Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Track and Prosper - Bitly Redirect Links

You need to track which of your books is giving you leads. Bitly redirect links and QR codes.

You need to track which of your books is giving you link-love. Particularly, which ones are generating leads, which from from the Look Inside.

Yes, the primary reason for ebooks is Lead Generation (email subscriptions). They suck at generating income, which "conventional wisdom" is still cheering on. (That definition is commonly-accepted, but unexamined beliefs.)  Sure, the top 1% make 6-figures - for awhile. And as long as they keep cranking out popular books. But everyone else makes between $250 and $500 per year. That same old 95-5 or 95-3 or 99-1 percentile split - depending on the data you're looking at.

So you put a Lead Magnet in the front and back of your book so that anyone can find it and come straight to your website and sign up. But you have one Lead Magnet and a few dozen books. Use the UTM parameters (i.e. "" ) to let you know which one is sending you the most leads. So you can somehow figure out how to duplicate that - or figure that you need to run some Facebook Ads to get more traffic to that ebook.

It can work in print books as well, but you have to make sure that your bitly link is memorable, like: or (hyphens aren't the greatest, and numbers are probably better than letters.) Remember, they have to physically type it in. I imagine that a scan code would come in handy at this point.

[Of course, that led us down another rabbit-hole. Hope you got another beverage while I was gone. Now that we're back...]

You used to be able to get QR codes from bitly, but they quit over a year ago. Google is another recommended one, since they track the links - but don't have a way to download the image. You'd have to copy it, paste it into GIMP (or similar) and then save it, so you could upload it to your print book version. You can copy/paste it directly into LibreOffice, but it goes in at 72dpi and both Lulu and CreateSpace want 300 dpi images or they auto-alert on you.

So, I had to go looking. Found this: which gives you a few free QR code generators. I picked out and am happy with it. You can download several versions of it, even upload your own logo as a watermark. Don't know how they make income to support it, but it's there.

Let's recap:
1. You need a redirect link with a UTM on it so that you can track your leads back to the book that sent it.
2. For print books you need a QR code generator that will give you a QR code that is printable.

Now, there is a added tip you can do to get your QR code onto the back cover (so if it winds up in an actual bookstore, someone could scan it there. I'd suggest putting it on the front cover, but it will always cause your designer fits as it's just an ugly box there - besides, you create your cover at around 1200x1800 so it is big enough for Amazon and iTunes, but will scale down for Lulu. The scaling then trashes the QR code. Also, you do one front cover for both ebook and print in my lineup. So your QR code goes on the back. Case settled. Look, it's inside first and last page already...)

You use Lulu to generate your cover for CreateSpace, as their cover generator is atrociously complicated. All you have to do is to use GIMP to cut off the ISBN that Lulu gave you and leave a big white space there.

Now, to get the QR code on the back of your book, you have to make a white background and put it into the lower left-hand corner high and inside enough to not be cut off by trimming. (You'll see how it looks in the preview.) ISBN's are always lower right.  You pick white to make it simple, and easy to read. Yes, you could do other colors, but black on white is the easiest to read - and it shows off your self-publishing roots. ;)

Now, note that this is all untested. Lulu and CS will tell me if I screwed up their cover system, and then I'll tell you. Otherwise, make sure your back cover text fits above the barcodes.

So, yes, I'm recommending you create your Lulu paperback first and then download and modify that cover for the CS version. Your CS version goes out through Amazon's systems, but only to Amazon itself. Your Lulu paperback (which is almost always more expensive than CS) gets the extended reach so it goes everywhere else. This is simply because you want to get the Amazon sales, the Prime delivery and all that. CS still is having reports of quality issues, so you don't want to bet the farm on them. Also, if B&N wouldn't accept Tim Ferriss' CS-printed book, then I'm not going to take chances with the independent booksellers who are even more prejudiced against anything Amazon.

(And that attitude has helped me leave a lot of money on the table over the past few years, a scene I'm just starting to rectify.)

[Update to this post: QR codes are a pain inside a book. 1-bit images need to be 600 dpi to work. You'll first find this in your Lulu rejects, having to wait as long as 24 hours for CS to get to your submission, another reason for Lulu to be first in your workflow. However, they could be useful on the outside - anyone at anytime in the future could find that book and scan it. See sample below. Still testing, though.]

- - - -

Is there a future for this Podcast?
As for podcast episodes, it looks like they are really over for this particular show. I am uncovering very few new tips and tricks to tell you about how to publish your books. Just not finding many. And this blog isn't about getting tips to newbies - there are plenty out ther. I'm not simply going to be regurgitating stuff in order to just have a podcast. Because, as you've been seeing, I'm into the business of publishing. And that is keeping me very, very busy. (After I published that first couple of hundred books, it's gotten pretty routine, you can imagine.) The tips above are about all I've found for the last month or so. This one on bitly came up tonight, and I needed a break, so...

The planning is to turn this blog over into one which is about "Classics You Should Know" - which will be simply reading off the short descriptions of the books I release. 4000 characters is about 500 words, which in turn is 2-3 minutes. 5 books a week, 5 podcasts M-F. 260 books in a year.

Just my kind of challenge.  The math on it is pretty wild, too. 6- figures and all that.

OK, another tip: 
Ebooks, especially, especially, especially on Amazon, are completely over-saturated. At least the broad categories. You have to find small profitable niches (and why I published that last short read about short reads) to generate any income at all. Steve Scott is into the habits niche, for example.

The continuing money is and continues to be in paperbacks. And that is, from my last work up, a great part of Scott's income. But I've always told everyone to have everything everywhere. (And like Scott, I'm working out how to get into translations, but not leave as much money on the table as Scott did.)

Amazon has gotten so bad for PD books, I'm even considering giving Kindle versions away for free on my site. At the very least, I'll bundle the .mobi, .epub, and PDF files together for one low price. The person will just have to learn how to side-load their own books, which isn't all that difficult (and I'll have downloadable instructions and also include these in the files for each purchase.) You can do this with Ganxy or Sellfy, but you pay a nice chunk when you sell on your own - which is why they take 10%, because Paypal very nearly does when you get below $10 or so. (Math it yourself - take off 30 cents and then take another 2.99% - it adds up.)

Other updates:
Now, the idea of porting your content into all sorts of formats mainly stopped with ebooks, print books, cover images, PDF's (Slideshare) and LinkedIn articles - oh, and podcasts. IFTTT makes sure the content goes out to Twitter and Facebook. It's even possible to get IFTTT to port to Buffer and so reach G+ (but it's iffy.) IFTTT also gives it over to five other platforms, which even includes Medium now. The only thing missing is video, and that's because it's huge time-burner with no record of getting any sales or email subscriptions (except, again, for the top 1%.) That should update you on how it's going. It's streamlined quite a bit, even if it doesn't sound like it. When I do an ebook in a single day and link in the existing podcast, that goes out the next day with me doing nothing but post it once. All those places get their version on automatic. My idea of efficient leverage.


Use them.

By the end of March or so, I'll have 5 podcasts up regularly going based on audio of the 5 main books I'm marketing this way. Once these audios complete, they simply are started all over again. So they are evergreen. Yes, we'll scrutinize each episode and maybe remaster the audio as needed to update the ads and tweak it here or there. Essentially, though, it just became a marketing system with very little maintenance overhead needed.

So that system works well. I'm seeing some response in the books I offer on Amazon, mainly due to the amount of backlinks which are showing up, as well as all the new short reads I'm creating which all link back to the main book.

My main approach now is to get all possible existing books up on CS with the Lead Magnet in them, as well as QR codes front, back, and outside. That alone should rocket my income. Added to that, I'm planning to put up another hundred or so books.

So you can see that I don't have a lot of time for chit-chat.

Look, keep subscribing to this feed and you'll get a lot of great examples of how to do it. And join the Classics You Should Know book club while your at it. You'll get a free membership to when you do (if you don't already.)

Well, I'll let you go for now. Just thought you could use this tip on bitly codes (and the new stuff we just learned on QR codes for paperbacks.) Plus the updates.

See you around.

PS. Email me or leave any questions in the comments. Google usually tells me when there is something to handle in that area. I try to answer them all and my email to. In the otherwise idle minutes I have laying around...

PPS. What I am doing is to start a "Classics You Should Know" book club. Click that link and sign up today. No spam, just great books delivered weekly.

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