Monday, November 1, 2010

More excerpts from 301 Frequently Asked Questions About Self-Publishing

For those who are interested, here are another pair of short excerpts from my latest book on self-publishing, 301 Frequently Asked Questions About Self-Publishing.

60. Why do I need an author platform?
Self-published authors need an author platform in order to reach the buying public. For example, if you are a non-fiction author, it is the tool you will use to convey your expertise. 

An author platform can also be used to generate other streams of revenue and income and as a means to obtain feedback from readers and either keep your book in front of the buying public, gather information to up date your book or obtain ideas for another book in the future.
61. What are some examples of how to build an author platform?
The internet has provided several easy methods of developing an author platform in recent years. A few examples of internet based tools are blogs, websites, podcasts and video book trailers.

If you have already developed a speaking platform, you have a ready made author platform and a book will go a long way to enhance your existing speaking platform.
The new social networking sites on the internet are tools many authors are using to develop a following with readers and to communicate with fans and readers seeking information. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are currently the most popular social networking sites.

A newsletter, particularly an eNewsletter, is an excellent way to build interest in a book, communicate with readers and for non-fiction authors share valuable information with readers.
62. Do I need to have a blog?
It is not required but it would probably help. Blogs can be a valuable part of an author platform and there are a variety of free blogging sites allowing authors to start a blog for no cost. Blogs can be a great way to generate interest in a book or build a credible reputation for the author as an expert.
63. Why is the cover of my book so important?
You only get one chance to make a first impression and the cover of your book is often how that impression will be made. A poorly designed book cover will fail to draw the interest of a customer whether in a bookstore, specialty store or an online book retailer. A search on the site of an online book retailer will take a customer to the product page, but a poor cover design can turn off a potential buyer.
64. Should the cover of a book sold in a bookstore be different from a book sold only on the internet?
According to the ultimate authority on selling books on the internet, Aaron Shepard, a book that will be sold primarily on the internet must have a cover design that is simple, crisp, clear and bold in order to look good on a small internet image of the book cover. Books sold in venues where the customer can physically hold a copy of the book may need a different cover design to attract a buyer’s attention. A more elaborate design with more information included in the cover scribing is the traditional approach to designing covers.
65. What is cover scribing?
Cover scribing is the advertising or promotional copy on the cover of a book meant to attract potential customers and create interest in the book immediately so the customer will purchase the book.
66. Why is it so important?
Again, you only get one chance to make a first impression and the cover of your book is often how that impression will be made. Cover scribing tells the customer something about the book, creates interest in the story or information in the book and serves to help convince the customer the book will either entertain the customer or provide valuable information the customer wants or needs.
67. What is a blurb?
Blurbs are short promotional statements or phrases often found on the front cover, back cover or first few interior pages of a book. Blurbs are also used in promotional and advertising material.
68. How do I obtain blurbs?
Ask for them. Research respected authors and critics in your genre if you write fiction, send them a proof copy, either a physical copy or an electronic copy, and ask them to please provide you with a blurb. Most will be happy to do so because it is flattering to be asked but it also promotes them as well because blurbs identify who the author of the blurb is and what the blurb author is noted for. 

For authors of non-fiction, the same approach should be utilized except experts in the field you have written about should be the individuals who receive the request for a blurb along with the complimentary copy of your book.

Here is the second and final excerpt:
254. What is Amazon Sales Rank?
This is a number Amazon calculates and posts for each book listed. It is not a calculation of how many copies a specific title has sold. It is a measure of how many copies of that specific book has sold in relation to other books sold on Amazon. Amazon revises sales ranks for every book listed every hour.
255. Why is it important?
Amazon Sales Rankings have little value in determining sales totals for a specific book. The rankings do have value as a means of researching how a specific book is fairing against books of the same genre or a similar subject if the book is non-fiction. The rankings also can provide an author a way to determine which titles will the most successful and are likely competition for sales for the author’s book.
256. How can I track my Amazon Sales Ranking?
One way is to actually visit your book’s Amazon product page, scroll down to where the Amazon Sales Ranking is listed and check it visually. This approach is time consuming.
There are online companies who have developed software that allows an author to track Amazon Sales Rankings for specific titles. Titlez.com is one such service and as of the time this book was published, the service is free. To use it the author, or individual, must create an account and then create a list of books for Titlez to track. The information provided includes current Amazon Sales Ranking, a 7-day average, a 90-day average and a lifetime average. Also included in the information is the book’s highest and lowest Amazon Sales Ranking.

Another means of tracking Amazon Sales Rankings for free is to use the site provided by Amazon marketing expert Aaron Shepard, salesrankexpress.com. This free service also allows the author to research the top ten book pairings Amazon uses for that book to create its “Also Bought” listings.
257. How can I track my actual sales?
Amazon’s Sales Ranking software is proprietary and evidently always evolving. Despite this, several companies have designed software that can estimate with reasonable accuracy the number of sales a book has made based on its Amazon Sales Ranking.
Other means of tracking sales depend on how your books are printed and distributed as well as the company providing these services for the author. For example, CreateSpace allows an author to have up-to-date sales figures on how many copies of a title have been sold on Amazon or other points of sale.