Any Man (and his brilliant wife) Knows - Things Get Done When You Have a List: Self-Publishing Truth.
|(Photo: Rob and Stephanie Levy)|
And I made a great list, just to keep track of things. Of course, I just realized we missed a few points there - which we've covered in our first installment, a couple of days ago.
The story behind this started with a long history of having my books ignored. Lulu is great a publishing, but has been only so-so for sales of my books.
When the ebooks scene really opened up a couple of years ago, I got into this and soon found that by being on the Big Boys, I started getting sales. Next for me was to do several tests to see if conventional wisdom held true. Like most fairy tales, some basic points were accurate, but the bulk of what has been passed on as Gospel is mostly fiction. (No matter how many celebrities endorse it.)
These tests formed the core of what gets books sold online.
The rest of this list is based on hard-core testing and understanding of Search Engine Optimization and Marketing. (SEO and SEM)
Most authors have problems with publishing. Marketing is even worse. Writers want to write, not spend a lot of time doing anything else. Those lucky few (extreme cases) have been able to make a living from simply writing their books. There have been some examples of authors getting into promotion and being successful. But the same steps Jacqueline Suzanne used to promote her books won't work these days - especially for a non-traditionally published author (AKA: Indie or Self-published.)
Very few of us can afford to hop around the country by jet to give in-person book signings. Factually, damned few of the big authors have done this as a practice since ebooks hit the mainstream. Book signings are good for printed books written about local areas. Otherwise, look up some of the more recent failed book tours (Hillary Clinton's comes to mind) and you'll see they don't get the results they used to.
Let the search engines recommend your book...This is the point of discovery which undercuts friend's recommendations. Word of mouth has to start somewhere. Any author can get an "instant bestseller" on Amazon if they have a strong audience and fan base - that are connected to the author by an email list.
The trick to getting sales is in enabling sales after those first two weeks. Your list, and even a lot of the steps you'll be hearing about here, all have to do with "priming the pump." Good books don't necessarily sell just because they're good. Badly written books can sell well also. Authors always produce the best one they can. Audience preferences are fickle - and fads are common everywhere.
Let the search engines take care of the fads as they happen. If you set up your backend properly, you'll ride out any fad for the niche you are writing for and publishing to. Your book will come back to the top when these fly-by-nights are long gone (celebrities not-withstanding.)
What I've been testing for the last couple of years is just what works. I've been looking up authors and their back-trails to see how they got where they did. What you'll see here is just those methods which have proved to get your books published and get them to sell online as much as possible.
The short hand to marketing is to let the search engines do it - by doing all the steps they've always told you to do.
Key Steps to Book Selling and Pump PrimingAgain, let's review the main points which are all tested:
- Know and Follow Your Bliss
- Have a Deep Backbench
- Get In Front of Multiple Eyeballs
- Share with Care
- Let Your Fans Behind the Velvet Rope
- Let Your Friends Fly, Too.
What fits just within the first and second steps are these:
a. Find a niche which fits your bliss.
b. Find out if that niche buys books.
c. Create and publish books which add value to that niche.
After those steps are done, you're now into Deep Backbench territory. Authors who succeed in sales have several books in a series. For public domain books (my publishing specialty) this extends to finding and editing a related set of books into a series - and marketing them as such.
Practically, whether you personally write the series or collect and publish a series, the result is the same: once you have one of them, you'll be tempted to get the rest.
Of course, you as the marketer take advantage of this by collecting their emails and moving them along the route with timely special offers and added value along the way. But this gets a bit ahead of ourselves.
Where the spreadsheet starts for real.(Hold onto your boots - this stuff we're wading in can get thick quickly.)
The beginning part of that spreadsheet:
BOOK TITLEWe now pick up our to-do list/spreadsheet with a list of books selected. Your book list (itemized under "book title") is your deep backbench. Whether you've written them yourself, or collected a set - it's the same deal.
PDF, epub, mobi
epub, PDF, tradepb, GlobalReach
Sellfy, Payhip, Google, iTunes, Nook, Kobo, Espresso BM, Scribd, Doc-Stoc,
We put the landing page at the beginning as its actually actually part of the editing process. Your ebook and print book (and PDF-version, even video's and powerpoints) actually point to a specific landing page where people can go. This is the base where you want your link-love pointing. So it's first.
What you name this blog and how you set it up is really back at your market research, as we covered in the first of this Case Study series.
Here you simply make a landing page which has the title of the book you are publishing. When you port the book to distributors, you'll get links to add here - but we're not there yet.
Multiple Eyeballs begin to sproutThe next step begins the Multiple Eyeballs stage. There are actually several parts of the spreadsheet which cover that one stage.
The overall theory to this is that everyone is different. They want their data in different formats. They also look to different distributors to get their books. No two distributors have the same audience.
- So we create three versions of the book to fit any ebook reader, any platform. These you can sell directly or post to the appropriate distributors.
- On Lulu, you post the epub and PDF for sale, then use the PDF to create at least the paperback version. Then you put that book into their Global Reach program to get it to Ingram, etc. You then continue publishing the ebook versions while you wait for the proof. (Once you approve the paperback proof, then you can create a hardback version - saving cost on proofs.)
- More multiple eyeballs are found in the distributors. Sellfy and Payhip are for local sales, which have the highest royalties. Then the main four ebook distributors. Espresso BM can get your paperback discovered.
- You post your PDF (original content only) to Scribd and Doc-Stoc to complete the porting.
- On it's own column, you do an Amazon Kindle version. This is as you have to do more research for Kindle to make sure it's something they will accept and will sell well. You already have your main version everywhere else, so you come back at this point to tweak a special version for Amazon, much like you'd do Smashwords, Blurb, or Leanpub.
While I put Scribd and Doc-Stoc later again, this when you are using these for promotion - posting special excerpts to these sites to aid discovery.
Using your original content for promotionOnce your book is published, your original content can then be ported to multiple formats: text, audio, presentations, video. Then they really start fanning out and covering a wide amount of territory - this is the promotional part of book publishing. These formats can also be bundled. Tim Ferriss did this with his 4-hour chef on BitTorrent - but you can (and should) take that concept further. Bundles can be sold as well - something you see with Leanpub and Sellfy, where the value is in multiple versions available from a single purchase point.
Where you post this varied content can cross-link and add link-love to each other. Some of these can be syndicated, which automates and speeds the process somewhat. Also, most of these nexux points are on social networks - which will eventually get us to Social Sharing. But we aren't there yet.
The key type of nexus point that search engines love has always been blogs. What blogs give is regularly updated content. And this is your strong suit - since you are working on your bliss. Remember this point of being able to talk to any avid listener about this subject endlessly? That's your bliss speaking through you. This strategy simply helps you put these talents to work, to use.
This is why landing pages are first. They go onto a blog as content. Each of your books has a landing page, and they "hard-link" to all the distributors you are using. This means you put the exact link onto that page, not some script which the search engines can't read.
Once you've published everywhere in all possible ebook and book formats the next step is to update and finalize your landing page with links. We'll come back to embed video and PDF onto that page later, another form of social sharing.
What's next?You've seen how marketing gets integrated with book publishing from the beginning. It's not something you add on later. You build your book so that the search engines can make sense of it and help people find it in the version they like and on the distributor of choice.
That's the leverage which search engines bring to your marketing. The world of the print-only published author has been gone for around a decade - the rumors of its death haven't been exaggerated, but haven't been believed, either.
The publishing scene now is "all of the above." Ebooks sell paperbacks, sell hardbacks, sell videos, sell courses, sell any way and every way people want to get your valuable content.
No one approach to this will work - only enabling all-in-one tools like search engines to provide the exact route of discovery which people want.
Your job as a self-publisher is to put your target in front of where people are already aiming. And so, a deep backbench ported to multiple eyeballs.
Follow me so far?
Tomorrow (or soon) tells the future.If the Gods smile on me, I'll have your next installment about this journey soon - hopefully tomorrow.
We've just run a bit long today on explaining the why's to this list.
Review this for yourself - and leave any questions you have in the comments. This will pick up speed pretty quick as I catch everyone up with this long laundry list of self-publishing to-do's.
Then, I'll get back to the real work of getting this list done - and will give you the blow-by-blows as I acid test this system.
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