How To Self-Publish A Book In 10 Steps

This fourth edition of Digital has been completely revamped to reflect the needs of self-publishers in 2020. The structure has been completely streamlined to reflect the ten steps involved in publishing your work like a pro.

Reflecting the specific challenges that writers face today, the advice on each step goes much deeper than before. Instead of just showing you how and where to find a cover designer, for example, Let’s Get Digital will show you how to brief your designer effectively, and learn what effective commercial packaging is for your niche, so that you end up with a cover which isn’t just pretty, but also very effective at appealing to your specific target audience.

And the same goes for writing, editing, formatting, pricing, metadata — all the areas where an author must make crucial decisions which affect the viability of their book.

Of course, the largest section of the book, by far, covers the entire topic of marketing from the ground up, showing authors not just how to find their first readers in the most cost effective way possible, but also how to construct a real author platform, one that will capture interest from readers and use those seeds to grow a community of fans around your work, who will send each new release higher in the charts. Read More…

How To Design A Book Cover That Sells

Getting your book cover design right is the arguably most important stage in self-publishing a book. Handle this delicately if you want to have any chance of success — this is not an area where you can skate by.

Without the right cover, no one will give your book a chance, no matter how well-written it is, or how diligent your editor.

This comprehensive guide will break down the anatomy of a great book cover so you know what you’re shooting for, but that’s just the beginning.

It will also show you how to research your specific niche so that you know what readers are already responding to, where to find your very own cover designer and what they might charge, and also how to write a design brief so the cover you get is exactly right for your niche — the secret sauce that many beginners miss. Read More…

9 Ways To Unleash The Power of Free In 2021

Authors are giving away more stuff than ever before: permafree books, reader magnets, and ARCs are just the tip of the iceberg. What’s going on? Should you jump on the free train? Does any of this stuff generate money? Let’s break it down.

The self-publishing landscape today looks very different from when I started ten years ago, that heady time when ebooks first exploded in popularity.

But some things are suddenly feeling quite similar. The impact of the pandemic and lockdowns has seen a lot of economic change occur in a short space of time. With an increase in online purchasing for painfully obvious reasons.

That also means there are lots of new ebook consumers up for grabs. Read More…

Publishing Short Stories • Your Guide to Making Money

Short stories are fun to write, but can you make money from publishing them? The quick answer is: maybe. But it’s almost certainly harder than you think, and the path to success with short stories can be circuitous.

Let’s begin by looking at the enduring popularity of short stories, including how a surprising number of much-loved movies were adapted from shorter work – but also contrast that with how difficult it is to get them published… unless you decide to do it yourself.

Another needed dose of realism for authors of short stories: the opportunities brought by ebooks and self-publishing haven’t led to the short story renaissance many hoped – except in certain niches. Nevertheless, some intrepid writers are using shorter work in new and clever ways to get attention, grow their readership, and make some money while they are at it. Read More…

The Great Ebook Pricing Question

Do bargain basement prices indicate low quality? Will a 99c price tag actually reduce the value a reader places on a book? That’s a harder question to answer. I think this is true in some cases for some readers, but I also think it’s massively overstated.

It’s hard to sell a book at any price if you have a crappy cover, insipid blurb, wonky formatting, a flaccid sample and tons of terrible reviews (which are all cues to the reader about the value of the product).

But if you have a striking, professional cover, an enticing blurb, clean formatting, a sample which grabs readers right away and lots of great reviews, then you can avoid any negative association with a lower price. Or, at least, the number of readers you will gain through lower prices will greatly exceed any you might lose through such negative associations. Read More…

Editing A Book • The 5 Stages

Editing a book is a complex, multi-part process that is best handled by experienced professionals, even if you are self-publishing, and even if you diligently spend a lot of time self-editing.

There are five main stages to editing a book to the proper standard, although some stages can be combined, repeated, expanded upon, or even skipped, depending on your individual needs (which is a polite way of saying: depending on how much of a dog’s dinner you made of things).

As a regular maker of dog’s dinners myself, I have become intimately acquainted with all five stages and can break down how to edit a book properly, as well as giving you various options depending on your individual needs or budget, and point you to some more resources too.

The five main stages of editing are beta readers, self-editing, story editing (which you may know as developmental or content editing), copy editing, and, finally, proofing. It’s important to note there certainly isn’t one correct way to edit; you will need to develop your own process. You will find advice on that below as well, along with help on finding an editor. Read More…

Amazon and the Myth of the A9 Algorithm

There is more nonsense written about Amazon than almost any other topic because mere mention of Amazon will get you more clicks than anything else — although the “A9 Algorithm” might be the most ridiculous topic of all.

Amazon also happens to be an incredibly divisive subject generally, one of those where little nuance seems to be permitted — and someone writing articles about Amazon tends to regularly get labeled a “shill” or a “hater,” depending, sometimes off the back of the same piece!

Talk of Amazon can also be quite lucrative. The currency of the internet is attention — as I think was once said by Jeff Bezos, although I’m scared to Google it in case I start getting hunted down on every corner of the internet with hyper-personalized ads offering to make me a Kindle Publishing Millionaire or help me build a Drop Shipping EMPIRE.

Internet marketers are not known for their rigorous application of the scientific method. One intrepid black-hatted pioneer will discover a tasty data-morsel, dress it up in distracting finery, and then parade it about as part of a $2000 course. And then a dozen more will riff off that for their own courses and Patreons and books and masterminds and exclusive online workshops and virtual conferences; it’s like the most expensive game of telephone ever.

Sadly, it’s also quite value-free if you like hard facts.

This kind of environment shows some of the drawbacks of the brave new world ushered in by the internet and Google. If search for the phrase “amazon algorithm,” for example, the very first result is an article titled “Everything You Need To Know About Amazon’s A9 Algorithm,” and my BS alarm immediately goes off — use of the singular “algorithm” is a dead giveaway that the person doesn’t have a clue what they are talking about. Use of “A9” in this manner is another. Read More…

Best Book Promotion Sites • 2021 Edition

These are the best book promo sites in 2021 for boosting your sales, broken down into various categories – with something for all budgets and experience levels, even some completely free options. This list is curated by me personally, and all these sites have been tested and are recommended because of the results generated.

You can skip to the section you are looking for below but make sure to check the final section for a free course on how to build a proper marketing campaign. Read More…

Self-Editing Explained

Self-editing is the process an author goes through before they send their work to a professional editor; it is not a replacement for editing by a qualified, experienced, professional editor. There is only so much work an editor can do to improve your manuscript in the allotted time, and self-editing enables authors to remove the more obvious errors so that a professional editor can really go to work on deeper issues.

If you want your work to really shine, you must make it as good as you possible can before you hand it over to a professional editor.

And it’s a professional editor’s perspective that I think you will find most useful on this topic, so I have invited along Karin Cox to run through some of the ways that authors can self-edit their work and get it in better shape before they send it off to be copy edited. Read More…

Authors Say #DisneyMustPay

Disney is accused of refusing to pay royalties to Alan Dean Foster in a move that could ultimately affect all published authors, prompting widespread calls that #DisneyMustPay.

Foster wrote the first ever Star Wars novelization, released six months before the initial movie. Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker was based on a screenplay written by George Lucas and its his name that graced the front cover. But Alan Dean Foster wrote the book, which is still in print, and he received royalty checks for it right up until the point that Disney acquired Lucasfilm. Then the checks stopped coming.

Back in the 1970s, Foster was contracted to write a sequel to that first tie-in, working from far less material this time. George Lucas wasn’t entirely sure at that point how successful Star Wars would be and, crucially, how much of a budget he would have to play with – which placed limitations on the kind of story Foster could write. For example, Lucas instructed Foster to keep Han Solo out of the story, because Harrison Ford had not signed on for a sequel yet.

Further writers were hired as the Star Wars franchise grew in popularity and scope, and Alan Dean Foster continued to establish his name. He worked on numerous media tie-ins for franchises like Star Trek, Alien, Transformers, Alien Nation, and Terminator, a whole plethora of standalone novelizations for movies like Krull, The Thing, Clash of the Titans, and The Last Starfighter, and also his own original novels like the Spellsinger series and the many Humanx Commonwealth books. More recently, he returned to the Star Wars universe to write the novelization of The Force Awakens.

In other words, this isn’t some unknown or inexperienced author that Disney is pushing around. But what is Disney playing at? Read More…

How To Market A Book | 2020 Edition

Figuring out how to sell books in 2020 means facing a pair of imposing challenges : the multiplying complexity of book marketing and — speaking of things rising exponentially — the global pandemic, which has led to lockdowns, recessions, as well as no small amount of tragedy.

And I want to focus on that second challenge for a moment — before we dive into all the ways that you can get your books into readers’ hands — because there is something rather different about this year.

Writers are generally quite fortunate in that they can work from home and sell books online and, for the moment at least, the digital side of the publishing business looks less exposed than the physical end.

Indeed, retailers and distributors are reporting a boost in ebook sales, and freebies in particular seem especially popular. Anecdotal reports concur, and also seem to confirm that there has been a surge in new entrants to the ebook market — which makes sense when people are stuck at home or less inclined to go browsing in meatspace, for painfully obvious reasons. Read More…

Decoding Amazon To Sell More Books

In case you read the old, free edition and want to know what has changed, let me make that easy for you: everything. This brand new edition is a full-length book (over 75,000 words) breaking down how the Kindle Store, and how you can seduce Amazon’s giant recommendation engine.

Most importantly, it goes deep on how to profit from that knowledge, showing you exactly how to tweak your metadata and marketing plans to sell more books.

In fact, Amazon Decoded goes one step further than that and hands you a series of strategies and tactics you can use right away – launch plans and backlist promotions to suit your needs if you are wide or exclusive to Amazon, or whether you are looking to maximize income, expand your audience, promote your work on a limited budget, or spend a little more and send a whole series into orbit.

Amazon Decoded also comes with a stellar set of bonus resources, housed on a private part of this here website, which will help you put all this information into practice and raise your marketing game.

Want to sell more books on the world’s biggest retailer? Amazon Decoded will show you how. Read More…

What The Big Tech Hearings Mean For Indie Authors

The CEOs of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple were grilled on Capitol Hill yesterday, stepping up the anti-trust chatter that has been percolating over the last few years. While some of you might be tempted to reflexively dismiss these hearings as political theater, many commentators seem to agree that this time feels different.

Political sands have shifted. Public sentiment towards tech companies has soured — companies who were once almost universally loved. Well, at least in the case of three of them; Amazon always attracted some measure of criticism, I guess, probably given the particular companies it disrupted.

Indie authors, in particular, perked up at the news of these hearings, given that three of those places are where we sell most of our books, and the fourth is what many of us predominantly use to drive sales of those books.

Whatever your feeling on these individual companies, their effects on society, or the forces driving these hearings, the mere prospect of anti-trust actions creates uncertainty in business terms, at a time when we already have a significant amount of it. Which makes this an excellent time to examine how well your author business is future-proofed, given the average indie author’s dependency on this set of companies currently in the anti-trust spotlight. Read More…

Formatting An Ebook: A Step-by-Step Guide

After clocking up ten years’ experience making my own ebooks, I do a few things differently – but these are predominantly stylistic preferences, or my preferred best practices in terms of ebook layout, or the odd policy change from Amazon here and there.

A caveat: you will need a fair bit of patience to get through the DIY formatting process. At least the first time. It becomes much less of a head melter after you first format an ebook successfully, but you will be tearing your hair out that first time. Be warned! That said, I actually love formatting my own ebooks; I find it weirdly soothing.

I can fix errors at the drop of a hat, fiddle with my end matter to my heart’s content, and I could even hang out my shingle as an ebook formatter now, if I needed a side-hustle. It’s a useful skill, if you are willing to work through the many frustrations that will accompany your first efforts.

It might take you a whole day to do this the first time. It could even take longer! But after doing this a few times, you’ll be able to whizz through the process in an hour or less. And it doesn’t take much “practice” to reach that point. That first time is a bear though! You have been warned. Read More…