Tag Archives: Self-publishing

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.


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.

Who knows? You may just like what you read.



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

6 Things About Self-Publishing You Will Be Tempted To Overlook, But Shouldn’t

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 at 21% 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.



Prolific romantic fiction writer exposed as a plagiarist

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

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

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


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

Image result for Prolific romantic fiction writer exposed as a plagiarist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



15 DIY Book Promotion Tools You Need to Know

No matter what kind of book you’ve written (or plan to write) there are many ways to reach your audience. Each of the DIY tools listed here are low or no-cost, and each of them works in its own way. One or more may be perfect for you.

Fifteen ideas might seem overwhelming, but remember that you only need to do one thing at a time. As one clicks and then another, you’ll soon be reaching your audience.

The bottom line is to practice selling your books one by one. Author and publisher Michael Wiese has been writing and marketing books successfully for over three decades. He tells all his forty-plus authors “Sell one book at a time.”

Instead of trying to sell your book to faceless thousands, find one person who needs and wants your book. Offer your book to that person. Repeat.

Slower than you want, but faster than you think, you may become a best-selling author.

  • Start Early

The most powerful and essential steps you can take toward promoting your book begin long before the actual writing of the book. Three years before the book is published–if you can–start building a network of supporters and reviewers. Keep track of everyone you meet as you research and write the book. Pay special attention to, and make notes about, those who demonstrate a genuine enthusiasm for you and your project.

As the project evolves, keep in touch with these people. You might send them an occasional email, or keep in touch via a social networking site like LinkedIn or FaceBook.

For significant milestones–the signing of your book contract, the completion of the manuscript, the arrival of the galley proofs, and the arrival of the finished books–you might bring key people together for a house party. At the house party, you could read short excerpts from your book and answer questions about the project.

  • Contribute to Web Forums

Every field has at least one or two forums that people interested in your subject know and read. Find and join these forums.

Contribute to them freely. Give advice and reach out. Offer to help others. Put a link to your blog or website in your signature line. When you have a book contract and/or a book title, add the title to your signature line.

  • Start a Blog

Early in the process of researching and thinking about your book, start a blog. Add 120-130 words each day of helpful, inspirational information on issues in your field, which are related to the subjects in your book. Aim to create a genuinely useful body of knowledge over the following 12 months.

  • Write a Remarkable Book

Set out to write a remarkable book. If your book is not remarkable, keep working on it until it is. Give the manuscript to ten friends and ask for honest feedback. Find a brilliant editor (you can find such an editor at EFA) and pay him or her to edit your manuscript. Revise. Repeat.

Don’t stop until your reviewers start saying things like: “I loved it! This book is amazing!”

A remarkable book will generate word-of-mouth publicity. One person will read it, and recommend it to his or her friends. They will recommend it to their friends. This is the best publicity you can get.

  • Cultivate a Positive Attitude about Book Promotion

Think of book promotion as storytelling. The story you are telling is why you wrote your book, how it can help others, and how the world will benefit from your book.

If you can develop a positive attitude about book promotion, people will pick up on it, and tune in immediately. Some writers resent the chore of marketing. Their attitude seems to be, “I’m a writer. Marketing is the publisher’s job. Promoting my own book shouldn’t be my responsibility.”

Unfortunately–unless you are Stephen King or Malcolm Gladwell–the publisher probably won’t have the budget to market your book. If you don’t promote your book, no one else will.

  • Create a Media Kit

Your media kit should include:

* Professionally printed business cards with the book cover on one side and your contact information on the other side. Do not try to print them on your home printer. This is a time to invest in your product and yourself, not save money.

* A head shot by a professional photographer or a talented amateur. It should be well lit, with a neutral background. Your eyes should sparkle.

* A 100 – 150 word biography. The main purpose of the biography is to tell a reader why you are uniquely qualified to have written this particular book.

* A ‘one-sheet’ for the book: a single piece of paper with a glossy print of the book cover on one side and a one-page description of the book on the other side. Be sure to include a few short blurbs and recommendations from colleagues and friends in the description.

  • Create a Book Pitch

Consider writing at least three sales pitches for your book: 10 seconds, 30 seconds, and 60 seconds. When someone asks what the book is about, give them the 10 second pitch. If the person responds with interest, have a longer pitch ready!

Practice your pitches on friends until they tell you the pitches work.

  • Build a Website

As publication day approaches, build a full website. The website should include:

* A book blog, in which you write updates, corrections, errata and respond to reader comments and suggestions. This book blog may become the basis for the second edition of your book.

* Sample chapters from your book

* A link to the Amazon page for your book, so people can buy the book online

* Your media kit (see step 5)

* Book reviews and blurbs.

* Your schedule of appearances, including bookstores, speaking engagements and conferences

* Contact information.

  • Get Book Reviews from Individuals

Six months (nine if possible) before the book is due to appear in book stores, start asking people for reviews and blurbs. Send reviewers a printed galley proof of your book. If you don’t yet have printed galley proofs, send a PDF containing the first two chapters, a table of contents and your bio.

Don’t be afraid to approach the ‘biggest names’ in your field. (This is important.) Ask for both reviews and blurbs. Busy people may only have time to write a few sentences.

A word about PDFs: check with your publisher about their policies on review copies. Many publishers will NOT allow you to send out a PDF copy of the entire book. They are afraid the book will be stolen.

  • Write Articles

Every field has eZines, websites and magazines that advocate or deal with the subject of your book. Find them. Once you know where they are, look through them and figure out which ones talk to the audience for your book. Contact those sites or publications and pitch articles that will be of interest to their readers.

Schedule articles to appear around the time your book will appear in bookstores and on Amazon. For example, if your book is going to appear in bookstores and on Amazon in mid-June, schedule your articles to appear in July, August, and September.

Remember to pitch articles early, because many magazines and eZines have a 3-6 month lead time. Mention your book title somewhere in the article. In online articles, link the book title to its Amazon page so readers can click over and buy the book.

  • Get Book Reviews from eZines and Magazines

Ask websites, eZines and magazines in your field to review your book. Some websites or eZines may offer to trade, to review your book if you write an article for them. For example, earlier this year I contacted Writers Store and offered to write an article about what I learned while promoting my most recent books: Producing With Passion and Digital Video Secrets. This article is the result of that contact.

  • Get 20 Amazon Reviews

Amazon reviews are amazingly effective. Everyone from book buyers to publishers reads them.

Your goal is to get at least 20 reviews. Contact everyone you know and ask each of them if they would give your book an honest review. Let them know it can be brief. If they agree, send them either a galley proof, a promotional copy of the book, or a PDF containing a table of contents, two sample chapters, and your bio.

Amazon’s Top Customer Reviewers are another source of high-value reviews. Find the reviewers who deal with books in your area. Write to them. Tell them you have written a book they might be interested in, and that you’d appreciate a review. If they respond, send them a galley proof or a promotional copy of your book.

  • Get Mentioned in email Blasts

Look for organizations in your field that send large-volume emails. Try to get your book reviewed in their email or newsletter. When the number of people receiving the emails is 100,000 or more it’s sometimes referred to as an email blast.

  • Speak at Conferences

As a published author, you have the qualifications necessary to speak at conferences. Contact conference organizers at least 6 months in advance. At first you may have to register and pay a fee to speak. Later, when you become better known, conferences may seek you out, and may even pay you to speak.

You should be prepared to give a 45 minute presentation. A useful way to structure a 45 minute presentation is to speak for 30 minutes, and take questions from the floor for the last 15 minutes. Plan to take a few minutes after your speech to circulate with the audience. Have a table in the back of the room where you or someone on your team sells books.

  • Make and Post Online Videos

Make a few 5 minute videos (or a series of videos) of yourself talking about key issues in your field. Put the book title and URL on the bottom of the video screen and in the credits.

Post your videos on several of the many video sharing sites including sites like blip.tv, jumpcut, ourmedia, Vimeo, Social and YouTube. Embed the video clips on your website.

Plan on following your promotion plan–perhaps an hour a day–for at least a year. Resolve to do something every day on promotion. Remember – follow-up and persistence are the keys to success.



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.”



Self Publishing : The Secret Guide To Writing And Marketing A Best Seller Audible


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.



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

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

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

Table of Contents 

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

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

How to self-edit your book (writing tips for indie authors)

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.



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?



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.



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!



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.



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.



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.



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.



Chapter Breaks

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.



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.




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 …]




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.



6 of the Most Prolific Authors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



How to Write a Different Vampire Novel

Okay, so if you haven’t heard of the Twilight franchise by now, you’ve either been dwelling under a rock or sleeping in a coffin. Vampire novels, movies, and tie-ins have exploded. Some say the vampire trend is dead (or undead, if you’ll forgive the pun).

But vampires have fascinated numerous cultures for thousands of years—long before Dracula saw the light of day (groan). And there are some folks, like myself, who will read/watch/drool over anything vampish.

But how can you make your vampire novel different from all the others on the shelves? Read on to see what I did to make my vampire romance, House of Cards, stand out.

Make your vampires more than just vampires

When I set out to write this book, I knew I wanted my vampires to be more than just strong, beautiful, bloodsucking immortals. I wanted to give them histories. Personalities. They were human beings before they were supernatural creatures. Naturally, part of that humanity would carry over and create motivations for their present-day behavior.

I think a lot of paranormal books focus more on the “para” than the “normal.” But take away the supernatural abilities, and what should you have left? The complex character interaction that fuels any compelling novel.

So that’s what I really strove for in House of Cards. My male lead, Lucas, is a vampire. But he’s also much more than that. He’s an artist. He was part of a close family. He is a caring, frustrated, sensitive soul. It’s these characteristics that draw the female, human lead (Sherry) to him. They are also what helps save her life—not his “vampire” abilities. Ultimately, they’re why she falls in love with him.

Make the story about more than just vampires

Boy meets girl. Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. Boy or girl turns out to be a vampire. We’ve all seen this before. Some vampire novels are just regular love stories with blood-guzzling thrown in.

But I think the best books are ones with deeper, layered meaning. Interview With the Vampire wasn’t just about an eighteenth-century plantation owner who gets vamped. It’s about love, hopelessness, and humanity’s place in the universe, among other things.

While never explicitly addressed, reading about these issues lets us walk away from the book with the notion we’ve really felt or thought on a deeper level. Weave them in, and the novel feels weighty, substantive. Leave them out, and the story seems trite.

In House of Cards, Sherry and Lucas both suffer significant losses before they even meet. Both are prevented from living their lives to the fullest by an unnerving villain known as “The Master.” In Sherry’s case, even surviving is not guaranteed.

So I tried to address how we cope with death, futility, and expressing our true selves in the world. Odds are, readers have dealt with some—or all—of these issues themselves.

Reverse stereotypes and give readers the unexpected

I don’t mean to criticize the many excellent vampire novels out there. But I see a lot of them falling into the same pattern: 300 pages of boy-rescues-girl. Now, there’s nothing wrong with an old-fashioned love story. But it seems that no matter how strong, how skilled, or how powerful the girl, it’s always up to the boy (usually a vampire) to save her in the end.

Personally, I’d like to see a little more of the kick-ass heroine in these vampire books. This was partly my idea when I developed Sherry’s character. Timid and terrified at first (as she should be—she’s trapped by serial killers), she gains power and strength as the novel progresses.



The Return of Novellas and Novelettes

‘Why did he only write a novella?’ was a comment on an otherwise favourable review we had a couple of years ago. A fair question and one we took as a back-handed compliment. We’ve been debating novellas and short novels recently, when as indie writers and avid readers, we note trends in the publishing world.

In the last few years we’ve noticed that novellas are becoming increasingly popular among indie authors. It’s interesting to think about why fashions change in publishing. A cynic might say novellas are quicker to get on sale – that’s true and an important factor – but far from the only reason.

Demand is driven partly by readers and most authors try to write books that will sell in the current market. Unfortunately, demand is also manipulated by the big publishers. For instance, in the 1960s and 70s, historical fiction was very popular. Later, it almost disappeared from the shelves with publishers not wanting to take that genre. It’s hard to believe there were some years when readers went off historical novels when you look at their resurgence today, led by authors such as Hilary Mantel and Philippa Gregory.

Novellas and short novels are an old literary form which is making a welcome come-back for various reasons. It’s worth taking a closer look at what is generally meant by the terms. There are no hard and fast rules. From the writing guides I’ve read, leading indie author commentators mostly suggest that 20,000 words is the starting point for a novella.

I’ve no quarrel with this, though we feel that a 30-35,000 word-count is right for us. In the two novellas we’ve published, that space was a natural length to produce a well-rounded story, neither padded nor truncated. We felt it was a length to give good value to our readers, which is important to us.

A short novel is hard to define, though it’s currently suggested that 80,000 words is the minimum length for a novel. I guess a short novel is what used in Britain to be called a ‘novelette,’ anything upwards of around 40,000 words. This is an atmospheric old word that is reappearing in indie author’s book descriptions and we’re pleased to see it back. ‘Novelette’ conjures up nostalgic thoughts of garish covers and  exciting yarns like Leslie Charteris’s Simon Templar – The Saint – and hard-boiled Chandler and Hammett. Fast-moving adventure stories used to lend themselves to shorter fiction – perhaps until modern publisher-pressure.

Some authors do use the terms novella and novelette for as little as 25-30 pages.  This seems an unwise strategy. Though their work looks longer on the sales page, I’ve noticed angry reviews where readers’ expectations are misled. To pre-empt complaints of being short-changed by a short story, it’s worth making the length eye-catchingly clear in the blurb.

So, why write a novella? The main reason surely is because a writer wants to explore an idea that doesn’t lend itself to an average-length novel but is beyond the limitations of a short story. A story has its own natural length and far better to offer that to your readership than pad a plot in order to charge a higher price.

It’s natural to perceive larger goods as being better value but some of our most iconic fiction has a surprisingly short word count. Think of Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet (135 pages) and The Sign of Four (154), John Buchan’s The Thirty-nine Steps (138) and The Power-House (108)Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male (180) or Stephenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, only 65 pages.

This doesn’t apply only to detective novels and thrillers. One of my favourite novels, J. L. Carr’s A Month in the Country has  85 memorable pages. Ghost stories too, often work better at medium-length. Incidentally, few speak of these superb stories as novellas or even short novels. We’re simply glad we have them – and many writers intersperse shorter works between longer novels.

In the world of classic crime fiction, the majority of Agatha Christie’s novels are around 190-220 pages. Several written during or shortly after the Second World War are 160, perhaps due to paper shortage. Their quality is certainly no less, they include the much-loved The Body in the Library. Simenon’s Maigret novels are known for their slim volumes. Both writers had a high output.

A quick look along the shelf at many  crime novelists writing from about the 60s will show that their early novels were shorter. You can see this in the canon of Ruth Rendell. Fellow Rendell fans will know that she decided to incorporate themes of social ills in her later Wexford novels, doubling the length of her early titles. I loved them all and it’s a joy to know you’re getting a thick novel from a favourite writer. Yet I’ve come to think that Rendell’s early  mysteries are stronger. The plot of a murder and its detection has a natural progression which is often better for not being expanded. Another of my all-time favourite detective novelists is Emma Page. Her titles are often 180-200 pages .

Don’t get me wrong – I love to curl up with a fat novel. Two of my favourite writers are Trollope and Wilkie Collins, who average 500-700 pages. Trouble is, I rarely get time to re-read them these days and I’m not alone in that. I’ve also seen  – again in the last few years – that many new crime novels look satisfyingly thick until you open them to find an unusually large font and wide line spacing. Do the big publishers think readers won’t notice? I imagine this trend is to justify the staggeringly high price of new hardbacks – and possibly to recoup going on a table display in Waterstones’?

Readers’ expectations seem to be changing in  ways, especially relevant to indie authors who deal mainly in ebooks. We’re living in an over-worked, stressed, time-poor society. Reading – thankfully for our mental health – is as popular as ever. Maybe even more so with people who weren’t drawn to books, finding they enjoy reading on devices. Many people now want a medium-length read they can enjoy on their phone while commuting. Others want to relax with a novella over an evening or two. Sadly, fewer have the time to commit to a lengthy novel.

Another factor in the rise of novellas/novelettes is satisfying the readers who expect frequent titles. Again, this phenomenon only applies to indie authors. Traditionally, readers have expected to wait for a yearly treat from favourite authors, or even a couple or more years. Especially if they’re longing to follow a series and the author has more than one on the go or fancies writing a stand-alone.

These days in our frantic-paced culture, the received wisdom is that readers expect more than a single ebook a year from authors they like. Industry trends strongly suggest that ebook readers’ expectations have gone haywire. We’re told that standalones won’t sell well and we need to get a series on sale fast or our name will be forgotten by readers who enjoyed our first title. And we all know, some readers expect our carefully-crafted months of work to be handed over for 99p! Publishing shorts does go some way towards retaining readers’ interest.

We will always love writing novels but have really enjoyed working on two novellas so far – one for each of our main detective characters. It feels refreshing and fun between the long-haul – maybe like running a half-marathon. Many indie authors are interspersing their fiction with novellas and short stories. It can be a great way of trying out an idea for a spin-off series or exploring a secondary character in greater depth. This is something we’re considering with our historical adventures and Victorian thrillers.

And we’re not alone. In traditionally published crime fiction, famous names such as Alison Joseph and Lesley Cookman have started novella series between their novels. I’m looking forward to Lesley Cookman’s second novella in her The Alexandrians Serieswhich is out on 31st Jan (now on pre-order). She’s had the inspired idea of taking the Nethergate seaside theatre featured in her wonderful Libby Sarjeant series and using that as an Edwardian setting.

Between all these factors, I think we’ve only seen the start of authors producing novellas and short novels. Thanks to technology, writers now have a freedom to write as they choose. An opportunity unseen since the nineteenth century when small presses abounded and individuals sold topical chap-books in the street. It’s exciting to think that indie authors are leading the way.

What do you think? Don’t be shy – we’d love to hear thoughts from other authors.



Ten rules for writing fiction (part two)

1 Are you serious about this? Then get an accountant.

2 Read Becoming a Writer, by Dorothea Brande. Then do what it says, including the tasks you think are impossible. You will particularly hate the advice to write first thing in the morning, but if you can manage it, it might well be the best thing you ever do for yourself. This book is about becoming a writer from the inside out. Many later advice manuals derive from it. You don’t ­really need any others, though if you want to boost your confidence, “how to” books seldom do any harm. You can kick-start a whole book with some little writing exercise.

3 Write a book you’d like to read. If you wouldn’t read it, why would anybody else? Don’t write for a perceived audience or market. It may well have vanished by the time your book’s ready.

4 If you have a good story idea, don’t assume it must form a prose narrative. It may work better as a play, a screenplay or a poem. Be flexible.

5 Be aware that anything that appears before “Chapter One” may be skipped. Don’t put your vital clue there.

6 First paragraphs can often be struck out. Are you performing a haka, or just shuffling your feet?

7 Concentrate your narrative energy on the point of change. This is especially important for historical fiction. When your character is new to a place, or things alter around them, that’s the point to step back and fill in the details of their world. People don’t notice their everyday surroundings and daily routine, so when writers describe them it can sound as if they’re trying too hard to instruct the reader.


8 Description must work for its place. It can’t be simply ornamental. It ­usually works best if it has a human element; it is more effective if it comes from an implied viewpoint, rather than from the eye of God. If description is coloured by the viewpoint of the character who is doing the noticing, it becomes, in effect, part of character definition and part of the action.

9 If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.

10 Be ready for anything. Each new story has different demands and may throw up reasons to break these and all other rules. Except number one: you can’t give your soul to literature if you’re thinking about income tax.

Michael Moorcock

My first rule was given to me by TH White, author of The Sword in the Stone and other Arthurian fantasies and was: Read. Read everything you can lay hands on. I always advise people who want to write a fantasy or science fiction or romance to stop reading everything in those genres and start reading everything else from Bunyan to Byatt.

2 Find an author you admire (mine was Conrad) and copy their plots and characters in order to tell your own story, just as people learn to draw and paint by copying the masters.

3 Introduce your main characters and themes in the first third of your novel.

4 If you are writing a plot-driven genre novel make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction.


5 Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development.

6 Resolve your themes, mysteries and so on in the final third, the resolution.

7 For a good melodrama study the famous “Lester Dent master plot formula” which you can find online. It was written to show how to write a short story for the pulps, but can be adapted successfully for most stories of any length or genre.

8 If possible have something going on while you have your characters delivering exposition or philosophising. This helps retain dramatic tension.

9 Carrot and stick – have protagonists pursued (by an obsession or a villain) and pursuing (idea, object, person, mystery).

10 Ignore all proferred rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say.

Michael Morpurgo

1 The prerequisite for me is to keep my well of ideas full. This means living as full and varied a life as possible, to have my antennae out all the time.

2 Ted Hughes gave me this advice and it works wonders: record moments, fleeting impressions, overheard dialogue, your own sadnesses and bewilderments and joys.

3 A notion for a story is for me a confluence of real events, historical perhaps, or from my own memory to create an exciting fusion.

It is the gestation time which counts.

5 Once the skeleton of the story is ready I begin talking about it, mostly to Clare, my wife, sounding her out.

6 By the time I sit down and face the blank page I am raring to go. I tell it as if I’m talking to my best friend or one of my grandchildren.

7 Once a chapter is scribbled down rough – I write very small so I don’t have to turn the page and face the next empty one – Clare puts it on the word processor, prints it out, sometimes with her own comments added.

8 When I’m deep inside a story, ­living it as I write, I honestly don’t know what will happen. I try not to dictate it, not to play God.

9 Once the book is finished in its first draft, I read it out loud to myself. How it sounds is hugely important.

10 With all editing, no matter how sensitive – and I’ve been very lucky here – I react sulkily at first, but then I settle down and get on with it, and a year later I have my book in my hand.

Andrew Motion


1 Decide when in the day (or night) it best suits you to write, and organise your life accordingly.

2 Think with your senses as well as your brain.

3 Honour the miraculousness of the ordinary.

4 Lock different characters/elements in a room and tell them to get on.

5 Remember there is no such thing as nonsense.

6 Bear in mind Wilde’s dictum that “only mediocrities develop” – and ­challenge it.

7 Let your work stand before deciding whether or not to serve.

8 Think big and stay particular.

9 Write for tomorrow, not for today.

10 Work hard.

Joyce Carol Oates

Don’t try to anticipate an “ideal reader” – there may be one, but he/she is reading someone else.

2 Don’t try to anticipate an “ideal reader” – except for yourself perhaps, sometime in the future.

3 Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!

4 Unless you are writing something very avant-garde – all gnarled, snarled and “obscure” – be alert for possibilities of paragraphing.

5 Unless you are writing something very post-modernist – self-conscious, self-reflexive and “provocative” – be alert for possibilities of using plain familiar words in place of polysyllabic “big” words.

6 Keep in mind Oscar Wilde: “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”

7 Keep a light, hopeful heart. But ­expect the worst.

Annie Proulx

1 Proceed slowly and take care.

2 To ensure that you proceed slowly, write by hand.

3 Write slowly and by hand only about subjects that interest you.

4 Develop craftsmanship through years of wide reading.

5 Rewrite and edit until you achieve the most felicitous phrase/sentence/paragraph/page/story/chapter.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

How ebooks changed the game

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

‘The bookshops were full of erotic novels’

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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!



Self Publishing : The Secret Guide To Writing And Marketing A Best Seller

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:
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

33 Strategies of Kama Sutra by Adidas Wilson

Amazon Best Sellers Number 4

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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!



Kobo Writing Life is a Boon for Indie Authors

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.



Audiobooks Continues Double-Digit Growth

The Audio Publishers Association released the results from their annual sales survey, conducted by the independent research firm Management Practice, as well as the latest consumer study conducted by Edison Research, which revealed that the strong growth the audiobook industry has seen in recent years continues. Based on information from responding publishers, the APA estimates that audiobook sales in 2016 totaled more than $2.1 billion, up 18.2% over 2015, and with a corresponding 33.9% increase in units. This is the third consecutive year that audiobook sales have expanded by nearly 20%.

The increase in sales is driven in large part by a listening audience that continues to grow. According to the new study from Edison Research, 24% of Americans (more than 67 million people) have completed at least one audiobook in the last year, a 22% increase over the 2015 survey.

Edison Research’s national survey of American audiobook listeners features new data on audiobook consumption patterns, purchasing behavior, podcast listening, and audiobook content. In addition to measuring the size of the listening audience, the study also revealed:

Who listens to audiobooks?

  • Nearly half (48%) of frequent audiobook listeners are under 35.
  • Audiobook listeners are often also podcast listeners. Respondents who consumed both podcasts and audiobooks listened to twice as many audiobooks in the past 12 months as non-podcast consumers.
  • Avid readers are also listening. Audiobook listeners read or listened to an average of 15 books in the last year, and 77% of frequent listeners agreed or strongly agreed that “audiobooks help you finish more books.

How and where are they listening?

  • Far more listeners are saying they use their smartphone most often to listen to audiobooks than ever before – 29% in 2017 vs. 22% in 2015.
  • A majority of audiobook listening is done at home (57%), with the car being the second most frequently-cited location (32%).
  • 68% of frequent listeners do housework while listening to audiobooks. Other multitasking activities among frequent listeners include baking (65%), exercise (56%) and crafting (36%).
  • The 2017 survey asked about voice-enabled wireless speakers (such as Amazon Echo or Google Home) for the first time, with 19% of all listeners reporting using them to listen to an audiobook in the last year. Among frequent listeners, that rises to 30%.

Additional Key Findings

  • Libraries remain major access channels and important drivers of audiobook discovery. 27% of people said borrowing from a library/library website was very important for discovering new audiobooks.
  • Of the more than 50,000 titles produced on audio in 2016, the most popular genres were Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Science Fiction/Fantasy and Romance.
  • The top three reasons why people enjoy listening to audiobooks are: 1) They can do other things while listening; 2) Audiobooks are portable and people can listen wherever they are; and 3) They enjoy being read to.

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.”
“It’s another banner year for audiobooks,” says Anthony Goff, VP and Research Committee Chair for the APA, and SVP, Publisher at Hachette Audio. “It has been exhilarating for everyone involved in audio to see such healthy growth maintained, year in and year out. Learning more about audiobook listeners by digging deeper into the metrics of consumer behavior is one of the key ways we can help that growth continue.”



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



My New Travel Book Cover

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


What Does Amazon Owe to 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.




Audiobooks trending among millennials

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

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

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

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


The idea of this is immediately intriguing to me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Book Trailers for Indie Authors and Independent Publishers

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.



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.



Amazon launches ‘Subscribe with Amazon,’ a marketplace for digital subscriptions

Amazon has made headway in the subscription business with its Subscribe & Save feature for consumers, which offers discounted pricing on products if you agree to buy on a recurring basis. Now, the retailer is looking to expand its subscription footprint with a new program called Subscribe with Amazon, which aims to make Amazon the place to discover, subscribe to and manage a range of digital subscriptions — from streaming services to subscription-based apps, from meal planning services to online fitness classes, and much more.

The service has been in development since last year, and has been quietly live on Amazon’s site for some time. However, it has not been broadly promoted to consumers — something that changes today, with the announcement that it’s open for sign-ups.

Many of the digital subscriptions available on the marketplace were things Amazon was already selling — like news and magazine subscriptions, or access to its kids’ reading app Amazon Rapids or its toy-of-the-month club, STEM Club, for example. But the new portal for Subscribe with Amazon aggregates and organizes all the different types of subscriptions under one roof.

It also offers consumers a single destination where those subscriptions can be managed via an online dashboard.

A few of the more notable names available on the site include Disney Story Central, a subscription-based service for kids’ stories featuring popular Disney characters; Fitbit’s Fitstar personal training platform; Creativebug’s online art and craft classes; cloud storage service Dropbox Plus; streaming TV service Sling TV; meal planning and recipe subscription eMeals; concert membership service Jukely; and meditation service Headspace.


Amazon is also selling subscriptions to publications, like The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, The New Yorker and Consumer Reports. Others live at launch include Texture, LegalZoom, MileIQ and Tawkify.

Thought not yet available, we understand the subscription cocktail startup Hooch, which offers a free drink a day in bars and clubs in major U.S. metros, will soon be available on the site. Hooch is an interesting partnership, given that Amazon will have to age-verify subscribers as part of the sign-up process.

Hooch confirmed its involvement, and the company offered more insight as to why it would want to participate — beyond the obvious customer acquisition play, that is.

“Amazon customers will directly manage their subscriptions on the Amazon.com portal,” says Hooch CEO Lin Dai.

“We think it will be a positive for us because a lot of time our customers don’t mean to cancel, but their credit card expires or they move to a new apartment or different address, and they forget to update their address on Hooch,” he explains. “But people are more likely to have updated payment methods on Amazon, so we think there will be fewer interruptions.”


Anyone who has ever had to update their credit card information across the web can understand this struggle. It’s often difficult to remember the many services you’ve signed up for, and updating each one individually is a hassle.

Amazon won’t universally solve this problem, as it’s unlikely to offer subscriptions to its competitors like Netflix or Spotify, but it does have the potential to bring a number of other digital subscriptions together in a single interface for easier management.

This is an area a handful of startups have been addressing, as well, including Trim, TrueBill and Billy.


Amazon launches ‘Subscribe with Amazon,’ a marketplace for digital subscriptions

How Becoming a Published Author Can Accelerate Your Success

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

A fast growing format

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

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

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

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

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

Restless minds

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

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


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

Thinking About Writing Literary Fiction?

In 2013, James Patterson, the paperback writer whose volumes are typically consumed somewhere between 25,000 and 32,000 feet above ground, made $90 million from book sales. Ninety million dollars. With publishers finally quashing the old-school idea that big-name authors should release no more than a book a year, Patterson opened the floodgates. After assembling a 16-member gang of ghostwriters (provided by Little, Brown and Company, his publisher) and sketching a series of boilerplate plot lines, Team Patterson started cranking into the lowbrow literary universe two to four “BookShots” a month. He says he looks at writing “the way Henry Ford would look at it.” He also says he’s responsible for about one-third of his publisher’s overall book sales.

The established literati, as you might imagine, wasn’t impressed. When Patterson’s 2013 windfall earnings made news, Bill Morris, a staff writer for the literary website The Millions, deigned to sample the Patterson oeuvre by reading (while on an international flight) Pop Goes the Weasel. It didn’t go well. “Books like Pop Goes the Weasel,” he wrote, “are for people who don’t really like to read but love to be able to say they have read, much as fruity cocktails are for people who don’t really like to drink but love to get knee-walking drunk.” Alcohol analogy notwithstanding, the assessment is fairly standard among readers and writers who prefer Proust over Patterson. The man’s literary bona fides are, in short, nil.

But according to Clayton Childress, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto and author of the forthcoming Under the Cover: The Creation, Production, and Reception of a Novel, the smart set might tone down its snobbery. Big-name writers such as Patterson, he tells me, are “doing the literary world a favor.” Noting that an estimated “85 percent of a publisher’s titles fail to return on investment,” Childress argues that the income generated by Patterson-like authors (J.K. Rowling and Stephen King come to mind) subsidize the risks publishers take on unknown writers who show literary promise. “The system of book advances,” he says, “are redistributive.” Patterson’s success subsidizes the dreams of future Saul Bellows and Toni Morrisons.

Given that Patterson, the world’s best-selling author since 2001, could easily self-publish on Amazon, it seems appropriate — if not obligatory — for struggling novelists with literary ambitions to send him a brief but sincere thank you note.

Nobody goes into the business of novel writing to get rich. Throughout American history, even the most well-known writers, at least early in their careers, had to earn a living beyond the bounds of books. As Childress reminds us, Herman Melville was a customs inspector, William Faulkner a postmaster, and Kurt Vonnegut a car dealership manager (Saab). Even Patterson worked at an advertising agency.

Noting that “85 percent of a publisher’s titles fail to return on investment,” Childress argues that the income generated by Patterson-like authors subsidize the risks publishers take on unknown writers who show literary promise.

Still, many young authors today complain about not being able to make a living through a singular emphasis on writing. Childress thinks this complaint is more mythology, if not entitlement, than a legitimate gripe. There was never an authorial golden age. The employment history of famous writers — Octavia Butler was a quality control inspector of potato chips! — is therefore critical to framing Childress’ most compelling claim: Novel writing in the United States today — that is, the production of high-end literary work — is “perhaps more profitable than ever before.”

In addition to the big-name trickle down affect, Childress highlights the rise of MFA programs as the other development essential to the fate of working novelists. The first such program — the Iowa Writers Workshop — was founded in 1936, but it did not start to take off until the early 2000s, when MFA programs exploded to accommodate an upsurge of students who, facing an uncertain economy, took out loans to enroll. “More MFA programs in creative writing have been founded since 2000,” Childress writes, “than were founded throughout the entire twentieth century.”

These programs have tangibly and systematically helped struggling writers. They “provide income to novelists, short story writers, poets, and other creative writers,” enabling them, according to one writing instructor Childress interviewed, “to earn a living while writing.” Again, no one in this scenario is breaking the bank, but MFA programs, according to a Stanford University English professor, comprise “the largest system of literary patronage for living writers the world has ever seen.”

Grading student papers takes time but, for the aspiring novelist, it’s better than assessing the quality of potato chips (at least as a long-term professional endeavor). The students of MFA programs, despite the burden of loans, end up doing relatively well, too, with a high percentage landing real jobs in the arts.

There are other advantages to the MFA model beyond steady literary employment. As Childress explains, writing programs shelter experimental authors from culture war crossfire. Prior to the rise of MFA programs, novelists primarily turned to the National Endowment for the Arts for economic support. But with the aggressive interference of ideological firebrands such as Jesse Helms, the South Carolina senator who condemned Erica Jong’s NEA-supported feminist novel Fear of Flying as a “reportedly filthy, obscene book” (and with Allen Ginsberg bragging that he used his NEA grant to by a Volkswagen bus for a friend), the NEA decided to pursue another tact.



The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Ghostwriter

We all know how important content is today — it’s a way of promoting yourself and your company by providing relevant and interesting information to your target audience. Small businesses can especially benefit from content because it can help you develop your brand and make it preferable in the competitive market.

One of the first rules of promoting through content is that you have to be consistent. If you decide to write blogs that are a great source of information about the company, its products/services, general trends in your business field, know-hows, tips and tricks, etc., you have to produce them on a regular basis.

Not only will publishing blog posts regularly bring readers to  your site, but it will also help you establish yourself as an expert in the field and someone competent enough to get the job done. Small businesses, start-ups and even freelancers always need to work on growing and strengthening their brands in order to be noticed.

Then again, regular blog posts are not worth much if they’re badly written. Blogs need to be engaging, interesting and well written overall.

What if writing is not your strongest skill or you just don’t have time to deal with it?

Writing blog posts, for example, once a week, sounds like an easy enough job, but it really isn’t. Generating relevant ideas for topics, conducting research, writing, proofreading and rewriting can take a lot of time that small business owners just can’t afford. Both you and your employees will be much more satisfied if you focus your efforts on running the company.

Sometimes, insufficient time isn’t even a problem. Being a business owner doesn’t require good writing skills. You may be an expert in your own field, but no one expects you to be able to write well about it.

If you really want to publish articles on your website, under your own name, but you know you’re not competent enough to do it, there is a simple solution — hire a ghostwriter.

What You Need to Know About Hiring a Ghostwriter

What are Ghostwriters?

Ghostwriters are people you hire to write text they won’t be credited for since the text will be published under the name of the person who hired them, in this case you. They work is present, but they are not credited making their contribution invisible, and that’s why they’re called ghostwriters.

Ghostwriters are hired to do the writing for everything — from blog posts and white papers to movie scripts, public speeches and even books. They basically trade their credit rights for profit and that’s usually good for both sides. You get high-quality text and the ghostwriter gets paid, but there is so much more to this relationship than just a basic trade of words for money.

Why Should You Hire a Ghostwriter?

I have already mentioned the main reasons for hiring a ghostwriter — not enough time to write your own stuff or no writing skills even though you have a lot of ideas and topics you want to cover. Let’s dig a little deeper into some of the pros of hiring someone to write instead of you.

  • Ghostwriters won’t take credit for the text they write for you, so you can start building your personal brand and your company’s brand by publishing quality text.
  • The ghostwriter will not only deliver the text to you on time, but he/she will also do it professionally. Like in any area of business, ghostwriters are trying to sell their services, or in this case their words, and make a profit, and they will do their best to meet their clients’ expectations.
  • No matter what field your company operates in, ghostwriters are masters of adjusting and they will do extensive research before even starting to write. Of course, if necessary, they will ask you for some insight or about certain terms used in the field.
  • Ghostwriters will hear you out and adopt your ideas about the text you hired them to write. They will send you a draft for the blog post (or any other text) and after reviewing it, you can ask the writer to change certain things. At the beginning, you will probably go through several drafts until you get the results you want. This will change over time if you continue working with the same writer, as they will get to know you and your requirements better.
  • Ghostwriters will never be critical of the subjects you want to cover!

Are There Any Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Hire a Ghostwriter?

Of course, with something like publishing text someone else wrote under your own name, there are some issues, mostly about the ethics of the whole thing. You will meet a lot of people who will consider the whole thing unethical, but usually not from the writer’s point of view.

As we said, ghostwriters are professionals selling their services for money, just like car mechanics, graphic designers and many others. They offer their services knowing they won’t be credited for the published text. You’re not doing anything they didn’t allow you to do. If you want to, you can mention them in the credits if they ask. It’s up to you. But this might no longer be considered ghostwriting.

On the other hand, you, as the person who hired a ghostwriter, have some things to think about before actually hiring one.

  • Even though ghostwriters are professionals who write for a living, they will never be able to express your original thoughts and express your voice through the texts they write for you.
  • As I said, ghostwriters do a lot of research in order to write relevant blogs. That is also the research you are not conducting. When reading through different articles, writers collect information important for the blog post or other article they are writing. If you, as an expert in the field, were reading through the same articles, the information you would gather would most certainly help you improve your skills and learn something you wouldn’t otherwise come across.
  • If you do choose to hire a ghostwriter, be sure not to run around telling everyone about it. A lot of people closely connect ghostwriting to plagiarism and find publishing someone else’s words as your own unethical. That is definitely not the impression you want to make when trying to be seen as an expert. Despite ghostwriting being a common thing in today’s world, it’s still not accepted as normal by everyone, so be careful.
  • Last but not least, people will not really see you as an expert if someone else is writing your words for you. Of course, there are a lot of people who are, for example, great with numbers but terrible at writing. They need someone to transform their thoughts into meaningful paragraphs. On the other hand, if time is an issue for you, you should reconsider your priorities and see where starting a blog stands and how important it is for you.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know Before Hiring a Ghostwriter?

There are some things that are considered secrets of the trade among ghostwriters that you should be aware of. They should not be strictly considered as cons, but simply something to prepare you for the worst.

  • Although ghostwriters will not be critical of the subject you are hiring them for, they should be able to express their feelings about it. A lot of ghostwriters will accept every topic you ask them to write about, but if a topic is controversial, they should feel comfortable to discuss some issues with you. Otherwise, you may get an article that is somewhat subjective and not what you imagined. If you create a professional relationship with certain ghostwriters, they will openly tell you if the topic is not something they are willing to write. This should be considered as a plus, because you want your article to be written professionally and without any judgment and subjectivity.
  • It’s not a secret that even ghostwriters hire someone to do the ghostwriting for them. This especially applies to ghostwriters that are already somewhat famous and known in their circles. They get a lot of offers and a fair number of them will not decline those offers but rather outsource the projects to someone else, so you never really know who wrote your article. This can be regulated with a contract specifically stating that a certain person will write for you.
  • Yes, a contract! You should always make a contract when hiring a ghostwriter, especially if you plan to hire one for the long-term or for a large-scale project. When entering into a contract, you should make sure you have the same rights as the writer.
  • Be sure to make it clear to the ghostwriter that your suggestions about edits should be final. Some writers will try to make you adopt their point of view, and even though they are professional writers, they may not be professionals in your field. This is your text that will be published under your name, on your company’s website, so even though you’re not the one actually writing it, make it your own.
  • Some ghostwriters may use text written for you as their reference. It’s normal that they would need some proof of their previous work, but they should discuss it with you before making it public. If you are not comfortable with them sharing the information that you are using ghostwriters, make it clear at the very beginning and put it in the contract. Another option ghostwriters have is sending some paragraphs to potential new clients. This might be acceptable for you if the writer signs a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with those potential clients.

Where Would I Find a Ghostwriter?

If, after reading this, you want to give ghostwriters a try, there are several options for you. There are platforms dedicated to this subject alone. Also, if you want to start small, so to speak, you can try hiring a freelancer through a platform like Upwork. This may be a cheaper solution, but be careful when picking your writer. You will probably want someone who has some experience. On the other hand, there are platforms that you can use to find professionals for different areas as well as ghostwriting.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

The price for ghostwriting services depends on many things. The first and most important factor is the length of the text. The price won’t be the same for a blog post with 800 words as for a white paper, or a book! Writers may start as low as $10 per article (but beware, the quality can be really bad when the fee is low!) and can go over $1000.

Another  impact on pricing can be explained with the basic supply and demand rule. The more work a ghostwriter is doing and the busier he/she is, the higher price they will give you.

Some ghostwriters will charge you by the project, whereas those you are hiring more long-term may ask to be paid monthly. These are things you should discuss with a ghostwriter and put in a contract.

Whatever the price a ghostwriter gives you, you can always try to negotiate and find ways to save some money while still getting a professional service.



Finding Your Niche: On Genre Fiction and Indie Authors

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.



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

1. Take advantage of industry experts

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

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

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

2. Keep it simple

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

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

3. Think outside of the box

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

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

4. Create custom imagery

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

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

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

5. Add interactive elements

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

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

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

6. Pay attention to text formatting

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

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

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

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



The Publishing Industry Relies On Midlist Authors

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

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

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

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

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

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



Facebook Ads: A Guide for Indie Authors

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 A Game 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.



How to Self-Publish Digital Manga

Aspiring manga artists often find themselves being challenged in a number of different ways. Not only do you have to come up with an idea and start drawing, but distribution and turning the final product into an e-book are huge barriers. A new tool has been released that takes PNG, JPG, GIF, CBZ, CBR and CB7 files and turns them into EPUB and MOBI formats, which are the ideal formats to submit your final product into the Kindle or other online bookstores.

One very intuitive tool that all manga developers should be using is Kindle Comic Converter. It takes all of your image files and condenses them into a proper e-book, which is necessary if you want to start monetizing with any of the leading digital platforms. The final product will not only look really good on tablets, but KCC will insure that your comics and manga are fully optimized for E-Ink displays, such as the new Kindle Voyage. This app is free and is available for Windows, Linux and Mac.

Once your manga is converted to an e-book you can start thinking about distribution. The first option to consider is Kindle Direct Publishing, which is the program Amazon runs to get your content into all of the different bookstores in North America, Europe and Japan. Submitting your content is free and they simply take a percentage of each sale. Currently Amazon controls roughly 75% of the e-book market in the US, so its an ideal platform to get immediate eyes on your finished product.

Another viable option is using the self-publishing system called ComiXology Submit. It was originally developed for comic books but does accept manga and graphic novels. When submitting your publication it will actually be reviewed by an in-house squad to monitor it for quality. ComiXology basically wants to ensure that anything that is submitted is appropriate for international distribution.  Single issue comics are allowed to be sold for .99 or more. When a comic is sold, creators will gain 50% of all royalties, but if it is sold on iOS, you will see it diminish to only 35%. You may not make a million dollars, but you can gain valuable experience via the DIY approach.

One of the little known self-publishing platforms for manga writers is Kobo Writing Life.  Users can publish manga and other graphic-based ePubs (including ePub 3 files) through Kobo Writing Life. It is, of course, quite more popular with their authors in Japan who are publishing through the KWL Japan version of their portal, but authors anywhere in the world can publish manga. Prehapes the largest advantage that writers have is that the Kobo catalog is not as extensive as their e-book version. The manga section is not very big, which allows self-published content to really standout.

I would really recommend you self-publish your manga digitally before you even consider trying to get published by VIZ MEDIA or Shueisha: the publisher in Japan for Shonen Jump.  Keep in mind, that getting published in a Shonen Jump, is not something you can easily do.  If you are dead bent on going the traditional route you can find the phone number or editor of your favorite magazine and give them a call to setup an appointment.  99% of mangaka got their start this way. Rumiko Takahashi (Ranma 1/2, Inu Yasha, Urusei Yatsura) got her start this way.  Takeshi Konomi (Prince of Tennis, COOL) also did. Almost every manga artist that you’ve ever heard of approached magazines and publishers directly. If you want to start entering competitions or need writing advice, Jamie Lynn Lano has an amazing blog that is worth checking out.



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%.



How To Pick A Profitable Kindle Book Niche Every Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Bestseller Success Stories that Started Out as Self-Published Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



How to Adopt an Authorpreneur Attitude

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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




8 Great Ways to Market Your Audiobooks

If you’re a traditional author looking to market your books, you’re in luck. If you want to put in the work, there are literally hundreds of spots that can help you to sell more books, and book readers follow them eagerly. Audiobook fans, on the other hand, are a different breed. They listen to your books on the go, in the gym, while doing work, and even while driving the car. None of this is true of the typical book reader. Audiobook listeners are a fast-moving bunch, and you’ll have to adjust your book marketing strategies to catch their attention. 

Give Them a Sample

Most audiobook producers allow listeners to download a short sample for free, sort of a try-before-you-buy setup. Go one step further and put up the first chapter of your book on SoundCloud. Use the same tags for this listing as you did the book online, and curious listeners will be able to search for your book. If you’ve got multiple books, you can keep them all on the same SoundCloud page, giving you a chance at multiple sales.

Make it Available

Audiobooks seem to get pushed into the background when it comes to book marketing. The simple act of giving the audiobook equal billing with your print novel and ebook will create more sales across the board.

Gather Those Reviews

Your producer may give you a certain number of coupon codes when they publish your audiobook. Use these for the most popular reviewers, giving them a copy of your work and asking for a review. In addition, ask all your loyal readers for a review as soon as they finish listening. Reviews sell.

Team Up With Your Narrator

The least you two should be doing is pushing each others’ work on your webpages and social media. Host a virtual release party with her or, if you live near each other, team up for a live event.

Show Them How it’s Done

Readers and listeners love to hear about the insider’s view of writing and publishing books. Bring your fans along while you write your next novel or nonfiction book, and then take pictures and talk about the production aspects of creating an audiobook. This will alert people to the audio before it’s live online.

Go To the Audio Audience

Email book podcast owners and volunteer to be interviewed. They’ve got to fill big editorial calendars and having a ready subject for one day could be a lifesaver for them. Do readings on radio shows, volunteer your nonfiction expertise on online talk shows, and go anywhere else you find a listening audience.

Make a Book Trailer

If you’ve got the movie-making ability to put together a quality piece about your book, you’ve already got half the work done with an audiobook. Cut together audio scenes and flash a series of relevant pictures and you’ve got a great advertisement to put on your website as well as social media.

Join the APA

The American Publishers Association is a non-profit organization that raises awareness for audiobooks. June is National Audiobook Month, when they put on a social media campaign to get the word out.



What’s the best way to listen to ebooks?

My wife used to love reading but since her stroke has aphasia, no speech, limited vision and limited dexterity in her left hand only. She can select TV channels on a remote but she cannot read a short news story let alone a novel, so she listens to the radio and watches a lot of TV. I thought of getting her a Kindle e-reader but they don’t seem to do text to speech any more. A shop assistant suggested a tablet with a text-to-speech app. If so, which tablet/which app? It needs a really simple interface or my wife will not be able to use it without assistance.

I have installed OverDrive for RNIB talking books on my phone. This is far too fiddly for my wife to use. Also, the choice of books is limited. Peter

There are lots of answers to this question, but they may not work for your wife. The possibilities include good old-fashioned cassette tape recorders, specialised talking book readers such as the Victor Reader Stream, CD players, MP3 players, smartphones, tablets and PCs. You may need to use different technologies for different types of material.

Either way, remember that cassettes have been doing this job for decades, and there are thousands of tapes on eBay.co.uk. Prices vary, but you can often pick up cheap bundles for £1 per book, or less. CD audiobooks are not as common, but you may find some titles your wife would like.


In the future, I may have a two-word answer: Amazon Alexa. The longer version would be “a voice-recognition system with intelligent personal assistant software that can play audio on demand”. There are other AI-based PAs including Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, but Alexa is already available on the Amazon Echo, which makes it instantly available for voice commands. Google has yet to launch its copycat product, Google Home, in the UK, but it’s expected in this year’s second quarter. Alexa will also appear on Amazon’s £39.99 Fire TV Stick on 6 April.

Alexa won’t work for your wife if she has “no speech”, but voice-driven AI systems like Alexa can not only answer questions and play audio, they can operate a lot of smart gadgets. They should make life easier for people who, for whatever reason, struggle with small screens, tiny buttons and incomprehensible user interfaces. That includes me.

Kindle talk

Text-to-speech (TTS) is a relatively old technology: Texas Instruments started making the speech synthesis chips used in its Speak & Spell toy in the 1970s. Amazon introduced text-to-speech in the Kindle 2, but it ran into objections from the Authors Guild. In a New York Times opinion piece, The Kindle Swindle?, the Guild’s president argued that ebook rights don’t include audio rights, and authors needed the extra cash. (See my story from 2009: Amazon caves to Authors Guild over Kindle’s text-to-speech reading.)

But now, at long last, you can get a Kindle option. Amazon is offering a Kindle Paperwhite Blind and Visually Impaired Readers Bundle for £134.98. This includes a 7th-generation Kindle ebook reader, a small external Kindle Audio Adapter, and VoiceView for Kindle software. The audio adapter has an audio socket for headphones or speakers. It works with Kindle ebooks that support VoiceView, but it doesn’t play music. Incidentally, in the US, Amazon sells the Kindle Audio Adapter separately for $19.99 (£16.44).

Audible audiobooks

Audible Inc was one of the pioneers of digital audiobooks, and Amazon bought that company in 2008. Unfortunately, the UK’s Amazon Prime service doesn’t include a selection of Audible audio books alongside the free movies, but there is some hope: American Prime users now get free Audible Channels, for streaming only. Either way, it might be worth subscribing to Audible, which costs £7.99 per month after a free first month. Your wife might like its BBC Collection in particular.

There are numerous ways to listen to Audible books, including Amazon Fire tablets and the Echo. There are apps for Apple’s iOS, Google Android, Microsoft Windows and Windows 10. You can also listen online via a “cloud player” or use a compatible MP3 player. Audible has its own file formats – AA, AAX, AAX+ and M4B – which include DRM copy protection. However, audiobooks can be transferred to other devices via iTunes or Audible Manager software for Windows. (I’m not a subscriber so I’m not certain this still works.)

There are several other audiobook services that are worth a look. These include OverDrive – which you already have – Downpour and Hoopla. The Open Culture, Project Gutenberg and LibriVox websites are good sources of free audiobooks.

Amazon also offers free audiobooks. You can find them by searching for “audible audiobooks free”.



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

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


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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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



Does KDP Paperback Publishing Really Solve Anything?

Never one to be a naysayer, we at GoodEReader ordinarily go fan-girl level crazy over a new startup that innovates anything to do with digital publishing. But a new beta program from Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing seems to solve a problem that no one has.

Until now, authors who wished to create an ebook for sale on Amazon went through a fairly straightforward upload process on KDP. (NOTE: the straightforward process only refers to the upload, not the formatting. That process can be daunting for the uninitiated, although there are step-by-step guides available online. For “fancy” formatting with a professional look, a lot of authors choose to hire a formatting expert.) If there was no need or desire to create a print book, then this was all it took.

Years ago, Amazon bought a small platform for print books, Create Space. Once Amazon incorporated CS into the process, all an author has to do is take their print-formatted file and upload it to CreateSpace.com; at the end of that process, the site will offer the option to publish it as an ebook on Amazon as well. Simply log into your Amazon account before you click that button, and everything from your converted file to your book’s description and keywords gets ported over in a nearly seamless process.

But Amazon has now announced the beta launch of KDP Paperback Publishing, billing it as a one-stop option inside KDP. The list of features in this print-on-demand option seems to be almost identical to the previous process, with some glaring exceptions. The announcement states that LATER ON authors will be able to order proof copies and wholesale copies at cost; that’s a feature they’ve been able to enjoy at CreateSpace all along. The email to authors also said they can earn UP TO 60% royalties on their print editions–again, it’s those words “up to” that don’t mean a lot–and that they can eventually have access to list their books in expanded distribution to bookstores, something they’ve been able to do all along through CS.

Apparently, nothing is changing except the ability to see all of your royalties in one dashboard instead of logging into both CS to check your print sales and KDP to check your ebook sales. There will now be one direct deposit per global market instead of one from Amazon for ebooks and one from InDemand Publishing (CS) for print. It just sounds like Amazon is finally ready to take the plunge and absorb CreateSpace into its family, or that some contract item in the original purchase of the company is finally going to expire.



Audiobook Publishers Association Launches Blogger of the Year

Today the Audio Publishers Association is announcing the 3rd annual Audiobook Blogger of the Year Contest. The contest opens today, and bloggers who are based in the United States have until March 16th to enter. This year’s winner will receive two tickets to the 2017 Audie Awards Gala in New York City (valued at $700), recognition of their award at the Gala, and a $200 cash prize.

“Book bloggers sit beside librarians on the list of my favorite people on Earth,” says this year’s celebrity judge, Scott Brick. “I love their passion and their originality—there are so many unique approaches they bring to their love of books, and I find reading their posts endlessly fascinating.  We in the audiobook world are always looking for new listeners, always on the lookout for ways to introduce new people to the medium, and book bloggers are the perfect avenue for achieving that, and I’m hugely grateful.  It’s a privilege and an honor to be one of this year’s judges for the Audiobook Blogger of the Year Contest.  I can’t wait to get started!”

Audiobooks are the fastest growing segment in publishing and they are starting to get more attention in the blogosphere than ever before. I have personally been writing about the format for the past four years and continiously write about that latest happenings and once a year I write an epic report on the entire industry and it normally takes me a few months to write. It is likely the most comprehensive summary of the global audio industry and is packed with statistics, interviews, quotes and is constantly revised with new data. Sadly, because I live in Canada this automatically disqualifies me from entering this contest and getting any type of official recognition.



The Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2 will be released soon

Kobo is working on a brand new e-reader called the Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2. This device will be waterproof and feature a 6.8 inch display. It should be released this May, just in time for Mother’s Day.

Recently Kobo pushed out a firmware update for their complete line of e-readers. They totally revised the home screen and made navigating around the menus more robust. Within the updated firmware was a list of all of the models that were supported, one of them was an unannounced device called the Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2.

The first generation Kobo Aura H2O was released in 2014 and it was the second Kobo branded device that had a larger screen than its predecessors. It featured a 6.8 inch e-ink Carta touchscreen display with a resolution of 1430×1080. Carta Imaging Film offers a 50% improvement in contrast ratio over previous generation of e-Paper displays. Kobo also attained the prestigious IP67 certification for their first waterproof device. It will basically allow users to have the e-Reader completely submerged in five meters of water for an hour, with the MicroUSB and MiscroSD ports closed.

It is very likely that the upcoming Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2 will have the same front-lit display as the Kobo Aura One. It should have 9 white LEDs and 8 more RGB LED lights to help read in the dark and cut down on the amount of white light. There will not be an SD Card, as the company has scaled back on expandable memory in a bid to get customers to purchase more ebooks and cut down on hardware expenses. I think there will likely be 8GB of internal storage. Look for Overdrive functionality to be baked into the firmware, this will allow patrons to borrow library e-books directly from their e-reader.

Will the second generation H2O be more expensive or cheaper than the first gen? Kobo, Chapters/Indigo and a myriad of bookstores all over the world are currently selling the H2O for $199. I expect Kobo to continue to market the Aura One and the entry level Kobo Touch Edition 2. The second gen H2O will be a mid-level device, so I don’t think the screen will be completely flush the bezel.



10 Ridiculously Simple Steps for Writing a Book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phase 1: Getting started

1. Decide what the book is about

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

2. Set a daily word count goal

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

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

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

4. Write in the same place every time

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

Phase 2: Do the work

5. Set a total word count

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

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

6. Give yourself weekly deadlines

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

7. Get early feedback

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

Phase 3: Finishing

8. Commit to shipping

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

9. Embrace failure

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

10. Write another book

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

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

The reason most people never finish their books

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

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

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

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

How Publishers Can Build on Self-Publishing’s Victories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acknowledge Time Constraints

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

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

Set Deadlines

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

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

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

I’ve Written My Book … Now What?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



How Publishers Are Marketing Digital Audiobooks

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

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

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

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

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



Universal plans to bring Wattpad stories to TV

Social publishing platform Wattpad is making its biggest move into Hollywood yet thanks to a new deal with Universal Cable Productions.

UCP is a TV production company owned by NBCUniversal — it’s produced shows including USA’s Mr. Robot, SyFy’s The Magicians and Bravo’s Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce. As a result of the deal, the company plans to develop new shows based on stories published on Wattpad — stories it says it will identify, in part, by getting access to custom Wattpad data.

“Wattpad data will help spot compelling stories with massive built-in audiences, and fans will influence the development process,” said Wattpad Studios head Aron Levitz in the partnership release. “There’s no place for hunches and guesses when it comes to content development these days. Data- and community-driven entertainment is the future, and Wattpad Studios is leading the way.”

UCP isn’t announcing any specific shows yet. A Wattpad spokesperson told me the company is looking to develop around five projects a year — but of course there’s no guarantee that any of those projects will make it onto TV.


Wattpad says it reaches 45 million people each month, while its community members have published more than 300 million stories. This isn’t actually the company’s first foray into TV. For one thing, the TV5 network in the Philippines already adapted stories for its show Wattpad Presents.

More broadly, Wattpad has signaled an ambition to bring its stories to other media thanks to a partnership with Hollywood agency UTAand the launch of its Wattpad Studios division earlier this year.


Universal plans to bring Wattpad stories to TV

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



How Self Publishing Can Create a Solid Brand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



7 Tips for Amazon Keywords and Best Selling Books

Best selling books are more likely to happen when authors use smart Amazon keywords. When used wisely, keywords help strangers from all over the world find your books. Most authors are missing out because the whole metadata thing can be confusing. Think of it like this:

  • At bookstores, readers browse in sections where covers, titles and blurbs help them decide to inspect further.
  • Online, readers type phrases into the search bar where the most relevant books show up in the results (or the books Amazon thinks are most relevant).

Obvious question: how to choose the best ones so the search engine at Amazon leads browsers to your book? Here are 7 tips to help select the best words and phrases plus a tutorial video at YouTube at the bottom of this post.

1. Make a list of words customers might use in the search bar to find what they want to read that is also what your book is about. This is called relevance. You don’t have to worry about a search for your name or book title. Those results will do fine on their own. You want to focus on subjects in your book like “travel writing” or “young adult romance” or “dating for women” as examples. From Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP): Along with factors like sales history and Amazon Best Sellers Rank, relevant keywords can boost your placement in search results on Amazon.com.

2. Test these words at Amazon. How? Type them into the search bar slowly, one letter at a time and watch as prompts appear with words Amazon thinks you might be looking for in the search field. Example: if you type in R-E-I, the word “reincarnation” comes up immediately in the drop-down menu but it takes R-E-I-N-C before “reincarnation books” appears. This indicates to me that reincarnation is probably a better choice than reincarnation books if that is a major subject in your story.

3. Cross-test the words at Google Keyword Planner. Since Amazon’s search bar gives no data on how often a term is searched, it’s wise to check terms and similar ones with Google and see if one word or phrase is much more popular than the other. Back to our example–let’s say you wanted to add a term like “reincarnation books” along with “reincarnation” to your list of 7 keywords (or phrases) at Amazon. By testing similar terms at Google, wouldn’t it be nice to know the term “reincarnation stories” gets searched 40 times more often than “reincarnation books” does? Thus, you’d be wise to use reincarnation stories rather than reincarnation books.

Remember to try multiple ways of writing the same thing with slight variations like “psychic” vs “psychics.” The tutorial video below demonstrates this is great detail or watch it on YouTube.

4. If possible, adding keywords to your book’s title or subtitle will do more good than at any other location since the title is most influential on search results. For non-fiction especially, your title must be related to search terms. For fiction, this can be hard if you already have a title and are set on keeping it. Perhaps the title is Dawn’s Quest. A brief subtitle will help bunches with keywords that actually get searched like Dawn’s Quest: A Caribbean Mystery. Don’t feel like doing that? I understand–most of my fiction titles don’t have keywords either, but it makes the battle that much harder to reach the top.

5. Some Categories are linked with Keyword Requirements

The genres below are designed to be linked with keyword suggestions that help rank books in certain categories. Click on the genre to see some of the recommended keywords to rank your book in the top #100 of a specific category. (Notice the yellow highlight example for “new adult” as a keyword requirement for the broader category of Romance–New Age & College–New Adult.)

6. Implement these tips with examples from Amazon:

Useful keyword types
● Setting (Colonial America)
● Character types (single dad, veteran)
● Character roles (strong female lead)
● Plot themes (coming of age, forgiveness)
● Story tone (dystopian, feel-good)

7. Input your keywords with KDP Publishing.
KDP gives you 7 choices (see the highlighted area in the photo on left). It’s recommended to use short phrases, 2-3 words long but I also have good success with 1-word examples like “publishing,” “dogs” and “skiing.” Combine those with phrases like “sell ebooks online,” “children’s bedtime stories” and “extreme sports” respectively as examples to cover the bases. Think like readers who are searching by subjects they enjoy.

Finally, do not include these things:
● Information covered elsewhere in your book’s metadata—title, contributor(s),  category, etc.
● Subjective claims about quality (e.g. “best”)
● Statements that are only temporarily true (“new,” “on sale,” “available now”)
● Information common to most  items in the category (“book”)
● Common misspellings
● Variants of spacing, punctuation, capitalization, and pluralization (both “80GB” and “80 GB”, “computer” and “computers”, etc.). The only exception is for words translated in more than one way, like “Mao Zedong” and “Mao Tse-tung,” or “Hanukkah” and “Chanukah.”
● Anything misrepresentative, such as the name of an author that is not associated with your book. This type of information can create a confusing customer experience and Kindle Direct Publishing has a zero tolerance policy for metadata that is meant to advertise, promote, or mislead.

Don’t use quotation marks in search terms: Single words work better than phrases—and specific words work better than general words. If you enter “complex suspenseful whodunit,” only people who type all of those words will find your book. You’ll get better results if you enter this: complex suspenseful whodunit. Customers can search on any of those words and find your book.

Other no-no’s that might land you in trouble:

• Reference to other authors
• Reference to books by other authors
• Reference to sales rank (i.e. ‘best-selling’)
• Reference to advertisements or promotions (i.e. ‘free’)
• Reference to anything that is unrelated to your book’s content

Other tips:
● Customers are more likely to skim past long titles (over 60 characters).
● Focus your book’s description on the book’s content
● Your keywords can capture useful, relevant information that won’t fit in your title and description (setting, character, plot, theme, etc.)
● You can change keywords and descriptions as often as you like
● If your book is available in different formats (physical, audio) keep your keywords and description consistent across formats
● Make sure your book’s metadata adheres to KDP’s Metadata Guidelines.

This video tutorial goes through this in a step by step fashion.



17 Changes Indie Authors Can Expect in 2017

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s where your eBooks should be sold

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s where your printed books should be sold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



An Inside Look at a Micro-Publisher

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

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

Run Like a Co-op

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

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

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

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

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

A Narrowly Defined Brand

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

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

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

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

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

Targeted Marketing, Wide Recognition

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

Keeping a narrowly focused brand has paid off.

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

Series-based Writing

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

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

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

For Those Who Like Change and Challenge

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

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

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

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



A Step Forward in Publishing

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

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

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

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

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

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



Why self publishing should be the only option for your business to really create a lasting effect

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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




Eight things booksellers would like self-published authors to know

Self-published authors are sometimes ill-prepared or don’t know what to expect when they approach booksellers about selling their titles, signing events, policy, etc. To be successful in pitching their books to booksellers, self-published authors should have a sense of the resources available to booksellers, what is appealing to them, and how to approach them. Here are eight things booksellers would like self-published authors to know.

Making sure your title is available for bookstores to order is an important first step

Bookstores don’t have access to all titles, and corporate stores like Barnes and Noble can’t sell your title unless it’s in its system and available from one of its distributors. Independent bookstores are much more likely to accept copies you bring from home, but each one is different, so it’s important to do some preliminary research. The more available your book is, the easier it will be to make sales.

Before setting up a book signing, do research on how to get your title accepted into the bookstores you are considering.

Make sure your title is returnable, specifically for national bookstore chains

With literally millions of titles in publication, it makes sense that real estate in a bookstore is a high commodity. With so many titles vying for space, most bookstores are reluctant to order anything that can’t be returned, especially in the quantities required for a signing event.

If your book has already been accepted into the distribution system, ask how to make your title returnable. I’m told it’s a fairly simple process, but be aware that it isn’t a free service.

Bookstores typically don’t have a budget to promote your signing event

The hard truth of the matter is that bookstores are approached by countless self-published authors who rarely make enough sales at an event to justify promotional expenditures. Even promotion for New York Times best-selling authors are supported by publishers, the authors themselves (yes, even highly successful authors promote their own events), and social media. There are exceptions to this, but be prepared to handle your own advertising.

If you want people to show up, there are several things you can do. Print flyers (or even better, bookmarks) for booksellers to bag-stuff, ask if you can set up a display a few weeks early with the event info, boost ads on social media, or take out an ad in the paper. The opportunities are there and go beyond what I’ve listed. You just have to be willing to put in the effort.

Take an active role in your signing event

Most events are scheduled for high-traffic days, which makes sense because authors want to engage as many people as possible. From a sales standpoint, booksellers prefer this also. From a logistical standpoint, these days can be so busy that booksellers have a difficult time disengaging themselves from customer service long enough to give your event the attention it needs. Booksellers have the best intentions to set you up for success but don’t always have the human resources to make it happen. Therefore, the more involved you can be in preparing for and setting up your event, the better.

Arrive early and help organize your station. Anything you can bring to draw attention to your book is also helpful. I’ve seen authors show up with balloons, stuffed animals, posters, candy trays, and all other sorts of things to attract attention. The extra effort usually pays off.

Your self-published book is probably not going to be competitively priced

In the self-publishing industry, there is a noticeable correlation between quality and price. Unfortunately, self-publishing facilities don’t have the resources to print at a high enough volume to make the cost per unit competitive. You can sacrifice quality (to a degree) for a lower price, but overall cover appeal plays a role in your book’s marketability. Traditionally published trade paperbacks usually run from $9.99 to $14.99, whereas I’ve seen self-published trade paperbacks anywhere from $15 to $30. It’s important to be aware of this disadvantage when asking people to take a chance on your title.

There’s just no getting around the price/volume relationship of publishing economics, which is why so many self-published authors opt for digital publishing. The only thing you can do is consider your market strategy very carefully before going to print.

Booksellers don’t want to be hassled about your book

Save your soliciting for the customers. Booksellers know way more about what’s available to read than the average person and have already decided before they meet you whether or not they want to read your book. Talking about it with them is okay. Pestering them to read it is not. You want to leave booksellers with a general knowledge of your book’s premise, but you also want to leave them with a positive experience. Your goal shouldn’t be to sell to them but to garner a good relationship.

If you really want booksellers to read your book, provide a free copy a few months ahead of your signing. This gives employees a chance to check out the title with zero pressure and ample time to read it beforehand. This method usually gets the best response.

Content quality matters

This, I have found, is the biggest difference between traditional and self-published titles. The editing process of big publishing houses is more than just fixing grammatical errors and running spellcheck. They invest tons of time and money getting a manuscript ready for market, which is why they’re so picky. They’re only willing to financially back projects they believe will make them the most money. It all comes back to the quality of the content. If you want any chance of standing out in an industry that publishes a million titles every year, recognize that producing quality content is the best way to generate positive word-of-mouth and gain an audience.

Stephen King once said, “Read a lot and write a lot.” Study your market thoroughly. Attend seminars and workshops. Join a writing group. Acknowledge that your work is not perfect (no one’s ever is) but that hard work can make a difference.

You are not entitled to an audience

This seems to be the hardest truth for any author to learn (myself included). Just because you wrote something does not mean others are obligated to want to read it. Literally anyone can self-publish a book, but the mere act of doing so doesn’t guarantee you readers. It takes a lot of market awareness and research to produce something with mass appeal. Even if you’ve done your homework, attended seminars, and revised until the red ink ran dry, it still doesn’t entitle you to an audience.

Venture into the world of self-publishing with a humble approach and a quality product, and rely on positive word-of-mouth and hard work to generate an audience. A sense of entitlement will only hurt your goal.



Want to Succeed at Self-Publishing? Quality Matters: Tips from an Indie Author

For five months in 2015, photographer Jeremy Enlow was granted rare access to Waggoner Ranch in Texas, the largest ranch in the United States. The result was Enlow’s self-published hardcover coffee table book, Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch, which Publishers Weekly called a “handsome collection” and “beautifully depicted.”

“The cowboys, some whom have worked on the ranch for over 40 years, don’t have computers or four wheelers,” Enlow says. “They cowboy the way it was done 50 to 75 years ago. I wanted to document this way of life for younger generations before it disappears.”

Enlow says his goal for the book was just to break even: “This was the first book I’ve published, so I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. When that first run of 1,500 books was being unloaded in my studio, I looked at my wife and said, ‘My gosh we are going to be giving away books for Christmas gifts the next 20 years.’ I was speechless when all those books sold out in 10 days.”

Enlow was most surprised by the power of marketing. He engaged the services of two marketing professionals: one dealt with traditional television, print, and web media, while the other handled with social media.

“You can produce the best book in the world, but if you don’t enlist marketing experts, the book will never sell,” he says. “On the flip side you have to give the marketing folks a decent product to pitch.”

He adds: “You can’t sit idle after the book is published and expect it to fly off the shelves…Whatever time and money you expect to spend on actually producing your book, double that for marketing.”

We asked Enlow to share some tips for aspiring indie authors:

Quality Matters

“Don’t skimp on quality. Seek out the best in the industry to help you. Start at the top and work your way down… I wanted to create a book the cowboys would be proud of and people would display on their coffee table. We printed on the best paper we could find and had full color on every page.”

Don’t Second Guess Yourself

“Everyone will want to give you advice. Some will be good and some will turn out to be terrible. At the end of the day it’s your book, so go with your gut and don’t second guess. Surround yourself with industry professionals and your chances of success will go up.”

Deadlines Matter

“From the very first photo shoot to the printed book in hand it took us less than eight months. Set hard deadlines and meet them. Otherwise you will always be fine-tuning a book and it will never hit the press.”



The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy

TODD RUTHERFORD was 7 years old when he first understood the nature of supply and demand. He was with a bunch of other boys, one of whom showed off a copy of Playboy to giggles and intense interest. Todd bought the magazine for $5, tore out the racy pictures and resold them to his chums for a buck apiece. He made $20 before his father shut him down a few hours later.

A few years ago, Mr. Rutherford, then in his mid-30s, had another flash of illumination about how scarcity opens the door to opportunity.

He was part of the marketing department of a company that provided services to self-published writers — services that included persuading traditional media and blogs to review the books. It was uphill work. He could churn out press releases all day long, trying to be noticed, but there is only so much space for the umpteenth vampire novel or yet another self-improvement manifesto or one more homespun recollection of times gone by. There were not enough reviewers to go around.

Suddenly it hit him. Instead of trying to cajole others to review a client’s work, why not cut out the middleman and write the review himself? Then it would say exactly what the client wanted — that it was a terrific book. A shattering novel. A classic memoir. Will change your life. Lyrical and gripping, Stunning and compelling. Or words to that effect.

In the fall of 2010, Mr. Rutherford started a Web site, GettingBookReviews.com. At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. But some clients wanted a chorus proclaiming their excellence. So, for $499, Mr. Rutherford would do 20 online reviews. A few people needed a whole orchestra. For $999, he would do 50.

There were immediate complaints in online forums that the service was violating the sacred arm’s-length relationship between reviewer and author. But there were also orders, a lot of them. Before he knew it, he was taking in $28,000 a month.

A polite fellow with a rakish goatee and an entrepreneurial bent, Mr. Rutherford has been on the edges of publishing for most of his career. Before working for the self-publishing house, he owned a distributor of inspirational books. Before that, he was sales manager for a religious publishing house. Nothing ever quite worked out as well as he hoped. With the reviews business, though, “it was like I hit the mother lode.”

Reviews by ordinary people have become an essential mechanism for selling almost anything online; they are used for resorts, dermatologists, neighborhood restaurants, high-fashion boutiques, churches, parks, astrologers and healers — not to mention products like garbage pails, tweezers, spa slippers and cases for tablet computers. In many situations, these reviews are supplanting the marketing department, the press agent, advertisements, word of mouth and the professional critique.

But not just any kind of review will do. They have to be somewhere between enthusiastic and ecstatic.

“The wheels of online commerce run on positive reviews,” said Bing Liu, a data-mining expert at the University of Illinois, Chicago, whose 2008 research showed that 60 percent of the millions of product reviews on Amazon are five stars and an additional 20 percent are four stars. “But almost no one wants to write five-star reviews, so many of them have to be created.”

Consumer reviews are powerful because, unlike old-style advertising and marketing, they offer the illusion of truth. They purport to be testimonials of real people, even though some are bought and sold just like everything else on the commercial Internet.

Mr. Liu estimates that about one-third of all consumer reviews on the Internet are fake. Yet it is all but impossible to tell when reviews were written by the marketers or retailers (or by the authors themselves under pseudonyms), by customers (who might get a deal from a merchant for giving a good score) or by a hired third-party service.

The Federal Trade Commission has issued guidelines stating that all online endorsements need to make clear when there is a financial relationship, but enforcement has been minimal and there has been a lot of confusion in the blogosphere over how this affects traditional book reviews.

The tale of GettingBookReviews.com, which commissioned 4,531 reviews in its brief existence, is a story of a vast but hidden corner of the Internet, where Potemkin villages bursting with ardor arise overnight. At the same time, it shows how the book world is being transformed by the surging popularity of electronic self-publishing.

For decades a largely stagnant industry controlled from New York, book publishing is fragmenting and changing at high speed. Twenty percent of Amazon’s top-selling e-books are self-published. They do not get to the top without adulation, lots and lots of it.

Mr. Rutherford’s insight was that reviews had lost their traditional function. They were no longer there to evaluate the book or even to describe it but simply to vouch for its credibility, the way doctors put their diplomas on examination room walls. A reader hears about a book because an author is promoting it, and then checks it out on Amazon. The reader sees favorable reviews and is reassured that he is not wasting his time.

“I was creating reviews that pointed out the positive things, not the negative things,” Mr. Rutherford said. “These were marketing reviews, not editorial reviews.”

In essence, they were blurbs, the little puffs on the backs of books in the old days, when all books were physical objects and sold in stores. No one took blurbs very seriously, but books looked naked without them.

One of Mr. Rutherford’s clients, who confidently commissioned hundreds of reviews and didn’t even require them to be favorable, subsequently became a best seller. This is proof, Mr. Rutherford said, that his notion was correct. Attention, despite being contrived, draws more attention.

The system is enough to make you a little skeptical, which is where Mr. Rutherford finds himself. He is now suspicious of all online reviews — of books or anything else. “When there are 20 positive and one negative, I’m going to go with the negative,” he said. “I’m jaded.”

Trainloads of Books