Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tips For First Time Writers

Tips For First Time Writers

I've started reading Ed Robertson's blog, Failure Ahoy!, regularly. Ed meticulously tracks the performance of his books in response to various promotions on Amazon and, now, Barnes & Noble. Many would keep this information to themselves thinking it could give a competitive edge, but in true Indie spirit Ed shares his findings with the community.

So when Ed published a post giving advice for first time authors I read it with interest. Here are some of his tips:

The new sweet spot for ebooks is $3.99
99 cents, then $2.99, used to be a good price point for ebooks but now an ebook sold for 99 cents has gained something of a stigma and even, though to a much lesser degree, $2.99, since that is the lowest price a writer can sell their work for and earn a 70% royalty. IMHO this thinking is wrong but with marketing sometimes it is all about perception.

That said, making your book free for a time (see below), or lowering it's price to 99 cents as part of a promotion, can be a good strategy.

Join Kindleboards
Ed cautions that you might not see any gain from this for a few months but that, for him at least, joining the Kindleboard community was a good investment of his time.

Join Goodreads
The folks over at Goodreads are mighty nice and I enjoy the community. Ed writes:
It's probably worthwhile to get your book listed on GoodReads. I am not intricately well-versed in how Goodreads runs, but if you have librarian status, or know someone who does, you should be able to add your book easily. If you can't, it's no big deal--someone will get to it eventually--but Goodreads seems to be a fairly important part of developing your book's infrastructure, a concept I'll get to in a bit.
Free is your friend: Enroll your book in Amazon's KDP Select Program
If this is your first book you have no reviews, no 'also bought' recommendations. In short, no one has the foggiest idea who you are. Ed writes:
But perhaps the most important thing you can do after hitting publish is this: make your book free. Right out of the gate. Give away the hell out if it. Schedule it for a two-day run, sit back, and see what happens.

"What happens" probably won't be much. I think it's vitally important to set the right expectations at this stage, and for most beginning authors, the reality is you're going to sell very little right off the bat. In concrete terms, you're doing very well if you're selling 1/day. Many brand-new books from first-time authors with no platform can easily go days or weeks or even months between sales. A month from now, your sales column might consist of a number between 1-9, and that is perfectly okay.

At this phase, that means every single sale is a success. Every sale means someone stumbled over an unknown book and thought it looked interesting enough to pay money for. Do you know how hard it is to make that happen? Remember: 1,504,243 ebook titles and counting. As a brand-new book, the only place you're showing up is in the new releases list and in keyword searches, and even then, anyone who found your book is either obsessive or almost superhumanly dedicated to finding new books, because they probably had to dig through dozens of pages before they happened upon yours. In terms of its present visibility, your book may have a "Buy" button on its page, but in many ways it still hasn't really been published.

So cheer every day you do get a sale, but try not to be surprised or disappointed when you don't. It's probably going to be some time before your book starts traveling down some of the main avenues to discoverability.

And that's why we're going free right off the bat--to try to kickstart a couple of these avenues.
If you are a new author (or just feel like one!) I highly recommend reading Ed Robertson's article in its entirety:  I'm New to Indie Publishing and This Is Awesome and Terrifying, Part 1: Releasing Your First Book.

Other articles you might like:
- Book Promotion: Where's The Line?
- John Locke Paid For Book Reviews
- 8 Ways To Become A Better Writer

Photo credit: Mrs Logic

2 comments:

  1. Great tips. Being positive about your writing does not mean setting wildly unrealistic expectations for yourself. You wouldn't expect to learn to play the guitar or become a champion swimmer overnight, so don't expect overnight miracles with your writing. It takes time for everything to happen and a skill to develop. Give yourself time and you will become an effective writer.

    ReplyDelete

Because of the number of bots leaving spam I had to prevent anonymous posting. My apologies to anyone this inconveniences, I wish I didn't have to do it. I do appreciate each and every comment.