Tag Archives: Kindle

Publishing Confusion – Part Two. Author Brand

Author Brand

Author Brand! What is it?

Who likes Nike, Adidas? Who’s your favourite Movie Star, Poet, Author?  The first two are BRANDS which people love. The Second are people who can be turned into BRANDS and generally are. So, how do they do this? What does it mean to have a BRAND

If you get a big enough BRAND you can sponsor others, the same way Nike and Adidas do. They are MARKETING MACHINES, but how did they do it? How did they get so big and noticeable? It’s a bit of give and take. The big businesses sponsor the big names in sports and movies. If a movie star loves the shoes, clothes, drink…whatever the business sell, then the public will buy and support the person being sponsored which in itself supports the MARKETING MACHINE. It continually circles around, making money. 

As authors and publishers we need to do something similar. The trouble is getting your foot in the door. How is this achieved. Well it’s time to ask some of the Independent Authors who’ve made a success of their books. There is one lady I know you’d all love to chat with. Sadly she is busy heading for a deadline right now though Jami Albright has given me permission to share how she went about her first book launch, which also shows how she used her BRAND to her advantage.

Find Jami’s Podcast HERE. Other details are below. This Podcast is mainly about a Book Launch, though it shows the process she went through to get SALES and REVIEWS, both an important part of how we use our AUTHOR BRAND.

 

This article was written by Jami Albright in 2017. Jami has since released another three books in her series.

The minute you decide to sell your book it stops being your baby and becomes a product. A product that needs to be launched into the world. Which, frankly, is a dubious task when you consider that there are millions of books on Amazon alone, not to mention the other platforms such as, Kobo, Apple iBooks, Google Play, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook.

Did you hear me, people? Millions!

So how do you launch your book so it will sell, but also stay sticky in the Amazon rankings and therefore, continue to sell? We have to have a plan. A launch plan.

On April 11, 2017, I released the first book in my Brides on the Run series into the top 3000 in the Amazon paid store and had 50 reviews within the first three days. Eleven weeks later (as of this writing) my book is still ranked in the top 5000 and has over 200 reviews. It’s sold 1100 copies, and has 700K pages read in Kindle Select/Kindle Unlimited.

My little book has made over $5000, y’all! (I’m a Texan. We’re excitable.)

When I was asked to write this article about my book launch, my first thought was, Surely, there’s someone more qualified than me to talk about this subject? Because, while I’ve done well, other indie authors are knocking it out of the park with their numbers. But like most of you, I’m a part-time writer with family responsibilities, and a day job, who’s doing everything I can to figure out this indie publishing thing. What I’m trying to say: If I can do it, you can do it.

My launch plan began months before I put my book on Amazon. I started by understanding my genre and making sure my book met the expectations and conventions of that category. How did I do that? I read books like the ones I wanted to write. I familiarized myself with the tried and true tropes that readers want, and then worked very hard to make sure I delivered on those expectations. You can choose to write outside of the parameters of a genre, but know that you are going out on a limb to do it. And you might find yourself alone on that limb with your determination to be unique and no audience. Readers come to a genre knowing what they want. If you disappoint them because you decide to break convention, they will not be happy. They’ll then share their displeasure by leaving a nasty review.

The same is true of covers. When choosing a cover for your book, check out the top one-hundred best sellers in your genre. Are there themes, colors, and fonts that are used to signal that the book is a YA fantasy or a cozy mystery? I’m not telling you to copy those covers, but you should use them as guidelines for your own design.

I write romantic comedy. In the rom-com sub-genre there are three camps as far as covers go. One camp is full of sexy, shirtless guys. The second is illustrated covers with quirky characters, and third features women in flirty skirts, that only show their legs. My book didn’t fall neatly into any of those styles. It’s kind of a combination of all of them. It took several iterations, but I came up with a compromise that I think works. It’s flirty, quirky and sexy, just like my book.

A reader should be able to look at your cover and tell immediately what kind of book it is. If your cover and your content don’t match, then you’ve confused the reader. And a confused reader is one that moves on to the next book by another author.

In addition to a great cover, you also want a blurb or book description that hooks the reader. If you don’t know how to write good copy, learn, or pay someone to do that task for you. Bryan Cohen’s How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis is an excellent resource on the subject. If done well your cover and blurb can sell your book for you.

Before we move on, one more quick word about covers. Put down the mouse and step away from Photoshop. Now! You should not be making your own covers unless you have an extensive background in graphic design. There, I said it. Someone had to.

Hire a professional cover artist. A good cover can cost as little as $25 for a pre-made all the way up to $3000 for an artist commissioned cover. Mine cost me $200, it would’ve been less, but much to my designer’s annoyance, I kept changing my mind. The two most important things you will spend money on are the cover and editing. You should have someone other than your mother or your high school English teacher edit your books. You need a professional editor. Period.

I know these things cost a lot of money, and if you’re like me, that money isn’t in your budget. But it’s important, so important that I worked odd jobs to make extra cash and, ultimately, sold plasma to pay for it all. Was it hard to travel thirty minutes to an unfamiliar part of town, sit for hours in a small room filled with people I didn’t know, and get stuck with a needle twice a week? Yes. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I have a book I’m proud of. A book that looks professional on the inside and out. A book I paid for with actual blood, sweat, and tears. Damn right, I’d do it again.

Now that I’m off my do whatever you have to do soapbox, I should say that you can sometimes barter with an editor to get the services you need. Or find a graphic design student that has experience and wants to build their portfolio. Or just wait and save up until you have the money.

I know you want your book out yesterday, but we’re playing the long game. Smart, professional authors don’t rush something to market that isn’t ready because it will hurt them in the long run.

To re-cap, we need to know our genre expectations, have a fantastic cover that we don’t make ourselves, a well-written blurb that hooks readers, and professional editing and formatting.

Finally, I can’t encourage you enough to get involved with the indie community. Once I realized that indie publishing was the route I wanted to take, I immersed myself in learning everything I could about the business of self-publishing. I listened to podcasts, I got involved with Facebook groups geared toward publishing and marketing, I went to the Smarter Artists Summit, and I tried my best to be a good community member and make meaningful connections with other indie authors. Little did I know how those connections would be a driving forces behind my successful launch.

In the beginning, I had very little to offer other writers other than encouragement. I could share posts, give moral support and be a friend. So can you. It requires a little effort, imagination, and courage, all things you have because you’re a writer.

How do you feel? Do you think you’re ready to release your baby… um… product into the world?

Jami Albright

Running From A Rock Star
www.jamialbright.com
jamialbright1@gmail.com


Please continue to read our blogs for the processes about Author Brand and Book Launches, and please remember the first step to building your book is RESEARCH

Our next article will cover Social Media and Website Building. What to expect, what you need to do and learn. Much of this also depends on your budget. Can you afford it or are you willing to LEARN what’s needed to get your BRAND working for YOU.

 

Journey into Creating a Publishing Company – Part Three

I never name call anyone. I am always polite and rational with anyone with any discussion. If or when a person earns my ire I tend to grumble a lot, though I do step back and think about the situation which has arisen. I will help as much as I can or as the client will let me…One thing I am clear about is when a client has approved a final file then they will need to pay for extra work, whether the original job was a swap of skills, paid or a package.

2016 was a big year with a lot of changes. It wasn’t a good year on many fronts though I did have a favourite. Needless to say this year was filled with bullying clients and gossip in the local writers group which I didn’t know about for nearly two years. I was devastated by both of these. Luckily for me I have stong family support from my husband and children and some really great friend. Many of those friends were students from my Business Management Course and my Incubate Course.

There was one bully who I worked with. They were like an advisor, going to do marketing for me on a local scale, introduced me to a local reporter for one of the free newspapers. All of this was appreciated. In exchange I formatted their first book, pulled together a book cover – all to the best of my ability at that time – both ebook and print, assisted them set up accounts with createspace and kindle. Now if one thinks about all the time involved the different things I was learning, it was a lot of work. I can’t really put a price on this.  They were happy with the result…UNTIL…They suddenly decided I’d not done the book properly (a word I now HATE) Thinking back I did two books for this person. The other was in exchange for a computer (desktop) he put a price of $300 on which strangley was raised to $400 during email discussions. It wasn’t acutally worth anything due to it’s age. Once again I did the second book plus two websites.
What I wonder now is if the second book was better set out than the first due to the growth in my learning…Would you redo a client’s book for free because you’ve learnt more about interior design?

One thing I will advise everyone with a small business…

MAKE SURE YOU KEEP ALL YOUR EMAILS FOR EACH CLIENT SO THEY CAN’T BITE YOU ON THE BUTT/ASS AT A LATER DATE!!

Even in those days, I insisted all clients to proofread their own books for any formatting edits. Bits that need changing or taking out etc.  This person approved the final file. Six months later they complained I’d left their home address in the back of the book and I have the synopsis in the back as well.  EXCUSE ME…YOU APPROVED IT!!  Fed up with the ongoing emails, I redid the formatting which was once again APPROVED.  
    Now we come to the end of 2016. They had decided to sue me…I presume at small claims court. They were going to win and take all my business/money etc.

WOW.  Not only this, I had another client who disparaged my name (Yes I can still sue them for defamation of character) They contacted me for a meeting.  I went into a deep depression and fog for three weeks…It was one of the worst time in the year for this to happen due to course work for Business Management along with trying to claw my way out of the fog and stabilise once more. 

With the bully I was still getting emails. In the end I sent them an offer which most folks wouldn’t refuse. I got a unpleasent email stating I was to re-do the book, and upload it to createspace, and purchase 5 or so copies to be sent to them by a certain date. They had gone a step to far. I was now furious.
     Offering them one last deal. It took several weeks to prepare and over $500 out of my business…which is still a loss to this day.  I printed off all their emails I met with my business admin who I had to pay ($75) to go through them and advise me if I was correct with my assumptions. That was another $300. Yes I was correct. If they sued me I could prove they were in the wrong, not only that, I could re-sue them for defamation of character.
     The email was sent. It wasn’t accepted. I still don’t understand why. The email was sent via my business admin. Their reply.  “All I wanted was to have it edited”
    If a client has approved a final file then they need to pay for any further formatting edits. They also need to use the final file I sent them.  I have about 4 different files with different words counts on my computer…Which is the right one? Why should I continue to edit their work for FREE when they had approved final files. 

From this time one I went quiet on Facebook which of course, affected my business badly. This person was still on my friends list and in two groups I ran. It wasn’t until mid 2017 that I finally deleted them, unfriended and blocked them. This was all thanks to another online friend who is like a sister to me. The relief was immense, though with them still living locally I was real nervous going up town. Call it anxiety of thinking they’d verbally attack me in the street. This is also another reason few of my friends online know I went back to England. 

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU KEEP RECORDS FROM ALL YOUR CLIENTS AND ALSO ALL YOUR REPLIES. IT MAY SAVE YOU ONE DAY.

This same person also emailed saying they had paid for a membership to the Chamber of Commerce…NOPE they didn’t because I have my receipt.  However I still wonder today if they paid for a second year – without my permission due to the fact I still received post from this group. I have never been able to find out.

SAVE ALL YOUR RECEIPTS!

As for the second person…They are still in the background, pottering along with life, asking me for coffee…well until they found out I was back in the UK…

The strange thing is that the only clients I’ve ever had issues with were all local males to were I used to live. All my online clients have been amazing and I have loved working and growing with them.

As for the Writers Group. I gave the then chairperson – who is an Editor, a printed out copy of my book to look through and advise.  She came back that it wasn’t her style and a bit rude. Ok yes she is an older lady.  What I didn’t know was that she’d told the rest of the committee and god knows who else that I wrote Erotica.  The book at that time was called Malachy’s Unit – it is now called Hidden Secrets.  It is not erotica or even erotic. It is murder, mystery romance with a bit of spice.

Nearly two years later I took my children’s book in to sell and show to the writers group. Girlie and the War of the Wasps. One of the gentlemen who approached me to buy a copy said. “Oh, I thought you only wrote erotica.” to my reply. “I don’t write erotica.”  Once again I was as mad as hell. I never went back to the group. The thought they were all looking at me a a nonsense smut writer (yeah they were that bad) was beyond a joke.

The Best Part…

The best part of 2016 was assisting a client with three children’s book. ‘The Pottontots’ is a set of three books with wonderful art work by the author. Keith Broad was awesome to work with and his stories are a great read for any child.

Making your book FREE on Kindle

I would say ‘what a joke.’  It is idiotic how KINDLE treat authors who wish to give their books away.  How hard can it be and why is it so hard to do this with Kindle?

Why is it so hard?  

I have no bloody idea.  They could make it simple like Smashwords, Google Play and Draft to Digital.  But nope they want to confuse you and make it as hard as possible to put your book up for FREE. I am sure they just have it in for Indie Authors.  I can’t see Traditional Publishers jumping through the same hoops we have to.

So what to do?

I remember back to publishing the ‘Awethology’ anthologies in Oct 2015.  Bit of a nightmare having to publish early on another sight so I could get the books up for FREE on KINDLE on the right date.  First they did a couple of countries, then i had authors email me saying it wasn’t FREE in their country yet.  It took a while to sort out.  I have now done this a few times and another author gave me an easy way to get it sorted faster.

Join Draft to Digital or Smashwords who both distribute to APPLE.  Once APPLE have accepted the FREE eBook (They let you know on Draft to Digital) Then you go and click on the link and copy it into a document about ten times.  Next you find out which countries APPLE Cover and change the initals at the end of the link. eg. uk is England, ca is Canada.  Once you have them all save the document and you can use these links to send to Kindle to get them to make your book FREE

Simple.  Just not as simple as Smashwords and Draft to Digital…Even Google Play will put them up for FREE without the nonsense Kindle insists on.