Wide Distribution with Draft2Digital

I had some initial success with Smashwords, especially with short stories. I released several 8k to 12k shorts and they did pretty well, but overall, my ability to sell my genre-specific books was hindered by not implementing a real marketing program for Smashwords. I enjoyed getting into several additional Ebook markets, but like most authors, I was looking for more.

I didn’t like the “Meatgrinder” at Smashwords, and I didn’t like formatting at Nook, and well, the upshot was that I was enticed away by a story that said Draft2Digital was simple. You know what? The story was true.

If you are considering going wide and sharing your book with readers in many markets beyond Amazon, Draft2Digital makes it very easy. The formatting is simple (really, really simple) and while you can submit individually to each storefront (perhaps with the exception of Google Books) and keep your full fee for books sold, I’m willing to go the easy route and share 10% with D2D.

What do I get besides ease? Many storefronts, including:

Quick and Easy

Formatting was as easy as deleting what wasn’t actual chapters and photos and placing the same number of returns between every photo and chapter. Then I tried to browse and upload. It worked. All I had to do after that was insert my Author Photo, Bio, and choose for them (D2D) to issue an ISBN (at no cost), and then upload my cover.

Thirty seconds later I had a tiny image on the screen of my cover and was asked where I wanted my “also by” (meaning other books created for Draft2Digital) notice, in front, in the back, or both. Well, that was the first book, so I tried another book, and while I had to redo one page, it took virtually no time, no queue to wait in, just posted my current book’s teaser, checked the author bio (D2D already had my first book’s bio, so it just inserted that), and named the book.

Oh, I also had to choose my book price – anywhere from free to whatever, and pick my distributors. I clicked them all and a day later, I was hooked up to all the istorefronts. I went to Smashwords and Nook and “unpublished” my other copies.

What You Expect in Sales

Not much, unless you do some promos or marketing, but if you do, you should be able to see interst in your otherwise saleable books. Amazon accounts for perhaps 70% of all Ebook sales. That’s scary! But what if you could suppliment your book sales with 50% of what you already do on Amazon? It’s very possible, so if you are already passing on Kindle Unlimited, what’s stopping you from considering D2D?

Lemonade or Lychee, it’s All Good

Sierra - LycheeWhen I was a kid, lemonade stands were pretty common. I recall my cousin Linda and I selling Dixie cups filled with the ice cold refreshment from a folding-leg card table at the corner of her driveway when we were maybe six or seven years old.

That was the same summer we wrote joke books with jokes we stole from a book in our room, copyrights be damned. “What do you call a policeman cookie? A copcake.” You get the idea.

That was a long time ago, but I can still remember many of the jokes, bad as they were. We argued about whether we should make up our own jokes or use the ones’ in the book, so we did both. The only problem was, our jokes weren’t funny or really original. I worry about that with my own writing sometimes. Bummer!

My youngest daughter is seven years old, so I put her to work selling lychee from our orchard here on the Big Island. I got a ladder and cut the tender branches down, and she and I snapped off the best, sweet fruit and she bagged them and sold to people in cars passing by. We laughed and sweated for an hour, eating our profits, drinking ice water and counting dollar bills.

In the end, she cut me in on the profits, handing me $3 from the $13 total while we were carrying the table down our long red-dust driveway to the garage. She’d make a good publisher with that split she gave me!

We’ve got a dozen lychee trees, so it looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me (no pun intended or implied) these next two weeks as our fruit ripens and become heavy in the trees. I hope my daughter keeps cutting me in on her sales. Of course lemonade or lychee, it’s all good.

My only hope is that she remembers the experience as a fun time like I recall the days at my cousin’s house, playing games, spilling popcorn in our beds, watching The Flintstones, eating Suzy Homebaker cake mix out of the packet (alright, that was just me, hiding in a darkened closet), and telling each other “I told you so.”

Thanks for reading, take care, and remember the fun you had as a child. I certainly do.

Talking About Smashwords

If you haven’t encountered Smashwords on the Internet, it’s an Ebook site where authors can easily (Ahem) upload their books and readers can easily download a wide variety of great reads. Imagine Amazon many years ago and you get the idea.

For readers, Smashwords offers 450,000 books, 70,000 of which are free. And, you can get many books not found on Amazon, plus Adult content. Two years ago they offered 372,000 books. They are growing.

For authors, Smashwords is also a portal of sorts, offering book distribution to “Apple iBooks (51 countries), Barnes & Noble, Kobo (which powers the bookstores of multiple other retailers such as FNAC in France and WH Smith in the U.K.), OverDrive, Flipkart, Oyster, txtr, Baker & Taylor (Blio.com and the Axis360 library platform), and others.”

Although Amazon might be the largest bookseller in the world, the platforms listed above sell a lot of Ebooks too. So authors that want to “go wide” do have options. With Smashwords, you’ll have to take the uploading with a grain of salt because it’s not simple.

Just make sure you follow their rules for changing the format of your book TO THE LETTER in what they call The Meat Grinder and you’ll eventually manage to get it just right. It took me several days to get my books “just right.”

Smashwords accepts most everything, from novels to personal memoirs, to short and long fiction (which I did have some early success with). And, when you get all the kinks out you’ll find that your books are soon available across many retailers.

On Smashwords, you get to set your story prices and the size of each book’s sample read. You receive 85% of the net sales proceeds from your work (70.5% for affiliate sales) for sales at Smashwords.com retail operation, and you’ll earn 60% of the list price for sales through their distribution network. Amazon pays 35% for books under $2.99 and 70% for books at $2.99 to $9.99.

If you are going wide, don’t forget to market the best you can. It’s easy to remember pushing your books on Amazon, but don’t leave out your other sales reps!

Also, remember that you can go directly to most any bookseller (perhaps with the exception of Google Books) and save the “distributors fee” Smashwords charges, but you’ll do more work setting up your accounts. Another option is Draft2Digital, but I’ll give my opinion on them at another time.
As for my success with Smashwords, I do get a direct deposit regularly from book sales, and I’ve written several short stories under Pen Names that have done well enough to make me happy. In fact, I’ve had better success with the short stories on Smashwords that Amazon, where readers have gotten used to lots of free or 99-cent books.

What’s Fractured Reading?

Fractured reading is what happens when your mind wanders off-course. Writers try to be clever and present beautiful prose, but sometimes what comes across is, well, fractured. In other words, the authors’ words get fragmented, mangled, mutilated, and dismembered. Sometimes that’s funny.

I once had the pleasure (I got in trouble and was relegated to the slag pile) of reading unsolicited manuscripts sent to a small publishing house. Yeah, it wasn’t exactly Penguin Random House, so the writing was spotty.

A favorite line I came across was “The hunters moved quietly into the forest and found the deer sitting up in the trees.” All I could think was how did they climb the trees?  But that happens. Even Stephen King admits that his editor once caught a passage where he said something like “the fields are filled with local hunters killing their fill of peasants.” Peasants, pheasants, whatever, it’s all good.

Headlines often make me happy, especially if they are fractured, like my sense of humor.

How about “Man reunited with sister after fifteen years at Department of Motor Vehicles.” I know how that is!

Perhaps you prefer “This month’s Little Theatre play is Shakespear’s, Hamlet. Get tickets early if you want to attend this tragedy.” Guess the Little Theatre’s actors aren’t too talented.

Or maybe “See The Surgeon and the Patient, presented in two parts.” Was this an amputation?

And finally, “The friendly couple had their sixth child this week.” They are friendly and fast!

Anyway, I’m just enjoying life. I hope you’ll do the same.

 

A Journey Starts With The First Step

Everyone knows a journey starts with the first step. No matter what you want, what you have planned, or where you want to go, you can make a positive impact on yourself and the world, your world, by moving forward. All roads lead somewhere. Sometimes you just have to put your foot on the gas and go.

Visualize what you want. Too tough? Feeling silly or foolish? Why? Start small if that’s easier. Maybe you want to save enough money to take a vacation. Dig around in your car, in your couch, the bottom of your purse, the back of your nightstand, and find all the coins lying around. Did you look under the washing machine? Don’t be afraid of the dust bunnies!

Take all those coins and put them in a jar. Now you’ve started. The next step is up to you. Remember, all roads lead somewhere. You just have to put your foot on the gas and go.

 

Tunnel

If the road you are traveling is a bit scary, so what? You’re brave. You made it this far already, so don’t quit. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. You can do it.

Dirt Road

Remember when you were a kid and a puddle was cool? It still can be!

We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think. —Buddha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marketing a Self Published Niche Book

RootsCoverIAN

So you think your book might fail because it has too small a market? Maybe that’s just what you need! When The Roots of Reno first came out I knew the non-fiction work was going to struggle for a  wide audience because it was centered on what happened in Northern Nevada and it concentrated on casinos. What to do?

Knowing it was aimed at a niche market actually made it easy for me to market. I concentrated on bookstores in Nevada and sent review copies. Then I sent off copies to newspapers in the state, aiming strongly at the small ones where I would get noticed. Each copy went directly (with a personalized letter) to the person I identified as most likely to review it. I followed up with an actual phone call to each person the next week saying I enjoyed their articles, liked the paper, and had sent my book to them because I knew they would have an audience. And, I found every tiny, free, weekly and quarterly newspaper and placed small ads with a copy of the book cover. That was about it for Northern Nevada.

I did get a copy off to the state magazine, Nevada Magazine, begging for a review – and I got one. The advertising in the magazine was pricey, but I spent a little and hoped for the best. I can’t say it sold a lot of copies, but it took the book’s name nationwide.

Next step was contacting the bookstores individually by phone to set up a book signing. Each store that was interested got me for two hours. We piggybacked (split the cost and size) on small ads to get the word out, used posters in the windows of the stores, and had free book markers. As expected, about 10 copies were sold at each store, but the bookstores retained a supply of books and they continued to sell regularly.

Then I remembered the museums and got my book into each one by begging the gift-shop managers to carry them. They too, retained copies that sold on a regular basis. That was the basis for my niche marketing, but there is much more to tell. But first, I have a quiz.

Which Has the Real Niche Market?

Does my friend Paul T. Harry’s book, The 5 Moons of Tiiana, have a niche market or does my book? His novel is science fiction, my book appeals to casino enthusiasts and people that like Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Nevada. So I win, right?

Not necessarily. Paul’s Sci-Fi thriller should also be marketed to the niches it can appeal to. He mentions in his author bio that he was intrigued by old black-and-white movies, by the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs, by the novel John Carter of Mars, and the story concentrates on space travel, alien creatures, and saving a princess. The main character is in the military. Reviewers have seen similarities in the novel to John Carter. See where I’m going?

If you choose a single genre for your novel and only market to that group, you’re cheating yourself! 5-Moons appeals to people who love old movies, and the military, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, and on and on! To sell more copies of your book you need to identify at least a half-dozen groups and market to them too.

Every Twitter mention can be directed (with # if you like) toward your niche. Every Facebook post can be geared at a small group or a large one. And, there are plenty of Facebook and Pinterest groups for even the smallest niche. Get out there and market!

Why Finding a Publisher is Tough

Stealing coverSo you just finished a great novel. It’s well-researched, well-edited, and well-written. Well, well, well. That’s just three holes in the ground. How does that land you a publisher? It doesn’t, it just gets you a one-way ticket to Selfpublishland, where you’ll do your own marketing and rise and fall based on your ability to attract buyers. Well, that and the strength of your story. Why?

Because more than a million new books hit the market every year. You’re just one author, do the math. Traditional publishing houses and editors don’t have time to look at everything, and when they do find the time, it’s usually for a known author. That doesn’t mean you will never find a publisher, but it’s easier to find an agent and have them shop your book while you start on your next great novel.

The Quarter-Million Dollar Example

So let’s just suppose I have a book that’s sold, hmm, 20,088 copies in a softbound style at bookstores and online. I figure that’s pretty good, right? The publisher is generous and pays me 12% of the $11.99 cover price. That’s also pretty good. And, that means I’m responsible for $240,855 in commerce. I’m adding to the GDP, yeah me.

I’m excited to have sold so many copies of the book, but even more, I’m excited to have received $28,903 in royalties. If I wrote a book every six months I’d be set, so life looks good for me.

For my publisher, not so much. I won’t merit a three-book deal because they sell my book at 35 to 40 percent of the cover price to the distributors, so 37.5 % of $240,000 is $90,000 in gross profit and they paid me $29,000 and spent $15,000 on pre-press expenses and marketing, leaving just $46,000. Oh, and they actually had to pay $2.16 per copy to produce and ship my books, which totaled $43,390 and left them a net profit of $2,610. Yikes. No wonder they won’t return my phone calls.

On the plus side for the publisher and myself, the book will sell online and in ebook form forever, so the money will still add up to a tidy sum, eventually. For now, my book really just broke even,  and it took some time to do even that.

So when you mull over your manuscript at night wondering if it is good enough to submit somewhere, don’t be disheartened, it might be great, but don’t be afraid to keep smoothing it out. You only get one chance to impress a prospective publisher or agent – make it your best!

The World of Author Al W Moe

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