EPubbing & The EBook

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

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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.

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

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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.
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:

Jun04

Welcome courageous ePublishing pioneers to the Indie Writers Alliance!

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 The first official Indie Writers Alliance Newsletter is out, and you’ll find it to be a real “keeper”.

In this and ensuing issues, you’ll discover links to very informative and important websites and blogs concerning current issues in the indie publishing industry. We’ll look at the latest news, analyses, and thoughts on what’s going on in the eWorld around us, and explore ways to help illuminate this dark path into uncharted territory that we’ve chosen.

Not getting it? Fill out the form on the IWA home page at: http://www.indiewritersalliance.com

The Indie Writers Alliance is:

An Alliance of Independent Writers, Self-Publishers, and Small and Independent Publishers to Inform, Support, Promote and Encourage Independent Writers

Why Be an Independent Writer and Sell Your Work in eBook and POD Formats?

Incredible things are happening. Actually, much of it started years back, but only a few visionaries saw the full potential of what was taking place. It started with “eBooks”. They have literally revolutionized the book publishing and selling industry.

For the IWA Intro Page, click here: http://www.indiewritersalliance.com/

For the IWA Member Page, click here: http://www.indiewritersalliance.com/For-Indies-ONLY!.html

Jun04

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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!

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Jun04

Amazon Keeps Changing Algorithms on Kindle eBooks?

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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/

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Kindle Select or the World?

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That’s what it seems to be boiling down to. Are there fewer advantages with the Kindle Select program now than before? Are the Amazon free days as effective as they used to be? Does it even make sense to use them?

These are the questions I’m asking, now. Take a look at what other indies are saying. It might help you make up your mind.

Joe Konrath—check out his comments at the bottom of the interview. The guy knows his stuff: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/05/guest-post-by-robert-gregory-browne.html

Katie.M.John (It looks wrong, but that’s the way she spells it)—Some interesting thoughts here: http://katiemjohn.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/why-amazon-kdp-select-and-i-are-on.html

D.D. Scott—this lady is an experienced ePubber and very sharp: http://goo.gl/yNi9T

This is an older post on Karen Barney’s blog, that made a lot of sense back in January, and still has some great tips for trying to maximize Kindle Select’s “free days”: http://goo.gl/zMrxl

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Jun04

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

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Jun04

More EBook Sales Information–Latest for Early 2012

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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/

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Jun04

Amazon Restores IPG Kindle EBook Titles!

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Originally Posted on May 25, 2012 on http://GordonKessler.com | Leave a comment

I knew it would happen–the question was when. Amazon and IPG have just reached an agreement to allow IPG eBook titles to be restored on Amazon. In other words, as of today, they’re playing together nicely once again. Although it may take a couple of days, all IPG Kindle eBooks should be once again listed as before. I can only say that I’m thankful this did not affect me and my eBooks!

You can find the whole scoop at Publisher’s Lunch: http://lunch.publishersmarketplace.com/2012/05/standoff-ends-ipg-and-amazon-agree-to-terms-on-ebooks-and-titles-are-restored/ Check it out!

The Empire, er, uh–Big Publishing Strikes Back, or Apple Double Talk?

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Jun04

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

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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

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Jun04

The Empire, er, uh–Big Publishing Strikes Back, or Apple Double Talk?

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

Round Two!

It seems a bit like double talk to me, but it sounds like Apple is taking the US DOJ to task, claiming they don’t have anything to do with the publisher industry’s eBook pricing.

However, Simon & Schuster, Hachette and News Corp’s HarperCollins agreed to settle citing that they didn’t want to be involved in a costly legal battle, but none are admitting to wrongdoing or collusion.

On the other hand, Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin Group have not only denied collusion and price-fixing but will likely fight the US DOJ charges.

More on this story is at: http://bit.ly/HHSamK

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Jun04
EBook Wars, Episode 1 & 2

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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!

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Aug14

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

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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.

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Aug14

Where should I publish my eBook first?

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If you publish on Smashwords.com, they’ll put your book in all the important places. You could actually get by just fine by only publishing with Smashwords. Your book will then be listed on Amazon Kindle (that deal still hasn’t happened as of 6/4/2012), iBooks, B&N Nook, Kobo, Sony, etc. Just keep in mind that Smashwords is a business and they’ll get a meager cut of your royalty.

Publishing on Amazon for Kindle will put your work on the most popular eBook outlet in the world, by far. You get the full 70% royalty (35% if your book is priced at less than $2.99). If you publish on Smashwords and they place it on Amazon for you (if and when that becomes a possibility), your royalty will be about 15% less (60% on a book priced at $2.99 or over).

B&N for Nook is coming on strong, but still miles behind Kindle. With the Nook having a number of options to choose from, if you have a color children’s book you might consider publishing it on B&N yourself, rather than going through Smashwords where you’ll have to give them a cut of your royalties.

Then, there are the “others” (Kobo, Sony, iBooks etc.) Here again, you can cut out the middleman (Smashwords) if you go directly to these outlets—but, for the relatively few books you sell, will it really be worth the trouble? And there might be some additional hoops to jump through like Apple’s “publisher” requirement.

One you don’t have to consider, anymore: Google Books. They’ve shut this program down. From my experience, it was extremely buggy and not well maintained, anyway.

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Aug14

Pay it Forward/Reviews

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A. /Read : One of the most important things you’ll do is to read other indie writers work, and review it in a very positive manner—if you can do so in good conscience. Why that last caveat? Because the only way you’ll truly help a fellow indie writer with a review is with a five-star review. A four star would be considered neutral, in most cases. Reviews, as much as anything else is what will sell books. If you want good reviews on your work, pay it forward: give good reviews to other indie writers.

B. /Promote: when asked what you’re reading—or just to pop off on a blog what you’re reading (a novel by I M Indie) and how good it is—is also a very good way to pay it forward, and you should receive the same from other indie authors.

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Aug14

Effective Social Networking

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I’ve listed several sources to help understand the numerous and most popular social networking sites being used today.  Will they help your promote your books? Most definitely–if you use them properly.

Add your thoughts to this discussion, please!

A. Facebook http://clickwisdom.com/14/9-effective-and-slightly-badass-ways-to-use-facebook/

http://www.business2community.com/social-media/7-effective-facebook-marketing-tactics-012142

B. Twitter http://www.blogtips.org/twitter-for-dummies-part-5-10-tips-for-effective-tweeting/

http://www.twitip.com/when-tweeting-less-can-help-you-be-a-more-effective-twitter-user/

C. LinkedIn http://www.chrisbrogan.com/use-linkedin-effectively/

D. MySpace http://www.redlemonclub.com/social-media/how-to-properly-get-set-up-for-self-promotion-through-myspace/

http://www.myspace-search.com/2010/06/02/using-your-myspace-effectively/ (about marketing music, but there is somewhat of a parallel to books)

E. “Boards” There are also a few blogs called “boards” or message boards. The most popular of these for eBook authors is probably the “Kindle Boards”. Authors beware—don’t spam on a reader board—you will be severely rebuked! Get to know the other commenters on any board/blog before you market your work—and never be too blatant about it. DON’T go after individual board/blog members by email, trying to hock your wares: this is super unprofessional and will be looked at with great disfavor.

Spamming: Authors beware—don’t spam—you will likely be severely rebuked! Get to know the other commenters on any board/blog before you market your work—and never be too blatant about it. DON’T go after individual board/blog members by email, trying to hock your wares: this is super unprofessional and will be looked at with great disfavor. This link will help you have a better understanding of blog/board etiquette: http://blog.steffanantonas.com/23-rules-of-thumb-for-effective-blogging.htm

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Aug14

How do I get on a blog tour?

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Blog tours get your name out to the readers–the ones that will be buying your book–and gives you a larger Web presence. Don’t discount the value of a good blog tour.  Here are a few links that will help guide you to your first successful tour:

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Aug14
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Jun02

EBook Readers

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Looking for a good eBook reader? It’s a fair investment, so you’ll want something that will last you a few years.

There are a lot of really good ones out there, but one very important concern that isn’t about the eReader itself: what books can you download on the device? Consider whether you want to be able to read those out only on Kindle (Kindle/Amazon probably has the broadest selection) or only on Nook (B&N/Nook is catching up). If you can read either of these formats, you’ll be able to read 99.9% of the eBooks available. So consider whether or not the device will download applications to allow you to read other formats.

These things are changing by the minute, as is technology. Here’s a site that compares current eBook Readers as of the date of this post: http://ebook-reader-review.toptenreviews.com/. I think it does a pretty good job of considering the important features and conveniences.

Below is my somewhat updated comment from it’s original posting a year ago on June 5, 2011. It still has some valid food for thought:

I have the first version of Sony Reader (I now have the Kindle Fire and LOVE IT!).  I do not recommend it, but I understand later versions are much better.  Personally, I would search online for a couple of those comparison websites/blogs and see how they stack up (latest Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony). You might even decide on an iPad or Xoom, so that you can have much more than just an eReader—I have the Xoom and love it, but it’s super expensive (they come down a little since this post–still really enjoy mine). Another advantage of the Xoom and iPad is that you can download apps that will allow you to read about any format of eBook (many eBook readers are app capable now, as well).

When considering the basic eReader, remember how very convenient it is to be able to download on the fly (like at a hotel, Starbucks, etc.) without having to go through your PC (can’t do that with my old Sony). Also, with some books, color is important, and not just for covers (my Sony only shows a B & W of cover).  I’m sure the “color” eReaders available go for a premium—but it’s something to consider, especially if you ever want to download children’s books—or if they ever make travel, photo, or other image dependent books available in eBook formats (many of the new eBook readers are color capable now).

This is an area that I know little about—but should (and will) research soon.  Anything you find out that you can pass along will be beneficial to all.

 

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