When Reader Targeting Goes Wrong

Taking a non-scammy tangent from Saturday"s post, I’d like to talk about what happens when you target the wrong readers, because being too scattergun with promo can really hurt your book. I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the last few months. Currently, I’m in the process of both updating Let’s Get Digital for a third edition and writing a book on the topic which is tentatively called The Reader’s Journey: From Strangers to Superfans – as well as working on a third, secret project for writers that is all about using a certain kind of targeting in a very specific way to build audience and drive sales. And I’ve been putting all these theories into practice too, working with a Read More…

Please Don’t Buy My Book

I’m just back from The Smarter Artist Summit in Austin, Texas. I won’t try and capture the magic of the event – Kobo Mark does an excellent job – but I would like to talk about the big takeaway: the dangers of Also Bought pollution. Also Boughts are probably the most important aspect of the entire Amazon recommendation ecostructure. And also the least understood. They are much more than a little strip under your book’s description – they power a huge chunk of the recommendations that Amazon serves to readers. The Also Boughts are what tells Amazon that the readers of my non-fiction also like reading Susan Kaye Quinn, Sean Platt and Johnny Truant. Amazon uses this data to decide Read More…

Please Don't Buy My Book

I’m just back from The Smarter Artist Summit in Austin, Texas. I won’t try and capture the magic of the event – Kobo Mark does an excellent job – but I would like to talk about the big takeaway: the dangers of Also Bought pollution. Also Boughts are probably the most important aspect of the entire Amazon recommendation ecostructure. And also the least understood. They are much more than a little strip under your book’s description – they power a huge chunk of the recommendations that Amazon serves to readers. The Also Boughts are what tells Amazon that the readers of my non-fiction also like reading Susan Kaye Quinn, Sean Platt and Johnny Truant. Amazon uses this data to decide Read More…

The Great Amazon Hysteria… Part 31

Are you scared yet? Because you should be scared. Something really bad is about to happen. It affects all of us. Our livelihoods are at risk. The ability to support our families. It’s just over the horizon. It could happen any minute. It’s coming for all of us! WE ARE DOOOOOOOOOMED. Ahem. I’ve been around for long enough to know that authors can be a skittish bunch. Probably something to do with our over-active imaginations, with an assist from that old writers’ favorite: the whiskey brunch. More seriously, we are going through a period of unprecedented change so it’s perfectly normal for people to be a little fearful. I think the disruption we are all experiencing is greater than that Read More…

Author Solutions Steps Up Global Expansion, Penguin Random House Integration Bewares

Penguin Random House is speeding up the international expansion of its vanity press operations, while also seeking to integrate them more closely with the traditional side of the business – hoping to counteract flat growth for Author Solutions at a time when self-publishing is booming. Author Solutions launches a new self-publishing service company for the Spanish market next Tuesday – MeGustaEscribir – which contains the usual mix of crappy publishing packages and ineffective, overpriced marketing services, as well as some extremely questionable practices such as reading fees (more on that below). The way the Author Solutions scam typically operates is detailed exhaustively in this post, but here’s a brief summary. How Author Solutions Squeezes Newbie Writers Customers are captured through Read More…

New Release: The Indie Author Power Pack: How To Write, Publish & Market Your Book

For the last few months I have been secretly planning an assault on the New York Times bestseller list. Today, I can finally announce the release of the book I’m hoping will do the trick. The Indie Author Power Pack: How To Write, Publish & Market Your Book contains three top-rated guides: Write. Publish. Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant Let’s Get Digital (2nd ed.) by me How To Market A Book (2nd ed.) by Joanna Penn + Bonus Content! It’s only available for a limited time, and you can pre-order it now for just 99c at: Amazon | Apple | B&N | Kobo | $0.99 The box will launch on Monday, November 3, but if you pre-order Read More…

Amazon and S&S Agree Terms. Who’s The Bad Guy Again?

Simon & Schuster has agreed a multi-year deal with Amazon covering both e-books and print books. Business Insider reported that negotiations only took three weeks and were concluded two months before the original contract expired. I’m confused, does this mean the end of literary culture or not? Someone needs to run up to Douglas Preston’s quaint writer shack to find out. (If you get lost, it’s at the back of his 400-acre estate). It also begs a question: what exactly is Hachette holding out for? As everyone knows at this point, Hachette’s contract with Amazon expired in March and the two parties have been unable to agree a deal since. The narrative being pushed by the media was that Amazon’s desired terms Read More…

Building a Killer Email List

There is a lot of upheaval in publishing today and I think that’s likely to increase rather than decrease. The best insurance policy any writer can have against the future is a targeted mailing list. I’ve written before about how the author with the biggest mailing list wins, and I’ve invited Nick Stephenson along today because he’s got some great ideas on how to boost your list. The cool thing about his approach is that it’s something anyone can do. And, as you will see, it really, really works. Here’s Nick with more: Building a Killer Email List As an author, I try to read as much as possible. I tend to get excited over 8 or 9 different authors across a few Read More…

Gatecrashing the Cosy Consensus on Amazon

A group of bestselling traditionally published authors – including James Patterson, Scott Turow, and Douglas Preston – engaged in an act of breathtaking hypocrisy on Thursday with an open letter calling on Amazon to end its dispute with Hachette. The letter is incredibly disingenuous. It claims not to take sides, but only calls on Amazon to take action to end the dispute. It also makes a series of ridiculous claims, notably that Amazon has been “boycotting Hachette authors.” Where do I start? The Phantom Boycott First of all, refusing to take pre-orders on Hachette titles is not a “boycott.” Pre-orders are a facility extended to certain publishers – not all publishers. Many small presses don’t have a pre-order facility. Most Read More…

Media Bias and Amazon

There is so much crap being spouted in this anti-Amazon media push that you need a nose-peg and waders to get through it all. Let’s take a look at what happened this week. Hook, Line & Sinker Statements from either side in the Amazon-Hachette dispute have been thin on the ground. Both companies are said to have signed NDAs – restricting formal comments while negotiations are ongoing – but Hachette has been leaking to reporters, and marshaling authors and industry figures in its defense, leading to an extremely one-sided depiction of events in the media. Which is fine, it’s a pretty standard negotiation tactic, and a clever one if media conglomerates like Bertelsmann (part-owner of Penguin Random House), CBS (owner Read More…

Amazon v Hachette: Don’t Believe The Spin

The internet is seething over Amazon’s reported hardball tactics in negotiations with Hachette. Newspapers and blogs are filled with heated opinion pieces, decrying Amazon’s domination of the book business. Actual facts are thinner on the ground, however, and if history is any guide, we haven’t heard the full story. Here’s how it started. In a historical quirk of the trade, publishers and booksellers negotiate co-op deals at the same time as the general agreement to carry titles. (For those who don’t know, co-op is the industry term for preferred in-store placement, such as face-out instead of spine-out, position on end-caps, front tables, window displays, and so on.) At publishers’ insistence, the same practice has continued in the online and e-book world, namely Read More…

Thinking Inside The Box: Building Audience With Bundles

After my marketing post last month, I promised a follow up on box sets. In fact, I’ve gone one better and invited Phoenix Sullivan to do a guest post on the topic. Today is perfect timing actually because we have just launched SINS OF THE PAST: 5 Historical Novels of Mystery, War and Adventure – just 99c at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo: For those that don’t know Phoenix, she’s a self-published author who also runs her own publishing company – Steel Magnolia Press – together with romance author Jennifer Blake. In the last 18 months, Phoenix has also been experimenting with box sets and, as you will see below, the results have been astounding. I’ve known Phoenix for a while and no-one knows Read More…

Astroturfing: The Source of Zombie Memes in Publishing?

Why are there so many zombie memes in publishing? Why is there so much groupthink? It might be because the industry isn’t particularly diverse. Or it could be that book-lovers are nostalgic types who are automatically wary of change. But I suspect it’s astroturfing by the publishing establishment, a practice admitted to last month by YS Chi, chairman of Elsevier and president of the International Publishers Association, in paragraph six of this article. For the click-lazy, here’s the money quote (emphasis mine): “We gathered all the communications people together to discuss the issues and create an action plan. We have a multi-faceted audience to address, and in the next 12 months you will see key messages delivered, compelling stories of our Read More…

If You Don’t Enjoy Marketing, You’re Doing It Wrong

I can already feel the heat from approaching pitchforks! But if you hear me out, I think I can convert at least some of you to the idea that if you don’t enjoy marketing, you’re doing it wrong. Let me explain. Sometimes marketing can seem like a Sisyphean task. There’s always something you could do to promote your work, and there’s never enough hours in the day. Many writers are already hard-pressed with demands from the rest of their lives and have to battle hard to carve out writing time. The pressure to promote squeezes that precious writing time even further. On top of that, many marketing tasks just seem unpleasant. Writers can often be introverts who don’t like pressing Read More…

If You Don't Enjoy Marketing, You're Doing It Wrong

I can already feel the heat from approaching pitchforks! But if you hear me out, I think I can convert at least some of you to the idea that if you don’t enjoy marketing, you’re doing it wrong. Let me explain. Sometimes marketing can seem like a Sisyphean task. There’s always something you could do to promote your work, and there’s never enough hours in the day. Many writers are already hard-pressed with demands from the rest of their lives and have to battle hard to carve out writing time. The pressure to promote squeezes that precious writing time even further. On top of that, many marketing tasks just seem unpleasant. Writers can often be introverts who don’t like pressing Read More…