Tag Archives: indie authors

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!

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/

Kindle Select or the World?

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

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.