By Gary Ganew
Published by Gary Ganew
Text Copyright © 2016 Gary Ganew
All Rights Reserved
Book Design and Art by Gary Ganew
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, events, and locations are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons or events, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.
This file is licensed for private individual entertainment only. The book herein constitutes a copyrighted work, and may not be reproduced, stored in or introduced into an information retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (electrical, mechanical, photographic, audio recording, or otherwise) for any reason (excepting the uses permitted to the licensee by copyright law under terms of fair use) without the specific written permission of the author.
So you’ve decided to take on the adventure of writing a book, and make millions selling it on Amazon, iBooks, and the other e-book distributors. You may even have hopes of your idea being discovered by Hollywood, and seeing your name in lights while mingling with the “A” list on the red carpet. Your eyes are sparkling with stardust, and nothing can convince you otherwise that your book is nothing short of a masterpiece. Oh boy, does the gnu have some bad news for you.
There are millions of others, just like yourself who have this same idea. If e-books could be converted into trees, the world’s rainforests and jungles would no longer be receding, and many forest conservation organizations would close shop. If this news sounds discouraging, GOOD, but you CAN be successful in the thick forest of literature with correct guidance, hard work, and PERSISTANCE. The goal of this book is to simply help you succeed, while avoiding the mistakes myself and so many others have made along the way.
Whether you’re contemplating writing your first book, or have a whole catalog that sits stale on the bottom Amazon seller’s charts, I’m sure you could find something of use in this guide. Some parts of this book may seem as common sense, and the methodology already well known among seasoned writers, but it’s in hope by mentioning them, I help the less informed from the very roots-Most importantly, by saving them time and money. I also hope the veteran writers find something that may assist in their success as well.
As a fellow author myself, you’re NOT considered my competition. Readers don’t just purchase one book-They buy collections and libraries. I want to see you succeed, and keep the e-book and indie market ripe with fresh and unique ideas to get excited readers to return. It is also my intent to perhaps change the minds of writers who for whatever reason, whether intentionally or not, from releasing utter yak dung.
Who’s The Gnu?
I have so far written and published 3 books under a different pseudonym having great success, setbacks, and failures. I took a lot of notes, because your book(s) become like your child. If you truly believe in yourself and work, authorship will become a life changing and rewarding experience. At times, this can REALLY endanger yourself, and get you into trouble-Financially, emotionally, and even physically from lost sleep. Similar to being a parent, we only want the best for our kids and see them do well. I’ve spent countless hours (and still do) researching what methods worked for others, and speaking with many successful and bestselling authors. From soup to nuts I wrote it all down, but it’s no fun digging through my box of notebooks and papers when I need to recall something. The idea for this book manifested itself when I realized that I needed to get myself organized, and have a quick reference on hand when myself, or a fellow author needed it.
I love to write, and have ideas and working drafts for nearly a half a dozen more titles at the time of this writing. One of my titles peaked at #1 and #4 on Amazon’s bestselling list in its category, even creeping into the top 500 overall, using the tactics in this very book. Another title of mine is currently in the running for an international awards contest. This success came after many blunders and lost money to dubious organizations and predators, which we will discuss in great detail so you could avoid the same fate. I’d like readers of this book to walk away with the knowledge of these scams, so they too won’t fall victim.
In short, I’m just a gnu here in the jungle of Amazon, but would love to help others while continuing on with my own migration to success. The contents within this e-book discusses everything from basic manuscript upload, to proven methods that I’ve recognized as trends behind every successful author. It’s my hope that it will serve not only as a reference manual to me, but one to you and your success as well.
Why are you writing a book? Do you want to finally bring those note-books with scribblings in your closet to life for your own personal satisfaction, or, create the next New York Times Bestseller? People write books for many reasons, but making the wrong decisions could cost you dearly. Writing and publishing a book can be a very powerful entity, and bring forth surprises and unintended challenges you may not have considered when you began your journey. Authorship also demands countless hours of work, education, and research which will take your time from family and friends. Before you embark upon creating your masterpiece, whether it be to own your own personal paperback for friends and family, or sell millions, you need to ask this one question:
“Who am I writing this for?”
When independent e-book publishing first opened up to the masses, there was a common term used called “vanity writer”. This was usually a novice author who was happy to see his or her name on the cover of a book, and would sell them off or give as gifts to their family and friends. They were simply satisfied with the title “author”, rather than the amount of books they sold. There’s nothing wrong with taking a manuscript, and publishing it for limited issue-Perhaps a grandparent who’d like to leave a beautiful edition of their thoughts in paperback or hardcover form for their loved ones. Maybe a mechanic wants documentation on his restored car, and a how-to repair manual for future resource, or a horror enthusiast who wants to create a catalog of bestsellers. These writers all have one thing in common-They know their target audience.
If you plan on writing and making money, you too need to know who your audience will be, and your books overall intentions. A love story about millennials travelling back to the 1700s on a time travelling UFO may sound like a great plot to you, but it’s ludicrous and will never sell. You may laugh, but in the reading of many indie books, I see this way too much. Authors often want to capture as many readers as they can by fusing genres, sacrificing quality for quantity. They’d aim a book like that to Y/A, romance fans, history buffs, and Sci-Fi gurus, while alienating and torturing the reader in the process.
There’s nothing wrong with fusing genres IF it’s done correctly, but it takes very careful planning. It should also be kept in mind the challenges that will arise later when you go to market your book.
“Should I list this under historical romance? Sci-Fi? How am I supposed to keep the blurb under 300 words?! That’s not enough to describe my book!”
Exactly. A blurb is a fantastic tool you can use PRIOR to even writing your story. Write down a few blurbs describing your future work, and envision if they’d appeal to readers, and more importantly, WHAT readers. If you’re having difficulty describing your plot, characters, and setting in a finite amount of words, while failing to pique a reader’s interest, you’ve got work to do.
Nothing is worse than an author who takes another one’s work, and shamelessly helps themselves to their story. The fusing genre writers at least attempt to create a unique title of their own, but I believe I speak for all readers when I say we hate to pick up a book and sense that vexatious déjà vu. In very rare cases, this may work if the literature was based on theory, historical fiction, and clearly described as “BASED ON” in its title or description. This of course would coincide with permission from the original creator. Copying the plot from Twilight, or Lord of the Rings will only get your book infamy, and embarrassment upon yourself. Simply put, don’t do it.
“So how do I separate myself from the rest of the herd without copying, AND be successful in the same?”
Study the bestsellers charts. What are readers interested in? Read the blurbs of the top ten books. Furthermore, and more importantly, study the charts of the genre of your intentional title. If it’s per say horror, are readers after werewolf stories? Vampires? Pay close attention to how long they’ve been lingering up there too, and if they’re actually slipping. If the top three are vampire tales, with the werewolves in the lower end being fresh entries, you may want to start thinking of adding fangs and fur to your novel. A smarter idea would be to even consider upcoming movie or TV shows, which may (or may not) dictate the popularity of what might pique a reader’s interest in the future.
After you’ve looked over the bestsellers list, pick out a few to read on your own and only admire the authors work. In lieu of lifting their ideas and visions, pay attention to the flow and prose of their work. What situations do they present in their plot? Are readers interested in long novels, series and sagas, or short stories? Most importantly, don’t emulate their stories, but really ask yourself if it’s the theme and genre you can envision yourself enjoying creating your own work in. Keep in mind, if you’re sincere in your intentions of writing a book, you WILL and SHOULD be immersed in that state of mind for countless hours of your time.
For my genre of choice, I look at current world events and write in parable to historical eras that readers can relate to. I also find that it adds nostalgia to the plot of my stories- Sometimes in cheerful reminiscence of innocent times long gone, and others in terrible parallels to the headlines of the modern age.
It’s also a wise idea to brush up on your grammar, and sign up for English and creative writing courses if afforded the time and money. Bad grammar habits die hard, and certainly ones that you’re going to want to break before you even begin the first chapter of your book. Challenge yourself with online writing exercises, and when confident enough, why not try your hand in some writing contests? A simple short story contest would provide you with practice, while possibly making a name for yourself among potential fans and readers if you write a good piece. This is especially true in the online book club and blogger community, which is very tight knit in nature.
It’s also a great habit to start carrying a note-book or memo pad with you at all times. The human mind works in funny ways, and you could be at a subway station, your desk at work, or in a grocery store when a great idea pops into your head for your story. Don’t rely on your memory to refer to later when you’re writing the draft to your book-Jot it down on a memo pad, or note-book and save them. I literally have a boxes full of note pads, books, and ideas stowed away in my closet which I refer to quite frequently. Nothing says they have to be neatly written, with in fact some of my notes being barely decipherable from scribbling the idea(s) down at 3am on my night stand. Keep one notebook as organized as possible, with a rough idea of your plot, chapter names, characters, and never stop researching your subject-Whether fiction or not.
If your potential story is historical in nature, common studies of various eras of many different periods and regions are offered at most community colleges. The same could be stated about any relevant subject one can think of and write a story about. Many colleges also have students of many ethnic backgrounds, who could provide a wealth of information on culture, opinions, or whatever else you may be seeking. A posting on a read board at the campus, or a mention on their social media page may land you substantial information. Whatever your genre is, talk to people, and research your work and ideas.
I also highly recommend that you continue reading literature of your favorite authors and inspirations. Study them from a different view, and begin to envision the situations they were in when they wrote it. What mindset and conditions do you see yourself in when you write your work? A bustling coffeehouse maybe great for an author writing a mystery suspense novel, while a penman of horror would most likely enjoy working in the silent witching hours of the night. Most importantly, take into account of how much time you could afford to write in your preferred conditions. Don’t sacrifice to the point where your family and work life suffer. A rushed and pressured book will never sell, plus, judging by the dour statistics on initial sales which I will cover later, you’ll certainly want to keep your day job-At least for a bit.
Another habit you may want to break, is the use of common social media lingo and texting acronyms. In my humble opinion, their use in traditional literature, whether e-book or otherwise just doesn’t fit well. Unless it’s a direct quote from dialogue on a cell phone or such in your story, don’t use them. Instead, begin practicing good grammar habits in everything you do.
Most people are pressed for time, so take the opportunity in every chance that you’re afforded-Filling out forms, any posts on Facebook, and better yet, take advantage of Twitter’s small allowance of characters to practice how to explain your book in a very short order. Start warming your friends and family up to the idea of writing a book. Give vague plot lines, or perhaps mention an interesting character that may be your protagonist and pay close attention to the reaction. If it is warmly received, begin a Facebook fan page for your book, and perhaps a new account under the name of the pseudonym you’ll be using on Twitter too.
Join groups on social media- As there are hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of clubs concerning e-books, authors, book clubs, and pages relevant to your genre. Also sign up for reading and writing groups with sites like Goodreads. I will list a group of the more common ones later in this book, with most, if not all being completely free, or who may charge fees for their services. Also pay mind to the requirements of some, and especially, know the rules and etiquette before posting or commenting on anything. Many of these groups run and post promotions for authors-more often than not, with fees involved. Don’t “thread crap” and pitch your idea (or worse yet once released, links to YOUR book) in the comments. Those ads can run pretty high, and the very action could get you booted from the page, along with generating buzz among the clubs for your nefarious action-unintentional error be damned. Do discuss other books listed with fellow readers to gauge their mindsets. What did they like about the work? What character didn’t they like and why? Keep on topic of the books listed and being discussed. You’re there to pick the brains of readers, not plug your work or idea to future customers.
Also, don’t spend too much time on social media-Being amongst the horrid dialect, along with losing time while you should be working on your book can only lead to failure, and/or a poorly released title. In marketing, I will also discuss how it’s actually a fatal mistake to anticipate massive sales via Facebook and Twitter. Don’t misunderstand and conclude that you can’t get sales from these means, but don’t assume that by just posting your book (or paying someone to) will cause discernable sales.
The tips listed in this chapter were just that-Tips. What may work for one, may not work for others, but the gnu thinks and hopes that you can walk away with at least a new (or improvised) method to the subject he covered that’ll assist you. My next chapter will cover (more than likely), the biggest question many aspiring authors have about writing-How much can I expect in sales? Unfortunately, the gnu has some grim news, stats, and odds for you, but all is not lost.
Gnus (also known as wildebeests) live in the southern savannah plains of Africa. They travel in herds along with zebras for protection from lions, leopards, and the other predators out to get them. Not even the waterhole is safe, as they’re a favorite meal of the crocodile, with hyenas getting a piece of the action, cackling as they eat the defenseless weak, ill, and young offspring from the herd. Flocks of vultures commonly soar above the massive gatherings and excitement below, anticipating their chance to swoop down on the carrion of the freshly fallen. With their only defense being the protection in numbers from a mobbing heard, and warning cries from baboons and zebra, it’s no wonder a gnu would want to separate himself from this madness.
With an empty stomach, and knowing it was only a matter of time before he became a lion’s meal, one gnu cautiously decided to separate himself from the safety of the herd, and began his long trek to the promising greenery of the faraway jungle.
So, what was on the gnu’s mind is probably similar to the subject and burning question in yours-“How much money can I expect to encounter when I publish my book on sites like Amazon?”
There is no simple answer to this, but here are:
The Golden Factors Needed In Order To Be Successful:
1-A good story, with a clear picture of the target audience that would enjoy your work and genre.
2-A neat and professional presence on social media, book clubs, and organizations such as Goodreads under your pseudonym/name.
3-A well edited manuscript, “cause nothing is worst where riters used bad grammer in there books”.
4-A sacrifice of either massive amounts of time, or money. Read this one again out loud to yourself-A sacrifice of time…or money.
5-A good cover, relevant to your story, that looks appealing large AND as a thumbnail! What good is a great piece of art if it looks like swirly bird doo as a thumbnail, or worse yet-unoriginal?
6-A cohesive synopsis of your story which you’ll be placing on the back of your book, or description on the sales web site. You’ll also want to have a few brief ones on hand (2-300 words) as many sales channels require small descriptions.
7-“Beta readers” and editors-UNBIASED readers who will point out grammatical errors, poor punctuation, plot holes. There are plenty of proofreaders online who would do this for you-but their fees can get steep, and usually charge by the page number. Unfortunately, anyone you consider “friend” or “family” does NOT make a good beta reader. Instead, seek reading and writing critique clubs or groups.
8-An organized website where readers will be able to make the decision to purchase your book. Just like book covers, the judgement continues-Keep it pretty, easy to navigate, and professional.
9-Marketing, advertisement, and UNBIASED REVIEWS. This takes…Go back and read factor #4 again.
10-Good front and end matter with editorial reviews, and links to your website to purchase other books. The end matter should also have a link to the point of sale, kindly requesting a review.
Just like the gnu, you’re going to be embarking on a long journey across the boring and sometimes discouraging plains. While writing the draft to your book, you’ll encounter plenty of snakes in your emails and social media groups offering shortcuts to the success and salvation of the green jungle of Amazon. They’ll do everything short of writing and publishing your book for you, usually at exorbitant feesssss$$$$$$$, or for a percentage of your book sales. How much money you make in sales is entirely up to you, but I wanted to point out the dangers of predators first and foremost.
Ask yourself again, why are you writing your book? Are you willing to sacrifice time and money? There is no possible way to avoid the loss of either to some degree, but I will cover some ways to save you both further along in this book. If you’re sincere about surviving in the e-book jungle, it is possible for you to go on and make a living out of it. Check out these numbers from January 2016’s Amazon report:
4 of Amazon’s overall Top Ten Best Selling e-books were self-published indie titles.
10 of Amazon’s overall Top Twenty Best Selling e-books were self-published indie titles.
56 of Amazon’s overall Top 100 Best Selling e-books were self-published indie titles.
20 of Amazon’s overall Top 100 Best Selling e-books were priced between $2.99-$5.99
Pretty decent figures, considering you’d pocket about $1.80 per book priced at $2.99. I also mentioned snakes earlier, so while on the subject of vipers, keep in mind that is before the IRS takes their bite of the apple.
The other sad truth about those numbers, is you will most likely not see them with your debut release. Expect to make very little, if anything at all from your first book-At least initially. You’re also going to be paying people to read your work, no matter how good you think it is. Start thinking very humbly, and learn patience. Success doesn’t come swiftly in authorship.
Still excited? Good, but have a hard look at your notes, and the precious files on your computer and know-You’ve got a very long way to go to make it. Hope for the best, but expect the very worst. Also, begin to gain a mindset that not everyone will enjoy your work, and start donning a skin of a rhino. You’ll need it when the reviews and criticism comes.
So you’ve seen the tall trees of the jungle, and want to make it to the top. You’ve read the best sellers, seen the countless advertisements for the hot new thriller coming out this summer, and just KNOW the masses will flock to your book.
Let’s focus on the forest, and not the trees. First, your manuscript needs to be properly formatted, and edited before you even consider uploading it online. Because of the countless types of literature and styles of books, I will only cover the basics. Each channel and distributor requires their own separate format of your manuscript. Amazon Kindle uses “mobi”, while others use ePub and PDF. .
To get a good idea of what your files will convert to and look like on Amazon Kindle, there are many tools at your disposal. Because of the variety of books authors create, there is no way for me to say which will work best for you. that you can pour over, and decide what may be best to help you achieve the results you’re after.
Finally, but certainly not least-Your book cover. Amazon even has a which is good, but I personally prefer to go as far out and unique as possible with most of my titles by designing my own. There’s nothing wrong with using a self-publishing site’s cover creator (many sites have them), but avoid the cookie cutter look by playing with the settings, and not using the stock photos.
If you’re not an artist with knowledge of graphic design, this may be the time to consider hiring out someone to make you a professional book cover. In fact, I will say this is one time more often than not that you should hire assistance.
On the subject of illustrations-If you plan on using a lot of photos, you’re going to need to learn how to format them for your book. Most e-book formatted pictures call for compressed 72 dpi (Dots Per Inch) photos, along with being a certain size. MS Word allows you to format your pictures, but I would also recommend programs like and .
After you resize your illustrations for your e-book, you will have to go back and resize them again for your novel. Most paperbacks and hardcover pictures require a minimum of 300 dpi. Failure to convert them to this format will make your illustrations appear blurry, pixelated, and your book’s photos will look like a bad 1980s video game, no matter how good your book’s proof looks online. One last piece of advice for illustrations in paperback or hardcover-The more you use in your book, the more expensive it will be to produce. Color ink is costly, and being that your book is already going to be “print on demand”, the price of your novel can skyrocket astronomically. Consider using black & white photos, or sketches whenever you can.
If you walk away from this chapter with one thing, let it be this-VERSION CONTROL. Purchase at least one SD memory card, or USB stick and keep them SEPARATE from your laptop or computer that you typically use to write. A lost, stolen, or broken laptop is a horrible thing, but to lose the only copy of your manuscript would really add to the devastation. Also keep in mind to update them frequently and overwrite the old copies with the new one you have been working on.
When you convert your books, find errors, then go back and make the revisions-DELETE THE FILE WITH MISTAKES. You don’t want to mistakenly send a goofy looking or unedited file off to a reviewer.
Before you even begin to convert, you should have read your book through Microsoft Word (or whatever software you’re using) a few times over. Some authors prefer Open Office or other programs, but I like using MS Word. Keep in mind, how your book looks on your software program of choice, will GREATLY vary on what it looks like as an e-book.
I’m also sure by now, you’ve seen organizations willing to publish your e-book for you. It’s silly, and a waste of money no matter how many sales or Twitter mentions they promise.
Below are clickable logos to various organizations that you can self-publish with, and their requirements. I’ll also give my own opinion beneath each one, and who I believe may, or may not benefit with distributing through.
The most important thing to remember here is NOT TO PUBLISH YOUR BOOK YET! If your manuscript resembles an e-book through the emulators (preview programs) listed above, great, but spend some time on each distributor’s site to decide which is right for you. You can upload your file, but carefully read the instructions and prompts.
Each organization listed will let you download a preview copy after your manuscript has been converted. They will take your Word Doc, and convert them into common e-book files such as mobi (Kindle) and ePub. Download and open your prospective e-book file, and review it cover to cover. Some converters will catch mistakes and formatting errors, but ALL will still have issues within your book which will be up to YOU to find. You’ll also be responsible to fix the spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors, along with “ignoring” intended nontraditional words, such as in your character’s dialect or slang if used. Also remember-version control. Delete the files after you review them if they are not of good quality-Which is highly likely if you’re uploading your first draft.
Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)-At the time of this book’s publishing, KDP seems to be the go-to choice for indie authors. If you’re a new author ready to debut your first work, KDP has some good programs in place to help you promote your book. If you opt in to be KDP SELECT, your book will be eligible for “countdown deals” or a complete 5 days where you can give away your book for free. Your book will also be available on Kindle Unlimited, where readers can read your book free of charge. The catch? YOUR BOOK WILL NEED TO BE EXCLUSIVE TO AMAZON FOR 90 DAYS. You won’t be allowed to sell it anywhere else through the duration, however, you will still be able to sell your book in physical/softcover versions through CreateSpace, as they are affiliated with Amazon.
Overall I like Amazon, and the customer service is pretty fast to get back to you should any issues arise. I can solidly recommend them to any author with only one slight point to keep in mind-Amazon doesn’t like book covers with a lot of gore, violence, or flesh. Remember this, especially if you write erotica, horror, thriller, true crime, and the like. Your book will not be eligible for their “AD-CLICK PROMOTION”. If your book cover is racy- not all hope is lost. Read on:
Basically an ad-click promo is just that. You set a certain amount of money aside for Amazon to charge you for clicks to your book’s page, while they run it in suggestions when readers are searching for books like yours. You “bid” against other advertisers doing the same, usually between 30-50 cents a click. This can become expensive, and a downright waste of money considering the royalties I mentioned earlier. In short, sign up for KDP, but refrain from the ad-clicks. I’ll cover better and more efficient marketing strategies later.
Amazon does have a vibrant forum and writer’s community, with a wealth of information shared among self-publishing authors. I definitely recommend to lurk around, and look for questions that you may have, or common ones popping up among the threads-These would be indicators of challenges that you more than likely will be facing too at some point, including the infamous “Why isn’t my book selling?” inquiry. I’ll cover more on this later.
Downsides-Amazon’s format converter can sometimes be a little bit finicky, and play tricks with your manuscript. Still, it is pretty easy to upload a beautifully formatted e-book to with a little research. The forums mentioned above are a great place to start, and their online instruction guide is pretty clear.
Tip-Download a “mobi” copy from Draft 2 Digital to upload to Amazon if you’re getting frustrating results. D2D’s converter is a lot easier on its Kindle files. You can also find plenty of mobi converters through Amazon’s book creation tools, or online for free.
AMAZON KDP RECOMMENDED TO-Any author who sincerely wants to get his book into the mainstream, as Kindle is the king of the e-book jungle, and I see no challengers in the near future. The personalized author pages are also a nice touch, and I like Amazon’s options to promote your book.
CreateSpace Self-Publishing-What author would NOT want to see a physical copy of their literature?! This organization allows you to create your own beautiful paperback, so long as you invest the time in making it look correct. The method of format for a proper appearing novel is entirely different than that of an e-book. For one, you’re going to have to go back and resize all of your illustrations to at least 300 dpi. On the subject of illustrations, I mentioned earlier that ink is pretty costly-The price of your work can drastically rise with the more illustrations you have in your manuscript. You could sacrifice and remove some of your pictures, or, spend some time replacing them in alternative black and white. You will also want to remove any book marks, and hyperlinks to your webpages mentioned within. Lastly, if you want the pages of your novel numbered, ensure you do so in your manuscript. In MS Word, it’s under Insert, in the Header & Footer column.
Does it need to be said? VERSION CONTROL-Label and date your paperback format.
Downsides-CreateSpace is print on demand, so the price of your novel could get costly compared to similar books published in bulk from traditional houses. However, they offer discounts if you order larger quantities.
CreateSpace Self-Publishing Recommended To-Authors desiring to offer their books in paperback form. CreateSpace also has 6 channels that you can select to distribute to, including Amazon, Europe, CreateSpace e-store, libraries and universities, bookstores & online retailers, and CreateSpace Direct. Selection of more channels WILL bring the cost per production up, but a great option nonetheless if demand rises for your book. If you choose the Amazon channel, it will also show alongside your e-book version. Allowing you to purchase them at cost in bulk is also a fantastic way to physically and proudly hand your work out to future fans.
CreateSpace is also good for someone who may want to make a personal work of literature for small groups, friends, family, or even just a single book for themselves.
Draft 2 Digital-Is a self-publishing website who will sell your book through multiple channels of popular e-book sellers. Draft 2 Digital is a beautifully simple site to use and upload your manuscript to. It is by far the most beginner friendly, and the support is usually fast with responding to any concerns that may arise. After you upload your file and fill out a few forms, your e-book will shortly be available on the following channels of your choosing-Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Scribd, Inktera, and 24Symbols. Even better, once your e-book is created, Draft 2 Digital will allow you to design a paperback through CreateSpace.
Although it may appear like an obvious choice to sign up for, a new author may want to stick with Amazon KDP Select for now until their work really gains a following. It should also be noted, some channels mentioned can also accept your manuscript for distribution individually. I’ve also found that marketing e-books for Apple, Nook Books and the like are very challenging when compared to Amazon. In the end, Draft 2 Digital is good for authors who want a one stop convenient publishing outlet to organize their sales from the multiple channels listed above. It also makes it easier to receive your royalties from one distributor, rather than having to keep tabs with how/when you would receive your money from multiple self-publishing sites.
Downsides-Marketing and promotion falls completely on YOU. Unlike Amazon, there is no KDP Select, and you will find it more challenging to advertise your book.
Recommended for-Authors who wish to have their book on multiple channels, and are willing to put in a little extra time marketing their work. The customer support is also very fast to get back to you, should you run into issues. This is also the easiest distributor to successfully upload a manuscript to, with very little hassle. After gaining an audience and demand for your book on Amazon, Draft 2 Digital should be the next self-publishing site on your list.
Nook Press-Barnes & Noble’s self-publishing site, where you can upload your manuscript for distribution as an e-book, softcover, or hardcover of your work through the Barnes & Noble network. If you wish to have a hardcover version of your book, B&N offers many options and details in your design, including choice of full color vs. black and white, numerous sizes, and even if you desire a dustcover rather than an imprinted one. Customers would also be able to order your book from the retail stores. Again these are print on demand, so don’t expect cheap copies unless you order in bulk.
Downsides-Your book will only be listed on Barnes & Noble, books are print on demand, thereby more expensive unless ordered in bulk.
Recommended for-Those who want hardcover and paperbacks available for order through B&N retail stores, and authors who desire more direct interaction with Barnes & Noble.
Shakespir-Shakespir is notoriously difficult to prepare a manuscript for, sending your work through an auto editor fittingly dubbed “The Meatgrinder”. Even the “how-to” manual () for formatting is a whopping 28,000 words. I have read it and can actually recommend it, but bear in mind a lot of formatting requirements differ greatly elsewhere.
Like Draft 2 Digital, Shakespir offers a one stop shop to distribute your books through multiple channels-Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Overdrive, Gardner’s and Baker & Taylor are the current list, but check often as they sometimes change and seem to be again growing. Shakespir also has the option of letting authors issue customized coupons to readers in order to get a discounted, or free copy of your work. On Amazon, you would have to be enrolled in KDP Select for the 90 days in order to run any deals.
Downside-Dated website, notoriously difficult to format manuscripts for upload.
Recommended for-Writers with patience, persistence, and/or having experience with formatting drafts. An advantage to learning Shakespir rigorous formatting requirements, is the experience of being able to upload elsewhere will seem like a breeze. With the ability to distribute your e-book through the many channels listed above, it’s also great to have your royalties paid to you from one distributor.
Google Play Books-Extinct? As an author, I’d love to get my work into the Google Play Book market, but unfortunately, they have not been accepting new “publishing partners” accounts for well over a year now. The last customer service representative to respond in their forums to this inquiry gave the typical “We’re working hard on the issue…” in May of 2015. The thread has since been going with some funny retorts and reminders from upset writers, and any new ones started on the subject are swiftly deleted.
Whatever the case, I’d like to see them again open up the market to indie authors.
Downsides-Possibly don’t exist anymore, and closed to indie authors.
Recommended for-A tribal witchdoctor to bring them back to life.
Worzalla- Printing and manufacturer based out of Wisconsin, who provides yet more book layout options for the aspiring author.
Recommended for-Authors who write cookbooks, children’s, and coffee table literature with specific printing needs that other organizations cannot provide.
Ingram Spark and Lulu are yet two more choices for distribution of both e-book and physical hard/softcover formats.
Ingram will distribute your books worldwide, and from the discussions I’ve had with fellow authors, they’re pretty satisfied.
I have personally ordered a few copies of my 3rd novel in softcover format from Lulu, and was very impressed with the product. I plan on doing more business with both of these distributors, but it is way too early for me to personally recommend them to anyone else yet. One thing I’d like you to take notice of, is some of the fees listed on their sites: $25 for a revision…In other words, if you upload and approve a manuscript, only to later find mistakes or unsatisfying shortcomings in your work, you’ll be charged $25 to upload a new file. Another fee that is listed-Professional set up and formatting your e-book-$799.
I’ll touch on some basics in my next chapter so you can avoid these fees. It would also require a little more leg work and research on your part to get specific answers to your personal inquiries. No two books and problems will ever be the same. You can shell out the $800 and walk away none the wiser, or take the path that I did and learn the skills for use in future endeavors.
Remember what the gnu said in his 4th Golden Factor to Success-“A sacrifice of massive amounts of time, or money.”
In this chapter, I’ll discuss a few of the most common errors committed by indie authors. Read over these carefully, as some are fatal flaws that’ll have your work sitting idle at the bottom of the ocean of e-books. I’ve read countless books in just about every genre, but these mistakes seem to be the ones all authors seem to make.
“Who am I writing this for, and why?”
I wrote that in the very beginning of this book. You should have a clear vision of who your target audience is, the genre you’ll be writing in, and know your ultimate goal. If you’re truly sincere about being successful in selling e-books, you should already have a good following on social media under your pseudonym, along with being a member of numerous book clubs. It’s also a wise choice to join groups specific to your genre, and pay attention to what they’re buzzing about.
Your profiles should also appear professional in nature, and you should also act, and post accordingly. Don’t spend too much time on social media, as it will be fruitless in the end. Have you seen those “suggested” or promoted sites usually posted at the top of your page? Those are paid advertisements to Facebook that work similar to Amazon’s Ad Click campaign. Facebook doesn’t take kindly to you trying to sell anything, and will actually suppress your posts and account (unless you’re the one paying them). The same goes for pretty much every other social media site, BUT success can be found in using them, if you spend the time doing so. Lastly-Follow the proper etiquette, and follow the rules and requirements of the clubs.
Another mistake that you can make is writing a series starting with your debut novel. Reviews are tough to get as it is, and you’re going to find it even more difficult to get them for book 2 etc. if reviewers haven’t read book 1. If you decide to do a series, ensure a satisfying ending in book 1, with of course links in your end matter to get the reader excited for book 2. In fact, NO e-book should be without links to your website, and social media pages in its end matter.
Decent websites can be made for free if you take the time to build them, or you can spend the money to have one designed. I’ve seen some fabulous websites made with links below.
WordPress-A decent website here can be made for free. The downside is that it takes quite a bit of time to develop one and make it look right. Many authors, groups, and book clubs utilize WordPress, and it should be one that you consider.
GoDaddy-Great hosting service, and more user friendly when you’re designing your website. The drag and drop site builder is a snap to deal with, allowing less internet savvy folks to save time, but you can expect to spend some money here. The company also has very good customer service, with 24 hour phone tech support out of Arizona, who are quick to pick up. In some extreme cases, they can even remotely assist in editing your website builder page should you really be in a bind.
Wix-Very professional website builder, who earns revenue via premium upgrades, and customizable add-ons. I’ve personally just begun to work on a website through Wix, and was thrilled with the selection of cookie cutter themes, catered especially to authors. The upgrades appear as apps, similar to the ones you’d find on a cell phone or tablet. These apps are also distributed by Wix, along with other third parties. So far, I haven’t had to use the customer service yet, but the builder is very hassle free. Again, you will spend some money if you develop your site here, but in turn, you’ll certainly save some time.
When creating a website, use your pseudonym/author name and NOT the name of your book! You DO plan on writing more than one book, correct? This tip should be common sense, but some authors do make this error.
You open the file, and your work appears like a real e-book! Everything looks perfect, and you’re certain it’s going to sell a million copies!
Unfortunately, this is most likely not the case. Your chapters are broken, your pictures are dancing across the pages, your font comes in all shapes and sizes, and your pride and joy looks like a hot pile of yak dung. You begin to think about the snakes, with their offers of doing the hard work of converting your book for you.
Stay strong, and resist the urge to pay them. Not all individuals are snakes, and there are some honest editors out there who will convert your book for you. Editing takes time, and even honest editors will charge a good amount of money for theirs. But if you took all this time to write your book, what’s a little more worth if it teaches you the methods to fix it yourself for your next books?
Mark Coker, founder of Shakespir, recommends in his style guide the use of simple fonts, and keeping them uniform in size. I concur…Try to avoid the exotic wing ding lettering and stick with common font like Times New Roman. Another good habit to practice is uniformity throughout your manuscript. Ensure that your chapter headings are all the same, and properly linked with bookmarks back to your Table of Contents (ToC).
If your manuscript is a complete mess, you may want to start with a clean slate. One way to do this is a method described in Mr. Coker’s book known as “Nuking your Manuscript”. Sound scary? It is, but the end result will be a clean copy of your book file without any corruption. Unfortunately, your manuscript will also need a lot of work after you do this in order to replace the illustrations, and need everything set back in order-Your goal is a clean, bare bones script. Nuking it will remove any hidden bookmarks (which Microsoft seems to love to insert). Hidden bookmarks can REALLY screw up your table of content, and the order of chapters in your manuscript. Your script will also be void of headers, footers, and page numbers, so be prepared to add them all again.
A quick Google search will bring up many different pages on how to do this, but basically it involves copying your entire manuscript, and pasting it onto a new Word Doc WITHOUT keeping its native format. In , the process is explained in further detail. The style guide is also free of charge, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to download a copy, especially if you ever plan to publish via Shakespir. Finally, and I hope this has sunk in by now-VERSION CONTROL. Always keep a backup copy of your manuscript (pre-nuke) on file, and of course delete it once you have a satisfactory fresh copy saved. Don’t forget to save them to your SD Card, USB Stick, or external storage device.
“Nuking” is an extreme measure to take, but hopefully you can correct your formatting issues without going that far. Again, there are many awesome book clubs, groups, and resources available for you to call upon should the occasion arise. Hopefully by now, you’ve been lurking the book clubs and web sites and have some trusted resources and friends to confide with. There are also many books-Some free, or close to nothing, for aspiring authors using other software to find the solutions to their problems.
If you have spent the hours needed to get your manuscript to resemble an e-book, congratulations! Think back upon the snakes who wanted to take all your hard earned money to do exactly what you just accomplished.
Again, closely look over your e-book, cover to cover. Check the hyperlinks from your table of contents, and anywhere else you may have them inserted, ensuring that they navigate correctly.
Hopefully, you’ve also included hyperlinks to your website, along with a request encouraging the reader to leave a review on Amazon/Goodreads etc. in your end matter. Once you gain some reviews from book clubs, and professional reviewers, you’ll want to go back and add editorial reviews to your front matter. A prospective reader of your book should see them in the very beginning pages, which will hopefully sway them to download it. As you update your files and manuscripts, always remember-version control. Delete your old files, and replace them with the new ones. Also keep in mind that different e-book self-publishing sites will require different review request links. Uploading a manuscript on Draft 2 Digital asking for reviews on Amazon will get your book delisted, or denied. Ensure your files meet the requirements for each self-publishing distributor that you plan to upload to.
Judgement on your e-book starts with your cover. What sense does it make to put all your hard work into a great book, only to slap an ugly or boring cover on it? Amazon offers a cover creator through KPD, and if you spend the time fiddling around with it, you can walk away with a decent one for your book. Keep in mind how many other authors are doing the same, and most of the time it’ll pay to spend some money for a more unique design. I’ve seen beautiful ones run between $150-$300, but also (and always), beware of snakes and their source for the illustrations etc. Also remember the importance of what your cover will appear as in thumbnail size. Does it look like a mess? Is it relevant to your book and genre? More importantly-Does it stand out from the rest of the herd?
I hope this goes without say, but in the very least have your book looked over by an editor. No matter how many times you read your book, you WILL miss the mistakes. Editing can be VERY expensive, but it’s a necessary evil that you will have to deal with. There’s no way around this cost (unless you know an editor willing to do this for free). Most charge by the page or character count, but if you shop around, you can possibly find a good deal. As always, beware of the snakes who overcharge, do a poor job, or worse yet, steal your work and ideas. Do some research, and definitely poke around and look in the reputable book clubs for a recommended editor.
It’s also at this point that you’ll want to be looking for unbiased beta readers to look over your story. Friends and family are NOT good beta readers-Most of them will be sympathetic and feel sorry for you if your book sucks. It’s also a bad idea to have them even review your book at all-Which I’ll cover more in depth later on.
A great way to gauge your work would be to contact book clubs, and other reputable literary organizations to see if they’ll be willing to review your book PRIOR to its release. This way, you could go ahead and put the editorial review right in the front matter of your e-book when you’re ready to publish it. One such organization, which is very well known through the industry is Kirkus.
At the time of this book’s publishing, Kirkus charges $425 for a standard review, which takes 7-9 weeks for a turnaround. For $575 you can get it in 4-6 weeks. Pricey, but they are very well known and trusted for their unbiased reviews. Keep in mind the possibility of sending off your manuscript and paying all of that money, only to get an unfavorable, or scathing review. Don’t assume paying all of that cash will get them to falsely glorify your book. They have a reputation to uphold, as an honest organization should.
For most indie writers just starting out, that’s a lot of money to shell out-But keep in mind that if you REALLY believe in yourself, you’re going to have to invest in your work. If you don’t have the $425+ for a Kirkus review, there are plenty of cheaper options which can also have great benefits. I will discuss more options, and go further into reviews in my next chapter, “Bungle in the Jungle”.
If your beta readers came back with positive feedback, and you’ve addressed their suggestions, now is the time to look over your synopsis in which explains to your readers the content of your book. You should also have a good idea of how many words and characters each self-publishing outlet requires for your e-books description. Some are as many as 3000, whereas others can be as short as 200. After looking at the cover, this will be the second thing readers will take into account before downloading your title. It should clearly explain the content of your book, and be clever enough to excite them to want more. Again, a good idea is to read the synopsis’ of other books that you have read to come up with a formula of your own.
A big mistake that indie authors make is not categorizing their books correctly. This can not only make your book unsearchable to your target audience, it can downright alienate, and offend potential readers.
An example of this was a recent techno-thriller/spy novel that I recently read. By chapter 3, I thought I was reading an erotica novel, and a graphic one at that. Of course spies like James Bond frequently found themselves in sexual situations, but the author was clearly going with a “sex sells” mentality, while avoiding the overcrowded erotica market and listing it under Thriller. His synopsis, and book cover was also completely irrelevant to the content, and there was nothing stating that the title had an abundance of porn. Looking at his reviews (left from friends & fakes) I felt tricked, and removed his other titles from my “to read” list.
Your next concern after selecting the category your book to be listed under should be keywords. These would be the words prospective readers type in a search for your book to pop up. Don’t take keywords lightly! Take the time to research what words and phrases best describe your book. To give you a better idea of the importance of this, [+ READ MORE ABOUT KEYWORDS AND PHRASES HERE+]. There are also “Kindle Keyword Generators” available, but the article mentioned in that link explains one method on them, and how you can improve your ranking in searches. Do NOT use keywords with other author’s names to confuse and dupe your target readers-An example would be using Stephen King’s name in your keywords if your title is a thriller, or horror.
These are just a few mistakes that an aspiring author can make, but we’re all human and learn as we go. I’d be a hypocrite to say I haven’t made many of them myself, and there are probably a few in this book that I’ll get called out on. I love to write and help others, but with the price that I’m asking for this title-0.00, it wouldn’t be economically viable for me to hire out the resources needed as I did my other books. I have two other working titles, one being part of a series, and as I’m nearing completion of this book, I’m already thinking about my future works. Don’t think for a second that once your e-book is published, it will be a set and forget process. Your release will require quite a bit of attention in order to keep it alive in the e-book jungle.
I also never mentioned what your asking price should be, but I’ll cover that and marketing pretty deep in my next chapter. This is also where the hard work really begins.
How much should you charge for your book? If it’s your debut release, little to absolutely nothing. The key here is to get it on the storage devices of every Kindle and tablet that you can. Even worse, you’re going to pay readers to download and review your book, sometimes with unfavorable feedback. Remember the rhino skin I mentioned? I hope you have it on! In the long run, all of the sacrifice will hopefully pay off for you. If you are persistent, and are truly talented as a writer, the sales will surely follow. Also keep in mind the link to your website in the end matter, where readers can sign up for news on your next release (that you should already be hard at work on).
Judge your book alongside other indie books in your genre. Consider page count, and overall quality-skim over the reviews to see what the readers are saying. Look close, and determine the fluff left from friends and family, which you NEVER want in your reviews. A few mediocre, or even critical reviews are better than a title with a bunch of phony 5-star fluff. Readers see right through that, and will more than likely pass on a title when they feel the author has played trickery with fake reviews. You’re looking to see if they’re satisfied with the content at the price point being asked, the most common at the time of this publishing being $2.99 or below. Look over the sales ranking chart in the book’s description, and honestly ask yourself if your book would match up.
Of course it would, because you have a set of blinders on, and your baby stands above all. Get ready for a reality check, because the very first thing needed in a successful book release is honest reviews. If you’ve already published your book, or shared it among friends and family, you may already have some feedback. Keep in mind, very few readers will leave a review. The statistics that I have come across in discussion, seem to commonly be around is less than 4% for a purchased e-book, and less than 1% for one obtained via a giveaway. It is also thought to be whatever one reviewer states, is about what ten others are thinking about your book-Whether good or negative. In order to gain some unsolicited and honest reviews, you’re going to have to set your baby out in the free and wild jungle.
Amazon KDP Select is a fantastic resource for a brand new author to use. As mentioned earlier, your e-book will have to be on Amazon exclusively for 90 days, but you can still create and sell paperback novels via CreateSpace (affiliated with Amazon).
If you decided to go KDP Select, great! You’re given 5 out of the 90 day period to be able to give away your book for free via Amazon. Your title will also show up under Kindle Unlimited, and be eligible for other marketing and advertising benefits. Start planning a giveaway campaign at LEAST 2 weeks prior to your promotion. Pay special attention to the days that you choose, and consider what most people will usually be up to. Planning a giveaway during the 4th of July, or the Super Bowl may not be as rewarding as other days or holidays. You’ll also want to consider the day of the week if you’re not going to promote during any holidays, and when people will have their tablet or e-reader in their hands. Lastly, nothing states that you have to use all 5 of your days at once. My advice would be to use a well-planned 3, while keeping the other 2 in the bank for use after you get your first review from a book club.
I recently held a 3 day campaign for one of my titles during Easter, and boy did it pay off! With the cool and rainy spring weather embracing a lot of country, and the assumption of bored workers sitting at home fiddling with their tablets and e-readers, I took the chance. My title swiftly reached #1, and #4 in its respective categories, while creeping up on Amazon’s Top 500 list, where it stayed for the duration of the entire campaign. Schedule your campaigns in line with potential readers-Some of the best times to promote your book is prior to major holidays while people are travelling, but of course avoid the days like Black Friday when they’re preoccupied with shopping.
To achieve that, or success of any measure, you’re going to have to get the word out and in front of potential readers. One such outfit that can help you do that is called BookBub, for a VERY . Regardless, those are very respectable numbers, from a very well-known e-book organization, and one that you’ll want your title listed to. Although I did very well, I didn’t have to spend so much money.
BookBub may come in handy later on in your writing career, so signing up now for a partner’s profile is a wise idea.
Instead of paying out so much to promote my book, I took the time and went with another organization referred to me by a fellow author. For $14.99 (at the time of this publishing) Book Marketing Tools will allow you to fill out one simple form to list your book to 30 sites for your scheduled days. There are also pages listed to announce your promotion on the day scheduled, along with sites needing further notice. In total, if you spend the time and research with Book Marketing Tool, your book will be listed on 55 sites. I can recommend using this site with no reservation-The tool, along with blasts from your social media websites should net a respectable amount of downloads if everything else mentioned pertaining to your book is in place. Also remember to return to the Facebook groups that allow promotion and sales announcements, and respectfully post your campaign.
I’m also sure by now, that you have received offers from Twitter users offering to blast your deal to their thousands of followers. Some of these individuals and organizations are very legit and will net results. Others are snakes and their followers are non-organic-A total waste of time and money. Tread wisely.
I mentioned earlier the dour ratio of reviews left from giveaways. Hopefully you moved quite a few copies and will get some feedback from strangers-Friends and family will more than likely lie (bless their hearts) if your book is crap to save you heartache. Unfortunately, a lot of readers lurk the very groups you posted in to fill their storage with free e-books. Some hoard many titles, so don’t be surprised if it takes months to receive some reviews back, or any at all. Regardless, don’t stop seeking input, or promoting your book.
Some fellow authors may have caught a glimpse of your promotion while they were running theirs, and offer a review swap. Amazon really frowns upon this practice, and to be honest, it’s a horrible thing to know that you’re almost obliged to leave a positive review on a poorly written book if done so. It’s best to find, and stick with a critique group who will give you real feedback. Avoid authors shopping for stars on Amazon.
I mentioned a reviewing company by the name of Kirkus earlier in this book. Hopefully you’ve sold a few copies to soften the financial blow to the cost of your first review from a legitimate, and reputable organization. If not, there are plenty of options available to you for less than the $500 from Kirkus. Remember factor #4 (time and money)? Keep this in mind, yet once again.
Online Book Club-Very active book community, with a great mix of both readers and authors. At the time of this publishing, they have different levels of book review services for $25-$140. Each level comes with marketing perks, and the club is also great for other ones as well. Bookmark that page, as they will again be mentioned later.
Recommended for-Indie authors seeking an unbiased review, and a vibrant and well mixed book club with a wealth of information in the forums. Also great for readers looking for bargain and free e-books, with the “book of the day” usually marked as such.
Rave Reviews by Nonnie Jules (aka RRBC)-Book club, and buzzing group who have a very big presence on social media. They promote fellow authors by encouraging members to read each other’s work, and pride themselves with dead honest reviews. They also have podcasts of guest authors, and social media benefits for the most active members. As of now, annual membership fees are $25, and a requirement to review fellow member’s books in order to keep yours listed in their catalog.
Recommended for-Authors who are seeking honest reviews, but don’t mind the wait for your title to be selected. It’s also a good organization to connect with fellow authors.
The Indie View-The list in the link provide features dozens of book reviewers, free of charge. Beware, that many of the reviewers are swamped and may not get to your book for quite some time, or your title may not even get selected at all. Still, it’s a great site to get your book listed on, with a requirement of having at least a 4 out of 5 star score from one of the reviewers listed in the link provided.
Recommended for-Authors who want their book listed on The Indie View, and for those seeking a free review.
Reader’s Favorite-Provides free reviews, delivered anywhere between 10-12 weeks, along with express packages costing $59-$199 and delivered within 2-3 weeks. They also run annual contests for books, with the winners being displayed in a book fair.
Recommended for-Writers seeking reviews, with multiple ones being included in each level of their packages, and being posted on their website. Also great for authors who enjoy the thrill of competition with their contests, and a possibility of exposure for placing.
Good Gnu’s Book Reviews-Why, that’s me! Yes, I do book reviews, anywhere from free to $50 for an “express/deluxe”-Delivered within 2 weeks. A free review would be a title submitted that I may be interested in reading AND when time permits. Remember, I’m an author myself and have a day job, so I could only get to your book when time permits. Should you go with the express, I’ll take the time allotted for authorship, and read your book-providing posts on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Kobo, 24Symbols, Scribd. A review will also be permanently posted on my site, with other options to run Book of the Month campaigns, interviews, and more. Click the logo for more details.
Recommended to-Authors seeking a free review (should their title interest me), and/or looking to have one posted on ALL the distributors mentioned above. I also recommend getting review(s) from the others that I mentioned, as more opinions from various sources will surely tip readers off to your integrity.
Keep in mind all prices mentioned in this edition of my e-book are subject to change! All the costs listed for the reviewers/clubs are from July 2016, and with sales/promotions and typical supply/demand, they will lower and raise accordingly.
Bad reviews are going to happen, it’s just part of life in the jungle. How you handle them, and how out of hand they can get is up to you. Don’t go and Trumpet about it like an elephant on social media, or make an ass out of yourself in nasty e-mails (see what I did there?) Instead, continue to practice your writing skills and move on. NEVER under any circumstances reply to a nasty review! On the subject of politics, however subtle as I was, if your book is anywhere near political in nature, you can surely expect some doozies. Take into account why someone savagely attacked your baby-Really try to look at your book from their point of view, and then make the proper adjustments if necessary. Unfavorable feedback can lead to huge payoffs later on down the road. Let a few more reviews trickle in, and see where it goes. If you get more positive than negative, simply move on and remember that your work is not going to impress everyone.
If they continue to come back negative, or even mediocre, accept the fact that your baby may be an ugly duckling in need of some surgery. Look at what was said, but don’t lose any sleep over it. In the very worst case, you can delist it, but the positive thing is that you possibly have a draft to a great work of literature.
“You’ll sink like a lead balloon, no, no…Even faster, like a lead zeppelin”-The Who’s Keith Moon to Jimmy Page of the New Yardbirds, aka Led Zeppelin
Even the Beatles at one time were turned down by Decca records, who instead chose to sign Brian Poole and the Tremeloes-Ironically known for the song Silence is Golden. On the subject of gold and the road to yours, let’s move on to the neck of the jungle you’ll either spend a lot of time, or money in-Marketing.
Good or bad reviews be damned, by now, your email inbox is probably filled with offers from hordes of predators offering shortcuts to the top of the charts. They know all too well that you love your baby, and will come up with clever ways to take whatever foliage you have in your pockets from you.
I have worked with all of the organizations that I listed in this book, some numerous times, and will continue to do so and recommend to others. I also do reviews, which may sound strange for me to also send authors elsewhere, but just as readers buy more than one book, authors get more than one review. What one person loves, another one may despise-You need variety in your reviews, and different sets of eyes to give prospective readers a good idea of what lies beyond your pretty cover.
One thing I will not do, as bad as I may want to, is make a list of the vultures who are out to take advantage of the herd. I don’t even want someone to mistakenly go to them by listing them here. I hope by now, you can already spot them. Also keep in mind, many of these leopards don’t have spots, as authors are reluctant to properly report or review them in fear of retribution to their work.
One such racket you may encounter is the Hollywood scam, where authors are conned into thinking that their work is so good, that they want to make a movie based off of it. Thoughts of the freshly divorced mother on welfare, J.K. Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter series in coffeehouses with an old fashioned typewriter flash through your mind. You go over their website, and see these great movies that they’ve worked on (look close-NONE based on an indie book!). For a few hundred bucks, you’ll get to speak with the producers of these films, with ideas and professional input to advise you on how to get to the red carpet. Afterwards, you’ll get a call back stating how well the call went, and that they’re certainly interested in your work. The next move would be an investment of $1000 on your part, so screenwriters can get to work on your script.
“Uh-oh…Shouldn’t they be paying me? This sure doesn’t happen like it does in the movies!”
Oh, it does! You’re just in the WRONG flick, playing the sucker in a bad comedy and don’t know it yet. The drama starts next, when after you get your script, it’ll need more work in order to make it marketable to producers. The cost? $10,000. At this rate, you’ll be paying for the mic and booms in no time, losing your shirt in the process. Marketable? Who says anyone was going to buy it?
That’s a lot to gamble on, no matter how good you think your work is.
Although getting a film deal for your book would be the ultimate marketing tool, it’s best wiser to spend more conservatively. The next method will let you keep way more of your bananas in the bank, while moving your books and raising your street cred.
By now, you should hopefully have a few reviews up on Amazon, and a returned review completed by . Schedule a book of the day package ($79 free/$149 priced $2.99 or less-your choice!) again preferably a day when readers will most likely be on their e-readers.
If you have other reviews completed too, and they’re all positive, go ahead and return to the front matter in the manuscript Word Doc. Add the editorial reviews to the front pages, as when readers skim through the sample of your book, those blazing quotes are there to tell them you’re serious about your game. Go to the end matter, and sprinkle some bonus teasers to your next great work, with a link to your website asking for their email for updates. You ARE working your next book, right?! Never stop working on your other book(s)!
Now that the manuscript is updated, go ahead and upload the new file to Amazon. Ensure you look it through cover to cover as things WILL have been moved from the editing. It goes without say-Version control. If the e-book checks out, replace any stored mobi files with the new one from Amazon. Republish your manuscript, and then lastly, schedule the last two days you’ve saved from KDP Select to coincide with the date you chose for book of the day. Go in for the kill, and spend the $14.99 on , again, in tune with the days of your promotions. Don’t forget to update your Twitter and Facebook postings accordingly.
It’s in best hopes, you’ll get the bittersweet hassle of having to update your book cover to display any awards it has won.
By now, you hopefully need a herd of other yak to help you trudge all the foliage around, but most likely not. Getting word out about a truly great title can be tricky, but if you’ve had a moderate amount of success, you can upload your work to other publishers once your time with KDP Select is up. You’re also not obliged to any set price on your book, so even if you upload to sites like , you can sling the price down as long as you see fit, and continue using to run your own deals. Also remember your social media pages, and email your subscribers with updates on your next release which is coming along great, right?! Be sure to change up any Amazon specific details (title page, link to review) before you upload to Draft to Digital! Apple and others WILL pull your title if there’s any markings to the jungle. Clearly label your manuscripts depicting each self-publishing site, save, and replace any old files.
Once your second book releases, you can upload a new manuscript with updated links, straight to the sales page of your next title. Again, version control-Replace the old mobis and Word Docs.
The rest of your e-book marketing should consist of blog tours, interviews, and e-mail list updates. To entice readers to sign up for your e-mail list, raffle Amazon gift cards, and give prizes, such as a copy of your paperback. Travel with business cards, and/or brochures, with details of your e-book.
If you had them made, always carry a copy of your novel on you, or best yet a case in the trunk of your car for quick sales. If your book has a popular hangout, shop, or organization where target readers can be found, inquire about selling your paperback-The worst the establishment could say is no. See the list below for ideas.
Military, Spy/Thriller, Mystery, True Crime, Law Enforcement, Fitness/Better Living, History, Gun and War Literature-VFW Halls, Air Shows, Reserve & Recruiting Centers, Army/Navy Outlets, Gun Shops & Ranges, Eateries and Markets close to Military Bases/Law Enforcement Centers, Gyms
Erotica-(see above) +Adult Book Stores and Shops, Nail Shops and Spas, Hair Salons
Hunting-(see military) + Fish & Tackle Shops, In Front of Walmart
Mechanical/Car/Motorcycle- (see military) + Repair Shops and Parts Stores, Local Racetrack, Speed Shops, Enthusiast Events, i.e. Daytona, Indy, Sturgis & Motorcycle & Car Shows
Science Fiction-Video Game Stores, Electronic Conventions, Comic-Con (even the streets, & bonus for wearing a cool costume) Coffee Shops, Carnivals,
Paranormal-(see science fiction) Investigative meet ups, Haunted House Events, Halloween Parties
Young Adult-(see science fiction) + Scholastic, Youth and College Sporting Events
Sports Literature- (see military) + Bowling Alleys & Country Clubs/Driving Ranges (if applicable) Professional Games & Tailgate Parties
Other places to consider-Community Colleges & Read Boards + Surrounding Eateries & Hang Outs, Airport Book Stores, Church Groups & Events, Grocery Market, Convenience & Liquor Stores, Avon Friends, Pet Shops (if applicable), Inns, Hotels & Resorts, Hospital Shops, Malls, Movie Theaters
Some are scoffing at the idea of selling novels out of their trunk, or setting up impromptu “author signings” at Walmart & such. If you haven’t caught on, I like music-all types. 30 years ago, a kid named Andre Young was part of a rebel rousing music group that simply went by three letters. They too were laughed at, called obscene, and told they’d never make it. Andre, along with his friends Eric Wright, and O’Shea Jackson sold cassette tapes of their music from the trunks of their cars. They were known as NWA, with Andre (Doctor Dre) today being worth billions of dollars.
Earlier in the book I also mentioned and [+ Lulu+]. Along with adding more channels to your -which will raise your production cost per book, you can sign up for more exposure to your novel (and hardcover if you decided to make one) through Ingram Spark & Lulu. Both of those publishers, along with the extra channels added on CreateSpace will make your book available in libraries and universities, while also available for bulk orders to bookstores and outlets globally.
One final predator that may pop up will be piracy. Remember the money you dished out for giveaway promotions? Think of pirates as doing this free of charge for you, and be honored someone considers your work worthy enough to rip-off. With luck, those who download it will follow your links to your second book for a sale. Even leeches serve a purpose in the ecology of a healthy e-jungle. Forget pirates, it’s a waste of time, and they’re only helping your cause.
So that’s it folks! I wrote this to organize my notes, and it’s now my hopes that it’ll help you out as well. If you’re an aspiring author, and/or this seems like it’s a lot of work-IT IS, and then some. Remember, you’re going to be writing your next book all through this process, while also tending to the others in the herd. This book alone should not, and was never intended to be your silver bullet, BUT, if you read it, along with some other quality “how-to” e-books out there, I’m sure you can have a rewarding experience in authorship. Wil-De-Best of luck be with you.
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Thinking about writing an e-book? Do you currently have literature sitting on the bottom of the charts and need tips in marketing? In my book Surviving the E-Book Jungle, you'll find tips and resources to help get your work off the ground, and in the hands of many avid readers. Whether you're brand new to the world of self-publishing, or an author seeking free reviews and marketing tactics to make sales-This book should help you reach your goal. From an author whose other novels have reached #1, and #4 in their respective genre on Amazon, the Gnu shares his methods with you in order to do the same with little to no cost. Don't fall for the pitfalls and predators looking to take your green stuff-Check out my guide to surviving the e-book jungle!