Becoming a successful author of fiction ebooks in 2014 does not have much to do with anything extra you do besides publishing your schlock and waiting for the money to roll in. If you can write well, and a large group of people agree with you, and can find you, you’ll do well enough as you begin. You’ll be KILLING IT later on if you make a lifelong effort of it.
For most people. Part of success is luck, absolutely, and I think luck is responsible for the levels of greatness attained in writing. At least some of the outcome anyway. Luck helps, that is for damn sure, but since you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about it either. This article is about what you CAN do to help your book(s) become successful.
My sister sent me the following in part of her email:
Here’s the thing about all the money you make with your books, though– you know the Internet in ways that I don’t. You KNOW marketing. Maybe I’ll be paying YOU to market? That sounds like a really good idea, now it comes to that…
She was responding to my pleas for her to drop everything and write her ass numb for the next couple of years. I begged her to go into poverty and let her kids starve if she had to, just finish the fiction novel she’s 90% through with, and then write heaps MORE.
Sending me money to help her market is not a good idea, she can do everything herself. That’s what god gave her an IQ of 160 for. It makes much more sense for new authors to do all the legwork for themselves because paying someone to do it for you doesn’t teach you what needs to be done over and over as you publish new books. AND, you probably won’t be all that successful just starting off anyway, so you can save your money.
Paying someone to help you market your ebooks is not a very good idea for new authors. Don’t do it. Read this entire article first. Read another 10 articles on the subject. Read the last 150 posts at Joe Konrath’s blog – Jakonrath.blogspot.com. Figure it out by yourself, and learn by doing. That’s the best way to go about it. I think it’s the ONLY way to go about it. Forget about paying someone to market your books for now. Do that when you’re making tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars per month from your books. Not before then.
I think many writers, new authors, have this idea that they need to know SO MUCH in order to self publish their books and have some level of success. It isn’t true. It helps, or, it can help. But, as much as I know about internet marketing, having done it since 1999, I can honestly say that whatever I could possibly do to help my books sell – isn’t much. Often times success in self publishing comes just from publishing a well-written book in a marketplace where people can find it.
One way you can definitely increase the sales of your ebook is to make it available in as many channels as possible.
The Essential Ebook Markets:
- Barnes & Noble
- Author’s website or Facebook page, Tumblr page, whatever.
There is some level of know-how required for publishing your book in each of these places. I publish at Amazon and Smashwords.com. This ‘know-how’ comes to you in the form of a formatting guide for each service. Read the guides and follow the instructions to format your book so it converts perfectly.
Smashwords distributes my books to Apple, Kobo, Barnes, Sony, and some others, even Amazon if you want them to. Amazon has a very easy submission – publishing process so I do it myself there and save the commissions. Smashwords is a bit of a bitch to publish at, but, once you do and get accepted for “Premium Distribution,” you’ll be happy you went through the process. If you’re not selling that many ebooks, it makes sense just to use Smashwords and save some time, giving them some commission for distributing your books to other companies that will each have their own submission requirements and give you headaches. Avoid headaches at all cost.
Both Amazon and Smashwords have a detailed formatting style that your ebook manuscript must conform to, or your book will show up like junk after you publish online. The formatting style is not difficult to grasp. I think a bright eighth grade kid could implement the simple changes it requires. That means you can do it too if you put in the effort to do so.
Visit KDP.Amazon.com and sign up. Go through the motions like you’re going to add a new title to your account. It means you’re going to publish a new book. Look at the form you need to fill out. It’s child’s play. You choose a title, tell who the author and publishers are, choose keywords that will help readers find your book as they search Amazon, write a description. Choose a couple of categories. Upload your cover and Word file and choose a price and you’re done. It’s almost that easy. The word ‘PUBLISHING’ scares people because it used to mean publishing a paperback book and the legacy publishers made that a royal pain in the ass. Today it’s easy. I published a book last night and it took all of ten minutes. This morning already the book is live at Amazon. You can find it here – “Going Down” – a Mike Fook short story.
I use Microsoft Word for MAC OS. I pay $10 per month to use the program. I can quit anytime, and restart anytime. It is WELL worth $10 because I don’t have to worry about formatting problems when I switch from Open Office Writer program to submit in Word at Amazon or Smashwords. Use Word, and save yourself a headache.
I make my own covers for short stories. I pay Roland in the Philippines $100 per cover for fiction novels and other full-length books. If you want his email address, let me know. I use a shareware version of Paint Shop Pro to make my covers. I make them 2600 x 1800 pixel .TIFF files. I buy the royalty-free rights to images I find on Dreamstime.com for an average of $10 to $20 per cover image.
I add a page at the end of every ebook with links to my other fiction books, website, Twitter account.
I ask for reviews at the end of every book because good reviews help to sell your book as much as anything. Amazon and other online marketplaces use good reviews to rank your site better in the search algorithm. This means your book is seen more, resulting in more sales.
In the description of my books I ask the potential buyer to take advantage of the free sample so they can see if the book is interesting to them or not.
Also in the description I tell how many pages are in the book for short stories so nobody is disappointed and gives me a negative review based on the idea they thought they were getting a full-length book, and it turned out to be a short story.
I write a short article at my website and let people know what the book is about, show the cover image, and link to where they can buy it. Ideally I’d link to all the places readers could buy it, but I’m not all that proactive at the moment. Usually I just link to the book’s Amazon page. The link looks like this: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I2OM63U. Cut all the extra stuff off starting with this /ref= and everything that follows. This way Google will take into account your link to the page as a vote for that page. Eventually Google may give you some priority toward the top of search listings when keywords focusing on your book are used during search.
I post a blurb about the book on Facebook and Twitter and link to where potential readers can find it, read the sample, and buy it.
Sometimes I do a video announcement of the book on Youtube. I put a link in the description with the full url – including the http:// which turns it into a clickable link for buyers to go have a look. Make sure you optimize the Youtube video description with a full description and keywords.
Though I maintain an author website, as you can see here, I am not very focused on writing for potential readers of my books. I write about whatever topic interests me and usually about things that have me emotionally worked up about something. Most authors write articles for other authors. Like this article. If you fill your author blog with articles that are focused on other authors, you’ll turn off some or most of your readers who don’t care about that stuff. Fill your author site with material that might appeal to your readers. Do as I say, not as I do.
One big goal of your marketing efforts should be to build a loyal following of readers that dig your books. The best place to do this is on your own site, or on your own Facebook page, or whatever other site you can build and control the content on. On the top right side of this page you can see that I have a place for readers to “JOIN MIKE FOOK”. When readers join my mailing list then at least I have a way to contact them and find out who they are. Amazon, Apple, Smashwords, none of these will give you that information. That sucks because they are YOUR customers. Do anything possible to get people to come to your website and register for your mailing list so you can send them email with free goodies. Send them bunches of free stuff and treat them right, and they’ll continue to buy your books as they come out. If you only had 3,000 devoted readers, then every time you put a book out you’d have $10,000 or greater. The real importance of a core group of readers, a tribe, is that you’ll get a bunch of decent reviews on your book if it’s any good.
I offer access to some free short stories for readers that join my mailing list. See that HERE.
I can’t think of anything else I do to market my books. For books I’ve written about Thailand I have them at ThailandEBooks.com as well as on my author site. I have links from pages on that site to the Amazon pages. I think Amazon must take into account that some buyers find books on their sites by following links from my sites. That might bring them up in the rankings at Amazon a bit too. Maybe it doesn’t help at all. I can’t say.
So, as you can see, there are things you can do to market your books and to help ensure that they do as well as possible. You can change the settings at Amazon any time you choose – and see if there are better categories, better keywords, a better description that gives you more sales. You should try the KDP Select, Kindle Countdown, and Kindle Matchbook programs found on the KDP.amazon.com site. Some authors find additional sales and income as a result of these programs. I have tried KDP Select and it was OK, but they require exclusivity for 3 months. It didn’t turn out to be better than the combined sales at all the other online outlets where my books are sold. I recently tried the Kindle Countdown program and it has worked for books that are slow to sell. I will continue using it as I think about it.