Self-publishing is where many of our members–people with long traditional-publishing histories–are focused these days

7 October 2015

The post on the NINC conference yesterday generated a lot of good comments, including the following from Laura Resnick:

I think Friedman has done an excellent summary of various sessions some of the overall take-aways from this year’s conference (I was there).

As she notes in her piece, it’s a conference unlike any other. Whether traditional or indie, the focus of the organization has always been on experienced mid-career novelists, rather than for new or aspring writers (which most other conferences and organizations are geared to assist and educate (or fleece)).

The conference is heavily focused on the indie market these days (and this year’s theme was the international market for indies) for several reasons–

Self-publishing is where many of our members–people with long traditional-publishing histories–are focused these days. (One of my Nink columns last year was about how many writers, including bestsellers, are leaving traditional publishing to go indie full-time.)

Self-publishing is also the area we don’t know enough about, partly because it keeps evolving so rapidly (so there is always so much more to learn and probably will be for quite some time), and partly because this form of publishing is the one we have NOT already been doing for 10-20-30-40 years, whereas most of us have long traditional careers and have frankly don’t get that much out of hearing publishers, editors, and agents speak at conferences, since most of them are still staying the same things we’ve already heard them say dozens (or hudnreds) of times–because we’ve been around since cuneiform was the hot new thing.

And even for members like me, whose career is still probably about 90% traditional, being indie savvy is crucial, because for most career novelists, self-publishing is and/or will be a major aspect of one’s career from here forward. For most writers, controlling one’s own backlist makes the most fiscal and professional sense. Many of us may well be on our last-ever traditional publishers. (My hand goes up. I am very happy at DAW Books and hope to keep working with them for many years, but since every experience I had with other publishing houses for 20 years was somewhere between bad and truly nightmarish, I may well indie publish anything I don’t license to DAW, rather than ever deal with another publisher again. This is business, not ideology, so I make no fervent vows about it; but I’ve had so many bad experiences with so many publishers, I do have trouble defining what would make me want to trust another with my work ever again.)

Meanwhile, speaking of indie-friendly Ninc, I was chatting with the 2016 Nink editor, who was just appointed (and as a columnist, I wanted to make sure I’ve still got a job there, since editors can change format, fire columnists, hire new ones, etc.), and she mentioned that she’s never submitted to a publisher. Her career as a novelist has been indie all the way.

. . . .

Some highlights of the week for me were the workshop presented by Gareth Cuddy from Vearsa, which focused on very specific tips, tools, and techniques for indie writers to think like and run their writing businesses like competitive start-up companies. (The fact that Cuddy is a cute Irishman with a charming accent had NOTHING to do with my paying rapt attention to him.) Draft2Digital (who have a lot of clients among Ninc members) also gave a couple of excellent workshops–and they were lots of fun at the bar, too. There was a very detailed session on using Booktrakr, presented by its creator, which I liked, since I have trouble learning software. Trajectory was really interesting, though they made my head hurt (lots of graphs and numbers). Germany’s Matthias Matting got a lot of members very enthused with his detaiked, step by step discussion of breaking into the German language market as an indie (excellent session, though it mostly convinced me that this process is not for me, and may never be). BookBub’s session was excellent–and so crowded that I could barely find a scrap of floor to sit on (the chairs were full before I got there). Courtney Milan’s session was excellent, too, though I missed a lot of it; she talked about how to figure out which of your marketing efforts are working. Amazon had a big presence, as they usually do at Ninc; I only attended one of their sessions, but I got a lot out of it (possibly, though, because I’m still pretty far behind the curve in indie; it may have been remedial for someone more advanced than I am).

Everyone who was there will have different take-aways, since there was multi-track programming most of the time, so we all attended different things.

My least favorite session was the Authors’ Guild presentation. Nothing in their presentation about contracts, rights, and reversion was inaccurate, but their information and advice seemed like it came from the 20th century and was mostly aimed at aspiring writers and newcomers, rather than at experienced career novelists making a living in the 21st century.

My FAVORITE presentation, though it’s not relevant to professional self-education, was Eileen Dreyer and Sally Hawkes session on their summer trip to Belgium for the reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo. Their presentation was simulanteously hilarious, fascinating, and moving. If you look up their blogs, I think you can find their blog accounts of that trip.

5 Observations on the Evolution of Author Business Models

6 October 2015

From Jane Friedman:

Over the last four days, I’ve been attending and speaking at the NINC conference, which is open only to NINC members. To be a NINC member, you must be a novelist with at least two books published. Most members have published far more than that—even over a hundred titles. 

While NINC is not limited to women, most authors at NINC are in fact women who actively publish romance and women’s fiction. While a mix of traditionally published and indie published authors attended, most sessions were heavily oriented toward self-publishing and digital distribution.

. . . .

 This was my first time speaking at NINC, and it’s by far the most professional and established group of authors I’ve ever spoken to. The absence of the aspiring or first-time author was especially stark for me, since that’s who I’m much more accustomed to encountering.

. . . .

1. The Importance of Series in Marketing, Promotion, and Overall Career Growth

My guess is that the large majority of NINC members are actively writing at least one series, if not more, and also releasing new titles on a very regular basis (every three to six months). Having more titles gives an author far more flexibility and options when it comes to marketing. You can make your first-in-the-series book free (to bring in new readership to a series), run more types of promotions because of more diverse pricing across your list, and do bundling and box sets.

The branding and promotion benefit offered by a series is a huge advantage; authors of standalones are hard pressed to match it unless they’ve managed to build up significant brand awareness or strong direct reach to readers. Years ago, when I first talked with Sean Platt (before he released Yesterday’s Gone in episodes and seasons), he was convinced that the path to success was following the narrative model that’s evolved for binge-worthy TV, with seasons-long story arcs and episode cliffhangers.

Sometimes in the industry we divide authors into indie versus traditional or genre versus literary. The more important difference I’m seeing is series versus standalone, not that one must choose, but when trying to gain any traction as a new author, publishing standalone after standalone feels much more Sisyphean than starting with a series.

I’m starting to hear established authors advise new indie authors to wait to go to market until they have three titles ready to publish. When first-time authors come to me for marketing advice, more and more I feel at a loss to help them. I’m inclined to say “Come back when you have a few books, all targeted to the same readership, and maybe we’ll have something to talk about.”

. . . .

3. Where Innovation (and Power Plays) Happen: Ebook Retailers and Distributors

As I mentioned in the opening to this piece, nearly every ebook retailer, distributor, and service provider was at NINC to meet with authors and to discuss large-scale trends, metadata, title optimization, new features, and merchandising/promotion opportunities.

Not that long ago, it would’ve been unthinkable that an author would be able to talk directly with a retailer or distributor about sales optimization. (Not that your average non-entrepreneurial author would even be interested in the first place—that’s traditionally the domain of the publisher.) Now you’ll find retailers and distributors assuring authors that they’re working on new features and innovations to help sell more books. I sat in on a session presented by Draft2Digital (an ebook distributor), and it became clear the service was beloved by the NINC membership because they are so customer-service oriented, make the authors’ jobs easier, and continue to innovate. (I’m pretty confident even traditional publishers would love to have some of the features offered by Draft2Digital for their own digital housekeeping purposes!)

Yet—and this is not to undercut the very real advances made by ebook retailers/distributors—we’re still talking about rather simple, commonsense improvements, e.g., alerting customers when their favorite author releases a new book. (A no-brainer, I think everyone would agree.) Such progress receives overwhelmingly positive response from authors, but we’re truly in the early days (dark ages) of what’s possible in ebook retailing.

Also, whereas authors were overly dependent on their publishers for success prior to the ebook revolution, will power now overly shift to these services? Obviously, people often talk about Amazon as having too much power, but it’s not necessarily just Amazon who can and will affect how well authors sell in the digital market.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman and thanks to Laura for the tip.

Should You Go Wide or Join KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited?

6 October 2015

From Lindsay Buroker:

When I uploaded my first book, The Emperor’s Edge, in December of 2010, it was a foregone conclusion that I would put it out there everywhere I could, in the hope that new readers would stumble across it and give it a try. Then, a couple of years later, Amazon introduced KDP Select, a program for self-publishers that requires exclusivity.

Right off the bat, Amazon introduced a couple of promotional tactics that are still available to those who are enrolled. Eventually, Kindle Unlimited and the ability to be paid for borrows also came along.

. . . .

So, what do you lose? Obviously, if you’re exclusive with Amazon, you can’t receive ebook income from the other stores. Let me emphasize that we’re only talking about ebook income, as you can still have audiobooks in iTunes and paperbacks in Barnes & Noble and elsewhere. But, as you probably already know, ebook income is huge for self-published authors. Even though I’m working on getting more audiobooks out there, and I’ve done paperbacks for most of my novels, ebooks easily account for 95% of my income.

. . . .

Before I go further, I should disclose that I am not in KDP Select with any of the books under my name, but that my pen name is currently “all in” with KDP Select. I started the pen name books there, to take advantage of the sales ranking/visibility boost from Kindle Unlimited, and I returned them to KDP Select this August, after not gaining much headway in the other stores and after Amazon switched to Kindle Unlimited 2.0, a system that rewards novelists by paying based on total pages read.

For my LB books, I’ve been around longer, and my books do sell on the other platforms, especially on Barnes & Noble (Kobo has been coming on strong these last few months too). I also make some sales on iTunes and Smashwords, and through Smashwords, I make a nominal amount at Overdrive, Oyster, and Scribd.

. . . .

Still, even with all that, Amazon always seems to make up about 85-90% of my ebook income. In my case, if things are going well elsewhere, they’re going even better at Amazon.

There have been times that I’ve considered trying KDP Select with a couple of my series, to see how much it would affect sales and if I would make more overall with the borrows added in. But after almost five years of publishing widely, I’ve gained some loyal readers from those other platforms. It’s uncomfortable enough when I have to explain that my pen name books are only available on Amazon!

I also, from a moral and business standpoint, don’t like the idea of being exclusive with Amazon and relying wholly on one vendor for my income. I’m quite tickled to have reached the point, in the last year or two, where my non-Amazon income has grown to enough that I could still make a living at this if Amazon disappeared. (Of course, I hope it won’t!)

But I understand why some authors choose exclusivity and KDP Select. With 3-4 books out wide in all of the stores, my pen name made a little shy of $1,000 on platforms other than Amazon between January 2015 and July 2015 (that’s total, not per month).

. . . .

When KU changed to KU2.0 this summer, I decided to put all of the pen name books back into KDP Select. I’d probably recommend almost anyone doing a pen name start out this way, not only because it takes more effort to gain traction on the other stores but also because, if you’re publishing frequently, it’s more work to upload everywhere and keep the back matter updated.

Link to the rest at Lindsay Buroker and thanks to Stephen for the tip.

Here’s a link to Lindsay Buroker’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Hank Shaw announces plans to self-publish next book

6 October 2015

From The Sacramento Bee:

Hunter-forager-food blogger and cookbook author Hank Shaw of Sacramento is preparing his third wild-game cookbook after “Hunt, Gather, Cook” and “Duck, Duck, Goose.”

For this one, though, he’s left the mainstream-publishing path for the riskier self-publishing trail, turning to the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter. He’s asking for $30,000 to produce “Buck, Buck, Moose: Recipes and Techniques For Cooking Deer, Elk, Antelope, Moose and Other Antlered Things.”

Shaw launched the Kickstarter campaign at 4 a.m. Monday. As of 10:30 a.m., 227 backers had pledged $17,719, with 35 more days of fund-raising to go. “I’m shocked to learn we’re more than halfway there,” he said by phone. “We plan to have it on shelves by August 2016, kind of when the California deer hunting season starts.”

Earlier this year, Shaw was offered a deal for “Buck, Buck, Moose” by a New York publisher, he said, but turned it down because “it wasn’t the best fit for the success of the book. The (venison-eating) market is gigantic, but one that’s not easy for mainstream publishers to reach.”

. . . .

“I call it the ‘venison diaspora,’” he said. “There are almost 14 million deer hunters in the U..S. and another 1.5 million in Canada. For every person who hunts deer, there are often two or three other people who are being given venison (by the hunters). So the number of North Americans who eat venison is something along the order of 20 to 30 million a year.”

Link to the rest at The Sacramento Bee

PG says if you don’t want to use hapax legomenon in a conversation today, you can use venison diaspora.

Publishing Startup Pronoun Looks for Path Around Amazon

3 October 2015

From Forbes blogs:

To startup companies looking to enter the book publishing field, is a huge immovable object in the middle of the road.  Most publishing startups don’t really try to compete with Amazon; instead they try to succeed by complementing it, building some capability in hopes of being acquired by it, or pretending it doesn’t exist.  Pronoun, which officially launched this past Monday, has a different strategy in mind.

Pronoun is the successor to Vook, one of various attempts to build multimedia e-book authoring platforms that have failed to achieve much traction over the years.

. . . .

The simplest way of describing Pronoun is as yet another iteration of Internet-based self-publishing platforms, with a few advantages for authors over existing players.  Yet as we’ll see, certain aspects of Pronoun’s strategy are unique with respect to that huge immovable object in the road.

. . . .

The first Internet-based self-publishing platforms were companies like iUniverse, Xlibris, and 1stBooks (which I used to publish a book back in 2001).  They charged a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars, depending on various options for customization, production, and marketing.  You had to supply your own cover image (or use something completely generic), and they kept a percentage of the revenue from retailers as sales commissions.  They mainly supplied print books; e-books were available but almost as an afterthought, because they were not popular.

Present-day self-publishing service providers are mostly incremental improvements over those first-generation services.  Prices have come down; services have gone up.  ”Freemium” offers have appeared: some providers offer basic packages with e-book distribution for free, while making money on sales commissions; others charge upfront fees but do not collect commissions.

. . . .

All of these services distribute e-books through major online retailers — except that some do not distribute through Amazon.  That’s because Amazon has its own self-publishing program, called Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).  All of them also let authors retain copyrights in their works and only require exclusivity with respect to the retailers they work with; some authors, for example, publish their books on Amazon through KDP and use another service, such as Smashwords  to distribute to other retailers.

. . . .

So how does Pronoun plan to make money?  There are two answers.  First and most immediate, Pronoun has a revenue stream from its previous incarnation as Vook: publishers such as Forbes, the New York Times, and Fast Company continue to use it as a platform for e-book authoring.

The longer term answer is… unclear.  Pronoun wants to attract as many authors as possible, then figure out how to monetize their activity later — like SoundCloud for music (or, for that matter, Tumblr or Twitter).  It intends to build a community of various people who can help authors create and sell books: editors, cover designers, copy editors, production designers, marketing specialists, social media gurus, publicists, and so on.  Pronoun will offer a platform for these professionals to market their services, and unlike existing freelancer sites like and Upwork, Pronoun will not charge for membership or take commissions from them either.

Instead, Pronoun wants to get a sense of what services authors will be willing to pay for and offer those — or, to put it more cynically, what revenue streams it can discover to which authors might not object. The company is tight-lipped about what those might be; some possibilities might be percentages of downstream rights, like film treatments, or services like advanced forms of marketing analytics or merchandising.  If an author gets a deal with a major trade publisher, she can simply terminate her agreement with Pronoun and move on.

. . . .

By contrast, although every self-publishing provider claims to “put authors first,” Pronoun is the only one that both isn’t dependent on sales volume through retailers (like Smashwords, and Draft2Digital) and does not pose barriers to entry for authors by charging them fees (like BookBaby).  In fact, Pronoun’s lack of sales commissions may be the reason why it got a distribution deal with Amazon while the services that take commissions did not.  In other words, Pronoun has set itself up to succeed in ways that Amazon could find counterproductive.

Link to the rest at Forbes blogs and thanks to C. for the tip.

Why crowdfunding is vital to disabled creatives

30 September 2015

From author Lesley Smith via Kickstarter:

Tonight I want to talk to you about disability and what Kickstarter means for people like me.

This isn’t a sob story or emotional B.S., this is me trying to explain what a lifeline crowdfunding is to me personally.

I’m disabled, I make no bones about that. I’m legally blind, I have bipolar disorder (a boon and a bane but I wouldn’t change it), I was born so early and my brain so saturated by oxygen that I have white matter damage and my brain literally spent years rewiring itself, I have physical co-ordination issues and high functioning autism (which is genetic). I have PTSD (don’t ask). I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder. I’m introverted and my autism means I have a schedule which I hate breaking.

I’m also on enough medication to knock over a horse and my life is painfully constricted by timing and the side-effects of my medication which makes me incredibly tired and to sleep for twelve hours (if I can actually get to sleep). My life is about ensuring I take my meds at the right moment and get up early enough that I can miss the fog.

Oh and drink coffee.

I have a guide dog (and unofficial emotional support hound) named Uni who puts up with me. I use a white cane and wear dark glasses to avoid getting migraines (I’m very light sensitive). Despite that I go to Zumba twice a week, I’m active and I have quite the social life and circle of friends, many of whom are also on the spectrum of disability (and most have their own gorgeous canine companions).

. . . .

I was a journalist for a decade before my heath problems got worse. I used to work seventy hours a week, traveling all around the world. I used to be able to earn more than enough to be comfortable, to support myself and then my sight deteriorated to the point where I just couldn’t any more and my mental health took that moment to plummet.

. . . .

Disability means that I’m creative but it also means I’m on limited funds. I don’t quite live hand to mouth but it’s close. If I want something I have a choice of credit or saving for months.

It means fun projects, like publishing books, are completely out of the question. I cannot afford to get my books edited, to pay for covers and proofs, to turn a project from words on a page to a Real Book™. This is why I crowdfund.

The thing is anyone who thinks crowdfunding is easy, well they’ve never done it. Unless you’re doing a massive project with a billion follows you have to earn every pound. £4k might as well be £400,000 and books are, sadly, a niche product and it’s so much hard to fund, let along over-fund. You’re also a one-man band; I’m the PR girl, I do the finances, I liaise with the members of my indie toolbox to ensure the editing is done on time, that the covers are perfect. You get the idea.

. . . .

Normally, if I was neurotypical or not disabled, if I wanted to do something like publish a book, I’d work extra hours, I’d get a second job or start a freelance business. As a disabled author I simply don’t have that option; publishing one book would take me a year if I had to save for it myself and crowdfunding allows me to cut that time in thirds, perhaps even less.

. . . .

Disability restricts me, crowdfunding frees me.

Link to the rest at Kickstarter

Here’s a link to Lesley Smith’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Why this Author Walked Away from a $25,000 Advance to Publish His Novel Independently

29 September 2015

From author Elliott Garber via Write on the River:

I wrote the final words of my first full-length novel just over one year ago, closing my laptop with a dramatic flourish and breathing a deep sigh of relief. It was done. A major life goal complete.

I could already picture hardcover stacks of The Chimera Sequence—a bioterrorism thriller that one reader described as Michael Crichton meets Tom Clancy—lining front tables of Barnes & Noble bookstores around the country. Who knows, maybe my name would even make an appearance among the lower ranks of a coveted New York Times bestseller list?

That was the dream, at least, even though I already had a very realistic understanding of the rapidly evolving publishing industry. Alongside my novel writing, I had spent the previous couple of years reading everything I could find about the publishing process.

I even conducted a little experiment of my own with a short story. Much to my surprise, No Dog Left Behind has already earned me a few thousand dollars in its two years of life on Amazon. That represents a lot more money and readers than I ever would have found through almost any traditional route for a short story.

So I began the post-book writing phase with my eyes wide open, knowing all along that I would be okay doing things on my own if I didn’t find the right traditional publisher to work with through the process.

. . . .

I was fortunate to hear back from about half of these agents within a few days, and almost all of them requested that I send the full manuscript for their review. Woohoo! First hurdle, complete. I attribute this initial success to the fact that I developed a catchy blurb, but probably even more to my own online platform and unique professional background. The agents were intrigued enough to find out if I could actually write.

Within a few days, I received a phone call from one of my top choices. It was actually a voicemail—due to the secure environment of my workplace I’m not able to use a personal cellphone inside. The message was short and sweet: “Loved the book. Give me a call when you can.”

Needless to say, I called the agent right back and received my first offer of representation.

. . . .

The next step was submission of the manuscript to editors at all the big traditional publishers. This was tough for me, as I was really at the complete mercy of my agent’s previous relationships and professional connections. I was expecting to get responses from these editors within a week or two, but instead it stretched into a month, then two months.

I felt as though the whole process had lost momentum. I knew in my head that this was normal—that the traditional publishing process takes time—but in my heart, I still wanted to be one of those lucky few authors who get so much immediate interest that a competitive auction is held within days. Sadly, it was not to be.

The rejections slowly began trickling in. “Sorry, loved the story, but just don’t see where it would fit in today’s market.” Huh?

“If I had gotten this book last year we totally would have gone for it, but the virus threat has been done too often already.” Not what I wanted to hear.

. . . .

We finally got some bites after moving on to the next tier of editors just outside the “Big 5” publishing houses. At this point, I was already disappointed in myself, the book, and the process, but I wasn’t ready to close the door on a traditional option yet.

After several weeks of negotiating, my agent was able to present two final offers. Two books for $25,000—take it or leave it. This works out to $12.5k for each book, of course, and those payments would be split and stretched out over about three years. The contracts were pretty much boilerplate for a new midlister like me, with no special provisions that would make them more author-friendly in today’s rapidly changing publishing environment.

The publishers could not guarantee anything in the way of initial print run numbers or marketing budget, and my first book would not be released until sometime in 2016. Not exactly a proposal to get very excited about.

. . . .

Based on everything I had learned, I knew that this level of advance did not represent a very significant investment on the part of the publishers. I was confident that I could do almost everything they could with the book, on a tighter schedule and with more long-term potential for success.

It was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I decided to walk away from these $25,000 offers and continue with the back-up plan to publish my thriller independently.

Fast forward six months, and here I am! The Chimera Sequence has been on the market for almost a month already, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to have some affirmation of my choice. No New York Times bestseller lists yet, but I’ve already sold a few thousand copies of the book. More importantly, I’m steadily gaining readers and fans who are asking about my next book.

Link to the rest at Write on the River

Here’s a link to Elliott Garber’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

How to get ahead in self-publishing

27 September 2015

From author Mackenzie Brown via The Irish Times:

As a child growing up in Liverpool, I was lucky enough to have been introduced to books by my mother, who is an avid reader. Since then, I have developed a deep love of literature and, from as far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a rather fertile imagination.

Writing was almost second nature to me, but I started to learn my trade writing short stories in secret and – although I would describe them as embryonic – I have to admit, when I read them now they’re pretty awful.

. . . .

I encountered numerous obstacles in my attempt to break into the world of traditional publishing and quickly discovered it was very much a closed shop. Unless a writer is extremely lucky or is already a well-known name (or a celebrity with a ghost-writer) it is extremely difficult to make it.

Feeling like I was banging my head against a brick wall, I decided to dip my toes into the world of desktop self-publishing, which enabled me to share my books in both paperback and e-book format with readers all over the world.

. . . .

 The entire e-publishing process was completely new to me and, I must admit, I had a lot to learn. I worked hard, researching how to format the book myself, and decided to enlist a proof-reader and editor to help with the text.

. . . .

My latest release is a factual work and a bit of a departure for me, but the subject of Annie’s War is one that is close to my heart. It follows the early lives of my maternal grandparents and is set in Liverpool between 1914 and 1945. The story of Annie and Angus is one I always wanted to tell after hearing tales about their lives around the dinner table, or at family gatherings, when I was a boy.

Because it is a true story, I was forced to spend years poring over dusty microfiche machines in libraries, researching my family tree before I could hope to bring the subject to life, in what became a labour of love – but now that it’s published, it at least keeps the family happy.

Link to the rest at The Irish Times and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

Here’s a link to Mackenzie Brown’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

How To Succeed at Self-Publishing

27 September 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

Before she was a New York Times–bestselling author, Victorine E. Lieske was a busy entrepreneur who injured her back lifting her daughter out of a car seat. Lieske was on bed rest for a week while her muscles healed. The rubber stamp business she and her husband ran out of their house in Seward, Nebr., had to be put on hold—and she decided it was as good a time as any to try to write a novel. “I put a laptop on my knees and typed,” she says. At the end of the week, she had the first draft of the romance novel Not What She Seems. It would take four years of workshopping before she decided to publish the book through Amazon, and, soon after, it hit the New York Times e-book bestseller list, where it remained for six weeks. The book went on to sell more than 150,000 copies. Her latest title, Reluctantly Married, hit the USA Today bestseller list and climbed to #15 in the Amazon store and #1 in the Nook store after its release this January.

In 2012, Lieske published a handbook to help other indie authors. “I found myself repeating the same advice over and over after hitting the New York Times bestseller list,” Lieske explains. She decided to put that into her 98-page handbook, How to Find Success Selling eBooks, available in digital and paperback through Amazon.

. . . .

 Understandably, many writers are reluctant to share sales figures or strategies, but Lieske writes candidly about her achievements. “My little how-to book is pretty much all my advice I would give you if you asked me what I did to become successful and how you could do the same,” she says. For example, she’s up front about why she feels that marketing isn’t the secret to selling a lot of books. After she dropped the price of Not What She Seems to 99¢ to see what would happen, Lieske says she began to see an uptick in sales—to around 40 copies per day. One month later, her sales jumped to 150 copies per day, then 300 copies per day. She examined her marketing and publicity efforts but remained confused. Sales were steady and didn’t jump when she posted a blog or bought an ad. So what was influencing people to buy her book? Lieske says she got an email from a woman that helped solved the mystery. “She said, ‘Amazon recommended your book to me, and I really enjoyed it.’” At that point, Lieske realized that it was not her tireless marketing efforts that had resulted in more sales. “I was doing all this work, blogging, and posting on forums, and making book trailers, and all these things that weren’t reaching people,” she says. “But Amazon could reach hundreds of people each day.” She decided that the key to a book’s success must happen before the book is published—a combination of writing, story line, cover design, blurb, and price.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Is self-publishing heading for a ‘train wreck’?

26 September 2015

From Chris Meadows via TeleRead:

Author Derek Haines has written a blistering diatribe against the current state of the self-publishing market. From such portents as Sony exiting the e-reader business, the end of Diesel eBooks, the loss of Flikkart and Oyster’s all-you-can-eat service, and Scribd paring its own all-you-can-eat selection down, he sees a “train wreck” coming.

That’s not all, of course. He produces a chart of a gradually-declining squiggly line as another sign from which he reads doom (he never clearly explains, nor is it captioned, exactly what that squiggly line actually refers to, though I’m guessing from context that it’s search activity about the term “self-publishing”). Then he flourishes another chart showing that regional search interest in the term “self publishing” is limited to the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. (Oddly enough, those happen to be the main countries where English is the primary lingua franca. Funny that an English-language search term should be most popular in those, huh?) From these, he concludes that self-publishing interest is on the wane and nobody cares about it outside a small portion of the world.

. . . .

Haines opines:

Self publishing as it has been since 2009 is dead. It was all so simple back in 2009. You wrote a book, published it, and readers bought it, or not. There were no conditions attached. Even subscription borrowing had some merit. You borrow it, I get paid. But now, it’s a convoluted disaster. I do not want to get paid for someone reading five pages of one of my books and then thinking, ‘oh damn, no vampires. I’ll try another book then.’

Maybe you should try writing a book with vampires in it, then? The world doesn’t owe you a living just because you wrote a book, you know. (Oddly enough, he even admits to that elsewhere in the essay, bemoaning the fate of poor naïfs who are lured into self-publishing by the promise of easy money “with no idea at all about book marketing, but with a firm belief that if they have written a book, they will make a fortune.” What’s sauce for the goose…)

Link to the rest at TeleRead

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