Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Resources for Self-Publishing Authors

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 -
Cover to Cover
Marie Force -  Formatting Fairies
Kim Killion - The Killion Group
Mail Chimp Email List

Promotion and Marketing:
BK Knights
Ebook News Today (ENT)
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

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  :)