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Friday, December 31, 2010

Self-Publishing Central's Top 10 of 2010

It seems like everybody is into wrapping up the year with a list of greatest hits or top stories for 2010. So who am I to buck the trend? This post is going to remind you of some of Self-Publishing Central's best of the year gone by.

But first . . . a couple of announcements.

1) In case you haven't heard, Amazon Kindle books may now be loaned by their owners for a single lending period of 14 days without charge. Some authors may oppose this "free book for your buddy" approach. I believe that the more people who read my books, the more can help me market them. I don't think I'm going to run out of potential readers -- though it would be great of I did!

2) Belonging to The Independent Author Network (IAN) (just started up in December, 2010) has given my promotional efforts a big boost in terms of site hits -- both here and on my author site -- and actual book sales. If you're a motivated book marketer, you may want to check it out. (NOTE: IAN is not an author-mill. IAN founder @WilliamPotter68 gives the site (and each author) his personal touch. Rarely will IAN add more than one new member per day. So please be patient. The wheels of quality grind slowly, but exceedingly fine.)

3) This blog has grown in recent months to a following of more than 1000 hits per month. Thanks to all of you Followers. I hope this means I'm supplying something useful to authors and self-pubbers on Self-Publishing Central.

AND NOW . . . The Top Ten Posts of 2010.

10) My Most Successful Book Marketing Tip to Date. Find reviewers for your books among Amazon's Top 500. And a redux on this topic: Marketing Update.

9) An Author's Greatest Challenge. The value of patience.

8) The Importance of a Media Kit. An invaluable sales tool.

7) Is Print on Demand Really a Bad Idea? Refuting the established wisdom about POD.

6) Making Sure Your Self-Pub Research is Current. Times are changing fast in the publishing industry. If you're researching whether to self- or indie-publish vs the traditional route, make sure your research is current.

5) Choosing Your Self-Publishing Formats. Paper? Kindle? ePub? PDF? All of the above?

4) Just Write. How to make the leap from shorter works to writing a novel.

3) Finding Reviewers for Your First Book. Such a great topic there are two posts. Here's the second: 25 Places YOU Can get Book Reviews.

2) Book Award Competitions for Self- and Indie-Pubs.

1) Authors Deserve to Feel Good, Too. Reasons it's great to be an author!

Okay . . . I have to admit I would have liked to add another ten posts to this list, but long lists are deadly to readers! (Good to remember that.)

So there you go. My Top Ten. You may have others. And you may have comments. So please feel free.

Here's wishing all of you peace, prosperity and happy writing in the new year. Make 2011 the best yet!

That's it for today. Thanks for stopping by.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Book Signings and Festivals

Hello all. I hope you're having a peaceful and joyous holiday season.

Today's post is about book signings and Book Festivals. You know . . . those places where you get to sit around feeling nervous about engaging customers and wondering why you came? If such is your experience with these events, you need to loosen up and enjoy the buyer contact. Some ideas on that in a moment.

But first, if you haven't read my post on the Twin Cities Book Festival in October, you might want to take a look at that.

Then, let's divide these two similar, yet not identical, in-person book selling events into separate categories for consideration.

Book Signings

Book signings are usually "author meets buyer" events where a single author, or a small group of authors, participate. There is typically pre-event publicity such as publication of press releases, distribution of flyers, placing of posters in store windows, or other creative advertising. The signing may focus on a single new release; or it may encompass all of the author's books. If you can coordinate a press release or book review in a local newspaper with your signing, that's great!

Often bookstores will host book signings in the hopes of boosting their own sales of books by that author. When a bookstore hosts your event, all books are normally purchased through the bookstore's till, and the store takes its usual percentage as commission. This is true whether the books sold come off the store's shelves or out of boxes in your car trunk.

The store will assign you a location to sit and display your wares. It is a good idea to ask ahead of time what sort of seating, table or other space will be allocated to your signing. In some cases you may wish to have a bit larger table than the store has offered, and you may inquire if you can bring this along with you.

In my experience, the accommodations for book-signings have been fairly spare and quite cramped. Be prepared for these eventualities. Have book stands (buy some wire ones if you don't have any -- they're cheap) along with you, so your books can serve as their own display if space is tight. I also like to bring a relatively large, formal linen cloth to cover the table. This touch classes up your presentation and makes both you and your books look more professional -- not t0 mention giving you a spot to hide your book inventory. My cloth is cream-colored, satin brocade. It goes with pretty much anything.

At a Book Festival

Unlike a book signing, where you are the star of the show, a Book Festival or Book Fair will usually feature many authors. Author "tables" are often only part of a table. And the authors are arranged in a central area, around a perimeter or both.

With all these authors around, you want your presence to stand out -- but in a good way. A table cloth is also a good idea for these events. (See above.) You may want a paper or tag-board sign to hang in front of your table. (Most of the time you will not be allowed to have banners or displays that block the buyers' view of other authors.)

Be ready for cramped seating arrangements. (See my Minneapolis Book Festival Post if you didn't look last time I mentioned it.) Bring a water bottle. You may get thirsty. Make friends with the authors near you so you can watch their tables when they need a break, and vice versa.

Unlike a "signing," you will probably be responsible for ringing up your own sales. This means you need to bring plenty of cash to make change. If you are savvy enough to own THE SQUARE, you should have a conspicuous sign boldly stating: CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED. This sign will make your table stand out even if nothing else does.

Also, since at a Festival or Fair you are not usually paying a retailer, you may want to consider a discount off the List Prices of your books, and mark the discount clearly so buyers know they are getting a DEAL. You don't need to discount your prices. But I recommend it. It's one more reason to buy NOW.

Useful Information for Both Signings and Festivals

Whether your at a signing or a Festival/Fair, unless your a NY Times Best Seller, you won't make many sales without some sales effort on your part. (I read somewhere that AVERAGE book sales at a signing is FOUR books. You want to sell more than that. And you can. I always do!)

If you stay comfortably seated with a table segregating you from your customers, it's going to be tough to get their attention. If possible, stand and say "Hello," "Good Morning," "Hi. These are my books." "Can I interest you in a good ________mystery/memoir/children's book, etc?"

If it's crowded, search for faces that turn your way, or glances that catch your eye. Those folks just might want to know more about your books, but are too uncomfortable to ask. If buyers studiously avoid looking at you, they probably want to be left alone. Look for someone else.


Have your "elevator pitch" ready. And have it geared to your audience. (If you're a local author, maybe emphasize that. If not, maybe focus on the plot, or other similar authors. "If you like _____, you'll enjoy my books.")

In case you're not sure what an elevator pitch is, I offer the foregoing link. In the case of authors, an elevator pitch describes in just a sentence or two what aspects of your book you think will capture the potential buyer's interest. Be quick. This is your chance to entice the buyer to learning more. And you don't want to bore them to death.

If you decide that you are just too shy to be the first person to speak at a signing or Festival, don't expect to sell many (or any) books. It is very rare for the buyer to initiate the discussion.

Crawl outside your comfort zone and connect with your audience in a new way. Try different approaches. Ask a question. Comment on the weather. Mention the "big game." DO WHAT IT TAKES TO CONNECT.

Well . . . as usual, I've rambled on. Still, if you know the information contained in this post you will be far ahead of where I was at my first signing and my first Festival. So try to take something useful away today and make it yours!

That's it for now.

All the best!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Great Gadget for Authors - THE SQUARE

Thanks to Twitter's @Worderella for putting me onto a little gadget called simply "The Square."

If you haven't heard of "The Square" yet, it's a slick little hardware/software system that allows you to accept credit card payments using your iPhone or android-compatible device. Here's a list of supported devices from Squareup:

Apple iOS

  • iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4
  • iPod touch (2nd generation or later)
  • iPad
Google Android
  • Motorola Droid, Droid X
  • HTC Nexus One, Droid Incredible, Evo, Desire, Hero (With Android 2.X)
  • Samsung Galaxy S Series, Intercept
  • LG Ally
There's a picture of The Square at the link above. You might want to glance at it so you have a mental picture of what I'm talking about.

How do you get started with The Square

I found it really easy to get up and running with this clever device. You install the free Square software on your PC or Mac. Then you set up an account with all the same sort of info you would need to provide to set up a PayPal Account, or an auto-transfer system to/from your bank account.

Finally, you install the "Square" free app on your cell phone or other device.

Now all that's left is to verify your access to and control over the bank account you have chosen to associate with processing of payments with The Square. This is accomplished with the usual two small deposits into your account. Then you verify by reporting the exact amounts of the deposits to Squareup . . . and you're set to receive credit card payments.

What cards can I accept?

According to Squareup--

Square works with any US-issued credit, debit, pre-paid, or gift card with a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover logo.
They currently do not accept HSA cards (Health Savings Account), even if they have a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover logo on them.
I've already tried my Square with Visa, Mastercard and Amex. All worked flawlessly.

Exactly how do I accept a payment?

To accept a credit or debit card payment, you simply:

1) Plug the white square into the headphone jack on your phone;
2) Launch the Square app on the phone;
3) Enter the amount to be charged;
4) Swipe the buyer's card through the slot in the white square; and
5) Let your buyer "sign" your phone screen (with a finger or stylus).

That's it -- unless you want to send the buyer an email receipt, in which case you will have an opportunity to do so after step 5.

Squareup will send you an email with a transaction summary.

Squareup deposits your sales receipts into your bank account weekly (for amounts up to a total of $1,000), or monthly for larger amounts. I've already received my first deposit.

So what does this system cost me?

The upfront cost is ZERO. Software is free. The app is free. Even the little white square gadget is free (sent to you in the mail). The only cost is a portion of each transaction. If you charge the card by "swiping," the fee is $.15 plus 2.75% of the transaction amount. [NOTE: Transaction fees no longer have the $.15 charge and are a flat 2.75%. 6/20/12] If you charge the card by typing in the CC number manually, the cost is 1.00% more. (I suppose there is a greater risk of fraud in this manner of transaction.)

No monthly/annual fees or minimums!

So if you're selling a $20 book, your cost to accept a credit card would be $.70 [now $.55]-- if you swipe the card. Compared to losing a sale at a book fair because the buyer wasn't carrying cash, I think that's a pretty reasonable cost. I know I could have sold at least a few more books at the Mpls. Book Festival if I had been able to accept credit cards!

My evaluation

This is a really cool gadget that will earn you additional book sales AND make you look like you are tech-savvy. It's a great tool, plus a conversation piece. At a grand cost of ZERO to get set up, I'd say, "What are you waiting for?"

That's it for today.

Thanks for stopping in.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Book Tour Wrap-Up

Okay folks. Here's what you've been waiting for. My official wrap-up summary of The 19th Element Book Tour. What went well. What didn't. What I expected. What I got. And whether it was worth the effort and cash.

We'll start off with a statement from my blog tour hostess, Dorothy, at Pump Up Your Book. I invited her to say whatever she wanted for this post. Here's what she said:

Comments from the Tour Company.

It has been such a pleasure having John on board. His Amazon rankings have been great and we've gotten him on the first page of google with his key search words. Overall, the tour is a success in the regards that now John has the online exposure we were after. Long after his tour is over, people will still be finding out about him using different key search words and that's what Pump Up is really all about. We don't just throw you on's a lesson in online marketing, using key search words strategically and having the author walk away knowing we both worked toward making it a success. As John will attest, putting an online book tour together for 2 months is not an easy feat. He has had to write guest posts and answer interviews until his fingers fell off but the hard work is definitely going to be well worth it. I feel it's not enough to have a tour consisting of mainly reviews, but reviews are a large part of it. Without the interviews and guest posts, the public wouldn't have ever found out all about John and his book from his personal perspective. I had an author tell me the other day that she never knew so much about her book before she went on a virtual book tour and that's another plus. In the future, John will know what to say to reporters or journalists because they basically will be asking him the same questions. It was a long journey for John but I hope he walks away knowing he is set up in the search engines and that Pump Up Your Book came through for him. We wish you much success, John, and keep pumping up that book!

Dorothy Thompson
CEO/Founder Pump Up Your Book

My Take on Dorothy's Self-Evaluation

I agree with Dorothy on several major points.

1) My key search words will get my book on the first page of Google -- depending on which ones you choose to search for.

If I remember right, Dorothy and I chose the following words as my keys for this tour -- al Qaeda, author tours, bestselling book, blog tours, book marketing, book promotions, book publicity, book tour, Createspace, doomsday, international terror, James Becker thriller, John L. Betcher, Minnesota, mystery, nuclear, nuclear power plant, nuke plants, online book promotion, online book tour, Pump Up Your Book, Red Wing, suspense, suspense author, suspense novel, Terrorist, The 19th Element, Three Mile Island, thriller, thriller author, thriller novel, U.S. government intelligence, virtual book tours, volleyball coach, youth volleyball.

It's a long list. Only some of the words were used with each tour stop. But if you Google --Minnesota thriller author -- you will find two of my tour stops, on page 1. So the tour did give my book more search engine exposure than it had previously.

2) Dorothy's also correct that I wrote tons of interview answers, and blog posts about myself and my writing, and about writing in general . . . many more than I ever would have written without the tour. This is mostly useful material that I can employ again in various promotional situations in the future.

3) I don't know what Amazon rankings Dorothy considers to be "great." But that's because I know how little those rankings really mean about whether a book is selling well. So I guess I have a "no comment" on that statement.

My Additional Comments About Pump Up Your Book

I have to say that I was pretty impressed with Dorothy's organizational skills. And she was always very polite and encouraging to me when I had questions about my submissions for the tour. And she did manage to line up 30 blogs for my tour - covering every business day for six weeks.

Some of the blogs, I think, either belonged to or were affiliated with PUMP. So what . . . as long as they have Followers.

Book Reviews

I do question a couple of the choices Dorothy made for blogs to post reviews of my thriller. The blogger on one such site seemed to prefer reading chicklit, romances, and cozies to thrillers. The text of her review was very complimentary in all respects. But she gave the book a rating of 3 out of 5 with no explanation. My guess is that thrillers aren't her thing (which is cool . . . except for a thriller book tour review).

Another reviewer gave a less complimentary review, rated the book at 3 out of 5, and actually said that someone who enjoys thrillers would probably enjoy the book. So I'm pretty sure that thrillers are not her favorite books to read. Again . . . normally I would say, "different strokes." But I was on a book tour for a thriller and I don't think this blogger was a good choice to do a review (since she admittedly doesn't really care for thrillers).

I was pleased with the other two or three 5-star reviews I got on the tour. But two additional reviewers were a no-show entirely. I can't say that this was Dorothy's fault. The reviewers had the books in plenty of time, they just didn't post reviews as scheduled. Nevertheless, it's two less reviews than I had anticipated -- and nothing for me to post on Twitter or FaceBook for those days.


The tour also had some other hiccups that I didn't expect. I can't say whose fault they were. But I wasn't too happy when they occurred.

On several tour dates, I had to email Dorothy to actually get the scheduled post displayed on the appropriate blog site. I missed quite a few hours of potential blog exposure time to these delays. Plus I didn't enjoy having to always be the one to follow up when the bloggers didn't do their jobs. I would have preferred Dorothy take care of checking those things for me. I was paying for the tour after all.

One post went up on time, but it turned out to be poorly formatted and really in rough draft form. This was particularly disappointing to me because I had been proactive and had asked Dorothy the day before if everything was ready to go for the next day. Uggh!

I have to say, in Dorothy's defense, that in every single case where I had a question, complaint or correction to report to her, she did her very best to correct the issue promptly. So no complaint there. Just too many things that needed fixing (in my humble opinion).

What did I expect? What did I get?

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a book tour when I set out on this one. I assumed there'd be some reviews by reviewers who read my genre. And there'd be an opportunity to gain exposure to the Followers of the blogs on which I appeared. I hoped maybe I'd see an increase in action on my author website. And I dreamed that maybe I'd see a small increase in book sales during the tour.

Most of those things didn't seem to happen for me -- at least not yet. In fact, I tried to engage blog Followers during the tour by posting a "thank you" comment on each blog and inviting any questions from readers. Many of the bloggers had their comments set to post only "after moderation." Unfortunately, they weren't doing any moderating. So even my own posts never showed up, let alone any dialogue with Followers.

I saw no increase in my website traffic. In particular, I saw no direct links from any of the blog sites on the tour. And I didn't sell any more books per week than I had before the tour.

But as Dorothy notes in her comments (above), all the posts are out there for search engines to find indefinitely. Maybe I'll see more action in the future. Maybe not.

Bottom Line

I paid PUMP $495 to organize and execute this tour. I also spent AT LEAST scores of hours completing materials for the posts. This is the single largest marketing expenditure I have ever made in my short publishing career.

Despite Dorothy's sincere efforts, I DO NOT feel that I got out of this tour the value I put into it. Would I do another book tour someday? Maybe. Probably not through PUMP. And not for $495. I might put one together myself, though, now that I've had the experience of a chauffeured tour.

Bottom line -- NOT WORTH THE COST TO ME.

Hope you found this enlightening. Of course, there's nothing saying your tour might not work out better than mine. But my tour was what it was -- a disappointment.

That's it for today.

All the best!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Book Tour Ending Soon -- Wrap-up to Follow

My book tour through Pump up Your Book is ending tomorrow with a final book review at Books R Us.

I've asked my tour coordinator at PUMP to comment for this blog on any aspect of the book tour that she wishes. And of course, you'll get my candid review of the book tour and its value as well.

I'll try to have that post up in a couple days. Tune in. I think you'll find it interesting.

Thanks much.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Getting Out of the Slush Pile

Welcome and thanks for stopping in. Today's post has to do with what you need to do to get your book(s) FOUND among the slush pile of unvetted self-pubs flooding the book markets. Your task is formidable, to be sure. But there is hope. Please read this article I first published as a guest post on my 19TH ELEMENT book tour. But it bears repeating here.

Out of the Slush Pile and Out to Your Readers

Since I am a self-published author, I have to deal with all the same challenges that other self- and indie-published authors must confront. Writing and editing my books. Designing interiors and exteriors. Finding a quality printer. And selecting distribution channels.

But I think the single greatest challenge self- and indie-publishers face is how to differentiate their books from the growing slush pile of unvetted publications inundating the publishing world.

Depending on whose numbers you believe, it appears that there will be more than a million new book titles published this year in the United States. About two-thirds to three-quarters of them will be self- or indie-published books.

Who’s in charge of determining the quality of all these publications?

Well . . . we would like to think that mainstream publishers still give their titles a thorough vetting – though some readers would claim the overall quality of traditionally-published books has declined a bit during the present upheaval in the publishing industry. And mainstream book reviewers still devote 99% of their attention to these traditionally published books. We should expect that their reviews are honest and useful to readers.

But just how does a self-published author make his or her book stand out from the other 700,000 or so new self-published titles flooding the book distribution systems?

The optimistic answer is that “the cream will rise to the top.” Although I am optimistic, I don’t personally see the opportunity for the cream to rise when the milk is spilled all over, as it is in today’s publishing world.

For example – If you are an avid reader of thrillers (the genre in which I write), how can you find my books in the “slush pile” without first knowing my name or the title of my book?

Here are some possibilities–

Why not search Amazon, or B&N for “thrillers”? Good idea.

Wow! Lots of thrillers out there. Don’t see mine anywhere near the top of the list. Maybe instead of sorting by “Relevance,” we should sort by “Average Customer Review Ratings.” Tried that, too. Lots of different books than the first search. But my thriller still isn’t in the first dozen pages, even though it has a 5.0 star rating from 10 Independent Reviewers (not friends or family).

Maybe if you go to the library and ask for thrillers by indie-authors? Reference Desk: “Sure. I can help with that. What’s the name of the author or the title of the book?”

Okay. That service is helpful once you and your books are already known. But what if the readers are still trying to find the “cream.” They don’t know of you yet. So they can’t ask for you by name. Rats!

There are several websites claiming to be the gatekeepers of quality independent publications. “We separate the wheat from the chaff so you don’t have to.” What about them? Are they the answer?

Reason tells me that no website can afford to hire enough people to give the 700,000 slush pile books a bona fide review. I have visited many of these sites. My conclusion is that nearly all are profit-driven – not really trying to provide a useful reference tool. (If there are bona fide sites out there, I apologize — and good luck to you. I haven’t found you yet.) Rats again.

So just how is the cream supposed to rise from the spilled milk?

As far as I can tell, there is currently no definitive way for a very marketable, high-quality, self-published book to reach its readers without the author employing diligence, hard work and lots of time. And even then, a substantial modicum of fortuity is required.

That’s right. I said you need to be lucky. Believe it!

How do you increase the chances of having good luck with your book?

Just because luck is required for success, that doesn’t mean authors should throw in the hat. Do actors quit because they can’t find good acting parts right away? Not the ones you know about. They didn’t quit. So don’t give up. No white flags allowed.

Instead, try the following:

1) Write well. If readers find your book and don’t like it, it will not be a success.

2) Market creatively, both online and in the real world. Just because there aren’t many really good marketing tools doesn’t mean there aren’t any! Get that website up. Get on Twitter. Maybe on LinkedIn or FaceBook, too. Join some author groups. Share ideas. Make connections.

3) Give free books to libraries. Libraries tend to have a lot of readers stopping in. (Surprise!) Maybe one or more will pick up your book on a whim – or because they like the cover, or the cover text.

4) Seek out Independent Reviewers. If someone happens to stumble upon your book, those reviews will give the reader/buyer greater confidence that your book is the kind of book they want to read.

5) Alert the media to your author activities. Let your local paper, radio station, TV station know when you have book-signings, speaking appearances, published reviews or interviews.

6) Keep writing. The more books you have available, the greater the chance that a reader will stumble upon one.

7) Be patient. Writing and selling books is a marathon endeavor – not a sprint.

8) Keep improving your own skills. This applies to writing, publishing and marketing. Learn from your mistakes. Learn from the successes and mistakes of others. Keep on learning and improving.

9) Undertake any legal means at your disposal to get the word out about you and your books.

Do I guarantee these things will make your “cream rise to the top”? Of course not. But we operate in the real world. There are no guarantees. Until some big player (like Amazon, Google, B&N, Independent Book Sellers of America) promulgates a useful way to discriminate between good indie books, and not so good ones, you will continue to swim upstream.

This is the hand you are dealt. Play it out to the last card! Be tough! Be an author! That’s what author’s do – at least the ones you’ve heard about.

Thanks for visiting and have a great day!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Sales Outlets - An Update

Hello all.

Today's topic has to do with places to sell your books. You might not think that this topic is newsworthy. But there have been so many changes lately, that I thought a recap and update might be in order.

Paper Books

Outlets for sales of paper books haven't changed a great deal -- with a few exceptions.

I have recently learned that, if your book is available through Ingram Books (a large book wholesaler), Barnes & Noble may be willing to carry a few of your books, and allow you to do a book signing in one of there stores. (I have recently coordinated a book review in a newspaper with a book-signing at B&N. Both the newspaper and the B&N manager loved the idea.) This news may not seem earth-shattering. But it represents a toe in the door of the mega-bookseller.

Amazon continues to be the retailer of choice for most paper books. They will accept anything. They do charge some pretty hefty sales fees if you haven't published through CreateSpace. You can handle fulfillment yourself, or pay Amazon to do it for you. But Amazon is probably still your first, and best, option for paper book sales.

Of course, one should not overlook your neighborhood Indie Bookstore. If you or your book has a connection to a small bookstore's market, they are normally happy to take a few of your books on consignment, with a 40% sales commission payable to them. PLEASE NOTE: You can negotiate the commission . . . but I don't recommend it. Would you feel comfortable in the dentist's chair if you had just haggled him/her into giving you a half-price root canal? The same principle applies. You want to partner with the Indies. Give them the percentage that they're used to receiving and you'll get more support.

There is also an option you may want to consider if you'd like to get your books overseas. CPI offers POD printing at fairly reasonable prices -- about 100 British pounds for set up. Then book prices vary depending on dimensions, number of pages, etc. But the prices are in the ball park of reasonableness. If you're wondering how to market your books in the U.K., you'll probably want to connect up with Gardner Books. They're the U.K.'s leading book wholesaler. They'll stock five copies of your book and list it as available on Amazon, as well as making it possible to order your book through hundreds of bookstores in the British Isles.

Digital Book Options

On to some big changes in digital book selling.

As you probably have heard, Barnes & Noble has its new Pubit ebook publishing operation up and running. I know that Smashwords books were available through B&N previously. But having the Pubit brand, and the Nook Book designation, on your ebook will definitely help with its credibility. You set your price with Pubit. I believe they pay a 70% royalty. (It's in that vicinity anyway.)

The long-awaited Google Editions has finally arrived (sort of) as Google eBooks. I say "sort of" because they are still in the process of getting all of their titles posted to the site. And some of the book details aren't up yet either. Google eBooks will sell books in either ePub or PDF format. set your price and Google pays you 70% or so. But I have noticed that one of my books that is priced by me at $8.99 is being discounted by Google EBooks to $7.55. A little price competition is not a bad thing, especially when the authors get paid the same royalty regardless of the retailer's discounts.

Don't forget one of the first ePublishers in the business -- LuLu. LuLu has upgraded their look and their products. In addition to the original PDF-only format, LuLu now offers an ePub option. And they are making their books available in the iBookstore, too.

Smashwords is still a good spot to make your book available in multiple formats, and to get it to resellers like Kobo, Diesel, Sony, the iBookstore and others. Smashwords has just increased their author royalties to 70%. (I don't recall what they were previously.)

Of course, I can't leave out Amazon Kindle. Kindle still has about 70% of the U.S. ebook market. I strongly recommend that you make your book available in Kindle format. (BTW, don't use a Smashwords-converted file to upload to Kindle. It won't look very good.)

My latest discovery is called XinXii. They are the E.U.'s largest ebook site. If you want a European market, I would definitely give XinXii a try. No upfront fees. Decent payouts. New markets.


I know that there are other publishers out there (eg. iUniverse, LightningSource, etc.) I just don't have personal experience with any of them. That doesn't mean they aren't good options to be considered, if you have the time and inclination.

Bottom line...there are more great places to sell your self- or indie-published books than ever. The more places you have your books for sale, the greater the chances of finding buyers. But whether you find more buyers or not, having your book available all over the web increase hits on search engines, and therefore, increases your book's overall exposure. And isn't that what we really want to see?

That's it for today. Thanks for stopping in.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Independent Author Network: Welcome To The Independent Author Network

I'm really excited about the burgeoning marketing opportunity for authors. Organized by my friend, WR Potter, IAN (Author Independent Network) has the potential to be a tremendous market aid for authors, by authors. Here are the details.

The Independent Author Network: Welcome To The Independent Author Network: "The Independent Author Network is a group of like minded authors who are self or published by a small indie press. This group would start ..."

Thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

'Tis the Season for Digital

Greetings all.

Today's post has to do with an upcoming event that may provide an opportunity for those Self- or Indie-Publishers who are prepared to take advantage of it.

I'm talking about Christmas. Not the holiday celebrating Jesus' birth. The holiday when Americans everywhere spend $450 billion dollars each year on gifts.

Why is this gifting day an opportunity? Well . . . according to predictions, a whole bunch of the gifts to be given this year are going to be Kindles, Nooks or other digital readers.

Which means . . . everybody will want to try them out. And how do they do that? By buying digital books, of course.

Time to Re-Consider Pricing

Not only will everyone be buying new eBooks, they won't have any idea of what the pricing of eBooks should be. Most major publishers release their eBooks at a price of $9.99. My personal experience with selling eBooks tells me that I actually sell more books at a price of $6.99 than at $2.99. I'm going to take advantage of the new buying crowd to bring my book prices more in line with the industry standard.

I'm raising my eBook price to $8.99.

This may sound high to some of you. But compared to the trade paperback versions of my books, which sell at $15.95 and up, $8.99 is a bargain. Shipping is free and immediate. And the buyer gets to play with her new toy right away.

Whether you choose to raise book prices, lower them, or keep them the same for the shopping holidays, you should at least make a conscious decision about pricing. Don't let past experience dictate your future. We are entering the digital book age. And it officially starts Christmas morning.

Go Digital, Go Fast

Besides the pricing issue, timing is important.

According to my thinking, all authors should aspire to have as many of their titles available on Kindle, Smashwords, PubIt and in the iBookstore before Christmas as possible. If yours aren't there yet, you'd best get hopping. There can be delays in the process of going digital.

Conversion SNAFUs, image size restrictions and publisher "technical difficulties" are just a few of the obstacles you may face when converting tree books to 1s and 0s. By way of example, three of my Amazon Kindle books magically became authored by a fellow named "Peterson" last week. Anything can happen. So it's best to get started right away.

I have sold the most eBooks on Amazon Kindle. And they control about 70% of the eBook market. So if I were you, I'd get my books into Kindle format and on Amazon first. Here's a link to Amazon's Digital Text Platform, aka Kindle.

The next best-selling eReader is Barnes & Noble's Nook. B&N now has its own epublishing division call PubIt. You can get started publishing your Nook Books here. (NOTE: PubIt is still new. So expect some hiccups and a non-responsive tech support department.)

And you can get plugged in just about everywhere else at Smashwords.

BTW, all of the above eBook retailers allow you to list your books on their sites for free. Their only payment is a commission on sale. In other words, they don't get paid unless you get paid.

So assemble your materials. Carve out a slot of time. And get those eBooks in circulation.

Fellow writers, 'tis the season to go digital. May your eBook conversions and listings go smoothly.

That's it for today.

All the best!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Self-Published Author Opening New Doors

Today's guest post is by Patrick Ross. Patrick is an award-winning journalist and artist advocate in Washington, D.C. He is chronicling a cross-country trip in which he interviewed creatives of all stripes on his Artist's Road blog.

Patrick, you have the floor.


A Self-Published Author Opening New Doors

There are lots of ways to measure success as a self-published author. I saw that was true with one such author I met in Madison, Wisconsin, while driving across the country interviewing creatives of every stripe for a video documentary series.

Bill Aicher is a twenty-something marketing executive for an online music publisher of sheet music and guitar tabs, When he started working there as a young college graduate he didn't know much about the inner workings of the music business. Through his job, however, he got to meet composers and musicians, and saw how his employer helped these creatives get paid for their labor.

That experience forced Bill to reflect on unauthorized file-sharing he had engaged in as a college student, and what he saw as disrespect for creatives' works once digitized and distributed online. His own company, after all, was selling sheet music online in competition with pirate sites.

Unbeknownst to his employers, Bill began writing about his frustration with the disrespect he saw for creatives, and that writing turned into a short book. Uncertain of the market for such a work but determined to put his message out there, he self-published. He took great care selecting the cover art, an image he licensed, and soon enough his book Starving the Artist was available in paperback, Kindle, ebook or online.

His book's sales haven't tempted him to quit his day job, not that he really wanted to. But the book has raised Bill's profile in his industry, increased his exposure online and in social media, and given him a level of professional respect to be admired for someone not yet thirty. It also put him on my radar, and led to him being one of the forty or so creatives I chose to interview on my road trip this summer.

Bill has a bright future ahead of him, and it wouldn't surprise me if Starving the Artist opens some doors to that future down the road.

JOHN: Thanks, Patrick, for sharing this enlightening multimedia presentation with us today.