Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Writing Effective Book Descriptions for Book Covers

The is a short but interesting post on creating effective book descriptions for book covers by Chris Robley on the BookBaby publishing blog. Covers do sell books so this is worth reading if you design your own book covers. It is certainly worth reading if you write the book description for your cover even if someone else is creating the design.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Be Sure To Link Editions On Amazon!

Several of my books are available both as paperback and Kindle editions. My latest book, Selecting A Print-on-Demand Company: Comparing CreateSpace and Lightning Source for POD Self-Publishing is available in both a paperback and a Kindle edition.

With my real job taking up more time and my second child graduating from Texas A&M and obtaining her first job as a Civil Engineer (proud father moment!), I simply forgot to ask Amazon to link the two editions. The Publishing Maven gently reminded me I needed to do so.

Evidently the linking of the two helps the books come up higher in the Amazon search algorithm. Every author wants his or her book coming up as high as possible in the search results! Shame on me for not taking care of this.

As per The Publishing Maven's directions, if you have both a print and a Kindle edition and want them linked, send an e-mail to the Kindle Direct support team requesting the editions to be linked on Amazon. Use the Contact Us link on the bottom of your Kindle Direct page. Be sure to include the ISBN of the print editon and the ASIN of the Kindle edition. It will take a few days to link the two editions and for the reviews to match-up as well.

Be sure to list the books in your bibliography on your Author Central page as well. It takes less than a minute to do so.

Taking these steps are ethical ways to work the Amazon system to insure your book's best possible listing in Amazon's search results.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Importance and Value of a Back List for Self-publishing Authors

When I wrote my first book it never occurred to me I would write more. I am glad I did. While my first book sells well and has sold more copies than any other book I have written, it is a good thing it is not the only title in my list.

Last year the book in question sold more copies in print and Kindle versions combined than any other title I have. Yet in terms of total dollars, it only accounted for 30% of my sales in the last 18 months. The last 12 months have been the best in terms of sales and revenue generated since I began self-publishing. 

70% of my sales come from all of my other titles. Some titles sell very well, either as paperbacks or Kindle books. Other titles only sell a few single copies a month or a single copy every so often. It all adds up though.

Because of the low cost entry into self-publishing made possible by CreateSpace I have been able to keep my cost per title to produce as low as possible. Every book I have self-published except two have at least recouped the money invested to get the book into print. That is probably a better record than traditional publishing houses.

Print-on-demand and Kindle books allow authors to get their book to market with the lowest possible investment. Having more than one title allows an author to have multiple revenue streams from books sales. 

Another advantage of having multiple titles is readers who purchase and read one book and enjoy it or find the information contained of value will purchase other titles by the same author.

Books mature over time, saturating the target audience. Non-fiction books become out-of-date as time passes, making the content of little value. While this is not true for all books, it is true for many. Having a well developed back list lessons the impact of a star seller falling in the sales totals.

All too often authors forget publishing is a business. For self-publishing authors who desire for their publishing venture to be profitable, developing a back list is an essential step towards profitability over the long term.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Amazon Sells More Kindle Books Than Print for First Time!

Amazon announces it now sells more Kindle books than print books. The following is from the June issue of the Kindle Direct Newsletter.

Amazon began selling hardcover and paperback books in July 1995. Twelve years later in November 2007, Amazon introduced the revolutionary Kindle and began selling Kindle books. By July 2010, Kindle book sales had surpassed hardcover book sales, and six months later, Kindle books overtook paperback books to become the most popular format on Today, less than four years after introducing Kindle books, customers are now purchasing more Kindle books than all print books - hardcover and paperback - combined.

"Customers are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books. We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly - we've been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years," said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Since April 1, for every 100 print books has sold, it has sold 105 Kindle books. This includes sales of hardcover and paperback books by Amazon where there is no Kindle edition. Free Kindle books are excluded and if included would make the number even higher.

Indie Author Joins The Million Kindle Seller Club!

Self-publishing authors should take note! John Locke has become the first "Indie author" to sell a million Kindle books! This is an encouraging event for every author who toils outside of the establishment publishing world! The following excerpt is from the Amazon Kindle Direct Newsletter for the month of June.

John Locke is the newest member of the “Kindle Million Club,” and the first independently published author to receive this distinction.  As of June 19th, John Locke has sold 1,010,370 Kindle books using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). The Kindle Million Club recognizes authors whose books have sold over 1 million paid copies in the Kindle Store ( Locke joins Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child, Suzanne Collins and Michael Connelly in the Kindle Million Club.

“Kindle Direct Publishing has provided an opportunity for independent authors to compete on a level playing field with the giants of the book selling industry,” said John Locke. “Not only did KDP give me a chance, they helped at every turn. Quite simply, KDP is the greatest friend an author can have.”  

“It’s so exciting that self-publishing has allowed John Locke to achieve a milestone like this,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content.  “We’re excited to see Kindle Direct Publishing succeeding for both authors and customers and are proud to welcome him to the Kindle Million Club.”

John Locke, of Louisville, KY., is the internationally bestselling author of nine novels including "Vegas Moon,” "Wish List,” "A Girl Like You,” "Follow the Stone,” "Don't Poke the Bear!" and the New York Times bestselling eBook, "Saving Rachel." Locke's latest book, "How I sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months," is a how-to marketing guide for self-published authors.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CreateSpace Hosting June Seminar - Landing on TV and Radio Shows to Promote Your Book

CreateSpace is offering a June web seminar for authors interested in learning how to be booked as guests on television and radio shows to promote their book.  The link below will take you directly to the sign-up page for the web seminar.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Selecting a Print-on-Demand Company: Comparing CreateSpace and Lightning Source for Print-on-Demand Self-Publishing now available as a Kindle Book!

Selecting a Print-on-Demand Company: Comparing CreateSpace and Lightning Source for Print-on-Demand Self-Publishing is now available as a .99 Kindle book! For authors considering self-publishing using print-on-demand the two main suppliers of this service are Lightning Source and CreateSpace.

Both companies have their strong points and selecting a company to choose can be confusing for many individuals. Selecting a Print-on-Demand Company: Comparing CreateSpace and Lightning Source for Print-on-Demand Self-Publishing offers authors side-by-side comparisons, guiding questions to make a informed choice and expert commentary based on the experience of self-publishing authorities Joel Friedlander and Christy Pinheiro.

Data on Projected Kindle Sales for Amazon

The link below will take you to an article with data on the trends in Kindle sales on Amazon and the projected earnings for Amazon based on Kindle reader sales and Kindle book sales.

The Truth About Creating Brands People Love - A Book Review

The Truth About Creating Brands People Love, by Brian Till and Donna Heckler, is available from Amazon as a Kindle book, retailing for $9.99, and as a trade paperback selling for about $14. I purchased the Kindle version of this book, not thinking of it as a book for authors, but rather for the other parts of my fledgling business.

I was wrong to think creating a brand was not something important for a writer to consider. For fiction and non-fiction writers, brand creation is an important issue for one simple reason, we all want repeat customers! Readers who purchase books written by a single author have identified with the brand created by the author.  How many of us have waited with anticipation for the next novel by our favorite fiction writer or have purchased everything written by a non-fiction author who is an expert on a topic of concern or interest to us? These authors have successfully created a strong brand readers identify with.

Brand management, and brand creation, is not a common sense topic though it seems like it should be. Successful brands have behind them a great deal of planning, research and hard work. Companies, and authors, with successful brands work hard to maintain and protect the carefully crafted brand. A successful brand is worth more than its weight in gold!

The authors share a total of 51 truths about creating successful brands. Each of these truths is essentially a stand alone chapter in its own right yet the authors have sequenced the chapters in a logical order.
Each chapter is well written, easy to understand and provides useful information for the reader, regardless of the whether the reader has a background in business and marketing or not.

Without being a spoiler, I will say the material in this book makes very good sense, yet it is not "common sense" information for the most part. I am reading the book for a third time and have nearly filled up a legal pad with notes on things I need to do or change with my business and approach to self-publishing. It has been money well spent.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Will Kindle and other eBook Prices Eventually Have to Rise?

Everyone seems to be jumping on the ebook train right now. I certainly have. May, June and July are the slowest three months for me in terms of print book sales. The same is not true for Kindle sales so far. May of 2011 was good and this June is looking like it will be the best month ever for Kindle sales since I ventured into the Kindle market.

While introducing Kindle editions does not seem to have hurt my print sales, and in fact I believe it helped boost the sales of one print edition, it remains to be seen if the trend will continue. I plan to pay close attention to print and Kindle sales trends for the next year or so.

One of the reasons for this is the fear I have that my Kindle sales WILL negatively impact my print sales at some point in the future. Why is this a concern? I make considerably more money per sale for a print book than I do a Kindle book, even with Amazon's generous royalty system. The price of Kindle books is so much lower than the price of the print edition, there is no possible way to make up the difference in net profit per sale and still take advantage of Amazon's pricing/royalty structure.

My books are non-fiction niche market books. Selling my books for the lowest possible price to drive sales is not a long term strategy for me. I think this strategy works well for fiction, new fiction authors and general market non-fiction.

As ebook readers and reading books digitally becomes more common, this is going to become more and more of an issue. More so if authors bypass the publishing houses and deal directly with Amazon for Kindle sales. The math will drive the issue.

For example, if an author is going to sell a print edition of a book that nets $6 per copy and the Kindle edition only nets $2 per copy, it will take three Kindle book sales to match the profit of one print copy being sold.

If the book is going to only sell 5,000 copies total for the author, Kindle and print combined, the ratio of print to Kindle sales is a significant one. 5,000 print copies at $6 net is a $30K net profit. 5,000 Kindle copies is only $10K net. The difference of $20K is nothing to sneeze at.

As the market trends towards digital books, will authors need to drive the prices upwards so they can make a living selling their books in a digital format?

Right now, I suspect many of my Kindle sales are impulse, price driven purchases I would not have made otherwise. In the future this might not be the case when people by digital books as the dominant format of consuming books.