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Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo




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 07:08 on Nov 21, 2016

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Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Reserved for more content.


HOW TO NOT EARN A DIME FROM YOUR HARD WORK: (Start here for the full details: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3639693&pagenumber=90&perpage=40#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 15:44 on Jul 18, 2016

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


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.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


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.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


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.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


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 01:11 on Jun 6, 2014

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


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-James-Hight-ebook/dp/B00KT0P4ES/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1402071963&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.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


The book could be great for all I know. I'll never read it to find out with that blurb and cover, though. Go back to the drawing board, take those questions in the OP, and redo the blurb and cover [and title, IMO] based on that.

Pull the book once you've answered those, use them to design a cover/blurb, republish under a new ASIN and give it a freebie drive in Select. Or even better, post the cover and blurb here and let us dig into them first.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Sales always diminish over time, especially for older or shorter titles. Constant production is key for any genre.

I'm not seeing anything particularly unusual about sales over the last two months. They haven't been great for me, sales-wise, but it's not like the floor fell out or anything.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


What is your cover supposed to be? All I see is an extremely low resolution burst of something. Also, it's still terrible.

What the gently caress is this poo poo? posted:

Amissaric I assume this is a person? screws up during shield corps training. He screws up badly enough to be sentenced to death. Good thing for him the Marshal of Kettrium Is that a country? needs subjects to test a magical - or highly technological - alien device.Which is it? Sci-fi or Fantasy? It could give his people the edge they need against the WaveThe what? massing on Kettrium's borders to invade. Hang on... he's a test subject for it, but what people? His people? Are those the same as the Marshal's people? Why does this sentence even exist? Who IS HE? Also, why is the Wave capitalized?

Amissaric puts his hands on the cold, shimmering stave What staff? Is that the device? Stave out of nowhere.. Vivid dreams and lucid thoughsThis typo is the least of your problems come to his mind Do they now? That's nice. Why do I care?. He discovers something in the device. Or is it in his mind? A blue light -- mysterious, flitting about. He coaxes it closer, binds with it. It changes him, unleashes something troubling... something powerful. You just wasted a trillion words on NOTHING. You said absolutely NOTHING until the final sentence!

Flung into enemy captivityHow? Why? Where? Huh?, he begins a journey across the Southern Ring of the planet? Gevda. He encounters new cultures. Bizarre cults. Provinces and cities he never knew existed outside insular Kettrium.

And he comes to meet his enemy: the UltimateThe Ultimate what? itself.


Your blurb is still completely incomprehensible. Want to give us a rundown of what your book is really about, and maybe one of us could take a crack at it?

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Grammaton posted:

OK I can't win.

Nope, if you aren't willing to engage and learn from people, you indeed cannot win.

A better suggestion would be to spend ten minutes writing up an explanation of your story for us. I seriously was going to write you a starter blurb once you did that. Once that happened, everyone else would rip into it and you'd end up with something relatively awesome coming out the other side.

Right now, we can't give you feedback other than "it's crap" because that's all we have to work with and that's all it really is. We know it's sci-fi, but that's about it. Hard to help without more info, other than to point out that what you're currently doing doesn't work.

Or we could just applaud your creative genius and send you on your merry way, and watch as your book's rank sinks into the 1.3M range. Your call, I guess!

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


EngineerSean posted:

i haven't been using booksends (same thing, right?) ever since they started requiring my company to buy onto the bestseller list rather than the romance list. i feel that the ROI is negative for it at the $225 they charge for that. i'd contact them but if they say anything about thir bestseller list, walk away.

Agreed with this. Every time I try to list with them now, they want me in their bestsellers list (laughable - I'm only a bestseller in the sense that I put the word "BESTSELLING" in my blurbs). Way, way too expensive to justify, and the efficacy just isn't there. It's okay for an expensive last push in the same way that Kindle Nation Daily is, but with their new pricing, you're not going to turn a profit with it.

Their bestseller list used to be $100, which made the $0.99 breakpoint much more reasonable. You could reasonably expect to sell 286 copies through it at $0.99. You are not going to sell 642, though.

I can't speak for their other lists beyond romance, but the base romance list is still worth it.

Sundae fucked around with this message at 16:08 on Jun 10, 2014

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


I have no idea for anything outside romance, I'm afraid. Bookbub is definitely great for pretty much everything. Possibly KND (not cost-effective) and KFD (usually not cost-effective), but I neither read nor write horror, so my input's basically worthless.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Making a minor edit to the OP under the WHO SHOULD POST section. Just realized that it totally cuts amateurs looking to get into self-pubbing and new writers out.

I'd warn against mixing sci-fi and fantasy unless you're really good at it. It muddies the waters and can get really weird really quickly. I don't know if it was just me, but I read Anne McCaffrey's Pern series when I was a kid and remember being turned off by the sudden switch from dragons to genetic engineering + spaceships + super-intelligent computers 2/3 of the way through the series.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Faded Mars posted:

Shocking development: Smashwords, years behind the competition, finally offers daily sales reports for several of its expanded distribution channels!

Please tell me Diesel is one of them. Please please please!

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


No, still not worth it. The reason I was hoping for Diesel is that Diesel closed months ago.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Grammaton, I took a stab at an alternate blurb. There are some gaps where I don't know your plot, and given I haven't read it, the entire thing could be wrong.

After posted:

The nation of Kettrium faces annihilation as a vast invading army masses on its border. The key to their survival lies in the hands of Amissaric, a soldier tasked with learning the secrets of the [NAME OF IT], an [ancient?] alien talisman that defies the laws of physics.

When Amissaric touches the [NAME OF IT], a strange presence inside it merges with his mind and grants him powers like nothing the world has seen before. The power inside him slaughters his enemies without even raising a hand and [something else... makes him smoothies? Protects him from harm? Turns him into the super-soldier Kettrium needs?], but with Amissaric's new-found powers comes grave danger. A relentless [evil?] from before time called The Ultimate controls the invading forces and seeks the same talisman that granted Amissaric his powers. With the [NAME OF IT] in its clutches, The Ultimate could finally break free from its prison and unleash its full power to [plunge the universe into darkness? make a great apple pie?].

[So what's the decision point here? What does Amissaric have to do? I don't believe the book's choice really comes down to "give it to him or say no." Does he have to destroy the talisman? Lead the troops to war against The Ultimate? You need one more sentence or short paragraph here to call out the action.]


Anyone else want to take a crack at putting some polish on this version? It's a 10-min job and could use some work.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Yooper posted:

That is perfect! Saves me some calculator mashing. That's almost opworthy if Play becomes more popular.

I'll absolutely add it tonight. I'm going to add in a table someone gave me with how to price for VAT taxes in EU/UK as well, throw it all into the second post.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Also, keep an eye on MightyDeals.com because DepositPhotos tends to run an Image Pack deal there every 2-3 months. $99.99 for 100 images, any resolution you want. Fantastic deal for getting all your cover images at once.

Edit: Check the 2nd post. Psychopomp's post plus a USA-specific pricing table are now in it.

Sundae fucked around with this message at 23:58 on Jun 17, 2014

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


I suspect that was either a goof by the original author of it or maybe it's taxed differently in her country. You're right - for USA people, that's not accurate whatsoever.

I'll remove that graph and fix it up before reposting. Good catch!

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Yeah, they had the correct UK prices for taxes. (The table was from Helena, by the way.) I'll correct it tonight. I ended up writing all last night and didn't get a chance.

Started out with about 2,000 words in a partial chapter, wrote 1,500 more, ended up with 1,429 total words at the end.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Grammaton posted:

How many of you self-publish but also seek a literary agent for traditional publishing? Will an agent be soured by the fact that I self-published?

I can't speak for other genres, but in romance, there has been a wave of publishers snapping up print / sequel rights to top-selling self-pubbed novels over the last few years. Sara Fawkes, Jessica Sorensen, Colleen Hoover and Jamie McGuire come to mind right off the top of my head. Moana had an offer as well.

Some agents may shy away from trying to sell a previously self-published book (unless it was a super hit), but nobody's going to shy away from self-pubbers in general in this day and age. Several of my acquaintances self-publish and also publish different books through Harlequin.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Buy two £0.99 e-books!


Speaking of royalties, hooray for royalty week! This is like my favorite week of the month because it always comes right when I'm pissed off at my day job about 1/2-way through the month, and it reminds me that I only have about a year left until freedom.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Yooper posted:

Thanks for the feedback guys! I've done a bit of modifying. The opening paragraph should flow better while also adding more background.


quote:

Across light years, exiles from Earth rise up and fight to make the stars their own. What Earth once discarded is now returning now returns with a vengeance. Hundreds of colonies find themselves caught between the advancing hordes and the whims of Earth. Last sentence could use a little work. Whims of earth doesn't do it for me. If you're going for Earth not caring about them or something, you can do better than whims.

Lieutenant William Grace, survivor of the genocide on the colony Farshore, must fight for the Navy that once destroyed his home. The goods news is that he has a cutting-edge starship, a platoon of powered armor what?, and a crew to make it all happen. The bad news is that they face human-machine constructs, armies of combat robots, a technologically advanced foe, and William has a Commanding Officer who distrusts him for his birthplace. I think you could summarize the good/bad a bit more instead of 3-4 items per list. Just my thoughts, though. Ignore me if you like.

The Sa’Ami are coming, and with them comes a veil of tyranny unlike anything ever seen before.

This is a full length military science fiction space opera, 100,000 words. It can be read as a standalone, or as part of the series A Star Too Far.

Made a few changes. Not bad!

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


ArchangeI posted:

What's the issue with powered armor?

I could've worded that better. I meant "what is it?" I honestly have no idea.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


ArchangeI posted:

Well Mechwarrior is mainly giant robots (:sperg:). But yeah, it's a sci-fi staple, which was why it surprised me. The average sci-fi reader probably knows the term.

Oh, gotcha. If sci-fi readers will know it, great. My sci-fi preferences tended toward Ursula K. Le Guin, so I am extremely out of date and definitely not worth listening to regarding that genre.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


I like the D2D rep answer in that thread.

quote:

People keep asking when we are going to add Google Play as a sales channel and this policy is exactly why we don't.


You know, poo poo like this is why I get so frustrated with the industry. I'm sitting here as an author begging other distributors to get their heads out of their asses and take a portion of my sales money. Please, for the love of GOD, sell my book and make money off of it... and yet they can't get out of their own way and shoot themselves in the feet non-stop. I am a tiny little minnow in self-publishing and will probably make between $60K-80K off of Amazon this year. That's still about $20K at the low end to the company after royalty splits, and yet nobody can/is willing to compete.

I don't like Amazon. I mean, I love that they sell my books and make me plenty of money, but as a corporate entity, I do not like Amazon. I would be all over any upstart, even if they didn't make me much cash, that had a viable business model and was reasonably honest.

Instead we get B&N emulating their brick and mortar stores, Apple being Apple, Google lying out its rear end, Kobo banning the entirety of all self-pubs for a while and still not having keywords, and an extortionist pirate site pretending to be legitimate. Amazon comes out seeming just spiffy compared to that.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Bobby Deluxe posted:

Which would be difficult to start up, since any new erotica site would probably be listed lower than literotica and the numerous free story sites. But people still seem to want to pay.

In other news I've been stalled for a week now trying to think up a title that isn't already taken

Actually, the biggest issue you'd run into, trying to start one up, is that most of the major (trustworthy) online payment systems that your customer-base uses will reject adult-oriented sites or withhold payment to you if they find out you're running one. An acquaintance ran into exactly this issue trying to start up his own site to get away from Amazon. Nobody would let him use their payment systems.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


You might want to look at AbsoluteWrite. It's mostly a shithole, but it's a major gathering place for writers, so maybe you'll get something out of it.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


EngineerSean posted:

I wanted to reply to this again and say that I had to use this because it was the last piece of paid promo that I hadn't used for a book I really wanted to succeed, and it was a huge letdown. Delta(Copies Sold) between July 3/4 and July 5 was less than 10%, what a waste of money.

In good news, Pub Yourself Press is pubbin' along.

Glad that PYP is working out well for you. Got any new ones coming along? I saw your first two went pretty nicely.


Has anyone tried BookGorilla yet? I've been avoiding it so far due to it being run by the KND people. I dislike KND's extremely dishonest claims of efficacy that they base purely on rank / % growth with the unstated assumption that they were the only scheduled promo for your book. (AKA, if you start out at 100,000 and go to rank 1,000 after booking with KND, KFD, and BookSends, KND will list your book on their sheet and claim, to other potential clients, that they gave you a 10,000% improvement in rank through their service, no matter how many sales you get through them.)

However, if it works, I'd be up for it. Not everything gets a Bookbub.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


So, what're people reading these days? Anything interesting or awesome?

I wanted to see how the New Adult subject matter could mix with fantasy, and I gave "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman a shot. Honestly, didn't like it and apparently neither did a lot of people who weren't sure what the book was supposed to be. People who wanted fantasy felt that it fell short there and ended miserably, and people who wanted NA fiction felt that it hadn't focused enough on the angsty angst.

I kind of agree with them - it tries to thread the needle and just doesn't work.

I'm currently working through "Maybe Someday" by Colleen Hoover. Standard NA romance, reading it mainly because Colleen is an extremely popular author who seems to hit all the right notes with her audience. So far, it's about what I'd expect.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


moana posted:

Really? I loved the Magicians and the sequel to it, I thought it did a great job at hooking me even with a completely irredeemable main character. Quentin is perfectly flawed in the same way I was back when I was an overachieving high school kid, and I loved the meta-narrative he has running through his head with references to Narnia and Harry Potter whenever something "magical" happens to him. But I can see how people wouldn't like it, and I do wish there had been some more original fantasy elements. It was a dark, adult Harry Potter with a dick for a main character. He grows a lot over the course of the book, but never redeems himself, at least not in the two books in the series I read. I would think most NA fans would hate that sort of unfinished character arc. I loved it, because hey, some people are just dicks no matter what they go through.

The problem with giving it any 'original' fantasy elements is that the character was supposed to be kind of an overgrown man-baby/flawed teenage hero, and everything being vaguely Harry Potter / Narnia / Alice in Wonderland plays into him always clinging to childish fantasies and ignoring that even fantasy real worlds don't work that way.

The bitter, dark feel to it definitely worked; it took the fantasy thing and combined it with the real world HS / college mentality pretty well (for the most part), plus the post-college malaise when people start to realize that jack poo poo from college actually mattered and "okay, now what? I'm a loving wizard and it doesn't mean poo poo."

I think the problem I had with it was that I went in with a partial belief that it was going to be a Fantasy NA instead of a NA novel about fantasies, basically using a semi-fantasy world as a means of telling a real world story. Then on top of that, the character is (as you mentioned), a dick. Realistic? Yep! Not sure if it was a good decision, though. I have not read any of the sequels, so I can't speak for if it changes as it moves on.


quote:

Also, there's totally bestiality in it and it weirded me out, especially since Amazon makes a big deal out of blocking that poo poo so I did not expect that scene when it came. But I guess if it's Lev Grossman, it's okay? Blech.

Yeaaaah, that arctic fox thing was something special.

quote:

And I got a free trial copy of Beautiful Oblivion, which is fun and light and has nothing at all happening except NA drama, so if you want a good reference for how to do NA drama well, I'd recommend it.

I'll definitely see if I can grab a copy of that. Jamie McGuire has never been my cup of tea, but I can't fault her success. Also, I really did like Red Hill. Kind of a shame it never took off like her others did, and it's probably due to mixing incompatible genres. (On the other hand... sure didn't seem to stop Warm Bodies.)



quote:

This - this is what I'm talking about. When you consider the amount of work current publishers expect an author to do, regarding marketing, promoting, etc, what's the point of trad publishing?

VVVVVVVV If you ask me, the only point is if it's a format that doesn't work well in eBook. Children's books aren't there yet. Large format books, things heavily reliant on nifty tricks, etc. (House of Leaves, for example -- half the fun is the typesetting and page design.) Things like those really do lose something in the conversion to ebooks.

Sundae fucked around with this message at 18:29 on Jul 10, 2014

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


ArchangeI posted:

I will say this for trad published authors: They probably never fret about not having sold any/enough copies in the first 8 hours of release because they simply don't get that data. Incidentally, I have just released my first work on a new pen name. How do you guys deal with post-release anxiety?

Try post-release celebratory beer.

You could also spend the next eight hours promoting the release to genre-appropriate facebook pages, mailing lists, bloggers who are willing to leave reviews on Amazon, Goodreads discussion groups, etc.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Grizzled Patriarch posted:

How do you guys handle backmatter? I know some self-pub platforms have different rules about it, but in general what should I aim to include? I don't want to clutter it up and look like I'm just shilling, but I also don't want to lose potential sales.

Links to your author page for each platform seems obvious, but what else? Do people put excerpts from other works? Links to blogs / facebook / twitter?


edit: ^ How to you go about advertising on genre-specific facebook pages? I always figured it would be considered bad form to show up on another author's page and advertise your own work. Or do you mean something more generic, like just a page for fans of fantasy novels or something?


I'm still optimizing my backmatter because I sucked at it when I started (and all my early books have lovely backmatter as a result), but basically, here's the deal:

The first thing the reader sees when they're done with a book of mine is a link to sign up for my mailing list, which will give them a free copy of a different one of my books as a sign-up reward. This drives sign-ups wonderfully.

Next, a line telling them to turn the page for a sneak preview of [a related book that I think would match their interests].

When they flip the page, they get the cover image (if available), and then the first chapter of the related book.

At the end of the first chapter, another mailing list sign-up. Wording varies. (Want to be the first to know when this book's available? Sign up! Want to be the first to know about all Sundae's newest releases? Sign up!)

Next page is about the author, a link to my facebook page and blog, AuthorCentral, and (you guessed it) another mailing list link.

Next page is a list of all my books.


quote:

edit: ^ How to you go about advertising on genre-specific facebook pages? I always figured it would be considered bad form to show up on another author's page and advertise your own work. Or do you mean something more generic, like just a page for fans of fantasy novels or something?

There are a few ways you could go with this, but spamming pages is the one thing you probably shouldn't do.

Option 1: Go look at the active fans on a facebook page for an author who shares your fanbase. Not just same genre, but someone whose fans would like your book. Send messages to active people posting on the page, act like a human, talk about how you write in the same genre as (whoever) and contacted them because you thought they'd be interested in your newest release, and link to the book and offer a free copy in exchange for a review. If they don't answer, don't bug.

Option 2: Genre-specific pages, message the page hosts and let them know, ask if they'd be willing to post a release message for your new book, and also offer a free ARC to the page owner. EBooks are cheap/free, so it can't hurt.

Option 1 tends to get you reviews, quality TBD depending on the reader and how good your book is. Option 2 tends to get you a posted message on the page (efficacy undetermined thanks to the algo changes on Facebook for visibility), and maybe you get a nice review out of the deal.

And then when you get enough reviews, to the bookbubmobile!

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Yeah, EngineerSean is a major class act and is well worth your time to work with. I can definitely vouch for him on that.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


jazzyjay posted:

This thread has inspired me quit waiting four months to hear back from trad publishers and try the selfpub route, so thanks to everyone who has contributed.

With that in mind, and taking in the OP advice to heart that your blurb/cover is 50% of the ballgame, here's my cover and blurb. Any and all feedback is gratefully appreciated.


JazzyJay - what genre would you put yours into? It could go several directions from the blurb. While I like the 'grit' of the cover, I honestly don't think the monkey works. That being said, I don't think you have to go toward the sexy hero either (unless you're in romance, which your blurb certainly doesn't imply).

What's the feeling / genre to your book? Horror? Historical magical realism? Etc. It'll change your style.

If you can answer the set of pre-marketing questions in the OP, we can probably help you a bit more.

Edit: Congratulations on finishing a book, too!

Sundae fucked around with this message at 14:53 on Jul 17, 2014

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


On Kindle Unlimited...

quote:

Make your books easier to find with Kindle Unlimited
Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service currently available to customers in the U.S. With Kindle Unlimited, customers can read as many books as they like and keep them as long as they want for a monthly subscription fee. Any customer can subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. They don't need to be Amazon Prime members, they simply need to pay the subscription fee.

If you have a book enrolled in KDP Select, it will automatically be enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. It will also remain enrolled in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which is currently available to Amazon Prime customers in the U.S., UK, Germany, France, and Japan.

In order to be eligible to be included in Kindle Unlimited you must meet the KDP Select requirements and enroll your book in KDP Select. Learn how to enroll.

If you do not want your book(s) in Kindle Unlimited, you have the option to immediately remove your book from KDP Select. To do so, please include the ASIN for your book when you complete this Contact Us form. We will remove your book from KDPS right away and contact you to confirm.

How customers get your book
When customers subscribe to Kindle Unlimited and search Amazon.com for Kindle books, they will see a badge next to your KDP-Select-enrolled book indicating that the book is available in Kindle Unlimited. They can also visit the Kindle Unlimited page and see available books there.

Once a customer reads more than 10% of your book, or a Kindle Owners' Lending Library customer downloads your book, you'll receive a share of the KDP Select Global Fund.


So to recap:
#1 - Must be in Select
#2 - If you are in Select, you must be on Kindle Unlimited.
#3 - More than 10% counts as a borrow, not a sale.
#4 - No indication of its impact on your sales rank / algos.
#5 - USA only



If you use a Select "Free" drive, your book will not be available in Kindle Unlimited for the duration of the drive. No borrow revenue applies to Free books through Unlimited.


EDIT: THIS POST IS WRONG. YOUR BOOK REMAINS IN KU DURING THE FREE DRIVE.

Sundae fucked around with this message at 00:14 on Nov 4, 2014

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


The question I have is how strongly it'll dilute the value of borrows. The borrows pay out of a single global fund, so an enormous spike in total borrows due to people going through tons of books would drive down individual borrow royalties.

I've never had a lot of borrows, really, and this has been a pretty good month for me so far at 114 borrows to approx 1,500 sales. Borrow dilution won't mean much to me because I hardly make a dime off of it in the first place. However, I'm acquainted with an author who literally took in more than 1% of the entire Kindle borrow total last year. A dilution on borrows of that size would be huge.

Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


Big publishers put book ads on the Long Island Railroad and NYC subway platforms as well. Decent exposure given the commute conditions, but I suspect the efficacy is just as bad as you'd expect.

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Sundae
Dec 1, 2005

by sebmojo


I can't help but think that television ads would completely fail for books. I could be wrong, but I just don't see it working.

It's like book trailers: why would you market written word to the sort of audience that goes to Youtube to watch things? "Hey, I wrote a book. Let me advertise it to the vanishingly-small segment of customers who like to read but who prefer to find out about their books through movie format and search for ads on youtube."


I'm gonna advertise my next romance on the jumbotron at the superbowl during the halftime show, then go for a NASCAR sponsorship and paint my book cover on a car for an extra 500 miles of exposure.

Sundae fucked around with this message at 15:16 on Jul 19, 2014

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