When I prepared to self-publish, I had no idea how many aspects of Amazon existed, much less those I’d need or choose not to use. Here’s an overview of 25 ways authors can partake of Amazon’s sites and services. Starting Thursday, January 14, I’ll cover one or two in detail at www.rjkaufman.blogspot.com.
Not ready to publish but want to get your GAN (great American novel) into the public eye? Consider one of these sites for sharing your work that incorporate the power of crowd voting and commenting. 1) You can post on Kindle Scout (the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award was discontinued in favor of this). Maybe you’ll prefer 2) the story lab Write On by Kindle.
If you prefer traditional publishing, consider submitting to one of 3) Amazon Publishing’s 14 (!) imprints.
Like fan fiction? 4) Kindle Worlds allows authors to publish in the worlds of certain popular TV shows such as The Vampire Diaries and best-selling authors such as Kathryn Le Veque. You write a novella or book in that world and share royalties.
To self-publish other e-books, you need an account with 5) Kindle Direct Publishing. For print, you need 6) CreateSpace (yes, there’s a way on CreateSpace to automatically create an e-book for Kindle, but because of formatting issues, that’s not recommended). Each site has different features and offers different reports.
Not ready to write a full-length novel or just prefer short stories? Check out 7) Kindle singles and short reads.
There are many different ways you can market a new release. These are some of the things that I have found that have worked really well, especially for newer authors whose biggest challenge is usually visibility.
When I first started publishing, almost two years ago, I was fortunate to have some great writing friends who shared what worked for them. One of them, Leighann Dobbs, told me about her .99 release strategy. I have since used this for every book.
Each new book is released at .99 for several days and then goes to its regular $2.99 or $3.99 price. This early release discount is only offered to those on my email list (and is an incentive that helps with signups) and posted on my author page (and boosted to fans and friends).
The reason this can work so well is because you get an initial boost of sales upon release that can shoot you onto your genre top 100 lists (or close to it), which helps with visibility. So then a few days later, when you raise to your regular price, you are probably much higher in ranking than you would have been if you’d released at the regular price. Once you are more established, you could experiment with releasing at regular price, but I have found that the initial .99 release works so well that it’s worth missing some potential full price sales and it also is a really nice way to reward your most loyal readers.
When you are brand new and don’t have a list to email, you may want to consider getting the word out in other ways. When I launched a new pen name, I ran some Facebook ads to a simple landing page that had the book cover and blurb about the coming series and a signup link for an email alert when the book went live, with the incentive to get it at the early release discount. This generated about 150 initial signups over about 3 weeks. I also joined a Facebook group in that genre that was full of readers and where promo was limited to new release or sale announcements.
This group was hugely helpful in establishing early readers. I offered an Advance Readers Copy, to help generate some initial interest and reviews and sent out maybe a dozen. A friend recently followed my example but sent out even more ARCs as that group has grown. It is ideal to join a group like this way in advance of publishing. Get to know the readers and other authors and other opportunities may present themselves. I participated in a group sale, a .99 long weekend promo with about 30 other authors and I timed my new release to hit then.
I just found out I got a BookBub! What do I do first?
You should immediately begin applying for other promos to run during the time of your BookBub! Here are some opportunities recommended by group authors:
There are 3 basic options for back up:
1) Local. This means somewhere else on your own computer.
-Windows Backup-can have version control*
-Copy your own files manually
-SVN (version-control) with a local repository
2) Network or on a peripheral device
-External hard drive
-NAS (Network-Attatched Storage)-can be used with version control*
-SVN with network repository–can be used with version control*
3) Offsite or cloud storage
Github (also has version control)
SVN with cloud repository
Flickr (for photos only)
Onedrive (formally Skydrive)
Upload it manually to your website’s server
Email it to yourself
* = can be made automatic
You should use at least ONE offsite solution, and that backup should have version control.
You should have redundancy. Both Google Drive and Dropbox have destroyed things in the past. And automatic backups are preferred!
Alternatives to Dropbox: The following sites compare functions of dropbox alts along with price.
Christine Bell (AKA Chloe Cole)-
First, let me state that I’m adding this here because I was part of a successful bundle and watched and learned, not because I ran it. My part was nothing more than making sure I didn’t add undue stress to the organizers by making sure I turned my stuff in on time and per the guidlines, raising my hand when volunteers for grunt work were needed and throwing money into the pot for various things. The hard work was done by other people (who did I far better job than I ever could have). I’m just collecting the information I’ve gathered and regurgitating it :o) I invite any others who were part of the bundle (and any successful bundle…or even an unsuccessful bundle, because frankly, knowing was DIDN’T work is just as valuable as what did) to add more here!
Choosing what to bundle- Find something that makes sense to tie it all together and will feed a booming market. The more niche, the fewer readers, but I do think there needs to be a tie-in that appeals to a core readership that makes sense. Ours was PNR (pretty wide there) holiday stories (with as much or as little “holiday” as authors wanted).
Choosing your contributors- Some people throw it out there like an open call. I think that’s a mistake. You can’t control quality that way, or the people you’re working with. I would advise opening the call to a group who you’re familiar with (we knew one another through various FB pages) and then possibly opening it up to authors whose work you’ve read and loved or authors who are well-established in the genre. That netted us a great mix of:
USAT and NYT bestselling authors
National bestsellers with huge backlists, mailing lists, and enthusiastic fan-bases
Entries that were well-written
Authors who had shown that they were gung ho, personally invested, enthusiastic and willing to pitch in wherever they could (whether or not they had a huge following).
(keeping in mind that some authors were more than one or even ALL the above, so these aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive or anything)
I have to say, I think our line-up was set up for success. Each of those cogs were instrumental in this machine. Lettered bestsellers added a perceived value and certain “cache” to the bundle, authors with major fandom brought in loads of early reviews and lots of buzz, good content kept those reviews well above the 4-star average range, and the people that were willing to take on everything from formatting, to reaching out and securing ads, and making a grassroots effort to cross every t and dot every i spackled it all together.
We had such an enthusiastic group across the board, and people were pitching in with everything from commercials, and book trailers and blog posts to creating twitter campaigns and working with the cover artist to create banners etc. and helping one another with blurbs.
Making sure your expectations are set (and understood)- Exclusive? If so, how long? New content? Length? Turn in date? Release date? Editing process? Costs per person? GOAL of the set (i.e. just visibility? or hitting a list? It matters). How will everyone get paid? When? Formatting process? Cover art process? Advertising plans?
More stuff- For us, on top of chipping in for loads of fb ads, I’d say at least half of us did additional ads on fb as well as pretty much every possible site we could think of (besides bookbub). Our coordinator provided a list of lower priced places (under $50 I think, or at least the ones I was responsible for seemed to be) and contributors signed up to contact them and set up promo etc. (and added to the list when they found a new opportunity). Mandy really went balls out and bought ads at places like dear author and the like as well, then many of us also contacted tons of free promo pages on fb etc. It’s important to have a clear goal for advertising. Are you hoping for visibility or to hit a list? I think your timing should be determined by that (and for us, our FB ad person, Joe, geared ads toward Nook users to ensure that we met the legendary “500 copy min” that it has been said needs to be met before BN will report to lists). Sustained ads that are spread out are great to keep your release visible long term, but unloading with both barrels release week is probably a better strategy if you’re hoping to hit a list.
I do think (and this is pure speculation) that new material would sell better in most cases. Say you have a mailing list of 5000 people. Those are your fans who went thru the trouble of signing up for your list. Say half of them have read the book in question already. They would maybe only be buying it because you’re in, so now that incentive is gone. Then apply that same idea to every contributor. I still think it can be successful but I would probably tailor my expectations differently. Communication and making sure everyone is on the same page expectations wise is hugely important. To that end, I’d recommend creating a FB page or board where everyone can talk, share ideas, promo strategies (and “squees”! I know for a fact that the enthusiasm of the group drove everyone to try harder and really kept morale high).
I’m sure I’ll think of more later, and again, I invite anyone to add there .02 below!