“The whole world loves a maverick and the whole world wants the maverick to achieve something nobler than simple rebellion.” Kevin Patterson
The transformation from what the literary industry was, to what the literary industry is becoming reminds me of when the Berlin Wall fell. Like many of you, I grew up during the heydays of the Cold War. There was no more profound a symbol of the s-e-p-a-r-a-t-i-o-n between the free world and communism than that cold, graffitied stone barrier. It divided a city, a country, a people, and a way of life.
Construction of the wall was started on 13 August 1961. I remember while the communists preached daily about how much better their system of government was - on the other side of the wall, the 'free world' was busy protesting, striking, speaking out, and speaking up about their religious and political beliefs, their jobs, their education ... their i-n-d-i-v-i-d-u-a-l rights! Such chaos ... such disorder!
It was the Communists who built the Berlin Wall, supposedly to keep out the rampageous influence of the West. They too had gatekeepers ... ones that wielded sub-machine guns and who would shoot you on sight. The odd thing was - the only ones they shot down were the ones trying TO LEAVE!
Almost 26 years later, In a speech at the Brandenburg Gate commemorating the 750th anniversary of Berlin, on 12 June 1987, Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the wall as a symbol of increasing freedom in the East. It's important to note, though, that President Reagan was only asking for something the ENTIRE WORLD was demanding by then.
In 1989, the communist way of life was exposed for what it was - a system to keep one group of people in control of everyone else. By that year, the system behind the wall had become unsustainable, and so the system crumbled and fell - and when it did, so did the wall.
Not everyone was celebrating though. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, French President François Mitterrand warned that a unified Germany could make more ground than Adolf Hitler ever had, and that Europe would have to bear the consequences. Yet, today, Germany has become the central power of the unified European Union.
When we think of the demise of the Berlin Wall, we think of Ronald Reagan making that impassioned speech, but the true heroes of the day were the ones that stood up and said WE DEMAND CHANGE! They were considered dissidents ... rogues .... mavericks, but it was those mavericks that overcame the Goliath system in place. There were some notable figures - some well-known now and some who perished in relative anonymity, B-U-T it took more than one voice to bring about change.
27 years the wall stood ... 27 years of struggle ... 27 years of persecution (except for an elite minority, talk about class inequality) ... 27 years of iron-fisted rule with little to no rights afforded to the folks ... 27 years of separation from the rest of the human brotherhood and sisterhood -- and it all came to an end in the time it took for the first sledgehammer to punch a hole into a bright, new world.
The story doesn't end there though, it only began there. For it's not enough to just do away with tyranny, if it's to be replaced with freedom, that freedom must be nurtured, defended and protected ... and new voices must continue to rise up to be a voice for everyone else.
In the literary industry, we have our generation of pioneers - they taught us about the myths of traditional publishing, they taught us that we had options, and they showed us how to set out on our own, on trails into the brave new world they already forged. A number of us answered their call. We bucked the status quo, wrote our stories and published them on our own. In a time when some agents and traditional publishers threaten us with blacklisting, we persevere. We write and publish with our own money and our own time and our own skill and our own management. We take our lumps and show a stiff upper lip. Some of us wear out, burn out, pack up and leave - but the rest of us remain. We stay because we are, after all writers!
Most of us don't make enough money to buy our spouse dinner and a bottle of wine but everyday, some of us compete with Goliath ... and win!
So I say damned the torpedoes and full steam ahead - let's continue to tell our stories and share them with the world.
Long live the mavericks, you know who you are ... my brutha and sista storytellers! You're ALL my heroes!
_ After a score of years thinking about it; one year of honing my craft, writing my first (but unpublished) manuscript; 74 queries and rejections; and another four months of writing _THE WATCHMAN OF EPHRAIM_ … on January 21, 2011, I became a published author. It’s amazing the changes that have taken place since then – changes for me personally and changes for the entire publishing industry. Those changes have been well publicized by so many already, I won’t rehash them in detail, but I will share with you two of my objectives for 2012, along with a few friendly suggestions for my brutha and sista neo-pro writers out there.
Before I do, let me tell you some of what I accomplished in 2011. Keep in mind, I started at virtually 0 with everything. As of January 21, 2011, I had 0 sales, 0 Facebook Likes, and 0 Twitter followers.
Today, December 31, 2011, I have two published novels that have made a total of six Amazon Bestseller’s lists in four countries (2 in US; 1 in UK; 2 in Germany; 1 in France); I’ve now sold THOUSANDS of my novels around the world; and I grew my total LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter/Goodreads/MyWebsite followers to over 22,000! All praise to Him! You can also take a look at the Popularity Rankings of _THE WATCHMAN OF EPHRAIM_ and _SIGNS OF WAR_ on the right of my home page here. As you see, pretty impressive rankings across a number of sub-genres ... again, all praise to Him Almighty!
I want to stop here and shout out special thanks to the following author/friends of mine for their guidance, motivation, support, and friendship ... I simply could not have accomplished the above without them:
Also, keep in mind, neither of my books were break-out successes. In fact, in the entire first quarter of 2011, I had only sold a total of 21 books … not exactly “The Help” numbers. c”,)
One more thing … though it seems to irk so many whenever I mention my mantra for success, I’m gonna say it again here – the mantra that has most influenced my success so far has been something my older brother Peter taught me “ALL THINGS, ALL THE TIME!” That means sacrificing time with my sons and friends, time in front of the ‘idiot box’ (my mom used to refer to the TV as the Idiot Box, when we were young) or playing video games or just ‘taking a day off’ during the week, other than on Sabbaths (that’s what God made the weekly Sabbath for, in the first place). It also means turning over every shell, constantly investigating new ways to market and promote, constantly engaging with the global audience, constantly working on my writing, constantly edifying myself in my craft – keeping up on the new technologies …. Interacting with other writers, sharing ideas and cross-promoting … and all of it every day! I apply the exact same work ethic that I utilized for working in four other industries to writing … yes it’s an art form but to professionals, it’s also our business.
Final thought on this: The actor Will Smith was once asked in an interview what he attributed most to his great success. He said unequivocally that it was the fact that he was “willing to DIE” in order to achieve his objectives and goals in life. I’ve personally made a bunch of sacrifices in pursuit of my goal of becoming one of the most successful published authors of my generation someday. My wife and sons also had to make sacrifices … I couldn’t do it without them. I’m willing to die to achieve my goals … so failure is not an option!
Now for two of my objectives and suggestions:
WRITING: Being a student of Dean Wesley Smith, I’ve set my writing objective at three full-length novels for 2012. In 2011, I was able to publish two full-length novels and have begun the third, so I’m optimistic that I will accomplish this objective. I may even be able to begin work on a fourth novel, sometime in December ’12. I may also experiment with something a number of prolific authors do – that is, to work on more than one novel at a time. I listened to James Patterson talk about how he was working on 37 novels at the same time. He explained that some were in concept stage and others in various stages of completion. I figure if Patterson can work on 37, I should be able to work on two at the same time. I’m a contiguous personality-type (I like to finish one thing first then move on), so to make it easier for me, I will attempt working on two novels in two different series. That could work and even end up benefiting my creativeness with each series, as they are so diverse – switching between the two could offer me a bit of a respite while still writing.
My suggestion: Set your writing objectives for 2012 now! Consider what you want to accomplish - the body of work you would like to complete by 31 December, 2012. Instead of setting deadlines that could cause distraction, set time-frames for completion. Perhaps an entire month as your time-frame for completion (for example, I’m using April, 2012 for my next novel, _RISE TO THE CALL_). I believe the most important aspect of developing a successful writing career is not marketing or social networking … it’s WRITING & PUBLISHING! Final though: Don’t set your objectives to low … push yourself. You’ll be surprised with what you can accomplish when you do.
SOCIAL NETWORKING: There is no doubt that social networking will continue to play an important part of promotion and marketing for most writers. I utilize my blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter to stay connected with my friends and potential readers. There’s little I need to do in this area except more of the same. The #1 most important thing to remember when utilizing your social networking is NOT to talk AT people … talk TO them! So many people are advertising and promoting nowadays that the general population is becoming deaf and dumb to most of it. Simply tweeting a promo of your book won’t cut it – you first need to ENGAGE with your audience! Granted, not everyone is comfortable interacting with other folks, but I know for a fact that virtually everyone has something to offer – either informative – compassionate – passionate (about something) – funny … or even just a good listener. If you can’t offer one of those things, you shouldn’t be a professional writer anyway. And remember, informal is what you want to convey but always be PROFESSIONAL. Consider every single public or private communication as communicating your brand … and for pity’s sake spell check … nothing like trying to get readers to buy your books by sending out messages like “For a limit time …” or “I would aprreciate it if you take a look at my book …” Yeah … that’s the author I want to read!
My suggestion: The most important aspect about social networking, for a professional utilizing it as a form of marketing and promotion, is to do it CONSISTENTLY! Social networking isn’t about ‘firing & forgetting’ … it’s about communicating every day. I never take a day off from it. To give you an idea, in 2011, I sent out over 27,000 personal messages – mostly in the form of replies to requests to connect or my introducing myself to someone. In every single one of them, I addressed the individual by their name (spelled correctly) – not bulk messages … treating people the way I like to be treated. The only way to send out that many messages is to social network EVERY DAY, on a schedule – as part of my ‘work day.’
2011 will go down as the year Self-Publishing broke wide. A critical mass of eReaders has now been sold, which means the paradigm has forever altered in literary publishing. eBook is now king. Paper will continue to be around, but it will find its new place as a less important medium … just like faxes are still around but they’ve given way to email.
I won’t go on and on with predictions but I will make one for you to keep in mind: Now that ePub 3 and Kindle’s new format has been approved, it will most likely make a beachhead by fall of next year. Along with those new formats will come a new generation of eBooks. In fact, I’d go on to say that it will spark a dawn of an entirely new MEDIUM … fully interactive eBooks with embedded multimedia – music, video, animation, etc.
2012 will see the birth of the OMNI-BOOK!
And as more stuff get's published QUALITY content will begin to rule the day!
I can't wait!
Blessings, health, joy and success in 2012!
The indomitable Joe Konrath just published a new 'ThoughChat' with Barry Eisler, you can check it out here. As I was reading it, I noticed the list of his older posts, going all the way back to 2005. That alone impressed me - Joe was publishing blogs in 2005, years before I even had a clue about seriously publishing my own novels. More than that, his posts from 6 YEARS AGO still hold water today ... now that's impressive!
One of his blogs in particular hit me over the head. He titled it, "No Vacation for You." He published it on December 24, 2005. I'm gonna cut and paste it below, but you can check out his original post here.
I named this blog, "Paying your dues" 'cause I've been asked by several neo-pro writers lately questions like, "How did you get _The Watchman of Ephraim_ to hit #1 on Amazon's Geopolitical Bestseller's list?" and "How did you possibly pull off a 75-day blog tour?" and "Why are you trying to publish three full-length novels a year?" and "How can you possibly reply personally to every email and invitation you receive on every one of your social networking channels?" (I'm on a pace to have written over 27,000 personal messages to people connected with me on LinkedIn, Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter in 2011). My answer to all the questions above has to do with two tenants that I truly believe are the keys to success in any field ...
#1 Paying your dues ... which to me means, doing all the behind-the-scenes stuff, EVERY DAY, EVERY WEEK, EVERY MONTH, EVERY YEAR ... the not glamorous stuff, the sometimes difficult, sometimes boring, sometimes mundane stuff ... the stuff that usually no one sees you do, but needs to get done.
#2 "All things, all the time" - this is something my older brother Peter taught me. He made it to the top in his profession by out-hustling his peers ... getting in before everyone else and staying after everyone else leaves ... working while others watch football and baseball, while others spend a quiet day with their kids, while others go on vacation or just take the weekend/day/afternoon off. It also means that you have to get to everything. There's no time to just "study your craft" or just write or just promote or just ... anything! Remove the word "just" and you begin to understand what it takes to really make it as a self-publisher.
I have to tell you ... all of the successes in my life in business have come by living those two tenants, every day. Now I'm waist-deep in establishing my professional writing career. This is the fifth industry that I have worked in, in the last thirty years. I've achieved success in the music industry, manufacturing industry, transportation/logistics industry and financial industry ... and all of my successes are due to #1 and #2.
I simply don't know an easier way. Perhaps I'm not as smart as others or as talented as others but two thing I am ... are tenacious and methodical. I plan my work and work my plan and I never give up. I'm up at my desk around 5am every morning and I don't clock out until everything is done.
Well, apparently I'm not the only one. When I read Joe's blog, I smiled 'cause it seems he succeeded the same way I'm succeeding in publishing - 'paying his dues' and 'all things all the time.' The question you need to ask yourself after reading this is ... how bad do you want it?
Here's Joe Konrath's hard-hitting piece in its entirety: (my thanks to Joe ...)
Saturday, December 24, 2005
No Vacation for You
I haven't had a vacation in four years, and I don't expect one next year either.
This July, my family demanded some 'together time' so I took them up to a cabin in Michigan. Along the way I did signings. And I brought my laptop.
My two closest friends, whom I've known for 26 years, coerced me into taking a three day weekend off to go on brewery tours. I went with them, but managed to fit in a library event while they were boozing it up.
The kids have been off school for a week, and I managed to do some bonding. But I also did some editing, some writing, some website updating, and a few blog entries.
Am I missing out on life? In a word: Yes. And since misery loves company, I want you to miss out too.
Remember listening to your grandparents talk about the Great Depression? They used words like "Sacrifice" and "Hard work."
Writing involves sacrifice and hard work. That means denying yourself some things, like friends and family and free time. If you want to make it, you have to put in the hours.
I'm not going to argue that your writing is more important than your children---that isn't true. Family is far more important than career. But if your family loves you, they'll also understand how important your career is, and give you time to pursue it.
If you want to succeed in this biz, be prepared to make sacrifices and find the time to get things done.
Here's a handy list of some things you can sacrifice:
Now I fully expect some vehement disagreement. Replies that speak of values and priorities and happiness and importance, and examples of authors on the bestseller list who take plenty of time off. I'm sure plenty of folks will feel sorry for my family, or for me for not 'getting it.' Some of you will insist you can have your cake and eat it too, and some of you may indeed do that.
But the next time you're lamenting your career, ask yourself two questions: What have I done so far? & What have I sacrificed?
If you've never finished a novel, have only gotten 50 rejections, and plan on using the holiday break to relax, are you entitled to the disappointment you feel about the state of your writing career? Or if you published your book, then did minimal self-promotion, can you really feel betrayed that you sold so poorly?
Here's an axiom that no one likes, me included, but I adhere to it anyway:
"You can always do more."
And the next time you're relaxing, pick up a copy of Who's Who, or crack open a history book, and look at all of the successful, famous people that our society reveres. How many of them are in there for being good parents? For taking vacations? For watching a lot of television? For partying with friends?
Happy Holidays! I gotta get back to work.
_ The ever-informative Passive Guy published a provocative article this morning, “Publishers Constantly Mistreat Their Suppliers” that made me recall my time querying agents. All in all, I only queried for a period of two years (2009-2010), longer than some, but not nearly as long as many other writers. Totally, my count was 74 agents queried; 10 who asked for full or partial manuscripts; and ultimately 0 that thought my works were worthy of their time (I never even received the dignity of a reply from 19 of them and one took 16 months to reply – my reaction, “Get over your friggin’ self!”).
Looking back on the entire process now, it leaves me shaking my head in utter amusement. What an insane situation … a writer writes a manuscript and then, in order to try and get it published, has to contact an agent to give themselves the best chance at getting a legacy publisher to even look at it. The big question I asked myself back then, even as I was preparing and sending out queries was: If an agent, by the very name, is the person who is supposed to represent me, then why is he/she acting as the gatekeeper to the publishing houses? Can anyone say ‘conflict of interest'?
You can tell that things needed to be changed by how inane the requirements of some of the agents were becoming, with respect to querying them. A small library of books was written on the subject (I own a few of them) – the form of the query … how to address it … how long it should be … what should and should NOT be included in them, etc., ad nauseum. Then there were the specific, individual guidelines of each prospective agent. Now that’s where the fun really started!
I won’t use agent names but I’m sure writers reading this will smile … some of my favorite requirements and guidelines from agents, with respect to querying:
+ “Write ‘QUERY’ in the subject line or I will DELETE your email!!" The exclamation points still make me feel like I was being scolded.
+ “I take between 12-20 weeks to respond to queries on average and sometimes longer …” Okay, by their own guidelines, queries are only short summaries. I’m personally on a pace to respond to over 27,000 emails this year alone (I reply to everyone that’s nice enough to write to me or invite me to link to them via social networking) and usually reply to everyone in under 72 hours, with most of my replies averaging within 24 hours. Since the usual response of an agent to a query is (by their own admission) >95% to just reject via a short scripted reply and for the rest, simply to request a full or partial manuscript … why exactly would it take anyone 20+ weeks?? Just sayin …
+ (I call this one “The Double Whammy) “I only accept exclusive queries, so if you query anyone else, don’t query me! + “I take between 12-20 weeks to reply to queries!” Riiiiiight, so, in other words, I have to query this agent first and then put my manuscript on ice for the next three to five MONTHS … only to possibly get a scripted rejection … maybe.
+ (And my favorite) “I DON’T ACCEPT UNSOLICITED QUERIES!” Wha … huh??? You have a friggin’ website DEDICATED to telling aspiring authors (read: paying clients) all about you, your agency, who you represent, the genres in which you’re interested, the books you’ve represented … WHY??? My point: If you only accept ‘SOLICITED’ queries … THEN WHAT’S WITH YOUR FRIGGIN’ WEBSITE WITH THE 20 PAGES THAT YOU MADE ME READ ONLY TO TELL ME YOU DON’T ACCEPT UNSOLICITED QUERIES?!
One particular agent only wrote that she didn’t accept unsolicited queries at the very last page of her website, AFTER specifying on the home page that writers are to “read ALL of the instructions and information in the order presented!” I wasted an hour …why I oughta!
Back then, I was also told by not a few agents that even though they were rejecting my manuscript, self-publishing it would be like my pinning the scarlet letter to my lapel. So, basically they were telling me, #1 – I’m your only shot at getting published … #2 – I’m not interested, better luck next time AND #3 oh yeah, and if you even try to publish the manuscript that I turned down, your career is effectively over.
To all those agents all I have to say is “… I don’t accept unsolicited advice!” c”,)
Some writers continue to wonder whether things are better now … I don’t. This past July, my debut novel (the one that received 54 rejections) _The Watchman of Ephraim_ became a #1 Amazon-Bestselling Geopolitical Thriller and remained #1 for 26 days. All praise to Him!
My continual and infinite thanks to the following authors that showed me the light of self-publishing:
Laura Resnick ... Dean Wesley Smith ... K.K. Rusch ... and my man, Joe Konrath!
_ (This is written as humor … it’s okay to laugh, even if you’re Joe Konrath) c”,)
5am – Alarm rings – Sitting down in front of my laptop in my underwear, trying to focus my eyes on my screen as I don my reading glasses.
Opening Outlook …189 emails and three RSS feed-updates – Passive Guy, Dean Wesley Smith, and my man, Joe Konrath … normal morning.
Let’s see … ah, my fan mail, AKA my spam folder …
“Dear GERALD, I am felicitous to engage with you on LinkedIn, as we are now connected telephonically and spiritually. Please except my condolences on your book/song/product/service, as I have not had the consequence to use it as lubrication—“
That’s enough of that one! Moving on …
“Do you need a job?” Well, uh, I have a-
“ Do you need money?” Duh …
“Would you like to work from home?” Well, I am writing from--
“If you would like to make $60 … $600 … $6,000 … $6 gazillion sitting at home, in your underwear, eating cheese, with absolutely no education, training or experience, then all you need to do is click the button below (and be sure to have your credit card handy) …”
Next … I admit, they had me right up to the ‘eating cheese’ part. Let’s check my RSS feeds, ahh The Passive Voice … even the name soothes me. Checking his headlines, just from the past hour …
"Nook Tablet released early, available for in-store pickup today" - "It was a nice walk if you liked grunting" - "Writer’s Knowledge Base" – "A Great Resource for Authors" - "Self-Publishing and the 9.99 Boycott" - "A Sale on Ebook Covers" …
Wow, how does PG do it?? He publishes more blogs in an hour than I do in a year! Wait, there are MORE of them coming through?!
"Amazon lending library and the future of digital publishing" - "Penguin Launches a Self-Publishing Service" - "Three Good Things About Writing Part-Time" …
Okay, I’ll set aside from lunchtime today until midnight to read them. Now, moving on …. Wait … there are more coming through!
"Contracts on Fire: Amazon’s Lending Library Mess" - "From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class - Amazon vs the Book Trade?" …
Please PG, have mercy … I’m just a man, alone, sitting in my underwear! I haven’t even had my cup of coffee yet—WAIT, there are MORE!!
"British author sues Amazon over user review" - "In short, I can’t afford to take a publishing deal - Demand For The iPad Is Fading" - "What NOT to Blog About" …
STOP IT!! PLEASE, PG … just stop … it! I already feel inadequate, under-informed, confused and it’s not 6am yet!!
<More Passive Guy articles relentlessly continue to populate my Outlook>
<Sigh> I’m not looking at them … I’M NOT LOOKING AT THEM! I’m moving on. Ahh, my mentor, Dean Wesley Smith is sharing some thoughts. Let’s see what he has to say …
“This week, I lost 35 pounds, wrote 16 short stories and three full-length novels, while publishing a blog, handling an estate settlement and playing in a world poker championship – which means I’m BEHIND in my objectives for the month …”
… And I’m still sitting here in my underwear … my inadequacy is growing! You know what I need, a good dose of Joe Konrath. I just wrote him an email thanking him for motivating me and telling him that I’ve started to advertise his eBooks inside my eBooks. He didn’t reply to my email but maybe he’ll mention me in his blog. AHH, there’s his new blog now …
“Hey, Joe here … first off, let me just tell all you sycophant losers out there that send me those stupid, meaningless, worthless emails telling me that I’ve “motivated’ you blah-blah-blah. How ‘bout this … BUY MY BOOKS!!!”
<Tears of shame in my eyes> But … but … I did--
“Bottom line, if you sent me one of those pissy-eyed, ‘Thank you Joe’ worthless, meaningless, ass-kissing messages, let me just tell you what I do with them. First, I don’t open them – then, I delete them – then, I nuke the memory areas of my hard drive where they may have soiled it – then, I replace my hard drive – then--
<eyebrows raised, bottom lip quivering, in shock> YIKES! I think Joe hates me … for thanking him for motivating me?
“Okay, moving on, today, I’m publishing the third installment of my conversation with Barry Eisler. Barry and I didn’t actually talk by phone … or by email … or by instant messaging. We’re far too busy and quite frankly, too successful to spend any time with those ‘legacy’ methods of communication. Instead, we’re both trying out this cool new ‘telepathy’ technique, so now we can speak to each other, inside each other’s minds! The only crappy thing is … I still have to type out our “ThoughtChat® (Barry owns the rights to that) to you 2,000-late morons. Anyway, here’s just a small piece of our 28-hour ThoughtChat®:
Joe: Hey Barry, can you hear me. I’m in your mind using your ThoughtChat®?
Barry: Joe, is that you?
Barry: Whew, okay, thought I was dreaming about you.
Joe: So, Barry, the imbeciles out there want to know more about how we both became successful and scored publishing deals with Amazon.
Joe: I tell them, it was all luck … we have it, they don’t.
Joe: I agree.
Barry: Me too.
<Closing my RSS feeds> Yeah … alrighty then. Let’s check my InBox. Ahh, Lightning Source … hopefully they’ll approve my latest, revised layout for my new novel … before I go completely broke from their incessant $40 charges!!!
“Dear Gerard, We have received your cover and interior files but unfortunately, they do not meet our criteria spelled out in our easy-to-understand-if you’re-a-friggin’ graphic designer-genius “How to publish your garbage on Lightning Source.” You need to fix the following items and then re-upload the modified files (each will cost an additional $40 … each … for each … each):
- The black on your cover is too black. Please do not use more than 240% CMYK.
- You have transparencies on your cover design. Please remove them.
But I don’t see them … probably because … they’re TRANSPARENT. Stupid question here: If they ARE transparent, then what’s the big deal with them remaining there?
Here are the charges associated with this issue:
Charge for sending LS improper files = $40; Charge for our opening the improper files = $40; Charge for our reading the improper files = $40; Charge for our making up silly items (see above), in order to reject your files = $40 (each … for each, each); Charge for sending you this email = $40
<Closing my Outlook>
OKAY … NOW I’m ready to write my next bestseller! c”,)
+ None of this was meant with malice.
+ All of this was meant in humor.
+ My continuing gratitude goes out to PG, Dean, Joe, Barry, and the rest of the writing community that motivate me every day!
(The 10 ways I’ll know I’ve made into the BIG time as an author)
[Blogger’s Note: My latest novel, SIGNS OF WAR is in her final stages of editing – which means I’m basically sitting here waiting to finalize the graphic design/ISBN/Library of Congress/formatting/publishing so I can release her into the world. In my youth, I would turn to the bottle to pass the time and calm my nerves … nowadays I blog, venting my frustrations with mindless banter without the hangover the next day] By the way … the following is humor … so it’s okay to laugh!
I’ll know I made it as an author when …
#10 – I don’t mix up my royalty payment from Amazon with a returned payment for a broken Transformers toy I bought for my son.
#9 – I stop reading spam mail like its fan mail.
#8 – Joe Konrath replies to one of my comments on his blogs.
#7 – I stop reading Joe Konrath’s blogs because I’m too busy being a successful author. Joe recently intimated that only loser writers (like me) read his blogs because once a writer is successful, he/she doesn’t waste his/her time reading blogs. They’re too busy being John Malkovich.
#6 – Joe Konrath asks me to write a guest blog for him … one that I won’t read because I’m too busy being John Malkovich.
#5 – Cris De Niro appears in Brad Thor’s newest offering: Athena Project II: Cris & the Chicks
#4 – I write my next novel at a cabin in between fishing for muskie (like Joe Konrath)
#3 – I write my first non-fiction piece, How I Pre-Sold 1 Million eBooks
#2 – I lay out the pennies for a Kindle of my very own instead of stealing my wife’s like I’m a degenerate raiding her panty drawer.
#1 – My wife changes my name in her OUTLOOK from “Friggin’ Author” to “Sugar Daddy”
I hope I publish this book soon … is all I’m saying …
p.s. Apologies to Joe Konrath … though, I’m sure he’s too successful to ever read this blog. c”,)
I conducted a quasi-scientific analysis of the Kindle price points of the Top 100 Bestselling Thrillers on Amazon.com today (08-15-11). Here’s what I found:
Price = Frequency
$0.00 = 29 $5.23 = 1 $9.99 = 5
$0.99 = 26 $5.59 = 1 $11.99 = 1
$1.99 = 1 $7.99 = 5 $12.99 = 16
$2.99 = 6 $8.99 = 1 $13.99 = 1
$4.79 = 1 $9.59 = 1 $14.99 = 5
Observations: (Kindle pricing)
· Out of the top 100 bestselling thrillers on Amazon.com today, 54 are priced at $0.99 or $0.00. (54%)
· There are 34 thrillers charging money and under the $5.00 psychological price point. (34%)
· There are 37 thrillers priced over the $5.00 psychological price point. (37%)
· $12.99 appears to be the legacy publisher price point for most big-name authors.
· $0.99 appears to be the indie publisher price point for most indie/self-published authors.
My (Idiot) Evaluations:
· The majority of average readers/consumers with a Kindle, purchasing from Amazon.com are choosing from three basic price point categories:
A. A free eBook (29%)
B. A $0.99 eBook (26%)
C. A Best-selling author’s eBook priced at $12.99, $7.99, or $9.99 (26%)
Those three categories account for 81% of the Top 100 Bestselling Thrillers, as of today.
Now, I’ve been a devotee of Dean Wesley Smith and I do agree with his arguments regarding the reasonable price points of full length novels. The last time I checked Sensei Dean was making a rational argument for $4.99 full-length novels.
On the other hand, authors like Joe Konrath, John Locke and Scott Nicholson like the $2.99 to $0.99 price points. Nicholson even has at least one of his novels priced at $0.00.
As for me, I originally priced my eBook editions of my debut thriller, _THE WATCHMAN OF EPHRAIM_ at $4.99. I then reduced the price to $2.99.
Factoring in such things as time of year, initial spike from the book being published, etc... I’d say that there was NO DIFFERENCE in my sales at either the $4.99 or $2.99 price points.
My wife, who is an avid buyer of Kindle books, thinks I’m crazy for selling my books at such a low price. When I show her this type of analysis and tell her about the rationale of successful authors like Konrath, Locke, and Nicholson … she replies with her South Philly swagger, “… Just because they’re nuts, doesn’t mean you have to be!”
Her points are:
1. If she likes an author or book, she buys it – period, regardless of the price.
2. She actually holds it against a book/author if she sees a price point under the normal legacy publisher prices.
My (Idiot) Conclusions:
· People are buying books for a bunch of different reasons. But with that said, right now …
· A slight majority of readers/consumers of Kindle eBooks are mostly buying $0.99 or free.
· BUT … there still seems to be over 1/3 of Kindle readers/buyers that will pay whatever price for their favorite legacy author’s works.
One final thought and request … In September, I’m about to release my second novel, the sequel to _THE WATCHMAN OF EPHRAIM_ titled, _SIGNS of WAR_.
QUESTION: At what price do YOU think I should sell the eBOOK editions??? (and follow-up question … Should I keep _THE WATCHMAN OF EPHRAIM_ at $2.99 or drop it to $0.99 or free. Keep in mind, both books are part of the CRIS DE NIRO series - _TWOE_ is Book I.)
I'd sincerely appreciate your feedback!
p.s. ... Something I believe, ""I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." — Henry David Thoreau
You may have heard of Author Michael Gerber's great books – The E-Myth and The E-Myth Revisited – if you haven't read them you should pick up a copy (here's an Amazon link to: E-Myth Revisited). Gerber does a great job of explaining both why some entrepreneurs are successful and why so many more fail. The "E-Myth" or Entrepreneurial Myth is the misguided belief that too many folks have about starting and operating their own businesses and what makes them successful. Here's the description from Amazon:
"In this first new and totally revised edition of the over two million copy bestseller, The E-Myth, Michael Gerber dispels the myths surrounding starting your own business and shows how commonplace assumptions can get in the way of running a business. Next, he walks you through the steps in the life of a business -- from entrepreneurial infancy through adolescent growing pains to the mature entrepreneurial perspective: the guiding light of all businesses that succeed -- and shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business, whether it is a franchise or not. Finally, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business. After you have read The E-Myth Revisited, you will truly be able to grow your business in a predictable and productive way."
In my past, I've successfully owned and operated a number of businesses including a manufacturing business, a record company, a transportation agency and a financial consultancy. While the scope of the industries was vast, the formula for success and the pitfalls for failure were and are the same. It all begins with how you approach your business … or in the case of self-publishing … THAT you approach it AS a business!
The one thing all SelfPubbers have in common is our desire to publish our literary works. From there though, we each set off on our separate paths. We seem to fall into two general categories"
Group 1 writes the book, self-publishes the book and goes right to work on marketing the book – social networking, book tours, blog tours, giveaways, soliciting reviews, book trailers, etc. The one important aspect this group misses: WRITING THE NEXT BOOK!
Group 2 writes the book, self-publishes the book and then moves right into writing the next book without giving hardly a nod to marketing the book they've written.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each group. Successful authors/publishers like my mentor, Dean Wesley Smith warn us about falling too easily into the first group where we write one book and spend WAY too much time trying to sell it, at the expense of writing the next book. Sensei Dean, Joe Konrath and others explain emphatically that the best way to market your self-published titles is by having a number of them.
Good books that we write sell the other good books that we write better than any other single form of marketing!
Nevertheless, there is a certain amount of marketing that MUST be done. Some writers love to market themselves, some hate it – it doesn't matter – if you want to become successful (successful SelfPubber = SelfPubber that makes money = net profit) then you HAVE TO market yourself and your book(s)!
So, as SelfPubbers, how do we know how to balance our writing, back office (operations and administration), and marketing (promoting, advertising, publicizing)?
We do what DWS has repeatedly implored us to do … WE ACT LIKE A BUSINESS! We become a publisher. If we apply Gerber's entrepreneurial model and combine it with Dean Wesley Smith's teachings/expertise/advise, we not only come out with a proven process to ramp up but we also create a sustainable self-publishing business model. Here are a few steps that should be taken (my suggestions), if you want to become a professional self-publisher:
+ Decide on and create a structure: Structure is the first decision in starting any business. In the case of self-publishing, it doesn't matter as much upon which structure you decide (DBA, LLC, Inc., etc.) just THAT you decide on one and set it up. Sensei Dean suggests that for most, a simple DBA (Doing Business As) structure is all you need. My JarRyJorNo Publishing is set up as a DBA. DBA's are the least expensive to create and the easiest to set up and maintain. You can change your structure at a later time – but, according to the structure with which you launch, it can be expensive and complicated. Not so with DBA's, so they are a great structure with which to start.
+ Once you have your structure, open a business checking account! Other than obviously physically separating monies that are made and spent on your self-publishing, this step (as do the other steps) also does something else … it gets you to think about your publishing company as a BUSINESS! I believe it to be a bad practice of just writing checks from your personal checking account for self-publishing needs. I'm not just talking about bad accounting practices, I'm talking about undisciplined business behavior. It's that kind of undisciplined behavior that has lead to small businesses going out of business!
If you want to be a professional and successful self-publisher, you no longer are just a person who's written a book and formatted it for eBook and/or print. Doing those things is necessary but they do not make a business, they're just a few aspects of a self-publishing business. NOTE: Be sure to pass all of your expenses and inflows through your business checking account.
+ This step is where Gerber's model really kicks in – Write down on a piece of paper, all of the jobs that need to be performed in order to successfully (see definition of successful above) self-publish your written work(s). Gerber has you do it in the form of an organizational chart – I like that way – but the way you do it isn't as important as doing it. You can simply take a pad and list down the left side, all of the necessary jobs/tasks. Next, give the jobs (positional) names with a brief but clear description of the position. So, here's an example of my list: (These are my job titles and definitions, not industry standards. You can call them anything you want)
Publisher – In command, strategic-thinking (creates plans to achieve long-term objectives: 12-month, 24-month, and 60-month)
Editor – Responsible for quality control of all published titles. Quality control includes, content editing and book cover and interior design.
VP Marketing – Responsible for all promotional activities, publicity and advertising for both author and book(s).
Chief Information Officer – Responsible for all tech-related issues including web-design and maintenance, social networking (tech-related issues), software utilization (including updates, tutorials, integration, etc.)
Author Liaison – Responsible for efficient communications between author (me) and publisher (me), including any communications with subordinate positions within publisher.
This last position – Author Liaison – is one I created (I'm a fiction writer – I make things up for a living), but it's a vital one and it's the one that I think every SelfPubber would benefit creating. The Author Liaison's primary responsibility is communication between your publisher position/function and writer position/function. This includes aspects like – from publisher to writer: deadlines and scheduling; and from writer to publisher: everything from research assistance to rights management and draw … yes, I pay my writer (myself) a draw. A draw is basically an advance, to be repaid upon the publisher making money. From there on, the writer (me) could convert from a draw to whatever pay setup the publisher and writer have negotiated. This money aspect is not one to fret over – and it's not one to make overly-complicated. I utilize it because I believe, like with any business, the money/pay/expenses components should be accounted for. Again – it makes you act like a real business and that's important because a SelfPubber IS A REAL BUSINESS!
I consider my Author Liaison (me) the Task Master of my publishing house. I have to deal with him on a daily basis and he's friendly enough but he's also on top of me (the writer) all the time and for everything!
The final step in Gerber's E-model is to fill in your name in EVERY box in your organizational chart! That's right, since we are now businesses with only one employee (ourselves), we have to do EVERYTHING! The difference with following Gerber's steps above is that we now take OWNERSHIP of each job!
Now, I left out the sub-positions of each position above, like the Administrative Assistant's for the Publisher and Editor, the web designer under CIO, the bookkeeper, etc. All of those jobs will either have your name written next to them OR you (wearing your Publisher's hat) will assign a third party to them.
Even when your publishing house hires a 3rd-party vendor, the buck stops with each of your internal (read: you) department heads. So for instance, if my publishing house hires someone to create the cover of my next novel, my editor is still responsible for the project management associated with it. My advice: Farm out activities NOT responsibilities! ALL responsibility should always remain with your staff (again, read: you).
There are many benefits to utilizing Gerber's model:
+ Responsibilities are clearly defined which allows you to focus on them, prioritize them and schedule them efficiently.
+ Hierarchies are created within your self-publisher which also allow you to prioritize and handle any conflicts (yes, you will conflict with yourself if you wear all the hats necessary to successfully operate a publishing house).
+ Scalability is built into your company. By clearly defining the many duties associated with operating a self-publishing business, if and when the time comes where you'd want to or (better yet) need to have someone else perform one/some of the duties, you will already have a job description and even SOP (standard operating procedure) for that job. That gives you the ability to effectively manage any 3rd party.
You may scoff at things like scalability, saying to yourself, "I'll never sell enough books to need it." Suit yourself … personally, I do another thing Gerber suggests in the beginning of his E-Myth book, that is, I picture myself five years from now – as a mega-successful author of 20 novels, with Hollywood, video game and other multi-media arms attached.
That vision is what drives me every moment of every day.
Before you can accomplish anything, you MUST believe you CAN accomplish anything!
Passive Guy, the brilliant and mysterious non-practicing IP attorney who's been gracious enough to share his expertise and non-practicing advise with our SelfPubber community passed on this article written by the well-respected, experienced editor, Alan Rinzler - "Good day sunshine for writers." Thanks PG for pointing us to it! Pulling a pint of your own from the tap! c",)
The article is actually a positive one for SelfPubbers to read. Mr. R. gives us all an insider's perspective on the level of confusion in which many TRADPUB execs are existing nowadays. It's an informative article and I have utmost respect for Alan Rinzler, however I do contend on a few points and wanted to share them with you here:
My pennies ... (click on the article above first, so you know what I'm talking about.
Mr. R gives us great insight into the haze of confusion in which many TRADPUBBED execs are living.
Nevertheless, being a devout student of the Tao of Dean Wesley Smith, I do contend with parts of two of his 3 myths about SELFPUBBING:
#2 - Agents won’t represent an author who self-publishes
Mr. R writes, "They’re (read: agents) representing translation and film rights for these self-published titles, and they’re selling self-published books to traditional publishers, if that’s what the author wants."
g: A SELFPUBBER would be better off getting an IP attorney for contract negotiations (pay a fee vs. royalties). As for shopping to TRADPUB ... at this point, I'd suggest that SELFPUBBERS just wait for TRADPUB to come knocking on their doors. Is that pie-in-the-sky? It is, however, if a SELFPUBBER sells north of 5,000 widgets (Mr. R points out 5K as the test-marketing breakwater), they will be in a much better negotiating position and will deal DIRECTLY with the TRADPUB house (no need for the Agent then). If under 5,000 sold, you know what - chances are even if you did attract a TRADPUB house to sign you, you won't earn back even a paltry advance.
Mr. R: "Agents are also beginning to help self-publishing authors to get professional outside developmental and copy-editing, a great jacket designer, set up their website and learn how to social network, make a video for YouTube, get on Facebook, and learn how to strategically blog and tweet."
g: It's sheer nonsense to me that a SELFPUBBER would turn to an Agent (in the capacity of an Agent) for these things. All of them can be accomplished by the SELFPUBBER themselves (no laziness allowed) or by finding/hiring these 3rd-parties directly.
Mr R: "So agents are becoming managers and coaches in the career development of self-published authors. Not all agents, but more and more of the hipper, younger ones who understand how to do this."
g: Is that what a SELFPUBBER wants ... Agents that are managers & coaches? Not this one! How about this - if I want a manager, I'll hire one that actually knows something about managing and calls themselves a manager (with an accompanying 'manager's contract' that would have to show their skin in the game) As for coaches ... lol ... sorry, I'm from Brooklyn, coaches are for little league baseball players. Coaches ... lol
#3 It’s easy to succeed as a self-published author
Mr. R: "Successful writers I know – whether they’re published commercially or self-published – need to write and rewrite their books many times, usually with the support of a developmental editor, not someone who does spelling and punctuation but a creative partner who is able to identify and solve problems with the story, structure, characterization, dialogue, visual description, literary style, pacing, the narrative arc – with a first, second, and third act that engages the reader and reaches some kind of epiphany or denouement that entertains, illuminates and provides emotional satisfaction for the reader."
g: I have respect for Mr. R, however ... this is spoken like a true editor. Let me be clear - editor's are ESSENTIAL to publishing quality literary works! Nevertheless, I am NOT a supporter of the notion (Mr. R definitely gave me the implication) that, in order to become a successful author, one must write, rewrite and re-rewrite with the help of an editor who now reshapes the author's work creatively! Could you imagine Leonardo Da Vinci letting his employee touch up the Mona Lisa ... or Shakespeare allowing a stage hand to change a few lines of one of his plays ... you know, so that the stagehand could "identify and solve problems with the story, structure, characterization, dialogue, visual description, literary style, pacing, the narrative arc ..."?
To me that is the very core ... the essence of the ART of writing. If someone is doing those things, they should have co-writing credit, in my humble opinion.
If a writer can't do those things on their own, then they shouldn't be a writer. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it!
Keep up the great work, PG ... much appreciated!
B/T/W ... I'm in the trenches of setting up my "TWOE PATRIOT Blog Tour." The tour will run from July 04 to September 11. I'll post info on my site about it ASAP but just wanted everyone to know that I may not post as much until I get the tour set up. There's a TON of emails, correspondence, review-copy shipping, article-writing, Q&A answering, etc. to take care of - something I will write about in a future post. Once again, I want to thank great author and (I consider him) friend, Jeff Bennington for teaching me the ins and outs of conducting a Blog Tour. Jeff told us all about it in his guest blog here at the Pub - you can read it "Building a Blog Tour."
Guest Blogger: Jeff Bennington
I recently made acquaintance via Goodreads.com with fellow thriller author, musician, household handyman, dad of four children and homeschooling advocate, Jeff Bennington. Are those enough similarities between us?
… Wait a minute, is he me … am I him … are we the same person? Nah, he's taller and better lookin'! (grin)
Jeff is the author of _REUNION_, a supernatural thriller, _Killing the Giants_, a political thriller and _The Rumblin'_, a short suspense. Look for his upcoming paranormal thriller, _Act of Vengeance_, coming in late 2011. You can learn more about Jeff Bennington at his website (click this link). Look for his books!
Jeff just completed a 45-day 'blog tour' and not knowing much about blog tours, I slammed him with a bunch of questions. Fortunately for me, he was just completing this great article on his experience. He covers all the bases in it, including answering all of my questions (thanks broth).
Take it away Jeff … (b/t/w … there's always a pint with your name on it here a SelfPubber's Pub …9-))
Building a Blog Tour by Jeff Bennington
There are a lot of ways to build an author platform nowadays. You can tweet, facebook, speak, blog and celebritize yourself, but nothing seems to make your presence known in literary circles faster than a blog tour. What’s a blog tour? A blog tour is an opportunity for an author to travel from blog-to-blog and introduce herself, write articles, or interview with the purpose of building credibility and excitement about her book. I know a little about this because I just completed a 45-day blog tour. And lucky you, I’m going to tell you how I did it.
Before I share how you can do this yourself, I want to point out a few of the highlights from my 45-day blog tour. I also want to thank Scott Nicholson for inspiring me. He traversed a 90-day blog tour that encouraged me to do this. I’m glad I did because after the Reunion blog tour, my book…
• Received 25 book reviews on my Amazon Page
• Collected over 30 reviews and over 45 ratings on Goodreads
• Ranked as high as #28 in Goodreads best books of 2011
• Left my Reunion buy link and website url at around 40 different book blogs.
• Met a ton of book reviewers/bloggers that are waiting for my next book and willing to let me guest blog any time.
• Ranked as low as #470 in Amazon total sales.
• Was introduced to about 30,000 potential readers interested in my genre.
• I Was asked to guest blog at other sites during and after the tour.
Summary: This was my first true book launch and it went as well as I expected. I’m a newer author and I didn’t know any of the book bloggers before I started. It took a lot of hard work, but I made some mistakes when I self-published in 2009 and learned from those mistakes. Anyway, I spent about 50 hours preparing and about 90 hours writing my guest posts. With all of my other responsibilities, it totally exhausted me. But it was worth it.
What about you?
Now that you’ve worked your fingers to the bone, polishing your book to perfection, are you ready to publish and introduce your work to the world? Is your brain oozing with anticipation of your book release? Are you so ready to share your fantastic fiction that you feel like you’re going to burst out of your skin. If you are, you might want to read this article to know what to do next. Why? Because the last thing you want to do is push “Publish” and let that little monster fly before you’ve planned for your release. When publishing, you have to think ahead and prepare for a well thought out book launch. More specifically, I’m going to share how you can plan and schedule your own blog tour with little or no cost.
To build your own blog tour, follow these simple steps. If you do, you’ll start out with an abundance of reviews and a jumpstart to your indie writing career.
1. Professionalism: I’m going to assume you’ve already had your book professionally edited, formatted and have an appealing cover. If you have not done these three things, none of this matters. Remember, you will be dealing with book bloggers and reviewers that interact with traditionally published authors, their agents and publicists. They expect professionalism and it all starts with your pitch.
Warning: Do not be offended if you are not accepted as an indie author. Be courteous and understand that indies are making progress but many reviewers/book bloggers are not open to you yet… and that’s okay, we’ll get there.
2. The Pitch: The first thing you have to do when building a blog tour is to write a compelling pitch. Here’s a link to the pitch I sent out to over 65 book bloggers. (http://thewritingbomb.blogspot.com/2011/...) Feel free to use this as a template for your pitch. Also, you’ll want to start this process no less than 30 days before you plan to launch your book because bloggers/reviewers will need time to read your book (PDF/ARC) if you want the reviews to show up at the time of your release. Many book bloggers like to write a review around the same time that you appear as a guest.
Hint: If you’ve scheduled your book release, you might want to do a “soft” release ahead of time so your reviews can be posted on your Amazon page by the time your book starts selling to your circle of friends; that way they can buy with confidence.
3. Contact book bloggers/reviewers: After you’ve nailed the pitch you’ll have to email a ton of reviewers/book bloggers. You might consider planning a 30-day blog tour. Forty-five days was a bit much for me. Hint: When you start getting responses you have to be very careful to keep good records of who is scheduled and what your topic will be. I used the calendar on my computer and entered each response immediately after they chose a date. Trust me, if they agree to host you 40-60 days before you appear, you don’t want to forget about it. And you’ll want to send your guest blogs out about a week in advance so the blogger doesn’t forget!
But where do you start? Who do you send your pitch to? You can look at my 45-day schedule and email those book bloggers or try Scott Nicholson’s blog tour link (if you write in the suspense/thriller/paranormal genres). Between the two of us, you’ll find over 100 book bloggers to choose from.
Here are the links…
Scott Nicholson: http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/booktour....
Jeff Bennington: http://www.jeffbennington.com/#!blog-tou...
Also, be prepared that many book bloggers require a print copy, so if you are only giving away digital copies you could miss a lot of opportunities with reputable reviewers. Another tip: leave a couple open dates for your blog so you can introduce your home base to your blog tour followers. This will also provide a fill-in date to add anyone interested in joining late in the game.
4. What to write: Once you’ve scheduled your blog tour, you’ll need to start writing articles for your hosts right away. I would recommend that you write about 600-1000 words per article. I customized each post. If the book blogger was more into horror, I’d use words that fed that sort of reader the blood lust they’re looking for. If the blogger leaned toward paranormal romance, I’d talk romance. But whatever you do, don’t repeat anything. Keep each day fresh and interesting. I had a few folks who followed the tour from start to finish because they really liked my blog posts.
Be prepared to do interviews. Some bloggers like to interview but some don’t have the time. For those who want to interview you, help them to come up with creative questions if they repeat previously asked questions. Try to mix up the schedule so that you don’t do too many interviews back to back.
5. Interact: Once you start blogging, be sure to visit at the scheduled blog stop at least once on the day it is published so that you can interact with your new fans. The next day, you might want to visit some of the stops you made in the previous week just to check in. This is very important because “comment” interaction is the whole purpose of the blog tour. This is why you are doing this, to gain fans, to meet readers, to build your platform.
6. Reviews: After a week or so you’ll start to notice that the reviews start rolling in. Reviews are a wonderful benefit to blog tours, because reviews will sell your book and give buyers confidence. Be sure to ask your reviewers to post their review on Amazon. Sometimes they only post on their blog. Whatever they decide, be gracious, beggars can’t be dictators.
7. Giveaways: Are you offering a giveaway? Giveaways are nice, but they can be expensive. I gave away 2 Kindles. That was a little overkill. Unless you expect to sell a lot of books, I wouldn’t give away the Kindles. And the only reason you should expect a lot of sales is because you have a track record of a lot of sales. If all you have is expectations, you shouldn’t spend the extra money. Be frugal. You can do this without spending any money if you really want to.
Fortunately, I had the money to spend on the Kindles, but in retrospect I don’t think it was worth it. I think the tour would’ve been just as successful without the Kindle giveaway. Besides, I was surprised how few people actually registered. I think a signed copy of Reunion would have been enough. As it turns out, both of the winners live in Canada so the Kindles cost me about $360 with shipping and custom fees. Incidentally, one of the blog tour followers informed me that it is illegal to require a purchase to be eligible for a giveaway, so I kind of botched that.
Something else to consider is that if you send out print copies, you’ll find that the cost of the book and the cost of postage will be your greatest expense (especially if you are sending it overseas). I sent out about 25 print copies and spent about $275 to do that. If you want to keep expenses down, stick with only giving away digital copies.
Bonus Tip: One of my mistakes was doing a Goodreads giveaway during the tour. What I should have done was scheduled the Goodreads giveaway to end at the start of the tour, which should’ve corresponded with the release of the book. That would’ve encouraged the folks interested in Reunion to buy it closer to the release day.
Final thoughts: A friend of mine from Goodreads asked me some questions about the blog tour so I’ll address them here. Hopefully, I’ll answer your questions in the process. If not, be sure to comment.
• Q: How long did it take to receive responses from the book bloggers?
A: I started receiving responses within days of sending out review/guest blogging requests, and they continued to respond over the next couple weeks. I simply scheduled the tour on a first come first serve basis. But this is why you want to start at least a month before you plan to release your book. These folks are very nice and easier to deal with than publishers and agents (no offense agents and publishers but that’s the reputation you have out there).
• Q: How did decide what to charge for your book?
A: I started with the $2.99 price point at first to get a little change in my pocket, but then Amazon lowered the price to .99¢. They have that right I suppose. But I’m good with the .99¢ price point, because I’m all about gaining readers at this point. It’s a good way to encourage readers to try a new author. If they like me, they’ll pay $2.99 when I release my next book. That’s my philosophy anyway.
• Q: Out of the 65 book bloggers you sent review/guest blogging requests to, how many took you up on your pitch?
A: About 40. The others weren’t interested, didn’t respond, or preferred other genres. Some reviewers wouldn’t accept my book because I wasn’t traditionally published.
• Q: Have you done a blog tour before?
A: No. I simply followed Scott Nicholson’s tour and tried to imitate it as close as possible. But obviously my guest posts were unique and I blogged in places he didn’t. Some of my favorite stops were at The Creative Penn, The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog, Rex Robot Reviews and several others. I was actually surprised at the response.
• Q: I'm sure it definitely helps spread the word about your books and yourself but I'm curious to know if it sells books (a few, several, a lot)?
A: You have to remember; unless you’re an established author with several books out, you have to be patient and build your reputation and fan base. This will take time. I knew this going in, so my expectations were fairly healthy. If you expect to become a bestseller because you put in the effort it takes to do a blog tour, you will be disappointed, unless you get lucky. Overall I’ve sold over 500 copies of Reunion in the first 6 weeks and continue selling anywhere from 1-10 copies every day. In comparison, I sold 500 copies of my first book in two years. On a day-to-day basis, I’ll rank anywhere from #5,000 - #30,000 in Amazon’s sales ranking. As a newer author, I’m happy with that and expect the momentum to continue when I release my next supernatural thriller, Act of Vengeance, this fall. Basically, a blog tour is probably more PR than a sales pitch, but it can be much less expensive than paid publicity if you do it right.
Overall, I had a great time, learned a lot and plan to do it again. I’ll spend less money the next time, however, and do less blogging. I think I’ll let the bloggers review my book and leave it at that. I do enjoy blogging though, and have continued even after the blog tour has ended because I believe it is a vital and smart way to sell yourself.
If you haven’t read Reunion, it’s getting great reviews and is available in print and in all digital formats. Amazon is selling it for only .99¢! You can get it here by clicking on the following link ---> http://www.amazon.com/Reunion-ebook/dp/B...
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