SFFMP 166: Best Price Points, Does Book Length Matter, and Tips for Selling More Books Wide with Mark Coker

One of our earliest guests on the podcast, almost 150 episodes ago, was Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords. We had him back on this week to talk about some of his predictions for the coming year and marketing tips derived from the 2017 annual survey of the Smashwords sales and distribution data.

Note: we had some technical issues so weren’t able to stream live, but we hope to be back at our usual time of Tuesday 6pm PT/9pm ET next week.

Here are some further details of what we discussed with Mark:

  • Changes in Smashwords over the last three years.
  • How much more successful authors are on iTunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc. when they make use of pre-orders.
  • Mark’s new podcast Smart Author (check out the episodes on analyzing best practices of bestselling authors and how to sell more books with pre-orders for starters).
  • Being careful about being too dependent on one retailer and helping to ensure other retailers stay relevant.
  • Data showing that, despite people forever talking about short attention spans, longer books sell better.
  • Some sub-genres of science fiction and fantasy that are doing well — but Mark advises that you should write what you love rather than following trends.
  • Which price points are most effective, and data showing that $4.99 has become more viable (if you’re charging $2.99 or $3.99, you might not lose sales by going to $4.99).
  • Pricing for boxed sets, whether by individual authors or as multi-author collaborations.
  • How many of the bestselling Smashwords authors are using free series starters.
  • What to do with a $500 launch budget.
  • Tips for selling in the Smashwords store itself.

If you want to hear more from Mark, check out the first episode he did with us: SFFMP 25: Marketing, Pre-Orders, and Distribution with Smashwords Founder Mark Coker.

Here’s his blog post from last year that includes his slides covering the 2017 Smashwords survey data.

You can visit Mark on Twitter or on the Smashwords blog. You can find more information on his Smart Author podcast here.

 

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SFFMP 91: Set-It-and-Forget-It Marketing and Selling Well in Non-Amazon Bookstores

Today, Jeff, Jo, and Lindsay talked about their strategies for selling books in the non-Amazon bookstores, such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Smashwords, and Apple. They also discussed some of the tactics they’ve used over the years that they would consider “set it and forget it marketing.” These are things they did once and that have continued to result in book sales month in and month out.

They also addressed some listener questions about Amazon ebook giveaways and setting up author newsletters. (Here’s a link to the WordPress plug-in that Jeff uses: Newsletter.)

Lindsay went into some details about the successful launch of her recent science fiction series, including the promos she scheduled and how and why she went about creating a new mailing list just for the sci-fi.

Here are the promo sites she used (these will accept new releases, but sometimes require that an author have previously published books with good reviews): Fussy Librarian, Ereader News Today, Books Butterfly, Free Kindle Books and Tips, and Bknights. Lindsay forgot to mention it, but ENT and Books Butterfly were the most worth it in terms of delivering sales, at least for her title in this case.

Links to Jo’s DeviantArt people:

The digital sculptor of Squee the Funk was Liz Landis.

The Sculptor that won the acclaim on DA was Viistar, and here’s the post of Jo’s project: http://viistar.deviantart.com/art/Ivy-Turn-620932412

 

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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 25: Marketing, Pre-Orders, and Distribution with Smashwords Founder Mark Coker

Tonight, we had Smashwords founder Mark Coker on the show, and he gave us a lot of great information on working the pre-order system on Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc., marketing on Smashwords and sites it distributes to, and selling more books overall. Here are some of the highlights of the interview:

  • How Mark’s book, The Boobtube, led him to create Smashwords back in 2008
  • How to take advantage of pre-orders on Smashwords, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, etc. (Unlike with Amazon, you get a big boost on release day, because the orders accumulate and all count toward your Day 1 sales.)
  • Possibly getting extra merchandizing love with retailers such as Apple, based on strong pre-order interest and early sales
  • New features coming to the Smashwords pre-order system, such as assetless pre-orders (so you don’t need to have the finished manuscript in order to make your book available for order)
  • Don’t worry — no penalties at Smashwords for missed deadlines on pre-orders, but you can upload up to 12 months ahead, so you can give yourself plenty of time
  • Getting books into libraries through Smashwords (OverDrive/Library Direct) and Mark’s thoughts on new sites such as EbooksAreForever.com.
  • Why still use a distributor? Makes it easy to get books out without having to be on each platform (on Barnes & Noble, you actually end up making more on books priced under $2.99)
  • Scribd, Oyster, and other smaller retailers that you can only get into via a distributor
  • The Smashwords affiliate program (getting other people to plug your book for you — and giving them an incentive to do so)
  • Common mistakes Mark sees authors making
  • Are permafree series starters still working?
  • What’s coming next to Smashwords

Whether you use Smashwords or not, you might gain something from checking out Mark’s helpful books: Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (Amazon | Smashwords) and Smashwords Book Marketing Guide – How to Market any Book for Free (Amazon | Smashwords)

 

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