Thursday, March 31, 2011
Welcome to Self-Publishing Central. Today's topic has to do with publishing your collected blog entries in book form. It's easier than you might think. And it's a great way to help readers catch up on what they've missed.
Why would I want to publish my blog as an eBook?
Everything I've ever written on Self-Publishing Central, including guest posts, Tips lists and my real life experiences as a self-published author is still available, right here on my blog. It's all in the archives. Why would anyone want to buy a book containing the same information when they can get it for free here?
That's an excellent question. The answer is that, while all the blog posts remain available in the blog archive, in order to find one in particular, you need to page through each month's posts - one month at a time - and scan what you find for the post you're looking for. I've done it myself to link new posts with supplementary information contained in posts I'd already written. Frankly, it's a pain. Maybe there's a way that Blogger will let me index all these posts and I just haven't found it yet. If so . . . darn it!
By publishing the blog posts as an eBook, I can add a table of contents that will hyperlink directly to each post. In my mind, that's a huge advantage for anyone trying to use this blog as a resource. Information is no good if you can't find it when you need it.
What about all the web links contained in the blog? Won't those be lost in an eBook?
If you publish your blog the right way, the eBook you produce will contain live links to every web page you have referenced in your blog. Really?
Yes, really! Of course, the device used to read your eBook must be web-enabled and connected to the internet. But then, most devices these days, including Kindle and Nook, have that capability. And of course, if you're reading this blog right now, your computer has the capability, too. That means you could be reading the eBook right on your laptop using a free Kindle software download, or almost any reader software for the Nook (ePub) version. And yes, your eBook can also be made available in PDF, complete with live web-links. So you can use Adobe to read it, as well.
Can you imagine reading a paper copy of a blog and not being able to follow the blog references to the web? It would be frustrating as all get out. That's why eBooks are the ideal publishing format for blogs.
Okay. But isn't it a ton of work to retrieve those hundred or so blog posts, format them, make a table of contents, make sure the web links are live, etc.?
I'd say creating an eBook from your blog entries would be more work than it was worth, if it were not for the two brilliantly conceived tools I am about to share with you. (NOTE: There are almost certainly other such tools as well. These are the two I have used.)
The first tool is absolutely free and will convert your blog to a PDF-formatted eBook in just a couple minutes. It's called BookSmith, From Blog to Book. At the BookSmith site you simply enter your blog's URL, indicate whether you use Blogger or WordPress, select how many blog posts you want to include in your book and shoot from the hip.
The output is a PDF with a simple cover, a table of contents (including page numbers), and all the posts you selected, complete with live web links. You could publish your blog right at this point. But I'm not sure whether most eBook sellers will be able to read the links when the books are "converted" to their particular formats.
I know that a basic upload and conversion to Kindle or Smashwords from this enhanced PDF format will not preserve the links as you intend. Nor will such a conversion make hyperlinks out of the Table of Contents, as you would want for most eBook formats (since page numbers are fluid).
Enter tool number two . . . . This one costs a little money. (Hey, you can't expect everything for free in this life.) The second tool isn't really a tool - it's a company (or at least a guy). It's called ebookconversion.com. To use this service, you email the PDF of your blog/book to Bob Mehta at ebookconversion.com and he gives you a quote to accomplish the conversion to Kindle and/or ePub. For my conversion, Bob quoted me $153 for the conversion to Kindle and another $45 if I added ePub as well. I could pay an extra $63 for rush service to get the conversion completed in one week instead of two or three. (I elected to forgo the rush service. I'm in this for the long run.)
I spoke to Bob on the telephone after receiving his quote to confirm that all the web links in my blog would be live in the eBook and that the Table of Contents would be hyperlinked to the appropriate posts. He confirmed that such would, indeed, be the case.
His site had a bunch of positive testimonials and links to samples of his work. It all looked good to me. So I sent my book off to Bob this past Monday. Of course, I will report on the final product when I receive it. But I'm pretty optimistic that Bob will come through for me.
If you want to add a custom cover to your eBook, go for it. I'm working on a little something on my word processing software that I plan to use as my book cover on Kindle and Nook. I'm no artist by any means. I'm sure most of you can do better. You can see at the top of this post what I've come up with so far.
If you're blogging about writing (or anything, really) and your blog contains lots of useful information like this one does, why not make it a book? I plan to list "Self-Publishing Central" for sale on Kindle and Nook when it's ready. I'll add buy links at the top of this blog so you can take a peek at the finished product if you wish.
That's it for today. Thanks for stopping in.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Some of you may have noticed me on Twitter or FaceBook, or even on this Blog, advertising "experimental pricing" on Kindle versions of several of my novels. My goal was to test the price waters (again . . . I did this last fall, and again this winter, as well). I wanted to find the best price point for my books.
Following are my observations:
If you write paranormal romance novellas, I can safely say that the folks who have had the most success with selling these eBooks are pricing them at $.99 each. I didn't find this out through my own empirical study. I sampled other blogs. I looked on Amazon to see how much the popular books in this genre are selling for. And of course, there's the famous case of Kindle millionaire, Amanda Hocking. (If you haven't heard her story, Google her. You'll find out plenty.)
Although my pricing study didn't include novellas of any kind, I feel pretty comfortable going with the prevailing opinion on this one. $.99 is your price point.
If you write popular fiction, I have some actual results from my unscientific studies (both last fall and recently) to offer.
For the past several months, or more, all of my novels on Kindle have been priced at $8.99. Sales have been surprisingly steady -- I said steady, not high. But the steadiness gave me a nice comparison point for my price study.
For a period of several days this March I lowered the price on my most popular novel from $8.99 to $2.99. I advertised the price drop like crazy, everywhere I could. The first day, I sold triple the number of that book compared to the average daily number I had been selling. After the first day, sales dropped below my normal sales numbers and remained there for three days, at which time I returned the price to $8.99. Sales of this book have now returned to their pre-experiment level. And they did so almost immediately.
My conclusion, based on this admittedly scant, but entirely accurate, data, $8.99 was a better price for the book than $2.99. Even though I did sell more books the very first day, I suspect that those purchases were made by folks who planned to buy the book anyway and simply took advantage of the price drop to do so. (I actually contacted two buyers who had notified me of their purchases. I asked if the price was a factor for them. Both said that it wasn't.)
In the battle between the $8.99 and the $2.99 price points for popular novels, the unscientific winner is: $8.99. Not only do I get paid three times as much per book sold, I actually sell more books at that price level.
If you write religious or other niche fiction, I can offer you some information on pricing in this area as well. Before my price study, I was selling my full-length religious novel at $8.99. For the study period of four days, I lowered the price to $.99. As with the other novel, I advertised the heck out of the price drop.
The results? I sold four copies of the book during the four days of the study. I hadn't been selling tons before that. But this level of sales certainly didn't make the $.99 price point an attractive option.
What I learned with this book experiment, is that almost giving your book away does not attract purchasers. This bears out similar results I have experienced when I have actually offered to GIVE eBooks away. I don't believe people value most fiction when you price it too low. (Romance being one apparent exception.)
So the price point for my religious novel at present? Back to $8.99. Sales are still slow. But awards are starting to come in. So we'll see what the future holds.
The above findings are comparable to results I discovered last fall when I lowered prices on my books to $6.99 and then to $2.99. No appreciable increase in sales. In fact, sales DECREASED as the price dropped.
I posted an article on this blog a a couple months ago describing how I chose the prices for my books. I'll see if I can locate it and link it here.
The upshot of my pricing strategy is to price my books slightly lower than their traditionally published counterparts. If NY Times Best Seller thrillers sell for $9.99 to $11.99, I sell mine for $8.99. You get the idea.
I would like to have done a more thorough and more scientific pricing study whose results I could share with you. But as you know, among other things, I am an author. So writing itself has to be a priority. This is especially true since, as I have stated in this blog before, if you want to sell more books, write more.
I hope you have found this article helpful to you (if only in a small way) when you make that important decision about pricing your book.
That's it for today.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Today we wrap up our "Tips" series with self-publishing tips 16 through 20. Links to prior posts are here: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.
And here are your final five tips of the series:
16. Consider entering your book in awards competitions. There are lots of reputable contests out there. Generally, the entry fee is under $100 and goes (mostly) to pay for the judging and prizes. There are also scam contests to avoid. If you’re wondering about a particular contest, type its name into Google followed by the word “scam.” If it’s a scam, you’ll find out. Here’s a link to a post I did last year listing some respected contests. Check them out. Most of them are accepting entries RIGHT NOW.
17. A decent Media Kit is a valuable tool. When you send out requests for reviews, press releases or other media coverage, an up-to-date Media Kit is irreplaceable. If you don’t know what a Media Kit is, here’s one of many places you can find out. I expound on one of my Media Kits in a post from last summer, if you want a more personal example. Your Media Kit makes your first impression on many contacts in the publishing world. Develop one to be proud of.
18. Don’t plan on selling lots of books at book signings and book festivals. The average number of books sold by a relatively unknown author at a bookstore signing is FOUR. I usually do a bit better at my signings (16 to 34 books), but only because I really “work” the customers. If you just sit there behind your table of books, you probably won’t sell any.
The same goes for large book fairs and book festivals. I’ve participated in a couple book fairs. At the Minneapolis Book Festival, I sold ten books over a period of seven hours. I paid $60 for the privilege. The two guys next to me at the author tables combined didn’t sell as many as I did. There are some other benefits to Book Festivals, though. If you’re interested, take a glance at my report on the Minneapolis Festival here. But never expect to sell a bunch of books.
19. Take advantage of guest posters on your blog. There are lots of authors out there who have insights into the rapidly changing world of self-publishing. If you have a writing blog, share your blog space with a few well-chosen guest bloggers. They’ll appreciate the opportunity. Your readers will enjoy a new perspective. You’ll tap into at least a few of their Followers. Plus, you'll get a break from writing your blog that day. It’s a win-win-win-win.
20. Remember to have fun being an author. You are one of a select few who can say that he or she has published a book. I’ve mentioned several ways you can feel good in this post. Please read it. It’ll lift your spirits and encourage you to press on. In a like manner, all authors should encourage and support all others. I don’t get why some self- or indie-publishers and some traditional publishers can’t be civil to one another. Publishing is tough enough without authors beating each other up over their chosen paths to publication. So please . . . play nice.
Well . . . that's the end of our self-publishing tips series. It's not that there aren't more tips I could tell you here. But I want to move on, in future posts, to a bit more in-depth discussion of self-publishing topics.
Hope you enjoyed the "Tips" series. And thanks for stopping in.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Today we continue our series of self-publishing tips with Tips 11 - 15. Here is where you may find the First Five Tips and the Second Five Tips. The Fourth and final installment in the "Tips" series will be posted later this week.
Here are today's five tips:
11. Make sure to give back. If you’re the sort of writer that expects others to give, give, give while you soak up their riches, you can expect the pot o’ gold to run empty pretty quickly. Tweet the successes of other authors – especially your special friends. Read some indie- or self-pubbed books. If you truly like them, let the world know. Maybe start a blog to share what you have learned. Be a source of writing energy, not a sink.
12. Stay up to date on Self-pub news and technology. It’s truly surprising how quickly news and advice in the self-publishing world can go stale. Publishing these days is a dynamic environment. Look for new perspectives and new opportunities on a regular basis. Do yourself a favor and acquire the ability to accept credit card payments with The Square. Americans don’t carry cash and checks anymore. You’ll be the envy of everyone at the book festival when you pull out your smartphone and start accepting Visa/Master/Amex/Discover. It’s easier than you think with this gadget.
13. Writing is NOT a competition. When other authors experience success, cheer them on. When any author finishes a book (or even a first draft), congratulate them. The author community may seem large on the web. But how many people do you know who actually have succeeded in publishing a book? We authors should be a welcoming group for our fellow writers. Help when you can. Applaud when appropriate. And always remember that writing is a cooperative endeavor – not a competition. This attitude will serve you well.
14. Learn to be patient. If you haven’t yet reached the point in your writing adventure where you have encountered the need for EXTREME patience, well . . . you’ve got a ways to go. Writing for publication IS NOT a sprint – it’s a marathon. Don’t expect your emails to be returned, or your letters acknowledged. Everybody is swamped with life these days. Remember, YOUR work is not THEIR only priority. Be patient, kind and understanding with everyone you encounter in the writing business. Most are doing their best. And the rest? Well . . . they’re not worth losing your inner peace over.
15. If you want an affordable book video trailer, get one from Apex Reviews. Apex has frequent sales when you can purchase their “Platinum” publicity package for as low as $49 or $69. Regular price is only $99. This package includes a pretty well-written book review, entry of your book into an awards competition, press releases to 50,000 or so outlets AND a one minute video book trailer. If you’re operating on a tight budget, you can’t beat that. I had my trailers done through Apex. Check out my IAN Member Page to see both.
Well, those are today's five tips. I hope you will find at least at least some of them helpful to you in your writing activities.
That's it for now. Check back for the fourth and final installment of the "Tips" series later this week.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
My latest post on Five Self-Publishing Tips has been very popular. So I've decided to make it into a series of three (maybe four) posts.
Today's tips are numbers 6 - 10. And here they are:
6. Get an author website. The nicer job you do putting together your website, the more professional the impression on your audience. Unless you’ve got a knack for web development, consider hiring someone to help you out here. Prices vary all over the place. But $500 should get you something pretty decent. My recommendation for help in website development? Duolit. Make sure your book is available for purchase on your site. If you want to have a blog, that’s great – but it’s not the same as a website. Provide sample chapters and maybe a “Things I learned while writing XYZ Book” list. (BTW...I did my own website, so don't blame Duolit.)
7. Get involved in Social Networks. The basics here are Twitter, LinkedIn and FaceBook. Each has advantages and disadvantages for the author. Experiment with all of them. On Twitter, look for the #amwriting hashtag as a place to start. On LinkedIn, look for the Definitive Serious Writers Group. Set up a FaceBook page strictly for your authoring activities and update it regularly – daily if possible. Beyond the big three, consider writer support groups like The Independent Author Network (for marketing and networking) or the Association of Independent Authors (for help in many areas).
8. Don’t forget the home front. Social networking is great . . . but increasing evidence indicates that you shouldn’t ignore author marketing activities closer to home. Offer to speak to book clubs, service clubs (Kiwanis, Rotary, etc.), local “Friends of the Library” associations and study groups of all kinds. If you can find an audience, go for it. I sell lots of paperbacks at these speaking engagements. Don’t forget to provide local libraries with copies of your book.
9. Keep on writing. As my friend @JamieDeBree likes to say: “The best way to sell books? Write more books.” I agree 100%. Readers don’t want to fall in love with a one-hit-wonder. Show them you’re serious about your writing by starting work on that next book even before you’ve released your current masterpiece.
10. Establish solid relationships with other writers. It’s pretty easy to get a few thousand Followers on any social network. And that’s arguably important. But in my experience, it’s the closer relationships – the folks you Message with and exchange emails with – who will anchor your online presence. Yes, it takes time to make a truly great online friend. I’ve been lucky enough to have half-a-dozen or so. When you encounter that “right” person, take your connection to the next level. It’ll benefit both of you.
Those are today's Five Tips. Check back around March 16th for five more.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping in.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I've been collecting some of my favorite tips for self-publishers. I've probably mentioned some of these insights in previous posts. But there's some new stuff here, too. And we can always use a reminder to help refocus our thinking.
So here are today's five tips"
1. If you’re in the U.S. and plan to publish a paperback, print your book through CreateSpace. Their inside connection with Amazon, and low up-front costs, make them a compelling choice as a POD printer. Costs for author copies are also among the lowest in the industry. So you can warehouse and sell your books through any channel you wish. Here’s a link to CreateSpace.
2. Publish your eBooks through at least the following channels: Amazon Kindle. Barnes & Noble PubIt. Smashwords. Kindle is still the best selling outlet for eBooks in the U.S. Don’t forgo the chance to tap into this vast market. It costs nothing to have your book available in Kindle format. And royalties are up to 70% of the list price of the book – which you set! Check out the details here.
Barnes & Noble’s PubIt gives you access to another excellent market. It’s not quite as big as Amazon’s. But there are lots of B&N devotees out there who will still look for eBooks at B&N first. Once again, there is no up-front cost to list your book. And author royalties are up to 70% of the list price. Here's a link to the Pubit site.
Smashwords doesn’t sell tons of books directly. But it does make your book available through iBooks, Sony, Diesel and Kobo. Smashwords will also convert your Word document to all the major eBook formats for free – .mobi (Kindle); ePub (Sony, Nook and others); PDF; html and plain old text. When Smashwords resells your books to these retailers it takes a fee. On the other hand, it does make your books available to all these outlets for free. In my book, that’s too good a deal to pass up. Check out Smashwords here.
3. Make sure your paperback is for sale through multiple online channels. Even if you don’t plan to sell many books through B&N Online, or through ABEBooks, etc., some of these other retailers will price compete with Amazon. Since Amazon refuses to be outbid for lowest price, it will beat all other prices. This makes your books cheaper for your readers to buy at Amazon and still nets you the same percentage of your LIST PRICE.
4. Don’t spend money on blog book tours. If you want to organize your own, great! They take a lot of time and research. But they can get you good exposure if done properly. I paid $500 for a blog tour through “Pump Up Your Book.” They came highly recommended. And it wasn’t worth the money. My book didn’t get the individualized attention it needed to expose the book to my audience.
5. Get as many “independent” book reviews as you can. Nothing gives a self-published better bona fides than a nice set of well-written, independent book reviews. Friends and family reviews are okay. But many shoppers will ignore these as inherently biased. You can get free reviews from bloggers in your genre, from Amazon Top Reviewers, from BookPleasures.com and numerous other sources. Seek out unbiased reviewers for your book. It’s well-worth the effort.
That wraps up your five tips for today. Five more coming in my next post.
Thanks for stopping in.
Monday, March 7, 2011
My travels continue this week. So my good friend, Mr. Al King, has agreed to step in with a guest post on selling your book. Al is an insightful guy with a message from which we can all benefit.
The stage is yours, Al.
Your Book Will Not Sell Itself
As an author, you’ve positioned all of your time, originality and creative energy into the conception of one book -- your book. Now that it’s done, you’re looking to get it in the hands of as many readers as possible. You’re confident that it’s a rock-solid book, a great read that’ll be well received by anyone who comes in contact with it, simply because -- it’s just that good.
This is where I have to stop you. Despite the fact that I salute your optimism, it’s going to take much more than just your want to actually become a best seller. For the record, regardless of how good any product is, it will require the well-deserved and time-consuming effort of making a solid connection with those that have a like or interest in your product.
How does that apply to selling a book you’re probably asking. Well, for starters the paramount instrument you have will always be YOURSELF. Take every opportunity to expose your brand by displaying your interpersonal abilities and establishing a “Human Connection,” an authentic connection with each and every person that is capable of reading/ purchasing your book. What I mean by that is, you shouldn’t restrict your marketing attack to only those you deem as a targeted audience, but all people in general.
In my opinion, an audience immediately exists once you share your manuscript with the world and every author should immediately understand he or she is now on stage. Authors should use every opportunity to determine how a book is being received and identify with fans. Instead, these days I’ve noticed, and you probably have as well, authors who haven’t taken the time to build rapport are begging and shoving the expectations to purchase on potential customers.
The truth is -- every time a choice is made to spend money, a connection is made. All consumers are moved by energy, the hype, the need, the want, which eventually transcends into a connection between consumer and product. As a writer you are the personality to your masterpiece and must always be the face of your book. It is then that something can surmount to a common interest -- in this case, it's author to reader.
Virally, there are many suggestions of ways to enhance the sales of books, with social media sites being the most common. These platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter and FaceBook) are viewed as the most viable marketing and promotional outlets when they are used effectively. One thing I want to emphasize is . . . just because you have accounts on these sites, doesn’t mean anything if they aren’t being serviced. Remember, what you put into them, will be what you get out of them. During my own presence on these sites, I’ve seen many people with great potential to capture their following if only they took the time to service this potential.
What is Servicing? One must publicly engage and interact at some point by respecting the real purpose and premise of social sites. If the connections are made, I’m almost certain it will lead to the support of your book. Based on the ideology of selling, most purchases are provoked from being emotionally stimulated from the thought of that purchase will make one feel better.
Realistically, if a person wakes up in the morning wanting to buy a book that day, that is exactly what they will do. But it’s the person that didn’t have any intention of making a purchase on their mind, but is then enticed into buying, that matters. Again, if you’re not concentrating on fusing with people you don’t know, a potential purchaser or a possible future recommendation that will co-sign your book, then what will make you exceptional from the author of the book next to yours?
Remember, your book will not sell itself!
More about our guest author . . .
ENTERTAINMENT MANAGER ·AUTHOR · TALK SHOW HOST · ENTREPRENEUR · MOTIVATOR
Born and reared in the Bronx, New York, Al King is a dynamically and diverse entity, driven as an entrepreneur, author, entertainment manager, visionary and motivator. Inspired by the foresight of his predecessors with the likes of Berry Gordy and Quincy Jones, he has his eyes set on creating his own legacy. Taking over ten-years in the corporate sector doing management, combined with his experience in the real estate industry, he credits that path with honing in on his business outlook.
In 2002, combining his love for entertainment and leadership abilities, he decided to catapult his spirit and drive as an entrepreneur by launching Go Gettaz Entertainment, Inc. The full-service, Artist and Project Management and Production Company has been effective with specializing in the development and guidance of clients. The company has overseen the careers of rappers, singers and projects that has included a partnership in China—resulting in appointing the dj’s for a newly built nightclub ”Club New York” in the city of Hangzhou. One of his major accomplishments was the concise execution of gaining a contractual release from a major record label for a client that took almost two years of grueling legal warfare.
In 2010, by adding author and publisher to his arsenal, he launched a literary publishing company, Go Gettaz Publications. The first release will be his first penned novel “Let It Be Known” The Al King Point of View, scheduled to be released in March, 2011. This non-fiction book is what he considers to be “A sincere conversation on a collage of life matter’s”. He adds: “ A motivational, inspirational, empowering and instructional push in the form of a solution for what we face day in and day out”. In June,10, in conjunction with the book, he launched the weekly internet radio show “Let it Be Known” Live. The show covered a successful span of forty-four shows, garnering a faithful following from around the country and extending to some international listeners.
Mr. King’s paramount objective is to bring forth a multi-media conglomerate that will empower, inspire and influence the universe in general!
If you have questions or comments for Mr. Al King, we'd appreciate hearing from you.
Thanks for appearing today, Al.
That's it for now.