Market The Book Self Publishing

A Book Launch – But Not As We Know It

Covers Sell Indie Nonfiction

Around the middle of  the month I changed the cover and title of my existing book – I talked about it previously. Well I know it’s been said before but – covers sell books. 

Because you know something, my first book, used to sit in the 20’s for a ranking under the travel tips category, then I talked about it, changed the cover, and it bounced up to first page of tips hitting #8, and the sales have stayed up. In fact I’ve just had the best month EVER for sales for the first book, and I didn’t publish the new book until the 25th – so it’s not the multiple book effect!  The figures aren’t big, but the percentage is – I’ve sold 50% more copies of The Non-Boring Vacation Packing Guide in July, than I have in any other month (sales figures here). 

A Boat Launch, Savaii, Samoa

Launching Indie Books – Doing It Differently

There’s an awful lot written about and discussed on how to launch an Indie book.  Almost all the time the discussion is around fiction, and  somewhat flawed I think. 

In the old days e.g. 2010, paper books had a limited shelf life. If you book didn’t have good sales within a few weeks, it was pulled off the shelves and remaindered or pulped. I book had about 12 weeks to make it or die. After all, shelf space was a valuable and limited commodity. 

Hence the tradition of the “book launch” – a big splash over a whole lot of media, writer doing interviews all around the place, and hopefully enough sales to keep the book in print.  It was a concept that Indie writers have taken and developed into the online equivalent e.g. blog tours, social media love-in’s etc. All the same work as a traditional launch, without the booze and nibbles – that’s got to be wrong! 

Fortunately, these days we all know that whatever you write on the Internet is there forever, equally Amazon may have over 1.2 million books in the Kindle eBook Store – but it’s not running out of shelf space any time soon.  So the need to make a big splash, is less compelling. 

My priority was to get my book live on Amazon. While it was still on my hard drive it was definitely not earning any money! So instead of a lot of promotion I focussed on two things: 

  • a quality book;
  • a backend to build my buyer’s list

To Do List For A Nonfiction Book Launch 

Here’s a short list of the stuff I’ve found that you need to do to launch a book: 

  • sort out your typos get the final copy,
  • get cool cover done,
  • find more typos, this is definitely the final copy,
  • format the book, while finding more typos,
  • format the book some more, work out how to format books correctly (save that thought for later),
  • publish book,
  • notice more typos, fix them up and re-publish,
  • leave the price at 99c for a few days to get some reviews,
  • update your book’s sales page or in the case of re-branding the entire series, launch a new website,
  • re-do formatting for existing book to match the new one
  • update the old book to promote the new book at the end
  • setup an email capture page for each book.

Building a List With A Book

Look I was late to the party in terms of building a list of interested peeps from my websites, but I got there eventually. And now I notice, with amazement, that hardly any of the books that peeps are selling, have a signup at the back! WTF? It can’t be a BAD idea to have readers emails can it? Hey maybe everybody tried this already and readers don’t sign up. Maybe. But hell it costs nothing to try does it? 

Using AWeber I’m setting up a signup to the The Non-Boring Travel Newsletter, so that I can communicate updates and new promos to the people I know who have bought the book.  How do I know they bought the book, or stole it I guess, because the signup page is not indexed and not linked to from front page of the site, so you will only find it at the back of the book.  I’m curious to see just what percentage of readers will go to this trouble.

I’d My Like Books To Be Self-Promoting

I have a vision.

What if everytime I released a book that was in the same niche I could email a list of buyers, people who’d already bought my previous book, and offer them the limited-time opportunity to purchase a book for a discounted price? I wonder what that would do to my book’s rankings? I’d immediately get reviews and buys from people who were buying other travel books, so my book would show with relevant “also boughts” showing at the bottom of the page. 

Maybe it’s a pipe-dream, but it just seems that I have so much more control over a mailing list than I do social media sites that now want to charge me to have my updates show in subscribers news feeds (Facebook).  Does anyone else think I’m on to something? 

Making Money Online Self Publishing

I Got My Writing Mojo Back

I’m an adult, I’m not scared of the dark, I don’t believe in ghosts or monsters. But I was scared – really, really scared – of this:

Scary, scary file - lurking on my computer

Not the program, Scrivener, – its cool, it was the outline – the outline for my next book. That File.

It was just so scary – I had to hide from it for a month. Eventually I decided it was too hard, I went around it – wrote a bunch of content for Lis’s Travel Tips – content which is quite similar to what will be in the book – but they were just long blog posts – I can write those!

As Tracey pointed out in the comments of my last post – you actually don’t need spectacular sales to make money selling indie non-fiction. Although she missed the future value of money ($3k today is worth more than $3k paid out over 10 years) – her point is valid:

Basically what I’m saying is that it’s about volume (amount of books you have) and repeat customers.

I knew that, I knew I had to write more books, for goodness sake I’d written one,  why was the next one so bloody hard?  I dunno maybe its just me – having done something out of confort zone one, doesn’t make it that much easier to repeat the exercise. Weird

However as a student of time management and procastination I knew that I couldn’t manage the problem if I didn’t measure it. The problem was two -fold:

  • I was writing enough;
  • I wasn’t writing my books

I decided to start counting words – yeah like rocket science, right?

I decided to start with the easier problem – the first one. I started writing – last week I wrote a total of over 8000 words  (I don’t count comments, forums, social media, only words written as articles either on my sites or to promote my sites). It was a little scary – I was guest posting – something I’ve never actually done. But amazingly I persuaded some bloggers to publish my stories: Wellington Sculpture and Paris in the Snow . But it wasn’t as scary as That File.

OK so my output was up, and it was good for marketing – but I really needed more  product to sell. I needed to deal with That File.

Now Dave in his clever little Pond decided to start with some motivational board. Post your goal – make it public, and either win or fail – if you fail – well it was bad – the Duck Booed

  1. Monday: Stated aim: 5000 words, achieved 5153, 13 articles for an auto-responder series. Yeah thanks to info in the Duck Pond – I’m finally going to send emails to my lists (want more Lis’s travel tips  – sign up for the Newsletter here.
  2. Tuesday – I didn’t state a publishing aim – instead I spent the day sorted out how to actually use AWeber (yeah really I’ve never used it to actually send mail LOL) and editing some of the words I’d written so I appear literate.
  3. Wednesday – OK lets try writing today. 5000 words. Not sure what I want to write about: of course I have books to write,  a ton of keyword focussed articles to write, hell I could even write some backlink articles. Did none of it – massive Duck Boo !
  4. Thursday – I opened up That File. It didn’t bite – it was more like -” hey hello Author – nice to see you, been a while”.  The structure wasn’t bad. I found the notes that I’d written on the plane – fitted them into the plan. I decided I needed a chapter on a place I hadn’t been to – I did some research. By 10:30pm I had about 1100 words. But I’d promised myself 5000 words. By 1am I had those words.

Would I have stayed up if I hadn’t promised publicly that I’d write them – nope. Where they great words, nope, the grammar is awful and the typing was falling off markedly towards the end. Doesn’t matter – they can get edited, they are not final words, but they are a start, and having some words rather than a blank screen, is about 80% of the way to the goal.

So today is Friday – and I have another 5000 words to write on my book! Later!

Self Publishing

Update on Indie Non Fiction Sales: Month 3

Ouch, bugger, yuck, is there any surprise why people give up on this game. You want instant satisfaction – buy chocolate is my only advice. Indie non fiction books is not  going to give it to you! Indie non fiction books aren’t going to make you rich overnight!

Some times it doesn't just rain, it hails

My September Stats are rubbish:

  • 5 books sold
  • 4 books sold

Frankly I’m surprised that the UK sales are doing so (comparatively) well – for a book that is such an American search term- just goes to show that the English can read American but not the other way around.

I didn’t sell anything directly from – but thanks to their distribution system which sends my books to retailers I can’t get to  apparently back in August I also managed:

  • Apple 1 book sold
  • Barnes&Noble 2 books sold

So yes I guess it is worth getting your book formatted right and into their premium catalogue!

What I do have is a promotion plan going forward, I’ve developed it while avoiding writing the other books – because my brain does stupid stuff sometimes.

I’m building an email list. Its something I’ve resisted for years. As part of my “I hate marketing” mindset I of course particularly hate marketing email lists – after all I’m bloody expert on them – I am forever subscribing to them 🙂

But I have a new approach – and its not spammy, and its something I’d even admit to in public. It provides value to the subscriber AND its not even additional work for me!

But I’m not telling you the details. Why not? Its not original – the idea was provided in Zen Duck’s Forum – for free – you might want to check it out – and no that’s not an affiliate link. Really I’ve been in a lot of SEO forums over the years, kinda been there, done that. But Dave bullied me, and then he gave me a free membership, and I’ve got my money’s worth. I just think you would too.

Hell I might even get so enthused to start of a mail list here too …. just kidding, maybe…

Self Publishing

2011 Kindle – Kindle Reader, Kindle Touch – Free Kindle eBooks are Going to Be Hot in 2012

OMG – Amazon has done it again – they have, in one stroke pretty much destroyed the paper back publishing industry, at least in my part of the world where a paperback can easily cost over US$25!  Yes there is a new Kindle out in time for Christmas 2011 (shipping late November I believe) – and its called … well there are four of them: Kindle, Kindle Touch, Kindle Touch 3G and Kindle Fire.

Kindle 2011 - Kindle Touch - Kindle Keyboard - Kindle - just cool
My Kindle 3 WIFI now known as a Kindle Keyboard - on Vacation

So why am I buzzing around telling you to go and check out the new Kindles now?  Well obviously I want my Amazon sales to boom at the end of the year.  Because, frankly, at $79 – why aren’t you giving everyone a Kindle?  I am certainly thinking that my partner needs to stop borrowing mine! And no,I wouldn’t pay for a teenager to have an expensive, fragile tablet – but I would consider the tablet version called Kindle Fire  at under $199.

No its not the cute new Kindles that have me excited – its the fact that when the Kindle 3 came out (the current one, why don’t they like version numbers?) last year,  the sales for Indie e-book authors went through the roof.  You see what do you do when someone gives you a new Kindle – yes – you spend the holidays buying books, cheap books,  that Indie’s put out for 99c – not the outrageously priced ones from the traditional publishers.

So if you want to check out the new Kindle models (you can still buy the “old” one too – which is the only one that now comes with a keyboard, here you go:

So now I REALLY have to get my act together and get the next five books I have in my head out into the pixels… This is going to be huge – and not just in the US. From what I can see I can get Amazon to deliver the new Kindle for less than I can buy them downtown.  They are also releasing some models through the  UK store for UK Kindle Store shoppers.

Why You Need To Buy a Kindle in 2011

And for those of you who haven’t got  e-books and Kindles yet.

Why the Kindle is cool:

  • you can read it in bright sunlight – try that with your iPad or netbook;
  • you can read it in bed without causing yourself or your partner concussion or hand cramps – try that with the latest 400 page trade paper back;
  • you can read it without glasses because you can dial the font up to super-size – try that with a cheap book with crap typography;
  • people who have serious sight loss can read it (or listen to it-  they will talk to you as well) – without paying a fortune for the very limited selection of large print books published;
  • you can listen to it read your book while you are stuck in traffic – did I mention the battery life is still about 1 month?
  • you can get the book immediately – you click its on your Kindle – I’ve read more books in the few months that I’ve had the Kindle  than I’d read in the previous year;
  • once you have bought someone a Kindle – you never need to think of a present again -just buy them an Amazon gift card.

Why eBooks are cool:

  • they are removing the gatekeepers – you don’t need an agent and a publishing contract to publish your book – you need a free Amazon publisher account and a free Smashwords account – just like iTunes did for music;
  • the price of books are coming down, seriously down – while the percentage that (self-published) authors are going up – a lot.
  • e-books mean you can take 3500 books with you on vacation and still pack light;
  • you can read trashy novels, erotica or Shakespeare on the c0mmute – and no one knows;
  • you can subscribe to a newspaper or magazine and be able to read it standing up, on-handed on the Tube (seriously that’s why the Brit’s buy them);
  • you don’t even need a Kindle to read them – or any form of e-Reader – Amazon has free Kindle software for Macs, PCs, iPads, iPhones, Android and few others I never heard of.