Beyond the E-hype

When you write a book, today for the first time, there seems to be an extreme sense of urgency. Not only are people choosing to self-publish to avoid the often fruitless agent/book deal dream, but because time wasted is lost opportunity in today’s fast-moving digital book marketplace, they are often skipping print and going straight to ebooks..

But resist the urge to rush through the writing and production process. You don’t want to publish a book with poor editing, or a bad cover, just to get it on the market while ebook sales are soaring. Ebook sales levels are still a small part of the overall book market. Good writing will last forever, but poor production or obsolete formats will go to the digital dump, just like cassette tapes and previous media fads.

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Want a bestseller on Kindle? Do the work

Do the work… That is the take-away message from this article about Mark Edwards’ success with a bestseller on Kindle and iBook:

 

What advice would you offer to unpublished novelists?

“Firstly, you have to really really want it and believe you have a talent. Writing is hard work, and the universe doesn’t care about your hopes and dreams. It takes a great deal of persistence. Secondly, you need to write stories that people will want to read. Finally, these days you have a choice: try to find an agent and publisher, or self-publish. The second route worked for us but I still think it’s worth pursuing the traditional route first.”

What’s the secret to getting noticed on the Kindle and iBooks charts?

“For iBooks we were lucky because Apple put us on the home page of the Crime and Thrillers category so we got noticed very quickly. With Kindle, it took months of spending hours every day plugging away, using social networks, blogs and doing everything we could to find readers – eventually, if you’re lucky, Amazon pick you up in their algorithms and start to display the book more prominently. But the real secret is to write a great book that people will tell their friends about. Word of mouth is by far the most effective tool.”

Read the full article here on this U.K. site.

Agents embracing ebooks

First, we grassroots writers were publishing ebooks, then the birth of Kindle, Nook and other tablet devices made ebooks the next million-dollar-idea in the industry. Now, a well known agency is helping clients go straight to ebooks, for the right projects:

This from Media Bistro 6/29/11

Dystel & Goderich Literary Management will now help clients explore eBook and print-on-demand options.

The agency founded the service to help “books we believe in and feel passionately about but couldn’t sell.” According to the agency’s site, they have “no intention of becoming e-publishers.” Last year the Wylie Agency created (and then resolved) a public dispute with Random House over the Wylie Agency’s push to make eBooks for clients.

Here’s more from Dystel & Goderich: “what we are going to do is to facilitate e-publishing for those of our clients who decide that they want to go this route, after consultation and strategizing about whether they should try traditional publishing first or perhaps simply set aside the current book and move on to the next. We will charge a 15% commission for our services in helping them project manage everything from choosing a cover artist to working with a copyeditor to uploading their work.  We will continue to negotiate all agreements that may ensue as a result of e-publishing, try to place subsidiary rights where applicable, collect monies and review statements to make sure the author is being paid.” (Via PaidContent)

More from J. Konrath

On his blog, J. Konrath talks about how the rules of publishing have changed. No more book tours, sitting in the sun all day waiting to sell a book to the next person who walks by. We live and work online today. Read his full post here, or take a minute to scan my paraphrased summary of the actions he describes as essential for an author today:

Here are his thoughts. “Again, none of these will guarantee huge sales. And none of them work all the time for all books. But doing these things will help to sell more books than doing nothing at all, and I’ve found them to be the best use of my time,” says Jay

1. Use Your Fans. Send  free advance ebooks to fans or offer a freebie in exchange for an honest review.

2. Social Network. Being active on Twitter and Facebook beats not being active. But remember it is about what you have to offer, not what you have to sell. No one likes ads, or being sold.

3. Change Your Price. I’ve become a fan of putting ebooks on sale. The more books you have available, the easier this is to do without hurting your pocketbook. Keep in mind that you may not see instant results.

4. Write More. The best advertisement for your writing is your writing. The larger your virtual shelf space, the more you’ll be discovered.

5. Diversify and Experiment.  I have no idea why some sell better than others, but I’m continuing to explore new genres and experiment with formats.

6. Use Your Peers. Do guest blogs. Trade back matter excerpts. Review each other. Buy each other. Support one another. We’re all in the same boat, and we all need to row.

Best books for self-publishing

A random survey of the self-publishing industry continues to show that practical non-fiction books sell best, among all types of books.

Most difficult to sell, self-published, are fiction and children’s books. Why? Because it is difficult to reach that market without in-store promotions, marketing budgets, national exposure, and a full-time publicity campaign.

You may be surprised by the following recommendation to use ebooks for fiction and children’s publishing. It comes from Aaron Shepard, a long-time self-publishing pro:

“Mainly because they solve the single biggest problem remaining in self publishing: what to do with fiction and other discretionary books. POD simply doesn’t work well for self-published fiction, because at the typical price of a printed book, few readers will take a chance on an unknown quantity. So, the self-published novelist can seldom compete.

Ebooks, though, change the equation, giving the self-published author one huge advantage. Big publishers have to price their ebooks fairly high in order to support their establishments. Self publishers don’t. They can price their books low enough that readers are willing to take that chance on them.

So, even though I probably won’t write much about ebooks, I do believe they are the way to go if you publish fiction, children’s books, or any other kind of book for which readers have a wide choice. ”

I will be discussing this topic at length in my May 5, 2011 presentation for Off-Campus Writers Workshop in Winnetka, IL. Non-members are welcome to attend. More info at ocww.bizland.com.

More self-publishing success stories

If you need motivation to keep writing on these snowy February mornings, look at a few of the big breakthrough success stories for self-published authors. As you’ll see, having a book on Amazon in a Kindle version, and having other ereader formats can create viral success.

Are you ready for Royalties While You Sleep?

Source: USA Today Feb 9, 2011

Article excerpt:

Fed up with attempts to find a traditional publisher for her young-adult paranormal novels, [Amanda] Hocking self-published last March and began selling her novels on online bookstores like Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

By May she was selling hundreds; by June, thousands. She sold 164,000 books in 2010. Most were low-priced (99 cents to $2.99) digital downloads.

More astounding: This January she sold more than 450,000 copies of her nine titles. More than 99% were e-books.

Further in the article:

H.P. Mallory, another self-published paranormal e-novelist, has sold 70,000 copies of her e-books since July. Her success caught the attention of traditional publisher Random House, with whom she just signed a three-book contract. “Selling e-books on Kindle and Barnesandnoble.com basically changed my life,” Mallory says. “I never would have gotten where I am today if I hadn’t.”

 

Helen Gallagher

Smashwords

I’ve written before, in print and on the Release Your Writing blog about Smashwords… It is one of the few companies that does everything right.

Smashwords converts your book into ebook formats AND makes your ebooks available in required formats for mobile devices, from Kindle to iPhone and many more ereaders.

I get so many questions from people wondering how to convert print books to ebooks, how to understand Amazon’s Kindle upload process, how to understand DRM (digital rights management), but we don’t have to do all that work.

Mark Coker, president of Smashwords has the answers you need, at NO cost to you. What’s not to love?

Take a look at their guidelines for uploading your book, and begin earning 85 percent of net as royalties (60 percent of list price) on ebook sales, instead of wondering how to do it. Smashwords makes it soooo easy!

The first five Pajama Marketing readers who list their book on Smashwords can make a guest post here on our Pajama Marketing blog to share their experiences, success with uploading, and a link to their ebook, as a reward for taking the next step toward better book sales.

Helen Gallagher

Ten Apps for Readers on the Go

A guest post today on the variety of apps for readers. Think of it from the perspective of a writer/reader, but also, let it inspire you to get your work out.. to “release your writing” to the world. With all these formats and the ease of digital publishing, there’s always an audience ready to purchase your work.

10 Apps for Readers on the Go

(excerpted):

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

  1. Instapaper: There’s a reason that The Sound of Young America podcast host Jesse Thorn calls Instapaper “possibly the best app in the world.” While you’re browsing the web, you can save articles and stories to read later to your Instapaper account, which updates when you fire up the app and downloads the text files to your phone. Two versions: one free with basic features and one for $4.99 that allows for greater storage and organization.
  2. Kindle: The Amazon e-reader is one of the most popular on the market, but you can also use a version of it on your phone with this solid app. It’s a great way to use your phone (or iPad) as a portable e-reader if you don’t want to shell out for the Amazon device. Free.
  3. iBooks: Launched in mid-2010, iBooks is Apple’s proprietary e-reader for iPhones and iPads, with a built-in bookstore featuring a variety of free and for-pay titles. You can view your books on a virtual shelf and easily keep track of what’s unread. Free.
  4. Local Books: Sometimes being a reader on the go means not knowing where to get your literary fix, and that’s where the Local Books app comes in. The simple app uses your current location to find nearby bookstores, libraries, and book-related events, which makes it a handy tool for exploring new parts of town or after moving to a new place. A bookstore fan’s dream. Free.
  5. Classics: A great archive of classic titles offered for free makes this app worth it’s $2.99 one-time cost. Some users have complained about a lack of regular updates, but the app remains a fantastic way to get your hands on a collection of vintage titles. What’s not to like?
  6. Nook: Not one to be left out of the party, Barnes & Noble has developed apps tied to its Nook e-reader for a variety of outlets, including iPhones and iPads, PC, Android, and more. Upside: Nook lets you share digital titles with other users.
  7. Borders: Rounding out the major bookstores, Borders offers an e-reader app that lets users browse store titles, download titles to read offline, and make an impressive array of tweaks to the font and layout of the digital books.
  8. Stanza: Stanza is great for downloading and reading standard digital books, but it’s really handy for storing and reading your own files, particularly PDFs. If you’ve ever found yourself wishing there was an easier way to transfer and browse documents on your phone without going back into your e-mail program, you’ll love Stanza. Free.
  9. The New York Times: The Gray Lady has put out arguably the best news app to date, and it’s a lifesaver for mobile readers who want to stay connected. You can organize stories by timeliness and category, save favorites to read later, and share stories via Twitter, e-mail, or text message. Easy to use, quick to update, and pretty much the only news app you’ll need. Free.
  10. Comics: Equally usable on the iPhone and iPad (though you’ll probably enjoy it more on a bigger screen), Comics lets you read comic books from a variety of publishers, including Marvel, Image, and Top Cow. Pushing the envelope with tech to get comics online and into e-reading devices is one of the more exciting things happening in the publishing world right now, and apps like this one let you take advantage of things you didn’t even know your phone could do. Free.

Excerpted from source: Liz Nutt. Read full post here: http://www.informationtechnologyschools.org/blog/2010/10-apps-for-readers-on-the-go/

Apple introduces iPad… what it means for books

First, Apple’s newest splashy gadget debuts Saturday morning – It’s about 9 x 11 inches, sort of like a giant iPhone. While it looks interesting, the primary functions will be photos, music and for reading… especially magazines, newspapers and digital books. What it lacks is anything that would make it, you know… a computer! It’s called a “tablet computer” but the Wall St. Journal likes referring to it as um… “a device.”

No keyboard, no phone, no camera, no USB ports, clunky, super high price – proprietary Apple downloads only.


But for writers ready to publish their work, the potential is great. Plan now to issue your previous work in an ebook format, or to convert your current published book to digital formats. Smashwords.com converts your book into versions to sell on Kindle, Nook, Sony, iPhone, iPad and more.  Start with the Smashwords Style Guide.