Category Archives: Promotions

Autograph for Your EBook?

Autograph for your eBook? Yes!

Amazing, neat, cool! Get a personalized autograph for your ebook from the author sent to your eReading device, eBook reading application or PC … FREE! Check out the big Authorgraph Party! http://www.authorgraph.com/groups/indie-writers-alliance 12 authors, 50+ eBooks!

Here are just a few:

BS Sample Authorgraph

Write the Dream Conference March 7-9, 2014 in Kansas City!

Calling all indie writers within driving distance from KC!

Better hurry: coming this weekend
Write the Dream Conference
Featuring two-time Emmy Award winner Cady McClain
and five other top notch speakers (hey, including me!)
With sessions on Dreamscaping, Editing, EPublishing, Novel Writing, Social Media, Book Covers, Marketing, Funding, Layout and Design, and Brainstorming.
Find out more:

http://www.writethedream.com/the-convention/

From the website: “If you are an aspiring writer who wants to stop talking about writing your story and actually D0 it, then our conference is for you. Please join us in March in Kansas City, Missouri, for your chance to learn the basics of writing and self-publishing your own book and learning from others who have a proven success at reaching the masses. Join keynote speaker, Emmy-award-winning actress, writer, and film producer Cady McClain, who will share with you how she fulfills her own dreams—and hopefully inspire you to do the same.

“Our three-day conference will give you every tool and resource you need to learn how to fulfill your dream of being a published author. You will gain the inspiration to get your story down on paper and take the necessary steps to see it in both e-book form, as well as print. Our conference workshops will include: a set plan to complete that first manuscript; resources to fund your project; tips and tools to help you find a good editor and designer; methods and resources to get your book correctly formatted for distribution; and finally, a plan to help you market and sell your book once it is completed. Step by step, from A to Z, our conference team will walk you through the process— even if you have absolutely no idea where to start. Come for one day or all three— you can choose from three plans that will fit both your time and budget.

“We want to help you share your story…because what you have to say deserves to be told. You don’t need to wait around for the traditional publishers if you want to succeed; all it takes is a good story, will, and determination. Come join us and see what we can do for you!”

Register NOW!
http://www.writethedream.com/the-convention/
Join us at the beautiful Kansas City Convention Center in downtown Kansas City. For more information about the center, click here.
For a complete list of classes and a more detailed description of the conference, click here.
To register for the conference or to check pricing, click here.
If you would like to register by phone or would like more information, please call 816.896.6802.

Free EPublishing Day: Coming to KC and Wichita!

That’s right! I’ll be conducting two, FREE, all-day seminars where, if you’re ready, you can walk in a wannabe and walk out a published author!

Kansas City (Merriam) May 18, 2013

Wichita June 22, 2013

Click for details:

EPublishing Day–Kansas City!

EPublishing Day–Wichita!

John Locke Didn’t Do It This Way!

Don’t even compare this to John Locke’s, “Hey, I sold over a million books in five months this way!”

Click on Image!

Click on Image!

What’s different? He said nothing about the main ingredient in his plan: buying reviews! I’m not saying it’s wrong to buy reviews. I’d say it’s wrong if you’re buying positive reviews, fabricated reviews from folks who didn’t even read your book, left out the fact that you bought reviews when you go around bragging to other writers how you became so successful and left this very critical piece of the puzzle out.  And then Mr. Locke sells us indies a guide-book about how we can do what he did with the most important part–the real key to his success–left out!Anyway, check this out, fellow indies! For $67.00 BookRooster will distribute your book to a genre-targeted portion of their 3,000 plus reviewers, and keep working at it until you get ten reviews. They don’t promise those reviews will be positive. What are you paying for? Distribution of your book to reviewers (for free). If you need reviews, this might just be the way to go.

EBOOK ***Coming Attractions*** Contest!

The

EBOOK

***Coming Attractions***

Contest!

The BEST Indie EBook Novels Coming Soon To an EReader Near You!

A Writers’ Contest for Future Indie Writers!

The First Three Pages (750 words) of Fantastic Fiction

No Entry Fee!

Any genre (category)!

Simple rules! Submit:

  1. Up to the first 750 words of your novel
    1. Formatted in MS Word, with one-inch margins, double spaced, and in any very readable font;
    2. No title page is necessary, and the author’s name may appear on the submission.
  2. A synopsis/description of the work of no more than 250 words. We suggest including:
    1. A brief pitch (perhaps up to fifty words—this is your grabber or elevator pitch);
    2. A brief summary (this is the synopsis that you hope will sell your book and help it to become a bestseller—check out examples on Amazon)
  3. Ensure your entry email includes author’s name and story genre (category).

*Entries cannot be presently published as eBooks on Amazon.

Entries will be judged on the author’s storytelling ability, ability to follow the contest submission’s very simple guidelines, and the judges’ opinions of marketability (sales potential).

What do you win?

The First Place entry:

  1. Will be showcased on not only the Indie Writers Alliance blog /website but on Gordon Kessler’s author’s site, as well;
  2. Will be linked to Amazon book page once ePublished.

The First Place entry will also receive:

  1. Free eBook formatting for winning entry for Kindle & Nook (when ready, but must be requested within six months of contest deadline);
  2. Free ePublishing phone consultation for uploading eBook to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, (when ready, but must be requested within six months of contest deadline);
  3. Choice of print or eBook version of Novel Writing Made Simple or EBook Writing Made Simple!
  4. Full, line-by-line edit of entry.

The First Place entry and five Runners Up:

  1. Will be linked from Gordon’s and IWA’s sites to authors’ sites;
  2. Will be listed on both Gordon’s and IWA’s sites with the stories’ synopses/book descriptions submitted for the contest;
  3. Will have the books’ cover images or authors’ photos, if available, posted on IWA and Gordon Kessler’s blog/websites.

First 100 entries:

  1. Will receive a free PDF version of Novel Writing Made Simple or EBook Writing Made Simple!
  2. Will receive a single-paragraph summary including strengths and weaknesses of the entry as well as suggestions on how to improve the work (feedback will be sent in the format of an email by March 31, 2013).

Have a story opening? With nothing to lose, it’s a no-brainer: dust it off and send it in today!

Deadline: midnight PST, February 3, 2013 (by email date and time confirmation)

First round judging will be completed and finalists notified by February 11, 2013.

The EBook ***Coming Attractions*** Contest winners will be selected and posted on  http://gordonkessler.com and http://writersmatrix.com/wordpress/ (Indie Writers Alliance’s blog/website).

The EBook ***Coming Attractions*** Contest is sponsored by Gordon A Kessler and the Indie Writers Alliance.

Send entries by email as a single attachment (synopsis and story opening), with “coming attractions” in the subject line, to:

Gordon@gordonkessler.com

Questions? Email Gordon with “question” in the subject line.

Don’t Start Your EBook Promotions with Twitter—Start on Your Amazon Book Page!

Don’t Start Your EBook Promotions with Twitter—Start on Your Amazon Book Page!
(From a guest post I did earlier on Write Brain Trust)

I’ve been amazed to discover how many well-established eBook authors have left out this very important first step out. After all, you’ve written a great book, but who’s going to be compelled to take a good look at it without an attractive package.

First of all, understand that while there are a number of other big online booksellers out there (like Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, etc.), Amazon is the big dog. Your Amazon sales are likely to be as great as ten times what the others’ sales are combined.

With that a given, we need to understand how Amazon’s online store works, especially its eBook department.

  • Amazon uses algorithms, compilations of variable factors, to come up with eBook sales rankings and bestseller status. Although the actual formula is secret and seems to change from time to time, its basic makeup is believed to include:
    • Number of recent sales (past 24-48 hours);
    • EBook price (giving greater value to eBooks priced near $9.99 and less value to eBooks priced at $.99—much less for those downloaded for free);
    • Number of sales in the past month (a lesser value on this than more recent sales);
    • Whether an eBook has been “indie” or traditionally published (my teeth grind on this one!).
  • The lower the ranking, the more visibility your eBook will have, which means the higher the potential for sales.
  • The more your eBook sells, the more likely it will be listed on other eBooks’ pages under headings like: “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought,” “Customers Who Bought Items in Your Recent History Also Bought” and “What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?”
  • When an eBook shopper searches Amazon, its search engine looks for keywords, and it gives value to multiple use of those keywords (estimated to be up to three times).

For the most part, the above concerns are out of eBook authors’ control. So let’s now take a look at the many things the eBook author/publisher does control on their book’s page on Amazon.

  • Overall, all the information that the author submits for their eBook should contain pertinent keywords in order to optimize the potential for Amazon’s search engine to find their eBook page (search engine optimization, a.k.a. SEO).
  • Cover—critical!
    • Should look professional
    • Images should be clear even in thumbnail
    • Title and author name should be clear even in thumbnail
    • Cover image file name should contain pertinent keywords (SEO)
  • Title: Did you know you can add a subtitle to your main title, even though that subtitle doesn’t show up on the eBook’s cover, for example: KNIGHT’S BIG EASY—a Men’s Action Adventure Thriller (SEO).
  • Once your book is listed on Amazon, add images below the cover by uploading them with “Share your own customer images”. These images can be alternate covers, pictures of places, characters—just about anything you want that you feel might help sell your eBook.
  • Price: Consider this very carefully. The price of your eBook will put it into certain undefined buying groups, where lower price may be more important than perceived value or vice versa.
  • “Likes”: Ensure that not only you click the “thumbs up” like button, but all your friends, relatives and associates do as well. It’s believed that Amazon’s algorithm include likes, although at a lesser value than other factors. Besides, the more likes your eBook has, the more perceived credibility it may have.
  • Reviews: Although you can’t control this very well, you can solicit reviews. They are considered super important to many eBook shoppers. And, when you do get some favorable ones, be sure you and your friends find those favorable reviews and click on “yes” where it asks “Was this review helpful to you?” Why? Because the most helpful reviews are listed first. You can also comment on reviews, but be very careful, and never be negative or argumentative with a reviewer. Also, remember that reviews will stay with your book … forever! So ensure it’s in great shape before you ePublish it.
  • “Formats”: Other versions of your eBook, such as paperback, might actually help sell your eBook. When a paperback version is listed with that formats higher list price, Amazon adds the comment “You Save $XX” on the eBook version’s page. This makes it appear to be a bargain since your print book will generally be considerably higher [i.e., “Print List Price $12.95, Kindle Price $.99, You Save $11.96 (92%)”].
  • “Book Description”: Basically, this is your book jacket synopsis. Also, very critical to sales, ensure you edit this sales aid carefully. It should start with a pitch that includes a good hook, and it should read like a movie trailer. Don’t forget to include those keywords (SEO)!
  • “Book Description” Plus: Make your book description stand out from the rest. Did you know you can use colors (like Amazon orange), and format text to at least a limited degree using some of the html language accepted by Amazon?
  • The “Customers Who Bought …” and similar sections: Although mostly beyond your control, how about if you purchase your own book (I recommend purchasing your own book once right after it’s listed), and then go to the list of bestselling free eBooks in your eBook’s category (genre) and download several of those? Why? Because your eBook might just show up on these other eBooks’ pages which gives you added visibility.
  • “Editorial Reviews”: if you have a CreateSpace POD version (paperback) of your eBook, when you give CS the book information, they have a spot for you to include editorial reviews. Try not to leave this blank! Be sure to include any reviews you’ve been given in the past. Include keywords where you can for SEO.
  • “More About the Author” Bio: Be sure to set yourself up with an Author Central page (https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/profile). On Author Central you can add information such as your bio. Again, think SEO!
  • “Book Extras from the Shelfari Community”: Get a free membership with Shelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/. With it you’ll be able to list character bios and other neat info about your story that will appear on its eBook page (SEO).
  • “Tags”: These are keywords—and you can actually add up to fifteen to your eBook’s page. Ask your friends, relatives and associates to either agree with the ones you’ve listed or make up their own. The more, the better: again, think SEO. When you list these keywords, consider which ones readers might use to search for a story like yours.
  • “Categories” or genres: You’ll decide these when you upload your eBook to be listed. Amazon now limits your listing to two, however, they might list your eBook under more categories, themselves. This is another decision you should consider carefully, even though you can change your categories at any time and as many times as you wish.
  • Listmania: This is a category grouping you can make on your own, and it is then offered for other Amazon shoppers to use. Although not as popular as a plain old keyword search, I understand many eBook buyers rely at least occasionally on Listmania lists. You can find out more at:

There you go indies! I’m sure I forgot a few little tips, and I certainly didn’t explain many in great detail. But I think you get the picture. You can do all the social networking, tweeting and Facebooking you want, but if you lead potential customers to your eBook page and what they see doesn’t stand out and isn’t professionally done, it’s likely they’ll pass on by. And for the eBook shoppers already hunting on Amazon for their next great read, you need to ensure their keyword search is likely to find your eBook.

I’ll bet you’ve got a lot to do, so let’s get busy! And don’t forget to pay it forward—help other indie author friends in making their eBook pages more attractive and more visible to readers: review, “like”, “tag” and “find helpful” their best reviews. Together we can attain greater success!

BIG NEWS for Indies!

What’s Happening for IWA Members

  • Kessler and IWA Are Working On The Definitive Marketing and Promotions EBook for EBook Authors:

THE MASTER PLAN: What John Locke Conveniently Left Out and Much More!
The Guide to Promoting and Marketing Your EBook Novel

—you can add your $.02-worth in the book with a linked byline (upon approval), and it will be free! For the working outline: Click Here!

  • Start your MASTER PLAN Promo for everyone  now and get your books in front of thousands (and it’s free, of course): Click Here!
  • Kessler’s Hanging His Editing/Mentoring and Cover Art Producing Shingle Out Again—need help? (No, it’s not free, silly!) Click Here!
  • Coming to Kansas City and to Wichita—the IWA Seminar and Discussion Forum—don’t miss out (it’s fre-ee): Click Here!

We’ll discuss everything on THE MASTER PLAN outline, including:

1. Ten things you can control on your Amazon book’s page that will optimize its visibility and its reader attractability;

2. How to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and not use up valuable writing/family time;

3. What’s the best price point for your work;

4. How to get reviews;

5. So very much more!

John Locke, You Suck!

or

Breaking News: Kate Beckinsale and Tim McGraw are being considered to star in the new film version of my men’s action/adventure thriller series “The E Z Knight Reports”

Yes, it’s true … John Locke sucks! And, yes, it’s true also that two major names in the entertainment industry are being considered to be in “The E Z Knight Reports” film version.

Addressing the second topic first: Oh, yeah … I left out who is considering these two fine actors for the movie — me! So, I didn’t really lie, did I? I just left out a very small part of the truth. Oh, yeah, there isn’t a movie, either (not yet, anyway — wake up Hollywood!). Wait a minute, you say omission is lying? Since when? Politicians do it all the time. Historians had done it for centuries (many still are?). Even religious leaders do it to make themselves and what they represent look better. Enter John Locke as revealed in this post taken from the New York Times: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/best-book-reviews-money-buy-131408538.html?page=1. There are four pages to this article and Mr. Locke’s involvement is mentioned starting at the bottom of page three and ending on page four: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/best-book-reviews-money-buy-131408538.html?page=3.

John, I respect you. You are a ground-breaker. You accomplished an incredible thing with your Donovan Creed novels, and then you shared how you did it with How I sold 1,000,000 EBooks in 5 Months. That little how-to book of yours set the Kindle world ablaze and sparked to life the fire in tens of thousands of writers and writer wannabes.

You blazed the trail with your sales and lit up the way explaining your successful plan. This book elevated you from a million-eBook-selling author to a pedestalled saint for all us writers to look up to, admire and wish to emulate. And why not? You showed us it wasn’t that complex — there might have been a little luck involved, but mostly our success was dependent on following the same plan you had only months before. The plan starts out insisting we write a great book and, after that, we needed to get the word out about it. Getting the word out started with our image — we needed the reading public to know we’re real people and not just names on a byline. Your plan was about persistence. It was about buying 300 reviews, it was about … oops, you didn’t mention that part, did you? I’m sure you meant to, right? I mean, when you purchased these 300 reviews (how much were they, $6,000?), you did tell GettingBookReviews.com that you wanted honest reviews. I’m certainly good with that. After all, even Kirkus will do indie book reviews if you pay them. Really, I think that was an excellent idea, and, like you say, as long as they’re honest reviews, why wouldn’t it be all right?

Let’s get back to that in a minute. I want to ask why you implemented this part of your strategy and left it out of your book? If it was legit, why would you leave it out? Didn’t it help you sell books? Okay, quit laughing — of course three hundred reviews will help you sell books. Reviews are a major influence in an eBook shopper’s decision process. Even a few negative reviews add an air of credibility to the rest. Oh, yeah, then there’s that other thing. These reviewers were paid to review your book … so they had to buy it to read it, correct? Wow. Back when I was only selling a dozen or so eBooks a month, and seldom landing in even the top 100,000 in sales rank, I would have loved to have gotten 300 sales within a week or so. I can’t imagine the difference that made in your sales rankings. I can’t imagine how that propelled more sales by making your eBook more visible. How cool is that? Very … unless you claim it had nothing to do with your success — which is exactly what you’re doing when you leave that little tidbit out when you reveal your wonderful plan and ask us to pay $2.99 for it.

So we’ve established that buying reviews, while they’re requested to be honest, is not an underhanded thing. This takes us back to why you’d leave out that major factor in your successful plan that made your eBooks sell like popcorn in a theater. Was it because your HIS1,000,000EI5M eBook would not have sold as well had that info been included? You know, I doubt it would have affected sales that much. I mean, the excitement was already there. People were desperate to find that magic formula, and you, John, had found it: E=MC, right? Oh, yeah … forgot the squared, didn’t I? Such a small thing. Still works as good, right? Wrong!

I go along with everything in your book, and I think most other eBook authors do, as well. All those great tips are extremely valuable, especially to a new eBook author. And that alone makes your book worth the price. But, John, really — it’s what you left out that grates on my nerves.

Okay, here’s another thought about purchasing reviews. Did you know that Amazon really frowns on the bulk purchasing of reviews and will take many of them down if they find out about it? That’s why the company that you, Mr. Locke, hired is no longer in business. I’ve got to tell you, if I had the money to buy that many so-called legitimate reviews, and I had the opportunity, I’d probably do it. But, would they really be legit? I mean, some most definitely would be. But don’t you think a few of those reviewers, knowing that they’re getting paid to give a review, might lean toward the positive? After all, you’ve become part of their livelihood. They want to be nice. If they turn in too many negative reviews, their employer/aggregator, or whatever you want to call them, might not send them more work. I’m throwing in a half-star bet for this point, at least.

Let me sum this up for you, Mr. Locke.

I admire you. I thank you for your great tips; they’re mostly what everyone else is saying these days, anyway. But you got the ball rolling and the enthusiasm skyrocketing. Thanks. You’ve influenced me. I’m having a blast writing and selling eBooks, even though I haven’t been nearly as successful. And I, like you, only on a smaller scale, have been trying to help motivate other writers to do the same. I’ve been telling them the first thing they must do is to write a great story. Then, I tell them how important it is to have the image of a real person and not just be a name on a book cover, and how important social networking can be once you have that human image. I’ve even told eBook author wannabes that there are a handful of really important books they should read on promoting their eBooks, but the most important one is Mr. John Locke’s. I’ve been telling them that with a smile and a wink like I know something about it.

That’s what I’d been telling them, but not anymore.

My challenge to you, Mr. Locke, is to not only address this to your thousands of eBook writing followers, but to revise this book that discloses your wonderful, but incomplete, plan. At least put in a mention about the paid reviews and how it “could have” affected your sales, that it cost you upwards of $6,000, and that this practice is now frowned upon.

Will you do that, Mr. Locke?

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/best-book-reviews-money-buy-131408538.html?page=3

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/best-book-reviews-money-buy-131408538.html?page=4

EBook Writing Made Simple! is now available!

EBooks Vs Print — is there a difference?

Amazon for Kindle!

NOTE: Among the many books published concerning eBooks, none are about the actual writing of an eBook novel–until now!

THIS EBOOK FOCUSES SOLEY ON THE ACTUAL WRITING OF NOVELS INTENDED FOR THE EBOOK-READING PUBLIC. It does not deal with the ePublishing or marketing of such work–there are literally dozens of great eBooks out there already to help you with that.

IS WRITING AN EBOOK NOVEL the same as writing a novel intended for the traditional publishing industry? It doesn’t have to be–it can be much better. Why? When writing an eBook novel, you’re writing for the reader and not the uptight, rutted, NYC publishing industry. Find out how, and have fun writing again!

This eBook is especially designed for the beginning eBook writer, but it is also a great guide for the novelist who wants to think out of the box. With the huge new market writers have discovered in writing eBooks, opportunities abound for authors who take a different tack and understand this new venue from a clearer perspective. Writing for reader entertainment by bending and even breaking the uptight traditional publishing industry’s stiff and restrictive guidelines frees the author’s creativity.

Come take a look at the fiction-writing craft from a whole new angle and discover the innovative and effective ways to reach your readers.

From the basics of fiction writing and the strict unbudging conventions of a steadfast traditional publishing industry to how to break the rules for pure entertainment value, this book encompasses it all. A 500+ word lexicon of terms every writer should know is included.

Does the Early Bird Catch the Book Buyer? When are the Best Times to Tweet?

I’m not a huge Twitter fan. Some people love it and live it—I do not. I was dragged into the social media networking stuff kicking and screaming. Okay, I’m beginning to enjoy some of it now, but it’ll be a while before I’m comfortable with the whole thing.

Through my research and reading, I’ve learned  that one of the most important things for an author to do is to tweet, and tweet often. When I look for things to tweet about, even with 550+ followers (most of them being authors hocking their own books 100% of the time) this task becomes very difficult. It takes precious time to come up with that little nugget of Twitter gold to tweet.

So, what about it? Well, if I only tweet at times most of my followers aren’t on line, my tweets get lost and are essentially worthless (especially without hash tags). So what’s a clueless guy to do? Rely on a couple of good resources, that’s what. This first blog tells you when the best times are to tweet:

http://www.bitrebels.com/social/the-best-time-of-day-to-tweet-to-get-the-most-rts/

This app allows you to auto schedule your tweets:

http://www.autotweeting.com/

This book tells you how to use Titter, hash tags (#) and other useful and fun kinds of stuff: http://www.amazon.com/The-Tao-of-Twitter-ebook/dp/B004MDLK64/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1339438613&sr=1-1.

BTW: You’ll find lots of good stuff in the “For Indies Only” (click on this!) tab on the Indie Writers Alliance home page.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover? Readers Do!

That said, do you need a pro to help you design a professional-looking cover? After all, when readers begin searching for their next purchase, after they click on or supply their search terms, what do they see first? The cover.

 

Do yourself a favor: search Amazon for ten minutes. Take a close look at the book covers in your genre—the covers of the bestselling books in your category. How do they compare to yours? Now do a search for books that other indies have produced, maybe some friends’/acquaintances’ books, especially the .99 ones listed on your book page under “customers who bought this item also bought….” Search until you find something really awful. It didn’t take that long, did it?

What about important issues for these thumb-size versions of book covers like font size and simplicity vs. busy/overloaded? Do you see some bad examples. Look back at your cover art and carefully consider how it compares to the covers produced by traditionally published books. Would you really chose your book over some of the other top-selling authors’? Just because your own friends haven’t told you your book cover “bites,” doesn’t mean it doesn’t!

Will it be worth it to purchase new cover art for your old book? Should you let a pro design your new novel’s cover? That’s up to you, of course. I’d ask this: are you in this book ‘ritin’ business for the long haul? Can you afford $25 to $100 for a really professional looking cover? Will a facelift on your old book pay for itself in sales profits in the long run?

For further research, below you’ll find a link to Mark Coker’s list of book cover designers and eBook formatters. I’ve given this important info its own tab on our IWA site.

Most of these folks are very reasonable. But here’s a word of caution: be sure to check out these people’s websites and their previous work before you make a deal. I’ve posted Mark’s List at:

http://writersmatrix.com/wordpress/?page_id=122

What About EBook Pricing?

So what’s the best price point for eBooks? It’s certainly dependent on type of book and size. But beyond that, let’s look at novel-length fiction: what price is going to sell your novel the best? With what price point are you going to get the most downloads? What price point is going to make you the most money? Drilling down deeper, as an indie author, what price point is going to get you the best ranking and visibility? So much to consider, it makes my head hurt!

Look at the image I’ve used for this post. It helps illustrate my premise that there’s three basic buying groups of “indie” published books (throw in those who buy traditionally published eBooks 99% of the time, and you have four).

This illustration is not size proportionate. Until we have more solid numbers, that is impossible (feedback anyone?). Notice that I’ve not only shown the main three groups, but that they overlap at times, as well.

Initially following ground-breaking indie authors’ leads, like John Locke and Amanda Hocking, I priced my eBooks at $.99 each. By doing this, I believe I did sell more books and enjoyed some pretty good rankings for a while for my books (until Amazon “supposedly” started playing around with their algorithms).

I did a little research and noted the prices of the Amazon suggested books on each of my novels’ Amazon book pages. I was amazed to see that most eBook purchasers who bought my books (at least according to Amazon) were buying books at $2.99 and up, and only a few were $.99 books. So, I checked out the top 100 list for my genres. Guess what? I discovered very similar data!

What did I do the very next day? I raised my prices to $2.99. For nearly two months now, I’ve found my sales to dip only slightly, but noted that my actual royalty $ have gone way up. I think it all goes back to the old proverb about the smart shopper: “you get what you pay for” and it seems that’s the thinking most eBook buyers are following.

Drawing this illustration helps me look at pricing as a malleable thing and not just an intangible, abstract and unclear concept. I hope it helps you.

Here are a few links for some very interesting blog posts concerning pricing:

http://preciseedit.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/how-much-should-my-e-book-cost/

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/09/ebook-pricing.html

Give us your learned thoughts and suggestions, you experience ePubbers out there!

Amazon Keeps Changing Algorithms on Kindle eBooks?

Can indie authors even hope to understand the complex and secret ways Amazon ranks our books? How can we use what little information available to maximize our exposure to the reading world? Did you know they use things like price points and being independently published to consider where to rank you book?

Check out Edward W. Robertson’s blog posts, especially May’s as well as other more recent ones at: http://www.edwardwrobertson.com/

Your Ebook Sales in the Tank? There’s hope!

Originally Posted on April 1, 2012 on http://GordonKessler.com| 23 Comments

I’m happy for you if your sales have been steady. But if yours are like mine, they tanked in February and stayed low most of this month as well. My thriller Brainstorm was averaging 50+ book sales a day following two Amazon “free” days during the first of January. This was a great improvement over pre-Kindle Select months, and at that point I was absolutely sure I was on my way to the top!

Boom!

By the end of January, I felt as if someone had stepped on my neck. Sales of all my books dropped and became very sporadic. February’s daily sales average was in single digits—and that was counting all of my books (mostly Brainstorm, with Dead Reckoning having a fair showing in comparison, Jezebel making an appearance and the short stories doing some onesy-twosies). Early in March, I had my first shutout since September 2011—and more followed.

Still, I had big hopes with my new men’s action/adventure novel, Knight’s Ransom, when I threw it out into the Kindle Select river of dreams…but its debut didn’t go so well—only sold 20 in its first thirty days (following two free days that only had 150 downloads). I’m fairly confident, however, that after I publish two or three more books in the series and receive a few more really good reviews, it will do much better. Why? Please keep reading.

The Foundation

Did I mention that I’d been trying to build my house of success without a foundation? I didn’t? Well, here’s the thing: my eBook writing career was almost completely dependent on my books selling themselves.

Sure, I had a website—a not too impressive one that I had a hard time keeping updated. I had a blog that I posted on every few months. I tweeted and posted on Facebook every time I put a new book out or ran a promotion. And that’s all. I thought I was doing everything I could. After all, I had a website, a blog and I was social networking. I was doing everything that all the successful indie writers were doing, right?

Wrong. I was just going through the motions. My marketing plan had no heart—it wasn’t a marketing plan at all.

Good Morning! Would You Like a Shopping Cart?

So, before I gave up my writing dream and applied to Wal-Mart for a greeter job, I went back to take a second look at all of those brave eBook-author trailblazers, who had actually cut the ePub trail before us, to determine what I was doing wrong. This time I didn’t just read their books and blog posts about ePublishing, I studied them.

Braveheart

Like William Wallace riding up and down in front of the ranks of Scottish warriors, the successful eBook pioneers had been trying to motivate and educate us late-comer indies. I’m talking about bestselling indie/traditionally published writers like Joe Konrath (you gotta check out his Newbie’s Guide to Publishing blog and book) and Barry Eisler, bestselling indie author John Locke, as well as Smashwords.com founder Mark Coker (he’s got a great blog as well!). They’ve been doing about everything they can to rally us in the battle against the Big Six Publishers and those who poo-poo indie writers and the entire indie ePublishing industry. This includes bestselling traditionally published author and Authors Guild (check out their blog) president Scott Turow.

Strategery, Mr. President!

Not all indies agree with me, but even after some disappointment, I’m convinced that Kindle Select is the way to go for a new book—for how long is more of the issue for me. At the same time, you’ll find a good argument against this in Mark Coker’s Smashwords.com’s blog—and I really respect this guy a bunch for all he’s done for us indies (he even came to Kansas to speak at our KWA Scene Conference this last month!).

With technology slamming the publishing world like a tsunami, ePublishing is in its infancy and to me is extremely fluid. My strategy follows the strongest and most productive current, as I see it. Until I find something that personally makes sense to address my situation and convinces me to do otherwise, I’ll place any new eBook I finish on Kindle Select for the exclusivity period, then shotgun it out to everywhere else on Smashwords.com after the 90 days are up. There may be merit to keeping one of my series books on Kindle Select for two or three tours in consideration of timing, season, holidays, etc. etc., but I’ll have to really scrutinize the idea, first. After all, if it’s the “free” days that I’m after, I can do that as much as I’d like through Smashwords.com for most all of the other Internet booksellers besides Amazon.

From my experience over the past few months, the Amazon “free days” (you get 5 over the 90-day exclusivity period) seemed to be very effective directly following Christmas, but didn’t do so well after that—my sales have fallen markedly as time goes by. Dead Reckoning enjoyed 1,000 downloads in two free days last week. But that was the best any of my books had done with the free promo since the same book had similar results during the first part of January, about the same time Brainstorm got 1500 in its first “free” day, alone (plus another 500 on its second day). Perhaps it’s just a seasonal thing, just like retail sales for brick-and-mortar stores are typically poor in February/March—I dunno.

The Big Slump Theory

My theory is—and I hope I’m correct because I’m really banking on this—the market has become saturated with free eBooks, and the Kindle Select program is actually hurting more than it’s helping, right now. The market is overloaded with “indie” books, as well, and the situation is only getting worse.

As I see it (and I haven’t heard or read this anyplace else, to this point); the majority of the eReading public got their fill of free eBooks during the holidays—each one of them downloading enough eBooks to read for years! And why not? EReaders can hold thousands of books.

Reading Turtles Pigging Out Before the End of Days!

One positive is that not all of the ePublic has pigged-out on free eBooks. Even those who did occasionally stick their heads out of their shells to see if there’s anything else out there that will entertain them better than their own stock of free reads (sorry for the inconsistent metaphors). As the weeks pass, I expect the indies’ sales to pick up again and remain somewhat steady until the holidays. At that point, with a little social networking groundwork smartly laid in preparation, a nice website/blog, and lots of positive reviews on our books, some of us more seasoned authors should see some really good sales numbers this winter. Barring that little speed bump on December 21 when all of our electronics crash, the asteroid strikes, the Earth shifts and the seas spill, 2013 might be an excellent year.

Improvise, Marine!

Here’s what I suggest for the indie crowd. See if you think it’s a good plan, and PLEASE comment:

In order to sell a book, the book needs to be promoted—but DON’T promote the actual book anyplace but on your own website and blog. Instead, promote yourself as a citizen of this wonderful eWorld in which we live. As far as Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites are concerned; yes, make announcements of new books, promos, etc., but do at least ten tweets/mentions/replies about other concerns for every book announcement you make.

More importantly, when you visit blogs and boards, mingle with other bloggers and commenters as if you’re the new guy/girl at a block party and you’re wanting to make friends. Interact and comment on their posts without mentioning your books or even that you’re a writer. However, ensure your profile shows exactly that—and that it lists your books, as well! In posts showing your signature, make sure there’s a subheading stating you’re an “Author of…” linking back to your own website/blog. Here’s the thing to understand; when you come across as a real person and not just a cardboard cutout—a two-dimensional book dump/advertisement—you become more interesting to not only other bloggers, but also to other readers.

Wanna Buy Some Pictures of My Ugly Grandkids?

When it comes to the other groups and blogs you get into—especially message boards—from what I’ve experienced, the writer blogs/boards will do little good in the way of selling tons of your books. I’m not saying to steer completely away from these, but author blogs are visited mostly by writers trying to hock their own stories. It’s like a hundred people trying to sell you pictures of their cute grandkids, when you’ve got pictures of your own that you’d like to sell—everyone’s selling, no one is buying.

Barefoot In a Cow Pasture (you’ll find cool green grass but also some warm squishy bullshit, so watch your step)

Be smart when you visit the reader blogs/boards. These folks are your prime market, but they aren’t there to read your shameless self-promotion. Generally, these readers are looking for opinions from other readers like themselves, and they’ve already been inundated by those rascally indie writers trying to sell their books. They’ll quickly become wary of you. Never blatantly promote your books or even your best friend’s books here. It’s probably best if you talk about and recommend some of the big names and bestsellers, so that there’s no perception that you’re some kind of undercover author on a clandestine mission to bag some more readers. If you do any more than honestly recommend other authors’ stories, you’re likely to get found out and lose all credibility.

In my opinion, your most effective approach is to blog and post on message boards about issues of popular concern. If you’re set up correctly and ready for them, I think you’ll discover the readers will come to you. Find blogs and message boards that are popular and updated often—look for the ones that would attract the audience for your book. And I’m not talking about specifically “thriller readers,” “mystery readers” or “romance readers”.

Puppy Dogs and Rolling Stones

Let me explain, for example: for my E Z Knight books, I’m looking for retired people, people who commute, businessmen and women, golden retriever lovers, former Marines, sailboat owners and ax murders (threw that in just to see if you’re reading purple armpit armadillo) and not specific reader groups. Look for blogs and boards discussing things you’re passionate about and that you know something about other than writing. Look for discussions on your old hobbies and past concerns as well as your new ones. Hell, I might even find a blog for kidney stone sufferers and post on some of my experiences and remedies. Why? Because I can talk semi-intelligently about kidney stones due to my experience with them, and the ones who suffer the most from these little thorny bastards are in the target age group for my novels.

On boards and blog sites, I’ll be looking for conversations of interest I feel I can contribute to in a meaningful way, outside of the selling of my own books—and mostly outside of writing and even reading, as well.

I’m sure it will take time and a little effort to build credibility, attract friends and gain a following. Actually, I think you’ll be surprised at what little time and effort this takes once you’re organized.

Hey Ol’ Timer

Yeah, I know; if you’re like me, you hate even the idea of social networking, even though you’re an amiable, friendly person when it comes to face-to-face meetings.

I’m of a more “hands and eyes on” generation. I’m from a time when the first color TV I ever sat down and watched was the one I bought my parents when I was home on leave from the US Marines.

You enjoy meeting new people and speaking with old acquaintances the old fashion way. With physical meetings you can look into people’s eyes, interpret their facial expressions as well as their vocal inflections. You get a good idea about where the new guy is coming from just from observing his mannerisms and how he presents himself. While, when you have an eConversation, in order to know anything about the ePerson you’re communicating with, you have to look up their profile which is designed to in some manner impress you—and that only tells you what they want you to see.

Bob Dylan, Easy Rider and The Long and Winding Road

I’ll remind you that “the times they are a changin’,” and if you want your books in front of readers’ eyes in these changing times, you’ll need to get up to speed.

I had to remind myself of that. So I read the blogs and the books, I observed what worked as well as what didn’t work—and I learned. I did. I tried to skirt what I learned and take the easy route, and I failed. I’m now pursuing a more proven, yet less traveled road, and the numbers are indicating that I’m finding some success. Guess what? I’ve discovered my new tack is easier, more fun and less time consuming than the direction I’d been traveling!

Credible assessment/strategy? This is coming from a writer who has only had around seven thousand downloads (and only 1,600 have been paid, so far—but check back in three months!).

Raise the Roof!

Please give your comments, add to this discussion; let us know what’s worked for you, what hasn’t, where you think I’m off, and any new insights.

Raise a ruckus—maybe we can get Joe Konrath, Barry Eisler, John Locke, or Mark Coker to join in with more learned insight. Hey, maybe Scott Turow will drop in and give me a good tongue lashing—wouldn’t that be fun?

The main thing I’d like to see is some important, relevant, insightful content here—something for every indie writer to view, consider and use in their quest to get read. Recommend some good websites, blogs and books for indies, if you know of any. Four excellent eBooks I recommend are: Mark Coker’s free Smashwords Book Marketing Guide and The 10-Minute PR Checklist – Earn the Publicity You Deserve as well as JA Konrath’s Newbie’s Guide to Publishing and John Locke’s book How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months.

Give an Old Dog a Bone, Would Ya?

Come on, throw a starving writer a few bread crumbs of wisdom. If you don’t, I’ll keep pummeling you with these very old and tired clichés!

And get out there and make your eConnections—eRub some eElbows while the eWorld is still here!

23 Comments

More EBook Sales Information–Latest for Early 2012

Originally Posted on April 9, 2012 on http://GordonKessler.com

This is an interesting article that I thought I should pass along about how eBook sales are doing since the holidays, 2011. It’s a bit like I’d mentioned on my last eBook post–when I couldn’t find anyone else giving any evidence of a drop in sales or a saturation of eBooks.

I don’t know that I’d go along with everything that’s said in this article, but it’s “food for thought”. Check it out:

http://www.teleread.com/paul-biba/are-ebook-sales-reaching-a-plateau/

Agency Model vs. Traditional Pricing: EBook Price-Fixers Fixin’ to Settle?

Originally Posted on April 11, 2012 on http://GordonKessler.com

This just in: Apple and five major “price-fixing” publishing houses are fixin’ to settle with the US Justice Department after conspiring to control prices with their “agency model” vs. the standard and traditional way of retail pricing? Maybe. It looks like three of the big five publishers will.

What does this mean for the consumer–the eBook reading public? Maybe a check in the mail for all the over-priced eBooks they bought in the past, and much more reasonable pricing on big name, traditionally published authors’ eBooks in the future.

What does it mean to the “indie” authors who’ve found this time in publishing history to be a welcome boon to their publishing dreams? Perhaps stiffer competition with the brand name authors’ books? Maybe?

What do you think? Give us your dime’s worth–please comment!

But check out in this online Wall Street Journal article, first: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304444604577337573054615152.html

EBook Wars, Episode 1 & 2

EBook Wars, Episode 1

Originally Posted on March 14, 2012 on http://GordonKessler.com

In a Galaxy not so far away!

Did you miss it–all the news about the battles being waged behind the scenes. On the surface, the eBook and ePublishing industry seems smooth and calm—as it should be? But there’s been a war being fought since before even the first Kindle found it’s way onto the retail shelf. In the past week, the battles have been about price-fixing, collusion and censorship.

So what’s this big war really boil down to? Fear. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

The good news? I think the “good guys” are winning. And who are these “good guys”? It’s you and me; Jill and Joe Reader. We should be the ones influencing this incredible new industry. After all, we are the consumers. Next in line are the writers. Being a part of this group as well, I have some pretty deep-rooted and passionate beliefs about how we writers should be able to influence today’s market, too.

The bottom line is this: readers want quality fiction of their own choosing at a reasonable price–and writers want to give it to them! It’s just that simple!

But, when you get big conglomerate corporations involved with high payrolls and stockholders who are focused on their own bottom line, this simple little process gets so-o-o complex. Of course it’s been that way for years.

So what’s new? What’s the big hub-bub about? Control is shifting and the big girls and boys of yesteryear publishing no longer have a chokehold on the readers and writers, telling writers: “You’ll write what we want you to write for the price we want to pay.” Telling readers: “We’ll decide what you can and can’t read, and you’ll pay what we say for it–and that’s going to be enough to finance our big NYC offices, all of our extravagance and hoopla.” They tell us, the reading public, that they’ll dig as deeply into our pockets as “the market will bare” and we’ll put up with it because we don’t have a choice.

You don’t agree? Well, two major developments have come up in the past few days. The first one you probably already heard about: the US Department of Justice is investigating price-fixing and collusion with the good ol’ girl and boy traditional publishing houses, as well as other somewhat shady practices that many of the eBook publishers have been involved in. This is fascinating stuff. You want to learn more? Check out JA Konrath’s March 10 blog post at: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ . VERY ENLIGHTENING!

How about censorship? Legal is one thing: if what you want to read is within the law, you should be able to read it, right? And writers should be able to write and distribute any of their legal works, correct?

But what if a few folks don’t like some of the things that writers are putting out, and they don’t think, as readers, you should either? Hmm. Big Brother government, “Father Knows Best” publishing houses, and now “Mommy Dearest” wants to get involved, too? It seems that way. I’ve got to admit that there’s a whole bunch of new eBooks out there that I wouldn’t even touch—I find myself feeling guilty just having laid eyes on the stuff in a glance. But, if it’s legal, who am I to say you shouldn’t be able to read what I don’t care for?

Thanks to some really well-versed and vigilant warriors to champion the side of free speech, including Smashwords.com’s founder Mark Coker, PayPal and the credit card companies are relenting their earlier stand against processing funds for material they decide is inappropriate. This could have had a major negative affect in eBook sales and set free-speech back decades. This kind of censorship infringes on every American citizen’s right to free-speech.

Another victory for the “good guys”!

Your really need to read the details on this censorship battle. It’s important to us all. Find more at: http://blog.smashwords.com/

All this is about fear. Fear of change. Fear of the inevitable. Fear of losing a way of life that the big publishing conglomerates have learned to enjoy. They’ve been on the ropes for decades. Without the control over both writers and readers they’ve enjoyed for more than a hundred years, they can see the end is near. They’re afraid this new ePublishing industry is going to be their knock-out punch–and it could well be.

As writers, let’s provide the product readers want at a reasonable price. Don’t let those wonderful consumers down. Entertain them, enlighten them, inform them and enhance their lives.

EBook Wars, Episode 2

Originally Posted on March 24, 2012 on http://GordonKessler.com

Okay, so being a new sailor on a very shifty sea, I shouldn’t trust everything I read (forgive me for butchering Hannah Parker Kimball’s wonderful poem “One Way of Trusting”). And there is so much to read.

Should I believe “The Big Six Publishing Houses” (a.k.a. “the Cartel”–sorry, I couldn’t help my cynicism) and their allies, including Authors Guild president and bestselling author Scott Turow? I wanted to trust them. I trusted them for years because I had no choice and knew no better. They were doing what they wanted—and surely what they wanted was to benefit their suppliers, their members, their writers. They were selling books–but not mine.

When I signed that publishing contract back in ’92, I dreamed of what it would be like as an Authors Guild member, one of thousands of professional writers, many making a living from their writing and enjoying the benefits of the Authors Guild’s protective arms.

Man, has that changed.

So here we are in the electronic age. It is our future—the one we must embrace (until the day that giant EMP from the Sun knocks out all our eGadgets) if we wish to become successful authors. Some folks aren’t willing to embrace the future and don’t understand that they can’t hold back time and live in the past. This eFuture is inevitable. Everyone must adapt, even bestselling authors. They must understand that the old and familiar isn’t always the best, and who we dealt with in the past didn’t necessarily have our best interests in mind.

If what readers want to do is read, let them read. If what writers want to do is write, let them write. If what Amazon and a few of the other big Internet booksellers want to do is to satisfy their customers by getting them lots of product for very reasonable prices, let them channel the writers’ works to the readers’ eyes as cheaply and as efficiently as possible.

Check out JA Konrath’s most recent post on his blog at: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/. Barry Eisler, joins in, as he did in the last post. And, once again, they’re discussing what Scott Turow has said, this time in a recent interview about “why we should fear Amazon”. It will absolutely floor you!

In these shifting seas, who are you to believe? For now, I’m plotting my course with those who seem to have the authors’ and readers’ interests in mind—Internet booksellers like Amazon and Smashwords—the ones accepting and selling our books to the consumer at reasonable prices and for very generous royalties. As for The Big Six Publishers and Authors Guild’s president Scott Turow: Wake up! Grasp the future, remember your customer, and give them what THEY want!

Should I do a Print On Demand paperback besides an eBook?

Indie authors are finding the most success with eBooks, by a considerable amount. But, since Print on Demand is easy and free through Amazon’s CreateSpace.com, what will it hurt? Then, you’ll have something tangible you can give to reviewers, friends and relatives, besides having one more way to market your work. There are other POD printers out there that do a fine job. Many of them charge a fee, depending on the extent of the work needed from their end. You should check out Lulu.com, iUniverse.com, Xlibris.com, and others before you make up your mind. Also, several of these POD printers, including Lulu.com will do hardcover books besides the popular trade paperback—CreateSpace.com only does trade paper but has a great distribution network. And no one is to say you can’t do both–trade paperback with CreateSpace.com and hardcover with Lulu.com.