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.
Finding a profitable niche is no easy task for any aspiring self-publisher. Many new authors think they can just write a book about anything and they will make money. Too bad this is never the case.
If you are looking to make money from your book, you have to tap into potential readers’ interest. Find out what people would like to read. What information or answers are they actively seeking? You may write a great book, but if nobody is interested in the topic, it will not sell.
The advantage of writing something you are passionate about is that you are likely to write a great book since you are interested in the topic and you are conversant with it. However, the downside of this tactic is the subject may not appeal to readers and it ends up not selling. If no one likes the topic, it doesn’t matter how good the book is or how much effort you will put in marketing it.
If you publish a book on a topic that is in demand, its chances of success will be high, and the launch is very likely to be a success. Take your time and find out what books are selling well. Know what the readers want, what they are looking for and what they are interested in. You are likely to get a profitable niche this way.
1. Find Best Selling Lists
Visit sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or even just Google and search for best selling lists. Go through the lists and try to find a pattern or correlation. If you find a certain topic dominating in the top one hundred, for example, diets and weight loss, then you know that people are interested in that niche.
It is wise to narrow it down further to a specific category or a specific book. Amazon lets you look at how well (or not) individual books are selling and they rank the books. So you will know what might sell and what might not.
2. Go to Bookstores
Not many people try this, yet it yields results. Bookstores will always place their best sellers at the front. See if there are similar topics on display. Going to a bookstore will also help you choose a topic because you can copy one.
Another tip is to hang out at the store and see what book attracts people’s attention and what section most people frequently visit.
3. Go on Viral News and Media Sites
These viral news sites often post articles about almost everything. By visiting them, you can see what topics get the most reads and clicks. If people read about social media marketing, then probably it is a subject they are willing to spend money on. They will appreciate a great book on that particular topic.
These are the main ways to find readers’ interests. Visit book retailing sites and see what is selling the most or go to bookstores and see for yourself what people are most interested in. Finally, you can visit viral news sites and get the hottest topic. You will have an idea of the topics that are likely to sell and those that are likely to be a total fail.
Writing an average-length non-fiction book is no easy task, much less writing a great one. You will need to be a conversationalist, psychologist, observer, talented weaver of words and poet— all at the same time. A lot of skill and discipline is required. The following tips are tried and proven; they will guide you on how to write a book that readers cannot resist.
1. Know Your Target audience
Not everybody is your audience. You have to narrow down and focus on a particular person and know how to make them happy. You cannot target everybody since people have different tastes and preferences. If you narrow down to a precise audience, the chances of your book being successful are higher.
2. Know Your Competition
Most probably, your eBook idea is not unique. Similar books will always be there. Present your book in a relatable and understandable way, use your unique voice. Find the gaps that have been left by the eBook’s in your niche and fill them. A niche may seem overcrowded, but you have a chance if you present your eBook nicely. Moreover, too many books in a particular niche mean that it is a “hot” industry.
3. Try Real Life Examples
Readers love a book that relates to them. Use examples of people who applied your advice and succeeded and examples of people who failed at certain things and even your life examples. Let them learn from you and your experiences.
4. Read More Than You Write
Reading should be one of the biggest parts of an author’s life. Read to get inspiration, to research and to study your competition. Buy books similar to yours (especially those that have been recently published); this will help you fill in the gaps they have left. Read to learn about various writing styles and improve yours at the same time. Go online and read about what people think about your topic.
5. Monitor Your Market
You need to observe your market. What are they saying about the books in your niche? Maybe the books being released are all giving the same old information. Maybe they need new content or a unique perspective. Visit Amazon and read reviews of the books in your niche. Use the negative reviews to help you give the readers what they want.
6. Be Courageous With What You Do Not Know
It is nice to write about what you are familiar with. However, once in a while venture out of your comfort zone. If you decide to write about something you are not entirely comfortable with, it is okay to ask potential readers for advice and experience.
7. Make Use of Humor
No matter how dull or dry your content is, humor will always make it relatable to your audience. It will make the boring parts livelier, relieve tension and make your readers happy.
The above tips are a sure way to write a great book that readers will love. Always have a specific audience and aim at satisfying them. Read as much as you can about everything; you can never have too much knowledge. Have courage getting out of your comfort zone and finally, never underestimate the power of a joke.
If you are expecting some magical ways you will be disappointed. It does not work like that. You can only gain die-hard fans a few at a time and establishing the bond will take time and effort.
Building a relationship takes time. Consistent writing is the best way to find readers and make some of those readers your true fans. It is not what anyone would like to hear but it is a fact. You have to keep working for a long time and never give up. One book is not enough for you to live on and your footprint will be far too small.
With every book you release, your power multiplies. So keep writing more books; each book will keep adding more readers to your fan base.
Word of mouth is a money machine that works even when you are asleep. It may not earn thousands at first but those pennies are valuable too. Ask any avid readers around (and that should include you as an author, you have to be an avid reader) when was the last time they got a book recommendation from a friend. Also, when was the last time an advertisement convinced you (or any other reader) to read a book?
More often than not, people get book recommendations from family and friends. Ensure that your books are worth sharing to get the word out.
Goodreads is like a word of mouth but better, people are diligently looking for awesome titles and reviews. Get an author account and claim your books—they may already have great reviews and top ranking. Even better, add your photo, bio and a link to your blog.
Use Goodreads correctly, do not seem like an illegitimate author by posting spam or salesman. Try talking to readers in small groups or one on one. Remember to be respectful, polite, with an intriguing personality and release great books after another.
One more thing, the rating scale on Goodreads is different from that on Amazon. A 3-star rating on Amazon is not good but on Goodreads it means something.
At this point you know there is no quick way to gain followers. They all require commitment. Well, this last method is no different. Should you use Twitter for your business? Sure. But remember using social media is a tactic, not a strategy. And you must never put tactics before strategies.
For example, if you are using Twitter, the strategy is to find someone who might be interested in your work. Using automated direct message movers and follow programs is a tactic. Though the tactics may change, the strategies won’t.
Finding readers that will love your work is no easy task. You have to work hard, be patient and never give up even when things don’t seem to work. Keep writing as many books as you can to cast a wider net, write interesting books so readers can spread a good word, join Goodreads and make use of social networks. Keep going until your dreams turn into reality.
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.
Although it may feel like writing and publishing a book wouldn’t really impact your business, the reality is that there are three reasons why every massage therapist should at least consider taking this route.
1. A book is an effective marketing tool.
Elaine Fogel Schneider, Ph.D. (known simply as “Dr. Elaine”), is executive director of TouchTime International LLC and the author of Massaging Your Baby – The Joy of TouchTime – Effective Techniques for A Healthier, Happier, More Relaxed Child & Parent. For her, writing a book has been an effective marketing tool.
“As a therapist working with infants and their parents, having a book has brought writers, television producers, radio show hosts and agencies to my door asking me to be interviewed, or to provide face to face trainings or webinar presentations around the globe,” she said.
Fogel Schneider says she has traveled “from California to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, as a trainer of TouchTime.”
In fact, her book has been translated into Chinese and Malay, increasing her presence in those areas, as well as in the U.S., and opening up more opportunities for her to share what she knows about the benefits of massage to infants.
2. It establishes you as an expert
Kamillya Hunter is the owner and founder of Spa Analytics Consulting Group, a company she created when she was a massage therapist before letting her license lapse after her family moved to Germany. Her company supports the massage industry through consulting services, website design and content.
In August 2017, Hunter released her book,Success of a Failed Therapist and says that not only has it been well-received by other massage therapists, it has also helped establish her as an expert in the field.
“Whether it’s written to your massage client or simply [about] a particular service or topic you know well, when people see your ideas and thoughts in print, you attract a higher quality client base,” says Hunter. “You become an industry leader and it adds to your status of expert.”
3. It Gives You Another Revenue Stream
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for massage therapists is $44,480 with a mean hourly wage of $21.39. Whether you make this amount, a little more, or a little less, if you want to raise your annual revenue even more, writing and selling a book is one way to achieve that goal.
Hunter says that writing and publishing Success of a Failed Therapist has, for her, created passive revenue opportunities outside of the treatment room.
In other words, her book makes her money even when she isn’t actively selling it. “If well distributed, [a book] can provide you with a decent stream of revenue that can be just what you need during the down times of off peak seasons,” she says.
How to Start Writing A Book
The idea of writing and publishing a book can seem as daunting as standing at the bottom of a mountain and wondering how you’re going to get to the top—but there are steps you can take to start making your very book a reality.
The first step is to come up with what it is you want to write about. Maybe massage has been a life-saver for you personally and you want to share your story in the hopes that it will inspire someone else to find the same relief.
Or perhaps, like Fogel Schneider, there’s a particular demographic that you massage, such as athletes, women or the elderly, and you would like to serve them even more by providing them important information about the benefits of massage.
Once you’ve decided on the basic premise or topic of your book, the next step is to come up a basic outline. What topics do you want to make sure you cover? In what order should they be presented so that they make logical sense to the reader?
Not only does having an outline help you better organize your book and give you an idea of what needs to go in it, but it can also help you stay on task when writing—which is what you’re going to do next.
While some people enjoy the writing process, others find the idea of putting thoughts in black and white a task they’d do anything avoid. If you fall into the second category, here are some tips that can help:
Set aside writing time on your calendar regularly so you’re always moving forward with your book. This could be by designating 30 or 60 minutes each morning or night, or by putting aside a block of time on weekends where you just sit down and write.
Write to simply get your thoughts down. Don’t worry yet about how good your ideas are, how your stories sound or whether you’ve used the right words. These issues can and will be addressed later, during the editing process.
If you truly detest writing, consider hiring a ghostwriter, which is someone who can take your thoughts and ideas and put them into book form. Alternatively, you could also dictate your book to audio and have it transcribed.
Whether you write the book yourself or have someone else write it for you, at this point in the process, you’ll have a rough draft.
With that, you can start tweaking it so it has all of the information you want it to have and provides it in the style and tone that you want it to. This is accomplished through editing and it’s something you can do yourself or hire out.
Ideally, you should have at least one other person preview your book as two sets of eyes looking over your book increases the odds that you’ll find any potential grammar, spelling, or content-related errors before it goes to print.
With your book in publish-ready form, you can take one of two routes. You can either self-publish using one of the many business found easily through a Google search, or you can seek publishing through a traditional publisher. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s all about finding the best option for you.
Having a book can give you another marketing tool, can help establish you as an expert, and can provide another stream of income.
So if you could use any one of these three benefits in your massage therapy business, then maybe it’s time that you sit down and write your own.
The self-publishing industry is perhaps one of the most successful industries today that has lifted itself up with it’s own might. It is clearly burgeoning because of the clear advantages it offers. Of course, that doesn’t mean self-publishing is everyone’s darling as this article proves. That said, self-publishing has managed to surprise us, by its rapid evolution into a self-sustained industry on its own.
Here are a few interesting things about the self-publishing industry
1. It is already massive and still growing
The self-publishing industry is growing faster than ever. Since the entry barrier to self-publishing is lower, the industry is swelling at21% growth rate of registered ISBNs from 2014-2015( apparently, the most recent data available.) The growth is expected to grow even further with self-publishing options are integrating largely into Amazon, leading to a multi-billion dollar industry for its book production services alone.
2. It gives back more to the creator of the work
With publishers constantly upgrading their offerings, the payback rate to the writers and creators has gone up steadily. Case in point is that the last self-publishing platform, Amazon, is offering a 70% royalty to the writer on books prices $2.99 or higher as against only 35% a few years ago.
3. It puts more responsibility back on you
Self-publishing allows the writer a complete hold over the entire process of making the book. This also means, it puts a lot more responsibility into the hands of the writer. Self-published success is typically met by someone who has been writing, blogging helping people for years- building a committed audience. Books become just another way to give more to their readers. Also, self-publishing does not end with writing the book. A book is like a baby that just won’t compromise on its needs.
It requires editing of professional quality, a book cover that speaks for the book. Taking the book to the readers becomes your job as well. Of course, with the growth of the self-publishing industry, it’s no surprise that professional help for book services such as Legaia Books are available as well.
4. It has produced some of the world’s favorite authors
It’s true. Self-publishing has made rockstars out of some writers who may have gone into oblivion if not for this great opportunity. Hal Elrod’s ‘The Morning Miracle’ is a wonderful self-publishing success story. More recently, Lisa Genova, a neurologist by profession, struck gold with her book, “Still Alice” that tells the fictional story of an early-onset Alzheimer’s patient.
Says Jyotsna Ramachandran, founder of Happy Self-Publishing, “Self-publishing has given every individual the power to publish their story, message or knowledge, without having to seek a stamp of approval from a publishing house. This is a game changer.”
5. It’s not a ‘last resort’ thing anymore
For many indie authors, self-publishing has become the first choice today, simply because of the ease and the returns it gives. There are also some others who would pick self-publishing over traditional publishing, even when they have the luxury of choice. James Altucher, a 11-times bestselling author whose last book is a self-published bestseller despite having published books by traditional publishing houses before.
6. It still requires good quality writing
Bestsellers are made out of the value the books give to your readers. Personal stories that wrench our hearts out make bestsellers. Words written down that that everyone thinks, but does not say out loud make bestsellers. Self-publishing does not give you permission to be tardy in your work.
Finally, it helps to remember that you are writing your book for the reader- and when you have them as your top priority at all times, you totally deserve the sale.
Anna Todd was living in Fort Hood, Texas working odd jobs including a stint at a bakery, waitressing at Waffle House, working as a salesperson at Ulta and babysitting for friends. She also had an online life on storytelling platform Wattpad as user imaginator1D, the author of the One Direction fan fiction “After.”
The 300-chapter story — which imagines the members of popular band One Direction as college students — soon became Wattpad’s most popular story. To date, the chapters have been read almost 1.5 billion times — yes billion. Its success has led to seven-figure deals, including a publishing contract with Simon & Schuster and Paramount acquiring the movie rights, said Todd.
Todd is convinced that her success would not have been possible without Wattpad.
“There’s so many gatekeepers [in publishing],” Todd said. “It’s just one random person that gets to choose all the books we read.”
“Wattpad just feels like more of a community,” she said.
Wattpad, which has raised about $67 million, is has become a source for budding fiction writers to post their stories — and for publishers, producers and brands to find source material. The platform allows people to upload their own stories chapter by chapter, and users can comment as the tales progress. Its mostly female readers have quickly become a hub for fan fiction and romance stories.
To find what stories may find a second life in film, TV or books, Wattpad looks at the number of reads, likes and user comments to figure out what’s popular with readers. Writers retains story rights but Wattpad takes a split of the revenue if it facilitates a deal.
The company has helped facilitate more than 100 book deals internationally of stories which first appeared on its platform, including through HarperCollins and Macmillan. Paperback books based on Wattpad stories have more than 15 million copies in circulation and have been published in over 30 languages. It’s also helped license dozens as TV shows, digital series or films, including 76 stories that were turned into TV episodes for the “Wattpad Presents” series in the Philippines. Another story called “No Capes” will soon be a digital series on Mashable, while “FANtasies” was a 10-episode series where social media influencers starred in the Wattpad stories inspired by then. It also has a development deal with Universal Cable Productions to turn stories into TV shows.
The company also makes money off sponsored deals and web ads. A project with Coca-Cola brought back characters from its top 10 most popular stories and had them “write” a letter to Santa as a bonus side story. Meanwhile, it also worked with SyFy’s “The Magicians” for a short story contest to write material inspired by the show.
“One of the major factors that makes Wattpad Studios interesting to both Hollywood and the entertainment industry around the world is we have an audience… We know who is reading this today, how many people read it in the last 6 months and last 12 months. We can actually see that people liked this character more than that character, half the people think he’s awful,” said Aron Levitz, head of Wattpad Studios.
Todd began posting “After” in 2013 at a rate of a 3,000 to 8,000 word-chapter each day.
“I had no idea how long books were supposed to be,” Todd said. “When I was writing all this I didn’t realize it was a lot.”
Funnily enough while Todd likes One Direction’s music, she admits she isn’t a typical fangirl. The only adult fans she knows are her cousin and her husband who “kind of liked their music a little bit,” she noted. Todd first got involved in One Direction fan fiction after reading “Imagines” on Instagram, or short paragraph stories about the singers. One of her favorite “Imagines” authors said she was going to complete the story on Wattpad, which prompted Todd to check the platform out.
Soon after Todd began trying her own story. She liked imagining One Direction band members as bad boy college students living in a dorm.
Todd began getting messages from literary agents, which she thought was a prank. It wasn’t until Wattpad wrote to her directly telling her about the numerous agency requests about her story – and that it was so popular it was messing up their internal metrics – she decided to meet with them. Soon she signed a movie deal, and then after a whirlwind trip to New York City she decided to go with Simon & Schuster.
Currently, Todd is working on promoting “After” and writing a to-be-published book series, which will also have a version posted on Wattpad. She talks to “After’s” movie producer Jennifer Gibgot at least once a week. And Todd did get a chance to meet One Direction at an awards show they were both attending. She declined.
“My publisher asked, ‘Do you want me to introduce you?’ I was like don’t you dare! I just like the idea of them. I never needed to meet them. If they offered, I wouldn’t be like no I wouldn’t meet you. But especially writing fan fiction, I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.”
I love being an indie author and have written, and self-published nine books in the M/M romance genre. Thousands of Indie authors are becoming successful on their own terms, without publishers and agents, and keeping control of their books at every level, and the lion’s share of the profits.
All authors want to increase readership, and one way of expanding the readership is by exploring all of the different strands of income you can get from your book. I decided that getting books translated into other languages was my best way forward. There are several options for this:
– You could pay up front for a translator who will translate the manuscript. The good thing about this is that the author will have an agreement with the translator and retains all rights, but the downside is that they will have to sell their book in an unfamiliar market, dealing with a foreign language and this can be a struggle for some.
– You could also try a royalty share translation via a site like Babelcube. These can be good if you have a bestselling book that is assured a readership because the translator knows they will get paid quickly. But for most indie books, selling is hard enough in English, let alone in another language, which means translators can be waiting for years (maybe never) to see any payment for all of their hard work and no one can live like that.
– Or you could do what I did and search for foreign publishers in my genre that will translate and publish your work without cost to the author.
Now, even as indie authors we have to deal with contracts – Amazon, CreateSpace, D2D, Smashwords, etc. all have contracts that we have to sign so our books can be published digitally and in print. These sites deliver our books straight to market, and it’s up to us to push them. When dealing with translations in territories we are not experienced with, one of the attractions of finding a publisher is that they will, hopefully, have an understanding of the market in their territory. They will hopefully have a vibrant social media platform, great website, push our books at book fairs, and sell via their own website and Amazon. This kind of deal can open your book up to a whole new readership and make you a nice extra stream of income.
In the past six months, I have done two such deals for my M/M Romance thriller series Shatterproof Bond with French and German publishers. The contracts and negotiations were concise and straightforward, and the terms – good to generous. But my third foray into translations has ended with me walking away from a deal for my three books to be translated into Italian.
I am not a lawyer, and what I share here is what I have experienced and discovered through trawling legal websites and getting legal advice. So, please get your own legal advice if you are unsure about an upcoming contract and DO NOT SIGN until you know what you are signing.
BEFORE YOU SUBMIT YOUR MANUSCRIPT
When you find a publisher who fits your niche, check them out before submitting your manuscript. Do a Google search with the business name and ‘complaints’, ‘scam’, and other keywords like ‘Beware of’, and ‘bad’ — you choose. If anything comes up that makes you concerned then you know to avoid that publisher. Also check that they are not listed on Victoria Strauss’ site Writer Beware.
When dealing with foreign publishers, I always get the site translated and check out their FAQ section. Again, this can tell you a great deal about how they treat authors, and sometimes they list details about contract terms there too. The design of the publisher website is also important. If the website is well designed and the books are displayed attractively, most authors could imagine their own title on such sites. However, if the site is in disarray and the in-house books cover design is shoddy, this would be a red flag for me. If a publishing house can’t deal with a basic website, how can they create great looking books?
It’s easy to see why so many authors break out into a cold sweat when they open their email and see a publishing contract. First of all, after being an indie author, it’s hard to shake off the fact that most people see authors who publish via publishing houses as somehow more legitimate. We know this is bullshit, yet still, it’s flattering for the author’s ego that any publisher would be interested in their book. Joy can turn to confusion very quickly. Contracts are scary documents filled with words that read like gobbledegook. Some of the less scrupulous publishers rely on authors being dazed by complex contracts. Legal language is baffling at the best of times, and I get it that some authors blank out, sign, and be damned. Hopefully, authors who have agents will get solid legal advice about the contents of a contract, but for self-published authors, when dealing with the first foreign rights contract, you need to be proactive and educate yourself.
READ THE CONTRACT. I know you must be thinking that this is obvious. But honestly, I have spoken to lots of authors about this and it’s common for an author to not actually read the contract until something goes wrong and the relationship with the publisher is breaking down. No matter which language you wish for your books to be translated into, your contract must be in the language you speak, for me this is English. You may not understand what you read, and even the thought of sitting down to read the contract may terrify you, but if you don’t have an agent, it’s in your best interest to know what you will be giving and what you will be getting from a deal. So,
– Print out the contract,
– Get a highlighter pen and a ruler,
– Read the contract, line by line,
– Highlight any terms you don’t understand.
– Write notes about any clauses that give you a kick in the gut.
– Pay attention to that gut feeling.
No matter what kudos you think you’ll get from saying ‘My book is available in Greek, Swahili, Indian and Russian” If you have signed away worldwide rights for the term of the copyright life (+70 years), the publisher will be dining out on your book, whereas you may find yourself on the breadline or in litigation fighting to get rights back. Saying you didn’t know what you were signing is NEVER a good enough excuse. This is a business, and as an indie author you’re a professional, so live it! If you can afford a lawyer, get one to look over the contract and advice. Unfortunately, most indie authors cannot afford legal representation, another thing some unscrupulous publishers take for granted, and this is why you need to be proactive and find information that explains what it is that you’re signing away.
No self-published author should publish their work without paying a professional to edit it first. But what if you don’t have the money to pay for an editor? Or what if you want to keep your costs down by doing as much editing on your own as you can?
Before you spend money on an editor, work your way through this 25-point checklist. Because the better you can make your novel on your own, the better your editor can help you make it together. Think of it like football: Get the ball as far down the field as you can, then pass the ball to your editor. Together you can go for goal.
SELF-EDITING TIP #1
Does the world need this book? If so, why?
Every year, millions of books get published. Most get ignored. Ask yourself: Why does the world need your book?
This is not an argument to self-censor. Rather to think about what you’re publishing and why. Talking to hear the sound of your own voice may be amusing, but does little to attract an audience. Talking, writing, speaking—it’s all about the audience, not about you.
Sharpening your focus at this stage will make self-editing much easier. Because if you don’t know what you have to say or why you’re saying it, then how can you sharpen your prose to achieve those goals?
SELF-EDITING TIP #2:
How’s Your Hook?
Readers have short attention spans these days, and an ocean of ebooks to choose from. You need a strong hook in your opening pages to persuade readers to cross your palm with silver.
Pretend that you’re a reader, and ask yourself: Why should I care? Why should I invest my money—not to mention my time, which is even more valuable—in reading your novel? I could be watching Game of Thrones. Are you telling me your novel is more entertaining? Make me care!
And hooking the reader doesn’t end after the first five pages. There is no point at which you can relax and rest on your laurels (either within the pages of a book or during a literary career). Every word sells the next. Every sentence sells the next. Every paragraph sells the next. Every chapter sells the next. Every book sells the next.
Because as a reader? I owe you exactly squat. Zilch. Make me care. Make your writing so irresistible that I can’t help but want to read on.
That’s how you write a book. That’s how you build a career.
SELF-EDITING TIP #3:
Who’s Your Hero?
Reading a novel means donning an avatar’s skin. When we enter the pages of your book, we become, in our imaginations, at least, your hero. And we’re not going to be very comfortable if your hero is a jerk.
Your hero needs to be someone we can relate to, who we can understand. We don’t necessarily have to like him, but we have to care. This doesn’t mean your hero should be a goodie two-shoes, because that’s equally irritating. Instead, write flawed heroes and complex villains. Hannibal Lector may be a cannibal, but boy can he keep me turning the pages!
SELF-EDITING TIP #4:
What Does Your Hero Want?
A novel is just this: Who is your hero? What does he want? What’s stopping him from getting it?
Character is just another word for what the hero wants. Give us a sympathetic hero with a goal we can relate to, and the strength of will to pursue that goal at all costs, and you’ve got the makings of a great story.
SELF-EDITING TIP #5
Who’s Your Villain?
You needn’t go all Hollywood here, but your hero needs obstacles. If your hero wants a ham sandwich, and all he has to do is go to the fridge and make one, that’s not a very exciting story, now is it?
Note that by “villain” we mean the opposing force working to prevent the hero from achieving his goal. The villain and hero are sometimes the same character—for instance, a story of an alcoholic or drug addict fighting to get the monkey off his back. Or it could be nature—sailors fighting to stay afloat during a hurricane.
If you go with a human villain, be sure to give the character a touch of goodness. Evil is not cartoonish, but rather a misguided attempt to do good. Melodrama went out of fashion when the last vaudeville hall closed its doors.
SELF-EDITING TIP #6
Structure, Structure, Structure
The human brain digests story in a certain form, and stories that do not satisfy that form will drive your audience away.
To wit: Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end; thesis, antithesis, synthesis; boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl; Act One, Act Two, Act Three.
There are many books on structure out there, and varying theories about the precise form story structure should take. But you must have the basics down, or your novel will not be successful.
For further reading on structure, you may like to read Three Uses of the Knifeby David Mamet and Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. These are just my personal favorites, there are hundreds more out there.
SELF-EDITING TIP #7
Yes. No. But wait!
Good stories must have suspense. When we go to a ball game, we don’t want to watch our team trounce the opposing side, run up the score, and then go home. How boring would that be?
We want to see our hero struggle, to succeed, to fail, the end goal always in doubt. We want to watch the ball game come down to a nail-biting, edge-of-our-seat, who-is-going-to-win, oh-my-God-can-he-do-it thriller.
Not that your book has to be a thriller. It could be a story about cats. But if the cats were sympathetic, wanted something we could relate to, and faced sufficiently interesting opposing forces, then the yes-no-but wait! formula works just as well.
SELF-EDITING TIP #8
Knowing where to begin and end your chapters is an art. Every chapter should begin with a hook. Every chapter should end with a cliffhanger.
Some of you at this point are probably thinking, “But I’m not writing a thriller! This doesn’t apply to me!”
Um, actually, yes it does. If you want people to read your work, you have to make them want to read your work. Readers owe you nothing.
Do I need to repeat that? Readers owe you nothing. Your job as an author is to make them care. My job as an editor is to help you make them care.
End of story.
SELF-EDITING TIP #9
Whose Head Are We In?
A common mistake some authors make, especially those that come to fiction from the theater or film, is omitting internal monologue. The strength of the novel is that we spend the book inside people’s heads. We don’t just watch the action. We are inside of the action.
Fiction is a window into someone else’s soul. A good author gives the reader an intimate personal experience not possible in any other medium. This experience can be deep or shallow, depending on the needs of the genre. But it must be there. A dry account of some events that happened may make a fine biography or history, but the goal of fiction is to connect with your readers at a subconscious level.
SELF-EDITING TIP #10
Have you ever seen prose that looks like this?
“Oh my goodness, what a giant turtle!” exclaimed Martha. I do so love turtles,she thought. They remind me of my dead grandmother.
Jake harrumphed. Can we go home soon? I’m sick of the beach. And none of the girls are wearing bikinis.
Do you see the problem here? We’re jumping from Martha’s head into Jake’s head from one paragraph to the next. This jars us out of the story. If your story requires you to use multiple POVs (Points of View), then the easiest thing to do is to separate POVs into separate chapters. A more advanced technique is to separate POVs using section breaks:
[… several pages of Martha POV …]
“Oh my goodness, what a giant turtle!” exclaimed Martha. I do so love turtles,she thought. They remind me of my dead grandmother.
Jake harrumphed. Can we go home soon? I’m sick of the beach. And none of the girls are wearing bikinis.
[… several pages of Jake POV …]
SELF-EDITING TIP #11
Authors with experience in theater or film tend to write better dialogue. Why? Because acting and writing dialogue are one and the same craft.
What do I mean by that?
Well, why do characters speak? They speak because they want something from someone else. Remember our definition of a story: Who is our hero and what does he want? And what’s stopping him from getting it?
The conflict in a scene could be a sword fight. Or it could be two people fencing with words. Think of writing dialogue as though it were a fight sequence: parry, thrust, advance, retreat, attack. This will give strength and verve to your dialogue, and make your characters pop off the page.
If dialogue is a struggle for you, consider taking an acting class or two. This will dramatically improve your dialogue-writing skills.
Authors no longer have to choose between traditional publishing and self-publishing. A third option has emerged and is gaining ground: hybrid publishing, which fuses aspects of traditional publishing with self-publishing, often for an up-front fee. At least that’s one definition; as any author exploring the territory of hybrid publishing will find, it’s complicated.
“Hybrid publishing is an often-confusing term,” says Mark Lefebvre, director of self-publishing and author relations at Kobo. “You could be talking about a type of assisted self-publishing, where a company that has in-house expertise gives authors the ability to pay for those services and will publish virtually any manuscript that crosses their threshold; or referring to a model where the author might invest up front but there is editorial evaluation and input, and publishing projects are chosen based on their merit as a sellable product.”
Further creating confusion is the fact that a “hybrid author” has nothing to do with a hybrid publisher. The former is, as Mark Coker, founder and CEO of Smashwords, points out, “an author who publishes books both with conventional publishers and who also self-publishes.”
Also complicating matters is the fact that publishers once called vanity presses—those that offer supported self-publishing services and will publish whatever manuscripts come their way once the authors’ checks clear—could technically be called hybrid, because they leverage traditional publishing aspects along with the pay-to-play method of self-publishing. Author Solutions has a number of supported self-publishing imprints, including AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford Publishing, Wordclay, and Xlibris, all of which fit the definition of hybrid. The company also has partner imprints in alliance with traditional publishing houses.
Though it may be fair to call all of the above hybrids, they skew more toward self-publishing because almost any author can publish with them. The hybrid publishers that stand out more clearly are those that screen submissions and have a strong sense of branding.
The Major Players
“What defines a hybrid publisher is not being made clear, and I am not sure that it can be, [but] when I look at what defines a hybrid publisher, [I see] a level of curation,” publishing industry consultant Jane Friedman says. “Not everyone who walks through the door can get published.”
Amy Edelman, president and founder of IndieReader, says the “better” hybrid publishers are the ones that “vet the books before agreeing to take them on.” She Writes Press, Evolved Publishing, EverAfter, and Inkshares follow this model, though they all operate very differently from one another. SWP, which publishes books for, by, and about women, charges a fee of $4,900 per title for a bundle of services that includes distribution, e-book file preparation and upload, proofreading, and custom design, among other services. Authors retain 60% of the net profits on print books and close to 80% of the net profits on e-books.
“Our authors pay, but they have creative control and keep more of the financial reward by getting most of their royalties,” says Crystal Patriarche, CEO of SWP and its parent company, SparkPoint Studio, adding that authors also go on national press tours twice per year and have access to webinars and other educational tools. They are strongly encouraged to hire publicists, either on their own or through BookSparks, SWP’s sister public relations company under the SparkPoint umbrella.
With Evolved, which publishes mostly fiction and some nonfiction, authors are not required to pay an up-front fee, though they can pay for services such as editing or cover art, enabling them to maximize their retailer royalty rates, which are up to 81%. “We pride ourselves on offering the highest royalty rates in the business, but authors must recognize that this comes with trade-offs,” says Dave Lane, managing publisher and editor. “We offer print books, but we utilize the print-on-demand services of Lightning Source. As a division of Ingram, they’re able to make our books available everywhere in the world, and their quality levels are good, [but] those print books do not go into broad distribution in the way they would with a traditional publisher.”
EverAfter, which publishes romance titles exclusively, works with authors in a variety of ways, including bringing successfully self-published e-book authors to the print market. “Last July we launched a program where we put authors’ books into traditional print distribution with active sales representation for select titles,” says Mary Cummings, v-p and director of business development at Diversion Books, EverAfter’s parent company. “No matter how successful a romance author is in the digital space, print is a different animal, so we also work with these authors on strategy, marketing, and publicity in order to optimize their sales in print formats. We approach these distribution relationships with the perspective of a traditional publisher, so we aim to add as much as we can to the conversation along the way. We also offer à la carte services, from design to publicity, to authors that want them.”
Inkshares, which focuses primarily on SF and fantasy titles, runs on crowdfunding. Authors, who pay no fees, are tasked with generating a following in the Inkshares community and can have their books published by Inkshares once they have scored at least 250 preorders.
“Once a book hits its goal, we work like a traditional publisher,” says Jeremy Thomas, CEO and cofounder of Inkshares. “We have a deal with Ingram distribution services that can get books into bookstores.”
Crash Course in Publishing
For many authors, the value of working with hybrid publishers rather than self-publishing is clear. There’s support, community, and the sense that the publisher believes in the work. But would any author choose a hybrid over a traditional publisher? It happens.
“[SWP] has authors who have several books out by a traditional publisher who want something new but don’t want to be on their own [as self-publishers],” Patriarche says. One distinct benefit that authors see, particularly with SWP, is a transparent process through which they can learn about book publishing.
SWP author Kristen Harnisch calls it a “crash course in publishing.” “Because I’m fronting the money and making most of the decisions, I’ve learned about editing, proofreading, printing, cover design, marketing, and distribution and now share these insights with authors at writers’ conferences,” she says. “Hybrid publishing has also given me more time to make my debut novel a success—a year or more—which is not the standard in traditional publishing.”
Jill G. Hall, who chose to publish her first novel with SWP, went the hybrid route in part because she felt that, at the age of 60, her “chances of getting picked up by a [traditional publisher] were slim.” Moreover, Hall didn’t want to lose control of her work.
“I have strong organizational skills, am a go-getter, and like being in charge,” Hall says. “I love to learn new things and found it an exciting challenge to learn the ins and outs of book marketing.”
A Tough Sell to Bookstores
Hybrid publishing does have its drawbacks and is assuredly not for everybody. Jordan Rosenfeld, who has published several books on her own, as well as with traditional presses and the hybrid publisher Booktrope, which closes May 31, enjoyed having a collaborative team backing her project, but says she is now “on the fence” about hybrids.
“I think that the best use of a hybrid publisher is for authors who want to write a series and can churn out a lot of books,” Rosenfeld says, “I think for one-off books, you’re better off trying to get a traditional publisher with some marketing budget.”
Authors who are keen on getting books into the hands of readers should by all means consider hybrid publishers, but authors who want to get their books into bricks-and-mortar stores should be aware of the model’s inherent challenges. A hybrid publisher that has access to bookstore distribution is promising, but the truth of the matter is that getting an indie book on shelves is “difficult and expensive,” IndieReader’s Edelman says.
Hall says the only thing that she didn’t like about hybrid publishing was the lack of interest from bookstores. “Many people and bookstores had never heard of SWP or the hybrid model before,” Hall says. “Since my novel wasn’t traditionally published, they looked down their noses at my book because they felt it wouldn’t be very high quality, [but] readers have given me great feedback, and that’s what matters most to me.”
Publishing your own eBook has never been a walk in the park, but it has been easier by the availability of services, platforms and tools. With so many options for self-publishers to choose from, authors should be sure to position themselves in such a way to reach a maximum audience.
Book Includes: Introduction 1. How to Self-Publish 2. Guest blogging to Promote Your Book 3. A Guide to Amazon Book Reviews 4. How Indie Authors Can Create Super fans 5. How to Market Your Book 6. Tips to Creating Best Selling Book Ideas 7. Email List 8. Book Landing Page 9. Write a Nonfiction EBook 10. How Long Should Your EBook Be? 11. Finding a Niche as a Self-Publisher 12. Marketing Video for your Book 13. Mistakes Self-Publishers make on Book Covers 14. Why Self-Published Books Don’t Sell 15. Hybrid Publishing 16. A Complete Guide to Ghostwriting 17. Evernote an Essential Tool for Writers 18. Book Publishers and Subscriptions 19. Find Readers That Love Your Work 20. Kobo Writing Life 21. Choosing the Best eBook Publishing Platform 22. Pronoun for Self-Publishing 23. Self-Publishing on Amazon 24. How Should You Price Your EBook 25. Word Count for Your Self-Published Novel 26. Before You Self-Publish a Chapbook, Poetry Book, or Collection of Poems 27. Getting Book Bloggers to Review Your Book 28. Book Trailers 29. Ins And Outs of Copyright 30. Facing Critics 31. The Art of Kindle Keywords 32. It’s Time to Get a Literary Agent 33. How to Start a Book Publishing Company 34. Write a Compelling Author Bio 35. Give Your Book a Title That Sells 36. Apple’s iBook store 37. Conclusion
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!
Kobo Writing Life is the self-publishing arm of Kobo and it launched in 2012. The e-books that authors submit are stacked side by side with titles from major publishers. Mark Lefebvre theDirector of Self-Publishing & Author Relations sat down with Good e-Reader to give a status update and to let authors know some of the exciting things that are happening.
Many new authors are not familiar with the Kobo ecosystem and what Writing Life can do for them. Mark gave the lowdown on what the platform can do for indies. “In a nutshell, KWL offers you a place to publish your eBook for free to Kobo’s catalog. You get to keep 70% for any title priced $2.99 or higher. There’s no CAP on that 70%, which means authors who want to do great value box sets of multiple copies of their books, can offer their readers a good deal without having to give up on margin. (Kindle drops the royalties to 35% if you price above $9.99).”
“Also, via Kobo Writing Life, you’re not dealing with a faceless corporation. Yes, we have automated tasks and efficiencies so that authors can easily DIY their way all through the publishing process. But if authors need to contact a real human, they can. We’ve re-launched with a new ticketing system that has allowed us to be more efficient than ever before and offer more personalized responses to authors concerns. We also have a new community and forum where authors can easily find answers to popular questions.”
“Part of the mandate of the KWL Team isn’t just to help authors with publishing, but to also help educate and inform authors on the craft and business of publishing. It’s great that we offer free tools to publish, but it’s just as important to us that we ensure they understand the economics of business, best practices for authors, etc. That’s why we have also partnered with trusted companies to offer author services for cover design, editorial support, purchasing ISBNs at a discount (for US authors through Bowker), audiobook production (via ListenUp), etc. KWL offers great price optimization tools so that authors can control their prices in 15 currencies. Again, as mentioned above, we do our best to help educate and inform authors of the importance of the global markets.
Kobo Writing Life has been a massive success for the company and over the course of the past six years over 550,000 titles were published. On a weekly basis, KWL has been averaging between 1,000 to 1,500 new titles every week, so the annual title count increase in a year is somewhere between 50,000 to 75,000. This doesn’t count self-published titles being added through 3rd party self-pub aggregators like Draft2Digital, Smashwords, Pronoun, and Streetlib. Kobo does not track the exact title count through these companies, but it is estimated they contribute an extra 25,000 e-books per year.
Writing Life is constantly evolving and over the last few years they added a pre-order system, author pages and the ability to track free downloads. Mark elaborated about some of the features that did not make the daily news cycle. “We have added far more author services support over the past few years. We initially avoided those paid services because of the history of some other companies out there who seem to exist merely to exploit authors and sell them things they don’t need. But, over time, we realize that there are a multitude of beginning authors who don’t know where to go to get trusted services, so we have a person on the KWL team, Hufsa, dedicated to working with potential partners to secure a discount for KWL authors on services and so we can direct them to people who are going to provide quality service and trusted service.”
“In terms of the systems themselves, we continue to iterate and optimize the KWL dashboard based on ongoing KWL user feedback, and have recently launched a survey to our most active KWL users to learn what they like, what they don’t like, what they want more of, what new things they’d find more valuable. We use the results of those surveys to help us prioritize the 18+ month backlog of tasks/upgrades and updates we want to implement.” Mark also mentioned that they are currently BETA testing a new print on demand service for Canadian and US authors.
Amazon is once again ruffling the feathers of publishers and authors alike, this time for a change in its policy that allows the “buy button” to redirect to the seller with the best customer service rating and pricing for the item. That’s all well and good if you’re purchasing a kayak from a third-party seller–after all, lower prices and faster order fulfillment are what keep customers coming back–but this change also extends to books.
This change means that the very publishers who sell their own works–whether they are the authors themselves, fully operating publishers, or authors with their own imprint for business purposes–can now be undersold and therefore not be the actual seller when a consumer (oblivious to the rule change) clicks “add to cart.” Unless the consumer takes the time to notice who will be fulfilling the order and then bothers to click for further options in order to find the actual content owner, one of the many “bookshop” sellers who buys a book, undercuts the price, and then makes up for it in outrageous shipping fees can get that sale.
The middle-of-the-fence conundrum is this: what exactly does Amazon “owe” to authors? Yes, it was arguably the authors and small presses who’ve propelled Amazon to its current earning status by selling their content and bringing in customers, otherwise Amazon could have just been another B&N, Borders, or Books-A-Million. But who is Amazon’s favored demographic, writers or consumers?
When Goodreads (owned by Amazon) was facing near-daily backlash for allowing abusive reviews that ultimately ended up on retail channels due to API agreements, the site had a simple message for the victims: “we’re not here for authors to feel good, we’re a site for readers to express their opinions.” Basically, the answer was suck it up, buttercup, and Goodreads refused to take the requested drastic action against members who were seen as unfair in their behavior.
Now, the same is true of Amazon’s retail practices. Their end goal is providing the best possible outcome for consumers in order to retain customers, and less about making sure authors earn as much money as they can. The only recourse at this time for authors who don’t agree is to stop allowing Amazon to be their only retail channel, something that might actually hurt Amazon enough to force a change to this rule. Perhaps it’s time to help the next retail channel grow too big.
What else can you do to help potential readers find your book? If you have the time, resources, and skills, you might consider producing a book trailer as did indie author and independent publisher, Paul Amirault.
Paul’s book is “The Man Who Sent the SOS,” and he published it on April 11 to coincide with the publicity around “Titanic 105” — that is, the 105th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. It’s a memoir about Paul’s memories (through past-life regression) of the life of Jack Phillips, the First Marconi Officer aboard the RMS Titanic.
You may or not believe in reincarnation, but if you’re a film buff, you probably have some interest in the Titanic based on James Cameron’s movie, “Titanic,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. In fact, you’ve probably harbored that interest in the Titanic since 1997, when the movie was released, based on the appeal of the costars and the phenomenal production values of the movie.
Speaking of production values — and here’s where things get interesting — author Paul Amirault is based in Hollywood, California, and he is a television producer. So guess what he did with TV production talents?
Yes. He produced a video trailer for “The Man Who Sent the SOS” which is the finest book trailer I’ve ever seen. Check it out here. Paul’s book trailer, which was launched concurrently with the publication of his memoir, has already received more than 1,000 views across his Facebook pages. His web site has led people to the book trailer on YouTube, and that book video has already received more than 100 views. I trust the audience will build organically and become an integral part of the book promotion campaign.
What sets Paul Amirault’s book trailer apart from other video trailers for books that I’ve seen is that it’s not plot driven. Instead, it takes viewers on a journey. They believe they’re watching one thing at the beginning of the video. But, by the end of the production, viewers’ moods will shift, and they will end up feeling different from how they did when the video began. That, in my estimation, is the definition of a successful video production: it moves viewers.
Through word-of-mouth publicity, social networking, and advertising, I know that the video trailer will find an audience and encourage potential readers to visit their bookstore. That’s why I think the creation of the book trailer was a wonderful investment of Paul Amirault’s time, resources, and talents.
As I’ve disclosed, Paul is a professional television producer. That gave him an advantage over most indie authors and independent book publishers when he was producing a book trailer for “The Man Who Sent the SOS.” So, as a book publicist, there’s a part of me that wants to warn authors: don’t try this at home.
However, although Paul’s video trailer sets a new high bar for book trailers, it’s something I think other authors and publishers can aspire to achieve. Perhaps your book trailer will be more home grown, and maybe your book video production company will have more modest resources. But if you have the resources and a creative team that can help you produce a high quality video trailer, then your book trailer can become a key component of your book marketing strategy. Thank you, Paul, for showing us all how a book trailer should look and feel!
Stacey J. Miller is an independent book publicist and the founder of the Massachusetts-based book promotion firm, S. J. Miller Communications. She is also the proud book publicist of Paul Amirault’s memoir, “The Man Who Sent the SOS.” For another example of Paul’s book promotion smarts, click here.
Let’s talk genre. Whether you’re a thriller writer, a natural when it comes to love and romance, or like to spend your time exploring undiscovered galaxies, your genre can be your best friend. Some genres are hot right now and some not so hot, so let’s take a look at those that are really on fire and figure out why — and what this could mean for you.
First of all, what is a fiction genre anyway? It is a category, a sub-set of the form of literary composition known as fiction — literature created from the imagination, even though it may be based on fact. Traditional publishers often distinguish between literary fiction (usually more character driven) and commercial fiction (usually more plot driven). Of course, there are overlaps between these classifications, but, for the most part, genre fiction falls into the commercial category.
These days, especially in the e-book world of digital publishing, genre fiction is huge. Right now, the leading genre categories for self-published titles are: romance, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery/thriller/suspense, in that order. There is some controversy about how e-book sales are actually measured and it is difficult to come up with precise sales figures in each category, but Los Angeles-based science-fiction author Edward W. Robertson has studied the data from the Author Earnings Report, and, using a different methodology, twice come to the same conclusion, namely that “these four genres continue to comprise 70 percent of Amazon’s e-book sales, and roughly half of those sales are of self-published books.” That adds up to a lot of people reading self-published genre fiction in the e-book format.
As an author, it took Robertson a few years to “get his sea legs,” he says, and at the beginning sales were slow. Now, though, he has sold over 160,000 copies of his books and his sales are getting better every year. His advice to new authors: create a series and build on each book; commission a dynamite, genre-appropriate cover; and experiment with pricing until you find what works best for you.
When we asked Hugh Howey, bestselling sci-fi author of the Wool Series, how he found his niche, he said he thinks he was just lucky. “As a kid I always felt like an outsider in my literary taste,” he says. “I thought science fiction was a narrow genre, but when I started to write I just followed my passion and it worked out better than I could have ever imagined. My goal was to write lots of books and sell 5,000 copies over my lifetime. My dad encouraged me to go for it, so go for it I did. And look what happened.”
Howey’s books have sold millions of copies. He’s considered a marketing genius, and yet remains humble about his success. “I was in the right place at the right time,” he says. “In 2009, when I published my first book, it was the beginning of the gold rush in self-publishing and the timing couldn’t have been better. But people are still having this kind of success today. Authors like A.G. Riddle are selling like crazy, and refining their marketing skills every day.” Howey’s advice to new authors: “Make a plan. Think long term. Decide to write 10 books instead of just one and then start writing — everyday. That’s what worked for me.”
And then there are all those hugely successful romance writers, such as Laurelin Paige with her Fixed Trilogy and Amanda Hocking with her paranormal romances, just for starters.
Obviously not all indie writers enjoy this kind of success. In fact some studies suggest that the majority of self-published books sell modestly. But here’s what’s so exciting. These days, if an author’s sales are sluggish to begin with, there is a lot she can do about it. Today, as never before in the history of the book publishing business, an author can find her niche — figure out who her readers are and connect with them. I remember once, years ago, at the weekly editorial meeting at the publishing house where I was working, suggesting that we slip a postage paid, self-addressed post card into the front of a couple of upcoming books on our list to find out who the buyer was and why they bought this book. Don’t be ridiculous was the response. We just don’t do that.
Well, now, we don’t have to. It is done for us, especially when it comes to tracking the sale of books sold online. It is a new day for authors, and no matter what your genre, or your subject matter, you can find your readers, connect with them, listen to them, learn from them, and enjoy sales you probably never dreamed were possible.
As the number of social media networks continues to grow, indie authors have more and more platforms on which to spread the word about their books. But the granddaddy of all social networks is still Facebook, which boasts more than 1.65 billion active users per month, according to VentureBeat. And it’s this huge user base that makes Facebook an ideal destination for self-published authors looking to market their books and build their readerships.
First Things First: Author Page
Facebook’s advertising program allows users to market their books in several ways. Most options require what’s called a Page—or, in this case, an author page. Even if indie authors are not ready to start advertising their work, author pages are a good thing to have as they allow users to post about their books, upcoming publications, and appearances.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Because Facebook advertising offers a range of options, indie authors should decide early what exactly they hope to get out of the program. As self-publishing guru Joel Friedlander notes at The Book Designer: “Before creating an ad, be clear about the results you want to achieve. It’s better to use ads when you have a clear business objective, such as increasing books sales or encouraging fans to sign up for a webinar or newsletter.”
The first thing users will be asked to do when they land on Facebook’s advertising page is choose an objective. Although users should tailor their objectives to specific advertising plans, most authors will likely choose one of the following: “boost your posts,” “promote your page,” or “send people to your website.”
Narrow Your Reach
After choosing an objective—let’s assume “boost your posts” was selected—Facebook will let users specify the demographic reach of their ads/posts. Users can choose location and radius (e.g. New York City, with a 10-, 25-, or 50-mile radius), as well as age range, gender, and languages. Users can also target ads by searching for specific interests or behaviors. For instance, if an author has written a book similar to George R.R. Martin’s AGame of Thrones, she can target her ad toward Facebook users whose interests include that book or its television adaption. Similarly, if a book is about biking, authors can specify for that in behaviors.
While it may sound counterintuitive, limiting the reach of an ad may help authors find more people likely to take an interest in their books. Marketing and publishing veteran Dana Lynn Smith says the ability to pinpoint a demographic is one of the Facebook platform’s most appealing features.
“[Advertising on Facebook] works best if the target audience for your book matches up well with the parameters that Facebook provides for selection, including age, gender, country, and interests,” she says. “For example, if your primary market is women over 65 in the United States, you can easily select that group.”
Facebook offers two spending options: per-day and lifetime. With each, users set a budget, and Facebook will pace their spending over the allotted time. If, for example, an author goes with a per-day budget of $10, Facebook will pace her reach so that she spends the full amount throughout day. If an author goes with a lifetime budget of $200, for example, Facebook will pace that amount over the lifetime of her ad.
Facebook’s interface includes a calculator that estimates the range of people users will reach based on the amount they’re willing to spend. Depending on the audience size selected, a $5.00 per-day budget might reach 650 to 1,700 people, while a $20.00 per-day budget might reach 2,600 to 6,800 people. Users can also optimize their ads by bidding for specific types of user interactions, such as clicks, engagement, or impressions. Facebook’s video about budget setting and bidding is helpful for those without digital marketing expertise—and probably for those with some, too. “It’s best to experiment with a small amount of money and measure the results,” says Smith.
Indie author Jennifer Bresnick used Facebook ads to market her book Dark the Night Descending. She spent a total of $24. Of the roughly 5,300 people who saw the ad, about 1.33% clicked—an engagement rate that Bresnick cites as above average for Facebook. Bresnick says she’s glad she used the program, but adds that Facebook, because it has a vast user base, poses targeting challenges that Goodreads, which is used primarily by bibliophiles, doesn’t.
On Facebook, “you do targeting where you [specify] people who are interested in books, people who are interested in reading,” she says. “You have to pick those keywords yourself.”
Putting on the Finishing Touches
The final step in the ad-creation process involves choosing an image and writing copy for the ad. To make their ads more appealing, indie authors should use concise language and visually attractive imagery. And, indie authors should do some research beforehand: spend some time on Facebook determining which ads are the most appealing and compelling.