Apr 13

Self-Publishing a Book – Steps to Upload Your Book for Publishing

Self-publishing and distribution.

I have an in-depth four-part article series on self-publishing from the point of having a polished and edited manuscript that’s ready to go.

I went over hiring a book formatter, getting a book cover, getting an ISBN, a barcode, and an LCCN. You can check out the first three articles at the end of this one.

I didn’t however get beyond the point of getting your book formatted and getting print-ready-files that you’ll use to upload to distributors and retailers.

You have your print-ready files in hand.

Okay, let me backtrack just a bit.

Pricing Your Book

When you register for the ISBN and the LCCN, you’ll be asked the price of your book, so figure that out beforehand if you can. If you can’t figure it out, you’ll definitely need to figure out what you’ll be charging at this point.

First know that different retailers may have different pricing rules. Check the retailers you’ll be focusing on.

If you want an ebook and you’re going with Amazon and want a 70% royalty rate, you’ll need to price your book between $2.99 and $9.99. For a full list of Amazon’s list price requirements, click the link.

If you’re publishing a paperback, the pricing works a bit different. Amazon or any other retailer or distributor will need to factor in the cost of printing.

Keep in mind that printing a children’s picture book will cost more than a non-picture book. You can check out KDP Amazon printing costs with the link.

I’m in the process of finalizing the formatting of my nonfiction book on writing for children. While it’s 250+ pages, there are no colored pictures or text, so I’ll be going with $9.99 for paperback and probably $4.99 for the ebook.

I’ll also sell the ebook directly from my website using PayPal.

Now you’re up to speed and ready for uploading to an aggregator or retailer. Which will it be?

First thing is to decide what service you’ll be using to distribute your book.

I’m going with Amazon (retailer) and IngramSpark (aggregator). Yes, you can list your book with both.

The reason for IngramSpark is because I want to be able to sell from other retailers than just Amazon.

When you upload with Amazon, they do not distribute to other retailers. This limits your selling reach. For those who want to go with just Amazon, you certainly can.

Using an aggregator for distribution allows your book to be listed in places like Barnes and Noble, WalMart, Target, schools, libraries, and thousands of other venues.

Other aggregators include Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Ebookit, Publish Drive, and Streetlib.

FYI: An aggregator is a service that publishes and distributes your book to multiple venues.

Time to create an account.

Go to the retailer and/or aggregator you’re going to use.

I already have an Amazon account for two other books, so I’ll work on creating an IngramSpark account.

Note here: Amazon is free to upload an ebook or print book. Other services may not be. As of the time I’m writing this, IngramSpark is $49 to upload both an ebook and print book.

Keep in mind, you can just publish an ebook, but with POD (print on demand) there is NO extra cost for publishing a print book or a nominal cost.

Since there are still those who like to hold a book, I recommend offering both.

On IngramSpark’s How it Works page, this is what you’ll see:

Simply click on the option you want and you’ll be asked to fill in some information to create an account: your name, email address, and password.

They’ll send a verification email for you to click on to activate your account.

Next, it’s on to accept their agreement then fill out your personal or business information. Then you’ll need to accept more agreements.

After this, you’ll be brought to a page to fill out your book’s information which will include:

  1. Title
  2. Subtitle
  3. Description
  4. Keywords

Think about the description carefully as well as the keywords. These marketing tools are what will help readers find your book and motivate them to buy. This is not a step to rush through.

You’ll also need to provide your banking information to receive book sales payments. They also want a credit card on file to pay to upload and distribute your book/s and any other services you purchase from them.

Word of advice: Create your “Add new book” when you’re ready to upload your print-ready file. I filled out all the information before I had the file to upload and lost it all. Now, I’ll have to redo it.

Now onto uploading the book.

Follow Instructions

IngramSpark’s new interface does have a couple of glitches, so you’ll have to be patient if you’re uploading now.

Follow their instructions and if you still need help, they have a community that should be able to answer your question. IngramSpark also has a number of articles on self-publishing. Or, you can do an online search.

I priced my ebook at $6.99 and the print book at $14.99. At $14.99, my royalty is about $5.

If I priced it at $9.99, my royalty would be $2-$3.

You’ll also be able to include other markets: United Kingdom, European Union, Canada, Australia, and Global Connect.

I chose them all.

You can check out what your royalty will be for different prices at:
https://myaccount.ingramspark.com/Portal/Tools/PubCompCalculator

Discounting Your Book

When you fill in your pricing, you’ll be asked about Wholesale Discount for book stores and other retailers of print books.

You can read more about discounting your books at:
https://www.ingramspark.com/blog/why-should-i-discount-my-book

I chose to go with the highest discount. While you’ll receive a much lower royalty on your sales to wholesalers, at least you’ll have the opportunity to sell more.

Returns

This is a tricky one. If you intend to sell to book stores and other retailers who buy in bulk, know that most will not purchase your book, even at a discount, IF they can’t return the books.

The catch with returns is if a book is returned, you will be charged for the wholesale price of that book. So, if you allow returns, save the money from discounted purchases for a while, to make sure you have the money to reimburse for returns.

If you do allow returns, be sure to choose “Returns – Destroy.” With this option you’ll only pay for the wholesale purchase amount, not shipping and handling fees.

I don’t know if there’s a time limit on returns from discounted sales. I’ve researched and haven’t been able to find an answer. If I do, I’ll add it to this article.

You can read more about Book Returns below:

Making Your Book Returnable
Returns 101 – What Authors Need to Know

Distribution

Once you upload your book and they approve it, the distributor (IngramSpark) or retailer (Amazon) will make it available for sale.

Hope this eases the process of self-publishing your books.

You can check out the first three articles in the series here:

Self-Publishing a Book (1) – Formatting

Self-Publishing a Book (2) – The ISBN, the Barcode, and the LCCN

Self-Publishing a Book (3) – You’re at the Finish Line

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at your notes, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn your story into a book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

Simply email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Ghostwriter in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Let’s get your story in publishable shape today!


Dec 01

2 Book Marketing Must Do Elements

I’ve been reading a lot of articles on book marketing and this led me to think more and more about what happens to my clients when I’m done with the manuscript.

While doing-it-yourself on Amazon is an option to create an ebook, the majority of my clients prefer to have it done for them.

This means, after they’ve had illustrations done, they need to hire a service to publish and distribute the book.

After that, they’ll have an actual book or ebook.

But what’s next?

The next step should be to try to sell the book.

Let’s backtrack a bit though.

It’s been said by all book marketing experts that an author needs to start selling their book before it’s published.

Okay, what does that mean?

BOOK MARKETING 101

If you’re writing a children’s book or having one ghostwritten, you need to think about how you’ll go about selling it even before the book is done.

This all starts with creating an online presence and there are two fundamental elements to do this: an author website and a social presence.

THE AUTHOR WEBSITE

Before you get involved in social media marketing, you need a website.

But before you jump in, spend some time to think of what the name of your website will be – this is known as your website’s domain name.

Keep in mind the domain name should reflect what the website is about.

And, example of this is my group website Writers on the Move. The domain is: https://writersonthemove.com

Another is my children’s ghostwriting site (the one you’re on now): https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com

Free or Paid

You can go with free hosting services, like Blogger.com, WordPress.com, Wix, or Weebly.  

This means the website doesn’t cost you anything.

I don’t recommend using free hosting services because they don’t have the same features as hosting services like Bluehost, which I use.

You can get hosting through Bluehost for around $3-$4 per month with a two or three year plan and you get the domain name for free, the first year. Then the domain is around $15 per year.

If you’re thinking about getting an author site up, CLICK HERE to get started.

Bluehost has great customer service, so if you need help you can get it.

A SOCIAL PRESENCE

Think of your website as the foundation of your book marketing. It’s the hub of your online presence.

The idea is to get visitors to come to your website to see what books you have to offer.

This is where social networks come in.

You need to be on social media.

Pick two to three networks to join. I use LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, but there are lots of other networks to choose from.

How it works.

If you write a blog post and put it on your website, or you create a new webpage on your site, say for a new book, you will need to share that information.

Social share buttons are used to do this. The image below is what it might look like.

I use the free version of Sumo and it works great. Some share buttons may appear on the bottom of the page rather than the side.

The process is simple.

The first thing is to share your new content to your social networks by clicking on the buttons.

The when a visitor stops by and likes what they see, they can use the share buttons to share your content also.

Whether You’re Self-Publishing or Traditionally Publishing

These two elements are needed whether you’re self-publishing or submitting to traditional publishers and/or literary agents. In fact, publishers and agents usually want to know if you have an online author presence. They want to be sure you can help sell your books.

Most authors put time, effort into writing a book. If you have your manuscript ghostwritten or edited then money is included in the mix.

Do everything you can to help self your books.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM?

Check out my Build Your Author Platform 4 Week Online eClass through WOW! Women on Writing!

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need editing, rewriting, or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, FICTION WRITING FOR CHILDREN.

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Your Self-Published Book and the ISBN

Nov 17

Every Author Needs to Know About Book Marketing

Book Promotion

Years ago, my focus was book marketing and content marketing, but I ended up gravitating more and more toward writing, specifically children’s writing.

Why the change?

The thing is, writing has a beginning, middle, and end; marketing and selling your book is never-ending. And, the information you need to write about changes a lot. I found I like the consistency of writing about writing.

While I decided not to focus on marketing, I do know book marketing is crucial to ever author. Because of that, I keep up with new trends and strategies.

When I read Neil Patel’s article on his content marketing formula, I knew I had to share it.

Before I dive in, let me explain these terms.

Book Marketing

This marketing strategy is ‘everything’ you do to bring visibility to your book and actually sell it.

While there are some authors who just want to have a book written and don’t really care about selling it, most authors want to sell their books.

This is especially true of authors who spend money to self-publish their books where costs can be from under $1000 to well over $1000.

A few of my clients have spent well over $10,000 for just ONE book.

Recouping the money invested in your book is a big deal to most.

And, it’s just as important if you’re traditionally published. Your publisher will definitely want you to help sell your book/s.

In fact, it you and another author both submitted great manuscripts to a publisher, a determining factor on who gets the contract could be who has a better book marketing platform.

So, here are a few elements to know about before and after your book is available for sale:

  1. Create a book worthy of publishing and learn about pricing it effectively
  2. Create and maintain an author website
  3. Write articles and post them on your website’s blog
  4. Be active on social media and share your blog posts and those of other users
  5. Get an email list going and maintain it
  6. Look into guest blogging and interviews
  7. While doing all this and more, start on your next book

Once your book is available for sale, you’ll also need to get book reviews and create an Amazon Author Page.

Content Marketing

This strategy is about writing and sharing content to your specific target audience.

According to Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

To clarify a bit, it’s about bringing visibility to you and your product/s through content (things you write and share, usually online). It’s about building a brand (what you want people to think of when they see your name or logo).

The marketing world is driven on content.

Below are a few strategies of content marketing:

  1. Blogging
  2. Video
  3. Podcasts
  4. Infographics
  5. Sales pages on your website
  6. Books

There are many other elements that go into these marketing strategies, but this should give you a basic understanding of both these terms.

And more importantly, it’s important to understand that pretty much everything you do to sell your book is a form of content marketing.

Now on to content marketing expert Neil Patel’s tips:

#1 Optimize your headline.

Everything you write, whether a blog post or a description on social media, starts with a headline.

An example of this is the title of this article.

There are thousands and thousands of tidbits of information online, why would someone click on your bit of information?

The very first reason would be the headline. It’s what will initially grab the reader’s attention.

#2 Add three internal links.

Internal links is when you link from one page on your website to another.

It allows you to bring the reader at your website to other of your website pages and/or blog posts through clickable links.

You can check out this article to learn more about internal (inbound) links:

#3 Share your content on social media.

Once you put up a blog post, use sharing tools, like Shareaholic and WP Social Sharing Plugins, and share it to your social networks.

#4 Message everyone you link out to.

This tip pertains to external (outbound) links. Links from your website (usually from your blog post) to other websites.

Patel recommends that you contact the site you’re linking out to and let them know that you’ve linked to their site from your blog post or webpage.

Ask the site to stop by and share the article.

#5 Email blast your new blog posts.

Email your subscribers every time you post new content.

To learn the basics of email marketing, check out this article:
Email Marketing – 10 Top Reasons to BE Doing It

I know some of this may sound too complicated, but just knowing the basics will be of tremendous benefit to you.

So give your book every chance at finding readers and making sales.

For a more in depth look at marketing your books, check out:
Build Your Author-Writer Platform

The Author-Writer Platform
May 12

Visuals in Your Book Marketing

If you’re an author, you’ll need to market you and your books.

The first thing is you’ll need an author website and visuals should be a part of it.

You’ll need visuals for your header, your pages, and each of your blog posts.

You’ll also need headers / banners for your social media networks, like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

So, why are visuals so important to your author platform?

It’s because people are visual creatures … and statistics back this up.

According to BrainRules.net, “Vision trumps all other senses.”

Did you know that studies have found that people will recall 65% of the visual content they see up to three days later?

Compare this to plain written text that people will only remember about 10% of what they read up to three days later.

More ‘wow’ visual statistics:

– Tweets with images boosts retweets 150 percent
– If you use a visual in your Facebook post, it could get 37% more engagement than simply using text alone.

According to Jeff Bullas.com, “Articles with images get 94% more total views.”

This is powerful information that makes it obvious what to include in your marketing: Visuals.

While you can use stock images, the internet is saturated with them. And, you need to be sure the images you choose are royalty free and you’re allowed to use them.

The solution is to create your own images with tools like Canova, LaughingBird, Crello, and Adobe Spark.

With these tools you can create images specific to your needs.

Here are a couple of examples:

Suppose you need one for an article you’ve written about secondary characters.

Writing Fiction

Suppose you’ve written an article on writing for children.

Children's writing tips

What if you have a blog post on a book’s back matter?

What goes in the back of your children's book?

As your can see, these tools allow you to keep everything about your blog post topic focused.

Well, that’s about it. If you have any questions, just use the comment area!

Along with being a working children’s ghostwriter, I offer online classes through WOW! Women on Writing. You might check them out if you need help with building and author platform or blogging.

Build Your Author/Writer Platform in Just 4 Weeks
More Readers, More Authority, More Sales

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Become a Power-Blogger in Just 4 Weeks

May 05

Book Synopsis, Book Description, Book Review – What’s the Difference?

Book Synopsis, Book Description, Book Review

The book synopsis, description, and review are three book marketing tools that your books will absolutely need.

But, when do you need these marketing elements and how do you use them?

Let’s look at each one in the order you would use them.

The Book Synopsis

You’ve written an amazing story – it’s traditional publishing ready … and worthy.

You do your research and find literary agents and/or publishing houses that accept your book’s genre. And, a few of the publishing houses accept unagented and unsolicited submissions. Yea!

Along with a cover letter and the first 10 pages of your manuscript, the agent or publisher will probably want a synopsis of your story. (The number of pages may vary from company to company, and you’ll send the full manuscript if you’ve written a picture book.)

So, what exactly is a synopsis?

According to an article at Writer’s Digest, “A synopsis conveys the narrative arc, an explanation of the problem or plot, the characters, and how the book or novel ends. It ensures character actions and motivations are realistic and make sense. It summarizes what happens and who changes from beginning to end of the story.” (1)

The synopsis will be part of your submissions journey. And yes, it gives away the ending.

Your synopsis should be one-two pages, depending on the length of your book. You don’t want to overload it with details, but you want to give enough information to whet the reader’s appetite.

Just summarize your story and be sure to include the ending.

An agent or publisher will want to know exactly what happens in the story and how it ends up.

Along with the number of pages requested from your manuscript, the synopsis will help determine whether the agent or publisher will want to see more.

The Book Description

Next up on your writing journey is the book’s description. This may be similar to the synopsis, but there’s a BIG difference: You don’t give away the ending or any other surprises in the story.

The description is a book marketing tool that helps sell your book. It explains what your story is about in a way that makes the reader want to read the book. It’s a hook.

If you’ve written a book and went to the trouble of submitting it to agents and/or publishers, or you’re self-publishing, you want to sell that book.

The short version of the book’s description (backcover copy) and the longer version for marketing and publicity purposes are pitches to the reader. These descriptions should be enticing enough to motivate the reader to buy your book.

The description could make or break the purchasing decision.

In fact, I can’t remember where I read it, but the #1 selling factor of a book is the cover. The #2 factor is the backcover copy.

The Book Review

As soon as you have a completed manuscript that’s about to be published or has just been published, whether traditionally published or self-published, you will need reviews of your book.

In an article at Jane Friedman.com, the author says that “book reviews build symbolic capital.” (2) This is what you need for book sales.

Okay, so what is symbolic capital?

Well, you may think your book is amazing, but the purchaser wants more evidence than your opinion. They want to know that others have read your book and loved it. “You need (positive) independent assessment to convince readers to spend money and time.” (2)

This is where book reviews come in.

Think of an author in one of the big five publishing houses. Think of an author on the NYTimes Best Seller list, multiple times. Think of ‘heavy hitters’ like James Patterson, Stephen King, Danielle Steel, and Nora Roberts.

This is symbolic capital.

While most authors won’t be in the category above, having lots of positive book reviews is another form of symbolic capital.

Book reviews are extremely important if you’re a self-published author. You won’t have any momentum behind you, so you need to create your own with book reviews.

You might consider giving the book away for free to get some word-of-mouth started. Ask if the readers will post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and other book sites.

Once you start getting positive reviews, you can use them in your marketing. Keep building on them.

Why are Book Reviews SO Powerful?

In an article at SmartBugMedia.com, it states, “In a recent study, data revealed that 67% of consumers are influenced by online reviews.” (3)

It seems, salespeople and marketers are trusted only 3% compared to 2% for car salesmen and politicians. (3)

That’s powerful information.

Hope this helps you as you get your book out there.

References:

(1) https://www.writersdigest.com/editors-picks/learn-how-to-write-a-synopsis-like-a-pro
(2) https://www.janefriedman.com/book-reviews-not-sales/
(3) https://www.smartbugmedia.com/blog/power-of-reviews-and-customer-success-in-marketing
https://scribewriting.com/write-book-description/

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn your story into a book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Ghostwriter in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Let’s get your story in publishable shape today!

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Mar 17

Your Self-Published Book and the ISBN

Selling to libraries and book sellersBeing a children’s ghostwriter, I get a lot of clients who self-publish. Many of them use companies that will do the work for them, actually format and publish and distribute the book, like Amazon does.

If you self-publish a physical book or ebook and intend to sell it online, in bookstores, or pretty much anywhere else, you will need an ISBN.

What Does ISBN Stand for?

It stands for International Standard Book Number and every book must have one to be sold.

According to ISBN.org,

The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify one title or edition of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition, allowing for more efficient marketing of products by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers and distributors.

Each format or binding must have a separate ISBN (i.e. hardcover, paperbound, VHS video, laserdisc, e-book format, etc). A new ISBN is required for a revised edition. Once assigned, an ISBN can never be reused. An ISBN is printed on the lower portion of the back cover of a book above the bar code and on the copyright page.

The ISBN’s purpose is to create a unique identity for your book so you can sell it. This is essential for book dealers, libraries, and other sources to be able to find and identify specific books.

Where Do You Get an ISBN?

If you’re using a self-publishing service, like CreateSpace, DogEarPublishing.net, BookBaby.com, PublishingPush.com, Smashwords, Lulu, or similar entities, you don’t need to get your own ISBN, the service will give you one for FREE.

This may seem like a great deal. Who doesn’t like free?

BUT …

If you use a free ISBN from a self-publishing service, they’ll be listed as the Publisher of your book.

In addition to this, according to Self-Publishing School, there’s another problem, “Most of the time, you can only use those free ISBNs with the channels those companies distribute through.” (1)

Because of these reasons, I strongly advice my clients to get their own ISBN.

Where Can You Get Your Own ISBN?

If you’ve thought about it and decided you don’t want the self-publishing company to be listed as the publisher of your book, you can get an ISBN through Bowker at https://www.myidentifiers.com/

One number costs $125, but you can get 10 for $295 (these fees are as of the last time I researched them).

Unless you intend to be a one-book-wonder with only one version of your book, you might want to go for the 10 pack.

Sometimes you can buy an ISBN from the publishing company you’re using. At the time this article was written, you could get one from CreateSpace for $99.

What Name Should You Choose for Your Publishing Company

You can choose whatever publishing name you want to use. I made mine Writers on The Move.

You might use your name or a family member’s name. It can literally be anything.

For a lot more on the ISBN, check out:

(1) https://self-publishingschool.com/isbn/

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2010/03/isbn-for-self-publishers-answers-to-20-of-your-questions/

Children's ghostwriterWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

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LIKE THIS POST? PLEASE SHARE!

Sep 02

Is Your Busyness Productive?

Too busy to write?We’ve all been there . . . being too busy.

But, is your busyness constructive?

Or, is your busyness, just busyness?

If you’re trying to build a writing career, you’ve got to be busy on things that will move your career forward.

Do you want to become an author?

Well, you’ve got to decide which niche you’ll write in. And, then you’ll need to learn the ropes and write until you reach your goal.

Do you want to build a freelance writing career?

Again, you’ve got to decide on the niche you’ll write in. Learn as much as you can about it and then jump.

Do you want to market you and your books?

Yep. You’ve got to put in the work.

No matter what it is you want to do, make your busyness constructive. Make it move you forward to achieve your goals.

This post was originally published at: Writers on the Move

Children's ghostwriterWell, hey, maybe you really are too busy with productive stuff to write your book. It happens and that’s where I come in. Send me your thoughts or notes or outline and let me help you turn it into a publishing worthy book.

Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

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Apr 29

Selling Books and By-Pass Marketing

Book marketingSelling books is a must for authors.

But even if you’re a freelance writer or have a home business, you should have at least one book you’re author of. Books are one of the most powerful authority building tools. And, they can be created with little or no money, though services like CreateSpace, Amazon, or IngramSpark.

Okay, I got a little sidetracked there – back to the author.

Since bookstores don’t have the same draw as they once did, to sell that book you need to think out of the box. You need to think about by-pass marketing.

I first learned of the term, by-pass marketing, through a teleseminar presented by Steve Harrison. The featured speaker was Jack Canfield. He explained that “only one out of seven people in the United States go into book stores to buy a book.” This was back in 2010. Imagine the percentage today.

In fact, today, book stores have jumped on the internet bandwagon – the majority of their sales come from online sources.

But, what does By-Pass Marketing mean?

By-pass marketing is selling in places you wouldn’t expect to see books for sale. This is a great book marketing tool for authors no matter what genre you write in.

Some By-pass Venues for Selling Books:

• Bakeries
• Nail salons
• Gas stations
• Beauty salons
• Barbers
• Fitness centers
• Spas
• Cleaners
• Tailors
• Doctor offices
• Chiropractic and Acupuncture offices
• Radiology offices
• Local restaurants

You get the idea. Sell anywhere you can. Think of establishments in your area where you have to wait for services or that get a lot of traffic. I just went to the dealership for my car to get an inspection. Imagine if you have a book on traveling or different means of transportation, or even on cars, it’d be a great fit.

Talk to management or the owner of an establishment and offer a percentage of sales or a set amount per book. This is a win-win situation for you and the business owner.

Since they have absolutely no investment of money, time, or effort, there is no risk. Yet, they have the opportunity to make money. This should be a no-brainer on their part. All you need to do is ask.

Remember: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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Feb 04

Get Your Books Found on Amazon

Book Marketing on AmazonEveryone writing a book should realize that once it’s done, you will need to get it published, distributed, and visible.

If you’re traditionally publishing, you don’t have to worry about the publishing and distribution. But, no matter what publishing path you take, you’ll need to learn about book marketing.

This article deals with being discoverable through Amazon in particular, but the content will be applicable to anywhere you’re distributing your books to, including Barnes and Noble, iBook, and so on.

Okay, so you have your manuscript, whether ghostwritten or you’ve written it yourself. If you need illustrations for your children’s picture book, you’ve researched and found a great illustrator.

Everything is done, including editing, and your manuscript is ready to go.

According to an article at MichaelHyatt.com, research shows how a potential reader looks at your book, in the order that she actually looks:

1. She looks at the title, so it should definitely be grabbing (an attention getter) and reflective of the book’s content.
2. She looks at the cover.
3. She looks at the back cover.
4. She looks at the flap (this is applicable to hard cover books with dust jackets).
5. She’ll glance over the Table of Contents.
6. She’ll glance at the first couple of paragraphs at the beginning of the story.
7. She’ll look at the price (be comparable to other books in your genre).

We’ll focus a bit on 1, 2, and 3.

The title

Up till now, you might have been using a ‘working’ title. It’s time to step up your game and create a killer title. As you can see above, the title is the NUMBER ONE element a potential reader will look at.

It’s a good idea to include a subtitle also. This will further help the reader and search engines find your book and help them determine what it’s about.

This is especially important in series.

The title and subtitle will be the first bit of information a potential reader will get of your book.

The title should be:

– An attention getting (as mentioned above)
– Be relevant to the book itself – giving information as to what the reader can expect
– Be memorable (if at all possible)
– Be easy to say

The last two attributes are akin to your website’s domain name. Don’t make it a difficult one to pronounce or remember. People want easy and quick.

So, why do you want your title to be memorable and easy to say?

You want the reader to tell his friend that he read “Your Book Title” and loved it. You want the friend to remember the title so he can look it up and buy it.

After the title, the potential reader will look at the cover.

Do your research to get it right.

The front cover

This is definitely not for amateurs. Your cover illustration and design need to be professionally done.

While much of creating a book today can cost no money or very little, you should invest in the cover. And, it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are a number of services, like Fiverr.com, that have very good graphic designers.

The key is to find the right one for your book.

After the title and cover design, the potential reader will look at the back cover. This is usually enough for her to make a decision.

The back cover

Now, do you know what you want to do with the back cover?

While the front cover and title are your most important selling features, the back cover is the next most important thing in giving the reader a reason to buy your book.

– Do you want your author bio and picture on the back? (Not unless you’re James Patterson or Stephen King.)
– Do you want back cover copy that will help motivate the reader to buy the book? (Yes.)
– Do you want an illustration included? (If at all possible, especially for a children’s book.)

These are things to think about.

A good way to help decide is to go to your library and look at recently published books in your genre. She how these publishers designed the back covers.

Another factor

On a lesser note, some readers want to know about the author. They may scan the back of the book to check out the author bio. This make be the factor that gets the buy.

This is why you should have an Author page.

Self-publishing companies

Now it’s on to researching a quality company to take your manuscript (and illustrations if applicable) and turn it into an ebook and/or a physical book.

The self-publishing company or distributor will ask you to come up with keywords, a description, an author blurb, back cover copy, and possibly dedication copy.

Don’t just jot anything down. Think carefully. Take your time. Research keywords and what to say for the other elements.

Whether your books are listed on Amazon or elsewhere, the site’s visitor search engines will look at those optimized elements to provide an accurate answer to a visitor’s query.

SIDE NOTE: Most of the self-publishing companies offer packages. It could be illustrations, editing, providing the keywords and description, and so on. It will be an additional fee though. And, keep in mind, most are not interested in you selling your books – most of them make their money directly from you.

So again, take the time and research how to choose the categories and create your own optimized keywords, and so on. Give your book every opportunity to be discoverable.

At this point you might be wondering what this all means. Well, let me give you an example.

How Amazon’s search works – Basically

Pete wants to buy a book for his middle-grade son who loves fantasy adventure stories. So, Pete inputs MIDDLE GRADE, FANTASY, ADVENTURE, BOOK in Amazon’s search box.

My small traditional publisher knows a bit about online marketing, so created relevant keywords and a description for my middle-grade book, “Walking Through Walls.”

My book’s keywords and description include the keywords Pete used in his query.

Guess what?

Based on the optimization of my book, Amazon knows that it’s a good match to Pete’s query so they may very well give my book as one of the search results.

While there are other factors involved, this is basically how it works.

This is the power of optimizing your book for visibility. Keywords and categories especially make your book more discoverable.

How to find effective keywords . . . and categories

Just knowing you need effective keywords isn’t going to help you much. To find those keywords think logically – use common sense.

1. What is your book about?
2. What words would you use to describe your book?
3. What words would you use in a search box to find a similar book?
4. What words do you think a reader will use to find a book like yours?

Let’s say your book is a romance set in Tuscany. Come up with a list of keywords you think a person might use to search for that kind of story. Maybe it deals with a vineyard or tourism.

Along with the obvious: romance, Tuscany, love, think long-tail keyword.

A long-tail keyword is a more specific keyword. In addition to the basics, like romance, include ‘love in Tuscan,’ ‘romance Italian style.’ Maybe even something like, ‘love and wine and romance in Tuscany.’

You get the idea, elaborate. But, always make your keywords relevant to your book.

After you have at least 10-15, go to Amazon and input just the beginning of ROMANCE in the search box. In the drop-down box that appears, what key phrases does Amazon bring up?

When I did it, I was given:

Book MarketingAdd the relevant ones listed to your own list.

Next, go to similar books on Amazon. Find a couple of good matches to yours and analyze them.

As an example, I searched for ROMANCE IN TUSCANY. While there wasn’t a drop-down list of keywords, it did bring me to a page with books that have “Tuscany” in it.

For the book “That Month in Tuscany” toward the bottom of Product Details, you’ll find what it’s ranking for (the categories):

Book marketing

This book is ranking well (#1816) for: Books>Romance>Contemporary

In the More About the Author section, toward the bottom it shows what the author’s Author Rank is and for what categories:

Book visibilityThe author is ranking high for Kindle eBooks>Romance> Contemporary>Books>Literature & Fiction>Contemporary Fiction

Researching this gives you a lot of useable information.

NOTE: it’s advisable to do this research on books that have a good ranking – that are doing well on Amazon like the book I referenced above.

Categories are kind of like keywords but it gives a broader look at what your book is about.

It’s in the keywords that you’ll get more specific. If they’re appropriate for your book, you might use TUSCANY, ROMANCE IN TUSCANY, ITALY, FLORENCE, TUSCANY VINEYARDS, RENAISSANCE ART, MICHELANGELO’S DAVID.

Okay, so you have a good list of keywords and categories. Now choose the ones that the ‘good ranking’ books are using, plus add ones that are more specific to your book (long-tail keywords). Possibly, romance in Tuscany.

What about the book description?

Amazon is great in that they allow up to 4000 words (last time I looked). If you’ve written a novel or full-size nonfiction book use all the words allowed.

If you have a children’s picture book, obviously you wouldn’t use all those words. But, you should write a motivating description and possibly elaborate on how the book will be relevant or beneficial in school settings or at home.

Think outside the box. Make your book description as enticing as possible.

If you’re working with a self-publishing company, they’ll most often tell you how many words you’re allowed.

The Amazon Author Page

Not everyone knows about the Amazon Author Page, but now you do. Be sure you create one and fill in every feature offered.

Readers often want to know about the author of a book. This will give them what they want to know and it can very well help motivate them to buy your book.

You can find information about creating your own Author Page at:
https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help

You can also see how I created mine:
https://www.amazon.com/author/karencioffi

Taking advantage of Goodreads

Goodreads is probably the largest reader site. Readers list the books they’ve read, are reading, and want to read. And, a lot of the users give reviews of the books they’ve read.

How you can use this for your research is to go to the site and, like Amazon, use the search bar to put in your keyword and see what their search engine brings up.

If you look at a particular book, it will also give you the categories (genres) used.

While you’re on the site, create an account and list your books.

Wrapping it Up

There are many strategies you can use to help market your book. Having your book on Amazon is probably on the top of the list. Just be sure to optimize your listing to help make it discoverable. Research effective keywords, categories, and descriptions. Analyze what other books in your genre are doing in this area. Take what you learn and create a slam-dunk Amazon book strategy.

For even more information on Amazon book marketing, visit:
Improve Your Book Descriptions and Audience Targeting

If you need help with your author online platform, WOW! Women on Writing has some great e-classes that will help. Check out:

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Basic Website Optimization, Blogging Smart, Email Marketing, and Social Media Marketing

It’s a 4-week in-depth and interactive e-class that covers all the tools you’ll need to build visibility and website traffic, and boost sales.

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Jan 14

Your Author Platform – Is it Ever Too Soon to Start?

Newbies to the writing arena have many questions about creating an author platform. And, the most puzzling one is whether they need a website before they have a book published or in contract.

In fact, I’ve recently been questioned twice about whether a newbie with NO book on the publishing horizon should bother to start working on a platform and more specifically on an author website.

Both individuals felt it would be like putting the cart before the horse.

It’s important to know that this though is far from the case.

Creating a website at the get-go is putting the horse before the cart. It’s one of the forces that will pull you forward and help you establish your online platform, your presence and visibility.

So, the answer to the title question is NO. It’s never too soon to begin your author platform or your author website:

– If you want to be a writer or an author,
– If you intend to submit manuscripts to agents and/or publishers,
– If you intend to self-publish a book, the answer is still the same.

The time to get your online platform started is RIGHT NOW. And, the foundation of your platform is a website.

Keeping up with Marketing Trends

When one author mentioned she was writing a children’s middle grade book and didn’t have a website, I responded that it was a mistake. I told her websites are an essential part of an author’s online platform.

Her reply caught me by surprise. She was advised by a well-known and respected educational site for children’s writing that she should wait until she received a book contract before creating a website.

If this were 10 or 15 years ago that advice would make sense. But, today, agents and publishers want to know what the potential new author’s platform is beforehand.

Please note that this revised article was originally written in 2013, hopefully the views of this site has changed.

The size or lack-of-size of an online platform can make or break a contract.

The powers-that-be expect you to have a website in place and be involved in social networks before you even submit a manuscript. They expect you to be a big part of the marketing involved in selling the book.

Jane Friedman, Media Studies instructor at the University of Virginia and former publisher of Writer’s Digest, says, “You must cultivate a readership every day of your life, and you start TODAY.” (1)

Why do you need to start your online platform TODAY?

In a single word, the answer to that question is TIME. Establishing an online platform takes time.

It takes time to establish yourself as an authority in your niche. It takes time to develop a relationship with your readers. It takes time to develop trust. And, it takes time to broaden your reach.

Real life example:

One of my former clients created a website. And, she created pages on two of the major social networks. She did all this way before she started to get her book written.

The results? She has thousands and thousands and thousands of followers on both social networks. I’m talking about well over 30,000 followers.

You can be sure I added this information when writing the query letter for her.

Do you think this will make a difference in a publisher or agent’s view of this new author?

You bet it will.

They’ll know she’s able and willing to help sell her books.

Since your website is the foundation of your author platform, it’s absolutely, positively necessary to get a website setup and optimized as soon as possible.

It’s from this focal point, your hub of information, that you will draw the attention of the search engines and readers. You may even catch the attention of a visiting editor, publisher, or literary agent.

Your website is also the place you will get readers to sign-up for your mailing list – further building your marketing reach. It’s the place you will begin a long-term writer-reader relationship.

Think of your author website as the launching pad of your book marketing platform.

Reference
(1) http://janefriedman.com
(Sorry, this was revised from a 2013 article and I can’t find the URL to the article.)

NEED HELP GETTING VISIBILITY AND BUILDING AUTHORITY FOR YOUR AUTHOR ONLINE PLATFORM?

Check out my e-class through WOW! Women on Writing:

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More Readers, More Authority, More Sales

It’s a 4-week in-depth and interactive e-class through WOW! Women on Writing and covers all the tools you’ll need to build visibility and traffic, and boost sales.

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