Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Templates by The Book Designer - a Product Review of Sorts

No, I am not affiliated with Joel Friedlander's company, The Book Designer. I have not purchased a template just yet, but I'll explain why in a moment. I do follow Joel on his blog and have learned a great deal about self-publishing from the advice and information Joel shares.

His latest business venture, or product if you will, is called Book Design Templates for Word. Knowing Joel puts a lot of effort and thought into everything he does, I signed up for the e-mail newsletter for this new division of his business. 

When I got the official notice of its launch, as soon as I had time, I read everything on the entire site. Wow! This new service has the potential to save me hundreds of dollars in interior design fees. The prices for these templates are introductory I believe but well worth the cost at twice the price (have you checked what it costs to have interiors done professionally?).

Why haven't I purchased on yet? Because at the moment the largest trim size available is 6 x 9 and the next three book projects I have coming up will all be in the 8.5 x 11 trim size.

A quick e-mail produced a quick response and I was happy to learn in the next series of templates to be released the 8.5 x 11 trim size for non-fiction books will be included! Exactly what I need!

You may purchase a single book license or a multibook license.

It gets better still.

While I was interested in these templates for my POD paperback editions, I was equally happy to learn Joel will be offering Ebook and Kindle templates! 

Take the time to read the FAQ page and you will have your questions answered. If not, use the Contact Us feature and e-mail a question. The response will be prompt.

Once again, the name of the new company is Book Design Templates by Joel Friedlander.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Amazon Sales Rankings, Marketing With KDP Select Free Books, and Pricing to Drive Sales Ranking

I love to get free books on my Amazon Kindle. In fact, after years of not reading fiction anymore, I have discovered several new fiction authors I really like and spent a fair amount of money buying their other books. I once again read works of fiction!

This is the idea behind the KDP Select's free give away program. By entering your ebook into Amazon's KDP Select, which requires a 90 exclusivity period, you can give the Kindle edition of the book away for free for five days (Be sure to read all the details of how the KDP Select program works and then make your decision if you want to participate in this program).

The idea is to give away your book for free and have it climb into the Amazon Top 100 Free Kindle Books for that genre or category. This can translate into sales once the free trial period is over.

If an author has multiple books in a series, the idea is to give away the first book in the series to encourage new readers to try a new author. If the reader likes the free book, the reader can become a fan and buy the remainder of the books in the series.

There has been quite a bit written about this tactic, but that is the basics of the approach.

I have a non-fiction book that has gotten several 5-star reviews and every customer who has e-mailed me with a question has raved about how helpful the content has been to them. Yet the book persists in selling about one or two copies a month.

So, on March 5 through March 9 (2013), the Kindle version of this book is going to be free. My hope is to give away as many copies as possible. If it does not help sales of this particular title but gets customers to buy my other books, then it will be worth it. I have no idea how to collect and monitor specific data to see if this tactic will drive sales of my other books, but since the book is not selling anyway, this experiment can only help.

My other experiment is currently in progress. My best selling book for over a year was the first book listed when doing an Amazon search for its category. Within the last three months it had slowly moved down the rankings on the first page of search results, and with that decline, so has sales for the title.

The better the sales ranking on Amazon, the better the book will do in search results and the more sales the book will generate. The more sales the book generates, the better the sales ranking, etc. As one declines, so do the others.

The challenge is how do I work to restore the title's sales ranking and position in its category with a marketing budget of zero dollars?

I just could not bring myself to give the book away for free. So I lowered the price to 99 cents. I blogged about it on my website. Mentioned it in my newsletter and, horrors, tweeted about it on my Twitter account. The only cost was 20 minutes of my time.

Sales have jumped considerably in the first two days of the experiment which will last until February 28th. 

The sales ranking in the key search category has improved during those two days and the book has climbed from 12th on the page to 5th. The two other common search result queries have seen the book climb 2 and 4 spots on the pages results.

I certainly am not making much money on the sales this price has generated.

Then why did I do it?

This is not a new book. I have no money to invest in promoting it. So I have to work with what is available to me. The book has valuable content. It has good reviews. It has been edited, has a good cover and professionally designed interior and ebook conversion. It should be selling better but there are newer titles competing for the same customers.

Improving the sales ranking, search results position seems to be the only viable approach I have.

The lower price has certainly boosted sales in terms of units sold, sales ranking and improved position in search results.

When March 1st rolls around and the price goes back up, I hope the sales stay at the same level and generate the revenue this title used to generate.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Since most self-published authors have the same marketing and advertising budget I do, namely zero, it pays to experiment and see what works for your books. This is a business.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Another Viewpoint on Amazon's New Patent to Re-sell Used eBooks

Morris Rosenthal  has weighed in on this topic and as usual has something interesting to say. Morris is a bit more level headed and often looks at data (he is at trained electrical engineer) to draw conclusions.

Click here to read the post by Morris.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Self-publishing Blog Summary: Konrath, Shepard and More

This post includes a visits to other self-publishing blogs. Included are a pair from one of the most successful self-published authors out there, J.A. Konrath.

Newbies Guide to Publishing - J.A. Konrath's Blog

This concerns Konrath's latest experiment using KDP Select to promote his books. Well worth reading.

Konrath's thoughts on this process. Not exactly what you would expect, but again worth the read.

Aaron Shepard's Publishing Blog

For authors who are interested in the technical side of book printing and the inking process. From Aaron Shepard.

From Word to Kindle

Information on converting Word to Kindle files. These two posts are from a new blog by Aaron Shepard.

The Book Designer - Joel Friedlander's Blog

Very interesting post about book design and basic information self-publishers need to be aware of.

More from Joel on the same topic:

Self-Publishing 2.0 - Morris Rosenthal's Publishing Blog

For those of us who sell non-fiction and sell books via PDF download, this will be of interest.


Is Amazon Trying to Create Scarcity With Plan to Re-sell eBooks?

The law of supply and demand says if the supply is lower than consumer demand, the price will increase accordingly. The link below will take you to an article that argues Amazon may be attempting to create scarcity in the ebook market with its patent to resell used ebooks. I have no idea, but I have been reading what I can about this topic. If you are interested in following this story, you might want to read this article.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Expanding My Retail Platform With Kobo

There is no question Amazon is the name of the game. I have long been an advocate of Aaron Shepard's Aiming at Amazon approach to selling books and don't see any reason to change my approach to where I steer potential customers to buy my books.

But I don't see any reason why I should not make my ebooks available through as many ebook retailers as possible. I use eBook Architects to convert my CreateSpace files to ebooks and the process results in a Kindle file for use with Amazon's KDP program and an ePub file for retailers who use the ePub format. This includes Barnes and Noble and Kobo or Kobobooks.

It took me 25 minutes to upload three of my books and their covers on the Kobo platform. The first book took the longest because as usual I am a bit slow when it comes to doing things for the first time on a computer. The next two titles were a snap. I plan to upload the rest of my titles that I have ePub files for.

The longest part of the entire process was getting my financial information entered correctly so I can be paid should I sell some books using Kobo's site.

Like Barnes and Noble and Amazon I set the price of the book. I also get 70% of the sale! The threshold to be paid is higher and that's OK. My goal right at the moment is simply to make my titles available in more ebook retail stores and to allow Kobo's site to do the work of promoting my titles.

Like just about everything else with self-publishing, I am sure I have a bit to learn about selling books on the Kobo site. On thing I do like right off the bat is Kobo has what it refers to as a "Learning Center."

Kobo's publishing set-up is pretty easy to learn to use if you have already uploaded ebooks to Amazon KDP or Barnes and Noble's Pubit. The Dashboard is actually the easiest of the three to use based on my experience.

The image above shows two of my titles as already being published and ready for sale while the third title I uploaded is still being "published." To start the process of uploading your ebook, you need to go to the Kobobooks homepage and click on "The Writing Life." Create an account, the most time consuming part of the process for me, and once you have navigated to your Dashboard, click on eBooks and then click on the green button you can see in the image above.

This will take you to a page with a four step process. When you complete each of the four steps you click on the save button on the lower right hand corner. You may have to scroll down quite a bit to find the button on the describe your book page which will be the most detailed of the four pages you will have to complete.

Unless you are going through your "exclusive" period with KDP Select with your book, there is no reason not to publish your ebook with Kobo if you have an ePub file for your book. It costs only your time to do so. 

I don't expect to have a huge number of sales, but every sale counts! If I don't make my titles available to the customers who purchase their ebooks from Kobo, how can I sell them any of my books!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

More News on Amazon's Plan to Sell Used eBooks

TechCrunch published yet another article on Amazon's plan to sell used eBooks. While the focus in this article is on the fate of other online digital resellers, this news seems to confirm the story I posted earlier in this blog about Amazon's decision to pursue this course of sales.

Regardless of the focus of the story concerning this latest plan by Amazon, this is something self-publishing authors need to keep track of. A significant portion of my publishing revenue comes from my Kindle sales.

If Amazon can pull this off, it will be able to direct a lot of sales away from "new" ebooks by pricing the used ebook at a lower price, thereby cutting into the royalties authors earn from the sale of new ebooks.

I would also imagine it won't be long before other ebook retailers follow suit and begin to search for ways to sell used Nook books, etc.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Amazon to Sell Used e-Books?

Publishers Weekly has published an article about the possibility of Amazon's plans to sell used e-books. Whether is speculation of the part of Publisher's Weekly or the story is based on actual hard news I have no idea.

I do believe if this comes to pass, it will change the world as self-published authors know it, particularly in the Kindle market.

In addition to reading the article, I would take the time to read a few of the comments as some of these give a little insight into whether or not this would be legal piracy on the part of Amazon. 

It appears Amazon has been granted a patent that would allow Amazon to have the means to sell used e-books. This seems to imply that authors whose work has been sold in Kindle format would lose the ability to collect royalties on their works.

This seems to all hinge on the results of a lawsuit currently in the courts that will define this issue as it pertains to digital content.  

Here is the link once again: