Saturday, 23 November 2013

It's great to feel like an author!

There is no greater feeling than that of finally beginning to feel like an author after almost a decade of hard, almost impossible writing. I initially began to feel the first stirrings of being an author when I published my first book, End of the Road. I felt a tad more like one when I finally published the follow up, Cops Don't Run.

Now, when I look at the two books together with their amazing covers, I positively glow with pride.  It's great to feel like an author!!




Writing & publishing was the easy part

So you've just hit the publish button for that book you've been labouring over for the last God-knows how many years. Now you can sit back, smile and relax, and just wait for the money to flow in.

Well, I certainly recommend relaxing and smiling, you have jolly-well earned it. Writing a quality book, having it edited and proof-read, and finally formatting it for Amazon and Smashwords is no easy task and you deserve a rest. But now the work really begins.

Invisible

Firstly, your book is sitting amongst 1.5 million other books. It's most probably completely invisible, only findable by people you send its way through active or passive marketing. What you need to do is ensure that book and the information presented with it is not only up-to-date, but grabs the reader's attention before they click on another book presented below yours. I am amazed just how many books are sitting on Amazon without these basic requirements. Here are a few ideas of things that you should be doing after you have published your book.

Additional images

Me at 24yrs of age
Amazon displays an image of your book. Did you know you can add additional images to sit alongside your book cover? Images grab attention, and somebody glancing at your book image might be about to move on from it until they see a second, smaller image with it. Then they'll click on it. This may lead to further clicks and keep the reader on your book page. That is what you want - the longer they stay, the more likely they are to buy your book. To give you an idea of what I am talking about, my first book (End of the Road) has an image of me as a 24yr old soldier with it. Why? Because it is a true account of a particular day when I was that young military man. What better way is there to read it than with an image of the man in your mind. Take a look here. Can you see, just below the main book image, two smaller images? Go on, I know you want to click on it. Stay on that page, because I'm going to talk about the text underneath the additional picture next.

'Book description'

Once the viewer has clocked your additional pictures their eye will glance down at what you have to offer. This is another chance to seize them or lose them. The Book Description field as a place where you can add some impact to your page. The first thing you see on my page is a review, in bold, yelling out the qualities of my book. This is immediately followed by About the Book, where I mention that the book hit #1 in its category. Getting the picture now? My book is growing in value. I've also added a warning about the content, as some people are offended by strong language and may paste a negative review. I have given them fair warning.

Beneath the warning is a teaser for the book, followed by a handful of other reviews. All you need to do to add such details is log into your Amazon Author Central account, select your book page followed by your book. The Product Description page is where I added the above details. Scrolling down the page gives you additional fields, such as From the Author and About the Author. Again, add some detail to these sections as they will appear on the page and give you more chance to trap the viewer. Back to the books sales page, you'll see mine appear beneath Customers who Bought this Item also Bought... Hopefully, I have created sufficient interest in the viewer that they won't click on one of these other books, choosing instead to skip over them to read more about me.

Below these are the book details (including any category it is in). Again, if you can be top of a category this will help the viewer to become a buyer. Below this are the all-important reviews, creating another prompt for the viewer to buy (get some reviews if you don't have any!!).

Shelfari

Beneath the reviews is a section called Book Extras from the Shelfari Community. More selling space! To add this, you need to visit Shelfari, claim the book and add the details. Others can also add to this information if they so wish. Shelfari is now owned by Amazon and will come into use more and more.

'More about the Author' page

The final space for you to keep the viewers attention is a link to your Amazon author's page. Make sure you have updated this with links to your Twitter, blog, newsletter etc. Click on the link and note the additional photos included here too.

Once you've done all of that, you'll need to do the same for the other Author Central's you have (I do it for AuthorCentral.com and AuthorCentral.co.uk, my two main markets.)

Finally

It's not over yet. You still need to update the book on any other sites that you have listed you and your book, eg Authors Database, Goodreads, Pinterest, Facebook page and your blog and or website. If you don't have them, I suggest getting on with it right now!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Why your free book stops 'selling' when it reverts to a price

If, like me, you have a book out there for free, you may have noticed that it suddenly stops 'selling' when it reverts to its original price. Devastating, isn't it? This happened to me recently and I think I know why nobody buys it when Amazon suddenly lists it at the original price. First, a bit of background.

My story

I have a short story called END OF THE ROAD, which I'd originally priced at 99c. It is part one of five, part two is due out soon. It sold a few copies a week, and it wasn't going to make me rich, so I decided to reduce the price to zero on Smashwords and eventually Amazon price-matched it. Downloads took off, hitting 155 in the first month. Since then, a steady month on month increase has been recorded (see graph).

Downloads for END OF THE ROAD in 2013

Sales figures

June was a blip, having been featured on a highly-followed website, but that helped with July's figures, pushing into high visibility on Amazon via its lists and other behind the scenes fumblings. August is showing strong sales and is already on target to surpass July, even though we are only halfway through the month.

It's clear that the numbers are increasing month on month, despite the book suddenly being listed on Amazon.co.uk at its original price for a few days in August. This caused the UK downloads to stop dead, effecting my overall figures.

Immediate action

The first thing I did was go to the book page on Amazon and click on the link "Tell us about a lower price", to notify them that the book is STILL free elsewhere (Smashwords is not sufficient, you must give a link to your book being sold on an online store such as Apple or Sony). Eventually, it will revert to free again.

Whilst I was waiting for the price to match I was astounded that whilst it remained at the .99p price, none of my UK compatriots considered buying the book, despite it being very little outlay for months of hard work by this author. It was only when I looked at the list the book was in that I realised.

#1

As a free book, it routinely hit the #1 spot in its category, and even now rarely leaves the top-ten free books for several categories. When the book reverted to a priced book, it vanished from these lists, being shown as number 514,346th or there abouts. Clearly, at that rank, nobody but the saddest of late-night book browsers are going to find it so it WILL NOT SELL!

#1 best 'seller' in its category

Visibility

The simple reason it gets downloaded when it is free is that it is visible on the top ten list of its category and people can see it and download it, but when priced it vanishes from view ( or to 1/2 million books back). It is not because nobody is willing to spend a meagre amount on your years of work, it is because they can't find it.

Moral




So the moral of this post is, keep your first book for free (look at how many people are downloading a book with my name on it - almost 1 per hour EVERY day, 24hrs per day) and keep on writing that second book because, even if you sell it for a price, those people that downloaded your free book are going to get to see your next one, because your first book will link to it, and because Amazon will make sure they do.

(Apologies for any bizarre layout in this post but either my computer is having a laugh, or Google blogger is)

Monday, 10 June 2013

Is your book cover speaking your language?

Home-made

When I first entered the epub world as an author 12 months ago, I did so on a shoe-string. In fact, I'd promised myself not to spend anything on my book until I began making money. So I did the book-cover myself and it was - on the whole - well received. I had no training in book-cover design, nor the programmes needed to knock one up. But after a month of trial and error and $12 (for the photo), I came up with this:

Original home-made cover

Downloads

I liked it - it was, OK. I sold about 6 books per month. After six months of this I decided to give the book away. The downloads increased significantly - 7 copies per day for four months, on average. And then I decided to go pro.

 Pro

The real reason for finding an expert to do the cover was book two. I didn't have the patience to knock up the second cover, nor the skills to bring the pattern of book one across onto book two. The one thing I was worried about was the cost - as the first in the series this book was always going to be free.

Cover designer

I found Jan Marshall on Twitter, and found her to be helpful and flexible regarding payments. We agreed to use the original background, and before long she sent me a file containing several possibilities. After discussing our options she sent me another file containing amendments. The result was this:

Professionally designed cover

Downloads increase

I uploaded the new cover in the final week of May 2013. Downloads increased immediately, averaging 20 per day (more than double the original quantity). Then on Sunday 9th May, something crazy happened. Over 220 downloads occurred. This continued into Monday, resulting in 600 downloads in the first 10 days of May (more than the preceding 3 months added together.)


Reason

I have possibly tracked this sudden surge to a website that promoted my book that day. It listed '5 good ebooks for free'. It has a following of over 100,000. I'm not sure the surge can be traced back to this posting but I have no other ideas at the moment. Whatever the reason for the surge in downloads, I am sure it is down to the new-look cover. With a doubling in downloads, I'm sure this cover has been picked up and promoted, which wouldn't have happened with the original, amateur version.


Book two

With book two close to release, I can now sit back and get on with the writing whilst Jan focuses on designing the new cover, which I'm sure will look as good as the first one. In the meantime, here are the two covers side by side. Can you spot the amateur? Is yours easily identifiable as an amateur, or can it hold its own up there with the professionals? What do you think? I'd love to hear from you.



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