Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Resources for Self-Publishing Newbies


I know the thought of starting your Self-publishing Adventure can be daunting and intimidating, but there are great resources out there waiting to be tapped for instructions, how-to's, directions and support. Below, I've listed some of those resources to help get you started on your way.

Publishing Platforms/Channels:
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
B&N Nook Press
Smashwords  (Distributes to various channels; iBooks, B&N, etc)
Draft2Digital  (Distributes to various channels; iBooks, B&N, etc)
Google Play
Kobo Life
Apple iBooks Author (Must do this on a Mac)
Create Space (Print on Demand)
ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange)

Helpful posts from MY blog:
How to Format Ebooks (Updated)
Simplified instructions for a clean, streamlined document to upload to the various platforms.

A Day in the Life of a Working Author
A typical day in an Indie Author's life.

Self-Publishing: The New Paradigm--Part I
Self-Publishing: The New Paradigm--Part II
 These two posts were written in 2011, but much of the information is still relevant.

One-year Anniversary
Two-year Anniversary
Three-year Anniversary
Four-year Anniversary
Looking back and celebrating each year of my Indie Publishing Adventure.

You don't have to do it all yourself:
Jason and Marina Anderson - Polgarus Studio Formatting
Jessica Richardson - CoverBistro.com
ebookFormattingPro 
Cover to Cover
Marie Force -  Formatting Fairies
Kim Killion - The Killion Group
Mail Chimp Email List

Promotion and Marketing:
BookBub
BK Knights
Ebook News Today (ENT)
StoryFinds
Pixel of Ink

Helpful books:
The Naked Truth about Self-Publishing
Let's Get Digital
Let's Get Visible 
2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better


 Articles:
Starting From Zero by David Gaughran 

A Free Quick & Dirty Marketing Plan by Rosalind James

A very quick, short, and dirty guide to slowly building sales by SM Reine

 My Favorite Tips from KBoards Combined! by Jamie Lake

15,000 books in two months, 32,000 books first year. Advice for newbies! by Annie Jocoby

Three Years In - My Experences and Some Advice by Vincent Trigili

Regions of discoverability by Courtney Milan

Sell Loads of Books - My System Spelled Out by Russel Blake

Here are a few sites that I've found extremely helpful: 

Kboards Writers' Cafe - This is THE best place for Indie Authors (IMO). If you have a question and/or want to keep abreast of what's happening in the Indie Publishing world, this is the forum to go to. Extremely helpful. A friendly place on the web for Indies to hang out, kind of like hanging out at the water cooler at the workplace.

Dean Wesley Smith
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
JA Konrath
David Gaughran
Passive Voice 
Russel Blake
Write on the River

Seven Important Marketing Tools:

The number one most important marketing tool is write a good book. Then write another and another. The more product you have out there, the better chance readers will find you and the less you have to actively promote.

If you can connect those books someway like writing a series, that's even better. Readers love series.

Make sure you have your book edited/proofed either by a professional or at least by a critique partner or a couple of beta readers. It's important to have another set of eyes go over it, because you want your book to be the best you can make it.

The second most important tool is a professional-looking cover. You can do this yourself if you know how or you can hire a graphic designer to make one for you. You can get good-looking premade covers for as little as $25; custom-designed covers can cost as little as $40 or all the way to $1000+.

The third most important marketing tool is a short concise blurb that hooks the reader and reels them in. Use present tense with action verbs; that's what seems to work best. Study back-cover copy and blurbs on Amazon or B&N. You're a writer, you can do this.

Number four (and this one's crucial IMO) is to Create a Mailing list for dedicated readers and fans. This list should be made up of readers who actually want to read your next book, not people who sign up to get something for free and could really care less about your next release.

This dedicated mailing list grows organically at its own pace. You need to make it as easy as possible for readers to sign up. One click, maybe two.

Then when you release a new book, you send out an Email Blast and if a whole lot of those readers buy your book right off the bat, your rankings go up and you can get on a few of the best-selling lists and that EQUALS VISIBILITY.

Visibility is key!!! Visibility equals discoverability. Visibility equals sales.

I use Mail Chimp for my mailing list. It's free for up to a certain amount of subscribers. I put my sign-up form on my website, blog, and my FaceBook and Amazon Author Pages. I also make it easy for readers to sign up by putting the link at the beginning and end of each book. Say they've just finished reading my book and love it (fingers crossed); after The End, there's a link to subscribe to my New Release Mailing List. One, two clicks and they're done. I do not send out newsletters. I'm too busy, and I don't think a lot of people want their inboxes cluttered with them. Make it easy for yourself and your readers.

The fifth most important marketing tool is the Back Matter in your books. Again, you want to make it easy for readers to find you. Provide a link to your mailing list, your author page on Amazon (in the Kindle editions), provide blurbs and links to some of your other books (especially series) on each of the different platforms. You might want to entice readers with a short excerpt from a couple of your previous books or one from your next. Don't include too many excerpts or you'll frustrate readers, and they'll feel like they've been cheated because they thought the actual book they bought was longer.

Number six (although, this probably should be closer to the beginning), is Categories, Keywords and Metadata. This is what I consider silent invisible marketing behind the scenes. In the documents you will be formatting for epub, (or paying someone to do it for you), there are places to put keywords and other metadata.

In MS Word, you go to File> Properties>Summary. Fill out the details of title, author, keywords and the rest. Utilizing this opportunity to maximize Metadata gives your files an extra oomph, an extra push, a double whammy.

When you upload your files to the different channels (Amazon, Barnes&Noble, etc.) there are places to add keywords and categories. Choose carefully. Study the categories other authors in your genre are utilizing. You can find this information on Amazon at the bottom of the book product pages.

And finally, number seven is Pricing. This is very important, too. You need to experiment and find your sweet spot. I know authors who insist that lower prices devalue their work, but the reality is readers are now used to cheap ebooks. You can price your book as high as you like, but if you only sell a handful of copies compared to ten times or a hundred times more books if you'd sell at a cheaper price, then IMO, that is not maximizing this very important tool in your bag of tricks.

At this point in time, I price my books as follows:

Short stories: $0.99
Novellas: $2.99
Novels: $2.99
Box Sets: Right now, $5.99.

I'm still playing around with all of these prices, still searching for that magic number. Again, your mileage may vary.

Under Pricing, I'm including using permafree as a marketing tool: This can be very powerful.

I have the first book in both my Diamondback Ranch Series, The Doctor Wears A Stetson, set at permafree. I will probably always have it free or maybe .99 because it introduces readers to the series. It hooks them into the series.
Permafree works best for a series, where you entice the reader to have a go at your first book, then hopefully, they will want to read the rest of the series.

Good luck embarking on your Indie Publishing Career!!!

Happy Writing!!! Happy Publishing!!!

Anne Marie  :)

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Indie Author Adventure Continues: Celebrating Four Years!!!


This month marks four years of Indie Publishing for me. Four years. Wow! It's hard to believe, isn't it? The self-publishing landscape has changed quite a bit since August 2010 when I published my first book, Midnight My Love.

Even though many aspects of publishing have changed, one important aspect remains the same: It all boils down to writing more books in order to get more product out there and expand your back-list which in turn helps your chance of being discovered by new readers.

I now have 51 products out there over 27 titles: 15 novels, 4 novellas, and 8 short stories. I have 4 boxed sets, 13 audiobooks, 6 print editions, and 1 German translation.

I've sold over 375,000 ebooks, 7100 audiobooks, and I've given away over 200,000 free copies of The Doctor Wears A Stetson.

I made 2014 the year I'm getting my stuff organized (read: getting my $hit together). With my back-list growing, I need to be able to locate at a moment's notice the latest files for each book. I made MASTER FILES of all my books. I updated front and back matter in each file, included cover jpgs, blurbs and excerpts. I then updated each book on each platform on which I sell my books: Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Apple iBooks, Smashwords, Google Play and Kobo. I revamped some of my covers, and I'm working on rebranding my Regencies. I'm also working on releasing all of my novels in print (POD).


Earlier in the year, I decided to release a sweeter version of The Diamondback Ranch Series. Now, there is The Diamondback Ranch Original Series and The Diamondback Ranch Sweeter Series. This entailed going through each book, reworking, tweaking and turning down the heat and language. It's been an interesting undertaking to say the least.

Early this year, I was lucky enough to sign with Amazon Crossing for my first German translation edition of The Doctor Wears A Stetson. That's Der Doktor tragt einen Cowboyhut auf Deutsch.  :)

Yes, I've been pretty busy this year. And as you can see, there's never a dull moment when you're a working Indie Author. I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm living my dream!!!

Happy Reading, Writing, and Publishing!!!

Anne Marie   :)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

My Awesome England Adventure!!!


Earlier this month, I stepped out of my comfort zone and flew to England with my daughter and daughter-in-law. For those who know me, this was huge! I'm something of a hermit and recluse. I can happily stay home in my writing cave for days at a time and never miss being around people or shopping or whatever it is folks do when they aren't home.

On Tuesday, June 10 at 6:05 pm, we boarded United 985 direct to London Heathrow Airport. I hadn't traveled across the Atlantic in forty years. Yes, that's a very long time ago, and everything's so very different now. It's really lovely to be able to watch movies and shows on your very own screen during the flight. The time actually passed fairly quickly (nine hours+) because of dinner, drinks and breakfast served at regular intervals. We landed in London Wednesday morning at 9:40.


We caught the train to Canterbury where we stayed with Helen's friend Julie for several days. Julie was kind enough to let us use her home as our central hub. She was truly the hostess with the mostest. I can't thank her enough.



I fell in love with Canterbury. I don't know if it was because it provided my first glimpse of England, or just because it's a charming and beautiful city. Probably a little bit of both.





On Thursday, we took the train to Dover where we saw the White Cliffs in all their glory.




A tour of Dover Castle and the war tunnels was fascinating.




We climbed up and down the stone staircases exploring the old castle inside and out. We walked eleven miles that day. I was proud of myself. I kept up pretty well.


The beach at Dover was quite a surprise to Carrie and me. We'd never seen a beach made of stones and pebbles. Where were the seashells?



Friday, we caught the train to Brighton. I've been reading Georgette Heyer's Regency Romances since I was a teenager and finally got to see the Royal Pavilion up close and personal.



It was awesome in its ostentatious display of wealth and splendor. Prinny did go a little overboard on the decorating, didn't he?


Every day when we returned to Canterbury from our outings, we walked the scenic streets. On Saturday afternoon, we attended Evensong at the beautiful cathedral.


We said goodbye to Julie on Sunday and headed to Portsmouth. We toured the HMS Victory--Admiral Horatio Nelson's ship that won the Battle of Trafalgar--and the Mary Rose, a sixteenth century war ship that's being restored. 




 Needless to say, Carrie was in her element.
 
 


 Boats, boats, boats!!!



Monday, we traveled to Salisbury by train, then booked a taxi (thanks to Helen) to Stone Henge. Standing near such an ancient edifice was humbling.



Bath was our destination Monday evening. This city is dear to my heart. Many of Georgette Heyer's novels take place in Bath, as well as one of my own. I felt like I'd stepped back in time.


Almost ninety percent of the buildings are from the Georgian and Regency Periods. We toured a refurbished Georgian townhouse in the Royal Crescent. I was in heaven!



The Assembly Rooms were magnificent.



The Roman Baths looked inviting. If you closed your eyes, you could envision the ancient Romans lounging about.




The Pump Room was all I'd imagined and more. I sipped the waters and felt just like a character out of one of GH's novels.





We ate breakfast in the shadow of the Abbey, then finished our tour of Bath before heading to Oxford.


We met up with Pooneh and her husband, who showed us all around Oxford and Magdalen College, in particular.



After eating lunch, we punted on the river. Very relaxing. Not for the punter, but very much so for the passengers.




We caught an evening train to Liverpool and got in late. On Wednesday morning, we ate breakfast at the docks. We visited a Beatles photo gallery and walked all around. And of course, there were more boats, boats, boats.




We met up with Helen's mum, sister-in-law and niece and nephew. We had a fun time at one of the museums, and we took a ride on the Mersey Ferry. Afterwards, we went to Hannah and Michael's house for dinner. I enjoyed seeing Hilde again and meeting more of Helen's family.



Thursday, we boarded the train for London. Helen gave us a guided walking tour of the City. We walked about ten miles that afternoon and evening.


















We saw Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the Palace Guards, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye; we walked across the Millennium Bridge, ate a lovely dinner and drank a cup of tea.

Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James Park were beautiful . . . I'd read about them in GH's novels and written about them in my own books. We saw the Government Buildings and the arches and monuments. And of course, St. Paul's Cathedral. It was great seeing everything in person.



Carrie and I were on our own after Helen left for Manchester. We felt a little bereft without our fearless leader, but we found our way around the City fairly well. Correction: Carrie found our way around.

 


We toured St. Paul's and saw the tombs of the Duke of Wellington, Admiral Horatio Nelson, and Florence Nightingale, just to name a few of the famous people buried there.




We spent most of Friday at the Tower of London. So much History literally etched into the walls.


After a long day of sightseeing, I indulged in my last cream tea and scones. Sigh. Then we returned to our hotel for a quiet evening, watched a little of the World Cup, and got ready for the return trip home on Saturday.





I had a wonderful time visiting England. I enjoyed every moment of every day. I enjoyed traveling with my daughter and daughter-in-law, whether by train, taxi or on foot (We walked 70 miles total, and I survived. How awesome is that?). Many thanks to Helen for planning and organizing the trip--it was she who chose the hotels, booked the trains and taxis, figured out the best routes to take and which restaurants to eat at--she was our fearless leader and tour guide.

My adventure in England was truly awesome, and we made many wonderful memories to last a lifetime.

Happy Trails!!!

Anne Marie   :)