Apr 17

Sell Your Books Face-to-Face

Contributed by Linda Wilson

Pre-pandemic, I was gearing up to arrange a book signing, school visits, and gather materials to sell my books in a booth at local events. At the same time, I was working on creating a viable platform that would introduce the world to MOI.

All that changed, of course, but we indie authors are forever optimists. I’m glad I had to wait. Now, another year smarter, I’ve come up with a much better plan than I ever could have had a year ago, one that I think will be attractive enough to interest local librarians, teachers and parents, and online readers.

Find your Platform: Explore your Deepest Desire

If you need to create a plan and an author platform on how to present yourself as a tour-de-force author, here is an idea. Explore what you’ve done in the past, what you’re doing now, or a skill you’d like to develop; use it as your focus and expand on it.

My focus has turned out to be puppets—a project I pursued when my two daughters were very young, under five years old. My idea at the time stemmed from my elementary-teaching background. I wanted to enhance my children’s creativity. That, and being involved in my children’s lives, worked. My daughters, now in their 30s, are both very creative.

The reason this idea of focusing on puppets hadn’t occurred to me until now is because my first book project was a mystery/ghost series for 7-10-year-olds. Puppets never occurred to me as perhaps in the back of my mind I must have thought that children that age wouldn't be interested in puppets. Rather, I devised a way to present myself in the classroom and at libraries by doing a science experiment, which would illuminate part of the Secret in the Stars story. The ghost in the story appears to Abi Wunder in a cloud. I would create a cloud. I thought of other types of presentations I could come up with, such as a presentation about honey bees, which is a prominent subject in the story. However, I didn’t have much confidence that these ideas would be attractive enough for me to be invited into schools and libraries.

Enter the realization that the one project, the Abi Wunder mystery trilogy, needed more. More book projects. I looked through my files one day and found several stories suitable for possible picture books. Two of these stories have now turned into completed picture books, currently being illustrated, and planned to be published sometime this year.

Expanding into picture books turned out to be key. I have collected the puppet plays and materials I saved from those past puppet presentations, and am creating a plan to write puppet plays from my picture book stories, create the puppets and materials (without a stage, rather the plan is to keep the presentations simple), and make a short list of the first places I would present these puppet plays, with the hope that requests for more presentations would follow. Of course, the Abi Wunder series would become an integral part of these presentations, both in person and online.

Selling Books Face-to-Face, by RJ Mirabal

RJ Mirabal, an adult and children’s author, and member of our SCBWI chapter in New Mexico, gave a terrific presentation on the ins-and-outs of selling our books locally.

After publishing an adult fantasy trilogy, the Rio Grande Parallax Series, a finalist in the NM/AZ Book Awards, in the science fiction category, RJ burst onto the children’s literature scene with the award-winning first book in a series for children, Trixie Finds her People, a story based on his rescue dog. One of five finalists in The Next Generation Indie Book Awards, an international contest honoring independent and self-published books, Trixie Finds her People won first place in the Animal/Pets category; and the book was also a finalist in the New Mexico Press Women’s Writing awards, a regional contest. The next Trixie book will be coming out sometime this year.

RJ’s new children’s series, Dragon Train, is about a dragon who makes an unscheduled stop in a small village because this dragon towing a train is dying of exhaustion. A curious young farmer runs down to the tracks to help her, which sets the young man and dragon on an epic adventure to gain freedom and happiness.  

Open up for Business in your State 

To open for business in your state, there are certain things you need to do. Here are a few examples from RJ’s presentation:

    -Register your business with the state; you will have to pay gross receipts tax for your sales.
    -You may need to register in your town or city, which might require a business license. RJ registered in Albuquerque, NM. Cost: $35.
    -Register your business as a sole proprietorship; you don’t need to register as an LLC.
    -Report your income on personal tax forms.
    -Create a name for your business. RJ's is RJM Creative Arts.
    -Obtain a PO box, a good idea to use as your professional address.

Create your Display:

    -Purchase a portable table and tablecloth to match the mood of your books.
    -Decide how you want to display your books, author swag, a bowl of candy, etc.
    -Have a full-color poster (11 X 17 is an economical size that can be printed at Staples) made to use as a table display.
    -Have a banner made, a long sheet of plasticized paper, to match the banner on your website.
    -Have pictures from yours books, characters, book covers made to display.

RJ has graciously agreed to provide a PDF from his presentation for anyone interested. You can contact him at rjmcreativearts@gmail.com. Learn more about RJ’s children’s books: https://rjthestoryguy.com.

Linda Wilson writes stories for young children. Visit Linda at https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com. Sign up for Linda’s quarterly giveaways. Choose your prize! 
Find Linda’s books at https://www.amazon.com/author/lindawilsonchildrensauthor.
Need help with your story?
Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, 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 and marketable story today!

Or, if you'd rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN'S FICTION BOOK.  
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Apr 03

Two Ways to Format Your Manuscript

Contributed by Linda Wilson

Properly formatting my MG mystery book loomed in the background during editing. The reckoning day arrived. Thanks to children's author Margot Finke I knew who to call upon: the formatting service at Golden Box Books Publishing Services. Margot sang the praises of Golden Box author Erika M. Szabo, who did the formatting for her young teen fantasy, Daisy and Bartholomew Q. She said, "I couldn't be happier with the results. [Erika] also educated me in the ways of correct formatting." Among Erika's many talents: a multi-genre author, Publishing Coach and illustrator.

I fully intended to contact Erika to help me with my formatting needs but decided to Google the subject: "How to format a fiction book," to see what would happen. I clicked on a tutorial by Jill Williamson, an author for adults, teens, kids, and some for the whole family, which she uploaded onto YouTube. I decided to try it.

By splitting my screen with Jill's tutorial and my ms, I went through the steps she explained by pausing, executing, pausing. It took several views to fully understand how to do it all. The biggest glitch was doing the page numbering right, which Jill warned is tricky. 

At the end of the video, she invited viewers to visit her website for a more in-depth description. I found the information under, "for writers: jill's writing and publishing tutorials," and after some trial and error, solved the problem. I am proud of how my ms looks now and feel confident it is correct.

It's been an inspiration to discover both of these terrific authors and their websites, chock full of helpful information for writers.

Check out Jill Williamson's video, "How to Format a Fiction Manuscript," on YouTube, and  Jill's website. You'll be glad you did.

I will call on both of these resources again. The information offered is far-reaching and relevant in today's market. You will find many areas of expertise. My challenge to you? Go for it!
Linda Wilson writes stories for young children. Visit Linda at https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com. Sign up for Linda’s quarterly giveaways. Choose your prize! 

Find Linda’s books at https://www.amazon.com/author/lindawilsonchildrensauthor.

This was originally published at: 
https://www.writersonthemove.com/2017/01/two-ways-to-format-your-manuscript_28.html
Need help with your story?
I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach, and can help turn your story into a book you’ll be proud to be author of.

You can send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com to discuss your project. Or, you can give me a call at 834---347---6700

Let’s get your story in publishable and marketable shape today!
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Jan 02

Amazon Book Categories for Greater Visibility

Book Marketing and Book Categories
As most authors are self-publishing today, it’s important for authors to know about Amazon’s book categories.

When you’re uploading your book to Amazon, you’re able to choose specific categories for your book to be list under. This is something you need to take advantage of.

Do your research and determine which categories best fit your book.

If you’re having a service upload your book, you should make sure you know what categories the service is using.

Do you know what categories your book is listed under with Amazon?

It’s a crucial element of your book marketing and book sales, and you should use as many categories as you’re allowed. With Amazon, it’s currently ten.

But, for reasons unknown, it seems a while back, Amazon made it more difficult to see the 10 categories you listed your book under – they only visibly list the first three. 

According to Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur, you can now only see 3 of the categories you chose when you uploaded your book.

Categories matter.

According to Geoff Affleck, "selecting the best Amazon book categories is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of publishing and one of the easiest to do. Most self-published authors and professional publishers give little thought to the category placement."

So, what exactly do categories do for your book?

Think of them as a step above keywords. You might think of categories as the house that holds the keywords.

Suppose you’ve written a children’s fiction picture books that focuses on a child owing a pet – the responsibility and caring involved. 

The categories might be:
Books / Fiction / Children’s Book 

The keywords might be:
Picture books
Responsibility
Caring for a pet
Pet ownership

This example should help you get the idea.

While Amazon buyers don't usually browse books by categories, if you're book is selling well, Amazon takes note of the categories your book is in. Their algorithm will give you a higher ranking for that category which means your book will be suggested to more customers.

It's kind of a popularity contest.

This is why keeping track of your book's categories is important.

It shouldn’t be a create and leave situation.

Suppose a new category opens up that's more focused on your book's subject matter. You would not doubt want to swap it out for a category that's less connected.

Or, maybe you're keeping track of other books in your subject matter and they're doing very well; you might want to use their categories.

Knowing what categories are getting traction and visibility will give you the opportunity to use the categories to bring more attention / visibility to your books.  

So to address the problem of only seeing 3 of your listed categories, Chesson suggests a free service from Nerdy Book Girl that allows you to see them all. All you need is to input your ISBN or ASIN.

While this article focuses on Amazon, you should follow the same marketing strategy for any other aggregator or distributor you list your book with.

The Author-Writer Platform
Along with being a children's author and ghostwriter, I'm an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

Build Your Author/Writer Platform is a 4-week e-class that's in-depth and interactive. It covers all the tools you’ll need to build visibility and traffic, and boost sales.

CLICK THE LINK BELOW to check out all it includes:
http://wow-womenonwriting.com/classroom/KarenCioffi_WebsiteTrafficInboundMarketing.php 

If you want to check out other classes I offer, check out:
https://thewritingworld.com/your-author-platform/

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Dec 29

Amazon, Your Book, and Third-Party Sellers

I thought everyone knew about what’s going on with Amazon and third-party sellers until I recently shared a post from Vox on my social media.

One reader had no idea this is going on.

And, it’s going on elsewhere also, like on Walmart’s site.

For a while now, I’ve known that when I purchase a physical book, I have to be careful that I’m actually purchasing the book from Amazon and not a third-party seller.

Before I go on, let me explain why this matters to every author and publishing house.

Book distributors, like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and now Walmart, buy books from book publishers.

The distributors in turn sell the books to the end-user (the reader) and the publisher gets a percentage of the sale.

The publisher then gives the author a percentage of the money they make from the sale of the book.

This is a simple look at how book sales work within the traditional publishing realm.

Now, when a distributor like Amazon allows third-party sellers to sell through their site, no one knows where the third-party sellers are getting their books from. But it’s a pretty sure bet that they’re not buying them from the publisher.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, these third-party sellers must provide new books in order to get Amazon’s first Buy Button. The problem is that the sellers’ sources are likely from: “used books, review copies, gray market titles, and imports.”

So, what happens when third-party sellers get the sale?

  • The seller gets his money.
  • Amazon gets its percentage of the sale.
  • The publisher doesn’t get any money.
  • The author doesn’t get any money.
  • The system breaks down.

This is something every book purchaser needs to be aware of.

If the first option doesn’t say ‘Sold by Amazon,’ you need to scroll down until you see Amazon as the seller.

I randomly chose a book that Amazon came up with as ‘popular:’

“Code 7: Cracking the Code for an Epic Life” by Bryan R. Johnson.

If you notice, the first option to buy this book is through a third-party seller. Looking at this now, I should have tried to get the title of the book in the picture.

Aside from that, if you’re paying attention which seller you’re buying from, you can scroll down and quickly find Amazon as the seller.

Sometimes you have to scroll past a few other third-party sellers.

Going back the next day, the first seller option for this book was Amazon.

So, it seems that each day, and possibly different times throughout a day, the first seller option changes.

I did another random search and chose “Zoe’s Jungle” by Bethanie Murgula. This time I got the title in the picture:

You can see the first seller option is a third-party. Interestingly on this one, under Other Sellers on Amazon there was just one other third-party seller. Amazon wasn’t listed.

I also looked up my middle-grade fantasy, “Walking Through Walls,” on Amazon.

It so happens that Amazon came up as the first seller, but under that, there were options to buy from third-party sellers.

UPDATE JANUARY 5, 2020:

An editor, author friend mentioned that the paperback of my book is selling for $40.60 from a third-party seller on Amazon. The second option for sale is from another third-party seller and it’s for $66.04. Amazon isn’t listed as a seller.

I find this so interesting and infuriating.

When I went back the same day, I found TWO listings for my book on Amazon.

One was the one offering with the outrageous prices, the other was for more accurate pricing. But both listings didn’t have Amazon as a seller, only third-party sellers.

On the higher priced paperback listing, there is the option for “More Buy Choices,” but the NEW books were between $40 and $66.

On the second listing, the NEW books were accurately priced.

How does this happen? How does Amazon allow this to happen?

Are very small traditional publishers and self-publishers being hoodwinked?

I will check back in a few days and see if things change. If not, I’ll link only to the publisher to sell the book. This will definitely effect sales, but so will offering a paperback children’s book for $40 or $60.

I’ll keep you posted to the ridiculous things that are going on at Amazon.

January 06, 2020

I went back today and here’s what I found:

So, now the outrageous pricing is gone, but in the More Buying Options is a list of used and new books for sale.

Amazon is NOT listed as a seller.

I did some research and some third-party sellers who sell NEW books are called dropshippers. They offer your book for $10 to $20 over the retail price. If they get a bite, they then buy your book at the actual cost and have it shipped directly to their purchaser. They keep the profit.

It’s just crazy.

BACK TO THE ORIGINAL POST OF 12/29/19:

I looked up a number of other books and Amazon was usually the first Buy Option.

But, again, this is not always the case.

And, to add to the problem, the Vox article mentions that Amazon noted they have third-party sellers for lots of other items for sale, not just books.

The old motto, “buyer beware,” must be on everyone’s mind.

Take care to buy only from ‘real’ distributors. Help keep the system going strong.

One other thing to be aware of is that publishing houses make more on the sale of books when purchasers buy directly from them.

This also helps keep them going strong.

So, when you’re buying a book, check who the publisher is and see if you can buy directly from them.

If you’re considering buying my book, Walking Through Walls, why not get it directly through the publisher?

Please help protect the publishing industry and AUTHORS!

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at your notes, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter/editor. 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!

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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