Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Secrets of Indie Publishing Revealed #16 Reviews

Indie Publishing Secret #17 The "Oh So Important" Reviews

So, I read an article that said most indie authors need to give away about 100 print/ebooks on their way out of obscurity. Wow! That's a lot. Good thing you can use your print books for giveaways on awesome blogs. You'll also be sending review copies to reviewers, distributors, bookstores, and printers. As for ebooks, it's a breeze with Smashwords. The coupon codes they give you allow you to give away your book at no charge. So nice.

Two things need to happen with those freebies

1. Word needs to spread about your book
2.  You need to get people who like it to review it for you

This didn't even cross my mind. I had to learn the hard way.

You don't.

Lots of people had read my book before it showed up on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and Goodreads and all those other fabulous retailers.These people told me how much they liked it, but I didn't contact them and tell them to review my book. Then, one fine day, I looked at my Goodreads account and discovered I'd gotten a bad review. Why? Why would anyone give me a bad review? :) And, on top of that, it was the first review. The review everyone sees FIRST. It doesn't matter that I have many great reviews after that, the bad review sits front and center for all to read.

You better believe I hunted down some people to review for me after that... and fast.

Something to keep in mind, however, is that people will promise you a review and then will never do it. Remember that it is something extra for them to do. You could choose to pester them like crazy, but I think the easier way would be to email them the link to the pages where your book is being reviewed to make it easy for people to keep their promise. We are all busy and forget.

Let your readers also know that they can "like" and "rate" your book. Some people will never "write" a review, but almost everyone will at least rate it and like it.

So, get your friends/readers lined up to write reviews for you on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and anywhere else you can think of. Ask them to "rate" and "like" you at the very least. Sure you'll do a review tour and people will write reviews on their blogs, but you need them to end up where people both buy and research your book. You NEED good reviews to populate your pages.

In summary, get copies of your book out there before it is officially released. Scatter them far and wide and then ask for the reviews. Once your book pops up on all the sites, send everyone links to review/rate it. You'll be so glad you did.

Now you know!

Happy reviewing!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Indie Publishing Secret #15-Uploading Your Interior Text

In Secret #8 I talked about how to set your book up with Createspace. Remember, there are other services. I just chose Createspace. You can use who you'd like.

Time to upload your interior text. Yay!

Before you do, some things to consider
  1. Do you want a blank page before your title page?
  2. Do you want your LCCN printed on your title page? (last weeks post)
  3. Do you want reviews printed on the first page? (In next weeks post)
  4. Do you want your blog/website information on your author page?
  5. Do you want to put a teaser about your next book on the last page?
Not sure?

Look at a bunch of paperback books and decide how you want those first few pages and last few pages to look in your book and design them to look that way.

You are in charge, but there are definite "norms" out there. What patterns do you see? What kind of books break those patterns? You want your book to look professionally done, make sure you do your research.

After you have it designed how you want it to be, upload it on Createspace's site. After it's approved, you'll be able to send away for a proof copy. There's nothing like holding your first book in your hand. When mine arrived I was at work. My daughter called me screaming in the phone. I was so afraid she'd been hurt or in an accident or something. After telling her to calm down, I realized she was telling me my proof had arrived. I asked her if she'd opened the box. Silence...
I laughed and said, "How does it look?"
She answered,"Awesome" And then screamed again.
So much fun!

I suggest you get that proof and look it over with a fine-toothed- comb before sending your interior file to all the ebook services. There is something about a hard copy that lets you SEE mistakes more easily.

Fix any mistakes you and your editor/friends find and then upload your final version. If you were lucky and had no errors-good for you. Start soliciting reviews and get your ebook onto smashwords.

Happy proofing!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Indie Publishing Secret #14- Getting an LCCN

Hopefully, the article I posted here last week got you curious about all the information that's out there on indie publishing. If you Google or Bing "indie publishing", you could take the rest of your life reading articles and posts about it. Stay on top of it, but don't let it bog you down. You need to be actively working toward getting your book out, not just reading about other people doing it.


You know when you look on the title page of books and they have an LCCN Number and words after it?

This number is for cataloguing with the Library of Congress.

You want this number in your book.

Check out all your books by traditional publishers. They have this number. You should, too. (use the links in the text below to get you to the right places.)

You have to apply for that number and it takes a while to go through the process. It is a two step process and it's free.
  1. You are the publisher, so fill out the publisher's form. This is the application to start the process.
  2. You will receive an email with your account number and password to log onto the site and apply for your number.
Once they've reviewed your application, they will send you your number and you can print it in your book. (You will have to send them a copy of the book as soon as you print it.)

A word of caution. If you publish your book before getting this number, you will not be able to get one. You will need to start over with a new ISBN. Don't make that mistake.

You do need very specific information about your book when applying for the number. If you haven't uploaded your interior text file to Createspace yet. You will need to do that before filling out the second form to get your number.

Go ahead and fill out the publisher form and check back next week about final clean up on your interior file.

You will want to read next Tuesdays post before you submit the file and order your proof copy.
Get a jump on your application process this week, though. Don't wait.

By next week you'll have everything in order to answer all the questions on the second application form that gets you your number.

Happy Applicationing. Hee Hee.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Indie Publishing Secrets Revealed #13 To Indie-Publish or Not?

Indie-publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

You must be wondering whether e-publishing is for you if you are reading this blog series.One important thing importance of staying on top of the industry. Start reading blogs and sites dedicated to this topic. I'll get you started today. I'm a part of an awesome writers' group called Author's Incognito. My good friend, Christine Bryant, posted an interesting email post from Dave Farland's Kick in the Pants. It was about the pros and cons of e-publishing compared to traditional publishing. I thought you'd like to read it. I sure enjoyed it.
A reader of the Daily Kick asked me recently to help him try to figure out whether it was better to self-publish a book as an e-book, or to go with a traditional publisher.

That’s a hard thing to do. Right now, taking a shot in traditional publishing is like trying to hit a moving target. In the past month alone, the nation’s third largest chain, Borders, has filed for bankruptcy and is now liquidating 400 of its stores. Many other bookstores are in trouble.

Meanwhile, book sales on a month-by-month basis for hardcovers in the US are showing about a 40% loss, on a month-to-month comparison to one year ago, and paperback sales are also tanking.

At the same time, Amazon.com, the world’s largest retailer, is showing about a 300% rise in sales of e-books on their site from last year.

Barnes and Noble, the second largest retail chain in the United States, is jumping onto the digital platform. In the past few months, they’ve reduced shelf space for books in their stores dramatically, increasing the space that is allotted to selling e-readers and accessories.

As a result of this, an author can anticipate that paperback sales now are about 50% of what they were last year.

In other words, paper books are rapidly dying. Many of the retailers who were selling them only a year ago are gone, and many of the survivors were selling paper books are now pushing electronic books instead.

So what should an author do?

Right now, if you publish a book in a paper format, it will take about two years for the book to be printed and released. What will the markets look like in two years?

I don’t know. I strongly suspect that in early 2012, we will see that more than half of all book sales are made electronically. By mid-2013, that number might rise to 70% of all sales. In a market like that, what can a publisher really offer you?

For most titles, they won’t be able to do much. Most bookstores will be going out of business. The paper venue will become a boutique business, for specialty stores. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean that the publishers will concentrate more on finding “big books.” They’ll cut back on midlist titles, and they’ll want more of the take.

The major thing that they demand is electronic rights. Most publishers now are offering 25% of “net” to their authors on electronic sales. Once they hit the author up for operating expenses, that means that the author will get less than 15% of the money spent on the sale of a book.

Now, don’t be fooled. Your agent will get a portion of that (about 15%, normally). And of course the electronic distributor will normally get a healthy chunk, too (at least 30% of the sales price).

Then you have to worry that your publisher is paying an honest royalty to you. (If you listen to authors, you’ll find that it appears that many publishers are not paying honest royalties.)
The result is that over the life of a novel, the author will get very little of the money paid for his product, if he goes with an agent and a traditional publisher. Let’s say that you write a book that makes $100,000 in sales over the next ten years. How much of that will you get as an author?

Well, the electronic distributor (Amazon.com/Barnes and Noble), under current rates, would get $30,000. Your publisher will take in the other $70,000, and would then pay you 25% of net. What’s the net? That’s hard to determine. The publisher might well charge you for the operating expenses of its company as a part of that net, or subtract money spent for advertising, or editing.

Let’s be generous on our determination of net, and say that you get 20% of the total received--$14,000. Your agent will then get an additional $2010. This would leave you with a little under $12,000 over the next ten years.

However, if you fire your agent and don’t hire a publisher, you would get all $70,000—less, of course, any publishing costs, such as a cover, editorial fees, perhaps a book designer. The cost of publishing a book can be kept under a thousand dollars pretty easily.

Of course, books online won’t have a 10-year shelf-life. You’ll keep making money on your book for more than a hundred years after you die. So if this book continues to sell for a hundred years, the numbers become astronomical.

Given all of this, the answer to the question is, “When does it make sense to publish with a conventional paper publisher?” The answer is, Never. Those days are gone. It would appear, right now, that the potential profit lines on a graph will diverge dramatically, and the longer you publish your book, the more you’ll regret going with a traditional publisher.

Unless, that is, you look at publishing as a career. It may be that a publisher will bring out your book, create buzz, give you a tremendous advance, launch your career beautifully, push your books so that they sell far better than they would have on their own, and turn you into the next J.K. Rowling. It does happen. Getting the notoriety and the marketing push from a big publisher can be a huge boost to a budding career, and it may be worth your time to seek out a major publisher.

You publisher typically offers editorial skills, marketing muscle, credibility—a lot of things that any author needs.

However, as an author who has been in this business or 25 years, I have to warn you about how it really works. Anyone who has been in this business for very long will tell you horror stories about how the conventional publishers messed up their editing, their cover quotes, their cover art, missed their ship date, under-ordered on print runs, refused to send the author on a signing tour, and so on. In other words, for every fairytale come true, authors can tell you about a hundred nightmares. For every author who makes a living in this business, dozens attempt it and fail.

In the final analysis, I’m not sure that this has to be an either/or situation. I believe that publishers will soon begin buying rights to books that breakout as e-books. When that happens, you might be able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

So maybe the question isn’t “Should I self-publish?” Maybe the question you should be asking is, “What’s the best way to self-publish in order to make sure that my book goes big?”

I’m going to talk about the way that makes the most sense to me in my next post—hopefully next week.

But for now, I have to get back to my real job—writing.

  I'd love your opinions on this.
Happy e-learning!