the heart of the movie was taken directly from my books,” he said.


Quarles said he was immediately struck by the film’s title, identical to his book.

“But that in itself isn’t a smoking gun,” he said. “Burning sands is an expression you would hear around fraternities. It’s a term to describe coming into a fraternity, crossing the sands, and making it in.”

At the heart of the dispute are two personal stories. McMurray has said that he based his film on his own experiences as an undergraduate at Howard University. Quarles, an administrator for the School District’s homeless and emergency services, also drew from his own life. The Abington High School alum attended Millersville University in Lancaster County, where in the late 1980s he pledged Kappa Alpha Psi, although his experience did not mirror those in his novel.

“I loved my fraternity,” he said Tuesday while en route to a vacation in Orlando with his wife and three children. “At Millersville I didn’t go through any sort of torture,” he said, referring to the horrors faced by the young men he depicts in his novel. “But I know some excesses were committed in the 1980s.”

Quarles said he began the novel nearly 18 years ago. “I started it on an old Mac word processor. It didn’t even have spell-check,” he said. “I wrote through to the end, then I took a year off and went back to it. I would do that, work on it for a while, then wait a year. So it was a real process.”

He published the first volume, Burning Sands: My Brother’s Keeper Volume 1, in 2014. “We’re pretty sure that the [Netflix film] wasn’t written until 2016,” he said.



Buying houses in cash and selling millions: meet self-publishing’s ‘hidden’ authors

When Keith Houghton bought his four-bedroom detached house earlier this year, he did a rare thing for an author: he paid cash, with earnings from his books.

Keith who, you may ask? Houghton is one of a handful of so-called “hidden” bestsellers: his self-published crime thrillers are ebooks, sales of which are not monitored by the UK’s official book charts (if they don’t have ISBNs, which self-published titles often don’t).

Houghton made his money over the past six years by selling more than 500,000 books, chiefly through his Gabe Quinn series of thrillers. In a world in which traditionally published authors struggle to make £7,000 a year from their work, it is no wonder Houghton says: “I feel like I have won the lottery.”

And he is not alone. A handful of writers who top the Kindle charts, including LJ Ross and Rachel Abbott, have also defied rejections from publishers and agents to knock out seven-figure sales for their brand of crime and thriller writing. This, in a market where it only takes around 3,000 sales to top the hardback charts.

Houghton’s story is typical of many self-published writers: after notching up more than 100 rejection slips, the Lancashire-based computer repairman decided to self-publish his first Quinn novel, Killing Hope. Mending computers in Leigh may have made him seem an odd fit for hardboiled crime set in LA; at first, readers seemed to think so, as he struggled to sell even a handful of copies online. So Houghton gave them away instead. Within a day, Killing Hope had been downloaded 25,000 times.

“I was stunned,” he recalls – although his shock was as much at the thought that he had given away £25,000 in profits. “But once it reverted back to being paid for, it started to get traction in the charts and within three months, it had sold in to six figures,” he says. “I’m still quite shocked.”

For avid reader and former City lawyer Ross, writing was a distraction during her maternity leave. After she contacted 12 agents with her genre-crossing crime novel Holy Island, she had a couple of potential offers on the table. “But when I looked at the terms of the contract, my husband asked if I had thought of publishing through Kindle, because the terms for authors seemed far more favourable,” she says.



My New Travel Book Cover

My new travel book cover arrived today and I think it’s one of the most beautiful covers I’ve seen so far.  I order them early to give me that added motivation to finish and publish. This book will be broken down by regions. Also i’m doing research to make sure it’s different from other travel books but provides quality. The audio book will also be available this year. Adidas Wilson on Amazon, Itunes, and B&N. 


Audiobooks trending among millennials

Over the course of growing up (if one can even consider me a ‘grownup’) and gaining my education, I lost what formerly was a fierce love of reading, and I became obsessed with productivity.

At some point, my days of being engrossed in a Harry Potter novel for eight hours at a time ended. Now my day is a series of tasks involving school, fitness, work and communications through email or phone.

There are probably multiple factors to blame for this lost love. Whether it is a distraction from using my phone for social media in my free time, being burnt out from having too much academic reading, or conforming with society’s general obsession with productivity rather than leisure, I cannot remember the last time I read an entire novel.

A trend among people in their 20s combines both reading and productivity. According to a Wall Street Journal article, “Audiobooks are the fastest growing format in the book business today.”


The idea of this is immediately intriguing to me.

In a QZ feature, Thu-Huong Ha writes “Audiobooks are a way for people who were once big readers to keep up with their youthful curiosity. As they find themselves with less leisure time than they had in college, the gym and the car become opportunities to be stimulated.”

Most of my classmates are similar to me and have a “sleep when you’re dead” mindset when it comes to productivity. We are a generation fearful of our downtime or moments with nothing to do.

Audiobooks are the opportunity to maximize time when that would otherwise be spent in a not explicitly productive way. In other words, audiobooks can fill car rides, workouts or even time spent getting ready in the mornings with entertainment.

Another benefit is that reading is associated with a wider vocabulary, higher intelligence level, and being a generally well-rounded person. The Audio Publishers Association reports, “We find that our users are well educated, well paid, and successful.”

QZ reports that audiobook listeners tend to be above the U.S. average when it comes to income and education.

As a former book lover who seeks knowledge and wants to stay well informed on a variety of subjects, audiobooks are the perfect opportunity to maximize growth in my life during my downtime.

“Audiobooks mean we never have to be idle,” Thu-Huong Ha writes. “They’re a cure to widespread restless mind syndrome, with its daily self-imposed nagging to make progress: Be more effective, says your productivity tracker. Do and learn more, says your to-do list. Optimize your to-do list, says your faddish new notebook.”

One can even listen to an audiobook at faster speeds in order to limit distraction in pauses during the reading.

Although there is value to having downtime when the mind can wander, audiobooks are an incredibly convenient way to become more cultured and well-rounded.




My Ultimate Goal for Self Publishers

How Becoming a Published Author Can Accelerate Your Success

It doesn’t matter what industry you are in—today, customers and clients demand to work with experts. In some cases, they want to work only with the marquee names in a particular field.


As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to take the right steps to demonstrate your expertise and authority—and, if possible, be seen as a bit of a celebrity in your business.

The best way I know how to make that happen: Write a book. The credibility that you can achieve among your ideal clients and prospects by being a published author is amazing. I know—I’ve written or co-written dozens of books, and they’ve have a huge impact in establishing me as an expert in my niche.


The good news: Writing and publishing a credibility-building book is nowhere near as difficult as it might seem at first glance. I recently spoke with Rob Kosberg to get his advice on generating tons of new business using books as primary marketing tools. Kosberg is the author of the best-seller Life After Debt and the founder of Best Seller Publishing, which helps business owners write, publish and successful market their own bestselling books. To date, Kosberg has helped 300 authors in 25 niches use books to accelerate their success.

1. Everybody has a book in them. The most common response most entrepreneurs have to the idea of writing a book is, “I’ve lead a pretty mundane life that isn’t the basis for a book.” Wrong, says Kosberg. “If you’re a business owner, you’ve had experiences and stories that are book-worthy,” he says. “Even if your backstory isn’t especially exciting, you have examples of how you have helped your clients or customers, and that’s more than enough.”


2. Don’t go it alone. That said, getting your own story and ideas out of you and into a well-written book isn’t an instinctive process. Get help by working with a ghost writer who can capture your stories, your insights and—most important—your voice. A lot of entrepreneurs think it’s somehow cheating or being unethical if they don’t write the book entirely by themselves, but that’s simply not true. It’s perfectly acceptable for you to be the author—the person with the expertise and advice—and work with a writer who can get that information on the page in a way that positions you as an authority. Bonus: A writer will help you get your book done faster than if you go it alone—and can even help make the process fun.

3. Use the book to generate leads. The biggest mistaken assumption that business owners usually make when doing books is that they’ll make a lot of money from book sales. That’s almost never the case, unless you manage to get on Oprah.


It’s OK if your book doesn’t fly off the shelves (or the e-shelves). The reason: Your book isn’t an end—it’s a means to get lots of new clients, get booked for speaking engagements at events, get booked on local radio and TV and generally raising awareness of you (and your expertise) among ideal prospects.


That’s why your book effort should be accompanied by a lead generation strategy—which could be as simple as having prospects call a phone number you give out during a radio show appearance to get a copy of the book and more information. Or you can use various e-marketing and direct marketing strategies.


Pro tip: Be willing to give away your book for free. The leads you can generate from simply getting your book into prospects’ hands are much more valuable than the cost of the book itself. For example, one of Kosberg’s clients used his book to get a speaking engagement at a trade show—the book gave him the credibility to get the attention of the organizers, who had refused to book him in the past. Then he gave away copies of the book to prospects at the event—and ultimately generated $700,000 worth of new business as a result.


4. Take advantage of self-publishing options. In the “old days”—maybe 10 years ago—publishing a book meant going through a publishing company and spending big bucks. They might make you print a thousand copies, most of which would end up sitting in a box in your basement. Now, of course, you can self-publish inexpensively through Amazon and other services. Even better, you can print your book on demand in whatever amount you need.



33 Strategies of Kama Sutra : Make Her Scream – Last Longer, Come Harder, And Be The Best She’s Ever Had

Among the most vulnerable things that can wear out with time is intimacy. Most couples go through difficult times and commitments that take a toll on their intimacy. In most cases, when affection wears among lovers, one person is usually affected than the other. If any of the partners does not take the initiative to restore intimacy into the relationship, chances are your relationship will end up breaking as one or both of you seek intimacy from outside.

It is believed that the human body is a small atomic factory where chemical elements needed in the body are continually manufactured using low quantities of energy. Besides, there is also the production of energy sufficient for extraordinary phenomena. These include higher states of consciousness, paranormal abilities, sublimation of particular energies and higher intelligence. Others are elevated levels of happiness and euphoria, to mention just a few.

If you can move into lovemaking totally the ego disappears, because at the highest peak, at the highest climax of lovemaking, you are pure energy.


This college senior’s app connects young readers of color to books they can relate to

In high school, Kaya Thomas was a self-proclaimed “nerdy black girl.” She loved books, but she often felt like the literary world didn’t love her back.

“As a teen, I was feeling erased by the books I was reading at my libraries and at school,” Thomas says. “The characters were never anything like myself.”

Libraries were filled with pages upon pages of white characters going on adventures dreamed up by white authors. Thomas, however, was looking for books that made her feel seen — and she knew others were, too. 

So when she grew from a nerdy black girl into a black woman studying computer science at Dartmouth, she knew she could help close this literary gap. Now, she’s the creator of a free app called We Read Too, which allows young readers to browse more than 600 books featuring black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, and other non-white characters. All of the featured books are written by people of color, with readers of color in mind.

The simple app specifically targets children and young adults of color, cataloging books in a searchable database by author and title. Each book’s profile features a plot description, a photo of the cover, and links to share the book on social media or buy it online. There’s also a “discover” feature, which randomly matches users to a book by genre.

Thomas is currently fundraising on Indiegogo to expand the app, hoping to feature more than 1,000 books. The campaign has already raised more than $12,000, surpassing its original goal of $10,000.

With the money, Thomas plans to launch an Android version of the app this year, and redesign the iOS version with new features. 



America’s unhealthy obsession with productivity is driving its biggest new reading trend

“I probably started reading ultra hardcore about seven or eight years ago,” says Tom Bilyeu, an entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. “Ultra hardcore” means that Bilyeu reads everywhere: While he brushes his teeth, while he gets dressed, in the 30 seconds it takes to cross rooms in his house, he’s reading.

“My big secret is,” says Bilyeu, “I read in all those little transitional moments.” Plus, for the last eight years, he’s optimized his intellectual consumption by listening to audiobooks at three times the normal speed.

Audiobooks are the latest trend in book publishing. They’re part of the podcast boom, and they’re helping US publishers keep losses down as ebook sales from big-name companies continue to slump. What’s been around since the 1980s has a sleek new face, and today who’s listening, where, and why, offers a glimpse into a new reading trend sweeping the US.

Audiobook listening is growing rapidly specifically with 25- to 34-year-olds, thanks to a pernicious “sleep when you’re dead” mindset reflective of the young, aspirational, educated American: We are fearful of mono-tasking, find downtime distasteful, and feel anxious around idleness. Even when picking socks from a drawer, young workers feel better if information’s somehow flowing into their brains. And this is exactly the restless market that book publishers need.

A fast growing format

Audiobooks are booming audibly in the mobile age. In the US, growth of audio is stronger than any other format, according to the Association of American Publishers, which tracks revenue from 1,200 book publishers. And while audiobook unit sales numbers are still small (from January to September 2016, US traditional publishers sold $240 million in audiobooks, compared to $1.8 billion in hardcover books), the format’s growth has meant more and more publishers are putting their money in people’s ears.

“I am very bullish on audio,” Kristen McClean, executive director of business development for market trends company NPD Book. “This is on the top of my list in terms of things I’m watching.”

“What we’re seeing is something that goes beyond the simple ease of downloading,” she says. “I think there is a shift in consumption going on.”

Audiobooks are a way for people who were once big readers to keep up with their youthful curiosity. As they find themselves with less leisure time than they had in college, the gym and the car become opportunities to be stimulated. “I used to read a lot, and probably stopped when I went to law school,” says Jamie Brooks, a lawyer based in New York City. Now she listens to an audiobook a week, on average three hours a day, on the train to work and before bed.

Audiobook listeners tend to be slightly above average in terms of income and education compared to the rest of the US population, according to 2006 data (pdf), the most recent available from the Audio Publishers Association (APA). “We find that our users are well educated, well paid, and successful,” says Beth Anderson, the executive vice president and publisher of Amazon’s Audible, the world’s largest retailer and publisher of digital audiobooks. “A huge number have masters and PhDs. They’re book lovers.”

Restless minds

Audiobooks mean we never have to be idle. They’re a cure to widespread restless mind syndrome, with its daily self-imposed nagging to make progress: Be more effective, says your productivity tracker. Do and learn more, says your to-do list. Optimize your to-do list, says your faddish new notebook.

Mobile technology helps. David Gross, a doctor and longtime audiobook listener based in Washington DC, recalls the trying process of procuring them 20 years ago: “There’d be a paper catalog, you’d call a phone number, they’d mail you the CDs, you’d keep it for a month, you’d mail it back,” he says. Today, downloads take two minutes, and apps make accelerated listening easy.


America’s unhealthy obsession with productivity is driving its biggest new reading trend

With Audiobooks Hot, Publishers Should Look to Bundle Them With E-Books

I grew up in a rural area with not much to offer an imaginative kid who’d much rather live in London—and, though my parents were very educated, the town I lived in couldn’t support a bookstore. Fortunately, our house was close to the public library, where I basically lived until I was 15, at which point they hired me as a page after school and on weekends.

Holding a new and different book in my room or at the base of the willow tree where I liked to read in summer was a nearly sacred feeling for me. Books were views into worlds I wanted to partake in—worlds where people spoke other languages, had other ways of living, and didn’t have to put up with boys stealing their calculators before chem class and dismantling them. Decades later, I moved from physical books to e-books, which I adopted enthusiastically to cut down on the sheer mass of books in my apartment and avoid lugging around the heavy sagas I love to lose myself in while traveling.

Recently, though, I’ve been part of the return-to-print trend demonstrated by the 3.3% rise of print unit sales in 2016, reported earlier this year by NPD BookScan. The feeling of holding the book, which mattered so much to me as a kid, was just too powerful to let go. I also need to curl up before bed with a long, immersive story—and screen glare tends to affect my sleep thereafter. The soft yellowish invitation of a page, as opposed to the harsh blue glare of a screen, seems more welcoming and soothing.

But I’ve just started a new consulting gig that has me commuting from Staten Island to Manhattan. And I’m not as young as I was—I don’t want to throw my back out carrying Bleak House around, and I’d alike to be able to adjust print size.

In addition, I spend my lunchtime walking around the city, shaking off sedentary desk life. So I’m thinking about different ways of reading, and one possible option was to combine print and digital books. Unfortunately, as Bill Rosenblatt mentions in his blog post, “The Failure of Print and eBook Bundling,” publishers are not exactly leaping to bundle e-books with print titles. And that has to do with Amazon.

Since the inception of the Kindle, publishers have agonized over e-book pricing. When e-book prices from the major publishers reverted back to the agency model, Amazon retaliated by heavily discounting the paperback versions. Thanks to the first-sale doctrine, which applies to physical products, Amazon has the right to set any price it likes on titles it’s purchased from publishers. By positioning print books as a sort of loss leader—the very way they positioned e-books to gain adoption in 2007—Amazon made it more likely that consumers choose physical over digital books.

If book publishers offered their e-books as “sidecar” products to the print versions, they would have to price the e-books at a far lower price than they are now, which would cannibalize their standalone e-book sales. With little financial incentive, publishers have not pushed bundling. With their lower costs, e-books give publishers margin in ways that physical products can’t, and publishers are enormously reluctant to cede ground on that margin—especially given that retailers in the past have instituted processes such as returns and heavy distribution discounts on inventory.

The agency model was a line in the sand; publishers informed trading partners that the days of chipping into their margins were over—which is, in itself, laudable. But in any skirmish between trading partners, it’s the consumer who pays the price. And the consumer is Amazon’s ruthless focus.

What the consumer seems to want, in terms of bundling, is an e-book–audio package. Almost since Amazon bought Audible in 2008, it has been exploring ways to pair Audible files with Kindle books. By 2013 the technology was in place, and Amazon began offering consumers the option of a Kindle-Audible bundle. Because it’s Amazon, we can’t get sales figures on these packages, but because Audible has an enormous catalogue and solid relationships with the Big Five publishers, the bundle offering is fairly widespread on the site.

This seems to be logical. You’re already reading your book on your device. If you’re driving or walking around, you obviously can’t hold text in front of your face, so just connect the device with an audio outlet (Bluetooth speaker, headphones), and pick up where you left off.

Perhaps, then, the answer for me is to curl up in bed with an audiobook.



London book fair: UK publishers cheerfully splash cash as sales rise

On the eve of the London book fair, publishers were excited by news that sales of physical books were up for the second year in a row – 7% more than in 2015. And, following Waterstones’ return to profit for the first time in years, there was also good news for bricks-and-mortar bookshops, with a 4% rise in purchases across the UK. Meanwhile, ebooks declined by 4%, the second consecutive year digital book sales have fallen.

Is this the start of a trend? While it was too early to tell at this year’s book fair, more than one publisher was whistling a happy tune as they entered the Olympia exhibition centre on Tuesday. With print books having a higher average price point than ebooks, and with a weaker pound benefitting exporters – German publishers in particular bought big this year – the mood among the hundreds of publishers was optimistic. As an industry that works 18 months ahead of the reader, the future of publishing looks bright.

There was a lot to be cheerful about. The boom in celebrity memoirs appears to be over, a shift many publishers spoke of with glee. Despite a slew of deals announced at the fair, the starry names attached to books were rock royalty rather than reality TV or soap stars. The only name familiar to the gossip columns was model-turned-actor-turned-author Cara Delevingne, who has lent her name to a YA novel called Mirror, Mirror (“exploring the themes of identity, sexuality, friendship and betrayal”) that will be co-written with author Rowan Coleman.

After David Walliams, Russell Brand, Frank Lampard and Pharrell Williams, Delevingne is the latest in a long line of celebrities choosing to write children’s books rather than a memoir. However, Jeremy Trevathan, publisher at Pan Macmillan, said this change is recognition that fame alone does not make sales. “These books are still in evidence,” he said, “but there has to be more to them. Longevity or a real connection with readers seems to be the order of the day.”

Famous names with book deals announced at the fair were notable for their connections to 80s and 90s pop music, following the success of autobiographies by Bruce Springsteen and Smiths frontman Morrissey. But, though serious money changed hands for titles by musician and DJ Goldie, Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker and Suede’s Brett Anderson, the advances were “sensible” high five- and six-figure sums, rather than stratospheric seven-figure ones, which may now be a relic of the past.



How authors could double their royalties without costing their publishers a cent

My latest Publishers Weekly column announces the launch-date for my long-planned “Shut Up and Take My Money” ebook platform, which allows traditionally published authors to serve as retailers for their publishers, selling their ebooks direct to their fans and pocketing the 30% that Amazon would usually take, as well as the 25% the publisher gives back to them later in royalties.

I’ll be launching the platform with my next novel, Walkaway, in late April, and gradually rolling out additional features, including a name-your-price system inspired by the Humble Bundle and the Ubuntu payment screen.

Selling your own ebooks means that you can have more than one publisher — say, a UK and a US one — and sell on behalf of both of them, meaning that readers anywhere in the world come to one site to buy their books, and the author takes care of figuring out which publisher gets the payment from that purchase.

It’s all an idea whose time has come! My UK publisher, Head of Zeus, is just launched a very similar initiative for authors who don’t want to host their own stores: BookGrail.

Buying an e-book from a website and sideloading it onto your Kindle will never be as easy as buying it from the Kindle store (though if the world’s governments would take the eminently sensible step of legalizing jailbreaking, someone could develop a product that let Kindles easily access third-party stores on the obvious grounds that if you buy a Kindle, you still have the right to decide whose books you’ll read on it, otherwise you don’t really own that Kindle). But a bookstore operated by an author has an advantage no giant tech platform can offer: a chance to buy your e-books in a way that directly, manifestly benefits the author.

As an author, being my own e-book retailer gets me a lot. It gets me money: once I take the normal 30 percent retail share off the top, and the customary 25 percent royalty from my publisher on the back-end, my royalty is effectively doubled. It gives me a simple, fair way to cut all the other parts of the value-chain in on my success: because this is a regular retail sale, my publishers get their regular share, likewise my agents. And, it gets me up-to-the-second data about who’s buying my books and where.

It also gets me a new audience that no retailer or publisher is targeting: the English-speaking reader outside of the Anglosphere. Travel in Schengen, for example, and you will quickly learn that there are tens of millions of people who speak English as a second (or third, or fourth) language, and nevertheless speak it better than you ever will. Yet there is no reliable way for these English-preferring readers, who value the writer’s original words, unfiltered by translation, to source legal e-books in English.

Amazon and its competitors typically refuse outright to deal with these customers, unable to determine which publisher has the right to sell to them. Most publishing contracts declare these nominally non-English-speaking places to be “open territory” where in theory all of the book’s publishers may compete, but in practice, none of them do.




Many companies have taken notice of the trend. B2B brands love eBooks because 67 percent of their customers have read an eBook prior to making purchasing decisions. And of B2C organizations, 34 percent currently use eBooks in their marketing strategies, with 57 percent believing they are an effective form of content for generating leads.

No matter your industry, company size or product offerings, eBooks for marketing are a great way to collect prospects’ information, educate them and start them on the path to conversion.

So what makes a successful eBook? We’ve highlighted several top eBooks we came across in 2016. But if you want an asset that really shines and grabs your readers’ attentions, then check out our tips below on how to create the perfect eBook.

1. Take advantage of industry experts

Use subject matter experts, either internally or externally, to really make your asset stand out. Brafton Project Manager Eric Rubino said this can really boost the effectiveness of your eBook.

“Take advantage of SMEs to improve the quality and thought leadership-ness of your eBook,” he explained. “Their input is incredibly important to ensure you are providing your audience with unique and actionable insights, rather than just repeating commonly known information in a given industry.”

Leverage insight from subject matter experts to lend a more authoritative voice to your eBook.

2. Keep it simple

EBooks are meant to be easily digestible, so make sure your copy reflects that! Avoid using long, drawn-out wording, and cut the fluff! Your readers should be able to quickly get the information they are looking for without having to skim through paragraphs of information.

Also, save your citations for the end of the eBook. Including citations within your copy will make your sentences too long and clunky, taking away from the engaging tone that a successful B2B or B2C eBook should have. As long as you are attributing your information somewhere within the eBook, typically on the last page, you’re covering your bases.

3. Think outside of the box

Piggybacking on the point above, don’t be afraid to have fun with your eBook! They are meant to be engaging pieces of content, and applying a theme or using more conversational language will only help you to meet that goal.

Sure, B2B companies are typically less likely to utilize a more informal voice, but that doesn’t mean you have to be stodgy when it comes to eBooks. Speaking directly to your target audience is a surefire way to engage with them, and even start them on the path to conversion.

4. Create custom imagery

Content that features visuals sees 650 percent more engagement when compared to text-only formats.

By definition, eBooks are assets that include both text and visuals to inform and engage readers.

Custom graphics, whether illustrations or charts, can quickly convey key information you want to highlight, as well as ensure your readers are entertained. You can also include screenshots or photos to show off product features, as this will really help drive your points home when talking about what your customers need.

5. Add interactive elements

Want to kick your eBook engagement up another notch? Consider adding interactive features.

One example would be to create a table of contents that allows prospects to click on a certain section and be taken directly to that page. Or you can include a button on each page that lets readers quickly navigate back to the table of contents. Or both!

Additionally, adding buttons that help readers navigate from page to page makes the eBook easier to navigate and sets it apart from traditional eBooks that require you to scroll through.

6. Pay attention to text formatting

Using the right formatting styles for your copy can make or break your eBook.

“While it’s a no-brainer to make your eBook visually compelling, too often do content marketers often forget about the formatting of text,” Eric said. “Use bolds and colors, and highlight data points or specific sentences in colored boxes or leverage other ways to allow your reader to skim and pull out the important information.”

However, be careful not to overdo the formatting. Highlighting too much, using bullet lists on every page, or over-using other stylistic elements will distract your prospects, and your message will get lost.

With some time, patience and effort, you can develop an effective and successful downloadable asset that takes your eBook marketing goals to the next level and increases your conversions.



The Publishing Industry Relies On Midlist Authors

The publishing industry constantly bemoans the lack a true bestseller that generate significant revenue. Novels such as 50 Shades of Grey, The Hunger Games and Harry Potter not only sell millions of units in a short period of time, but consistently become huge income earners over the course of many financial quarters. Booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble also benefit from these types of novels, as they transcend a small minority of bookhounds and become mainstream success stories. The main problem is that a true bestseller only comes along every few years and it is the midlist author that sells between 20,000 to 100,000 units that become the bread and butter of the publishing and bookselling industry.

Casual readers might not be familiar with the term midlist or fail to understand what it means. Midlist is a term in the publishing industry which refers to books which are not bestsellers but are strong enough to economically justify their publication (and likely, further purchases of future books from the same author).

The big five publishers all have secret ways that they determine if a debut author will be offered a second book. They used to not give a second contract unless an author sold 50,000 copies, but due to the rise of self-publishing the so-called “magic number” is closer to 25,000 or 30,000. One agent, noting there’s far more variation at the paperback imprints of the big six, said most hardcover publishers today “would settle for 20,000.”

According to Author Earnings the vast majority of traditional publishing’s midlist-or-better earners started their careers more than a decade ago. Their more-recently debuted peers are not doing anywhere near as well. Fewer than 700 Big Five authors and fewer than 500 small-or-medium publisher authors who debuted in the last 10 years are now earning $25,000 a year or more on Amazon — from all of their hardcover, paperback, audio and ebook editions combined. By contrast, over 1,600 indie authors are currently earning that much or more.

Midlist authors all contribute to a publishers and booksellers bottom line, although they tend not to get many reviews by the New York Times or Publishers Weekly. Their books aren’t really reviewed by indie bloggers either, they mainly depend on Amazon reviews by the readers. These authors certainly are not household names, but are tremendously important to publishers for their consistent source of revenue.

Publishers are always hoping that one big book will come along, Girl on a Train or the new Barack Obama memoir. Books that will generate a copious amount of money, but it is the midlist authors that are the true heroes.



Adult coloring books: a synonym for stress relief

As young children, many of us can likely recall spending a good amount of time flipping through the pages of our favorite coloring books, spending countless hours (if added up all together, that is) working on our latest pieces of art.

After reaching a certain age, though, many people put those books away and don’t really think twice about the coloring fun they once had. Here’s the thing, though: Adult coloring books are now filling the aisles, and they’re selling rapidly! Why? As it turns out, coloring can help reduce stress! How does it do this, though? And what are some of the health benefits of this calming activity? These questions, and more, are answered as follows…

Adult Coloring Book for Stress Relief: Gardens, Mandalas, Flowers, Butterflies, Animals and Owls


Available on Amazon

To begin, how do adult coloring books help to relieve stress? According to an article written by Elena Santos on http://www.huffingtonpost.com, “The practice generates wellness, quietness and also stimulates brain areas related to motor skills, the senses and creativity.”

It enables participants, if you will, to focus on the task at hand without thinking too much about other, more stressful subjects.

In the aforementioned article, Santos also adds a quote said by psychologist Gloria Ayala: “The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors…The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.”

It certainly does.

In addition to keeping our minds stimulated and occupied, adult coloring books also have a sort of nostalgic effect, as they remind us of our childhood and of simpler times. Santos, a bit later in her article, adds another quote from Gloria Ayala regarding this aspect: coloring “brings out our imagination and takes us back to our childhood, a period in which we most certainly had a lot less stress.”

It enables us to remember and reflect upon those younger years when we spent a lot of time doing just as we pleased, but also helps our minds to concentrate and focus on what is important to us right now.

Now, what are some of the health benefits associated with adult coloring books? For one thing, they enable users to take a mental relaxation period during hectic (or not-so-hectic) days at work, school, or just in general, really. In fact, Jason Abrams, “an account manager at North 6th Agency, a New York City-based public relations firm,” told http://www.foxnews.com back in 2015 that “We’ll meet in the conference room on Friday afternoons and get our coloring session in…to help relieve the stress.”

Even some businesses are taking part!

As well as being a great tool for increasing levels of calmness and relaxation, though, these books are also helpful in pushing out negative thoughts: “Unplugging from technology”(www.colorit.com) and reducing anxiety levels. In the website mentioned previously (www.colorit.com), the author referenced Dr. Scott Bea, a clinical psychologist, who says that coloring “relaxes the brain. When thoughts are focused on a simple activity, your brain tends to relax” and nervousness levels, amongst other factors, as well, seem to decrease.

All in all, it’s clear that these adult coloring books really do seem to help us “de-stress” and to relax in our ever-so-chaotic lives. They enable us to focus on our happiness and health a little bit more, to remember our childhood, and to put away stressful thoughts and situations–at least for a little while.

And, though there is a difference between Art Therapy and coloring, in the words of Dr. Marygrace Berbarian, whose name is mentioned multiple times in an article (on Adult Coloring Books) on http://www.cnn.com, “Coloring definitely has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, (to) create focus…”

With all of this in mind, why not give it a try?



How To Pick A Profitable Kindle Book Niche Every Time

When picking a perfect niche to publish on, I have 3 criteria:

Criteria #1 – The top 4 books have a best-selling rank of around 100,000 or better

Let’s say for example that you’re looking at the niche of ‘herb gardening’. When you type the main keyword for that niche (in this case it would be ‘herb gardening’) into the Kindle store on Amazon, you need to look at the first 4 books that show up in the search results.

When you click on a book, you’ll be taken to the sales page where you can read the description. If you scroll down the page about halfway, you will see a section call ‘Product Details’.
Here you will see a bit of different information, including the Best Seller Rank. This is basically a figure that tells us how well a particular book is selling. If a book has a BSR number of 10,000, that means that it is selling more copies than a book with a BSR of 30,000. The lower the number, the more books that are being sold!

I like for the top 4 books to have a BSR of 100,000 or better. If one of these books is slightly over 100,000, that’s okay – but ideally all 4 will be better than 100,000 BSR.

This shows us that there is high demand for this niche. We want to find a niche that customers are interested in, and this BSR is a key indicator. Never publish a book in a niche that does not meet this criteria.

I have just done the research on Amazon for the niche of Herb Gardening. The top 4 search results have BSR ranks of:
1. 127,542
2. 289,161
3. 494,388
4. 488,672 

Right away I can tell that niche is not a good one. There is simply not enough demand for me to make much money. At this point you should forget about that niche and move on to a new one!

Criteria #2 – Competitor’s books have less than 30 reviews each

The second criteria I have, requires looking at the competitors books.
Once again, we’ll be focusing on the top 4 search results.

I like to check that these books have less than 30-40 reviews per book. If they have more than 30 reviews, it will be pretty tough for us to compete with them, and outrank them in the search results.

If one of the 4 books has more than 30 – that’s okay!

But if all 4 have more than 30, then I would definitely give that niche a miss!

Criteria #3 – Competitor’s don’t have a large following

Before deciding on a niche, I like to check that the authors I’m competing against don’t have a large following.
I like to do a google search before publishing a book, just to make sure that the other authors in the niche don’t have a large online following, or are famous.

If they have a large following or are famous, they will be driving their own traffic to the book. We are looking for niches that will get organic traffic from people searching on Amazon.

Just because other people are selling lots of books in a particular niche, doesn’t mean that you will be able to. They may be getting those sales simply because their fans are being sent to their books. 9 time out of 10, those fans won’t be interested in your book as well – only the one they are originally being sent to!



Bestseller Success Stories that Started Out as Self-Published Books

You write, you re-write, you edit, you tweak and when it’s perfect, you submit. And then you get rejected. Many times, maybe by a person who didn’t even read it. Rejection is painful because it instantly devalues your creation. Someone says this isn’t worth publishing. Rejectees, take heart. Many now-famous writers have been rejected before they made it big. Stephen King wrote his first novel, “Carrie,” and it was rejected 30 times. Rejections were so devastating that he threw the manuscript in the trash. “Chicken Soup for the Soul” was rejected 140 times. Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With The Wind” was rejected by 38 publishers (and she did give a damn). James Joyce’s “Dubliner” was rejected 18 times and took nine years before it reached publication.

Yet, as Vince Lombardi said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” When faced with rejection, many writers today have turned to self-publishing, an increasingly popular outlet with the rise of the e-book market. My book, “Once We Were Brothers,” a modern day legal drama wrapped around a World War II story of the Polish occupation—was rejected several times. And yet I very much wanted to tell this story about two brothers who grew up in the same household in Zamosc, Poland but ended up on opposite sides of the war, about a family’s struggle to survive the cruelties of war, about undying love, and about the ultimate betrayal—and one man’s quest for justice.

Like other writers, I became impatient. I wanted to see the book in print before I died of old age. So my son and I formed our own publishing company, the Berwick Court Publishing Company, and we did it ourselves. Over the course of two years, we sold an incredible 100,000 copies (print and e combined). Perhaps the fan base was broad enough to attract those who like to read legal thrillers as well as those with an interest in World War II. Whatever the reason, Once We Were Brothers enjoyed enough success as a self-published novel to reach the mainstream: the book was acquired by St. Martin’s Press, and a new edition is coming out this fall. All in all, the book’s success—either self-published or published by a mainstream house—is a testament to word of mouth and a passionate fan base.

The following slides are other bestseller success stories that started out as self-published books.

1. In 1931, Irma Rombauer wrote “The Joy of Cooking,” with her daughter, who not only illustrated the book, but also helped test the recipes. Ms. Rombauer used half of her life savings to pay a local printing company to print three thousand copies. A dollar a book. Five years later, Bobbs-Merrill Company acquired the rights. Over the years the book has sold over 18 million copies. I’ll wager your grandmother has one in her kitchen.

2. Influenced by Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird,” John Grisham, a Southern lawyer, wrote his first novel, “A Time To Kill” in 1989. After 28 rejections, he published 5,000 copies through a small private publisher, Wynwood Press. He was eventually published by Doubleday and after his successes with “The Firm,” “The Pelican Brief” and “The Client,” Doubleday acquired the rights and reissued “A Time To Kill.”

3. James Redfield self-published his first novel, “The Celestine Prophecy,” in 1992. He sold the book one copy at a time out of the trunk of his car, which lends credence to the book’s statement, “We must assume every event has significance…the challenge is to find the silver lining in every event, no matter how negative.” It was later acquired by Warner Books, became a #1 bestseller and has sold in excess of twenty million copies.

4. Peter Rabbit faced rejections from Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden, losing his shoes and his coat. Beatrix Potter’s story, “The Tales of Peter Rabbit,” was rejected several times. She self-published in 1901. The next year, one of the publishers who had initially rejected the manuscript, the London firm of Frederick Warne & Co., published it and 22 more of her books over the next 40 years. Over two million Beatrix Potter books are sold each year.

5. Amanda Hocking wrote 17 novels while working as a group home worker in Minnesota. She self-published them all as e-books, selling more than a million copies. In 2011, St. Martin’s Press bought the rights to her first three books, the Trylle trilogy, and for a new four-book series, Watersong, for a reported two million dollars.

6. Erika Leonard (E.L. James) has sold more than 70 million copies of her “Fifty Shades” trilogy worldwide. She started out writing fan fiction stories and publishing them on her website. She then wrote “Fifty Shades of Grey” and self-published it through a small Australian company, which released it on eBook and print-on demand. After her passionate fan base (pun intended) had driven the book to extreme levels of popularity, the rights were acquired by Vintage Books.

7. Mike Michalowicz’s guide to entrepreneurship titled “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur: The Tell-it-like-it-is Guide to Cleaning Up in Business, Even if you are at the End of Your Roll” was self-published in 2008 after numerous rejections. He ordered 20,000 copies of it, which ended up taking over his basement. Penguin was so impressed with the sales, it acquired the rights to the print edition (Michalowicz still owns the e-book rights). Penguin also published his second book, “The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field.”

8. Michael J. Sullivan wrote for 10 years, in a variety of genres, but could not anyone to publish them. So he quit writing altogether. 10 years later, he said he got the “itch” and wrote the Riyira Revelation fantasy series. His agent still couldn’t find a publisher, so Sullivan self-published through Ridan Publishing, a company started by his wife. His sales were so impressive that he re-solicited mainstream publishers, and this time received several offers. He sold the rights to “Orbit” for six figures.

9. Lisa Genova, a neuroscientist, wrote a novel called “Still Alice” about a 50-year-old Harvard professor who struggles with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. After being rejected by several publishers, Lisa decided to self-publish. Her literary agent advised against it, telling her it would kill her writing career. She self-published anyway and received wonderful reviews, including one from the Boston Globe. Simon & Schuster acquired the novel for a reported half-million dollars. In January 2009, it debuted on the The New York Times bestseller list at number five.

10. Romance writers have found a home in self-publishing. Especially when they capture their audience in a series about a fictional family and market their books for under $5.00. Barbara Freethy has sold more than 2,000,000 books writing about the Callaway family. Bella Andre (pictured above) has topped the million mark with her novels about the Sullivan family. The ease of self-publishing e-books has allowed these prolific authors to establish quite a fan base.

11. Now comes the best part: In 2009, I finished writing “Once We Were Brothers,” a story about a family in a small Polish town struggling to make it through the Nazi occupation. My agent shopped the book to publishing houses for nearly a year and received a number of “I don’t think this is for us” responses. So I self-published through Berwick Court, a company my son and I created. We ordered 750 hardcovers that sat in my living room for months, selling them (as well as e-books) one at a time. It was slow going until about September 2011, when really saw the word—of-mouth and a passionate fan base growing, pushing the sales. Each month the sales were greater than the month before. Because of that great word of mouth, an editor at St. Martin’s Press heard about it, read it, and loved it. By the time my own sales topped the 100,000 mark, St. Martin’s Press acquired the rights and will publish a new edition in October.



How to Adopt an Authorpreneur Attitude

What do you think of when you think about investing in yourself? If you’re an entrepreneur, it probably brings up good feelings. Businesspeople know a thing or two about investing in their dreams. It’s a truism that you have to spend money to make money. You have to pay to play. Businesspeople talk about the money they put into their businesses—and by extension themselves—with pride. It’s part of the terrain. It’s expected. In fact, it’s admirable.


So why are the arts so different? There’s actually a sliding scale of stigma in the arts around self-investment, with book publishing at the very bottom of that heap. Film and music are slightly more evolved. Filmmakers and musicians are largely celebrated for their indie status. Fine artists have it worse off than filmmakers and musicians, but still better than independent authors. Getting a gallery show at an exclusive site is on par with being chosen by one of the Big Five for publication—and just as in publishing, it’s not always the best artists that are selected. Personality, popularity, and brand, as well as the curators’ tastes, play a big role.


The arts are subjective. Not everybody likes the same thing. But unlike in business, where consumers choose what they like based a founder or CEO’s vision or product, in the arts there are gatekeepers who hand-pick what rises to the top, and with measures that are increasingly connected to people’s already-attained popularity and success. In other words, it’s those who’ve already made it in some way who are getting the deals.

Perhaps this is the way things have always been, but there’s been a marked shift in recent years, and increasing divisiveness in the publishing industry, especially between traditionally published and self-published authors—and that divisiveness is upheld by the industry.


After all, the industry has a vested interest in the politics of exclusivity. And while I’d love to head up a coup to demand equal recognition, indie authors mostly need to keep at it, and to follow the best practices where it comes to editing, production, and design. And one more thing: adopt an authorpreneur attitude. This involves shedding the shame associated with investing in yourself and adopting the mentality of successful business titans. Even in politics campaigns are largely self-financed. People at the top of their game are celebrated for having the guts to believe in their work. As artists, we need to cultivate that same pride.


It’s true that this is no easy task if your work has been rejected or criticized. It’s true that writers must hone their craft and only put out their best work. It’s important to know that your work is good, that it’s ready to share with the public, with consumers, with an audience. But it’s not true that any gatekeeper—whether we’re talking about agents, editors publishers, or even university liberal arts programs—have the best taste, or that their “no” should equal the end of your aspirations.


If you’re an indie author, shifting your mindset starts with commending yourself for your bravery. It’s brave to risk. It’s courageous to believe in your work and to put your money where your mouth is. After the mindset shift, once you fully believe in what you’re doing, so much so that you’re ready to go to the mat with those who would make you feel less-than, you’re ready for the good fight. The kind of fighting I’m talking about starts with education and is supported by excellent results. Your job is to excel at your craft, and to do your best work. Beyond that, it’s to support other indie authors, and to be a champion for the indie cause.


For those with a mission to change the landscape, the true leveling of the playing field comes from changing hearts and minds. Consider that film has independent film festivals that specifically honor independent filmmakers, whereas book publishing has self-publishing-specific review sections and awards that seek to separate self-published authors out, not so much to honor but to segregate. Indie authors with an eye toward changing the future can and should start to demand change.


Write to associations, awards programs, and review outlets that exclude you, and let them know that you expect equal consideration. Ask them to judge the book based on its merit and not how it got published. Celebrate the efforts of those organizations that operate from a place of inclusivity rather than exclusivity. Never lose sight of the truth that there is enough space for all artists to thrive and succeed, and that the measure of an artist’s success has little to do with the method by which they rise to the top, but the continued persistence and resolve they exhibit on the journey.




4 Ways Self-Published and Indie Authors Can Make the Sale

Though self-published and small-press authors face unique challenges when selling books, many have found great success in turning browsers into buyers. I reached out to several accomplished independent authors to learn the secrets of their success. Writing a good book is the first step. Here are four things indie authors should do next.


“Book bloggers spend hours each week reviewing and promoting books that they love,” says K.A. Tucker, USA Today bestselling author of Chasing River. She calls them her “number one ally,” and notes: “Aside from receiving free copies of a book in exchange for an honest review, they receive no payment for their time and energy.” Audiences thus trust those reviews, and a blogger’s recommendation can help a book climb the sales chart.

Authors would be fools to take book bloggers lightly. “The worst thing a debut author (or any author, frankly) can do is damage their relationship with bloggers by a) not respecting their time; b) not respecting their opinions; and c) expecting that they read and love your book.” Treating a blogger with disrespect or hostility will likely result in a burned bridge. “And it’s never just one bridge. In this tightly knit community, word spreads quickly and you’ll earn an ‘author behaving badly’ badge overnight.”



Poets have long toiled in a difficult publishing environment. Because such outlets as The New York Times and The New Yorker rarely review books printed by small presses (where most poetry is published today) poets must be resourceful in order to reach readers. According to Joyelle McSweeney, a poet and the director of the creative writing program at Notre Dame, one way to find new readers is through heartfelt collaboration with fellow writers. Events such as joint readings not only increase the sizes of audiences, but also strengthen local literary communities.

“Forming honest and sincere collaborations with people—not just to promote your work, but to have a fun event celebrating both of your work—is a great way to build your audience without alienating anybody,” she says. “These are the people I want to read my book, and I want to hear my buddy’s new poem, so let’s do a reading together. Invite your friends, and I’ll invite my friends, and we’ll double the audience for both of our readings.”

The purpose of such gatherings is not to reach 200,000 fans. “The goal,” she says, “is to reach people who are going to be moved and changed by your writing. And so you should look at what’s an arm’s distance away from you and start there.”



Crowdfunding has emerged as a useful tool for self-published and small-press authors who want to pursue longer-term publishing projects. In such a campaign, readers in effect purchase prerelease copies of an author’s book. “Kickstarter campaigns can also be a form of advertising,” says McSweeney. “Because it goes up on social media, people become interested and intrigued. In some ways it’s easier to hook your readers then, than after you have the finished product of the book.”

Jane Friedman, a writer and consultant, advises authors not to launch Kickstarter campaigns without plans in place. “A lot of a writers’ Kickstarter success depends on how strategic that author has been in really developing a direct line to people who’ve enjoyed their work in the past.” Authors who are considering going the route of crowdfunding should not expect an army of strangers to line up with outstretched fists of cash. “Writers should be really cognizant of the fact that they’re going to be depending on their current network and not some inspirational, hopeful future network.”

Friedman also warns of the “mushy middle” of a crowdsourcing campaign. The first week involves energetic updates from authors and promising investments from friends and family. The last week is a thrilling race to the finish line. But during those middle two weeks, authors sometimes freeze up. They feel like they’ve said everything possible about their book, and fear repeating themselves by continuing to beat the drum. To counter the lull, Friedman suggests that authors hold a reading or give a talk at a conference—any kind of public event, really, where the Kickstarter campaign can score a mid-campaign promotion.



Independent authors shouldn’t limit themselves to bookstores to find strong sales, says Friedman. “Some of the best places have some sort of tie-in to the book. Somebody I know wrote a book that took place on Sanibel Island, and she sold the most copies of her book in a little gift shop that people would normally stop in as they were going on vacation, and needed something to read.”

Closer to home, alcohol helps. “Bars or places where people aren’t in the trappings of I feel like I’m in this proper bookstore and I have to behave in a certain way,” says Friedman. “Anytime you can get out of that formality and into a place where it’s much more convivial and about conversation, people will be more inclined to interact with you the author, or a particular idea or theme of your book, and spread the word.”



Indie Bookstores Collaborate to Lure Touring Authors to Colorado

Five Colorado independent bookstores are collaborating to lure more touring authors to the state.

The stores—Denver’s Tattered Cover Book Store, BookBar (also in Denver), Boulder Book Store, the Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins and the Bookworm of Edwards—will each host the authors on a single trip. “Make your next author tour a vacation,” announced a press release. The five stores are all within driving distance of Denver and authors will be hosted at BookBed (the AirBnB owned by the BookBar) free of charge and will be used as a “home base.” The cost of flights to Denver will not be covered.

The Bookworm, which is 100 miles west of Denver and near Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts, promises authors the opportunity to take advantage of guided hikes and even skiing.

“We are so fortunate to get many wonderful authors to Colorado,” Nicole Sullivan, owner of BookBar, told PW. “We do often see, however, that some top authors’ tours focus on the east and west coasts. And, if they come to Colorado, they may not make it out of Denver. We will be sending proposals to primarily front list authors who we are very excited about do not have a Colorado visit on their schedule. Authors can contact any one of the five stores and we will then work together to coordinate a schedule. But most collaborative events will be bookstore driven via proposals.”

The partnership between the stores, Sullivan explained, allows the booksellers to “share all that Colorado has to offer and help make it even more of a literary destination. If this program proves to be successful for all involved, we don’t see why we wouldn’t continue to do this indefinitely.” She then added: “It’s a great things when indies come together for a common purpose. We all like each other, so it has been fun to work together on this.”



5 tips for getting fiction or nonfiction books into Costco, Walmart, Target

A quick trip down the aisles of your local Costco might leave you wondering how—or if—you could ever get your book onto the store’s shelves.

Most of the books I saw at my local Costco in Grafton, Wisc., yesterday have “New York Times Best Seller” on the top of the cover.

That makes sense. Competition for shelf space is fierce, and those big chains only want titles that they’re convinced will sell.

A quick peek inside the covers showed that most of the books were published by one of the big publishing houses or their imprints.

But what about Anatomy of Muscle Building by Craig Ramsay? The beautiful artwork on the cover caught my eye. The oversized paperback was published by Firefly, a small press out of Ontario, Canada. The book had only six reviews on Amazon.

How do books like that one compete with those in the Big Leagues?

On the Publishing at Sea cruise in January, New Shelves book distributor Amy Collins, one of my co-hosts, did four presentations on book distribution. I was fascinated when I heard her say that, with persistence and hard work, indie authors can get their books into the giant chains as well as into supermarkets and airport bookstores.

Here are five of the dozens of tips from Amy.

1. Local authors can get special attention.

I live in Wisconsin. At my local Costco, an endcap in the books section prominently displays books by two Wisconsin celebrities—Gov. Scott Walker and former Green Bay Packer Donald Driver.

You might find those books in Costco stores in New York or California. But I bet you won’t find Food Lovers’ Guide to Wisconsin: The Best Restaurants, Markets & Local Culinary Offerings by Martin Hintz and Pam Percy. 

The book has only one review on Amazon—just one! But this isn’t Amazon. It’s Costco. And foodies in these parts would snap up a book like that because it’s about local restaurants and food festivals.

So while your book might not make it into all the Costcos nationwide, it might make it into the stores near you, especially if the fiction or nonfiction title pertains to your area.

2. The cover of your book must be perfect.

If you enlisted your cousin Sue to design your cover, chances are pretty good you won’t make it into any of the big stores.

Why? Because Sue most likely knows nothing about book distribution. She doesn’t know what makes a winning cover. Even if she had to guess, she’d probably be wrong because the elements of a perfect cover this year for a particular genre might be very different than what they were last year.

In other words, your cover needs to look very much like the covers of all the other books in its genre. If the cover passes the first test, it then must pass two more tests before the buyer opens the book to see what’s inside!

3. You can convince a store to carry your book even if it carries similar titles.

When I was at Costco yesterday, I saw two books on gluten-free food.

Why two books and not one? Because the best-seller Grain Drain by David Perlmutter delves into the dangers of eating wheat. The other title was a gluten-free cookbook. Two very different types of books on the same topic. 

4. You must agree to a deep discount on your book.

If you want play in the Big Leagues, you have to be willing to pay. Major chains expect you to discount the book at least 55 percent. 

There are ways around this problem, however, such as getting the book printed very inexpensively overseas. 

If you work the numbers, you’ll quickly see that selling 200 books at your regular retail price won’t make you nearly as much money as selling 30,000 copies at a deep discount.

5. Don’t ask a big store to carry your book until you’ve done your homework.

Go to the store. Walk the aisles. Make note of the kinds of books they’re selling. Talk to the person responsible for deciding which books the store sells.

Pay attention to the price on the stickers. How does your price compare? Is the retail price of your book correct? On the webinar, Amy explains the sweet spot for pricing and why the price of your book has absolutely nothing to do with how much money you want to make on it.

The Big Payoff

If you’ve done everything Amy recommend, and you’ve successfully gotten your book into one of the big chains, you have more opportunities.

Costco, for example, might let you do a book signing, even on the weekend. Many authors hate book signings because they don’t sell many books. 

But have you been to a Costco on a Saturday? The place is a madhouse! And that could mean more invitations to speak when a member of a local book club sees you signing books. 

Your title in Costco, Walmart or Target—or even a big supermarket chain—gives you bragging rights when approaching other specialty retailers like airport bookstores. You now have a track record. And a darn impressive one.



10 Ridiculously Simple Steps for Writing a Book

The hard part of writing a book isn’t getting it published. With more opportunities than ever to become an author, the hard part is the actual writing.

For years, I dreamed of writing. I believed I had important things to say, things the world needed to hear. But as I look back on what it took to actually become an author, I realize how different the process was from my expectations.

To begin with, you don’t just sit down to write a book. That’s not how writing works. You write a sentence, then a paragraph, then maybe if you’re lucky, an entire chapter. Writing happens in fits and starts, in bits and pieces. It’s a process.

The way you get the work done is not complicated. You take one step at a time, then another and another. As I look back on the books I’ve written, I can see how the way these works were made was not as glamorous or as mysterious as I once thought.

How to really write a book (what’s in this article)

In this post, I’ll teach you the fundamental steps you need to write a book. I’ve worked hard to make this easy to digest and super practical, so you can start making progress.

And just a heads up: if you dream of authoring a bestselling book like I have and you’re looking for a structured plan to guide you through the writing process, I have a special opportunity for you at the end of this post where I break the process down.

But first, let’s look at the big picture. What does it take to write a book? It happens in three phases:

  • Beginning: You have to start writing. This sounds obvious, but it may be the most overlooked step in the process. You write a book by deciding first what you’re going to write and how you’re going to write it.
  • Staying motivated: Once you start writing, you will face self-doubt and overwhelm and a hundred other adversaries. Planning ahead for those obstacles ensures you won’t quit when they come.
  • Finishing: Nobody cares about the book that you almost wrote. We want to read the one you actually finished, which means no matter what, the thing that makes you a writer is your ability not to start a project, but to complete one.

Below are 10 ridiculously tips that fall under each of these three major phases plus an additional 10 bonus tips. I hope they help you tackle and finish the book you dream of writing.

BONUS: Download a quick reference guide for all 20 writing tips. Get them free here.

Phase 1: Getting started

1. Decide what the book is about

Good writing is always about something. Write the argument of your book in a sentence, then stretch that out to a paragraph, and then to a one-page outline. After that, write a table of contents to help guide you as you write, then break each chapter into a few sections. Think of your book in terms of beginning, middle, and end. Anything more complicated will get you lost.

2. Set a daily word count goal

John Grisham began his writing career as a lawyer and new dad — in other words, he was really busy. Nonetheless, he got up an hour or two early every morning and wrote a page a day. After a couple of years, he had a novel. A page a day is only about 300 words. You don’t need to write a lot. You just need to write often. Setting a daily goal will give you something to aim for. Make it small and attainable so that you can hit your goal each day and start building momentum.

3. Have a set time to work on your book every day

Consistency makes creativity easier. You need a daily deadline to do your work — that’s how you’ll finish writing a book. Feel free to take a day off, if you want, but schedule that ahead of time. Never let a deadline pass; don’t let yourself off the hook so easily. Setting a daily deadline and regular writing time will ensure that you don’t have to think about when you will write. When it’s time to write, it’s time to write.

4. Write in the same place every time

It doesn’t matter if it’s a desk or a restaurant or the kitchen table. It just needs to be different from where you do other activities. Make your writing location a special space, so that when you enter it, you’re ready to work. It should remind you of your commitment to finish this book. Again, the goal here is to not think and just start writing.

Phase 2: Do the work

5. Set a total word count

Once you’ve started writing, you need a total word count for your book. Think in terms of 10-thousand work increments and break each chapter into roughly equal lengths. Here are some general guiding principles:

  • 10,000 words = a pamphlet or business white paper. Read time = 30-60 minutes.
  • 20,000 words = short eBook or manifesto. The Communist Manifesto is an example of this, at about 18,000 words. Read time = 1-2 hours.
  • 40,000–60,000 words = standard nonfiction book / novella. The Great Gatsby is an example of this. Read time = three to four hours.
  • 60,000–80,000 words = long nonfiction book / standard-length novel. Most Malcolm Gladwell books fit in this range. Read time = four to six hours.
  • 80,000 words–100,000 words = very long nonfiction book / long novel. The Four-Hour Work Week falls in this range.
  • 100,000+ words = epic-length novel / academic book / biography. Read time = six to eight hours. The Steve Jobs biography would fit this category.

6. Give yourself weekly deadlines

You need a weekly goal. Make it a word count to keep things objective. Celebrate the progress you’ve made while still being honest about how much work is left to do. You need to have something to aim for.

7. Get early feedback

Nothing stings worse than writing a book and then having to rewrite it, because you didn’t let anyone look at it. Have a few trusted advisers to help you discern what’s worth writing. These can be friends, editors, family. Just try to find someone who will give you honest feedback early on to make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

Phase 3: Finishing

8. Commit to shipping

No matter what, finish the book. Set a deadline or have one set for you. Then release it to the world. Send it to the publisher, release it on Amazon, do whatever you need to do to get it in front of people. Just don’t put it in your drawer. The worst thing would be for you to quit once this thing is written. That won’t make you do your best work and it won’t allow you to share your ideas with the world.

9. Embrace failure

As you approach the end of this project, know that this will be hard and you will most certainly mess up. Just be okay with failing, and give yourself grace. That’s what will sustain you — the determination to continue, not your elusive standards of perfection.

10. Write another book

Most authors are embarrassed by their first book. I certainly was. But without that first book, you will never learn the lessons you might otherwise miss out on. So, put your work out there, fail early, and try again. This is the only way you get better. You have to practice, which means you have to keep writing.

Every writer started somewhere, and most of them started by squeezing their writing into the cracks of their daily lives. That’s how I began, and it may be where you begin, as well. The ones who make it are the ones who show up day after day. You can do the same.

The reason most people never finish their books

Every year, millions of books go unfinished. Books that could have helped people, brought beauty or wisdom into the world.

In one way or another, the problem is always the same. The author quit. Maybe you’ve dealt with this. You started writing a book but never completed it. You got stuck and didn’t know how to finish. Or you completed your manuscript but didn’t know what to do after. But here’s what nobody told you:

The secret to finishing a book is having a process you can trust.

As a matter of survival, I’ve had to create a clear book-writing framework for myself, what I call the “five draft method” which helps me get a book written and ready to launch. This is the part that I never learned in any English class:

How Publishers Can Build on Self-Publishing’s Victories

Print sales are on the way up, or at least finally not falling, depending on whom you speak to. Consumer ebook sales are dropping, but likely to be stabilizing against their huge initial growth, and non-consumer ebook sales are on the rise. The threat of the super-markets are no longer as strong as they look increasingly elsewhere. We have finally accepted digitization, and it is now a core part of most publishers’ businesses. The often acrimonious divide between self- and traditional publishing has quietened, as they sit, with caution, alongside each other. And with Amazon—though still challenging—we understand the pros and cons and are learning to work with or around them.

It would be wrong, however, to think that all is now rosy. There are still fundamental issues with the traditional publishing business model; we’re not going to see a surge of new bookshops filling high-streets any time soon, and the all-powerful customer will continue to demand more for less, or preferably for free. We are long past any return to the past. But we do now have a brief time to exhale while moving toward the future.

Publishers have long had a reputation for chasing horses that have already bolted. See in recent times the flood of wizards and Scandinavian murders, through to erotic fiction and coloring books. And there is a current danger that publishers may start congratulating themselves on repeating what has proven successful elsewhere.

Social media has been a phenomenon in recent years, so now most publishers have an active presence on all the major platforms. Moreover, events have boosted other creative industries, so now most publishers do events. The key word here is “do,” which implies repetition. There are many other examples, but perhaps the most useful one is from self-publishing.

Many self-published authors have taught traditional publishers an ego-puncturing lesson over the last few years. From being close to the customer, building fanbases, tireless and innovation promotion, through to metadata, pricing and even just business-sense, some self-published authors have led the way and made millions in the process. At times they have made the traditional sector appear what we are—an industry dreamed up by English graduates—and we should be grateful for the embarrassment

That said, one of the most dangerous things traditional publishers could now do is simply replicate what the self-published authors did successfully, while adding nothing else. While this would generate an ego-reinflating uplift, it would only be temporary. Ultimately, without book publishers actively showing the value that they can add, there is no need for them to exist.

Keeping with the self-publishing example, we should replicate from the relevant lessons we have been taught—but only as the starting point. From that base, we should then demonstrate to authors, and sub-consciously to customers, the unique values that traditional publishers offer: from production expertise, to global licensing, to bookshop relationships, to sales and distribution networks and hopefully much more.

Traditional publishers are owners of vast conceptual assets and are in a very exciting position: we hold the licenses to massive amounts of fantastic creative work produced for us. We need to demonstrate that we can match what others are doing successfully and then add value to the products, sales and marketing that is unique to us.

The first step is asking the question that maybe some publishers fear asking: what do they uniquely offer? And once they have an answer, as hopefully they do, they should be loud and proud about it. Book publishers have a big opportunity, and rather than shying away from it, we should embrace the challenge of proving ourselves.

In summary, it is great that we have opened our eyes to what is proving successful elsewhere. But repetition is the starting point rather than the end result. It is the clearly defined and unique value that we as traditional publishers add that will define the future of our industry for many generations to come.



How to Write That Book You’ve Been Meaning to Write

If you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, you dream of writing a book on your area of expertise. The thing is, while many have this dream, far fewer actually realize it, and that’s a shame.

What’s stopping them? Usually self doubt and time. They aren’t secure in their ability to write a great book (or set their sights so high they’ll never reach their goal of creating a bestseller) or they simply don’t have (or make) the time to dedicate to the project.

Having published my own book (and with more books in my future), I have a thing or two to say on the subject.

Before you can actually start writing a book, you need to understand your motivation for doing so. Are you looking to become a rich and famous author? If that’s your m.o., you might need to let that dream die. Few authors become rich or famous, so you might be setting yourself up for failure from the start.

On the other hand, wanting to establish yourself as an expert in your industry is a great goal. People are impressed with authors, and being able to hold up your book after you speak at an event or in a sales meeting could just be your ticket to more business.

Going to the great effort of writing a book shows potential clients that you’re serious and professional. People like surrounding themselves with success, and publishing a book indicates that you are successful.

Acknowledge Time Constraints

So you’ve established your goals and you’re ready to write. Only you have an incredibly busy month ahead of you. When can you fit it in?

The honest truth is: you might not be able to. Rather than forcing the writing (creativity doesn’t work that way), find time in your schedule when you can dedicate 15 minutes, an hour, half a day, whatever you’ve got, to sitting down at your computer to write. If now isn’t a good time to get started, wait until you have more time and mental headspace to begin.

Set Deadlines

Most people work well under the pressure of deadlines, and they’re great for book authors. Start with the big one: when do you hope to have the entire book finished? This could be anywhere from six months to a year. Be realistic, given your schedule, but also slightly aggressive so you don’t have time to slack off.

Then break that time down into smaller deadlines. Chapters usually make good deadlines. It may take you writing the first chapter to see how long it takes you to then set deadlines for completing subsequent chapters.

And if you miss a deadline? Don’t be hard on yourself; just get back on track.

I’ve Written My Book … Now What?

You thought writing it was the hardest task, but now you’re about to embark on another adventure! If you plan to publish your book (and I assume you do), you have two options: self-publishing or the traditional publisher route.

With self-publishing, you handle everything on your own. You hire an editor and a cover designer, and then upload the book to Amazon and Nook. If you want a hard copy book, you work with a book printer like Lulu. You also market the book yourself. You will spend quite a bit to get this book available for purchase. So why would you want an option that involves so much work? You are going to do most of the work regardless of which route you take, and by self publishing, at least you get to keep more profit.

If you want to pursue the traditional publishing route, it is much more competitive and difficult to break into, and there’s a significant time delay for when your book is actually released.

In traditional publishing, typically you work through an agent who will require you to put together a book proposal, (think business plan for your book.) Then they shop your book around to publishers, trying to stimulate interest. If one is interested, they will negotiate a book contract and a modest advance. First time authors don’t typically get too much $10K-$20K, and you will not get the second half of your money until all the edits the publisher requires are made on your manuscript.  You may be asked to heavily edit the book or even significantly rewrite part of it.

But traditional publishers will get your book into major bookstores. Depending on the size of the publisher, they may also use their internal PR team to set up interviews for you, but this will only be for a short time. They won’t do all the marketing for you, most of that will still fall to you.

The drawbacks to traditional publishing are that you give up a hefty percent of your book royalties, and it’s a harder game to win. Still, having a well-known publisher on the spine of your book will give you some credibility that self-publishing might not.

Writing and publishing a business book can be so rewarding, and yes, it’s worth the time investment, stress, especially if you are establishing a brand. If you’re serious about writing a book this year, start researching options now.



Amazon Unveils First East Coast Bricks and Mortar

Online retailing giant Amazon.com Inc. plans to open its first New York City bookstore in Manhattan’s Time Warner Center, the company said late Wednesday.

The 4,000-square-foot store is slated to open in the spring in the Shops at Columbus Circle on the edge the Central Park. The multistory shopping center, owned by Related Cos., is home to clothing and shoe stores such as Coach and Cole Haan as well as several upscale restaurants, including Per Se.

Amazon AMZN, +0.16%   is excited with its location in the Time Warner Center, a spokeswoman said in an email. A Related Cos. spokeswoman also expressed excitement with the deal.

Amazon has been making a push into the brick-and-mortar retail sector after focusing on online sales for many years. Amazon opened its first brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle in 2015 and now has two others — in San Diego and in Portland, Ore. Plans are in the works for stores in Chicago and Dedham, Mass.




How Publishers Are Marketing Digital Audiobooks

As audiobook listeners increasingly turn to digital content, how do publishers catch those ears (and eyes), especially during the holiday gift-buying season? While a number of audiobook marketing executives say the aim of promotional efforts should be to draw attention to audio regardless of format, there are some different avenues that can be used to highlight digital editions.

The biggest challenge in the digital marketing scenario, according to Linda Lee, v-p and general manager for Scholastic Audio, is to give one’s programs an edge in a crowded field. “Since many digital distributors are able to offer hundreds of thousands of titles—compared to retail hard-copy resellers, who might have product SKUs only in the thousands—it is hard to have a title stand out,” she says. “Therefore we usually have to be far more aggressive with our promotions in the digital space.” As examples of means of drawing in consumers, she cites offering larger discounts and even free titles. “We try to focus these highly discounted and/or free offers on first-of-series titles,” she says, hoping to hook listeners who will want to purchase subsequent titles at full price at a later date.

Hachette Audio takes a similar tack: “One thing we do to promote digital audio is create special low-priced offers for download titles we know make great gifts, particularly when we have a tie-in moment—for example, when a new book in the series is coming out in hardcover, or when the title we’re downpricing is newly available in paperback,” says Megan Fitzpatrick, director of marketing and publicity.

At Tantor Audio, marketing manager Cassandra McNeil says that though she plans various discounts throughout the holiday shopping season, “the big digital focus for us comes after the holidays, where we can change the focus to asking, ‘Did you get a new MP3 player/audio device?’ and then offering sales to help listeners choose new titles for their new devices.”

Not surprisingly, such downloadable audio promotions are a perfect fit with social media, and the majority of publishers that PW spoke with mentioned targeting listeners via Facebook, Instagram, and SoundCloud, that latter of which, Fitzpatrick says, is “one of our most crucial social media channels—we have 386,000 followers.” Samantha Edelson, marketing director at Macmillan Audio, says that advertising on social media, as well as with bloggers or podcasts, as ways to extend the company’s digital reach. And Sarah Lieberman, v-p and marketing director for Simon & Schuster Audio, points to the role authors can play in the promotion process. “Many of our authors are increasingly supportive and excited about audio,” she says, and they work together to promote audio titles through the author’s various channels as well. To that end, Lieberman says that she and her team focus on procuring behind-the-scenes material—recorded interviews, videos, in-the-studio photos—that could be used for promotion, or even as bonus material for a published recording: “It’s on our mind for every single person that comes through the studio. We think it adds to the consumer sense of being a part of what we’re doing.”



9 Easy & Inexpensive Ways to Promote Your Audiobook

As an independent author and publisher, I’m constantly faced with the challenge of how to compete in a crowded marketplace with titles that have big budgets and entire publicity teams behind them. Many shy away from the challenge, chalking it up as impossible, but I’ve learned that you can reach readers without spending big money; you just have to be creative.

Here are nine easy and inexpensive ideas you can try right away…

1. Reviews

Just as there are reviewers for print and e-books, there are reviewers who specialize in audiobooks. There are traditional publications, like AudioFile Magazine, which is published in print and digital formats and is dedicated solely to audiobooks, as well as a host of audiobook review blogs that are always looking for new titles. These reviewers can be found with a simple Google search or by perusing directories like the Book Blogger directory, Indie View, or the Book Blogger List.

Don’t forget about your own fan base. If you’ve produced your audiobook with ACX, then you will receive 25 promo codes that you can use to give away free copies of your audiobook in exchange for a review.

>Tip: As stellar reviews come pouring in, re-post them on your social sites to help spread the good word.

2. Interviews

Reach audiobook enthusiasts using other audio formats, like radio and podcasts. There are thousands of radio stations and podcasts that offer a variety of programs, which are often looking for guests and experts. Think about the subjects explored in your audiobook and how they could translate into an interesting discussion or interview. Then, identify a list of shows that would benefit from having you as a guest and pitch yourself to the shows’ producers.

For example, my audiobook, Empty Arms, explores teen pregnancy, forced adoptions, sealed records, and their devastating impact on an entire generation of women, so I’ve been targeting programs that deal with women’s issues.

To find radio shows that might be a good fit for your subject matter, check out the Radio Locator database. It’s a useful tool that allows you to search for radio stations by geography or format and then connects you to each station’s website, where you can learn about upcoming show topics and find the producer’s contact information.

For podcasts, visit the Podcasts section of the iTunes store and try searching for different keywords related to your book. You’ll be surprised at the number of shows you find. (Here’s an interview I scored over at The BookCast.)

>Tip: It can be time-consuming to monitor all of the publicity opportunities out there. You might find it useful to subscribe to Radio Guest List, a free booking service that sends you a daily e-mail with current radio, podcast, and television publicity opportunities.

3. Sponsorships

Unlike most radio shows, podcasts are often produced at the expense of the host. As a result, many are seeking sponsorships to help offset their production costs. Sponsorships are generally short messages that are either read by the host or pre-recorded by the sponsor and played during the show. Often times, the cost is nominal but the impact can be strong if you work with shows that reach your target audience.

4. Free Samples

Give people an easy, risk-free way to sample your audiobook. SoundCloud allows you to create a free sample that you can embed on your website, in blog posts, and all throughout your social presence (see mine below). Plus, it links directly to your audiobook’s buying page to allow for easy conversion. This is different than the “free audio sample” feature on Audible because you don’t have to send people over to Audible to hear it.

Tip: When creating your free sample, be sure to capture a compelling scene that leaves listeners wanting more, so they’re more likely to buy your audiobook.

5. One-Minute Trailer

Many books launch with a book trailer, but where some go wrong is creating a book trailer that is too long. I saw one that was five minutes long! Five minutes is a lifetime, but most people have a minute to spare. By creating a one-minute book trailer, you are promising not to waste the person’s time. For an example, see my one-minute trailer for Empty Arms below.

Tip: In addition to linking to your one-minute trailer on your website and social sites, try including it in your e-mail signature (along with your free audio sample mentioned above) to maximize reach.

6. Collateral

Digital audiobooks can be challenging to sell in person because they’re not a tangible product, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a presence at an event. A postcard-sized promotional card can go a long way in telling people about your audiobook and reminding them to order it when they get home. I use them at book festivals, signings, conferences, and I even keep a few in my purse to give to people I meet when I’m out and about. Online printing services like VistaPrint make it fast and affordable to produce marketing collateral for your audiobook

>Tip: If you aren’t skilled in graphic design, there are budget-friendly services like 99 Designs and CrowdSpring that allow you to submit a creative brief for your project and then have a pool of talented design pros compete for the job.

7. Affiliations

What groups, clubs, networks, or associations are you part of? Think collegiate, professional, religious, service, and hobby. Do any of your groups have newsletters? If so, find out if there’s a section dedicated to member news. Opportunities like this are a great source of free advertising, yet they’re often overlooked.

8. Social Media Advertising

Social media sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Goodreads, offer low cost, highly targeted advertising opportunities. Ad campaigns are easy to create—they require a little bit of text and an optional image—and they’re budget sensitive, so you can dictate how much you’re willing to pay per click, set a daily budget cap, and stop your campaign at any time, giving you full control over how much you spend.

With regards to targeting, Facebook allows you to filter your audience by location, gender, age, and interests (which include categories like “audiobooks”). These filters ensure that your ad is only being seen and clicked on by people who might actually be interested in buying your audiobook. Since LinkedIn is a social site for professionals, it’s a great place to target business travelers and commuters who might be likely to listen to audiobooks while they’re on the road. Goodreads is another logical place to promote your audiobook because it’s a community of readers. Plus, its ad platform allows you to reach your audience based on the genres and authors they like.

>Tip: Create a unique ad headline and body copy for each audience you target to increase the chance that your ad will resonate and turn into a sale.

9. Awards

The Audio Publishers Association holds the annual Audie Awards (it’s like the Emmy’s, but for audiobooks). The Audies recognize distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment across 30 different categories. Entry fees for this award can be a little pricey ($100 for APA members; $175 for non-members), but this sort of recognition can go a long way in letting the world know about your audiobook.



Sourcebooks Signs Author of Wattpad’s Most-Read Story of 2016

Sourcebooks has acquired worldwide English rights to Chasing Red, an adult novel by Canadian author Isabelle Ronin, which was the most-read story on Wattpad last year. According to Sourcebooks, Chasing Red had over 126 million reads by the Wattpad community in 2016.

After making some revisions and adding new content, Sourcebooks will publish Chasing Red in two volumes, releasing the first part of the book this September and the conclusion in November.

Sourcebooks cited the continued buildup of interest in the book as the reason it acquired the title. Ronin originally serialized her story, but once it was completed in early 2016 interest in Chasing Red grew even more, Sourcebooks said. “The numbers alone for Chasing Red are extraordinary. This story has touched millions of readers and is attracting new reads every week,” Sourcebooks CEO Dominique Raccah said.

Ashleigh Gardner, head of partnerships for Wattpad Studios, noted that rights to the book have also been acquired by Hachette Livre, HarperCollins Germany, Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, and Mondadori.

Chasing Red tells the story of “cynical straight-A college student Veronica “Red” Strafford,” who is offered a place to stay by “notorious basketball player Caleb Lockhart” after she gets kicked out of her apartment, Sourcebooks said. After she moves in “their close quarters create a problem when he pursues her, and she is far from ready to open up about her painful past.”

Sourcebooks first partnered with Wattpad in 2013 when it began publishing its authors under the Sourcebooks Fire young adult imprint. Recent books by Wattpad authors released by Sourcebooks include two young adult titles by Natasha Preston. The Cellar and The Cabin have had solid runs on young adult bestsellers lists and have sold hundreds of thousands of copies.



Get To Know Radish, The Serialized Fiction App Bringing Novels To Smartphones

When Seung Yoon Lee was president of the Oxford Union, the centuries-old debating society at the famed English university, he says he saw himself as a “content curator.” Part of his job, after all, was to invite intellectuals, politicians, artists, and celebrities—everyone from Peter Thiel to John McCain to “Gangnam Style” rapper Psy—to come speak at Oxford.

“I imagined it as a 200-year-old Ted Talk,” he says.

The experience proved to be a training ground of sorts for Lee, who goes by “SY,” and who recently cofounded Radish, an iOS and Android mobile app for serialized fiction. The writers on Radish aren’t quite as famous as those whom Lee assembled at Oxford, but the idea behind the venture is similar: providing a platform for artists to express themselves. Even the tech component that drives Radish is something Lee was dabbling with at school—under his leadership, Oxford Union speeches made their debut on YouTube.

But the real innovation behind Radish, which recently raised $3 million from investors including the United Talent Agency, Bertelsmann Digital Media, and author Amy Tan, is that it allows its writers to make money from their writing. Unlike Wattpad, another fiction app that has taken off with young genre writers, Radish has a micro-payment system similar to online games like Candy Crush. The way it works is that anyone can get access to early chapters of Radish’s 700 authors, but if you want to keep reading, you have to pay, anywhere from 20 to 40 cents per chapter. (Those with patience, can wait until those chapters are made available for free a few weeks later.) Revenue generated by these payments is split 50-50 between Radish and its writers. As a result, Lee says the app’s top writer earns $13,000 a month.


“Thanks to Candy Crush and other games,” says Lee, who has the youthful face and windswept hair of a pop star. “People have gotten really used to mobile micro-payments. So we said, why don’t we apply that model to books?”

Releasing installments of novels over a period of time to salivating readers dates back to Charles Dickens, someone whom Lee often refers to when giving his pitch about Radish. But the more recent inspiration comes from countries like Japan, China, and Lee’s native Korea, where “freemium” online publishing—where writers are rewarded in exchange for advance chapters—has become highly prevalent. Self-publishing websites attract over 40% of all of China’s internet users every month. And it’s lucrative: In China, top online writers—known as zhigaoshen, or “supreme gods”—can earn millions of dollars a year. Most of this money comes from royalty fees, as Chinese TV, movie, and gaming studios increasingly turn to online novelists (who typically specialize in short-form sci-fi, romance, and historical epics) for “IP” to turn into visual entertainment. According to the China Daily, 114 online novels were bought by entertainment companies in 2014, 90 of which were adapted into TV shows. Meanwhile, the Chinese online game company Giant Interactive bought 40 online novel copyrights during that time.

Wattpad has had the most success so far in adapting novels for the mobile age. A Toronto-based site and app that allows its mostly young, female fans to directly engage with authors and even comment on specific paragraphs, Wattpad has accrued over 45 million users. One of the novels published on the platform, After, by Anna Todd, has been read over 1 billion times. Simon & Schuster published the novel and its sequels—a romance inspired by One Direction’s Harry Styles—in book form, and Paramount optioned the film rights. Top writers on the platform can make money through these sorts of multimedia deals, as well as through advertising, but there is no direct payment system.

Robert Thier, a German writer (though he writes in English) who has over half a million followers on Wattpad, calls the platform “a Facebook around books.” He says that the fans he’s accumulated on the site have been “very useful” and “an amazing way to gather feedback from a wider audience who doesn’t normally have access to published books because they can’t get to them or afford them.” But even with his massive following, he hasn’t made any money.



How Self Publishing Can Create a Solid Brand

It’s a big question in the business space: Is it better to self-publish a book or pitch it to a big publisher? It comes back to why you’re publishing a book in the first place. And with self publishing becoming easier than ever, Amazon has become loaded with best-sellers.

Books published in 2016 only have about a 1 percent chance of ever seeing the shelves of a bookstore, begging the question: Why publish at all? Well, that’s the wrong question. The question that the savvy entrepreneur should be asking is: Why use a publisher at all?

In 2015, Jared Kleinert published “2 Billion Under 20,” a book highlighting millennial entrepreneurs making world-changing moves. The book did well at first, but as with most large publication books it had a limited life cycle and Kleinert had limited rights. That’s because when you work with a publisher, like Kleinert, you waive rights to really owning you book, along with any ability to repurpose its content.

On Jan. 17, 2017, Kleinert released his follow up, “3 Billion Under 30.” This time, with one major difference; it’s self-published. He looked at why he’s really writing the book, something the modern author really has to look at. The purpose of the second book is to build a brand, and as a self publisher he can create a brand he can control.

According to Kleinert, what are the major reasons to self-publish?

  • Network: His book is a compilation of stories from 75 young entrepreneurs. He builds a connection with them by telling their story, in addition to helping them grow their own brands and business.
  • Press: You can promote the text online as blog posts or chapter excerpts, which would not be an option if you’re working with a publisher.
  • Working with the Best: Traditional publishers are losing the best editors and designers because they are beginning to understand that the free market will pay them much more for their work. As long as you are willing to pay, publishing a book yourself will allow to hire the cream of the crop and create a better and more authentic product than could have been done through a book publisher.

The positive and the negative of self-publishing is that the writer bears all the responsibility for marketing the book. However, the entrepreneur that has spent time building his network and knows the value in good PR can really knock it out of the park.

Another creative option that self-publishing allows for is joint ventures or getting others to promote your product. Find the right JV partners, preferably with massive email lists, offering them the right commission or incentives that will drive them to promote the book to their followers; creating a wider and more engaged reach than a publisher can create.

The book itself is no longer the product, but it is a conduit to what the book creates. Publishing a book is now about building a solid brand that has longevity. Publishing it yourself is the only way to really hold the reins of your brand. 



Here are Six Factors Kobo Considers When Expanding Into a New Country

Expanding into new territories takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. Publishers, retailers and local employees must all be brought on board. Often, readers need to be introduced to the benefits of e-Reading as well. In short: a great localized experience doesn’t happen overnight.

Here are six of the factors that Kobo considers when moving into a new market, according to CEO Michael Tambyln.

1. Books available in the digital format

For us, it’s critically important that books are available in the digital format. For publishers, this means acquiring digital rights along with print rights and also starting to get eBooks converted to the EPUB format so that they can be sold by retailers like us. In many countries, we have worked with publishers to find conversion facilities and partners to help make the transition to eBooks as fast and inexpensive as possible.

This first step is often the most difficult one — after all, why would a publisher invest in making a digital version of a book when the market hasn’t started yet? They are necessary because we, and every other retailer of eBooks, need the biggest catalog we can get.

2. Comprehensive catalog

This is the second thing we want to see: Can we acquire from publishers a collection of books that is wide and deep, that includes all categories — fiction and non-fiction, books read for entertainment and education and religious study, from every publisher.

3. Access to top titles and authors

We want to create a digital bookstore that has the same titles and popular authors that a reader would find in a great print bookstore. We want a reader to come to our store, look around and say, yes — this is what a bookstore looks like.

4. Understanding of how a country looks at books

The fourth condition that is necessary for us is a clear understanding of what makes the books in a country unique. In each country, there are different challenges to address. Languages, display of different characters, finding the correct typefaces, how people search for the books they are looking for. But also — we need a good understanding of how books exist in that country from a legal, regulatory standpoint. Are there some kinds of books that can’t be sold? Are there restrictions on pricing? Are there certain categories that are especially important? Can we sell the books just in one country, or all over the world? As well, we need to know how people think about books differently in that territory. Are books and literature a critical part of the cultural landscape? Are authors seen as major cultural figures? Are books seen as entertainment, escape, education, or all of the above?

5. Internet usage

Fifth, we look for countries with high internet penetration. Even more, we look for countries where eCommerce has started to become a popular way for people to buy goods and services. Best of all are countries where other kinds of digital content — maybe not books, but music, movies, games — are starting to be sold online.

6. Market conditions

Sixth, high levels of literacy are important, and especially a rising level of disposable income and strong print book market, where people have money available to spend and use that money to buy books.



Digital apps and subscription boxes put books by black authors in readers’ hands

Kaya Thomas has always been a voracious reader. But despite her growing library and bigger imagination, she often couldn’t see herself in the characters of the books she read.


“Being a black woman, what I had experienced growing up was that a lot of books I was reading weren’t representative of me,” Thomas told Salon. “I wished there was a place where I could find books with characters that look like me or are similar to me.”

In 2014, the Dartmouth College student created a mobile app to help young readers access books by and about people of color. We Read Too is designed as a discovery platform for children and young adult fiction readers, who can search for a specific title or receive suggestions for books. The app has a directory of 650 titles — with 1,000 expected by the end of the year — and has been downloaded from iTunes approximately 15,500 times.

Thomas decided to develop her app around younger readers because while age-appropriate literature often teaches lessons and builds skills, it can also cement identity. When children don’t grow up reading about characters like themselves, they might start to question whether their experiences in the world are valuable.

“I think it’s so important for young people to be exposed to stories that are representative so they know that they’re not invisible,” she said. “[We Read Too is] also for white kids and teens . . . it’s important for all of us to get various perspectives.”

Finding those perspectives can be a challenge. Authors and illustrators of color accounted for 12 percent of all children’s books published in 2016, according to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin. CCBC has tracked the number of books authored or illustrated by black writers and artists since 1985 and has accounted for Asian, Native American and Latino creators and characters since 1994. Over the past 22 years, the number of books created by black people has only increased 3 percent.

“What the low numbers for multicultural literature mean is that publishing for children and teens has a long way to go before reflecting the rich diversity of perspectives and experiences within and across race and culture,” CCBC’s website states.

While parenting blogs, book reviewers and mainstream media websites will often publish lists of minority authors, We Read Too’s Thomas is among a handful of entrepreneurs who are using technology and social media to expand the reach of those authors of color. The goal is to a showcase books by and for people of color without forcing readers to dig deep to find them.

“Even when I was doing the research to create the directory, a lot of the things that were out there about diverse literature were in little snippets,” Thomas said. “There hasn’t been necessarily one central location where you can find books by black or Latin American authors.”

Other personalized, direct-to-door services have popped up to meet the literary needs of black children. Just Like Me! offers a monthly book box subscription that sends two to three “carefully selected and researched” books, with selections tailored to fit infants through 12-year-olds.



Amazon KDP Select: Is It Worthwhile for Authors?

There’s a lot of turmoil right now in the self-publishing world regarding the Amazon KDP Select program. I’m not sure it’s warranted. The Select Program is just that: a program, a tool, a tactic.

In other words, it’s not a promise, a guarantee, or even a long term strategy—for authors or Amazon.

It’s a program. Subject to change. And it might not fit your needs now—or later—or ever. Or it might be the catalyst you need to engage new readers and propel sales.

For those who don’t know, here’s what Amazon KDP Select is in a nutshell:

In exchange for giving Amazon exclusive use of a piece of digital content for 90 days, you receive five days (any five you choose) to make your digital content available for free, and you also get paid for any of your e-books that are lent through the Amazon Prime library.

Let’s break that down.

Amazon KDP Select: 90 days exclusivity required

Depending on your audience, that could be a deal breaker right there. Or it could be an opportunity.

If your readers buy a significant number of your books from other venues, then you probably don’t want to anger them by providing content only to Amazon. If you have no readers yet, then building an audience on Amazon before branching out to other venues might be an excellent choice.

Established authors with several titles might rotate content through Select if they’re finding that they get a significant number of paid lends and new readers from the program. They could also use Select to launch a new project, receiving feedback and reviews via Amazon before distributing a title elsewhere.

Newer authors with limited readership probably have nothing to lose by granting Amazon exclusivity while they use Select to build their audience. Select becomes a tool to build a presence on the bestseller lists, reviews, and solid sales figures, along with an income before expansion, much in the way that smaller presses can serve as a stepping stone to larger publishers.

What about the income from lending? 

It’s been averaging around $2 a lend, which might be more than you make on a sale if you price your books below $2.99. Above $2.99 and you’re losing money compared to an actual sale.

In my own experience, both times I tried Select, my lends were neglible compared to other authors. But as I polled other authors, I realized that the lending trends fall into two groups: relatively unknown authors were receiving higher numbers of lends while more established authors weren’t.

My guess is that the better-known authors with established series, good reader reviews, and bestseller status were actually being bought rather than borrowed. In my case, I could calculate the higher number of sales I received via Select and compare it to the lends as well as what I would usually sell of those titles via other venues.

For the two 90-day periods I was in Select, it was a virtual wash financially.

(Note: I’d also guess that Prime readers are smart enough to assume that any author in Select might be going free in the near future and many of them are starting to wait before buying or committing to a lend until they see if the book goes free or not. If this is the case, then the financial advantages of Select will be quickly erased, especially for established authors or those selling at a higher price.)

What about those 5 free days?

Don’t they make Amazon KDP Select an even better deal, worth the exclusivity? Or are the rumors true, and free isn’t working any more?

Yes and no. Free definitely worked better when Select first began and your free downloads jumpstarted your paid ranking. Now, after an algorithm shift, those free downloads don’t help your paid ranking as much, so unless you hit the top of the free list with a massive number of downloads (probably at least 20,000), it won’t place your book very high on the paid bestseller lists.

But if your free days land you on the Top 20 (first page) of the free bestseller list, that exposure might be worth it in terms of increased sales for the days following a free promotion, not to mention the number of readers who now have your book. This could lead to more reviews and increased sales of your other books, especially if you created an easy way for them to access the rest of your list via links in the back of the free book.

There are many ways to go free and to benefit from it. The important thing is to decide why you want to go free and what it’s worth to you. If you want reviews, offer free reads to your existing readers. If you want to build a list, offer free reads to those who sign up for your mailing list. If you want to hit an Amazon bestseller list and increase sales there, then Select is your best bet.

Who should be using Amazon KDP Select’s free days?

1. Established authors who want to jumpstart a title whose sales are lagging.

2. Authors with a new release that’s part of a series—and want to bring new readers on board quickly—could use Select’s free days for the first in the series, hoping that it will lead to sales of the following books.

3. New authors with only two or three titles who are trying to grow their readership. This group will probably find the Select program the least restrictive and most help as they can earn income via both sales and lends while rotating their books through free days.

Note: I would NOT use Select if I only had one book. You might see increased sales but once readers read that title where are they going to go next?

Income versus exposure

Select is a tool, a tactic to help you achieve your goal. But first you need to decide on the goal. Are you aiming for income or exposure?

If your book attracts a lot of lends and/or sales, then Select may help grow your income. You want to also compare the income potential of other venues for your genre before committing, or cycle in and out of Select with different titles so that you don’t totally lose readers from other venues.

If you’re looking for new readers and exposure for your other books, then Select’s free days might make the exclusivity worthwhile, especially if you use it as part of an overall promotional strategy. There are other ways to use free besides Select (such as via Kobo, Smashwords, Apple price-matching or your own site in the form of giveaways), so weigh your options carefully.

The future: Do readers EVER have to buy another book?

The bottom line with any discussion of free books isn’t so much the venue supporting free as much as the readers embracing it. Some readers feel that Amazon is the equivalent of their public library, providing a never-ending stream of free titles.

I’ve noticed a few things about these readers who are constantly grazing for free:

  • They tend to fill their e-readers but often don’t actually read the books, instead using free as a way to create a large sampling library.
  • Since they have no investment in the books, they often leave one-star reviews for anything they read that isn’t to their taste. (Why did they grab it in the first place? Not because the title/cover/subject/genre appealed to them, but simply because the price was right: free.)
  • They often don’t buy future books. I’ve received e-mails from readers hooked by a free book asking when the next in the series will be free. When I let them know that it won’t be available for free, some go ahead and buy the next books, thanking me for keeping my prices reasonable, but many don’t.

I’m not alone in noticing these trends. I asked the hosts of the Self-Publishing Podcast, Johnny Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright (if you’re not listening to these guys, you should!) about their experiences with Select and this is what Sean told me:

“David and I owe a lot of our early success to KDP Select and are appreciative for all it’s done for us. It was a terrific program, and still is if used well. When we first published Yesterday’s Gone, no one besides Amazon had the reach. Coupled with the ability to flip a switch and make our titles free, it was an easy decision. Originally, we were on Nook and iBooks as well as Amazon, but they accounted for almost none of our sales.

The program now puts most authors at a disadvantage. The exclusivity was once offset by the chance to gain mass exposure and a healthy aftermath of sales, but changes in Amazon’s algorithms (which now lend negligible weight to free titles) have dimmed the results of free promotions. This, along with a throttling of free sites and their ratio of free-to-paid promotions, have drastically reduced the effects of KDP Select.

The market is saturated. There are too many authors screaming for the same six seconds of spotlight. Free isn’t converting to paid like it once was, and worse, authors are creating a culture of readers who are being nurtured away from paying. Those authors who can still be served best by KDP Select are the ones with smart funnels and using free promotion to direct readers toward other paid titles.”

Johnny had a similar experience with his latest release:

“My last launch that happened inside of Select, for Fat Vampire 4, was a total flop. I’d been getting e-mails and tweets from fans who were ravenous for the book, and when I launched it free, it felt like all I did was to give it away to people who were dying to pay for it. In the past, putting a book later in a series as free would drive sales of the prior volumes, but that didn’t happen AT ALL this time. I sold almost no previous volumes, which led me to believe that everyone who saw Fat Vampire 4 and might have been interested in Fat Vampires 1-3 already had those volumes. Which meant I wasn’t reaching anyone new; I was simply proving a fixed pool of people with free content. I can attribute maybe $50 total (across all Fat Vampire books) to that promotion, and I netted only 6 reviews. That simply isn’t equitable or reasonable. “

Bottom line: 3 questions to ask before any free campaign

  1. Can I obtain the level of engagement I’m looking for via Select? For a standalone book with lagging sales or to bring new readers to an established series by giving away the first book, the answer might be yes.
  2. Will enrolling in Select anger my readers? Know your audience and have a plan in place to gift them a version if they shop at a different venue.
  3. Will this help me increase sales/make a bestseller list/grow my audience? Don’t try to do all three at once, but instead choose one goal for this particular title at this particular time.

When Amazon KDP Select first began, the choice was easy. But now it may not provide the one-stop marketing solution it used to.

One thing about this business, it’s always changing. Keep your options open and don’t be afraid to experiment. Find what works best for you and your readers. Treat your readers right, but make sure they are the right readers for you!



4 Steps to Selling More Books with Less Social Media

When I ask new email subscribers to tell me their number one book marketing challenge, the answer is overwhelmingly the conundrum that is social media: it takes too much time, and the results are difficult to measure. I agree.

Without a solid understanding of how social media does and doesn’t work, authors resort to the splatter method. But trying to hit every social media channel is a poor marketing strategy. On the contrary—you can successfully sell more books with less social media in four steps:

1. Find, build and target your proprietary audience.
2. Choose a primary social media channel for engagement and selling based on five specific criteria.
3. Designate social media outpost channels to direct potential fans to your primary social media channel.
4. Create a content system designed to foster engagement first and sell books second based on authentic author interaction with fans.

Authors in my online classes are amazed at the amount of time this primary channel system adds to their writing schedule and how effectively they can reach readers on just one channel.

Step One: Find, Build and Target Your Audience

The first step to selling more books with less social media is finding, building and targeting your proprietary audience. Nobody writes a book for everybody. To sell effectively, you need to define your target before you shoot. In this step, there are three main strategies: discovery strategies, content strategies and growth strategies.

Audience Discovery Strategies

Finding your readers shouldn’t be like playing Where’s Waldo. Here are a few tactics to find out where your readers are on social media.

• Survey your own readers. If you don’t know the social media preferences of your readers, ask them. You can send out a free survey on Survey Monkey or Google Forms to all your readers via email and social media posts. Find out who they are (demographics), where they spend their time on social media, and what other authors they read.
• Check free general use statistics on Pew Internet and other free data sites. Pew Internet provides the most reliable and extensive data on social media use worldwide. There are reputable marketing sites like HubSpot, Buffer, Marketo, Nielsen, Social Bakers and others that also publish free periodic data reports on social media use.
• Check your social media channel data. Most major social media channels will give you data about your followers.
• Check with your professional associations. Some writer organizations, such as Romance Writers of America, offer data about the genre’s readers to members.

Audience Content Strategies

Today, many of our marketing efforts are backwards. We think a platform will deliver an audience, but a platform simply delivers a message to an audience we have already built.

We can develop specific content for our audience once we understand who they are. In Jeffrey Rohr’s book Audience, he explains that our proprietary audience is made up of three parts or segments of people. They have different motivations for being there, different buying habits, and are in need of different information. Rohrs explains:

• Seekers are looking for something of personal interest. You gain them by giving them the kind of relevant content they are looking for. They are usually not ready for personal contact. They are seeking information, not connection.
• Amplifiers are looking for content as well, but for their own audiences. They will magnify the reach of your content by sharing it with a motive of gaining credibility or helping their own audience. These are often reporters, influencers, advocates, consultants, reviewers and bloggers.
• Joiners are your most valuable asset, according to Rohrs. They are the mother lode because they respond to your calls to action: subscribe, follow, pin, register, join or buy. They willingly give up their personal information for value. They volunteer to be marketed to. And they will share valuable content with their friends.

When it comes time to crafting valuable, engaging content, this is our backdrop. We’ll look at content extensively in part four of this series.

Audience Growth Strategies

One of the most common mistakes authors make in social media marketing is not understanding how to use social media, websites, email, and other media to actually grow their audience, not just to sell to them.

The best example of implementing this strategy is email marketing. You use your email list primarily for communicating with fans about new releases and sales, and to publish newsletters. But you also use social media to grow your email list with sign-up forms, solicitations for advance reader teams, and other loyalty tactics—all ways to effectively grow your reader base.

When used correctly, social media is a vehicle you can use to be found by new readers, engage fans at a deeper level, and grow your following.

In the next installment of this series, we’ll delve into how to find the best primary social media channel for sales and reader engagement. It’s time to start spending less time marketing and more time writing.



Turn Automatic Book Updates On or Off

You can opt to receive updates automatically for some of your Kindle books. A new book version will be made available after we confirm improvements were made to your Kindle book.

Before you enable the Automatic Book Update feature, make sure Annotations Backup is turned on for your Fire tablet, Kindle E-reader, or Kindle reading app to sync your notes, highlights, bookmarks, and furthest page read. For more information, go to Back Up Your Bookmarks, Notes & Highlights.

Note: Annotations Backup is enabled automatically and can’t be turned off on Fire tablets.

To enable Automatic Book Updates:

  1. Go to Manage Your Content and Devices.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Select Automatic Book Update to expand the section. Select On to receive automatic updates for your book, or select Off to receive an email notification when an update is available to download.

Notifying Customers of Book Updates

You’re always welcome to update a book of yours at any time, and republish it to include the changes. Customers who buy your book after you republish will receive the updates. Customers who purchased your book before you made changes will keep the original version.

In some cases, you may find serious defects in a published book. If you correct these and republish, we’ll make the updates available to customers via their Manage Your Kindle page, as well as listing the latest version of your book in the Kindle Store. To justify alerting customers about an update like this, the new version would have to correct problems that made it very difficult for customers to read the book.

Sending customers an update may erase any notes or highlights they entered, so the improvements must outweigh those disadvantages.

If You Make Updates

To inform us of significant corrections like these, click “Contact Us” below. Please provide details and specific examples of your corrections. We’ll review the book within seven days, and may take one of the following actions:

Corrections to distracting errors. If we find only minor corrections, we won’t notify customers who already own a copy by email, but we’ll activate their ability to update the content through the “Manage Your Content and Devices” page on Amazon.com.

Corrections to destructive or critical errors. If we find major corrections, we will alert all customers who own the book via email.  These customers can choose to receive the update through their “Manage Your Content and Devices” page on Amazon.com.

Additional corrections to critical errors needed. If we find more major corrections are needed, we will temporarily remove your book from sale. We’ll notify you of the issues we found so that you can fix them. Once the improvements are made, just let us know and we’ll email customers just as with major corrections.

Please review our Guide to Kindle Content Quality for information on the most common types of quality issues. Make sure to provide detailed examples of the corrections made when submitting your request.

Some examples of corrections that don’t justify sending updates to customers who previously purchased your book are:

  • New Content Added: Chapter(s) or page(s) added, deleted or revised; new images added; bonus chapter added.
  • Book Plot or Character Changes: Character’s name changed; book ending changed.
  • Marketing Information: Links or marketing info added, deleted, or modified.


Check Your Updates

If you purchased a copy of your book and need to see updates, click “Contact Us” and we will send the updated content to your device. You won’t need to purchase it again.

To receive updates to your Kindle books automatically

1. Turn on the Annotations Backup* for your Kindle device or Kindle reading app to sync your notes, highlights, bookmarks, and furthest page read
2. Go to the Manage Your Content and Devices page
3. Select “Automatic Book Update” under the Settings tab
4. Select “On” from the dropdown menu

Note: The Automatic Book Update feature may not yet be available for markets outside of the U.S.

*The following devices automatically enable the Annotations Backup:  Fire HD, Fire HDX, Kindle for Android, Kindle for Windows 8, and Kindle for BlackBerry 10. 
As a result, you cannot turn off the Annotations Backup.

Pain is Temporary

To my independent authors and others who read this blog. Pain is temporary but quitting lasts forever. Do not give up on your dreams, do not hang with negative people. Lose sleep, stop going on meaningless vacations until you succeed. At the end of pain is success. I want to be one of the greatest authors and digital publishers alive. Every single day grind. Grind now and give up a few years to be successful the rest of your life. Everyday I listen to Eric Thomas. Listen to me, I almost died, at that very moment the fear of death left me. I’m on a mission to spread encouragement and motivation. Never give up !!!

An Interview with NY Times Bestselling Author Bella Andre

Having sold more than 1.5 million self-published ebooks, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Bella Andre’s novels have appeared on Top 5 lists at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. After signing a groundbreaking 7-figure print-only, English language deal with Harlequin MIRA, Bella’s popular series about “The Sullivans” will be released in paperback in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia/New Zealand in continuous back-to-back releases from June 2013 through April 2014. Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly), her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine ”Red Hot Reads” twice, have been translated into nine languages, and her Sullivan books are already Top 20 bestsellers in Brazil. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post has called her “One of the top digital writers in America” and she has been featured by NPR, USA Today, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and most recently in TIME Magazine. She has given keynote speeches at publishing conferences from Copenhagen to Berlin to San Francisco, including a standing-room-only keynote at Book Expo America in 2012 on her self-publishing success. http://www.BellaAndre.com


In 2012, Bella Andre broke a glass ceiling that most in publishing said could never be shattered:  selling her print rights while retaining her eBook right to her Sullivan series.  I remember speaking with her on the phone prior to that momentous deal and hearing all the various options that were on the table before her, but the one she didn’t mention was the one she ended up doing, which is quite spectacular.

How did you decide to try the print only route with the traditional publishing world, knowing they were publicly very reluctant to go for it?

Thanks so much for doing this interview with me, Bob! You’ve been so helpful and forthcoming in every conversation we’ve had these past couple of years – especially the discussion we had last summer when I was considering all of the options that were unfolding for my self-published Sullivan series.

While it’s absolutely true that I had heard countless people at publishing conferences during the past couple of years say they didn’t think a print-only deal would ever happen, I always believed it would. Perhaps it’s my background in Economics (I have a Bachelor’s from Stanford), perhaps it’s my perpetual optimism (my friends joke that I’m like the Bumble from “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” – I always bounce!), but I knew that once the sales numbers for my self-published Sullivan ebooks were big enough, it would make perfect sense for a major publisher to bring them into the print market in a big way.

Once my sales numbers grew big enough for that first print-only conversation to happen with a NY publisher, I can honestly say that it was a great one with absolutely no reluctance expressed. The conversations just got better from there as several other NY publishers also expressed interest in bringing the series to print and working with me.

Who made the first move? You? Or Traditional publishers?

Traditional publishers . At that point I had released the first 5 books in my Sullivan series, 3 of which were already New York Times and USA Today bestsellers. By now, because I have already released the first 8 Sullivan books in e, Harlequin is able to do a truly incredible 8 month back-to-back mass market release schedule for the series.

Since I signed that first print-only deal with Harlequin MIRA in October 2012, I have agreed to two additional English language print-only deals – another one with MIRA and a new one with HQN. I’m particularly excited about our upcoming release of a Sullivan Christmas book in October 2013 in which I will go back in time to tell the Sullivan parent’s love story. This is the book Sullivan fans keep asking for and when Harlequin MIRA releases the hardcover, I will release the ebook. Working with them on the print side of my business has been a fabulous experience every step of the way.

THE LOOK OF LOVE, the first book in the series, hits shelves May 28th in an expanded edition. I can’t wait to see what happens as even more readers discover the series all over the world…

Why did you first decide to self-publish?

I was between contracts in mid-2010 when a friend of mine suggested I put something up on Kindle. (Amazon was the only self-publishing game in town at the time.) I did and a month later I couldn’t believe when I had sold 250 copies of the ebook I’d put out. It was amazing to me at the time, and still is, even as I’m heading toward 2 million self-published ebook sales with a bullet! Those first 250 sales started everything for me.

When did your career begin to take off? What do you attribute your success to?

My career began to take off once I was able to take charge of my own destiny and reach readers directly. I love having an idea about a cover or book description or marketing my ebooks and being able to execute it quickly. I love being able to get the stories my readers want to them (almost) as fast as they’d like me to! I love waking up each day knowing it will be full of incredible new opportunities all over the world. I have been extremely fortunate to work with some incredible people who have helped me format my ebooks and publicize them, as well as being good friends with some of the best and most brilliant minds in publishing who I can call anytime I need to talk things over. I had 2 original self-published books out in December 2010 that was when I had my first 5 figure month. By November 2011 I had my first six-figure month. In October 2012 I signed my first seven figure print-only deal. My sales have continued to grow from month to month and new book to new book since 2010.

I work like crazy writing and revising the books and then taking them through the production cycle, but ultimately my success comes down to my amazing fans. They are so excited about the Sullivans that they tell everyone who will listen about the series!

How do you think your readers found you and continue to find you?

When I released my first original self-published story (LOVE ME) in July 2010 I took a week and wrote a personal email to everyone who had ever written to me in the previous five years. Almost every one of them wrote back to say, “Wow, I can’t believe you still had my email!” LOVE ME was a sequel to a book that Pocket had put out in 2005 (TAKE ME). For five years readers sent me email asking for the sequel. It was thrill to finally be able to give it to them.

What top three things do you view as critical to success as an author with the publishing landscape changing so quickly?

1. Write and read. Write and read. Write and read. (Repeat forever.)

2. Pay attention. I spend at least an hour every day reading everything I can find on self-publishing, NY publishing and ebooks, not just in the US, but all over the world.

3. Don’t forget that the book is the #1 most important thing. It’s what your readers want from you. Sure, they love hanging with you on twitter and facebook, but what they really want is to read your next book and they want it to be awesome.

How do you feel about authors who’ve succeeded as indies and then go completely with a New York publisher?  Do you think they’ve sacrificed something, or if the advance and contract as good enough, that they’ve made a smart move?

Everyone has to do what’s right for them and will make them happy.  I can’t speak to anyone else’s contracts or negotiations.

What do you know now from your experiences that you wish you knew before you started?

I quickly learned that everyone in this brave new world of publishing was awesome and my experiences in the past two and a half years have confirmed it over and over again. I’ll meet people at conferences and on panels and at workshops and we’re all so excited about books that we have an instant and strong connection.  You were the one who told me about audiobooks, Bob, when we met on that DBW panel last year. Every month when that check comes from Audible/ACX, my husband and I do a “Bob Mayer is awesome” dance. J

I think it’s important for people who are thinking about self-publishing to know just how much work it is. Every single person I know who is self-publishing works around the clock.



How Books by Self-Published Authors Can Land on the New York Times Bestsellers List

Most authors would love nothing more than to have their books appear on the NY Times Bestseller list.How Books by Self-Published Authors Can Land on the New York Times Bestsellers List This list is the Holy Grail for authors—the ultimate sign of success. But the long-standing challenge for self-published authors has been that the list is compiled based on brick and mortar bookstore sales, and most self-published authors aren’t featured in bookstores unless they are working with a distributor. Without bookstore distribution (combined with a heck of a lot of promotion), it’s impossible for a book to make it to the list.

But don’t give up hope just yet! The New York Times also features a bestseller list for ebooks, which is compiled based on sales reported from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Google. If you distribute your ebook through these channels and achieve exceptional sales, you can absolutely make this list.

Still don’t believe it’s possible? In August 2012, independent ebook distributor Smashwords announced that four of its authors were featured on the NY Times bestseller list that week! This was BIG news for all self-published authors because it provided evidence of what is possible when you produce your book and then market the heck out of it!

I’m sure we’ll be seeing more stories about how these authors achieved such tremendous sales success. In the meantime, consider how you can ramp up your marketing efforts to really kick those ebook sales into gear.

By the way, we have used and recommended Smashwords for ebook distribution for several years. If your titles aren’t listed there, they should be!



5 Surprising Trends in the Book Industry

In the changing technological landscape of the 21st century, the book publishing industry is in constant flux. Here are five trends to watch for in the publishing realm.

Return to brick-and-mortar

Years after their near-extinction—due in part to the increase of e-readers and the dominance of online booksellers—brick-and-mortar bookstores are making a comeback. In 2015, new stores began opening and others expanded to new locations, according to The Wall Street Journal. Amazon, a significant factor in the demise of brick-and-mortar bookstores, is hopping on the bandwagon with physical bookstores in Seattle, San Diego and Portland, and plans to open hundreds more by the end of 2017.

Rise of self-publishing

According to publishersweekly.com, self-publishing is becoming more popular each year. Self-published authors can earn from 60 to 80 percent of the royalties from their book’s list price as opposed to traditional publishing, where authors earn only around 12 percent to 17 percent. According to writersdigest.com, self-publishing can serve as a catalyst for breaking into mainstream publishing. Publishers are more likely to take on a book if the writer has already proven his success through self-publishing.

Audio book boom

With the recent rise of podcasts and in-car and home streaming, audio books are experiencing a bump in popularity as well. According to goodereader.com, audio books are the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry: 43,000 new audiobooks were released in 2015, compared to 36,000 in 2014 and 20,000 in 2013. Between August 2014 and August 2015, sales of audio book sales increased 43.4 percent. Publishers believe the ease of listening to an audiobook anywhere draws consumers.

Authors and social media

Gone are the days when an author retreated to her office to write, emerging six months later with a finished manuscript. These days, authors are expected to keep up with social media channels and expand their reach digitally to boost sales. J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, has 8.44 million Twitter followers. Rupi Kaur, a young writer from Canada, landed a book deal partly because of the 672,000 fans who follow her on Instagram.

Apps are up, e-readers down

When the Kindle and Nook were first released, a customer needed to own a dedicated e-reader in order to access their libraries and features. Now, you can download a Kindle app on your smart phone, computer or tablet and have the same experience. Amazon and Barnes & Noble realized that expanding the market for e-books more than made up for potential declines in the sales of the devices themselves. (According to Bookseller magazine, e-reader sales fell for the very first time in 2015.) The Wall Street Journal reports that publishers are looking toward phone applications instead of e-readers. Although the majority of people who use electronics to read use tablets, that number is declining as the number of those reading on phones increases.

Reporter’s Takeaway

• The trend toward more brick-and-mortar bookstores, most famously announced by Amazon, is spreading across the country. Explore the reasons for the original decline in your region, as well as a possible resurgence.

• Self-publishing is another major shift in the book business. It’s worth investigating how this is impacting the traditional publishing industry as well as the platforms on which authors now publish. No matter how they are being published, authors are expected to use social media as a key marketing tool; take a look at authors who are using it most effectively.

• While audio books have gained in popularity, the sale of e-readers is in a slump. You can conduct man-on-the-street interviews that explore this trend, and ask publishing professionals for their long-range predictions.



17 Changes Indie Authors Can Expect in 2017

The world of book marketing is moving and shaking. Part of my job is to make sure to I keep my finger on the pulse of what’s working well, what’s transforming, and what book promotion tactics will soon go the way of the dodo bird. So what changes can indie authors expect in 2017? Although these predictions are educated guesses, I think you’ll find many of these things evolving this year.

  1. Collaborative marketing: While not a new trend, I think you’re going to start seeing a lot more of this as the year progresses. In the past, we’ve seen authors do combo book bundles, so this means more books bundled together from a variety of authors. This encourages enhanced promotion, because more than one author is involved with the book. In addition to that though, I think we’re going to see authors collaborating on promotional efforts such as bundled freebies, samplers and collaborative ads. There is power in numbers and this year, more than ever, we’re going to start seeing that this is no longer an option, but a necessity.


  1. Book covers: Although, throughout all my years in publishing, I’ve always said that book covers are key, now, book covers are more important than ever to your book’s success. And, in fact, book covers that look good on mobile browsers are now a must. When was the last time you looked at your cover on your phone? If you have to pinch and pull it to be able to even see what it looks like or how it reads, you may be in trouble. Most new readers won’t take that step, they’ll just move on.


  1. Less social media: Most people are becoming weary of too much social media and I know several authors who have completely closed several of their social accounts. I think in 2017, more and more authors are going to get away from being everywhere. We have one author, for example, who went from being on six platforms to only two – and instead of doing a public Facebook account, she has a members-only VIP group.


  1. Publish often: I’ve said this before, but it’s becoming increasingly true. You can’t publish one book and wait to see what happens, you need to plan for a consistent publishing schedule that delivers a book to your readers a few times a year. Why? Because the more books you have, the more real estate you own on Amazon. But, there’s a caveat. Quality needs to prevail, so don’t crank out bad books just to hit your numbers.


  1. Seasonal romances: I love the Hallmark Channel for their marketing focus. If you follow them, or have ever seen a Hallmark Christmas movie (it’s ok to admit that you have), you’ll notice that nearly all of their movies are now tied to a season. This trend began in television, and has now extended to books; I’m seeing more and more romances with seasonal angles. So New Years themed books, summer holidays like Memorial Day and July 4th, then follow Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the trend starts all over again. And while I focused on romances here, I would expect this genre to have a wider reach into genre fiction, too.


  1. Direct to reader: I’ve said this before, in numerous blog posts, but you’ve got to work on getting direct to your reader. Yes, eBook promotions are great, ads on Facebook can work well, but it should all lead you to building a mailing list of avid fans who you can connect to directly. This change, though it started at the tail end of 2015, built up steam last year and we’ll see this increasingly over the coming year.


  1. More interaction with eBooks: It’s time to think of your eBook as a living, breathing, thing instead of a static product. So links that lead to external content like videos to enhance the learning, or book trailers to take readers to the next level of your story will be a fun new way to engage, entertain, and educate readers.


  1. Print books pick up steam again (but not for fiction): Interesting to note that so much of what’s being sold in fiction is not in print, meaning that eBooks are killing it in genre fiction. Dataguy from Digital Book World talks about this in his report: http://digitalbookworldconference.com/index.php/whitepaper. He notes that 70% of adult fiction sales were from eBooks. (mic drop) And, in fact, several major publishing houses have set up digital-only divisions for this very reason. But for non-fiction I’m seeing a totally different side. Print is actually still a strong staple of the non-fiction market. If you’ve released a book in eBook only, maybe now is a good time to put it out in print, too – a new edition can give you some new promotional opportunities.


  1. Consider your backlist: A lot of authors I speak to have older books that wound up being their “training wheels.” It’s where they learned the ropes, and learned from the mistakes they made they made with that book (or books, depending on your learning curve). I often hear authors say: “I wish I had known then what I do now.” Well, now that you know, why not re-release these? If the content needs updating, then by all means, do that, but if the book is fiction, you probably don’t need to change anything beyond the cover. Spoiler alert: in most cases the cover needs to be changed.


  1. Mobile: Do it or die (or at least your books may). You need a site that is designed for mobile, even if it’s just adding a WordPress plug in. Mobile can’t and shouldn’t be ignored, but if you don’t get this handled in 2017, you’re going to lose a lot (a lot) of potential traffic and new readers.


  1. Glitzy Publishers: It used to be that publishers could heap on a lot of benefits to get you to publish with them and many times it actually worked. Now though I’m finding that glamorous offerings from publishers are passé. Author want the basics, they get that publishers are there to help them facilitate publishing, not throw them a parade – which is why bare bones publishers like Createspace are doing so well. But don’t let the term “bare bones” fool you, they can do cover and interior work, they just don’t try to sell you a ton of stuff you don’t need.


  1. Review services will go away: While blog tours, reader reviews, top Amazon reviewers and blogger reviews will always be a staple of book promotion, companies that offer just review services will start to dwindle because of Amazon’s complicated review policy.


  1. Limited Edition Books: So part of the fun of promotion is doing things that pique a reader’s interest, like limited edition, exclusive excerpts, deleted scenes, and even alternative endings. Some authors I know are using print books to drive exclusivity, but they aren’t listing them on Amazon, they’re offering them, signed, from their website or as promo gifts. Neat idea, huh?


  1. The Long Haul: We love viral, I mean who doesn’t? That thing that just goes crazy and gets everyone talking, like the Gilmore Girls reunion It’s on every social media feed everywhere. The only thing is this: with so many books being put out daily, this kind of “magic” is not really something that we’re going to see a lot of anymore. This doesn’t mean that books won’t sell well, but it’s much more about the long haul (which I know sounds like a horrible amount of work) that’s going to get your reader excited. So now that I’ve gone all buzzkill on you, let me explain what I mean by “long haul.” It’s time to prepare for the “after the honeymoon” phase, post 90-day mark when you’d normally expect to see things take off. That’s just not realistic anymore. More and more in my firm, I see authors spending their budget dollars very wisely. They know they shouldn’t just blow it all in the first week of promotion, and they pace themselves and their budget. Be sure to plan for the long-term because short, power bursts just aren’t getting the kind of traction they used to. In fact, I’m seeing this a lot in the way of eBook promotions. Remember when you used to be able to do one eBook price discount and see a flood of sales? Now I’m seeing authors do two and three of these to hit the same numbers. It’s all about saturation and if you stick with it, your book will hit its stride. Bottom line: Prepare for the long term and don’t give up.


  1. Big movie/TV tie ins: We see this already, but you’re going to see more of it. Much like the seasonal romances, there is a coattail effect here. So tying into big movies – or movie themes – and TV shows will be even bigger this year. All of this, of course, will help you stand out from the crowd.


  1. New genres: We’re seeing lots of new genres so while I used to say: stick with existing genres, this is becoming less true and many genres, like Chicklit, are seeing a huge revival. We’ll be seeing lots more of these and, in fact, I would expect that seasonal romances will eventually fold into some catchy, genre title like Chicklit did.


  1. The Netflix effect: Some years ago I talked about how Netflix was going to start reinvigorating old shows. We see this with a number of 90s hit shows that have made recent comebacks, but what Netflix has also done is create “binge watching” an often-used term. This has turned serialized content on its head with sites like Wattpad really pulling in the views. As authors, we should be doing something in serialization. And due to the growth of audio books, I think the next level of this might be serialized audio content. So, a chapter a week or a day, dumped into a subscriber feed (sort of like a podcast) to help you build listeners and maybe entice them to buy the full audio book version, or your print book. Be aware that while doing this could be a lot of fun, you’d better have a good reading voice to pull it off.



Adult Coloring now Available on Lulu

My adult coloring book is now available on Lulu. Since this is my first physical copy of any book I have published it became a hassle formatting images. A learning experience I needed as an Independent Publisher. 80 Mixed patterns to color. This adult coloring book has over 80 animal patterns and provides hours of stress relief through creative expression. It features small and big creatures from forests, oceans, birds, elephants, mandalas, owls. Designs range in complexity and detail from beginner to expert-level. Adidas Wilson public Facebook page.

Adult Coloring Book for Stress Relief – Gardens,Mandalas, Flowers, Butterflies, Animals and Owls


Link to Lulu below:


Liliana Hart

Liliana Hart is a bestselling and award-winning author in both the mystery and romance genres. Since self-publishing in June of 2011, she’s sold more than half a million ebooks all over the world. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling series the J. J. Graves Mysteries and the Addison Holmes Series.

Since self-publishing in June of 2011, Liliana has sold more than 4 million ebooks. She’s appeared at #1 on lists all over the world and all three of her series have appeared on the New York Times list. Liliana is a sought after speaker and she’s given keynote speeches and self-publishing workshops to standing-room-only crowds from California to New York to London. 

Liliana can almost always be found at her computer writing or on the road giving workshops for SilverHart International, a company she founded with her husband, Scott Silverii, where they provide law enforcement, military, and fire resources for writers so they can write it right. When Liliana and her husband aren’t spending time with their children, they’re living the life of nomads, traveling wherever interests them most.


The #1 mistake of self-published authors for worldwide book sales

Successful self-published authors are tapping into larger markets, which include many other retailers beyond Amazon. “Less is more” is a cute phrase for minimalists, but don’t limit yourself when it comes to online retail options for worldwide book sales.

A lot of self-published authors are making a very costly mistake when it comes to eBook and printed book distribution: They ONLY sell their books through Amazon. In other words, they’re putting all their eggs in one basket.

Mind you, it’s a very BIG basket. Amazon is the biggest and most important online bookstore in the industry, with approximately 67% of the eBook and printed book market share in the United States. You must have your book in all the Amazon stores around the world.

But there are many other baskets – stores where millions of eBooks and printed books are sold in the US each year, including iBooks, Google Play, Barnes & Noble and dozens more. What are the most successful self-published authors learning in 2017? Many opportunities for worldwide book sales lie outside of the USA. They do call it the worldwide web, after all.

Industry statistics collected from around the globe show a diverse and dynamic marketplace. For example: While Amazon is the dominant player in the UK, it is just one of many outlets in the European Union, along with Tolino, Adlibris, and BOL. And while Amazon is a major player worldwide, its numbers are not the same in other countries as they are in the US: Amazon owns about 40% of the German eBook sector, while down under, Amazon has 34% of the Australian and New Zealand digital book market.

The trend continues around the globe. In Canada, Amazon has less than 40% of the market, with strong competition from retailers such as Indigo and Kobo. Kobo, which also owns Overdrive, a distributor specializing in libraries, has 26 million users and a library of 4.7 million e-books and magazines in 190 countries.

Need another reason to consider the global marketplace? Think of it another way: There are huge English-speaking reader bases across the planet. Yes, the USA is number one on the list, but here are the rest.

English speakers by country
India – 125,000,000
Pakistan – 94,000,000
Philippines – 89,000,000
Nigeria – 79,000,000
UK – 59,000,000
Germany – 46,000,000
Canada – 28,000,000
France –  23,000,000
Australia – 18,000,000
China – 15,000,000, with another 250,000,000 learning English in state schools.

Bottom line: Self-published authors need to think beyond the jungle (Amazon) and onto the world marketplace!

Here’s where your eBooks should be sold

Amazon. Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world, and the Kindle is by far the most popular eReader on the market. Your eBook should be available for sale and able to be enjoyed on the Kindle and many other readers through the Kindle reader app.

iBooks. Apple’s iBooks is the premier eBook destination for iPad, iPhone, and iTouch owners in over 50 countries around the globe. When your eBook is listed on iBooks, your readers can purchase it through the iBooks app, available for free through iTunes.

Barnes & Noble. Still one of the biggest eBook retailers in the US. Your eBook needs to be available on B&N.com and easily purchased by millions of NOOK owners around the world.

Google Play. Google is the rising star in eBook sales. Give your eBook a greater reach with the world’s most renowned search engine and also sell your book on Google Play, Google’s very own digital distribution service.

Kobo. Kobo owns about 20% of the worldwide eBook market, behind only Amazon, and is the leading eBook retailer in many countries, including Canada and Japan.

Here’s where your printed books should be sold

These are the best online stores and distributors for your Print On Demand books.

Amazon. A must for any kind of book sales. Your hardcover or softcover book can be for sale on Amazon, the largest online retailer in the world, alongside literary classics and bestselling authors.

Barnes & Noble. Barnes & Noble is the largest retail bookseller in the United States, with over 650 bookstores throughout the country, plus 700 college bookstores.

Books A Million. Books-A-Million is the second largest book retailer in the nation and also sells on the Internet at BAM.com. The Company presently operates over 250 stores in 31 states and the District of Columbia.

Powell’s. Based in Portland, Oregon, Powell’s Books is the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world.

Ingram. As the world’s largest distributor of books, Ingram can get your book into practically any store, making your book available for sale in over 39,000 online retailers.

Baker & Taylor. Baker & Taylor distributes books to more than 36,000 libraries, institutions, and retailers in more than 120 countries.

“Less is more” is a cute phrase for minimalists. But when it comes to book distribution, the words for self-published authors to live by are: “More is more!”



Calgary author booted off Amazon, Internet bot the culprit

When Calgary author Adam Dreece chose to list his books exclusively with the world’s largest bookstore, he thought it would be a big boost to his sales.

Instead, he was taken down by an unexpected foe: an Internet bot.

Dreece, a bestselling author of books for young adults, said that in December he put his steampunk book series The Yellow Hoods up on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), a program requiring books enrolled be exclusive to Amazon.

Paying about $1,000 for online promos, Dreece said his books were steadily gaining traction. But after a sudden 25,000 page-read bump one day, Dreece said something didn’t feel right.

“I thought, this is fishy,” Dreece said. “I emailed Amazon and they came back to me and said everything was normal.”

But a few days later, Dreece received an email from the book retailer saying his account was being terminated and all his books were being removed from the online store due to downloads “originating from systematically generated accounts.”

Dreece’s entire Yellow Hoods series, book reviews, followers — everything was gone overnight.

Sean Gallagher, information technology editor with Ars Technica, said while Internet bots are nothing new, they can create a lot of problems for individuals such as Dreece trying to earn a living online.

“Amazon does a lot to try to screen fake accounts out, but they still happen,” Gallagher said. “If you’re selling through a marketplace that has a rating system like Amazon, bots could conceivably artificially drive your ratings (and your sales) down, or they could otherwise drive away business.”

There are a number of threads online with authors relaying stories of Amazon terminating their accounts for the same reason. Dreece said he had no idea why he was targeted or where these systematically generated accounts were coming from.

When asked about their methods for detecting fraud, Amazon said they try to be vigilant to protect authors.

“We regularly monitor for abuse across our programs. When we detect abuse (either direct or through third parties), we may terminate the account involved,” the company said in a statement. “If authors have questions or disagree with our findings, they contact us via the link provided at the end of the email they receive.”

Dreece said he was shocked when he received a call from Amazon a few weeks later saying they had made a mistake, and offered to reinstate his account.

But Dreece said the damage had already been done.

“I consider myself lucky. They restored my accounts, but they crushed my traffic from $20 per day to 18 cents,” he said.

While Gallagher said many bots are benign, there are some — such as the Mirai botnet scandal that infected digital cameras and subsequently took down Amazon, Twitter and Netflix last fall — that can cause real harm.

“There are bots used for all sorts of malicious activities, often spread through malware-infected PCs,” Gallagher said. “On Amazon, activity like this can be used to either artificially inflate the rating of an e-book or some other product to get it more notice, or to drive a title’s ratings down to knock it far down the listings, or get it withdrawn completely.”

Still confounded by the sudden, ill-fated attack, Dreece has decided not to put his books back on Amazon and will market himself elsewhere.

“Every book, everything I’ve built up over years, is gone,” Dreece said. “I think this is really the beginning of an era where scammers and bots are weapons now.”



Self-published author Bethany Claire amassed over $60,000 in earnings in audiobooks

Q: How did you become an author and audiobook publisher?

A: The writing bug bit me in college. I started writing creatively just for fun, which allowed me to escape from my 18-hour course load for a half an hour each day, and I lived for it. But that half hour quickly grew into several hours, and I knew that my passion for writing went far beyond the enthusiasm I’d had for any other hobby. Over the course of the next four years, I changed my major seven times. But it wasn’t writing.

Then, on one fateful summer day, I heard about a writers’ academy hosted by my university. I enrolled right away. It was the first time I’d been around other people who were as passionate about writing as I was. It totally changed my world.

When I decided to drop out of college and pursue writing full-time, I wrote like a fiend, studied every single thing I could find about the business, and made a plan for publication. I continued to work part-time before releasing my novels, but five months after dropping out of school, I released the first three books in my Morna’s Legacy Series. Less than a year after that, I hit the USA Today best-seller’s list.

Two years after releasing my first three books, I made the jump into audio after listening to ACX representatives speak at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) national conference. It was something that my readers wanted, and I’d been curious about for a while. I knew it had the potential to be an extra source of income for my business, and I looked forward to the creative process of bringing the characters in my stories to life.

Q: What decisions have contributed to your audiobook success, and what made them the right decisions?

A: From the very start, I think one of the best things I did was offer a high per-finished-hour payment rather than the royalty share option. Despite my fear of investing so much money upfront for the audiobook production, I knew that my goal with my business has always been to look at long-term success. I knew that eventually I would earn out on that investment, and once I did, I would be so glad that I was able to keep my full royalties. It was an excellent decision. It only took a couple of months for me to earn out on the investment of paying my narrator a set amount.


Focusing a section of my marketing efforts towards the sale of my audiobooks has really helped with my success. Giving out the free download codes that ACX provides with each new audiobook release is a great way to build buzz among your readers about a new release and to encourage reviews. I also post and tweet about my audiobooks often, and use online design tools such as Canva to create beautiful and professional-looking images to go along with my posts and ads.

Q: How about when getting your start in audiobooks?

I wish that someone had urged me to start sooner! I waited two years to get into audiobooks—two years that I could’ve spent growing my audiobook audience and income. I was nervous to take the initial dive into this format, but I had nothing to fear and so much to look forward to. I wish that I had considered audiobooks at the beginning of my publishing career.

Another piece of advice I would offer to fellow authors is that if you have a book that contains multiple points of view, post an audition piece that allows the narrators to read from each POV. For example, all of my books have scenes from both female and male POVs, and they are romance novels. So when I posted my audition script, I included a scene from each POV, as well as a love scene. Hearing the narrators read these portions helped me cast the perfect voice.

Q: What is your “must have” item in your writing space?

A: Every time I sit down to write, I diffuse peppermint and orange essential oils in the diffuser that sits close to my desk. The peppermint keeps me alert, and the orange is a mood lifter.

Bethany Claire is a USA Today Bestselling Author of the Morna’s Legacy Series, with more than ten books published since the release of her first novel in 2013. Bethany loves to immerse her readers in a world filled with lush landscapes, hunky Scots, lots of magic, and happy endings. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



An Inside Look at a Micro-Publisher

You’ve probably heard of indie publishers, but have you heard of micro-publishers? Author Shirin Bridges, owner of Goosebottom Books, calls her company a micro-publisher: a professional publishing organization that brings together a flexible workforce to produce a small number of highly targeted books.

Because of the nature of micro-publishers as small, custom organizations, no two are alike. This in-depth look at Goosebottom’s structure and goals can offer insights into the benefits of this new highly flexible option for energetic authors and entrepreneurs looking to reach niche audiences.

Run Like a Co-op

The organizational structure of any micro-publisher is unique to its mission. Goosebottom was created with the goal of producing books for children about females who have found a way to effect change in their communities.

“We run Goosebottom like a co-op,” said Bridges.

The organization does not employ full-time staff members. Instead, trusted professional members come together on an as-needed basis. Bridges noted that she doesn’t pay herself, but the other members of the team receive standard compensation. Authors get advances and royalties, illustrators get either a flat fee or a royalty, and all copy editors and designers get a flat fee.

Though the organization is virtual, the team spirit is real.

“We come in and out as needed,” said Bridges. “But we all trust each other. We all know the rhythm. We call each other ‘geese.’”

A Narrowly Defined Brand

Like any publisher large or small, marketing is a challenge for a micro-publisher. That’s why Goosebottom works hard to develop its brand as a publisher of books for children about independent, spirited females.

“Micro-publishers can’t compete in the realm of general fiction.” said Bridges. “They have to know their narrow niche.”

Bridges defines the brand as the thinking girls’ series that boys are interested in, too.

The stories produced at Goosebottom Books span various times in history, and the stories come from all over the globe. For example, one series is about real-world princesses, including Hatshesput of Egypt and Sorghaghtani of Mongolia. Another series, called “Dastardly Dames,” includes biographies of iconic women such as Cleopatra and Njinga, “The Warrior Queen.”

The team at Goosebottom creates one series of about a half-dozen books every year. Recently, it has added a fiction imprint called Gosling in addition to its non-fiction series.

Targeted Marketing, Wide Recognition

For marketing activities, Goosebottom focuses on librarians, teachers and educational bookselling conferences. Bridges also trusts the reps who work for her book distribution company to identify sales opportunities based on the trends they see in the market.

Keeping a narrowly focused brand has paid off.

“There’s recognition out there,” said Bridges. “People see me at conferences and say they recognize the logo.”

Series-based Writing

Goosebottom Books, like publishers of any size, is inundated with queries.

“We get two to three manuscripts a day,” said Bridges. “Though they’d be hard-pressed to know how to find us.”

Unlike traditional publishers, however, Goosebottom doesn’t buy manuscripts. Instead, they read the submissions and consider them to be writing samples. If the micro-publisher finds an author whose style and sensibility seem to be good fits, they’ll invite them to contribute a book to the series.

For Those Who Like Change and Challenge

Though Goosebottom Books puts out about a half-dozen titles per year, which is a feat for a micro-publisher, Bridges has other jobs, as well. She teaches self-publishing workshops and works part-time as a writer for a large utility company. And she takes time to do her own creative writing, too.

She’s currently working on a book for adults based on her family’s history in the Pacific Northwest at a time when Chinese immigrants, Native Americans and pioneers forged their lives together on the shores of Puget Sound.

Authors today have a range of opportunities for creating and distributing their books. Some authors work with traditional publishers; others prefer independent publishers. And others choose to be self–publishers. Shirin Bridges falls into an additional, new category: the micro-publisher. It’s a role that works for this energetic, multi-talented writer.

“I like the change,” said Bridges. “I like the challenge. I like wearing lots of different hats.”



Why Indie Authors Must Start Producing Audiobooks

One of the first questions that indie authors and small- to mid-size publishers ask me about audiobook production is, “How much does it cost?”

My answer is always, “It depends.”

Producing an audiobook is like building a house: your choices dictate your final cost. Each recording is custom-made rather than mass-produced. When people contact me about narrating and producing their audiobook for them, I always want to educate them about the time and skills necessary for a polished production. However, most people want me to simply cut to the chase and give them a firm number.

Before I can even give a ballpark estimate on a custom quote, though, I point out, “You can have the finished audiobook fast, good, or cheap. Pick any two.”

Since no dollar figure can apply to all circumstances, the more useful questions for authors might be:

1. How much do I need to pay up front?
2. What are the long-term costs?
3. If I pay up front, how long will it take to recoup my investment?

While other production sites and models are available, I’ll use Audible’s Audiobook Creation Exchange for this discussion, since it’s practically the only way for an author to produce an audiobook with a professional narrator and have no up-front costs. ACX also is a completely free service to both authors and narrators. Finally, in my research, I have not found a company that will pay a higher royalty rate than the 40 percent offered by Audible.

Traditionally, publishers have paid narrators, sound engineers and proof listeners on a per finished hour (PFH) basis. However, studio time may be charged in real hours.

The general rule of thumb is that at least 6.2 hours of time are required to produce that one finished hour. The 6.2 hours covers the recording, editing, proofing and mastering needed to create the retail-ready product.

An audiobook that runs 10 hours, therefore, generally would require at least 62 hours to complete—and possibly many more, depending on its complexity.

Given the number of people involved and the studio rental costs, you’ll often see traditional production quotes of $5,000 or more, depending on the length of the book.

On ACX, the narrator is also the producer who is responsible for all phases of production. Most narrators on ACX have created a home recording studio and do not charge a separate fee for its use. The narrator may do her own editing, proofing and mastering, or hire someone to do those tasks.

Now that you have a little background, let’s look at each question individually.

1. How much do I need to pay up front?

If you want to pay nothing up front, you could post your book on ACX under a royalty share (RS) contract. Many authors think of this type of production as “free,” but it’s really a deferred payment in which the costs of production are repaid to the narrator over time through the royalties paid by Audible. Choosing this option means:

  • You must choose exclusive distribution with Audible, which includes Amazon and iTunes in its reach. You won’t be able to sell your audiobook on any other website—including your own—you won’t be able to sell it on CD, and it won’t be available to libraries.
  • You will split the royalties paid by Audible 50-50 with the narrator for the seven-year distribution period. Under the current terms, each of you would earn 20 percent of the royalties paid in that timeframe.

The author earns royalties from all editions of her work, but the RS narrator only gets paid when the audiobook sells. Therefore, the RS narrator is taking ALL of the risk for low or no sales of the audiobook.

She also has to consider her up-front costs: she must pay her editor and proofer at the time service is rendered. Since a narrator could easily stay in the red for quite a long time on an RS project, most experienced narrators are reluctant or may even refuse to consider an RS contract.

Alternately, you could decide to pay the production costs up front by hiring a narrator on a PFH contract, which is a buy-out option that lets the author retain all royalties. This choice is especially attractive when your ebook routinely sells 1,000 or more copies a month.

Experienced narrators charge between $200 and $400 per finished hour. For instance, at $200 PFH, a narrator would send a $2,000 invoice for complete production of a 10-hour audiobook.

By the way, if you want to select non-exclusive distribution with Audible, you must choose a PFH contract.

2. What are the long-term costs?

Although an RS contract initially seems ideal to authors, many indie authors get frustrated with it over time for several reasons:

  • Most narrators who work on RS projects understandably schedule those titles after work that pays up front. The audiobook might take longer to produce as a result.
  • Production and/or acting quality could be lower with inexperienced narrators, which might lead to bad reviews and lower sales of the audiobook.
  • Under exclusive distribution, the author incurs the hidden opportunity costs of unavailable options, like back-of-the-room sales.
  • The author earns only half of the available royalties for seven years.

On the other hand, a PFH contract has no long-term costs. The author pays once for the production, retains all royalties and has the freedom of choice in distribution options.

3. If I pay up front, how long will it take to recoup my investment?

Audible pays monthly royalties based on the amount it received for each unit sold, not the title’s purchase price. Audible member credits are worth about $10 each and account for the most sales. Other factors such as special sales and currency exchange rates affect the proceeds.

Generally, for a 10-hour book, Audible pays about $4 in royalties per unit sold. The author keeps the entire royalty amount on a PFH contract. On an RS contract, the author can expect to earn only half of the available royalties, or around $2 per audiobook sold.

In our earlier example of the $200 PFH contract, the author pays $2,000 for production costs of a 10-hour audiobook. After selling only an estimated 500 units of the audiobook, the author would break even from the royalty payments. From that point forward, all remaining audiobook sales would generate pure profit of around $4 in royalties paid per unit sold.

Many authors get quite excited when they realize that it may not take long to break even on a PFH contract and then earn double the profit they would have had in an RS contract!

A final useful question for authors who are thinking about audiobook production is:

With the increasing number of devoted audiobook listeners and press coverage about the audiobook industry, can you afford to not produce audiobooks of your titles?



A Step Forward in Publishing

There are definitely pros and cons to both self-publishing, also referred to as indie publishing, and traditional publishing. One big difference between the two is that with self-publishing, the author doesn’t have to worry about whether the editor will like something, because they are their own editor. The author also sets their own timeline for the publication of the book.

Traditional publishing has a leg up on self-publishers in the area of marketing. Built into a publishing contract is a marketing plan including book signings, press tours, and other events to generate buzz for both the author’s name and book title. Alternatively, if an author goes the self-publishing route, it’s up to them to get their own name out there. Sales rely on people hearing about the book—and therefore, the amount of money a self-publishing author makes depends on how much work they’re willing to put in. A marketing trick is to get in contact with book bloggers and reviewers, so that they can spread the word to the reading community. Another advantage of being traditionally published is that the author has an agent who handles the selling of audiobook, foreign, and television or film rights.

As an unfortunate result of self-publishing, an increasing number of authors are victims of plagiarism. In today’s digital age, where anyone can easily publish a book online, some self-published books are partly plagiarized. Because there are so many self-published manuscripts out there, it’s hard to sift through all of them to find well-written work. Often, readers will be more skeptical of the quality of a self-published book compared to a traditionally published book. This phenomenon, coupled with many books containing bad grammar—a sure sign of a lack of good editing—has given self-publishing a bad reputation in the past.

Generally, working with a traditional publisher means physical copies of one’s book are sold in stores, while self-publishing means only having an eBook version of one’s book. But that is starting to change. Last June, Barnes and Noble announced that they will be selling self-published authors’ books in print. Authors will also be able to have in-store book signings where they can meet and interact with readers. However, there’s a catch; this program is only eligible for Nook Press authors, those with eBooks that have sold one thousand copies in the past year (Barnes and Noble). Those eligible can submit their books to Barnes and Noble’s Small Press Department for review. It will be interesting to see how this program is implemented in the future, especially because with this move, Barnes & Noble is becoming more of a competitor for Amazon.

With eBooks continually on the rise, it’s safe to say there will be an increase in self-published authors. The lower price of eBooks will also play a factor in the future of publishing. Many authors cite creative freedom as the main draw of self-publishing—self-published authors get to design their book’s interior and cover. Additionally, the fact that indie authors are appearing on bestseller lists is encouraging other authors to self-publish. Some well-known self-published books that later were acquired by traditional publishers include Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James and Still Alice by Lisa Genova. In both cases, the books were so popular they became movies.

A rise in popularity of self-published books could lead to them being put in public libraries. At the moment, the majority of self-published books are romance novels; hopefully, as more authors self-publish, this will expand into other genres.



A Neuroscientist Patiently Explains the Allure of the Adult Coloring Book

A few months ago, I caved: I bought myself a coloring book. And maybe you did, too, or perhaps you received one as a gift for the holidays. According to a recent Fortune article, adult coloring books are one of the biggest contributors to this year’s boost in print-book sales. With over 11,000 search results total, five of Amazon’s current top 15 best-selling books are coloring books.

A few nights a week, I look forward to curling up on the couch with my ever-growing collection of colored pencils, tuning in to the latest episode of Serial, and scribbling away at mandalas and Harry Potters — but I still find the trend strange. I’ve always had a penchant for making new things from scratch — painting, knitting, writing, drawing, baking. But with my coloring book, I’m not really creating anything. The designs are already on the page — I’m just filling in the white spots. And yet the activity is just as soothing to my mind as my more traditionally “creative” hobbies. So what is the psychological draw of a task that feels creative, but doesn’t actually involve creating anything new?

In part, it’s a way for people who have never felt very artsy to literally add some more color into their lives. In a 2012 survey sponsored by Adobe, only one in four respondents reported feeling that they were “living up to their creative potential,” while 52 percent of Americans surveyed described themselves as creative — more than any other nationality. As psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, co-author of the new book Wired to Create, phrased it, “It can provide people with a way to flex their creativity.” My artsy cousin Leanne has thoughtful insight on this. Compared to coloring, “finishing a drawing or well thought-out painting is much more satisfying in the end,” she says. “But I know how calming and rewarding it is, so I am a fan of adult coloring books because this popular fad is adding art into people’s lives.”

Indeed, many of my friends and family members sharing their new coloring loot on social media over the past few weeks told me that they are not the types of people who would typically consider themselves artistic, nor did they feel they had adequate time in their daily lives for lengthy creative pursuits. Coloring books, they agreed, are a convenient way to escape into their imaginations for just a few minutes or hours a day, time-permitting.

Whether you would consider yourself artistic or not, research points to the importance of incorporating a little bit of creativity in our daily lives. In one study, Yale researcher Zorana Ivcevic examined traits associated with “everyday creativity” – how we express ourselves in everyday situations, including our personal style and devising ways to cope with daily challenges. Those who ranked highly in having an overall “creative lifestyle” tended to be more conscientious, as well as more likely to seek out personal growth. Yet more new research has focused on how creativity, especially in the form of visual art, can improve physical health. In a study of 30 women with disabling chronic illness, those who had taken up art described the hobby as “cathartic,” distracting their thoughts away from their pain and promoting feelings of “flow and spontaneity.” Research also suggests that engaging patients with art can shorten the length of hospital stays by reducing stress and anxiety.

Of course, coloring within the lines compared to, say, painting a blank canvas is mostly simple decision-making — choosing which color goes best where, with relatively little skill involved. Our prefrontal cortex is responsible for coordinating thousands of decisions each day, from which socks we should wear to life-altering relationship and career choices. As an unconscious response to this so-called daily “decision fatigue,” making a series of small, inconsequential decisions (teal or mahogany for this squiggly line?) may give us a refreshing sense of self-control after a long day of big, important ones.



How Exactly Does a Book Get on the New York Times Bestseller List?

Landing a highly-contested spot on the New York Times Bestseller List is undeniably huge in advancing an author’s career. There comes a significant increase in sales due to the popularity and visibility that the NYT Bestseller List provides. Getting on this list is often the ultimate goal for any author, whether it’s an unknown writer’s debut novel or J.K Rowling’s seven billionth book.

But how exactly does a book get on the bestseller list? The most common assumption tends to be that the list is simply the books that have sold the most copies, but this is not the case. The process to get on the list is quite subjective. It does not necessarily matter how many copies of a book an author sells; the editors of the Times handpick which books make it to the list.

Self-published author Autumn Kalquist recently spoke out on this matter. In a blog post, she touches on the possibility of the New York Times slighted her even before her book “Fractured Era” became extremely popular.

“The New York Times ‘curates’ their list, and had snubbed self-published authors in the past. I was told it was possible they’d ‘curate’ me off the list no matter how much I’d sold,” Kalquist wrote. After selling 20,000 copies and getting #16 on the USA TODAY’s Bestseller List, Kalquist was confident she’d land a spot on the New York Times Bestseller List as well, but to her frustration, it did not happen. After doing extensive research and finding out that her book had outsold eight of the 15 e-books as well as 10 of the 21 print books that did made the list, she emailed her research and data to the NYT but only got a vague response brushing aside her arguments. One can only wonder if this corrupt, arbitrary process of choosing bestsellers is not even more subjective than we imagine and is biased against indie and self-publishing authors.

Colloquially labeling an author as self-publishing implies that said author has no separate publisher and there is no other person involved in the book’s sales besides the distributor. The author does not (or cannot) collaborate with major publishing companies (like HarperCollins, Penguin and Hachette Livre). They pay and are paid directly. They are in control of everything from content to design. They are independent in nearly every sense of the word.

Similar to the slim chances for landing an NYT Bestseller spot, another downfall for indie publishers is that they are seldom selected for literary prizes or reviewed by established critics. Given the few luck-of-the-draw indie authors who have obtained bestseller esteem, there still exist major disadvantages hindering their success. It is an unfair prejudice that favors traditionally published authors and makes it a roll of the dice for everyone else.

And yet, despite often going overlooked, e-books are a huge industry that make it extremely easy for self-published and indie authors to get their books online ready and available for the public. For example, in 2014, Kindle launched a subscription deal called “Kindle Unlimited.” As advertised on Amazon, Kindle Unlimited allows users to “access hundreds of thousands of Kindle books and thousands of audiobooks with Whispersync for Voice.” Most of the selections offered are from indie authors.

Some people may view this as a good thing, as these authors are getting their names and their books out there, but in order to have their book as an option in Kindle Unlimited, authors must comply with Amazon’s terms of service. In this case, that means not allowing their books in any other retail; essentially, hindering any opportunity their books might have elsewhere. So although Amazon and Kindle are the largest book-buying company, indie authors must make a choice. Not surprisingly, the few traditional authors that are on Kindle Unlimited are paid more by Amazon than indie authors are. As Huffington Post reporter Mark Coker said, “Amazon is paying certain bestsellers and traditionally published authors more for their participation in Kindle Unlimited than they’re paying indie authors who participate.”

Email Caroline Zemsky at books@nyunews.com.



What’s next for books?

I like Digital Reader editor Nate Hoffelder. He is one of the few bloggers about publishing who doesn’t suck up to the industry, nor does he particularly gild the lily. He basically believes that books are great, publishing is probably doomed and that writing is really important.

That’s why I was happy that he surfaced and debunked the claims of Chip McGregor, an agent who believes we’ll be seeing more books launching directly to mobile and a move away from indie publishing as mainstream publishers finally get their acts together. While McGregor is right sometimes — e-books will be read on mobile phones more often — he’s also pretty wrong.

His first mistake? He believes that Barnes & Noble will create mini bestseller stores. He writes:

Barnes and Noble will open some mini-stores that only stock bestsellers. I don’t have any insider knowledge about this, but with Amazon opening brick-and-mortar stores, B&N has to do something to try and grab a bit more market share.

B&N is, for want of a better word, dead. Their strategy of opening massive stores with large footprints and stocking everything from board games to stuffed animals (and some books) has failed, and there is no reason to visit a B&N unless you want to get a coffee and read magazines for free. That said, the e-book backlash has given independent bookstores new legs, and it has gutted big-box retailers, but I could definitely see a chain of small bookstore cafes that could stock new and used titles, plenty of kids books for parents to peruse for their little ones and some coffee. I just don’t see B&N leading that charge.


Further, he believes that indie authors will return to big-name publishers. They won’t. As McGregor writes in his own post, the Pareto rule assumes that 80 percent of the revenue comes from 20 percent of the writers. Given the imperfect information upon which most publishers make their decisions, trusting them to spot that 20 percent is silly at best.

Instead you’ll see more long-tail authors picking and staying in the indie realm. Eliot Peper comes to mind as someone who is finding more indie success than he would at a mainstream publisher, and there are more. He also suspects that ultra-low, 99-cent pricing will go away in indie titles, something that is also a bit far-fetched; 99-cent pricing is still a clever way to drive up sales and Amazon rankings, and giving up on that odd tweak could be the death of most indie writers.

In short, we agree on a few things — mobile-only could become more popular and Christian fiction and other niches are going away (“There are only a handful of houses still acquiring Christian fiction these days, and some of them are shifting to doing high-quality literary or women’s stories for a broader people of faith, or a slim list of suspense novels, rather than clearly religious stories aimed only at the faithful,” he writes.) I disagree with his bullishness on B&N and his assumption that the indies will turn around and ask publishers for a check. Things are tooling along quite nicely outside the traditional publishing industry, and, as long as you’re willing to try new things, you can make it without having an under-marketed book plop down into the black hole of modern publishing practices.


What’s next for books?

Coloring Books for Adults Are Good for Creativity, and Selling in the Millions

Adele’s chart-topping tunes weren’t the only form of therapy adults welcomed into their homes last holiday season. With millions of copies sold on Amazon alone, it seems folks gladly took a break from their ball-point pens and to-do lists for a set of colored pencils and an “age-appropriate” coloring book.

For instance, Jason Abrams, a New York-based PR account manager, took to coloring books and crayons at 22 to offset the anxiety and stress of college life. With his career in full swing eight years later, he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

“Being in a creative field, it allows me to enhance my creativity and think outside the box,” he says.

Abrams says he prefers what’s considered “kid” coloring books, with themes ranging from Marvel’s The Avengers, football, Star Wars and indie rock. Once completed, he’ll keep them, share a picture online or even give it to someone. In some instances, Abrams has used the activity as a fun motivational tool in professional settings.

“It’s something I’ve done for a long time, and what’s really funny is that over the years my friends and my family, they kind of laughed about it — the same reaction I had when I was introduced to it,” Abrams says. “But don’t mock it until you try it … I’m happy to see the trend is catching on because I do really believe in the power of coloring and I hope it’s not a fad that’ll go away, because it can do a lot in terms of improving quality of life.”

Research supports Abrams. According to an article published by the American Journal of Play, the use of adult coloring books (or play in general) can improve career and academic success, reduce stress and encourage an innovative work performance. The practice can also help train the mind to better focus, relax and reset.

Also approving of the trend and its benefits, The American Art Therapy Association said “since engaging in any form of art can have stress-reducing value, it is no wonder that these sophisticated templates for adult coloring have taken on such great popularity.”

These coloring books aren’t just some passing activity for people who want to tap into their creativity — they’re big business. Three of Amazon’s top 10 best-selling products of 2015 were coloring books.

The most popular to date is Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford’s book, Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book, having sold roughly 2 million copies worldwide.

Illustrator Jenean Morrison’s work also made an appearance on Amazon’s Bestseller list. Inspired after discovering an old coloring book from the ’70s in 2012, Morrison has since independently created and sold eight titles on CreateSpace, including Flower Designs Coloring Book, which was on the bestseller list for eight weeks.

Selling the books for about $12 each, Morrison earns approximately $5.05 per sale. Overall, she made about $350,000 in royalties from the site in 2015 and has published international editions of her books in eight countries. Morrison is also working with a publishing company to start distributing her work to 50,000 newsstands across the country within the upcoming year.

“Self-publishing is a great way to go,” Morrison says. “A lot of publishers right now are looking for coloring books, so it’s a viable option.”

Though the artist didn’t originally refer to her work as specifically for adults until the trend gained traction within the past two years, Morrison recognizes how adult versions are different from more elementary editions because of their complex and intricate designs. They also serve a different purpose, providing a host of potential benefits such as improved mental health or logic, problem-solving and motor skills; something morrison’s customers can easily attest to.

“This book will inspire your imagination, stimulate your senses and creativity, and as you become engaged in the enjoyable activity of Coloring, it calms you and almost immediately starts reducing your stress level,” Jackie Cooper wrote, an Amazon user and reviewer of Morrison’s best-selling book.



Text-to-speech returns to Amazon Kindle

Amazon hasn’t offered a Kindle eReader with speakers or a headphone jack since the 2011 Kindle Touch. That was also the last model to support text-to-speech software that could read eBooks aloud to you (although Amazon Fire tablets with color screens and Android-based software do support text-to-speech).

But now Amazon is bringing support for text-to-speech back to the Kindle lineup with the launch of a new Kindle Audio Adapter.

Right now it looks like the only way to get this $20 accessory is to buy a Kindle Paperwhite Blind and Visually Impaired Readers bundle for $140. But that price includes a $20 Amazon credit… and hopefully Amazon will eventually sell the adapter as an accessory for existing Kindle owners.

Update: You can now purchase the Kindle Audio Adapter on its own for $20, but note that it’s only officially compatible with the Kindle Paperwhite (7th gen). Update 2: But it should be unofficially compatible with the Kindle Oasis and Voyage.

The Kindle Audio Adapter is a small box with a headphone jack on one end and a short USB cable on the other. Plug the USB connector into the port on your Kindle, connect a set of headphones or speakers, and you can use the new VoiceView feature.

Not only does VoiceView use Amazon’s text-to-speech voices to read eBooks to you, but there are also voice prompts that can help you navigate the device’s menus.

VoiceView supports adjustable reading speeds and it’s based on the IVONA speech tech acquired by Amazon a few years ago, which is, quite frankly, a lot better than the text-to-speech voices available for my aging Kindle Touch eReader.

Generally speaking, eBooks read by text-to-speech software don’t sound as good as those narrated by professional voice actors. But professional narration isn’t available for all eBooks, and audiobooks can be substantially more expensive than text-based eBooks. VoiceView at least gives another option for listening to books rather than reading them.



How To Sell Your Adult Coloring Pages On Amazon

I have sooooo many mind-blowingly talented friends who could potentially be profiting from the Adult Coloring Book Craze, but I know most of them are stumped when it comes to knowing How to Sell Your Adult Coloring Pages on Amazon.

You (and them) are in luck because (::drum roll::) the following info share who to do just that!

You don’t have to be a publishing expert to share your adult coloring book with the world. Thanks to the self-publishing industry, it’s simple to create and publish your own coloring book.

If you want to put your book on Amazon so customers can buy it then one of the easiest ways to do that is to use CreateSpace to publish your book. CreateSpace is a publishing company owned by Amazon.com. Using CreateSpace can save money on startup costs.

Traditionally, if you choose to self-publish, you’ll have to pay all of the printing costs up front. This can make the cost per coloring book more expensive. It’s also a risk if you self-publish the coloring book and you don’t sell enough to cover your costs. But CreateSpace is print on demand technology, which means the books are printed as they’re ordered, reducing your financial risks.

Pick A Topic

One thing you might want to do before you start creating your coloring pages is choose a theme. As the adult coloring market continues to grow, there will be people looking for certain themes, such as animals or gardens. Still others will look for themes like Christmas or positive affirmations. Picking a niche in the adult coloring industry will allow your work to stand out.

Create Your Designs

Most adult coloring books contain about 40 different designs. You may have difficulty selling books that don’t contain enough designs.

Another thing you want to watch for is the direction of your designs. If some of your designs are vertical while others are horizontal that will annoy some buyers. That’s why it’s best to pick one direction and use just that one.

Assemble & Upload Your Designs

Once you’ve completed your designs, it’s time to format them for CreateSpace. You’ll want to assemble your designs into a PDF. Don’t forget to include an introduction. This is the section where you can let readers know how to get in touch with you via your website or social media channels. Once you’re ready, upload your PDF to CreateSpace.

Use the Interior Designer

At this point, it’s easy to become so excited by your progress that you get distracted. Don’t let that happen. You need to stay focused and carefully review the interior design of your coloring book. Keep in mind that if the interior looks weird or off-center that will look that way when the book goes to print. Don’t be alarmed if you find several issues you have to correct. Simply make the changes to your PDF document and upload a fresh copy to CreateSpace.

Create a Cover

Now you’re ready to design your coloring book cover. Many publishers use a coloring image for their covers. You want to partially or completely fill in your cover so that the colors pop when potential buyers see it.

Order Proofs

Once you’ve put your book together and you’re happy with how it looks, it’s time to order proofs. Proofs are physical copies of your coloring book that are sent to you.

Try out your coloring book yourself. Are the pages high quality? Does the ink from one page bleed into another page?

If you’re not happy with your proof, go back to CreateSpace and tweak your settings then order a fresh proof. Keep doing this until you’re happy with the final product.

Launch Your Book

Once you love your proof, login to CreateSpace and approve your coloring book. It should appear on the Amazon website within 48 hours. If it doesn’t appear for some reason, call customer service and they’ll get it sorted out for you.

While you might be familiar with creating coloring pages, turning them into an attractive book is a different ballgame. You can outsource the creation of your coloring book or work with a coach if this is a skill you’d like to master.

SO, do you want to learn how to create your own adult coloring book to sell or find ways to enrich your training and coaching materials with coloring pages? Download the free guide!

This short workbook will give you tips and advice on how to create your own coloring sheets. I even included information on how to sell your sheets for extra income. This workbook includes creation prompts, free coloring pages and info on how to sell your own coloring creations! : )



Eight things booksellers would like self-published authors to know

Self-published authors are sometimes ill-prepared or don’t know what to expect when they approach booksellers about selling their titles, signing events, policy, etc. To be successful in pitching their books to booksellers, self-published authors should have a sense of the resources available to booksellers, what is appealing to them, and how to approach them. Here are eight things booksellers would like self-published authors to know.

Making sure your title is available for bookstores to order is an important first step

Bookstores don’t have access to all titles, and corporate stores like Barnes and Noble can’t sell your title unless it’s in its system and available from one of its distributors. Independent bookstores are much more likely to accept copies you bring from home, but each one is different, so it’s important to do some preliminary research. The more available your book is, the easier it will be to make sales.

Before setting up a book signing, do research on how to get your title accepted into the bookstores you are considering.

Make sure your title is returnable, specifically for national bookstore chains

With literally millions of titles in publication, it makes sense that real estate in a bookstore is a high commodity. With so many titles vying for space, most bookstores are reluctant to order anything that can’t be returned, especially in the quantities required for a signing event.

If your book has already been accepted into the distribution system, ask how to make your title returnable. I’m told it’s a fairly simple process, but be aware that it isn’t a free service.

Bookstores typically don’t have a budget to promote your signing event

The hard truth of the matter is that bookstores are approached by countless self-published authors who rarely make enough sales at an event to justify promotional expenditures. Even promotion for New York Times best-selling authors are supported by publishers, the authors themselves (yes, even highly successful authors promote their own events), and social media. There are exceptions to this, but be prepared to handle your own advertising.

If you want people to show up, there are several things you can do. Print flyers (or even better, bookmarks) for booksellers to bag-stuff, ask if you can set up a display a few weeks early with the event info, boost ads on social media, or take out an ad in the paper. The opportunities are there and go beyond what I’ve listed. You just have to be willing to put in the effort.

Take an active role in your signing event

Most events are scheduled for high-traffic days, which makes sense because authors want to engage as many people as possible. From a sales standpoint, booksellers prefer this also. From a logistical standpoint, these days can be so busy that booksellers have a difficult time disengaging themselves from customer service long enough to give your event the attention it needs. Booksellers have the best intentions to set you up for success but don’t always have the human resources to make it happen. Therefore, the more involved you can be in preparing for and setting up your event, the better.

Arrive early and help organize your station. Anything you can bring to draw attention to your book is also helpful. I’ve seen authors show up with balloons, stuffed animals, posters, candy trays, and all other sorts of things to attract attention. The extra effort usually pays off.

Your self-published book is probably not going to be competitively priced

In the self-publishing industry, there is a noticeable correlation between quality and price. Unfortunately, self-publishing facilities don’t have the resources to print at a high enough volume to make the cost per unit competitive. You can sacrifice quality (to a degree) for a lower price, but overall cover appeal plays a role in your book’s marketability. Traditionally published trade paperbacks usually run from $9.99 to $14.99, whereas I’ve seen self-published trade paperbacks anywhere from $15 to $30. It’s important to be aware of this disadvantage when asking people to take a chance on your title.

There’s just no getting around the price/volume relationship of publishing economics, which is why so many self-published authors opt for digital publishing. The only thing you can do is consider your market strategy very carefully before going to print.

Booksellers don’t want to be hassled about your book

Save your soliciting for the customers. Booksellers know way more about what’s available to read than the average person and have already decided before they meet you whether or not they want to read your book. Talking about it with them is okay. Pestering them to read it is not. You want to leave booksellers with a general knowledge of your book’s premise, but you also want to leave them with a positive experience. Your goal shouldn’t be to sell to them but to garner a good relationship.

If you really want booksellers to read your book, provide a free copy a few months ahead of your signing. This gives employees a chance to check out the title with zero pressure and ample time to read it beforehand. This method usually gets the best response.

Content quality matters

This, I have found, is the biggest difference between traditional and self-published titles. The editing process of big publishing houses is more than just fixing grammatical errors and running spellcheck. They invest tons of time and money getting a manuscript ready for market, which is why they’re so picky. They’re only willing to financially back projects they believe will make them the most money. It all comes back to the quality of the content. If you want any chance of standing out in an industry that publishes a million titles every year, recognize that producing quality content is the best way to generate positive word-of-mouth and gain an audience.

Stephen King once said, “Read a lot and write a lot.” Study your market thoroughly. Attend seminars and workshops. Join a writing group. Acknowledge that your work is not perfect (no one’s ever is) but that hard work can make a difference.

You are not entitled to an audience

This seems to be the hardest truth for any author to learn (myself included). Just because you wrote something does not mean others are obligated to want to read it. Literally anyone can self-publish a book, but the mere act of doing so doesn’t guarantee you readers. It takes a lot of market awareness and research to produce something with mass appeal. Even if you’ve done your homework, attended seminars, and revised until the red ink ran dry, it still doesn’t entitle you to an audience.

Venture into the world of self-publishing with a humble approach and a quality product, and rely on positive word-of-mouth and hard work to generate an audience. A sense of entitlement will only hurt your goal.



Want to Succeed at Self-Publishing? Quality Matters: Tips from an Indie Author

For five months in 2015, photographer Jeremy Enlow was granted rare access to Waggoner Ranch in Texas, the largest ranch in the United States. The result was Enlow’s self-published hardcover coffee table book, Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch, which Publishers Weekly called a “handsome collection” and “beautifully depicted.”

“The cowboys, some whom have worked on the ranch for over 40 years, don’t have computers or four wheelers,” Enlow says. “They cowboy the way it was done 50 to 75 years ago. I wanted to document this way of life for younger generations before it disappears.”

Enlow says his goal for the book was just to break even: “This was the first book I’ve published, so I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. When that first run of 1,500 books was being unloaded in my studio, I looked at my wife and said, ‘My gosh we are going to be giving away books for Christmas gifts the next 20 years.’ I was speechless when all those books sold out in 10 days.”

Enlow was most surprised by the power of marketing. He engaged the services of two marketing professionals: one dealt with traditional television, print, and web media, while the other handled with social media.

“You can produce the best book in the world, but if you don’t enlist marketing experts, the book will never sell,” he says. “On the flip side you have to give the marketing folks a decent product to pitch.”

He adds: “You can’t sit idle after the book is published and expect it to fly off the shelves…Whatever time and money you expect to spend on actually producing your book, double that for marketing.”

We asked Enlow to share some tips for aspiring indie authors:

Quality Matters

“Don’t skimp on quality. Seek out the best in the industry to help you. Start at the top and work your way down… I wanted to create a book the cowboys would be proud of and people would display on their coffee table. We printed on the best paper we could find and had full color on every page.”

Don’t Second Guess Yourself

“Everyone will want to give you advice. Some will be good and some will turn out to be terrible. At the end of the day it’s your book, so go with your gut and don’t second guess. Surround yourself with industry professionals and your chances of success will go up.”

Deadlines Matter

“From the very first photo shoot to the printed book in hand it took us less than eight months. Set hard deadlines and meet them. Otherwise you will always be fine-tuning a book and it will never hit the press.”



Indie Authors: How to Harvest the Epic Marketing Power of Facebook

Do you know how much time people are spending on Facebook each day? 50 minutes, according to a recent New York Times article. 50 minutes! Instagram and the Facebook Messenger app are included in that time-frame, but you can bet that the lion’s share is still spent on Facebook itself.  It’s more critical than ever to make your Facebook Page work for you by pulling in sales as well as likes.

The biggest challenge I have with Facebook is that it’s constantly changing, meaning my Facebook book marketing strategies must evolve with it. I admit it – I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. When it works, it works well but when it doesn’t work, well… crickets. Whether you want to build up a strong following on your Facebook page, or simply want to boost your engagement, join me for a look at the hottest Facebook features.

Facebook Livestreaming

Facebook recently introduced Facebook Live. You’ve probably seen it in action. Whether as a little red icon when you go to post a status (particularly if you use a mobile app), or in your notifications when you see that a person or page you like is or was live.  In a nutshell, it gives you the opportunity to stream live video directly on your Facebook page. To start a livestream, open up the status bar as though you were going to write a new post and click the Live option. In earlier versions of the app, it was a head with little read circles. In recent updates to the app, it’s a video camera with the word “Live” or “Go Live.” Depending on which version you have, you will see one of these icons. Follow the prompts for your new livestream, including naming your feed, and selecting who you want to see your video. You can choose between everyone, or just certain audiences. Now, simply click the button to go Live and ta-da, you are now broadcasting live.  You can also save the video if you decide you want to share it later – whether to a YouTube channel, blog, website, or any other platform.

Facebook Livestreaming Tips

  • The ideal video length is 5 to 20 minutes.
  • A short catchy video title is the way to go. If you need additional description, you can add it in the comments.
  • After your livestreaming video concludes, update the post. Add a short narrative, a call to action and update the thumbnail to the best option – you can choose from 10 images.
  • Tags are important! Using the right ones will help new audiences discover your video, so add any that relate to your livestream.
  • Tag anyone you interview or chat with in the video to boost your views even more! You can also tag them under “edit video” (one note, mobile video editing isn’t an option yet, right now, it’s limited to your desktop).

Facebook Ads

The Facebook ad dashboard can be daunting. The choices seem to be endless, making Facebook Ads feel tricky. Check out the ideas below to amplify your existing practices, as well as to learn about some of the newer features you may not have started using.

Boosted Posts

Boosted posts are often the go-to for most of us because they are so easy. That said, they are the single biggest ad-dollar suck of all of the Facebook ad options. Why? Because most people use them wrong. When Facebook invites you to boost a post, it’s generally because the post is already considered engaging compared to the rest of your page. But, according to Facebook’s algorithm, it could do better.

Limiting the exposure of boosted posts is the secret to using them successfully.  Statistics show that boosted posts do better when they’re shared with fans only. While you’ll gain some new fans by boosting to everyone, it’s not as efficient as selecting a specific audience, meaning you’re spending lots of money on relatively low engagement. In fact, boosted posts are some of the most expensive ads you can run if you’re focused on ‘everyone’ instead of your fan base. Boosted posts from your timeline are automatically optimized for page post engagement …to your fans. Also, when you limit your ad exposure to a selected audience, in this case, fans only, you can also limit your budget. I’ve run hugely successful boosted post campaigns for as little as $15.

Ads That Drive a Specific Call to Action (like Newsletter Sign-Ups)

I see a lot of people doing Facebook Ads geared toward driving people to a Leads Page or some other sales page to sell product. This is actually often an expensive endeavor because the cost-per-click (CPC) is much higher when you’re driving people to a sales page. So what’s a budget-minded author to do? Drive folks to a blog post with a great call to action inviting your readers to sign up for something. The caveat here is you MUST have a fantastic blog post. Refer back to last week’s article on  How to Write an Epic Blog Post before you begin!

Facebook Ad Tips

In general, Facebook ads work better when you let them create themselves. By that I mean, when you don’t have to work so hard to create them.  Using casual language tends to be way more effective than a formal, structured ad. So when you’re running ads, especially if you’re driving them to a blog post, keep it casual, as though you were doing a status update.


I don’t recommend using Facebook’s stock images. Instead, consider using something really eye-catching. A lot of authors like to use their own image.  While that works great if you’re advertising to your existing fans. But, if you’re trying to build your audience or drive more newsletter sign ups, you’re targeting a lot of people who don’t know you, and your image may not have as much pull for folks who don’t know you. If you need some tips on building picture perfect images for social media, check out this recent post. It’s got some great suggestions for stock photo sources and image editing apps and sites.

Another suggestion for imagery is to use simple text with a color background. In some cases it works brilliantly. As a matter of fact, yellow seems to be the power color if you’re creating a simple color ad with text overlay.



Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust should learn from JK Rowling’s magic

What Philip Pullman describes as an “equel” – a story that extends the His Dark Materials trilogy with a complementary narrative – has become the fashion for continuing entertainment mega-franchises aimed at an initial audience of children.

George Lucas’s original three Star Wars films have been expanded backwards, forwards and sideways, while JK Rowling’s stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – soon heading for Broadway after breaking box-office records in the West End of London – fills in some of the long gap between the boy wizard’s farewell to Hogwarts Academy and the enrollment of his children in the school.

From the sparse details released so far, it seems that Pullman’s newly announced The Book of Dust trilogy – the first volume of which will appear on 19 October – will similarly explore the childhood of his heroine, Lyra Belacqua, before readers met her at Jordan College, Oxford, in the first His Dark Materials book, Northern Lights (known in the US as The Golden Compass).

Pullman and Rowling’s solutions to a common literary dilemma – balancing an audience’s desire for more of the same with a writer’s desire to try something different – continue a long synchronicity between the two authors. The latest example is the introduction of dramatist Jack Thorne, who (with Rowling and John Tiffany) wrote Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and is currently adapting His Dark Materials for a BBC television version.

Thorne’s double duty feels appropriate because these narratives, rivals for the minds of recent generations of young readers, have constantly overlapped. Pullman and Rowling both began publishing their serial novels shortly before the millennium, and rapidly gained an adult audience as well. Each story involved an 11-year-old child who, in a supernatural universe existing alongside our own, is required to risk their life in order to defeat evil forces.


Although Harry is explicitly a quasi-Christ figure and Lyra a sort of Eve, both stories have been criticised by Christians for, in Rowling’s case, supposedly endorsing witchcraft and, as Pullman stood charged, for making the evil empire against which Lyra fights a specifically religious force, complete with a name – the Magisterium – that was historically applied to Roman Catholicism.

Although Pullman’s attack on the Vatican proved prophetic – as news stories of the last two decades increasingly showed, a percentage of the church’s priests have indeed been a grievous threat to children – one of the fascinations of The Book of Dust will be whether Pullman makes the metaphor broader. The suppression of dissent and enforcement of orthodoxy that the Magisterium represents are certainly still to be found in the Roman church, but also in the fundamentalist branches of American Christianity and Islam. Ideological crackdowns are to be found as well in the UK and US in political and academic institutions on a spectrum from right to left. Without letting the popes off the hook, Pullman might usefully hang others beside them.




Promoting Your Book on Twitter: 10 Tips for Shy Writers

I know Twitter can be a confusing medium for many authors – what can you say in 140 characters or less to promote your book? In my opinion, Twitter is actually a writer’s dream for those who like to write short, like the absence of a lot of images, and are willing to experiment.

A news service that the users create, Twitter is a great resource to meet other writers, agents, editors, and book bloggers, people who love to read and review books.

10 Tips on Promoting Your Book on Twitter

1. Open an account on Twitter. Choose a name that is easily recognizable, ideally your author name. In the long run, as an author, you are your brand. If you choose a name like “jamie123” this won’t help you build name recognition.

2. Bring in your email contacts. Twitter makes this easy. In this way, you can see who you already know on Twitter.

3. Craft a profile that tells us 1) you’re an author and what genre you write (romance, how-to, memoir, etc.); 2) your interests that reflects your personality; and 3) what can entice us to want to get to know you better. There is a separate field for your website or blog site, so don’t put that in your Twitter profile.

4. Draft tweets ahead of time because you’d rather be writing, right? Use a service like Hootsuite.com, BufferApp.com, SocialOomph.com, or Tweetdeck — all with free versions — to schedule tweets ahead of time. You can also use these tools to reply to people, and follow conversations. More on Twitter conversations below.

5. Spend most of your time interacting directly and publicly with people who follow you, retweet (RT) you, and “favorite” your tweets. You do this by using the @ Connect tab on the Twitter menu. I spend 90% of my time here.

6. Interact in conversations that relate to your book. You do this by clicking on the “# Discover” tab. This is where you can type in a keyword with or without the # sign, or hashtag. Authors often ask me how to use the hashtag. By typing in your keyword with a hashtag, like “#amwriting” — a hashtag used to connect with others writers who are writing — you can stay in touch and be a part of a larger conversation happening around the virtual water cooler.

7. Use the 5-5-5 rule to keep your time focused and limited: Spend 5 minutes responding to tweets, follows, and replies. Spend a second 5 minutes following new people. Twitter offers suggestions all the time on the left-hand side. You can also use the “# Discover” tab. Use the final 5 minutes crafting tweets, thanking, sharing, and inviting.

8. Take risks. Sometimes we don’t know what will work until we try it. There’s lots of room for experiment and play. As long as you are in line with what you stand for (your platform, really), then what you do on Twitter (and by extension the other social media channels), you can feel good about your actions.

9. Learn from the masters or the more experienced authors. When I see a book marketing campaign done by another author that I think is really cool, I try it — with my own spin, of course.

10. Participate in conversations. There is a plethora of hashtags that writers are using to connect, promote, and learn. As I mentioned above, there’s #amwriting. There’s also #amediting. If you’d like to participate in a live conversation, the tool to use is Tweetchat, a free service, at http://tweetchat.com/.

Two other very popular hashtags are #FF or #FollowFriday, and #WW or #WriterWednesday. If you type these in the Search box, you’ll see lots of writers using these. The primary purpose of both of these is to give a shout out to your followers (#FF) and to your friends and colleagues (#WW).



8 Ways Authors Can Use Goodreads to Promote Their Book

Goodreads is a social network specifically for authors and readers. It has over 20 million members and is one of the most visited websites in the world. Why is Goodreads so popular? Because it helps people find the next book they want to read. Think of it like Pandora Radio or Spotify, but for books instead of music.

When you get on Goodreads as a reader, you list the books you have read along with a star rating and an optional review. Then as you connect to your friends, you can see the books they read and their ratings for those books.

But, it gets better than that.

You can also vote on lists of your favorite books. Goodreads has a feature called Listopia where people publicly vote on the top books on all manner of lists. Curious what the best Amish fiction book is? There is a list for that. Curious what is popular in Christian Contemporary Romance? There is a list for that too. The more votes a book gets, the higher it ranks on the list.

The best way to learn Goodreads is to sign up at http://www.goodreads.com and then start exploring. The website will walk you through the process of getting started. There is no cost to signing up, and figuring it out is a lot of fun!

So have you signed up? Great. Here are some ways you can Goodreads for marketing.

1. Setup an Author Page

Cost: 1-2 hours

Getting an author page is the first step to connect with your readers on Goodreads. Think of this as your Facebook page but on Goodreads. Creating an author page will give you statistics about your books and will give your readers a place to see what you are up to and what you are reading.

You can find out how to join the Goodreads Author program. This page has detailed instructions that will walk you step by step through the setup process.

2. List Your Books on Listopia.

Cost: 30 minutes

The Listopia section of Goodreads has a list for every kind of book imaginable. Make sure your books are on the appropriate lists. You can find this section at http://www.goodreads.com/list. Find a list your book would fit in and then click the “add books to this list” tab. Make sure to add more than just your book to the list. Pick your top 10 books in that category and vote for each book. Your readers want to know what books you like to read.

Often the difference between 30th and 10th on these lists is only a few votes.  So feel free to invite your readers to vote for your books as well.

3. Advertise

Cost: 1-3 hours + $50-$500

This is optional but worth the effort. Goodreads has a powerful book-advertising program that allows you to target people who have highly rated specific authors. Are your books similar to James Scott Bell? You can target his fans with an ad for your book.

You can also use this tool to target people who have rated your books in the past. You may have fans who loved your other books and who have no idea about your latest book. Goodreads allows you to connect with those readers.

The ads can cost as little as $0.15 per click. This is one of the cheapest ways to let your readers know about your new book.

4. Give Books Away

Cost: 1 hour + books + shipping

On average, 750 people enter each Goodreads book giveaway. Of those who enter, 8% will add the book to their to-read list and 45% of the winners will review the book. Goodreads has a book giveaways section designed specifically to help you raise awareness about your books.

5. Lead a Q&A Discussion Group About Your Book.

Cost: A few hours

Goodreads allows you to host a book discussion about your book. This allows your readers to ask you questions and talk with each other about your book. This is a great way to turn lukewarm readers into passionate book evangelists. You can be as involved in these book discussions as you want to be. The key is to start the conversation and then let your readers take it from there.

For the steps on how to start a book discussion, visit Goodread’s Featured Books.

6. Connect Your Blog to Goodreads

Cost: 30 minutes

Did you know that Goodreads will email your fans once a week of all your new blog posts? This is a great way to boost readers for you blog for little to no work. Just set it up once and then you don’t need to worry about it. Blog integration is one of the perks you get when you join the Goodreads Author Program.

7. Ask Fans for Reviews on Goodreads

Cost: 1 hour

GoodReads features books based on the number of reviews. So the more reviews the better.Don’t be afraid of negative reviews. Those actually help boost sales. The most important thing these days is the number of reviews. The more reviews your book has the more popular it looks. The more popular it looks the more people read it. This is a virtuous cycle. You can hijack it if you are afraid of negative reviews.

8. Connect Goodreads to MyBookTable

Cost: 10-15 minutes per book

Did you know that MyBookTable integrates with GoodReads? MyBookTable has buttons so that users can add your book directly to their GoodReads shelf right from your website. You can also show GoodReads Reviews inside MyBookTable. This allows you to have reviews on your website while also boosting the number of reviews you have on GoodReads. Win win.



The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy

TODD RUTHERFORD was 7 years old when he first understood the nature of supply and demand. He was with a bunch of other boys, one of whom showed off a copy of Playboy to giggles and intense interest. Todd bought the magazine for $5, tore out the racy pictures and resold them to his chums for a buck apiece. He made $20 before his father shut him down a few hours later.

A few years ago, Mr. Rutherford, then in his mid-30s, had another flash of illumination about how scarcity opens the door to opportunity.

He was part of the marketing department of a company that provided services to self-published writers — services that included persuading traditional media and blogs to review the books. It was uphill work. He could churn out press releases all day long, trying to be noticed, but there is only so much space for the umpteenth vampire novel or yet another self-improvement manifesto or one more homespun recollection of times gone by. There were not enough reviewers to go around.

Suddenly it hit him. Instead of trying to cajole others to review a client’s work, why not cut out the middleman and write the review himself? Then it would say exactly what the client wanted — that it was a terrific book. A shattering novel. A classic memoir. Will change your life. Lyrical and gripping, Stunning and compelling. Or words to that effect.

In the fall of 2010, Mr. Rutherford started a Web site, GettingBookReviews.com. At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. But some clients wanted a chorus proclaiming their excellence. So, for $499, Mr. Rutherford would do 20 online reviews. A few people needed a whole orchestra. For $999, he would do 50.

There were immediate complaints in online forums that the service was violating the sacred arm’s-length relationship between reviewer and author. But there were also orders, a lot of them. Before he knew it, he was taking in $28,000 a month.

A polite fellow with a rakish goatee and an entrepreneurial bent, Mr. Rutherford has been on the edges of publishing for most of his career. Before working for the self-publishing house, he owned a distributor of inspirational books. Before that, he was sales manager for a religious publishing house. Nothing ever quite worked out as well as he hoped. With the reviews business, though, “it was like I hit the mother lode.”

Reviews by ordinary people have become an essential mechanism for selling almost anything online; they are used for resorts, dermatologists, neighborhood restaurants, high-fashion boutiques, churches, parks, astrologers and healers — not to mention products like garbage pails, tweezers, spa slippers and cases for tablet computers. In many situations, these reviews are supplanting the marketing department, the press agent, advertisements, word of mouth and the professional critique.

But not just any kind of review will do. They have to be somewhere between enthusiastic and ecstatic.

“The wheels of online commerce run on positive reviews,” said Bing Liu, a data-mining expert at the University of Illinois, Chicago, whose 2008 research showed that 60 percent of the millions of product reviews on Amazon are five stars and an additional 20 percent are four stars. “But almost no one wants to write five-star reviews, so many of them have to be created.”

Consumer reviews are powerful because, unlike old-style advertising and marketing, they offer the illusion of truth. They purport to be testimonials of real people, even though some are bought and sold just like everything else on the commercial Internet.

Mr. Liu estimates that about one-third of all consumer reviews on the Internet are fake. Yet it is all but impossible to tell when reviews were written by the marketers or retailers (or by the authors themselves under pseudonyms), by customers (who might get a deal from a merchant for giving a good score) or by a hired third-party service.

The Federal Trade Commission has issued guidelines stating that all online endorsements need to make clear when there is a financial relationship, but enforcement has been minimal and there has been a lot of confusion in the blogosphere over how this affects traditional book reviews.

The tale of GettingBookReviews.com, which commissioned 4,531 reviews in its brief existence, is a story of a vast but hidden corner of the Internet, where Potemkin villages bursting with ardor arise overnight. At the same time, it shows how the book world is being transformed by the surging popularity of electronic self-publishing.

For decades a largely stagnant industry controlled from New York, book publishing is fragmenting and changing at high speed. Twenty percent of Amazon’s top-selling e-books are self-published. They do not get to the top without adulation, lots and lots of it.

Mr. Rutherford’s insight was that reviews had lost their traditional function. They were no longer there to evaluate the book or even to describe it but simply to vouch for its credibility, the way doctors put their diplomas on examination room walls. A reader hears about a book because an author is promoting it, and then checks it out on Amazon. The reader sees favorable reviews and is reassured that he is not wasting his time.

“I was creating reviews that pointed out the positive things, not the negative things,” Mr. Rutherford said. “These were marketing reviews, not editorial reviews.”

In essence, they were blurbs, the little puffs on the backs of books in the old days, when all books were physical objects and sold in stores. No one took blurbs very seriously, but books looked naked without them.

One of Mr. Rutherford’s clients, who confidently commissioned hundreds of reviews and didn’t even require them to be favorable, subsequently became a best seller. This is proof, Mr. Rutherford said, that his notion was correct. Attention, despite being contrived, draws more attention.

The system is enough to make you a little skeptical, which is where Mr. Rutherford finds himself. He is now suspicious of all online reviews — of books or anything else. “When there are 20 positive and one negative, I’m going to go with the negative,” he said. “I’m jaded.”

Trainloads of Books

“If there was anything the human race had a sufficiency of, a sufficiency and a surfeit, it was books,” the New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell wrote in 1964. He reflected on “the cataracts of books, the Niagaras of books, the rushing rivers of books, the oceans of books, the tons and truckloads and trainloads of books that were pouring off the presses of the world at that moment,” regretting that so few would be “worth picking up and looking at, let alone reading.”

Since then, the pace of production has picked up quite a bit, although it is debatable whether Mr. Mitchell, who died in 1996, would be any more impressed by the quality. There has been a boom in what used to be called vanity publishers, which can efficiently produce physical copies that look just as good as anything from the traditional New York houses. But an even bigger factor is the explosion in electronic publishing. It used to take the same time to produce a book that it does to produce a baby. Now it takes about as long as boiling an egg.

In 2006, before Amazon supercharged electronic publishing with the Kindle, 51,237 self-published titles appeared as physical books, according to