Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Self-Publishing Part 3 (For Self-Publishers)

Tips and Tricks of Publishing from Start to Finish

Read Self-Publishing Part 1 (For Readers)
Read Self-Publishing Part 2 (For Writers)

Self-publishing Marketing Procedure


Okay, here it is, from start to finish, an easy list of the steps that I think are most effective to publishing your book. When I started writing Into the Deep, I searched all over for a “how to list” or anything to give me some idea of how this process went from writing a book to publishing it. I found nothing, so I thought I’d share my own “how to list” with everyone. This model is specific for my Young Adult, Paranormal Romance, and may not fit for every book. But, I hope it will be something that new writers can take and adapt to work for them. This is also not exactly how I published Into the Deep, but follows closely with changes made to record what I think I should have done.


Daniel Kulinski

1.       Write and start blogging.
                -Getting a blog going will give you an outlet for when you have writers block and set up a stand from which you can start to gain followers from and promote your book. Also look into getting a Twitter account, Facebook, Goodreads, and Google+.

 
2.       Find Beta readers.
                -After you’ve finished writing, you need other eyes on your work to help you see the problems that you can’t. Read The Beauty of Beta Readers for more info.

3.       Review, re-write, review.
               
-Listen to the comments your Beta Readers have left you and improve your novel. This process can take months depending on how fast your Betas read and how much time you have for re-writes. Read To Kill a Cliche to help you improve your novel.

4.       Find an Editor.
                -When you feel like your book is “finished” you will need to then send it to someone who can correct all your grammatical and style mistakes. No author can professionally edit their own work; it’s too easy to gloss over our own mistakes. Read The Price of Hiringan Editor to help you find one at an affordable price.

5.       Review your edited manuscript.
                -There are two reasons to read your manuscript after it’s been edited. The first is to become aware of the mistakes you make so you can avoid them in the future and give your editor an easier time the next time around. Second, it’s always good to read your novel after some time has passed so you can get a fresh look at it and make and last minute changes that you feel necessary.

6.       Have cover art made, or make it yourself.
                -This can also be something you work on while your book is being edited.

7.       Get your book a Goodreads page.
                -You want to get the word out that there’s a new book coming out, so you’ll need to put information out where people can find it and learn more about it. Also get involved in the Goodreads community if you aren’t already. Then look into other sites like Shelfari, YABC, ect…

8.       Find reviewers in advance.
                -Look for reviewers and bloggers who’ve given 5 stars to other books with similar content to your own. Contact them and see if you can send them an ARC copy in return for a review. Set it up so when you books go live that you have reviews ready to be written.

9.       Convert files to mobi and pdf.
                -Remove deep indents, don’t forget headers and page numbers for the pdf file, and change your font to something like Century or Georgia. See this web page, or this web page for tips for Kindle. See this web page for tips for Createspace. Make sure you upload the mobi file to your own Kindle to see if the formatting looks the way you want it to.

10.      Put your book together on Createspace.
                -Createspace offers many different options for your book, and you will have to choose which is best for you. For Into the Deep I went with 5x8 dimensions and cream paper, as I felt this was most akin to how other books in its genre are printed.

11.      Put your book together on Kindle. Go with KDP.
               
-Being exclusive with Amazon may sound like a negative in many ways, but your KDP Free days are worth the three months that you can’t sell your book through other outlets. Check out The Pros and Cons of Amazon and KDP for more information.

12.      Set up a Goodreads giveaway.
                -You only need to do this for one or a few copies of your book, and set it to start about a week before your book is released, having it end on or around your release date. This will let hundreds of people know about your book, and you’ll see interest in it on Goodreads increase. When you’re contacted about whom won make sure to send them a book promptly.

13.      Write a Book Release.
                -Get the word out about your book being available for purchase. Let everyone know through your blog, Facebook, Twitter, ect… when your release date is.

14.      Release your book.
                -Keep in mind that it takes Amazon a few days to set up a page for your paperback book so make sure you hit ‘publish’ a few days before your release date. Also it will take Amazon 12-24 hours to get your page ready for your Kindle edition.

15.      Set up your Author’s page on Amazon.
               
-Go to Amazon’sAuthor’s Central.

16.      Set up KDP Free days.
                -A few weeks or a month or so after your release date when sales start to decline pick a time to use your KDP Free days. Break them up; you have 5 so maybe use 2 of them. Then, make sure to promote your free days on your blog, Goodreads, twitter, facebook, ect… The second half of my post on The Pros and Cons of Amazon and KDP talks about my first experience with my free days.

17.      Keep Promoting.
                -Continue to find bloggers who you can do interviews for, maybe run a .99cent sale, and keep track of your results so you can change your plan as you go and find what works best for your book.

18.      Start Book #2
                -You may be working on this on the side all along, but if not then at some point you need to think about it and start this process all over. The more books you have the more readers you can reach and ultimately the more money you can make.
There are no guarantees in the publishing world, and this is certainly not a guarantee of how to get a best-seller. Like I said before what works for one book may not work for another and authors will have to make changes to their publishing plan as they go. But, I hope this provides a good place to start for new authors. Good luck to all of you.

I would also like to add that if anyone has any tips on what worked in your experiences self-publishing that you would like to share, please do so in a comment below.



Friday, September 21, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Amazon and KDP

Amazon

When I started this project I was looking at publishing through both Amazon and Smashwords as I wanted my book to be available from various outlets. There are a few reasons why I’m currently solely selling through Amazon. Being a fan of the Kindle Fire did sway my decision some. I guess you could say that I’m somewhat partial to Amazon already as they’re the site I prefer to shop from. (Read Why I Love my Kindle Fire)
In the end, however, it was more than favoritism. Amazon’s KDP program offers some wonderful promotion tools in exchange for being exclusive to Amazon, and I felt like I had the best tools at my disposal by working with them. I talk more specifically about KDP in the second half of this article.

Some may say that signing with the KDP select program limits you as you are not able to have your book available in any other format other than Kindle. However anyone can download a Kindle app on their laptop, smartphone, and even Ipad. So, really the only device that using KDP select excludes is Nook. And, as the Nook is useless outside US boarders, I decided that this wasn’t as large enough of a group to be concerned about. Also, after reading about other author’s experiences I concluded that sales for most authors tended to be highest on Amazon as well.

So far I have been very happy at Amazon. The only thing I dislike about them is their 7 day return policy. I am perfectly fine allowing 7 days to return a paperback. However, the majority of my sales have been e-book copies. Since e-books arrive immediately after purchase, and with the ability to read the first few chapters of my book for free before even purchasing it, it’s more than plausible that someone could finish my 72,000 word novel within this week and return it after they’ve finished reading it. I’ve finished longer books in less time. This bothers me. It’s like buying a dress at the mall, leaving the tag on to wear it to dinner, then returning it the next day. And, this is the very reason why so many stores have a “no returns” policy.
I feel like customers shouldn’t need more than 24 hours to return a book, as I feel the only reason to return a book should be that you accidentally bought the wrong one. With the first few chapters of a book free to read, and reviews to help your purchasing decision, you have more than enough information to decide if you’d like to buy that book.
 
KDP Free Days
I want to give some honest advice about the KDP Free days. I do recommend going exclusive with Amazon to use the KDP Free days, I do feel like they have been beneficial to my sales. However, they didn’t quite meet up to my expectations.
I’ve read stories on the web of people talking about how KDP skyrocketed their book into the top 100, and how after their KDP promotion ended their book sales dramatically increased and then stayed steady from there on out. This isn’t in opposition to what I experienced with KDP, but it is more exaggerated from what I dealt with.

I feel like no one wants to admit exactly how many books they’re selling on a regular basis as they all wish they were selling more, but if we don’t share then we’ll never understand what’s “average” or what to expect. So, I’m going to share with you my numbers.
The very first day my book went live I had a sale, and a 5 Star review that promptly followed. I don’t think this is common, but it was wonderful for my self-esteem. I also know that this first sale was a direct result of my blogging as I recognized the username of the reviewer as one of my blog followers.

The first week, sales were a little slow, some days I had no sales, others I’d sell one or two books. It wasn’t until I ran a 99cent sale that they went up to two or three sales a day. This lasted through my 99cent sale and for a day after. Then sales slowed back down to 0-1 sales a day. I think my initial sales may have been higher had I sought out reviews prior to my book going “live”. I waited until after I published to find bloggers and reviewers and I think for this reason the launch of my book wasn’t as big as it could have been.
After the first week I focused on getting reviews for a short time and found I’d gain maybe one sale per review I acquired. Whether this is just correlative or connected I cannot say. Then after a Goodreads giveaway I decided to use my KDP Free days, and began to promote them through my blog, Goodreads, Shelfari, ect…

 The first free day I ran my “sales” picked up immediately. I did skyrocket up on the charts breaking through the top 1,000 Free quickly. I had over a thousand “sales” and by the second day my book had made it into the top 10 Free under Suspense/Thriller. I think I made it as high as #4 before it started to fall again. I also nearly made it into the top overall 100 Free, but I never saw it actually break 100 myself; which was disappointing. I think the closest I saw was 110.

By the third free day my sales did nothing but drop, as did my rating, which left me wishing I had done my Free days for only 2 days. In the end I had 3000+ “sales” mostly in the US, but also a good number in the UK.
The first day my book was back to paid I sold nothing. My rating had dropped to the 400,000 Paid and it seemed that my free days had been for nothing. However, within a few days I had a few more reviews, and then my sales picked up. For about a week after my KDP Free days my sales ranged between 3-5 books a day, then they dropped off and I’ve been selling a steady book a day since, and I’ve been gaining reviews steadily as well. Also my rating has stayed between 30,000 and 100,000 which I’ve been happy with for the most part.

So, in conclusion, KDP helped me reach thousands of readers for free. My book is now out there for 3,000 more people to read and suggest to their friends, and loan. That’s 3,000 more people who now may write reviews, and through nothing more than word of mouth may promote my book for me. Did it increase my sales, yes. Was it the key to success in self-publishing, well that’s yet to be seen; but, I do still recommend it and hope this article helps other self-published authors know what to expect.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Self-Publishing Part 2 (For Writers)

Why I Chose to Self-Publish and Why You should Consider it.

Read Self-Publishing Part 1 (For Readers)

There is so much more to being an author than just writing a book, especially when you choose the self-published route. If you’ve been following my blog over these last few months you’ll know about how important having Beta Readers and an Editor are (The Beauty of Beta Readers, The Price of Hiring an Editor), and now as I dive into the world of marketing and promotion I’m learning more every day about how to get my book out to readers. After all, that’s what it’s all about - writing a wonderful story, and then being able to share it with the world. Every step of the way is a fascinating and sometimes frightening experience.
With my first book published my journey has just begun; but I thought I’d share with all of you some of my thoughts, experiences, and things I’ve learned so far.

Nina Matthews

Is Self-publishing Right for You?
Many people choose to self-publish after the traditional publishing route doesn’t pan out for them. I however, skipped over attempting to get my book traditionally published all together. Why? Well, I have a few reasons. (Note: Fear of rejection is not one of them.)

To explain why I chose to self-publish without attempting traditional publishing first will involve telling you my opinion about both these publishing methods. First I want to say that I don’t believe books should be judged by how they’re published. Trad, Indie, Self-pub, I choose to ignore them all when I’m looking for a book to read. I prefer to judge each book separately. I judge the book for the book itself. Is it a good story, do I want to keep reading? That’s all I care about. And, I’ve found by doing this that there are wonderful books out there regardless of how they’re published. (Check out Self-publishing part 1 for more info.)

When it comes to reading, the publisher doesn’t matter to me. But, when it comes to writing it does. Yes, I want complete creative control, and 70% royalties sounds so much better than what traditional publishers tend to offer you (usually around 15%), but my reasons go deeper than that. I agree with all of the typical reasons people tend to self-publish, but I have a few more that are more personal to me.

1.      I’d like to start my own publishing company, something small, independent, and author friendly. I want to help other authors get their books out there and to do it in a way where they’re still profiting from their books. I feel like to achieve this goal that I should know all parts of the publishing world, and the best way to learn is to do.

2.     The second, and possibly most important reason on my list is I feel that the traditional publishing world is changing, and in some ways becoming obsolete. I feel like self-publishing is going to become a very important part of how books get to people. This may be nothing more than my opinion, but I think the fact that Traditional publishers are now finding some of their clients in the self-published market, like Amanda Hocking, and E.L. James, is a sign of this.
 
When I made the decision of how to publish, the question that was on my mind was “What can traditional publishing do for me?” I’ve heard over and over again in forums and on blogs that even if you choose to self-publish that you should try to publish traditionally first. People say that just rejection letters alone can teach you something, but I disagree.

“… Who ever received writing advice in a rejection letter as sound as the worst 1-star review out there? There’s far more to learn from engaging the market with your product than there is in form letters that tell you not-a-single-frickin’-thing. What’s wrong with testing the waters? Instead of wasting one’s time writing query letters, why not work on that next manuscript instead? (From Publishing is Broken)
I don’t think the traditional publishing world has as much to offer the average author as we are lead to believe. The way we buy books and how we find out about books is changing. It’s becoming an internet based, digital world, where even paperbacks are bought online. Amazon Reviews, and blog posts, Goodreads, and Facebook are how we’re hearing about new books and deciding what to buy. This article may shed some light on these thoughts. Publishing is Broken, we’re drowning in Indie Books, and that’s a Good Thing.

After coming to the conclusion that Traditional Publishing may not suit my needs I asked myself “What can self-publishing do for me?” I found myself with more positive answers. I found possibilities. With self-publishing I had the chance to learn about publishing, and I knew that how well my book did was dependent on how much work I put into it. That made me feel like I could achieve success if I tried hard enough. (Whether or not this is true I can’t say for sure, but it was an empowering feeling.)

Self-Publishing success isn’t new. Authors have been self-publishing for as long as people have been writing. (Famous self-publishedauthors) The only reason I think self-publishing will take off now when it hasn’t in the past is that we finally have a way to reach our readers easily, and affordable. There is a real chance of making a living at it this way, and I think the promise and possibilities of self-publishing will only continue to grow. Self-publishing no longer means buying boxes of your own book and keeping them piled up in your garage because bookstores won’t buy them off you. Print on demand services as offered by places like Createspace, and the e-book market, which is rapidly growing, means there’s no need to have excessive overhead in buying stock of your own book. This also means that your book will never go out of print as it will always be available online.
So in the end I decided not to waste my time with traditional publishing and to give myself the best chance possible by putting my all into my work, and doing it myself.

Read Self-Publishing Part 3 (For Self-Publishers)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review for That Scoundrel Emile Dubois by Lucinda Elliot

 

An Engaging Mystery

5 Stars. My first impression of this book was that it was Sherlock Holmes meets Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It's a mystery that you, the reader will be piecing together as you go. Lucinda Elliot opens up with a prologue that will have you wondering how Sophie and Emile got to where they are and she leaves clues along the way that have your mind racing with possibilities. What I want to do most with this book is to read it again to see if I notice more hints along the way of what's to come.

I was a little apprehensive about a story with both vampires and time traveling; however Elliot brings them together well. My only disappointment is that there wasn't more time traveling. The trips to the past that Emile and his friends take are fun little adventures that keep the plot moving at a nice pace. Emile's grief over the loss of his family is moving, and I wouldn't have minded seeing more of him revisiting his past. Also, I wish I had been told a little more about the mechanics of time traveling. The general ideas of how it came about were explained, but I wanted a little more.

Set during the French Revolution That Scoundrel Emile Dubois is a historical fiction with traditional vampires. It's written in a way that feels fitting to the era, but you can understand it as if it were written in modern day English. It's also very reminiscent of "Dracula" with classic mythology, and yet brand new at the same time. You will find some classic themes in this book, but they are used in a very original story.

I really enjoyed seeing scary vampires in a story again, real vampires that hate garlic and crosses and drink blood. Kenrick in particular made my skin crawl, and his wife Ceridwen is a seductive and powerful woman who you'll love to hate. Also, the battle that Emile fights as he deals with this disease as it starts to overcome him will have you feeling his struggle as well.

Elliot's characters are deep and well written. That Scoundrel Emile Dubois is just that, a scoundrel, a highwayman, a rogue. But, he also has a lot of heart and deep down is a truly genuine person. Emile is a Robin Hood type character who gets into some unsavory situations but is always there to do right by good people. His love interest, Sophie, is a little quiet at the beginning of the book. She starts out as the typical subversive female, quiet and polite. But, as the story goes on she really finds herself and becomes stronger and more independent. I really enjoyed watching her character grow. I also found the relationship between Sophie and Emile to be real and heartwarming.

Also, Agnes the Tarot reading maid and Emile's footman Georges added a lot of humor to this piece as well as being deep and fascinating characters themselves.

Some of the details I really loved were the little bits of French, and use of other words and phrases that would be appropriate for the place and time period. Elliot does a wonderful job of letting you know when her characters are speaking in French or other languages. She's able to get that feeling of culture in her story without losing readability. There's just enough hints and actual French thrown in that it flows really nicely. Most of this story is set in English-speaking locations, but for the pieces of it that aren't it felt very authentic to have the characters speaking in the way they would in that area.

This is a complicated story, but the farther I got into it the more the pieces started to come together, and the more it sucked me in. It had humor, and an ending that tied up all loose ends, if you like vampires or historical fiction I would highly recommend this book.