Marketing: Results from Paid Promotion of FREE eBook

Lessons in Self-publishingOn Friday, my adult Christmas romance eBook Twistmas – The Season for Love was reduced to FREE for two days. To promote it on the first day, I added the book to Betty Book Freak’s mailing list. You can read about that here.

I took readings at each hour (Well, not each hour. I did sleep during the 24-hour span). I recorded the free downloads and the rankings on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com to get a feel on how the book sale performed.

Betty Book Freak’s email arrived in my inbox at 10:00 am Atlantic Standard Time (Nova Scotia time). By that time, seven books were already downloaded. My rankings for Free in Kindle Store were 21,332 (Amazon.com) and 18,810 (Amazon.ca).
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FREE eBook and The Year of Marketing (Help for Self-published Authors)

Lessons in Self-publishingI’ve reached many milestones in the past twenty years in my writing career, but there are still things I want to accomplish and things I need to learn.

One of the things I’m working to improve is my marketing abilities. I’ve done minor things to promote my books, but that’s not enough. In 2015, I attended farmers’ and craft markets to increase my exposure and, well, sell a few books. Obviously one-on-one sales increased; that was a no-brainer.

However, I saw an increase in online sales too. I can only assume it was due to meeting people, giving them my business card and introducing them to my books.

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Simple Tips to Make Your Book Description Standout on Amazon

Lessons in Self-publishingConfession: When I uploaded my first book to Kindle many moons ago, dozens of things ran through my mind…

  • Is anyone going to read it?
  • Is anyone going to like it?
  • Will the interior formatting pass Kindle’s inspection?
  • Will the cover be the right size and quality?
  • Did I miss something that will make it not appear on the website?
  • Is the ISBN correct?
  • Am I spelling my name right? (Yes, I worried about this too)
  • Am I choosing the right key words?
  • Is my description good enough?
  • Are there spelling mistakes in the description?
  • Will the power go out before I complete the publishing? (Okay, that’s my worry today because of the blizzard outside.)

Publishing for the first time can be overwhelming. The goal is get the book uploaded and to not get bogged down by unimportant details. Worrying about all these things I listed gave me no mindset to focus on individual aspects of the eBook publishing process.

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Kindle Spell Check and Preview Your Book While in the Publishing Stage

Lessons in Self-publishingLast week—while discussing Amazon’s warning about spelling mistakes and bad formatting for eBooks published on their site—I realised not everyone is completing all the steps necessary to upload and publish a book.

Book title, author’s name, tags, description and the other items on the Kindle publishing page are important, but the two check points before you hit “Publish” are equally important.

These check points are Kindle Spell Check and Preview Your Book.

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Self-Publishing Vaguely Defined

Self vs IndieI read an article recently that seemed dated. In other words, my first impression was that it was written eight, maybe ten years ago. However, on further reading, I found it was published on December 7, 2015.

My first impression came from two things:

1) The lack of specifics pertaining to self-publishing.

2) The snobbery aimed at those who self-publish.

In the early days of self-publishing, authors used a collection of names to call themselves: self-published authors, freelancers, independent authors, independent publishers, non-traditional authors and indies (shorted from the independent adjective). Some simply called themselves authors and left it at that.

All these tags are still used, but many authors have settled on one and used it to brand their work. Authors can use whichever they want to describe the method they use to get their stories into the hands of readers. They all mean the same thing.

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The Cost of Hiring a Traditional Publisher

Throught of the DayHave you ever had one of those Ah-ha! moments? Those times in your life when you believed one thing only to find out the opposite was true?

Everyone has them. Some probably have them more than others. I like to refer to these Ah-ha! moments as thinking outside the box. That’s been a catch-phrase of the past two decades, so now it doesn’t have the same power as it did before. It has lost its edge from overuse and misuse. Thinking outside the box to some might be ordering muffins for a meeting instead of the doughnuts that have been ordered for the past ten years.

That’s not really thinking outside the box. That’s just making a change.

One way of thinking outside the box to me means someone has taken a truth that is generally known in society and flipped it inside out to reveal the actual truth. It’s like viewing something from a different angle and learning it is “B” instead “A” like everyone else thought.

This sort of discovery is thought of as innovative thinking because it was never before realised.

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Revised: Five Types of Book Publishers

While attending a recent event, I realised there is some misconception about the types of publishing available for writers. I reread my post on The Four Types of Book Publishing and decided it was time to revise the information. In this ever-changing world of publishing, things like this will happen.

Although there may only be a thin line separating some of these types, and at times, one might overlap with another, the core of each type has its own tone and/or structure.

I also feel it’s time for self-published authors (indies, independent publishers) to define themselves in the true spirit of being independent. Being independent and self-creating means not paying someone else to take control of your project. It means doing it yourself.

Perhaps the distinction will dispel the myth of what self-publishing truly is, and perhaps it will save unsuspecting authors from falling into the pitfalls of many who have paid thousands of dollars to ‘self-publish’ and who have had horrible experiences, and some who spent the money and didn’t even receive their published books.

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Print-on-demand Prices

At our self-publishing meeting last night, we discussed the price of getting a book printed. My only experience has been with Blurb and CreateSpace.

Besides prices for printed books, the biggest difference between these two companies is that if you create a book with CreateSpace, it can also be listed online at Amazon and other distributors. Blurb doesn’t do that. This is why I’ve gone exclusively with CreateSpace.

On October 25, 2015, I placed an order with CreateSpace for 24 books. The shipping came to $43.39. To calculate the base price of each book [the price to print and get it to my door], I divided the shipping fee by 24. This means I paid $1.81 per book.

Because CreateSpace is in the United States and I live in Canada, there is an added cost of Import Duty and Taxes paid to DHL Express on delivery. If you buy less than a certain amount [I’m told the magic number might be nine (9)], there are no import duties.

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Publishing 101: Get Ready to Upload

Publishing 101This is one in a series of posts entitled Publishing 101: Draft to Book in 30 Days. To learn more about this challenge, visit the Publishing 101 page, where all links regarding this topic will be listed as they become available.

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Once you have the interior and cover formatted and saved in PDF, it’s time to upload to CreateSpace.

If this is your first encounter with CreateSpace, you’ll need to set up an account. It takes only a few minutes, a few pieces of information, a password and username. CreateSpace is a division of Amazon. It’s a Print on Demand (POD) service that will print paperback books (both children’s books and novels; both full-colour interior and black and white interior).

After you sign into your account, go to the Member Dashboard (in the drop-down menu under My Account). Here you’ll see the list of books you’re both working on and published. You can navigate your books to find or change information by clicking the title. The Member Dashboard is also where you Add a New Title.

Adding a new title takes only a few minutes when the interior and cover PDFs are ready. Here is the information you’ll need to enter:

  • Project Title
  • Type of Project: Paperback (because CreateSpace also creates Audio CDs, MP3s, DVDs and Video)

Set up Process (Until you get used to adding new titles, choose Guided)

Click Get Started

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Publishing 101: Interior Design

Publishing 101This is one in a series of posts entitled Publishing 101: Draft to Book in 30 Days. To learn more about this challenge, visit the Publishing 101 page, where all links regarding this topic will be listed as they become available.

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The interior design for a book is like the interior design for a bedroom or kitchen. For a room the designer must decide the colours of the walls, the material for the floor and the style of light fixtures and furniture.

When you design the interior of a book, you need to think about which font style and size to use for the front matter, the back matter, chapter titles, headers, footers and the body of the text (the actual story). You must also decide the layout of these items. Will the page numbers be at the top of the page or the bottom? Will they be centred, to the left or to the right? Will they be a number or will they have the word ‘page’ in front of them?

In general Interior Design focuses on…

  • book dimensions
  • paper colour
  • front and back matter font
  • novel text font
  • chapter titles font and style
  • headers font
  • page number font
  • drop caps for chapter starts
  • scene break design

Book Dimensions

I’ve chosen 5.5 inches wide by 8.5 inches tall for Fowl Summer Nights. It’s a good average size for a novel. If I were publishing a children’s picture book, I might go 8×10. I’ve also published books at 5×8 and 6×9.

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Publishing 101: Production Schedule

Publishing 101This is one in a series of posts entitled Publishing 101: Draft to Book in 30 Days. To learn more about this challenge, visit the Publishing 101 page, where all links regarding this topic will be listed as they become available.

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With my manuscript off to the editor, one might think I can sit back and take a break. Not so. There’s still plenty of work that needs to be completed before I publish my novella Fowl Summer Nights.

Let me introduce you to my Production Schedule. I create one for each book I plan to publish. It keeps me on track and doesn’t let me forget an important step. It also holds pertinent information for this book in one place, so I don’t have to open multiple files to access it.

Below is the production schedule for Fowl Summer Nights. As I complete each item I write DONE beside it. If a small piece of information was needed to complete this step (such as ISBN), I record it. I sometimes note what stage I’m at in the step.

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Publishing 101: Introduction

Publishing 101I receive a lot of questions about self-publishing and operating a small publishing company. I do my best to answer these questions, and when more than one person asks the same question, I try to write a blog post to address it.

Asking questions here and there move independent publishers over one hurdle or another, but as we know, there are many hurdles to leap on the way from draft to book. It’s difficult in a ten minute conversation or an email to provide details about the entire journey.

So what’s the answer? Since I’m about to embark on yet another publishing expedition, I thought I’d take others along for the ride. Starting with a completed first draft, I’m going to document the steps I take to get from that unpolished manuscript to published paperback and eBook.

I’m going to call the series of posts Publishing 101: From Draft to Book in 30 Days.

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Is that a challenge? Goals for 2014

Challenge 2014On the eve of the new year is a great time to set goals for the next twelve months. Personally I find goals motivate me to accomplish things I wouldn’t otherwise. I used to set small, easily obtainable goals, and then I started stretching myself further, believing I could reach the larger goals if I set my mind to it.

Occasionally I came up short, yet my inability to reach a goal hadn’t discouraged me from trying harder or continuing onward.

I have a feeling 2014 is going to be an excellent year; sort of that step towards 2015 and better things afterwards. At least I’m thinking 2014 has to be more positive because 2013 was very stressful, depressing, unpredictable in a bad way and filled with events I don’t want to see repeated. I hadn’t accomplished as much as I had set out to do, but at least year ending leaves me with great hope for the future.

I understand there will be at least one sad hurdle to overcome in 2014, but I feel a breath of life that I haven’t felt in the past several years. I see the light at the end of a very long tunnel and an energy building that will carry me forward.

This light hadn’t lit itself and this energy did not come out of nowhere. I’ve been tinkering with matches and forcing my thoughts to think differently. I’ve seen my feet in unhealthy ground and I’m motivated to see them move onward. Like Bilbo Baggins I have been given the opportunity for adventure, and like Mr. Baggins, I will go into the unknown and seek what needs to be sought, so I can return a changed person.

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Self-publishing Defined

BugsyMy search for one thing brought me to a clear and concise answer to a question that doesn’t always have a straight answer. Or at least the answer is still defining itself in the ever-changing publishing world.

Victoria Bindery—a book binding company in British Columbia—defines self-publishing on the FAQ page #14:

What is self-publishing? Self-publishing is the publication of any book or other media by the author of the work, without the involvement of an established third-party publisher. The author is responsible and in control of entire process including design (cover/interior), formats, price, distribution, marketing & PR.

That is exactly the way I defined self-publishing in my post Four Types of Publishing except I used more words.

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Self-publishing Consultant

DianeTibertSelfPublishingConsultantMy self-publishing journey was like many others. Although I’ve been published thousands of time in magazines and newspapers, I have never had an acceptance letter from a traditional publisher (except when I was 18 and the publishing company folded before my story actually went to print). I’ve had many great comments from editors that made me believe I was very close, but in the end, close didn’t count. I’ve spent years waiting and hundreds of dollars on paper, ink, envelopes and postage trying to convince an editor to accept my fiction.

I was waiting for someone else to say my stories were good enough for others to read.

Eventually I gave up waiting and learned how to do it myself in 2010. There was a lot of information for self-publishing writers three years ago, but there’s a whole lot more now. And there are many more people/companies who are lined up to take my money to help my dream of publishing come true.

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