Category Archives: Book Marketing

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.

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!