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Monday, April 30, 2012

Three New Low-Cost Resources for Kindle Writers


I've seen three new Kindle-related resources over the last few days that look well worth checking out.

All of them are still under $12 but going up in price steadily, so I wanted to bring them to your notice as soon as possible.

I'll try to get around to reviewing at least one or two of these soon, but at these low prices you're not really risking a great deal.

Kindle Mania is a concise guide for aspiring Kindle authors. It includes profitable topics to write about, strategies to make your book stand out, the 'MAGIC' formula, formatting tips, pricing strategies, and some clever tactics to promote your book.

As a bonus, you also receive Kindle Ebook Generator, which is described as a 'point-and-click Amazon Kindle e-book creator'. Apparently it will generate up to seven chapters in Kindle-ready format. If your e-book has more chapters than that I guess you're out of luck, but for under 7 bucks at the time of writing Kindle Mania still looks a pretty good deal to me.

Quick and Easy Kindle Formatting Blueprint by Bryan Bowers is a complete guide to formatting your e-book for the Kindle and publishing it via Kindle Direct Publishing. It takes the form of five professionally made video tutorials plus two PDFs, and is being sold on the Warrior Forum as a Warrior Special Offer (WSO).

Bryan's guide takes you through preparing your e-book in Word (or a similar word-processing program), converting it using the free Calibre e-book software, and publishing it via KDP.

I've never used Calibre for this purpose - I've always used MobiPocket Reader, as described in my Kindle Kash course - but I know some people (e.g. my colleague David Robinson) prefer Calibre.

Another of my Kindle publishing colleagues, Rosa Suen, wrote about this package in an email to her subscribers recently...

'...today I tried using the Calibre software, and I love it. I've never used Calibre before. I followed [Bryan's] blueprint video instructions and converted two Kindle books easily with NO ERRORS at all with the Table of Contents.

'I like the Calibre software better than MobiPocket because Calibre gives me a perfect, linkable Table of Contents. I sometimes struggle with MobiPocket to get the clickable Table of Contents to appear on the Kindle device. When MobiPocket fails, then I end up creating my own clickable TOC using MS Word.'

So maybe I should check out Calibre as well!

In any event, if you want a guide to using Calibre to format your Kindle e-books (plus lots of other useful info), Quick and Easy Kindle Formatting Blueprint looks well worth the modest fee of under $11 at the time of writing. There is a 60-day money-back guarantee if you're dissatisfied with it.

Finally, Pinning Kindle Profits is a guide to using the power of new social networking phenomenon Pinterest to help promote your Kindle e-books. It's by Sam England and Pinterest guru Barbara Ling, and is currently also on sale as a WSO.

Pinterest has become massively popular in a short space of time. According to this recent article from Mashable, it is already generating 17 times the online sales revenue generated from Twitter.

Sam and Barbara's PDF manual sets out a 10-step system for creating engaging Pinterest boards to promote your Kindle e-books. One reviewer, Rob Howard, wrote:

'Sam sent me a review copy and I must say, it's damn good. Inside, Barb shows you how to utilize Pinterest and Kindle in a really neat way! It's very newbie friendly, she shows you 10 easy steps to setting the whole thing up and it can be done pretty quick.

'She shows you how to use Entertainment to grab attention of Pinterest buyers (people who would be interested in your book) to drive them to your Kindle product. She goes into details about how to do this and even provides other resources to achieve this!

'It's very well worth the measly 7 bucks it's starting off at. I highly recommend anyone interested in Kindle (even just promoting books that isn't yours) to pick this up!'

There are also eight additional bonuses, mostly Kindle-related. Again, for under $11 (the dimesale price at the time of writing) this one is definitely well worth a look. There is also a 60-day money-back guarantee on this offer.

I aim to publish a full review of Pinning Kindle Profits here soon, but I recommend buying now while the price is still low (and, indeed, before the product is withdrawn from sale).

Finally, of course, my own guide Kindle Kash is still available, and provides an in-depth guide to devising, writing, editing, publishing and promoting a Kindle e-book. I'm also offering four extra bonuses of my own to buyers from my homepage. Buy now and join the many hundreds of writers who have followed the step-by-step advice in Kindle Kash to create their own published Kindle e-book!

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest Post: Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?


Today I'm delighted to welcome back to my blog freelance writer and creativity guru Phil South.

Phil believes in harnessing the power of the subconscious to help boost your creativity. In this article, he explains how successful writers do this (possibly without realising it), and how any aspiring writer can learn to do the same.

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Where do you get your ideas from? This is the most common question successful authors get asked by fans, by a significant margin.

Ask any famous writer and they'll tell you they dread this question. That's because either they have no answer, or they know the questioner would not know how to interpret their answer. So either they don't know where they get their ideas from, or they know but they can't explain in terms others can understand.

If you dig a little deeper, you might get them to tell you a bit about their writing environment, and what situation they are in when they get most of their ideas, and this seems like the answer (spoiler: it's not).

And so you get the same word processor they use, sit in the same sort of chair, buy a house (like theirs) with a south-facing window with a stream running through the garden, and so on. You duplicate everything about their environment, down to the exact brand of clothes they wear and the toiletries they use. You are in an identical situation, you see what they see, you even look and smell just like them... But does this guarantee you get the same ideas as them? No.

Why is this? Well, the one thing you haven't duplicated, the one thing you couldn't possibly copy about them, is that their brain is fundamentally different from yours. They have a different life experience, and they have unconsciously trained their brains to be good at catching ideas.

Developing the Creative Brain

They have spent years developing the neural pathways in their brain by thinking in certain ways and learning about life in the way writers do, born of a fascination with the way the world works. They've studied how people work, reading a diverse range of books, some fiction, some non-fiction. They've read books by authors from their own genre and authors who write other types of books. They have hobbies, they might make things with their hands, they have enquiring minds, they have interests that are nothing to do with writing. And they have written, every day, and for the vast majority of that time what they wrote was meaningless twaddle, but they were fearless and kept writing anyway. All this activity molded their brains  and gave them that thing every writer craves: a free access to their creativity.

As a consequence of this, ideas just flow to them. The problem becomes not getting ideas, but of typing fast enough to get them down on paper before they go mad. They have become so adept at the gathering of ideas that they can't stop the effortless flow. Ideas come at them from every direction, and almost anything they see or hear can be turned into a story or a character or a plotline.

Without any direct intention to do so, they were doing something extraordinary to their brains over the years. They were developing the areas that make connections, and they were also sweeping the road between their conscious and subconscious minds, making sure that road was clear and the traffic on it was moving smoothly.

Programming for Creativity

But having adapted their brain "hardware" they also worked on their mind "software", learning to identify the perfect mental state for creating great work, and learning to give themselves time to think and ponder. They recognise passing thoughts as cryptic messages from their subconscious and they get good at pondering them without judgement. They know instinctively to let their subconscious do its work without trying to force the issue.

They know that all the things they learned about have gone into that infinite bucket of ideas, the subconscious - what I call the "database of everything" - and they know that if they turn over a passing thought in their mind in a certain special mental state, the thought will be added to by their subconscious. But it needs to be pondered over long enough for the brain to do its work.

So the answer to "Where do ideas come from?" is that they come from your almost limitless subconscious and they manifest as passing thoughts. Creative geniuses are the people who recognise these thoughts for what they are, and trust their brains to turn them into something more.

Can You Do This?

So why don't you think this way? Why should you need to train yourself to think in any way other than the way you already do? That's a good question.

Well, I'm not advocating that you change the way you think, or stop thinking the way you do. On the contrary, you need to continue to think the way you do, but you need to add some tools to your toolbox.

You are an individual, and even though you might not yet have found your voice as a writer, you do have one. Everyone does. So you need to embrace that originality - a better word is authenticity - but you also need to be more aware of the source of your ideas.

Can you train yourself to be a creative genius? Yes, you can. Tools I endorse are meditation, brain training and learning.

Meditation is a way of clearing the mind, centreing yourself and teaching yourself the patience to sit long enough for ideas to form. Brain training is a fabulous way to fast track yourself into the right brain states for creative thought. And learning? If you learn a language, for example, or a physical skill like juggling even, you expand the connections in your brain and make it more versatile. These are the kinds of techniques I use in my training to give my students a creativity efficiency tune-up.

But there are things you can do now to make yourself more creative. You know how sometimes you get a passing thought and you get a sense it might make a good story.  What do you do? You write it down. But the crucial question is what do you do then? Do you store it away and forget about it in the hope that more ideas like it will come? Or do you turn it over in your mind, like a mental Rubik's cube, curious but without judgement, until more ideas come? That is what you should do, but generally we do the former and either ignore or get in the way of the subconscious mind, or we wait for ideas to come from outside. Or worse still, we try to force our creativity out. We need to train ourselveves to stand back and let our brain do its job. You let your creativity out; you don't shoot ideas out like bullets.

For good creative thinking you need uninterrupted time. You need to clear your mind of all thoughts, all distractions and pulls to get busy, and sit quietly and ponder the idea. Put on some soothing music if necessary. But sit for at least 20 minutes and don't think about anything but the idea. If you start thinking about something else, don't get all hot and bothered - just gently pull yourself back to the idea. Don't "work it out" or try to force it in any particular direction. Just feel it. Is it an image or a feeling? Explore it. Let your mind wander through the idea. Let it grow on its own.

This takes practice, so you need to be persistent and dedicated. Nobody said creative genius was easy to obtain. But I'm telling you, it's possible for you to do this and do it well. 

Your Built-In Supercomputer

Your subconscious mind is incredibly powerful, more powerful and faster and with more storage space than the most powerful computer you can buy. Here's why. If the conscious mind took up a cubic foot, how big would the subconscious be?

It would be 11 square miles.

Add to that the fact you can process about 7-10 thoughts a second in the conscious mind if you're lucky, and how much do you suppose the subconscious can process?

Somewhere in the order of 10-40 billion thoughts per second.

That's an extraordinary tool to have at your disposal. Why try and brute force your stories and ideas with your conscious mind if you have that amazing tool right there waiting to be used? Think of all the connections you could make, all the ideas you could have, if you let that amazing part of your mind do its work without getting in its way?

So this is why creative bestselling geniuses have no problem finding ideas, and why they have very little clue where they come from. They just turn on the tap and the ideas come streaming out. Because these writers have learned the most important lesson - to trust the subconscious, and get out of the way and let it do its job.

Phil South
Byline: Phil South (pictured) is a writer, artist and musician. He runs the popular Going Down Writing creativity blog and is the author of the Creative Genius Programme. The first 8 hour audio course in CGP, Writing Fit: Creativity Coaching for Writers, is out now. Exclusive Offer: Readers of this blog can get the course for $120 off with this link. If for any reason the link doesn't work on your browser, go to the course page and use the coupon code "nickdaws". [Note from ND: This is purely a discount code for my readers - I won't receive any commission on sales!]

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Many thanks to Phil for another thought-provoking article. Do check out his Writing Fit programme. I've only had the chance to dip into my own copy so far, but it really does appear an amazing resource for writers who want to turbo-charge their creativity by harnessing the power of their subconscious.

If you have any comments or questions for Phil (or me), please do post them below.

Photo Credit: Magic Apples by H. Koppdelaney on Twitter. Reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic Licence. Photo of Phil South supplied by the author.


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Monday, April 23, 2012

12 Reasons Entrepreneurial Writers Should Connect With The Warrior Forum


For those who may not know, The Warrior Forum is the world's most popular online forum for Internet marketers.

In this blog I usually highlight my own forum at www.mywriterscircle.com. I do still recommend MWC as a brilliant resource for writers, of course - but for those of an entrepreneurial bent, I highly recommend checking out The Warrior Forum as well.

Here are twelve reasons why...

1. The Warrior Forum's main board is a great place for asking questions about any aspect of online marketing, including blogging, website design, affiliate marketing, e-book publishing, article and video marketing, and so on. Such is the popularity of the site, you can expect a stream of answers to your question within an hour - often just minutes - of posting it.

2. On the Warrior Special Offers board, you can find all manner of internet marketing reports and products at discount prices. Some are better than others, obviously, but one big advantage of the forum format is that you can read reviews by members who have bought the product in question. Many WSOs are a bit rough-and-ready, but as well as being low in price they have the advantage that they are normally bang up to date. The Kindle-related WSOs from Rosa Suen (such as Kindle Hot Niche) I've reviewed on this blog recently fall into this category.

3. If you wish, you can also sign up as a WarriorPlus affiliate and promote many of the WSOs on sale on the forum, which pay commissions of up to 100 percent. There is a small fee of $3 per month for doing this, but personally I have found it well worth the money. If you're interested in affiliate marketing, the WarriorPlus affiliate program (as well as the affiliate program run by my sponsors, WCCL) is well worth signing up for.

4. If you need help with creating advertising copy, the Warrior Forum has its own dedicated copywriting board. Questions about copywriting are welcome on myWritersCircle too, of course, but MWC members are mainly interested in fiction and poetry writing. For copywriting advice from professional and semi-pro copywriters, the Warrior Forum copywriting board is a great resource.

5. If you're looking for work as a freelance writer (or programmer, designer, webmaster, SEO practitioner, and so on), you can advertise your services on the Warriors for Hire board.

6. You can check out requests for assistance from other Warrior Forum members on the Wanted board. Also on this board you will find requests for beta testers, product reviewers, and so on.

7. If you have written a report on a money-making topic, you could offer it as a WSO yourself. There is a fee for this, however, and you would normally be expected to have made some contribution to the forum first. Because of the huge audience The Warrior Forum reaches, a successful WSO can make you a lot of money in a short time. However, many people start by offering a free WSO - a short report, say - simply to build their credibility (and mailing list).

8. If you're looking for join-venture partners - as recommended in my course The 10-Day E-Book - the Warrior Forum has a Joint Ventures board too. Again, you are expected to have made some constructive contribution to the forum before you post a JV request.

9. You can post articles relevant to online marketing on the forum's Articles board, including links back to your own blog or website. Because of the forum's popularity and heavy traffic, articles posted here are usually indexed quickly by search engines and often achieve high SE rankings.

10. You can find some great, free resources - reports, e-books, videos, e-courses, and so on - on the Make Money Online board. You can also post your own free report here if you wish.

11. If you're looking for affiliate programs to promote, the Warrior Forum has an Affiliate Program Database. You can also list your own program here for a one-off fee of $100.

12. Finally, you can read reviews of current internet marketing products on the Product Reviews and Ratings Board. Reviewers are not allowed to include affiliate links, so hopefully the reviews should be unbiased.

So that's twelve reasons to check out The Warrior Forum - I could have given several more. If you're involved in any aspect of marketing online, in my view it's an incredible resource to have at your disposal.

I must, however, mention a few caveats now. One is that The Warrior Forum has a lot of rules, and some are rather confusing. It's not difficult to break a rule inadvertently and have your post deleted (at best) or account closed (at worst).

My advice therefore - as with all forums, really - to take it one step at a time. Start by 'lurking' to get a feel for how things work, and read the 'stickies' on the top of each board carefully, as they explain the rules applying to that particular board.

I'd also recommend that you start by posting on the main discussion board with any questions you may have or comments in reply to other members' posts. By doing this you will start to build your reputation and show you are not a spammer and willing to give as well as receive. It's also worth noting sometimes you will be required to have to have a minimum number of posts on the forum (e.g. 20 or 50) before applying for a particular opportunity - so it really does help to build your post count.

Finally, do bear in mind that not everything you read on The Warrior Forum is necessarily true (shock!) and not all the opportunities described are as wonderful as they are painted (horror!). This applies particularly with WSOs.

Obviously, you will have your own opinions about this, but personally I am always suspicious of programs that promise to 'automate' your use of Twitter or other social networking services. In my opinion, these are mostly just spamming tools. While they might work in the (very) short term, they will seriously damage your online reputation and probably get you banned from the services concerned.

There are many very interesting WSOs available via The Warrior Forum, and I admit it's one of the main reasons I and many others frequent it. It is, however, important to regard the claims made on the sales pages with a measure of scepticism, and read the reviews carefully before you buy (though you can always get a refund if you don't like what you receive).

If you have any comments or questions about The Warrior Forum, please leave them below and I will do my best to answer them!


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Monday, April 16, 2012

Why I No Longer Accept Third-Party Guest Posts


Regular readers of this blog will know that (like many bloggers) I accept guest posts from time to time, to provide fresh ideas and perspectives.

I used to be fairly relaxed about who wrote these guest posts and the websites they were promoting, but a recent incident has forced me to change that policy.

Out of the blue, I received an email containing a DMCA Takedown Notice. This accused me of a copyright violation in respect of a guest post I had published last year, and demanded that the post in question be removed immediately.

Obviously I wasn't too happy about this. I had accepted the article concerned in good faith, so I thought perhaps the author might have been guilty of plagiarism.

When I looked into it, however, it turned out to be more complicated than that, and gave me some interesting (if not entirely welcome) insights into the murky world of paid-for guest posting.

In a nutshell, here's what seems to have happened. The original author of the article had sold it to another company some time ago. A representative of that company had then submitted the article to me as a potential guest post, using a false name and identity (let's call it Marie Smith) and pretending to be a freelance blogger.

The original author then one day came across her article on my blog, assumed I had copied it from somewhere else and published it under Marie's name, and sent the lawyers in.

I wrote to "Marie" to ask for clarification, but of course never heard anything back. To avoid any further hassle or legal threats, I did then remove the guest post concerned. However, I pointed out to the original author that (a) a polite email would have been sufficient to establish what had happened before bringing in the big guns, and (b) if she had sold all rights in the article (as appears to be the case) the company was legally - if not morally - entitled to use it any way it pleased.

This was an unpleasant incident which opened my eyes to the way certain companies are hiring writers (I assume via sites such as Elance) to create guest posts on their behalf, in order to get a link back to the company website in the article byline. Sometimes the hired writer also submits the post, but a lot of the time it appears that the companies concerned then submit the articles themselves using an assumed identity.

Like many bloggers, I get a steady stream of queries from writers who are clearly working for such companies, as they have a standard, fill-in-the-blanks letter they all use. This describes how delighted they were to discover your blog, offers to write a guest post on any subject of your choice, and includes links to other articles they have had published. Coincidentally or otherwise, many of these articles are promoting websites concerned with education, colleges, and so on.

I have, in the past, accepted a few such guest posts, though they have generally needed a lot of editing to bring them up to a publishable standard (while the authors all have names that sound like Hollywood starlets, many give the impression through their writing that English is not their first language).

I have therefore changed my policy now, and only accept guest posts from writers promoting their own blog or website in their byline. I do not accept guest posts (or proposals) from any writer who is seeking a link for a third-party site.

This does not exclude genuine guest bloggers with something interesting to contribute (e.g. MWB regular David Robinson), but it does mean I'm much less likely to accidentally breach someone's copyright or agree to publish a guest post so badly written it would have been quicker to write it myself from scratch. It also reduces the risk I will find myself dealing with a company employee pretending to be a freelance writer.

For the record, I do still very much welcome guest posts (and guest post proposals) from writers and bloggers with something interesting to say, as long as they meet the stipulation above.

Check out my guest post guidelines and if you would be interested in seeing your work on this blog in future, please do drop me a line!

Photo Credit: Unease and Confusion on the T by Jake Liefer on Flickr. Reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Licence.


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Friday, April 13, 2012

Review: Instant Kindle and E-Cover Creator

Today I'm reviewing a new product from John Pearce and Alex Nulsen, currently on special offer at The Warrior Forum.

I know many self-publishing authors struggle to create cover images for their e-books, so I was keen to see what Instant Kindle & E-Cover Creator was all about. John was kind enough to send me a review copy.

Despite what you might think from the name, what you get is NOT a dedicated e-book cover creation program. Rather, you receive a package of items, at the heart of which are five Kindle cover templates, along with videos explaining how to customize them using either Adobe Photoshop or open-source alternative The Gimp. The templates are provided in both PhotoShop and Gimp format.

All five templates are quite similar, but they have been designed in 'layers' to be easily editable. The videos take you through the steps involved. Not being much of (well, any sort of) a graphics person, I didn't have either of the two programs required, so I decided to download the free option, The Gimp.

And - lo and behold - by following the advice in the main 15-minute instructional video, in under an hour I managed to create the e-cover below for a compelling title I have yet to write...

The image of the cat came from FreeDigitalPhotos.net, by the way (see credit below). I used the advice in the video to insert the cat image in place of the default image provided, and obviously made various changes to the text as well.

It's pretty basic, but for a first attempt I'm happy with it. If I didn't want to spend any money commissioning a professional cover image, I think something like this would do the job. You can see more examples of covers created from the templates using this method (generally better looking than mine!) in the promotional video below...

If you are receiving this blog post by email or RSS, you may need to visit my blog to see the video.

As well as the templates and instructional videos, you also get a number of bonuses. Most importantly, these include a complete set of PhotoShop instructional videos and another set of Gimp instructional videos. I haven't gone through all of these yet, but they appear to represent great value in their own right.

Another nice bonus is a set of high-end fonts for use with the templates.

The only 'bonus' I have slight reservations about is the claim to show where you can download the latest version of PhotoShop (CS6) in Beta free of charge. That's true as far as it goes, but one thing they don't say is that the Beta will expire after a certain period of time (currently unspecified, but probably when the product goes on sale).

If you don't plan to buy PhotoShop at some stage - and while it's the Rolls Royce of graphics programs, it's also very expensive - you might prefer to stick with The Gimp rather than risk being left high and dry.

Instant Kindle & E-Cover Creator also has templates and software recommendations to help you create 3D e-book covers. Amazon won't accept such images for its store, but if you're promoting an e-book on a platform such as ClickBank (as discussed in my course The 10-Day E-Book) this could be a useful option to have.

Overall, if you're looking for a low-cost (under $8 at the time of writing) method for creating e-book covers, and you're not already a graphics wizard, Instant Kindle & E-Cover Creator is worth a look.

The covers you create from the templates are unlikely to be cutting edge, but they should at least look neat and uncluttered. And if you're anything like me, the opportunity to learn the basics of using a graphics program is not to be sniffed at either!

If you have any comments or questions about Instant Kindle & E-Cover Creator, please feel free to leave them below.

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Instant Kindle & E-Cover Creator. In addition, the links in this review include my affiliate code, so if you click through and make a purchase, a proportion of the fee will go to me. This has not influenced my review in any way, but you should of course complete your own due diligence and read the sales page (and this review) carefully to determine whether this product will be relevant to your needs.

Image: bk images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Monday, April 09, 2012

The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success: New Ebook from Smashwords' Mark Coker

Just wanted to let you know about a new e-book by the title above from Smashwords' founder Mark Coker.

The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success is (of course) available via the Smashwords self-publishing website, and the best news is that it is completely free of charge.

In his new, 110-page e-book, Mark sets out 28 'secrets' of writing and publishing a successful e-book. They range from the predictable 'Create a good e-book cover' to the gnomic 'Optimize discovery touch points'. Each provides the title for a chapter discussing the subject concerned.

As you might expect, the e-book is well written and produced, and includes lots of valuable information for e-book authors. Mark draws on his own experience running Smashwords as well as the experiences of some of the service's most successful authors.

In the section about Pricing, for example, he has the following useful advice about book length...

Full length books generally command higher prices than shorter length works. Two of our best-selling, highest-earning authors are writing full length books, between 150,000 and 200,000 words (that’s long by conventional standards which would usually consider 60,000 words or more to be full-length). Most of our highest earners are 70,000 words and up.

Of course, there are the rule breakers. Some short non-fiction supports higher prices. Solutions-focused non-fiction and short situational erotica support higher prices than might otherwise be justified by the length.

Some authors try to break a full length novel into multiple shorter serialized chunks or series novellas in an attempt to earn more money, but this strategy usually fails. Such tricks jeopardize reader trust because readers will feel manipulated if they conclude the author’s serialized book chunks are simply a scheme to extract more money from them. Also remember that it takes time and effort to purchase and download each of the smaller chunks, and that’s time the reader would rather spend reading your complete book start to finish. Don’t create unnecessary friction that gets in the way of your reader enjoying your book right now.

Much kudos to Mark for making the valuable information in this e-book available free of charge to the world-wide writing community.

As with all Smashwords' e-books, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success is available to download in various formats, including HTML, Kindle (.mobi), EPub, PDF and RTF. Even if you're not planning to publish to the Smashwords platform, if you have any interest at all in e-book writing, it's well worth a read.


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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

ClickBank or Kindle - Which Is Best for E-book Writers?


I received a couple of questions yesterday from a buyer of several of my writing courses (and affiliate for them), Gibson Goff.

I thought Gib's questions were so interesting that I should really reply here for the benefit of other readers as well.

Here then is a slightly edited version of his message...

I'm writing two books in Open Office, and was going to PDF them, and upload to Clickbank. Then just market the cr*p out of them.

Question 1: What platform/route do you now recommend to bring my eBooks to market? As a new writer, should I go after Kindle, or PDF, etc? I just need a direction.

Question 2: You have also given software links for formatting the ebooks. I downloaded them, and others also, I believe. Do I write the books in Open Office, then move them to the eBook software?

Or should I work within the software alone, from the start?

As I said to Gib, in a way I could answer both these questions with just two words: It depends!

However, that's probably not the most helpful answer, so here are a few more constructive thoughts.

Taking question 1 first, while Kindle is flavor of the month at the moment, ClickBank is still a good choice for some types of e-book.

That applies especially with money-making and money-saving guides, for which it's possible to charge a premium price (as buyers will presumably get their money back and more by following the advice given).

ClickBank has several advantages for this type of e-book. For one thing, you have complete control over your sales page. It can be as long and detailed as you want. You can list all your book's USPs (unique selling propositions), and include graphics, quotes, sub-headings, testimonials, guarantees, bonuses, and so on.

Your options with Kindle sales pages are much more restricted - you have to follow Amazon's rules, and have only limited control over pricing, marketing, descriptions, and so on. Neither is there any easy way to offer bonus items.

The other big advantage of going with ClickBank is that it gives you access to their massive network of affiliates, who will sell your e-book on your behalf (as long as you make it worth their while with commission).

ClickBank does have one drawback in that there is an initial set-up fee of $49 (though you can then sell any number of products through them for no further charge). In the overall scheme of things this is not really such a big deal in my view, but you can always check out lower-cost or free alternatives such as e-junkie and JVZoo if you prefer.

I have, by the way, released a guide to creating this type of e-book called The 10-Day E-Book. This focuses on creating a money-making e-book and marketing it through ClickBank or similar platforms.

ClickBank is not really a suitable medium for selling most fiction or general-interest non-fiction e-books. In these cases, Kindle is probably the better option.

It's actually quite straightforward to create a Kindle e-book and upload it using Kindle Direct Publishing (this is discussed in my other course, Kindle Kash, of course). Doing this will give you access to the huge and ever-growing market of Kindle e-reader owners via the Amazon store.

As mentioned above, you won't have the same control over your sales page as with ClickBank, and you are unlikely to be able to command premium prices. A growing number of authors are seeing good sales from Kindle, however, and even if you're only earning a dollar or two per sale, it all adds up. If you're aiming for the mass market, Kindle is probably the way to go.

Moving to Gib's second question, if you're publishing to ClickBank, you will almost certainly want to save your e-book as a PDF. This is readable on most computers, regardless of the operating system they use or the software they have installed.

You can also set various security options on a PDF to reduce the risk of copyright theft.

It's very easy to create a PDF. Most word-processing programs nowadays have a 'Save to PDF' option, or there are software tools you can use (PDF-Creator from my sponsors, WCCL, for example).

If you're going to create a Kindle e-book, my recommendation (and also that of the KDP Simplified Formatting Guide, incidentally) is to write and edit it in Microsoft Word or the Open Office equivalent, then save as a filtered HTML document (use Save As: Web Page, Filtered in Word - this helps minimize superfluous code).

It is possible to upload this file to the KDP website without further manipulation, but I wouldn't recommend that. In my view it's best to use a software tool such as Calibre to get your e-book looking exactly as you want prior to publishing it. This guest post last year by David Robinson reveals how he uses Calibre to do this himself.

There are other options as well, of course. Personally, I use the free MobiPocket Creator, as detailed in Kindle Kash. There are also some paid-for options that claim to be easier to use and more up to date, such as this one currently on special offer at the Warrior Forum.

Thank you again to Gib for some interesting questions. I hope I've answered them, more or less, in this post, and also provided some food for thought for other aspiring e-book authors.

If you have have any further questions or comments on this subject, please do leave them below.

Photo credit: Thinkin' About the Code by Ed Yourdon on Flickr. Reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 Generic Licence.


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