Should Indie Authors Go Wide or Stay Exclusive to Amazon?

If you are an indie publisher, you have probably thought about this question before.  Chances are, you are already exclusive to Amazon.  After all, why not?  There are benefits to staying exclusive:

  • ability to enroll your book in Kindle Unlimited to get paid per page read (albeit only $0.004 per page)
  • ability to run Kindle Countdown Deals
  • ability to run free promos

Lately, I’ve been thinking about going “wide” with my books.  Going wide means (for me) publishing on Draft2Digital or Smashwords so that a book can be sold on multiple retailer sites, not just Amazon.  I’ve been thinking about the pros and cons…

If I go wide, I won’t get to use free promos or countdown deals, or have my books enrolled in KU.  I have found that my free promos are not working as well as they once were and don’t get my books up to the ranking I need in order to secure a good paid ranking once I pull the free promo.  As far as KU pages read go, I currently get about 2,000 pages read per day, which is about $8.00.

The big question is: will I get more than $8.00 per day in sales from selling on the other retailers?

I think a good approach for me is to:

  • research my pages read to determine which books are actually getting pages read and keep those ones on KDP Select
  • research my sales to determine which books do well when I run a free promo and keep those ones on KDP Select
  • publish all new books in KDP Select for at least the first 90 days so that I can email my list to let them know that my book is available in KU, for those with memberships
  • work on transferring the rest of my books over to Draft2Digital (my preferred “wide” application, although I have to admit I have never tried using Smashwords)

I think using this strategy will allow me to continue to make my pages read income PLUS potential add new income from the books that I do decide to go wide with.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Happy publishing!

Barb

2017 Journals

Do you like journaling?  Are you looking for a place to record your:

  • thoughts
  • plans
  • hopes
  • goals
  • dreams
  • writing projects
  • expenses
  • and more?

I am pleased to announce that we have just published some new 2017 personal journals!

Keep track of your year in one of our fun new styles.

Happy New Year!

Barb

It’s NaNoWriMo Time!

It’s time again for NaNoWriMo.

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s a writing event that takes place all over the world.  Writers from all walks of life gather together online and in person to write as much as they can during the month of November.

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NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  The goal is to write 50,000 words in a month, which is the equivalent of a novel.  It’s a lofty goal for sure, but anything you write is better than nothing, right?

Instead of writing a novel, or working on a single book for this year’s event, I will be working on a number of projects:

  • Christmas coloring book
  • Countdown to Christmas, a Christmas planning book
  • a new textbook for Law Clerks in Ontario
  • a new textbook for Paralegals in Ontario, and
  • a new paranormal fiction romance

I’ve created an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my word count in each project so that I can see if I make the monthly goal of 50,000 words.  Wish me luck!

If you’d like to join me in NaNoWriMo, you can check it out here:

NaNoWriMo Website

Make sure you “friend” me so that we can encourage each other along the way.

Happy Halloween!  Boo!

Barb

 

Is Your Royalty Income Going Down?

It’s Labor Day weekend here in Canada and the kids and I are back to school tomorrow.  I love the fall.  It always prompts me to re-assess things, see what’s working, what’s not working, and do some planning for the following year.  This weekend, I’ve been re-assessing my book promotions.

If you’ve been following my blog posts, you know that I sometimes question my marketing techniques for my books.  Should I do free promos?  Should I do Kindle countdown deals?  Should I just discount to $0.99?  If I do free promos, how long should they be?

Without a doubt, the KDP free promos are not nearly as effective as they used to be when I got into publishing on Amazon.  You used to be able to publish a book and put it on free promo for a couple of days and it would get downloaded a bazillion times (around #500 free) and then re-enter the Amazon paid ranking system at somewhere under #20,000 depending on the number of downloads you had.  Earlier this year, I was noticing that only about 1 in 5 or 10 promos did that well and the others barely got down to under #2,000 in the free store.

During the summer, I’ve been busy working on my Ontario real estate directory, so I’ve been neglecting my kindle books.  In fact, I haven’t done a free promo in months.  I wasn’t sure they were effective anymore.  However, what I did notice is that my Amazon and CreateSpace income had dropped significantly.  I’ve actually seen a 50% drop in income on kindle and paperback books since May.  So…..I think it’s worth doing free promos again.

I printed a schedule of the rest of the year and the first half of 2017 and set up a system where each book (both perma-free and paid) gets promoted for 2 days every 6 weeks.  I set up the promos in the KDP dashboard and then I set them up using KDROI, where I can get my books submitted to multiple sites in just 5 minutes.

Then, I added “set up book promos” to my schedule of things to do each Monday morning so that I can set up the promos for the following Monday through Saturday.

I plan to continue with this strategy and see if my income increases between now and the end of the year.  If I start to see a difference, I may look at other promotion sites, such as Ask David and social media.

I’ll keep you posted…

Online or Offline Publishing?

Are you a writer with a lot of interests?  Or, a publisher looking for your next project?  I am both a writer and a publisher and I have a LOT of interests.  I try to publish something in each of my interests each year.

I am also a wife, mother, and homeowner, so my writing and publishing has to actually make enough money to pay the bills 🙂

This summer, I have decided to publish an offline publication in an industry that I am knowledgeable on – real estate.  I have published an annual version of this directory nearly each year since 2002.  It is a lot of work (researching and formatting) but it really helps the lawyers and law clerks in Ontario and I have had a lot of calls about publishing a more recent one (the last one was in 2014).

It is the 2016 Ontario Municipal & Real Estate Directory and it is a resource for real estate professionals in the Province of Ontario, Canada.

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Even though my interests are largely in online publishing, I decided to do this offline project.  I know there is a market for it, I know the content and the industry, plus I am actually excited to put my new online publishing skills to the test in an offline venture.  I have had my cover designer put together a kick-butt cover that I am proud of and my “offline” project will have an online bonus component.  Plus, it will help pay the bills, which is always a good thing.

The next time you are wondering what your next project should be, perhaps consider what offline project you could tackle in your area of expertise.  There really is nothing like selling a few hundred copies of an actual book you created and having them in the hands of people in your area, helping them in their jobs.

Barb

Can You Sell Books When You’re Gone?

I know it’s a morbid question, but one I have thought about.

Perhaps it’s my legal background (I teach Law Clerks and Paralegals at a college in Canada) or perhaps I want to be sure I leave behind something for my children.  Probably a bit of both.

In any event, what will happen to my books once I’m gone?  I’ve got over 70 books published and probably the same number of journals, with many more on the way (I hope!).  I’ve been traditionally published and my textbook continues to bring in royalties each year.  My books on Amazon, CreateSpace, ACX, and the other retailers bring in royalties every month, and I regularly get affiliate income from a variety of sources.

So, what happens to all of that after I’m gone?

Well, the good news is that most of it is already automated.  If I did nothing for the next six months on my publishing business, I’m sure it would still be earning money each and every month.  I choose to do marketing and write new books in order to increase that income, but my children should be able to benefit from my publishing income, if they so choose.

I’ve put together a “Publishing Manual” that is printed in a binder on my desk.  There is also a copy of it in my safety deposit box along with my Last Will and Testament and Powers of Attorney.  So, should anything happen to me, there is a place for my family to start.  I have included all of the passwords and pertinent details of my business.  I have also included a section entitled, “The Bare Minimum” which (I hope) is where they’ll start.

If you are in the same boat and would like some reference material for your loved ones in the event of tragedy, here is a skeleton version of my manual.  I hope it helps you streamline your publishing processes or at least gives you an idea of what you could leave behind so your family can benefit from all of your hard work.

Barb’s Publishing Manual Template

Barb Asselin

 

Half Price Word Course for Authors

Happy Monday!  Have you ever had trouble formatting your manuscript with Word?  Have you been frustrated when your bullets don’t work, or your margins aren’t right, or your page numbering for CreateSpace is incorrect?  I cover all of these issues plus many, many more in my Word course specifically for authors.

I wanted to let everyone know that I am offering my Word 4 Authors course through Udemy at a major discounted price, for a short time.  Use this link to grab your copy for just $10 and start formatting your books expertly!

Word 4 Authors – only $10 on Udemy

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Have a great week!

Barb

Udemy Courses on Sale

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I just wanted to take a minute and let everyone know that Udemy is having a sale on all of their online courses – 80% off.  If you click the graphic above, the 80% off will be applied at the checkout for any course you find.

As an author, there are tons of courses that can help you with any stage of your writing and publishing.

As an online entrepreneur, there are even more courses that can help with SEO, marketing, strategizing, monetizing, and more!

Looking for a new spring project?  Find a new course to take.  Personally, I am taking a new course on marketing, which I am really enjoying!

Happy learning!

Barb

When to do Free Promos?

If you’ve been writing books and publishing on Amazon for more than six months or so, then you have probably noticed that the results of free promos have changed.

When I first started publishing, I would run a 1-day free promo on a new book and, with any luck, my book would get to a free ranking of under #1,000, or hopefully even below #500.  Then, when I saw that my book’s ranking had reached the lowest point it would go, I could cancel the free promo and hope for a great paid ranking the next morning.

Now, things are a little different.  Perhaps as a result of the massive increase of published books on Amazon.

Now, I need to run a 2 or even 3-day free promo on a book to get the same results.  So, where I used to do a free promo once a month, now I plan to do either a 2 or 3-day free promo every six weeks.  Plus, the results are not as consistent as they used to be (my books don’t get as low as they used to every time) and the next day paid rankings don’t hold as long as they used to (meaning less overall sales per free promo).  But, I think it’s still worth doing for books that generally don’t ranking below #100,000 on a regular basis.

Here is how I determine when to run a free promo:

  • go through my books to determine which ones I will schedule for free promos and which ones I will schedule for $0.99 promos
  • print a 2016 calendar (month by month)
  • choose which days would be best for a promo on each book, depending on niche
  • add my books to the calendar
  • make sure that I divide up my books by:
    • days, so I am not promoting more than one or two books per day
    • author, so if I have more than one book per day, they are of different pen names
    • price (whether I am doing free promos, $0.99 promos, or perma-free promos)
  • once I have a rotation for my books, I continue the same rotation every six weeks

After I have my schedule of free, perma-free, and $0.99 promos set up, I implement my new schedule.  Every Monday morning, I look ahead to the following week to see which books I have scheduled.  Then, I use KDROI to submit each book for either a free promo, perma-free promo, or a $0.99 promo.

If you decide to do the same thing, remember that, if you are using KDROI, it requires at least seven days notice to submit a book, which is why I do the following week each Monday.

Good luck!

Barb Asselin

Email Marketing?

If you are a writer and/or a publisher, do you use email marketing in promoting your books?  If not, have you considered it but don’t think you should, for fear of spamming people?

Believe it or not, there is a non-spammy and ethical way to do email marketing.

I have been adding email marketing to my book promotions for a year or so and I always start with two free books.  The first book is perma-free (always available to download on Amazon for free) and inside that book, there is an offer for another free book.  In order to get the second free book, the reader gives their email.  That is the beginning of my email marketing.

I hate getting spammy emails and I definitely don’t want to be that person who just spams everyone trying to make a buck.  So, my philosophy is to give lots of great content and a little bit of book promotion.  Perhaps 3 or 4 emails of gifts or valuable content followed by 1 email promoting a book.

Here is how I approach it:

  • Divide my books into niches (business, writing, crafting, etc.)
  • Decide which book will be perma-free in each niche
  • Upload perma-free book to Draft2Digital and make it free
  • Send an email to Amazon with links to the free version of my book on the other retailers
  • Add an “opt-in” notice to readers to download my second free book by providing their email address
  • Plan my auto-responder sequence to give lots of valuable content
  • Set up my aut0-responder email sequence

Here is an example of how I would approach email marketing for my crafting niche:

  • Delivery of opt-in
  • What to expect from me
  • Launch team (free copies of my new books a week before everyone else)
  • Social media links
  • Link to free resource
  • Link to free resource
  • One of my favorite crafting authors
  • Free excerpt from one of my books
  • Time for a review?
  • Link to free resource
  • Link to free resource
  • One of my favorite crafting authors
  • Free excerpt from one of my books
  • Time for a review?

You can see the pattern starting here.  I provide two free resources, links to other people’s books, a free excerpt from one of my books (hoping to get some sales if they like the excerpt) and then asking nicely if the reader would be willing to write a review, if they have checked out the book.  I explain that reviews are very important for indie authors like me.  If they write a review, great.  If not, that’s okay, too.

I make sure that all of my emails are written in my voice and not “spammy” at all.  I always make sure that I give much, much more than I ask for.

What do I use to set up the form to capture the email addresses and send the auto-responders out?  I use Aweber.  There is no free version of Aweber like there is for MailChimp, however, I find it easy to use and I find the price to be very competitive as compared to the other auto-responder programs out there.

Happy marketing!

Barb Asselin