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:
Don’t even compare this to John Locke’s, “Hey, I sold over a million books in five months this way!”
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.
What’s Happening for IWA Members
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!
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!
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?
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
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:
Give us your learned thoughts and suggestions, you experience ePubbers out there!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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: