Author Conference of the Future

13 September 2014

From Joe Konrath:

If it ever does happen, this is how I’d picture it:

One giant room, similar to ComiCon, with a stage and microphones.

Authors sit at tables, which are set up everywhere. For table space at the 3 day conference, authors pay $25 a day.

Attendees get in for free.

Authors bring their own paper books to sell. They can accept cash, or credit cards via PayPal Here.

Authors can bring cardboards stands, giveaways, whatever they’d like to make people come to their tables. I suggest having QR codes on promo material, so attendees can instantly buy ebooks.

Conference fees pay for the room space, advertising, and maps that show where the authors are on a numbered seating chart (also name plates and name tags for authors) and the schedule for the author talks.

. . . .

Any author who wants to appear on the main stage in book room to talk for 15 minutes can, for an additional $50. Authors who want to appear on panels can book a block of time together (for example, 3 authors on stage at the same time would get 45 minutes and it would cost a total of $150).

In addition to the main room, there will be additional side rooms available as needed. If an author (or group of authors) want to appear in a side room to speak, it is $25 for 15 minutes per author.

. . . .

Fans get in for free, which will allow them to spend more money on books.

All authors can sign for as long as they want to.

All authors can speak for as long as they want to, on whatever topic they choose.

Even if an author has a table every day, and talks every day, the max they’ll spend is $175. This is cheaper than most conferences, with a lot more visibility.

Link to the rest at Joe Konrath and thanks to Eric for the tip.

What You Need to Know about Amazon Pre-ordering

2 September 2014

From author Laurie Boris via Indies Unlimited:

When Amazon announced that indie authors other than Hugh Howey would be allowed to offer their e-books on pre-order, the timing couldn’t have been better for me to give it a try. I was in the midst of planning my next book release. The description was ready, the categories and keywords chosen, and I’d just sent the final draft of the manuscript out for copyediting.

. . . .

Load a draft copy of your manuscript. If you enable the right settings, it will NOT be available for sampling or download on Amazon, so no worries that readers will get a sneak peek of something unedited. BUT, in a last-minute and disturbing discovery, if you load your book to Goodreads during the pre-order period, your preview WILL be available to US Goodreads users. [The preview is a feature Goodreads just added.] When I asked KDP about this, they suggested I talk to the Goodreads people. I’m not holding my breath for a quick solution. In the meantime, I’d suggest either loading up only your print version to Goodreads [previews are not available for print] or making sure the manuscript you submit to KDP is either the final version or one of at least the quality you’d be comfortable submitting as an ARC (advance reader copy.)

. . . .

1. Be careful with your deadline. Yes. You get a deadline. When you choose a pre-order date, KDP works backward ten days and gives you a drop-dead for loading your final materials. I guess they want to make sure we’re all tidy and ready for our close-up. Or that they will have sufficient time to calculate your pre-orders into your sales ranking.

Choose your date carefully. At this point, I expect to be “all systems go” before the actual date I entered. (It’s that advertising background, I guess.) So I assume I can change my release date to something earlier if I want to. Missing your deadline, however, comes with penalties. One, you will be banned from pre-order privileges for a year. Two, and more importantly, your credibility with your fans could take a hit. Depending on your genre, and if you’re writing a series, fans’ tolerance for the next installment varies. Three, love Amazon or hate them, but they’ve given us an opportunity. If we give them enough evidence that we can’t keep our promises, I can’t imagine that they will continue to offer the privilege. After all, “customer satisfaction,” at least publicly, drives the company.

. . . .

3. Pre-release reviews are not possible, at least at this point. Apparently you can’t upload a review until the book is released. But…your pre-order period seems like a fine time to solicit prepublication reviewers, if you’re so inclined.

4. You can monitor your pre-order numbers in the KDP dashboard. It even lets you know how many you got on specific days. This is great because you can roughly attribute pre-orders with any specific announcements you’ve made. For example, I sent out an email newsletter to my list and saw a spike soon afterward in my pre-order numbers.

Link to the rest at Indies Unlimited

Here’s a link to Laurie Boris’ books

Amazon Prepares Online Advertising Program

24 August 2014

From The Wall Street Journal: Inc. is gearing up to more directly challenge Google Inc.’s dominance of the online advertising market, developing its own software for placing ads online that could leverage its knowledge of millions of Web shoppers.

Initially, Amazon plans to replace those ads on its pages that Google chiefly supplies with a new in-house ad placement platform, said people familiar with the matter. In the future, that system could challenge Google’s $50 billion-a-year advertising business and Microsoft Corp.’s, they added.

The Seattle-based retailer already has a limited business placing ads on other sites. In a sign that it has larger goals, Amazon is testing ways to expand that program with new types of ads.

“Amazon could use the data it has about buying behavior to help make these ads much more effective,” said Karsten Weide, an analyst at researcher IDC. “Marketers would love to have another viable option beyond Google and Facebook for their advertising.”

. . . .

“Amazon knows a lot about how people are searching on the site and consumer preferences and histories. It can use that to tailor advertising in ways that probably nobody else can,” said Reid Spice, vice president of media at digital agency iCrossing.

. . . .

Amazon now displays several types of ads on its pages, including text-based keyword ads placed by Google and other third parties, as well as product ads that Amazon places itself. EMarketer estimates that Amazon will sell nearly $1 billion in advertising revenue this year, up from more than $700 million last year.

. . . .

Amazon today has an “affiliate” program that offers websites Amazon product ads and pays small commissions when those website users click through and buy a product on Amazon. To attract more websites, and help their owners earn more, Amazon also is testing a way for them to get paid any time a user sees an ad.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire) and thanks to Patricia for the tip.

PG wonders if indie authors may be purchasing ads for their books on Amazon.

Just Another Bookbub Top 25?

15 August 2014

From author Michael Bunker:

Was yesterday just another Bookbub promo?

Three top 25 showings on all of Amazon in just 5 weeks… but was it just a product of using Bookbub?

. . . .

“Boy those Bookbub sales are nice!”

“Wow, you can’t beat a Bookbub promo!”

But do Bookbub promos consistently put books into the top 25? Not at all. In fact, almost never. It takes Bookbub+ to get the kind of numbers you need to break into the top 100, much less the top 25. And most authors don’t realize that it is not a smooth ride once you hit the top 50 or so. At that point, the sales trajectory needs to be almost perfectly vertical to gain any ground on the top books on the chart. Making it onto the first page on Amazon (the top 20) requires a combination of things, and just the brute force email power of Bookbub alone is not usually going to get you there. In fact Bookbub, though it is obviously the best paid promotional tool available to Indie authors (or any authors for that matter), only advertises an average unit sales number in Scifi of 1,180 per promo.

On the very top end, obviously with some other factors increasing sales (author fame, bestseller status, multiple promos, Amazon love, some big mentions,) Bookbub reports that a little over 2,600 is the most that can be expected in unit sales of Scifi titles through the entire promo period of a Bookbub feature.

But the AVERAGE Bookbub feature in Scifi results in 1,180 sales. That is the average unit sales throughout the entire length of the promo. That’s good enough to get you into three figures in ranking but not two. Our last three Bookbub promos have each averaged almost 3,000 unit sales in just 24 hours. If we added up unit sales for the entire length of the promo, the average would be close to (or over) 4,000 unit sales during the respective promo periods.

. . . .

In the cases we’ve been able to track, up to 35% of our promo day unit sales did not come through Bookbub.

Whoa! Are you surprised? In fact, a large number of our promo day sales didn’t come through any sale feature ad at all. On the sale day for the Pennsylvania Omnibus, we already had 400 unit sales – 1/3 of Bookbub’s average reported sales – BEFORE the first feature even started! And this figure is based on Amazon’s delayed reporting. The real number might have been twice that!

What does this mean? It means that readers were already convinced of the quality and the value of the book, and the budget minded ones were waiting for the book to go on sale. And when it did… they pounced! THESE are the readers who will push the book after they’ve read it and loved it.

Link to the rest at Michael Bunker and thanks to Patrice for the tip.

Here’s a link to Michel Bunker’s books

I am looking to hire a book publicist

3 August 2014

From author Mary W. Walters:

I am looking to hire a book publicist, so this post is sort of a job posting. It is also a blueprint and discussion paper for other writers who are looking for really effective people to help them promote their books, and it is a primer on the state of the industry for people starting out in the book-promotion business.

In future (starting now, for some of us), a freelance book publicist will be one of the two truly essential members of an author’s team – the other being (of course) the editor. Soon, great book publicists (like great editors) will only represent the books they love and believe in, and the fact that a specific publicist has taken on your book will act as a credential for the quality of the book itself.

. . . .

I am going to tell you why existing book promotion methods have become ineffective, what does work, and why book promotion is becoming a really exciting and potentially profitable income option for enterprising, creative people who love books.

. . . .

In the past, book publicists have worked primarily with traditional media (newspapers, radio, television) on behalf of traditional publishers. There are two reasons why this approach is of no use to those of us who are producing quality books independently today – and, in most cases, not to traditionally published authors either.

For self-published authors, traditional outlets are next-to-impossible to crack – no matter how good our books are. Unless our sales suddenly skyrocket as a result of years of dogged hard work, or there is a spontaneous word-of-mouth epidemic, or we engage in some ridiculous public stunt — in other words, unless we become “news” – no one in the traditional print media or the broadcast sectors is going to even look at our books, much less review them, or interview us about anything. To them, we are pariahs.

. . . .

But perhaps of even more import than the pariah status of self-published authors is the fact that, increasingly, book promotion through traditional media doesn’t work for any author. (Not that it ever was that effective.) People just aren’t reading newspapers and magazines cover to cover they way they used to.

. . . .

What we need is a promotional program that is specifically designed for each of our individual books. If I have two books to promote (which I do right now, although several others are waiting in the wings), I need two promotional programs. I need to sit down with my book, think clearly and honestly about its prospective audience (and recognize that it is not for everyone–no book is for everyone), and devise really ingenious ways to find its audiences and tell them about my book. Once I’ve found them, I need to make contact. After that, the quality of my book will do the work for itself.

. . . .

I am not looking for someone who has done a lot of promotion for the books industry, who thinks that he or she knows how to do it and that traditional methods are the way to go. Yes, I am interested in being interviewed on Between the Covers and getting my books reviewed in The New York Times – who wouldn’t be? – but that’s not likely to happen in the near future (see section on “pariah-hood” above), and it doesn’t matter anyway because such coverage will only reach a tiny part of the audience I want to reach. My audience is a specific segment of the huge huge world of readers, and most of them don’t listen to CBC or read the NYT.

My audience is also international. The new books world breaks down all borders. Therefore I am also not interested in promotions people with a purely Canadian focus.

. . . .

I am looking for someone who is already interested in the kind of work I am describing. Someone who is just starting out in the field would be ideal. An advanced student in a communications program would be welcome. This is a very part-time gig to start with.

The candidate must be an avid reader of literary as well as popular fiction, and must be creative, energetic and gutsy. Promotion is the really fun part of writing and publishing, and I want to work with someone who gets that. Someone who moves as fast as I do, and thinks as fast as I do. I want someone from whom I can bounce ideas, and who will bounce his or her own ideas back.

Link to the rest at The Militant Writer

Here’s a link to Mary W. Walters’ books

Facebook is Adding Buy Buttons to Ads – Do You Think They Could be Used to Buy/Sell eBooks?

20 July 2014

From The Digital Reader:

This crossed my desk yesterday:

Facebook is trying out letting you pay for ecommerce purchases from other businesses without leaving its site or app. For now it won’t be charging the few small and medium-sized businesses in the US to test this new Buy button on their News Feed Pages posts and ads. When I asked if Facebook would be charging businesses for the feature eventually, it said “it was not disqualifying that option” in the future.

Facebook is getting ready to take a cut of the retail sales made on their site, something I thought they would have done years ago.

. . . .

So do you think the new ads could prove useful for buying or selling ebooks?

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

Are Indie Books Being Squeezed out of Book Promo Sites?

9 July 2014

From Indies Unlimited:

I was at dinner with a couple of friends recently and my buddy reached over and grabbed my wrist. He told me that his wife was using his credit card to pay for books on her Amazon account. She was buying books every day, and it was all my fault. After he released me, she leaned over and said she couldn’t leave the house in the morning without checking her daily emails from three different book promo sites. We laughed it off and he admitted that secretly he was glad because even though she was buying more books than she had when she was buying print books she was actually spending less money.

She’d found those book promotion sites from Facebook posts that I’d promoted. Now she purchases books almost every day and she’s very happy. She doesn’t care who publishes the book; she just wants to find a good read, and sites like Bookbub, Peoplereads, and The Fussy Librarian offer great books. It’s just that simple. I’m one of many who post links to these sites and others and it’s helped them build their lists of subscribers. Things are changing though. A colleague pointed out to me recently that a book promotion website that we’d utilized in the past, (not one of those listed above), posted in their guidelines that their main emphasis was now on promoting mainstream published books. And they said they intended to only promote a limited number of independently published books. That means the majority of books on their site are published traditionally.

. . . .

 To some extent self-published authors have shown traditional publishing houses and traditionally published authors a new way to connect with readers. We helped build the subscriber bases for sites that began with a few hundred or even a few thousand readers to the point where one of them now has a reader list of two million. There are a number of successful sites out there and the professionalism amongst them has grown over the past couple of years.

. . . .

 Two years ago it was still relatively easy to be featured on one of the major sites. Today it’s far more difficult. Traditional publishers, or the smart ones anyway, see what we’ve been doing and they’re attempting the same things. Check out your favorite book site and have a look at the books that are featured. I’ll bet you recognize the authors and I’ll bet a lot of them did not self-publish. It’s an honor to be featured on the same pages as some of these authors but at what cost? Are self-published books being gently squeezed out? Does it mean that once again there are going to be some great books that readers won’t find because the sites are concentrating on non-Indie publications? Or, should we just be happy that we’re in the game and that it’s a relatively level playing field?

Link to the rest at Indies Unlimited and thanks to Meryl and others for the tip.

Book Convention Invites Actual Readers

27 May 2014

From The Wall Street Journal:

Publishers who say they want to connect directly with readers are about to get their chance.

BookExpo America, the publishers’ annual trade show, starts on Thursday in New York. Two days later, on Saturday, the last day of the show, the doors will open to the public, marking the launch of a consumer-focused book festival called BookCon. Attendees paying $30 a ticket will have the chance to mingle with such authors as John Grisham, David Mitchell, Carl Hiaasen and Veronica Roth and to pick up some free giveaways—including a single signed copy of Stephen King’s coming novel “Mr. Mercedes.”

It is a big step in a new direction for BookExpo, a long-standing event used by publishers to promote their fall and winter titles through author events and private meetings. The added public dimension is expected to boost awareness of coming books and spur chatter on social media.

Traditionally retailers handle most direct consumer marketing of books. But with the Borders book chain gone and Barnes & Noble gradually shrinking its store count, publishers are increasingly concerned about how consumers can discover new titles—making it necessary for publishers to meet their readers directly.

“Publishing was always a business-to-business industry, but today we need to speak directly to readers on behalf of authors,” said Jim Hanas, director of audience development at HarperCollins Publishers.

Publishers tried to use BookExpo to lure consumers in the past two years, without much success. This year, publishers lobbied for a more robust effort.

. . . .

Industry insiders are watching to see whether a consumer show tucked into a business convention can work. “They seem to have a better concept for a show that regular readers and fans might want to come to,” said Michael Cader, owner of Publishers Lunch, a book industry newsletter and website. “But they still have to bridge the gap between a trade show that’s about books which haven’t been published yet and readers focused on books coming soon.”

. . . .

“We’re interested in any opportunity to reach readers directly if we can encourage them to sign up for our newsletters and introduce them to new writers,” said Ms. Perl. “We want to identify influencers, people with strong social media platforms who are active in book clubs or who write reviews for Goodreads.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire) and thanks to Abel for the tip.

The Demands of Book Promotion: Frivolous or Necessary?

23 May 2014

From The New York Times:

Each week in Bookends, two writers take on questions about the world of books. This week, James Parker and Anna Holmes discuss whether they find the demands of book promotion — author photos, media campaigns, Twitter feeds — frivolous or necessary.

. . . .

[from James Parker]

Authors have to promote their books, and they have to be flashy about it. Especially these days. You can’t imagine anything less frivolous, and more painted in grim necessity, than an average midlist bookstore reading in 2014. The audience is hushed and minuscule, the shattered-looking author can’t believe he’s there — the whole thing has the last-ditch solemnity of a persecuted religious rite. Oh sure, there have been good reviews; there has been polite acclaim. Fellow authors have kicked in with the blurbs and the boosts. A prize might have been won. But as regards this book, and this writer, the great sleep of the culture is unbroken.

So: You find new formats, new gimmicks, new shows to be on, new ways to prickle or perforate the oblivious disregard in which America holds you, the dark night of your unfamousness. The problem of course is that it’s all so, you know, unliterary. Anti-literary, really. In the promotional moment, what has hitherto been an inward enterprise (the writing of the book) is turned outward overnight; the author, that nose-picker and thief of light, is all of a sudden on display. She must explain herself. He must sell himself. To a gifted minority it comes naturally; to the rest, it really doesn’t. Hence the tremendous awkwardness that often attends these sorties into the national mind. Author photos, for example, are invariably ghastly: pouting, bedraggled or staring down with blazing eyes from the spire of genius, the author is basically saying (or trying to say): “Trust me. I’m worth it.” As for media appearances, any interview in which the author doesn’t swear uncontrollably or break into loud sobs must be considered a public relations triumph.

. . . .

[From Anna Holmes]

Writers are prone to take themselves very seriously, which is fine, except it also means they sometimes find the self-promotional aspects of their craft distasteful, if not downright excruciating. Writing is about the journey, not the destination, right? (Answer: It can be about both.) And bookselling is such an inexact science, it would be near impossible to prove that more publicity necessarily translates into more sales.

Except it often does. Sure, there are veteran authors who have to do nothing more than hit “send” on a manuscript before the Time magazine cover gets scheduled and the royalty checks start pouring in; others, thanks to whatever particular combination of timing and talent, seem to skyrocket into the public consciousness out of nowhere. But they are the exception, not the rule.

Then there are the rest of us. As the editor of two well-publicized but by no means best-selling books, it would make sense for me to deem aspects of book promotion “frivolous” — sales of my first book were proof that multiple appearances on high-profile public radio and morning news shows don’t always move the needle — but I do believe promotion is a necessary, if often exhausting, endeavor.

For my first book, a cultural history of the female breakup letter published in 2002, my contacts — and the book’s provocative subject matter — combined to help secure coverage in numerous media outlets, including a coveted appearance on the “Today” show. Even so, my book didn’t sell many copies.

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Randall for the tip.

Book Blurb As Salesperson

20 May 2014

From Digital Book World:

Your book blurb is a salesperson. The “book description” area of your online sales page (commonly called a blurb) must sell your book for you. In an online store, there’s no knowledgeable store clerk ready to offer a verbal book recommendation to browsing customers. If you’re self-publishing a novel, you need a book description that works hard to sell your book.

Create a mood

First, the book description has to create a mood. Readers want to slip into a feeling when they dip into a book. That feeling could be suspense, romance, humor, nostalgia. When you begin to write your description, don’t worry about outlining the plot step by step. First, think about the atmosphere you’ve built in your book.

. . . .

Explain what happens, briefly

Sure, your audience wants to know the characters they’ll be reading about and the events that happen. But do this briefly. Mention what your character yearns for. Describe the challenges of the situation. Don’t go into the sub-plot, that’s too much for a book blurb.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

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