The Newest DIY eBook Publishing Program

First Amazon launched the Kindle Direct Publishing platform, and then Barnes & Noble launched PubIt! for the Nook. After that, Smashwords took the scene by storm followed by BookBaby. Not to be left out, Apple launched its iBooks Author program, and now, Author Solutions, Inc., has launched BookTango.

Each of these ebook publishing and distribution programs allows authors and publishers to upload and distribute ebooks very cost effectively. Anyone can create, edit, format, publish, promote, and distribute an ebook via these ebook publishing platforms.

BookTango, being the newest player on the field, is trying to grab as many authors as they can during their roll-out phase in order to cement their position amongst their competition. To that end, BookTango is offering the maximum possible royalties from ebook sales for those authors who use BookTango to publish an ebook before July 4, 2012.

BookTango’s current offer means that authors can publish an ebook for free and keep the entire sales price for their ebook (after ebook retailers take their standard fee). In other words, BookTango is not going to take a percentage from sales of books published between now and July 4, 2012, for themselves.

This is a great offer. It is also a great marketing strategy.

So many self-published authors and publishers I talk to hate to give away free books. They talk about how much these books cost them and how they feel they are throwing the money away while other people are benefiting from their handouts.

Remember, it takes money to make money. Companies pay to promote their products. Authors and publishers are not exempt. Author Solutions is paying to offer this program. Nothing is free. BookTango will not receive any monetary remuneration from any ebook published using their service for the next two months.

How much money have you been spending to promote and sell your books lately?

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Bookselling Magic

It seems that almost every week I am running into a new story about an author that has bypassed traditional publishing and is now making big money selling their books as ebooks.

First there was J.A. Konrath, a self-published author of mystery novels. He placed his books for sale on Amazon’s Kindle store and reportedly began making thousands of dollars a month from sales.

Then came Amanda Hocking. A writer of paranormal romance, Amanda could not find a publisher to take on her books. She decided to publish them herself via the Kindle store and ended up making over $1 million before being offered a lucrative contract from a large publishing house.

Next, Elisa Lorello showed up on the scene. Elisa is a teacher in North Carolina. After multiple rejections from publishers, she decided to publish her first novel as an ebook for the Kindle. Elisa sold over 52,000 copies of her novel on Kindle.

Then, Nyree Belleville started having success. Under the pen name Bella Andre, Nyree writes steamy romances. After her publisher dropped her, she began to self-publish her novels for the Kindle on Amazon. In a short time, she was making thousands of dollars a month selling her ebooks.

The list could go on. Authors who are self-publishing start seeing dollar signs when they read these stories. Writers begin thinking, “Why not take the same route with my books?”

Let me share some words of caution with you.

Smashwords, an ebook publishing and distribution platform for ebook authors, publishers and readers, keeps statistics of their book sales. With 16,000 authors and 40,000 titles, Smashwords statistics have a story to tell.

Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, says, “The overwhelming number of self-publishing digital authors end up in the same place as their print counterparts: oblivion.”

Harsh words, but the statistics prove them. Less than 50 authors on Smashwords are making more than $50,000 per year. The site has a lot of authors who don’t sell a single book.

eBook sales follow the typical power curve. A very few sell a whole lot and a whole lot sell only a few.

There is nothing magic about ebooks or Kindle. Book selling remains the same whether books are in print or digital form. It takes great writing, good marketing, and the right pricing to sell books.

My advice is to follow your heart, seek God, and allow Him to be your co-publisher.


The Key to Selling Books on Kindle

It keeps cropping up in the news. I keep hearing about it on publishing discussion groups. The number of authors who are self-publishing novels for the Kindle and then selling thousands of copies of their books is increasing.

Recently, Amanda Hockings was big news in the self-publishing world. Amanda penned novels and received rejection after rejection from publishers. Finally, she made the decision to put her novels up for sale on Amazon’s Kindle. To date, she has sold 900,000 copies of her ebooks and essentially become a millionaire. Now she has received a two million dollar book deal for a new series from a major publisher.

Just the other week, The Charlotte Observer (a newspaper in my home town) had an article about a woman named Elisa Lorello. Elisa is a teacher in North Carolina. She, too, after multiple rejections from publishers, decided to publish her first novel as an ebook for Amazon’s Kindle. At first, she got a modest response, but when she lowered the price from $1.99 to $.99, her sales began to soar. To date, she has sold 52,000 copies of her novel on Kindle.

So what’s the key to selling thousands of books on Kindle?

Well-written novels for the younger generation (16 to 32 year olds) priced at $.99.

I’m not joking. Every success story on selling thousands of copies of books on the Kindle has had the common theme of books priced at $1.99 or below. Both Amanda and Elisa sold many of their books for $.99.

It appears that many Kindle owners have a garage sale mentality. “Here is a cheap novel for $.99. I will pick it up and see if I like it.” When you buy books cheap at a garage sale, you can take a risk. You are not shelling out much money when paying a buck for a book. If you don’t like the book, no sweat; after all, you got it for a bargain.

If you have a Christian novel you want to sell, try bargain pricing it for the Amazon Kindle. You probably will pick up a number of Christian readers who are just looking for the bargain books.


Engrossed in a Book

Just the other day, someone I was talking to at a conference told me a story about reading while she was driving. After she mentioned this, she stated, “That’s probably not too smart of me.”

Inwardly, I concurred. Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, I stumbled upon this YouTube video of a man reading a book while driving 75 miles per hour on a California highway.

That led me to the YouTube video of the bus driver in Portland, Oregon, who was reading a Kindle as he drove his public transit bus around town.

Reading while driving has got to be as bad as texting while driving. However, it does my heart good to see people so engrossed in books that they can’t put them down. Now if they were Christian books, that would even be better.


Two Marketing Lessons Learned in a Verizon Store

Those of us in the book industry often fall into the trap of thinking that everyone is familiar with what we are familiar with. I don’t think this just applies to the book industry; I think it’s a human trait.

For instance, consider the Kindle. I have heard and read so much about the Kindle in the past couple of years that I fell into the trap of thinking the average person on the street who loved books would know about the Kindle. I recently found out this is not the case.

The other day, I was in a Verizon store getting some assistance with my cell phone account. The young lady who waited on me was very polite and friendly. We got to talking and she told me how she loved to read. She mentioned that she purchased at least two books a week to feed her reading habit.

Then she pulled out a postcard-sized advertisement for the Nook and said to me, “Have you heard of this? I think it’s really cool and I’m thinking of getting one.”

I told her that I had indeed heard of Barnes & Noble’s Nook. I asked her if she knew that Amazon had a similar e-reader called the Kindle. This young lady did not know that there were other e-reader options. A friend had recently given her the advertisement she showed me and this was the only e-reader she was familiar with.

I walked out of the Verizon store thankful that I had been reminded of two important lessons:

1. Not everyone is familiar with what I am familiar with.

I often wonder when a new small publisher signs up for membership with Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) how they became familiar with our organization. Some tell me, others don’t. On the other hand, I am sometimes surprised when I run into a publisher who I think should know about CSPA, and they have never heard of our organization.

Just because someone loves books does not mean they know all the major bookstores or are familiar with the major online book review sites. Just because someone is an ardent fans of Christian fiction does not mean they have heard about your Christian fiction books.

This is why marketing must be a never-ending activity for publishers and authors. There are always more people who need to be introduced to your books.

2. Person-to-person marketing is the most effective.

I am certain that this sales lady had been on and had the Kindle pop up on the home page. Most likely she just did not notice it or ignored it in pursuit of what she knew she was looking for. Yet, when a friend handed her information about the Nook, she began to think about how purchasing one would save her money on her book purchases in the long run. She even began to seriously consider purchasing one.

We live in an era of information overload. Seeing an ad for a product or service will most likely not engage us until we have a reason to become engaged with that ad. I see hundreds of banner ads everyday on the Internet. I ignore almost all of them. I can’t even tell you what many of them are for.

In the age of information overload connecting with people is more important than shouting about your book or product. You can’t out-shout the other ads. Connection is the key. Use the opportunities you are presented every day to connect with the people you cross paths with both in-person and online to promote your books.

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