Starting From Zero Marketing Writing

Success can seem unattainable to those starting out. It’s easy to forget that even the biggest sellers started from zero. Amanda Hocking didn’t arrive on the scene as a fully formed sales machine. She didn’t have a platform which she had been diligently building up for years, nor did she come from trade publishing. She was unable to convince an agent to take her on and decided to self-publish instead, and then sold a million e-books in nine months! Detractors tried to paint Hocking as an anomaly — and she was, in the sense that anyone who is phenomenally successful at anything is an anomaly. But that missed the point: she was able to sell as much as the biggest names in Read More…

Kindle Unlimited: The Key Questions Amazon Marketing Publishing

Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited on Friday, giving self-publishers a big decision to make. The long-rumored subscription service will allow users to download unlimited books for $9.99 a month, and reader reaction has been, from what I can see, overwhelmingly positive – especially because they will be able to test the service with a month’s free trial. Writers have been a little more cautious, for all sorts of reasons I’ll try and tease out below. The main stumbling block for self-publishers is that participation in Kindle Unlimited is restricted to titles enrolled in KDP Select – Amazon’s program which offers various additional marketing tools in exchange for exclusivity. Author compensation will be similar to borrows under the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library – Read More…

Launching A Book By The Seat Of My Pants Marketing Writing

I’m launching Mercenary today and you can grab it from Amazon, B&N, Kobo and Smashwords for just 99c, and you can add it on Goodreads here. I recommend grabbing it now because the price will be jumping to $4.99 in a few days. The reasoning behind 99c is below, but first here’s the blurb: Lee Christmas gets drunk and falls asleep at the throttle of his locomotive, plowing straight into an oncoming train. Blacklisted from the railroad and his marriage in tatters, he flees New Orleans on a steamer bound for the tropics. In Honduras, he begins a quiet new life. But trouble has a way of finding Christmas. With unrest sweeping the countryside, he’s kidnapped by bandits. Soon, he Read More…

The Great E-book Pricing Question Marketing Publishing

There’s more guff written about pricing than almost anything else, resulting in an extremely confusing situation for new self-publishers. I often see them pricing too low or too high, and the decision is rarely made the right way, i.e. ascertaining their goals and pricing accordingly. Price/value confusion Before we get to the nuts-and-bolts, it’s time to slay a zombie meme. Much of the noise on this issue springs from conflating two concepts, namely price and value. Authors often say something like, “My book is worth more than a coffee.” Or publishers might say, “A movie costs $10 and provides two hours of entertainment. Novels provide several times that and should cost more than $9.99.” Price and value are two different things. Read More…

IndieReCon – Free Online Conference Starts Next Week Marketing Publishing Resources Writing

There’s a free, online self-publishing conference taking place next week. It’s the second year of IndieReCon, and they have an action-packed schedule filled with all sorts of great stuff – a mixture of posts, vlogs, webinars, as well as the opportunity to drill deeper into the various topics with a series of online and Twitter chats. The fun kicks off next Tuesday, Feb 25 at 10:00 (EST) and runs until Thursday, Feb 27 at 22:00 (EST). I have all the details below from one of the co-founders, SR (Shelli) Johannes, which I’m happy to share. Be sure to drop in, there’s some cool stuff planned, and it’s all FREE (make sure to register to gain access). Here’s Shelli with more: Read More…

15 Ways Amazon Can Improve Kindle Direct Publishing Amazon Marketing Publishing

At the London Book Fair in April, I had the opportunity to meet representatives from Amazon and present a list of feature requests and complaints (from the comments of this post with an assist from KBoards). I spent quite a bit of time going through the list and felt that everything got a fair hearing. Amazon said that a lot of this stuff is in the pipeline in one form or another (although judgement will have to be reserved until we see how it’s implemented) and the rest of the issues and feature requests would be passed along to the relevant department. This isn’t the full list I presented, but it’s the issues I’d like to focus on today: 1. More Read More…

Amazon's Recommendation Engine Trumps The Competition Marketing

There’s an old adage that bestsellers are chosen rather than made, and there’s some truth to that. The amount a publisher splurges on the advance has to be recouped before the book turns a profit. The more money that has to be recouped, the greater the marketing budget. Sleeper hits are the exception for a reason. It’s a lot easier to hit the bestseller lists when you are on the front table of every single Barnes & Noble than if you are spine-out at the back of a handful of stores (or gathering dust in the warehouse). It often comes as a surprise to those outside publishing that these bookstore spots are bought and sold, that whether a book is Read More…

Amazon’s Recommendation Engine Trumps The Competition Marketing

There’s an old adage that bestsellers are chosen rather than made, and there’s some truth to that. The amount a publisher splurges on the advance has to be recouped before the book turns a profit. The more money that has to be recouped, the greater the marketing budget. Sleeper hits are the exception for a reason. It’s a lot easier to hit the bestseller lists when you are on the front table of every single Barnes & Noble than if you are spine-out at the back of a handful of stores (or gathering dust in the warehouse). It often comes as a surprise to those outside publishing that these bookstore spots are bought and sold, that whether a book is Read More…

The Author With The Biggest Mailing List Wins Marketing

What happens when a reader finishes your e-books? What’s the first thing they see? What’s the first thing they do? Back-matter is extremely important. Presuming you have done your job as a writer well, it’s a golden opportunity to draw readers into your world. The basic components of effective back-matter are fairly straightforward: blurbs for and/or links to your other books, links to whatever social media presence you have, a short note requesting reviews, and, most important of all, a link to your New Release Mailing List. If you don’t have a mailing list already, you need to set one up immediately. It’s one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Without an effective method for collecting readers’ emails Read More…

99 Books and 99 Authors at 99c (with $990 in prizes) Marketing Writing

Apologies for the blog silence while I put the finishing touches to Let’s Get Visible. I’m poking my head out of the writing cave to tell you about a very special promotion I’m taking part in today: 99 authors who have dropped the price of their 99 books to 99c for one day only. There are also $990 worth of prizes up for grabs, and you can find out more here (where you will see the line-up of participating books. Amazon is featuring 80 of the participating books as a very special Kindle Daily Deal today  – including my historical A Storm Hits Valparaiso –  and it will be fun seeing how high the books go. I’m scheduling this post in advance, as Read More…

Popularity, Visibility & KDP Select Marketing

For most writers, anonymity is the biggest hurdle they face. The open nature of digital distribution can be a double-edged sword; there are 1.1 million titles in the Kindle Store after all. While the virtual shelves are endless, and while readers have demonstrated an increased appetite for reading (and hoarding) once they switch to e-books, the spotlight is limited. There can only ever be 100 books in the Top 100. The major sites (like Ereader News Today or Pixel of Ink) will only feature a limited amount of books per day. There is only one Kindle Daily Deal. Visibility is a continual challenge, and, when we look at that problem a little closer, it’s not radically different to the challenges Read More…

Popularity, Visibility & KDP Select Marketing

For most writers, anonymity is the biggest hurdle they face. The open nature of digital distribution can be a double-edged sword; there are 1.1 million titles in the Kindle Store after all. While the virtual shelves are endless, and while readers have demonstrated an increased appetite for reading (and hoarding) once they switch to e-books, the spotlight is limited. There can only ever be 100 books in the Top 100. The major sites (like Ereader News Today or Pixel of Ink) will only feature a limited amount of books per day. There is only one Kindle Daily Deal. Visibility is a continual challenge, and, when we look at that problem a little closer, it’s not radically different to the challenges Read More…

Conference Thoughts: Treating Backlist Like Frontlist Marketing

Last weekend, I taught a workshop on self-publishing at the Festival of Writing in York. It was quite a large conference, with a few hundred attendees, primarily focused on unpublished writers. Most attendees were seeking publication via the traditional route, but there was a lively crowd at the workshop, and I was pigeon-holed by many more curious about self-publishing over the weekend. I had some free time on Saturday and dropped in on a SF/F genre panel. Much of the advice was excellent, but some was quite curious. For starters, writers were urged not to write in a series. The reason given was that agents and publishers prefer standalone works as the first book may not sell, and then the writer will Read More…

Pricing, Visibilty & Experimentation Marketing Publishing

This blog focuses a lot on getting the basics right: a good story, cover, blurb, sample, and price. However, all of that means little if no-one is actually visiting your book page to begin with. Competitions, blog reviews, giveaways, guest blogs, interviews, presence on reader forums etc. can all bring extra traffic to your book pages, but they are very time consuming. If you want to move beyond what is essentially hand-selling your work, you need to gain visibility on Amazon, and let them do the hard work of selling your book for you (while you spend your time writing instead). Just make sure those basics are in place first, or you won’t get a good return from anything outlined Read More…

Pricing, Visibilty & Experimentation Marketing Publishing

This blog focuses a lot on getting the basics right: a good story, cover, blurb, sample, and price. However, all of that means little if no-one is actually visiting your book page to begin with. Competitions, blog reviews, giveaways, guest blogs, interviews, presence on reader forums etc. can all bring extra traffic to your book pages, but they are very time consuming. If you want to move beyond what is essentially hand-selling your work, you need to gain visibility on Amazon, and let them do the hard work of selling your book for you (while you spend your time writing instead). Just make sure those basics are in place first, or you won’t get a good return from anything outlined Read More…