Tag Archives: ebooks

5 Ways to Make Money on the Internet with Quality E-books

With so many new online business opportunities available, it can be difficult to sift through the masses. Maybe you’re low on start-up funds. Perhaps you have limited time to work on your business at the start due to your current employment away from home. Maybe you’d like an Internet business that’s easy to operate and won’t require a lot of stress. If any of these apply to your situation, then selling e-books might be right for you.

Thousands of people are earning extra income or enjoying a full-time business in their home by selling e-books. E-books are available everywhere you go online and cover a variety subjects from cooking to home decor to financial tips. They are easy to purchase thanks to online credit card processing, and they are easy to download and read at one’s own convenience. The beauty of an e-book business is you’ll have no inventory to keep up with, no overhead costs to produce the e-book (unless you invest your own time in writing one), and no shipping hassles.

Let’s explore five ways you can make money on the Internet selling e-books.

1. Pick and Choose from E-books that Interest You

The key to success is to build a solid business while selling items that interest you. Do you wish to help others with finances or to help them get out of debt? Sell e-books related to finances. Do you enjoy making crafts? Sell e-books about crafts. Are you a seasoned fisherman? Offer tips about fishing in an e-book. The list goes on and on, and you can make money on the Internet while doing something you love to do!

You can write your own e-books, hire someone to write them, or sign on with a company that provides the rights to sell their e-books. If you use another company’s e-books, this will save you the time and headaches of writing your own. You might also be able to pick and choose which e-books you’d like to sell. Then you will be able to offer only those that interest you.

2. Read the E-books

You should be knowledgeable about the products you sell. If you don’t write your own e-books, be sure to read the ones you offer. This will allow you to answer customer questions, write effective sales presentations, and offer insight about the e-books to your readers. It’s much easier to sell something you believe in, and you’ll also want to make sure that what you are offering is of top quality. If you blindly sell someone else’s e-books without reading them, you can hinder your own ability to make money online.

3. Promote E-books through Various Online Resources

Once you decide on a few e-books to offer, it’s time for promotion. With any new online business, you’ll want to start with a great website and effective sales presentations. Without these, you won’t be able to convert the visitors to paying customers so your promotions will be in vain. If you’re not a writer, hire a professional sales writer to create copy for you. It will be well worth the money later on when you’re selling e-books like hotcakes! If you sell multiple e-books, be sure to set up a presentation for each separate e-book. This will give you more clout in the search engines and help to better target your readers.

After setting up a website, start submitting all your web pages to the major search engines. This can be achieved through an SEO promotion company or you can do it manually yourself. Next, look for pay-per-click opportunities at search engines so you can target your visitors. Pay-per-click enables you to pick and choose the keywords you would like to target. Your website will only show in the search results when those keywords are used. You will pay a small amount per click, but most of your visitors will be targeted with an interest for your products. Other effective forms of advertising online include press releases, e-zine (or newsletter) advertising, classifieds, auctions, and malls.

4. Sell Ad-On Products to Benefit E-book Customers

Once you start selling e-books and build a customer base, it’s time for ad-ons. You might sell products or services within your e-books through affiliate links. Or, you might offer newly released e-books to customers who have bought from you before. If you want to offer additional services besides selling e-books, you might use the e-books to gain a customer base first. Then, you can introduce your main services.

5. Teach Others to Sell E-books

Another way to make money online with e-books is to train others to sell e-books. You can offer commissions or rights to e-books and help others build a new online business. As you help others make money on the Internet, you will reap rewards as well. E-books are easy to sell for your own purposes, and they can be easily passed on for others to sell.

Selling e-books offers many advantages over selling physical products or offering various services. You can save time and money by offering e-books 24/7 and by automating your business to make it work for you. Start searching online today for e-book opportunities so you can reach your goals soon!

Buying Private Label E-book Resell Rights versus Writing Your Own

Today, there are many individuals who are looking to make money anyway that they can. In many cases, these individuals are looking for opportunities that allow them to work at their own pace or be their own boss.  If you are one of those individuals, then it is possible that you may have thought about creating and selling e-books.

The popularity of e-books has rapidly increased over the past few years now.  Many readers are not only finding it convenient to purchase them, but cheaper.  In most cases, e-books are easily to read on the computer, but they can also be printed off. Since more and more consumers are interested in purchasing e-books, there are more individuals who are looking to make money off them. If you can do this, you may find success; however, that success will not come without hard work.

If you have never created an e-book before, it is difficult to understand exactly how much hard work it entails.  To be worth the buy, most e-books are at least one hundred pages long; however, some are longer.  If you are interested in creating an e-book, it may take months for you to finish the book. In addition to hard work, you must also have writing experience and knowledge on the topic that you are writing about. This knowledge and experience aren’t necessarily necessary; however, it is important to the success of your e-book.  It is a fact that customers do not and will not purchase poor quality work. 

In addition to writing a quality e-book, you will also have to find ways to sell it. Together, the two could take a large amount of time. For many individuals, this is a major turn off; however, there are alternatives.  If you are interested in selling e-books, to make a profit, you do not necessarily have to create your own.  Instead you can obtain the private label resell rights to another e-book.  Obtaining the resell rights to an e-book will allow you, in many cases, to assume to the work as your own, edit the content, and pocket the money from each sale of the book.

The biggest downside to obtaining the resell rights to an e-book is the amount of money that you will have to spend.  Depending on who you do business with, the cost of acquiring private label resell rights may be expensive. Since most freelance writers spend a large amount of time creating their e-books, as previously mentioned, they may want to appropriately be compensated. The cost of resell rights to an e-book may be considered a disadvantage to this unique business opportunity, but it can also be considered an advantage.  E-book authors that charge more for their work typically have produced better content; better content is easier to sell.

Whether you make the decision to develop your own e-book or purchase the resell rights to someone else’s, you will still have to find a way to market the e-book to the general public.  This, depending on what approach you take, can take time. That is why many individuals prefer purchasing the resell rights to an e-book that has already been created.  This allows them to spend more time on marketing, which will in turn create sales. 

If you are unsure as to whether you should create your own e-book or obtain the resell rights to another, you are not alone. There are several other individuals wondering the same thing. Private label resell rights are an amazing business opportunity for some, but not for all. There is a great free audio course on private label resell rights at http://www.plrtips.com check this out today. All online business opportunities take time to find success.  If you have the financial resources needed to obtain the resell rights to a well written e-book, you are encouraged to give this opportunity a shot.  You are not guaranteed results, but you may be surprised with what you find. 

If you try obtaining the resell rights to an e-book and the experience is not what you had in mind you can begin to create your own e-books or move onto another business opportunity.  Unlike many other business ventures, private label resell rights allow you to get out when you want. After you have paid for the resell rights to an e-book, it is yours to do with. This means that you can stop at any time and move on to something else, if you desire.

Tips for Outsourcing eBooks

eBooks are quickly becoming very popular in the Internet niche marketing industry. eBooks are essentially books which are available in software formats and distributed either through email or Internet downloads. There is usually a fee associated with downloading an eBook. These fees are usually considerably lower than the fees associated with purchasing a hardcopy of a similar book. This is because eBooks are typically less expensive to publish.

With so many Internet niche marketers relying on eBooks as part of their marketing campaigns, it is certainly understandable that many are beginning to outsource the writing of eBooks to professional writers. As eBooks become more popular and the level of competition rises, it is necessary for the quality of the eBooks to increase as well making it essential to outsource these projects to qualified candidates. However, many may have concerns about the process of outsourcing. This article addresses these concerns by providing tips for outsourcing eBooks with success.

Select the Right Person for the Job

The first step in outsourcing an eBook with a great deal of success is taking the screening process seriously and finding the most qualified candidate to write the eBook. When searching for a candidate to write an eBook, place a detailed advertisement specifying the exact project requirements including subject, length, milestone goals and ultimate deadline. This is important because it ensures candidates are aware of all the requirements before they apply.

You may still receive countless applications from those who are unqualified but that is where carefully screening the applicants becomes imperative. In reviewing applications pay attention to the quality of samples provided, the amount of relevant work completed and the ability of the candidate to following the instructions in the advertisement. All these elements will make simplify the screening process by enabling you to eliminate those who do not follow instructions or provide quality samples of relevance to the project.

Next narrow the list of candidates to a few who are most qualified and interview these candidates further. eBooks can most often be written by candidates from remote locations so there is usually not a need for in person interviews especially if there is a geographical distance between the candidate and the buyer. Phone interviews and online interviews are enough substitutes. After the interviews determine which, if any, of the candidates is most qualified and offer the opportunity to complete the project to this candidate. If none of the candidates seem just right it might be necessary to continue looking and screening new candidates.

Be Involved in Developing the Outline

Once a professional writer is accepted for a project, it is time to start developing an outline for the project, if this has not already been done. The marketer should be heavily involved in doing this so they can ensure the eBooks includes all the information they believe is necessary. Asking the writer to contribute ideas to the outline is appropriate but it is accepted that the client will provide most of these details rather than relying on the writer to do so.

Maintain Final Editing Rights

Finally, the client should always maintain final editing rights in any eBooks they commission. They may work closely with the writer during the process of writing the book but upon completion the eBooks should be reviewed and edited carefully. This process should include editing the eBooks for grammar and sentence structure, flow and style, accuracy of content and any other elements deemed of importance by the client. The client is the one ultimately responsible for the information contained in the eBooks and he should do his best to ensure the eBooks he provides is not only interesting and informative but also accurate. This is especially important in situations where medical issues are discussed.

Another important reason to maintain finally editing rights is to ensure all stipulations by advertisers are met accordingly. Many eBooks are sponsored by individuals or companies who expect their website, products or services to be recommended in the eBook in exchange for their sponsorship. For this reason, care should be taken to review the final version of the eBook to ensure the sponsors needs are met and that direct competitors are not touted as being superior to the sponsor.

How to Make Money with Private Label E-books Resell Rights

In the past, whenever a reader wanted to pick up a book they often went to their local library or bookstore.  Now, more readers are getting their books online. These books are being marketed as e-books.  E-books come in a format that is easy to read off the computer, but they can also be printed.  If you are an experienced writer, you may be able to make money by creating your own e-books.

If you are interested in taking part in this money-making opportunity, you will first have to find a topic that will inspire readers to purchase your material. This can easily be done by using the internet.  You will want to look for popular topics that are being discussed online. It may also be a good idea to see if any e-books are already available, especially those with the topic that you intend to write on. You can still write an e-book on a popular topic, even one with numerous e-books already available; however, it may be more difficult to sell your completed e-book.

After you have found a topic and completed writing, you will then have to make an important decision. This decision may not only have an impact on how much money you make, but how much work additional work will be required. That decision is whether you want to sell your own e-book or have someone else do it for you. As you may assume, there are several advantages and disadvantage to each. To select the best option, you are advised to fully examine the advantages and disadvantages.  Doing so will allow you to make a more informed decision.

If you decide to sell your own e-book, you will find that it not only takes time, but money as well. Customers cannot purchase your e-book if they do not know that you have created one. For this reason, you will have to effectively market your e-book. This may involve the creation of a website and multiple informational articles.  You will need money to design and develop your own website.  If you are unfamiliar with web design, you may even need to hire the services of a professional website developer.  If time and money is something that you do not have, you may want to examine private label resell rights.

Private label resell rights are how many individuals are making money nowadays.  If you make the decision to have someone else sell your creation, you may want to take this route.  In a way, you will be giving away your e-book, for a fee of course. The person who purchases the resell rights to your e-book will then be able to sell it to the general public. This person will likely to be experienced in product advertisement. In addition to being experienced, these individuals are will likely have the time to market your e-book, whereas you might not.

When it comes to offering your e-book resell rights for sale, you will have several different options. There are many authors who allow their resell rights purchaser to alter their material and then claim the creation rights; however, this is not always the case.  By creating your own contract or user agreement, you should be able to stipulate what you want and do not want done with your e-book.

The individuals who purchase the right to resell your e-book will make an unspecified amount of money off the sale.  Many times, the amount of money they make will depend on how much work they put into marketing the e-book.  While you may be interested in pocketing this money yourself, it is important to understand how resell rights work. When offering your e-book resell rights for sale, you can put any price tag on it that you would like. This means that that you can control how much money you make. 

If you are interested in creating e-books for the purpose of offering private label resell rights, you are urged to start examining your options. As the popularity of private label resell rights increases, you may soon find that so does the competition. To make money off of this opportunity, you are encouraged to act fast before someone else creates an e-book just like yours.

Choosing the Best eBook Publishing Platform

There are so many digital publishing platforms that authors can use to publish their ebooks. New services are mushrooming to enable self-publishers and publishers to distribute their books all around the world. There are so many options for an author who is contemplating publishing an ebook. Lately, e-books have significantly flooded the market, especially in the US with English as the primary language. 

It is safe to say that e-book publishing is the best choice for every self-publisher due to the following reasons;

•    EBook publishing is cheaper compared to print publishing. 

•    EBooks’ are less risky due to the low cost of publishing.  Self-publishers have no problem taking a chance on them. If the book does not sell much, you will not have wasted a lot of money. 

•    The digital market is growing very fast with each passing day. The people that read eBooks in the US are almost as many as those that read print books. By 2018, eBooks will be more popular than print books.

What Should You Consider When Choosing The Best Platform For Your Book?

1.    Royalty. Whatever platform you choose, you should know that they have to take a cut of the profits. It varies depending on your choice. Do as much research as you can before committing. 

2.    Pricing. Some publishing services have set price limits. For example, a new author on Amazon cannot offer their book for free and in other cases you are not given any control over the price. This is not necessarily bad but you may not want to be in a situation where you are not comfortable with the price and there is nothing you can do. Always set a price for your eBook so that you can choose a service that can allow it. 

3.    File format. Other platforms out there offer file formatting in addition to their publishing services, although many authors prefer to do it by themselves. If you decide to do your formatting, be cautious because it is not easy. You may want to use formatting software like Vellum and Sigil. 

4.    Exclusivity. A publishing platform may insist on exclusivity, like Amazon’s KDP. If you have several books you can have some of them exclusive to Amazon while leaving others available through open publishing. 

5.    EBook retailers. The top five retailers include: Amazon, iBooks, Apple, Google Play, Nook Press and Kobo. A majority sell all over the world either through their websites or affiliates. Apart from these five, there are so many others that you can choose to work with. 

Publishing Your Books Effectively To More Stores and Gaining Global Distribution

Some platforms refer to themselves as ebook aggregators—they stand between an author and a retailer like Amazon. To put it simply, they are companies that accept your book, and convert it into several formats and make it available to multiple distribution channels. Not only do they aggregate and distribute books but they also offer services like cover design, ebook conversion, print-on-demand and editing. 

Finding a publishing platform is not difficult but you have to know what you want. Once you have evaluated your preferences, search for the service that best suits your needs.

How to Market Your Book

In your lifetime you will hear someone say they have hundreds of copies of their masterpiece just lying somewhere in the house. They will go on and on about how they could become a millionaire if only they could sell the copies. You do not want to be that “someone”—and if you don’t, you have to market your book seriously. 

Most self-published writers won’t know much pertaining to sales and business. Marketing, unlike writing, requires the author to go out and communicate with potential readers; so that your book can be out there for everyone to see it. 

Many self-publishers increase their chances of success by thinking about marketing before they write a book. It is important to identify the reason for writing the book and its benefit to your readers. Knowing who your target market is and what they read, will give you a clear goal for writing the book and a clear marketing strategy. 

Most authors prefer this method of marketing. The main reason being that readers trust book reviews; they are honest, editorial and not promotional. A majority of readers usually read the reviews before they purchase a book. Aim at getting high honest reviews for your book.

It is difficult for self-publishers to predict the level of marketing effort they have to put in to make their books sell. Amazingly, the internet offers a level platform where even upcoming publishers can compete with established publishing companies. 

It is not easy; you will have to make an effort. However, it is something you cannot afford to relinquish. Online marketing is much cheaper and if utilized correctly, more productive than the traditional marketing methods. 

To get the most out of online marketing; ensure that you have your author platform and effectively use of social media to market yourself. 

There is no definite answer to getting your book on the bestseller list; otherwise, every writer would be at the top.  A wise thing would be to learn from other writers’ experiences. Look for interviews and know what to do and what to avoid. 

Always consider book marketing a business.  Creating the ultimate marketing skills requires you to define your reason for writing and your target audience. You will then know how to communicate with potential readers effectively. You may find your success by marketing on social media, putting your book on a bookstore shelf, using online traffic keywords, or even peddling your book in presentations and conventions. 

You can only discover your success by figuring out the perfect way to communicate to your readers. What worked for another author might not work for you. Put yourself in your readers’ minds, think like them, and you will know what they want and how you can reach them. Do not end up with piles of your manuscripts lying somewhere gathering dust. 

Almost everyone can write a book. However, not everyone can write a bestseller. You may write a book to follow your passion or realize a dream but in the end you want your book to sell. Every author would appreciate a high rank on Amazon. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Some people write books based on keywords. Whether you are passionate about writing or not, focusing on saleable terms can get you on top of Google’s page. Maybe this is not how you want to write your book, but it has its advantages. If you choose to go with SEO consider the following;

•    You do not have to deviate from your original book plan, but you will have to adjust it to fit in the trending search or topic. If you write it according to popular topics, keep in mind that speed is of the essence. 

•    Use keywords in the book title and subtitle to increase your exposure in search.

Make your topic narrower. Do not focus on a vast topic. For example, if you want to write a book about selling or buying your first home, narrow down on specific subjects in the industry and write a series of books. You can write about; buying your first home for singles, buying your first home for a domestic partner and so forth. 

The idea is to choose a specialized topic that solves a particular problem—consumers like that. The books do not even have to be long. Also, authors with multiple titles tend to do better on Amazon. 

When you have identified the keywords in your target market, 

•    Go to the Kindle Store tab on Amazon and type in “selling book”. 

•    Click on any of the suggestions (best-selling books in Kindle Store, top selling books on Kindle Store etc.)

•    Take a good look at the books that will come up then click on the “customers also bought” option.

Target books with a low sales rank, about 20,000. 

Keeping It Short and Narrow

Long books will always be there, but there is a high demand for shorter, niche books that focus on a specific subject. Do not stop writing long books all together. For a short book, 10,000 to 17,000 words are acceptable—avoid filler and fluff words, be clear and precise. 

Other Methods for Developing Book Ideas

A lot of research is applied when writing a book; especially on the book topic and content. In addition, take a look at existing books that are similar to yours in the market. Read their reviews. The negative ones will help you know what is missing and what is needed. 

Creating a bestselling book idea is not as complicated as it may sound. It basically entails research just like you have been doing. Only now you will research with a specific goal—to find keywords and trending topics. Remember to keep it short and narrow, writing a series of short and precise books. Nonetheless, be careful not to write a very short book that readers see almost all of it in the “look inside the book” feature on Amazon. They will just window shop and not buy it eventually.

Many successful authors agree that an email list is a must-have for every author—regardless of your genre. But it is not just important because great authors agree; here are five more reasons.

Obviously, the difference between a best-selling author and a writer who is barely making it is the audience size. Some authors launch their books successfully by just sending a “click here to buy my book” email and the sales move forward overnight. Yes, it happens. 

You cannot sell your book if you have no one to listen to you and buy from you. When you have your audience (email list), you get both of those things. 

A majority of authors think that just because they have a large following on social media, they do not need a list. But look at it this way, that social media platform does not belong to you; Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc., are the ones that own the audience. Facebook may suspend your page or Twitter may block your account, and then what? 

Social media is great, and you can generate a lot of traffic, but it is wise to create an email list from there. 

The main reason for building an email list is so that you can get noticed. You want people to click your link every time you send it out, whether it is a link to your blog or book promotion. However, if you have 15000 followers on Twitter, and you send out a link you may get just a hundred clicks. On the other hand, if you have an email list of 4000 and you send out a link you may get 1000. 

There is too much content on social media and people may not even see your link. 

Your email list will build your audience, but that is not all. You create a relationship with your audience and get them to trust you even more. When someone gives you their email address, it shows that they trust you to deliver quality content and not spam them. 

After you create the email list, follow up regularly and engage with your audience. Also, get a tailored auto-responder to make it convenient for you and the audience. 

How great is it that you can now promote your book without paying extra cash? Just send your list a link asking them to buy your book. Nonetheless, your list is more than just an audience. Your list is part of your marketing team somehow. They will happily and freely spread the word about your work.  Also, authors with their own audience command more respect. You can even ask your audience what you should write about next and get information on hot topics. 

Building your email list is neither complicated nor too expensive. Some email service providers like Mailchimp are free. With a sizable list, you are assured of sales, a personalized audience and even a small marketing team. Sign up today and begin to enjoy the benefits.

There are so many mistakes that authors make while selling books on Amazon, and one of them is promoting their Amazon book sales page. If you are looking to make more sales and have more people on your email list, then do not market your Amazon book sales page. 

Of course, you will have to set up a sales page on Amazon if you want to sell through the site. And you will have to optimize it to drive more sales. 

To promote it successfully and sell your book online you need conversation and attention; convert internet surfers into your website visitors and make them buy your book. 

If you go on advertising your Amazon sales page, the truth is that most people will visit the site and not buy the book, worse still, they may never return to the site. Also, you will never know who visited and left your site. 

Before today’s consumers can buy a book, they need to be informed and assured—something that cannot happen with one site visit. The solution is to send potential buyers to your landing page first instead of Amazon. 

A website is like a standalone web page. The page is designed for a particular purpose and a visitor can “land” on it. Its primary objective is to generate more leads and sales. Also, it is easier to make, unlike a website. 

One advantage of a landing page is that it has buying options for a visitor who would like to buy your book immediately and in case they do not buy; their information is captured to enable future follow-ups. 

The top part of the page is a precious portion, use it wisely. If users do not scroll down, this is your only chance to convince them. You can just add an Obvious Opt-In Panel with three critical sections;

•    A catchy message

•    A call-to-action—encouragement to participate on your website

•    An opt-in form to get their email address and add to your email list

The next section is where you introduce your book. It may be great, but people always want to know what’s in it for them. Let your introduction be centered on the reader; how the book is perfect for them or how it will impact their lives.

Social proof is social influence whereby a person’s actions affect another person’s choice. With so many books in the market, people rely on social proofs to decide what book to buy. Use social proofs wisely. Some types of social proofs include; celebrity endorsements, reviews and testimonials.

Unlike selling on Amazon, while selling on your landing page, you can sell at a fair price. You can have three separate packages for the same book without restrictions. 

A landing page is a must-have for any author, and so is an email list. Nothing compares to having your audience and having a relationship with them. Make a point of creating those two today.

How to Self-Publish

Do you have a great book idea but you do not know where to start? Or perhaps you have begun writing, and you would like to self-publish it, and you have no clue. Well, this book will give you a thorough understanding of all the processes involved in materializing your book. From writing to publishing and marketing it. 

Before you even finish your rough draft you need to research extensively on your target market. Establish the genre of your book, whether nonfiction or fiction. Learn the market for that particular genre and your sub-genre (self-help, mystery, fantasy, and sci-fi). Familiarize yourself with the current trends in that subgenre so that you do not flood a saturated market. Look for what is missing and fill the gap. Take a look at existing books that are similar to yours and try to make yours a bit different. 

Before you consider anything else, you need to complete a rough draft of your book. You will need to put in hard work and discipline. It is advisable to set a schedule from the beginning and stick to it. Be patient as this process may take months or even years.

Try to look for advice from experienced authors even if it is online. In the end, the script may not be perfect but you will know what to do next.

Finding an editor is important if you want to create a great book. A professional editor will correct any mistakes in grammar or plot holes. Use the criticism to make your book even better. You can get an experienced content and copy editor on most of the reputable freelancing sites online. 

This is where you utilize all the correction and criticism you got from fast checkers, readers, and your editor. Aim at creating a perfect final draft.

You cannot do everything alone. You may be a great author, but you are not a good editor or designer. Create a team of professionals to help you come up with an excellent book.

When you have reviews, the chances of your book selling are higher than when you do not. Find reviewers in the genre you are writing about. Usually, the reviews will appear on the back cover of your book and maybe on retailers’ websites. 

For a reader to pick your book from the shelf, the cover has to be compelling. Find an expert designer to create a cover for you. A great cover should convey the content of the book and convince the reader to pick it. 

8.     Retail

This involves publishing the final copy to start selling. You can choose between self-publishing and a traditional publisher. If you opt to self-publish, do not overlook design and distribution. Give these two aspects enough consideration. 

9.    Promotion, Marketing, and Distribution

Having your book in the market is one thing; ensuring that it sells is another. One secret to selling your book is to have it ordered by a leading distributor like Amazon. You can hire a professional marketer to market your book and also promote you as an author. 

10.    Keep Going

The whole process of writing and publishing a book may be cumbersome but never give up. Keep going.

Having your book out in the market and selling is not easy, but it is doable. Be determined and go through the above steps thoroughly. Do everything right and enjoy the process, the next best seller might be yours.

Self-publishing is whereby an author publishes their book or any other media without involving an established publisher. If a book is physical, it is referred to as privately printed. The author is in charge of every process including the design of the interior and cover, formats, distribution, public relations, price, and marketing. The author may decide to do all these by themselves or include companies that issue these services. 

Self-publishing is not a new concept. The Joy of Cooking was self-published and printed in 1931. Fifty Shades of Grey, a best-seller by E.L James was also self-published due to public demand. 

A while ago, authors had to spend a lot of money self-publishing since they had to purchase so many copies of their title and then find somewhere to store the inventory. Today, the ebook and print on demand technology enable authors to print a book or deliver it digitally when an order is placed.

Technology has brought a lot of improvement when it comes to books. Some of those advancements include;

•    Online stores. Now readers can purchase books without physically visiting a bookstore.

•    Tablet computers and e-book readers enable readers to have multiple books on a portable device.

•    Anyone can access global distribution channels through online stores. 

•    The print-on demand technology produces high-quality products.

Every book should have an ISBN to uniquely identify its title—unless the author sells it directly to the public. It is advisable to obtain an ISBN and copyright rather than use one that belongs to a vanity press. Each book edition will require a separate ISBN. 

    Electronic (e-book) Publishing is the most popular among authors because the e-books can be created without upfront or per-book costs. There are also ebook formats and tools for creating electronic books. Some of the platforms that publish e-books include Smashwords, Pronoun, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Blurb, and Papyrus Editor among others. Ebook formats include PDF, Mobi, Epub, etc. 

    Print on Demand includes printing high-quality books on order. Self-publishing authors consider this method to be economical, instead of printing so many books all at once. Blurb, Amazon,  Createspace, Llumina Press and Lulu offer single books printing services at a fair cost—almost the same as the amount charged by publishing companies. 

Publishing companies pay authors a fraction of the sales made from a book. Therefore, they only published books that were more likely to sell. It was tough for upcoming authors to get a contract. This led to the mushrooming of vanity publishers. They would publish any book, but the author had to pay upfront. Also, the author did not own the final book version and had no say in its distribution. 

Self-publishing authors undertake all the activities surrounding the publishing. However, to be referred to as self-published, the author does not necessarily have to do all the work by themselves. The author can decide to outsource some of the activities to companies or freelancers.

Rise of Automation : Technology and Robots Will Replace Humans Now Available on Amazon and Itunes

You probably have an idea how robots will affect human workers negatively. Chief players in the tech world like Bill Gates and Elon Musk have provided their solutions; universal basic income or robot tax. But amidst the serious warnings and the utter sci-fi utopias, the human pain that will follow future job loss seems to be forgotten.

15 years or so from now, the US economy will lose 38% of its jobs to automation. This rate is alarming. And yet, many people maintain that automation should not and cannot slow down.

However, what if the progress is decelerated a little? Just enough to match the slow fashion and slow food trends maybe? At the very least, people should rethink the ownership of autonomous trucks. Robotization would not be that bad if truck drivers owned the automatic trucks instead of having a corporation own them all. In the meantime; robotization is a real threat and poses a danger to crucial human infrastructure.

Table of Contents


Elon Musk and Universal Basic Income
Silicon Valley and the Automated Future
Job Automation
Bill Gates and a Threat to Jobs
Artificial Intelligence and Automation
Auto Industry Jobs That Will Be Lost To Automation
The Rise of Automation and Coding
Cyber Security
Consumer Automation
Automation in the Healthcare Industry
Al Is the Future of Cybersecurity
The Future of Automation
Colleges: Jobs of the Future
Automation and Perception
Manage Automation and Jobs
Automation and the Future Economy

Pronoun, an ebook service for writers, shuts down

Pronoun, a self-publishing service for authors, is shutting down after promising free ebook distribution for authors. The company, which raised millions in funding and ended up being sold to Macmillan announced the shutdown in an email to authors and on its website.

Two years ago Pronoun set out to create a one-of-a-kind publishing tool that truly put authors first. We believed that the power of data could be harnessed for smarter book publishing, leveling the playing field for indie authors.

We are proud of the product we built, but even more so, we’re grateful for the community of authors that made it grow. Your feedback shaped Pronoun’s development, and together we changed the way authors connect with readers.

Unfortunately, Pronoun’s story ends here.

While many challenges in indie publishing remain unsolved, Macmillan is unable to continue Pronoun’s operation in its current form. Every option was considered before making the very difficult decision to end the business.

As of today, it is no longer possible to create a new account or publish a new book. Pronoun will be winding down its distribution, with an anticipated end date of January 15, 2018. Authors will still be able to log into their accounts and manage distributed books until that time.

For the next two months, our goal is to support your publishing needs through the holiday season and enable you to transition your books to other services. For more detail on how this will affect your books and payments, please refer to our FAQ.

The decision follows a long and arguably crazy mission to distribute and sell ebooks for free. The company started out as Vook, a service for creating complex and illustration-rich ebooks and slowly pivoted to its free model. Interestingly, the primary and best Pronoun feature for authors was its “free automated conversion tool that made absolutely beautiful ebooks.”


“They were nicer-looking than most ebooks made by people,” wrote Nate Hoffelder in The Digital Reader.

As the Internet moves away from the user-generated content model it will be interesting to see what other “free” content startups hit the skids.


Pronoun, an ebook service for writers, shuts down

Rakuten to bring eBooks, digital content to libraries in Hamamatsu

Rakuten Inc has signed a comprehensive agreement with Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, to cooperate in enhancing the reading environment and promoting globalization through multilingual education utilizing information technology.

Based on the agreement, residents of Hamamatsu City will be able to use Rakuten OverDrive, the Rakuten Group’s service providing eBooks and digital content to libraries and educational institutions, at the public libraries in the city (23 libraries and one branch library). With OverDrive, residents will be able to borrow eBooks and other content from the libraries*1 on their own tablets, smartphones or PCs, at any time and place.

By offering OverDrive’s vast library of more than 1.6 million multi-language works, Rakuten and Hamamatsu City said they hope to support and strengthen the foreign language education of the city’s residents. In addition, Rakuten Communications Corp. will provide a wi-fi environment and tablets*2 to an number of libraries in the city to give residents the opportunity to try out the OverDrive service.

Hamamatsu is an industrial city with a population of 800,000, and its more than 20,000 foreign residents give the city a very international feel. With a vision to become a city where people of different cultures can co-exist, Hamamatsu is implementing measures to promote multicultural understanding and study ways to provide support to foreign residents.



We’re told to be grateful we even have readers’: pirated ebooks threaten the future of book series

The bestselling American fantasy novelist Maggie Stiefvater is leading a chorus of writers warning readers that if they download pirated ebooks, then authors will not be able to continue writing because they will be unable to make a living.

Stiefvater, author of the Shiver and Raven Cycle series, raised the issue after she was contacted on Twitter by a reader who told her: “I never bought ur books I read them online pirated.” On her website, Stiefvater later explained that, when ebook sales for the third book in the Raven Cycle – Blue Lily, Lily Blue – “dropped precipitously”, her publisher decided to cut the print run of the next book in the series to less than half of its predecessors.

“This is also where people usually step in and say, but that’s not piracy’s fault. You just said series naturally declined, and you just were a victim of bad marketing or bad covers or readers just actually don’t like you that much,” wrote Stiefvater, who had seen fans sharing pdfs online and was “intent on proving that piracy had affected the Raven Cycle”. So she and her brother created a pdf of The Raven King, which consisted of just the first four chapters, repeated, and a message explaining how piracy affected books.

Maggie Stiefvater Book Signing At Books & BooksCORAL GABLES, FL - JUNE 08: Author Maggie Stiefvater signs copies of her book “The Raven King” and greets fans at Books and Books on June 8, 2016 in Coral Gables, Florida. (Photo by Johnny Louis/Getty Images)

“The effects were instant. The forums and sites exploded with bewildered activity. Fans asked if anyone had managed to find a link to a legit pdf. Dozens of posts appeared saying that since they hadn’t been able to find a pdf, they’d been forced to hit up Amazon and buy the book. And we sold out of the first printing in two days.”

Stiefvater revealed that she is now writing three more books set in the Raven Cycle world, but that the new trilogy “nearly didn’t exist because of piracy”. “And already I can see in the tags how Tumblr users are talking about how they intend to pirate book one of the new trilogy for any number of reasons, because I am terrible or because they would ‘rather die than pay for a book’,” she wrote. “As an author, I can’t stop that. But pirating book one means that publishing cancels book two. This ain’t 2004 anymore. A pirated copy isn’t ‘good advertising’ or ‘great word of mouth’ or ‘not really a lost sale’.”

According to the Intellectual Property Office’s latest study of online copyright infringement, 17% of ebooks read online are pirated – around 4m books.

Ebook piracy is “a very significant issue and of great concern” to publishers, said Stephen Lotinga of the Publishers Association, which works to take down and block pirated ebooks links and sites. “As an industry we’ve not had the situation that the music and film industries have gone through,” Lotinga said. “But that obviously is 4m ebooks that authors and publishers aren’t getting paid for, and should be getting paid for, and it’s a particular worry for publishers at a time when ebook sales are slightly in decline.”

Last week, a poll on piracy from Hank Green, the brother of the bestselling novelist John Green, was responded to by more than 35,000 people. Just over a quarter (26%) said they had pirated books in the past, while 5% said they currently pirate books.

Samantha Shannon, author of the Bone Season series, said that attempting to stay on top of pirated editions of her books was “a Sisyphean task”. “I think all authors experience it to some degree, unfortunately. It’s a reality of modern publishing,” she said. “I don’t often look for pirated copies of my books, as I find it too dispiriting, but I do batch-send links to my publisher now and again in the hope that they can remove some of them.”

Shannon wrote on Twitter that “the thing that’s really exhausting about piracy is that authors are often not allowed to be upset by theft of their work. If we ask people not to do it, no matter how courteously, we’re told we should have more compassion or be grateful we even have readers. Outside the creative industry, people broadly dislike theft. Within the creative industry, it becomes a grey area where people aren’t sure.”

“Authors who ask you not to pirate are not attacking people who are too poor to afford books, or people who genuinely can’t access libraries,” wrote Shannon – but Lotinga at the Publishers Association said that those people were not often the perpetrators. Ebook pirates “tend to be from better-off socio-economic groups, and to be aged between 31 and 50-something. “It’s not the people who can’t afford books,” he said. “It’s not teenagers in their rooms.”

Novelist Laura Lam wrote on Twitter: “I’m personally not bothered by the small percentage of readers who pirate because they have no access to books any other way. But of readers, I think that’s a small percentage. I’m more heartbroken by those who can easily afford books but pirate anyway. Any sales lost via those readers will have a very real impact on my career.”



How to Edit a Book: Your Ultimate 21-Part Checklist

Yes, a professional editor can determine all this with a quick read of the first two to three pages.

If you find yourself saying, “But they didn’t even get to the good stuff,” then you need to put the good stuff earlier in your manuscript.

So today, I want to zero in on tight writing and self-editing.

Author Francine Prose says:

For any writer, the ability to look at a sentence and see what’s superfluous, what can be altered, revised, expanded, or especially cut, is essential. It’s satisfying to see that sentence shrink, snap into place, and ultimately emerge in a more polished form: clear, economical, sharp.

If you’re ready to learn how to edit a book, here’s what you need to do:

The Ultimate Checklist for Editing a Book

1. Develop a thick skin.

Or at least to pretend to. It’s not easy. But we writers need to listen to our editors—even if that means listening to ourselves!

2. Avoid throat-clearing.

This is a literary term for a story or chapter that finally begins after a page or two of scene setting and background. Get on with it.

3. Choose the normal word over the obtuse.

When you’re tempted to show off your vocabulary or a fancy turn of phrase, think reader-first and keep your content king. Don’t intrude. Get out of the way of your message.

4. Omit needless words.

A rule that follows its own advice. This should be the hallmark of every writer.

5. Avoid subtle redundancies.

“She nodded her head in agreement.” Those last four words could be deleted. What else would she nod but her head? And when she nods, we need not be told she’s in agreement.

“He clapped his hands.” What else would he clap?

“She shrugged her shoulders.” What else?

“He blinked his eyes.” Same question.

“They heard the sound of a train whistle.” The sound of could be deleted.

6. Avoid the words up and down…

…unless they’re really needed. He rigged [up] the device. She sat [down] on the couch.

7. Usually delete the word that.

Use it only for clarity.

8. Give the reader credit.

Once you’ve established something, you don’t need to repeat it.

Example: “They walked through the open door and sat down across from each other in chairs.”

If they walked in and sat, we can assume the door was open, the direction was down, and—unless told otherwise—there were chairs. So you can write: “They walked in and sat across from each other.”

And avoid quotation marks around words used in another context, as if the reader wouldn’t “get it” otherwise. (Notice how subtly insulting that is.)

9. Avoid telling what’s not happening.

“He didn’t respond.”

“She didn’t say anything.”

“The crowded room never got quiet.”

If you don’t say these things happened, we’ll assume they didn’t.

10. Avoid being an adjectival maniac.

Good writing is a thing of strong nouns and verbs, not adjectives. Use them sparingly.

Novelist and editor Sol Stein says one plus one equals one-half (1+1=1/2), meaning the power of your words is diminished by not picking just the better one. “He proved a scrappy, active fighter,” is more powerful if you settle on the stronger of those two adjectives. Less is more. Which would you choose?

11. Avoid hedging verbs…

…like smiled slightlyalmost laughed, frowned a bit, etc.

12. Avoid the term literally—when you mean figuratively.

“I literally died when I heard that.” R.I.P.

“My eyes literally fell out of my head.” There’s a story I’d like to read.

“I was literally climbing the walls.” You have a future in horror films.

13. Avoid too much stage direction.

You don’t need to tell every action of every character in each scene, what they’re doing with each hand, etc.

14. Maintain a single Point of View (POV) for every scene.

Failing to do so is one of the most common errors beginning writers make. Amateurs often defend themselves against this criticism by citing classics by famous authors who violated this. Times change. Readers’ tastes change. This is the rule for today, and it’s true of what sells.

15. Avoid clichés.

And not just words and phrases. There are also clichéd situations, like starting your story with the main character waking to an alarm clock; having a character describe herself while looking in a full-length mirror; having future love interests literally bump into each other upon first meeting, etc.

16. Resist the urge to explain (RUE).

Marian was mad. She pounded the table. “George, you’re going to drive me crazy,” she said, angrily.

“You can do it!” George encouraged said.

17. Show, don’t tell.

If Marian pounds the table and chooses those words, we don’t need to be told she’s mad. If George says she can do it, we know he was encouraging.

18. Avoid mannerisms of attribution.

People say things; they don’t wheeze, gasp, sigh, laugh, grunt, snort, reply, retort, exclaim, or declare them.

John dropped onto the couch. “I’m beat.”

Not: John was exhausted. He dropped onto the couch and exclaimed tiredly, “I’m beat.”

“I hate you,” Jill said, narrowing her eyes.

Not: “I hate you,” Jill blurted ferociously.

Sometimes people whisper or shout or mumble, but let your choice of words imply whether they are grumbling, etc. If it’s important that they sigh or laugh, separate the action from the dialogue:

Jim sighed. “I just can’t take any more,” he said. [Usually you can even drop the attribution he said if you have described his action first. We know who’s speaking.]

19. Specifics add the ring of truth.

Yes, even to fiction.

20. Avoid similar character names.

In fact, avoid even the same first initials.

21. Avoid mannerisms of punctuation, typestyles, and sizes.

“He…was…DEAD! doesn’t make a character any more dramatically expired than “He was dead.”



Google Results Now Include Your Local Library’s Ebooks

Google just made free legal ebooks much easier to find. Search for a book, and in the info bar on the right, under the buying options, Google lists local public libraries that have the ebook. (On mobile, tap the “Get Book” tab.) If you’re a library member, you can borrow it right away, right on your device. It feels like magic. Here, try it with Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend.

This function has been a long time coming. People have been searching for free ebooks for years, enough that Google usually autosuggests “PDF” after any search for a book title. (Search for a TV show and it adds “streaming free.”) That’s probably one reason Google recently added this legal option.


Here are some differences: The library bought its ebook legally, so you’re supporting the author. That alone is a great reason to go legal. Now that stealing books is so easy, the publishing industry relies on readers to do the right thing.

That means putting up with some limitations, of course. You can only borrow the book for a couple of weeks at a time (though many systems let you renew).

And depending on your library’s collection, you might be able to load it on your Kindle or in iBooks, or you might need to use a proprietary app. These apps vary wildly in quality; Libby is sometimes even better than the Kindle app, while NYC’s SimplyE is awkward and buggy. Even within the same library system, different books might require different apps.



Neil Gaiman on Ebooks

Neil Gaiman is the award-winning and bestselling author of American GodsAnansi BoysThe Graveyard Book, and the comic series Sandman. He blogs at http://journal.neilgaiman.com.



Paper books are really, really useful things. They are wonderful things. I’m still convinced that the paperback book is something that will probably live forever. Because it’s cheap, it’s cheerful, you can drop it in the bath, you can put it in your pocket. It’s driven by sunlight. You can find your place in it in seconds. But there are places where Kindles win.

There are two huge things about the Kindle that are incredibly good and useful. Thing one is that normally technological innovation bumps up against age: there comes a point somewhere in the 40s where people cannot be bothered to keep up. And by the time you get to your 60s, normally you definitely can’t be bothered. It’s not like 60 year olds were going out and buying iPods. On the other hand, all you have to do is be past the age of reading glasses and discover, as you start lamenting the tiny size that paperbacks books are printed in these days and realizing that you’re probably going to have to grit your teeth fairly soon and go and look for those large-print paperbacks, that’s the point where you discover that you can have any book in the world on your Kindle and you can just change the typeface to suit yourself. And that suddenly means that you’re getting one for your grandmother. Advanced tech changes everything.

The thing that actually I’m loving about the current incarnation of Kindle is that you can be reading something using Kindle software on physical platforms other than the actual Kindle. This may not seem that important, but I just proudly finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo, this 1,000-page book, that I bought several copies of over the years. And it’s huge, and it’s heavy, and I would get a chapter into it or whatever and always mean to keep reading it but never quite get around to it because it wouldn’t be wherever I was. The joy of this was, wherever I was, and whatever I had with me electronically, I had The Count of Monte Cristo, and it knew what page I was on. Which means that if I have ten minutes and I have my phone with me, or I’m on a plane: just grab that ten minutes.

I watched the Kindle win on things that were simply too big to go into your jeans pocket. But given the choice between that and a thin paperback that’s jeans-pocket sized, paperback still wins for me.



10 Steps to Ebook Success

1. Stop complaining about print publishers
You may think your writing is amazing and deserves to be published by one of the majors, and that they are all a bunch of numbskulls for overlooking your genius, treating you badly, not promoting your work properly or generally doing a terrible job. Well, get over it. The fact that you think they have failed you presents an amazing opportunity to forge an alternative path into an amazing future. So stop wasting your energy badmouthing them, hating them, etc, and instead channel that force into something good. Yourself.

2. Have talent
This sounds obvious, but the volume of badly conceived, badly written, badly designed, typo-ridden ebooks by unknown authors is incredible. Anyone with ambitions within ebooks should have at least one hard-nosed, smart book person in their life who loves them enough to read their material and be brutally honest about whether it is a work of genius or whether you need to consider a job at the post office. If you don’t have any such individual in your life, paying a freelance editor to do it for you is money well spent. Anyone who self-publishes without showing his or her work to a single living soul will probably fail.

3. Be multi-skilled
The days of the writer who only knows how to write books are totally, totally over. Any budding author who wants to publish digitally needs to know how to do a range of tasks, particularly in areas such as design and marketing. Basically, all the tasks that a publisher once did for you, you now have to do yourself. The alternative is to pay for someone to do them, but who has that money when they’re just starting out? Better to force yourself to learn through necessity; then you become more powerful and less dependent, which can only be good.

4. Have more than one ebook already written
Amanda Hocking, Stephen Leather, John Locke and many of the first wave of self-published eBook millionaires all had a number of titles ready to go at the same time. More ebooks means more chances to sell, and more chances for a reader who likes one of your titles to seek out the rest, thereby multiplying your revenues. “Having five books available at the same time is probably the best thing I did,” said Locke in The Mail On Sunday. In fellow ebook novelist Joe Konrath’s case, in January of this year he posted on his blog that he’d banked a cool $100,000 in Amazon sales for that month alone — but this was from a total of FIFTEEN ebooks. Writing three or more ebooks before you even think about publishing is a mammoth task, which requires ninja-like patience, perseverance and planning. Most self-publishers are too eager to get their stuff out there, and so they publish too fast and without any strategy. Better to carefully plan your sequence of titles, and to take the time to write well.

5. Get the genre right
Of course, write what you love, first and foremost — but if you have your eye on money, the most popular ebook categories are thriller, mystery and romance novels. An episodic series, with heroes or heroines that readers can follow through successive releases, is a good strategy. John Locke created the character of Donovan Creed in his series of seven best-selling crime novels. Aside from this the other categories showing rapid growth are educational and self-help eBooks.

6. Write shorter books, more often
The average novel is approximately 80,000 words long, but ebooks lend themselves to shorter formats, some even the length of extended essays. (Amazon call them Kindle Singles). The cold fact is, ebooks by definition are cheap, and however many words you write, you will only be able to charge a small amount for it online. There is little point in writing a door-stopping 200,000-word opus, if you can only charge $2.99 for it. Rather than spending a year or more producing one full-length title, it may be better to spend that time writing a sequence of three or four shorter eBooks of, say, 20,000 words each. In marketing terms, publishing four times in a year is better than publishing just once.

7. Price doesn’t matter — quality matters
Some disagree with me on this. Many sell their ebooks for as little as 99 cents or less, which means they shift in bulk. But most people who can afford 99 cents can easily afford more than that before they start to get twitchy. I have bought terrible ebooks for five and ten dollars apiece and ended up disappointed — not at the price, but at the low quality of what I bought. In tests people tend to equate poor quality with cheap prices, so a low priced ebook may not always be the best thing.

8. Social media marketing is the only way to promote.
I have read posts by many of the first wave of ebook money-makers, and they all say the same thing — that conventional PR and advertising didn’t sell their ebooks. (Most first timers can’t afford the latter anyway). It wasn’t until they started blogging and doing the other forms of social media that things really took off. Lady GaGa presents an amazing example from the world of music. With 50 million Facebook fans and 20 million Twitter followers, she owns her own database of customers, and so selling becomes that much easier; crucially, she no longer relies on conventional PR. Of course, writers can’t compete with GaGa’s numbers, but the principal plan of action is the same.

9. Create your own selling platform
Amazon, iTunes and the like provide a good platform for independent e-publishers, but let’s be clear — as long as they provide the sole outlet for your ebooks, all the promo work you do drives traffic to their websites, not yours. More importantly, they then own whatever database of customers you create from your sweat. As far as possible today’s writers need to own their own customer bases (see no. 8). For the ebook author, this means building your own blog or website and connecting with an independent digital fulfilment house, who will distribute your downloads on your behalf, and give you your database, all for around 10-15 percent, rather than 30-70 percent. This route is difficult to set up, but worth it in the end. It won’t replace Amazon or Apple, but it will at least give you some skin in the game.

10. Have no social life
Make no mistake, self-publishing is seriously time-consuming. On one of Joe Konrath’s recent blogs he talked about the fact that promoting his books takes even more of his time than actually writing them. “If you want to have extraordinary sales, it means devoting an extraordinary amount of time to it,” he says. “That means sacrificing other aspects of your life, like leisure, sleep and family.”

It’s a sobering thought. But, after reading this, if you still want to take the plunge and self-publish digitally, be prepared for the long haul, for hard work, but also the joys of being autonomous. Go for it, and good luck.



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!



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.


Moving Beyond E-books… and Into the Virtual

Over the years, multiple different versions of geocaching developed, which evolved as technology grew more sophisticated. Laws were established governing where geocaching could occur, historical sites and cemeteries being commonly off-limits. There have been rescues of searchers who have gone into dangerous areas, and, tragically, there have been deaths as well.

Humans love a mystery story, and we also love new technology. The combination of the two is irresistible to many. One evolving technology brings both together: augmented reality.

When we think of augmented reality, we think (mostly) of Pokémon Go. That is the latest and most successful commercial application of AR we’ve seen so far. Released last summer, Pokémon Go has had millions of people out on the streets, in parks, at beaches—even at the White House—searching for and “capturing” virtual critters. The phone-based app displayed a map (created with GPS technology) of where the user was standing or walking, and imposed Pokémon creatures available for capture. The point of any Pokémon game is collection—the more creatures you have, the better you are doing. Suddenly people found themselves exercising and exploring in ways they hadn’t before. This is, ultimately, virtual geocaching.

Any hunt is a story—which was the point of Masquerade. The quest for the Holy Grail—which has inspired poetry, opera, Indiana Jones movies, and Monty Python—is a story. A mystery is a hunt for clues that will lead to a solution. Where there is seeking, be it one individual’s search for answers about his life or a community’s hunt for a perpetrator, there is the possibility for an AR application to bring it to life.

In other words, publishers have the opportunity to look at stories in different ways. Publishers can develop apps for readers, who could point them at books in a manner similar to Pokémon Go and retrieve additional information about the story, or trivia, or details about the likely size of Jo March’s house. AR provides the “enhancements” that we were looking for with e-books—that other dimension that a straightforward narrative can’t offer without footnotes.

Even more enticingly, publishers have the opportunity to create games from their stories. Imagine a Harry Potter AR game: your house is your dormitory, your school is the Hogwarts classrooms, your homework is framed as “spell practice.” AR allows readers to bridge the gap between the narrative and their own lives.

Laura Dawson, CEO of Numerical Gurus, is a book supply chain consultant. She also facilitates Metadata Boot Camp, a webinar series tackling metadata issues in publishing.



Google will now show you what ebooks are available in your local library

Google has added a new feature to Search that will show you if your local library has the ebook you’re looking for in stock. If you’re old like me and didn’t know that you could borrow ebooks, well you can, and many libraries across the US have a digital collection that you can borrow from.

Now you don’t have to bother searching through what’s likely an archaic library website — Google will do all the legwork for you. The company says the feature is now available on both mobile and desktop to users in the US.



Kobo adds audiobooks along with an Audible-like subscription

Kobo is finally getting into the audiobooks biz. The Canadian company has added audiobooks to its offerings and already has an extensive catalogue sell, including bestsellers like the Harry Potter series. Even better, it has launched $10-per-month Audible-like subscription service, which sounds like a good deal if you regularly purchase audiobooks.


The service gives you credits you can use to get any title from Kobo.com, even if its list price costs more than what you paid. You get a free 30-day trial period, so you can check out how it works before committing. But if you know you can go through a single audiobook real fast, you can also just straight up buy a three-pack credit for $30 and keep up to 24 credits in your subscription account.


You can find any audiobook and ebook you buy in one place within Kobo’s iOS and Android apps. Once you’ve chosen what to listen to, the apps’ built-in player will give you the power to choose your preferred narration speed. You can also see how much time you have left and program it to switch off after a certain amount of time if you tend to listen to your books in bed.


Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn says the company decided to get into audiobooks, since “We have more books than time, always. Audiobooks let [the company’s] readers fit the books they love into more parts of their day.” In case you can’t find what you’re looking for in Kobo’s current catalogue, don’t worry: the e-book maker promises to add more titles every week. But if browsing through what’s available gets a bit overwhelming, you can always check out the personalized recommendations based on your previous e-book purchases. In addition to the US, Kobo’s audiobooks subscription offering is now also available in Canada ($13/mo), the UK (£6.99/mo), Australia ($13/mo) and New Zealand ($14/mo).




One of the best things about Amazon‘s iconic ebook reader is its ever-growing library. At last count, the Kindle Store boasted more than 6 million books, magazines, and newspapers. But you needn’t keep them all to yourself — Amazon makes it easy to share books on a Kindle with friends, family, and your closest acquaintances. It’s like the digital equivalent of lending out a hardcover, minus the coffee stains and musty binding. If there’s a con to Kindle’s book-sharing tools, however, it’s that they can be a little tricky to get the hang of. To help clear up some of the confusion, we’ve put together a guide outlining how to share books on a Kindle with other people.

If you’ve got a family of avid readers, good news: Amazon makes it pretty easy to share books with every member of your family. Family Library lets up to two adults and four children share all or some of their Kindle books, apps, and audiobooks with one another. Members can read the same book at the same time without interrupting one another’s progress, too, regardless of whether they’re using a Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Oasis, or an outdated Kindle Fire. Plus, they can borrow books for as long as they’d like.

Sharing titles can be a bit of a process, though. Before you can begin sharing Kindle books with family, you need to grant other family members access to your Family Library. Here’s how to do it:

  • Head to the Manage Your Content and Devices section of your Amazon account.
  • Under the Settings tab, in the Households and Family Library section, click the Invite an Adult/Invite a Child button.
  • Have the other adult/child enter their Amazon email and password (if they have one), or create a new account.
  • Click Yes to allow both your account and the other adult’s/child’s account to share payment methods.
  • Choose which books you’d like to share with the other adult/child, and have the other adult/child choose which books they’d like to share with you.
  • Click Finish.

Now that you’ve added adults and kids to your Family Library and shared your previous purchases, you’re ready to begin lending new Kindle books. Here’s how:

  • Head to the Manage Your Content and Devices section of your Amazon account.
  • Select the Show Family Library link from the Your Content tab.
  • Select the book(s) you’d like to share with a family member, and then click Add to Library.
  • Choose a family member, and then click OK.


Once you’ve received a book from another family member, it’s pretty easy to get it on the device of your choice. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Head to the Manage Your Content and Devices section of your Amazon account.
  • Choose the books you’d like to send to your device or app, and click Deliver.
  • Select where the books should be sent from the pop-up menu, and then click Deliver once more.



Popularity of audiobooks rising

Audiobooks have increasingly emerged as an entertaining, easily accessible and portable option for all ages to enjoy books. Last year, the Audio Publishers Association (APA) reported more than 67 million Americans listen to audiobooks each year.

“It’s another banner year for audiobooks,” said Anthony Goff, vice president and research committee chair for the APA, and senior vice president, publisher at Hachette Audio. According to Tom Webster, vice president of strategy for Edison Research, “The audiobook market continues to grow, with more people than ever before indicating that they have listened to the medium in the past year. That growth, combined with the growth of the podcast market and the strong relationship between the two, are all part of a renaissance for spoken-word programming.”


Libraries remain major access channels and important drivers of audiobook discovery, with over a quarter of its visitors reporting borrowing from a library/library website was very important for discovering new audiobooks. The Free Library of Philadelphia is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in the region and reports having over 6 million annual visitors. A patron with a valid library card can download audiobooks from OverDrive to their PC, Mac or mobile device in person at a Free Library location and online with a library card. When the audiobook is due, the patron must renew it or find it automatically “returned” in a virtual sense: The file still sits on the patron’s computer, but encryption makes it unplayable beyond the borrowing period. “The patron doesn’t have to do anything after the lending period,” said Steve Potash, chief executive of OverDrive audiobook service. “The file expires. It checks itself back into the collection. There’s no parts to lose. It’s never damaged. It can never be late.”

According to the Free Library, “cardholders can check out and download digital titles at home and on-the-go by visiting the eFreeLibrary page of the Free Library’s website. From there, they can browse and check out the growing collection of bestsellers, new releases and classic titles. Once downloaded, digital titles can be enjoyed on a computer or transported to a supported mobile device. Many audio titles can also be burned to a CD. With digital downloads, customers do not need to worry about overdue materials or late fees — at the end of the lending period, digital titles automatically expire and are returned to the digital collection.”


While the digital age may have changed how people consume books, one bestselling book has stood the test of time. Dale Carnegie’s perennial 1936 classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” retains its perch as one of the most in-demand self-help books as a top-10 audiobook.




10 Steps To Self-Publishing Your Book

So you’ve decided you have a great idea for a book, but you’re not sure where to start. Perhaps you’re considering self-publishing, and want to have a thorough understanding of each part of the process. Ten simple steps can ensure you make the right decisions when it comes to writing, editing, designing, publishing, and promoting your book!

1. Do Your Research

Even before completing a rough draft of your manuscript, research and understand the market for your book. First, take a close look at your idea. What genre is your book, fiction or non-fiction? Gain an understanding of the market for your genre, and for your subgenre (mystery, self-help, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.) Look into current trends in these subgenres, so you can avoid flooding a saturated market, trying instead to fill a need that is underserved yet in demand. Figure out what existing books are similar to yours, and what makes your book different.

2. Complete a Rough Draft

Next, you will need to complete a rough draft or your manuscript, a process that can take months or even years for some authors. This calls for hard work and discipline; this part of the process weeds out many would-be authors. Even if it’s only a few hours a week, try to create a writing schedule and stick to it.

This is also a good opportunity to seek out advice from experienced readers. Ask questions, and make sure you’re living up to your own goals for your book. You may find advice online about how to write for a particular genre. Try not to get hung up on details, though – finish your manuscript, even if it’s not perfect. It will be much easier to figure out what to fix from here.

3. Find an Editor

Find an experienced, professional copy and content editor with whom you have good working chemistry. This is essential to making sure you receive useful criticism you can take into account. A good editor will ensure your book is free of grammatical errors and plot holes, and in the case of non-fiction, that your content is factual. Remember, though – even the best editor can’t make fundamentally poor writing good. This is your job as an author.

4. Complete a Final Draft

This is your chance to aim for perfection. Take into account your feedback from readers, fact checkers, content reviewers, and your editor, to create the best possible final draft from your rough manuscript. This may take several passes of reviews and corrections.

5. Assemble a Team

Don’t expect yourself to do everything when it comes to publishing your book. We don’t expect cooks to also be farmers, servers, and managers, and the same principle applies here. No single person can be expected to excel at specialized fields like editing, design and layout, illustrations, rights management for images and text, and marketing, in addition to being an author. You will want to find experienced professionals in each of these areas as you move toward publishing your book.

6. Gather Professional Reviews

Strong reviews are a key to selling your book. They will appear on your back cover, and on retailer’s websites. Find relevant reviewers through organizations that match the genre of your book, and through your own professional and personal connections.

Remember, asking someone to review your book benefits them too. It provides an opportunity for publicity, and to establish themselves as an authority on the genre.

7. Design a Compelling Cover

This goes a long way towards getting readers to pick up your book. Find a professional designer with experience. This how your book will be introduced to potential readers, so it’s best not to skimp on the quality here. On average, potential readers will give your book seven seconds to capture their attention. A dynamic cover that communicates what kind of content your book offers is the best way to win over these readers quickly.

8. Going to Retail

This means actually publishing a finalized product for customers to buy. This where you will decide beween using a traditional publisher and self-publishing your book. Where major publishers were once the only option, 35 percent of authors today choose to self-publish. While this means more control, and often better royalties, it is easy to overlook aspect such as design and distribution. A quality self-publishing service can make sure these aspects get the attention they need and deserve.

Choose the right files for the output – high resolution print files, or properly formatted ePub for electronic publishing. Consider publishing in audiobook format.

9. Promotion, Marketing and Distribution

Once your book is on the market, you will need to make sure it sells. When it comes to distribution, you want your book available from as many retailers as possible. Many booksellers will not sell a book unless it can be ordered from a major distributor. Today this includes players such as Amazon, Google, and Apple, in addition to traditional retailers.

With your book in the distribution network, it is still up to you to market and promote your book. Consider hiring a public relations firm to promote you as an author, and not just your book. Create a compelling “book blurb” – a product description for retailer’s product pages. Look into print advertising for your target market. Consider hiring an online marketing specialist.

10. Don’t Give Up!

Publishing a book the right way can be a long and in-depth process. Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t give up!

Just like any long and multifaceted process, the key is to take it one step at a time. Don’t be afraid to ask others, both professionals and friends and family, for help with certain steps. And when you run into trouble, try to remember why you wanted to publish your book in the first place!



You can now pay for audiobooks and e-books from iBooks via Paypal

Apple has just made purchasing digital content from iBooks a little bit easier for people who do not have a credit card. The company has just incorporated Paypal for users in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States.

Until now, Apple has only allowed users to buy digital content with either a credit card or gift card credit. The addition of PayPal will no doubt encourage even more users to make purchases using Apple’s services as it rolls out worldwide.


Once users have updated their account settings for the above services, all future purchases made with the customer’s Apple ID will be automatically charged to their PayPal account. This includes purchases of apps, music, movies, TV shows, and books, as well as Apple Music subscriptions and iCloud storage. It will also allow you to make purchases with the Apple TV and iWatch.

This is bigger news than most people realize. Shares of PayPal have traded as low as $36.28 over the past 52-weeks. It closed on Tuesday at $54.94.



One of the Largest Pirate eBook Sites in Europe has been Shutdown

One of the largest pirate websites in Europe has been shut down by authorities. Lul.to has been raided and over 200,000 audiobooks, ebooks and digital newspapers have been seized by the police. According to the General Prosecutor’s Office, searches in several locations led to the discovery of around €55,000 in bitcoin, €100,000 in bank deposits, €10,000 in cash, plus a “high-quality” motorcycle.

Lu.to targeted a German speaking audience and the site carried around 160,000 eBooks, 28,000 audiobooks, plus newspapers and periodicals. Its motto was “Read and Listen” and claimed to be both the largest German eBook portal and the largest DRM-free platform in the world. They generated income by charging users €.25 a download and managed to evade authorities for years.

The German Publishers & Booksellers Association welcomed the shutdown of the platform and issued a statement “Intervening against lul.to is an important success in the fight against Internet piracy. By blocking one of the largest illegal providers for e-books and audiobooks, many publishers and retailers can breathe,” said CEO Alexander Skipis. “Piracy is not an excusable offense, it’s the theft of intellectual property, which is the basis for the work of authors, publishers, and bookshops. Portals like lul.to harm the media market massively. The success of the investigation is another example of the fact that such illegal models ultimately can not hold up.”

When big sites like this go down, you have to wonder what the mentality of the average user is. Do they know they are partaking in a pirate e-book operation or do they simply think they are getting a deal? Amazon and Kobo both offer an unlimited program where you can pay a small monthly fee and get access to a copious amount of content. Netflix has trained us that you can get a ton of great stuff, without breaking the bank.




Amazon’s unlimited subscription service for avid readers is $40 cheaper this week

Amazon is having a Prime Day sale on Kindle Unlimited, it’s all-you-can-read digital book service.

You don’t need a Kindle to use Kindle Unlimited — it’s not about the device, it’s all about the books. 

If you’ve never heard of Kindle Unlimited before, it has three major components: digital books, audiobooks, and a technology called whispersync. 

The first two are pretty self explanatory. Kindle Unlimited subscribers will have access to thousands of digital books and audiobooks through the Kindle Store. Think of it as having a Spotify subscription, but for books. The Audiobooks come courtesy of Audible.com, who Amazon acquired a few years ago.

This is important to note because the quality of Audible’s audiobooks is phenomenal. I’ve been an on-again, off-again subscriber for years and have yet to find a bad-sounding book.

Not all books sold through the Kindle store are accessible for free with Kindle Unlimited, but hundreds of thousands are. The same is true for audiobooks; only Kindle Unlimited-eligible books with an audible version come free with your subscription. 

Whispersync is the technology that makes this subscription really cool. Because the free apps for Kindle and Audible are available on multiple platforms, you’re likely to pick up and leave off books in different places.

You might read a book through the Kindle app before going to bed, and pick up where you left off on your phone during your commute. Or, you might listen to the audible version of a book during your commute, and look to keep reading the Kindle version after dinner. 

What whispersync does is keep track of where you leave off, so you can pick up exactly at that place later on. It doesn’t matter how you consume the book, or through what device. It’d be a hassle to keep track of that on your own, so this technology is a major value add for subscribers.

Of course, it’s also available for any Kindle book and Audible audiobook, so if you already own multiple copies of the same book in multiple formats, you can take advantage of whispersync now. 

If you know someone who’s always searching for something to read, I can’t think of a better gift to give them. They’ll have more options of what to read than ever before and won’t be penalized for reading whenever and however fits their lifestyle.


Amazon Unveils New Kindle Highlight and Note System

Amazon has just unveiled a new system that allows you to easy view all of the notes and highlights that you have made in a Kindle e-book. It is accessible via the web and harvests all of the content you have saved on your e-reader, Fire tablet or your favorite Kindle app. It is also optimized for mobile devices, so it displays properly on any Android or Apple smartphone.


Amazon sent an email to users this afternoon and it stated “We have good news. Customers have been asking for more ways to access their Kindle notes and highlights—especially on their phones. We’ve created a new home for all your notes and highlights that’s easy to access from your phone, tablet, or PC. Now you can easily refer to your notes and highlights wherever you are. Visit the new home for Your Notes and Highlights at read.amazon.com/notebook.”



Scribd says it has over 500,000 subscribers paying $8.99/month for ebooks, audiobooks, and now news

Scribd’s $8.99/month subscription service started out with only ebooks. Over time, it’s expanded to audiobooks, sheet music, documents, magazines — and, as of Tuesday, newspapers. “Select articles” from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian, as well as some archival content from the Financial Times, will now be available to Scribd subscribers.

And Scribd says there are quite a lot of subscribers: The service now has over half a million paying subscribers, paying $8.99 a month, and the company is profitable. I was so surprised by the subscriber number that I asked CEO Trip Adler to repeat himself; it’s true, he said: “We have a $50 million revenue run rate.” The San Francisco–based company now has more than 110 employees.

Newspaper content was a “natural addition” for Scribd, Adler said. The most popular forms of the content on the service are, in order, ebooks, audiobooks, and documents. Magazines were added last fall. Scribd used to also include comic books and graphic novels in its service, but stopped including them because there wasn’t enough reader interest. It also switched from a completely unlimited content model to one that offers access to three ebooks and one audiobook per month. (Documents, magazines, and newspapers are unlimited.)


Judging by Scribd’s stated membership numbers, the switch in business model appears to have worked. The numbers seem impressive and are not something that I would have predicted a couple years ago when the ebook subscription site Oyster shut down — especially considering that Amazon keeps adding more reading offerings to Prime.

Scribd won’t be focusing on breaking news from the papers it partners with. Instead, it’s looking for longer, more evergreen content that “fits in with a book kind of experience,” Adler said. “We’re going for the longer-form content that might actually take a few minutes to read, has a longer shelf life, and will be interesting beyond the first day it comes out.” The newspaper content — along with Scribd’s other content — is organized by interest.

Each of the newspapers is making a fixed number of articles available to Scribd; Scribd editors choose which ones to include on the service. Some of the publishers are being paid a flat licensing fee; others are paid by the read.

“People have been talking for a long time about how to monetize journalism and we think we’ve come up with a really interesting answer,” Adler said. The newspapers included for now are the big names that aren’t having as much trouble monetizing as smaller papers, but Scribd may include more papers in the future. “We think, if we can offer all these different newspapers together for one subscription price, we can return more money to journalists that way.”



Simon and Schuster Audiobook Sales Increase by 35% in Q1 2017

Simon and Schuster has reported that their audiobook unit saw a 35% increase in sales in the first quarter of 2017. S&S is bullish about their audiobook growth because Brad Thor, Ruth Ware, Vince Flynn & Kyle Mills, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Stephen and Owen King, and Walter Isaacson all have new audiobooks that are coming out later this year.

Revenue at Simon & Schuster rose 11% in the first quarter ended March 31, 2017 over the comparable period a year ago, hitting $161 million. S&S pointed to a string of bestsellers for the strong first quarter performance, including Unshakeable, A Man Called Ove, All By Myself, End of Watch, Dork Diaries 11 and Baseball Genius. The purchase of Adams Media late last year also gave a boost to sales as did the release of the first books in two new imprints, Gallery 13 and Salaam Reads, which focuses on Muslim characters and stories.

One of the most interesting aspects about the recent quarterly report is that there is no e-book data. The company did disclose that e-book sales are down, but did not mention by how much or even what type of revenue their digital department generated.



My Ultimate Goal for Self Publishers

E-Books Decline 16.4% and Audiobooks increase by 29.2%

The Association of American Publishers has reported that from January to November 2016 e-books declined by 16.4% and digital audiobooks increased by 29.2%. This is good news for the audio industry that has been consistently been seeing massive gains over the past three years.

Trade Books

From Jan. – Nov. 2016 vs. the same time in 2015 trade books were flat at 0.5% growth year-to-date.

  • By Category:
    • Adult Books were down 2.1% to $4.4 billion
    • Childrens & YA Books were up 5.8% to $1.6 billion
    • Religious Presses were up 8.6% to $455.4 million
  • By Format
    • Paperback books grew 6.5% to $2.0 billion
    • Hardback books grew 2.1% $2.5 billion
    • Downloaded audio grew 29.2% to $244.1 million
    • eBooks were down 16.4% to $1.1 billion

Educational Materials and Professional Books

  • Educational Materials had a revenue loss of 9.0% for PreK-12 Instructional Materials and 11.5% for Higher Education Course Materials from Jan. – Nov. 2016 vs. the same time in 2015
  • Professional Publishing was down 21.1% From Jan. – Nov. 2016 vs. the same time in 2015. These categories include business, medical, law, scientific and technical books. University presses were down 2.5% for the 11 months.



How to buy and read ebooks in Edge as part of the Windows 10 Creators Update

As part of the Windows 10 Creators Update (see our full review here), Microsoft has added e-reading capabilities to its Edge browser. It’s a bit quirky, given its infancy, but with a bit of practice you can be lounging by the pool with an electronic novel in no time.

The first question you’ll ask: Does it surpass Amazon’s Kindle app. Well, sort of: The Kindle app available for Windows tablets rejected my (correct) Amazon password, a bug that numerous other users have reported. (The Kindle for PC app buried within Amazon’s site works, however).

Edge offers pretty much what you want from an e-reader app anyway: a progress bar, the ability to resume where you left off (mostly), and solid text-formatting options. Reading ebooks is also an opportunity to take full advantage of a detachable Surface tablet, as opposed to a traditional notebook PC.

The Windows Store makes buying ebooks easy

Windows’ ebook-buying process begins with Windows 10’s Store app, which as of the Creators Update adds an ebook store alongside its selection of apps, games, music, and movies. All told, the Store app has evolved into a respectable marketplace.

Not surprisingly, the ebook store looks remarkably like the other categories: At the top of the screen are a few “hero” selections, a handy link to some free classics, and some links to “top” and “featured” books. How many books does Microsoft offer? “Hundreds of thousands,” according to a company representative, with plans to offer New York Times bestsellers as well as other top titles across a range of genres.

Scroll down, and you’ll see the handiwork of Microsoft’s curators, with collections of different genres and other featured works. Though there’s a search box, you can’t do something as basic as search for “cookbooks.” That term appears in the genre-based collections at the bottom of the main page, however. 

As I was writing this in mid-March, Microsoft had not highlighted any sales or discounts, something the company will need to do if it truly wants to compete. My own poking around revealed some price differences between ebooks sold on Kindle vs. the Microsoft Store: Jim Edwards’ Rookie Cooking was $11.69 on Microsoft and $17.09 on Amazon; more popular ebooks like Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, however, were priced comparably. Amazon competes notoriously hard on price, however, so it’s possible that any discrepancies simply escaped its notice. Disappointingly, some books, like the Harry Potter series, simply weren’t available in the Microsoft Store as of this writing.



The New Era of Ebooks in India

The ebook market in India is at the cusp of a major revolution. By 2030, India will be amongst the youngest nations in the world, with nearly 140 million people in the college-going age group, as per a report by E&Y. India has become the second biggest smartphone market in terms of active unique smartphone users, crossing 220 million and surpassing the US market, according to a report by Counterpoint Research. Going by global analytics, these numbers will lead to interesting synergies for ebook publishers in India.

The “India Book Market Report” released by Nielsen at the Frankfurt Book Fair valued the print book market in India, including book imports, at $3.9 billion. India ranks third in English language publishing, after the US and UK. And although ebooks currently account for less than 10 percent of the topline of publishers in India, this figure is expected to grow to about 25 percent by 2020.

AC Nielsen conducted a survey of around of 2,000 adults in urban cities for their India Book Market Report 2015. Interestingly, 56 percent of the respondents bought at least one ebook. According to another global survey conducted by Nielsen, 54 percent use their smartphones to read books at least some of the time. This number is up from 24 percent in 2012. The survey, released in December, also suggests that the percentage of those reading mainly on e-readers, such as Amazon’s Kindle, dropped from 50 to 32 percent over the same period.

In a 10-country sample survey conducted in early 2012 by Bowker’s “Global E-Book Monitor,“ it is estimated that 2 percent of the Indian population has purchased an ebook during the period of the study. The study also revealed that the typical ebook buyer in India is a college graduate, working full time and living in a city.

Academic and Education
Ebooks have had almost a decade-old run in India. Before the Kindle came to India, ebooks were highly limited and mostly available through local online retailers like Infibeam and The Wink Store. Although most ebooks available at that time were import titles from international STM publishers with little exposure for trade, a majority of the ebook sales in India traditionally came from the likes of Springer, Taylor and Francis, Wiley, Elsevier, Sage, and Cambridge University Press, to name a few.

Moving forward, a large part of the growth in ebooks will continue to come from the K12, higher education and academic spaces. As per data released by MHRD, India has more than 650 universities and 30,000 colleges. This segment will be the major driver of growth in ebooks.

Moreover, strategic- and policy-level initiatives, like the National Mission on Education, through ICT from the government of India to promote digital literacy and provide access to digital content at schools and colleges, are likely to drive creation of more digital content in general and ebooks in particular.

Publishers have been responding to the demand for digital content through products like “MX Touch,” a tablet-based education solution for Indian schools designed by Pearson Education India. Similarly, Cambridge University Press has designed “Hot Maths,” a comprehensive blended mathematics learning system. Compliant with the school syllabus, these platforms give students access to rich digital content.

Furthermore, there have been interesting initiatives in the B2B ebook space. Multi-publisher ebook platforms like Videeya.com provide the latest collection of ebooks to institutions to enhance the online resources available in their libraries.

There has also been a flurry of activity in the trade ebook space over the last five years. India’s leading online retailer, Flipkart, forayed into this space with Flyte. Landmark, the country’s leading retailer of books, launched an ebooks app. Leading international publishers like Pearson started their own initiatives, too. In 2012, Penguin India, announced ebook editions for more than 200 of its titles. Hachette and Random House have also been experimenting with this market, as have Rupa and HarperCollins.

Companies like Rockstand and NewsHunt are also capturing this market and eyeing the customers in the Tier 2 and 3 cities through their smartphone apps and free ebooks in English and other regional languages. There have also been some really interesting developments in multilingual children’s book publishing. Tulika Publishers and Pratham Books have rolled out e-reader apps for smartphones to facilitate this trend.

Road Ahead
With ebooks pegged at less than 10 percent of publishers’ topline in India, the projection that bets on ebooks reaching a 25-percent market share sounds a little too optimistic. However, rapid development in the area of education infrastructure in India is likely to fuel growth in academic ebooks. This, coupled with the smartphone revolution and some devices likely to be available at less than 11 USD—a key driver for fiction and regional language ebooks—does make this figure achievable. It might not be an exaggeration to say that these trends are likely to usher in a new era in ebook publishing in India.



eBook Pirates Are Relatively Old and Wealthy, Study Finds

A new study has found that people who illegally download eBooks are older and wealthier than most people’s perception of the average pirate. Commissioned by anti-piracy company Digimarc, the study suggests that people aged between 30 and 44 years old with a household income of between $60k and $99k are most likely to grab a book without paying for it.

In 2017, people can download any digital content they like from the Internet, but that’s still most likely to be movies, TV shows and music. Bubbling underneath, however, is a steady demand for pirated eBooks.

Ebooks are relatively cheap when compared to other digital content, but their handy file size and ubiquity ensures that millions of titles are just a few convenient clicks away.

A new study, commissioned by anti-piracy company Digimarc and conducted by Nielsen, aims to shine light on eBook piracy. It was presented yesterday at The London Book Fair and aims to better understand how eBook piracy affects revenue and how publishers can prevent it.

In previous studies, it has been younger downloaders that have grabbed much of the attention, and this one is no different. Digimarc reveals that 41% of all adult pirates are aged between 18 and 29 but perhaps surprisingly, 47% fall into the 30 to 44-year-old bracket. At this point, things tail off very quickly, as the remaining ~13% are aged 45 or up.

There are also some surprises when it comes to pirates’ income. Cost is often cited as a factor when justifying downloading for free, and this study has similar findings. In this case, however, richer persons are generally more likely they are to download.

Around 13% of pirates have an annual household income of under $30k, with those earning between $30k and $59k making up 19% of the total. At this point there is a sizeable leap, with 36% of pirates claiming to earn between $60k and $99k per annum. Around 29% make more than $100k a year.

Overall, the majority of illegal downloaders are relatively well-educated, with more than 70% having either graduated from college or in possession of a post graduate degree.

Taken together, this means that e-book pirates are often older wealthy people with a good education, which is probably close to the profile of the average ebook reader.



Smashwords is Distributing 300,000 eBook Titles to Bibliotheca CloudLibrary

Smashwords has just ironed out an e-book distribution agreement to Bibliotheca and the 3M CloudLibrary. Starting next week libraries will have the option to purchase 300,000 indie titles and have their patrons borrow them online.

Smashwords offers indie authors and small independent presses unparalleled distribution to approximately 30,000 public and academic libraries around the world. With the addition of bibliotheca, the Smashwords distribution network reaches most major library e-book platforms including OverDrive, Baker & Taylor Axis 360, Gardners UK (Askews & Holts and VLeBooks) and Odilo.

Once bibliotheca completes their ingestion of Smashwords titles, Smashwords will support bibliotheca’s merchandising efforts by providing regular “Smashwords Hotlists” of top performing preorders and other recommended bestsellers. The sales and merchandising teams at Bibliotheca can use these buylists to share purchase recommendations with collection development managers at libraries.



HarperCollins Unveils Two Book Recommendation AI Bots To Facebook

Book recommendation systems have been getting more advanced in recent years.  In late 2014 the PenguinHotline was unveiled and gave users the ability to fill out some information about their potential book gift recipient and Penguin staff would agnostically give a list of titles and last year, the NPR created an online “Book Concierge” that aggregated the titles reviewed by the organization and had some useful filters. HarperCollins is now getting into the mix with a couple of book recommendation AI bots that are available on Facebook.

BookGenie is a general purpose recommendation engine that is available on Facebook.com/HarperCollins and Epic Reads, which was developed specifically for YA titles and can be checked out on Facebook.com/EpicReads. Both services feature interactive artificial intelligence widgets that can find new HarperCollins titles based on their taste, general mood, and past favorite books.

Here is how it works in a nutshell. You simply visit the two Facebook Pages and click on Send Message and it will open up Facebook Messenger.  You will be prompted to checkout a list of recent bestsellers or have the AI recommend you a book based on the last one you have read.  Once you input the last title you enjoyed it will list the title and you click YES. It will then give you a series of titles and you can select YES or NO. If you liked the book you will be taken to the HarperCollins website with a full description of it and where to buy it in print or digital.

Margot Wood, Epic Reads senior community manager, said the most popular question her team receives is: “What book should I read next?” Wood said that now, with the bot, “we can scale conversations with our community and engage, share content, and deepen consumers’ connection with our brand.”



Windows 10 Redstone 2 update will now support 360 videos and virtual reality

Windows 10 Redstone 2, also known as the Creators Update, is said to arrive sometime in spring 2017, which is soon. According to reports, there are a few more weeks of waiting for Windows 10 users before the release of the Creators Update. Apparently, there are so many changes, including security and new native supports, that it has taken a while to fix the bugs. Furthermore, there will be a few more tweaks that need ironing out before release.

In the latest preview of the build, with build number 15046, the main feature was the 360-degree videos that can be accessed through the Films and TV app. Furthermore, a new security setting has also been added that can prevent a user from installing Windows apps that aren’t from the Windows Store. This feature is similar to the Mac OS’s GateKeeper feature. It helps to prevent malicious apps and programs from being downloaded and installed. However, this feature can also be disabled. 

New features with the update

There are multiple things that were featured in the update. According to PC Advisor, Microsoft Edge, 3D content, holographic interface, blue light reduction, built-in broadcasting, ebooks, app throttling etc. will be included with the update. The Microsoft Edge will be a new and improved browser for Windows 10 users. It will be able to view mixed reality videos as well as WebVR. On top of this, 3D content can be created through Paint and can be printed straight to a 3D printer.

With the holographic interface, Windows is adding a Windows Holographic interface to support VR games or experience. Microsoft said that Windows partners such as Dell, Lenovo, HP, Asus and Acer will be making VR headsets that support Windows 10 in the near future. Furthermore, these VR headsets will be made affordable. Microsoft is also said to add a blue light reduction feature that reduces the amount if a blue light in the screen at night. This feature has been making its rounds in other operating systems like Android, iOS and Amazon.

How to download the upcoming update

Personal computers (PCs) that already running Windows 10 will receive the Creators Update automatically. The can be checked manually by going to Start > Settings > Update and Security > Check for Updates. It is unknown whether the new update will be similar to the previous updates. However, users should be able to download and install it manually through this process.



Print Sales Increase by 3.3% in 2016

The publishing industry has faced a tumultuous year with the election cycle, the decreased demand for adult coloring books and the lack of a breakout bestseller. People still bought books in droves and the sales of hardcover/paperback sales rose by 3.3% in 2016.

Most print formats had an outstanding year, with hardcover up 5.4%, trade paperback up 4%, and board books up 7.4%. Mass market has been on the wane since the introduction of e-books, and its slide continued in 2016 with a 7.7% drop in unit sales. Physical audio, where sales were down 13.5% on the year, but digital audio doubled.





The Indie Authors Guide to DIY Audiobooks

So you want to enliven your self-published book with a rousing audio edition? To hear your work performed is an exciting prospect, but, before you get too deep into the weeds, understand that creating, marketing, and distributing an audiobook on your own will require a considerable commitment. In other words: it can get really expensive really quickly, and the return on investment isn’t guaranteed because audio editions can be difficult to sell. If you’re like most authors, you need serious support for every facet—from narration through production, all the way to marketing and distribution.

“It’s a big endeavor,” says Tyson Cornell, the founder of the small press Rare Bird Books and the boutique marketing and promotions shop Rare Bird Lit. Cornell’s background in the music and literary industries gives him familiarity with the worlds of publishing and audio production. “It’s more than setting up a mike and doing a podcast,” he says. “People get into their own heads really quickly. They think: I don’t need expertise, and if I have someone helping me, I’m getting scammed.”

Seek Out Services

There are many companies and individuals that offer some or all the services needed to self-publish an audiobook. Whatever you decide to do—whether to let a single company produce and distribute your audiobook or to enlist the talent and expertise à la carte—depends on your needs, your budget, and sometimes even the genre of your book. Certainly the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), hosted by Amazon-owned Audible, is the go-to marketplace for finding talent to help narrate, produce, and distribute self-published audiobooks.

“Of course, the ACX site is the prevailing way for a self-published author to hire a narrator,” says Debra Deyan, cofounder of the Deyan Institute, a school to train audiobook narrators, and head of the production company Deyan Audio Services.

ACX connects authors to three tremendous buying platforms: Amazon, Audible, and Apple’s iTunes. And while it’s true that ACX is still the go-to for indie authors interested in creating audiobooks, many e-book publishers have developed audio production services. Here’s a look at some notable providers.

Deyan Audio Services

The name Deyan is legendary in audiobook circles. Deyan Audio—which was cofounded by Debra Deyan and her late husband, Bob Deyan—offers complete audiobook production at $500 per finished hour (i.e., an hour of fully produced audio) and offers over 1,800 actors.

For authors who simply need help with editing and mastering, Deyan Audio charges $100 per finished hour for editing and $25 per finished hour for mastering.

Dog Ear Publishing

Dog Ear is a small business,” says Miles Nelson, cofounder of the Indianapolis-based company. “We take the approach that we’re the high-end boutique guys.”

The same can be said for the company’s audiobook production arm, which Nelson concedes is still a small part of Dog Ear’s overall business. For $1,600, the author can read her own work. Dog Ear provides a recorder and direction over the telephone. It also provides the editing and mastering services in-house as well as the ISBN and distribution services.

It gets a bit pricier if the author wants to use one of the professional narrators Dog Ear sources from the Indianapolis area: the rate can be north of $4,600 depending on the length of the book.


eBookIt’s initial foray into audiobook production simply meant running a book through a text-to-speech offering. Clients—mostly nonfiction authors—liked it. But the company changed its model after founder Bo Bennett had his book professionally narrated. “Once we heard that, we couldn’t listen to the computer-generated ones,” says company president Ryan Levesque. “We scrapped that and went with the human narration.”

The company now maintains a stable of eight voice actors, whose prices range between $150 and $350 per finished hour. For a $149 services fee and 15% of net sales, eBookIt manages the entire project, which includes providing an ISBN, developing the actual audiobook files, and creating an audiobook cover image from the e-book.

Because the final price varies based on options the author chooses, eBookIt has an online calculator to help authors figure out the services they want and the associated costs in advance.

Infinity Publishers

When Arthur Gutch started at Infinity Publishers, its AudioBrite arm did production work for large publishing houses such as Hachette. Gutch, now the chairman, wanted to focus more on indie authors, and Infinity offers two services catering to that smaller group. The first is unabridged audio production through Infinity’s Audio Books Publishing unit, which releases both CDs and digital files via Audible and iTunes.

The basic services include script preparation and contact with the narrator, plus recording, editing, proofing, mastering, publishing, and distribution. Depending on word count, the cost can run $4,000 to $5,000 or more. Additional services include abridgment ($599 per 10,000 words), sending audio copies to reviewers ($25), and hour-long phone consultations ($250).

For $649, Infinity’s One-Hour Audio option will abridge a book, distilling it into an hour-long listening experience. “It’s more attuned to nonfiction work, but, for shorter novels, it also applies,” Gutch says.

Finding Your Narrator

These high-touch services naturally aren’t for everybody. Many authors would prefer to handpick their own talent. ACX remains the most comprehensive tool for this, allowing authors to listen to recorded samples of prospective narrators and request auditions.

“Choose the audition selection from your book wisely,” narrator P.J. Ochlan says. For instance, it shouldn’t be longer than five to seven minutes or 1,000 words. “And it may be good to pick something that features dialogue between key characters,” he adds. “And if your book requires special skills such as accents, make certain they’re in the narrator’s wheelhouse.” Additionally, as both Ochlan and award-winning narrator Johnny Heller point out, narrators on ACX double as audiobook producers—which is why authors need to assess production quality as well as performance.

This leads to another important consideration: payment. That is, deciding whether to offer a royalty share or a flat per-finished-hour fee. And it’s up to the narrator to decide whether to accept. “If your book is already out there in an e-book or something, you should be able to tell the narrator what your sales are like,” Heller says. “Not free downloads: sales. Is there profit potential for the narrator?”

If sales aren’t great—or if an e-book hasn’t been released—it might be difficult to convince a professional narrator to agree on a royalty-share model. Narrator Jeffrey Kafer says there is no solid cutoff: “If the author is selling a thousand a month on Kindle, yup, I’ll do a royalty share. But is 500 a month a good number? Probably. Two hundred? It depends how much risk a narrator wants to take.” Other considerations, Kafer says, are an author’s social media presence, promotion efforts, and prolificacy. New releases, after all, can spur sales of the back catalogue.

Of course, paying on a per-finished-hour basis is a different story. “Get a realistic estimate of the total running time,” veteran narrator Robert Fass says. “That’s critical.” Running time should be based on word count because the variability of margins and font sizes makes page count unreliable. “It you’ve got 100,000 words, you can count on a 10-hour finished audio product,” Fass says, adding that it often takes a professional two hours to create one finished hour.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there’s a pricing floor for hiring members of SAG-AFTRA as readers. The minimum rates are negotiable but typically begin at $200 per finished hour, according to a union spokesperson, plus a 13% contribution to the guild’s health and retirement fund. “That said, narrators are free to set their own, higher rates,” the spokesperson says.

Additionally, Kafer urges indie authors to relax and let the professionals do their jobs. “One of the big things that authors do is they feel they need to direct or micromanage,” Kafer says. “I’ve heard horror stories where the narrator submits the book and gets a spreadsheet of a thousand things the author didn’t like. That’s the worst thing an author can do. I understand this is your baby, but you hired the narrator for a reason. You have to let go of your baby and let the professional you hired do their job.”



Ebook Unit Sales at Each Retailer Broken Down by Publisher Type

The big five publishers in the last calendar year have managed to hang on to more than half of all ebook sales at Apple and Barnes & Noble Nook. At B&N, in particular, their share tops 61%, but that merely makes them the largest fish in a rapidly-shrinking pond.  Amazon garners significant ebook sales, but major publishers only account for 23% of total Kindle sales.

When people buy books via their favorite online retailer most of them come from publishers such as Simon and Schuster or Penguin Random House.  Out of the 19 million Nook Books that were sold from early 2016 to early 2017 61% of them stemmed from the big five.  Apple sold 63 million e-books during the same time period and 54% of total unit sales were from big publishers. Kobo sold 11 million e-books and only 46% of them were from the big guys. Amazon sold over 519 million Kindle Books, but only 23% of them were from the big five.

Self-published indie authors are verifiably capturing at least 20% – 35% of all multi-country ebook sales at each retailer. When you also include the uncategorized authors, each retailer’s true multi-country indie share lies somewhere between 25% – 42%, with Amazon staking out the high end at 42% and B&N and Apple holding the low end at 25%.



Findaway Launches New E-Book and Audiobook App called Duobook

Findaway is the largest audiobook distributer in the world and they power the collections of Nook Audiobooks, Scribd and hundreds of others. The company has just released a new app called Duobook, which blends the audio and e-book experience, which suggests the company might be pivoting in a new direction.

At its core, DuoBook is an audiobook player and an eBook reader in one app, but its biggest feature is how it aligns the eBook and audiobook together, allowing you to switch between formats without losing your place in the story. You can listen for a while, maybe during your commute, and then at night maybe you prefer to read before bed — when you pick up the eBook, DuoBook puts you at the right page in the story so you can just pick it back up and continue seamlessly.

Will Dages the lead developer at Duobook told me that “Every story in DuoBook will always come with both formats (audio and e-book), so there isn’t a notion of buying one format and adding on the other, it’s always a package deal. DuoBook works on iPhone and iPad right now, and syncs your position in the cloud, so if you have two devices you can switch between listening on one and reading on the other seamlessly. An Android app is coming in 2017.”

Findaway primarily markets a basic audiobook engine their customers and access to their API library incase larger companies have developers who are going to make an audio engine from scratch. Dages said “We didn’t use the white label app as our starting point for DuoBook because of how much custom work was involved with aligning the eBook and audiobook together, and the white label app is meant as a great starting point for an audiobook player, but isn’t geared towards the eBook half of what we built for DuoBook.”

Duobook launched last week and only has a handful of titles in their library, while they work out the kinks. Dages assured me that in 2017 we can expect hundreds of additional audiobooks/ebooks will be available.



Wattpad debuts Tap, an app for reading chat-style short stories

A new mobile app called Tap, launching today, introduces a different way to read stories on your phone: as text message-like chats. The app is the latest from Wattpad, a social publishing platform for authors whose community now includes over 45 million readers worldwide, who visit its site or its flagship mobile app to read its nearly 250 million stories.

With Tap, Wattpad is stepping away from the traditional storytelling format to experiment with a unique style of entertainment

The app lets users discover “chat-style” stories – that is, those that unfold as you tap to reveal the next part. The stories are designed to feel like you’re reading someone else’s chat conversations, the company explains, and they are even visually presented in a text messaging-style format.

At launch, there are hundreds of stories available across categories like horror, romances, drama and more.


Tap will also allow Wattpad users to write stories of their own, though this is initially available only to a subset of writers on the platform. The company says that the writing and publishing functionality will roll out more broadly in the weeks ahead.

In addition to reading the chat-style stories, users can also share the stories to social networks.

The launch represents another means for Wattpad to generate revenue for its social storytelling platform, as Tap is a freemium service. While the app itself is free, as are a select number of stories, it also includes the option to upgrade to a premium service. Here, users will gain access to an unlimited number of stories, including exclusive ones available only to subscribers. The service costs $2.99 per week, $7.99 per month, or $39.99 per year.


In more recent months, Wattpad has been expanding its relationship with Hollywood and the entertainment industry, thanks to deal with Universal, Turner, comics publishers and more. But Tap’s subscription service could infuse the company with another more straightforward and immediate revenue stream.

Tap is hardly the only app operating in this niche these days. It competes with others like fiction app Hooked, which offers chat stories and a means of writing them. Amazon also launched a subscription service for chat-style stories called Amazon Rapids, which targets kids. More broadly, Tap goes up against other mobile reading apps like Serial Box, Hardbound, or even social apps like Snapchat, which has its own short-form content available.

However, Tap’s angle is its voyeuristic take on the chat-style format. Instead of just getting snippets of the story with each tap, it feels like you’ve gotten ahold of someone else’s phone and are reading through their personal texts. That could appeal to teenaged or young adult users, who spend a lot of time interacting with content on mobile devices – a place that’s also where much of their social lives today unfold.

Tap is a free download on iTunes and Google Play.


Wattpad debuts Tap, an app for reading chat-style short stories

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.



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!



Microsoft Provides More Details About Edge Improvements in the Creators Update

Microsoft today provided a rundown of the new features we can expect its in Edge web browser in the Windows 10 Creators Update.

I highlighted all of these features previously in my Windows 10 Creators Update Preview. But today’s Microsoft missive provides a bit more information. So here’s a quick overview.

Tab management

In the Creators Update, Microsoft Edge picks up a ton of new tab management features that the firm says are aimed at addressing “the chaos and clutter of the web and the fear of losing tabs.”

The idea here is clear enough: With Windows 10 users spending over 50 percent of their time browsing the web, navigating among your open tabs can quickly become an arduous task.

“People often have many tabs open at any given time, resulting in stress about losing open tabs, not being able to pick up where they left off, or simply losing focus due to information overload,” Microsoft Edge general manager Drew DeBruyne writes in a new Windows Experience post.

With that in mind, Edge will offer the following new features in the Creators Update:

Show tab thumbnails. Now, you can see a preview of all open tabs visually: Just select the new Show tab previews control to toggle this display. (You can still mouse-over individual tabs to see each tab preview individually too, as before.)

Set tabs aside. Using a new Set these tabs aside control, you can now get a fresh start, as Microsoft says, removing distractions and providing a clean browser, while being able to pick up right where you left off at any time. (Just select the Tabs you’ve set aside control to do so.)

More browser capabilities

Microsoft has long innovated in bringing low-level OS capabilities like hardware rendering to its web browser,s. And Edge is not different: In the Creators Update, it will pick up a number of new experiences. These include:

3D capabilities. Edge utilizes WebVR technologies to provide virtual reality experiences in the web browser. And this will work with coming Windows Mixed Reality hardware, DeBruyne says. “We continue to explore how 3D content can revolutionize the web, and we’re hard at work in standards bodies to deliver a new interoperable immersive web,” DeBruyne notes. “These are exciting times, and we’re thrilled to participate.”

eBooks. Microsoft Edge will add support for the EPUB e-book format and for the new e-book store experience in the Windows Store. This feature also integrates with Cortana, and provides spoken-word reading of e-books.

Easier online shopping. In the Creators Update, Edge picks up support for the Payment Request API, which enables integration with Microsoft Wallet and whatever payment methods you’ve configured. “On participating websites, users will have the option to checkout quickly using their payment information stored securely in Microsoft Wallet so they don’t have to navigate through traditional checkout flows and repeatedly enter the same payment and shipping address information,” DeBruyne explains.

Extension improvements. Edge picked up support for browser extensions last year. With the Creators Update, this functionality will be expanded to include more APIs and thus more capabilities, including access to Favorites, roaming data between PCs, and the ability to securely communicate with other installed applications.

Core improvements. This new version of Edge is “faster, safer, and more efficient than ever,” DeBruyne says, thanks to constant low-level refinements. Microsoft promises more information about this work soon.



4 top tips to writing ebooks that convert

Given the fact that bonuses have been banned by regulators and spreads are becoming tighter and tighter, thus preventing brokers from competing on price alone, one of the most effective ways in which to increase your conversion rates and build loyalty is by providing your customers with added value, and the most successful way of delivering value is through educational materials. Publishing an educational E-Book is a great value for your marketing buck, but simply writing an e-book won’t magically improve your conversions. Here, we compile our 4 top tips for creating E-Books that convert:

Don’t write what you love. One of the first pieces of advice you may hear when you begin thinking about what to write about will be “write about what you love”. Well, I call it BS. Writing about what you love will appeal to you and while it is true that that love will shine through your words, you should be writing about what your audience loves. Figure out what your audience’s pain points are, why they want to invest in FX, what are their fears in doing so, what would make them say “yes” and then write about what they want to learn.

Solve problems. The captain of a vessel once had an issue in one of the turbines of the ship. He called several engineers and specialists, all of whom spent several hours attempting to fix the turbine, but to no avail. They each sent a bill for their time, even though they had been unsuccessful at fixing the problem and got paid for their efforts. Nearing desperation, the captain was referred to a specialist in this particular brand of turbine. Incredulous, the captain hired the specialist, who spent 5 minutes inside the engine room and successfully fixed the turbine. He proceeded to send a bill to the captain of the ship almost tripling the amount of money the others had charged. The captain, upset, called the specialist to dispute the bill thinking how could he pay so much money for just 5 minutes of the specialist’s time. The specialist quickly replied “It’s not about the time I spent, it’s about knowing how to solve the problem.”  If you solve your customer’s problem, you are providing value that is worth beyond any amount of money.

Don’t over do it. We often believe that in order for a book to provide value, many trees (albeit virtual ones) have to be sacrificed. The truth is that as long as the information you provide can solve your audience’s problem, then 10, 20 or 50 pages at most will be worth it in the eyes of your customer. Too much information, can backfire, as it can make your e-book overwhelming and unappealing.

Demonstrate credibility. What makes you an authority in the subject you are speaking about? Why should readers believe what you have to share? Don’t be shy about sharing your credentials and what others have to say about you. Awards, client testimonials and endorsements are a great way to build up your reputation as a preamble to what you have to say.



Kobo enters the ebook buffet arena with Kobo Plus, but there’s a catch

Ebook subscription services are not particularly new — Amazon launched its Kindle Unlimited service in 2014 while Scribd has been mainly known as an ebook subscription service since 2013. Now that such services have become somewhat of a trend, Kobo thought it was time to throw its hat into the arena with Kobo Plus.

Similar to the aforementioned competitors, Kobo Plus is an ebook subscription service that lets you read over 40,000 titles — 10,000 are in Dutch — for 10 euros (around $10.50). The available titles include new releases and bestsellers, as well as more older titles, though it might be best to look over the list and make sure there are books that appeal to you.

In terms of revenue, Kobo said it worked with “leading Dutch publishers” to develop a fair-share model that doles out payments funded by the subscription revenues. The company did not say what slice of the pie these publishers receive, but Kobo insists the payment model allows Kobo Plus to stand on its own two feet for the long term.

As has been hinted at, however, there is one big catch with Kobo Plus — it is currently only available in Belgium and the Netherlands. According to Kobo, this is because the company has seen large growth in the two countries, to the point where one in seven non-fiction books sold in the Netherlands is digital. Furthermore, Kobo has sold 1.2 million of its ebook readers in the Netherlands, which means that roughly 1 in 16 people in the country own a Kobo-branded ebook reader.

Kobo Plus is now available in the two launch countries, though Kobo did not say whether the service will cross borders into other countries. Similar to Kindle Unlimited and Scribd, you can try Kobo Plus free of charge for 30 days, after which you will need to decide whether the service is for you.

Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/kobo-plus-ebooks/#ixzz4a02YutdI
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Microsoft Edge can now read your ebooks out loud to you

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Ebooks will play an important role in the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update: Microsoft will include a native ebook store into the OS and Insiders can already check out the new ebook section in the Windows Store.

The latest Windows 10 build takes the native ebook experience to a new level as the Edge browser can now read your ebooks aloud. All you need to do is press the “Read aloud” button located at the top-right corner of the browser, sit back, relax and listen. Edge will also highlight the words being read along.

Let Microsoft Edge read your ebooks aloud

This new feature also supports all non-store EPUB files. For the time being, the list of supported languages is limited to the following languages: r-EG, ca-ES, da-DK, de-DE, en-AU, en-CA, en-GB, en-IN, en-US, es-ES, es-MX, fi-FI, fr-CA, fr-FR, it-IT, ja-JP, nb-NO, nl-BE, nl-NL, pt-BR, pt-PT, sv-SE, tr-TR, zh-CN.


Here’s how the Redmond giant describes the new in-browser ebook reading experience:

Last week many of you asked about this and we are proud to announce that Microsoft Edge will now read aloud your e-books! Just press the “read aloud” button at the top-right corner after opening one of your e-books and listen to Microsoft Edge read you the book with focus on the line and the word being read along.

The new ebook section allows users to modify the font and size of the text and create bookmarks. You can use the table of contents or seek bar at the bottom of the browser to navigate through your ebook collection and ask Cortana to define specific words. You can also use Edge to read your favorite ebooks even when you’re offline.

Have you tested out the new Microsoft Edge ebook experience? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.



The Indie Author’s Guide to Customer Reviews

The self-publishing revolution has taken place, in large part, online, with readers discovering books and connecting directly with indie authors through sites like Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Wattpad, Smashwords, and more. In addition to book blogs, online book clubs, and online advertising, one of the central means by which readers learn about self-published books is the customer review. Reviews offer (ostensibly) unbiased commentary about a book, and while positive reviews are undoubtedly more desirable than one-star pans, having a mixed bag of reviews is better than having none at all.

“Along with the cover image, a book’s aggregate review score creates the first impression on Amazon” says Aaron Cooley, who self-published his novel Shaken, Not Stirred. “But the total number [of reviews] is important, too.”

But if customer reviews are, by their very nature, customer-generated, what can authors do to get more of them? Without resorting to “sock-puppet” reviews—that is, reviews written by the book’s author using an alias—how can authors turn that discouraging “no customer reviews yet” message into a smattering of star ratings and commentary?

Blogger Outreach

It’s common for indie authors to reach out to book bloggers to pitch their books for review. If you’ve succeeded in getting your book reviewed—or you’re still shopping for the right blogger—ask the blogger if they’re willing to post their review to Amazon or Goodreads, in addition to their own blogs.

Jane Litte, owner of the popular romance blog Dear Author, says that, when it comes to posting reviews to other websites, “Each reviewer has their own practices and habits. Personally I post a short review of books I’ve read at Goodreads.”

Others will post to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites, such as Shelfari. On The Indie View, a site that hosts a list of bloggers and writers who review self-published books (for free), reviewers specify which sites they’ll post their reviews to.

Paid Review Services

It’s equally common for indie authors to purchase reviews through paid review services. These sites, such as BlueInk Review and Self-Publishing Review, will often post their reviews to commerce sites such as Amazon, or will allow authors to repost reviews to those sites.

BlueInk Review, for instance, offers detailed instructions for uploading a review to the “Editorial Reviews” section of the book’s Amazon and Barnes & Noble pages. Customers of Self-Publishing Review can request to post their reviews to the “Editorial Reviews” sections of those sites, along with several others, as well.

Editorial Reviews vs. Customer Reviews

Whether you’re pitching a book blogger or purchasing a review from a paid review site, it’s important to understand each reviewer’s reposting policy. Some bloggers (such as those listed on Indie View) will post their reviews to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads as customer reviews, which generate star ratings and contribute to the overall rating of your book.

Other reviewers, such as BlueInk Review and Self-Publishing Review, repost their reviews as “Editorial Reviews,” which do not generate star ratings. Both types of reviews are, of course, valuable, but it’s important to know what you’re getting with each. Indie authors in search of star ratings may have to supplement editorial reviews by taking alternate approaches.

Approaching Reviewers on Amazon

Reviews from Amazon customers can be helpful to indie authors trying to drum up conversation around their books. But a review from a Top Customer Reviewer—identified by a small tag next to their name in their reviews, and also listed here—can be especially beneficial. These are reviewers that Amazon has singled out for being highly prolific and helpful in their feedback. Lauren Pepper Wu, writing for the self-publishing blog The Creative Penn, recommends pitching top reviewers: “You can be sure that the Amazon top customer reviewers put a lot of thought and energy into their reviews,” she writes. And since they’ve “proven themselves to be fast…[they] will therefore most likely have a quick [turnaround].”

Top reviewers typically have a profile page containing their contact information, details about their background, and reading preferences. Be aware that some reviewers do not wish to be pitched (and will state as much on their profile), and that not every top reviewer reviews books.

Finding a top reviewer to contact can be time-consuming. In addition to wading through the Top Customer Reviewer list, indie authors can also look at customer reviews of books comparable to their own (whether in terms of genre or subject matter) and see if any top reviewers have reviewed them.

Getting Reviews on Goodreads

There are two main ways to tap into Goodreads’ avid user base and increase your chances of getting reviewed on the site. If you join the Author Program, you’ll have the ability to host a giveaway. Authors typically give away advance copies of their books, and can choose how many books to send out (the site recommends giving away “as many copies as you can afford”). In your giveaway announcement, you can also include a message requesting (tactfully, of course) that winners of the giveaway review the book on the site. (There is, of course, no guarantee that they will or that their review will be positive.)

Another way to reach readers on Goodreads is by joining groups. If, let’s say, an indie author has written a historical novel set in medieval times, she can join the Ancient & Medieval Historical Fiction group and contribute to its discussion boards. As with other online social environments, such as Twitter, it’s best to communicate with other members organically; spamming users about a book is unlikely to generate reviews, and it may result in removal from the group. “Many groups have rules for how authors can or cannot participate,” the site says.

Ultimately, whether online or off, indie authors engaging with other book-lovers about their titles and asking for feedback is the most direct, and perhaps most satisfying, way to get reviews. “I’m always asking people who tell me they love [my] book to please also post a review,” Cooley says.


How to Get More Reviews on Amazon.com

These days, we hear a lot about book discovery. As more and more books hit the market, readers are deluged with choices and authors are struggling to get in front of new readers and even existing fans. Recently Bowker announced that the number of books published each day in the US is up to 3,500. This does not include all eBook data since many eBooks are published without ISBN numbers that Bowker can track. What this has done is create a strong need for a reader’s voice. Reaching these readers, however, is another matter entirely.


What’s an aspiring publisher or author to do? Well, it’s time to get serious about being seen in places where your reader will find you. It’s time realize the things that are important to your reader: reviews and engagement. Authors who focus on those two things alone are head and shoulders above the rest.


More Reasons to Love Reviews


The other reason to love reviews is that the more reviews you get on Amazon the more visible your book becomes. This is largely due to the Amazon algorithm which is based on a few things, one of which is the number of reviews you get to your page. It’s called Social Proof and Amazon loves it. More reviews on your page push your book higher in search ranking when someone enters your book’s search term into the Amazon search bar.


Different Types of Reviewers, Do They all Matter?


Reviewers, like anything in marketing, are very relationship based. That’s why it’s often easier to get reviews for your second or third book, but first-time authors, don’t worry – I’m going to show you a tip in a minute that can help you double or triple the amount of reviews you get.


There are a few different types of Amazon reviewers. Let’s look at each:


Top Amazon Reviewers: These folks can review anything, not just books, and they often do a lot of reviews. I had one reviewer tell me she once posted 100 reviews a month on Amazon. These reviewers also get a lot of credibility in that their reviews are often accompanied by attributes such as Hall of Fame Reviewer, Vine Voice and Top Ten Reviewer.


It’s a great thing to get a top Amazon reviewer to consider your book but they are tough to target. Does it mean you should ignore them? No. We’ll talk more about how to creatively target them in a moment.


Amazon Reader Reviewers: These are readers who just love books. They aren’t part of the top list like the high profile Amazon reviewers, but they can also review a lot of books. Their reviews are thoughtful, insightful, and thorough. They tend to be very genre focused, which means that they stay true to one genre, possibly two. Many of them are also on Goodreads, which is another reason why it makes sense to be on that site, too.


Consumers: Do consumers review books? Yes, but according to a review statistic I read recently they don’t review a lot. Often only 1% of consumers will review a book they read, but I’ll show you how to quadruple that number for your next book.

Bloggers: We love bloggers. They have this tireless passion for books and if you can get them to review yours, this relationship can last the length of your career. But keep in mind that while book blogger relationships are great, not all of them review on Amazon so if your goal is to really populate that page with reviews, you’ll want to make sure they do.


Curious about how to find great book bloggers? You can search for many of them on Google and search “book blogger” + Your genre. You can also go to sites like: http://bookbloggerdirectory.wordpress.com/ or http://www.blogmetrics.org/ to find bloggers in your genre.

Different Ways to Find Amazon Reviewers


A quick Google search will take you to this link:

http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers. The problem is that this link takes you to an endless list of reviewers you now have to ferret through.

As you will see, the list has two tabs on it, Top Reviewer Rankings and Hall of Fame Reviewers. The Hall of Fame list is really the top of the top. If you can get picked up by one of those folks, you’re golden. Not all of them review your genre, and some don’t even review books. There are other ways you can reach them, though.

Some authors I know will just find reviewers based on other, similar titles. You can do this by going to books that cover the same or a similar topic and see who has reviewed their book on Amazon. You follow the reviewer’s link to his or her Amazon profile page, look for an email address, and send a pitch. It’s a very time-intensive way to get reviews, though it’s 100% worth it. If you start this process early (i.e. before your book is published), you’ll be able to target these folks as soon as your book is ready to go.


The other way to find reviewers is to use the following search string, which I’ve seen a few times in various formats. Keep in mind that this search string isn’t an exact science, and I’ve also found that it works better for some genres than for others. First, let’s take a look at the search string structure:


Search String in Google:


http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers “Top 500 reviewer” “Romance”

Or you can also use:


http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers “Top 1000 reviewer” “Romance”

The string is broken down as follows:


1. First is the site you want to search: http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers this is the profile link on the Amazon page—that’s the URL you are searching from so you must include this in your search string.

2. Next you want the Top X reviewers, in this case I recommend putting in 500 or 1000. You won’t pull up that many, but it’s a nice high number to shoot for. Why the difference in the number? Because I recommend that you search it both ways. Oddly, though you’re just changing a number, each of these searches may produce different results.

3. Next up is the genre. I put in romance here but yours might be mystery, sci-fi, etc. Whatever your genre is (fiction or non-fiction), put it there.

When you do this, you still have to sift through the results. Keep in mind that not all Amazon reviewers list their email address on their profile so you may have to hunt for them by searching their name and their blog (most Amazon reviewers have blog sites they repost their reviews to).


If you’re willing to continue your search, you can also try this search string:

http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers “Top 500 reviewer” “Young Adult Fiction” “E-mail:”


Note the spelling of the term e-mail. For the purposes of finding the right reviewers, we want to mimic how the term e-mail is referenced on the reviewer site.


This process, while time-consuming, can help you start building your top Amazon review list.


How to Double the Amount of Blogger Reviews You Get


You’ve now identified the bloggers you want to pitch and they also review on Amazon. You know that they get a lot of review requests, so how will you make yours stand out?


Last year I conducted an experiment. I wanted to see if there was a way I could double or triple the amount of reviews I could get if I were an unknown, newly published author. If you’ve ever attempted to get reviews, you know it’s never easy as a first-time author. You’re lucky to get one or two at the most. I always tell authors to personalize their pitches whenever they can because it’ll net more review requests. Most of the time authors sort of nod in agreement, but I suspect that very few actually do this.


I mean let’s face it; it’s a big time suck to personalize pitches, right? You have to go to their blog, find their name, look up some of the books they’ve done reviews on, see if they’re right for your book and then pitch them. Seems like a lot, right? Now I’m going to ask you to take this a step further. I want you to include some personal information on them, too. I did this anytime I could and, as I said, I tripled the amount of review requests I got for this unknown author. In some cases I quadrupled the amount.

Turning Your Book into a Review Machine

We all want to turn our book into a sales machine. Now I’m not taking about turning your book into a cross-promotion tool (though that’s good, too) I’m speaking about getting your book to work for you in other ways.


We’ve worked with many first-time authors, but earlier this year I had an idea I wanted to try. I wanted to find a way to encourage readers to review the book by adding a specific request. We asked the author to include a letter in the back of her book asking for reviews. She reminded readers how important their voice is. Did it work? Yes. In fact she’s got well over 70 reviews of which only 10 were solicited. Remember, this is a first-time author with no history online and this book was self-published. All of these things worked against her and still she succeeded in getting tons of reviews. Were they all five-star? No, but that’s not the point. Let’s face it, a book page that’s populated with tons of five-star reviews is pretty suspect anyway. All of the reviews are authentic, written by real readers the author engaged with. Want to know another secret? These readers are now part of her “tribe;” she stays in touch with them and lets them know when her next book is out.


How did she ask for reviews? She crafted a letter to her readers. Here’s a sample of the letter we included in the back of her second book. You can see the letter here: http://www.amarketingexpert.com/getting-reviews/


Keep in mind that as I mentioned earlier, generally only 1% of consumers review books on Amazon. Using this letter helped to beat that average by a lot.


A Little Known Amazon Tool


Did you know that you can respond to a review on Amazon? Using access to your Author Central account you can now write a note thanking the reviewer, or, you can let the various reviewers know that you have another book out and ask them if they want a free copy for review. To gain access to your Author Central Page, go here and log in using your regular Amazon login: https://authorcentral.amazon.com

Once you’re inside you’ll see a header. Click on Customer Reviews. Once you click that button, it’ll take you to this page where you’ll see a bunch of your reviews. Under each review you’ll see “Add a comment”—this is where you want to click. That will let you respond to the reviews. It’s a great way to connect with your readers on Amazon!


Reviews and the process of getting them has gotten more challenging and time intensive as new books continue to flood the market. Reviewers have a lot of choices. But if you’re smart about your efforts, and leverage Amazon’s features wisely, you can really boost your book’s exposure, and your sales. One final note on Amazon reviews. Sometimes in order to get reviews, you need to become a reviewer. I’m not suggesting you compete for their top review spot, but instead help other writers in your market by reviewing their books. It’s not only a great way to pay it forward, but they may offer you a review, too.



Google and Microsoft agree crackdown on piracy sites in search results

Google and Microsoft pledged on Monday to crack down on sites hosting pirated content that show up on their search engines.

In what is being called a first of its kind agreement, Google and Microsoft’s Bing will demote U.K. search results of copyright infringing websites. Under the “code of practice”, Bing and Google have agreed to remove links to infringing content from the first page of results.

The voluntary agreement was brokered by the U.K. Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the government department that deals with patents and copyright issues, who called it a “landmark” deal.

Search engines, in particular Google, have clashed in recent times with organizations that represent rights holders about how best to tackle pirated content. Even Google’s YouTube has come under fire from the music industry over copyright in the past.

“Consumers are increasingly heading online for music, films, e-books, and a wide variety of other content. It is essential that they are presented with links to legitimate websites and services, not provided with links to pirate sites,” Jo Johnson, U.K. minister of state for universities, science, research and innovation, said in a press release on Monday.

The BPI (British Phonographic Industry), which represents the U.K.’s recorded music industry, and the Motion Picture Association are also part of the agreement.

Both Bing and Google currently allow copyright owners across the globe to make a request for the removal of a link. In the past 12 months, Google has taken down 915 million links following requests from copyright holders. Bing took down over 91 million links between January and June 2016, according to a Microsoft transparency report.

The code was agreed on February 9 and will come into force immediately. It sets targets for reducing the visibility of infringing content in search results by June 1, 2017.



Amazon Echo now lets Alexa read Kindle books to you

In addition to serving as your connection to Amazon’s vast inventory of products, Amazon Echo can now also read your Kindle books to you.

And unlike Amazon’s service Audible, which provides audiobooks for a monthly fee, the book reading service from Amazon Echo is free of charge.

Called Kindle Books by Alexa, the service allows the robotic voice of Alexa to read any book in your Kindle ebook library. According to an Amazon update note, the service uses the “same text-to-speech technology used for Wikipedia articles.”

That means you won’t get the same kind of color and drama you’d expect from a book on Audible, but as a free service, it’s likely to be pretty popular with some non-Audible users.

To get Alexa reading, you simply utter one of the following phrases: Alexa, read “[Kindle book title],” or “Alexa, read my Kindle book.”

If you want to interrupt the reading, you just tell Alexa to “pause,” and when you’re ready to listen again you say, “resume my book.” You can also tell Alexa to go “forward” or “back” while reading any of your books.

The feature was revealed in a recent Amazon newsletter and surfaced last week by AFTVnews.

To get readers without any ebooks started, Amazon is offering a free Star Wars ebook sampler with excerpts from six novels from the new Star Wars book series.




Google Play Books is Promoting Bite Sized eBooks in India

Google Play Books has been experimenting with a number of new initiatives in the past two months. They have been ironing out promotional contracts with major publishers for an e-book rental system in the US and they have just unveiled a new bite sized e-book platform in India.

The new Google Play Books system in India is the equivalent of Kindle Singles, they comprise of e-books that are too short to be a novel and too long to be a featured magazine article. Google is hoping that the 5-20 page e-books, written by A list authors, will catch on in India and are only charging a few cents for each title. Right now the only way to pay is via credit card or netbanking, although Google is working with local Telcos to introduce carrier billing.



Smashwords Pays Out Royalties and It’s NOT the End of the World

A number of authors opened their email inboxes yesterday to a pleasant surprise: the payment of old royalties from ebook publishing and retail site Smashwords. These royalties, typically within the one dollar to nine dollar range, had not been paid (in some cases, for years) because they didn’t meet the minimum threshold for payment; it’s important to note that a lot of other retailers have to maintain a similar payment structure in order to keep their business operations sane. Suddenly though, authors popped up all over social media to share their good news…and unfortunately, to speculate on what was prompting so many low-end royalty payments.

The immediate assumption from many authors was that Smashwords might be going under, or at the very least being bought out. After all, it’s been a rough few months in the indie publishing industry, with the closing of several big name companies. But it speaks to the company’s strong reputation among its authors and readers that the honorable thing would be handled before any closing of doors. It places the company in far better public perception than AllRomanceEbooks, which recently shuttered its doors amidst reports from authors that it would not be paying them their final royalties and telling readers to hurry up and download their purchased libraries or lose them forever.

Fortunately, GoodeReader reached out to Smashwords’ founder and CEO for comment, and the emailed reply indicated that this was not only a sign that the company staying put, but that the move to pay out back royalties is a sign of good things to come:

“This is great news for our authors and publishers. We’re paying faster than ever. Next month we move to monthly payments from quarterly. Ahead of that, this month we eliminated the prior $10 minimum threshold for PayPal. I’d say that’s a sign of strength. We’re doing this because we can and because it’s the right thing to do. Yet another reason for authors to work with us.”

One of Coker’s many long-standing beliefs is that publishing as a whole simply functions better when authors and readers alike have options. When one entity–in Coker’s industry, that would be Amazon–maintains iron-fisted control over the marketplace, then everyone stands to lose. Whether anyone agrees or disagrees with the viewpoint as it specifically relates to Amazon, it’s good to see that this mindset is working for both the company and the industry.



10 Truths About Self-Publishing for Entrepreneurs With a Book Idea

Research shows that 81 percent of people say they have at least one book in them, according to the New York Times. As an entrepreneur, a book is a great way to establish your authority in your industry.

It’s estimated that Amazon has earned $5.25 billion from eBooks so far this year, according to George Parker in The New Yorker. For entrepreneurs, this is an opportunity to add income to your business.

The problem is that there are 600,000 to one million books self-published  every year in the U. S. alone, according to Nick Morgan. This has spawned an entire industry aimed at those wanting to self-publish a book. It’s also made it very difficult for your book to stand out and sell copies.


When I started my online business in 2011, I started with a self-published book. Self-publishing was becoming popular and stories like Amanda Hocking and John Locke convinced me a self-published book would be a great first product.

That book completely flopped. It sold five copies in the first six months. It’s estimated that the average book will sell fewer than 250 copies, according to Nick Morgan. It’s hard to sell books. Here are 10 hard-earned bits of advice that will help you sell your book.

Related: 5 Tips for Publishing Your Own Book

1. Don’t make your book free through Amazon’s KDP select program. Amazon has a program called KDP Select. When you enroll in the program you have to make your book exclusive to Amazon. You can’t even sell it on your own website. In exchange for exclusivity, Amazon will give you a small portion of their lending program (about $2 per book).

They will also let you offer your book for free for five days every 90 days. The free promotion was a popular strategy in 2011 and it’s still widely used today. The goal is to get more reviews for your book and your book in more readers hands.

The biggest problem is you can’t sell your book on your own website. That costs you the opportunity to connect with your customers directly. You can’t add their name to your email list, you can’t tell them about your other products or services. Amazon gets to do that.

People don’t respect something they get for free and, since there are millions of other free books, chances are they won’t even read yours. During free promotions you give away thousands of books and in return you get maybe a hand full of reviews.

The former publisher of Writers Digest, Jane Friedman, has an excellent article about whom this program works best for. It’s not the average author.

2. You need to hire an editor. When all the big self-published authors are asked what was their biggest mistake, the overwhelming answer is not getting their book edited. Readers notice when your book isn’t edited. They will leave negative reviews about the grammar. That affects your book sales because reviews are the first thing a book buyer looks at.

3. Self-publishing is not easy. Self-publishing has opened many doors and taken away the gate keepers but don’t think it is easy. With a major publisher you write the book and the publisher handles the ins and outs of creating the book. With self-publishing, that all falls on you.

4. You don’t need a physical version of your book. Create Space is an amazing company that can print your book on demand. You can have a physical copy of your book but that doesn’t mean you need one. If you speak at conferences and want to sell your book in the back of the room, that’s one thing. If you just want to sell your book, an ebook works just as good.

5. It’s tough getting your self-published book into book stores. As someone who has a publisher, I can tell you that getting placement for your book in a bookstore is hard. Bookstores only want to give space to proven authors. There’s a self-publishing company called Lighting Source, which has a relationship with Ingram books, the world’s largest book distributor. Ingram distributes books to all the major bookstores. Yes, Ingram can get your book in the bookstores catalog but not necessarily in the actual bookstore.


Related: Website Creates Author Community for the Self-Published

6. You have to market your book. It doesn’t matter how good your book is, your book will sell or languish depending on the marketing. Remember the (at least) 600,000 books published every year? Many good books go unnoticed. Writing a good book is just the start. Marketing gets the book noticed and persuades people to buy it.

7. Don’t put your picture on the cover. Authors enjoy seeing their smiling face on the cover of their book but book buyers don’t. Your photo on the cover is a great strategy if you are Brad Pitt or someone with name recognition but seeing the picture of some random person actually pushes people away from buying your book.

8. Your book is worth more than 99 cents. With all the competition, you’re told you have to price your book for 99 cents to sell it. As an entrepreneur, you goal is not to be priced at the bottom of the market. Understand the value you provide and price your book accordingly.

Books are generally greatly underpriced for the value they provide. Let everyone else chase the bottom while you enjoy more profit on the top.

9. One book will not make you rich. Successful self-published authors have multiple books. It’s possible for one book to take off but that’s the rare exception, not the rule. Multiple books, especially series, give your other books a better chance to sell. If someone buys one of your books and likes it, they’re likely to buy your other books.

10. You need to launch your book. A book lives and dies by the marketing. To get the maximum exposure for your book you should do a full-blown book launch. What does this mean? You should form a launch team of about 100 people.

These 100 people are bloggers and website owners who will help you promote the book during the launch week. Your goal is to get concentrated sales during a specific week to drive the book to best-seller status and help it in Amazon’s algorithm rankings.

These 100 people will leave reviews for your book on Amazon and anywhere else your book is sold. They’ll promote your book on their social media pages and on their website and email list.

You walk away with 100 reviews and your book exposed on a larger network than you could have reached on your own. During this launch week you should also offer a few freebies to entice people to buy your book. The freebies are what you will give your launch team as a thank you for their help promoting your book.

The former CEO of Thomas Nelson Books, Michael Hyatt, did a great job proving this strategy. I have also used it with tremendous results.

Have a clear plan for your book. As an entrepreneur, a book should definitely be a part of your strategy for business growth. Establish your authority and earn some passive income through your book sales.

Follow this advice and your book will thrive. Take full advantage of the amazing opportunity self-publishing can provide every entrepreneur.



Small Businesses Should Focus on Ebooks

Do you download your favorite books to read them electronically or do you prefer the feel of traditional paper when reading?

Social media and internet marketing company, NowSourcing, created an infographic titled, “The Future of Books Print vs Digital” for blurb, a self-publishing website for authors. This interesting infographic shares data and other information which provides a unique comparison of the two types of books.

Print or Digital – The Ultimate Comparison

Many people are heavily divided on this issue with each side providing good points. For example, eBook lovers claim that hefty paper books lack the convenience and accessibility of their favorite reading materials. However, print fans argue that eBooks are hard on the eyes, and the feeling of paper simply cannot be replaced.

Is Print Becoming Obsolete?

A few years ago, people were convinced it was the beginning of the end for paper books. Between 2008 and 2010, eBook sales skyrocketed 1,260 percent following the release of improved eReaders. However, in 2015, the pendulum began to swing back with a blockbuster year for print, a 2 percent annual increase in paper book sales, and a 10 percent drop in eBook sales.

Ebooks Can Be Powerful Marketing Tools for Small Business

Although paper books are popular again, there is one issue that remains. If you are a small business owner with books to offer, you’ll be potentially spending a lot more money having them printed and mailed. Depending on how much you charge for each book, you risk spending more than you earn in revenue.

However, by offering eBooks through your website, people can purchase and download them to their electronic devices without the hassle. It’s a win-win for both sides.

The Future Looks Bright for Reading!

Whether you read or sell paper or digital books, the future of reading is looking bright. People will always want to read good content, regardless of the format. The key is to always provide your audience with the valuable information and stories they want to read.




How Long Should Your eBook Be?

Decide Which Number is Best for Your eBook’s Purpose!

#1. A 10-20 page eBook is a good length if your purpose is to use it as a bonus to web visitors when they opt-in and subscribe to your site or ezine.

We call it an “ethical bribe.” This book can also be sold as a leader on Kindle for 99 cents or $2.99, depending on its specific help to the readers. General titles don’t usually sell as well as specific ones. Within these low cost or no cost ebooks, you need to add some powerful promo that leads the reader to check out your print books and other packages and services.

#2. A 30-120 page eBook (best under 100 pages usually) can sell well.

Especially if it offers specific information your audience has to have! Then, sell it at a higher price from $15.95 to $39.95. Higher for ebook courses and other training packages.

#3. A 20-30 page eBook with a specific title and specific audience can sell well through Kindle from $2.99 to $9.99 for best commissions.

#4. Aim for your sweet spot.

It could be 70 pages or 99 pages. If your book is offered at your site in PDF you have an advantage because it’s totally downloadable and printable, and can be ordered any time. Most buyers will print up to 70 pages of a book if they want it bad enough.

Since ebook opportunities are everywhere, you can get started today with any of these choices!

My life’s mission and passion is to help unknown authors create the income they deserve, build their confidence, writing skills, and marketing tactics to get their unique, useful story out to their book’s audience who wants an outstanding life and work.



There are now 5 Million Amazon Kindle eBooks

Amazon is celebrating their ten year anniversary of the Kindle in November, but the Seattle company has already hit a major milestone. The total number of e-books available on the Amazon Kindle have hit the 5 million mark. It depends on what country you access Amazon though. In the United States, Amazon will display 4,947,718 e-books and at the current growth rate there will be 5,000,000 by November. When accessing the .com site from other places such as Germany, the 5 million threshold has already been surpassed. This is primarily due to sheer number of titles submitted by local publishers.

Here are some statistics on how Amazon was able to surpass the 5 million e-book mark in many different countries.

  • For the past five years Amazon has experienced a 17% growth rate in the number of e-books submitted to their platform. They primarily stem from Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle Select and from major publishers.
  •  Every month there are approximately 60,000 to 75,000 English e-books that debut on the Kindle platform.
  • The supply of non-fiction books outnumbers literature & fiction by a factor of 1.5, while non-fiction book sales are much lower than fiction.
  • The most competitive genres from a supply perspective are Religion & Spirituality with 413,473 English language titles, followed by Romance (339,577) and Children’s eBooks49 million available paperbacks and hardcover books on Amazon worldwide. 315,105. Of course, all these categories break down into more than 80 sub- and sub-sub-genres each. Nevertheless, the numbers give you a feel of how big a mass-market e-books have become. (See this page for the graph of all main genres: http://k-lytics.com/amazon-book-competition/)
  • There are 49 million books available in paperback and hardcover on Amazon worldwide.




Deal struck to allow ebook discounts in Canada

Three major publishers have signed an agreement with Canadian competition authorities that will permit retailers to sell the ebooks they publish at a discount — a practice limited in some of their contracts.

Publishers Holtzbrinck (doing business as Macmillan), Simon & Schuster, and Hachette signed the agreement with the Competition Bureau, as has Apple, an ebook retailer.

A previous agreement involving the three publishers and HarperCollins was rescinded by the Competition Tribunal last June after two years of litigation with Kobo — an ebook retailer spun off from Indigo Books & Music — challenging the 2014 deal.

The Competition Tribunal’s ruling last year provided clarity for what future arrangements should include.

HarperCollins did not sign the new agreement, and the Competition Bureau said it has filed an application with the Competition Tribunal to stop the company’s alleged anti-competitive conduct.

The bureau alleges that an agreement between HarperCollins, its competitors and Apple was anti-competitive and led to higher prices for Canadians.

By The Canadian Press



These are Amazon’s picks for best books this February

Most people could stand to devote more time to reading. We all make room in our busy schedules for the latest seasons of our favorite TV shows, but we reserve too little time for books.

If you’re looking for something to keep you occupied before bed or on your commute to work this February, we suggest checking out Amazon’s Best Books of the Month, a section of the site wholly dedicated to new releases in literature and fiction, nonfiction, history, and more.

You’ll find a spotlight pick (this month’s Adidas Wilson Healthy Recipes book), and other books that Amazon’s book editors loved for this month.

Have a look. One of these recommendations might just inspire your next hardcover or Kindle purchase.

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.

Unapologetic nerds, 1980s buffs, and video game fans will love this endearing debut novel by Jason Rekulak. In it, fourteen-year-old Billy Marvin enlists the help of Mary Zelinsky to pull off the heist of their teenage lives. The prize? A “Playboy” featuring “Wheel of Fortune’s” Vanna White. But Billy ends up with far more than he bargained for.


Abraham Lincoln’s dearly departed son finds himself in purgatory in the sometimes melancholy, sometimes hilarious novel from George Saunders, the best-selling author of “Tenth of December.” It’s an unusual conceit, but one Saunders uses to tell a poignant and cleverly topical tale.  




This epic and emotional novel follows several generations of one Korean family, and their fraught life in exile. But there is also much joy to be found in the ways in which this family overcomes obstacles in their adopted home.




Amazon Launches Kindle Storyteller Award in the UK

Amazon has just announced a new writing contest in the United Kingdom called the Kindle Storyteller Award. There will be a £20,000 cash prize awarded to an authors who self-publishes their work between February 20th and May 19th 2016.

Along with being awarded a cash prize at a central London ceremony in July, the winning author will be given a marketing campaign to support the book on Amazon.co.uk and the opportunity to have it translated for international sales.

Alessio Santarelli, EU Kindle content director at Amazon said: “We hope to encourage aspiring authors and those who have already been published, to get writing and make their new stories available to readers across the world.  Publishing a book has never been easier, and the Kindle Storyteller Award will reward the author whose story resonates most with both readers and literary experts.”

The Kindle Storyteller prize is open to submissions of new English Language books from all authors and genres, and entries must be submitted using Kindle Direct Publishing. Titles must be previously unpublished and a minimum of 5,000 words with no upper word limit. All books entered into the Prize will be available on Kindle and Fire devices as well as the Kindle reading app for iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets.



4 top tips to writing ebooks that convert

Given the fact that bonuses have been banned by regulators and spreads are becoming tighter and tighter, thus preventing brokers from competing on price alone, one of the most effective ways in which to increase your conversion rates and build loyalty is by providing your customers with added value, and the most successful way of delivering value is through educational materials. Publishing an educational E-Book is a great value for your marketing buck, but simply writing an e-book won’t magically improve your conversions. Here, we compile our 4 top tips for creating E-Books that convert:

Don’t write what you love. One of the first pieces of advice you may hear when you begin thinking about what to write about will be “write about what you love”. Well, I call it BS. Writing about what you love will appeal to you and while it is true that that love will shine through your words, you should be writing about what your audience loves. Figure out what your audience’s pain points are, why they want to invest in FX, what are their fears in doing so, what would make them say “yes” and then write about what they want to learn.

Solve problems. The captain of a vessel once had an issue in one of the turbines of the ship. He called several engineers and specialists, all of whom spent several hours attempting to fix the turbine, but to no avail. They each sent a bill for their time, even though they had been unsuccessful at fixing the problem and got paid for their efforts. Nearing desperation, the captain was referred to a specialist in this particular brand of turbine. Incredulous, the captain hired the specialist, who spent 5 minutes inside the engine room and successfully fixed the turbine. He proceeded to send a bill to the captain of the ship almost tripling the amount of money the others had charged. The captain, upset, called the specialist to dispute the bill thinking how could he pay so much money for just 5 minutes of the specialist’s time. The specialist quickly replied “It’s not about the time I spent, it’s about knowing how to solve the problem.”  If you solve your customer’s problem, you are providing value that is worth beyond any amount of money.

Don’t over do it. We often believe that in order for a book to provide value, many trees (albeit virtual ones) have to be sacrificed. The truth is that as long as the information you provide can solve your audience’s problem, then 10, 20 or 50 pages at most will be worth it in the eyes of your customer. Too much information, can backfire, as it can make your e-book overwhelming and unappealing.

Demonstrate credibility. What makes you an authority in the subject you are speaking about? Why should readers believe what you have to share? Don’t be shy about sharing your credentials and what others have to say about you. Awards, client testimonials and endorsements are a great way to build up your reputation as a preamble to what you have to say.



Michigan e-book all-stars hit it big, quit day jobs

Two years ago, Amanda M. Lee of Roseville worked a regular job as a newspaper reporter with a $45,000 salary.

Then she quit to become a full-time self-published e-book author. And her decision is paying off big time.

Lee says she made just under $1 million last year by staying home and writing novels and short stories on mysteries, witches and romances. Later this week, she intends to pay all cash for her new $359,000 house in Macomb Township.

She is among a handful of Michigan residents who suddenly struck it rich self-publishing e-books and left their regular jobs to become dedicated writers. The lucrative career path wasn’t available even 10 years ago before e-books and e-book readers such as the Amazon Kindle became mainstream. Full-time writers generally had to work through traditional publishing houses and under less-lucrative deals.

Other members of this all-star authors group include

Boyd Craven III, 37, of Grand Blanc, a former co-op farmer who once flunked high school English. He now makes about $20,000 a month writing E-books about “preppers” who survive apocalypse scenarios thanks to stockpiled supplies. A real-life prepper himself, Craven said his E-book sales took off last year once he added romance elements to his post-apocalyptic tales.

“It is knowing what you’re going to write, knowing the market you’re writing to and what they’re expecting,” Craven said last week from the Tim Hortons in Grand Blanc, where he often writes.

These authors could be considered in the same nontraditional category as British writer E.L James, who originally self-published her erotic blockbuster “50 Shades of Grey,” and Andy Weir, whose self-published book “The Martian” became the popular 2015 movie starring Matt Damon.

Industry experts stress these Michigan writers with their six-figure incomes are rare exceptions in the self-publishing e-book world. Most authors, in fact, do not make enough money to support themselves just by writing.

“The realities of it from most of the writers that I’ve interviewed or know is that there isn’t enough money even to cover their workshop attendance,” said Dana Beth Weinberg, a sociology professor at Queens College in New York who studies the self-publishing market. “So what you see when you look at this market is there’s a few really successful best sellers, and then there’s everybody else.”

And making it is getting harder.

Aspiring self-published authors need increasingly creative ways to distinguish their work as thousands of new self-published titles flood the market each week. Their livelihoods also are at the mercy of e-book industry giants like Amazon, which can abruptly change their rules or payment methodologies and affect authors’ incomes.

Nevertheless, the rise of the e-book has produced extraordinary opportunities for a few determined and highly prolific authors such as Lee and Craven.

It’s all about romance

Their paths to success involved churning out book series in genres with voracious reader demand, particularly in niches that were somewhat under-served before self-published e-books. Although some of their genres — romance fiction in particular — have been hugely popular with readers for decades, if not centuries.

“The most voracious group of readers is romance readers,” Lee said. “They like their bodice ripping and they like men who act tough but who are really just big marshmallows.”

Lee self-published her first book in 2011 after being laid off from the Macomb Daily. The book dealt with the adventures of a plucky reporter at a fictional newspaper in Macomb County that she called the Monitor. “They always say write what you know,” she said.

Elements in the story were inspired by actual people and officials that Lee encountered during her nearly 15 years covering news at the real Macomb Daily.

The book’s title character is a reporter, Avery Shaw, who “is extremely snarky and she’s got a narcissistic personality — it’s all about her and she has to win at all costs,” Lee said. “I set up a county commissioner as her enemy and foil.”

That first book expanded into a successful series of Avery Shaw e-books, audio books and print books that continues today. However, Lee said her Amazon.com e-book sales really took off once she released her subsequent “Wicked Witches of the Midwest” mystery series. Again, her fictional characters were inspired by people she knows.

“I kind of turned my mom and her two sisters and their weird relationship into witches, and I turned two of my cousins into witches, too,” Lee said with a laugh, explaining that her literary decisions produced no real-life hurt feelings. “They’re fine with it; my family loves stuff like that.”

To date Lee has written about 30 novels and short stories under her own name in five different series. The Central Michigan University graduate also has about 20 romance titles under a pen name, which she declined to reveal.

Together, Lee said her books have been doing around $90,000 to $138,000 in total monthly sales, which includes her bonuses for high traffic on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program that offers an all-you-can-read buffet for $9.99 per month. Amazon.com rankings show Lee is currently a top-30 ranked mysteries author based on sales among all her e-books and print books.

Amazon allows self-published authors such as Lee to keep 70% of their royalties from e-book sales on title priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Sometimes Lee prices her books and short stories at just 99 cents, and she only gets 35% royalties on those titles. “I consider those loss leaders — they are to draw people in,” Lee said.

She also receives half a cent payments in the Kindle Unlimited program for every page of her books that gets read.

Amazon’s 70% rate is generous compared to the traditional publishing industry’s common 10% royalties for print authors on initial sales, and the 25% to 50% royalties offered by some digital publishers.

Amazon.com did not return repeated messages seeking comment.

In 2013 Lee was rehired by the Macomb Daily and assigned to cover high school sports, a beat that entailed working many evenings. Being a  night owl by nature, she then got into the habit of writing her books after work between midnight and 5 a.m., then sleeping until about 1 p.m. Soon the size of book royalties surpassed that of her regular paychecks.

“I thought at $50,000 a month it never could go higher. And then it jumped to $70,000 a month,” Lee said. “I started panicking a little because you feel all this pressure, ‘Well, how am I going to keep this up?’ I kept waiting for the longest time for the bottom to fall out, but I seem to have stabilized.”

In January 2015, she finally quit the paper to became a full-time author. Lee disciplined herself to write for at least six hours every weekday with additional hours devoted to the marketing and administrative work that goes with self-publishing. She said she can churn out five chapters every day of 2,200 to 2,700 words each. Even with her substantial book earnings, some family members and former colleagues were nervous about her decision to quit her regular job.

“I think they pictured me sitting around watching soaps all day,” Lee said. “I don’t know where they think these books are getting written. You still have to sit down and do the work.”

Boyd Craven might seem an unlikely top-selling author. He said he failed English class at Linden High School in Genesee County and twice had to take English 101 at Mott Community College. Until last summer he worked as a co-op farmer.

Yet Craven always had an interest in reading, particularly books by Dean Koontz, Robin Cook, Stephen King and John Grisham.

His first attempt was in 2013, when he produced a zombie apocalypse story at the urging of his teenage foster daughter, who was battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma. That book — “Dead at Last” — was entirely self-edited and did not sell well.

“It was very cringe-worthy,” Craven recalled last week. “But I’ve learned a lot. You can read some of my later books and go ‘This is not the same guy.'”

Craven’s breakthrough happened in March 2015 when he self-published his first E-book on a subject that he knows well and practices: “prepping,” or storing food and supplies for a future calamity. Unlike some other books in this genre, Craven’s protagonists in his “The World Burns” series are not commando-types but regular guys. He decided to add romance angles to the stories after discerning through Facebook ads that about 65% of his readers were likely women between ages 45 and 65.

“When I started writing stories about preppers and end-of-the-world scenarios, that’s when the publishing part really took off,” he said. “What I found is I hit a niche with a very hungry audience.”

Craven also is very productive — publishing a new novel or short story every three weeks. In June, he quit his farming job to focus on writing. To date, he has authored about 60 books and short stories and says he makes about $20,000 a month.

While self-published authors can enjoy a larger share of the revenue from their books’ sales than new writers with traditional publishers, they can miss out on the editing processed and marketing resources that are found at publishing houses. Readers can notice the difference in editing rigor very quickly.

That is why Craven and Lee, like many other top-selling self-published authors, now hire their own small teams of professional editors to help polish their writing and fix typos.



Self-published e-book author: ‘Most of my months are six-figure months’

It’s been called a “cure for rejection-letter fatigue.” Amazon on Thursday released new details about the success of its program for authors who want to self-publish on its Kindle e-reader devices. The company, which unveiled a suite of new e-readers and tablets at a press conference in Southern California on Thursday, says 27 of the top 100 Kindle books were created using a system called Kindle Direct Publishing.
That system allows authors to bypass traditional publishers and instead deal directly with Amazon, which claims to be able to publish their books digitally “in hours.”
The authors receive 70% of the royalties from the sale of these books. And some of them are doing quite well.
“Most of my months are six-figure months,” said Hugh Howey, a 37-year-old Florida author whose “Wool” series of digital books was highlighted by Amazon. “It’s more than I ever hoped to make in a year.”
The company says some authors, including Theresa Ragen, who appeared in a promotional video during the Amazon event, have sold hundreds of thousands of books.
During the event Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos displayed a quote from Kathryn Stockett, author of best-selling novel “The Help,” in which she lamented being rejected dozens of times before a publisher accepted her.
“What if I had given up at 15? Or 40? Or even 60?” she was quoted as saying.
“The thing that occurs to me,” Bezons said, according to a live blog, “is how many authors did stop after 40 rejections? How many great manuscripts are sitting in a drawer somewhere?”
The fact that so many self-published books have been successful in Amazon’s ecosystem highlights what other writers say is a trend toward success in digital self-publishing, which is offered also by companies like Apple and Barnes & Noble, in addition to Amazon.
This comes despite evidence that many self-published e-book authors make very little money. A 1,007-person survey earlier this year found “DIY authors” make $10,000 a year on average, and half of them make less than $500 a year, according to a report in The Guardian.
Still, the system does work for some.
“Fact is that authors no longer need a publisher,” Bernard Starr wrote at The Huffington Post. “And more and more writers are awakening to the realization that if you are not a high-profile author who can command large sales, a traditional publisher will do little for you beyond editing and printing your book.”
For Howey, author of the “Wool” series, the direct-publishing platform has opened up a life he never imagined was possible — one where he is paid to write full-time.
Without the Amazon platform, the books might not have been published at all. Howey never promoted the first edition of “Wool,” a dystopian series about a group of underground people who get all of their information about the outside world through a single, digital screen. He didn’t think it would sell.
Then in October 2011, he said, his sales jumped from from dozens to thousands.
“I was taking screenshots and posting them on Facebook,” he said of the moment when the books started appearing on Amazon’s top-100 lists. (The compilation “Wool Omnibus Edition” is currently ranked No. 193 in the Kindle store, although it was listed in Amazon’s press conference as being in the top 100, where it has appeared before). “I was kind of bewildered by the whole thing.”
Howey used to work as a bookseller and yacht captain. Now his story has been optioned by the director Ridley Scott, according to news reports. New York publishers have approached him about book deals, he said, but he wants to continue to self-publish so he maintains rights to his work.
“The stigma is gone,” he said of self-publishing in digital formats. “Publishers will pick up a self-published work if it does well. Readers are really just interested in good stories.”

Interview: Theresa Ragan, author of ‘Return of the Rose’

You know how you hear stories about authors who struggled for years to get published, and when it finally happened, they hit it big? Theresa Ragan is one of those authors. After years of rejection despite success in prestigious contests, Theresa thought she had nothing to lose and threw her writing hat into the self-pubbed ring. Turns out, she had lots to gain. In 10 months, she’s sold more than 160,000 books. I’ll wait while you do the math … pretty impressive, huh? Theresa joins HEA to talk about her success, why she loves stories about time travel and what readers can expect to see from her and alter ego T.R. Ragan next.

Joyce: Welcome to HEA, Theresa! And congratulations on your self-pubbing success. Can you tell us what led you to self-publish Return of the Rose?

Theresa: After writing my first book, Return of the Rose, I began sending queries to editors and agents and I joined Romance Writers of America. Over the next 19 years, I worked with two agents and a few editors. I joined critique groups and brainstorming groups. I attended writer conferences all over the U.S. I judged contests, volunteered at conferences, and became newsletter editor of the Sacramento Chapter of RWA. I garnered six finals in RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart contest. I wrote every day and I wrote in many genres in hopes of catching an editor’s attention.

Having read many how-to books, I knew rejection was part of the deal … I just didn’t think it would be this difficult. As I waited for Abducted to be read by my agent, I reread Return of the Rose and decided I was tired of waiting. It was time to give self-publishing a shot. My fourth and youngest child was leaving for college and the pressure was on to get back to work full time. I needed a “real” job that pays. With nothing to lose, I self-published Return of the Rose and A Knight in Central Park. Instead of selling 10 books, I sold thousands! After nearly two decades of working hard to get published, I felt like an overnight success. As of today, I have published six e-books. Because it’s so easy to create print books using templates through CreateSpace, five of my books are also available in print. In 10 months I have sold over 160,000 books.

Joyce: Wow, that’s amazing! And so encouraging for frustrated writers everywhere. Some of my favorite books involve time travel — for example, Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series and Dean Koontz’s Lightning. Were there any books or movies in particular that inspired your time travel story?

Theresa: A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux was the book that inspired me to become a writer. After reading the last page, I knew instantly what I wanted to do with my life. For a few hours I had been taken away to another world and I loved every minute of the ride. I wanted to provide that same escapism to busy moms everywhere. I began researching medieval times and reading lots of romance novels. I spent many hours at the library. I was raising four kids, but I stayed up late and woke up early to write. It’s amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it. That’s when I knew I was a writer. I had found my passion. I love time travels because I want to see how a character handles being thrown into another time. Will they return to their own time? How will they leave all of these people they have come to care about?

Joyce: All five of your novels are on the Amazon Top 100 Best Seller list in their category and two have hit the Top 100 in the overall Kindle Store. I know rejections are kind of a touchy subject with some authors, but considering your resounding success, maybe you’d like to share one of your harshest rejections? (You’re also welcome to do the Neener-Neener Dance.)

Theresa: Rejection is part of the journey and because of the abundance of rejections I have received over the years, I have no fear when it comes to putting my work out there and trying everything. But, that doesn’t mean that some of my rejections didn’t hurt. The harshest rejection I received was one of the most recent ones from a nice editor who supposedly loved my story. We talked at a conference and two or three times on the telephone. At the editor’s request, I added 20,000 words to my novel. My agent approved the changes and sent the book onward. And we never heard from that editor again. Not one peep. And that’s not to say we didn’t try to get in touch with her. We tried. But I guess she wasn’t interested … you think? An e-mail would have been nice or at least a rejection letter to add to my file.



Four Ways To Earn Extra Money While Keeping (Or Preparing To Quit) Your Day Job

Imagine lying on a beach, sunlight hitting your face and sand between your toes. You grab your phone and check your bank balance to find that it’s increased $500 since sunrise. This may seem like a fantasy, but for some savvy entrepreneurs, it’s the reality of their passive income streams.

To be sure, it’s not all sunbathing and dollar signs. “Passive income” simply refers to money that you earn on a regular basis with minimum effort to keep it trickling in, a state of affairs that isn’t always easy to bring about. Plus, the extra money you earn passively is usually supplemental—it’s rarely enough to live on full-time. But it can still prove a crucial tipping point. For hobbyists looking to take their passions to the next level, it can generate enough capital to launch a new business, laying the foundation for eventually ditching a day job.


There are a number of third-party services to help entrepreneurs and hobbyists alike sell physical products, while outsourcing the logistics of fulfillment and shipping to a platform, which then takes a cut.

Daniel Caudill, founder of Merch Strategies, jumped head-first into the world of merchandising after taking a health-related leave of absence from his job. He says he now generates around $14,000 in passive income per month.

“How I’ve been able to do this is through e-commerce sales with Merch by Amazon and RedBubble, which are third-party suppliers that handle fulfillment,” says Caudill. “One fantastic thing about building passive income is that every action you take in the process can result in massively inflated returns over an extended period of time.”

You just need some patience, he suggests, but you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. The fulfillment sites Caudill has relied on make it easy to get started. You just set up an account, upload your designs, and can create your own digital storefront in less than a few hours.


During the day, I run a marketing agency, but I recently took a similar plunge as Caudill and began developing a line of mugs, T-shirts, and prints to sell on Etsy.

Over the years, I’d toyed with this idea but couldn’t justify buying large batches of products, storing them, and then shipping them. After weeks of research, I came across a site called Printful that not only prints high-quality designs but also automates the fulfillment process through an API integration. By using an automated distributor, I can sit back, relax, and let them handle the fulfillment logistics.


You don’t need to make physical goods, though. Sharon Tseung, founder of Digital Nomad Quest, started built a passive income stream to support her travels. “I love doing graphic design work on the side. After discovering that Etsy allows you to list digital products, I created editable Photoshop templates, such as media kits, greeting cards, and resumes, and published them on the platform.”

The design work took some time at the beginning, but now Tseung can more or less sit back. “Other than some maintenance and customer support, this income stream has been quite passive and can be managed anywhere with Wi-Fi,” she says. That means she can maintain her digital Etsy shop while she’s on the road.

“When it comes to passive income,” Tseung adds, “my advice is to always remind yourself of the long-term benefits. There may be substantial upfront work, but the time and freedom you can obtain makes it all worth it.”

If web development is your forte (as it is for many digital nomads like Tseung), you can consider building a software product that brings you a recurring monthly revenue. Dustin Nay, a website consultant, did just that and now generates thousands each month wit his automated web management and support tools.

Building a software product may sound like a daunting feat that only full-time startup founders would want to tackle. But Nay points out that those with day jobs can chip away at even the biggest projects incrementally—the key is just to keep the momentum going. “Start taking action right now, and don’t stop. You’d be surprised how much money you can earn without having all of your proverbial ducks in a row.”



If you’re willing to dedicate time to daily writing, setting up a niche blog or website can be a great place to start earning passive funds with minimal overhead costs. If you can establish an audience for your content, you can begin selling products, finding affiliates, and hosting ads on your site, all of which can bring in some steady passive revenue.

Monetizing a content site isn’t easy even if you have a sizable reader base, but Travis Ketchum, founder of Contest Domination, recommends starting an email list so you can provide value and build relationships with cold prospects automatically. He suggests linking to helpful tools and services that pay a commission related to your niche.

Jared Romey, writer and founder of Speaking Latino, estimates that he now pulls in around $3,000 to $5,000 monthly through his series of ebooks. “I’ve been selling 12 books that I’ve written and published, as well as a website selling materials and resources to Spanish teachers,” says Romey. “The royalties were great, and eventually the books became my start to blogging online, which helped expand my online revenue stream even more.”

There are a number of platforms for self-publishing ebooks, from Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace to independent options like Lulu and Smashwords. As Romey puts it, “Just get started, make mistakes, adjust, make more mistakes and keep moving forward.”


Some entrepreneurs are finding success producing podcasts and leveraging advertisements from sponsors. Bilal Zaidi, founder and host of Creator Lab, produces weekly podcasts where he interviews entrepreneurs, designers, educators, and artists.

Like Romey and Nay, he also emphasizes the importance of just diving in and learning to swim once you’re already in the water. “Get your idea out of your head, and start to commit to your revenue stream by forcing yourself to tell others about what you’re doing,” Zaidi says. “You don’t have to know every detail before starting.” Podcasting is about conversations, and conversations evolve as they unfold—you’ll get the hang of it once you get started, he suggests.



How to Sell Ebooks: 5 Proven Tips

The ability to sell ebooks as an indie or self-published author is easier than ever before. In some ways, a cult-like following has developed for self-published ebooks among cost-conscious readers and techno-geeks, and many people feel cool downloading books at cheap prices and helping drive the e-reading revolution. If you want to join the fray and sell ebooks to a wider audience, use these five tips to market like a pro.

Sell Ebooks Tip #1 – Give It Away for Free

One of the best ways to assess if you can make it as a new author is by giving away your ebook for free for a limited time, such as 30 or 90 days. Free is the quickest way to generate word of mouth, which is essential to success. If you’re writing isn’t good enough to get friends and family to share your book with others, you probably won’t get the general public to follow suit. By giving away your ebook for free, you can generate enough short-term momentum to carry you through to the real sales process.

Ebook innovator Seth Godin encourages aspiring authors to give away their first book for free. “You should give your book away for free and send it to your twenty closest friends,” he says. “And, if that’s the end of it, then you’re not a good writer. On the other hand, if those twenty people send it to twenty more people, then you have four hundred readers, and then eight thousand readers, and so on. If you can get up to twenty thousand readers of your first book for free, there will be a line out the door of people wanting to help you with your next book.”

Using a free approach with your ebook allows you to test your material with readers without losing your shirt financially if you fail. The opportunity to build a new audience has never been this quick and easy.

Sell Ebooks Tip #2 – The Price Is Right

A large percentage of people who read ebooks are extremely price-sensitive. Amazon started this process by setting prices for most ebooks at $9.99. A continual battle rages throughout the publishing industry on the right price structure. But, Amazon created a trend in the minds of many readers. Thus, many independent authors picked up on this trend and now use low pricing as a way to get readers to take a chance on their new book.

For example, Darcie Chan, ebook author of The New York Times best-selling novel, The Mill River Recluse, used low prices to gain her initial audience. “The goal of my ‘e-book experiment’ has never been to make money,” she says. “I only wanted to get my work out there over time and gauge people’s responses to it. For that reason, I lowered the price to $0.99. I think it is true that readers are more willing to take a chance on a completely unknown author at that price point, and I definitely wanted to encourage people to take a chance on me.”

Not only did people take a chance on Darcie’s novel, they gave rave reviews and spread an electronic wildfire. Within four months, she was selling several thousand copies a day. You could argue that Darcie didn’t make much money from this low-price strategy, but with an established fan base, she’s now in a position to get a big advance from a major publisher or sell her next book at a much higher price.

Sell Ebooks Tip #3 – Partner with Ebook Blogs

Ebook junkies are a tight-knit tribe who possess a powerful communication network. Everyone knows where to go for information, and they check-in regularly. There are numerous blogs, websites, newsletters, and social media pages that specifically review and promote e-books. The influence of these reviewers affects a lot of ebook buyers. Below is a list of several well-known blogs and websites with large traffic:

Ereader News Today: http://www.ereadernewstoday.com/
Kindle Nation: http://kindlenationdaily.com/
Pixel of Ink: http://www.pixelofink.com
Inspired Reads: http://www.inspiredreads.com
Kindle Reader: http://kindlereader.blogspot.com/
GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com
IndieReader: http://indiereader.com/author-promotional-opportunities/

Getting your e-book mentioned on these websites can help generate a lot of downloads. You can write to the administrators of these e-book blogs and request a feature of your book. Some sites give free listings while others will feature your book for a fee. For instance, Kindle Nation offers author sponsorship opportunities to promote your book for $99 to $400. In addition, you can arrange for web-based ads to run on ebook-related sites, such as GoodReads and IndieReader.

Sell Ebooks Tip #4 – Pursue Paid Book Reviews

Besides book mentions and paid advertising, independent authors can pursue literary reviews of their work for a fee. These review sites can help provide a level of legitimacy to an unknown author. Consider the following organizations if you’d like to pursue a paid review:

Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/indie/about/ Review fees cost from $425 to $575.
BookRooster: http://www.bookrooster.com/for-authors/ Review fees start at $67.

Sell Ebooks Tip #5 – Subsidize Your Writing Costs with a Sponsor

Taking the time to write a book can work against your ability to make a living. If that is the case, consider getting a sponsor for your ebook. This process is similar to getting an advance from a traditional publisher, because someone pays you up front to create your book. In return, you agree to give the sponsor some free advertising space or perform promotional activities on their behalf. Popular services in this arena include Kickstarter and PubSlush.

For example, e-book author, Al Pittampalli, landed Citrix Systems as a sponsor for his new ebook called, Read This Before Our Next Meeting. Citrix invented the popular GoToMeeting videoconferencing service (www.GoToMeeting.com), which is used by companies around the world. As a sponsor of Al’s book, Citrix got exposure to thousands of potential new customers. Likewise Al got funding through Citrix, legitimacy from their brand, and exposure to a much wider audience.

The key to landing a sponsor is to identify people, companies, or nonprofit organizations that want to reach the same audience you want to reach with your book. In essence, you offer yourself as a spokesperson or product placement opportunity for that organization. The company receives the benefit of marketing their product or service in a non-threatening manner to potential customers or donors. Sponsorship will work only if the company believes your book’s audience fits their target market and that you have the ability to sell a lot of books.

There has never been a more interesting time to be an independent author. The opportunities to publish and sell ebooks are unprecedented. However, the fundamentals remain the same. You must write a great book that provides tangible value to the reader. Ebooks allow you to accomplish this task faster than ever before. Start small, use a low-cost pricing approach to gain new readers, connect with the ebook community to grow your platform, find a sponsor if needed, and watch as the world downloads your message like wildfire.



Ebook Publishing Gets More Difficult from Here – Here’s How to Succeed

For indie (self-published) authors, there’s never been a better time to publish an ebook.  Thanks to an ever-growing global market for your ebooks, your books are a couple clicks away from over one billion potential readers on smart phones, tablets and e-readers.

As a Smashwords author, you have access to tools, distribution and best practices knowledge to publish ebooks faster, smarter and less expensively than the large publishers can.  In the world of ebooks, the playing field is tilted to the indie author’s advantage.

Now the bad news. 

Everything gets more difficult from here. You face an uphill battle. With a couple exceptions – namely Scribd and Oyster – most major ebook retailers have suffered anemic or declining sales over the last 12-18 months. 

The gravy train of exponential sales growth is over.  Indies have hit a brick wall and are scrambling to make sense of it.  In recent weeks, for example, I’ve heard a number of indie authors report that their sales at Amazon dropped significantly since July when Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited (I might write about Kindle Unlimited in a future blog post).  Some authors are considering quitting.  It’s heartbreaking to hear this, but I’m not surprised either.  When authors hit hard times, sometimes the reasons to quit seem to outnumber the reasons to power on.  Often these voices come from friends and family who admire our authorship but question the financial sensibility of it all.

The writer’s life is not an easy one, especially when you’re measuring your success in dollars.  If you’re relying on your earnings to put food on your family’s table, a career as an indie author feels all the more precarious.

At times like this, it’s important for all writers to take a deep breath, find their grounding, remember why they became an author in the first place, and make important decisions about their future.  It’s times like this that test an author.

Don’t fail the test.

Back in December, in my annual publishing predictions for 2014, I speculated that growth in the ebook market would stall out in 2014.  I wrote that after a decade of exponential growth in ebooks with indies partying like it was 1999, growth was slowing.

I wrote that the hazard of fast-growing markets – the hazard of the rapid rise of ebooks – is that rapid growth can mask flaws in business models.  It can cause players to misinterpret the reasons for their success, and the assumptions upon which they build and execute their publishing strategy. Who are these players?  I’m talking about authors, publishers, retailers, distributors and service providers – all of us.  It’s easy to succeed when everything’s growing like gangbusters.  It’s when things slow down that your beliefs and underlying assumptions are tested.

I urged authors to embrace the coming shakeout rather than fear it.  Let it spur you on to become a better, more competitive player in the months and years ahead.  Players who survive shakeouts usually emerge stronger out the other end.

What’s causing the slowdown?

While every individual author’s results will differ from the aggregate, I think there are several drivers shaping the current environment.

1.  There’s a glut of high-quality ebooks

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing by self-publishing naysayers who criticize the indie publishing movement for causing the release of a “tsunami of drek” (actually, they use a more profane word than “drek”) that makes it difficult for readers to find the good books.  Yes, indie publishing is enabling a tsunami of poor-quality books, but critics who fixate on drek are blinded to the bigger picture. Drek quickly becomes invisible because readers ignore or reject it.  The other, more important side of this story is that self-publishing is unleashing a tsunami of high-quality works.  When you view drek in the broader context, you realize that drek is irrelevant.  In fact, drek is yin to quality’s yang.  You must have one to have the other.  Self-publishing platforms like Smashwords have transferred editorial curation from publishers to readers, and in the process has enabled publication of a greater quantity and diversity of high-quality content then ever possible before. 

The biggest threat to every indie or traditionally-published author is the glut of high-quality low-cost works.  The quality and potency of your competition has increased dramatically thanks to self-publishing, and the competition will grow stiffer from this day forward. 

Ten years ago, publishers artificially constrained book supply by publishing a limited number of new titles each year, and by agents and publishers rejecting nearly everything that came in through the slush pile. There was an artificial scarcity of books.  The supply was further constrained by the inability of physical brick and mortar bookstores to stock every title.  Even big box stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders could only stock a small fraction of the titles published by publishers each year, and as such they were forced to return slow-selling books to make room for new releases.

This rapid loss of shelf space for the poor sellers forced many high-quality books out of print before they had a chance to connect with readers.  This then limited the supply of available books, which limited the competition for the authors whose publishers managed to keep their books in print and on store shelves.  

We’ve moved from a world of artificial scarcity to organic abundance.  Readers now enjoy a virtually unlimited selection of low-cost, high quality works, and these books will become ever-more plentiful and ever-more higher-quality in the years ahead thanks to self-publishing.

2.  The rate of growth in the supply of ebooks is outstripping the growth in demand for ebooks

A few things are happening here.  Ebooks are immortal, so they never go out of print.  Like cobwebs constructed of stainless steel, they will forever occupy the virtual shelves of ebook retailers, forever discoverable.  This is both good and bad.  It’s good your book is immortal, because it means you can look forward to harvesting an annuity stream of income for many years to come, especially for great fiction because fiction is timeless.  But it means that every year there will be more and more books for readers to choose from.  Unless the number of readers and the number of books read by readers grows faster than the number of titles released and ever-present, there will be fewer eyeballs split across more books. This means the average number of book sales for each new release will decline over time unless readership dramatically increases, or unless we see an accelerating pace of transition from print reading to screen reading.

3. The rate of transition from print books to ebooks is slowing

The early adopters for ebooks have adopted.  The exponential growth in ebook sales over the last six years was driven by a number of factors, most notably a rapid transition from print reading to ebook reading, and the success of ebook retailers such as Amazon, iBooks and Barnes & Noble.  Today, ebooks probably account for between 30 to 35% of dollar sales for the US book market, with genre ebook fiction a bit higher and romance quite a bit higher.  Since ebooks are priced lower than print, the 30-35% statistic understates the amount of reading that has moved to screens.  Most likely (especially when you include free ebooks), screen reading in the ebook format today probably accounts for around half or more of all book words read.  But the rate of transition from print to ebooks is slowing.  We’ve reached a state that might best be described as a temporary equilibrium.  I think reading will continue to transition to screens, but at a much slower rate of transition than during the last six years.  The slower rate of growth will therefore limit the number of new eyeballs available for the ever-growing supply of ebooks.

How to Succeed in the Future Competitive Landscape


The easy days are behind you, but tremendous opportunities still lie ahead.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, there’s never been a better time to be an indie author.  Millions of readers are hungry to discover, purchase and read their next great book.

Here’s how to succeed in the new environment.

1.  Take the long view

You’re running a marathon, not a sprint.  Most bestsellers slogged away in obscurity for years before they broke out.  Every bestselling author you admire faced moments where it seemed more sensible to quit than to power on.  They powered on.

Work today to create the future you want 10 or 20 years from now.  Six years into the ebook revolution, you’re still early in the game.

In any market, whether fast-growing or slow-growing, the early movers have the advantage.  Although it was easier two years ago to grow readership than it is today, today it’s still dramatically easier to grow your readership than it will be two years from now.

Focus now on aggressive platform building.  Build a social media platform – using tools such as Facebook, Twitter, a blog and a private mailing list – that you control. You ‘ll find platform-building is the most difficult when you’re first starting out.  You’ll also find as you grow your platform and your following, it gets easier as your readers become your evangelists.  Social media in all its forms rewards those who add value.

Authors who attract and capture the most readers today have the greatest opportunity to convert those fans to lifelong super fans.  Super fans will buy everything you write and will evangelize your work through word of mouth, reviews and social media.

2.  Good isn’t good enough

With the glut of high-quality books, good books aren’t good enough anymore.  Cheap books aren’t good enough (Smashwords publishes over 40,000 free ebooks).  The books that reach the most readers are those that bring the reader to emotionally satisfying extremes. This holds true for all genre fiction and all non-fiction.  If your readers aren’t giving you reviews averaging four or five star and using words in their reviews like, “wow,” “incredible” and “amazing,” then you’re probably not taking the reader to an emotionally satisfying extreme.  Extreme joy and pleasure is a required reading experience if you want to turn readers into fans, and turn fans into super fans.  Wow books turn readers into evangelists.  Last year I wrote a post titled, Six Tips to Bring Your Book Back from the Doldrums.  It’s a self-assessment checklist that prompts you to take an honest look at your reviews, your cover image, your categorization and targeting. With some simple questions and honest answers, you’ll be ready to give your books a makeover.

3.  Write more, publish more and get better

The more you write and publish, the greater your chances of reaching readers.  The more you write, the more opportunity you have to perfect your craft.  What are you writing next?  Get it on preorder now.  Never stop writing.  Never stop growing.

4.  Diversify your distribution

There’s a global market for your English-language books.  Smashwords can help you distribute to iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Oyster, Kobo and public libraries.  iBooks, for example, operates stores in 51 different countries and has become the world’s second largest seller of ebooks.  Each of these 51 countries represents its own unique micro-market.  If you’re not there with your entire list of books, then you’ll face long term disadvantage against the majority of Smashwords authors who’ve been building their fan bases for the last few years with uninterrupted global distribution. 

If you don’t have all your books available at every retailer, you’ll undermine your long term potential.

At every writers conference I attend, I’m surprised by the number of indie authors who ask, “How do I decide between Amazon and Smashwords?”  The question belies an unfortunate truth about the state of indie publishing – a scary large number of authors publishing at Amazon think Amazon requires exclusivity.  Not true!  Yes, they’ll poke and prod you to go exclusive, but you can say no.  I recently wrote a short post for the IBPA (International Book Publishers Association) on this subject titled, Exclusive is Actually Optional at Amazon.  Do your indie author friends a favor and help them understand the benefits of global distribution.

5. Network with fellow indies

As I wrote in the Indie Author Manifesto, indie does not mean “alone.”  It takes a village to publish a professional-quality book.  Network with your fellow indies at writers conferences and local writers groups.  Share experiences and support one another through the good times and bad.

6. Publish multi-author box set collaborations

When authors publish and promote multi-author box sets, they can amplify their fan-building by cross-marketing to each participating author’s fan base.  Box sets work best when every author pitches in on the promotion. Check out my recent blog post on how to do multi-author box sets.  Partner with authors you love, and who you think your readers will love.  Be a great partner!

7. Leverage professional publishing tools

Over the last couple years at Smashwords, we’ve introduced a number of new tools that give our authors a competitive advantage in the marketplace, such as Smashwords Series Manager for enhanced series discovery, and preorder distribution to iBooks, Barnes and Noble and Kobo.  Yet despite the availability of these tools, they’re not universally adopted.  Even though we’ve proven and communicated that books born as preorders sell more units that other books, only a minority of Smashwords authors release their books as preorders.  Take advantage of these tools.  They give you a competitive advantage!

8. Best practices bring incremental advantage

There’s no single magic bullet that will make your writing career take off.  The secret is that you must do many things right and avoid mistakes that will undermine your career.  The many things you must do fall under the umbrella of best practices.

As I wrote in The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success in my discussion of Viral Catalysts, it’s helpful to think of your book as an amorphous blob, and attached to it are dozens of dials, levels and knobs that you can twist, turn and tweak to make your book more available, more discoverable and more desirable. What are these things you can tweak and adjust?  I’m talking about your editing, your cover, your book description, pricing, categorization, etc. Once you get the combination of settings just write, your book will start selling.

Best practices are what separate the indie author professionals from the indie author wannabees.  Be the pro!  Even if you’re already a bestseller, challenge yourself to do better.  Find those things you’re not doing that you should be doing better.

So here’s some good news for you.  Although the indie author community is more professional and sophisticated than it was five years ago, the fact remains that most indie authors don’t fully exploit the power of best practices.  There’s plenty of low-hanging fruit on the best practices tree that they’re ignoring.  This means if you fully exploit best practices, you’ll have a significant advantage over the majority of authors who do not.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the most commonly underutilized best practices:  1.  Many indies release their books without professional editing and proofreading.  2.  A surprising number of authors end their book with a period and that’s it, and not with enhanced back matter and navigation that drives sales of your other books and drives the growth of your social media platforms.  3.  Although indie authors are releasing books with better quality covers than ever before, a surprising number of authors still release books with low-quality homemade covers.  4.  A lot of series writers haven’t yet experimented with free series starters, even though free series starters are proven to drive more readers into series and yield higher overall series earnings.  5.  Many series writers don’t yet link their series books in Smashwords Series Manager, even though this tool increases the discoverability of series books at Smashwords and at Smashwords retailers.  6.  Even though we’ve published strong evidence three years in a row in our Smashwords Surveys (2014, 2013, 2012) that longer ebooks sell better than shorter ebooks, some authors still divide full length books into shorter books that can disappoint readers.  7.  Sloppy descriptions.  You’d be surprised at the number of book descriptions that have typographic errors, or improper casing or punctuation.  Readers pick up on this stuff.  Mistakes like this are like a slap in the face of your prospective reader.

To long time readers of the Smashwords blog, you’re probably already familiar with many of the proven best practices I mentioned above.

If you want a refresher on best practices, please take some time to read my free ebook, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success.  Over 30 best practices are described there.  And read the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide for more than 40 free book marketing and author platform-building ideas.  And then take some time to review my prior blogs posts here, or watch my ebook publishing tutorial videos at YouTube

Indie authors pioneered many of these best practices.  I learn from you and your fellow authors, and share what I learn.

9. You’re running a business

Mark’s Unconventional (but proven effective) Rules for Business:  1.  Be a nice person. Treat partners, fellow authors and readers with kindness, respect and integrity. You’ll find as you develop your career, the publishing industry will feel smaller and smaller as you get to know everyone, and as everyone gets to know you.  It takes a village to reach readers.  All these people – fellow authors, critique partners, beta readers, editors, publishers, cover designers, literary agents, publicists, retailers, and distributors – have the power to open doors for you.  2.  Be honest.  Business relationships are built on trust and honesty.  The fastest way to destroy a relationship is to be dishonest.  3.  Be Ethical. Don’t cheat. Do unto others as you’d want done unto you.  4.  Be Humble. Yeah, I’ve told you have superawesome potential within you.  But know that you can always be better.  Celebrate those who help you succeed.  Always know that none of us can achieve anything without the support, encouragement and love of those around us.  It takes a village.

10. Pinch your pennies (an American saying that means, “be frugal with your money”)

Practice expense control.  Your sales will always be uncertain, but your expenses can be controlled.  Jealously guard your pennies.  If you can’t afford professional editing, for example, find another way to obtain it.  A couple months ago at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference, I gave a presentation on best practices.  To underscore my suggestion that writers find another way to get professional editing if they can’t afford it, I pointed out an editor friend in the audience and suggested that if authors couldn’t afford to pay for her services consider offering her something of value in exchange.  Tongue in cheek, I said, “if you’re a professional masseuse, offer massage services.” To my surprise, I learned afterward that two professional masseuses in the audience handed the editor their business cards at the end of the presentation.  You’ve got skills.  Get creative.  Trade editing with fellow authors.  Trade services in exchange for professional cover design.

11. Time Management

Do you have too many hours in the day?  Of course not.  Organize your time so you’re spending more time writing and imagining, and less time with the menial grunt work.  Smashwords can help on the distribution side.  Consolidate your distribution to reap the time-saving benefits of centralized publishing control and metadata management.

12. Take risks, experiment, and fail often

Success is impossible without failure.  Failure is a gift.  The challenge is to take a lot of little risks and make every failure a teachable moment.

13. Dream big dreams

Be ambitious.  Aim high.  You’re smart and you’re capable.  You must believe this.  Because if you don’t try, you can’t achieve.   Salvador Dali said:  “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”

14. Be delusional

At the Pikes Peak writers conference three years ago, I had a fun conversation with uber-agent Donald Maas. Don had just told a room full of writers that self-publishing was a fine option if they didn’t want to sell any books.  Later that night, we crossed paths at dinner.  I told him I thought he was underestimating the impact self-published authors would have on the publishing industry.  He told me he thought I was delusional. When someone doubts me, I feel energized. To have vision – to see what doesn’t yet exist – that’s delusional.  Be delusional. What’s your vision?  Know that every NY Times bestseller was absolutely nuts to write a book.  Most books fail, so common sense would advise getting a job at McDonalds instead. Three months ago, three years after my conversation with Mr. Maas, Inc. Magazine named Smashwords to its INC 500 list of America’s fastest-growing companies in recognition of indie authors at Smashwords who sold over $30 million worth of books at retail last year. Who’s delusional now?

15. Embrace your doubters

They know not of what they speak. They’re delusional too. They can’t yet see what you see. They can’t see what’ s in your imagination.  Give ‘em a hug.

16. Celebrate your fellow authors’ success

Your fellow authors’ success is your success, and yours theirs. When you achieve success, do everything you can to pause a moment and lift up your fellow authors to join you. A journey shared is more satisfying than a journey alone.

17. Past success is no guarantee of future success

I think about this a lot at Smashwords. The world is cyclical. You’ll have ups and downs. When you’re having a great run, enjoy it, soak it in, bank it, pay off debts and build your savings for a rainy day.  The rainy day will come. And then keep working. Never stop sprinting as fast as you can in the direction of your dreams.

18. Never Quit

Never give up. Quitting guarantees failure.  If you never quit, you’ll never fail.  Stamina and staying power beat the sprint.  Think of the story of the tortoise and the hare. Fight for your right to pursue the best career in the universe.   

19. Own Your Future

In the past, you were dependent upon publishers.  Now it’s all you.  Your success or failure is your own. You’re the writer and the publisher.  You decide how you publish.  You choose your partners.  If you succeed or fail, it’s on you.  Avoid finger pointing and celebrate those who help you succeed. 

20. Know that your writing is important

Books are important to the future of mankind. You are the creator of books.  That makes you special, and it also burdens you with a special responsibility. No one else can create what you have within you. Your writing represents the manifestation of your life, your dreams, your soul and your talent. You’re special. Others might think you’re suffering from delusions of grandiosity but so what?  What do they know?  If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? 

Find success and satisfaction in the journey of publishing.  Know that the measure of your importance and the measure of your contribution to book culture and humanity cannot be measured by your sales alone.  The moment you reach your first reader, you’ve done your part to change the world.  And that’s just the beginning.  



How to Earn Living with Publishing Ebooks on Amazon Kindle

Some say that a book is waiting to be written in all of us. In the past such inclinations might have been given up on due to the difficulties, not only those related to creativity or capability, but also those rising from the outside – in reference to publishing, making a name of oneself and reaching out to readers.

However, in the past few years, with the growing popularity of accessible independent publishing platforms such as the Amazon Kindle, anyone can show imagination, knowledge and authority in matters of his/her interest and actually make a living out of it.

Amazon Kindle is an ebook reader enterprise launched in 2007 by Amazon.com. It was given the name Kindle as a representation of lighting a fire of reading and the pursuit for knowledge. The hardware platform has come to comprise of multiple devices intended for enabling consumers to shop, download and read ebooks, newspapers and magazines at reasonable prices. From E-Ink electronic paper displays to Kindle applications for smartphones, bookworms now have a variety of choices for approaching and using more than 3.2 million of ebooks available in the database.

Moreover, Amazon Kindle offers numerous opportunities for independent authors to directly publish their ebooks on the platform for agreed percentages of royalties. As Amazon Kindle’s market share in ebook reader shipping reaches more than 73% and has an ebook sales revenue of more than 647 million dollars in the United States (statistical reports from 2010), it becomes the most accessible and (potentially) profitable way of publishing and reaching a wide circle of readers. In addition, ebooks have become a feature of content marketing and can thus participate in overall revenues of any business owner.


Entrepreneurship of any sort depends on customers. Technology and internet have come to comprise a large part of managing a business in diverse ways. Presenting and defending authority and expertise in your niche is what will make the difference among countless competitive and similar businesses. Ebooks are tools which proved to be increasingly significant in such efforts (along with other aspects of inbound content marketing).

In addition to the fact that you can avoid time-consuming search for publishers and the difficulties of actually getting your hard-copy books to the bookstores, ebooks are less costly to produce (no printing or storage costs) and as such can be offered for purchase for smaller amounts of money. Consequently, people will be more willing to buy your product – even if you are not an established author. Your ebooks are going to be accessible and visible to extremely high numbers of people. On the other hand, it can be difficult to differentiate and form circles of readers with the multitude of authors who are doing the same. In this section, we will disintegrate a functional process of writing and publishing ebooks on Amazon Kindle and offer some advices on how to form your marketing strategies so as to enhance your chances for success.

Target Audience & Topic

Target audience is one of the key elements in entrepreneurship. Defining interests, needs and desires of your potential customers and constructing your offer according to these notions is essential for productivity – in the meaning of placing a useful product on the market. It is the same with ebooks: you have to write something knowledgeable, interesting and utile.

As an entrepreneur, you should define your audience and your topic according to you niche. It has been shown in various studies that comprehensive and specified niche-oriented ebooks have a substantially higher percentage of success (in opposition to fiction, for example).

Once you have made a decision on your audience and content which you intend to present, you should choose a compelling yet clear title for the ebook. The title will determine frequency and ranking of your ebook in search results. It should, therefore, be unique so as not to get buried. Use Search Engine Optimization tools to ensure optimal representation of your ebook.

Ebook Writing


Most online publishing sites have formatting tools which correspond well with files written in Word, so this might be your best choice, especially if you will be taking care of formatting and editing by yourself.

Your material should be prefaced with a Table of Contents. Make sure you insert ‘Page Break’ after each of the chapters and in between sections (you can locate the tool in the ‘Insert’ menu). These will allow readers to undisturbed scroll through the pages and eliminate redundant white space.


With regard to a simplified formatting process later on, use

  • Standard Fonts
  • Headings
  • Bold
  • Italic

and avoid

  • Extravagant fonts
  • Headers
  • Footers


The written draft must be revised in matters of focus and organization of specific sections, chapters, and paragraphs as well as a whole.

Further on, you should attend to proofreading – finding and correcting mistakes in grammar, style and spelling, as well as typographic errors.

Editing is an important and complex part of preparing your ebook for the audience and should be done conscientiously. There are countless copy editors and book consultants who can help you with constructive suggestions and advice in this process (for example, Independent Editors Group).

Illustration & Formatting Your Ebook


  • Hiring someone to do it

There are many ebook conversion services available with different price ranges among themselves as well as according to the amount of words in your file.

  • Doing it yourself

You will need to use some HTML skills, and it might be confusing for the first time – but it can be done! Use Kindle’s Simplified Guide to Formatting Your Ebook and follow the steps.

You will need to download KindleGen and Kindle Previewer tools so you could check if you are satisfied with your formatted file.



You can insert images in your file in the JPG format.


Cover of your ebook is essential for its successful placement. As most people are going to come across your ebook in the thumbnail format, it is important you design it accordingly. Make sure that it sends a clear message because if readers cannot deduct what the book is about in the first ten seconds there is a good chance they will simply scroll over it. Additionally, do not place a picture of yourself on the title page. Unknown personas smiling from the covers are not going to attract readers (on the other hand, it is a great strategy for celebrities).

Create a Professional Ebook

It is easy to publish a book independently, but all the above-stated procedures (i.e. editing, formatting, illustrations) are extremely hard to do right, especially for someone who has no prior experience in such endeavors. Of course you can do it on a satisfactory level if you put enough time and effort in it, but if you cannot leverage these conditions, it would be better to invest some money and at least consult with professionals. Bear in mind that with large amounts of motivated, independent publishers comes the greater necessity of differentiation and that quality stands out more than everything else (in most cases).

Uploading Your Ebook

ISBN Purchase

International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique 9 digit reference number which serves as a book identifier. Amazon Kindle does not require ISBN because it provides your ebook with the 10 digit Amazon Standard Identification Number (AISN). Many other publisher platforms also provide their ISBN’s for independently published ebooks.

On the other hand, you can purchase your own ISBN for around 100$ and become your publishing company. That way you can insert the number during the publishing process in Amazon Kindle and be enlisted as the publisher of your work.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

Now that you have finished all the work behind the scenes, it is time to upload your ebook.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is the basic program Amazon Kindle offers to independent publishers. It is the most populous publisher today and hence an unmissable point in the journey of your ebook.

The account creation is free of charge while the pricing of the ebook ranges from 0.99$ to 200$. Royalties are from 35% to 70% depending on the price you set for the ebook – it must be priced at least 2.99$ in order for you to maximize your royalties (70%).

Upload Process

  1. Create an Amazon account and sign in.
  2. Register your tax information for royalties.
  3. Insert the title.
  4. Fill out the form – including book title, description, and keywords you want people to search to find your book.
  5. Upload the cover file (JPG format).
  6. Upload the book file.
  7. Click “Save and Continue” and proceed to the “Rights and Pricing” page.
  8. Choose ‘Worldwide Rights’ and opt for a royalty rate and pricing according to your inclinations.
  9. Click ‘Save and Publish’.
  10. Amazon will email you when the book is ready to be published (from 24 to 48 hours).

KDP Select or Not?

Kindle Direct Publishing Select program is a 90 day period during which Amazon has exclusive rights to your ebook (meaning you cannot present your ebook anywhere else for 90 days). However, it gives you the opportunity to offer your ebook at no cost for five days of your choice which can be useful for acquiring large numbers of readers, as well as word-of-mouth marketing and beneficial reviews.

Moreover, your ebook is placed in Kindle Owner’s Library, which is accessible only to Amazon Prime Members. They are allowed to borrow any book in the Library for a whole month at no cost. Each time your book is borrowed, you get paid around 2$. After the period has expired, you can opt for it again, under the same conditions, or continue to be published on Amazon without the special features.

While it was a popular strategy in 2011, the KDP Select has been criticized in relation to exclusivity. You cannot advertize your ebook on any of your platforms, and it is more of a one-channel strategy. Bearing in mind the importance of juggling various channels nowadays it might be a not-so-productive option for your ebook management. Of course, the choice is up to you!

Alternatives to Amazon Kindle

As the ebook market widens and becomes more and more popular for readers as well as publishers, the web of independent publishing platforms grows in numbers. Aside from Amazon Kindle, you can choose from a myriad of others which can be used for placing your ebook on the online purchase skyline.

Here we present a list of some alternatives to Amazon Kindle along with the percentage of royalties each of them offers:

  • Apple – 70% (regardless of the price of the ebook)
  • Lulu – 90% (regardless of the price of the ebook)
  • Smashwords – from 60% to 85% (depending on the price of the ebook)
  • Scribd – 80% (regardless of the price of the ebook)
  • Kobo Writing Life – between 80% and 90% (depending on the price of your ebook)

Setting the Price of Your Ebook

The price you set for your ebook must be done according to three things:

  • The (more or less) objective value of the ebook
  • Price accessibility to readers
  • Royalties

Of course, you can set the price at the minimum because that way it will be extremely accessible to potential buyers. However, if you have written your book with a dedication and invested time and money in its realization, it is somewhat discouraging to put such a low-cost rate. Even more so if you bear in mind that increasing its price does not have to mean setting the bar inappropriately high. Most ebooks on Amazon Kindle are within the 2.99$ and 9.99$ price range.

Royalties differ between platforms (as we have stated above) but are reasonable.

The objective is hence to balance out the value of the book, the price you will sell it for and the amount of money you will receive for it.

Marketing Your Ebook – How to Make Your Ebook Successful?

In addition to marketing-oriented features you can apply to your ebook before and upon publishing – format, design and choice of publisher; the process of ‘getting the word out’ for your ebook does not end with mere postulation of the product on a platform. The publishing platform is not going to actively promote your ebook. Hence, you have to prepare a great marketing strategy.

Leverage your platforms

  • Amazon Product Pages

It is surprising how many people neglect their product pages on Amazon. Put the tools which are offered such as ‘Tags’, Listmania, reader reviews and other in motion so as to create a comprehensive overview of your product at the site of purchase. Amazon’s Author Central is a helpful base which you can consult in order to fully use the features.

  • Blog

As ebooks are a product, you should employ the omnipresent content marketing strategies in order to promote it. Blogs are an excellent platform for such endeavors: they contain your work, your information and provide credibility to your ebook. Moreover, they serve as a communication channel for your readers – they can give opinionated constructive feedback, ask questions and monitor your further undertakings.

  • Social Networks and Google Keywords

Social networks are also a great channel for communication and promotion of your work. On Twitter, you can grow a circle of followers with similar interests and passions which will become a marketing device in itself. Furthermore, the readers will be easily updated and ready for more!

Facebook ads and Google keywords can drive a substantial amount of traffic to your other platforms and thus bring in new prospects and leads.


Content marketing is all about cross-promotion in a subtle and qualitative way. Wherever you read about it, same channels and means are stated. In order to develop a functional (online) marketing strategy, you have to establish platforms such as websites and social networks in order to have a place for promotion of your products or services. The process is nowadays achieved by introducing knowledge and information in the niche of your business which corresponds to interests of your targeted customers. Presenting reading materials in the form of ebooks and blogs can broaden, brand and firmly connect your enterprise to customers.

Ebooks which you have published on Amazon Kindle can be offered for sale on your other pages as well (after the 90 day exclusive period and if you have not opted for KDP Select program) and serve as one of the pillars of the marketing temple for you products or services.

After you have integrated yourself as an author for the first time, you should continue to write and publish. Statistics show that multiple books, especially series tend to have a higher success and profitability rates. With the help of the marketing apparatus you have constructed, readers of your first ebook will be ready for more in no time!



Which E-Book Publisher Is Right for You?

Kobo claims to offer one of the world’s largest e-bookstores, with nearly four million titles available across 68 languages and 190 countries. Kobo Writing Life offers a user-friendly, five-step process for uploading e-books, and the company will convert your manuscript into an e-pub file for free with no additional cost to the author. Kobo has recently simplified its royalty structure, offering authors 70% of the list price on books priced $2.99 and higher with no cap. Royalties are 45% for books priced between 99 cents and $2.98, and authors can also choose to offer their e-books for free. Unique to Kobo is its partnership with the American Booksellers Association, which means thousands of independent bookstores make Kobo e-books available for purchase on their Web sites, helping enhance discoverability. Kobo also sponsors author events at independent bookstores

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

Amazon’s KDP lets authors convert and distribute their e-books across all Kindle devices and Kindle apps for free. Amazon offers two e-book royalty rates: 35% of list price in all territories or 70% of list price minus delivery costs in set territories (and 35% of list outside those territories)

The 70% royalty option comes with pricing restrictions: books must be priced between $2.99 and $9.99 to qualify for the higher royalty rate. Authors can make changes to their book at any time, and the publishing process is one of the quickest available, with books appearing on Amazon within 24 hours.

KDP Select (kdp.amazon.com/select) allows authors to opt in to a 90-day exclusive digital distribution deal with Amazon in exchange for a few perks. These include KDP Select making authors’ e-books available in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, where Amazon Prime members can check out their books for free with no due dates. Authors earn royalties on every book borrowed. The program also offers authors the choice between two promotional features: Kindle Countdown Deals or free book promotion. Authors are also eligible for 70% royalty for sales to customers in Japan, India, Brazil, and Mexico. The big catch to all of these benefits is that while enrolled in KDP Select, authors must agree to distribute their e-book exclusively through Amazon.


Smashwords is one of the world’s largest distributors of indie e-books with distribution to retailers like Kobo, iBookstore, Nook, and, just recently, Scribd. The company does not currently distribute to Amazon. The advantage to using a distributor is that it saves authors from having to upload their book with each retailer separately. Smashwords also offers consolidated sales reports, which allow authors access the sales information from various retailers all in one place. Smashwords offers royalties of 60% of list price from major e-book retailers and 85% net from sales directly from Smashwords with some exceptions. The company offers global distribution in 51 countries. It offers free conversion to various e-pub formats from a Word doc but requires authors to format the pre-conversion document themselves. It offers a free style guide for this purpose or it will provide a list of recommended e-book formatters who charge a small fee. Authors have the option of selecting a free sample section of their book for readers to give their book a test drive before deciding to purchase. Smashwords also offers a free marketing guide by the founder of the company that includes 41 marketing tips.


Blurb places an emphasis on its print book options, but also offers fixed format e-books, which are sold through the Blurb Bookstore and Apple’s iBookstore. Blurb charges a one-time $9.99 e-book publishing fee. While more limited in discoverability than other platforms, Blurb is ideal for authors who have a design-heavy project like a cookbook or children’s book, and authors can also create enhanced e-books with audio and video. Authors are able to choose from existing design templates using the company’s Bookify tool or opt for more options with the downloadable application BookSmart. Royalties are 80% of list price minus Apple’s 30% fee from books sold via the iBookstore—payments are either made via PayPal (subject to a $1 processing fee) or check ($5 processing fee). For authors who are looking for a supportive online community, Blurb also offers an inspiration hub with creative writing exercises, a tips and tutorials page with numerous webinar tutorials, and the Blurb Indie café, which gathers together indie publishing resources and tips.


BookBaby offers global distribution to the major e-book retailers including Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and iBookstore. With three publishing packages to choose from, authors can supply their own e-pub file for free or opt to pay $99 for the conversion. Royalties are 85% of net for the free and standard packages and 100% of net with the premium package ($249). All packages include access to the company’s Book Promo program, which includes a social media marketing guide, coupons for book trailer production companies and publicity services, and “guaranteed book reviews.” A great feature is the free “BookShop” page, which includes information about the author’s book and buy buttons for the various retailers. BookBaby can assign e-book ISBNs for $19. E-books take from five to 10 days from upload to appearing in stores, depending on whether the author supplied a file that needed conversion. BookBaby also offers basic cover design for $149 and deluxe cover design for $279. Once authors have published their books they will incur a fee for any subsequent changes to the text (10 changes costs $50, for example). Like Kobo and KDP, BookBaby offers authors additional marketing opportunities to promote and sell their work.

iBooks Author

iBooks Author allows authors to create and publish their own e-books for sale in Apple’s iBookstore. The process is a bit more involved compared to other e-book services, but it’s a great option for design-savvy authors with multimedia-heavy books like children’s books or cookbooks. Authors can choose from several templates, including classic textbook, cookbook, or photo book and have the ability to add charts, tables, audio, and video to their books using widgets or “drag and drop.” To begin, authors must fill out a Paid Books Account application, which is reviewed in approximately two business days. Once authors receive a confirmation email, they must download a “delivery application” in order to deliver the book. Authors must have an Apple ID along with a valid credit card on file to sell books. iBooks Author does not offer a conversion service, but Apple does offer a list of approved “aggregators” who will format and deliver your book to the iBookstore for a fee — these include Bookwire, Ingram, INscribe, Smashwords, and BookBaby. Royalties are 70% of list price with no fees. ISBNs are not provided.


Lulu offers four levels of e-book creation and distribution services, ranging from a free do-it-yourself version to the $219 Amplifier, which includes one paperback copy of your book and the option for print distribution to Amazon and BN.com. Lulu offers e-book distribution in the Lulu store, B&N’s Nook bookstore, and Apple’s iBookstore. It does not currently offer distribution to Amazon. Royalties are “90% of the revenue from sales of your e-book” less the commission from sales through B&N and Apple. If a document has images, tables, and footnotes the company recommends contacting Lulu customer support to find out about its “premium” package. E-books take from one to two weeks to be reviewed, approved, and uploaded to the author’s Lulu account for distribution, which makes the wait period a bit longer than other options. Any revision to the text after initial publication requires initiating a new “creation process.” If you haven’t opted for the free DIY service, you are required to purchase a new package in order to make your changes.

NOOK Press

NOOK Press is the e-book platform from Barnes and Noble and its e-books are available for sale in the United States and the United Kingdom through BN.com, NOOK.co.uk, NOOK Reading devices, and NOOK apps. Launched in 2013 as an upgraded and rebranded version of PubIt!, NOOK Press offers a free, simple interface that makes it easy for authors to convert, upload and edit their work. Nook offers two royalty levels based on list price: With a list price between $2.99 and $9.99 royalties are 65%. With a list price below $2.98 or greater than $10.00 (but not more than $199.99 and not less than $0.99) royalties are just 40% which is just a bit higher than Amazon’s 35% for the same price range. There are no deductions for delivery fees. Nook Press offers “Live Chat” support services as well as a collaborative social networking option (similar to Wattpad or Scribd) that allows authors to work together and comment on or edit one another’s work.


This design-oriented digital and print publisher distributes across all the major e-book retailers as well as the Vook bookstore. Vook provides free ISBNS although its publishing packages are among the most expensive in the marketplace. Authors can publish their e-books starting at $299 with add-on services like marketing consultations or copyediting available. The basic package includes conversion from most file formats to an e-pub file, two free previews and rounds of revisions, daily sales tracking, an optional (very basic) free cover design, and the ability to include up to 10 images and three audio/visual clips in the text. Additional changes after publication will incur a fee determined by the production coordinator. Authors can track the sales of just one book for free and additional books for a $9.99 monthly fee. Authors can run price promotions and have the ability to offer the book for free. Vook takes 15% of revenue from titles sold in its storefront.


eBookIt is a straightforward e-book service that distributes to Amazon, Apple, B&N, Google, Sony, Ingram, and Kobo. The company offers a free DIY guide to formatting your own e-pub file and a free conversion service although there is a one-time $25 distribution fee. For full formatting and conversion it offers a paid service of $149 plus the $25 distribution fee. ISBNs are provided. Custom cover designs are available for $99. eBookit keeps 15% of the net profit and payments are made to authors using PayPal. Additional paid services include audiobook creation as well as press releases and media blasts. The eBookIt CEO also authored a free e-book sharing 50 of the best promotional and marketing ideas for independent authors. The eBookIt bookstore is a bit difficult to navigate with a limited selection of titles in list format with no cover designs, descriptions, or pricing visible. Authors looking for a design-oriented distributor bookstore that encourages discoverability might want to look elsewhere.


Scribd has long been the go-to spot for sharing text-based documents, but it’s been in the news recently for its new, subscription-based premium reader service (unlimited books for $8.99 a month). Now that the service has been monetized, e-books are available either to purchase separately (outside the subscription model) or via its subscription service and are available in both the Scribd store and Scribd apps with royalties at “80% of revenue.” Unlike with other publishers that require an e-pub file, authors can upload any file type (pdf, word doc, rtf) for free and make changes easily by uploading a new file —while still retaining the document’s statistics, comments, and URL. Scribd emphasizes its facilitation of discoverability with over 80 million monthly readers and a curated homepage of selected titles based on the subscriber’s interests. It also bills itself as a social publisher that supports comments on author’s work and allows embedding of documents in blogs and other websites. Authors must register for a free Scribd account. Authors control pricing and preview options and have access to “instant analytics.”

AuthorSolutions and Its Subsidiaries


This e-book platform from self-publishing giant AuthorSolutions (now owned by Penguin) distributes to all the major e-book retailers including Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon as well as Penguin’s Book Country bookstore. Booktango offers free ISBNs and five publishing packages ranging from a free DIY version to the $359 Eye Catcher. Royalties are some of the highest rates on offer with 100% of list royalties on books sold through Book Country and 100% of net on books sold through Booktango’s online retail partners. An extensive selection of add-on services are available, including book trailers, a publicity team, an author website, and a service that promises to get your book in front of “Hollywood agents, producers, directors, and writers.” Booktango is a straightforward platform that emphasizes the importance of authors getting paid for their hard work. Free guidelines and video tutorials are provided.


Trafford offers e-book conversion and distribution as part of its standard print publishing package. E-books are automatically priced at $3.99 and royalties are 50% of net. Full distribution takes about 4 weeks from time of upload and e-books are available on Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, Nook, and Scribd, as well as in the Trafford bookstore. Considering that the basic print package runs $549, along with the lower e-book royalty rate compared to other publishers, this would be an option for authors whose primary concern is a print edition.


This is another pricy option from AuthorSolutions that focuses mainly on print publishing but also offers e-book conversion and distribution. Packages start at $899 and many add-on services for editing and publicity are available. iUniverse sets the default and maximum price of all e-books at its discretion and royalties are 50% of net. With terms and royalties similar to Trafford, iUniverse might also be of interest to authors who are primarily interested in print editions of their work.



Meet the elite group of authors who sell 100 million books – or 350 million

Reading, contrary to previous reports, is not dead. In fact, it’s very far from it.

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho has legions of readers. His best-known book The Alchemist, the story of a young Andalusian shepherd on a personal quest, spent almost eight years – two presidential election cycles – on the bestseller lists. It was translated into 81 languages.

But The Alchemist is only one of Coelho’s more than 30 works. The Spy came out in November. All told, the writer has sold an estimated 350 million books. Yes, books, those dead-tree, multi-page objects that people were supposed to have long ago abandoned for screens large and small. And Coelho has company.

Horror master Stephen King, with more than 50 titles, has also sold an estimated 350 million books. Dan Brown has millions of readers as well. The Da Vinci Code alone sold 80 million copies. Books such as John Grisham’s The Whistler and King’s End of Watch are now doing great business.

There are best-selling authors, and then there are mega-best-selling authors: writers who have sold 100 million copies or more, such as Ken Follett, Nora Roberts, James Patterson and Stephenie Meyer. And there may be more of them now than ever.

We live in a time of disruption in entertainment, when many people no longer go to the movies or buy CDs or watch television on television, and younger generations seek amusement largely through their phones. Yet there are still people who buy countless books, often by authors who don’t so much visit the bestseller list as dwell there.

Mega-best-selling authors don’t just have readers. They have fans, the way rock stars have fans. Their readers are collectors, determined to own every title. They make pilgrimages to author events – often, as in the case of Nicholas Sparks, in tears.

These authors’ books are sold everywhere: In discount warehouses. At drugstores and supermarkets. They’re as much a staple of airport stalls as those curious neck pillows.

Their astonishing sales are, in part, due to improved technology – e-books and the speed of printing and distribution. Not so long ago, booksellers and readers often had to – gasp – wait for additional printings of a runaway hit novel. Today, if you want a copy of Patterson’s Cross the Line or Sparks’s Two by Two and the local bookstore is out of stock, you can download an e-book in minutes or order a hardcover from Amazon to grace your doorstep the next day. Or your neighborhood bookseller can generally get a copy by week’s end.

The success of these works can also be attributed to the cumulative power of the international marketplace, although because of multiple foreign imprints and varying publishing formats (hardcover, paperback, e-books) total worldwide sales can only be estimated.

The mega-sellers’ ranks include romance writers (Roberts, Danielle Steele, Debbie Macomber), a goosebumpy spinner of creepy stories for children (RL Stine), a laureate of love (Sparks, who eschews the romance label), a Muggle of British wizardry (JK Rowling, selling more than an estimated 450 million books), a provocateur of shades of kink (EL James) and, more than any other genre, practitioners of suspense and thrills (Grisham, King, Brown, Dean Koontz, Jeffrey Archer, David Baldacci and Mary Higgins Clark).

Elite readers may scoff at consistent best-selling writers, few of whom will ever win coveted awards or land on best-of-the-year lists. But tent-pole authors are the powerful engines that keep publishing houses profitable and able to float authors who win acclaim but not necessarily large sales.

How do you get to be a blockbuster author? Typing is not enough, though some of these novels certainly read that way. The writing quality and storytelling vary tremendously, but there are some similarities among hit writers.

Chiefly, they’re extraordinarily productive. They publish with Swiss-clock regularity – once a year, twice a year, monthly if it’s Patterson, who’s an industry unto himself, with a stable of writers working for him. Or Robert Ludlum, who continues to publish his “Bourne” series and other books long after his death in 2001, thanks to multiple authors writing under his name.

“You can’t be a one or two-book wonder,” says Jamie Raab, president and publisher of Grand Central Publishing, which acquired Sparks’s The Notebook. “Authors like Sparks tend to attract a lot of readers at the beginning, and then keep them,” says Raab, whose imprint also publishes Baldacci. “They give the reader what they like.”

Moreover, Sparks is “very strategic. He know how to keep his core fan base”, says Raab. “He’ll write younger characters, which brings in younger readers.”

In the same strategic fashion, King’s Charlie the Choo-Choo, Grisham’s Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer series and Patterson’s Middle School and Treasure Hunters series are geared to younger readers who have a tendency to grow up to become adult buyers.

The big writers rarely take their popularity for granted. They go where the readers are and continue to make appearances long after they’ve become established and wildly wealthy superstars. In June, for End of Watch, King toured Dayton, Ohio; Tulsa; and Salt Lake City, places that more literary authors tend to fly over. Mega-sellers also maintain thriving websites and a massive presence on social media. Brown, for instance, has 6.5 million likes on his Facebook page.

Most of all, though, the top sellers deliver a terrific story. In their novels, especially thrillers and science fiction, plot is paramount. The heroes tend to be relatable – shy, clumsy, anxious, myopic, in recovery, short-tempered, middle-class, broke – but their stories are fantastic, over the top, a wild ride and a welcome escape from a reader’s quotidian life. In romance, the love is for the ages, destined, the opposite of casual. The story does not bog down with the challenge of dirty dishes or tax audits.

“You can’t underestimate the value of entertainment that these guys are delivering,” says Suzanne Herz, executive vice president of Doubleday, which publishes Grisham and Brown. “There’s usually a David-versus-Goliath theme. You want the hero to come out on top.”



Ebooks are unfamiliar waters for digital pirates, according to UK survey

For publishers, fresh from winning a landmark ruling forcing internet service providers to block illegal ebook download sites in Russia and the US, pirates are the enemy. Author Paulo Coelho believes that “the more people ‘pirate’ a book, the better”. But research commissioned by the government shows that that the literary world has the lowest level of illegal downloads in the entertainment industry.

Just 1% of UK internet users aged 12 and over read “at least some” ebooks illegally between March and May 2015, according to the Intellectual Property Office’s study into the extent of online copyright infringement in the UK. This compares favourably to other forms of entertainment, with 9% accessing some of their music illegally, 7% television programmes, 6% films, and 2% computer software and video games.


Kantar Media, which carried out the research, estimates that 7.8m, or 18%, of UK internet users aged 12 or over have accessed at least one piece of online content illegally over the period, with 6% exclusively consuming illegal content.

When researchers looked at “all internet users who consumed content online over the three-month period,” (rather than all internet users over 12), they found that 31% accessed at least one item illegally. Readers, however, still had the lowest incidence of illegal access, at 11%, compared to 25% for people watching films and 26% for people listening to music.

“More ebook consumers paid for some content (69%) and for all of their content (47%) than consumers of any other content type”, the survey found.

The award-winning science fiction author Nick Harkaway said it was no surprise to find that ebook piracy is so uncommon.

“I think there are cultural reasons – mostly around the way in which people view books and authors as lonely artists rather than multinational industries – and some that are more practical,” he said. “It’s very easy to get ebooks from legit sources, and very quick. Cory Doctorow has been saying for years now that discovery rather than piracy is the issue for most writers, and I’m sure it’s true. I frequently miss publications of books by authors I really like. There’s still no really good discovery mechanism.”

Lloyd Shepherd, who confronted an internet user looking to pirate his novel The English Monster three years ago, said that ebook piracy had fallen “to almost zero”.
“I really don’t think ebook piracy is a major issue in the UK – it’s a much bigger issue overseas,” he said. “I get Google alerts all the time about my books popping up on dodgy sites with exotic URLs. But I don’t worry too much. I know some people get incredibly upset, but I think that I haven’t sold the rights in Indonesia, for example, anyway.”

Shepherd would not go as far as Coelho, who actively encourages piracy. “I think it’s easy for those guys to say that, because they’re already selling lots of books,” he said. “The biggest issue is still getting noticed … and I suppose the only thing worse than being pirated is not being pirated.”

The novelist suggested that DRM [digital rights management technology that prevents unauthorised copying], rather than piracy, was the problem. “You could say that piracy is not an issue, but can we get rid of DRM?” he said. “Piracy would go up, but so would everything else.”

“DRM, of course, is both easily beaten and effectively helps tech companies to hold customers publishers to their locked-in formats,” said Harkaway. The Tigerman author added: “I always feel piracy is a red herring. It’s something the traditional industry focuses on when it should be looking at how to get out ahead of the tech curve. Every time I turn around, Amazon’s trying something new that publishers could have done. Ebook subscription schemes, for example: how is there not a Penguin Classics subscription? Or an Oxford Classics one? Same with book-matching – you shouldn’t have to pay full price for a book you’ve already bought in another format.”

At the Publishers Association, chief executive Richard Mollet said the IPO study “shows that the main reasons why readers prefer legal services over illegal ones are convenience and availability”.

“The fact that from the outset there have been so many great ways to get pretty much any book online is one of the reasons why publishing suffers comparatively less than other sectors,” said Mollet. “However, publishers do have to continue to work extremely hard to ensure illegal activity does not deprive authors of their due rewards.”



Which 5 Book Genres Make The Most Money?

The struggling, famished writer is a bit of a hackneyed stereotype but research shows it’s a truism, nonetheless. British newspaper The Guardian recently released a rather daunting article stating that most full-time professional writers make a  paltry £600 a month – that’s under $1000 U.S. dollars. But of course, the authors we know about – those who come to the public attention – have already become celebrities, selling millions of books and making millions in the process. From the talented aspiring writer struggling to make the distant ends meet, to the world-renowned author winning international awards and making serious bank: What differentiates the two? Is it even possible to pin down the seemingly intangible nature of what makes one wordsmith successful over another? In an attempt to answer this question, perhaps we ought to look at certain celebrated writers – J.K. Rowling, E.L. James, and John Grisham, for example – and query what they have in common?

The answer is not immediately obvious. They all come from widely varying backgrounds, their novels are incomparable, and their styles disparate. However, each of these writers have one area of common ground; their successful novels are specifically ‘genre’ works. These authors are know, respectively, for fantasy, romance and mystery – and if the statistics show us anything it’s that genre books sell better than your average literary piece, short story collection or poetry. Literary novels, those which can ill be pinned into one genre, tend to attract a niche audience, the sort of people who label themselves ‘readers’, perhaps frequenting vintage bookstores and grand libraries in their spare time. Genre readers, however, might be more likely to browse through their Kindle and purchase the latest novelty at the click of a button. This is, of course, a generalisation and not true of all genre or literary readers; but the fact is, genre readers have a voracious appetite and it’s genre novels which are driving the publishing industry today.

The question of whether writers should limit themselves to a genre if they want to make a living depends, of course, on passion and investment. A writer, involved in the work for love over money, will write about what interests them. Sometimes, this will fit neatly into a popular genre. Genre writing, though, is notorious for having a rather formulaic checklist of things that need to be incorporated into the novels. Fantasy, for example, will need some form of magic, good and evil at war, and usually a hero or heroine. If you’re a budding writer or a curious reader, and you’re considering delving into the world of genre literature, you may well want to know which genres are the most popular – and which make the most money? With the increase in popularity of e-books, self-published authors now account for 20% of sales in the genre market – so this question isn’t just one for the industry people. Now, it’s relevant for any budding author with an internet connection! So, we’ve collated information on leading authors’ earnings and reports of industry trends to bring you this list of the 5 most valuable, highest-earning genres in the book business – according to the Romance Writer’s of America Association’s reported figures of Simba Information Estimates.

With genre leader Stephen King said to have a net profit of $400 million and Dean Koontz with $125 million, horror’s clearly a popular genre – but it’s undeniably a smaller niche than some of the popular genres, valued at under $80 million. Readers enjoy being scared and they’re loyal to their favourites, which is perhaps why King and Koontz – although having both written out of the genre – have been particularly prolific writers, each releasing fifty plus novels throughout the course of their career.

King generally publishes at least one book every year, including genre classics like ‘The Shining’, ‘Salem’s Lot’, and ‘It’. Horror can explore shocking subjects, often incorporating romance, fantasy and action along the way – but many people simply don’t have the stomach for it, making this one of the less popular genres.

With fantasy books such as ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hunger Games’ being turned into blockbusters, it stands to reason that this genre would be a money spinner. With an estimated $590.2 million, the fantasy genre owns huge names. Writers like Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling are topping rich lists, and these writers target a fanatical audience, often falling under the now hugely popular ‘Young Adult’ fiction umbrella. Fan sites and forums are rife with discussion on J.K. Rowling’s books and the hunger for information is just as incessant among Hunger Games fans. And for the more mature male and female audience, there’s the A Game of Thrones series byGeorge R.R. Martin which also falls under this category and has an enormously popular television show serving to promote it.

The fact that fantasies are commonly written in sagas may have much to do with this genre’s popularity. Fans of the fantasy world seem to enjoy staying with the characters for as long as possible, being left with cliffhangers. As long as there are more books, more movies and more fantastical worlds to be discovered this genre is likely to maintain its popularity.

It’s common knowledge that the bible is the ultimate bestseller, topping record lists across the globe as the longest-standing, most-translated and widest-distributed book in the world. So, doubtless, that little number does a lot to boost the religious and inspirational genre. However, inspirational writers like Paulo Coelho – whose international bestsellers like The Alchemist have been hailed as transformative to the religious and inspirational genre – and Deepak Chopra, have kept the genre relevant in the 21st century. While many malign the ‘self-help’ section of their local bookstore, it’s a booming industry and one that helps keeps the world of publishing afloat; to the tune of an estimated $720 million in revenue in 2012!

Similar to fantasy, the crime and mystery genre is often built on sagas. Although the same set of characters might not be present in every part of a writer’s series, there’s usually a protagonist that the readers connect with and travel alongside. Readers become the Watson, working alongside Sherlock, dissecting every clue and racing to the end before moving onto the next case. Crime is a way into the minds of murderers, something forbidden but intriguing; and often, the ‘true crime’ stories are the most popular.

Some of this industry’s big names include John Grisham with a staggering net worth of an estimate $200 million, and the deceased Stieg Larsson who gained $50 million with his ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ series. In fact, the publishers of Larsson’s books have hired a ghostwriter to continue the ‘Dragon Tattoo’ series, extending it to entertain readers and create more money.

Industry analyst the Bookseller has been reported as expounding, in their 2012 report, that erotica was ‘cannibalising’ the genre industry – at least in the United Kingdom. And what better example of this than the enormously popular ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, which boomed its way into the publishing world and made E.L. James a star. To date, she’s worth $60 million – having only written a trilogy, but with a lucrative film deal in the works. The trilogy, initially self-published by James online as Twilight fan fiction before it was picked up by a publisher, became known as “mom porn”: It explored S&M through characters that women read and related to. The books seemed to epitomise escapism, and perhaps for this reason they became a phenomenon. The genre was ripe to be explored, and erotica showed a huge increase in Kindle purchases as people were too shy and embarrassed to buy the books in stores.

For similar reasons, romance novels contribute to the money-making power of the romantic / erotic genre. With the biggest name in the genre being Danielle Steel – with $610 million to her name – the genre is undeniably popular. Steel, herself, is known for publishing a number of books a year, sometimes working on five projects at a time. The writing of romance books is almost a science – certain story-lines need to be featured, the same kinds of endings and so on. Steel’s books have been noted to have a format to them which readers enjoy. Readers of the romantic genre are similar to the erotic, in the sense that they want to stick to what they know but the romantic genre reader is less willing to move onto a different author, this is why Steel is so popular. Last year, the romance genre gained $1.438 billion and by the looks of things it’s not going anywhere any time soon.



The State of Ebooks 2017

The once high-flying ebook industry endured its second consecutive year of flat sales growth in 2016, renewing doubts about the platform’s ability to attract print readers and ward off competition from other forms of digital entertainment. Experts are mixed about the industry’s future, with predictions of continued stagnant growth contrasting with predictions of a resumption of sales momentum.

For the first few years of ebooks’ rise, Amazon helped keep prices down—often pricing best-sellers at just $9.99, offering a substantial discount to buyers. But when Amazon finally lost its price-fixing lawsuit to Apple—and had to offer credits to qualifying ebook buyers in June—the average cost of a best-seller shot up to about $15. It’s entirely possible that buyers turned away from ebooks at that point, when the discounts no longer outweighed other issues (such as not being able to lend a book to a friend). But as time marches on, we may find that big publishers—which have often been resistant to ebooks—will cede ground to indie authors who are embracing the medium.

The Year in Review

2016 started out with bad news for ebook publishers. According to the Association of American Publishers, in January 2016, ebooks sales were down 6.7% from the year before. Publishing experts wonder whether ebook sales will continue to decline or if they have reached a plateau. Richard Nash, an entrepreneur and digital media consultant, says that the pause in the industry’s growth could continue for the near term. “The main thing we’re seeing is a confirmation of the plateau,” he says. “Now, exactly how flat it is from a unit sales standpoint is difficult to tell. There are probably two micro-effects pointing in opposite directions. One is the amount of extremely cheap content that is available by Amazon.” The second micro-effect is the decrease of unit sales due to price increases by traditional publishers.

Plateaus are never flat, Nash notes. “There are always … little peaks and valleys even within a plateau, and I think, by and large, that’s where we are now, and that’s where we are for the foreseeable future, i.e., until something significant happens to change that,” he says.

With the exception of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service, subscription ebook services continued to struggle in 2016. Oyster shut down operations early in the year. And, in a move designed to compete with Amazon, Scribd introduced Scribd Selects, in which members now get unlimited access to selected titles plus three books of their choice per month.

Nash says that subscription services that compete on price and selection (such as Amazon) will dominate the market, while those that offer a smaller selection will fight to gain traction. It’s due to the nature of the services themselves. “The convenience of not having to click every time you want a song is pretty significant,” he says. With ebooks, it comes down to how many times a reader needs to make a decision. It turns out it’s not very often. So subscription services such as Spotify and Apple Music make more sense in their industry than Scribd does in its domain. “The most avid book reader is making a decision a week,” says Nash. “Whereas, with music, the most avid listener would be having to make 300 decisions a day that they now don’t have to make.”

Amazon’s virtual stranglehold on ebook sales is another reason that subscription services are struggling. The ecommerce giant controls “something north” of 70% of the ebook market, says Mark Coker, the founder and CEO of Smashwords, a company that helps authors and publishers distribute ebooks. For $9.99 a month, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program allows ebook readers to choose from more than 1 million ebooks.

“You’ve got this single purveyor of ebooks that has been able to leverage its dominant market position to coerce and bully authors to enroll their books into this exclusive program [KDP Select], and Amazon controls their cost of goods sold,” Coker says. “They control what they pay the author or publisher for that book for whatever the measure of reading is.”

Coker adds that traditional publishers haven’t come to terms with the pricing pressure that Kindle Unlimited has started to put on their business. “It means that 99-cent books start to feel too expensive, especially if you’re an avid power reader,” he says. “There are a lot of readers out there, romance readers especially, that can read 30 books a month, and it also has implications for traditional publishers. It’s really interesting when I talk with traditional publishers about what I think Kindle Unlimited means to them—none of them are concerned.”

A Look Ahead

After an explosive period of growth and then a leveling off of sales, ebooks need something new and bold to kick-start sales, according to Nash. Part of the problem is the shopping experience—it’s not very engaging and needs to be made immersive and fun. An interactive virtual reality “ebookstore” could make ebook buying as serendipitous as finding a new book at Barnes & Noble while browsing. “I completely agree that all kinds of experimentation are necessary in those areas, but it’s not going to have a significant business effect for a long time,” Nash says. “I don’t think Amazon is going to be the source of that solution, because Amazon, basically, doubles down on price and convenience and, increasingly, convenience, but not on the joyful [experience].”

Coker has many predictions for the trends that will impact the industry in 2017 and beyond. Print, despite its comeback over the past year or so due to the adult coloring book fad, will continue to lose ground to ebooks, he says. Publishers who continue to prioritize print over digital will do so at their peril. Meanwhile, indie authors will continue to take market share from traditional publishers. Indie ebooks now control “somewhere between 10% and 20% percent of the market,” says Coker.

He thinks the trend will continue due to indie authors’ competitive advantages, including “faster time to market and more creative and promotional flexibility for their books.” The glut of high-quality, low-cost ebooks—due in part to those indie titles—is putting downward pressure on pricing. “I think that is a big trend that has really come into play the last couple years and is going to play itself out even more significantly in the next few years,” Coker adds. And, of course, Amazon’s dominance will continue to impact the industry, setting the tone in terms of pricing and availability of titles.

Growth in ebook sales has clearly plateaued, and it’s not clear where new customers and sales will come from. “So the question then becomes, ‘What are the new sources of demand?’-—and we just don’t see them yet,” says Nash.



Which Country Reads the Most?

According to the NOP World Culture Score Index, India is the country that reads the most, with over 10 hours per week. Thailand and China are second and third, with 9.24 and 8 hours per week respectively. Below you will find the list of the 30 countries that reads the most.

Hours Spent Per Week Reading

1. India — 10 hours, 42 minutes
2. Thailand — 9:24
3. China — 8:00
4. Philippines — 7:36
5. Egypt — 7:30
6. Czech Republic — 7:24
7. Russia — 7:06
8. Sweden — 6:54
8. France — 6:54
10. Hungary — 6:48
10. Saudi Arabia — 6:48
12. Hong Kong — 6:42
13. Poland — 6:30
14. Venezuela — 6:24
15. South Africa — 6:18
15. Australia — 6:18
17. Indonesia — 6:00
18. Argentina — 5:54
18. Turkey — 5:54
20. Spain — 5:48
20. Canada — 5:48
22. Germany — 5:42
22. USA — 5:42
24. Italy — 5:36
25. Mexico — 5:30
26. U.K. — 5:18


27. Brazil — 5:12
28. Taiwan — 5:00
29. Japan — 4:06