Marketing for self-publishers

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Marketing for self-publishers

1Gareth.Southwell
Editado: Maio 29, 2020, 8:53 am

Hi everyone,

I'm a traditionally published author (popular philosophy), just starting to investigate self-publishing. I wondered what people's experiences were like with this? How do you go about promoting yourself? Newsletter? Social media? Would be interested to hear your thoughts.

All the best,

Gareth.

2paradoxosalpha
Maio 29, 2020, 9:54 am

I use a variety of tools:
* Book trailer videos on YouTube
* A Facebook page managed by my Other Reader
* An ancient LiveJournal account
* Interviews on podcasts

Since I started self-publishing books, I've been cranking them out at a rate better than two a year. I tease upcoming books in the back pages of my existing ones.

3Gareth.Southwell
Maio 29, 2020, 12:40 pm

Thanks! That's interesting. I don't use any of those! Apart from advertising other books at the back of existing ones.

I have an aversion to Facebook, though I am on Twitter. However, I've heard that newsletters are a vital way for SP authors to develop a readership. Any thoughts on that?

4paradoxosalpha
Maio 29, 2020, 5:02 pm

I have an aversion to Facebook too. Unfortunately it *is* "the internet" for quite a lot of people. I don't read there, and I have someone else to post to my designated "author page."

A newsletter seems like a lot of work, and it would distract from the other self-publishing on the production side. What would the content be? Would you distribute it by email? I think a blog should be sufficient for connecting with readers, if you can crank out that sort of continuing update.

5Gareth.Southwell
Maio 30, 2020, 1:43 am

I guess I need to find someone to run my Facebook page!

Any non-writing work will distract from writing, so I guess the question is whether it's necessary and fruitful. A lot of what I've read suggests it is. Yes, by email, so you get to directly connect with people, and can let them know when you have new books out. I think it would be instead of a blog, and probably less work - a monthly update on what you're reading, writing, thinking about, etc. Engagement with emails is much higher than social media, and with the latter you are at the mercy of the algorithm (whether your post gets seen).

6LShelby
Jun 3, 2020, 1:10 pm

I am yet another person who doesn't much like facebook.

I've also been thinking I should try talk my son into making me a facebook page, later, since he's currently learning how to make uber impressive 'professional' facebook pages as part of some volunteer work he is doing. So why not take advantage, right? >:)

I also have the same problem as paradoxosalpha with newsletters. What am I supposed to be putting into it? I have such a hard time with health problems cutting into my production time already, I don't want to spend time I could be writing books writing newsletters instead.

Anyway, as to the question at hand, I think Gareth has a bit of an advantage over many of us in that he has a "platform" -- he already has a solid standing as a pro author of philosophy books. The problem there, is that if he's going to be putting out a Science Fiction novel, how much cross-over is he going to get?

But it should be possible to leverage the expertise he has in that area, by offering to do guest posts on other people's blogs about the philosphical underpinnings of other science fiction novels. This can both show off the professional expertise, and establish him as a person who is genuinely interested in science fiction.

Science fiction fans tend to be 'information' people. They admire people who know stuff. So being visible as an interesting and knowledgeable person in the field, is probably more valuable than just about anything else you can do.

Once you have made the connections with people in the field, then you may not actually need to do much else in the way of promotion at all. If the book is good enough, you just need to get it into the hands of a few well-placed people willing to say nice things about it in some public forum.

So don't push your book at all, other than to make sure it gets listed in the about the author section. Just mostly concentrate on maintaining your visibility.

What was it that Lois McMaster Bujold said, "My favorite form of marketing is to write books that sell themselves"? Something like that.

...But this is just my initial suggestion based on what little I know about the situation and the observation that the most effective promotion techniques for independent authors seem to be the ones that are unique to them. Any marketing technique that everyone can do, everyone will do, and it will shortly thereafter become a whole lot less effective. :(

There ought to be some way to leverage his artistic talents too...

Maybe try doing fan art for Science Fiction authors you admire (particularly ones who are likely to post the fan art they get to their blogs).

Actually, thinking about it, artwork is a great way to become 'known' to Science Fiction readers. One of my favorite facebook friends is the one who posts nature photos that he took himself.

So sign up for some big Facebook Science Fiction group, and then post science fiction related artwork every couple weeks or so. Original artwork will make people notice you, and once they feel like they 'know' you they respond more positively when months later you say. "Oh, by the way, I just had a book come out..." So instead of going "ho, hum, yet another stranger pushing their self-published books" it will be, "oh, cool, that guy Gareth who does the neat caricatures of science fiction characters, wrote a book. Maybe I'll check that out."

Like that.

It's a theory anyway, your mileage may vary, other disclaimers as required.

7Gareth.Southwell
Jun 3, 2020, 2:25 pm

Thanks for your detailed thoughts, LShelby! You make a number of interesting points.

My understanding of the role of author newsletters is that they are relatively short and infrequent, and so the work is actually quite minimal - the initial setup is a bit of legwork, but after that 500 words or so once a month isn't much. I think it's about connecting with people personally and giving them an opportunity to know you better. I admit, if that takes off, then perhaps a lot of your time would be spent answering reader emails - but then, I think, most authors I know dream of that level of interest and interaction! So, a good problem, maybe. Anyway, I've just done my first one the other day, which took a couple of hours, and the rest is all set up for next month. I may break the monthly rule occasionally to let people know of a book coming out or something, but otherwise I'll stick to that regimen, and keep it light and conversational.

As to what to write about, I think that's pretty easy - what you're working on, thinking about, reading about, your struggles as a writer, your routine, things in the news - I think, as I say, the point is to connect in a personal way. I thought I'd struggle, too, but it's actually not too painful (so far...!). If you're interested in being swayed on this topic, I can recommend the work of David Gaughran and Tammi Labrecque, both of whom are newsletter evangelists.

The platform thing is interesting. Like you, I thought it might give me a slight edge, but in practice, that may not be the case. At least, this is true of traditional publishing. Being published in one field doesn't sway agents or editors when it comes to something you produce in another. Though I think that's a good point about sci-fi readers who might be drawn to the philosophy, and vice versa. That's definitely true of me. Then again, I've read other people who say that you really need to separate out your author identities, because otherwise it might confuse Amazon's algorithm! Anyway, we'll see. The sci-fi project is officially on the back burner at the moment, while we all wait to see if the world is in fact ending! ;)

Unfortunately, my artistic skills are very niche, and not really suited to sci-fi. Most professional covers in this genre seem to be very different to my style, anyway. I have done a cover for my sci-fi novel, but I think that's probably a one-off. I do covers for the philosophy books, though, where caricatures and humour can suit the subject matter.

The big test will be when my self-published philosophy books start coming out (one of which is this week actually - sorry, not self-promoting!). There'll be a link to the newsletter in that, so we'll see if that draws people in. I'll let you know!

Thanks once again,

G.

8LShelby
Jun 4, 2020, 5:47 pm

>7 Gareth.Southwell: "The big test will be when my self-published philosophy books start coming out (one of which is this week actually - sorry, not self-promoting!). There'll be a link to the newsletter in that, so we'll see if that draws people in. I'll let you know!"

I'm looking forward to hearing about it, because I really don't have any experience with newsletters.

But on to what experience I do have.

My experience says that for independent authors, getting eyeballs is the first (and very difficult) job that must be done before you can even worry about getting conversions, which is why I tend to concentrate on it. (Also, with the conversions thingy, the first question is: "Are you sure your book is good enough to appeal to readers?" and that's a very... uh... unfriendly question to be asking near strangers.)

The hopeful news is that non-fiction has always been a more viable product for self-publishing than fiction has been. The reason being (if I have understood everything I've been told correctly) that it sells first on subject matter, (and the subject matter is a little easier to granulize), second on authoritativeness (which is easier for an independent non-fiction author to establish,) and third on writing style.

Fiction sells a little differently.

Anyway, lets start with the philosophy books for now. Based on what I saw on your website, author page, etc, they have two main potential groups of readers: philosophy students, and laypeople who enjoy reading non-fiction.

The philosophy students will find your book by...
METHOD 1: going to Amazon (or other online bookseller of choice) and typing in "philosophy readers guide" or something like that. They will get a list of books that will hopefully include yours, and then they will read the descriptions and check the reviews before making their choice.

Granularity is about giving yourself a specific niche in the field. If only three books show up in the search yours has a much better chance of being bought than if a few hundred results show up.

Searching "philosophy readers guide" gets over 5000 books that show up. A search for "philosophy readers guide kant" brings up only 33 books... if you can find some way to narrow the field further by a quarter or even a third, then you have guaranteed yourself a spot on the first page of a common search term and have solved the eyeball problem.

If you are not on the first page of the results, just take it as a given that nobody will buy your book via this method.

Compare this situation to that of your science fiction book. Searching Science Fiction pulls up over 100 000 books. Finding terms that will actually be searched on that will bring those numbers down to the 16 or so titles you would need to ensure your place on the first page... well, good luck! "science fiction philosophy" pulls up 30 000 results, just in case you were wondering. "science fiction first contact" as a randomish other term I am using for an example pulls up 10 000. If the 'golden' search term for your book is too long, unexpected or unfamiliar, nobody will use it, and you will get no sales.

METHOD 2: they hear something good about your books from a friend, colleague or other authoritative source, probably in some venue associated with school.

This is where networking, your existing visibility and authority in the field, and the fact that philosophy students tend to congregate comes in handy. You can try set up visits at local colleges, you can meet philosophy professors in person, etc, etc. This will get you your eyeballs. The beauty of this method is that it is self-expanding (assuming the books are good enough). Every philosophy professor who likes your work is an authoritative source for a few hundred philosophy students, some of whom will become philosophy professors themselves, etc, etc. Also, because there are only 5000 philosophy readers guides on Amazon, the philosophy professors you meet probably haven't already met dozens, possibly hundreds of other authors of philosophy readers guides. So they will probably be reasonably easy to approach.

Once again, shall we compare this situation to the Science Fiction situation? Wherever you live, it is probably quite easy to find a several philosophy professors within driving distance. They will be visible and available. Where are you going to find any authoritative contacts for Science Fiction? And again, once you have found them, how do you get them to pay any attention to you?

This is why I was recommending putting yourself forward as an expert on philosophy as it applies to science fiction. Now YOU are an authoritative source, and as such you are way more interesting to the other authorities in the field than any mere independent science fiction author which are a dime a dozen, and generally regarded in much the same light as are pigeons, rats, roaches and other urban pests. (But still more welcome than independent fantasy authors, which outnumber them by more than 3:1).

As for my other suggestion, your art style isn't particularly suited to science fiction illustration, and I can see why you might not be comfortable thinking of yourself as a science fiction artist. And I know from personal experience that art isn't as easy as it looks* and I don't want to push you into an activity that would cost more than it brings back. But I would like to point out that illustration is not the only kind of art that is applicable: the science fiction field is peopled with... well... people. You do awesome people. You aren't trying to get a job as a science fiction cover artist here, you are trying to establish yourself as a recognizable person in the science fiction arena. Big difference.

*My programmer friends get annoyed when I tell them that its easier for me to code when not feeling well, than it is for me to write or draw. Well like it or not, for me it is totally true. (Although probably not for everyone, but still, people expect coding to be brain intensive, they don't always consider the mental investment that goes into art.)

Back to the philosophy books...

METHOD 3: They meet you online or in person, and so know that you and/or your books exist, and their impression of you is good so they decide to give it a try. This is the underpowered version of METHOD 2. It works the same way, but it has little room for growth.

Other possible methods: Advertising -- it appears to be a money game, I haven't had a lot of money so I've avoided it. Being on bookstore (or library) shelves -- much, much harder to achieve as an independent than in traditional publishing, but it might be possible, and for you, well worth looking into. How *do* university bookstores pick their stock?

If you have thoughts to share on these or any other additional methods, please do so!

Back to the stuff I actually know something about...
The laypeople interested in non-fiction group would include myself. :) We are probably going to find your philosophy books, if we find them at all, either from METHOD 2, or METHOD 3. Why not METHOD 1 (which is obviously the least labor intensive and therefore probably the favorite method for the author)? Because most of us don't think "I want to read a book on philosophy next", but rather "I think I'll browse the non-fiction shelves and see what looks interesting". We're reading non-fiction but we're approaching it with more of a fiction attitude. Sorry, but there it is. Which means instead of typing in an appropriate search term, we will have to be looking for either you or your book specifically, or we won't see it.

So, back to METHOD 2. Unfortunately this method is a lot harder to work with for this group, because we aren't easily identifiable, and don't congregate. But you might be able to identify some useful authoritative sources by looking for blogs that review non-fiction.

The one advantage of selling to this kind of non-fiction reader over a reader of fiction, is that you can establish your authoritativeness much more easily. You have credentials, for non-fiction they actually mean something. In fiction the only author credential that really counts is "Did somebody else whose judgement I trust think this person writes good books -- or barring that, have a whole bunch of people read some and liked them?"

>7 Gareth.Southwell: "As to what to write about, I think that's pretty easy - what you're working on, thinking about, reading about, your struggles as a writer, your routine, things in the news - I think, as I say, the point is to connect in a personal way."

In theory I have a blog where I do this exact thing at least once a week. In practice I have been posting there less than once a month. If it's so easy, why can't I seem to get it done?

I have told myself that I could probably manage a quarterly newsletter. I'm not sure I have myself convinced yet, though. I understand the point of it all, I'm just worried about the execution. I have a nasty tendency to be suffering a relapse right when any regularly scheduled anything is supposed to be happening. This then causes guilt, and depression, which causes me to work a lower capacity than I am already. Not good. I have been living a much happier (and probably more productive) life since I learned to stop giving myself schedules and deadlines. (As an innate organizer and goal setter, this has involved me inventing an entire time-and-date-free organizing system to try keep on top of my goals.)

But I am very willing to believe that if I did manage get a newsletter done it would be worthwhile, so it actually is on my to-do list. I just regard it with trepidation. :)

9Gareth.Southwell
Editado: Jun 6, 2020, 4:00 am

Thanks for your thoughts, LShelby! You've given me a lot to think about!

You make an interesting point regarding the difference between fiction and non-fiction in terms of the way people buy it. I think, as you say, authority/reputation is perhaps the key difference. In terms of connecting with students, I think the key is probably relevance: if I write a book that is aimed at students, or I offer some free resources that they find useful, then (if they're targeted well enough) they're more likely to find me, because they'll be looking for those things. Networking can also help, of course - connecting with schools and colleges, etc, directly, which I've done in the past.

Connecting with a more general readership is harder. As you say, people just pick up what looks interesting to them. Assuming you've done the best you can – in terms of getting a professional, eye-catching cover, selected a broadly interesting topic, chosen the right keywords and categories on Amazon (or whatever) – then you're still reliant on luck, or else something to drive "eyeballs" to your book. A newsletter isn't a magic solution to this, but it will help, as well as providing other benefits. So, you offer a freebie for those who sign up (perhaps they see it on social media), and by connecting with you they become aware of your other books – so that provides another avenue. But you then have a way of communicating with that person that is more personal, isn't subject to the whim of social media algorithms, and that they are more likely to read (almost everyone checks email). They also get to know you as a person, and what drives your writing, and perhaps that will cause them to have greater interest in the things you do from then on. Links to the newsletter can then be put wherever you are - social media, email signatures, on your website, in the back of your book - and so it can act as a sort of lifeblood, connecting together all the bits and pieces of your online self.

But even here, eyeballs are still a problem. It's estimated that Twitter and Facebook posts only get seen by (I think) 5% of your followers. And the more you tweet/post "Sign up!", "Buy my book!", the less engaged people become. Advertising may help, I suppose, but I've not investigated that avenue yet. Public appearances and talks, perhaps, but from my experience, unless you set out to be become a talking head public persona (which I've no desire to be), then the returns aren't as great as you might expect.

In terms of using the art for cross-promotion, this can help a little, but I think the recompense isn't worth the effort. For those who are interested, then there are links between my art and my writing for them to follow, but realistically I just haven't got the time to draw what I speculate might interest prospective readers (of philosophy or science fiction). I have tried this, in the past.

The one thing I wonder about - which you mention - is the philosophy/sci-fi cross promotion thing. When I first started writing the novel, I had assumed what you assume: that they would help promote one another. People interested in philosophy would be more likely to check out my sci-fi, and vice versa, especially when it's highlighted that there is a connection between the two (which there is - philosophically, I'm very interested in science and technology). However - and I wonder what you think about this - I then read something that suggested that, if you write in two genres, then you should do everything you can to separate them, so readers don't get confused. So, if your non-fiction and fiction writing (for instance) are both on Amazon under the same author name, then people who buy (e.g.) a book on Descartes, may then be presented with, "People who bought this also bought..." some sci-fi novel. And you have to account for those sci-fi readers who aren't into philosophy, and vice versa. So, this approach is mostly about getting Amazon's algorithm to work for you, I suppose. Any thoughts on that?

Oh, and I meant to say: regarding committing to a newsletter, I would think once a month is enough. I can imagine that once a week, as well as blogging, can become a bit onerous. Why not convert your blogging into monthly newslettering?

10LeonStevens
Jun 8, 2020, 6:07 pm

I'll throw some of my change into the pot! There are so many mistakes new authors can make, and I'm sure I have a good list going... But this is what I have learned so far: (This is the longest post I've done so far!)

It's crowded out there. There is a lot of competition and it takes time and/or money to reach readers.

Newsletters/Updates: I enjoy doing these. It gives me a chance to share my blog and other writings to my readership. That way, they don't have to go to all the places that I post (I try to provide links). From everything I read, mailing lists are still one of the most important tools an author can have. The challenge is getting people to sign up. Our inboxes are spammy enough as it is. So you need a great...

Reader Magnet: The freebie that entices a reader to join. EBooks (cheapest/easiest), or merchandise can get readers and often they will unsubscribe, but it is a matter of percentages. Give out 10 freebies and retain 1 or 2. So, how do you attract readers (besides having a spectacular book to read)? It is as simple as...

Social Media Presence: I'm not a fan of all the platforms, most of them I find annoying, but they are a necessary evil. As mentioned, you can't just use it to promote and sell your wares, you have to promote yourself as a person/entertainer. There is a lot of competition there too. Want your post to go viral and reach a million people? Post a video of a raccoon falling into a garbage can, or a kid being frightened by a soap bubble. Want to hear crickets? Post something thoughtful and intelligent...Am I bitter? Maybe a little. But I do post once or twice a week on Twitter and Instagram, I think that it is enough because I only check it once or twice. So how do I get reviews? Reach out to…

Book Bloggers: Somebody has to read your book and like it (or dislike) it enough to tell others. There are countless blogs out there, and many companies that set up blog tours, cover reveals, and book blasts. I checked out a few of them and I wasn’t convinced that it was worth the cost (advertising is always a gamble even if it is a necessity). Sure, you get a fancy banner and they send out your info to the participating blogs, but I visited a few and some blogs had tour stop after tour stop that looked pretty much the same. I don’t think you get to choose either.

So, since I have the time, I decided to reach out on my own. I found a book blogger list (one of many) and I visited them all (on the lists I had that is). There were a lot…

Now, I’m sure that these bloggers get many emails from authors, so how do I stand out? I wanted to make a personal connection, so this is what I did:

• Looked at the review policy. Don’t review poetry? No point in staying.
• Search genre. Hey look, they did review a poetry book, and they said they should do more. There’s my in.
• Guest posts. If they take them, I read through some to see if my writing fits.
• I cut and pasted some of my request, but always added something to show that I actually looked at their blog.
• I also looked to see if their reviews generated comments/discussions. A review with no reactions is not worth much

Will I pay for exposure? Probably at some point, but I wanted to try this on my own. I did get a poem out of it.

Blogbandonment

I stumbled upon your blog today
The place you built to have your say
A clever name
Graphics much the same
Stars twinkled between pages
Of poetic thoughts, dreams, and rages
Shared part of your life right here
For friends and followers to hear
But where do you go?
The last post was two years ago
Why walk away?
Was there nothing left for you to say
Do you still look the same?
Do you have the same name?
I hope you left for good reasons
Like the changing of the seasons
There’s nothing I can do
Except hope for you
So, I’ll go on pretending
That you wrote a happy ending
I closed your blog when I was done
The visitor count read 3,471

11Gareth.Southwell
Jun 9, 2020, 10:44 am

Hi Leon,

Thanks for your thoughts. Reaching out to book bloggers is the one thing I haven't done yet. I have a book coming out in a couple of months, so maybe I'll try that then. But it is hard.

Are you putting a link to your newsletter in your ebooks?

G.

12LeonStevens
Jun 9, 2020, 4:39 pm

>11 Gareth.Southwell: I have my website listed on the back cover, but in my sample eBook I put my social links as well. One thing that was suggested that you should do is put links that go directly to your review pages (Amazon, Goodreads, etc) so that readers don't have to do any extra work to leave a review.

If you are months out, now it the time to create a buzz. ARC sites are good to join (some are free), and I think that bloggers are important. And yes it is hard. I'll tell you that I have visited 200+ sites over the last week, contacted 40+, heard back from 5, sent 3 copies for review, gained 2 subscribers, and am going to do 1 guest blog.

200:40:5:3:2:1 > How's that for a ratio for return on investment....

Leon



13Gareth.Southwell
Editado: Jun 10, 2020, 7:56 am

I've not added links to review pages yet, but that's a good idea. I have links to everything - newsletter, other books, forthcoming books. I suspect, however, that not many people click from an ereader to a website, as ereader's tend not to handle the internet very well (unless you're reading on an iPad or tablet).

200 sites! That's a lot of legwork! Poetry must be a really touch sell, I would think - even more niche than mine. Good luck! :)

I have my reader magnet (a fee essay), a cheap mini ebook, and my forthcoming book available for pre-order. The only thing I haven't tried - which some people suggest - is to have a free book available on Amazon, etc, as that apparently garners a lot of interest. But I hesitate to invest the time on anything substantial only to give it away for free. I don't know. What do you think?

The other question concerns going wide (all retailers) and exclusive (to Amazon). The latter gets you enrolment in Kindle Unlimited, and so possibly some more eyes on your book than might otherwise find it.

14LeonStevens
Jun 10, 2020, 9:14 am

>13 Gareth.Southwell: "But I hesitate to invest the time on anything substantial only to give it away for free. I don't know. What do you think?" From what I have read, free books work best if you have a series. Give away the first book to generate sales and reader subscriptions for the next, and the next.

That why I created a Ebook with 10 samples of my writing. A try before you buy you could say. Did it work? I have gained some subscribers from it, so yes, because some is better than none.

"...which some people suggest - is to have a free book available on Amazon" I was unable to list my excerpt book for free on Amazon, even though it is a KDP listing. I could only put it at 99 cents. I also haven't been able to put it on Unlimited. I was able to list it for free on Kobo.

15Gareth.Southwell
Jun 10, 2020, 9:42 am

What reason did they give for not allowing your excerpt book on Amazon for free?

16reading_fox
Jun 11, 2020, 6:14 am

>15 Gareth.Southwell: Amazon have fairly restrictive policies. They're trying to monopolise their platform, and essentially don't allow a host of things that would be useful to burgeoning authors. Somewhere in this group I've posted my friends experiences on marketing which discusses this. https://tallerbooks.com/homepage/who-are-we/ seems to be the current summary.

>10 LeonStevens: like your poem!

>13 Gareth.Southwell: ""But I hesitate to invest the time on anything substantial only to give it away for free. I don't know. What do you think?""
You're not writing to make money. At least not yet. Only once you've solved the marketing problem and have a substantial number of regular readers are you going to be in position to think like that. I don't know how many sales (in the 100k+ a year?) you'd need to consider writing as a career (let alone one that could support a family). Until that point it's a hobby that at best pays for itself.

note I'm not a writer, just a reader, but I've followed quite a few discussions on similar themes for many years.

17Gareth.Southwell
Jun 12, 2020, 2:55 am

Thanks, reading_fox (by the way, how do you reply directly to people, as you've done? Can't seem to work it out!).

I'm just beginning to investigate self-publishing. I've been a traditionally published author for a while – though I wouldn't exactly call it a living! This is why I thought I'd try self-publishing. While it's nice to have an advance, because it buys time to write, profits from traditional publishing are much lower than self-publishing. For instance, a £10 paperback selling in a book shop would have been sold by the publisher at about £6. Of that, an author might see 10%. So, at 60p per book, an author would need to sell 20k to 30k copies a year, just to get by. Profits aren't that much better for ebooks through publishers - about 20% to 50% of publisher's profit. So a £3 ebook (which seems to be a typical price) would likely net the author between 30p to 75p. Whereas if I publish that £3 book myself, I might get £2.10 per book! That's why Amazon and other ebook sellers are changing the game. I think traditional publishing has been exploiting authors for quite a while. I understand they provide promotion, distribution, etc, but all the same, their cut seems disproportionate.

Add to this that many books of the type I've been asked to write don't offer royalties at all (just a one-off fee), and advances have been dwindling for years, and it seems a no-brainer to at least try self-publishing. And of course, the more squeezed trad publishing gets by the likes of Amazon, the more conservative and risk averse they become in their tastes, so that the more interesting projects I've proposed get turned down, and the same safe projects keep cropping up in slightly different guises. So the other big - perhaps the main - reason to try self-publishing was so that I could write what I wanted to.

Anyway, we'll see! I'm not completely averse to giving some stuff away for free, but I'd hoped that some of my platform from trad publishing would act as a basis for self-publishing. It's early days, but I think I may be starting from scratch. :(

All the best,

Gareth.

18reading_fox
Jun 12, 2020, 6:25 am

>17 Gareth.Southwell: to get the replies literally type > and then the number of the post, the name is added in automatically.

(I wish ebooks were at £3! The authors I'm buying only ever seem to be at paperback prices, ~£8 a book. Very seldom have I found anything cheaper. If the paperback isn't out yet, sometime the ebook is at full hardback price which is ridiculous (although I'm aware that is where an author generates most of their income, but there's no way an ebook equates to hardback).

Even I appreciate the desire to be able to write what you want to!

19Gareth.Southwell
Editado: Jun 13, 2020, 2:15 am

>18 reading_fox: Thank you! I would never have worked that out on my own, and I couldn't find instructions anywhere.

Financially, there really is no excuse for pricing ebooks so expensively - other than greed. The big publishers are trying to do this, I think, to push up revenue and maintain their margins, but as you say, in terms of value an ebook doesn't compare with even a paperback, let alone a hardback. Still, this gives self-publishers a window - they can pitch cheaper while still earning a lot more than they would traditionally. But I have seen big publishers start to price more competitively in ebooks (at least, with some titles).

20paradoxosalpha
Editado: Jun 13, 2020, 10:03 am

My ebook prices are equal to my paperback prices (although I use the Amazon option that allows purchasers of the physical book to get a digital copy for cheap). It's not greed, because I don't sell many ebooks anyway. If I were greedy, I'd price the ebooks cheaper to sell more copies.

I want to encourage my readers to own the physical copy, which cultivates discovery among readers who see it in each others' hands/libraries. I also write for a market that places fetishistic value on physical books.

Physical copies can also reach secondary markets, where I don't get royalties but my work gets further use. I've recently seen little print periodicals that I wrote for in the 1990s selling online for $20 per copy.

21jeffschanz
Editado: Jun 13, 2020, 12:56 pm

I've been flunking out of marketing despite trying to gain a big social media presence, trying several advertising campaigns on different sites, some of which were the typical "Our site has thousands of members to receive your message" only to find out I spent money to advertise to no one but other authors.
I have had good luck on a grand total of one website: BookBub. That's it. I get the occasional click from their ads (you only pay for clicks), which is not exactly earning me a profit, but its the only thing remotely working from what I've tried. I got traffic from Facebook and Pinterest, but rare real interest.
Still waiting to find the holy grail of marketing strategies that I can do.

22LeonStevens
Jun 13, 2020, 1:01 pm

reading_fox wrote "Amazon have fairly restrictive policies. They're trying to monopolize their platform, and essentially don't allow a host of things that would be useful to burgeoning authors."

Yup.

>16 reading_fox: Thanks!

23Harsh13
Dez 13, 2020, 11:43 pm

Este utilizador foi removido como sendo spam.

24Amanda36
Editado: Fev 5, 2021, 10:29 pm

Hello new author here. I just recently had published a book of poems and short stories. The title of my book is called Teardrops on the Petals .It consist of short stories and poems. Topics cover love , erotic love, poverty , substance abuse, youth and gun violence, some poems are even religious. One of the short stories centers around an abusive, neglectful mother and how her behaviours effect her daughter and son.The other short story symbolizes beauty in being a misfit or rather not fitting into the so called category of not being conventional, normal , or status quo and how sometimes people can have cruel reactions to something that is different or new
If interested just send me a message here or look me up on FB also my instagram is ajbookauthor

25LeonStevens
Maio 16, 2021, 8:40 am

I'm running a promo on StoryOrigin for poets, Let me know if you are interested.

Leon

26WendyGamble
Editado: Jun 7, 2021, 5:37 am

Very interesting comments. Hopefully in the future I'll have something more solid to contribute. For now all I can say is my books are having daily page reads through KU (for a few weeks, more spotty before that) but I don't know where some of them come from. I was doing what others on here have suggested, trying to be active on-line, write to bloggers (though I didn't really finish that job, only did a few with no results). I had very little action on book one for a couple of years, then when book two was coming I took a lot of effort to re-write the Amazon listing, with both books a similar style that was inspired by best-seller descriptions of books similar to mine. I feel I came up with something that represented my books much better than what I had before, and was shorter and easier to read. When book two, Ripped Genes, was in pre-order, I experimented with an aggressive Amazon ad that let them do a 50% bid increase to get my book on the first page. I also increased my price, up from the .99 pandemic special to $5.00. I ended up paying about $4 for one click on Kindle Unlimited science fiction, but it did seem to kickstart a run of page reads. I also got a couple of ebook sales at the five dollar rate, despite the book sitting there for a year at .99 unadvertised except for social media, and listing in those free listings for ebook specials (not too much success there.) However, the month I ran that was expensive, chewing through $100 including on bad searches I hadn't thought to put as negative keywords, so I toned it way back. Enough sales happened after I launched book two that I could see what category/keyword was working. Since I'm now nearing or possibly at break-even with ad vs income I plan to make a separate ad with just the one or two categories that gave actual book purchases vs just page reads and put an aggressive bid-up to get onto the first page in the hopes that I'll get a profit. I'll keep a close eye on it and tone in down if it's just easing money.

If you can possibly afford it, a Goodreads giveaway does give some ratings, which of course are vital. The page reads I can't account for from the Amazon ad might be from people who entered the giveaway contest and got it on their list that way. Or it could be coming from residual affects of the facebook ad I ran before and after launch. It did send people to my site, but then I changed it to send people right to Amazon because my site isn't very good.

Something I really like on Amazon that is free is the series page. I took the time to write up a separate series description instead of just having them use the description for book one. Every time someone clicks on either of my books, the other book is very visible with slight scrolling down because of the series page. It's the only free advertising you'll get until your books have so many clicks you get into those also viewed and bought lists.

So I'm starting to conclude that it's worth scraping up a budget to run paid ads, but you have to do it right and it's a lot of work and trial and error to get it right, if you ever do. Amazon has tutorials, some of which I've seen, and other people on the internet have different takes on how to do amazon ads.

I should add that in-person signings or being at a table at a con account for almost all of the non friend and family paperback sales. I'm lucky that in the Maritimes it wasn't too hard to get into a small-town Chapters, which got me in their system and probably helped get me into other local Chapters. Very few sales at them, and mostly only when I was there in person. in Canada, Chapters is receptive to local Indie authors, which I appreciate. In the big cities though, its harder to get in, and make an appointment to talk to the manager, I'd recommend. in the Maritimes I was able to walk in and get lucky more than once. You tell a clerk who you are and ask if you can talk to the manager.

At a con table I sold six paperbacks in the weekend, so while nice, you would go broke doing that often. I had my sister selling other stuff so we made some money that way.

27LeonStevens
Jun 11, 2021, 8:49 am

>26 WendyGamble: "So I'm starting to conclude that it's worth scraping up a budget to run paid ads, but you have to do it right and it's a lot of work and trial and error to get it right..."

For me, being able to break even on ads is a goal, because it gives your book exposure. The bad thing about KU, is that the royalties are lower and a click usually means you are paying someone to read the book. I paid for Publisher Rocket which takes the guesswork out of search terms and keywords.

I have sold a few paperbacks through my website and some local online shopping platforms. I have an Etsy page, but no sales from that yet. I only ship to Canada and the US, because the costs are too high. But there's more profit that way.

28WendyGamble
Editado: Jun 13, 2021, 8:26 am

>27 LeonStevens:
Yes, KU is a challenge but I seem to get read there much more than whole book sales. I've tried to price my clicks low enough so a read of the whole book will be a slight profit - but that requires every click making a book read worth of pages, or enough book sales to make up for dead clicks.
You get about .045 per page read on KU.
I've heard of Rocket but decided not to fork out for it. So I've spent a lot of time looking at the Amazon list of possible keywords when you type in something. ie type in Science fiction and a list of things comes up.

29LeonStevens
Jun 13, 2021, 7:58 am

>28 WendyGamble: "I've tried to price my clicks low enough so a read of the whole book..." This is what I find difficult since usually the suggested bid is fairly high.

"You get about .45 per page read on KU." Do you mean per read?

30WendyGamble
Jun 13, 2021, 8:27 am

>28 WendyGamble:
edited to .045 per page read

31LeonStevens
Jun 13, 2021, 1:25 pm

>30 WendyGamble: I was going to ask you how to get in on that royalty structure!

32WendyGamble
Jun 14, 2021, 5:15 am

>31 LeonStevens:
Yeah, we wish!

33jqs1029
Nov 23, 2021, 9:05 am

Ads are tricky. I've been following the "Amazon Ad Profit Challenge" group on FaceBook where they hold sessions from time to time and gives a lot of useful tips and guidance for running Amazon ads. I think the next iteration begins in January.

34LShelby
Nov 30, 2021, 2:28 pm

>33 jqs1029:
Can you remember any of the tips they've come up with so far?

35SueHerbine
Mar 1, 2023, 1:55 pm

Very new to all this and not sure how to add a new topic but here goes.
I am a recent self-published author and very happy with the process (and the cost) So far my main two marketing strategies have been to advertise in my Christmas newsletter to my friends. I send out 140 each year including international. I also did one book signing where I sold ten books but best of all a stranger who bought my book gave me an Amazon rating that was quite good.
And now based on recommendations from readers Digest I am now on this and several similar sites. I also have to say based on my brother's comments I am not trying to sell a million, although that would be nice, I see this as my hobby and the cost is cheaper than most hobbies. Sue

36LShelby
Mar 2, 2023, 11:57 am

>35 SueHerbine:
I don't see writing as a hobby, but neither do I need to support myself with it. So how doesn't one describe that? Writing is my avocation?

I would love to hear more about your book signing. Could you give us details of where it was, how it was arranged, and so forth? I would really appreciate it!

37MHThaung
Mar 2, 2023, 12:52 pm

>36 LShelby:. Obsession, maybe? :p

Popped in here to mention I've recently had some luck with group promotions. A bunch of us (SF... SF-ish in my case) coordinated a price drop deal and spent a week sharing it on whatever social media we're on. I was lucky enough to get a couple of nice reviews on book blogs around the same time, which fed into eg more visibility (higher ranking) in the Kindle store. Mind you, that's with a book that's been out for over 2 years. Took a while.

38LShelby
Mar 7, 2023, 12:00 pm

>37 MHThaung: "Obsession, maybe? :p"

Yep, that's probably it. :)

I really like the idea of group promotions. Even if you only end up promoting to each other, what's wrong with that? Authors are also readers, we also buy books. You could do worse.

If you are lucky, you might even do better.

So where do we find/build these groups?

39MHThaung
Mar 8, 2023, 11:13 am

>38 LShelby: I'm not the best person to offer advice on this. I see plenty of other writers doing big group promotions and offering free books (series starters, spinoff novellas) to gain newletter subscribers.

In the two book contests I've entered (Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off a few years ago, and the current round of the Self-Published SF Contest), the contestants got together and arranged a few days where they made their books discounted or free. The nice thing about doing it around the contest (rather than the anytime setup I mentioned in my first para) was that the judges (all book bloggers, by definition) got involved and let their readers know.

40LShelby
Mar 11, 2023, 12:28 pm

I keep thinking that if you set it up right the authors themselves could be the judges.

My basic concept for an "Author's Choice" award setup is that in order to enter a book in the contest an author must agree to read x-many other books by other entrants and order them in a most favorite to least favorite order. Points would be assign based on position in the overall list, the books that score highest pass on to the second round etc.

In order to prevent voting blocks, the books would be randomly assigned.

I have been trying to think of other ways this system could be abused and how to prevent them.

Since each judge has to have submitted a book, multiple accounts would require maintaining multiple author identities, impossible to prevent, but costly in time and energy, and not terribly helpful because you would have no way of knowing that your book from one identity would be assigned to another identity to judge.

Can anyone think of any other problems?