Showing posts with label self publishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self publishing. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 12

Joe Konrath Makes $15k A Week Selling His Backlist

Joe Konrath Makes $15,000 A Week Selling His Backlist

Joe Konrath Makes $15k A Week On His Backlist Titles

In Backlist Then And Now Joe Konrath writes:
These past two years have been interesting, because I really haven't had a new IP of my own.

Of the last six novels I've written, five have been collaborations, and one was sci-fi under a pen name. No new stand-alones, either under JA Konrath or Jack Kilborn, and no new solo novels in my series.

And yet I'm making $15k a week.

How Joe Did It

Joe attributes his financial health to a combination of the following:

- Getting his rights returned
- Free promotions
- Paid advertising

Whatever Joe has been doing, it's paid off big! And not just in dollars.
In the ten years I was legacy published, I made about $450k. In the four years I've self-published, I've made over 1.1 million dollars.

The higher royalty rate, the control I have, and the very little self-promo I've had to do while self-publishing means I've never been happier as an author.

I'm very lucky. I get to write for a living. And I get to do it on my terms.

As nice as the money is, the peace of mind is even better.
I encourage you all to read Joe Konrath's original article, he talks at length about the early years of his career as a writer and the events surrounding his decision to put his work up for sale on Amazon.
I'm curious, how many of you were, at least partly, inspired by Joe, his words or his example? I was.

Other articles you might like:

- How To Be A More Productive Writer: Use A Voice Recorder
- Amanda Palmer's TED Talk: The Art Of Asking
- Short Story Structures: Several Ways Of Structuring Short Fiction

Photo credit: "Week #6 "Leap" [6of52]" by Camera Eye Photography under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Monday, March 11

Writers Beware of Authariam

Writers Beware Of Autharium

It seems like this is the time of year for scams targeting writers. Passive Guy, aka David Vandagriff, recently wrote a blog post warning writers against Autharium, "a new British site that makes it easy for indie authors to publish and distribute their work".

Passive Guy writes:
By distributing your book through Authariam, you are giving Authariam exclusive world-wide ebook rights to your book for the full term of the author’s copyright, which PG is informed is the author’s life plus 70 years under British copyright law. British law governs this contract.

You can remove your book from Authariam, but Authariam still owns world-wide rights.

The Digital Reader: Authariam Grabs ALL Rights Including Audiobook, Movies, ANY Digital Content

The Digital Reader picked up on the story soon after Passive Guy blogged about it and warned that, the way their contract was written,
Not only does Autharium demand an exclusive, their definition of digital form is so broad that it arguably includes subsidiary rights like audiobook, movies, and really any digital content.
Autharium can legally sell the audiobook rights out from under the author, and the same goes for the movie rights. Hell, that site could sell the movie rights to their entire catalog for 10 pounds and a job offer, and it would be completely legal.
Run away from this company!

Other articles you might like:

- Chuck Wendig's Editing Plan: Edit A Novel In Four Months
- Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Choose Your Random Sentence
- Stephen King Talks About Doctor Sleep, Winnebagos & A Movie Prequel To The Shining

Photo credit: "Close up of a dragonfly on a Lotus Flower Bud on green background - IMG_7149" by Bahman Farzad under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Sunday, November 18

Writers: How To Use Permanently Free Books To Increase Sales

Writers: How To Use Permanently Free Books To Increase Sales

I discovered Lindsay Buroker's blog only within the last few months but within that brief time it has become one of my favorites. A couple days ago Lindsay posted an article I want to share with you about how to improve the sales of your books.

Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket = Don't Put All Your Books In Amazon

Don't put all your books in one estore even if that store is Amazon. KDP Select can be a wonderful tool to sell books, but it's not a good idea to keep your books in the program indefinitely.

Select can do wonders for increasing your book's visibility, but then experiment. Try out other venues. You can still keep it at Amazon, just not in KDP Select.

Don't misunderstand, I think Amazon is great. But none of us knows what the future holds. What if Amazon were to become less indie friendly? My mother told me to hope for the best and expect the worst.

Also, Kris Rusch has a great point: the more estores your books are in the easier it is for your readers to find them. If you want to turn readers into true fans then making it easy for them to buy your books is a good start. (See: Does Amazon KDP Select Drive Away True Fans?)

How To Market Your Books In Other Venues

Most venues, particularly Barnes & Noble, don't give books the same kind of exposure as Amazon, so what are the most effective ways to increase the visibility of your books in these less friendly markets?

Lindsay tried:

- the Nook Boards & Mobile Read
- the UK Kindle Users Forum (there's also the US Kindle Users Forum)

Lindsay used the forums to chat with readers and writers and she gave away coupons. She concludes:
In general ... I find forums to be a time sink. You can spend a lot of hours there and earn few, if any, sales. I generally only recommend forums for people who enjoy being a part of that sort of community anyway.

The Power Of Perma-Free

What ended up working for Lindsay was making one of her books permanently free and distributing it as widely as possible. People loved her work, went looking for more, and when they found her other books they were happy to pay for them. Lindsay writes:
What did make a difference for me, especially with Amazon UK and the international Apple stores, was having a book permanently free on those sites. I’ve talked a lot about this before, but I made my first Emperor’s Edge book (and eventually my first Flash Gold novella as well) free at Smashwords about a year ago. I had the freebies distributed through their partner sites, and Amazon eventually matched the price.

What took longer, but did eventually happen, is that Amazon UK (and DE, ES, IT, etc.) price-matched the ebook to free as well. That’s when I started seeing sales of my other books in those stores. It was a similar process for iTunes. It’s taken a while for the free ebooks to percolate through, showing up in the international Apple stores, but I’m now selling books every month in Apple AUD, DKK, GBR, etc. and am making between $1,500 and $2,000/mo overall in overseas sales.

A couple of tips:

- Make the first book of a series perma-free.

- Free works best if the book is permanently free. The only way to make your book free in certain markets is to offer it for free on a site like Smashwords. Price-matching bots/spiders will come along notice it's free, tell momma spider about it, and then momma spider will change the price on her site as well. This process can take months though.

The Benefits of making a book perma-free

- A huge benefit of using a perma-free book for marketing is that it requires no additional time investment on your part.

- Free book catalogs are the new libraries. As libraries continue to feel the economic crunch, more and more readers are using free book catalogs as though they were libraries to discover new authors. If they read your book and like it, they'll buy more.

It All Adds Up

You've heard of the death of a thousand cuts? The idea is that you can receive one cut and it's shallow and you bleed a little bit but that one cut is no threat to your life. If you receive a thousand of them, though, or tens of thousands of them, well, that's a different story.

It's the same with books, only in a happy way. You might only earn 10 dollars from one store over six months, 20 dollars from another, and so on, and by itself ... 10 dollars, 20 dollars, those amounts are negligible. They're not going to buy food for the day let alone pay the rent! But if you earn 10 dollars from 200 stores, well, then it begins to add up.

Perma-Free: An Experiment

I've blogged before about writing 15 novellas, 3 per series, and then bundling them into 5 series and offering them on Amazon though KDP Select. One advantage of this strategy is that a book would be free at all times.

Another strategy--and I believe someone suggested this in the comments--would be to permanently set the first novella of each series to free and offer them on every available platform. (See: How To Earn A Living As A Self-Published Writer)

The perma-free strategy would take longer. It takes time to get your books into all possible markets and it would take time for the first book/novella of each series to be set to free, but over time I could see it being more lucrative than keeping them all in Amazon's KDP Select Program.

If anyone has done this I'd love to hear from you!

All quotations have been from Lindsay Buroker's wonderful article: How Do You Improve Sales at Amazon UK, Apple Overseas Stores, and Other International eBook Sites?

Update: I wrote a squeal to this post a few days later: Using Permanently Free Books To Increase Sales: Part 2

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NaNoWriMo Update: I'm at 32,462 words, a bit short of the 33k I was aiming for. I'm going to try and make that up tonight and have 35k done by the end of the day. * crosses fingers! *

Other articles you might like
- The Nature of Creativity: Science And Writing: Don't Edit Yourself
- Pixar Luminary Andrew Stanton's TED Talk: Make Your Reader Care
- Time Management For Writers: Nanny For Chrome

- Self-Publishing Success Stories. I didn't directly refer to this in my article, but it's an amazing list! Here you'll fund hundreds of indie publishing success stories. Inspirational!

Photo credit: "Campos de cultivo" by (Xip) under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Thursday, November 15

Tucker Max's Advice: Become Your Own Publisher And Triple Your Royalties

Tucker Max's Advice: Become Your Own Publisher And Triple Your Royalties

Tucker Max writes:
I know how an author can triple their effective royalty. This is on the same sales, with nothing else substantively changing in any other aspect of their book. Same books (print and ebooks both), same bookstores, same placement, same customer experience, even the same publisher (sort of). (Attention, Authors: I Tripled My Royalties, and You Can Too)
This isn't just talk, Tucker Max tripled his royalties on his latest book, Hilarity Ensues. He went from earning about $3.50 per hardcover copy to earning $10.00.

Become Your Own Publisher

What's the catch? You have to become a publisher.

You might be wondering what's the difference between becoming a publisher and being a self-publisher. Tucker Max insists he is not self-published, but the way I use the phrase (though I prefer 'indie') I'd say he was self-published because he created and owned a publishing company (he has sold it) that published his book. But that's neither here nor there.

The important thing is that Tucker went from earning 15% royalties on each hardcover sale (7.5% on trade paperback) to nearly 50% per hardcover sale.

How did he do this? He struck a deal with Simon & Schuster which gave them 11% of sales in exchange for distributing his book.

Why strike a distribution deal with Simon & Schuster? Apparently there's one thing writers can't do themselves: Distribution of paper books. Tucker says:
That's really all big-6 publishers are good for. Printing the books, putting them in trucks, taking them to warehouses, getting them into Barnes & Noble, collecting money from Barnes & Noble, dealing with returns, and those sorts of things are difficult, if not impossible, for traditional authors to do, everything else you can do yourself. Either subcontract it out to freelancers or do it yourself. (Keen On… Tucker Max: How An Asshole Is Blowing Up The Publishing Industry [TCTV])

Paper Books Versus Digital

Most self publishers only publish digital books and print on demand (POD) paper books because of the hassle and expense involved.

And, unless you're assured to sell at least 250,000 copies of your book, Tucker Max advises authors NOT to go this route. Why? Because you'll have to pay up front for things like printing and distribution. You're assuming all the risk and that's why you're taking all the reward.

Unless you're already a best seller this strategy likely won't appeal to you, but it's something to keep in mind for when that day arrives. :-)

Thanks to The Passive Voice Blog for mentioning Tucker Max's article.

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NaNoWriMo update: I've written 27,010 words so far and hope to do another 2k tonight. That is, after I try out Jeffrey's way of organizing a story. :)

Other articles you might like:
- How To Write Every Day: Jerry Seinfeld And The Chain Method
- What's The Difference Between Paranormal Romance And Urban Fantasy?
- Using Excel To Outline Your NaNoWriMo Novel: Defeating the sprawl

Photo credit: "subway rush" Susan NYC under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Monday, November 12

Is Serial Fiction Profitable? Hugh Howey Says: Yes! Even With Absolutely No Promotion

Is Serial Fiction Profitable? Hugh Howey Says:Yes! Even With Absolutely No Promotion

Hugh Howey's Wool: An Overnight Success

Yesterday I wrote an article in which I asked the question: Is Serial Fiction Profitable? Just today Erica Jackson Curran published an article about Hugh Howey which added a few very interesting tidbits to the already fascinating story of his rise to glory and monetary solvency:
"It feels like it happened overnight," says Howey, a Florida resident who attended the College of Charleston in the early 2000s. Wool started out as a novella. He posted it online in July 2011 and forgot about it, deciding to focus instead on promoting his full-length novels.[1]

"I didn't promote this story, because it's a very dark story, and I didn't know that that's what was catching on " (Hugh Howey)

So the first novella of what would become Wool was a story he posted and forgot about. He did no promotion. No marketing. No advertising. In fact, he was intending to focus on full-length novels. Erica Curran continues:
Howey admits to being almost frustrated with how Wool took off, because he'd worked so hard to promote his previously published novels, and they got little attention. "You like to think you have some control over what succeeds and what doesn't, but for me it just highlighted that the reader is totally in charge of what succeeds and what fails," he says. "I didn't promote this story, because it's a very dark story, and I didn't know that that's what was catching on, but if you look at The Hunger Games and some of the stuff that even young adults are reading now, it's very dark themes, a lot of themes with class structure and class warfare with the downtrodden kind of rising up, and I guess it was just good timing that I happened to write that kind of story while that's what readers were after." [1]
It's a marvelous indie success story.
Hugh Howey has, of course, continued writing and this last August published I, Zombie, a full length novel. I find it interesting that he is going back to writing full length novels rather than novellas since it was a novella that sparked his rocket-ride to the top. But, then, Wool continues to sell fabulously well and I, Zombie is fairing very respectably.

It's no surprise, then, that Hugh Howey has decided to continue to independently publish.
"You do so well self-published, it's hard for publishers to compete with what you can do on your own," he [Hugh Howey] says. "I make 70 percent royalty rates on sales here in the U.S., and if I went with a publisher, that would be cut to almost one-sixth. And so, you know, we sat down with them, and they had some nice offers, but I'm handing them a bestseller with a film contract attached and all of these other things attached and what they're offering is just not as good as what I'm doing currently. I showed them what I'm earning now, and they kind of said, I don't know if we can compete with that." [1]
1) Hugh Howey doesn't need a publisher, thank you very much, by Erica Jackson Curran at Charleston City Paper.

Other articles you might like:

- The MacGuffin: A Plot Device From Screenwriting
- Serial Fiction: Is It Profitable?
- What's The Difference Between Paranormal Romance And Urban Fantasy?

Photo credit: "Edgy Pink" by Pink Sherbet Photography under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Tuesday, October 16

Amazon Ranks Authors In Terms Of Their Book Sales

Amazon's Ranks Authors In Terms Of Their Book Sales
Amazon's Top 100 Authors

It used to be that only books were ranked against one another but now Amazon is doing it to authors. The question is, what does this mean for writers? I'll talk about that in a moment but, first, let's see what exactly Amazon Author Rank is.

Amazon Author Rank

While only 100 of the top selling authors, both overall and in any category, are publicly ranked against each other, all Amazon authors have been given an author rank. From Amazon's Author Rank FAQ:

What is Amazon Author Rank?

Amazon Author Rank is based on sales of all your books relative to the sales of other authors. [...] Like the Billboard charts, lower numbers are better. [...] Amazon author rank is updated hourly.

What's Included in Amazon Author Rank?

[W]e look at paid sales of all of an author's books on It includes books in Kindle, physical and audio formats.

Where will Amazon Author Rank be seen on

An Amazon Author Rank will only appear for authors in the top 100 overall or in the top 100 in a browse category. Amazon Author Rank will appear on book detail pages in the More About the Author widget, on an author's Author Page and, on the Amazon Author Rank page.
For instance, this is Debbie Macomber's Author Rank from her book page for The Inn At Rose Harbor: A Novel:

Click to enlarge

What Does Amazon Author Rank Mean For Authors?

While I read many comments on Twitter along the lines of, "Why don't they just put authors in a jar and shake it?" Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, was quoted by Publisher's Weekly as saying, "…It’s a smart feature. It recognizes that the author — not the publisher — is the brand that readers care about. (Amazon Starts Author Ranking Feature)"

Carolyn Kellogg, over at the Los Angeles Times, cautions against taking the ranking too seriously, at least not until Amazon has worked the bugs out:
Wednesday morning, Dr. Seuss appeared to be ranked 56th and 64th simultaneously. Neil Gaiman also held two simultaneous spots, 84th and 88th.

The Author Sales Rank is determined solely by sales of all of an author's books on Amazon. Because this is Amazon, there are some peculiarities. For example, the person holding the first place Amazon Author Rank is not E.L. James (2nd), James Patterson (4th) or J.K. Rowling (11th). It's Sylvia Day.

Sylvia Day is an erotic novelist whose books "Reflected in You" and "Bared to You" have followed E.L. James up the bestseller charts. (Creating more neurotic authors: Amazon's Author Rank)
This isn't a bug, but it surprised me: when I took this screenshot a couple of hours ago, Bill O'Reilly was ranked higher than J.K.Rowling!

Click to enlarge

Author's Rank Could Make Having A Bestseller Less Important

Putting the emphasis on the author rather than the publisher, or the book, means that Author's Rank measures how successful you are as an (Amazon) author overall. In so doing it could make writing a bestseller less important to ones financial success.

For instance, if you get one of your books on the New York Times bestseller list, chances are all your upcoming books are going to be on the list as well. Not invariably, but often. When that happens you can buy a yacht, or take your neighborhood to Disney World. Whichever.

That put the focus on writing a bestseller because, no matter how many midlist books you wrote, you'd never get close to that kind of selling power. And, of course, whether your book was a bestseller had a lot to do with your publishers expectations--how many books they printed and sent to bookstores, how much money they allocated for marketing, and so on.

Perhaps, also, Amazon Author Rank will help mitigate the loss in sales indie authors have experienced since Amazon adjusted their book ranking algorithm in May of this year. Time will tell.

If you've published on Amazon and you're curious what your Author's Rank is, head over to Amazon's Author Central.

What do you think of Amazon Author Rank? Do you think it will help, or hurt, your sales?

Other articles you might like:
- Amazon's KDP Select: The Best Long-Term Strategy?
- How To Design A Great Looking Book Cover
- The Best Way To Build A Writer's Platform Is To Write

Photo credit: Karen Woodward

Tuesday, September 18

How To Format A Word Document For Amazon's KDP Publishing Program

How To Format A Word Document For Amazon's KDP Publishing Program

As anyone who has successfully published a book will tell you, formatting your MS Word document correctly is the key to a successful, low-stress, experience.

One of the best explanations of how to format your Word document in preparation for publishing is in Zoe Winter's book Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming An Indie Author, but if you don't have it, this video by Connie Neal has some great tips: Formatting a Word 2010 Document for KDP.

I agree with Passive Guy's comment on the video:
In the demonstration, Connie applied some styles, then manually centered the text. PG would probably modify the style so it includes a centered text format. Very easy to do.

Rather than using one of Word’s style sets, PG uses a set of styles he has developed for all of Mrs. PG’s books. When he receives a new manuscript, he applies the styles he’s developed to that book. If he wants a different look for the new book, he can modify the styles or add other elements.

He usually begins by formatting the CreateSpace printed copy, always using section breaks instead of page breaks, then uses the result for conversion to ebook formats. It’s not the only way to do it, but it seems to him to be the most efficient.
Another great resource for formatting is Mark Coker's Smashwords Style Guide. I know, I know, we're talking about formatting your Word document for publishing through Amazon's KDP program, but the basics of formatting are the same regardless of where you're uploading to.

The key, I think, is to "go nuclear" and strip out all formatting from your document and then put it back in, making sure that the only formatting you use in your finished document, the one that's going to be uploaded to Amazon, are paragraph styles. I strip out the formatting by copying the entire text of the manuscript and pasting it into a text file like Notepad (on the PC), copying that text, then opening up a new Word file and pasting the text from Notepad file into it. (Clear as mud?) Sounds like a lot of work, but it's worth it to be sure you've stripped out every last pesky pit of formatting.

Stripping out all formatting will also strip out italics so I've taken to indicating italics in my manuscripts by putting "_" on the left side of a word. For instance, "She _loved chocolate" equals "She loved chocolate". Then I just do a global search and italicize all words that have an underscore as their first character. After that I remove all underscores and there you have it. (This article, Find and Replace Using Wildcards, is terrific)

I imagine there's a far more simple and elegant way of doing the same thing, and if any of you folks have discovered it, please do let me know! :-)

Other articles you might like:
- Lyla Sinclair's 8 Secrets Of Successful Romance Writing
- Indie Books: What Price Is Right?
- Writing Resources

Tuesday, September 11

The Espresso Book Machine: Print A Book In 6 Minutes

The Espresso Book Machine: Print A Book In 6 Minutes

The Espresso Book machine allows bookstores and libraries to print books on demand in about 6 minutes. This allows independent authors to buy print copies of their books; something that has been a boon even to traditional authors wishing to emancipate their backlist and sell it themselves.

The following is from the Bookshop Santa Cruz:
The EBM [Espresso Book Machine] offers Bookshop customers instant access to over eight million titles that are written in a variety of languages. With the push of a button, any book from EspressNet(R), On Demand Books’ digital catalog of content, can be printed, bound and trimmed, creating a paperback book that is virtually indistinguishable from the publisher’s version. Patrons can also use the EBM to self-publish their own work on-site and will have the option to make their book available for sale through EBMs worldwide. Bookshop Santa Cruz is the first location in the Bay Area to have an EBM and one of only twelve bookstores nationwide to have one.
Here's a video of the book machine in action:

Espresso Book Machine at Bookshop Santa Cruz from Vernon Alexander on Vimeo.

How much do POD books cost?
The Santa Cruz bookstore charges the following:
The base printing price for the EBM is $5.00 + 4.5 cents a page, although we do offer some bulk discounts and price breaks depending on the nature of the project.  We also have publishing packages which include various levels of service including graphic design, proof copies, obtaining an ISBN, etc. (Self Publishing at Book Santa Cruz ...)
Let's say we want to print one copy of a 300 page book:
$5 + (300 * 4.5 cents) = $5 + 1350 cents = $5 + $13.50 = $18.50
$18.50 for one copy of a book isn't too bad, but the writer would want to earn something on each sale, let's say 10%. 10% of $18.50 is $1.85, so the sale price would be $20.35. Before tax.

Another source, though, claims that an indie writer could use an Espresso Book Machine to print 100 copies of their book for an average cost of 8 dollars each:
[T]he prospect of a vast inventory of millions of titles to choose from and the excitement for authors of holding a book while still warm "with a laminated cover and bright white paper" at a price of $8 per book for 100 copies is a major attraction. (With This Machine, You Can ...)
This makes CreateSpace look attractive. If you go to this page and click the "Buying Copies" tab you'll be able to see how much you'd have to pay per book, as well as how much it would cost to ship your books. I've just taken out a Create Space account and, so far, the site seems very helpful.

I've never seen an Espresso Book Machine, but I'd love to! It would be an amazing experiencing having a book printed right before my eyes. Thanks to Kim for sending me a link to the article, Self Publishing at Book Santa Cruz Using the Espresso Book Machine.

Here is a link to a listing of all the Espresso Book Machines in the world! Thanks to Peter Smalley for the link.

Other articles you might be interested in:
- Amazon's KDP Select Program: The Power Of Free
- The Secret Of Learning To Write Well: Write
- Jim Butcher, Harry Dresden and the Dresden Files

Photo credit: Politics and Prose Bookstore

Friday, August 31

Indie Authors: Don't Give Anyone Ownership Of Your Work

Indie Authors: Don't Give Anyone Ownersip Of Your Work

Over the past few months, like mushrooms after a rain, scammers have sprung up offering to help indie authors publish their work.

These companies charge the moon for everything from editorial services to formatting to custom design work, and then, ON TOP OF THIS, they take a percentage of your royalties! Here's what Dean Wesley Smith has to say about these people:
I can hear the questions. “But I can’t do covers, so shouldn’t it be all right to trade the work on the cover for a percentage of the sales?”


For some strange reason, smart writer after smart writer seems intent on wanting and fighting to give away ownership percentages in their work, both with agents, with traditional publishers, with small presses, and with indie publishing “helpers.”
Some writers "believe it's fine to exchange work for a percentage of their property". It's not.
For example, you have a gardner come to your house to mow your lawn. But instead of money, you decide to give the gardner a percentage ownership in your home.
No one would consider this, so why do we find it so easy to do in the case of our manuscripts?

Companies that “Help” indie publishers.

There are two types of these companies. The Good and The Scam.

You always know The Good company when they never ask for a percentage of your work. The fees are up front for the work you need and stated, not hidden. And you always retain all rights to your work and the money goes directly to your bank account.

They work off of what is called a “menu” of services. They are, for the most part, the good. You decide how much you want to pay up front and either pay it or not.

The Bad company tries to hide any fees from you, tries to get you to give them a percentage, wants to handle your money before it goes to you with every sale, even tries to get you to sign up in their online agreements before you can even look at their site.

Solution: Run!!!!
I checked out a few of these companies because I wanted to find out how egregious their sins were. I found that many of them were up front about the amount of money they charge for services. One company publicly listed publishing packages costing up to--I kid you not--$10,000!

I pretended to be interested in this company's $5,000 package, one which included a website--I used to be a website developer--and asked to see an example site. Folks, these were the plainest, straight out-of-the-box, websites imaginable. The company was using free open source software to create the websites, something anyone with zero skill could do, and it only takes 5 minutes. Most hosting companies will set one of these sites up for free. That's right. For free! AND this company was demanding authors give them a cut of their royalties as well. My gosh! The nerve of some people, it's astonishing.

The Best Case Scenario
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you find a company, a small press, that does a great job with cover art, and formatting, and editing, etc., and let's say they take somewhere between 15% and 50% of your book in lieu of charging you for the services they provide. Here we're talking about a traditional publisher, but a very small one run by one person, sometimes two.

Here's what Dean has to say:
So you sign up with some small press publisher or some agent “publisher” who promises to get your book into electronic print, and then pay you FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE PLUS 70 YEARS 15% every month of everything that comes in.

Yeah, that’s going to happen and if you believe it will, I’ve got a very old bridge to sell you.

Imagine your grandkid trying to chase the grandkid of the agent sixty years after you die to get money and you start to see how really silly that idea is.
You all know how difficult it is to stick with something. Writing a book for instance! Your book is important to you, right? You love it (or at least you did in the beginning!) and yet it is so very easy to put down. We say things like, I've been so busy, one of my kids got sick, and so on. And there's nothing wrong with this. Life happens.

Imagine what it's like running a small publishing company in your spare time. The owner/publisher will likely wear more than one hat. They are responsible for acquiring manuscripts (a LOT of reading), negotiating contracts, doing cover art, line editing, formatting and uploading manuscripts and paying authors on time. AND they will probably do all the customer relations. Talk about stress!

How many of these small publishers do you think will still be around in a year? Two years? Five years? Not many. Consider: A medium sized publishing house probably has a few people on staff so if one person needs a break, if life intervenes, then someone else can step in and take over. Generally this isn't so with a small press.

So what happens when a small publisher folds? They've published your ebook and you don't have access to their accounts, and they'll likely have an account on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords just to name a few.

How do you get control of your book? The best case scenario is that the publisher will unpublish your book and send you the artwork they used for your cover along with the electronic file of your manuscript. But even then, because your book was unpublished, all the reviews your book received will be gone. You'll have to start over from square one.

And that's the best case scenario.

So what do you do? Dean writes:
— First, never, ever allow anyone to work for you for a percentage, either of income or ownership.

— Second, start learning how to indie publish your own work. It’s scary at first, but fun after that, and it gives you a sense of intense freedom. That way you can be clear-headed on signing a deal with anyone else.

— Third, make sure every contract you sign has a set date where the exclusive rights return to you. Period. Never sign a contract with a “speed limit” or a dollar figure of sales. Just set a date and if the publisher wants the work after that date, they can negotiate a new deal with you.
That's good advice. And it does get easier with practice. Read the rest of Dean Wesley Smith's article here: Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: The Myth of Giving Away 15% Ownership in Your Work.

Other articles you might like:
- Book Promotion: Where's The Line?
- John Locke Paid For Book Reviews
- Fifty Shades of Alice In Wonderland: Sales Peak At $1,000 Per Day

Photo credit: marfis75

Monday, August 27

John Locke Paid For Book Reviews

I was surprised when I read that John Locke paid for book reviews. I was even more surprised that he required the reviewers to be honest; if the reviewer wanted to give his book a 1 star review, that was fine.

But why would someone pay for a one star review? A one star review screams at readers: don't buy this book, you won't like it! Here's what Mr. Locke had to say:
“My first marketing goal was to get five five-star reviews,” he [John Locke] writes. “That’s it. But you know what? It took me almost two months!” In the first nine months of his publishing career, he sold only a few thousand e-books. Then, in December 2010, he suddenly caught on and sold 15,000 e-books.

One thing that made a difference is not mentioned in “How I Sold One Million E-Books.” That October, Mr. Locke commissioned Mr. Rutherford to order reviews for him, becoming one of the fledging service’s best customers. “I will start with 50 for $1,000, and if it works and if you feel you have enough readers available, I would be glad to order many more,” he wrote in an Oct. 13 e-mail to Mr. Rutherford. “I’m ready to roll.”

Mr. Locke was secure enough in his talents to say that he did not care what the reviews said. “If someone doesn’t like my book,” he instructed, “they should feel free to say so.” He also asked that the reviewers make their book purchases directly from Amazon, which would then show up as an “Amazon verified purchase” and increase the review’s credibility.

In a phone interview from his office in Louisville, Ky., Mr. Locke confirmed the transaction. “I wouldn’t hesitate to buy reviews from people that were honest,” he said. Even before using, he experimented with buying attention through reviews. “I reached out every way I knew to people to try to get them to read my books.”

Many of the 300 reviews he bought through GettingBookReviews were highly favorable, although it’s impossible to say whether this was because the reviewers genuinely liked the books, or because of their well-developed tendency toward approval, or some combination of the two.

Mr. Locke is unwilling to say that paying for reviews made a big difference. “Reviews are the smallest piece of being successful,” he said. “But it’s a lot easier to buy them than cultivating an audience.”
John Locke commissioned reviews on October 13th and his book sales took off in December. I imagine it would probably take about a month for the reviews to start coming through, so those paid reviews could have been an important factor in his December success. Of course, that Christmas was coming up wouldn't have hurt.

That John Locke paid for reviews is just one part of an article about Todd Rutherford and his book review site:
The tale of, which commissioned 4,531 reviews in its brief existence, is a story of a vast but hidden corner of the Internet [...].
.  .  .  .
In the fall of 2010, Mr. Rutherford started a Web site, At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. But some clients wanted a chorus proclaiming their excellence. So, for $499, Mr. Rutherford would do 20 online reviews. A few people needed a whole orchestra. For $999, he would do 50. 

There were immediate complaints in online forums that the service was violating the sacred arm’s-length relationship between reviewer and author. But there were also orders, a lot of them. Before he knew it, he was taking in $28,000 a month.
.  .  .  .
How little, [Todd Rutherford] wondered, could he pay freelance reviewers and still satisfy the authors? He figured on $15. He advertised on Craigslist and received 75 responses within 24 hours. 

Potential reviewers were told that if they felt they could not give a book a five-star review, they should say so and would still be paid half their fee, Mr. Rutherford said. As you might guess, this hardly ever happened. 

Amazon and other e-commerce sites have policies against paying for reviews. But Mr. Rutherford did not spend much time worrying about that. “I was just a pure capitalist,” he said. Amazon declined to comment. 

Mr. Rutherford’s busiest reviewer was Brittany Walters-Bearden, now 24, a freelancer who had just returned to the United States from a stint in South Africa. She had recently married a former professional wrestler, and the newlyweds had run out of money and were living in a hotel in Las Vegas when she saw the job posting. 

Ms. Walters-Bearden had the energy of youth and an upbeat attitude. “A lot of the books were trying to prove creationism,” she said. “I was like, I don’t know where I stand, but they make a solid case.” 

For a 50-word review, she said she could find “enough information on the Internet so that I didn’t need to read anything, really.” For a 300-word review, she said, “I spent about 15 minutes reading the book.” She wrote three of each every week as well as press releases. In a few months, she earned $12,500. 

“There were books I wished I could have gone back and actually read,” she said. “But I had to produce 70 pieces of content a week to pay my bills.”
In case anyone is thinking, "There should be a law against this!" let me assure you there is.
The Federal Trade Commission has issued guidelines stating that all online endorsements need to make clear when there is a financial relationship, but enforcement has been minimal and there has been a lot of confusion in the blogosphere over how this affects traditional book reviews. 
Todd Rutherford's company has been shut down and he now sells recreational vehicles. If you would like to read David Streitfeld's article about Tod Rutherford, click here: The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy.

Book review sites for indie books are desperately needed, but paying for reviews is not the way to go about it.

Other articles you might like:
- Picking Up The Threads: Getting Back Into Your Story
- Hugh Howey, Bestselling Author Of Wool, On The Key To Writing Success
- Creativity: Use It Or Lose It

Photo credit: brewbooks

Thursday, August 23

The End Of The Professional Writer?

An article in The Globe And Mail recently proclaimed the end of the professional writer. Professional writers, it was said, are going the way of the dodo and the buggy whip maker. (There Will Be No More Professional Writers in The Future)

Kris Rusch disagrees. She writes:
"... [Ewan Morrison] predicts, “There will be no more professional writers in the future.”

Here’s the thing: Viewed from a certain perspective, Morrison is absolutely right. A decade or two down the road, the model that we once called “professional” for writers will disappear.

That model depended on writers writing on spec until they sell something. Those writers need a day job to support themselves. Those writers once they sell something then hire an employee with no legal training who negotiates their contract. Then that same employee, who usually has no literary training, vets all of the writer’s future works.

For this single sale, the writers will get an interest-free loan that they do not have to pay back if their book fails to sell well. If the book does sell well, then that interest-free loan will be paid off and the writer will receive a percentage of the book’s cover price (in theory) for each copy sold. Of course, cover price might be subject to discounting (at which case the percentage paid to the writer goes down) and the definition of sold might include free copies given away in hopes of goosing remaining sales, but hey, who is counting?

Wait. The answer to that is no one. Because accounting programs at most traditional publishers are so behind the times that they can’t handle e-book royalties in any sane way.
.  .  .  .
Morrison is right when he calls traditional publishing a feudal economic system. What he fails to see is that it has always been one. And that the economics are simply getting  more rigid as time goes on. The writers are getting less of the pie than they did before, and seem to have no way to combat that.

Except through the very thing he bemoans—digital publishing. Rather than embracing the revolution, he criticizes it [...].

He finds himself faced with a hell of a dilemma—one that most traditionally published writers face. Should they get a day job in which someone else now pays for their time? Should they keep writing and hope that things will improve? Or should they learn how to run a small business and actually control their finances—and their careers—for the first time in their lives?
.  .  .  .
The true professional writers will publish indie. You have to be professional to survive in a market that requires business savvy as well as creativity.
.  .  .  .
Yes, Morrison is right. The past sixty years of publishing have become an era that is no more.

And that’s a very, very, very good thing.
Read more of Kris Rusch's article here: The Business Rusch: The End of the Unprofessional Writer

Other articles you might enjoy:
- Kristen Lamb: 5 Rules For Using Twitter Successfully
- 8 Ways To Become A Better Writer

Photo credit: Unknown

Dean Wesley Smith: Why I Self Publish

Dean Wesley Smith: Why I Self Publish

Dean Wesley Smith, in an article written for Kirkus reviews, talks about how he became an indie author:
After 100-plus novels through the system, I had decided to pretty much move on. I would finish the last few contracts I had and just fade away, write some short fiction, go play some poker.

Then my wife Kristine walked into my writing office on a fine day in May 2010, laughing. She told me about a $12 payment she had just received from Amazon for two short stories.

The previous fall I had tested the new electronic book world of Amazon with a couple of her short stories and a couple of mine. And then promptly forgot about them.

As Kris stood in my office door laughing about the $12, not in a bad way, but in an astounded way that those two stories had made 12 bucks in one month, I understood finally the new world we had just entered for writers.

For the first time, writers had an option other than traditional publishers, a viable option to reach readers directly, a viable option to make a living with their fiction.
Read the rest of Dean's article here: Dean Wesley Smith: The Self-Publishing Bestseller on ‘How I Did It’

I'm fascinated by tales of why authors start to self publish. Although each person's circumstances are unique each story has the same refrain: a writer wanted an alternative to traditional publishing and they liked having more control over their work.

Other articles you might be interested in:
- Spice Up Your Writing: The Passive Voice & Eliminating Passive Verbs
- 8 Ways To Become A Better Writer

Wednesday, August 22

8 Ways To Become A Better Writer

8 Ways To Become A Better Writer

I love Dean Wesley Smith's articles, especially his advice to writers. Here's Dean's most recent advice to new authors, paraphrased.

1) Never stop writing, and never stop having fun.

2) Don't limit yourself: try both indie and traditional publishing.

3) You don't need an agent. Send your manuscript directly to the editor, even if the editor says she doesn't accept unagented material.

4) Hire an IP lawyer if you receive an offer from a publisher. An IP lawyer can explain the contract to you, tell you if there are any 'gottya' clauses, and help you negotiate with the publisher.

5) Be professional. When you  publish your own work yourself, make sure you're dong a professional job. (Indie Writers: 10 Things Not To Do)

6) Follow Heinlein's Rules of Writing. Figure out ways to give yourself more time to write. (How To Be A Writer)

7) Educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about writing and publishing. This takes time. Reading the following blogs helps:
- A Newbie's Guide to Publishing
- Dean Wesley Smith
- Kris Rusch
- The Passive Voice Blog
- Mystery Writing Is Murder (Elizabeth Craig also tweets links to great articles on writing)

8) Don't be discouraged. For most writers it will take years to learn how to be a good storyteller. Don't be impatient and don't ever give up.

To Dean's list I'd add this: Don't be shy about experimenting. If you are indie published and one of your titles isn't selling as much as you'd like--or even if it is!--experiment with different covers, different prices, different marketing strategies, but all the while keeping in mind that the best way to market your work is to publish a new book.

Other articles you might like:
- Pixar: 22 Ways To Tell A Great Story
- Penelope Trunk Discusses Time Management
- Fifty Shades of Grey - Oh My!

Photo credit: Ben Fredericson

Monday, August 20

How To Be A Writer

How To Be A Writer

From Roxane Gay is Spelled With One "N".
How to Be a Contemporary Writer:

1. Read diversely.

2. Write.

3. See items 1 and 2.

4. Accept that there is no one way to make it as a writer and that the definition of making it is fluid and tiered. 
. . . .
8. Be nice. The community is small and everyone talks. Being nice does not mean eating shit. Being nice does not mean kissing ass. Being nice just means treating others the way you would prefer to be treated. If you’re comfortable being treated like an asshole, then by all means.
. . . .
17a. You are neither as great or terrible a writer as you assume.

18. Know that sometimes you simply need to work harder and sometimes you’ve done the best you can do and there’s no shame in either.
. . . .
25. Ignore all of this as you see fit.
Read the rest here: How to Be a Contemporary Writer.

Or, as Robert Heinlein put it all those years ago:
Heinlein's Rules for Writing:
1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.
Today with the advent of indie publishing I think the fourth and fifth points could read:

4. You must publish your work when it is ready. If your story has not been professionally edited and formatted, if it does not have a professional looking cover, then it is not ready.

5. You must keep the work published even if your initial sales are disappointing. Experiment with different covers and with different prices and even with different pen names.

How do you think Heinlein would adapt his rules of writing to the world of indie publishing?

Thanks for reading!

Other articles you might like:
- 8 Ways To Become A Better Writer
- How I Solved My Book Cover Dilemma, and How You Can Too
- Jane Friedman: How To Build An Awesome Twitter Bio

Photo credit: Håkan Dahlström

Friday, August 17

Extraterritoriality & DRM: An Insidious New Gottya Clause

I generally read Kris Rusch's business post as soon as it comes out on Wednesday or Thursday, but I've been busy and didn't get to it until this morning and read it while my brain was still trying to wake up.

It was hilarious! My responses, that is, not Kris' post. I kept batting my eyes and shaking my head thinking, no I can't possibly have read that, that's absurd. But, no, I hadn't read it wrong.

Apparently Hachette has added, or will be adding ...
... language that would require authors to “ensure that any of his or her licensees of rights in territories not licensed under this agreement” will use DRM. 
That's from an article by Cory Doctorow, Doubling Down on DRM: Hachette U.K. dabbles in extraterritoriality . Kris quoted him and I've taken these quotations form his article over at Publishers Weekly. Here's Cory's analysis:
It’s hard to say what’s more shocking to me: the temerity of Hachette to attempt to dictate terms to its rivals on the use of anti-customer technology, or the evidence-free insistence that DRM has some nexus with improving the commercial fortunes of writers and their publishers. Let’s just say that Hachette has balls the size of Mars if it thinks it can dictate what other publishers do with titles in territories where it has no rights.  
Kirs Rusch agrees. She writes:
Yeah. Cory’s exactly right about this. And he’s right about the balls the size of Mars. ...

Still, I e-mailed the link to a friend of mine who happens to be an intellectual property attorney who deals with the publishing industry a lot. The attorney’s response? Not shock, not surprise, but this (and I’m paraphrasing here):

Given what I see in  my dealings with the general counsels at various traditional publishing houses, I have to say that everyone in traditional publishing has gone insane.

Needless to say this clause—if indeed it exists—will be a new deal breaker. ... Do not sign anything that requires you to tell other publishers who publish your work in a different territory what to do. For that matter, do not sign anything that requires you to publish all your other work  (not covered under this contract) with DRM attached. If I had signed a contract like that, for example, I would not be able to publish this blog on my website. I would need to have some sort of DRM on this blog to remain in compliance with this contract.

So…if a publisher demands this of you, do not sign that contract. Negotiate it away. If you can’t, walk away. (A Tale Of Two Royalty Statements)
Cory Doctorow tells the story of an author, left unnamed, who published work with Hachette and also with Tor Books. The problem? Tor Books doesn't use DRM. The author had just received a politely worded letter from Hachette explaining his dilemma to him and inquiring about his proposed course of action. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place!

So put this on your list of deal-breakers: If a publishing company wants to control how your other work is published, work that has nothing to do with them, don't sign it!

I'd normally end my post at this point feeling releived that as an indie author I don't have to worry about gottya clauses and the wiles of the Big Six.

Um, wrong. As Kris points out:
This clause [the DRM clause] has a major impact on indie writers who publish their own work in their native language, then sell foreign rights to Hachette. If you sign the DRM clause as Cory outlines it, you must make sure your indie title is available only as DRM. Do you indie writers now understand why you must pay attention to these contract discussions?
Indie writers often handle sales to the English speaking world (or the world of their native tongue) themselves but hand over foreign rights to a publisher who can then have the book translated.

But if a writer signs one of Hachette's contracts with the DRM clause in it then the indie author would have to use DRM to protect even the English language titles they sell through, for instance, Amazon. Yikies!

Personally I don't like DRM and don't use it because it frustrates readers--I know, because it frustrates the heck out of me! Why would I want to aggravate readers who paid for my book by making it harder for them to read? That doesn't make sense to me. I know some folks believe DRM helps prevent an ebook from being pirated, but I doubt that. For more on the topic of DRM and whether it works, read the rest of Cory's article, Doubling Down on DRM, especially the comments.

Wishing you the best of luck in all your contract negotiations! Cheers.

Other articles you might be interested in:
- Why Indie Authors Are Good For Publishing
- Hugh Howey, Bestselling Author Of Wool, On The Key To Writing Success

Photo credit: listentomyvoice

Thursday, August 16

Sue Grafton: I Did A Bad Bad Thing

Yesterday Sue Grafton backpedaled on her claim that self-publishers were "too lazy to do the hard work". Ms. Grafton writes:
The responses to that quote ranged from irate to savage to the downright nasty.  Indie writers felt I was discounting their efforts and that I was tarring too many with the same brush.  It wasn’t my intention to tar anyone, if the truth be known.  Several writers took the time to educate me on the state of e-publishing and the nature of self-publishing as it now stands.  I am uninitiated when it comes to this new format.  I had no idea how wide-spread it was, nor did I see it as developing as a response to the current state of traditional publishing, which is sales driven and therefore limited in its scope.  I understand that e-publishing has stepped into the gap, allowing a greater number of authors to enter the marketplace.  This, I applaud.  I don’t mean to sound defensive here…though of course I do.

I don’t understand the mechanics of e-publishing and I still don’t understand how you can earn money thereby but I realize now that many indie writers are doing well financially and netting themselves greater visibility than I had any reason to believe. 
Read the rest over at The Pulse of the City: More from Sue Grafton on Publishing & Indie Writers.

Hugh Howey wasn't impressed. Here's his response to Sue's clarification of her thoughts on indie publishing:
Here is my favorite part of her disingenuous backpedaling:
When I’m asked for advice I warn many writers about the charlatans lurking out there.  I warn about the risk of being taken in by those who promise more than they actually deliver and do so at a writers expense. 
Sue? If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were talking about traditional publishers. Promise more than they deliver? Self-publishing makes no promises. You work your butt off with nothing but your own hopes and dreams. Every success startles. The empty promises I’ve seen made have come from major publishers, who have graciously offered to take my hard work and pay me less money and less frequently while they profit handily. Who are the charlatans? Look around, Sue. They’ve been milking you for years.
You can read Hugh's entire response here: An Explanation from Sue Grafton

Personally I think there's something to the adage: By their fruits you will know them. Are indie authors making money? Is indie publishing advancing writers' careers allowing them another option for advancement? The answer: Heck ya! But one thing indie publishing is not is easy.

Related reading:
- Hugh Howey, Bestselling Author Of Wool, On The Key To Writing Success
- Seth Godin: When To Go With A Traditional Publisher
- Amanda Hocking's Unusual Writing Schedule (Amanda Hocking writes between 6 and 12 hours a day! Anyone who calls that lazy has a different definition than I do.)

Wednesday, August 15

Hugh Howey, Bestselling Author Of Wool, On The Key To Writing Success

Hugh Howey, bestselling author of Wool, on the key to writing success

Hugh Howey, the bestselling author of Wool, writes this reply to Sue Graften's allegation that self-publishers are "too lazy to do the hard work". I'm not going to put in a link to Graften's article, Hugh Howey did, so you can get to her article through his if you really want to read it.

Hugh writes:
There is no better way to break into traditional publishing than self publishing. Period. End of story. Hell, write fan fiction. Another piece of Twilight fan-fic just got a seven-figure advance on the heels of the success of 50 Shades of Grey. Does this mean it’s the new norm? No. But it does mean that publishers no longer care how you sell books. They don’t care if you self-publish. They don’t even care if you write porn based on YA vampire novels. They just want to give readers whatever the hell they want! And readers don’t want query letters. They don’t want books in slush piles. They want good stories, decently edited, available right now, and as cheap as you please.
Read the rest of Hugh Howey's article here: My Favorite Four Sue Grafton Novels.

And he would know. His runaway bestseller, Wool, has been picked up by Random House in the UK and Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator) will be directing an upcoming blockbuster movie made by 20th Century Fox. You can read all about it here: Hugh Howey Writes About The Phenomenal Success Of Wool.

Thanks to The Passive Voice Blog for the link to Hugh Howey's article, provocatively titled Sue Grafton Thinks I'm Lazy.

Other articles you might like:
- Rasana Atreya's Self-Publishing Journey
- Contracts: Deadly Agent Clauses
- The Bourne Legacy: The Story Is Fiction, The Rest Is Real

Tuesday, August 14

Seth Godin: When To Go With A Traditional Publisher

Seth Godin: When to go with a traditional publisher
Seth Godin

I love Seth Godin's ideas so I was thrilled to come across this video over at the Smithsonian! Seth's video came up on the heels of one about independent publishing, so the videos displayed on that page probably change, but from what I've seen they're all great (which is pretty much what I'd expect from the Smithsonian!).

You may also like:
- Seth Godin: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
- Seth Godin: Resist Greed, Do Not Pander

Photo credit: Unknown

Monday, August 13

Amanda Hocking's Unusual Writing Schedule

Amanda Hocking took the self-publishing world by storm in 2011. She "sold over a million copies of her nine books and earned two million dollars from sales, previously unheard of for self-published authors. In early 2011, Hocking averaged 9,000 book sales each day" (Wikipedia, Amanda Hocking).

In 2011 Amanada was in her mid-twenties and had already written 17 novels! Here's how she does it:
"I get up around 7:00 in the evening," she explained. "I eat something and then I'm on the computer answering emails and doing business for a while. I start writing later in the evening and write between six and twelve hours." (Amanda Hocking in town for LeakyCon)
Perhaps I should try being nocturnal. In the summer it would probably be much less distracting!

Further reading:
- The Secret of Amanda Hocking's Success
- 5 Points To Ponder Before You Self Publish

Photo credit: Unknown

Thursday, August 9

Indie Writers: 10 Things Not To Do

Indie Writers: What not to do

Dean Wesley Smith continues his two part series listing 10 things indie writers do to shoot themselves in the foot. My post talking about Dean's first five points is here: Indie Authors: Bad Sales? Redo Your Cover!

6. Don't get hung up promoting your first book, go write another one! 
Sometimes an author will write one or two books and spend most of her time promoting them using social media. Dean writes:
The best way to sell more books is become a better storyteller, to have more product to sell, to work on craft and pacing and cliffhanging and all the thousands of things a professional writer needs.
7. Use different pen names when you write in different genres
Many writers say they don't want to use a pen name because it would take more work to develop two names than one. And of course that's true. But as Dean writes:
Yup, that will kill sales faster than anything I have seen. Why? Because of reader expectations, that’s why. A reader picks up and likes a romance under “Real Name Writer” and then sees another book from the same author name and buys it and it’s a horror novel with ugly guts and blood. Reader says, “I’m not buying anything by that author again.”  And then tells their friends to avoid you.
I see Dean's point, but I think it's probably only a killer in conjunction with a bad cover and a bad blurb. For instance, one of my favorite authors writes two very different series, one is gritty urban fantasy while the other is high fantasy, but it's obvious from the cover alone what genre is under the cover. I haven't bought one of his high fantasy books yet, but I'm still a huge fan of his urban fantasy series.

8. Pricing your work too low
Due to changes Amazon made to their ranking algorithm it no longer pays to sell a book for under $2.99. Sure, offer your book for a reduced price for a limited period to generate sales, but don't keep any of your books at that price.

What price is best for your book? Everyone has a different opinion. Dean thinks the $4.99 to $8.99 range makes sense. He writes:
So if you want to build a long-term career, with fans finding you slowly, over time, who are willing to pay a respectable price for your work, have some respect in your own time and craft. Price your book in the same range as traditional publishers price their works. ($4.99 to $8.99 for most for e-books)
9. Going exclusive 
This issue is hotly debated. Some authors find they sell well over 95% of their books through Amazon so enrolling most of their work in Amazon's KDP Select program--a program which demands exclusivity--seems right for them. Not so for others.

Don't forget about paper books
Many indie authors make the mistake of not putting out paper copies of their work. Dean writes:
[B]y ignoring paper editions, not having them available at least, you ignore 80% of all readers. And also kill a great price comparison on your own books. (I did an entire post on this topic, but say your print book is $15.99, it makes your $7.99 electronic edition look like a deal.)
 Excellent point! And I hear that CreateSpace is easier than ever to use.

10. Hurrying
Take time to practice your craft and stop focusing on sales. Dean writes:
I am not saying you shouldn’t mail your stuff to editors or put your work up electronically and try to make sales. Do put it up, do mail it to editors. I mailed my very first short story to a magazine that bought it. And my second. And after that I got hundreds of rejections before a magazine bought another story from me. If I had been in a hurry, if I didn’t understand at a deep level that learning how to be an internationally-selling fiction writer took time and years, I would have stopped somewhere between 1975 and 1982.

But I didn’t stop. I kept writing and learning and working on becoming a better storyteller. And I kept learning the business, even as it changed.

And now, thirty-seven years later, I’m still writing and still learning and still working to become a better storyteller.

So slow down the worrying about sales, focus on learning, focus on the next story and the next story, and have fun. The sales will come if you put your work out there and keep learning.
These quotations were all taken from Dean Wesley Smith's article: The New World: Publishing: Killing Your Sales One Shot at a Time: The Second Foot.

Now that I know what to do if I could just do it! ;)

Hope you've having a great writing day. Cheers!

Other reading:
- Indie Authors: Bad Sales? Redo Your Cover!
- Kristen Lamb: 5 Steps To Writing Success
- How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do

Photo credit: By theexbrit