Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ethics, Copy Writing, Distribution, Smashwords and Self-Publishing

In my seemingly never ending quest to learn how to make this venture in self-publishing a financial success, I purchased several books on copy writing. Since I am responsible for promoting, marketing and ultimately selling my books, I figured I needed to learn something about sales writing or copy writing.

Without naming the titles or authors of the books I have been reading, it has been a bit of an eye opener. Both of the authors have provided a good deal of valuable information about the tricks of the trade and how to catch and hold a potential book buyer's attention. 

I have no issue with the "tricks" used per se to make the sale as suggested by the authors so far. What I do have an issue with is the statement, or concept, that you can peddle absolute garbage and get away with it so long as your sales copy is brilliant.

Two issues immediately come to mind. The first is selling a bad book is not good for your self-publishing business. Amazon reviewers can be downright vindictive with their reviews if they don't like your book or feel they were cheated out of their money. This alone can kill sales if you garner enough bad reviews. You won't earn repeat customers who purchase your other books nor will you experience any long tail effect on Amazon.

The second issue is an ethical one. Have written my share of books I fully understand most authors think there is nothing wrong with their book and it is the best one out there on the subject or in the genre. Haven been on the receiving end of a few of those nasty reviews, once I calmed down enough to read the review and compare it to the book in question, a couple of the reviewers I have to admit had a point. Thankfully, with print-on-demand I was able to make the needed changes but alas the bad reviews remain. 

What's my point? I did not intentionally sell the customer a bad book. Fortunately, most of my books that have received reviews have received the wonderful 5-star variety!

But to knowingly sell a customer a bad book is not just bad business, I have to believe it is unethical as well. Shame on the authors of the copy writing books for even suggesting it is OK to sell a poor product to an unsuspecting customer.

This brings me to the issue of expanded ebook distribution via Smashwords. I have been reading a lot of rave comments about the distribution of ebooks for indie and self-publishing authors available through Smashwords. I think Smashwords offers authors some great advantages ranging from the 85% royalty rate to the ability to offer coupons to discount books or give books away for FREE!

Sitting in my stack of Kindle books to read is the guide on formatting an ebook for Smashwords. It is going to wait for awhile though. As much as I think building my ebook division is an important investment for future financial success, I am going to wait before I distribute any of my books through Smashwords.

Why? I have read too many stories about the quality of the books that emerge from the Smashwords "meatgrinder" conversion process. I am not willing to work as hard as I do to promote, market and write what I believe are good books and then knowingly sell a poor product. I do think Smashwords is headed in the right direction and have adopted a wait and see approach. When the company works out the bugs in its conversion process, I will jump on the bandwagon and distribute ebooks through Smashwords.

In the meantime, The Publishing Maven wants me to do something about some of my earlier book covers. It seems if I want to keep my integrity after publishing this blog post, I am going to have to start working on improving the covers of my first few books.

For readers interested in reading past comments I have posted about ethics and self-publishing, just click here to be taken to a previous post.