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text 2018-08-23 06:31
Author as a salesperson

The only way I have been able to sell my books is in person, directly to a potential reader.

 

When I did the math, I realized that I could order my books, mark them up and sell them cheaper than someone could buy them from Amazon, when you factored in the cost of shipping.

 

Here’s an example: For me to order a copy of Local Rag costs $4.40 CA, plus $2.43 shipping = $6.83 For anyone else to buy a copy of Local Rag from Amazon Canada costs $13.29, plus $4.98 shipping, plus GST 91¢ = $18.95 The difference is $12.12 (I don’t have to collect the GST because my sales are under $30,000 annually).

 

If I deduct the $2.86 royalty from my Amazon sale, I'm  still ahead $9.26.  I can offer a $2.00 discount to the purchaser and make more than $4.00 more than I get from a sale on Amazon.

 

About a year ago, I started researching venues where I could sell my books in person. I rejected flea markets and other events unrelated to literature and soon found opportunities to participate in public readings and talks. You speak briefly about your book or a related topic and sell your work after the event while mingling with the audience.

 

I took it a step further and developed mini-seminars in self-publishing and memoir writing which I conducted free. The audience was very sales friendly. This system worked at book fairs as well, but since the table rental had to be taken into consideration, I had to be a little more aggressive.

 

In sales, it’s essential to engage the customer, so you have to get out from behind the table and chat up the passers-by. I printed up cheap bookmarks to give away, had them fill out an entry form (don’t forget their email address) for a free draw of some of my books, and talked about the event, even the other authors.

 

I’ve made a living at direct sales so this is second nature to me, but even so it was exhausting and not a lot of fun.

 

After six months I had a decision to make. I now had lots of opportunities to speak, teach and sell my books, but I needed to invest in more stock. If I ordered more books, I’d have to get out there and flog them.

 

I decided I’d had enough.

 

So what have I learned?

 

Selling a book is a lot like writing one. There’s no easy way,

 

and nobody can do it for you.

 

Too bad.

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

 

 

Amazon Author Page (still the easiest way to sell books)

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

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text 2018-08-21 08:36
Promoting your books on discount book sites

The internet has a plethora of sites that offer free or deeply discounted e-books to members.


They get their product from authors who are enticed by the opportunity to have a promo template of their book sent free to the site’s membership in hopes that some members will download it, read and review it.


The free offer is a teaser to encourage you to pay for their enhanced list - more members and prolonged exposure.


They also offer a free author interview template. Answer the questions, add your picture and they’ll post it for free.


I discounted Local Rag to 99¢ and submitted it to the four sites listed below, taking advantage of free option only. I work hard to write and produce a decent book and I won't pay to give it away for free.

 

Like so many things that are free, and I suppose that goes for most free e-books, you get what you pay for. I didn’t see a whiff of interest.


I’ve researched a few authors who have documented how much they spent versus how much they made in sales using this approach. They claim to have broke even, but I have my doubts. I’m reminded of my friend who makes frequent trips to Las Vegas. When he wins, I hear about it. When he loses, well, he’s back talking about the time he won.


The other thing I noticed is that their book sales were not sustained. There may have been a blip, but there was not enough reviews, word of mouth, or buzz, in general, to elevate their book from self-publishing oblivion.

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs

 

Discount book sites

http://discountbookman.com

http://pretty-hot.com

http://mybookplace.net

Awesomegang.com

 

My Amazon Book Page in case you want to purchase Local Rag for 99¢ until the end of August

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

 

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text 2018-06-10 06:44
Do targeted email blasts generate sustained book sales?
Do targeted email blasts generate sustained book sales?
 
In the ongoing quest to find effective marketing tools for my nine novels and two plays, I've compiled a list of over two hundred email addresses of those who have expressed some interest in my books. Sending them an email has become part of every book launch.
 
My email blasts consist of three themed emails space two weeks apart. Each one offers the coupon code for a free e-book edition of the novel.
 
The response of my last blast was: opened 20%; clicked 6%; reviews 2
 
Many sites provide a similar service for a fee. For $25.00, Free Kindle Books http://fkbt.com/for-authors/ will include your book in a daily post to 750,000 addresses of which they claim 100,000 take action or about 13%. Take action does not mean buy, read or review your book.
 
Is this a good way to market a new release? Will it enhance sales of my backlist? How to tell?
 
Why not take a look at the results another author, Matt Manochio http://www.mattmanochio.com got from email blasts.
 
In his 2015 blog entitled Lessons in Advertising my Ebook, Manochio meticulously documented his experience http://www.mattmanochio.com
 
 
I have no idea how I came upon this information, but it is a caution that once you post on the internet, it never goes away.
 
To summarize, he used fourteen sites, spent $500 and sold approximately 1100 books @ 99¢. After the publisher's cut (he wasn't self-published), he concluded he broke even.
 
He also got some amazing short-term results with his book hitting #411 on the paid Kindle list and single-digit ranking in its respective genre. These numbers, however, were not sustained and currently, the book he was promoting is on the Amazon Best Sellers ranking at #2,012,826
 
If you deeply discount your book and send it to hundreds of thousands of people, some are going to open it, some even read it.
 
It's what happens after that's important. Does this investment enhance sales of your backlist at the regular price?
 
In Manochio's case did this happen?
 
Looking at the author's website and considering what he's written since, and where his books currently rank I'd say no, though it does sound like he had a hell of an exciting ride for a couple of weeks.
 
Will I consider email blasts in the future for my books keeping in mind that some of my novels may not be eligible on some sites since they don't have the required number of reviews or may not be considered to have a professional cover?
 
Maybe. In some cases, it's less expensive than sending a paperback edition of your book to a reviewer. The real payoff, however, won't be a blip in ranking, but rather if the book they got cheap was good enough to encourage them to buy one of my other titles at full price.
 
Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.
 
Some Email blast sites:
 
 
 
 
Free Kindle Books and Tips http://fkbt.com/for-authors/
 
Digital Books Today https://digitalbooktoday.com/
 
 
 
 
 
 
Facebook
 
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text 2018-02-05 07:16
The benefit of a bounty of Beta-Readers

 

I am constantly amazed at how many errors there are in my manuscripts.

 

And I don't mean the first draft.

 

Nothing is more frustrating for me than finding errors in my books, or worse, having others point them out. As well as being patently unprofessional I feel it shows a lack of respect for the work, not to mention the reader. I suppose this could be resolved by hiring a professional copyeditor.

 

Bookbaby's Copy Editing services include, "A word-by-word edit that addresses grammar, usage, and consistency issues." My soon-to-be-released novella, Cold-Blooded, The Mattie Saunders Series Book II, is about 100 pages and would cost $700.00 to be copyedited by Bookbaby

 

If I sell the e-book edition of Cold-Blooded for $3.99 on Amazon my royalty will be $1.40, which means I'd have to sell 500 copies to pay for the copy editing alone (in my dreams). So I'd rather recruit non-professionals who are committed to making my work error free.

 

Beta readers can be anyone, though I tend to shy away from friends and absolutely won't use family. I'm not asking them to review or comment on the story (though I don't discourage it), just read it and make note of the errors. Right now I have two who had previously reviewed my books (favourably). I contacted them to see if they'd like to beta-read my new works. The other one is a friend. None are professionals and they all do it for a free copy of the finished book with their name on the acknowledgements page.

 

Prior to sending the manuscript to my beta readers, I've developed a process to make it as error-free as possible.

1. Each time I sit down to write I re-read and revise what I wrote during the previous session.

2. After I finish a rough draft I revise it thoroughly, then let it rest.

3. After I've got the story out of my system, which means I no longer have instant recall for each line written (minimum three months), I pull it out and revise it again with fresh eyes.

4. Then comes the computer spell-check.

 

Then I send it out to my three beta readers.

 

I used to be pretty confident once I'd done all that I'd caught at least most of the typos and filled in the dropped words, but it's embarrassing how many errors they still find. It's also remarkable how what one misses the other catches.

 

Once they get back to me I do the corrections which entails another revision. Finally, uploading it to Smashwords, Kindle and Draft2Digital gives me another opportunity to check it since I always do a visual review for formatting glitches.

 

I strongly urge you to begin recruiting beta readers - from your email list, through your website, on social media, a supportive friend, a note pinned on the bulletin board in the local library, or like I'm doing here in a Booklikes blog (see below). You simply cannot have too many and they tend to fall away.

 

If you're patient, methodical and persevere you can self-published a respectable book.

 

Besides, there are no guarantees a professionally edited, self-published book will have any more success than one that is carefully vetted by a group amateurs committed to making your work the best it can be.

 

Plus you'll save a lot of money.

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs

 

30

 

If you'd like to become a beta reader and have an opportunity to read (and improve) my new work free, please send me an email at rod_raglin@yahoo.com

 

 

 

Web links associated with this article:

Bookbaby Editing Services https://www.bookbaby.com/book-editing-services

Kindle Direct Publishing https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US

Draft2Digital https://www.draft2digital.com

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com

Rod Raglin's Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

 

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text 2017-12-09 07:20
Book launch case study results

 So what works when it comes to marketing your self-published book?

 

Nothing.

 

Well, maybe that's being overly cynical. You may find some things work infinitesimally, but let me assure you there is no book marketing "silver bullet". At least that's been my experience over the past seven years with my eight novels and two plays.

 

But, hey, I'm ever the optimistic (what's the alternative?) and so when I received a promotional email (no personalized salutation) from an indie author saying she noticed I’d reviewed a book similar to one she had just written and if she sent me a free e-pub edition would I be interested in reviewing hers, I was curious as to know how she culled my email address from the millions on Amazon.

 

So I agreed to review her book on the condition she tell me how she got my email address and any other tips she might have on marketing. She responded favourably and was very forthcoming.

 

This all transpired in early October 2017  and I wrote a blog (see my previous blog entitled Book Launch Case Study) about what she had undertaken to produce and market her novel on October 18th.

 

As promised I read and reviewed her novel and rated it two stars. It was classically amateur. As well as posting the review I sent her a long, constructive (at least I thought it was) email with suggestions on improving the book and her overall writing.

 

She sent a terse reply saying I clearly did not enjoy the genre and her book obviously was not for me.

 

Fair enough.

 

So I thought I would wait and see if the money she spent on marketing would increase the popularity of what I considered a bad book.

 

Her book was published Sept. 27, 2017 and here's what she'd done and spent up to the point of sending it to me:

- To produce her book she hired two beta readers at $50 each and got a book cover artist from her writers’ group to design her cover for $65. No editor was needed she said as she just happened to be one herself.

- She purchased a Book Review Targeter app for $200 (that's how she got my email address).

- She uploaded the culled emails into Group Mailer and had "about forty-five people agree to read and review a free version of the book and an additional twenty who declined the free copy and purchased the book to review it.”

That's 65 people who agreed to review her book. Keep that number in mind.

In addition, she said she had another three or four lists (from additional similar books) she had yet process.

- At the end of October she was running a 99¢ campaign for the e-book edition for two days on Amazon and one-day free book promotions on Pretty-Hot Books and Discountbookman, spending ten dollars for a featured promotion on bookreadermagazine and running a giveaway on Goodreads.

- Let's not forget her friends, colleagues and clients whom she apparently had no problem asking to buy and review her book. She also asked writers in her writers’ groups to share information about her book on their Facebook pages and had started looking for blogs to ask bloggers to mention it.

 

All this cost her $375, and, I might think a bit of personal integrity and perhaps even a friend or two. But who isn't prepared to sacrifice their integrity, friends and even money if it means hitting the Amazon Best Seller list?

 

In the 71 days since her book was released she's had 7 customer reviews on Amazon with an average 4 star rating. Her book is currently ranked 3,359,000 on Amazon.

 

So what's the take away from this book launch case study?

 

  1. - Promises are not reviews or sales (remember those 65 people who promised to review her book, buy her book, or both) they're just promises.
  2. - Offering your book free or for 99¢ does not generate reviews or sales.
  3. - Since her family, friends, professional colleagues and clients didn't step up and review her book maybe you shouldn't go there. Relationships are more important than a book review and you really never know how much harm you're doing. Think of the friend who got involved in that multi-level marketing scheme - do you really want to be like him?

 

Am I happy she fell flat on her face? No. Am I vindicated that her efforts fell miles short of what I imagine her expectations were? No (well, maybe a little).

 

Mostly I hope she's gained some knowledge, maybe a bit of humility and carries on, but with emphasis on improving her craft rather than her marketing schemes. Maybe even get that email I sent out of the deleted file and take a look at what I suggested.

 

And always remember what Nietzsche said, "Art is the proper task in life."

 

And that would be whether it sells or not.

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs

 

 

30

 

Author Amazon Page  https:www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

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