By Indie Authors for Indie Authors.

Tag: indie book marketing

How Self Published Authors Can Sell Their Books in 2017 (Part 1)

  1. How Self Published Authors Can Sell Their Books in 2017 (Part 1)
  2. How Self Published Authors Can Sell Their Books in 2017 (Part 2)

How Self Published Authors Can Sell

 

Part 1: Don’t Ignore Print Books

 

Author Earnings finalized their 2016 U.S. book numbers. I can’t personally vouch for the veracity of how Author Earnings tracks and calculates their numbers, but I also have no reason whatsoever to question any of the numbers. I like to view their reports from time to time to see if there’s any interesting information I can glean regarding market trends and what it might mean for us Indie Authors.

So what are the takeaways from 2016? This week I would like to zero in on some of the numbers throughout the week and see what valuable information we can utilize in our own efforts as Indie authors in 2017.

Today, I would like to look at (1) where are people buying and (2) in what formats. (Note: The numbers provided by Author Earnings are U.S.-centric, so I can only speak about U.S. markets in this analysis. However, I think much of the takeaways can extend into worldwide Indie Author strategies as well.)

 

Where are people buying books?

43% of all traditionally published books were purchased online in 2016. This is a continued increase from what we saw in 2014 and 2015.

I know what you’re thinking. “I’m not traditionally published, so why should I care about this?”

Well here’s the thing. Readers purchase books for a lot of different reasons. I usually only purchase a book if it’s recommended by a highly trusted source (e.g. friend, family member, colleague, etc.). A lot of readers will have similar requirements for purchasing a book, or they will purchase based on the title, the cover, or the blurb on the back jacker.

You know what readers don’t base their purchasing decisions on? The publisher.

Readers couldn’t care less who the publisher is in most instances. It’s the bookstores that care. Bookstores use the publisher as a sign of quality and a benchmark for making it into their brick and mortar stores. Even as the quality of Indie books has increased exponentially over the last five years, essentially making the difference between self published books and traditionally published books indiscernible, bookstores haven’t seemed to adjust their buying practices accordingly.

So if readers are now buying nearly half of all traditionally published books online, (in addition to all the non-traditional purchases they make), as Indie Authors we’re no longer relying on bookstores to put our books in front of readers. Most readers don’t care about who published it, which increases the probability that they’ll be buying an Indie title rather than a title published by one of the Big 5. This is good news.

 

What format are readers buying?

Author Earnings reported over 16,000,000 self published print books were sold in 2016. Most of these were via Amazon’s Create Space.

Look at this chart from Author Earnings on traditionally published books:

 

Courtesy of Authors Earnings

 

Over 75% of all traditionally published books purchased in 2016 were print. The numbers Author Earnings provides are that 793M traditionally published print books sold in the U.S. last year. Here’s how the numbers adjust when we take into account both traditionally and Indie publishing:

 

Courtesy of Authors Earnings

 

These numbers could mean a couple things. You could look at the uptick of 264M ebooks contributed by Indie book sales and contrast that to only roughly 16M in Indie print sales, and you could conclude that, as a self published author, you should be focused on ebooks. That’s a reasonable conclusion given this data.

I don’t  think that is an accurate take away, though. I don’t have the numbers to support this, but I suspect the reason that there were only 16M Indie books sold in print last year is because very few Indie authors actually choose to publish their titles in print. My take away from this is that self published authors should continue to aggressively explore print for their books.

Well over half the books sold in the U.S. last year were print books. We also just learned that nearly 50% of traditionally published books were purchased online, so we don’t have the bookstore hurdle staring us so squarely in the face anymore. To me, this disparity of 264M Indie ebooks to 16M Indie print books means not enough of us are exploring print as a publishing option, and I think we’re missing out on a large readership opportunity.

Know your audience friends! If you have an erotica book, you’re probably just fine focusing on the digital market because almost 70% of erotica books purchased in the U.S. last year were ebooks.

However, if you’re like me and have a book that is literary fiction, or if you have a young adult fiction book, or any other number of genres, you are missing a large potential readership if you’re only publishing digitally. You need to seriously consider self publishing in print via Create Space or Ingram Sparks. (I published my book in print through Ingram Sparks.)

(Note: There’s a quickly growing market in Audio Books that traditional publishers are capitalizing on that Indie publishers have failed to grasp yet. I think it would be wise for us Indie Authors to look very seriously into Audio Books. However, I have not had the time to do so myself yet, so I don’t feel I can adequately contribute to the discussion. Looks like I have some homework to do, though.)

 

So the takeaways from today’s review of the numbers are two-fold:

  1. Don’t ignore print books! The numbers continue to point to Indie success in print books.
  2. Readers are unsurprisingly making more and more of their print book purchasing decisions online. This is good news for Indie published titles. However, it’s not the entire story, and it’s not all good news.

 

Don't ignore print books! The numbers continue to point to Indie success in print books. #amwritingClick To Tweet

 

Tomorrow we’ll look into Amazon’s continued stranglehold on the market and what that means for Indie Authors.

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

 

7 Valuable Insights from Promo Debriefs Using IndieListers

indielisters1

by Jason Ladd

 

If promoting your book was easy, it wouldn’t be any good, right? There’s a new place for authors to gain valuable intelligence on the effectiveness of the hundreds (thousands?) of book promotions sites on the web.

IndieListers.com is the result of a question I asked after launching and promoting One of the Few:

“What if Indie authors had a singular place to debrief their promos where everyone could learn from their experiences?”

Most Indie authors love sharing their experiences and strategies with others. They’ve learned that independent publishing is not a zero-sum game. We can all win.

But these promo stack debriefs were buried in forums and comment threads on countless websites. There were plenty of needles, but the haystack was huge.

That’s when I decided to create IndieListers, the largest free online book promotions results database on the web created exclusively by authors.

 

There is Power in the Debrief

I learned many valuable skills while flying for the Marines. One of the most important was the power of the debrief. It’s where some of the most valuable learning occurs, and it’s what prevents you from repeating mistakes and wasting money.

IndieListers is becoming the place where authors go before and after their promos–to pick the best services and report the results.

I want to share seven valuable insights that you can gain from using this free service.

 

1. What’s Out There

You’re probably familiar with a few book promotions sites such as BookBub, eReader News Today, and Book Sends, but there are a ton of other sites out there.

IndieListers maintains a mega-list of book promotion websites that provide either free or paid book promotion services. There are currently over 250 listings, all hyperlinked for easy clicking.

 

2. What Authors Are Actually Using

Some promotion websites are focused more on their clicks than your downloads. They’re highly automated, nondiscriminatory (in the book quality sense), impersonal, and most important, ineffective.

Experienced authors don’t use them because they don’t work.

IndieListers shows you which promos authors are using, and whether or not they are effective.

 

3. Cost-per-Download

IndieListers is focused mainly on e-book activity, and a simple calculation built into the site reveals the cost-per-download for any given promotion. That’s good, but IndieListers data lets you take it further allowing you to estimate profit or loss.

 

4. Estimate Profit of Loss

Cost-per-click and book sale price combined with industry knowledge can help you estimate whether or not an author’s promo was profitable.

For instance, an eBook exclusively on Amazon during a $0.99 cent promotion will yield the author a 35% royalty from Amazon. In other words, the author will make $0.35 cents per download.

If the cost-per-download is less than $0.35 cents, it’s a good assumption the promo was profitable, and vice versa.

A book priced at $2.99 making a %70 royalty will yield the author $2.09 per download. If the cost-per-download is greater than that, they probably lost money.

 

5. Author Experience

IndieListers has a place to leave general comments about the promotion experience. For instance, it’s nice to know when an author is provided a refund–something we’ve seen from BKnights and FreeBooksy.

Comments have also provided feedback on the effectiveness of the “we-will-list-your-book-on-all-the-promotion-sites-for-you” services. During one of my promotions, I could only confirm my book on 5 out of 31 sites on promotion day (granted, some of these services still require a lot of author-in-the-loop, and there many points of possible failure).

Authors are also using the comments section to mention author rank changes, what they received on the tail, and whether they saw an increase in KENP.

 

indielisters 24jul17

A sample of the real-time feedback received by authors on Indie Lister.

 

6. Author Tactics

Are authors going Amazon only, or are they going wide with Apple, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, Wattled, and GooglePlay?

Not only will you see how other authors are selling their books, you’ll get a feel for their experience and platform by looking at other data such as which professional services they used, how many books they’ve published, how many promos they’ve run for that book, and if they’re a best-selling author on Amazon, USA Today, or the New York Times.

 

7. Preview Author Platforms

IndieListers gives you the option of listing your Twitter username and author website. This allows you to take a look at how other authors are operating online, as well as connect with other authors in your genre.

In a guest post on Indies Unlimited, I talk about how my promotion results improved after browsing information provided by the database.

It wasn’t easy, but the results were good. My goal is to help make it just a little easier for you.

Whether your promotion is good or bad, sharing your results makes you part of a solution for the Indie community. I hope your promos are successful, but if they’re not, IndieListers could be your silver lining!

 

 

About the Author:

Jason B. Ladd is an award-winning author and veteran. He has flown the F/A-18 “Hornet” and the F-16 “Fighting Falcon” as an instructor pilot. He and his wife Karry are the parents of seven children.

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

 

5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Marketing Your Book

Book-Marketing-Mistakes

Image Courtesy of Skye Malone

 

Indie authors have a strange job description. I’m sure when most people hear the term indie author, they immediately think self-published or small-time author, but this is far from the truth, especially in the ever-changing ebook environment. There are plenty of indie authors that are successful and even indies that are bestsellers. Being an indie author does not equate to being small time.

One common thread for all indie authors, though, is having multiple job descriptions. Indies have to understand and execute on a variety of jobs, which may include writing, editing, formatting, coding, and marketing. We are the jack of all trades for the writing world.

There are plenty of places to fall down in this process, but it’s the marketing efforts (or marketing flubs) of authors that are the most visible. Now I’m no marketing expert, not in the least, but I have learned a thing or two. Here are 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Marketing Your Book.

 

Being an indie author does not equate to being small time.Click To Tweet

1. Buy My Book!

This is the most common and the most tired marketing effort used by indie authors. To me, it seems to be a failure due to either one of two things. Either the author just doesn’t know how to market his book other then coming right out and saying it, which I fear is probably often the case with many indie authors. It’s difficult to come up with unique creative ways to get the word out about your book, I get it. But this way isn’t going to get the results you want.

The other reason indies do this could be because they’ve confused the need for a “call to action” on their website with something that is acceptable on social media. The simplest way I can explain the difference is to bring this into a brick-and-mortar, real-world context. Imagine you are doing a book reading at a local bookstore. Having a little stand with a placard that says “Get Your Copy Here” is great. That is acceptable. Approaching everyone in the bookstore with your book saying, “Buy my book!” is obnoxious. That is unacceptable.

Treat social media the same way you would the real world. Try to engage and interact. Don’t always try to sell.

 

2. Buy Me Book!

I struggle with this all the time. We are very busy people and we are juggling a lot balls in the air at once. It’s difficult to make sure every quick quip on social media is spelled correctly, but proofread your posts. A writer saying, “Buy me book!” is like showing up to an interview with your fly open and toilet paper stuck to your shoe. Not a good first impression.

 

3. All Caps

This one is pretty self explanatory, so I’m going to give Brick Tamland the floor here. This is what I feel like when I see a post on my social media feed in all caps.

 

4. The Solitary Link 

If you can’t take the time time to put thought into your social media post, how can you expect a potential reader to take the time to put the thought into considering your book. I would love to see the statistics for the success rate of someone randomly clicking on a link with no understanding of what the link is and then that person deciding to make a purchase when arriving at the linked page. It’s got to have the lowest success rate for book sales out there. It’s either that or throwing copies of your book out the window of your car on the highway with a note saying, “Please send a check to…” I’m not sure, but one of those two marketing methods are the least successful.

Point is, stop posting the solitary link.

 

If you don't put thought into your tweet, you can't expect a reader to put thought into buying your book.Click To Tweet

 

5. You Will Love It! 

Really? Will I? You don’t even know me. Why do you assume I am going to love it. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate your vigor and passion. I understand the effort you put into creating your book. I commend you for the feat and I wish you all the success in the world. But why do you assume I will love your book? Adamant recommendations from biased authors that do not know me- maybe it works for you, but I just don’t see it.

 

So get creative people. We all want to sell our books. We all have dreams of success. Find creative avenues for sales. If you have creative ideas that have worked for you, share them here. I would love to hear them!

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

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