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:
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.
·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.
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.
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.
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.)
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
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:
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
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
We have guests scheduled for January, so this should be the last show with just the three of us for a while. We discussed whether marketing and selling books got harder for indie authors in 2014 and, since there are only a couple of days left in the year, we gave some publishing predictions and some marketing trends that we believe could come to pass in 2015. At the end, we also shared a few of our own writing/publishing resolutions for next year.
Here’s a look at some of the topics we covered:
How has Kindle Unlimited effected us and will authors continue to have to deal with subscription services (possibly more of them from Amazon competitors) as time goes on?
How networking and collaboration on projects and marketing may become even more important to authors in the future
Will multi-author bundles still be popular, or will they be replaced by something else?
We might see more co-authoring, shared worlds, and pen names where multiple authors write under the name to increase the number of annual releases
Pre-orders, are they useful now and how might one take advantage of the benefits in the future?
How Lindsay started a new pen name in October of 2014 and did well with it, even as a completely “new” (anonymous) author: Pen Name Launch 1 (results after 1 month) & Pen Name Launch 2 (results after 10 weeks)
Since it’s a few days before Christmas and we’re not scheduling any guests until the new year, we decided to chat amongst ourselves again, this time with a holiday marketing topic. As it turns out, none of us do a ton, but we chimed in on things we’ve tried and things that we believe aren’t worth the time, effort, expensive, etc.
Here’s a little of what we covered:
Giving away ebooks with Smashwords coupons
Giving away paperbacks and shipping costs
Can Christmas and other holidays actually help with ebook sales
Writing holiday-themed stories to take advantage of a holiday-loving market (possibly tougher with fantasy and science fiction)
Is it worth trying to book ads for Christmas
Are there any pitfalls that may come with releasing a book right before the holidays