Garrett Robinson is the author of five different series including: Non Zombie, Hit Girls, Ninjabread Man, The Touch Trilogy, and Midrealm.
He also runs three podcasts including: The Story Telling Podcast, Game Of Geeks, and We Make Movies.
You can find out more about him and his books here: www.garrettbrobinson.com
"Welcome to the Writers Roundtable," Charles Sinclair said, in his krikey be damned Aussie accent. "The show that's a parody of a parody that features a co host of one of the shows we're parodying."
"Watch it Charles, you're going to confuse our listeners," Cristy Ross replied.
"I thought we'd made all our listeners into co hosts already," Don Ward To The Wise added.
"Has anyone noticed that this show is just one big clusterfuck?" Wade Fineagain asked.
"Yeah. Except without the fucking," Charles said.
"That'll come later in the post show party which I'll be too busy ranting about organized religion to take part in," David W. Wrong joked.
"Hey Bill, you're awfully quiet over there. Aren't you going to say anything?" Don asked.
"You can't make me talk. This isn't Toastmasters International," Bill Prowess said.
"Alright, why don't we get on topic before this train derails any further and the government notices I'm podcasting on the job," Charles insisted.
"Oh come on. We don't do topics on this show. We just make random sex jokes and read internet comments responding to the sex jokes we just made," Wade remarked.
"Bill, do you have anything to say about that?" Don asked.
Bill pulled his head out of the clouds. "Oh sorry. I was too caught up reading the internet comments to listen to what you were saying."
"By the way, is there anything good in the comments?" Cristy wondered.
"Why would there be? Human beings should die in a bonfire of their own ineptitude," Dave ranted.
"Does anyone else think that Dave would make a great high school guidance counselor?" Wade joked.
"I hate you all," Dave muttered to himself.
"You know, if we're going to be wasting each others time, I could go back to writing one of the fifteen books I've been working on," Charles said.
"By the way, are you any closer to publishing any of them?" Don asked.
"Perfection takes time," Charles insisted.
"But I thought you were writing dinosaur erotica," Bill blurted out.
Everyone in the roundtable laughed except Charles, who instead looked quizzically at Bill.
"Why would you think that?" Charles asked.
"Well, that's what they're saying on the comments," Bill replied.
"Can we all stop paying attention to the internet comments please?" Charles urged. Charles then looked at a comment himself and got excited. "Oooh, one of the commenters thinks I have a sexy accent." Charles began typing. "How about some thunder down under?"
"Can someone please save this show?" Christy asked.
"Humanity can't be saved. We're all just headed on a downward spiral to disaster," Dave grumbled.
Don shook his head. "I feel like I'm trapped in a David Wrong/Jon Platt book."
"That doesn't make sense. There aren't any children in jeopardy," Wade said.
"And I'm not screaming at my screen over a damn cliffhanger ending," Cristy added.
"Not to mention they're just so fucking bleak. It makes the apocalypse look like a field trip to the zoo," Don said.
"I used to hate field trips. They were just another excuse to have to use my decoy wallet. Now the apocalypse, now that's something to look forward to," Dave said.
"Great. Dave has a boner for the apocalypse. Go figure," Charles deadpanned.
The roundtable then noticed they hadn't heard from Bill in a while.
"Wait. Did anyone see where Bill went?" Wade wondered, not seeing him onscreen anywhere.
"I think Bill decided to go start training for another marathon," Don said.
"Well, he's not missing anything," Wade replied.
"Actually, I think this is one of our better shows," Cristy pointed out.
"I feel sorry for our listeners. I'll be giving out free lobotomy's after the show," Dave insisted.
Charles then tried to corral the group. "Alright, does anyone want to do any talking about writing?"
Everyone just shrugged their shoulders though.
"I don't know, it's getting kind of late. I have kids to edumacate at school tomorrow," Wade said.
"Yeah. Besides, I can't think of any more dick jokes to make," Don added.
Dave put the final nail in the coffin though. "Let's just put this show out of its misery. I have some finger lickers to rant about on another show I'm co hosting," Dave said.
At the same time, I've always been a huge fan of Mad Magazine and considered parody to be one of the best forms of flattery. So I decided to write a little parody of The Story Telling Podcast. Here it is:
"Den Of Dorks Pocast Episode Number 21," Jarrett Robinson said.
Jarrett had a deep, booming voice. The kind of voice you could fall in love with, you know, if you were into falling in love with the sound of your own voice--which Jarett definitely was. But Jarrett was more than just in love with his voice. He was the kind of geek that believed if you couldn't juggle a hundred things at once, it wasn't worth doing anything at all. He could write three book series while making a movie while raising two kids while putting another bun in his wife's oven while leaving a voicemail for the SPP podcast all from the comfort of his podcasting closet. And that was just before his first power nap.
His charismastically cherubic cohost DC Bulges operated differently though. DC liked boobs and writing children's fiction. Not particularly in that order. And definitely not at the same time. DC liked to do his broacasts right outside the bathroom at his workplace, the perfect place to show off his bathroom humor of casual dick jokes and rampant profanity. DC was about more than just having a ready made porn name though. He liked tweeting random celebrities, having a fiance while having no set plans for a wedding day, and kickstarting the shit out of life. Of course he always had room for boobs too, not to mention correcting Jarrett.
DC interjected to Garrett's intro. "Uh, dude--this is the Telling Stories Podcast."
"Oh--right," Jarrett replied. "I'm just hosting so many so podcasts that I can't keep track of them all."
"You should start a new podcast on effective methods of multitasking," DC joked.
Jarrett deflected. "Why don't I just play the show intro?"
"That's probably not a good idea considering we still haven't updated it since we lost our girly girl cohost," DC replied.
"I've been a little busy man," Jarrett said.
"Dude, she left two months ago," DC insisted.
"Too be fair, I did just crank out eighty thousand words on Helm Sweepers in the last two days," Jarrett declared.
"Slacker," DC joked.
"I know. I was hoping for a hundred thousand words, but it's hard to get anything done--what with a pregnant wife and two kids running around the house," Jarrett said.
"Still, 80k is fairly respectable...kind of. Dare I say you were busier than Manny Calloway trying to solve a puzzle house," DC remarked.
"There it is folks, blatant self promo number one of the day," Jarrett replied.
"Then again a Ninjabread Maniac could have cranked out the full hundred thousand words," DC continued.
"How do you like that? Self promo number two. Got anything more in there?" Jarrett asked.
"Nah. I wouldn't want to promote myself too much," DC deadpanned.
DC and Jarrett then both broke out into laughter.
"But speaking of the co hosting situation, we are still actively searching. We'll be sure to give you an update in the next ten to twelve years, give or take," Jarrett announced.
"In the meantime if you have big knockers and want to be our co host, send a picture of those can's to me @DCBulges," DC said.
"DC, you know I'm looking for a feminist cohost," Jarrett argued.
"What, are you saying you can't be a feminist and have big juggs at the same time?" DC replied.
"Why don't we move on to the news of the week?" Jarrett suggested. "So DC, what's new with you?"
"Well, I've decided to take the advice of one of our listeners--" DC started saying.
"Wait, we have listeners?" Jarrett replied.
"And surprisingly it wasn't even Charles Sinclair," DC commented.
"Ok, so what advice did you take?" Jarrett asked.
"I'm going to start a kickstarter campaign to pay for my last parking ticket," DC revealed.
Jarrett shook his head in disbelief. "Is there anything you won't kickstart?"
DC thought long and hard. "I don't know. A colonoscopy, maybe. Although I've heard those butt doctors are pretty expensive, so maybe that would be worth giving a kickstart."
"Thank God David W. Wrong doesn't listen to this show. He'd rip into you like you were a finger licker ready to spread a buffet of bacteria," Jarrett warned.
"Like he has to worry. He can afford an artisan colonoscopy with all the royalties he's been getting from the Tomorrow's Fucked series," DC said.
"And speaking of David W. Wrong, you can catch him ripping into Agents of Snark on the Den Of Dorks Podcast with me every week," Jarrett said.
"Who's the self promoter now?" DC joked.
"Why don't we get into the main topic now, which is...self promotion. And why is this our topic? Because we're awesome at it," Jarrett said.
"Hell yeah. If you haven't heard, we have a book out. It's called Helm Sweepers. It's better than riding a unicorn through a typhoon of awesome sauce," DC touted.
"Look, I know some people think we talk about our mind blowing too much. But that's only because they're the best things in the history of the universe," Jarrett said.
"Besides, it's not like anyone's going to do this marketing shit for us," DC added. "Although how great would it be if I could get a kickstarter going to hire a publicist for us?"
Jarrett groaned. "DC--"
"Right. Well then go buy our books people. Don't make me spam your inbox with kickstarter pleas, because I'll do it," DC warned.
"Alright. And now that we've established that we are writing Gods without equal, what should we cover next?" Jarrett wondered.
"Isn't it about that time for the technical difficulty of the week?" DC asked.
"Oh yeah. We're long overdue," Jarrett realized admitted.
"Or who knows, maybe it won't this week at...," DC started saying. Then--silence.
"Uh, DC...DC," Jarrett called out.
But DC had conectile dysfunction.
"Dammit, spoke too soon. Well, I guess this is as good a time to sign off as any," Jarrett said. "Before I go though, Helm Sweepers is out, you should buy it, it's awesome. And if you don't buy it, I hope you die of chlamydia. Goodnight everyone."
Top Five Things You Can Do To Sell More Books
1. Get A Paid Promotion. Buying advertising is the easiest way to get exposure for your books. And while Bookbub is the big dog in the ebook world, there are a number of good options. Here's a rundown for you:
-Bookbub (www.bookbub.com) No Minimum Review Count Listed, but 20+ reviews recommended
-Pixel Of Ink (www.pixelofink.com) No Minimum Review Count Listed, but 20+ reviews recommended
-Ereadersnewstoday (www.ereadernewstoday.com) Bargain 99 Promo, Minimum of 10 Reviews
-Kindle Books And Tips ( http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/) Minimum of 10 Reviews
-Book Blast (http://www.bookblast.co/) Minimum of 5 reviews
How do you get those reviews?
-Librarything Member Giveaway (www.librarything.com)
-Goodreads Giveaway (www.goodreads.com)
-Story Cartel (www.storycartel.com)
-Beg your friends and/or family
2. Offer A Free Book. I've found the best route is to go permafree with either a prequel to your series or with the first book in your series. Other than a Bookbub promo, having a permafree book is one of the few ways to gain exposure on Barnes And Noble, Apple, and Kobo.
--Note: A free book could be a complete novel, novella, or even a short story. The point is to give readers a taste of your writing and hopefully they'll like it to come back for more. Also, although not necessary, I've found much better success with offering freebies as part of a series. Readers tend to be much more series dependent than author dependent.
The free strategy is also the best way to build a mailing list. And make no mistake, building a mailing list is the best way to bulletproof your career. Seriously, go to www.mailchimp.com or www.aweber.com and start a mailing list now. Post a link to your mailing list sign up page on your Facebook, Twitter, Blog, and Amazon Author Central profile. To entice people to sign up for your mailing list, you can offer a free story, novella, or book.
--Note: For best mailing list practices, check out my previous post on the subject: http://ebookmarketingpodcast.blogspot.com/2013/08/ebook-marketing-secrets-part-2-mailing.html
3. Cross Promotion. Marketing is a tough job, so the more help you can get, the better. Not to mention no two authors have the same audience. So by the mere act of teaming up with other authors, you'll reach eyeballs you normally wouldn't have access to.
What are my best cross promotion options?
-Chapter Swap. This option is pretty straightforward. Find one of two authors that write similar material to you and trade sample teaser chapters in the back of each others books. I did a three author chapter swap that worked out quite well.
-Multi Author Boxed Set. This one builds on the chapter swap idea and takes it to the next level. Get a group of authors together (I've seen anywhere between three and ten) and create a mega boxed set. The beauty of this is that the more authors you can get, the better exposure. These boxed sets can be short stories, novellas, or even full novels. And once you have the collection together, there's a good chance you can get picked up for a Bookbub or Pixel of Ink promo, which will maximize your exposure even more.
-Create Listmania Lists. The beauty of Listmania is that it's one of the few ways to advertise your work on Amazon that will not get you torched. It's also relatively simple. If you write fantasy, create a Top 10 fantasy list. If you write romance, create a romance list. So how do you get exposure from this? Under qualifications, you can put "As the author of the (insert your genre) book (insert your book link) I know a lot about the subject." Note: Do not include your book in the Top 10 picks, just mention it briefly as part of your qualifications.
-Create a niche blog/page/feed. This option is the slow burn option. Create a blog, Twitter feed, or Facebook fan page for your niche whether it be Dystopian, Steampunk, Sports Romance, or what have you. Post links to other people's books in your genre. You'll slowly build up a following (not to mention some great pay it forward author karma). Then when your following gets big enough, start mentioning one of your books every week or so. It's a win win for you and your fellow genre authors.
4. Try out new Categories/Keywords. A lot of readers only search for books in their corner of the ebook universe. That means that if you publish only in the same two categories on Amazon, you'll miss out on potential eyeballs. You can branch out in a number of ways--either move your already published books to new categories to try and reach a new audience, or fan out your categories with the release of each new book.
For example, if you have a four book series, you can reach as many as eight different categories from your KDP dashboard. Not to mention the other categories that can be added through keywords.
Then of course there's the option to try out niche categories. You can check out my post on category selection here: http://ebookmarketingpodcast.blogspot.com/2013/08/ebook-marketing-secrets-part-5-right.html
How do I get extra categories through keywords?
There are a number of categories that are inaccessible directly through your KDP dashboard. Things like galactic empire, superheroes, sword and sorcery, colonization, and the like. But by putting in those categories exactly as they appear in the Amazon categories list, sometimes Amazon will grant you a third or even fourth category for your book. This can add some serious extra exposure.
5. Write another book. This is the tried and true piece of advice. The major obstacle keeping most authors from more sales is a lack of visibility. But with each new book you release, there's a better chance of people stumbling upon your material. Also, with the right mailing list, you can get immediate sales with each new book you put out. So get busy writing.
You should never give up on your book...at least not right away. Not until you've given it as many makeovers as you can dream up. But before I get into that, I should probably start at the beginning.
Look, I get it. Your book is your baby. You've poured countless hours into crafting the plot and characters. You've created a unique story that you're sure people will just go ape for. But what if they don't? What if your precious tome just sinks like a stone? What if you can count all the people who have bought your book on one hand?
It happens. I've been there-far too much. And faced with that kind of lukewarm response, it's easy to get discouraged. But just because your book hasn't gotten any love doesn't mean you should give up on it.
Faced with lackluster sales, you have a number of options. You can go right back to writing on book two, then when that is complete, put book one permafree and hope the freebie will spur sales of your second book. (an option I recommend, by the way).
But that option doesn't address book number one. That's the head in the sand approach. While writing a second book in your series is always a good option, it's also one that requires a significant time investment. And while you're writing book two, book one can still be making you money as long as you give it a little makeover.
What kind of makeover?
There's four main things you can do for a book that's lagging in sales.
1. Change the title
2. Change the cover
3. Change the blurb
4. Change the books categories
I know these seem very simple, but that's because they are. Just because they're simple changes though doesn't mean they're not effective. Sometimes a cover change can make all the difference. I've seen some indie books cycle through as many as five covers before they hit on one that works. But each new cover gives your story a chance to attract a different set of eyes.
The key is to make sure your cover looks as professional as ever. You need a striking cover that conveys your books genre and appeals to your target market. And although writing is your specialty, your cover is the last thing you should ever skimp on.
With your title, you want to do one of two things. Either A. Convey exactly and indisputably what the book is about, or B. Try to intrigue them with a mysterious concept hoping they'll want to know more.
As for the blurb, make sure you sufficiently tease the reader. You have to hook a potential buyer on your concept. Make them wonder what happens next. Make them desperate to click that buy button. How do you do this? With a sense of urgency. Appeal to the readers emotions.
The final change is not as direct as it seems. Changing categories can be as simple as going to your book dashboard and popping two new categories in for your books. Sometimes that works. You have to remember, a lot of book buyers only shop in their genre. Sci fi readers sometimes will only look at other sci fi books. Same with fantasy or romance, or what have you. So if you put your book in an entirely new category, you may catch the eyeballs you've been missing. For an idea about potential category changes, check out my previous post about niche categories.
*Note: I'm not advocating putting your book in a category it doesn't belong ever. It's just that most books have a varied enough subject matter that they can fit into more than just the two categories that Amazon allows you to have.
The second option with categories is more akin to rebooting your book. If a tale is universal enough, it can be adapted into multiple genres with a little rewriting.
But no matter what, you should consider rebooting your book if you change the title, cover, blurb, or categories. For one, you're trying to sell a new book. Secondly, if your book was largely ignored, no one will there's no one to take offense with you starting over. Even more importantly, rebooting your book resets the clock on the hot new release book. So if you're going to undertake a makeover, you can take your book off sale if you wish, change the title, cover, blurb, and categories, then hit publish as a completely new book and get a fresh thirty days to try and prove itself. Who knows, a little tweaking just may work.
What if none of that works though?
I know you don't want to hear this, but some books just never take off. I know from experience. I spent the first two years of my self pubbing career writing humor books--twenty of them. And none of them took off. It was demoralizing. So what did I do? I found a new genre. I started over from scratch. New pen name. New genre (romance, if you're interested in knowing). New start.
Then something amazing happened--I started making money. People that weren't closely related to me were buying my books--and lots of them.
It was amazing. The lesson? Sometimes a change in genre can make all the difference. Sometimes it is ok to give up on your books, as long as you never give up on yourself. After all, my writing skills didn't get any better. I just started writing in a more popular genre. And it made all the difference.
I've spent a lot of time on this blog talking about niche marketing and categories, so I figured it was time to cover the other end of the spectrum. Namely, what sells best in the book world. Let's face it, some writers prefer to swim in the deep end. So what does it take to hang with the big dogs?
At last calculation, it takes about 1000 sales a day to crack the Top 100 on the Amazon paid list. Granted, that's 1000 sales in a 24 hour period just to be number 100 overall. To break the Top 50 or Top 20, that number goes up to 1500-2500 copies. And although these numbers are approximates because everyday sales fluctuate, there is one thing that never changes--romance and thrillers rule the charts.
I know, that's hardly surprising. But what may make you do a double take is just how dominant those two genres really are. I did a quick tally of the Kindle Top 100 yesterday and found some overwhelming results. Of the Top 100 ebooks on the bestseller list, the genre breakdown went like this:
Romance -- 45 books
Mystery/Thriller -- 24 books
Literary Fiction -- 13 books
Dystopian -- 6 books
Non Fiction -- 5 books
Science Fiction --4 books
Periodicals -- 3
That means nearly every other book in the Top 100 was a romance. One out of every four books was a mystery or thriller. And seven of every ten books was either a romance, mystery, or thriller. That's amazing news if you write in any of those genres, but awful news if you write anything else.
But there's even better news if you write romance. Of those forty-five romances, there was a mix of New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, Erotic Romance, and Paranormal Romance.
Even more staggering were genres that didn't make the Top 100 at all. No horror, no humor, and the only Fantasy books were paranormal romances.
So what does this mean for you? Well, if you aren't writing romance or mystery/thriller, it may mean that the odds just got longer for you. Or maybe it just means that chances aren't you won't be a best seller. But there's good news--you can still find your niche and make livable wage. It's up to you though--are you up for swimming in the deep end?
For the longest time, novellas have gotten the short shift in literature. Traditional publishers found it cost prohibitive to put out 60-100 page books. But in the age of ebooks, that has all changed. Now publishing novellas can be both lucrative and a quick way to build an audience.
Novel writing is a long process. Depending on the length of your book and the speed you write at, it can take anywhere between 3 months and 3 years to put out a new novel. But just because you finish a novel doesn't mean you can find anyone to buy it. And just say your novel finds either no audience or a limited one. The prospect of putting out book two becomes even more daunting.
That's where novellas come in. At roughly 60-100 pages, novellas are much easier to write. In the same time it takes you to write 1 full novel, you could put out 2-6 novellas. And if those novellas are part of a series, you can be quickly growing your audience, getting closer and closer to reaching a critical mass.
The allure of novellas is simple. They're short enough to be read in one sitting, yet long enough to provide a satisfying story.
So how do you write a novella?
The easiest comparison is to look at your favorite TV series. Each novella would be the equivalent of an hour long episode. And whereas a novel has both the main story with a number of subplots, novellas tend to focus on just the main drama--or romance--or thread of action. Keep it lean. Get right to the point. Then get out. Just like novels though, novellas are the most effective when they are part of a series. That way you can deepen the characters and flesh out the world with every subsequent book.
How will writing a series of novellas grow my audience?
The main hurdle keeping an author from sales is the fact that they haven't been discovered. It's hard for readers to buy your books if they have no idea who you are. Writing novellas can help with this though.
* First, the fact that they are shorter means you can write them quicker. The more books you have out, the more likely a reader will be to stumble onto your work.
*Also, if you can write two novellas in a short amount of time, you can make the first book permafree with a link in the back to sign up for your mailing list, thus building your fanbase.
*The more books you have out in a series, the more you can experiment with categories. Just say you have 4 novellas in a series--that means you have as many as 8 potential categories to put your books in. This is crucial. A lot of people only search books in their favorite category--whether sci fi, fantasy, horror, or romance. But by fanning out your categories, you can get eyeballs to your book that would be hard to grab otherwise. --Note: I am not advocating putting your books into categories that they don't belong. That's the best way to get a series of 1 star reviews. But given how Barnes & Noble allows you up to 5 categories while Amazon only allows you 2, most books can fit safely into as many as 5 categories.
*With Amazon especially, the first 30 days are crucial. That hot new release window is when you get maximum exposure. Now depending on how quickly you write, you can feasibly have a new title out every 1-2 months, allowing you to nearly always have a book on the new release list.
*Writing a lot of content gives you the opportunity to create boxed sets. When you reach three novellas in your series, you can bundle them up not only giving you a new release, but also the opportunity to sell your book for three, four, or even five ninety-nine. Then you can create another boxed set when you reach five or six titles, followed by a mega six book boxed set, etc...
The potential to make good money on novellas is there, but you don't know until you try. So as always, get writing.
There are a lot of book blogs and mailing list services out there--Bookbub, Ereadernewstoday, Pixel Of Ink, Bookblast, and Kindle Books & Tips just to name a few. So does the self publishing world really need another one? Yes...yours.
I know what you're thinking. What good does it do to create a new book blog in a marketed that's already saturated with hundreds of Kindle related blogs? It's easy really. Most of those blogs feature Kindle books of all genres. One day they'll feature a romance book, the next a thriller. But with the noted exceptions of Bookbub, Bookblast, and Book Gorilla, very few of these blogs focus on specific genres.
Just say you write Zombie books, or Sports Romance, or Time Travel Science Fiction. Odds are you aren't going to find a blog or service devoted to your specific genre. Even if you write general horror, sci fi, or romance, it's still hard to find a blog that focuses solely on what you write. And that void is exactly how you can stand out.
For example, in the last week I started a new Twitter feed--@dystopianebooks. The feed is devoted just to Dystopian ebooks--which is also a genre I happen to write in. Every day, I pick two or three dystopian books off of Amazon and feature the authors and their books on it. I always @ mention the authors, followed by a # of your genre, then provide a link to their book so they know I've spotlighted their work.
Why do I do this? First, because I like to help out other authors (case in point, this blog). Second, it helps me build an audience in my general category. The only people that are going to follow a Dystopian Ebook Twitter feed are going to be those interested in apocalyptic type stories. And the more authors I feature, the bigger my audience gets. In the future I'm going to be rolling out a Dystopian ebook blog and Facebook fan page to further the reach. In the meantime I also have a Dystopian ebook mailing list sign up link in my Twitter profile. This is all to build up the largest dystopian fanbase I can. Then once every couple of weeks or so I can use that audience to promote my own books.
It's a great give and take. For three and a half weeks a month, I'm promoting other authors within my genre. Then the rest of the month, I'm using that following to help my own books. The general principle is that readers will more likely join a feed or blog devoted to a topic they like rather than take a chance on an author they don't know.
The best part is, this doesn't take up much time. After the initial set up, you can pick two or three books a day, then just cross post them to Twitter, Facebook, and your blog. The whole process takes less than fifteen minutes a day. The payoff is more than worth it though.
And this idea can be adapted no more what genre you write in. Odds are, you'll be one of the few fantasy blogs, or steampunk feeds, or historical fiction fan pages around. The key is not to get discouraged right away. Just remember, you're building an audience for the long term. But once that audience is established, you can use them for each of your new releases. So get blogging and tweeting. #success
A writer can never have too many marketing tricks up his or her sleeve. But with marketing, the less amount of work it takes away from your writing, the better. That's why I've chosen a few simple strategies to give your marketing efforts a shot in the arm.
Writing is a lonely profession, but marketing your writing is even more so. Knowing that, why not team up your marketing efforts with another writer? The concept is simple. Find one or two authors that write in the same genre as you. Agree to put a sample chapter of their book at the end of one of your books if they agree to do the same for you. That way you get exposed to their audience and their audience gets exposed to yours.
It's free, it's simple, and it's effective. I once did a three author swap with one of my books that got me a nice spike in sales as well as new fans that had never heard of my writing, even though I wrote in the same genre as the other authors.
Multi Author Boxed Set
This takes the sample chapter to the extreme. Instead of just swapping chapters, use full stories--either short stories, novellas, or whatever you like. Band together with five or more authors and create an anthology/multi author boxed set. You can put it up permafree, KDP select free, 99 cents, or $2.99 to get maximum exposure. That way you can get five to ten times as many eyes on your work (depending on how many authors participate).
What better way to promote your book than on Amazon's own site? Listmania is a feature that lets you create lists based on different topics. Anyone with an account can create one, and as an author, it's especially beneficial. But first, there's one thing you should do first. Go into your account at Amazon and change your name to denote you're an author. For example, instead of Joe Schmo, list yourself as Joe Schmo author. Or Joe Schmo, author of "Joe Schmo's Book." It's a subtle change, but that way anytime you leave a review or post a comment, people will know that you're an author.
Once that is done, go here to start creating your first list: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=14279651
What kind of list should you create? That's up to you, but I'd go with something related to your genre. If you write romance, you could create a list called "Top Ten Romance Books Of The Last Decade." If you're a horror writer, you could make a list called "The Scariest Books Ever Written." What will these lists do for you? Well, the creator of the list gets to write in their qualifications. So you can put, "as the writer of the thriller (insert your book name here), I'm an authority on the genre. Then go ahead and list your favorite thrillers. It's free promotion for your book while tying your book to other great titles in the genre.
Note: I'm not suggesting you put your book in the list of the greatest thrillers. Just that you list your book in the qualifications section.
www.kboards.com is a message board site devote to Kindle owners, readers, and writers with over 50,000 members. You can set up your account for free and create a linkable signature to your book covers through their link maker http://www.kboards.com/link/. Once you account is set up, you can post a free add for your book in the Book Bazaar department Also, you can have discussions with potential readers in the Book Corner section. The key is not to actively push your book. Just be part of the conversation. And if you're interesting, readers will click on one of the books in your signature.
For the small price of a listing fee, you can get potentially hundreds of eyes on your ebook. Just list a copy of your book for sale on www.ebay.com. Then at the end of the auction, you can email a pdf or epub version of the book to the winner. A listing fee will only run you a buck or so, but you'll probably end up with hundreds of ebay buyers looking at your book.
Play To Your Strengths
There's a reason I haven't brought up social media until now. I'm a firm believer that you can have a successful writing career without the use of heavy social media. That isn't to say that you can't build on that success with a little social networking though. The problem with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, etc is that for them to be effective, it requires a significant time commitment. And if there's one thing writers are short on more than anything, it is time. We all have friends, family, work, leisure time, and writing time pulling at us everyday. That's why you need to play to your strengths.
At some point, every writer is faced with the decision to either a) write another book, or b) to set up a social media push. What I've found through experience is that the most effective people with social media are the ones that enjoy it. That would be spending their time Facebook or Twitter anyway. If you're a voracious social networking person already, then you can use that interest to help sell your books. But if the idea of spending an hour or two a day on social media sounds awful, then you're probably best not doing it.
Here's the reason why--social media is about selling yourself, not your books. So many authors just constantly talk about, link to, and go on and on about their books. People on social media are being pitched to day in and day out. If all you do is talk about your work, they'll just treat you as spam and ignore you. Effective social media is about the soft sales pitch. Selling yourself instead of selling your book. If you can get people interested in you, then they might seek out your book. But while you're doing that, you have to realize there are many roadblocks on your way to success.
Why? Because social media pitches to everyone. And what you need is to be marketing directly to readers. But not just any readers. Ones that already have Kindle, Nooks, Ipads, or the free reading apps. And although the Kindle and Nook reading apps are completely free, getting people to click away from their Twitter or Facebook feed to download the app, then buy your book adds more steps than most people are willing to take.
I know it sounds silly, but most people want to be able to click on a link, then hit the "Buy" button. If you add on that extra step of them having to download the app, you're going to lose people. Besides, with the apps being free already, most people that want to read online already have a Kindle, Nook, Ipad, or at least the free reading app. But on social media, you're not just pitching to them. You're reaching to a lot of people that only read paper books, or don't read at all. That's a recipe for disaster.
There's a reason book blogs are so successful. They have cultivated a following of not only book readers, but readers that already have ereading devices. They have already done the social media legwork for you. And for a price, they'll give you access to those readers. So in essence, getting a paid promotion on the right book blog is the best social networking you can do.
That being said, if you are going to use social media, here's how to make the best use of your time.
Your Profile Is Key
It doesn't matter if we're talking about Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, your blog, or your Amazon Author Page. The concept is the same. It should be something along the lines of "My name is Joe Schmo. I write paranormal thrillers. Check out my books here (insert link to your Amazon Author Page or your Blog/Website). If you want to be the first to know about my new releases, sign up for my mailing list (insert link to the sign up form for your mailing list).
It's short, simple, and effective. People know exactly who you are and what you're about. Plus they have a link to find your material as well as a link to sign up for your mailing list. That way you let your profile do the selling, not you. From there, you just need to get people to look at your profile. How do you do that? Be interesting.
Don't Bore People
Remember, social media is about the soft sell--and sometimes not selling at all. The key is to engage other people. Talk about their lives. Make them feel important. Get them to like you as a person. When I'm on Twitter or Facebook and says something that's interesting to me, I click on their profile. Because I want to know more about them and what other interesting things might be going on in their lives.
It's not a quick process. It takes time to make connections, just as it does in real life. It may take you weeks or months for people to gain an interest in you. And you have to put the time in, to stay interesting, to not bore people. But eventually, if you engage people long enough, you can build a following.
How To Get More Followers
So how do you find the right people to engage with? Easy. Think about the five or ten most popular authors in the genre you write in. Look up their Facebook or Twitter pages. See who's following them. That's your audience. That's who you want to engage with. Fans of X writers thriller work can be fans of your thriller writing. Same with romance. Or humor. Or science fiction. Follow those people. Engage them. Take an interest in their posts and tweets.
In the same vein, search for people talking about the same topics you write about. Look up book bloggers. People follow the Kindle and Barnes & Noble fan pages. Those are your potential readers. So follow them. But remember, don't sell them your book. Get them interested in your as a person, then they'll take an interest in your work on their own.
Play To Your Strengths
In the end, remember you have to play to your strengths. If you enjoy socializing and connecting with people through social networking then go for it. Otherwise, that time is better spent writing another book.
The journey to success is different for every writer. There are a lot of the same benchmarks along the way though. And one of those marks is to always be writing. The more books you have for sale, the easier it is to sell more books. I know it sounds like double talk, but most successful writers are not just one hit wonders. They keep producing.
Also, even though you can find success with stand alone books, it's much easier to gain traction and a following by writing a series. The good news though is that the term book has changed in meaning in the ebook age. Now a book can be a short, novelette, novella, or full length book.
When you get a new book done, make sure you have a link to your mailing list sign up form at the back along with blurbs and/or a sample chapter for your other works. Take the time to find the right keywords to give your book exposure. Try to find one mega category and one niche category to fit your book in. Then enroll your book in a series of one week giveaways, trying to get to that all important number of ten or more reviews as soon as possible.
Email your list about the new release to try and get enough sales to become a hot new release in your genre. Then, when you have enough good reviews, submit your book to www.ereadernewstoday, www.pixelofink.com, and/or www.bookbub.com for a paid promotion.
After that, go back and write your next book. Then repeat this over and over, varying different paid promos while building all important followers to your mailing list. Finally, repeat this process as necessary until success finds you. And it will.
A lot of authors put little time in choosing their categories. But that's where they are missing out on a potential goldmine. So much attention is spent looking at the Kindle Top 100, that genre lists are ignored. I used to do that too. If I had a humor book, I'd just put the title under fiction/humor. If it was a mystery book, I'd label it as fiction/mystery. But I was ignoring a key principle in generating sales--visibility.
Look, everyone wants to write the best book possible. But the fact is, there are a lot of great books that will never sell. And there are a lot of mediocre books that sell off the charts. And categories have a lot to do with that. When your book is invisible, people won't buy it. So make it visible. How do you do that you ask?
The first rule of categorization is to never put your book in a general category when a sub category is available. For example, science fiction is subdivided into high tech, short stories, and space opera. Fantasy is divided into contemporary, dark, epic, historical, and paranormal. Each subdivision gives your book a better chance of getting noticed. Your book may never hit the Top 100 overall paid, but you may be able to hit the Top 100 of Dark Fantasy. Or the Top 100 of High Tech Science Fiction. Also, within that subcategory is a hot new release list. For thirty days, you have a chance to get exposure in that hot new release area. And if you are one of the three hot new releases for that subcategory, your book cover is on the front page for that subcategory. This kind of exposure is the thing that leads to more sales.
Amazon is pretty stingy with their categories though. You're only allowed two categories as a self publisher, where at Barnes & Noble you're allowed five. That means you have to choose your categories wisely. That's where niche categories come in. Sure everyone would love to be able to hang in robust categories like romance or fantasy. But those categories are so popular, it's like diving into the deep end of the pool after your first lesson. Most likely you'll drown. But if you can find yourself a nice tide pool and you can stand out. What am I talking about exactly? The power of the niche category.
Amazon has over a hundred categories. A lot go unnoticed. But if you look at the sales ranks of the Top hundred books in any given subcategory and how many new releases there are for that thirty day period, you'll find there are a number of places to get visibility.
But first, let's go through the nuts and bolts of categories and subcategories. Every category offers a number of ways to get discovered. First, there is the Top 100 list for that category. Then there is the Top 100 free list for that category. Followed on the right hand side by a Top 100 list of new releases for that category. And finally a Top 100 list of the highest rated books in that category.
You can find all this information out on your own. Go to any book in the Kindle store. Scroll down the books sales ranking. Right beside that is a link that says "See Top 100 Paid In Kindle Store." The link will take you to the Top 100 overall. Now on the left hand side of that screen lists all the broad categories in the store. Just as an example, click on Literature & Fiction. That takes you to the Top 100 of the 20 or so lit/fic categories. From there, go to Romance. You then have 15 Romance subcategories. For the sake of research, click on Contemporary Romance.
Now that you're there, let's go through the nuts and bolts of a mega category. Now realize the numbers are providing are going to change. But in general, the trends won't. At the time of my writing, the number one book in Contemporary Romance has a #1 sales rank. The #20 book has a sales rank of 61. Meanwhile the #100 book in just Contemporary Romance has a sales rank of 342. So to even hit that genre bestseller list, you need a 342 sales rank which means approximately 1300-1500 sales in a 24 hour period. That's astounding.
Meanwhile there are over 100 free books in the category with the #100 free book having a free rank of 400. There are over 100 hot new releases in the sub category, with the #20 ranked book having a sales rank of 411. The #100 hot new release for that sub cat meanwhile has a sales rank of #1100. So what does this all mean? That to even be the #100 new release in contemporary romance, you'd have to sell roughly 90 books at day to get that 1100 sales rank. Is it any wonder why brand new books by unknown authors sink like stones in a hurry in mega categories?
Let me do the same thing with a slightly less crowded mega category. Let's go with Contemporary Fantasy. The #1 book in the cat has a 51 sales rank. The #20 book and the end of the first page has a 1409 sales rank. Meanwhile the #100 book in that sub category has a 5008 sales rank. That means to crack the Top 100 in contemporary romance, you need to sell about 35-50 books a day to hit that 5008 sales rank. On the free side, there's over 100 free contemporary romances with the #100 free book having a free rank of 4119. On to the hot new releases. There are well over a hundred books released in the last 30 days of this subcategory with the #20 hot new release having a sales rank of 3692. The #100 hot new release meanwhile has a sales rank of 54,111.
What does all this mean? That to even have your book make a blip in contemporary romance, you'd need to sell two copies a day to even be the Top 100 new release to get that 54,111 sales rank. But if you want to be on the first page of new releases, you'd need to sell 25-30 copies a day to get the 3692 rank. These are all long odds for a new unknown author. And since visibility is the key to getting sales, a lot of books in mega categories are dead on arrival. How? Through niche categories.
Through little known subcategories, you can carve out your own niche. How? Let me show you. Here's a list of a number of underserved subcategories.
fiction/comics and graphic novels/comic strips and cartoons
juvenile fiction/literature/love and romance
juvenile fiction/arts and music
juvenile fiction/religious fiction
fiction/science fiction/short stories
arts & photography/television
teen/religion and spirituality
Note: Some of these categories are not available to pick from directly when uploading your book on KDP. But if you email author central, a lot of times they will manually add you. If you don't have an author central account, sign up for one here: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/
Let's take a moment and break down why niche categories might be for you. Again, these numbers are current to the time I'm writing them. Please do your own research for up to date figures.
Here's a list of two of the categories in greater detail.
18 new releases in the last month
Sales rank of #1 book in the category -- 565
Sales rank of #20 book in the category -- 11,668
Sales rank of #100 book in the category -- 90,108
20 free books available
35 new releases in the last month
Sales rank of #1 book in the category -- 3185
Sales rank of #20 book in the category -- 26,611
Sales rank of #100 book in the category -- 119,847
20 free books available
Having only 18 and 35 new releases to compete with in the hot new releases category makes it much easier to gain exposure for your book. Most of the mega categories have well over a hundred new releases each month. Meanwhile with only 20 free books available, if you run a KDP select promo, you'll likely end up on the front page of that niche category--helping you get more downloads.
Even more importantly to be on the bestseller list for those subcategories, you only need a sales rank of 90,108 and 119, 847 respectively. Generally, 1 sales per day will land you a sales rank of approximately 100,000 while 2 sales a day will usually equal a sales rank of around 50,00. That means you can crack with top hundred of the category with about 1 sale a day and be about 50 or 50 in the category with 2 sales a day.
Meanwhile, the #20 books in the categories are 26,611 and 11,668. Those roughly translate to 10 to 15 sales a day depending on which category we're talking about. It should be every writers goal to land on the front page of a category as it gains you additional exposure and/or sales. And in these niche categories, 10 to 15 sales a day will achieve just that.
So what does all this tell us exactly? That there are underserved markets. That you can stand out from the get go with your new release and get that much needed visibility. And these aren't all the niche categories available. There are others out there. You just need to set aside some time exploring Amazon to find them.
The key to category success is to take a two pronged approach. You can either pick two niche subcategories and really hope to stand out or mix and match one mega category like fantasy/contemporary with a niche like humor/form/parodies. That way when the niche helps your sales rank, hopefully you can crack the top hundred of contemporary fantasy.
Side note: Never shoehorn your book in a category it doesn't belong. That's a one way ticket to a nasty one star review. But most people's books can fit into more than just two categories. I mean Barnes & Noble thinks most books can fit into at least five categories. The point is, do some research on your own and find out what's best for your book. The beauty of mixing and matching categories though is that you can make a change and it will be live in 24-48 hours. You can try out the new categories for a week, and if they don't increase sales, you can change everything back on your KDP dashboard--no harm, no foul.
A Note On Keywords
While Amazon only allows two categories, sometimes you can actually get listed in three. How? Through the right use of keywords. See, a category like teen in inaccessible to self pubbers. But if for example you put "teen romance" as one of your keywords, sometimes just sometimes Amazon will add you into the category itself. Same with keywords like "steampunk" or "science fiction series."
Even if Amazon doesn't randomly give you a third category, your keywords are still highly important. You only get seven keywords to work with. Make sure you make the most of them. The key is to think like a reader does. If you go to Amazon and are just looking for a good book, are you going to type in "romance," or "chick lit"? "Science fiction" or "futuristic science fiction"? Amazon has already done a lot of the work for you. Every one of the categories and subcategories are popular enough in searches to have their own categories created for them. So try mixing and matching.
But first let's take a look at the differences in keyword searches. Type in romance at the Amazon search box and you get 602,050. If you type in Contemporary Romance though, you get a smaller number of 96,930. Try something like Chick Lit though. That gives you 3,955. Still a large number, but a much easier number to deal with.
For this reason, just popping romance, or horror, or fantasy generally won't help you very much. But when you choose keywords like Victorian Romance, or Medieval Fantasy, or Zombie Horror you're more likely to see better results.
Tip #1 Keywords are not just something to put into the keyword box. You can also use a search keyword in your title. For example. If you have a vampire romance, you can put "Heavy Necking (A Vampire Romance Novel)." In the book description meanwhile, you can put your blurb, then at the bottom of the description add a tag. For example "Heavy Necking is a vampire romance novel with serious bite."
Remember, keywords are not just search terms for people on Amazon.com. Amazon's products show up on Google, Bing, and Yahoo searches as well. So your (A Vampire Romance Novel) descriptor will show up in a Google search. And by tripling up on keywords a) in the title b) in the book description and c) in the keyword box, you can get more bang for your buck.
As with picking categories, I've found that mixing a few mega keywords with a few niche keywords garners the best results. So do some research. And with the right mix of keywords and categories, success will find you.
Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. The question is, where to spend it? There are no sure things when it comes to laying down your own cash, but some sites are better bets than others. In the ebook world, the three big guns are www.bookbub, www.ereadernewstoday.com, and www.pixelofink.com. Following behind those are sites like http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/ and www.bookblast.co. But the one key to success with all these sites is reviews. Most of the sites require at least ten reviews with a four star average. In general though, reviews lead to success in its own right. So the question becomes, how to get those reviews?
The two main review giveaway sites are www.goodreads.com and www.librarything.com. And although Goodreads is bigger, they only accept physical books for giveaways. Librarything meanwhile will allow you to give away digital copies of your books. There is a benefit to doing a Goodreads giveaway. For the cost of one physical book printed out and mailed to the winner, you'll get added to a number of To Be Read lists on Goodreads, which could mean more eyes on your book.
For those that haven't made a paperback version of their book through www.createspace.com or don't have the money to print and ship copies to winners, Librarything is the place for you. Librarything only allows you to give away 100 books per giveaway. Meanwhile you can choose to run your giveaway for one week, two weeks, or a month. I've seen that most people do one month giveaways. I would advise against that. The reason is that if you're doing a giveaway, you're probably looking for reviews sooner than later. So you run the month long give away, send out copies of the ebook, and it could be up to two weeks before you get your first review. That means from the time you set up your giveaway, it will be at least four weeks before you see a review, and more likely around six weeks.
Plus, you'll most likely have more than a hundred people looking to pick up your book in that month long span. That means some readers will be left out in the cold. If you run a weeklong giveaway however you can give away in the neighborhood of 30-50 books, no one gets shut out, and then you can set up another giveaway immediately.
Why would I do that? Simple. You'll give away your first round of 30-50 books, then maybe have a review on your title two or three weeks after your posting instead of waiting four to six weeks. There's no limit to the number or giveaways you can do, so you can do five or six week long giveaways back to back. By the end of the sixth week, you might already have four or five reviews.
Note: I've noticed a fifteen to one review rate, meaning you'll have to give away around a hundred and fifty ebooks to get your ten reviews.
Once you get your ten reviews--and hopefully a four star or above average--get ready to book your paid promotions.
www.ereadernewstoday.com has a 99 cent bargain book promotion. You need 10 reviews and a 4 star minimum average to participate. You pick a two or three day period, fill out their form, then wait for them to pick you. If picked, you lower the price of your book to 99 cents for 48 hours. They post the promotion on their site that has over 330,000 Facebook followers, and see the sales roll in. For this promotion, you don't pay up front. ENT tracks how many sales come in from their affiliate links and invoices you for 25% of the author royalties generated. The best part about this promotion is that you're guaranteed not to lose. I've seen a wide range of success, from 200 sales all the way up to 1700.
Pixel Of Ink
www.pixelofink.com recently started a 99 cent promo. You pick the days you want to run a sale of your book at 99 cents, submit it to them, and hope they pick you. POI also has over 300,000 followers on their Facebook page. Unlike ENT though, the POI promotion doesn't cost you anything. POI however does not list their criteria for the books that get picked. But since it doesn't cost anything, it's worth a try.
Kindle Books And Tips
http://www.fkbooksandtips.com has over 36,000 followers on their Facebook page. The ads run $25.00 to $50.00 depending on the promo and require 10 reviews with a minimum 4 star average. Prices subject to change.
www.bookblast.co is an up and coming site that offers promos as low as $10. And while it doesn't have quite the firepower that ENT or POI have, for $10, it's hard not to at least break even.
www.bookbub.com is the big dog in town with over 1 million subscribers. Even better, their subscribers are divided into individual genres. And while the submission requirements are vague, you'll need somewhere between 15 and 25 reviews with a good star average to get accepted. The price is not cheap though. At the time I'm writing this, sponsorships run between $100 and $900 depending on the genre and whether it is a 99 cent or $2.99 book. The good thing about Bookbub though is that they allow you to get promoted on not just Amazon, but Barnes & Noble, Itunes, Kobo, and even Smashwords. Other than going permafree, Bookbub is the most effective way of gaining a foothold in stores that aren't Amazon. I've seen authors easily make back the money and more. It's a high risk but possible high reward proposition. In the end though, the choice is yours.
Free sells books. It sounds counterintuitive, but it's not. Think about it. Going free is like giving away a sample of ice cream. If the customer likes what they taste, they'll certainly come back for more. There's two ways of going free though--Permafree and KDP select. And although KDP selects oomph factor has waned, it can still help in getting your book discovered.
So what is KDP select? Simple. In exchange for 90 days of exclusivity with Amazon, you are allowed five days per cycle to run your book free. If you get enough downloads of your freebie, you'll see a sales spike from your subsequent higher placement on the sites popularity lists. When the program first started over a year ago, the algorithms measured one free download as equal to one paid sale. So days after going free, your book could shoot up the popularity list and get anywhere between a hundred to even a few thousand extra sales.
Two changes in algorithms later, ten free downloads is approximately now equal to one paid sale. But the theory is still the same. The more books you give away, the more sales you'll get after going back to paid. There used to be hundreds of free book blogs that would promote your free run. But after Amazon recently changed their affiliate terms to limit the number and percentage of free books given away, a large grouping of those free sites has dropped off. The juggernaut book blogs haven't changed though. With every free run, be sure to submit your book to www.ereadernewstoday.com and www.pixelofink.com. If you get listed on either of these sites, you're sure to have a good free run. Other good sites worth mentioning are www.addictedtoebooks.com, www.onehundredfreebooks.com, www.kboards.com, www.authormarketingclub.com, and www.ebooklister.com.
A new wrinkle has emerged in planning KDP free runs though. Bookbub, found at www.bookbub.com has over one million subscribers on its mailing list. And although it is a paid service, a number of authors have reported great results both with Free, 99 cents, and $2.99 sponsorships. The site is planned out by categories, with the prices ranging from $60 to $200 to list a free book. I know that's steep, but some authors have reported as much as a 10,000 book increase in their free runs. But again, results may vary, and discretion is advised.
KDP select is especially good for first time authors and authors just trying to build a name for themselves. Not only will you get your book into the hands of a number of new readers, but you'll be able to start building up your mailing list to use for future releases.
Permafree, or permanently free is the most effective way of getting your work to sell on the other venues like Barnes & Noble, Itunes, and Kobo. Naturally this works best when you have two or three books in a series and you set the first book free.
So how do you go permafree? Essentially what you do is publish your book for free on www.smashwords.com. If you follow the rather finicky guidelines for their premium catalog, your book will get distributed free to Itunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc...Then once the book is free on those sites, you wait for Amazon to price match to free.
Note: You can help the process along. Once your book is free on other venues, go to your books Amazon page. Below the sales rank is a link labeled "Tell us about a lower price." Click on that, copy and paste the url from Barnes & Noble, Itunes, or Kobo listing the free book, then send the feedback off to Amazon. Also, be sure to make sure your book description and book title match exactly on all sites. Amazon's bots check for identical wording when searching for free book on other sites--even the slightest change will throw off your changes of getting price matched.
While you're waiting to get price matched on Amazon, you should see sales of book two and three of your series. And although Itunes and Barnes & Noble don't have quite the audience that Amazon does, Romance, Erotica, Crime, and Science Fiction seem to perform well on all the sites. On the other hand, Humor seems to perform horribly on all sites. Side note: when going permafree, it is best to have the free book and the subsequent books to be in the same series. Having unrelated novellas or shorts seems to have little effect on audience building.
Eventually your book will go permafree on Amazon, and depending on how much people like your book, you should have yourself a nice self sustaining built in marketing campaign. The beauty of permafree and ebooks in general, is that all it takes sometimes is a short story or novella to do the trick. While there is and always will be a robust market for longer works, sales success is no longer contingent on 300-600 page books. You can make a good living writing 40-60 page novellas as long as they are part of a series.
Ideally you'll have enough titles that you can dabble with both permafree and KDP select. Also, you have the option of starting your career by using KDP select, then putting a book permafree after your 90 day exclusivity is up. Either way, free works.
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Itunes, Kobo--they're ever changing landscapes. In the span of less than a year, KDP select went from boom to losing its luster. Amazon has removed the tagging feature, the liking feature, changed their algorithms twice, and changed the terms of their affiliate program with free book sites. Who knows what the future holds? But while there's no way to tell what Amazon is going to do, there is a way to build a self sustaining career. And that is through a mailing list.
You see, a mailing list lets you keep in contact with your readers regardless of what changes any ebook website makes. If you have a big enough list, a rabid enough fan base, you can sell your writing on your own website if need be. It's the kind of security blanket that every artist dreams of. But it has other benefits.
The first thirty days of a books release are crucial. That's your chance to become a hot new release. When you can gain a foothold in a genre bestseller list, or even crack the Top 100 overall. And that's all possible through a mailing list. Say you have a hundred people on your list, or a thousand, or ten thousand. You release your latest book and let your list know about it. If even half of those hundred, or thousand buy your book, you're most likely going to be a hot new release for your category or maybe even make the front page of your genres bestseller list. And if your list is big enough, you can even crack the Top 100. In rare instances, I've seen it happen. On the more modest scale, even a meager amount of sales will give your book the exposure it needs to get in front of new readers. Your also boughts will get filled in, leading Amazon's recommendation engine to start helping you out.
So just how do you build a mailing list? The easiest way is through a giveaway. People love freebies. You can give away any number of things, from a Kindle itself to t-shirts, key chains, or bookmarks. But the most effective giveaway is a piece of your work. You can offer up a free story to those who sign up for your list. Either a short story or a copy of one of your full length books. Trust me, it's worth it to get that readers all important email address. Also, by giving away a piece of your writing, you ensure that you get the right kind of subscribers.
Quality matters so much more than quantity when it comes to email lists. You're much better off having a hundred fans that are rabid about your writing than a thousand lukewarm freebie hounds that will ignore your newsletters without opening them.
Now that you have something to entice potential readers, you need to get the word out about your freebie. You can set up your mailing list for free at a site like www.mailchimp.com. They offer free services until you reach two thousand subscribers. When you get your account set up, you can choose how you want to give away your free book.
Note: Mailchimp and other services require a multiple step process to sign up for a mailing list. This includes a please confirm email from Mailchimp, followed by a final confirmation email. You can include a Smashwords Free coupon code for your free book with the confirmation email. Or, you can copy and paste the text of your free book into the body of the confirmation email.
Next, take the url for your sign up form and post it everywhere you can think of--your blog, facebook profile, twitter profile, the signature line of your outgoing emails, Amazon author page. You can even write in your profile something along the lines of "Get a Free copy of X when you sign up for my mailing list." Most importantly, there should be a link to the sign up form of your mailing list at the end of your book.
The most effective way to get subscribers is through free runs. That includes both for perma free books and KDP select free runs. You can usually count on five to ten subscribers to your list per KDP free run--sometimes even more--depending on the number of copies you give away. Also, if you're giving away review copies through Goodreads or Librarything, you can include a link to your sign up form when you send out the congratulations email to the winners.
There are over two million ebooks for sale in the Kindle store, and that number is growing every day. It's becoming harder to get noticed. But there are ways to stand out. To get discovered. And this book is going to share those secrets to getting more readers. But before you can start drawing more attention to your book, it's important to make sure your book is ready for that attention.
It's amazing how many writers stumble out of the gates. They take their books to market too quickly in search of quick riches. So here's a quick checklist of some rookie mistakes to avoid.
1. Put the best book out possible. You've put your heart and soul into crafting a great story, so make sure typos and grammatical errors don't torpedo your chance at success. Besides, the best marketing technique for selling more books is a great story. Word of mouth sells books, and people don't spread the word about lukewarm storytelling.
2. Create an eye catching cover. Not everyone is great at photography or graphic design. And if you aren't, then please don't try it. That's what cheap stock image sites and ebook cover designers are for. You can get a professional looking cover for as cheap as fifty dollars. It is well worth the money. Why? Because readers judge books by their covers. Should they? Probably not. But when they see a book that looks like it was designed by a fifth grader, they may just click away without giving it a second thought. And once a reader clicks away, it's hard to ever get them back.
3. Your blurb can make or break you. Before readers even get to the sample, they see your blurb. And if your book description doesn't grab the readers attention, they'll just find a blurb that does. You want a nice, succinct teaser to hook your reader and make them want more.
4. Your sample is lackluster. Amazon lets readers read a short sample of every ebook for free with their Look Inside feature. These four or five pages are your chance at hooking a reader. So if your writing stumbles out of the gates, so does your chance at a sale.
Before you start marketing your book, make sure it's ready for the attention. Only then keep reading this manual.