I’m in a quandary and temporarily disheartened. I really don’t know what to do regarding promotion and marketing. I’ve been spending hours on Twitter and various author platform websites such as Author Outbreak, Goodreads, Library Thing etc. But I’m seriously starting to wonder what’s the point. It seems the only other people out there are other authors. I’ve bought some of their books, and a couple of people have bought mine – but if we only ever sell to each other, I don’t think we’ll do very well. Writers don’t get much time for reading on top of self-promoting and writing, and they’re not the wealthiest folk either.

How do you get out there to the readers? Maybe through reviews on Amazon and Smashwords? However, people will only find those if they look you or your book up i.e. they still need to know about you first. But how to get them to that stage?

I’m guessing that the personal website is the key starting point. If you can build up followers to your website that will hopefully turn into buyers for your books, then at least you’re spreading beyond the fellow indie author market.  So I shall cut down the time I spend on social media for a while and put more time and effort into my websites. And my writing. I still think it’s best of all to keep writing and fit the marketing activities around that, and not the other way round.

A new month – time for a new challenge. I want to make it a tough one, so my aim this month is to get 10 books up on Kindle and to have worked on 10 books in my new ebook editing business (nearly-finished website is here).

Here’s a glimpse of what the next Kindle book will be in the form of the brilliant cover. Roger Fereday is the illustrator and Caitlin Dagg is the typographer. What a team!

What’s your September challenge?

 

I’m busily extending my author platform on a daily basis, signing up to forums and groups here, posting about my books there.

I came across a free listing opportunity on Author Outbreak, a promising looking indie author website. However, the offer ends on 31st August so you need to get motoring, if it appeals. You’ll find the details here:

I’ve sent my details in so we’ll wait and see what happens.

I’m also currently considering joining the Independent Author Network http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/join-ian.html. There’s a fee for this, so I may wait until Heads Above Water is ready to launch. I think I’ll stick with free promotions for my rereleased children’s books.

Is anyone else having problems with logging onto yourbookauthors.com? I’m having a terrible time.

Finally, I need guinea pigs. Human ones. My ebook editing service is very nearly ready to roll. The website is in its final stages of being tidied up. You can take a quick peek here  (please remember, it’s still a WIP!). To help me firm up my pricing structure, I need to work on a few projects to get a feel for the level of work that is generally required and roughly how long it will take me to tidy up 1,000 words of electronic manuscript. No charge of course. So, if you’d like some free editing on your ebook, then please contact me via the comments below and we’ll talk!

Perhaps one day I'll be as successful as JK ...

Now that I have two books on Amazon for Kindle, and many more in the pipeline, I’ve been working hard on building my author platform. So far I have signed up with the following. I thought it might be useful to share my list in case it provides you with a few more ideas for your platform-building. And of course I’d welcome any suggestions of other places where I should be putting in an appearance.

The story so far: 10 day book club; Articlesbase; Bite Size Edits; Bookbuzzr; Booklending; Digg; Ebookling; Expatfocus; Facebook – own page plus in four groups; Feedbooks; Filedby; Free-ebooks.net; Goodreads; Independent Authors; Independent Author Network – thinking about this v seriously (free till 31.8 for one book; Jacketflap; KDP; Kobo; LinkedIn; Livejournal; Library Thing; Lulu; My Writer’s Circle; Pontnoir (local Creuse thing); Pinterest (crafts thing); Reader’s Favorite; Smashwords; Shelfari; Shewrites; Survive France (local); Technorati; Twitter (3 accounts); Wattpad; Your Book Authors*

* = joining fee

I also have two ongoing websites (this one and www.bloginfrance.com) and two more waiting in the wings to accompany my two big adult projects that are coming soon.

Three very helpful books I’ve read on the marketing and self-promotion side are:

How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks – All For Free by Jason Matthews

The First Ten Steps by M R Mathias

How I Sold I Million Ebooks in 5 Months by John Locke

 

Hope the above helps. I’m convinced it will help me!

 

Increasingly frustrated at the elevated prices on Amazon.com for Kindle books due to the sales tax they add for whatever reason to books going abroad, I’ve now started buying more from Smashwords. I’ve downloaded the Kindle app for PC onto my computer so I can read books in Kindle format on it. It’s not as good a reading experience as on the Kindle, but since I can get 99 cent books for 99 cents, and not 3.74 dollars which is what Amazon charges for them, then that’s a saving worth making. I’m not cheating the author out of royalties, as they receive their payment based on the official 99 cent price.

It’s puzzling. Some books advertised as 99 c are available to me here in France at that price, but the vast majority aren’t. Also, some books advertised as free also aren’t available. I had to buy my Kindle from Amazon.com, as all French customers still have to, so it was a blow to then discover that there were strings attached in the form of this onerous tax, for which this apparently no justification whatsoever apart from greed. It doesn’t cost any more to send the whispernet to France than to anywhere else. It’s ridiculous and is the one bad thing about Kindle from my point of view.

But I’ve found a way around the problem (which is what living in France trains you to do with all problems!) so I can read well-priced books without being financially penalised simply because of where I live. Amazon will be losing out from me from now on, and if the trend is repeated by enough other Kindle owners affected by the tax, then maybe they’ll start taking notice and revise this unfair system.

Good for Smashwords.

Benj hard at work

I’m in the process of rereleasing most of my children’s books on Kindle. These are the old Mentor Press books. Since some of them go back more than ten years, I no longer have the files for them on computer. The back-ups are on an obsolete device of some sort, so I’d started retyping them out. Now, I’m a pretty fast typist but this didn’t seem to be the best use of my time, not with new fiction to write, a farm and fishing business to run and some freelance editing to do. So Chris set Benj up with the scanner and he’s taken over getting the print books into electronic format for me. He’s going great guns. The only drawback is that he has to disassemble the books in order to get a good quality scan. But I’ve got plenty of copies of them going spare.

Illustrator Roger Fereday will be doing some new covers for me, mainly for the Oh! series and the younger children’s books I wrote. Caitlin is designing covers too, for my older children’s books. So I should have another batch of books up on Kindle before very long. It’s really exciting!

I’d been wondering what the recent explosion in self-publishing was going to mean for traditional publishers and, in particular, for literary agents. It’s been all too obvious lately with what it’s doing to bookshops. Several big chains have unfortunately gone under due to the rise in ebooks – Borders in the US and Angus and Robertson in Australia are two examples.

To a large extent, literary agents have always been the hangers-on in the publishing world. They’re not contributing original material, like the authors are. They’re not producing the finished goods, like the publishers are. They’re somewhere in the middle taking a cut of the author’s earnings.

So it looks like some agents are becoming ‘self-publishing enablers’, offering ‘assisted self-publishing’. They will undertake to do tasks such as reformatting the author’s manuscript into ebook friendly formats, organising cover design, uploading files to Amazon, Smashwords etc  and drawing up marketing plans. These are all things the author could do on his or her own, with a very little bit of effort. First time is always the hardest preparing a manuscript for the digital market, as I know from experience, but once you’ve got the hang of what to do, it’s quick and straightforward. Most indie authors are up for doing as much as they can for themselves generally, so it remains to be seen how well this new agency role will catch on.

I was about to launch into  a longer discussion of this, but then came across David Gaughran’s excellent discussion of the topic here. He has far more clout and involvement in the world of digital publishing and can discuss the area much more knowledgeably than I can. It’s interesting to see I’m not the only one who’s questioning the new route agents will take.

 

 

 

I signed up with Xinxii today. OK , so what’s Xinxii? Xinxii is a digital self-publishing platform which launched in Germany in 2008, and began operating in English last year. It allows you to sell your documents in up to 15 different formats.

Xinxii evolved from CEO Dr Andrea Shober’s publishing company, which focussed on guides for expats and business people working abroad. She decided to launch a platform where authors could upload and sell their works in this area, and it took off from there. Authors keep full control of editing and copyright, and sell their works through their own Xinxii e-store. Constantly developing, Xinxii will be able to support ereaders and mobile platforms in the very near future.

Xinxii runs in four language versions – English, French, German and Spanish. But customers can come from anywhere – they can pay in dollars, euros or sterling. It’s free to upload your books to the site. You, the author, sets the price (minimum 99 US cents) and get paid for every purchase. You keep 40% of the net sales for documents priced between between 99 cents and 2.48 dollars, and 70% for books priced 2.40 and above.

I’ve got Oh Auntie! up on Xinxii and will be very interested to see how it goes. The site offers lots of advice on publicity using social media and so on, which I shall take plenty of time to study.

Check Xinxii out at www.xinxii.com. You’ll find Oh Auntie here.

Oh Auntie on Kindle Previewer

So – I’m a Kindle author. I said I’d do it by August, and I did. I’m very pleased with myself.

Oh Auntie is up there now! Take a look, and if you feel like hitting the like button, well, that would be great.Or better still, treat yourself to a copy. I priced it at 99 US cents, so it’s a bargain!

Amazon.com customers go here.

Amazon.co.uk customers go here.

Amazon.de customers go here.

It was a steep learning curve to prepare the book for Kindle. I did a good bit of research but the book that was the most helpul was Jason Matthew’s How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks, All for Free. (Check out his website here.) So step by step I worked my way through the conversion process.

I had a Word copy of the book originally, which I put into a .doc document (not .docx). I then saved that as html (webpage) and was going to work with that, but then discovered that I could use Mobipocket Creator. I’m not that hi-tech so that looked like a good option for me. I have my two resident computer experts at home – Chris and Caiti – but I didn’t want to impose. I downloaded Mobipocket for free, followed the instructions given on the Kindle direct publishing site, and soon I had a version on Oh Auntie in .prc. To check how things looked, I then downloaded Kindle Previewer and uploaded my file to that. Everything was good, so I went back to Kindle Direct Publishing and uploaded the file, my cover and filled in all the essential info that you have to put up. It took me the afternoon but I know what I’m doing now.

And Oh Auntie was up there this morning. Impressively quick.

So, now I must start some serious marketing, although this book is just my Kindle guinea pig. I have some heavier weight books coming soon which I really want to push. But, this is a super little book, and worth trying to sell.

As I pick up tips and advice, I’ll pass them on.

I have a cover for Oh Auntie, the first book I’ll be self-publishing on Kindle. Here it is.

It’s important to check how this will look in black and white, since this is how it will appear on the Kindle itself. Obviously it’s in colour on Amazon’s sales page. The text on this particular version didn’t work very well monochrome. So daughter Caiti had a rethink and came up with this one which is much better in black and white.

There’s a lot of advice on making covers for ebooks out there on the Net. For every person who says one thing, someone says the exact opposite! You have to use your own judgement and common sense to a large degree. The way I see it, you need the following:

1. An attractive, eye-catching design that gives an idea of what the book is about.

2. It needs to work in both colour and black and white.

3. The author’s name and the title in large, clear type.

4. Children’s books need artwork of some sort, an illustration for younger children certainly, and maybe a photo for older kids.

5. Simple and not too fussy. Possibly my picture is a little too detailed, but I love it, so I’ll see how it goes as it is. My artist, Roger Fereday, hasn’t worked on ebooks before either, so we’re both learning as we go along.