Learn the innovative book promotion secrets of bestselling authors.
Oct 11 2017
Good marketing helps a bad book fail faster. To succeed, you need a great book and for that, you need a great editor. In this episode, learn how to find and work with an exceptional editor with special guest Karen Ball.
The post 133 – How to Find and Work with an Editor with Karen Ball appeared first on Author Media.
Apr 17 2018
(James) In this episode we’re going to talk about creating a crazy cool bio. Intro Paragraph: (Thomas)Today’s topic comes from Samantha Johnson author of The Beginner’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening. She asks: (James)I discovered the Novel Marketing podcast a few months ago, and since then I’ve listened to nearly all the episodes in the […]
Apr 23 2016
Feb 05 2019
Your Celebrity Fabio Story Publisher Avon Books estimated his image increased sales by as much as 33% when he appeared on the cover with a woman; 45% when he appeared alone. Each photo session would get Fabio in about 16 cover poses that artists could reuse for multiple covers. He’s on more than 2,000 book […]
The post 078 – How To Become a Career Writer Part 4: How to Make Money With Your Knowledge & Celebrity appeared first on Author Media.
Apr 01 2016
In this episode, we talk about how to build your email list before your book comes out. The key is short stories, they can help your marketing in more ways than just growing your email list.
The post 129 – How to Build an Email List Before Your First Book Comes Out Using Short Stories appeared first on Author Media.
Mar 20 2018
May 13 2019
Oct 07 2019
The more you understand how readers find, and how and why they buy books on Amazon, the more books you’re going to sell. And to help us dive deep into the subject is today’s guest, Alex Newton, the CEO and Founder of K-Lytics.com
The post 136 – How to Use K-lytics To Sell More Kindle eBooks appeared first on Author Media.
May 08 2018
In this episode we are going to talk about the right way to use Facebook to sell more books! Last week we talked about why Facebook is overrated for book marketing, but we didn’t say it’s completely useless, so today we’re going to talk about the ways Facebook CAN work for you to promote your […]
Dec 11 2018
May 20 2019
Author's make a lot of mistakes with their homepages. Here is how to avoid them and have homepage book that works.
The post 103 – 10 Common Author Homepage Mistakes & How to Avoid Them appeared first on Author Media.
Sep 18 2017
Dec 30 2019
May 06 2019
Mar 04 2019
Imagine trying to dig a ditch with a shovel. Now imagine digging that same ditch with a backhoe.
Using the right tool can make all the difference in how much you accomplish with the same investment of time and effort. Sure, renting a backhoe is expensive, but you can always make more money. You can never make more time.
Your time is valuable, so put it to good use by using the best tools available.
As an author, you don’t use a backhoe. You use a computer and the software it uses influences your productivity and success. There are many incredible pieces of software that can dramatically improve your writing efficiency, craft, and level of professionalism.
In this article, I’m pleased to recommend software and hardware I have personally tested that will save you time and improve your craft.
But before we talk about software, let’s talk briefly about hardware.
I recommend that authors buy Macs over PCs for several reasons.
The lifespan of a Mac is easily twice that of a PC, and Macs also have less day to day annoyances than PCs.
Authors get sticker shock when they see the price of a $1000 Mac. However, during the lifespan of a Mac, you’d have to replace your $500 PC two-and-a-half times. That is a cost of ownership of $1250. The Mac will cost you less in the long run, and much of the Mac software for writers is less expensive than software for PC.
A lot of the software made for writers works best on Mac. Some of the software I recommend only runs on Macs. But in most cases, a PC alternative is available.
I would estimate that about 80% of the bestselling authors I work with use Apple computers. As an author, it is worth your money over the long haul to buy a Mac.
Ok now on to the software…
The first time I tried Scrivener, it blew my mind. For the first time, someone had made a piece of software specifically designed for writing books rather than for writing memos.
Scrivener had a mode that hid everything but the blank screen where you type. There were no icons and no distractions when you turned on “distraction-free mode.”
That was 13 years ago, and Scrivener has come a long way since then.
Scrivener features a research section where novelists can keep track of character information and worldbuilding details. If you’re writing nonfiction, you can organize your topical research.
Scrivener is great for managing longer works. Word Documents over a hundred pages long can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate. Not so with Scrivener. It has a great outline view where you can easily zoom in and out of your story.
If you are using Microsoft Word to write your 300-page novel and keep track of your timelines and plot-lines, you are using a shovel and wasting a lot of time.
The backhoe of Scrivener features tools that specifically help writers. For instance, it will help you identify and find words you tend to overuse.
Scrivener on a Mac can even take dictation using Apple’s built-in voice-to-text engine.
How good is Apple’s speech recognition engine? Let me put it this way. Dragon, arguably the best dictation software for PC, doesn’t even try to compete with Apple’s free voice-to-text engine. Dragon does not make products for the Mac because when users can dictate directly into Pages, Scrivener, or Microsoft Word for free, why would they pay for Dragon?
Vellum is well-loved in the author community. I know an indie author who spent around $1000 to buy a Mac specifically because she wanted to use Vellum.
One of the ways a book can “feel” self-published is when the author uses Microsoft Word’s typesetting. Readers can tell the difference even if they don’t know why. Typesetting is how the words are arranged on a page in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Words are arranged differently on paper than in digital formats, and Vellum has an instant preview for Paper, Kindle, iPad, Kobo, Nook, and Android. You can click between formats and see how the pages of your book will appear on various devices.
You can always hire a professional to do the typesetting, but with Vellum, you can easily do it yourself. This is particularly useful for making your own reader magnets without spending a fortune. It is also nice if you like to be able to push out your own updates.
Do you need to update the back matter on your last ten books with information about your most recent release? With Vellum, this is easy.
For anyone asking, “How do you turn a Word document into a beautiful ebook or print book?” the answer, for Mac users, is Vellum.
If they’re not using Mac, I send them to Draft2Digital.com. Many people like Draft2Digital, and I’ve heard great reviews. There is also a way to run Vellum in a cloud-based virtual machine.
Distractions are a formidable enemy for many writers. The more you write, the better writer you will be, and the more books you will publish. With more published books, you’ll make more money, and you’ll have more to spend on better writing tools.
What gets measured gets managed. Tracking how you spend your time on your computer will help you spend less time distracted and more time writing. Authors who use Rescue Time write more content than authors who don’t.
Grammarly is a super spell-checker that also helps you with grammar and usage. Grammarly doesn’t just put squiggles under errors. It also has a “learn more” button with every suggestion that expands to explain the why behind the rule.
Using Grammarly doesn’t just make your writing better; it makes you a better writer.
Grammarly’s suggestions help you follow the rules of the Chicago Manual of Style. It helps tighten your writing to make it more compelling. However, you shouldn’t accept every Grammarly suggestion. You want to preserve your voice. With the explanations Grammarly provides, you can make an informed decision about accepting the change.
Grammarly doesn’t replace getting a real editor for your book or short story. But using Grammarly before you send your work to an editor will allow your editor to concentrate on other aspects of your piece that can be improved.
Grammarly is especially helpful for editing smaller works for which you wouldn’t typically hire a professional editor.
I graduated Cum Laude from university without fully understanding when and where to use commas. With Grammarly, I am finally figuring it out. When I still get it wrong, Grammarly is there to show me the way.
Plottr is a tool to create timelines for your story and your characters.
With Plottr, you can plan your main plot and subplots in a beautiful visual editor. You can also use it as a personal wiki for worldbuilding or to keep track of characters and places.
There is a lot to be said about Plottr, so I am hosting a free webinar with Ryan Zee about how to use Plottr to write better.
Join us on Thursday, August 13, 2020, at 4:00 PM Central Time (convert time zone) for the free Webinar: How to Write Better Novels Faster with Plottr.
The easiest way for a hacker to hack you is to look up your password from a recent big hack.
Wattpad, a popular platform for authors, was recently hacked. Hackers auctioned the usernames and passwords of the hundreds of millions of Wattpad users.
If you’ve ever signed up for Wattpad, your information is available for sale. After it’s been bought and sold a few times, it gets posted publicly and is available for free.
Sadly, I could probably look up your password right now. If, God forbid, you use the same password on multiple websites, a hacker may have the key to many of your online places.
A hacker can use the publicly available version of your password and email address to log in to your other accounts. If he can log in to your email account, he can reset your other passwords and take control of your online identity.
Needless to say, that would be bad for your platform.
To protect yourself from that nightmare, you must create a strong, unique password for every website. You need a different key for every door of your online house so that if a hacker steals one key, only one room is endangered.
But since keeping track of hundreds of unique passwords is impossible, LastPass offers a solution.
Last Pass is an encrypted password vault that keeps track of all your passwords. It connects with your browser and helps you generate and save unique, strong passwords for each website you use.
If you put a gun to my head and demanded I reveal my PayPal password, I couldn’t do it because I don’t know it. It’s a long, convoluted encrypted password, and I haven’t memorized it.
But I do remember my one password to my encrypted password vault.
Your LastPass Master Password is the only password you need to remember. Since it is the password to rule all passwords, you must not forget it or lose it.
I recommend saving this password in a safety deposit box with instructions on how and where to use it. If something were to happen to you, your family would have the necessary information and would not be locked out of your online accounts.
Your hard disk is spinning at 7,200 revolutions per minute, which means billions of revolutions per year. As with all moving parts, it will eventually wear down. No hard disk can spin infinitely. Some fail after one month, and some will last 15 years. But all hard disks spin till they die.
Even if you have a solid-state drive, they aren’t necessarily more reliable because the electrons get fatigued.
Regardless of what kind of computer you have, Mac or PC, hard drive or solid-state drive, you need an automatic backup system. Because your hard drive will fail eventually.
And it is not just disk failure you need to worry about. What would happen to your manuscript if your computer was stolen or your house was destroyed in a flood? If you don’t have a reliable backup system, you could lose hours or days of work.
Any backup procedure that is not automatic will lead to lost work.
To prevent this disaster, I recommend using Dropbox.
Dropbox will automatically save a backup of your dropbox to the cloud, and you’ll never need to remember to grab your flash drive if you’re escaping a house fire.
Dropbox allows you to share files with others who might need access. I share large audio files with my podcast editor through Dropbox. Any file I put in our shared folder automatically appears on his computer. No emailing links needed. Although Dropbox supports emailing links to files as well.
Finally, I love Dropbox because it syncs files across multiple computers. I can work on a presentation on my desktop and then pick up where I left off on my laptop. If I’m out and about, I can access files from my phone with the Dropbox App.
If you don’t need the sharing and syncing, but you do need a backup plan, Back Blaze is a reliable alternative and is a bit cheaper than Dropbox.
If you’re blogging or building your own website, you will likely need to create or edit images.
I know a lot of authors use Canva, but I just don’t like Canva. By default, it recommends downloading PNG files, but for blogging and websites, PNG files are bloated and cause pages to load slowly. Slow loading pages hurt your search engine rankings. Canva doesn’t even show you how bloated its file are unless you pay $120 per year for their Pro version. So, people using Canva have no idea how bloated their images are.
Canva is fine for creating social media images because Instagram and Facebook shrink the bloated files into optimized images.
For websites and blogging, I recommend Pixelmator Pro. It is a one-time purchase of $40 for the Pro version, but you may find the free version is enough for you. For the cost of four months of Canva Pro, you can have Pixelmator Pro for life.
I use Pixelmator Pro for all my image editing. I can crop and save a web version of an image in seconds.
Pixelmator Pro is for Mac only. If you are on Windows, I recommend Photoshop Elements. It does all the same things Pixelmator Pro but for twice the price.
Pixelmator and Photoshop Elements are great for editing images, but they can be cumbersome for creating images from scratch. BookBrush is simpler and has a wide array of templates for creating promotional material for your book.
If you are promoting the release of your audiobook, you may want to create an image of your book cover on an iPhone with an Audible “listen now” badge. BookBrush allows you to create the image in minutes.
BookBrush is like Canva for authors, and there is a free version. After you start advertising and need help making special images for your ads, you may find the $100 per year version is worth the cost.
I am convinced there are only two kinds of podcasters. There are podcasters who have tried Hindenburg Journalist and love it and those who have not yet tried it. I have taught podcast editing to rooms full of podcasters, and every time I show off Hindenburg Journalist, I get audible gasps from the audience who had no idea how easy editing could be.
It takes half the time to edit a podcast in Hindenburg than it does in Audacity or Audition. If you have a podcast and you are still using Garageband or Audacity, do yourself a favor and try the free trial of Hindenburg Journalist.
It’s the only software designed especially for podcasters and not for musicians. If you have a podcast, give Hindenburg Journalist a try. It may save your podcast and change your podcasting life.
Camtasia is a video editor specifically designed for the kinds of videos most authors make.
I use Camtasia to edit all my course videos. It’s easy to use and has all the power an author would need. Most novelists don’t need a video editor, but if you are writing nonfiction and are considering creating a course, Camtasia is a great choice.
Camtasia’s one weakness is that it is not good at recording from your Mac’s webcam.
Chances are, you have already attended one of my Crowdcast webinars. I hosted quite a few when the lockdown started. If you haven’t attended one yet, you can join me for the Plottr webinar.
I have used around a dozen webinar platforms over the years, and Crowdcast is the first one I haven’t come to hate over time. Zoom is good and cheaper, but it’s best for smaller meetings.
It runs in your browser. Attendees don’t need to download special software.
Attendees can ask questions and vote on questions. If 300 people attend, the chat runs too fast to read and respond, and speak. But, when attendees vote on questions that have already been asked, I can answer the most popular questions first.
Attendees can join me on screen. Adding another face to the screen makes the webinar more visually interesting, and it allows people to listen in on our real-time conversation.
Crowdcast offers month-to-month payment. At $49 per month, Crowdcast is on the cheaper end of comparable webinar tools.
It integrates with ConvertKit. Attendees register with their email addresses, which are added to my ConvertKit (affiliate link) email list. Crowdcast has been the best tool for building my email list this year.
When you implement any of these tools, you’ll be able work smarter instead of harder. Give yourself and your writing a productivity boost, and let me know which tool worked best for you.
Learn how to build your own amazing author website even if you are not a techie person. You will also learn how to craft the kind of website your readers will love.
Students who had never built a website took this course and then built their own website the same day they finished the course. The best part? This course is 100% free.
I hope you will use my affiliate links, but even if you don’t, the course is yours to keep at no cost to you.
In this course you will get:
Do you ever feel like you’ll never be able to lose weight and keep it off? This Bible study will help! You’ll be taking off the lies that make you overeat and putting on the truth that will make you actually want to eat with control.
You can become a Novel Marketing Patron here.
If you can’t afford to become a patron, but still want to help the show, you can! Just use one of the affiliate links in this post or at AuthorMedia.com/recommendations
This is officially episode 249 of Novel Marketing. That means next week, we will release episode 250! Can you believe it? Next week, I will do something I try to do as rarely as possible on the podcast. I will be talking about myself and sharing my story.
That said, I also want to hear your story. Have you learned something useful on Novel Marketing? Do you have a short testimony you want to share? Go to https://www.authormedia.com/contact/ to leave a voicemail, and you just might hear your voice on the podcast. You can also call the listener voicemail line at 512-827-8377.
Aug 10 2020
Last month tens of thousands of Twitter accounts attacked J.K. Rowling. They tried to get her books pulled from publication. Her books were burned, and people promised to never read one of her books again. This was perhaps the fourth time this has happened to Rowling in the last few years.
There is nothing new under the sun, and book-burning is a time-honored practice of angry mobs. This wasn’t the first time people have burned Harry Potter books.
If you are a published author, cancel culture is not just something you hear about that happens to TV celebrities. It can come for you regardless of your place on the political continuum.
Some authors have even faced backlash for their silence. Staying out of politics is no longer the defense it used to be.
This is a difficult but important topic many authors wonder about. Novel Marketing Podcast listener Jennifer asked:
“I’d love to hear your take on the current “cancel culture.” No longer satisfied with leaving a negative review, some people want to see works banned entirely. This seems to be happening all around, from the blockbuster musical Hamilton to indie authors who cancel publication of their own books and make profuse apologies in the wake of attacks on their content and their character. Are some genres more vulnerable to offending the cancel culture than others? What can authors do to avoid and respond to such vicious attacks?”
Those who live to cancel others will themselves be canceled. The people using the guillotine at the beginning of the French Revolution were the ones who died by the guillotine halfway through. The cycle continued until Napoleon brought the army into Paris to slaughter the mob by giving them a “whiff of grapeshot.”
The same spirit of revolution is in the air today. Anyone who tells you we are living in unprecedented times hasn’t studied history. There is nothing new under the sun. Savvy authors can learn from history and know how to navigate these all too predictable times.
So, don’t be so quick to cancel others. Sure, getting someone fired might make you feel virtuous, but it won’t change that person’s heart. It won’t cause them to agree with you or like you better. In fact, it will do the opposite.
“Judge not lest you be judged” by the same standard you used to judge others. The more people you cancel, the more enemies you will make, and they will want to cancel you right back. What you reap you will sow.
There’s a lot to be said about living in peace with people you disagree with.
You need not agree on every point in order to be friends with someone. Learning to disagree agreeably is vital for a healthy society. We all want to live in a society where we can live at peace with each other without seeking to harm each other by robbing another person of their freedom, their job, or their life.
Part of not being a jerk involves choosing the right readers.
These days, people expect their celebrities to abide by the same moral code they do themselves. The challenge is that there are multiple moral codes, and some are at odds with each other. When you pick a group of target readers, you are also picking a moral system to abide by.
What is true with morality is also true with politics. More and more, readers are expecting the authors they read to share their politics.
And this preference is not just for nonfiction.
There was big drama a few years ago with the Hugo Awards between left-leaning and right-leaning Sci-Fi authors. This clash between authors is an extension of the clash between readers going on at the same time.
So what should you do? Pick a group of readers who live by rules you can live with yourself.
If you are targeting:
If you are hiding who you really are because you’re afraid your target readers wouldn’t like you if they knew the true you, then you are targeting the wrong readers. You don’t need to change yourself, you need to change your readers.
If you are secretly guarding your identity as a Christian, Democrat, Republican, or whatever, then writing to your target audience will be difficult.
Choose a target audience who will accept you the way you are.
The purpose of an apology is to restore a broken relationship. If there was no relationship to restore, an apology will only harm the person apologizing. It is like apologizing to someone who is abusing you in hopes that your apology will make them stop hurting you. An abuser hurts you because of who they are, not because of anything you do or don’t do. Don’t believe them when they blame you for their bad behavior.
When there is a misunderstanding, many authors make the mistake of apologizing as a way to clarify what they meant. This is a bad idea. Internet trolls misunderstand because they want to misunderstand. Feeding them an apology makes them want to stick around.
Trolls don’t care about you. They are in pain, and they look for ways to inflict pain on others. Once you apologize to them, you signal that they can hurt you, and you invite them to come back and do it again.
There is a whole genre of apology critique videos on YouTube where people break down apology videos and criticize the apologizers for not being sincere enough.
In general, public apologies backfire because there is no relationship to restore.
Online firestorms typically don’t last for more than a week. Often, they die down within days. Trolls are always hungry for fresh pain from fresh people. If you ignore the vitriol, most people will forget about the firestorm in a fortnight.
Can you remember who got canceled last year? Last month? These things don’t last. I have been in a firestorm of criticism. It was years ago, and no one thinks about it unless I bring it up.
A push to cancel someone is like flatulence. It’s painful and awkward in the moment, but it doesn’t last.
These days, you are known by what you are against just as much as you’re known by what you’re for. And your enemies are often more loyal than your friends. You can trust an enemy to stay your enemy more than you can trust a friend to stay a friend.
When you pick an enemy, you gain their enemies as allies. An ally is not the same as a friend but it is not nothing.
Boycotts only work if the boycotters are already spending money on your products. If you write a book about how terrible the New York Jets sportsball team is, and Jets fans boycott you, it won’t hurt you because they were never your target audience.
If someone has never bought your books and vows never to buy one, it doesn’t hurt you. You haven’t lost a sale because they weren’t buying your books in the first place. In fact, if they buy a copy of your book to burn it, you gain a sale you wouldn’t have had before. So book burnings boost book sales!
That said, the trend now is not to simply boycott but also to deplatform. Trolls may try to get you kicked off of social media or any website you use to spread the word about your books or earn money.
Deplatforming, the modern version of book burning, is a very real threat, and it can come from outside your community.
Maybe you’re not a jerk. You have an audience who loves your books and your message. But a different audience who disagrees with you may want to harm you by disconnecting you from your adoring audience.
This leads us to our second strategy.
When you sharecrop on someone else’s platform they become your master. They dictate what you can and can’t say on their platform. Some sites, like Patreon.com, even dictate what you do on other platforms. The major social networks can ban (or shadowban) you at any time for any reason, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. If you are shadowbanned, you might not even know you are being punished with obscurity.
Facebook, Twitter, and Google are the landlords and you are the lowly tenant. You have no rights on digital land you don’t own. If you are going to sharecrop, you had better listen to the master, mind the rules, and keep up as those rules change.
Even if you are not breaking any rules, if enough trolls loudly campaign for you to get kicked off, the social networks may comply.
This is why it is so important to own your own platform so you’re not at the mercy of these corporations who don’t know or care about you.
So what should you do?
The world wide web was built by free speech idealists, and the structure of the internet is such that it’s nearly impossible to cancel someone’s website, especially if it’s running a self-hosted WordPress.org website.
WordPress.org is better than WordPress.com because it’s open-source software. No one owns it. No one can stop you from putting it on your own server. WordPress.org is the software that powers WordPress.com, but it runs on your digital land.
It’s like buying a tractor to work your own land and grow your own crops. You didn’t invent the tractor, but once you buy it no one can stop you from using it on your land. You’ll have the same tractor and seeds that a sharecropper uses on WordPress.com, but you’ll own the land yourself.
If your web host kicks you off, there are thousands of other hosts who will be glad to have you as a paying customer. Because of this reality, almost no one gets kicked off a WordPress.org web host because of a demanding mob.
This is one downside of Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly. If they kick you off, there is nowhere to go. You have to start from scratch with your website. You can only have a Wix website on Wix.com. If they delete your website it’s gone.
Not so with WordPress.org. You can easily pick up and move from one host to another, especially if you built the website yourself. If you built the website yourself, you probably already have a backup stored in your inbox that you can easily restore on another web host.
If you’re curious about how to build a website, I have a free course on how to build your own WordPress website.
Podcasting is the last Web 1.0 technology. It is based on open standards, and there is no company that controls it. Podcasters have full control over what they create, and listeners have full control over what they listen to. There is no corporate bridge where trolls can hide and seek to deplatform you.
Spotify is trying to change this by taking control over the podcasting space, but until they do, podcasting will remain an open internet bastion of free speech.
The worst thing that can happen to your podcast is that it can get delisted from podcast directories like Apple Podcasts or Podchaser. But even if you are delisted, you are not deplatformed. Your listeners can still subscribe and hear new episodes; they just have to go to your website to find the link.
Blogs run on the same RSS technology as podcasts. No one can “cancel” your blog as long as it runs on your WordPress.org website. So don’t put your blog on WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr, or any of the other free platforms out there. If you are not paying for it, you have no rights.
In fact, if you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer. You are the product that is being sold. The website is selling your attention to the advertisers who are the real customers. Sure the rent is free for the chickens in the slaughterhouse, but that doesn’t mean a slaughterhouse is a safe place for the chickens in the long term.
If you train your readers to hear from you on a certain day on your WordPress.org blog you can have an almost impenetrable connection with them. No one can stop them from going to your blog and no one can stop you from writing new posts. It is pure freedom of the press.
A popular tactic with cancel culture right now is to get someone fired from their day job. If you get all your money from the corporation you work for, that corporation has a lot of control over your personal life.
Many corporations want to control your behavior while you are on the clock and off the clock. They might even fire you for something you did before you worked for the corporation. From a certain perspective, they want to control your entire life, past and present.
Young people are often told to mind their behavior because personal decisions and social media posts can be reason enough for a corporation to reject their job application. So from this perspective, the theoretical corporation you don’t work for yet is already exerting influence and control over you.
If a mob of trolls demands that your company fire you for something you did or said outside of work, many corporations will comply with the trolls. Even if they later discover you did nothing wrong, many companies are more afraid of the trolls than they are loyal to their employees.
The more diversified your income stream, the harder it is to cancel you financially.
One reason I have the courage to talk about cancel culture is that I have diversified income streams. No single company can turn off the spigot.
If trolls tried to cancel me, it would be hard for them because I follow all the recommendations I’ve made above. I have a direct relationship with my listeners on platforms I own, and I earn money through many different income streams.
Diversifying your income is also helpful during hard economic times. If one corporation provides all your revenue, what happens when that company falls on hard times?
So far, Amazon has not participated much in cancel culture. In general, they don’t cancel or delist books based on the content. But this could change at any time. If it does, you’ll be powerless to stop it.
Even governments are unable to stop it. Governments pay taxes to Amazon in the form of tax breaks and “incentives.” If the governments are not powerful enough to tax Amazon, how can they protect your freedom of speech on Amazon’s platform?
You need the capability to communicate directly with your readers in case Amazon changes course and starts their own version of book-burning. Only authors with strong email lists, blogs, and podcasts will survive.
Another way cancel culture pursues influencers is by getting their advertisers to cancel their advertising contracts. This is why being listener supported is so beneficial. One easy way to get funds directly from your fans is through Patreon.com.
That said, Patreon is a very trigger-happy company when it comes to canceling creators.
I have already purchased the software to recreate a Patreon-type platform here on AuthorMedia.com. And yes, I use WordPress.org to run this website. One of the things I love about WordPress is that I can purchase simple plugins that will recreate the functionality of major websites like Patreon. Preparation makes my business less vulnerable to trolls, mobs, and other minions of cancel culture.
I also have all the email addresses of my patrons. If Patreon should deplatform me, I can email my patrons and ask them to sign up on the new site. Not all of them would move because it’s a hassle, but I hope enough would to keep the podcast alive.
Believe it or not, the cancel culture troll mob is small. Most people on the internet are not trolls. Most people on the internet don’t even care much about politics. The mob sounds louder than it is because they all shout together.
In reality, the troll mob is made up of a few humans and their army of sock-puppet bot accounts. One person with 1,000 Twitter accounts can sound intimidating, but behind the curtain, one small human is pushing buttons and pulling levers to make a lot of noise.
Trolls feed on fear. If you refuse to give in to fear, they will get hungry and move on. Trolls can’t cancel you without your permission. If you are willing to stand your ground, they will leave to bully someone else.
J.K. Rowling follows most of what I’ve recommended here. While she doesn’t have a podcast, she does have her own WordPress.org website and blog where she can talk directly to her readers without interference.
Rowling refused to apologize and stood her ground. As a result, her readership went up. Almost two months after the firestorm, she held the #1, #2, and #3, top spots for “Most Read Books” on Amazon. She also held the #14 spot for bestselling books on all of Amazon for her 22-year-old book.This is what getting canceled looks like if you stand your ground.
If you stand up to the trolls, the regular humans will flock to support you. Rowling seems to see a sales spike every time she gets canceled. You may see the same if you have the courage to stand firm.
Remember, to burn a book, people must first buy the book.
Learn how to build your own amazing author website even if you are not a techie person. You will also learn how to craft the kind of website your readers will love.
Students who had never built a website before took this course and then built their own website the same day they finished the course. The best part? This course is 100% free.
I hope you will use my affiliate links, but even if you don’t, the course is yours to keep at no cost to you.
In this course you will get:
While in bustling New Orleans, a former Texas Ranger has an encounter with a young beauty. What she wants will change his life forever.
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My son Tommy has recently started trying to eat solid food.
I’m a technology person and I’m watching this tiny human encounter his first new technology for eating.
All his life, eating has only required him to suck. But the new technology allows him to eat baby food from a tiny spoon.
At first he approached the spoon the same way he would have approached a bottle. He sucked on the spoon and ended up with 80% of the food on his face. As he gets used to the spoon, he realizes that the new technology requires him to engage differently than the old technology of the bottle.
Sucking on the spoon gets him a little food, but opening his mouth wide enough for mom or dad to feed him the whole scoop of mashed bananas is a better approach for filling his tummy. On the other hand, opening his mouth wide does not work well for the bottle.
The old method of sucking on the new technology of the spoon still works a little. He tastes new food and gets a few additional nutrients. But when he engages with the new technology in the new way, mealtime is much tidier.
As you look at new technologies available for writers, remember that the old techniques don’t work as well for the new technology. Ask yourself whether you’re applying the new or old way of thinking.
Are you trying to suck on the spoon? Maybe there is a better way.
Aug 03 2020
Your time is the most valuable thing you have. You can always make more money but you will never make more time. You will live the rest of your life and die and never get back the time you spent promoting your book.
On the other hand, why spend your precious time writing a book that no one will read because they don’t know about it because you didn’t spend the time to market it?
So how can you market your book effectively and spend less time doing it? And what would you do if you had extra time each day?
In this article, you’ll learn how to spend time with your family or write your book while getting better marketing results than you are getting now. These are powerful principles. Please use them for good.
To understand how to work less and get the same results, let’s review Vilfredo Pareto’s discovery.
In the 1800s, the economist Vilfredo Pareto discovered that 20% of the population made 80% of the money. Once he noticed this 80/20 distribution of income, he started seeing the principle demonstrated in other aspects of society. In agriculture, 20% of the pea plants produced 80% of the peas, and in modern sociology, where 80% of women pursue the top 20% of attractive men.
You’ve probably heard about the 80/20 rule. But did you know the rule also applies to book marketing?
Authors tend to get 80% of their sales from 20% of their marketing efforts. This means 80% of your book promotion activity is, more or less, wasted. Once you understand this 80/20 breakdown, you’ll start saving yourself a lot of time.
Here are five steps to help you spend less time marketing without hurting your sales.
As John Wanamaker said in the 19th century, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” If John Wanamaker had been able to measure his advertising better, he would have been shocked to learn he was probably wasting closer to 80% of his money, and he would have known which 80% it was.
If you can’t measure your marketing, you can’t determine what is working and what is not. Many traditionally published authors are exhausted by marketing because they have no way to know which of their marketing activities worked. Without good data, book marketing myths spread around the author community like a virus.
The lack of data is also the biggest disadvantage of traditional publishing. Traditional publishers don’t share real-time sales data with their authors. Sometimes, they don’t even share it with their internal marketing teams. I spoke with one marketing executive at a major publisher, and he said he received sales data once a week from the sales department across the hall.
In 2020, there is no excuse for the lag in reporting sales and marketing data. Many of the major royalty management solutions offer author dashboards. It is not that the publishers can’t share sales data. They just don’t want their authors to know the marketing is failing. If your marketing is working, you want to be able to show it off to your stakeholders.
While you can’t get sales data from your publisher, there is a workaround to get it yourself with Amazon Associates Tracking IDs. Granted, you’ll only get information about Amazon sales, but accurate data for one marketplace is better than nothing.
This takes a few minutes, but you only need to do it once. You can sign up here.
Amazon gives you up 100 tracking IDs, and you can create them here.
You can do this in the site stripe Amazon gives you once you sign up for the affiliate program.Notice the “Tracking ID” dropdown menu.
Use different links for each of the following:
If you use tracking links for all your efforts after a book launch, contact me, and we might have you on the show to talk about it.
Note: Amazon changes the rules regarding the use of Affiliate links every few months. Always check the current rules so you don’t get hassled by Amazon.
There are more ways to track your marketing. Check out the following episodes and their recently updated blog versions to learn more.
What gets measured gets managed. Effective marketing means measuring your strategies, as well as your time. Have you ever sat at your desk all day and wondered at the end of your day where all your time went? That is a bad sign.
How much time did you spend on Facebook last week? How much time on YouTube? If you want to know for sure, you can use an app like RescueTime (Affiliate Link) and get the hard facts about where you’re spending your time.
With RescueTime, you can know exactly how much time you have spent in Scrivener and Microsoft Word as opposed to researching and marketing your book. Nearly every author I have convinced to try RescueTime has been surprised by how little time they actually spend writing. The first step to having more writing time is to see where you currently spend it.
If you don’t want to use Rescue Time, we have a list of alternatives here.
After you start tracking your marketing efforts and time on your computer, you might be stunned to learn how few sales come through social media. It can be very disheartening to see that Facebook following you spent years building only results in a handful of trackable book sales.
You still want to track those sales because you might be the exception. Maybe your social media fans do run out to buy your book as soon as they see a tweet about it. Every author, genre, and book is different. The data you find will be specific to you.
But the 80/20 rule tells us you will find some strategies that underperform and a few that overperform.
The next step is to start pruning the underperforming strategies, and pruning is painful.
Cutting a dead branch from your favorite fruit tree is easy. You know that playing Candy Crush on your phone is a waste of time, and it’s easy to see that the dead branch of mobile games needs to be cut.
But real pruning means cutting branches that are do bear fruit but that don’t bear enough fruit. Cutting these branches gives the tree more nutrients for the healthy branches.
It hurts to cut activities that bring in some sales but not many. Remember, your time on this earth is your most precious resource. Every minute you waste on ineffective strategies is time you can’t spend on more effective strategies. It is also time you can’t spend on writing your next book or visiting with your family.
Another way to think of it is like digging a ditch. Every minute you spend digging with your hands is a minute you are not digging with a shovel or with a backhoe. Just because you are making progress digging with your hands doesn’t mean you couldn’t make better progress doing something else.
Even though it hurts, cut the underperforming marketing efforts, and use the time to do something you know is effective.
Once you cut ineffective activities, you have more time on your hands. Time is money, and we must invest it wisely.
Invest the time you’ve recovered in three powerful tools for growth.
Ask any author why they don’t take a course, read a craft book, or listen to podcasts, and most of them will say they don’t have time. But now that you have “extra” hours each week spend some time becoming a better writer and author.
If you’re not sure where to begin, start with our course, The Five Year Plan to Becoming a Bestselling Author. This course walks you through exactly what you should be doing in each quarter of the year if you want to become a bestselling novelist.
The carpenter doesn’t just build the house. The house builds the carpenter. When you write more books, you become a better writer, especially if you also invest in reading books on craft and take courses to improve as you write.
Many authors simply need more practice to improve their writing. The skill of writing is like playing tennis or golf in that deliberate practice makes all the difference. There is no substitute. Even the best players have coaches to guide their deliberate practice.
If you write fiction, spend a lot of your time writing short stories. If you write nonfiction, practice writing excellent blog posts.
If you need a boost to get you going, start here:
The writing life is a marathon. It takes most authors ten or more years to find the success they hope for. The Five Year Plan cuts that marathon in half, but it is still five years of work. Keeping a sustainable pace to success means resting regularly.
Invest in things that recharge your batteries. Allow yourself to rest from writing. I rest from writing by spending time with my kids. I have a toddler and a baby, and they are so fun to play with right now. I always feel recharged after we play or go for a walk.
Believe it or not, you can often write more by resting more.
One powerful time management principle is to make your work count for three pieces of content. For example, you can write a short story to help improve your craft, then use it as a lead magnet to help build your email list, and later publish it in an anthology.
If you write nonfiction, practice writing on your blog, educate your readers with the posts you write, and later compile your blog posts into a book.
My podcasts are turned into blog posts. If I turn those blog posts into a book, I get to triple-dip on the time I spend working on the podcast.
This is another advantage of producing substantive content over social media content. Social media pieces tend to only last for a moment. Like flatulence, they are here for only a moment. But substantive content can be evergreen and repurposed for years to come.
Around the first of the year, I interview a productivity expert to talk about how best to use your time.
Here is a list of those episodes:
We also have some other helpful productivity and time management episodes:
These blog posts will help you with productivity:
Now you have implemented the previous four steps to reclaim your time and capitalize on the time you spend. Congratulations! Now you are wasting less time on ineffective marketing, but you’ll get similar, or even better, results.
If you cut the 80% of your time that is resulting in 20% of the results, and then double the amount of time you are spending on the critical 20%, you will increase your total marketing effectiveness by 60% while simultaneously having 60% more time to spend on what really matters.
The willingness to measure, prune, invest, and refine resources will separate successful authors from unsuccessful authors. You can burnout doing everything the hard way, or you can follow these steps and transform your writing career.
When I was a young man, I heard an old man give a sermon about how time was like a wheelbarrow full of gems. He said that when he was young he didn’t value his time, and he threw his gems willy-nilly along the side of the road. Now that he was old, he saw he only had a few left, and he wanted to use them wisely. He didn’t want to waste his few remaining precious stones.
That was the last sermon I ever heard him give. He died a short time later. The reality is, we have no idea how many gems we have left in our wheelbarrow. We could live a good long life, or COVID-19 could come for us soon. Since there is no way to know, all we can do is make the most of every moment. I hope you are better able to do that as you measure, prune, invest, refine, and enjoy your time.
I crafted this plan with bestselling and award-winning author James L. The Five Year Plan is a step-by-step guide for your writing career. Learn what to do in each quarter of the year to avoid the mistakes that hijack success for most authors. Set yourself up for success. Learn more at NovelMarketing.com/courses.
Yura sets out with her son Luke on an epic cross-country quest to win back her husband—and destroy the woman who stole his heart.
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This pandemic has shown me that books can be a powerful tool for good in times of crisis.
We live in Austin, TX, which is currently experiencing a COVID outbreak. Between the current lockdown, the original lockdown, and our fall quarantine with the new baby, my 20-month-old, Mercy, has spent the last seven or eight months in lockdown. She has only played with other toddlers on two or three occasions since Christmas. For one-third of her life, she’s had almost no contact with children her age.
I have noticed that the children’s books she wants me to read to her all have the same theme: friendship. She is a super social little girl, and she wants to have friends. But everyone is staying home right now.
My daughter learns about friendship through books. If she didn’t have all these children’s books, how would she learn about friendship? Hopefully, soon she can experience it in real life, but in the meantime, thank God for children’s books.
What is true about my toddler is true for a lot of adults, too. As people are locked down, the characters in your books maybe their closest friends. Make sure you create characters who become friends worth spending time with.
Jul 13 2020
The publishing industry is packed with bad advice that spreads from author to author like a virus. Bad advice wastes your time, money, and energy.
Consider this article a big bottle of hand sanitizer that will keep your publishing career from getting sick.
Superstitions develop when causes and effects get mismatched.
If you walk under a ladder on your way to work and then get fired, you might wrongly assume your missteps under the ladder caused you to get fired. You make a mental note to never walk under a ladder again, and then you tell all your friends how they can avoid the same vocational misfortune.
The problem with superstitions is that once we believe we have satisfactorily answered our question, we tend to stop looking for the answer. Instead of evaluating our job performance, we content ourselves with believing it was an unlucky thing that happened because of that blasted ladder.
This kind of thinking is an ancient fallacy called “Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc” translated: “After this therefore because of this.” Or in modern vernacular, “Correlation does not equal causation.”
In publishing, there are a lot of superstitions that spread from person to person.
Sometimes superstitions are useful. For example, the ancients believed landmasses above and below the equator were equal. So medieval maps included Antarctica even though no one had ever seen Antarctica.
Over time, scientists discovered landmasses were not equal, but that there really is a continent at the bottom of the globe just like those old maps supposed.
Myths, on the other hand, sometimes start with a grain of truth inside the pearl of a story. But as those stories are retold, truth mutates into error.
Other myths develop when the reason behind a certain custom or practice is forgotten. For example, most people cut down an evergreen tree at Christmastime, but they also don’t know why they do it. Do you know why we started putting up Christmas trees? If not, here is a link to the Wikipedia article on the topic.
Publishing customs morph into myths in the same way.
This is the strangest superstition in the list, and one most publishers still believe in 2020. Even record companies release new CDs on Tuesdays.
One person on Quora claimed it was because the New York Times counted Tuesday as the first day of the week when calculating sales for their bestseller list. I could not confirm this anywhere. According to Vox, the New York Times list calculates sales weeks starting on Monday. All the other lists (USA Today, Wall Street Journal, etc.) start the week on either Sunday or Monday. I couldn’t find a single bestseller list that starts the week on Tuesday.
I suspect there may have been a reason to launch books on Tuesdays, but that reason is long gone.
Think of the superstition that spilling salt was bad luck. Back when people were paid in salt, spilling salt was as dreadful as watching your $100 bill blow away in the wind. The superstition persists despite the fact that salt is so cheap we dump it on the ground to keep roads and sidewalks from icing over in the winter.
Amazon has done a lot to undermine whatever rationale previously supported the practice of releasing on Tuesdays. They tend to list a book as “for sale” as soon as they get it in stock. Some brick-and-mortar bookstores do the same. Just-In-Time manufacturing means there is little or no backroom for storing products. Walmart, for instance, tries to have books taken from the truck directly to the store shelves whenever possible.
Since the whole industry publishes books on Tuesday, I recommend you choose any other day to publish your book. You will have less competition and will be more likely to rank as an Amazon bestseller or #1 New Release if you launch on a different day.
Monday seems to be the best day to launch a book if you want to hit one of the newspaper bestseller lists. This gives you a full launch week of sales instead of only six days like you would get launching on Tuesday.
If everyone around you zigs, have the courage to zag.
This common myth says publishers won’t lift a finger for you on marketing. While this is true for small publishers (and the reason I recommend you avoid them), publishers do spend a lot of money on marketing.
Publishers spend money, to the tune of six or seven digits, marketing their top authors. But they don’t spend a penny for their bottom authors.
As the marketing director for a publishing company, I had to decide where to spend marketing money. I saw firsthand that you get a better return on your marketing-dollar investment by spending the budget on the best selling books. As Jesus once said, “To him who has, more will be given. To him who does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken away.”
Don’t sign with a publisher who offers a small advance. A small advance indicates the publisher doesn’t believe your book will sell well. If they don’t believe your book will sell well, they won’t invest in marketing.
Don’t sign with a publisher who won’t promise (in your contract) to produce an audiobook. It’s a sure sign the publisher lacks confidence in the popularity of your book.
It is better to publish your book independently and have access to the book sales and marketing data than to publish with a publisher who isn’t invested in your book.
Even if your publisher is spending a fortune on marketing, you still need to participate in the marketing efforts. Even President Obama had to go on a media tour to promote his book.
This myth is finally starting to go away, but it still persists in some parts of the industry. The primary reason a publisher sends an author across the state to sign books is to strengthen their relationship with the bookstore owner. A book signing doesn’t necessarily help you sell more books, and it certainly doesn’t help you gain new readers.
Famous authors and unknown authors work from different playbooks. Famous authors seek to keep their fans happy. Unknown authors are still gathering their first fans. Different goals require different strategies. Just because a famous author has a long line of readers waiting for an autograph doesn’t mean a debut author will get the same attention.
It is awkward and unlikely that a reader will approach an author she doesn’t know who wrote a book she’s never heard of. Even if the author is a born salesperson, the meager sales don’t justify the time and gas spent on the book-signing promotion.
Once you write your second New York Times bestseller, you’ll be ready to open the “celebrity playbook” and start doing book signings to keep your readers happy.
Speak! You can sign and sell more books in five minutes after a speech than you will in five hours of sitting in a Barnes and Noble. Spend your time booking speaking events and improving your public speaking. Delivering a speech is much easier than cold-calling customers who are browsing in a bookstore.
To be fair, this used to work a little bit. Back when the world was young (circa 2008), nonfiction authors could build a name for themselves by regularly posting content to social media. They would grow a following and use that “platform” to secure a book contract.
Most of the time, these contracted books sold poorly, and publishers became wary of authors who were only “social media famous.” They discovered that authors need to have fans in the real world if they want to sell books.
Social media has existed for almost two decades, and people already follow hundreds and sometimes thousands of celebrities on social media. It is hard for anyone to break through the noise on a good day.
Social networks have now inserted themselves between brands and fans. If you want to talk to all your fans on Facebook, you have to pay.
These days, social media is a tool for connecting with the fans you already have. It is not a good strategy for turning strangers into fans. Strangers become fans when you connect with them at real-life events, such as speaking engagements or through rich media like podcasts and video.
The strategy here depends on what you write.
If you are a novelist, get off the social media hamster wheel and spend your time writing more books. Authors who write more books sell more books.
If you write nonfiction, create more substantive pieces of content like blog posts, podcast episodes, podcast guest interviews, or videos.
For large corporations, this myth is true some of the time. This myth is mostly propagated by designers who make their money by developing a “visual brand” for you.
You are not a corporation like Nike or Apple. You have a different set of tools to work with. It takes millions of dollars of brand advertising to form an emotional connection between a consumer and a logo.
You don’t have millions of dollars, but you do have something better.
You are a human being. And human readers can easily connect with a human author.
Your logo is your face. Tom Cruise doesn’t have a logo. He has his face. Steven King doesn’t have a logo either. Humans connect to other humans more readily than they connect to faceless institutions like brands. You don’t need to spend millions of dollars to make people feel something about you.
It is more important for the book’s visual assets to match the story rather than matching abstract author-brand guidelines. Use the design vocabulary of your book’s cover to tie it to the other books in your series and genre.
Aiming for visual author-brand consistency on your book’s visual assets can be detrimental if it causes you to be out of sync with your genre or series.
When James L Rubart and I started the Novel Marketing podcast, this myth was worded, “The only thing an author needs is a good Facebook author page.” No one believes that particular version anymore, but it has morphed. Now people say, “All you need is a strong Amazon presence.”
Don’t believe it.
You can’t sharecrop your way to success by renting your internet “real estate” from social media networks or corporations who won’t talk to you on the phone. The owner of the digital land has the power to keep your crop of new followers, or they can keep you from growing a following at all.
You need to own your “real estate” on the internet. You need an author website.
With an author website, you can:
Build your website using WordPress.org. Listen to episode 245 – How to Build an Author Website in a Day. I also have a free course on how to build a website. You can enroll here.
Many authors believe that winning a book award will increase their book sales.
Award committees and readers look for very different things. Award committee members tend to be jaded, tired, and skeptical. They are often industry insiders who read more for work than they do for pleasure. They are desperate for something different.
Readers are eager, excited, and hungry for the familiar. The kind of book that performs well in award competitions will likely sell poorly in the market. Don’t believe me? Look up your favorite award and then compare it to the bestseller list for that genre.
Some award contests are money-grabs by opportunistic financial predators. Even reputable award competitions require you (or your publisher) to pay an entry fee.
Very few awards spend money to make readers aware of the award. Most readers can’t name a single book award except for maybe the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes, which are famous for reasons outside of their literature entries. The reason people have heard of the Academy Awards is that they spend millions of dollars promoting the Oscars and airing the ceremony live on TV.
Write for your readers, not for award committees. If you win awards, great. But don’t make that your goal.
Don’t stress if you don’t win awards. If winning awards helps you feel better about yourself and your writing, go ahead and submit, but don’t put much stock in them. Realize the money you pay to win awards is not a good investment from a financial perspective.
Blog tours are easy, and many companies host them. Typically, you pay a few hundred dollars to appear on a few dozen blogs.
Blogs that participate in blog tours do not get much traffic. Some people say blog tours help build your brand. But if no one reads those blog-tour blogs, it does not build your brand. It’s like giving a speech to an empty room.
Your article published on one popular blog will get more visitors than 1,000 blog-tour type blogs. Use Alexa Site Info to determine which blogs are popular. Then pitch guest blog articles for the popular blogs.
Pursue podcast interviews. There are far fewer podcasts than blogs, and the average podcast usually reaches more people than the average blog. Podcasts also connect with people in a deeper, more powerful way because listeners can connect with a human voice.
Movie trailers sell movie tickets, so you would think a book trailer would do the same for books. But they don’t.
Book trailers are too different from books. Book trailers are short and audiovisual. Books are long and made of text. Most video book trailers are boring digital slideshows with stock music playing in the background. The book trailer does not match the quiet book-reading experience where your imagination supplies the audiovisual effects.
The book trailer for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is one of a few good book trailers. It probably cost more than $10,000 to create, and it also borrowed from a popular movie (which was possible because the movie was based on a public-domain work)
Write short stories and give them away for free. It is a much smaller step for a reader to go from reading an author’s short story to reading a full-length book by that same author. Short stories also help you improve your writing craft faster.
Many novelists struggle because they failed to practice by writing short stories.
If your book is made into a movie, the studio will pay to have your story turned into a trailer. Buy a book on screenwriting (Affiliate Link), and learn how to write a story that would make a good movie. Then apply what you learn when you write your next novel.
Would you like me to personally help you hit your publishing goals? I have worked with thousands of authors from beginners to New York Times bestsellers, and I can help you go further faster in your career. You’ll receive personalized, interactive training and encouragement from a small group of other masterminds and me. Once you join an Author Media Mastermind Group, you get access to the private Mastermind Slack Channel and the monthly mastermind video coaching session.
With breathtaking imagery and captivating storytelling, Remarkable Advent will prepare your heart to celebrate God’s greatest gift. Rediscover the wonder of the first Christmas in this Advent devotional.
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The post Publishing Myths That Will Waste Your Time and Money appeared first on Author Media.
Jul 06 2020
There’s great news for authors who need a website. You don’t need to hire a company to build one for you. You can do it yourself, and it’s easier than you think. In this article, you will learn how to build your very own professional author website.
I used to run one of the top author web design companies, and I’ve built many author websites. Building a website only takes about a day, and I’m going to teach you how to do it. Once you learn how to build websites, you can even earn money building them for other authors.
Many people are willing to pay another author $500 to do what I am about to teach you. And $500 isn’t a bad wage for a single day. If you built one $500 website every workday, you could earn $10,000 in a month.
But to build a website, you must first become a webmaster.
Which is easier than you might think.
Once you learn how to think like a webmaster, you will become more tech-savvy than you can imagine.
So here are three baby steps to get you started.
The biggest barrier keeping authors from learning more about technology is fear. Most people are afraid to click the button because they don’t know what will happen. Rather than finding out, they stop working, get frustrated, and stew about what they don’t know.
Tech-savvy people, on the other hand, push the button to find out what it does.
People who tap a button to find out what it does have fewer tech headaches than the folks who are afraid to push the button.
Fear of what the button might do keeps people perpetually anxious with technology and actually contributes to their tech trouble. Simply pushing the button may reveal your next right step. At the very least it will show you what the button does.
Often, the answer to your question is on the page right in front of you. But when you’re in a state of tech-panic, you get tunnel vision and can’t see the answer.
To overcome this fear of pushing the button, connect with your inner child.Her first time to hold a calculator and she is pushing the buttons and checking if has a touch screen.
Why are children so good with technology? Because as soon as they get a new device, they push all the buttons to see what each one does. Hand a teen a smartphone, and they’ll go straight to the settings just to see what changes when they toggle the defaults on and off.
This sense of childlike wonder and experimentation is critical if you want to improve your technical know-how. It’s the first step to becoming a webmaster, and it will also make you a happier person in general.
Stop excusing your fear with cowardly phrases like “I’m not a techie person” and start pushing buttons.
Building a website means keeping track of a lot of usernames and passwords. Each username and password must be strong and unique. If you use the same handful of passwords on every website, you will get hacked. A hacker only needs to hack one of those websites, and then he’ll have your password for everything.
The solution is to use a cloud-based password manager and use a separate password for each website. During our Book Launch Blueprint Course, the most frequently asked question was about how to log in to the website where the course was hosted.
People without password managers spend a lot of time stuck and stressed by login pages. Using a password manager will alleviate the anxiety you feel every time you’re asked to log in.
Good password managers cost money, but the software reduces your stress every day, multiple times each day. The nominal fee will save your sanity.
The two password managers I recommend are:
Both are excellent services. You can set them up to keep track of your usernames and passwords on your computer as well as your phone.
This strategy has worked since before there was a Google. When I was in middle school, I learned to code by typing my HTML questions into Ask Jeeves. The search results often led me to the website HTMLGoodies.com. (here is a link to what it looked like back in the day).
Typing questions into Google is the technique every technical person uses. When you call tech support, much of the time, they Google your question and read you the first result.
I once revealed this secret to about technology while speaking to a ballroom full of small business owners. After my talk, an IT company’s CEO complained to me that if people Googled their questions, he would lose half of his business. Half! As we chatted, he admitted he Google error codes just like everyone else.
Typing your questions into Google is one of the most life-changing skills I teach. Sometimes, a decade after I give the talk, an author will tell me how Googling their questions has changed her life.
How do you do it?
You type your whole question into Google. Yes, even the question mark.
Many people make the mistake of using too few words when they’re searching Google. Think of Google as a human, and ask your question just like you ask your IT guy.
For example, “What does error code 12345 mean?” or “How do I get a picture from my phone to my computer?”
You can measure a person’s tech-savviness by how many Google searches they do in a day. I suspect I do between 50 and 100 google searches every day.
Technically speaking, you don’t even need to read the rest of this post. If you are willing to: push the button, pay for a password manager, and Google “How do I build an author website,” you have everything you need to learn how to build your own website.
But if you want my tips, recommendations, and tutorial videos, please read on.
At the top of every recipe, you’ll find a list of ingredients. To create a website, you’ll need the following ingredients:
Now let’s go through each one.
If you plan on getting more than 50,000 visits a month, I recommend WP Engine (Affiliate Link).
Over the last ten years, I have used hundreds of WordPress themes for various client websites. Now, I only use and recommend one theme. The Divi Theme by Elegant Themes (Affiliate Link) is the one theme to rule them all.
Divi is the theme I use for the following websites:
Over the last several years, I have converted countless sites from other themes to Divi. In each case, the site became easier to support and maintain.
If you run into a problem or question about Divi, you can find millions of resources and tutorials online.
Your website is a linked collection of webpages that you create and populate with content. Websites can have many pages, but to begin, you should have a few basic pages.
The homepage is the first page people see when they type in your website’s address. The goal of a homepage is to introduce yourself and help your visitors find what they are looking for.
To learn more about the purpose and parts of a homepage, listen to these episodes:
The “About” page is where you share your bio. Make sure it is written in third person so that when a podcast host or event coordinator reads your bio, they don’t have to convert the pronouns from first to third person.
Learn to write a compelling “About” page in these episodes:
You want to have a single page on your website that lists all your books. The page can be as simple as a list of your book covers. Your “Books” page does not list all the information about each book. It’s just a list of all your titles.
To build your “Books” page, I recommend the free MyBookTable plugin, which my team at Author Media originally developed. (It’s now maintained by Stormhill Media.) MyBookTable works with WordPress. It’s a fast and easy way to create a webpage where people can click on a book cover to learn more about the book or to purchase it.
Each book needs its own page on your website. This way, Google knows where to send people who are looking for that book. MyBookTable will also help you create a page specific to each book. It’s the one plugin that will help you build beautiful book pages as well as the “Books” page.
Your “Blog” page is where you’ll write posts to share your book, personal updates, and thoughts about your topic. Blog writing is a skill you can develop as you grow.
Learn how to write effective blog posts by listening to these episodes:
I also have a course on How to Craft Excellent Blog Posts.
Journalists, event coordinators, podcasters, and readers will all want to contact you. The purpose of a “Contact” page is to make it easy for them to reach you while filtering out spam. Divi has an excellent “Contact” widget, and it integrates with the free Akismet Anti-Spam plugin to protect you from spam emails.
I have recently updated this course with step-by-step instructions on how to sign up for Bluehost and how to install the Divi theme on your website. Students who have never built a website took this course and then built their website the same day.
The best part? The course is free!
I hope you will use my affiliate links in this post. But even if you don’t, the course is yours to keep at no cost to you. You can look over my shoulder as I show you, screen-by-screen, how to build your website.
In this course you will get:
When an old friend hands Jack evidence indicating his father was murdered, he is compelled to dig deeper. This throws him into the 1968 labor conflict led by Cesar Chavez.
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If you can’t afford to become a patron, but still want to help the show, you can! Just use one of the affiliate links in this post, and those companies will send me a little something for sending you to them.
Jun 29 2020
Nowadays, some traditional publishers won’t even consider signing an author who has less than 10,000 email subscribers. Even indie authors see a big jump in sales after they build an email subscriber base.
Over the last ten years in publishing, nothing has consistently performed as well as email when it comes to selling books and connecting with readers. This is true for indie, traditional, fiction, and nonfiction authors.
Do you want more email subscribers?
Learn how to use these amazing tools that will help you grow your email subscriber list.
In previous podcasts and blog posts we’ve addressed various techniques to help grow your list:
But today you’ll learn about tools you can use in addition to techniques.
Cost: $20-$250 a year
Many authors, especially novelists, offer a free short story in exchange for a reader’s email address. We’ve called it a “lead magnet” or a “reader magnet,” and most often it’s offered as a PDF file.
But the problem is that readers don’t want to read a PDF file on their laptops. They prefer to read on their e-reading devices like Kindle, Kobo, and Nook.
Book Funnel solves this problem by making it easy for readers to get your ebook in the proper file format for their device without the technical delivery nightmares for you.
But how does that grow your email list?
BookFunnel makes it super easy for readers “buy” your short story (or reader magnet) with their email address. The easier it is for readers to read on the devices they prefer, the more they will love you.
Offering your reader magnet through BookFunnel is one of the most effective ways of growing an email list, especially for novelists. Nonfiction authors can offer tip-sheets and guides, but BookFunnel works best for novelists who give away short stories and full length ebooks.
Ryan Zee hosts book promos for authors at booksweeps.com. Your short story or free ebook is listed in their directory, and readers can sign up for your email newsletter in order to receive your short story.
Book Sweeps (Affiliate Link) also promotes reader magnets to their email list of over 100,000 readers.
Authors who use BookSweeps tend to get 400-800 new signups within a month. On a recent coaching call, one author told me she went from 0 to 1100 subscribers with a single BookSweeps promotion.
You can learn more about BookSweeps in Episode 177: How to Grow Your Email List With Ryan Zee.
Authors can add a pen name to the site featuring their bio, website, and social media information. Readers can find authors by searching the Pen Name Directory or relevant genre pages across the site.
Authors can add a reader magnet to the site for free as a means of passively growing their email list. Readers can find your short stories and reader magnets in BookSweeps’s evergreen Reader Magnet Directory.
As a registered author, you can list your own giveaways on the website for readers to find in the Giveaway Directory and across the site.
Grow your email list or BookBub following by joining a promotion and offering two copies of your book. In a ten-day promotion, authors have added hundreds of people to their emails lists and BookBub followings.
Pro Tip: It will cost you to join giveaways, but when you sign up with BookSweeps, use coupon code “AUTHORMEDIA” to save 10%.
Story Origin is a hybrid of BookFunnel and BookSweeps with a few extra features thrown in.
In a newsletter swap, you tell your email subscribers about another author’s book, and that author tells their email list about your book. You’re not truly swapping your readers’ email addresses (You promised not to do that). You’re simply emailing your fans to tell them about about a book in your genre by a different author. Since your fans like your writing and trust you, they’ll be eager to read a book you recommend.
Story Origin acts as the matchmaker for authors in the same genre. They also make sure both authors fulfill all parts of the newsletter-swap agreement so no one is left high and dry.
Since Story Origin is free (for now), there is no risk in trying it. To learn more listen to my interview with Evan Gow, the CEO of Story Origin, here.
PRO TIP: Evan Gow has a free comprehensive Email Marketing Guide you can find here.
Cost: $5-$10 a month
There is a reason more websites run on WordPress than on any other platform. WordPress has been the most popular platform for authors for 15 years. They don’t advertise, because they don’t have to. Their platform works, and it’s the best.
During the Book Launch Blueprint course, many authors asked, “When should I start my website?” The answer is, “Right now.” There is no reason to wait to build your website. The older your website is, the more likely it is to rank with search engines like Google and Bing.
Traditional publishers are looking for authors with good-looking, well-established websites. If you’re an indie author, your readers are looking for the same thing.
Having an author website is so important that I’ve created a new course and recorded next week’s podcast to show you the easiest way to build a WordPress.org website. Subscribe to the podcast to hear the episode and find out about my new free course on how to build a website.
Cost: Free or $198
One of the fastest ways to grow your email is with a viral contest. While it is nice to work with other authors through a site like BookSweeps and StoryOrigin, you can also host a viral contest on your own website with KingSumo.com.
When viral contests work, they can quickly add hundreds or even thousands of emails to your list. They have been the secret to success for many of my clients.
Anyone can host a contest on their website and ask readers to tell their friends to enter, but the strategy is flawed. When people ask friends to enter a giveaway, they decrease their own chances of winning. The reader is statistically more likely to win if they keep the contest a secret.
A viral contest allows people get additional entries for themselves when their friends also enter the contest. KingSumo gives each person a special link to share with their friends and offers the incentive of extra entries when their friends also enter the contest.
Instead of decreasing your chances of winning, you increase your chances when you get your friends to enter the giveaway with you.
KingSumo has two versions:
I use the WordPress version, and it installs right into my WordPress.org websites.
Cost: Free with the Divi theme.
The first time I experimented with adding a popup to a website I didn’t know if it was a good idea. I wondered if people would complain or if my sign-ups would drop. After adding the popup, I saw a ten-fold increase in the number of signups each month. That is a 1000% increase in the growth rate.
Bloom comes free with the Divi Theme (affiliate link) which costs $249 one time. Divi is the best theme for WordPress and I highly recommend it. (Subscribe to the podcast to learn more on that next week.)
If you write nonfiction, quizzes can be one the best ways to grow your email list. Back in episode 224, I interviewed Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith who grew her email list from 2,000 to 25,000 in one year with a quiz.
She used a WordPress plugin called Quiz and Survey Master. Setting up an online quiz is a lot of work, but it can be well worth the trouble. It takes time and effort to create the questions and the results. But after you’ve done the work, Quiz and Survey Master makes the technological part easy.
Nonfiction authors often get a quiz idea as they write their book. While you’re immersed in your topic, the quiz questions come to mind.
Important Note: Quizzes don’t work for unpublished novelists. Use BookSweeps instead.
Crowdcast (affiliate link) is a webinar hosting platform that I have fallen in love with this year. Online events have been the #1 source of new email addresses for me this year. A webinar platform like Crowdcast is better than Facebook Live because you can capture the email addresses of everyone who signs up to watch.
When writer’s conferences were cancelled because of the pandemic, I decided to create my own online writers conference. I recorded nine live presentations for my newsletter subscribers through Crowdcast. As word about the webinars spread, we went from 200 signups to 500 signups per webinar.
Webinars tend to work best for nonfiction authors but some novelists have found creative ways to make them work.
Would you like me to personally help you hit your publishing goals? I have worked with thousands of authors ,from beginners to New York Times bestsellers, and I can help you go further faster in your career. You can get personalized, interactive training and encouragement from me and a small group of other masterminds. Once you join an Author Media Mastermind Group you get access to the private Mastermind Slack Channel and the monthly mastermind video coaching session.
In the frozen north, children link hands in a ritual circle and sing a song they never learned to summon a primordial enemy they never knew existed. Frosty is just a fairytale, they say. They are wrong.
You can become a Novel Marketing Patron here.
Do you have a question you would like us to answer on the show? Call our listener helpline! 512-827-8377. You can also send us a high-quality recording on AuthorMedia.com.
My wife and I have been putting our branding training into practice when it comes to our toddler. It is amazing how influencing perception can change reality.
I’ll let my wife Margaret tell the story:
I had put two slices of tangy and delicious cheddar cheese on Mercy’s plate. She’s been eating string cheese recently, and she hasn’t had cheddar in a while. She looked askance at the cheese on her plate and refused to take a bite.
I said, “Mercy, you used to love this cheese when you were a baby! See, I’m eating some too. It makes my mouth happy! It’s happy cheese!”
She then immediately picked up the cheese and took a small nibble, and I saw the wheels turning. Within a minute or two she had eaten both slices and was asking for more!Margaret Umstattd
Readers are a lot like toddlers. They want what they already like. If you want them to try something new, you have to convince them it’s similar to what they already like. You need to help them see your book with new eyes. This is not the scary new food. This is the “happy cheese.” Yours is not the scary book. It’s the happy book.
As an author, you do this with your book cover. The more your book cover is similar to other books in your genre that your readers already like, the more likely they are to take a chance on you.
The post 8 Tools to Help Authors Get More Email Subscribers appeared first on Author Media.
Jun 22 2020
How much should a book cost? This may sound like a simple question, but your answer has a huge impact on how well your book sells. Get the price-point right, and your book has an edge. Get it wrong, and your book will fail. Price is so important it is one of the Five Ps of Marketing 101.
When pricing a book, there is a psychological phenomenon called “anchoring” that will give you the edge you need.
What is anchoring, and how can you use it to make your books profitable?
What your book is compared to is a critical part of pricing your book. Marketing psychologists call this anchoring. Anchoring is what gives a number it’s meaning. Put another way, prices have no value without an anchor.
Is $80 a good price? It depends on what you’re buying and what the anchor price is. If that thing normally costs $100, it’s a deal. If the thing normally costs $50, it is a rip-off.
When people look at the price of your book, the price itself is only half the story. The other half of the story is what they compare your price to.
In the marketing and sales copy for your book, you can influence what readers compare your price to. Choosing an anchor for your book’s price is critical for making your book profitable.
As a kid, I internally anchored all prices the $0.25 it cost me to play an arcade game. For $0.25 I could buy 1-5 minutes of entertainment. My buying decisions centered around the anchor of that $0.25 of gameplay.
Should I buy an action figure for $5 or spend that money on an arcade game? To decide, I would calculate how much fun the action figure would give me compared to the arcade game.
Now that I am an adult, my anchor is a two-hour movie. It costs about $25 to take my wife to a movie. That comes out to $12.50 per hour of entertainment.
When I’m making buying decisions about entertainment, I compare the cost to that hourly rate. The movie price is my universal anchor for all entertainment.
More commonly, people use category-specific anchors.
When I was a child, I compared every price to the arcade game. Now I compare only entertainment to the cost of a movie.
When people shop for a car, they compare the price to similar cars. In the same way, when readers shop for a book, they compare the book’s price to similar books.
With category-specific anchors, the other products in the same category anchor the price of the item under consideration.
The category you choose for your book determines how you price it. While $4.99 for a romance ebook may seem expensive, it feels like a bargain for a legal book.
Anchoring is a well-studied phenomenon.
In 1974, two well-known psychologists, Kahneman and Tversky, conducted a famous study on anchoring and wrote a paper called, “Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics And Biases.”
Their goal was to research what kinds of numbers anchored, whether any number could be an anchor, and what the connection was.
Wheel of Fortune Experiment.
To learn about the connection between numbers and their anchor, the psychologists created a wheel-of-fortune type of wheel that displayed the numbers 1-100. It was rigged so it would land on either the number 10 or the number 60. After subjects spun the wheel, they were asked a completely unrelated question.
“Subjects were asked whether the percentage of U.N. membership accounted for by African countries was higher or lower than the number on the wheel. Afterward, the subjects were asked to give an estimate.
Tversky and Kahneman found that the anchoring value of the number on the wheel had a pronounced effect on the answers the subjects provided. When the wheel landed on 10, the average estimate given by the subjects was 25%. When the wheel landed on 60, the average estimate was 45%.
The random number had an “anchoring” effect, pulling subjects’ estimates closer to the number they were shown even though the number had zero correlation to the question.”—The Effects of Anchoring Bias on Human Behavior
The people in the study knew the wheel had nothing to do with U.N. membership. And yet the number on the wheel stuck in their minds.
Tversky and Kahneman’s study has been reproduced repeatedly in many contexts, and their findings have been confirmed. Numbers have no meaning to humans without the context of anchoring.
Anchoring is the reason Amazon displays the list price for the book with a slash through it. They sell more copies when they display the list price beside the lower price.
Anchoring is the reason stores at the mall are always having “sales.” If they intend to sell a shirt for $5., they will first price it at $25, then run a “sale” even though they never intended to sell the shirt for $25. The intended price was always $5, but since it’s marked down, consumers treat the shirt like it’s worth $25, and they are thrilled with the 80% “discount.”
Anchoring is why most prices end in 9. Marketers are anchoring to a higher number. A $9.99 item seems cheaper than a $10 item.
If you don’t plan your anchor price, other people will assign one, and that is almost always bad for you.
You can see this disaster taking place with software for phones.
When you buy software for your computer, it’s not uncommon to spend $50 per year for Microsoft Word or other programs, and people rarely complain about that price.
But for software on smartphones, $30 seems like a fortune. People lose their minds when they have to spend $10 on an app.
Since early popular apps like Facebook and email were free, people anchored to the free app. Even though apps are expensive to develop and maintain, consumers started to believe software for phones should be free.
It is difficult for developers to create inexpensive, quality phone software. If they can’t sell the app, it usually means they’re selling the data they collect from users. There is always a cost, and someone always pays for the app. If you’re not paying for it, advertisers or data brokers are.
For authors, it is difficult to make money if the anchor price for your book is a free book. People are comparing prices, and there’s not much room for you to make a profit.
Most books have an anchoring problem. Instead of being anchored to a $350 college textbook, they are anchored to a free ebook.
Indie authors are in a race to the bottom in terms of pricing. As Seth Godin says, “The problem with a race to the bottom is you might win, or worse come in second.”
If you have the cheapest book, there are some big advantages. A certain kind of reader has a worldview that always prompts them to buy the cheapest option. You don’t have to market to this segment of consumers because they’ll always choose the lowest price.
More and more readers are anchoring book prices to a $0 book. The more this happens, the harder it will be for authors to make a living.
A $9.99 book discounted to $4.99 feels like a better deal than a $4.99 book always sold for $4.99. Most traditional publishers take this approach. They list the book at a higher price than they intend to sell it.
If you are indie published, this happens with your paperback book all the time and without your consent. Amazon will fiddle with price as their algorithm tries to find the optimal price.
A $4.99 book with 50 reviews seems better than a $4.99 book with only four reviews. Of course, this is irrational, and yet people connect the value of the book to the number of reviews because we anchor to unrelated numbers. Even people who know the science behind anchoring are still influenced by it because it is so powerful.
One way to change the anchor for your book and get away with a premium price is to create a limited-edition signed and numbered hardback priced at $100.
The place a customer purchases a book impacts how much they spend. People have no problem spending $20 or $30 for a book on Kickstarter. I recently spent $100 for signed and numbered hardback on Kickstarter.
The place consumers purchase a book impacts what they expect to spend.
If people buy a book online, they expect to get a discount. When an author sells signed copies at the back of the room after a speaking engagement, customers expect to pay full price. On Kickstarter, people expect to pay a premium of $20 or $30. I recently spent $100 on a Kickstarter book.
For example, “10,000 copies sold” will make the $8.99 price feel cheaper. There are many ways to put credibility on your book. From an anchoring perspective, it doesn’t matter what the number is, as long as it’s a big number.
In your marketing copy, you might say, “This entertaining read is cheaper than going to a movie and a lot more fun!”
Your marketing copy might read, “Strap on your sandals because this $20 novel will feel like a vacation to Hawaii.” Your book must deliver on that promise, but it is possible. I’ve read $20 books that have felt like an adventure in outer space without the expense of a spaceship.
Sometimes novelists can adapt these methods creatively, but the following methods tend to work better for nonfiction authors.
If you’re a lawyer and you’ve written a book about law, you can compare to your consulting rate by saying, “I normally charge $150 per hour for consulting, but this book includes 10 hours of my consulting advice for only $20.” By implication, your book is worth $1500, but you are selling it for a fraction of that cost.
People forget that books are an economical means of entertainment and education. Many business consultants charge $300 per hour, but they sell their books for $15.
The Personal MBA (Affiliate Link) is a great example of this. A Master’s degree in business costs $50,000. A $15 book with most of the same information is a bargain. Based on reviews and its ongoing popularity, it appears The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business is delivering on that promise.
“Hiring a contractor to renovate your bathroom would cost $10,000, but this $20 book will show you a stress-free way to do it yourself for only $500.” Learn how to do it yourself and save money.
“What price would you pay for a better relationship with your children? $500? $1000? This book will help you connect with your children to improve the relationship, and it only costs $20.
When you choose your anchors, you can make your customers feel good about the price they’re going to pay. If you don’t purposefully choose your anchors, other people will choose for you, and that will be bad for your sales.
We can’t talk about pricing strategy without talking about value signaling.
Different people have different worldviews when it comes to money. Not every kind of customer wants the cheapest option.
Some people want the most expensive option. Others want the best value. While this varies between personalities, it also varies between categories. A person who buys the cheapest computer may buy the most expensive car because it is the safest vehicle for their family.
Someone else will buy the cheapest car and the most expensive, high-quality computer.
In most markets, there are three strategies for pricing.
The Toyota company has products for every kind of buyer. For their quality buyers, they offer the Lexus. For their value customers, they have Toyotas. For the customer seeking the lowest price, they offer used Toyotas.
Most people are searching for the best value, so many business owners shoot for the value strategy. But offering the highest quality for the least money is the hardest strategy to execute successfully.
Why? Because the decisions are harder.
For example, how much should you spend on your book cover and editing?
Quality Strategy: Hire the best cover designers and editors regardless of how expensive they are.
Low-Price Strategy: Use a cheap or free cover template, and swap editing with an author friend.
Value Strategy: All the decisions get harder because you are constantly trying to balance cost and quality. Should you spend more on editing or cover design? It requires more expertise, research, and ingenuity.
You will also face the most direct competition in the value category, and that compounds the challenges posed by all the decisions.
Everyone is trying to be the value player. Few people have the courage to be the most expensive or the cheapest. Being different seems risky.
Having the most expensive book in your category signals quality. But this strategy demands that every aspect of your book screams “Quality!” If the only quality piece of your book is your $1,000 cover design, don’t be fooled into believing it will justify premium pricing.
If you want to charge a premium price and make the quality strategy work, you’ll need a high-quality cover, stellar editing, high ratings, and excellent reviews.
Most traditionally published books have higher prices on Amazon because publishers are trying to signal quality.
While the average price for an indie ebook is $3.99-5.99 depending on the category, a traditionally published ebook is typically priced between $4.99-$12.99. It’s not uncommon for traditional ebooks to be priced higher than the print book because publishers strive to signal quality and exclusivity.
Some traditional publishers spend $2000 or more on a cover design. They work with top artists, designers, and photographers through multiple iterations, and it may cost upwards of $10,000.
Some readers always choose the cheapest option, and if your book has the lowest price, these readers will choose it.
To make money with cheap books, you must write a lot of them. What you can’t achieve with the price, you can make up in volume. If you’ve written 100 books and earn one dollar per book, and if each title sells 100 copies per month, you’ll be able to pay your bills.
To make the low-price strategy work, you can also find other ways to earn money in addition to selling your books.
Have you wondered why big-screen smart TVs are so cheap these days? It’s because they track your viewing habits and sell your data to advertisers. Selling that data is far more profitable for them than selling you a TV.
These companies may even be able to sell you the TV at a loss or a break-even price because they know they’ll make up the difference by renting movies to you and selling your data.
Some novelists use this loss strategy by pricing the first book in a series at $0. They make up the loss on the sales of book two in the series. If you have a ten-book book series, offering the first book free is a highly effective strategy.
Some nonfiction authors give away their books for free or sell them at a deep discount to promote more expensive products (like a course) or services (like legal counsel). The book becomes an expensive business card that leads to the sale of a more profitable product.
Pricing your book requires you to be strategic. Pick your price and your anchor on purpose. Each of these strategies can be profitable. The key is to chose a sustainable strategy for you and your book. The right strategy will help you sell more books, make more money, and make a bigger difference in the world.
Would you like me to personally help you achieve your publishing goals? I have worked with thousands of authors from beginners to New York Times bestsellers, and I can help you go further in your career faster. In my Novel Marketing Mastermind groups, you’ll get personalized, interactive training and encouragement from a small group of other masterminds and me. Once you join an Author Media Mastermind Group, you’ll get access to the Mastermind Slack Channel and our monthly live video coaching session.
Peter and his wife visited a different Christian Church every Sunday for a year. This book is their story. Discover more about Jesus’s church, the people who go there, and just how vast our practices and worship are.
You can become a Novel Marketing Patron here.
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I remember watching the last launch of the space shuttle back in 2011. I was working out of a coworking space at the time. Someone projected the footage onto the wall, and we all watched the last shuttle take off into space.
Nine years later, I watched the Dragon 9 launch with my family. Mercy sat on my lap and babbled at the computer. It is amazing what we can do when we work together.
Jun 08 2020
Reader reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are critical for online book sales . But too many bad reviews can tank your book’s success, especially if the negative reviews come shortly after your launch.
The first reviews your book receives are the most important. They set the tone for future reader reviews. Your first reviews must be good, and that is why having a strong book launch is important.
You need to know:
Rest assured, I’m not talking about political politics. If your book touts the virtues of Ford, don’t be surprised if Chevy fans leave you negative reviews. If you hype the iPhone, don’t let negative reviews from Android users get under your skin.
If you take a stand with your book, be it fiction or nonfiction, you will get negative reviews from people who disagree. The good news is those reviews are rarely about the book itself. Most people don’t pay to read books they disagree with. Instead, they will be critiquing your public appearances and your associations.
Many of the unfavorable critiques of Jordan Peterson’s book 12 Principles for Life(Affiliate Link) do not address the book itself. Negative reviewers speak about him as a person. They criticize his affiliations or comments he has made outside of the book.
Politically motivated negative reviews boost your sales. Let me say that again. Politically motivated negative reviews boost your sales.
If your book is about how amazing Ford is, negative reviews from Chevy fans cause Ford fans to love you more. So celebrate!
Bait your fishing hook with bait that attracts the kind of fish you want to catch. If you don’t want to catch catfish, don’t use stinkbait! The same holds true for how you promote and place your book.
Bad reviews typically come when the reader’s expectations do not match what the book delivers.
If the book looks like a dark urban fantasy and turns out to be Christian literary fiction, that mismatch will result in bad reviews. A mismatch will also repel the right readers who would have left good reviews.
Reader expectations come from:
If the other books in your genre all include a kissing scene, and your book does not, then you will end up with an expectations mismatch.
If your cover indicates the book is a cozy romance, and in reality, it is a steamy romance, you will get some negative reviews.
When I say a book has a “bad” cover, I do not mean it is pretty or ugly. A “bad” cover is simply using the wrong bait to catch the right readers.
A book cover is meant to attract readers. A pretty cover that attracts the wrong readers is worse than an ugly cover that attracts the right kind of readers.
If you want to catch catfish, don’t complain about the smell of the bait.
You can explicitly set expectations for your book in your title, blurb, and back cover. If they are well-written, each piece of the cover makes a promise to the reader. The reader wants what you’ve promised, so they go ahead and purchase your book. If you make a promise on the back cover, you must fulfill that promise before the book ends.
You may not realize it, but you set reader expectations with every book you write.
Readers expect your next book to be like the previous books. The more you deviate from those expectations, the more negative reviews you will get.
If your first books have no explicit language, but your fifth book has lots of cussing, expect bad reviews.
If the first four books in your series featured space battles, but your fifth book is nothing but political intrigue, expect bad reviews.
If your first three books were about how amazing Ford is, and your fourth book is about how you are now a Chevy driver, expect unhappy readers.
Some authors falsely believe that the only path to the top of the rankings is to displace the authors above them by pulling them down.
One way they accomplish this is by hiring several dozen (or several hundred) people to leave negative reviews. This is a black hat marketing technique called “review-bombing,” and I never recommend black hat tactics. However, you need to know what to do if someone is review-bombing you.
If your book normally gets 2-5 reviews a week and suddenly you get 20 negative reviews in a few days, you may be the target of sabotage. While review-bombing is painful, there are ways to have the reviews removed.
With the Amazon rules in hand, you can make a case that will hold up in “Amazon Court.” When you initiate a complaint, the first human to read your complaint will be an underpaid Amazon employee who reads a lot of complaints all day long.
To make it easy for this employee to remove the negative comments, quote the specific Amazon rule the review has violated.
Most Useful Rules:
If someone calls you a name, you can get their review removed. “Don’t engage in name-calling or attack people based on whether you agree with them. You may question the beliefs and expertise of others as long as it is relevant and done in a respectful and non-threatening manner.”
If someone cusses in their review, you can sometimes get it removed. “Don’t post content that is obscene, pornographic, or lewd, or that contains nudity or sexually explicit images.”
Very mean reviews are the easiest to get removed. “Don’t post content that is libelous, defamatory, harassing, threatening, or inflammatory. For example, don’t use obscenities or profanity, and don’t express hatred or intolerance for people on the basis of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender or gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, age, or disability, including by promoting organizations with such views.” (Sometimes Amazon proactively removes reviews that violate these guidelines.)
If a competing author leaves you a review, you can get it taken down regardless of what it says. Just point out that they are a competitor. “Users are forbidden from “Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your competitors’ products or services.”
If you get 30 bad reviews in two days, there is a good chance compensation has taken place. Users are forbidden from “Offering compensation or requesting compensation (including free or discounted products) in exchange for creating, modifying, or posting content.”
There are more rules, so study them. Many negative reviews violate Amazon’s rules.
In your report, cite the specific rule the reviewer has violated. I suspect Amazon outsources the chore of reviewing abuse complaints to workers in other countries. Make your written complaint clear and simple. Don’t use big words, and quote the specific rule that has been violated.
You will likely need a dozen abuse complaints to have the review removed. Don’t ask your fans to downvote the offending review, as this can backfire. Instead, ask friends to upvote other reviews by clicking the “helpful” button.
Quality Control concerns may include broken hyperlinks in your ebook, shipping issues, and production problems like, “My book was missing the last 50 pages.” Sometimes people leave negative reviews about a specific typo or a repeated typo.
If the review has nothing to do with your book, the reviewer is probably unable to see past their own issues. I faced this with my book on dating and relationships. Some of my negative feedback was nothing but the reviewer’s personal love story. Since I hadn’t told their story, in their view, my book was wrong.
Once you are successful, you will get more out-of-nowhere, mean reviews. They are a sign of your success and other people’s jealousy.
Another internal issue that leads to bad reviews is chest-beating. When a know-it-all reviewer disagrees with a small point or points out a fact you got wrong, he’s simply communicating his need for people to think he is the smartest one in the room. These people start sentences with, “Well actually…” and most readers hate the self-important musings of a know-it-all.
Believe it or not, some bad reviews improve your book sales.
One of the surprising things about Amazon in the early years was that products with one-star reviews outsold products without one-star reviews. You don’t want all the one-star reviews to go away. You want a high average number of stars with a few bad reviews sprinkled in to give the good reviews credibility.
You never want all the bad reviews to go away.
Finally, remember that you are not your book! If someone dislikes your book, it doesn’t mean they dislike you. If they truly don’t like you, it doesn’t mean they are right.
Mean people are emotionally unhealthy and often feel miserable inside.
The best response is to pity the mean reviewer. Then give thanks for all the people who taught you manners, civility, and kindness.
Don’t miss it! Learn how to launch your book with a launch team so you’ll have an influx of good reviews right away. A launch team is critical for garnering a good number of positive reviews in the first two weeks.
If you do miss out, we will offer the course again in 2021. Subscribe to the AuthorMedia.com email newsletter to be notified about the 2021 Book Launch Blueprint.
Based on research and survivors’ stories, along with fierce fidelity to Scripture, DeMuth unpacks the church’s response to sexual violence and provides a healthy framework for the church to become a haven of healing instead of an institution of judgment.
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Review unto podcasters as you would have readers review unto you
The older my children get, the louder they get. I have a new tool to fight toddler noise on the podcast. I connected a special orange lamp to a smart wifi outlet plug. With a click on my computer or phone, I can turn on the light. We call this the “quiet light” and are trying to coach the children to be especially quiet while the light is on.
The light is positioned where you can see it from all the areas of the house where noise can get into my studio. The ugly orange light is obvious and can’t be missed. I thought this was a very clever solution for a work-from-home podcasting dad.
There is only one problem. We are not entirely sure if Mercy, our 19-month-old, understands the concept of “quiet.” Tommy, the 5-month-old certainly has no idea.
I will admit this is a flaw in my system. A quiet light only works for children who understand what it means. But I hold out hope that they will figure it out.
If you have any parenting tips or want to call our listener helpline to ask a question we can address in a future episode, you can call the listener helpline at 512-827-8377. You can also send a high-quality recording to AuthorMedia.com/contact.
The post Where Negative Book Reviews Come From And How to Make Them Go Away appeared first on Author Media.
May 25 2020
The book launch is one of the most important and least understood phases of your author journey.
Many authors believe that if they simply write a masterpiece, readers will flock to retailers and demand to buy a copy. But every day thousands of books are released. The day your book releases, it will compete with thousands of other books to capture the reader’s attention, not to mention their money.
If you do not have a strategic book launch plan, your book will get lost in all that noise.
The hard and painful lessons of book launching often become apparent in the aftermath of a failed book launch. To make matters worse, you only get one chance to launch your book unless you are willing to revise and re-release it.
But you can avoid those painful lessons by observing from the sidelines what others have learned the hard way on the field.
If you proactively apply the following lessons, you can avoid the pain of a failed book launch.
The key to book launch success is preparation.
The biggest killer of indie book launches is launching too quickly. If you have the patience to let the anticipation build, you will sell a lot more copies.
You don’t necessarily have to wait two years like traditional authors. But you’ll have an advantage if you plan months in advance to coordinate interviews, emails, and launch team activities to happen during the same window of time. This also makes it more likely get a bestseller (or #1 New Release) badge on Amazon.
Barring a viral response to a post, video, or webinar that captures email addresses, you will need six months to a year to build an email list. It’s like the miracle of compound interest. Time is your friend. The sooner you start, the longer it has to grow.
Contacting podcasters, radio hosts, and media outlets requires organization and forethought. Although your email may send instantaneously, there may be weeks of waiting for a response. If you’re granted an interview, you may have to a few more weeks for the interview to be conducted and recorded. Weeks or months later, it will finally go live.
The communication and the technical pieces of preparing a place for them to gather—whether it be a Facebook group or another platform—require organization and often, assistance. Readers need adequate time to receive and read your book, and then more time to formulate and post their review.
For a rocket to launch, there must be a launchpad. Your platform is that launchpad.
The bigger your platform, the bigger your launch can be. But we all have to start somewhere.
You can have a successful launch with a modest platform. In fact, if you launch your book correctly, you will grow your platform in the process and have a larger launching pad for your next book.
So how do you build your platform? By developing your marketing assets.
Learn about developing your marketing assets in episode 142: How to Develop Book Marketing Assets (Marketing 101).
While a massive platform can help you have a bigger launch, it doesn’t guarantee success. There are cases where a big launch might actually be a bad thing.
Speaking of which…
The goal of a book launch is to get people talking about your book. If your book is bad, that talking hurts you and your sales.
So, what makes for a “bad” book?
Bad books are missing one of the following three components of “good” books.
Choosing the right genre for your book is critical. A certain kind of person walks to the romance shelf first. A different kind of reader heads straight to the business section. What is true in physical bookstores is even more true online where there are tens of thousands of “shelves,” otherwise known as subcategories.
The category you pick dictates what readers will see your book and what other books your book will be compared to.
If you target the wrong readers, they won’t be interested in your promise. They may not even take your book off the shelf to learn more.
After a reader sees the promise your book makes, you want them to say, “Shut up and take my money!” They see your book’s promise as the answer to their question or the remedy for their pain, so you must know what they are looking for and tell them so in the following places:
You set the expectations with the design of the cover and the content of the back cover. Now your book needs to keep that promise.
This means your book must have:
If your cover promises a cozy romance, you better deliver a romance that feels cozy. If you promise a method to get out of debt, readers had better be able to get out of debt after reading your book.
Readers expect your book to do what it promises.
But when you surpass the reader’s expectations they start talking about your book. This over-delivering is the spark that ignites the word-of-mouth marketing that will fuel your book sales for the long term.
Writing a good book takes time. You must invest the time necessary to learn the craft of writing, to learn what readers want, and to actually write the book.
We created the Five Year Plan to help authors like you improve your craft so you can write a book people love to talk about.
It is not uncommon for authors, especially first-time authors, to skimp on the launch. Once they see that sales are dismal, they try to spend more money to revive a failed book.
You will get the maximum bang for your buck during the first month, especially if you are traditionally published. Boosting your investment after a disappointing launch is the least effective strategy, and the one most authors try first.
Readers, friends, family, and even strangers get excited about launches. That excitement makes marketing more effective. People don’t get nearly as excited about books that have been out for a while. Remember, every book in the bargain bin at the bookstore was selling for full price a few months before.
That said, your book launch doesn’t need to cost a fortune. If you are willing to invest your time, book launching can be a relatively inexpensive process.
Every book launch—every product brought to market—is a risk. Only invest money you don’t need to pay the bills. Depending on your financial situation, you may need to save money for a few months ahead of your launch. If you are indie publishing, you will want to save a few thousand dollars, if you can.
The main thing is to decide beforehand how much you are willing to spend on your book launch. Then, once you know that number, you decide ahead of time how best to spend it.
When it comes to book launch expenses, most authors ask, “Will this help sell more books?” But in many respects, that is the wrong question.
Instead, ask, “Will this sell more books than the other things I can spend money on?”
Buying a billboard may help you sell more books, but that doesn’t mean it’s a wise use of your funds.
If you have set aside $2500 for your book launch and spend $500 on your website, you have $2000 left for everything else.
Should you spend more on your website or spend more on sending out copies of your book to influencers and reviewers? Which strategy will sell more books? Should you spend more money on another round of book cover designs from a different designer? Will it help you sell more books than spending that same money on something else?
Once you know how much money you have to work with, you can make wise decisions about your spending.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re going to need a budget.
A strategic plan for how you are going to spend your money is called a budget. Most advertising makes you think that “budget” means “stingy.” A “budget” car is a cheap car.
But that is not what “budget” means. In business, a budget is a strategic plan to get the best return on your money. You can budget to spend a lot of money on something. Apple budgets to spend millions of dollars on advertising for each new iPhone launch, for example.
The key is that you decide ahead of time knowing how much you have to spend.
During the book launch is when you want to spend the majority of your promotion budget because it will bring back a better return while your book is fresh and new. Typically, the only promotion money you’ll spend after launch is the profit you earn from sales during your launch.
If your launch was not profitable, it’s unlikely that spending more money on promotion after the launch will make it so. You are better off moving on to write your next book.
If you want help to make your book launch profitable and successful, I highly recommend our Book Launch Blueprint.
You will get the best return on your investments of time and money when you stay in your strength zone. Determine which of your marketing assets are strongest and build on those.
To learn how, listen to episode 142: How to Develop Book Marketing Assets (Marketing 101)
Identifying and developing your strengths is a key part of the Book Launch Blueprint.
The Book Launch Blueprint is a 21-day intensive course where James L. Rubart and I will teach you everything you need to know about launching a book. You’ll learn how to
This comprehensive course will give you the knowledge to launch your book with a bang. Best of all, at the end of the course, you will have your own custom book launch blueprint to use for future book launches.
The course starts on May 31, 2020, and you must register before then if you want to attend. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by!
During the Great Depression, a spoiled socialite must find a way to support herself and her child. Can she turn a homemade recipe for skin tonic into a livelihood?
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We took our children to the family ranch yesterday for some social distancing family time with the grandparents. Mercy was so excited to see the cows. The cows were decidedly less excited to see her. The cows kept their distance from my 19-month-old, and as she tried to walk closer, they bolted for the edge of the field. Those cows had nothing to fear. A toddler can’t harm a two-ton cow.
If anyone should have been afraid, it was Mercy. The cows could have hurt her.
It’s easy for us to laugh about cowardly cows, but how often are we afraid of things that can’t hurt us?
How often do we put off sending that email because we are afraid of what people will say? We keep ourselves from telling the world about our book out of fear. Often, that thing we fear can’t even hurt us.
I encourage you to connect with your inner toddler and charge at the thing that scares you most. You may find it bolts for the fence as well.
The post Painful Book Launch Lessons You Don’t Want to Learn the Hard Way appeared first on Author Media.
May 19 2020
A couple of weeks ago, I predicted how COVID-19 would change what readers are reading. It was an incredibly popular episode. It was also the first Novel Marketing episode to get a one-star review on Podchaser.
People had strong opinions about that episode. Some of my predictions have been vindicated. For the others, we’ll have to wait to see how they pan out.
To learn about the actual data and sales numbers from the last few months, I spoke with the CEO and founder of K-lytics.com, Alex Newton. K-lytics is a leading Kindle market research resource for authors and publishers, and Alex has solid data on the Kindle market. When we want to know about the numbers, we invite Alex to give us the verifiable facts.
Alex’s specialty is Kindle data, but I also wanted to know what he had observed in traditional print and retail sales.
Alex Newton: This whole thing started with everybody—including the production capacity of nations—being locked into their homes.
The first thing that happened was the shock and uncertainty that led to the dive in retail consumption over a period of three weeks. The last week of March was the worst week. U.S. retail consumption had dropped by 31%.
After Easter (the weeks of April 4th and April 11th) things were still down 15%-20% compared to the prior year. But in those same weeks, you could already see things starting back up.
But the fact of the matter is that with the decline happening in retail, we saw the print book sales decline according to the association numbers that were reported.
January was still 4%-5 % up versus 2019. February was already in the negative, and March was a 7% decrease from March 2019. If you look at the sheer size of the impact on overall retail, we were surprised to see only -7% in March.
I guess April is going to be even worse for print. But was the starting point for this huge dive across the board.
Thomas Umstattd, Jr.: The rule of thumb with traditional publishers is that half of their sales happen on non-Amazon platforms. For every publisher, those numbers are a little different. But in industry associations, that’s the rule of thumb.
A big chunk of the non-Amazon sales are offline sales of print books, and with retail stores closed, those sales were killed. Technically speaking, you could still buy a book at Walmart or Target if your book was fortunate enough to be in their small selection of books.
Traditional and print publishers have been hammered during this time. But the question we’re all wondering about is whether people switched from reading books to watching YouTube? Or did they switch from reading print books to reading ebooks?
Alex: To a certain extent, we certainly did. There were two sales increases. One was for online book sales in general, which can be either print or ebooks. Large online retail market research agencies such as Ruxton Intelligence saw online book sales grow. Amazon saw that increase as well, although they deprioritized shipments of nonessential items, so people did shift to ebooks.
The most striking thing happened on Google and not directly on the Amazon platform. Within the week of March 8th – March 22nd, the search volume on Google for the term “ebooks” doubled within that extremely short period of time and stayed up there.
Thomas: A person who searches Google for the word “ebook” is probably somebody who is new to ebooks. Somebody who owns a Kindle is not likely to make a Google search for the word ebook because they already know how to use them and where to find them. But someone who normally shops at Barnes & Noble has heard about ebooks. Since the store is closed, they finally have the nudge to look into reading ebooks.
The new ebook reader can’t go to the store. They’re bored, but they know books are available electronically, so they go to Google and type in the word “ebook.”
Alex: Yes. We saw that interest translate into two things. One was the increase in device sales. At the top of Amazon’s electronics bestseller lists, you had the Amazon Echo, the Fire Sticks, and all the accessories you need to get the kids set up for homeschooling or to watch television or Netflix.
Once you have the device, you need to have ebooks on the device. That’s when we saw this significant increase in some of the genres of ebooks. Different authors and genres are affected differently, but there were some measurable and immediate effects.
Thomas: Many schools switched to using Zoom for their classes. A $40 Kindle can run Zoom, so if parents needed a screen for their children, the cheapest way to obtain one was to buy a Kindle Fire. You’re not going to get another tablet that runs Zoom for that price and quality, partly because Amazon subsidizes the cost of that product.
As potentially tens of thousands of parents bought their child their first tablet–which happened to be a Kindle tablet because that’s what they could afford–suddenly they had a device that made it easy for them to buy ebooks.
Alex: Yes. Kindle Unlimited related books have had an ongoing steady increase, so we didn’t see big spikes.
Amazon published its results, and in Q1, the subscription-related revenue (Kindle, Prime, television) grew to $5.6 billion, which was a year-over-year quarter of growth. Amazon’s subscription services have been positively impacted by the pandemic.
On Kindle, we saw certain subcategories suddenly have unprecedented increases in sales.
The March payout to Kindle Select authors (authors who are exclusive with Kindle Unlimited), was $29 million paid in royalties—the highest Kindle Select Global Fund payout ever. It was the highest monthly increase ever recorded because it was a 6.6% increase over the prior month.
For Kindle Unlimited, March 2020 was the best month ever.
Thomas: Let’s underline that. Kindle Unlimited had its best month ever in March 2020. While the news is bleak on a lot of topics, if you’re an indie author making your money with Kindle Unlimited, the amount of money coming into Kindle Unlimited overall was more than it’s ever been before.
Now, that doesn’t mean every author on Kindle Unlimited saw their revenue increase. If you have a travel book to Italy in Kindle Unlimited, March probably was not a good month for you.
Alex: In the initial stage of the lockdown, there was a spike in what I’d call immediate survival interest sales. Book categories that usually would be in complete oblivion, not even selling a copy a day, saw an increase.
For example, medical ebooks, internal medicine, infectious disease books, which usually rank around 70,000 in the Amazon store, are suddenly up 82% and ranking in the top 10,000.
We saw the same thing in the category for physical ailments or respiratory ailments.
A couple of weeks later, everyone had difficulties getting face masks or medical equipment from suppliers. Suddenly, medical ebooks, reference books, instruments and supplies–a category which is almost nonexistent on Kindle nonfiction—shot up from a sales ranking of 500,000 to the top 70,000 or so.
Next, it was almost like a cascade. After everybody had satisfied their need for immediate survival information, people were interested in keeping their kids busy.
We suddenly saw a 50% sales ranking improvement in the whole category for teacher resources and homeschooling.
Thomas: I predicted the homeschooling genre would be hot because some parents who were on the fence about homeschooling will continue to homeschool even when the pandemic has passed.
Alex: The average sales rank of that those subcategories are currently between 30,000 and 20,000, so authors aren’t going to get rich in that category, but it does illustrate that the market is responsive to demand, and demand changes due to external factors.
You mentioned that example of travel books. We track the category of travel for Europe, Italy, and Florence. Usually, around Easter, you have a peak in that category.
Well, guess what? It took a dive. It’s down by 150%, and now has a sales ranking of 400,000 on average for the top 20 Florence travel guides. That means nobody is buying a single unit of these types of books.
Thomas: We saw this same phenomenon after September 11th in the United States. From what I understand, travel TV shows were popular in the 90s. After September 11th, 2001, home improvement shows became popular. People were staying at home, and they were improving their houses.
Alex: What you describe is exactly what happened next. After people did their survival reading and then homeschooling reading, people had to fight the lockdown blues. Suddenly books on gardening, horticulture, and vegetables increased.
After that, we saw the sales for Christian books and Bibles, ministry, evangelism, and sermons as a category shoot through the roof for customers who believe in God and Christ.
For those who are more secular in their thinking, we saw a rise at the end of April for books about motivation and self-improvement.
As people were at home and getting bored, they’d ask, “What does God tell me?” or “Can I improve myself?” or “Can I keep myself and the kids busy doing something physical in the garden, home, or with hobbies?”
Thomas: Have you seen an increase in weight loss books yet?
Alex: That was an interesting one because the whole fitness and health category first took a dive. It’s understandable because, once you are locked in at home with your family in a limited amount of square footage of living area, you are not worried about health and fitness. We saw a decline in fitness, health, and dieting books in March and April. But now at the end of April, they’re coming back up again.
Another interesting trend was that psychology books about parenting and relationships took a dive. When reality hits, parents don’t have time to read books theorizing about the best approach to parenting.
Thomas: That’s a good point. In a crisis, people look for practical instruction rather than theory. When your children are with you 24 hours a day, you need tips that work immediately and strategies you can apply right away.
I predict that the uptick in the diet and health genre is going to become a big spike as people try to put their clothes back on to go back to work and realize they don’t fit like they used to. Suddenly, diet and exercise are going to be hot topics again.
Thomas: Historically, children’s ebooks, while they have been growing, were never a big category. Parents preferred to read books in physical form, even though their children tear up those books.
Alex: I’ve seen two effects. First, the sheer volume of books has increased. Second is the format of those books has shifted.
At the end of 2017, the share of ebooks in the children’s book top 100 was basically 7%, meaning seven out of the top 100 children’s books were ebooks. There was already a trend towards the acceptability of ebooks as a format for children. Before Christmas, that share grew to 15%, which is not huge. But the acceptability of ebooks for kids was on the rise.
Thomas: For comparison’s sake, in the romance genre, 93 of the top 100 books in the romance genre are ebooks.
Alex: In the big genres, it’s usually more than 70% ebook penetration in the top 100.
In mid-April, when Google searches for ebooks were doubling, searches for kid’s ebooks were growing ten-fold during the same period.
Thomas: Wow. That’s a 1000% increase.
Alex: The data showed that the share of ebooks doubling in the top 100 children’s books. It went from 15% to 30%. Almost one-third of the top of the market in children’s books is ebooks.
Children’s ebooks are big winners from two perspectives. First, because of the sheer volume sold when people started buying books on how to teach their kids to write. Second, they wanted books for their kids to read.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which was a book from my childhood, was in the top 100 in the Amazon store last week. I think that is telling.
Children’s books in general suddenly hit number one storewide two weeks ago. In ebooks, we saw a surge across the board.
Thomas: It will be interesting to observe what impact this will have in the long term. Now that parents have started reading ebooks to their children, they realize they can save money since they already have the devices. Will they continue buying ebooks rather than paper books? Or once Barnes Noble opens again, will they shift back to buying paper books?
Alex: Past experiences and data give us some clues. Six years ago, there was a children’s ebook hype. But it was a supply-driven hype because Amazon launched the Kindle Fire and needed a market for it. They marketed it to parents.
For authors, they launched the Amazon Kids Book Creator, which was a lousy desktop application to format children’s ebooks. That created the first wave of hype, but it died off.
Yet we continue to have children’s ebooks as seasonal merchandise, and we always see a peak at Christmas and Easter. Last year, after Easter, when ebook sales usually take a huge dive, it didn’t fall off that sharply.
Part of the reason was that big book publishers started advertising their ebooks. That helped to steady the ebook sales.
Now you have the lockdown, the increase in device sales, the increase in Prime and KU subscriptions, and the crisis have brought the device use closer to the parents.
Parents used to say, “I’m not going to put my two-year-old in front of an iPad because it’s not good for the kid. Let’s stick with the print book.” Some parents will return to that line of thought. But some of the change may be a bit stickier than it was during that first hype because this time, it was demand-driven, not supply-driven.
Thomas: It’s the actual behavior of the parents that drives the change. Your principles on screen time tend to go out the window when you have an important conference call, and you need your kids to be quiet. Many parents are trying to find ways to accommodate noisy children.
Alex: Out of all the 30 main genres on Kindle, Romance was the biggest loser in the month of April 2020. It saw the biggest loss.
You’d think romance books are a nice escape. But if your husband and kids are in your living room, you can’t sit there and comfortably read your Highlander romance. I’m hypothesizing the reason for the loss, but the data says romance lost.
Does that mean romance is no longer the number-one selling genre on Kindle?
No, it still is.
Normally the biggest selling genres fall in this order:
2. Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
5. Teen Young Adult
Romance is still number one, but it lost.
Mystery Thriller Suspense is still number two, but it lost relative to the months before.
Children’s ebooks, which used to be number six or seven, shot up to number three.
Nonfiction is still number four.
Sci-Fi took a bit of a drop against nonfiction and suffered a little bit.
Teen Young Adult novels came back up.
As you look at the data, you must distinguish the trend in the relative percentage increase or decrease. We had the biggest increases in children’s books, craft hobbies, and home medical ebooks. Those were the biggest winners, relatively speaking.
But in absolute terms, they have not overtaken those big genres. Out of those big genres, Romance was initially the biggest loser. Also, Mystery Thriller Suspense, and Sci-Fi lost ground versus prior months.
The good news is that teens have started to read again.
Thomas: They’re especially reading ebooks because teens are huge consumers at libraries. Now that public, school, and university libraries are closed, teens can’t check out books, and they are diving into ebooks.
We know the number is up, and we’re speculating as to exactly why. Anytime you see a big statistical move, there’s usually more than one reason. It’s possible there are multiple reasons for that number to go up and down. We live in a complicated world, but I suspect one of the things impacting that Teen YA boost is that libraries are closed.
Alex: We saw two types of changes happening.
On the one hand, we saw how the crisis triggered a statistic to go in the opposite direction.
We talked about the nonfiction categories of respiratory illnesses and medical supplies. If there had been no crisis, there wouldn’t have been an increase in sales of those kinds of books.
But that’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the Teen Young Adult and Dystopian Romance. The data from 2015 tells me that, on average, the top 20 titles would clearly rank in the top 2,000 storewide.
Over five years, that declined. The Hunger Games and Divergent trend faded.
But after the crisis, within a short period of time, teens had to read something to keep from being bored, so we saw sales of these types of novels pick up again.
Suddenly teens are reading Hunger Games again, and the whole category shoots back up.
There are some instances where the crisis almost helped. As people realized they had time to read the books they’d always wanted to read, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and many classics benefited from reader behavior.
The other thing that happened was that some categories, such as the kid’s book category, were already trending upward, and the crisis amplified what was already on the move.
Thomas: We’ve seen the same thing in the economy as a whole. There was already a trend towards working from home, and the pandemic accelerated that trend.
Now many people are working from home. Once this is over, some of those people are going to go back into the office. But some of those people are going to keep working from home because the underlying trend was already swinging in that direction. The crises accelerated the movement.
Pandemics are an amplifier of certain aspects of society. We see it in things like home delivery, online shopping, and the move away from retail. All these trends are being accelerated by the pandemic.
K-lytics can help.
K-lytics has monitored the Amazon Kindle market extensively for the past six years. They have a monthly database of more than 7,000 genres and all their performance data.
The following are a few of the data points they monitor
We’ve talked about resonance before and used music as a metaphor. These kinds of reports are one way of listening to the music, so your writing resonates with what’s already playing.
If you’ve never written Romance before, but you’re curious about getting into it, get up to speed on the romance market by getting a K-lytics report on romance.
If you’re thinking about writing a children’s book, get a K-lytics report that shows which kinds of children’s books are hot right now.
You can access the database as part of your K-lytics membership. They’ve recently published a 70-page PDF, a video, and a special bonus report on children’s ebooks covering 450 categories.
Be sure to visit k-lytics.com to see how they can serve you.
Now more than ever if you want it to get noticed, you must have a good book launch.
Let’s do some quick math. Let’s say you spent 1000 hours working on writing your book. That includes outlining, writing, re-writing, editing, and polishing.
You could have spent that time as a freelance editor making a modest $25/hr. (Many editors make more, but let’s keep the math easy). If your time is worth $25 per hour, the 1,000 hours you spent creating and writing means you have invested $25,000 into your book.
In Hollywood, it is not uncommon for studios to spend the same amount of money on marketing as they did on making the movie. If a movie cost $50 million to make, the studio would spend another $50 million on marketing.
Most authors, on the other hand, spend a tiny fraction on marketing in comparison to what they’ve invested in writing their book. An author who spends $25,000 in time creating a book (not to mention paying for editors, covers, and typesetting) may only spend $2,000 marketing the book, and then they wonder why the book is not a bestseller.
If you want to reap a harvest of book sales, you must first sow the seeds of promotion. Sow sparingly and you will reap sparingly.
We only release this course once a year so make sure to sing up before it is too late.
You’ll get a comprehensive course on every element of launching your book.
You’ll get to join an exclusive, private Facebook group where you can talk to James, L. Rubart and me to pick our brains on every aspect of the course.
It is not too late to sign up for the 2020 Book Launch Blueprint Course. Registration ends May 30, 2020.
Eloise Whyte author of Soul Inspirationz
Gain a new relationship with Jesus as you trust him to be your confidant, healer, and life-giving friend.
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May 11 2020
Learn how to create a plan and timeline to build your platform and successfully launch your book.
The post How to Launch a Book: A Coaching Session With Krystal Proffitt appeared first on Author Media.
Apr 13 2020
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Kindle Unlimited (Affiliate Link), also called KU, is the "Netflix of ebooks." It costs readers $9.99 per month to get unlimited access to over one million ebooks. So, is it a good idea for your book to be in Kindle Unlimited?
The post What Indie Authors Need to Know About Kindle Unlimited with Lacy Williams appeared first on Author Media.
Mar 02 2020