Have a Spooky Good Day :-)

20141026_173557

How do you tell your daughter that she can’t be Mario for Halloween? Easy answer is don’t… (Turned her mustache into a smile.)

Though in retrospect, maybe she needs to limit her video game time a bit… (She’s even writing a Mario book. She actually took paper and bound it together, has a title page and everything.)

You have Talent!

Talent

TALENT

You have talent. Yes, you do.

Pick an art, sport, trade, or career that you enjoy.

Think of the people who really excel and thrive at it.

They have talent, right?

Then look at yourself.

You may have passion. You may have hope. You may have potential.

But you may not see your own talent in that same light.

Why not?

Because you’re comparing yourself to people who have developed their talents, who were motivated to succeed, who were confident that their hard work would pay off, who continued to work hard even when the chips were down.

But you know what?

Those talented individuals have weaknesses, too.

And in the early days, their talents weren’t as obvious, since they weren’t as developed.

And their weaknesses stood out more.

Not much different than you are now.

Which is exactly what you need to realize.

You have talent.

You need someone to tell you that you have talent.

Well, I’m telling you.

What you really need is to believe it yourself.

Because if one of the Talented looked at you and told you that you had talent, you would suddenly be highly motivated.

You would know that you were on the right path, that if you just worked hard, you would succeed.

But you doubt yourself.

Because none of the Talented even know that you exist.

You’re afraid.

You don’t want to waste several years working hard, when in the end it may never pay off.

That doubt and fear are obstacles to your motivation. They impede your success.

Do you know why the Talented don’t seek you out and tell you that you’re one of them?

Because you haven’t yet developed your talent, and because your weaknesses still stand out.

Don’t see yourself just as you are now.

Don’t see yourself failing.

See yourself evolving into one of the Talented.

Tell yourself that you do have talent. That it is worthwhile. That you’re on the right path.

Be confident that you can become one of the Talented.

Motivate yourself.

Work hard to develop your talents.

Work hard to improve your weaknesses.

And then you will become one of the Talented.

Confidence and motivation go a long way.

But doubt won’t stand aside and let you coast to victory.

Nope. Doubt will be waiting patiently.

For your weakest moments.

Then it will pounce on you. It will team up with fear.

You need to know that this ambush is coming.

Prepare for it. Be strong. Let your confidence and determination shine through it.

Laugh doubt and fear in the face.

You can do it.

You have talent.

Much of your competition has talent, too.

But many will try half-heartedly or not at all because they doubt themselves.

And many will fall from the path because they also must battle fear and doubt.

You must stay confident, motivated, determined. These are your weapons.

It won’t be easy.

You have to work for it. Hard. Very hard.

Preparation. Planning. Practice. Patience. Perseverance.

All the hard work makes the success taste so much sweeter.

Just remember, you have talent. You can do it.

View a positive outcome and work toward it.

Never give up.

Prove the naysayers wrong.

Prove yourself.

Read Tuesday

Imagine a Black Friday type of event just for book lovers.

You don’t have to imagine it. It’s called Read Tuesday, and it’s free: www.readtuesday.com.

Please support the Read Tuesday Thunderclap. This will help spread awareness on the morning of Read Tuesday (December 9, 2014). It’s easy to help:

  • Visit http://thndr.it/1CkO2Bg.
  • Click Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr and sign in.
  • Customize the message. (Optional.)
  • Agree to the terms. All that will happen is that the Thunderclap post about Read Tuesday will go out the morning of December 9.
  • (The warning message simply means that Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr need your permission to post the Thunderclap message on December 9. This is the only post that Thunderclap will make.)

Halloween Reading

Looking for some spooky books to read this Halloween month?

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/scary-books

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • Boxed set (of 4 books) now available for Kindle pre-order

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

Click here to jump to the comments section:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/you-have-talent/#comments

Thank You, Thank You :-)

3000

SO AMAZING!

It’s hard to believe, and I owe it all to you. Yes, you:

I checked my WordPress stats, and was elated to find:

  • 3,000 followers
  • 65,000 views
  • 610 posts
  • 5,000 comments
  • 170 countries
  • 159 search terms (today)
  • 699 posts in the self-publishing category
  • 11 clicks to Amazon and 8 clicks to KDP.Amazon (today)
  • and many other wonderful numbers

Technically, I have 3,492 followers, although I only have 3,029 WordPress followers.

You see, there is a little secret: Your Facebook and Twitter followers, if you associate these accounts to your WordPress blog, count as part of your following.

I was late to the social media game, so most of my followers are at WordPress. My 106 Facebook author page likes and 357 Twitter followers are the reason WordPress advertises that I have 3,492 followers on my blog site.

I’m glad to see that WordPress displays the actual number of site views on my webpage with the corresponding widget. (I tried another website once and it actually ASKED me what I wanted the initial number of views to be. Well, I guess we can’t believe everything we read on the internet…)

NOT THE WAY IT STARTED

The following graph tells the story:

Views

The first year was ZILCH.

The second year saw a little activity.

It started out really slow, like virtually all other blogs.

Think you had a rough start? Mine may have been even rougher:

  • I registered for WordPress and made my “Hello, World” post on May 8, 2011.
  • To date, that post still has 0 likes and 0 comments. It had just a few views. Ever. Even now.
  • I made my second post on December 14, 2012—a year and a half later.
  • My second post has 5 likes, but at least it generated some views at the time.

I went 1.5 years without a single Like. Yep, it was a slow start.

I dipped my toe in the WordPress water in 2011, and came back with an actual plan at the end of 2012.

What was my plan?

  • Provide free help to other authors and self-publishers.
  • Motivate and encourage other authors.
  • Become effective at marketing and serve as an example to other authors that it’s possible to embrace this and do it effectively.
  • Enjoy writing articles on my blog and have fun with it.

The best parts were unexpected:

  • The interaction here at WordPress is amazing.
  • The community here at WordPress is incredible.
  • I never expected to make such wonderful connections.
  • I have come to love writing for my blog even more than writing books. (Shh.) (Don’t worry. I’ll keep writing books, too.)

Blogging can start out exceptionally s-l-o-w. But it has much potential to accelerate.

Don’t focus on your numbers now. See if you can grow your numbers over time. Play the long game.

If you can grow your numbers over time, your blog has much potential.

Likes and follows are absolutely wonderful, but there is another number you need to focus on.

How many visitors come to your website per day, on average, via search engines?

I had 375 views today. 243 of those are from search engines.

In the early days (2013), I just had a few views per day, a few likes per post, a few followers. But a couple of my posts were generating traffic through search engines.

My search engine stats steadily grew. Still, as you can see in the graph above, it started very slow and took much time to grow.

If you can get any search engine traffic and gradually build on this number, you have much potential to transform your blog into a content-rich website.

Your blog has three goals when it comes to marketing. Likes and follows only relate to two of those goals.

  • The people you interact with regularly often support your posts with likes and comments. The support is amazing, and this interaction makes your blog feel lively. But don’t sweat it in the early days of your blog when you aren’t getting much interaction. This will come, especially depending on you—make valuable contributions to the community.
  • Your followers include active followers and ghosts. It can be demoralizing to realize this. Your following is less than you’d like, and only a fraction of that is active. But don’t let that bother you. It’s growing, so it has much potential. Your following helps to support you when you release a new book. Perhaps not through sales, but perhaps through reblogs and branding.
  • Search engine traffic can net you the most sales of all. If you get 100’s of visitors per day from your target audience exploring content on your website, these are people who didn’t already know about your book(s) with whom you are suddenly getting exposure.

Blogging is hard work, but it’s fun.

Blogging starts out very slow, but can become an effective content-rich website over time.

Blogging is amazing because of the WordPress community.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, EVERYONE. That means you, too. Yes, you.

If you haven’t yet reached as many views and followers as I have, I hope you get there soon. You will. Don’t give up.

And if you’ve reached many more views and followers than I have, wow. That’s amazing! congratulations! Way to go!

No matter what, YOU are wonderful. Thank you for being part of WordPress.

Read Tuesday

Imagine a Black Friday type of event just for book lovers.

You don’t have to imagine it. It’s called Read Tuesday, and it’s free: www.readtuesday.com.

Please support the Read Tuesday Thunderclap. This will help spread awareness on the morning of Read Tuesday (December 9, 2014). It’s easy to help:

  • Visit http://thndr.it/1CkO2Bg.
  • Click Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr and sign in.
  • Customize the message. (Optional.)
  • Agree to the terms. All that will happen is that the Thunderclap post about Read Tuesday will go out the morning of December 9.
  • (The warning message simply means that Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr need your permission to post the Thunderclap message on December 9. This is the only post that Thunderclap will make.)

Halloween Reading

Looking for some spooky books to read this Halloween month?

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/scary-books

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • Boxed set (of 4 books) now available for Kindle pre-order

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

Click here to jump to the comments section:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/marketing-with-a-blog/#comments

The Super Secret Trick To Improving Your #Writing #WritingTips #AmReading

Must agree, reading is the way to better writing. 🙂

POTL: All Things Books, Reading and Publishing

Read

Want to know the super duper secret to writing captivating stories? Psst, it’s reading. Reading books, both good and bad, is the easiest way to improve your writing.

Read the quote above and let it sink in.

“Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master.”

Who are some of your favorite authors? Some of mine include Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dan Brown, Jude Deveraux, Jane Austen and even Stephen King. Each of these authors has mastered the art of storytelling in their own way. I can’t tell you how often I have gone back to re-read their stories searching for answers to my writing questions.

I have a confession to make. I am suffering from an immense case of writer’s block. I have tried to work through it but I only write crap. I have shelved my WIP (work in progress)…

View original post 188 more words

Publishing a Boxed Set

Omnibus

BOXED SET

A new trend in self-publishing is to create a boxed set.

The appeal is to offer added content at improved value:

  • More books for the buck.
  • Could include bonus content, too.

The hope is to gain more than you lose by offering the set at a reduced price:

  • Sell more books. Lose the risk of customers buying just one book.
  • Lure more readers. The boxed set value may attract new customers.
  • Gift potential, too. Boxed sets can make for nice gifts. (You could even add a decorative holiday bow to the thumbnail for the holidays.)

There are risks:

  • You might not reap the benefits that you’re hoping for.
  • The sales ranks of the individual volumes may plummet if the boxed set takes off.
  • If you already have many reviews and stable sales ranks with the individual volumes, realize that you’re basically starting over with the boxed set.
  • The file size of the boxed set may be huge, adding download time for customers and a delivery charge for authors.

(It sure would help if Amazon would create a boxed set option for series. Amazon could create a discount option for customers who buy the entire series. This would alleviate the need to create a special boxed set edition. This way, the individual sales ranks wouldn’t tank at the expense of the boxed set. Customers may also find it convenient to have separate books instead of one mammoth file. Perhaps more authors and readers need to send requests to KDP support.)

FORMATTING

If you want to create a boxed set, you’ll have to format it.

In print, it won’t be easy to create a boxed set with an actual box. You probably won’t find a print-on-demand service that offers this option. You can order author copies of individual volumes, box them up yourself, and sell them at Amazon through Advantage. But then you need to design and order boxes, which cost money, and Advantage takes a significant commission from the sale. It may not be economical to try this.

Lightning Source offers (or at least they did—you might want to submit an inquiry) a boxed set option, but they simply shrinkwrap your books together—there isn’t an actual box.

An alternative is to combine all the volumes into one mammoth paperback. This won’t be feasible if you have an epic fantasy where each volume already has several hundred pages.

At CreateSpace, for example, you can have up to 828 pages on white paper (less in cream), but only in selected trim sizes. 7″ x 10″ or 7.5″ x 9.25″ accommodate up to 828 pages (or 740 pages if you choose cream). If you have a color interior, it’s even less (480 in most trim sizes).

You may want to increase the page size. For example, if your individual volumes are 5″ x 8″, you can reduce the overall page count for the omnibus by using a significantly larger trim size.

But if you choose the largest trim size, 8.5″ x 11″, you can only go up to 630 pages.

Here are some things you can play with to help reduce the overall page count:

  • Smaller font size. (Or different font style.)
  • Narrower margins.
  • Increased trim size. (But note the maximum page count for the trim size.)
  • Less leading (space between lines).
  • Consolidate front and back matter, especially material that’s repeated.
  • Reformat the page header or page numbers, and the space between these and the body text, to make more room for the body text.
  • Remove any repeated images. Reduce the size of images.

Note: If you have manual hyphens or if you made manual adjustments to correct for widows and orphans, this will all need to be redone if you change the font, margins, trim size, leading, etc.

But you can take this too far. You don’t want to louse up the reading experience just to make your boxed set fit into a single mammoth printed book.

You can, however, experiment with these features and see if any combination will provide the right balance, fairly preserving the reading experience while also helping it fit.

Another thing you’ll have to do is renumber the pages for a single-volume boxed set. This gets more tedious if each volume has an index (in which case you must also decide if you want to consolidate your indices into a single index for the boxed set). Also, if you have page references (e.g. “See page 364”) you’ll need to update those. For most fiction, where an omnibus is quite common, this isn’t likely to be an issue.

Page count isn’t an issue for an e-book omnibus. But if you have many images, the maximum file size and delivery charges may come into play. Kindle’s maximum file size has been quite generously extended (650 MB).

Basically, for an e-book, you simply need to combine your books together into a single volume. There is really just one feature that you need to add: an active table of contents to take the reader directly to each volume. (This is in addition to the table of contents for each individual volume.)

Read Tuesday

Imagine a Black Friday type of event just for book lovers.

You don’t have to imagine it. It’s called Read Tuesday, and it’s free: www.readtuesday.com.

Please support the Read Tuesday Thunderclap. This will help spread awareness on the morning of Read Tuesday (December 9, 2014). It’s easy to help:

  • Visit http://thndr.it/1CkO2Bg.
  • Click Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr and sign in.
  • Customize the message. (Optional.)
  • Agree to the terms. All that will happen is that the Thunderclap post about Read Tuesday will go out the morning of December 9.
  • (The warning message simply means that Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr need your permission to post the Thunderclap message on December 9. This is the only post that Thunderclap will make.)

Halloween Reading

Looking for some spooky books to read this Halloween month?

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/scary-books

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • Boxed set (of 4 books) now available for Kindle pre-order

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

Click here to jump to the comments section:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/publishing-a-boxed-set/#comments

Are authors earning more or less with Kindle Unlimited?

Unlimited Reading

KINDLE UNLIMITED

Now that customers can subscribe to Kindle Unlimited for $9.99 to read unlimited books, authors are wondering whether the grass is greener inside or outside of KDP Select.

One trade-off is exclusivity. Titles enrolled in KDP Select can’t be available in digital format anywhere other than Kindle.

Exclusivity actually works two ways:

  • The obvious way is that KDP Select books may lose potential sales to customers who love to read on Nooks, Kobos, etc.
  • Another way is that books not enrolled in KDP Select may lose potential borrows from Kindle Unlimited customers, who may strongly prefer not to purchase books outright.

There is another trade-off for higher-priced e-books: Kindle Unlimited has paid about $1.50 for the first two months, which is less than the usual royalties for most books priced $2.99 and up.

Another issue is that customers must read 10% of the book before the author will receive a royalty for the download.

In exchange for exclusivity, authors with books in KDP Select hope to:

  • Gain additional exposure through Kindle Unlimited. Customers may be more willing to try a new or self-published author through this program.
  • Improve sales rank. Every download through Kindle Unlimited helps sales rank, even if the book isn’t read to 10% (but no royalty is paid until the book is read to 10%). Better sales rank helps with exposure.
  • Get more sales. Even if the royalties may be somewhat less through Kindle Unlimited, more sales has word-of-mouth potential.
  • Occasionally earn double royalties. A customer who borrows a book may later purchase the book so as not to have to return it. This happens.

Authors with books not in KDP Select hope to:

  • Gain additional exposure on other markets, such as Nook and Kobo.
  • Sell more books on other markets than the sales that they may be losing by not being in KDP Select.

Kindle Unlimited is definitely affecting sales ranks of all books, whether or not they are in KDP Select. Some books are doing better, others are doing worse. Each book is different.

The question is:

Is it better to enroll in KDP Select, or is it better to opt out and sell across all digital markets?

It’s a tough choice. Some books do better in KDP Select, others do better outside of it, and some may net about the same either way.

Personally, I’m seeing a small increase in Kindle sales and the improved borrows are gravy. I sell many more paperbacks than Kindle e-books, yet I’m glad to see Kindle growing a little.

Following are a few very handy resources to help you with this decision:

OCTOBER 2014 AUTHOR EARNINGS

http://authorearnings.com/report/october-2014-author-earnings-report-2

  • This report breaks down author earnings and looks specifically at the impact of Kindle Unlimited.
  • On average, enrolling in KDP Select appears to reap a 13% reward. Again, it’s an average, so some are earning much more, some are losing.

KINDLE UNLIMITED ANALYSIS

Nicholas Rossis has a detailed analysis of the impact of Kindle Unlimited on his blog.

http://nicholasrossis.me/2014/10/25/kindle-unlimited-conclusions-from-hugh-howeys-latest-author-earnings-report

When you get about halfway through, you’ll start to see the Kindle Unlimited analysis.

HUGH HOWEY

This brief note from Hugh Howey is worth a read.

http://www.hughhowey.com/october-2014-author-earnings-report

One thing Hugh stresses is that it would be nice to see KU pay a different royalty for very short books. Many authors who aren’t selling short books agree with this.

Just imagine earning $1.62 for a book with a list price of 99 cents (where the royalty for a sale is 34 cents).

Amazon is inconsistent on this point:

  • If you price your book under $2.99, instead of earning a 70% royalty, you earn 35%. It seems like a clear incentive to produce enough content so you can charge $2.99.
  • If you price your book at 99 cents, we’ll pay you a royalty of $1.62 if you enroll your book in KDP Select.

I don’t think authors with 99-cent books could complain too much if, say, Amazon paid them 50 cents for every Kindle Unlimited download, so that Amazon could pay a higher rate per download of higher-priced KDP Select books.

If you feel strongly about this, well, you could send a message to KDP to express your opinion. KDP has made changes in the past (the new sales dashboard, pre-order options, grade and age ranges), which many authors had been requesting. So if you really want to see a new feature, it may help to voice your opinion.

Read Tuesday

Imagine a Black Friday type of event just for book lovers.

You don’t have to imagine it. It’s called Read Tuesday, and it’s free: www.readtuesday.com.

Please support the Read Tuesday Thunderclap. This will help spread awareness on the morning of Read Tuesday (December 9, 2014). It’s easy to help:

  • Visit http://thndr.it/1CkO2Bg.
  • Click Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr and sign in.
  • Customize the message. (Optional.)
  • Agree to the terms. All that will happen is that the Thunderclap post about Read Tuesday will go out the morning of December 9.
  • (The warning message simply means that Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr need your permission to post the Thunderclap message on December 9. This is the only post that Thunderclap will make.)

Halloween Reading

Looking for some spooky books to read this Halloween month?

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/scary-books

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • Boxed set (of 4 books) now available for Kindle pre-order

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

Click here to jump to the comments section:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/are-authors-earning-more-or-less-with-kindle-unlimited/#comments

#Promote #Authors & #Books for #Readers on YOUR #Blog…

Great advice from The Ape himself, avid supporter of books, readers, and authors.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

The Questions:

(From authors)

WHY should I promote other authors and their books on MY blog when I can’t even get LOTS of people to buy and review MY book(s)?

(From Readers & Bloggers)

WHY would authors (read demi-gods) who are way above me in the hierarchy of intelligence levels possibly want to send their articles to ME – a lowly Reader and Blogger?

(From existing Author / Books Bloggers)

I ALREADY have a good system going so WHY should I even CONSIDER changing it?

The Answers

(To Authors)

By featuring other authors and their books on YOUR blog, YOU and YOUR BOOK(S) will be seen by visitors as well – plus – it WILL bring NEW visitors and followers to YOUR BLOG and may even result in them getting YOUR BOOK(S)!

(To Readers & Bloggers)

Authors may have a talent with words that YOU may, or may not, have…

View original post 514 more words

Durned if You Do, Durned if You Don’t

fortune cookie

YOU CAN’T WIN

No matter what you do, your book will never be good enough.

Editing:

  • If you don’t get your book proofread well, the critics can be brutal.
  • But even if you iron out every spelling and grammar issue, people can still complain about editing. Show more, tell less. Language is too plain and simple. Language is too complex. The point of view changes where it shouldn’t have.
  • And even if your book is masterfully edited, you can still get a sour grapes review that claims that it’s poorly edited. For if the book just has a few reviews and one mentions editing issues, most customers will believe this at point-blank. Unfortunately, it’s often the case, so such sabotage can easily be effective. Your book is vulnerable. (But not defenseless.)
  • No matter how well-written a book is, there will still be readers who don’t appreciate the style. You can’t please everybody, so it will always be wrong to some.

Formatting:

  • If your book has formatting issues, this can deter sales.
  • You learn about justification, you master page numbering and headers, you do your best to format like traditionally published books that you see. Then critics point out how foolish you were for not hyphenating to reduce gaps in justified text, not removing widows and orphans, not having the same number of lines on every page.
  • Or you can spend big $$$ on professional formatting. Now the naysayers will tell you how little money the average self-published book (or even traditionally published book) makes. You might discover that even a most beautifully formatted book doesn’t always sell.
  • No matter how well a book is formatted, there will still be people who feel it’s wrong. Many prefer full-justified; others prefer left alignment. With a printed book, how can you please both?
  • Then there are people who have an agenda. There are book formatters who wish to drum up more business by making subtle points seem critical toward sales. There are authors who are well-versed in the subtleties of formatting who feel frustrated that poorly formatted books sometimes sell very well. There may even be traditional publishers who see a declining market share who wish to emphasize the importance of formatting and editing in order to dissuade people from buying self-published books.

Content:

  • If your book has storyline or characterization issues, this can lead to negative feedback and lack of word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • But no matter how amazing the story is, there will be some who will suggest various (and even contradictory) ways that your story could be better. You can’t please everyone.
  • If you write a single-volume fantasy novel, some will fault you for not going into more depth on the world and its rules. But if you write an epic fantasy, others will fault you for going into way too much depth.

Cover:

  • If your book cover attracts the wrong audience, that can cost you much potential traffic.
  • If your book cover doesn’t appeal to the audience, that can cost you much potential traffic.
  • If your book cover has appeal and depicts the content appropriately, critics will still penalize you for issues like choosing the wrong font, including the word “by,” using too many colors, making the background too busy, arranging your images in a collage, or countless other cover design ‘mistakes.’
  • Then if you spend good $$$ on a fantastic cover, anyone who is out to get you can simply write a review that says something like, “Since the cover is so amazing, I had high expectations for this book, BUT…” Hey, it can be an outright lie. There is no fact-checking when it comes to reviews. Everything is an opinion (even when it’s black and white).

Design:

  • If your book has an unappealing or inappropriate design, this can cost valuable sales.
  • If your book has a fairly good design, it may still suffer in subtle ways—text too close to the margin or spine, kerning not quite right on a few letter pairs.
  • You might add a decorative border to appeal to kids. Then someone will fault you for not making a different border on every page; someone else would fault you for not having matching borders; someone will fault you for not making it in color; if you make it color, someone will complain about price.
  • The cover, design, formatting, and editing are important, but let’s not forget that the story itself is the most important part. No matter how great the design is, it just takes one complaint about the story to undo all the benefits of a great design.

THE CRITICS

The problem is that there will always be critics.

The critics have the upper hand.

No matter how wonderful your book is, any critic can easily find some fault in it.

Most critics are genuine readers who just aren’t happy. No book can please all of the people who read it. People simply have varied tastes.

A few critics are frustrated writers, editors hoping to market the importance of editing so they can drum up more business, designers hoping to do the same, unethical authors hoping to elevate themselves by slamming the competition (this strategy will backfire for them, e.g. by dragging their own sales down with fewer customers-also-bought recommendations), editors of traditional publishers who feel threatened by competing titles, people who are simply jealous of the author, and even review police who simply want to bait authors to cross the line.

Remember, the vast majority of critics are genuine readers.

Most of the criticism that actually identifies something specific has merit.

Those with an agenda have the upper hand, so it’s not worth the battle.

Definitely, don’t respond to any review where the reviewer may have an agenda through a public comment.

It’s too easy for the reviewer to make the author look bad. It doesn’t matter what you say, there is a 99.999% chance that you will lose. You have a reputation to uphold. Some customers will think you’re unprofessional simply because you chose to comment on the review.

It’s easy for the reviewer to solicit an emotional or defensive response from you, which will really make you look bad.

Your comment itself lends credibility to the review. If the review didn’t have any merit, you wouldn’t need to address it, right? (I know, that’s not the way you feel about it when it happens. It can burn inside, and not go away for weeks.)

Here’s what’s very common. You think: I’ll just make one innocent comment and leave it at that. What’s the harm in that?

Here’s the problem: The reviewer will respond to your comment and ask you a question. Now you have no choice but to respond again. Suddenly, what you intended to be a single comment turns into a discussion. The last thing you want on your (quite public!) product page is a discussion with a reviewer who posted a bad review.

You can’t play the critics’ game. The critics have the ball. They have the home field advantage (even on your product page). They have control.

But you’re not helpless.

YOU CAN WIN

The first thing to realize is how much you need the critics.

You don’t just need praise. If all you have is praise for your books, that will do nothing but arouse instant suspicion.

You need balance, whether you like it or not. Customers expect it. There should be bad with the good.

The second thing to realize is that you can fight the critics by not giving in to temptation.

Show them (and more importantly, all the traffic on your product page) how professional you are by not engaging with the critics emotionally or defensively.

A third thing to realize is that your book and product page are dynamic.

You can always make a revision to the content and note this in the product description.

But you don’t want to make a revision based on every bit of criticism you receive. There may be customers who actually prefer it the way it was, who simply didn’t voice their opinions.

So the best course is to wait a few weeks and see if the criticism actually has any impact on sales. Sometimes, it actually helps sales. Often, it has no effect whatsoever. (Even when there seems to be a correlation, it often turns out to be coincidence—e.g. your book might have just come off the Last 30 Days list at the same time.)

Sometimes, you just need to add clarification to your product description.

A customer might have made a mistake, assuming your book was something that it wasn’t. If so, simply clarifying this in the product description may negate any effect of that particular review.

Another thing to realize is that things are often much better than they seem. Your book is your baby; you take the criticism quite personally. But the criticism usually isn’t directed at you; it’s directed at your book.

Not everyone has the same tastes. That reviewer is letting people with similar tastes know not to try your book. And that helps! People with dissimilar tastes may still appreciate your book.

If the criticism has merit, consider making a revision. If not, just let it go.

You also have a secret weapon: It’s called marketing.

Personal interactions can often make a huge impact with potential readers. These can have a greater impact than what some stranger says on your product page.

Personal interactions help to generate sales, help the reader approach your book with a favorable frame of mind (i.e. looking forward to it, instead of wondering if anything is wrong with it), and are more likely to result in reviews and recommendations.

PERFECTION

There is no such thing as a perfect book. Simply put, it can’t be perfect for everyone.

Sometimes, authors spend way too much time and money trying to over-perfect their books in various ways.

Here are the most important elements of any book:

  • Story appeals to the target audience.
  • Language appeals to the target audience. (Right vocabulary; flows well.)
  • Target audience can understand well without being distracted by too many hiccups.

The opposite problem—authors who don’t find and patch holes in the story, who don’t write in a way that appeals to the audience, who make many spelling or grammar mistakes, etc.—can be a huge sales deterrent. I’m not addressing the minimum effort here; I’m addressing the issue of over-perfecting.

Who needs perfect editing? An editor who reads your book. An author who writes well who reads your book. A reader who has a well-above average command of language. Others will be tolerant to various degrees as long as you meet the three points above as those points relate to them.

Who needs perfect formatting? A typographer who reads your book. An editor who reads your book. An author who has learned about formatting who reads your book. A reader who is much pickier than the average reader. Others will be tolerant to some degree. Subtle points they won’t notice any more than you did. It’s possible that they will have a nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right without knowing what that is, which may distract them from the story. It doesn’t take perfect design to avoid this; it just needs enough appeal.

Who needs perfect reviews? NOBODY! Virtually every customer who sees a stockpile of nothing but five-star praise will dismiss the book out of immediate suspicion. Customers expect varied and even wild and crazy reviews. They will see if those reviews seem relevant to them. A review that ruins your book for one customer has no impact on another customer. Rather, if they dismiss the criticism because it doesn’t matter to them, they are more likely to give your book a chance. In this way, any bad review can actually stimulate a sale.

Don’t forget who your target audience is:

  • Do you expect to sell many copies on Amazon.com? Do you want support from indie authors and their friends, family, and acquaintances?
  • Do you expect to sell most of your books through bookstores? (You need to do much research and have excellent planning for this.)

In the former case, it may be an advantage to use the free CreateSpace ISBN. If you want support from customers who support self-publishing, you want it to be clear that your book is self-published.

If you spend big $$$ trying to look professional, it might work, but it might backfire. Using your own imprint, you might lose support from millions of readers who support self-publishing. What are you gaining in return? Are you hoping to appeal to people who prefer excellent editing and typography? People who much prefer this are far more likely to read books from the big publishers, or small publishers who’ve branded an image for themselves with regard to delivering quality. They are less likely to take a chance on an unheard-of imprint. You need excellent bookstore potential, research, and planning—and you need long-term goals, like branding an image for yourself as a small publisher who delivers high quality—to make this strategy work for you.

But if you have big plans to sell to bookstores and libraries (not just hopes and dreams, but well-researched plans on how to make it happen), then professionalism can make a significant difference.

It really pays to know who your specific target audience is and what that audience will prefer.

Even if your audience supports self-publishing, they still have expectations. They’re investing money (or at least much time) to read your book. You have to deliver content and quality worthy of that investment.

HOW TO WIN

You don’t measure this through reviews. Though the first time a stranger says something nice about your book, print it out and paste it to your wall. Use it as a reminder that you’re doing something right.

You don’t measure this through sales. Though the trick to sales is to find ways to consistently grow them. If you can grow your sales annually, you can reach any goal in time.

So how do you win?

First, you win by not giving up.

You win by looking professional, even when the chips are down.

You win by writing more books.

You win by learning and growing as a writer.

You win by thriving on your strengths and by shoring up your weaknesses.

You win by caring about your readers, yourself, and your community of writers.

You win by building and growing a fan base.

You win by creating a brand for yourself as an author with a website, author page, and social media.

You win by helping fellow authors.

You win by reading other self-published books—and supporting those that meet your standards through recommendations.

You win by branding a good image for self-publishing.

You win by being part of a community of writers who thrive together.

You win by being the best you can be, and accepting that you are who you are.

You win by writing because you love to write.

You win when you can SMILE despite all the challenges that authors face.

You’re a winner! Congratulations! 🙂

Read Tuesday

Imagine a Black Friday type of event just for book lovers.

You don’t have to imagine it. It’s called Read Tuesday, and it’s free: www.readtuesday.com.

Please support the Read Tuesday Thunderclap. This will help spread awareness on the morning of Read Tuesday (December 9, 2014). It’s easy to help:

  • Visit http://thndr.it/1CkO2Bg.
  • Click Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr and sign in.
  • Customize the message. (Optional.)
  • Agree to the terms. All that will happen is that the Thunderclap post about Read Tuesday will go out the morning of December 9.
  • (The warning message simply means that Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr need your permission to post the Thunderclap message on December 9. This is the only post that Thunderclap will make.)

Halloween Reading

Looking for some spooky books to read this Halloween month?

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/scary-books

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • Boxed set (of 4 books) now available for Kindle pre-order

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Kindle Unlimited Affects Sales Rank (even if not read to 10%)

Good News

KINDLE UNLIMITED

Do Kindle Unlimited downloads affect sales rank? Definitely.

Do customers need to reach 10% of the Kindle e-book in order for sales rank to be affected? No.

All Kindle Unlimited downloads affect Amazon sales rank, even if the book isn’t read to 10%.

How do I know? I have Kindle Unlimited and recently tried this out. I downloaded two books with sales ranks above 1,000,000; these books hadn’t sold in recent months (poor books).

Although I didn’t even open the books on my Kindle, the sales ranks jumped down to the low 100,000’s. (Don’t worry. I’ll read them now.)

However, the effect wasn’t immediate; it took several hours for this to happen. (This lengthy delay is why I have now gone in and revised the finding that I posted on this yesterday.)

Authors only receive royalties when the book is read to 10%.

Kindle Unlimited customers: If you download a book through Kindle Unlimited, PLEASE read 10% of that book. Otherwise, the poor author doesn’t get paid. You could even scroll to the 10% mark. (Obviously, if the book turns out to be horrible when you open it and you feel that it doesn’t deserve a royalty, that’s different.)

This is good news: All Kindle Unlimited downloads help in some way. Even if it doesn’t get read to 10%, it still helps sales rank.

(Some books in Kindle Unlimited are losing ground with sales rank, though, simply because many other Kindle Unlimited books are being downloaded more frequently. Sales ranks have been somewhat wild ever since the inception of Kindle Unlimited.)

Read Tuesday

Imagine a Black Friday type of event just for book lovers.

You don’t have to imagine it. It’s called Read Tuesday, and it’s free: www.readtuesday.com.

Please support the Read Tuesday Thunderclap. This will help spread awareness on the morning of Read Tuesday (December 9, 2014). It’s easy to help:

  • Visit http://thndr.it/1CkO2Bg.
  • Click Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr and sign in.
  • Customize the message. (Optional.)
  • Agree to the terms. All that will happen is that the Thunderclap post about Read Tuesday will go out the morning of December 9.
  • (The warning message simply means that Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr need your permission to post the Thunderclap message on December 9. This is the only post that Thunderclap will make.)

Halloween Reading

Looking for some spooky books to read this Halloween month?

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/scary-books

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • Boxed set (of 4 books) now available for Kindle pre-order

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.