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Thursday, April 04, 2013

E-Publishing - Don’t Give Up!

Lazy day reading with the new Kindle by Malenkov in Exile, on Flickr
I'm delighted to bring you today the winning entry in my recent Guest Posting Contest.

It comes from Sally Jenkins, who is (quite coincidentally!) a near-neighbour of mine.

In her excellent post, Sally offers timely and encouraging advice for anyone who may have published their first e-book and been disappointed that sales haven't been as spectacular as they hoped.

Over to Sally, then...

* * *

So you've taken the plunge and published your first Kindle e-book. Well done! What a great buzz of excitement, pride and anticipation you enjoyed as the launch announcement went out via Facebook, email and on your blog!

Then there was the flurry of sales as friends and family loyally downloaded the book and left kind words in their Amazon reviews.

But then things changed. After a couple of weeks the book stopped selling, it plummeted down the charts and the reviews and 'likes' dried up.

Since then you've been wondering whether it was worth the hassle of formatting the wretched thing and all those hours spent on the cover design.

It's tempting to decide that this Kindle business isn't all it’s cracked up to be and to jack it all in.

Stop! Think again!

E-publishing is all about marketing and there are ways to sell more books. Here are just a few to try:

• Publish another book ASAP. Make sure that this second book includes a link back to the first, and re-publish the first book with a link to the second. Or, even better, link to a web page where the reader can see details of all the books you have available.

• Create a series instead of writing one-off books. For fiction authors these could either be stand-alone stories that use the same characters - for example, a detective series - or a serial whereby the reader has to buy each book in turn in order to find out what happens next. Non-fiction writers should base each book on a small topic from a larger subject - for example, books on 'Character', 'Setting' and 'Dialogue' might form part of a 'Writing' books series. In either case, have several books in your series ready to publish together - this will encourage readers to buy now because they know there is the follow-on book ready and waiting for them. If outputting this number of books sounds daunting, remember that the beauty of e-books is that they can be short!

• Try fiddling with a book that has lost its sales momentum. Increase or decrease the price (sometimes putting the price up can make a book appear more attractive). Change the keywords to pull in readers using other search phrases. Get a new cover - a professional-looking cover can work wonders. If your budget is limited, try one of the designers offering cover design for $5 on www.Fiverr.com.

• Enrol in KDP Select (assuming that your book is not available on other e-publishing platforms) and run a free promotion to gain reviews. This needs advance planning so that you can publicise the giveaway on websites, Facebook pages and forums - have a look at this link for places to try.

• Find a group of like-minded people by joining an online forum such as Lilly Sage's Kindle Club. Take part in the discussions and ask questions about all aspects of e-book publication and marketing.

• Subscribe to the blogs of those that are making a success of e-publishing (you're reading one now!) and follow up all the information that appears. There are a lot of generous, experienced Kindle authors out there willing to share their expertise - grab their advice and use it!

Writing and publishing books for Kindle is not a 'get rich quick' scheme. But with hard work and determination you can make it financially worthwhile. So stick with it!

Sally Jenkins blogs about writing and related subjects at http://sallyjenkins.wordpress.com/
Details of her e-books can be found at http://sallyjenkins.wordpress.com/books/

* * *

Thank you again to Sally for an excellent and inspirational article, and for supporting my contest!

Sally wins a copy of my new course Blogging for Writers, which I hope she will enjoy reading and putting into practice.

If you have any comments or questions about Sally's article, as always, please feel free to post them below.

Photo Credit: Lazy day reading with the new Kindle by Malenkov in Exile on Flickr. Reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic Licence.

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8 Comments:

Blogger DebS said...

Thanks Sally (and Nick) for this good advice - and congrats on winning the competition! Discouragement is all around in publishing and being able to self-publish quickly often just becomes a quicker way to get discouraged. We sometimes forget that books won't market themselves. I'm as guilty as the next author on that score, but trying not to be :)

5:14 PM  
OpenID sallyjenkins said...

Hi Debs - Yes, marketing definitely is the hardest bit. Especially when there are bestsellers available on Kindle for 20p and we can't go lower than 77p.
We writers have to stick together and give each other a shout-out when we can to try and broaden our publicity and marketing networks.

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer Cunningham said...

This was a reality check. Book publishing and blog posting both need a lot of promotion. You deserve applauds for seeing the project through. Now you are the authority. Congratulations on winning the guest post contest.

5:49 AM  
OpenID sallyjenkins said...

Thank you, Jennifer and best wishes with your projects too.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Jen Smith said...

Thanks for the ecourgement.

8:48 PM  
OpenID elizaw said...

I also suspect that as authors, we're just way, way too impatient. (This especially includes me.) After not-quite-a-month, I've gotten two ratings (four and five stars; unfortunately my family isn't really into my work so I have to reach out for my initial circle), and I feel like I'm constantly poking and prodding at the book online, trying to will it to 'go faster'.

But reading takes time. You can't just look at books and decide that they're great or not, like the visual arts; they need people to invest in them. And how often have you enjoyed books without leaving reviews, or thought to put them up on Goodreads?

The tips here are great, and this business does get discouraging. Maybe one of the things we need to go into self-pubbing is a mindset that this will be one heck of a marathon, and it doesn't stop when you hit the 'submit' button.

2:03 AM  
Blogger Rita McInnes said...

Thanks Sally, for you timely advice. It's easy to feel defeated but having plan B, using some of your tips will help keep me focused and motivated.

12:18 AM  
OpenID sallyjenkins said...

Eliza - I agree with your point about being impatient. It's so tempting to constantly check those sales reports and then be disappointed! The marathon comparison is a good one - it's now almost a year since I published my first e-book and last month (December) was my best sales month ever, so perhaps these things do take time. As for reviews - I never even thought of them until I started publishing so I can understand why others don't do it too.
Jen & Rita - I'm glad you found the post useful.
And best of luck to us all!

7:13 PM  

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