There’s this indie author I know a little bit from the Kboards.com forum. Her name is Pauline Creeden, and she’s an ordinary midlister, like so many of us. I remember PMing her some time ago and gushing about how particularly beautiful one of her book covers is—the one for Chronicles of Steele: Raven. Here, I’ll include […]
Today on ARCBookblog we have Rohvannyn Shaw, who aside from having an awesome-sounding name is the author of 7 books, with more to come. She is here to tell us a little about herself and her latest release – Self-Publishing Made Easy First, a little about Rohvannyn Rohvannyn Shaw has been an avid reader for […]
Within the next few days, my new eBook will be available. In it is all the material on the “Self Publishing” tab on my main site, plus a lot of additional information, clarification, and suggestions. I hope everyone likes it and finds it useful. It’s short, easy to read, and to the point. Best of all, it’ll be sold for only 99 cents!
Stay tuned, I’ll make another announcement when it’s available for everyone.
I’m going to tell you a secret.
I don’t buy anything I see in ads.
If you make something and want to share it with people, or have a business you want people to use, ads generate very little business. These days, most folks have an ad blocker up anyway, or even if they don’t, the ad blocker in their brains is working full force. That’s one of the reasons why my blogs and websites are ad free.
Sometimes I’ll share something in a post that I think my readers might like to know about, or I’ll let them know about a good deal, but I do not allow outside advertisers to put up ads.
If you want exposure, what does that mean for you?
It’s really good news when you think about it. Engagement is the key to building trust and getting sales. Posting on forums about something OTHER than your business, whatever it may be, but including a discreet signature link can work wonders.
Guest posts, blog reviews, casually talking to people, those all work too. If done well, it can be very successful. Spammers are now trying to copy this technique, with little success. Now they are trying to make their responses topical! This shows that it does work, and you can be far more successful by being honest, engaging with people, and discussing things they are interested in. Once they like you, they want to know more about you.
A note: I’m not talking about saying something in a forum such as “I really liked your post. It was interesting. By the way, I have a book to sell…” That’s just crass and intrusive. What you want to do is go to forums/blogs/message boards of people who might be interested in your book. Enjoy discussions, give advice, help people. Then let them notice your signature.
I wanted to share this secret because I know there are still people out there who can use it. Honest, sincere engagement helps everyone. It improves the quality of forums and message boards, it helps those who have services to offer, and it reduces reliance on annoying ads too. It’s more work to do it right, but it’s far, far cheaper.
Most of my discussion so far has been regarding paperback books. However, it’s pretty simple to also offer eBooks, and a great way to increase your readership, as well as give more value to your customer.
Converting files to eBook
It’s not hard to use a converter like Calibre and convert your existing PDF to ePub, and offer it as a file on your own site. Calibre is free and simple to use. It’s just a few mouse clicks to do most conversions.
However, Lulu.com and Kindle Direct Publishing also offer ways of doing that, as do many of the other self publishing sites.
CreateSpace makes it especially easy to offer an eBook of your work. At the end of your publishing process, they will ask if you want them to convert your existing work to Kindle. Then they send you over to Kindle Direct Publishing, where you can set your prices and territories. You have to wait about a day for review on those as well but it’s not a big deal. There is no fee for that either.
You can even offer a package where someone can get an ebook version of your book, either cheaply or for free, when they buy a print copy.
When you tell them to bring your book over to Kindle, I highly recommend taking a copy of your book and converting it to .doc. That makes a much better looking product and the Kindle software has an easier time converting. LibreOffice does that easily, it’s just a matter of hitting “save as” and selecting “.doc” in the file dropdown.
You will also be offered to join Kindle Select. I usually do this as it offers some great benefits. It lets you run promotions for your book at no cost to you, lets you take a bigger cut of the profits, and gives you more sales options. The only tradeoff is you are agreeing to only sell your eBook on Kindle while you are a member of Kindle Select, but it’s a limited term in case you change your mind later. I’ve never regretted it.
Kindle Select also makes your book free to people who have Amazon Prime. You’re still paid when they read it – you are paid a proportion of the profits, which usually works out to be about a half a cent per page. It’s great to be able to say to your buyers “check out my book for free if you already have the Kindle subscription.”
If you end up using CreateSpace, your paperback and Kindle versions will show up on the same Amazon listing and that makes it really easy for customers to pick what they want. It also means that if a person reviews your paperback version, that review will be visible on the Kindle version, and vice versa.
The only other note about eBooks as opposed to print books, is the cover is a little different. You only need the front half of the cover. I generally go into Gimp, use rectangle select to isolate the part I want, hit “crop to image,” save that new file, then boom. Done.
Some people do the Kindle or eBook version first, then set up a paperback later, some do the other way around. Either way is fine. Kindle Direct Publishing is starting a feature where they convert your Kindle boosk to paperback without you having to use CreateSpace, but that option is currently very new and I haven’t used it yet.
Now that you have a book, you want to sell it, right?
CreateSpace does some limited marketing even if you don’t pay for the marketing package. I remember how happy I was when I had just bought some Joel Rosenberg books and got an email saying “If you liked Joel Rosenberg, you might like The Dice Of Fate by Rohvannyn Shaw!” That was truly awesome. Recently I randomly found an ad for my new comedy book on a Hubpages post about customer service! Not sure who put the ad there, Amazon or the writer, but so far it’s found me about ten customers. If you put your work out there, it’s entirely possible that others might find it and decide to promote it. There’s a lot you can do to improve those chances.
Basic Marketing Steps:
Announce on your social media. That one’s pretty easy to guess.
Create a website or put a new page on your website for your book/s.
Fill out your author page on Amazon, or your profile on Lulu.
Join Goodreads, get an author page, fill it out.
Blog about it if you have a blog.
If you join Goodreads, check out the author communities. Often you will find people willing to host author interviews or feature new books on their blogs.
Do a promotion – CreateSpace lets you make coupons and do giveaways.
Don’t stress over reviews too much, but if you can get them, great.
You can do a Goodreads Giveaway too, they are pretty helpful. They only cost the price of whatever book you are giving away, plus postage.
Make little placards and leave them up places where readers gather. Bulletin boards at coffee shops, libraries, bookstores, etc. I make mine when I see those promotions for penny prints at Snapfish, Shutterfly, or similar photo sites.
Buy a few books and sell them on Ebay or Etsy. You might be surprised at who wants one, and it helps put them in front of more people.
Go to craft fairs or holiday bazaars with some copies. There aren’t many authors at craft fairs, so you will have less competition.
Note about blogging: If you have a big following, it can be perfectly fine to say “hey, I have a new book, come check it out!” But if you’re still trying to attract new readers or you’re starting out, try to think of some really interesting angle to write about. Offer a chapter of your book, write an article about something you learned while writing it, something like that. Give people a reason to click into your blog and then let them know the book is available within that posting. Let them see why they should put down money to read more of your work. It really helps!
There are a thousand other ideas out there, some of them quite creative, but I think you get the idea. Notice that most of these ideas are cheap or free!
Check out my page “self publishing” for the other parts to this series, and more.
As I mentioned in Part 2, don’t let anyone tell you that you need to pay for an ISBN, or for submitting things to the US Copyright Office to “protect your copyright.” Keeping the file on your own computer is fine. That will show the time stamp on it in case anyone doubts your ownership. I do recommend backing up your work on a thumb drive or external hard drive, though! If you publish a book, putting the copyright notice near the front of your book protects you as well. You know the one, “this is a work of fiction… ” etc, etc.
I like to set up the title and author info on CreateSpace (or Lulu.com) first, so the service gives me the ISBN, then I put it into my formatted file, convert it to PDF, and then upload it. After that, CreateSpace asks you to briefly describe your book, say who wrote it, and asks you how big you want your book to be. 6″ by 9″ is a good size to work with, that’s the standard trade paperback size. If you need templates for covers or interior pages, CreateSpace provides those too. Google “CreateSpace templates” for more information.
Your short description is often called a “blurb.” It’s best to keep this relatively short, maybe a few short paragraphs, because the idea is to entice the reader in and tell them what’s special about the book in a short amount of time. You can use your cover description for this, or something a little longer. Your book may have really great points about it, but a text wall is not inviting to readers. Just reading the descriptions of a lot of books online will start giving you ideas about how to do this and what it needs to say. Notice what you like, what you don’t, and what works for you with what you see.
Setting up your book
While you are setting up your book on CreateSpace, there will be a place where it asks you to set up a BISAC Code. That’s really easy. Basically, you are giving the two main categories that your book fits in. That will affect who sees the book, and who Amazon tries to sell to, as well as where it would be shelved if you get into a bookstore or library. For example, my comedy book might be in fiction: comedy, as well as comedy: business. Play around with it to see where you might fit, you can change it later.
Also, they will ask you to set up five to seven keywords. A keyword can be a short phrase. This makes your book easier to find in net searches. For example, my comedy book might have “comedy, humor, business, customer service, advice” as the keywords. Note that “customer service” counts as just one keyword. Again, you can change those too.
Next, CreateSpace will ask you where you want to sell your book. They will give you the opportunity to market your book worldwide! No extra fee is needed for that. You will also learn what the basic price is to print your book, so you can choose how much profit you get. There are certain guidelines to this but everything is really clearly explained.
Finally, when you have your cover uploaded, your interior text uploaded, and everything filled out, it will let you do a final review, and you can submit. It takes about a day for final approval. When the files are ready, they will email you and you can give your final stamp to it. You can either use their interior reviewer to check the final proof, or buy a proof copy. It costs three or four dollars plus about four dollars shipping. That step is optional, but at least look at the digital copy before submitting.
Then, feel free to publicize all over, put it on your blog, brag about it, and pat yourself on the back! You’re an author! I’ll give tips on marketing in the next post.
Bonus tip about covers: Make sure and leave space at the bottom or to one side of the back cover for the barcode. If you don’t leave space, or if your art wraps around the whole book, they will overlay the barcode somewhere on the back, so it’s best to leave a spot for it. You can leave a three inch by two inch gap if you want, or use a barricade generator and put it in yourself. Then they won’t add it because it’s already there.
Here’s an example of what I mean: