Posts Tagged ‘selling books’
It’s probably the most important question I ask authors before putting together a proposal for them: What are your goals for your author website?
Generally, there are three overarching goals that an author may or may not have for the site. Many authors are interested in more than one. They include:
- Self promotion
For some authors, the most important thing is getting his or her name out there to build a fanbase, get speaking engagements, and pre-sell future books before they come out.
- Selling books
Other authors want to put more focus on the books themselves and keep his/her profile in the backburner. For these authors, the books speak for themselves. I’ve had many authors who fit in this category tell me, “I’m just not that interesting.”
- Spreading the word
For some non-fiction authors, the most important thing about publishing the books and building the website is to get the message out there. Maybe the books are about mental health. Or animal rights. Or something political. Regardless, this type of author website focuses on using the web to further enhance the messages of the books.
Clearly, each one of these three types of websites would be different. For example, an author-focused site should would have a large photo of the author in a prominent spot in the design, while a site that’s more focused on spreading the word would have other images and graphics that represent the message of the books. In addition, a site that’s focused on selling the book would have a larger “Buy the Book” button, while a site for an author who is trying to build a following would be encouraging people to enter their email address and join the mailing list.
These are just a few examples of the ways that an author with different website goals might be vastly different in design, layout, action items, etc…
Now, I’ve always been focused on an author’s goals for his or her website. But what about an author’s goals for his or her career? That’s what I stumbled across on a conversation on in a LinkedIn group.
The question posed was as follows: How do you define success as an author?
And, of course, the responses varied greatly. Here are a few of the more interesting ones…
Success as an author (for example, with regard to a book) entails several components:
–Making a contribution in terms of the “message”–whatever it might be. . .leading to
–Enhancing one’s reputation. . .
–Furthering one’s career and,
–Generating meaningful royalties:or other remuneration.
The short answer for my definition of success as an author is to reach a readership significant enough to sustain my writing as a full time vocation.
Money! Unless you write as a hobby.
I know no author in the field of gardening writing that makes a living only off of royalties from a publisher. And I know some VERY famous garden book writers. The money comes from consulting, design work, lectures, workshops and other media events. (I do all of these in order to keep on writing.) Books are a good springboard to new professions. At least in my “field”. (My web site generates only about 10% of my income.)
For me, success as a writer is much, much more about the satisfaction of seeing my words in print, and envisioning some young reader discovering one of my books and becoming inspired by something inside.
–Andrew A. Kling
Books sales are great, don’t get me wrong, but to me, it’s the human connection that’s priceless
How do you define success as an author? What are your goals? Share them with us!
Case #1: Kindle Countdown Deals
Here’s how Amazon describes it:
Kindle Countdown Deals is a new KDP Select benefit that allows authors to run limited-time discount promotions on their books, which can help earn more royalties and reach more readers. Customers can see the regular price and the promotional price on the book’s detail page, as well as a countdown clock telling them how much time is left at the promotional price. You’ll also continue to earn your selected royalty rate on each sale during the promotion.
Here are some of the benefits of Kindle Countdown Deals:
2) Customers see the regular price: It’s easy for customers to see the great deal they’re getting, as the regular price is included on the book’s detail page, right beside the promotional price.
3) Royalty rate is retained at lower prices: You will earn royalties based on your regular royalty rate and the promotional price. As a result, if you are using the 70% royalty option, you’ll earn 70% even if the price is below $2.99.
4) There’s a dedicated website: Customers can easily browse active; Kindle Countdown Deals at www.amazon.com/kindlecountdowndeals, providing yet another way for books to be discovered.
5) You can monitor performance in real-time: A new KDP report displays sales and royalties at each price discount side-by-side with pre-promotion performance, so it’s easy to compare.
Say for example your book has a list price of $4.99, and you start a promotion on Monday at 8 A.M. your time, with a starting price of $1.99. You set three price increments to run 24 hours each.
During each promotional day, your book’s detail page will display a counter announcing the promotion, the current price, the time remaining until the price changes, and the next price.
Case #2: Kindle First
As Amazon describes this new program:
Amazon Publishing editors select four new books each month.
Readers can buy one featured book for $1.99 every month.
I build websites for authors all the time. Most authors don’t want to sell their books themselves, so we end up setting up links to Amazon and B&N. But we all know that authors only collect a very small percentage of the profits on these books. And a small percentage of a 99 cent e-book … well, it barely buys you a tic tac.
Here are some of the quotes in the article from co-founder (and self published author) Ben Galle about the new venture:
“Libiro devotes its shelf-space entirely to self-published and small press titles. … To authors, we’re a marketplace for their books and a platform that can help them make waves. And to readers, we’re an exciting place to shop, providing the latest indie talent and exhibiting what indie authors are capable of.”
“The opinion is that these books are all of terrible quality, simply because they haven’t seen the inside of a big publishing house. I’ve always been on a mission to quash this stigma, because it simply isn’t true. Libiro, being a purely indie store, can showcase the indie market, offering readers an opportunity to see what we’re really made of!”
“At stores like Amazon, quality indie authors can often struggle to get noticed amongst the crowd, especially when they don’t have the marketing budgets of the big publishing houses. The point is that indie literature is exciting — it can be raw, it can be fresh, and it can be just as good as traditional literature. We want Libiro to be the go-to place for readers wondering what indie authors are all about. We want to create our own bestsellers.”
And that’s not all. The biggest benefit to authors, according to Galle, is the royalties. A far cry from other e-book stores, Libiro offers a whopping 80 percent royalty as standard, regardless of book length or price.
But, of course,nothing is perfect. As a new venture, Libiro doesn’t quite have the following yet of a big e-book store. In addition, their technology is still sorely lacking. According to the Forbes article, “They don’t yet have an author dashboard, for example. Instead there is a simple book upload form on the site, and if authors want to request changes, they have to do that via email. And Galley is still figuring out how to give authors access to the website analytics and mailing list integration that comes baked in to the backend of a BigCommerce site.”
Galle claims that the site is currently working on building these services and should have them available in the next few months.
So Who’s on Libiro?
Not too many people … yet. The site currently lists 70 books from 30 authors. But it appears that the site is continuing to grow its portfolio.
In the Forbes interview, Galley says: “The priority for us at the moment is to build up a big catalogue so the reader has more choice and access to an entire spectrum of indie books. We’re reaching readers at the grass roots level, building relationships on social media and via word-of-mouth. What’s good for our readers is that authors can sell their books in any and all formats – PDF, ePub, and Mobi – meaning we can cater for any reader and any device.”
There’s no way to predict what the future holds, but my bet is that this site will continue to grow. After all, an author being able to take hope 80% is nothing to sneeze at!
There are thousands — if not millions — of authors out there trying to make a name for themselves. Most of them have very little in terms of publicity agents, marketing experience, etc… So they’re basically fighting an uphill battle.
That’s why so many authors are looking for ways to connect with other authors, and potentially help one another. With that in mind, here are nine creative ways that authors can team up to help promote one another’s books, author websites, etc…
1. Share, share, share. Are other authors posting blog entries? Tweeting? Pass on what you’re reading of theirs to your friends, readers, etc… If they do the same for you, you can increase your reach exponentially.
2. Like one another. Clicking on a Facebook “Like” button is so simple. And yet, doing so really does help to spread the word. So swap “like”s. What’s there to lose?
3. Guest blog post for one another. Do you have a blog? Does your friend, an author, have a blog? Why not write a guest post for his or her site, and vice versa. Not only will this breathe some fresh life into your own blog, but it will get your writing out to a new group of readers.
4. Review one another’s books. Post a review/recommendation of another author’s book on your site. Have him or her do the same for you. If you speak to a similar audience, you’re exposing a whole new crop of readers to a book they may not have heard of otherwise.
5. Interview one another. Use one of your blog posts to interview your author friend about his her book, writing habits, publishing lessons learned, marketing techniques used, etc… Again, it’s a great way to get new faces in front of an existing readership.
6. Offer special deals/giveaways. Why not consider providing a special deal or giveaway to people who came to your site through your friend’s author site or social media page? Any incentive that will get people to buy your book or give you their email address is a good thing.
7. Consider doing group tours. Not actual tours, of course: virtual tours. But by teaming up, you can offer book clubs, libraries, schools, etc… the opportunity to double the attendance by featuring two authors (and triple, if three of you get together).
8. Promote each other through other forms of social media. Do you have a GoodReads account? Make sure to cross-promote there as well. Ditto if you follow people on Twitter, highlight book covers on Pinterest, etc…
9. Create a group blog. This is a little harder to do, but it’s not unheard of. Get a group of authors together and create an author blog site. Agree to each post, say, once a week. The more posts you have, the more you will become a can’t miss destination for other authors. Then, make sure each of your books/websites get fair promotion.
One last caveat … as much as your friend may be your friend, make sure that you’re not wasting your time cross promoting with him or her. In other words, if you have 100,000 followers on your blog and your friend has 5,000, it may not be worth your time for you to “help” one another. Always ask potential authors for information on their following before deciding whether it makes sense to proceed. If the two of you are in the same ballpark, then it’s probably a good arrangement.
Looking for additional advice on selling or marketing your book? Contact us today at Smart Author Sites for a free consultation!
Every author who contacts me does so because he/she knows it’s time to build a website. But what these authors often don’t understand is just how important it is to have a long-term vision when building a site. Think too short term and you might make mistakes that are hard to rectify down the line.
Here are five examples of how short-term thinking can damage an author’s web presence.
1. Naming the site after a book. There are certainly instances in which a website should be named after a book — not the author. But unless an author is absolutely, positively sure that he or she won’t be writing any other books in a similar genre, it’s a good bet to go with the author’s name as the website name. Otherwise, what is he or she to do when the next book comes out?
2. Making the website resemble/represent the first book. This is very similar to the item above. All too often, an author builds a website that reflects the first book cover. Maybe it uses the same color scheme as the book cover. Maybe the design is structured around an image or icon used on the cover. Regardless, this tells site visitors (either consciously or subconsciously) that the website is an extension of that book. Any future books will look out of place without a complete redesign.
3. Not collecting email addresses. I always (and I repeat, always!) recommend that authors start collecting email addresses of site visitors who are interested in their works. “But I don’t plan to send newsletters or anything,” they sometimes tell me. It doesn’t matter. Even if you never plan to do anything with the list, it’s a good thing to have. After all, you never know what you’ll be doing in the future — a TV interview, perhaps, or publishing another book — that you would love to alert all your followers about. Build the list. Figure out what you want to do with it later.
4. Making the site too design-heavy. Web design can be a beautiful thing. But it can also be overdone. Remember: images can be a pain in the you know what to change. So, for example, don’t have your homepage text appear in an image. It may look pretty, but it won’t be easy to update when you have a new announcement to make. Ditto with the navigation. If the tabs on your site are images, it’s a whole lot harder to add a new page when you want to promote your new book trailer, press release, etc…
5. Not blogging or focusing on SEO. An author website is a long-term investment. It takes lots of time and energy to build it to where it needs to be. Over time, it will rise on the search engine rankings. The blog (if it’s regularly updated) will build a group of followers. Anyone who doesn’t want to invest the time in either of these things is thinking short-term. He or she is also not being realistic. A site is not going to jump of the top of Google search results just for existing. It’s going to take some sweat and some thought to make it work, but a good author website is well worth it.
Can you think of any other short-term mistakes authors make on their websites? Share them with us!
It’s what every author dreams of: her book getting picked up by a book club. Everyone in the club reads it … and starts talking about it. Then they tell their friends about it … and they tell their friends. The rest is bestseller history.
But how do you get your book in the hands of book clubs in the first place? Here are three steps to getting started:
Step 1: Set up the incentives.
Before you even start reaching out to book clubs, you need to figure out what you’re offering them to sweeten the pot. A good starting point is a downloadable discussion guide (available via your author website). Other possible incentives can include a few free copies, autographed copies, or the offer for you to chat with the book club (either in person or via Skype). The more incentives you offer, the more likely someone is going to bite.
Step 2: Locate relevant book clubs.
This takes a little bit of time and research, but it’s totally worth it. Scour the web to find book clubs — both online and offline — that regularly read books in your genre. If you can find ones that are local, all the better. But don’t limit yourself. Make a long list of relevant book clubs and the contact information of the person who leads the club. If you don’t want to invest the time and energy, there are plenty of people out there willing to do the work for you. Then…
Step 3: Reach out to the book clubs.
Once you have your list of clubs and you have your pitch, it’s time to reach out. Customize your letter to each book club, ensuring that you touch on all the relevant points to that club. If it’s local, make sure to mention that you’re local as well. If it focuses on your genre, point out how relevant your book is to their readership. Don’t hesitate to include relevant materials in the email, such as a press release about your book, photos of you and your book cover, or the discussion guide we mentioned. This is your chance to “sell” your book, so don’t skimp.
You may reach out to 100 book clubs. If you’re lucky, a few will pick up your book. But those few could turn into hundreds — or even thousands — of copies of your book sold. Put in the thought, time and energy and your book will be the next must-read.
If you’ve written a science fiction book … or a military history book … or a chick-lit book (you get the point), then this is obviously a genre that you enjoy and that you’re familiar with. In this post, I will explain why and how you should utilize that knowledge and interest to help promote your own book.
Strategy #1: Review Other Books in Your Genre
People love reading book reviews. After all, they want to know that other people have enjoyed a book before they invest the time and money to read it themselves. So build a blog in which you review other mystery novels … or self-help books … or whatever genre you’d categorize your writing as. Once you start building a following, people will start valuing what you have to say. And if they agree with you about various books, they’re much more likely to take the plunge and read your book as well.
Strategy #2: Offer to Cross-Reference Other Books in Your Genre
At the end of the day, other writers in your genre aren’t really your competition. They’re a potential source for finding new readership. So reach out to other writers who talk to the same audience. See if they’re interested in sharing blog posts with you (and vice versa) or reviewing/recommending each others books (and vice versa). Remember: authors aren’t like accountants. Most people have more than one that they are loyal to at a time. So take advantage of the following that another author has, and offer the same in response.
Strategy #3: Write Round-Up Articles
This idea comes courtesy of one of my favorite people in the field, Sandra Beckwith of Build Book Buzz.com. She recently wrote an interesting post about how authors can get their books out there through round-up articles. Here’s a summary of her recommendations.
Step 1: Define your roundup
A “roundup” article usually gathers up the best, worst, most, least, newest, top, funniest, etc.
Step 2: Figure out your roundup topic
For example, “Best business books of 2013″ or “Best beach reading for the summer”
Step 3: Create your list
Your list doesn’t have to just include books, either. Think outside the box. For example, your book could be part of a “best Father’s Day gifts” list or a “Fun things to do while your spouse plays golf.” Then figure out what — besides your book, of course — will comprise the list itself.
Step 4: Pitch your list to the press
Write a press release announcing your list. Make sure to present it as identifying a problem that your list can solve.
Voila! Three reasons you should seriously consider reviewing and recommending other books in your genre. As always, think outside the box, and feel free to share any good ideas with the rest of us!
Authors are willing to try a lot of things to promote their books. Giving copies away for free is one of them.
That’s not to say that free book giveaways are a bad thing. In fact, there are some significant benefits to doing so.
Here’s what you need to know about the potential positives and negatives of free book giveaways:
It’s pretty simple. Giving your book away for free will significantly increase its reach. After all, who isn’t willing to accept something for free? And when they get it, then they’re likely to read it. And when they read it … well, maybe they’ll love it. Maybe they’ll tell their friends about it. Maybe they’re rave about it on Amazon. And maybe … just maybe … you’ve built a fan for life. When your next book comes out, you’ll have a loyal reader. And then, they’ll be willing to actually pay whatever you charge for your new release.
Let’s start with the simplest of the negatives: there’s no money to be made when you’re giving something away for free. In fact, you are likely taking a loss when you do this. That’s especially true if you’re giving away print copies of a book. But even with electronic copies (which cost nothing to actually create or give away), you’ve still invested a whole lot of time, energy (and possibly money) in the giveaway campaign.
But, apparently, that isn’t the only drawback to giving your book away for free. As I discovered in a recent conversation on LinkedIn, there’s another, more obscure problem: a de-valuing of your product.
The conversation started with this post:
This is a question I pondered in my last blog post, after I’d received a one-star rating for my blog anthology, “Out Where the Buses Don’t Run.” It then occurred to me that the person that gave me the one-star rating won my book via a Goodreads giveaway.
Has anyone else encountered something like this, where they’ve given copies of their books away, either as a promotion or as a way to garner reviews, only for that to turn around and bite you? I’m beginning to think a book giveaway wasn’t such a great idea to begin with.
And the responses seemed to back up this claim. Here are some of the highlights:
It’s true people devalue the free. When I was a stage performer, free shows would end up badly promoted and lacking tech support. – John Kulm
Yes, especially with Amazon’s free books. My worst reviews came from giving my book away. Most people connect free to garbage, so I’m sure these readers (the ones who left the bad reviews) were already biased to think the book was no good. –Richard Houston
There is definitely a correlation in marketing that goes something like, “In the absence of other signals, the buyer equates quality with price.” –Lucy Gold (500+)
So maybe there is something to be learned here. Maybe free book giveaways have a certain caché that come with them. This is something all authors should keep in mind before launching such a campaign.
But before you get too down on book giveaways, I’m going to include a quote from one last comment in that same conversation on LinkedIn:
I think giveaways are a great way to promote your book, but they are more effective if yes, you have a larger number overall, but also if it is part of a promotional event where people realize you are giving away a few number of books for the purpose of promoting it, not necessarily because you just want to give them away — which, unfortunately, can sometimes SEEM to be the case, even if it isn’t.
I’d say keep doing it, but maybe on a smaller scale, and only as promotional ventures that truly make sure people are aware they are being blessed with a free book instead of being given “just” a free book. –Jessica DuBois
So there you have it! All you need to know about the potential benefits and drawbacks of a book giveaway. Make your choice wisely and best of luck!
All authors (at least the ones that I’ve spoken to) want to sell copies of their book. What many of them are confused about are the various ways to sell their book, and how to decide which one best suits their personal situation and preferences.
With that in mind, I will address the three primary ways that an author can go about selling their books via their author website (from easiest to hardest), and the benefits/drawbacks of each one.
Option #1: Do None of the Work Yourself
It can’t be simpler than this. Put a “Buy the Book” link on your website, and allow visitors to select whether they want to purchase it through the publisher site, Amazon, B&N, etc… One click and they’re done. And there’s nothing else you have to do.
The benefits: It’s free. It’s easy. There’s little to no hassle, since you’re not collecting money or shipping books.
The drawbacks: You’re probably familiar with the miniscule percentage of the profits that you get when Amazon sells a copy of your book. If you allow them to do all the work, they’re going to reap most of the rewards.
And yet, this is the option that the majority of authors choose. After all, they’re writers … not booksellers.
Option #2: Do Some of the Work Yourself
With this method of selling books, you get to call some of the shots. This option allows readers to buy the book through your website, but you don’t actually do any of the legwork. Instead, offers come straight through your site and right into the order system of the printing/distribution company that you’ve hired. They process the orders and collect an agreed-upon fee.
The benefits: Unlike with Amazon/B&N, you get to set the price that your book sells for. You do that knowing how much you’re paying for printing and shipping, so (in other words), you determine your profit. This type of system also allows you to better track sales than if you were to link out to sell.
The drawbacks: You’d have to first set up some kind of payment acceptance system through your site (more on that below). Then, you’d have to treat it like a business: keeping track of the money coming in, the money going out, etc…
Option #3: Do All of the Work Yourself
Okay, you’ve decided that you want to take the bull by the horns and sell the book yourself. This would mean that you keep a stock of books handy, accept orders through your website, and ship the copies of the books that are ordered. This option gives you all the control in the world over selling your book, but can also be a huge responsibility. After all, you’re responsible for processing the orders, shipping the books, etc…
It’s also worth noting that there are two different ways that you can go about accepting payments on the website. The first, and easiest, option is to set up a free account via PayPal and embed a PayPal button on your website. This will allow visitors to simply click a “buy” link, go to the PayPal site, and make their payment: the order will then come to you. However, some authors (especially ones who want to sell more than just their current book) will opt to create built-in shopping carts on their website. This is a lot more costly and time-intensive than a simple PayPal button, but it allows you to sell multiple items at once and doesn’t take people off your website to make payments.
The benefits: You’re in complete control. You set the prices. You create “discounts” for buying in bulk. You pack and ship the items. And who gets to keep all the profits? You.
The drawbacks: There’s a reason why distribution companies often handle this sort of stuff. Because it can be a full-time job. You have to be processing orders as soon as they come in. You have to go to the post office to mail the items. You have to pre-order as many copies of your book as you might conceivably need in case you’re lucky enough to get a big order. In short, it’s like running your own business. And it comes with all the responsibilities of that as well. After all, if a customer has a complaint about what they ordered, who are they going to call? That would be you.
If you’re still unsure about which book selling technique best suits your situation and your needs, contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll be happy to help!
One of the most important elements of an author website is an easy way (ideally with one click) for a site visitor to take the plunge and buy the book. But that’s easier said than done: not in a technical sense, of course (setting up a link is easy), but in terms of deciding which retailer sites to link to.
The Big Two
Obviously, the first one that everyone thinks of is Amazon. It’s truly the site that dominates the market. And not just the book market, mind you, but just about every product you can buy online.
Then there’s B&N. We always recommend that authors offer links to buy the book from both sites, because we’ve heard reports that if an author decides to only provide a link to one of the two big online retailers, the other can threaten to pull that book from its site altogether. That’s something no one wants.
Borders used to be the third of this “big three,” but that’s no longer an option.
From Two to Two Thousand?
So are two links enough? What about all the other thousands of booksellers out there?
Well, they’re now speaking up. A new article in The Bookseller, titled Anger over authors’ website links to Amazon includes quotes from independent booksellers who are sick and tired of authors only linking to Amazon (or Amazon and B&N) to sell copies of their books. And who can blame them? After all, if you had a tiny little store, how would you feel if your product manufacturers kept sending potential clients to buy their stuff at WalMart?
In the article, Keith Smith from Warwick & Kenilworth bookshops says: “As someone who owns two independent bookshops I feel angry that these authors, unthinkingly or by design, have chosen to support Amazon, W H Smith or Waterstones without giving a fig for independent bookshops. Many of these are authors who, when asked, will say they couldn’t imagine life without their local bookshop. But words need to be matched by deeds if they are to make a difference.”
I totally understand his anger. But what’s an author to do? After all, it’s a lot easier to set up one Amazon link than it is to set up thousands of links to every online retailer. Or even more challenging: to list every single independent bookstore that carries the book in question.
Feedback From Authors
Here are responses from a few authors that appear later in the article:
Author Alison Weir defended herself, commenting: “Publishing, as you must know, is going through hard times and every author and publisher wants to maximise sales. When I set up my website, my webmaster told me I could link to Amazon, so I told him to go ahead. My American publishers then asked me to link to other bookstores. I’m not sure how Keith Smith envisages linking to every independent bookseller in a practical way – how many must there be? The fact remains that not one, including him, has ever asked me to do so. But if they had, I would have worked out a way to do it. If you look on my website you will see links to other websites whose owners requested a link. Linking to Amazon does not mean that I do not support independents.”
Novelist Joanne Harris said: “I am more than happy to include links to independent bookshops. I know how much I owe them and I support them fully.”
Julia Donaldson told The Bookseller changing the links on her website was something she had been planning to do “for some time”. She said: “I want to think carefully about how I do it. Independent bookshops really are something I care about very much and I have been feeling guilty about it. But when I first set up my website, this is what was suggested to me would be the easiest thing to do.”
What’s an Author to Do?
This entire issue can be summed up relatively quickly and easily. Independent booksellers are upset about Amazon and B&N being the sites that authors are sending readers to for purchasing the book. And that’s valid.
But it’s also true that the logistics of setting up thousands of links is … well … not really doable. It’s so much easier for authors to link to the big retailers, and it’s just as easy for readers to click on those links and make the purchases quickly and easily. Doing anything more complicated will not only be a challenge for the author and his or her webmaster, but it may make the experience even more complicated for the buyer.
So what’s an author to do? I don’t have the answer. If you have any great ideas, please share them with us!