SFFMP 42: Selling More on iBooks, Boxed Set Strategies, and Using Pre-Orders to Hit Bestseller Lists

Hey, everyone! We shared a lot of information today. We answered a few reader questions and then jumped into Lindsay’s notes from some of the panels at the RWA Con. The topics included selling more books on Apple’s iBooks, setting up multi-author boxed sets, using pre-orders to hit bestseller lists (such as USA Today and the NY Times), and a handful of mistakes to avoid as an author (these were different than some of the mistakes we’ve already shared in the past).

Here’s a closer look at the notes and the links we mentioned on the podcast:

  • Making the USA Today bestseller list with a multi-author boxed set
  • Getting bookmarks and other author swag made
  • John L. Monk‘s report on his experiences with Vellum for ebook formatting.
  • Getting started using a pen name and potential selling/legal complications
  • Starting up your own podcast as promo for your work (or just for schmoozing authors)
  • Short stories, selling them individually versus bundling them into a collection (an article on getting inexpensive covers for short stories/serials done on Fiverr)
  • Selling foreign rights as an indie (using an agent who specializes in foreign rights or finding a contract consultant that specializes in publishing for a one-time deal)
  • Paying for your own translations and the costs (upwards of $10,000 for a 80,000-word novel)
  • Where to consider looking for deals/rights sales — for example, Germany is popular with science fiction and fantasy authors.
  • Babelcube and other sites that connect authors with translators for royalty splits might not be quite there yet (tough to find experienced high-quality translators).
  • Respecting the tropes and giving people what they want/expect to sell more
  • Be “the author” on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter — readers will follow, expecting to be entertained, so keep personal stuff to a minimum
  • Interested in Facebooks ads? Maybe check out Amy Porterfield’s site and podcast.
  • More on Lindsay’s experience with a boxed set and hitting the USA Today list.
  • Using different pen names for different series in different genres
  • How to appear in more popular authors’ also-boughts on Amazon
  • Apple affiliate program and adding specific iBooks links to the backs of your Apple ebooks
  • Requesting your 250 free promo codes on Apple to giveaway your iBooks to early reviewers/bloggers/etc.
  • The best day to release a book if you hope to make a best seller’s list (and how many sales it takes for the USA Today list versus the NYT list)
  • Using Thunderclap or Headtalker to help with a release
  • Setting up “asset-less” pre-orders up to a year in advance on Apple

 

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SFFMP 40: Going Wide and Selling More on Platforms Besides Amazon

On this hot summer day, we chatted amongst ourselves about going wide and improving sales on the sites other than Amazon, specifically Kobo, Apple, and Barnes & Noble. We even brought up the subscription sites (Scribd and Oyster) and Google Play. We also answered a couple of listener questions.

Here’s a closer look at what we covered:

  • Does it matter what time of year you launch a new series? I.e. are summer sales slow, and should you wait until fall?
  • When is it acceptable to call yourself an Amazon bestseller?
  • What are the pros and cons of publishing on all of the stores versus going exclusive with Amazon?
  • How the heck do you sell books on those other sites anyway? We talked about using the free book or the 99-cent intro boxed set, trying to talk with the distributors to get promotions, linking to all of your books on all of the sites, and including sneak previews to entice the people who read the freebies to pick up the rest of the series.
  • Should you adjust prices at all on the other sites?
  • Is it better to go through a distributor such as Smashwords or Draft2Digital or upload directly everywhere that you can?
  • The link to the “first in series free” thread Lindsay mentioned (though it looks like it isn’t being monitored by Kobo any more). Someone suggested you can fill out this form on Kobo to be considered.

 

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SFFMP 37: Amazon Algorithms and Making a Book Stick

Today, Jeff, Jo, and Lindsay shared what they know about how the Amazon algorithms work, about categories and keywords and sales rankings, and about what’s working now to make a book stick and start selling on its own. They also discussed KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited and how borrows from that program are currently affecting visibility and sales rankings.

Here are links to some of the sites and books we mentioned:

 

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SFFMP 34: Facebook Marketing, BookBub, and Tips from Book Expo America

We talked among ourselves tonight, discussing a lot of the news and tips Jo brought back from Book Expo America. He went to panels on Facebook marketing/reader engagement and talked to the Bookbub people about what it takes to get listed and about some of the best practices. He also picked up some links to cool resources that you may want to check out.

Here’s a run-down of his notes:

Using Facebook to the best effect:

·       Facebook will always do its best to decrease the impact of non-paid advertising.

·       If you want to get the most bang for your buck, use whatever Facebook’s pet toy is. They will reward you with greater reach for free. Until they don’t.

·       Currently their toy is video. A 15-30 second video will get a much bigger push than post with any other media, or no media at all. (Don’t try to link to a video on another platform; you need to upload the video directly to Facebook to get their loving.)

·       A site you can use to create videos without a lot of tech savviness is Animoto

·       You can put a link at the end of the video, to actually get some use out of it.

·       Also, ask questions, because engagement amplifies reach.

·       And if you’re going to pursue something pursue shares. They expand your reach by the most.

Book Bub:

·       I talked to BookBub and asked for advice on how to make your book more likely to be chosen.

·       As expected, there’s a strong emphasis on a good cover and strong reviews.

·       The role that price point (and how much of a discount you offer) plays

·       Whether being in KDP Select puts you at a disadvantage to books available on a wide variety of platforms.

·       The reviews are by are the most important. A book with a great cover and a dozen decent reviews will probably lose to a book with a mediocre cover and fifty great reviews.

·       However, even if your book is flawless, with a perfect cover and hundreds of reviews, you might not get picked.

·       This is either because they were fully booked for the available period, or because your book is in a genre that has historically gotten poor click through.

·       In neither case are you doomed, they CAN still promo your book, but you’ll have to be persistent. New openings occur every day, and there’s always the chance your non-favored genre book will have no suitable competition for a given period.

·       They also gave advice on how best to promote your books depending on your goals.

        Shooting for a Best Seller:

        *  Discount the most popular book (if you’ve got one with over 100 reviews, use that).

        * Discount to lowest price possible. (99 cents, since free won’t count)

       Marketing a Series

       * Discount first book.

       * Free if possible.

       * Discount for three or more days.

       * Link to series in back matter.

Products that caught Jo’s interest:

·       Note: We aren’t being paid to mention these folks; Jo just thought they were interesting and potentially useful.

      * PiracyTrace: https://piracytrace.com/

      * Service that proactively searches the web for plagiarism of your work.

      * BookMarq: http://bookmarq.io/

      * An iOS App that is looking to be a slicker, dedicated mobile alternative to goodreads.

      * Slicebooks (https://slicebooks.com/en) and YaBeam (http://yabeam.com/)

        Slicebooks is a service that lets you chop your book into chapters for distribution purposes. More useful for nonfiction, because users can create mix and match derivative books by taking an assortment of chapters from different books and share the result.

       YaBeam is a service that uses the iBeacon feature of iOS to advertise to people by causing a notification when they walk by a YaBeam beacon. IE stick one at the door of a book store where you are doing a signing to offer passers by a heads-up that you’re in there and a free chapter to entice them.

      * Lithomobilus: http://lithomobilus.com/

       Think of this as choose your own adventure, or DVD extras for books. It uses the epub 3 enhancements to allow you to link to alternate scenes, fan art, etc that tie in to the current portion of a text. And of course, you can SELL this additional content.

      * Vellum: (https://180g.co/vellum/)

        This is an ebook formatting software for Mac that creates BEAUTIFUL template based ebooks in epub 2, epub 3, and mobi. Super user friendly, built in previews, etc. Like Scrivener if it was focused on publishing a book rather than writing it. (Though you can write in it too.)

      $30 for single use, $200 for unlimited.

     * Dropcards (http://www.dropcards.com/home/)

     * Enchanted world of Boxes: http://enchantedboxes.com/wholesale/catalog.htm?line=19

       They sell these neato book boxes, which lots of people resell through Etsy.

     * Poetic Earth Designs Handmade Journals (https://www.poeticearthjournals.com/)

       Gorgeous leather bags and hand made journals, also resold on Etsy.

 

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SFFMP 29: Increasing Writing Speed and Publishing More Books

For today’s show, we talked about how we’ve learned to write more efficiently and get more books out there. After all, a lot of the marketing stuff we discuss on this show becomes more effective when you have numerous books, and maybe even numerous series, out there. It’s also easier to keep the momentum going if you have new adventures coming out every few months.

Here’s some of what we covered:

  • How each of us approaches plotting and whether we outline or pants
  • Whether we write down the “beats” for individual scenes before starting on them
  • Lots of tips that we’ve all learned for hitting our daily word count goals and staying on task
  • Tips from the book 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You love.
  • How over-editing can slow you down (and may not be that useful in the end)
  • How a series can make everything easier, since you’ve already established the characters and done the world building.
  • Dealing with being daunted by a story idea
  • Finding motivation to write every day and staying motivated for the long run
  • How to get readers to try a new series, especially if you jump genres
  • Ways of storing or backing up your work in the cloud and writing from anywhere

 

 

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SFFMP 27: Running Newsletters (how, why, and tips), Entering Contests, and StoryBundle’s NaNoWriMo Opportunity

Hey, everyone! Tonight Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay devoted most of the show to discussing newsletters. What host do they use (or in Jeff’s case, how he does it himself with a WordPress plug-in), how often do they send out letters, what do they write about, how they use affiliate links to monitor sales (and make some extra money), and how to get readers to sign up in the first place.

Here are some more highlights, as well as the links that were mentioned in the show:

 

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SFFMP 24: Why Reviews Are So Important, Getting Them Early On, and Dealing with Bad Reviews

Today Lindsay had some laggy internet going on, so naturally we did a show with just the three of us, where we all needed to talk a lot! With a few more pauses than usual, we discussed all aspects of book reviews: why you need them, how to get them, and how to deal with those pesky 1-stars. Here are a few more specifics of what we covered:

  • Why it’s so important to get reviews (social proof, proof for advertisers, and also possibly getting a bump from the Amazon algorithms for lots of reviews right after a release)
  • Things we did to get reviews of our early books and whether give aways and blog tours are worth it
  • What we’re doing now, as more established authors, to get reviews, especially for new series and new genres we may be exploring
  • Looking beyond Amazon to Goodreads and getting reviews in the other stores
  • How we deal with bad reviews
  • Whether we think you should ever respond to reviews
  • Ways to possibly make a bad review work in your favor

 

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SFFMP 22: Book Bundles, Marketing Successes and Failures, and Creating Author Swag

We’re late getting a show up this week, but we are here! Tonight Jeff, Lindsay, and Jo chatted amongst themselves, covering a number of topics such as…

  • How Jeffrey had good luck boosting his sales by tinkering with keywords on Amazon.
  • How Jo making his first book temporarily free helped boosted sales of his Book 2 preorder.
  • How Lindsay increased sales on her omnibus by redoing the cover and blurb.
  • A few marketing/publishing things that ended up being a waste of time, or at least not very profitable for the time invested.
  • Our experiences with multi-author book bundles of which we’ve been a part.
  • Can too many authors make a multi-author bundle less effective? Can too few sabotage the potential? What’s the right number?
  • How Lindsay got a lot more interest in one of her series by putting together a bundle of the first three books.
  • Why the guys decided to put together a permafree epic fantasy book bundle with a few other authors
  • Jo’s experiments with creating 3D book swag on Shapeways.com and ordering blook plates for signings from Bookplate Ink.

 

 

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SFFMP 18: Buying Advertising, Twitter, Conventions, Book Signings, and Swag

Tonight, after Lindsay coughed her way through the introduction, we chatted amongst ourselves on a number of topics related to online marketing and offline marketing.

  • How do you measure your return on investment when it comes to online marketing? When is it time to pull the plug on a method? (We discussed social media, Wattpad, and guest posts/interviews.)
  • Does it ever make sense to abandon a series, if the sales/reviews/interest isn’t there?
  • What’s an online marketing tactic that you tried, didn’t expect much from, then were pleasantly surprised about because it was helpful?
  • What’s something everyone does and everyone recommends doing but just seems like a waste of time to you?
  • Do giveaways actually help sell books?
  • Twitter — what’s the point, guys?
  • When is it worth buying sponsored spots on book blogs/mailing lists for your books?
  • Have you done anything in your own hometown to try and sell books locally?
  • Is there any value in going to conventions or doing book signings? Investing in some author swag to give away?

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SFFMP 17: Kindle Unlimited, Pre-Orders, and Smashwords Formatting

After a week off, we’re back, and we had a good long chat tonight, covering all sorts of useful topics (we hope they’re useful, anyway!). We didn’t have a guest, so we interviewed each other on marketing/publishing subjects that we’re experienced with. Jeff answered our questions on Smashwords formatting, Jo talked about his experience with pre-orders and whether they’re a good idea for increasing book sales, and Lindsay talked about her experience in KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited (with her pen name).

Here’s a list of some of the topics we hit upon:

  • In the opening news, Lindsay argued why it’s a good idea to bundle the early books in a series
  • The gang discussed the fact that the SFWA is now allowing in small press and indie authors
  • Pre-orders on Amazon, yea or nay?
  • Why pre-orders on Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo are a good idea
  • How far out you can list pre-orders and what happens if you fail to get your finished manuscript up in time
  • Lots of formatting tips for dealing with the Smashwords meatgrinder
  • How KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited can increase visibility and be useful for new authors
  • Whether the perks of KDP Select are worth the exclusivity requirement or whether it’s better to go wide

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