A blog dedicated to sharing information about the world of self-publishing with an emphasis on book marketing and using CreateSpace and Amazon's KDP. It is intended to be a source of information for both experienced and novice self-publishers alike.
The first of two prequels planned for the Inspector Thomas Sullivan Thriller series, The Fractured Man is now available from Amazon and other online retailers!
In the future, as humanity spreads throughout the galaxy, the ideals of justice for all, integrity, and honesty are nothing more than outdated concepts to many who have benefited as members of the wealthy, elitist ruling class.
To the incorruptible lawman, Thomas Sullivan, these ideals are all he has left to cling to. Betrayed by those he respected and admired, the very institutions he served, Sullivan has paid a heavy price. The loss of his mentor, friend, and woman he loved are just the beginning.
In a shadowy future, where the dark ideals of greed, lust for power, and a sense of entitlement govern the choices of many, there are those who still stand for justice. Men like Thomas Sullivan.
With little more than a job he loves, Sullivan struggles to find his way in a universe that increasingly seems to have no place for him. Damaged by the events of his life and in conflict with himself, Thomas Sullivan is The Fractured Man.
Fans of classic crime noir stories and science fiction will love the cross-genre novella The Fractured Man. Mostly human and part cyborg, Thomas Sullivan is a classic noir lawman, tortured by his past and faced with an uncertain future. Betrayal, corruption, and murder await his every turn.
The non-fiction books I authored are very niche in their nature and I had a specific target audience in mind when I wrote them. The keywords I provided to CreateSpace and KDP when I uploaded my files for publication where jargon specific to the targeted audience. Several of my books became Amazon Number One Bestsellers for specific categories and keywords. I was lucky in a way due to the nature of the niche audience and the fact I was well versed in the professional jargon.
Fiction is an entirely different animal.
I am a huge believer in proactive planning. You cannot control everything nor can you prevent every problem that might crop up from happening. But sound planning and proper execution of that plan can go a long way in creating success for your endeavor.
It has been written repeatedly that for a book to be successful the author must start marketing it before the book is completed.
Taking that statement to heart, I began planning the marketing for my first work of fiction, The Predator and The Prey. I'm not as far along as I need to be despite the fact the book's cover is done, the manuscript is finished and the interior files uploaded. All that needs to happen is hit submit and publish and if a few days the book will be available for sale to the general public via Amazon.
Unfortunately, I still have a lot of work to do. Work that stops me from clicking on submit and publish.
I have been focused on learning as much as I can about two very specific topics. The first is obtaining those all important Amazon Customer Reviews. My goal is to obtain 100+ Reviews, preferably of a nice 4 or 5 star variety. One piece of research I stumbled across was fairly disheartening. For every 100 Amazon Reviews, the author needs to ask for 900 reviews. 300 hundred readers will agree to read the book (a free copy) and of those 300 only 100 will actually write a review.
That's a lot of free copies of my book. It's also a lot of e-mails and thank you notes. Nor is it easy to control the timing and effort of people who are doing you a favor for the price of a free book. A book they may or may not have wanted to read if it were not for the fact you gave them the book.
On a more positive note, Amazon's use of keywords is something you, as the author, do have more control over. Selecting the right keywords is essential for the successful marketing of your book. Amazon after all, is essentially just a big search engine for books and other products that are for sale.
As I mentioned earlier, selecting the keywords for my non-fiction books was easy. The topics were very niche and had a specific jargon that buyers would use to search for books related to that niche.
Selecting keywords for a cross-genre fictional novel? That's a different matter. How do I get my book in front of the Amazon customers most likely to want to read my book?
After quite a few hours researching the topic with no success, I stumbled across a website run by a self-published, entrepreneurial author of both non-fiction and fiction by the name of Dave Chesson. The website is Kindleprenuer.com.
Dave had written an excellent post on his blog about the use of keywords as a selling strategy on Amazon.
Dave makes an excellent argument for his strategy and I decided it was worth trying. The problem is, it takes a lot of data to discover which keywords will produce the desired results and I had no way of generating and collecting that data.
Enter KDP Rocket.
Let me say right now I don't get any affiliate commissions if you decided to invest in this tool. It will cost you $67.
Having wasted a LOT OF MONEY trying to learn how to run my tiny self-publishing business, I have learned the hard way to always be skeptical.
After several days of considering how to generate the best possible list of keywords and not being able to come up with a single strategy, I finally broke down, got out my plastic and made the purchase.
One very long night later (the software is very easy to learn how to use), I had seven pages of possible keywords, along with the number of competing titles, the average earnings in the sales of the top five selling titles and a score indicating how difficult it would be to compete for that keyword.
$67 and all those hours later, I was still not completely sold this KDP Rocket thing was worth the time and money I had invested.
Culling out the ten most promising keywords from the several hundred I had collected the data on, I pulled up my Amazon account and typed the first keyword in.
Instantly a scifi crime noir thriller appeared. Along with several pages of other books in the same cross-genre vein.
Another keyword and the same result.
Did I mention that eight of the top ten keywords I would NEVER have thought of on my own? In the process of testing the keywords you type in, other similar keywords come up and you start to generate keywords on your own you would never have thought of.
It gets better.
You can research the competition with a feature specifically designed for that!
So, how did I do selecting the keywords for my non-fiction books?
Actually, pretty good, but not as good as I thought for several of the titles. I'm happy to report since changing some keywords, a couple of those titles have sold a few more copies than normal this past month.
Check out KDP Rocket yourself and make your own decision.
While I'm pretty sold at the moment, the real test will come when my novel goes on sale. I'll report back then when I have enough data to determine if my investment was worthwhile.
Things are coming together slowly but surely for the February 2nd release of my first novel, The Predator and The Prey. I received the cover proof for approval for the final design from Robin Ludwig of Robin Ludwig Design. Her website can be found at http://www.gobookcoverdesign.com/index.html.
Ms. Ludwig produced a design that was better than what I had envisioned. Of course, I'm not that creative visually so that might not be the best recommendation for her work. Having said that, she was faced with the challenge of producing a cover that conveyed the gritty sinister feel of a classic crime noir novel with a hint the book was a science fiction story as well.
Fog and snow are used regularly in the story to foreshadow an attack on the streets of Capital City by the story's villain. The two moons of Beta Prime appear in the star filled sky, giving a nod to the novel's science fiction component. The sinister appearance of the villain and the woman who seems to be the titular prey communicates the story's potential for violence and crime in the great tradition of crime noir storytelling.
Somehow, Ms. Ludwig managed to capture the feel of both genres. Not an easy task to accomplish in my opinion.
A visit to her website will give you a chance to look at other examples of her work as a cover designer and graphic artist. In addition to book covers, both POD paperback and ebooks, Ms. Ludwig designs a wide range of items for authors ranging from bookmarks and business cards to graphics for your author website.
Even better, her prices are very competitive and for this author, a bargain for what I paid for. She was very patient with me, a novice at this type of cover design (all of my previous 20+ book covers were for non-fiction - a different animal entirely) and steered me to the final design, which was much better than my original vision for the cover.
Authors who use Amazon owned GoodReads to promote their books using the GoodReads Giveaway promotional program will be interested to know the Kindle Giveaway program is returning.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing authors will be able to promote their Kindle editions using two different packages, the Standard ($119) and the Premium ($599). The new promotional programs go live on January 9, 2018.
Please note: Special introductory prices are available from January 9 to January 31, 2018. The Standard Package will be on sale for $59 and the Premium Package will be on sale for $299.
Taken from the Goodreads Giveaway blog post announcing the new program changes.
What’s the difference between the Standard package and the Premium package?
The two packages are as follows:
1. Standard Giveaway (Print or Kindle ebook format) $119 per giveaway. Introductory price: $59 (save 50%) from 01/09/18 to 01/31/18.
(NEW) Everyone who enters your giveaway automatically adds the book to their Want-to-Read list, promoting your book via updates in their friends’ updates feeds, and building an audience for your title.
(NEW) The author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list get a notification, letting them know there’s a giveaway starting. This helps generate even more entries, creating more stories in the Goodreads updates feed.
About eight weeks after your Giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads to remind them to rate and review your book. This will help other readers discover and decide to read the book too.
Giveaways are featured in the Giveaways section of Goodreads.com, allowing readers to discover new books.
2. Premium Giveaway (Print or Kindle) $599 per giveaway. Introductory price: $299 (save 50%) from 01/09/18 to 01/31/18.Premium Giveaways include all the benefits of the Standard package, but are designed to give you more opportunity to connect with readers than ever. A Premium Giveaway also includes:
(NEW) Premium placement on Goodreads’ Giveaways page with tens of millions of visitors each month, giving your giveaway significantly more visibility and more entrants.
Alas, this also means the end of the free Giveaway program. All Giveaway's scheduled prior to January 9, 2018, will run as in the past until completed.
Important Update: Additional communication with Goodreads has clarified the costs involved. If you wish to giveaway physical, print copies of your book, the system works as it has in the past. The author will be notified of the winner identity and is then required to mail the print copies to the winners.
In the case of a Kindle edition giveaway, the author must pay for the Kindle copies given away as well and Goodreads will handle the giveaway.
It is hard to say if the marketing value of this program will be. For many authors, the cost of paying for both the books given away and the price of the program may be prohibitive.
I do like the fact the program now adds the book to every participants Want-to-Read list and the winners receive a reminder to review the book.
Like many things, it will require experimentation. I will budget for one use of the Standard Package in the near future and measure the results in terms of participants, reviews (Amazon and Goodreads), and if there is any noticeable rise in actual sales.
"The money is in the list." It's a well known quote from the direct mailing industry and has become axiomatic in the e-mail marketing world as well. For new authors struggling to build a fan base it can be difficult to create that all important e-mail list.
It is important to promote your list in the back matter of your book and on your website. But these aren't going to generate the size of a list needed in a particularly fast manner?
Because you haven't been discovered yet!
How do you get readers to your website unless they learn about it in your book? How do readers learn about your author newsletter if they don't read your book?
It's not dissimilar to that classic Pink Floyd line:
If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding.
How can you have any pudding, if you don't eat your meet?
If nobody reads your book, they won't know about (and sign-up for) your e-mail list.
How can you generate an e-mail list if nobody reads your book?
Of course, the point of the list is to build loyal fans who rabidly buy up every thing you publish.
After seven months I had a grand total of 54 readers signed up for my author's e-mail list. I'd heard about Rafflecopter, investigated it, and ruled it out.
My list, after just two months of using BookFunnel, is now just over 1,200 readers.
When I reach 10,000 names on my list I might be happy with its size. We'll see.
BookFunnel allows an author to give away their book, or some form of content, in return for subscribing to an e-mail newsletter. It's that simple.
If you use any of the following e-mail services, BookFunnel allows for direct integration of the collected e-mails into your e-mail service contact list.
I use MailChimp and the integration was easy. So easy, I got it right the first time. I promise you, that seldom happens.
I'm also happy to inform authors interested in this service, BookFunnel's customer support has been great. The two problems I had were both my fault and were resolved for me by BookFunnel in less than 24 hours.
Here is a comparison of the features for each of the three plans:
I use the Mid-list plan and doubt I will ever need to move up to the Bestseller list.
The one feature that has enabled me to grow my list to over 1,000 readers in less than two months is the Promotion feature.
Shown below are the promotions I have joined. Some have finished. Others have yet to run and still others are recruiting additional authors. Each promo will have its own guidelines. Some will require you have an e-mail list with a minimum of 1,000 subscribers.
Don't worry, there will be promotions that are happy to give authors just starting their list a break. I was fortunate to join several and now that I'm past the pesky 1,000 subscriber's mark it is easier for me to join more promotions.
Each promotion's creator will have their own requirements to join and participate. For example, you might have to post on social media, include the promotion to your existing e-mail list, etc. The promotions are genre specific so you need to make sure your book or story fits the genre.
There are lots of other features worth considering offered by BookFunnel and I plan to integrate them into my marketing as time allows me to learn how to use the various features.
This service is well worth the $10 a month I pay and has saved me untold time and frustration in building a functional list.
The word FREE generally catches my eye. But, if you are like me, you've been burned enough to be wary of anything obtained for free. Let's face it, you get what you pay for.
In this instance though, Draft2Digital's new service is worth the ten or fifteen minutes it will take to see how your ebook looks in one of the available templates. If you have already uploaded your book to D2D, it won't take that long.
For those who only make their books available through Amazon, you can still use this feature on D2D. Simply do not take the last step of publishing your book through D2D's distribution service.
The image below shows the step allowing the author to view their book in different formats.
To the left of the preview image you will see a box labeled Choose a Style. In this example below, I selected one from the Mystery and Thriller category named A Clue. It is simple, which I like and beneath the chapter heading inserts a finger print. The Classy Mystery format uses a magnifying glass as well as ornate artwork around the chapter heading.
Once you have settled on the format you like best, you can download the file in one of three formats, .mobi, epub, or pdf. For Amazon exclusive authors, you then upload that file to your KDP page as your interior file.
Like anything Draft2Digital does, this is an easy to use process. You don't have to download anything or have any special skills.
The competition in the fiction market is fierce. If you're like me, the problem you face is not that readers don't like your story. It's the fact you're having a hard time getting your stories in front of readers.
Thus, the logic behind using KDP Select Free days, giving your book away for free in order to give readers a chance to "find" your books. Granted, it wrankles a bit to give away something so much time, effort and passion has been invested in, not to mention money, but, you have to help your audience find you.
Since my books are part of a series, I accepted the fact long ago the first book in the series will have to be a loss leader. It will either be free or for sale for .99 cents. Someday in the future is will likely become permafree.
If as an author you are going to give away free copies of your book as part of your marketing strategy, be it to find readers, gain reviews or try to boost sales of other titles in the series, you want to maximize your KDP Free days.
Experimenting with this marketing tactic can be a but frustrating as KDP only allows the author five days per 90 day enrollment period to give away books. Patience is not high on my list of traits when I'm trying to figure out how to best perform a task.
Enrolling your book in individual book promotion services is a time consuming, frustrating task and to be honest, not always particularly effective.
Book Marketing Tools offers a low cost, quick tool that allows an author to list their free days for a mere $29. For twenty minutes of my time and $29, my KDP FREE days were listed on 27 sites that feature free ebooks and have e-mail lists.
I gave away 3375 copies of The Predator and The Prey in just three days.
To put that in perspective, the previous best giveaway for that novel was 475 copies in three days.
If I'm going to give it away, then I want to give away as many copies as possible. The KENP pages read for the sequel, Last Train to Nowhere, jumped from 0 to over 2,000 in just a few days and I sold 27 copies at $3.99 in the same time period, so I at least broke even.
In what is certain to be a marathon if I am to reach the size audience I hope to, this is a marketing tactic I will return to repeatedly.
I had no clue this was a legitimate possibility. Alinka Rutkowska, a successful children's author and author coach, has a new, inexpensive online course to show you how to go about connecting with readers on GoodReads in order to generate reviews.
In the course of the nine years I have been self-publishing, I have managed to waste a fair amount of money on books, courses, etc, claiming to help me sell more books. Some have been worth the money I spent. Most have not.
Alinka's course was not only inexpensive, I managed to reach out to multiple readers who like the style of novel I write and give good reviews! It took me 30 minutes to elicit 8 readers to accept a free copy of my novel.
Part of why it took 30 minutes was the need for me to re-watch the online class to figure out to how to work my way around GoodReads, a site I don't find particularly intuitive.
I've learned three things are going to be important to market and sell my fiction.
I have to get readers to discover the series.
I have to get reviews for the first book in the series.
I need people to sign-up for my e-newsletter list.
Alinka's system will help with all three.
I realize this sounds like a cheesy sales pitch. I'm terrible at this sort of writing. Also, for full disclosure the link below is an affiliate link. I wouldn't pitch this if I didn't think the information was worthwhile.
http://alinkarutkowska.com/80k-free/ For purposes of comparison, I twice spent $47 for Bookrazor's service to obtain a list of 100 Amazon reviewers. Out of those two hundred plus names and e-mails, I generated a grand total of six reviews.Alinka's course cost $15 and I learned how to find reviewers and how to contact them without spending money. My investment was time. I'm not unhappy about the money I spent with Bookrazor. They did exactly what they advertised. But learning how to find and contact reviewers for my book without spending any money is what my budget needs.
Meet Inspector Thomas Sullivan as he arrives at his new home world, the frozen planet Beta Prime. Get to know how this tough inspector goes about cleaning up crime in the corrupt, often dark Capital City.
Along the way Sully meets a lot of interesting people, some of whom will join the Inspector in trying to make life better for others. Some of these people simply look out for Number One.
Visit the cold planet with two moons. See how you like it.
Sign-up for The Inspector's Report, my bi-monthly newsletter, and download a free short story!