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Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

Wheeeeeee!





This is the newest edition of the SomethingAwful self-publishing thread. All ye who enter, beware! The market has changed a lot since the old thread opened in 2011, so it's time for a fresh start.

Let's get some groundwork out of the way...

Click here for the old thread!
Want to join the SA "GoonReads" site? Click here to join!

Erotica talk is NOT WELCOME in this thread by mod decree. Take it elsewhere, please.



Self-publishing isn't the vanity pursuit it once was, no matter what people may tell you to the contrary. E-readers and smart phones are everywhere now. There are more people with them in America than without, and e-books make up a crazy (and per some sources, highly underreported) percentage of the market. Indie author access to readers (and vice versa) is high and relatively easy now. If you write something good in a popular genre and spend a little time to get to know the market and how to make your work visible, you can make some pretty snazzy cash on this. If you don't write a popular genre, nobody's going to publish your work anyway so why not self-publish?



1) People who just want to get their stories out there and don't really care one way or another.
Hobbyist writers are welcome here, but remember that a whole bunch of us are market-oriented and will get all pissy at you if you complain about your story not selling while you're being dumb about it. If you're going to not care about [cover, blurb, title, page-count, promotion, reviews, etc], go all the way and don't care about your sales either.

2) Professional authors making a living off of their books.
There were a whole bunch of this category lurking in the last thread, though they tend to be less vocal about releases. Some of the author incomes in this thread range from mid-five to low-six digit incomes. Unless there are other lurkers out there I don't know about, they're all romance writers. That does NOT make romance the only lucrative genre, though. Just look at Steven Campbell's "Hard Luck Hank" thread (goon sci-fi making hundreds of bucks per day in royalties for months straight at time of post). Want to talk business ideas? Great. Want to offer advice and criticisms? Go for it! Full-time self-pubbers are totally welcome here.

3) Short story writers in any given market
Short stories are extremely hard to traditionally publish because of the costs associated and the general US market expectations. If you can get your story published, it's usually in some giant anthology / periodical that pays you a pittance for your work. Ebooks have no print costs associated with them, which both revitalizes the market for short stories AND brings back the serial as a storytelling approach. Short stories can, depending on your market and writing talent, be quite lucrative. Join in on the thread, writers!

4) Fledgling authors interested in self-publishing
I can't believe I forgot this in the first version. Are you interested in self-publishing and just haven't done it yet? Post questions! Post things for critique! (Blurbs, covers, etc.) Don't post full chapters of your book, though. If you want writing critiques or edits, give us an idea of what your book is about / some information, and interested people might help you. (Proofreading / line edits are expensive, though, so don't expect much for free, ya know?)



1) ...post about self-publishing being a scam or start that bullshit about us all faking our sales. I swear to God, I will turn this van around... .
2) ...do an intentionally half-assed job on your story/blurb/cover/etc and then complain that it didn't sell.
3) ...write an experimental piece bridging five incompatible genres that also makes you read it backward while holding your Kindle up to a mirror and then get upset when nobody buys it. TARGET A MARKET, PEOPLE. (But seriously, if you find a way to make that Kindle thing work, I'd love to see the code for it. )
4) ...talk about erotica. Just don't. The mods don't want it, the people posting from work don't want it, and it's a huge drama bomb. There are plenty of other places that talk about it already, including an off-site goon forum (no, don't ask me for a link because I don't post there). Take the talk over there, please.



The first thing you need to do is read your genre. Read it enough to know it inside and out. Learn why certain tropes work in your genre. Know the reader expectations in your genre. Read related genres. Hell, read and learn from unrelated genres! Read bestsellers that you're biased to think are complete poo poo (if I made it through Twilight and Fifty Shades, you can survive them too). Read everything. Don't even think about marketing stuff yet. Just don't. If you don't know what you're writing or how writing it works, sit your butt down and keep reading. It's the same thing as with any other product-based field. If you don't know what your customers want, who they are, and what defines a good product, you're doomed from the start. Dust off that library card of yours and go to town on the new releases section. Read!

Now that you're a wonderfully well-read individual who knows what actual readers read, as opposed to what your old english lit teacher made you read while surreptitiously pouring whiskey into his coffee, you can start thinking about writing!

The Painful Set of Pre-Marketing Questions posted:

Ask yourself these questions...

#1 - People who will like my book will also like ___________, ______________, and ______________.

#2 - People who will like my book will like it because of ________________________________________.

#3 - People who will like my book will like it because it didn't _________________________________.

#4 - My book is similar to ___________, ______________, and __________________.

#5 - My book is different from the books in #4 because ____________________________.

Fill in the blanks. You should be able, at the very least, to finish #1, #4, and #5. This is a starting point for getting to know your market. If you can't answer them, research until you can. If research is fruitless, your book has no audience.

Take whatever your idea is, probably at outline stage, and see how it fits into those five questions above. It's hard to throw away an idea without a market, but it's better than spending a month or two writing only to have it not sell (assuming sales were your goal). Trust me - these questions are less painful at the beginning then they will be if you wait until 65,000 words into your novel.

Answering these questions will also help you figure out other important factors about your book. Because it tells you who your audience is, it also helps tell you their expectations in plot, language, style, etc. You can now research cover designs and blurbs, too. If you're going to pay attention to any parts of this OP, pay attention to these questions and to the cover/blurb part below.

The next thing you need to do is write. Duh. What do you write? Depends on your genre. How long does it need to be? Depends on your genre. What should your cover look like? Depends on your genre. See where I'm going with this? Write it until it's done.

Next comes editing. Do a quick self-edit just because, but please please please get someone else to edit your book, too. I recommend author exchanges as a cheap way of getting good feedback. The more authors the better. You can also pay a competent editor, but depending on where you are in your writing career, the cost may still be prohibitive.

Okay, you're done with your editing. Your manuscript is a perfect (whatever). Time to publish, right? Right?

WRONG.

You're still missing 50% of the project: your cover and blurb. These are what sell your book, not the content inside it. You will never be read by anyone but your grandmother without a good blurb and cover. She's going to tell you it was "a very nice book, dearie" and you won't believe her because she's your grandmother. Avoid this entire shameful mess by crafting a good blurb and designing (or paying for) a good cover.

REPEAT AFTER ME...



Got that? Good. Now, those questions earlier in this thread -- the painful pre-marketing questions -- and look at the books and genres you've identified. Check out their covers and blurbs for books that sold. THAT is what you mimic. They are clearly doing it right, so learn from them and craft it for yourself.

BLURBS

1) Active voice when possible.
2) Make things happen. No existential crises please!
3) Avoid leading questions.
4) Judicious use of limited word-count
5) GENRE APPROPRIATE
6) For the love of God, tell me something about your book. If your 250-word blurb sucks, why the gently caress would I suffer through the other 70,000 words you wrote?

That's all I'm going to say on blurbs because styles are extremely varied and depend heavily on genre and style. Post in the thread for more criticisms, questions, etc.

Cover tastes will be both subjective and genre-specific. I've included a few obvious examples below...

This is a crappy sci-fi cover:


This is a better version of the same cover:


This is a loving phenomenal cover:


This is not:


This is bad:


This is good:


This cover is both terrible and a beautiful relic of the old thread:


Some decent sci-fi (there's some debate around the text, but it's a solid theme):


Some really successful Goon self-pubbed sci-fi that was extremely successful at the time.



Here are some general cover rules to start. Once you're a better cover designer, these will become guidelines more than rules. The more experienced cover designers in this thread could rip this list apart with plenty of legit reasons, but remember: I'm not trying to tell you how to make a masterpiece of a cover. I'm just trying to stop you from creating another Ethereal Girls.

1) Obey your genre.
2) Do NOT create a scene from your book unless you have a damned good reason. Go for a feel instead.
3) Clean, crisp, clear. Thats your goal. Don't confuse things. Don't complicate covers.
4) Unless you are very clear on when it's okay not to, pick designs where your text is clear in Amazon-sized thumbnail.
5) Two font families, max, and don't mix fonts from the same family.

Not sure what fonts to pick? Consult your genre's bestsellers for a good idea! (I tell you that a lot, and for good reason.)

Here are a few recurring fonts and free-for-commercial substitutes where appropriate.



That's it for covers! Check your own genre and learn. Post draft covers in this thread for mockery. Hire cover designers from the list of designers in the RESOURCES section of this post.




Please note that the resources listed in this thread are only suggestions based on other goons and on past experience. I am not vouching for any of these services / people / places.

PLACES TO PUBLISH:

http://kdp.amazon.com - Kindle Direct Publishing. This is the biggest dog in town and you will make most of your money here.
http://www.nookpress.com - B&N's Nook Store. #2 or #3 for most people.
Apple Bookstore - I didn't link you to it because unless you have an Apple device, you can't publish there. They will be on par with B&N for most people on sales if you can get on them, which you can because...
http://www.draft2digital.com - These guys! THEY WILL GET YOU ON APPLE. They are amazing, their tools are awesome, and they're a way to publish on B&N if you don't live in the USA.
http://www.smashwords.com - Smashwords is a dinosaur with no real value as a publishing portal, a lovely site, a lovely meatgrinder, and their only value is the coupon generator. Once upon a time, they were the only way for non-Apple people to get into the iTunes store. This is not true anymore. Go with Draft2Digital and never look back.
http://www.kobobooks.com - If you can actually make money here, you're a better marketer than I am. These guys have no metadata, a dysfunctional search engine and a long history of treating self-pubbers like poo poo. They will likely gently caress up your royalty checks even if you do manage to accumulate royalties. No reason not to publish with them if you don't have bad blood, but personally, I avoid them like the plague.
http://play.google.com/books/publish/ - Google Play's bookstore. A bit of a mess, but some people report decent sales there. BEWARE THE PRICING... always price everything 25% higher than you expect, because they will auto-discount your stuff by that much without telling you. Amazon will then price match it, etc etc. I don't publish here and can't say much, but I hear good things from those who do.



PAID RESOURCES:

COVERS:

Design For Writers -- contact: designforwriters.com / hello@designforwriters.com.
Specializes in "soft" fiction and non-fiction, but will accept all genres and will work on websites and other design needs too. Contact for Pricing.

Holly Rothrock -- http://www.hrothrock.com ; Contact: hrothroc@gmail.com
Specialty: Custom art/illustration, cover design. Contact for Pricing.

Damon Za -- http://www.damonza.com
Specialty: Damon is a high-end, professional cover artist for tens of NYT bestsellers and comes highly recommended from those who have used his services. With his quality comes expense, though -- his covers start at $345 and go up from there depending on extras. Also offers formatting and editing services, but I don't know anyone who has used those. Check out his portfolio for just how good this guy is.

Go On, Write! -- http://www.goonwrite.com
Specialty: Nope, that's not "Goon Write" but "Go On, Write!" You keep writing, he'll keep generating covers. Once upon a time, he was a favorite for super-cheap pre-made covers that mostly hit the mark, but these days, it's a crap-shoot whether there will be anything of quality available now that everyone knows who he is and what his site is. There are better options, looking over his current pricing, so this is more of a last-resort.

EDITING:

Bookside Manner :: Goon-run proofreading, copy-editing and line editing service for books of all genres.
For her rates and qualifications, and for testimonials from past clients, visit: http://www.booksidemanner.com

Sundae fucked around with this message at Nov 21, 2016 around 07:08

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Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

Wheeeeeee!



Reserved for more content.


HOW TO NOT EARN A DIME FROM YOUR HARD WORK: (Start here for the full details: http://forums.somethingawful.com/sh...0#post451686373)

Forum poster Magnificent7 wrote a pretty awesome looking book and, rather than self-publish it, went through a hybrid scam shop publishing assistance group called Booktrope. Booktrope proceeded to sign a contract with him under which they would connect him to other people who would help him with the book (a manager, editor, etc) in exchange for splitting the royalties, plus they take 30% right off the top.

Think about that for a second... if two people worked with him, he'd only retain 16.3% of the original book price in royalties, which is vaguely comparable to a traditional publishing deal in terms of royalties but with no advance and none of the upsides. Oh, and with a lot more work to do, too, because Booktrope doesn't actually do anything. Check this out!

Magnificent7 posted:

My book has been out for a month, I know I've sold a few copies, nothing astronomical, but there's no reviews on Amazon, no ratings. Do I just have to go out and beg people for reviews initially? I'm not assuming it's THAT good, but i am assuming that it's not so godawful that people aren't reading it at all.

I dread shilling for reviews on amazon... it makes me feel like I'm tricking the system, like the lovely movies on Netflix that get 5-star reviews just to bump them up a little.

When you publish your book, do you wait for Amazon ratings, or do you prompt people the minute it's up there?

side note: I'm thrilled to see my prospective buyers are expanding their options for other material:


The wisest man on the forum posted:

I think whoever this company "Forsaken" is has severely mismanaged your work, and for that matter every other book on their label. You had the work entirely done, are you so foreign that you can't get your own KDP account? How much of your royalties are you handing over to them in order for you to get, by my estimate, one or maybe two sales on Amazon.com and exactly zero sales on every other Amazon retailer?

edit: like I literally can't see a single thing they did for you other than pick bad categories, probably bad keywords, and copy/paste the things put together in this thread. They even have a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BooktropeForsaken and they didn't even post a link to your book when it came out. Please tell me that you actually typed in "Forsaken" in the publisher field and aren't part of the rest of the company.

That poor sap of an author posted:

I wish I could tell you.

They handled all of that, through my book manager, who I'm trying to contact now to determine next steps. I have no idea if I have any control over the book as it appears on Amazon... that's one of the things I'm trying to find out.

Someone who actually knows publishing and worked in the traditional industry posted:

OK. Looking at their website, a bunch of stuff becomes clearer.

Booktrope aren't a publisher, a vanity press, or (precisely) a scam. They're like a book-oriented version of freelancer.com. You sign up, they help you rope other random member "experts" into a project team, then they skim 30% of the money off the top and divide the rest up amongst the team.

Just like freelancer.com, it _could_ work well, if you happen to get really lucky, but in practice, my assumption would be that it would only attract mediocre people who can't get actual paid work in those field. Sadly, royalty percentages are almost never worth working for, if you can possibly avoid it. For ever E.L. James you turn your nose up, there'll be 100,000 one-copy wonders. The trouble with "teams", particularly ones mediated through collaborative websites, is that (a) no-one else really gives a poo poo about your baby (this is the same trouble start-up founders have); and (b) the more people are involved, the higher the chance that one weak link will sink you all.

So. As the author, you're getting 33% of 70% of 70% from Amazon eSales. That's 16% of cover.

Clearly, the 'book manager' who signed up with you is just some idiot who's hoping to farm a few dollars from doing gently caress all by taking a cut of lots of tiny-performing books. I'm sure the Booktrope contracts have clauses preventing release, because they'd be scared that a book would start doing well and the author would yank it out to keep all the cash themselves. If it's not specifically forbidden by the book contract -- and it probably is -- then personally, I'd put it up free somewhere, tip off the price-match on Amazon, and hope to use it as a marketing tool for a follow-up novel. You _could_ try promotion efforts, but without access to the price, it's going to be a monstrous nightmare.

So, if you can't get it out of the contract -- and again, you probably can't -- all you can really do at this point is chalk it up to experience and write something else.


The Author, in what seriously is a bad sign posted:

The book manager has been helping me a lot, up until about a week ago when he took on a whole lot of other projects. I'm trying to hold his feet to the fire right now. He's got a lot of experience self-pubbing his own books, and helped me strategize what to do... he's just been awol for a week or two.


Another experienced self-pubber who makes decent cash posted:

Nothing they did was fantastic, as you only got like 2-3 sales total in the most important month of your book's release. That's not a fault of your writing; it's a fault of your marketing (which you paid to outsourced).

The book manager 'going AWOL' for 25% of the crucial first 30 days is awful and not fantastic.

You put a lot of work into writing this, and you wasted all that work by handing it over to a borderline scam. Nothing they did seems good. They made a number of really wrong and bad decisions. You seem to think that you can still salvage this somehow, but you squandered the super important first 30 days, so anything you do from this point will be just a shadow of what you could have pulled off by launching correctly from day one. Try to get the rights back or cancel your deal with them if at all possible. When you release your second book, you could put this book on free promo and promote it with some paid stuff (in addition to promoting your new book correctly). You would edit the first book to link to the second book in the back matter, so if people like the free book they can click and buy the second book.

That's just an example of what you could still do with this book, and the details and logistics of how you did that would vary, but it's not completely useless assuming you continue writing and learn from your mistakes. Most people can tell you at least ten things they did wrong on their first release, myself included.

Also, if you get the rights back, free promo it immediately, and pay for advertising, you could probably at least make SOME money now compared to saving the free promo for later. Free promo periods are one of the best tools for authors just starting out, and it's insane that your 'book manager' wasn't aware of this and chose not to make use of it in the first 30 days.



But what about all the potential cover artwork and design help? Wait a second...


Magnificent7, he who did his own promo artwork posted:

I did all the artwork on it. That's the previous version of the blurb, before it was retooled here.

I'm not going to pull it and start all over. I'm going to continue going forward with this one, while I write my next book and make lots of notes on the better way to do the next one, which will hopefully drive more interest in this one when that one comes out, an idea that's been mentioned here a lot.


Another author posted:

Set aside an afternoon, end your relationship with BookTripe, and make all that work you put into writing the book pay off. You've already done the hard work, and you're letting someone take 60% of your profits for the easy part.


And finally, after people asked Magnificent7 if he was going to end his contract with BookTrope and answered no, the thread as a whole pretty much said the following...

Moana, a superstar among trout posted:

You're a dumbbutt and I'm never helping you with a blurb again.



So consider this your teachable moment of the day!! If you put all the work into a book, don't give it to some random podunk piece of poo poo company on the internet in exchange for no sales and no real royalty share! You'd be better served giving it to basically any trad-pubber over this sort of arrangement, and that doesn't say much these days.





Want to talk to your fellow self-pubbers? Too bad, the IRC is dead!
(Insert Slack info here when I get it.)

Sundae fucked around with this message at Jul 18, 2016 around 15:44

FingerbangMisfire
Feb 16, 2007

It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, honesty, and decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.

I am thrilled that my stupid banner made the cut from the old thread.

EngineerSean
Feb 9, 2004

by zen death robot


I am going to talk about hard luck hank excessively in this thread, what a book.

Hijinks Ensue
Jul 24, 2007


For covers, I'd like to recommend http://www.litteradesigns.com

She did a great job on the cover for a mystery I'll be bringing out in the fall.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


You say there's moneys to be had here I'm in. All I gotta do is string words together I can do that.

moana
Jun 18, 2005

one of the more intellectual satire communities on the web


You all just wait, one of these days I'mma write the bestest book.

Bobby Deluxe
May 9, 2004

you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the nuggets in front of me

So what's the situation with names, do they have to be unique? Like if there are already books called Dead Heat and Stolen Hearts, would I get any grief or problems for calling my book Stolen Hearts book one: Dead Heat?

(Not actual titles I'm considering, just examples used to illustrate the question)

Also great OP. People have often told me there's a formula to writing romance, but rarely has anyone ever actually linked to any decent resources on it.

EngineerSean
Feb 9, 2004

by zen death robot


Bobby Deluxe posted:

So what's the situation with names, do they have to be unique? Like if there are already books called Dead Heat and Stolen Hearts, would I get any grief or problems for calling my book Stolen Hearts book one: Dead Heat?

(Not actual titles I'm considering, just examples used to illustrate the question)

Also great OP. People have often told me there's a formula to writing romance, but rarely has anyone ever actually linked to any decent resources on it.

A lot lot lot of titles have already been used. Obviously don't use something like "Dr. Sleep" or "Fifty Shades of Grey" because those really are going to land you in hot water, but if you really want to use the title "Stolen Hearts", all I'd do is check the genre that I'm going to publish it in to see if a hit book with that title exists that could cause me trouble. In this case, if I check romance or erotica for "Stolen Hearts", I see nothing that would be a problem.

Also remember that there is nothing new under the sun and the Simpsons already did it.

psychopomp
Jan 27, 2011


One blurb tip I came across recently is that they live where the first act becomes the second. That's the transition/conflict you want to pass along to potential readers.

EngineerSean
Feb 9, 2004

by zen death robot


moana posted:

You all just wait, one of these days I'mma write the bestest book.

I honestly can't wait until one day, a famous author says "I couldn't have done it without the thread on something is awful dot com". I'll be there one day.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

Wheeeeeee!



EngineerSean posted:

Also remember that there is nothing new under the sun and the Simpsons already did it.

Very, very true.

Regarding reuse of titles: I think that there is nothing wrong with it, but you have to balance a few things.

#1 - Is it a recent title that is selling well? (This may be an issue with its fans or publishers.)
#2 - Is it a classic / super-bestseller? This also may not go well. (Go ahead and name your new book The Great Gatsby. I dare you.)


As long as neither of these are the case, why not do it? It's better to reuse a good title than to pick bullshit. Sure, an imaginative new title that actually fits and is easily searched / remembered is best of all, but most are used up.

quote:

I am thrilled that my stupid banner made the cut from the old thread.

That thing HAD to come. It's awesome.

LLCoolJD
Dec 8, 2007

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.


I see a lot of fresh e-books from "new" authors that have tons of reviews. I assume these people pay for favorable reviews to get people reading (and buying)?

moana
Jun 18, 2005

one of the more intellectual satire communities on the web


Probably they just hand out ARCs like candy. The smart ones do, anyway

EngineerSean
Feb 9, 2004

by zen death robot


LLCoolJD posted:

I see a lot of fresh e-books from "new" authors that have tons of reviews. I assume these people pay for favorable reviews to get people reading (and buying)?

Are you trying to emulate them or are you thinking you should buy the book? Either way, I guess just assume the worst, always.

Ghostwoods
May 9, 2013

Say "Cheese!"


You can normally tell the reviews that have been bought on fiverr because they're about thirty words long, say almost nothing of substance, and, for the most part, have poor grammar and spelling, since many of the providers are non-native English. So if it's something like "This book is a really great book, wow I loved every momment and kept on with the page turner, made my airplane flight go buy in a flash! *****", chances are it's a purchased review.

More coherent stuff tends to come from ARCs, review exchange circles, and other bona fide sources.

samglover
Sep 19, 2008

R!

I know most of the people in this thread are writing fiction, but for a taste of something different, we're experimenting with self publishing business books. I run a blog (lawyerist.com) for solo and small-firm lawyers, mostly about the business of running a law practice. Here are our first two eBooks:

Law School Exams, published March 5, 2014. 11 sold.
Law Firm Finances, published May 9, 2014. 100 sold.

Both are based on content I pulled from the blog. In typical fashion, I put a ton of effort into editing and revising the law school exams book, and nobody bought it. The law firm finances book is basically just a long post I copied and pasted into a Google Doc, and it sells a couple a day.

Results from our second try were encouraging enough that we're working on several more substantial books, and planning to use CreateSpace for a physical book option. (We think our audience might be more into paper.) And we haven't tried iBooks, yet, just because iBooks Author is a bit more intimidating than just exporting a Word file from Google Docs. So is formatting for print, for that matter. I'll probably try doing it myself, first. I do the web design for our site, so I'm no stranger to typography and layout, but I'm also far from an expert. I'm wondering if I would be better off just hiring someone.

We don't have any reviews yet, which is annoying, but I suppose we really haven't sold that many books, either. I've tried a couple of limited giveaways, but no luck. Plus, since our blog is probably the main reason people are buying the book (as opposed to finding it on Amazon), I'm worried any more extensive giveaway would just cut into our sales.

So is anyone else doing non-fiction? (There are a ton of sites out there, but most of them manage to sound kind of slimy and are mainly pushing affiliate sales on software and services.)

What about print?

LLCoolJD
Dec 8, 2007

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.


EngineerSean posted:

Are you trying to emulate them or are you thinking you should buy the book? Either way, I guess just assume the worst, always.

I was genuinely curious. I've published one book, and even though it hit top 30 in Amazon's (free) horror and (free) dystopian and had four figures of downloads in a short span of time, there were basically no reviews. I thought the book was at least alright, and what reviews I had were gracious. I saw books which looked to be moving fewer copies that had tons of reviews - even with covers that should send most readers running in the opposite direction. I could've been underestimating how many people read those, but it seemed that fake reviews were a pretty common trick to boost appeal and sales numbers (which isn't to say that I'd be lunching with Dean Koontz had I used fake reviews!).

moana
Jun 18, 2005

one of the more intellectual satire communities on the web


I would say I see about a 5,000:1 free download to review ratio. Maybe it's more like 1000:1 or 2000:1 for paid sales, but yeah, not many people review at all.

EngineerSean
Feb 9, 2004

by zen death robot


Oh yeah haha, free downloaders will only review your book to say the following:

Luckily this book was FREE, I still want my money back, I want $2.99 from the author of this book for this 0-star abomination.

5000:1 might be a little high but it's definitely somewhere in the thousands of free downloads for one bad review in general. Even paid sales aren't all that likely to review it.

ketchup vs catsup
Nov 30, 2006


LLCoolJD posted:

I was genuinely curious. I've published one book, and even though it hit top 30 in Amazon's (free) horror and (free) dystopian and had four figures of downloads in a short span of time, there were basically no reviews. I thought the book was at least alright, and what reviews I had were gracious. I saw books which looked to be moving fewer copies that had tons of reviews - even with covers that should send most readers running in the opposite direction. I could've been underestimating how many people read those, but it seemed that fake reviews were a pretty common trick to boost appeal and sales numbers (which isn't to say that I'd be lunching with Dean Koontz had I used fake reviews!).

Also I wouldn't make your only book free. Free used to get you a big boost in sales rank when you went back to paid, but that's lessened over time. These days you want to use free on book 1 or a book that's had its heyday to drive increased sales of subsequent books.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

Wheeeeeee!



LLCoolJD posted:

I was genuinely curious. I've published one book, and even though it hit top 30 in Amazon's (free) horror and (free) dystopian and had four figures of downloads in a short span of time, there were basically no reviews. I thought the book was at least alright, and what reviews I had were gracious. I saw books which looked to be moving fewer copies that had tons of reviews - even with covers that should send most readers running in the opposite direction. I could've been underestimating how many people read those, but it seemed that fake reviews were a pretty common trick to boost appeal and sales numbers (which isn't to say that I'd be lunching with Dean Koontz had I used fake reviews!).

Most people don't do fake reviews. Fake reviews are surprisingly expensive and are generally stupidly obvious. (Yes, I've looked. No, I haven't done it.)

An easier way is to go hog-wild with ARCs in advance of release and line up a shitload of people ready to review your book in the first week or so of release. Through ARCs on my mailing list, I can have 40-50 reviews sitting on Amazon within a day or two of release, for comparison's sake. There are also dedicated reading groups, blog tours focused on rounding up people to do reviews, etc etc. Depending on your genre, it's reasonably easy to get reviews if you're willing to do the groundwork. No guarantee they'll be good reviews, but they'll be reviews.

ravenkult
Feb 3, 2011


Sundae posted:

Most people don't do fake reviews. Fake reviews are surprisingly expensive and are generally stupidly obvious. (Yes, I've looked. No, I haven't done it.)

An easier way is to go hog-wild with ARCs in advance of release and line up a shitload of people ready to review your book in the first week or so of release. Through ARCs on my mailing list, I can have 40-50 reviews sitting on Amazon within a day or two of release, for comparison's sake. There are also dedicated reading groups, blog tours focused on rounding up people to do reviews, etc etc. Depending on your genre, it's reasonably easy to get reviews if you're willing to do the groundwork. No guarantee they'll be good reviews, but they'll be reviews.

How many ARCs do you give away on your mailing list?

Unbelievably Fat Man
Jun 1, 2000

Innocent people. I could never hurt innocent people.




How do you figure out who to give ARCs to anyway?

Somebody posted Amazon's top reviewers in the last thread, but pretty few of them reviewed fiction.

I was thinking about tracking down people who reviewed my also boughts, but most of them seem to prefer what is eventually mean spirited Warhammer 40K fan fiction and my most successful book is much lighter, goofier and happier.

I've got a modest mailing list. Maybe I could leverage that somehow?

ravenkult
Feb 3, 2011


Any tips on how to grow a mailing list would be sweet too. Plugging it in the books isn't doing much.

Trustworthy
Dec 28, 2004

with catte-like thread
upon our prey we steal


Are there any particularly awesome author editing exchange thingies out there for sci-fi writers? I'm looking to branch out and write some pulpy sci-fi serials, and would love it if they didn't suck.

I've surrounded myself with a good community and contacts when it comes to my existing writing, but up until now the sci-fi genre is something I've only played around with as a personal project. So, what's the raddest sci-fi writers community out there?

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


ravenkult posted:

Any tips on how to grow a mailing list would be sweet too. Plugging it in the books isn't doing much.
I've been lurking among the writers and agents and editors on Twitter lately, and I'm beginning to think that Twitter (among other social networks) is replacing the mailing list. That, a tumblr and an instagram. It's all about building the rapport with the target audience without shouting constantly about your own book.

Look at Joe Hill or Chuck Wendig's for example. For every tweet they've got about their own books, there's 10-20 about other poo poo, retweets, etc. Wendig also has one of the most prolific blogs I've seen, rolling out collections as how-to-write-harder eBooks a LOT.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

Wheeeeeee!



ravenkult posted:

How many ARCs do you give away on your mailing list?

I send out a mailer to three-star or higher individuals on my mailing list (subset 500ish out of 1100 on the list) offering free advance review copies to anyone who wants them. Just respond to the e-mail if you'd like to read it in advance, and if you think it's awesome, leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon when it comes out. Heck, if you think it stinks, go ahead and tell me so I can fix things for next time.

That sort of thing.

Of those 500, I tend to get back 60-100 responses asking for the book and I send out to all of them. I'd say that roughly 50-60% end up leaving reviews within a few days of release on Amazon. I've used it with two books now for that purpose, so it's not a great sample size or anything but has been very effective in getting reviews. I had 44 reviews and 39 reviews respectively by D2 for my last two releases. They hit as high as #140 and #319 in the store respectively, but didn't end up having much staying power in the lists. Better luck next time, I guess.

ravenkult
Feb 3, 2011


magnificent7 posted:

I've been lurking among the writers and agents and editors on Twitter lately, and I'm beginning to think that Twitter (among other social networks) is replacing the mailing list. That, a tumblr and an instagram. It's all about building the rapport with the target audience without shouting constantly about your own book.

Look at Joe Hill or Chuck Wendig's for example. For every tweet they've got about their own books, there's 10-20 about other poo poo, retweets, etc. Wendig also has one of the most prolific blogs I've seen, rolling out collections as how-to-write-harder eBooks a LOT.

If anything, I think mailing lists are back in vogue. The people on it actually care enough to get your emails about books, while people on twitter don't necessarily want to buy anything from you.

Don't get me wrong, they're both useful, but I'm more interested in mailing lists. I can't spend all my day on twitter talking poo poo, I got things to write.

samglover
Sep 19, 2008

R!

Social media can definitely help you spread the word, but email is still gold. It's possible that email means less for teenagers, but adults still use email. And even if they check Twitter or Facebook religiously, they'll miss a ton of what flies past their feed. Most people at least look at everything that lands in their inbox, even if they don't open all of it or click on everything.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Very good points. And the more I think about it... most of the retweets or replies are from other writers. drat this game.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

Wheeeeeee!



ravenkult posted:

Any tips on how to grow a mailing list would be sweet too. Plugging it in the books isn't doing much.

Sorry - I missed this.

I have a few suggestions based on my experiences.

#1 - Back of the book, make it the first thing after the text of your book is finished. Promise awesome poo poo. Freebies, coupons, news of new releases, etc. Somewhat effective for me, especially right after a new release. Wanes once your book wanes since nobody new is buying it, duh.

#2 - The power of FREE. One of my books is available for free if you subscribe to my mailing list, and I make this known in #1 and in every promo anything I do. People love free and sign up for lists based on it.

#3 - Giveaways. Don't make the prize too awesome or you get freebie hunters (you're going to get them anyway, but you'll get a LOT MORE if the prize is great). Sign up for my mailing list for an entry to get a free Kindle version of X, Y, and Z! Grand prize winner gets a christmas ham! (Or at least a $10 amazon gift card.) This used to be easy to do with Rafflecopter, but Rafflecopter has made the mailing list entry a premium function now. You have to pay them all your money to get access to it, so I don't know an easy way to do this anymore.

#4 - Blog tours and facebook flash tours with mini-giveaways run by the bloggers. They tend to have their own pro Rafflecopter accounts and run them for you. Blog tours are useless for sales, but I've had a lot of luck using them to get mailing list signups. My record was ~250 signups in a three-day tour. I don't recommend it for sales, but it was great for signups. Efficacy TBD on it, though (are they good signups?), because my most recent release was an experimental serial in a different genre of romance from my usual writing. My turnout has been pretty bad from my mailing list so far, but it could just as easily be that everyone on my list loving hates the idea. I'll see how it goes on my next release.

#5 - Mailing list swaps when you have new releases. Find others in your genre with a release coming up, and make a deal where they'll promo your release and you'll promo theirs. (My friend has an awesome new book she's just released, and since it's on sale I wanted to let you all know about it! Also, her book _______ is free if you sign up for her mailing list and OMG YOU'LL LOVE IT so go do it right now!) This is pretty effective, but it works best with similar genres / authors and larger mailing lists. If you're trying to grow a baby list, it may be hard to get anyone with a mailing list worth swapping with to pay attention to you. (If your list is 40 people and hers is 1,800, she doesn't have much to gain from you.)


quote:

Very good points. And the more I think about it... most of the retweets or replies are from other writers. drat this game.

Targeted tweets can work, but standard tweets to your followers are generally useless. Facebook is less effective than it used to be due to visibility changes. The best is still e-mail lists, sadly. Also, never ever advertise on any site that is focused on authors / publishing. Everyone who reads it is a writer, and none of them are your readers.

Sundae fucked around with this message at Jun 6, 2014 around 01:11

Grammaton
Feb 3, 2004
Cleric

Edit: post removed since my cover and blurb are still works in progress. Thanks for the feedback.

Grammaton fucked around with this message at Jun 10, 2014 around 00:33

moana
Jun 18, 2005

one of the more intellectual satire communities on the web


Do you give a poo poo about selling your book or not? It doesn't look like you give a poo poo. What advice do you want, other than "maybe start giving a poo poo about selling your book"?

ravenkult
Feb 3, 2011


Abusing the selfpub thread again with my small press stuff.

I just put out this thriller/crime novel. Amazon page looks a bit bare now, but working on getting some reviews and quotes.

Gina French is not a Waste of Roofies



After escaping a sexual assault, Gina French is outraged by the lack of sympathy and when a questionable opportunity falls into her lap—one that could both turn things around and prove everyone wrong—she takes it.
As she chain-smokes her way through the paranoia and fear of the inevitable violence, those she’s left behind wonder who the real Gina French is: a tragic single mother desperate to shortcut her way to a better life—or a bitter, self-serving narcissistic bitch?

EngineerSean
Feb 9, 2004

by zen death robot


I can't imagine writing 100,000 words and then skimping on the cover, then spending sixty seconds writing the blurb. What does Amissaric even mean?

ravenkult
Feb 3, 2011


Every time I see a bad cover on this thread I want to take 10 minutes and make a passable one for them, but and also I gotta make a living.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

Wheeeeeee!



Grammaton posted:

Writing your book is the easy part. Selling it is the pain in the rear end.

I went ahead and published my first book to Amazon KDP Select. It's sci-fi with elements of fantasy. I did the cover myself so it's not that good. If a single copy sells I'll probably poo poo my pants. I'm very open to critique. http://www.amazon.com/Amissaric-Jam...02071963&sr=1-1



The OP posted:

2) ...do an intentionally half-assed job on your story/blurb/cover/etc and then complain that it didn't sell.


quote:

I'm very open to critique.

Suggestion: Keep clicking this next thumbnail over and over until the blinking text is burned into your brain forever.




Your blurb is pretty mediocre (I've seen worse, but it's not good at all), and the cover is absolutely atrocious. You're missing almost everything that actually sells your book.

Ghostwoods
May 9, 2013

Say "Cheese!"


Grammaton posted:

I'm very open to critique.

Initial impressions from the sample are that you've got a LOT of exposition there weighing things down. Probably the most common error on self-pub stuff. It generally requires a shift in thinking to start to fix, and then a whole heap of rewriting.

The cover is horrible, but you know that already. The title is also pretty horrible -- people are going to look at it, blink, and move on to something less random. The blurb doesn't really work, either -- it's OK, but it doesn't draw me in. Generally speaking, blurbs should reflect what's going on at the end of Act 1, when the protag knows who s/he is, and is just coming to understand what a huge heap of poo poo s/he has landed in.

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Grammaton
Feb 3, 2004
Cleric

I appreciate all the feedback. Seems I jumped in half-assed. Let this be a lesson for how not to do it.

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