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How To Write A Blurb

While browsing the table displays in a bookshop, what is the first thing that catches our eye? The front cover, yes, but it’s the back cover or inside flap (in a hardback) that convinces us to actually buy the book. That short description of the book is what we call a blurb.  A blurb may seem like a simple thing to write… I mean, how hard can it be to produce 150-200 words that describe your book effectively? The truth is that getting a blurb right is no walk in the park. It can make or break a book and hence it has to be very carefully crafted.   In this article, we will explore how to write a blurb that not only perfectly describes your book, but also has the potential to maximise your sales.   What Is A Blurb?  As mentioned earlier, the blurb is what appears on the inside flap of a hardback book and the back cover of a paperback – and in most cases, it’s also used to promote the book on online bookstores and in the press.   A blurb is very different from a synopsis. A synopsis is a (rather boring) one-to-two-page summary of your book that includes the entire plot including twists and the ending. A synopsis is usually sent to an agent or editor so they can quickly grasp what your entire book is about. A blurb, on the other hand, keeps all the secrets hidden and is created in order to convince people to spend their money on your book! The primary function of a blurb is to entice readers, giving them enough information about your characters, the story conflict and stakes to want to read the book (but without giving away the climax).   Blurbs, Genre And You  Every genre has its own kind of blurb. While blurbs for thrillers and crime novels start off with a bang (not a literal one!), the ones for literary fiction can sometimes take a languid pace. For non-fiction, the focus is not on the characters but the overall concept behind the book.   All self-published authors must get their blurbs right, as a good blurb sells books. Traditionally published authors may receive help from their agent or editor, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t learn how to write a blurb and get to grips with what a great blurb looks like. Later in the article, we will examine some examples of a good blurb.   What Does A Blurb Contain?  A blurb needs to sell the book, and that means that often it contains more than just a condensed summary of the story. If you\'re wondering how to write a book blurb, look no further. Here are six things a blurb should (and often does) contain:  1. The Author’s Popularity  If you’re a well-known author, that’s what the blurb should start with. There are countless times when we’ve bought books just because they’re from a USA Today or Sunday Times bestselling author. Also, if you’re the recipient of an award, that should also go straight in the blurb, if it isn’t already on the cover.   Fortunately (or unfortunately) the prestige surrounding these labels counts. I remember discovering Donna Tartt for the first time through her Pulitzer winning novel The Goldfinch. I knew nothing about her, but I bought her book because of the award. I then picked up The Secret History which turned me into a die-hard Tartt fan.   You don’t need to put your entire biography in the blurb, although some publishers in the United States tend to do that, but it is useful to give readers a little flavour of what you’ve achieved in the past as it often helps them decide whether to invest in your book or not.   Remember, hardbacks are not cheap - so a blurb needs to do double (or triple) duty if possible. 2. The Story Description Once the author’s major achievements have been listed, it’s important to get straight to the point with what’s inside the book. Often, publishers like to give a little taste of the overall content of the book with phrases like ‘The Crime Novel Everyone is Talking About’ or ‘A Story You Won’t Forget In A Hurry’. These are meant to tempt the reader to read further and discover what the book is about. With such catchy headlines, it’s quite probable that the reader will want to read on.   3. A Great First Line (Or Two) Hooking the reader with the first line is the best way to get them to want to buy your book. In the blurb of Laini Taylor’s first book of her YA fantasy trilogy, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, we get a first line that intrigues, then a second line that sends shivers down your spine: Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war. Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious \"errands\", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself? However, what really stands out in a blurb is the main character…who (or what) is Akiva? Why is he haunted? Why is Karou’s hair blue and why doesn’t she know who she is? The only way you will find out is to read the book. A blurb that works!  Let’s take a look at blurbs and their characters in more detail… 4. The Main Character  It’s important to remember that the protagonist is often the main aspect of your story that will draw readers to your book. A blurb should do a good job of introducing the main character, but in a way that leaves room for intrigue. The trick is never to give the game away, because the blurb is meant to entice the reader to buy your book. If you tell a potential reader all there is to know about the main character and plot, then there won’t be any incentive to buy the book.   Here’s a look at the blurb for Gone Girl, a book that has defined a generation:  Who are you? What have we done to each other?  These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy\'s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn\'t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren\'t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.  So what really did happen to Nick\'s beautiful wife?  As you can see, the focus of this blurb is on Nick Dunne, the main character. We instantly need to know whether Nick is guilty or innocent, and we can tell straight away this is going to be a book full of twists and turns.   The blurb for Gone Girl does everything it’s required to do. It has a hook at the start that propels the reader to read on. And as they do, they’re introduced to the main character who’s in a major conflict…which is the next topic of this discussion. 5. The Conflict People read books for the drama (even gentler books need something to happen in them). They want to see the protagonist go through impossible situations and root for them. Books offer a necessary distraction, especially now the world has become such an impossible place, and for a book to properly entertain us there needs to be conflict.   Therefore, the blurb needs to reflect that conflict too.   As soon as we introduce the main character in the blurb, it’s important to throw them into a dilemma or conflict. For example, looking at the above blurb, it’s obvious that Nick is dealing with the disappearance of his wife which forms the major conflict in the story. Why did Amy disappear? What could have possibly happened? That is the stuff of drama.   Let’s look at another blurb, this one is from The Kindness of Psychopaths by Alan Gorevan:  How far would you go for those you love? When Valentina López Vázquez vanishes from her home one morning, it’s obvious that she was taken by force. What happened to her next is not so obvious. The disappearance forces two men on a gruelling search for the truth: Barry Wall, Valentina’s frantic husband, and Joe Byrne, the nihilistic detective in charge of the investigation. They are locked on a devastating course that will take them to places darker than they ever dreamt – places without limits… Don’t miss this page-turning thriller. Perfect for fans of Shari Lapena, Peter Swanson, Jennifer Hillier, and Linwood Barclay.  As you can see, this blurb starts off with an intriguing hook and then dives straight into the main characters and the overall conflict, which is the disappearance of Valentina Lopez Vazquez. Creating intrigue around the primary conflict is what will get people to buy your book. While there may be plenty of internal conflicts going on in the main character’s head, they are not suitable to include in a blurb. Since the blurb is brief and to the point, the physical aspects of the conflict are what should make an appearance.   If you look at the above blurb, it also introduces us to another useful device that ought to be used in a blurb: WHY should readers buy the book?  6. Why Should Readers Buy The Book? That is a question readers will be asking themselves when they’re reading your blurb. They will be looking for a sense of familiarity, something that connects the book to one they’ve read and enjoyed in the past.   In the blurb of The Kindness of Psychopaths, it mentions that fans of Shari Lapena and Peter Swanson will love the book. That’s the connection readers will be looking for… a reason for them to buy the book.   Much like when supplying comparative titles when pitching your books to agent and editors, those same titles can be used in your blurb. So, if you feel your book is similar in theme to the books of a famous author or similar to a popular TV series or movie, mention that in your blurb. It may be a short line, but it’s an important one.   What Makes A Good Blurb?  Looking at the above points, here is a brief checklist of what makes a good blurb and what doesn’t:  A Good Blurb  A brief note on the author’s popularity An intriguing opening line that hooks the reader’s attention Introduction to the main character Introduction to the primary conflict and stakes The reason why a reader should buy the book  A Bad Blurb  Focuses on the internal conflicts of the main character Introduces unnecessary characters Summarises the entire plot (intrigue sells) Gives away the climax Fails to establish the stakes  Fails to identify the author or compare them to other similar authors   The blurb is one of the most important things you will write for your book, especially if you are a self-published author. Since you only have 150-200 words before you lose your reader’s attention, you have to make every word count. Even more than the cover, it’s the blurb that will make the reader consider whether or not they want to buy the book.  So get your sales hat on, think commercially, and hook your readers with a fantastic blurb they won’t be able to ignore. Make them ask ‘what happens next, then?’ and ensure that the only way they can find out is by buying and reading your wonderful book!  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Typeset Your Novel

You’ve completed your manuscript and perhaps published it already as an e-book. Now it’s time to create your print edition, and you’ve got a few nagging questions: Can a writer typeset their own novel? What is the definition of typesetting? And how do you typeset a book, anyway?  In this article, we’ll explain the basics of DIY typesetting, give you some tips to achieve a professional look, and advise you when DIY is (and isn’t) a good idea.   Let’s get to it!  What Is Typesetting? Typesetting a book is the process of transforming a manuscript—an abstract stream of words with no physical form—into a layout, a digital file with a specific dimensions and page count that will be exactly reproduced by a print or print-on-demand service.  Typesetting isn’t about converting file formats or adding aesthetic elements, though both of those things do happen. It’s primarily about readability—making careful design choices to ensure that your readers can enjoy your novel without eye strain, fatigue, distraction, or errors.  Typesetting at a professional level takes years of experience, but thanks to technology (and this article), you can achieve “good enough” typesetting for your novel with a little care and thoughtfulness.  The Difference Between Typesetting And Typography You may have also heard the term “typography”. This refers to the broader craft and study of type – something graphic designers are much more interested in than self-published writers.   Typography includes not only the aesthetics involved with setting type, but also the design of the font itself, pairing fonts of different families, the arrangement of the font on the page and how they interact with other design elements including images, margins and white space.  As much as typography is fascinating and fun – for the purpose of typesetting your novel, all you need to focus on is getting your book looking as professional as possible!  How Does Typesetting Work? The days of arranging metal sorts in a frame for printing are long past. In the digital era, professional typesetting is done using specialized software like Adobe InDesign (or any of several less-known, less-expensive alternatives).  Word processing software (such as Microsoft Word) has made basic typesetting available to everyone but lacks important professional-level features. Because of this, typesetting a complex layout in Word, such as a textbook or recipe book, would be asking for a serious headache—hire a professional for those books.  However, when it comes to novels, which are composed almost entirely of body paragraphs, the DIY option is viable.  How To Prepare Your Manuscript For Typesetting You need a clean manuscript if you want to typeset your novel successfully. Use this checklist to get ready:  If you have change tracking on, accept all changes and turn off change tracking now. (If you want to preserve those tracked changes, save a separate copy of your manuscript.) Resolve and delete all comments. Delete excess whitespace—search your manuscript for tab characters (often represented as t in search-and-replace), double newlines (nn), and three or more spaces. If any matches are found, replace them with the appropriate layout option, such as page breaks, tables, or paragraph styles. Make sure all of your front matter and back matter is present and complete.  Save your clean manuscript before moving on. If you’re typesetting in the same program you wrote in, create a second copy to be the typeset version.  DIY Typesetting 101 You can use a word processor, specialised writing software, or professional layout software to typeset your novel. Regardless of which one you choose; the rules below apply just the same.  If your software comes with templates, feel free to try them—they might save you time. But make sure you review the results carefully. Many templates, especially those bundled with word processors, omit or violate some of the best practices of typesetting.  Ground Rules: Consistency And Simplicity You want your reader focused on the story. To avoid distracting them, you want a layout that is consistent (does things the same way each time) and simple (doesn’t vary more than necessary).  To help you be consistent, use the paragraph styles feature of your software. This feature lets you define a certain look and rules for a paragraph: which font it should use, how much space should come before and after, whether it should allow hyphens, and so on. Every element in your book should be formatted by applying a paragraph style—never by hand.  As for simplicity, remember that the purpose of a change in appearance is to signal a change in meaning. Don’t vary the appearance of text any more than is necessary to accomplish this goal. One good rule of thumb is that you need only two fonts to typeset a novel: one for the body text, and one for the chapter headings. Everything else can be accomplished through italics, white space, and font size.  How To Typeset Your Page Make sure you know your trim size (page dimensions) and set them correctly in your software.  Set your page margins before you begin and keep them consistent on every page. Make your bottom margin the same as the top, or a little larger. Make your inside margins larger than your outside margins—the binding process will “eat up” some of the page. If you’d like your body text to appear centred left-to-right, your inside margin may need to be as much as 0.5” larger than the outside margin.  Novels are not reference books, so page numbering should not be prominent. Use an unobtrusive font like a light sans-serif or a smaller size of the body font. Two styles are common: centred at the bottom of each page or aligned to the outside at the top of each page.  Running heads are optional and should be placed at the top of the page and centred. (Typically, the left page will show the book title and the right page the author’s name.)  Be sure to leave sufficient space between your running heads, page numbers, and the body text. The reader should never accidentally find themselves reading the running head. How To Typeset Paragraphs Once your page layout is set, your next priority is getting your paragraph style right. Take a look at your favourite novels and note how they have been laid out. Here are a number of best practices you should use:  Use a serif font, not a sans-serif or novelty font. Avoid any font labelled “display”. (These are designed for use at large sizes and will not read clearly as body text.) Use a font size of 10-12 points. Confirm that your lines are 45-90 characters wide. You can test this by typing the alphabet repeatedly until you fill up a line—anything between two and three alphabets per line is okay. If your line length is too long, increase the font size, or if you’re already at 12-point, increase your left and right margins. If your line length is too short, take the opposite steps. Paragraphs should be justified, not left-aligned. Don’t turn off hyphenation. The first sentence of each paragraph should be indented by the width of a few letters. Make the indent large enough that your eye naturally jumps to the start of each new paragraph, and not much larger than that. However, don’t indent the first paragraph in a chapter, the first paragraph after a scene break, and the first paragraph after any “block” element (such as a quoted letter or poem). To deal with these exceptions, you can set up a separate paragraph style. (Or, if your software supports it, use a conditional rule.) Don’t add any extra space before or after paragraphs. Every line on the page should be the same distance apart. Leading (called “line spacing” in word processors) is essential to readability. The common default of “single spacing”, which is often 115%, is too tight. “Double spacing” is much too loose. Set a value of around 130% but be aware that some word processors don’t display these values correctly. As a point of reference, you can compare your layout against a hardcover novel, which will usually have comfortable leading.  This might seem like a lot of typesetting rules just for a humble paragraph. But when you consider that 99% of your reader’s time is spent reading paragraphs, it’s easy to see why getting them right is important.  How To Typeset Scene Changes Here there are two options: insert a blank line (and remember to not indent the following paragraph) or insert a small symbol or decorative design.  How To Typeset Chapter Headings Chapter headings should stand out from body paragraphs. There are many ways to achieve this, all of which are equally valid.  The most elaborate chapter headings will begin a new page, take up as much as half the height, include some graphic design elements, and set the chapter number and/or title in a large font that may be ornate or stylised.  The most minimal chapter headings consist of nothing more than some vertical separation from the previous paragraph, with the heading itself in a bold or larger font.  If your book includes scene breaks, chapter headings should be more prominent than scene breaks.  How To Typeset Front Matter (Prelims) Here your job is easy: copy another book. Front matter varies from book to book, so look through a few and pick one that contains the same elements as yours.  Copyright pages typically use a small font; dedications are centered on their own page, about a third of the way down; half-titles are usually understated and always less elaborate than the title page.  Your title page is special and deserves some extra attention. Again, you’ll do well to look at other books. One common approach is to use the same lettering as your front cover, but with any background scene removed. However, other books use an entirely different design for the title page.  How To Typeset Back Matter Your goal here is simply to let the reader know the main story is over. Some simple options to try: eliminate running heads and/or page numbers in the back matter, use a smaller body font size, or use a different body font. As with the front matter, you can look at other books for inspiration.  Advanced Wrangling Following the typesetting rules above will give you a “semi-professional” result. If you want to take things a step further (you masochist!), you’ll need to do some advanced wrangling.  This work can get finnicky very quickly, so save a copy of your layout before you proceed.  Starting at the front of your book, go page-by-page, finding and resolving any of the following problems:  Word stacks: the same word appearing multiple times directly above/below itself. Widows and orphans: the first or last line of a paragraph appearing on a page by itself. Hyphens at the end of a page or the last line of a paragraph. Short words alone on the last line of a paragraph. Rivers: spaces between words that appear roughly above one another on several consecutive lines, forming a meandering white space. Scene breaks that appear as the very first or last thing on a page.  These are smaller distractions, but still noticeable to your reader. All of them are related to where words fall within a paragraph or on a page, and all of them are solved by adjusting the position of words, using tricks such as:  Making a small edit (you’re the author, so you’re allowed) Joining or splitting paragraphs Adjusting the font width of a paragraph, but never more than a couple of percentage points Adjusting the line spacing of a spread (two facing pages)—again, never more than a few percentage points  If you choose to dive into advanced wrangling, always do this step last, and always work strictly front-to-back, because any change to your layout will disturb some or all of the pages that follow it.  Don’t force yourself to address every problem if it’s beyond your skill level, available time, or patience. Every correction is an improvement, so if you attempt this step at all, give yourself a pat on your back for your dedication to your readers. And if you want some help with your mansucript, try our copy-editing service. Conclusion We hope this guide has helped you gain a better understanding of how to typeset your novel. After all, it would be a shame to write a fantastic story and make it hard to read. So take your time, follow each step by step suggestion, and remember Jericho Writers is with you every word of the way! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Rosalind Tate On The Self-Publishing Revolution

Rosalind Tate, author of The Shorten Chronicles, is no stranger to the complicated world of self-publishing. She believes the seismic changes in publishing amount to a revolution — one that can only help independently published authors. In this interview, Rosalind tells us why she turned to the world of self-pub for more control and agency. She offers some practical insight into picking up the many skills required - the road can be daunting, but well worth the rewards. JW: What made you decide to self-publish your book?  RT: At the Jericho Writers Festival of Writing in September 2018, I stumbled into a self-publishing workshop and assumed it was about vanity publishing: an author paying a publisher to publish their book. But I quickly realised this wasn’t about vanity. This was a revolution!  I’m not usually a fan of revolutions — they tend to be bloody, and don’t end well — but this one has freed authors to publish what they want, when they want, and enabled many independent authors (“indies”) to make a full-time living.  I learned facts in that workshop that made my jaw drop. I can’t remember the figures from 2018, so here are the most recent:  A traditionally published author receives around 10% of royalties on print books. That’s what’s left after the agent and publisher have taken their cut.  Indie authors publishing an eBook on Amazon (indies earn most of their income from eBooks) receive 60- 70%.  But, like all stats, it’s not quite that simple, and money wasn’t as important a factor as control. Control of my brand, of my intellectual property, of my business. And my business is to help as many readers as possible fall in love with the Shorten Chronicles!  I quickly realised this wasn’t about vanity. This was a revolution! However, there are downsides to going indie.  To persuade Amazon’s bots to beaver away and market your book, and to have any visibility (and sales), you need to pay to advertise. You might not recoup your business set-up costs until you publish your second or third book.  An indie author has to want to learn all aspects of this business. It took me 18 months to learn the basics, and though the curve levelled out after that, I’m still learning. Fortunately, before you publish, you can easily research every step through Jericho Writers and other reputable sites.  So, who are the authors who might prefer to take the traditionally published route?  Authors who aren’t aware that publishing has changed beyond recognition in the last decade (and it’s unlikely a prospective agent and/or publisher will enlighten them).  Literary fiction authors. This type of novel can be hard to sell on Amazon and other online platforms – eBook readers prefer easier genres: steamy or sweet romance, science fiction, crime etc.  Authors who can’t/don’t wish to spend time learning non-writing skills.  Someone who isn’t interested in writing as a career. I have a friend who wrote an exposé on her ex-employer. She had no desire to ever write another book, so it was simpler and less time-consuming to pay a reputable small publisher.  Money wasn’t as important a factor as control. Control of my brand, of my intellectual property, of my business. JW: Self-publishing involves a huge range of skills – how did you set about learning them?  RT: Jericho Writers was a crucial resource. Here, I found my forever editor, binge-watched marketing videos, and took the self-editing course, which I can’t recommend highly enough.  In 2020, I completed Mark Dawson’s comprehensive 101 course, and I also followed wise indies like David Gaughran, Joanna Penn and Dave Chesson, watched their free videos online and subscribed to their free newsletters.  I am not a technical person, but luckily there are sites out there that make what used to be challenging tasks easy. For example:  Formatting eBooks and print books (  Keeping a record of daily earnings and expenses (  Emailing hundreds or thousands of readers (  Putting a professional blurb onto your book page ( ) and a host of other useful tips (  JW: What’s your favourite thing about self-publishing? RT: Other indie authors! They’re a really supportive community. For example, a highly successful author helped me improve my first blurb. Just because she could.  But my most favourite thing is direct contact with my readers. Just after I published, a reader emailed to thank me, saying how my novel had made her forget the pandemic during her time off (she’s a doctor). I was speechless.  JW: What has it been like committing to writing a series as a self-published author? Is the experience different to what you might expect with a traditional publishing deal?  RT: I don’t have to produce each book to a rigid external deadline, but my boss is a crazy workaholic (that’s me, of course) and she wants to publish a book a year, each better than the last... But seriously, if I miss a self-imposed deadline, that’s okay. Of course, I can’t not finish the series and I do feel that pressure. I’ve promised my readers!  When you publish, be kind to yourself. JW: Do you have any advice for writers considering the self-publishing route? RT: If you’re itching to publish and see what happens... DON’T, until you’ve completed the three crucial tasks below.  A competent novel with minimum typos. If you’re on a budget, wait until you can afford to pay a professional editor. You want your book to be as good as it can be. Confession: I had an embarrassing number of structural edits for my first novel, and two copyedits for the first one and the second.  Mailing list. Once you’ve finished your book (yay!), write a short story or novella, preferably adding to and in the same world/characters as your novel. You’re going to give that much shorter story away to entice readers onto your mailing list.  But why?  Because your mailing list is yours, not controlled by Amazon or Facebook or any third party. The discerning readers who’ve entrusted you with their email are key to your whole writing career. You can check out how I encourage readers to sign up with my free story on my website. Cover. Research what kind of story your book is: sweet romance, police procedural, space opera etc. Look at the top twenty books in your lowest sub-genre on Amazon. For example:  Kindle Store » Kindle eBooks » Teen & Young Adult eBooks » Teen & Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy eBooks » Teen & Young Adult Fantasy eBooks » Teen & Young Adult Historical Fantasy eBooks  Your cover should ‘fit in’ with books of the same sub-genre. Then, if you can, pay a professional to design the cover.  When you publish, be kind to yourself. It takes time to garner reviews, build up a mailing list, write more novels, and earn enough to give up the day job.  And on the way, enjoy the journey to publication.  If you\'d like some help with your writing, try our copy-editing service. Good luck!  About Rosalind Rosalind Tate lives in Gloucestershire, England, and holidays on the Cornish coast. She served in the British military, then worked as a journalist and a lawyer. She has grown up children, a tolerant husband and two utterly gorgeous dogs. Visit Rosalind\'s website. Buy \'The Shorten Chronicles\' on on

L M West’s Self-Publishing Success

As writers ourselves, we know how daunting it can be to self-publish your first novel. Member L M West did just that, embarking on the mammoth task of learning all the skills effective self-publishing involves. Now, she\'s reaping the rewards. From editorial assessments to cover commissioning, she takes us through her process and explains why self-pub can often be the perfect fit. JW: Tell us a bit about your background as a writer. When did you start writing?  LMW: I left school in 1970 with three O levels and hadn\'t written anything before. After reading about a local woman who was accused of three instances of witchcraft, the story of my first novel, ‘This Fearful Thing’, was forming in my head - but I had no idea how to go about setting it down or how to actually write. I had done the research and when lockdown hit I thought I had nothing to lose by having a go. I started off by doing a short online course with Curtis Brown Creative called Write to the End of Your Novel. This was just what I needed as a complete beginner and really helped me get to grips with what I was trying to do.  Cover of \'This Fearful Thing\' by L M West JW: What made you change your mind about pursuing a traditional publishing route?   LMW: A lot of the information and courses out there are geared towards traditional publishing and that was what I thought was the ‘proper’ way to go. Two other writers I had ‘met’ on the CBC course (and who had become my Trusted Readers) both got agents within a week of each other and were over the moon. I hadn’t quite finished my book, but my synopsis was done and my query letter all ready. I was so thrilled for them and thought this was what I wanted as well. But then, about three weeks in, they started to mention deadlines, a possible title change, and a major re-think of some of the characters. It also became clear that you, as an author, do not always have the final say on things like the cover design. I just woke up one morning and thought ‘I don’t want this’. I had suddenly realised that I didn’t want the stress of deadlines and alterations, of the problems of getting an agent and maybe, even then, not getting a publishing deal. I also hadn’t realised just how long the traditional publishing process takes and I wanted my book out there sooner rather than later, so I looked again at self-publishing.  I just woke up one morning and thought ‘I don’t want this’. JW: Self-publishing involves a lot of plate-spinning - how did you go about learning all the skills required?   LMW: In the early stages I’d decided that self-publishing was far too complicated and would take up valuable writing time, but when I revisited the idea I began to look at it in more detail. This is where Jericho Writers came into its own for me. I paid to have a professional editorial report which was a complete game-changer and something I’d wholly recommend, as you need another – unbiased - opinion on your work before putting it out there. I think self-pub has still got a bit of a stigma around it. With this in mind, I wanted to make my book as professional as possible so I also commissioned a cover from a local printmaker/illustrator. Both these things were costly, and I did hesitate before committing to them, but they helped make the book the success it’s been. It became stronger and much tighter for the editorial report, and I’ve had so many lovely comments about the cover design, so I’m pleased I made the investment.   I paid to have a professional editorial report which was a complete game-changer and something I’d wholly recommend, as you need another – unbiased - opinion on your work before putting it out there. I Googled the skills I needed and decided to publish via Amazon KDP as there is no up-front cost. The process was easier than I thought as the KDP site talks you through the process in simple stages, and I resisted the urge to check it \'one more time’! I decided to publish in both Kindle and paperback format and interestingly, so far I have sold about 75% paperbacks to 25% Kindle copies - I think it’s the cover! It’s when you press the ‘publish’ button that you realise it’s now sitting in a pond with six million other books – how will anyone know it’s there?  JW: What was your experience marketing yourself as an author?   LMW: I commissioned a small company to build a website for me, which was another investment. But it’s the first place your readers see and hear about you so I think, like the book, it must look professional. I also don’t have the skills to insert things like Amazon links and a mailing list form, so it was well worth having someone else do it for me. I was very lucky too that, on the day I published, Richard Osman had just been awarded Writer of the Year and there was a lot of discussion going on about that. I’m a member of a couple of Facebook book groups so took a chance and posted on one that today I was happier than Richard Osman as, at age 67 and with no further education, I had just published a novel. I didn’t do a direct link to Amazon, just put an image of the cover. An hour later I had five likes and was really pleased. By lunchtime the likes had turned into hundreds and the comments were rolling in. I replied to anyone who had put more than ‘congratulations’ or ‘well done’ and so spent what turned into four days responding to Facebook posts! In that first week, I had over 1,800 likes and nearly 700 comments. The sales on Amazon soared and I was off. I also approached local bookshops who were very encouraging. I underestimated the time this would all take though, especially as I have to distribute the books myself. However, it means you get to establish a relationship with bookshop owners, which has been a joy. I did a book event and found I really enjoyed standing up in front of a room and speaking about my book.  You get to establish a relationship with bookshop owners, which has been a joy. JW: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers wondering whether self-publishing is for them?   LMW: Jericho Writers have masses of information about self-publishing, and I wish I had seen this before I started out - it would have saved me a lot of time! There is plenty there to help you decide if self-pub is for you, but my advice is to give it a go. If you have a strong book, professionally produced and formatted, that has a great story, then just try. And if you get stuck (as I did several times) you can email the staff at Jericho Writers and they will always help. The support is there, and the information. I don’t regret it at all. I never thought I could do it and am very proud that my book is selling steadily and that book two is written and being edited. I won’t hesitate to self-publish this as well.   If you have a strong book, professionally produced and formatted, that has a great story, then just try. The support is there, and the information. I don’t regret it at all. About Laina Laina’s first novel, ’This Fearful Thing’ was published in May 2021 and is available on Amazon. Her website can be found here. Laina lives in Suffolk with her husband. Interested in self-publishing? Take a look at our Simply Self-Publish Course with award-winning author Debbie Young - the perfect way to go from publishing novice to indie-expert. If you’d like some help with your writing, try our copy-editing service.

Tips For Authors Getting Headshots

You\'ve finally finished your book! After months of writing, followed by toing and froing with your beta readers and editor, the book is ready to go to print. But just as you\'re thinking of jetting away somewhere hot and having a much-deserved rest, your publisher (or Amazon Central) asks you for an author headshot.   You could give them that photo of you at your cousin\'s wedding, or the one work took for their website. Right?   Wrong.   In this guide, I\'ll be explaining how author headshots function, why having the perfect one matters, and I\'ll show you how to organise a professional photoshoot, get the right look, and make the best use of the result. I’ll also link to some real-life author headshot examples. The Importance Of Author Headshots Like any aspect of self-branding, the writer headshot should never be overlooked. However open-minded we like to think of ourselves, people make snap decisions about each other and what they have to offer based on what they look like. This also holds just as true for an author on the back of a book, as well as people we meet face to face.   This is both bad news and good. While a poor author portrait could put potential readers off your work, a good one can do the opposite. It\'s an excellent opportunity to communicate your genre, tone, and style. And it\'s in your control!  This is why it makes sense to invest time and money hiring a professional photographer for a photoshoot (unless you have a generous friend in the business who will do you a favour, or you’re exceptionally good at selfies and have a well-lit studio at home).  So where do you start?  Author Headshot Tips Find The Right Photographer  Traditional publishers will occasionally arrange author headshots themselves. Usually, however, it is left to you to choose a good local photographer. Make sure you follow any specific instructions from your publishing house – and if you\'ve collaborated with somebody else on this book, you will both need your own photo.   The ideal photographer will have taken this kind of portrait before, and they should be able to show you some of their previous work to help you decide. Take a look at the photographer’s online portfolio or check out the name of photographers that took author headshots you like from other local writers.  Are They Right For You? Choosing a photographer may not be a life-long commitment, but you are paying them to take photos that will be defining you as an author – not to mention spending a morning or afternoon with them. It’s important you feel comfortable around them. Meet them first to discuss your requirements or have a quick Zoom call to get an idea if you will work well together (after all, you may need more photos in the future). If you’re not happy, walk away. The more comfortable your photographer makes you feel, the better the results will be.  Calculate The Best Package For Your Budget Author headshots can cost thousands of pounds or dollars. However, the average cost is between £100 and £150 (US$100 and $250). Location shoots with multiple looks and outfit changes are likely to cost more than straightforward studio shots in front of a single background.  Confirm the price and what to expect within the package. Ideally, you want to own the images you choose (the alternative is paying a licence fee every time you use one). Find out whether you will need to pay for each photo separately or if the photographer will give you all the images in a digital file.   You may want your photos retouched to remove blemishes (dark circles under the eyes, for instance). The need for this may only become obvious after the shoot and add to the cost as it’s not always included. So be prepared for that.  Create A Good Brief  Decide the impression you want to make with the headshots and communicate this clearly to your photographer. What do you need to consider?  Research your competition To get an idea of what style of author portrait photo is right for you, look online at the Amazon pages and websites of other writers in your genre for inspiration.   What are you trying to get across in your author portrait? Are you fun and lively, or moody and dark? Is your work serious literary fiction, or do you write light and fun rom coms? The photos on the website of a picture book author will be very different from the one Ian Rankin uses for his crime books, for example.   Black-and-white or colour?  While black-and-white works well for high-brow literary types, most commercial authors choose colour. A traditional publisher may make this decision for you. The average release from Galley Beggar press wins at least one literary award, so it\'s no surprise the author photos on their website are all in monochrome. But bear in mind, if you wish to use the same photo for press, many magazines ask for a colour photo. Some writers use a number of images from the same shoot for various things.  Location, Setting, And Background The focus of the headshot should always be on the author\'s face. Thus, many writers use a plain studio background, particularly for online stores like Amazon. However, others use an appropriate setting, hoping it will help communicate their brand.   Mary Berry, famous cookery book writer and presenter of The Great British Bake Off, stands in a white kitchen for her author portrait. Robert Thorogood’s photo is in front of Marlow, the UK setting for his new cosy crime series. Cathy Cassidy, a Young Adult writer, is pictured in the back of a VW campervan.   The dark red wall behind Rory Sutherland’s Twitter profile, clashes with the bright red jacket he’s wearing. The overall effect is unexpected for a business guru, yet his latest release \'Alchemy\' has the tagline, \'The Magic of Original Thinking in a World of Mind-numbing Conformity.\' He’s not trying to be corporate.   Plain studio shots work particularly well for serious black-and-white photos. But remember, an entirely plain white background flatters very few people.  Image Styling: Be Yourself If I was being entirely myself in a writer headshot, I wouldn\'t brush my hair. That kind of honesty, however, would probably stop me selling books.   I\'m not suggesting you lie about who you are, but it’s important to project how you wish to be perceived. Think of yourself as the main character in a book about your writing career. What does this person wear? What expression and mannerisms do they use? Are they business-like, fun, or very serious?  Outfit Even authors going for ‘zany’ should keep their outfits as simple as they can. The safest plan is to wear one or two layers of plain clothing with an open collar. Busy patterns will detract from your face, as will too much jewellery. (The shy may see that as a good thing, but it isn\'t).  Period costumes may well suggest historical romance, but they will detract from the author’s face – and it’s important that your readers (and the press) know what you look like. Period romance author, Evie Dunmore, gets it right. Her outfit suggests a Victorian or Edwardian woman by wearing three simple items - a lace top, a wide-brimmed hat, and a pearl ornament in her hair. Not quite fancy dress, but enough of a nod to her genre.  Different make-up and clothes will look better in colour or black-and-white. If you\'re not sure which will work best, play around with both looks. You can always ask to have more than one photo taken at the shoot, but as discussed, this will increase time and possibly cost. Save time and money by taking selfies at home and asking friends and family what they think suits you best. Hairstyle This is probably not the time for a radical new hairstyle unless you\'re given to eye-catching changes. Ideally, you want readers to be able to recognise you at author events. Even if you don\'t think you’ll attend real-life book signings, you may want to appear online in a Facebook live, for instance. So if you\'re usually blonde and wear your hair back in a ponytail, do that. Now is not the time to try out a bright pink beehive. Lighting If the shoot is outside, the photographer will probably make the most of the natural light. Depending on the time of day this may be warm, soft, and flattering light. Let them decide the best time of day to achieve the look you are going for. For instance, during the late morning or early afternoon, there\'s usually a yellow light with few harsh shadows. And the ‘golden hour’, the period just after sunrise or before sunset, gives a red light and softer look.   Wherever the shoot, light on the face makes you look fresher and more approachable, a good thing for almost every author. If you write crime or horror, an arty portrait with your face in shadow may seem like a good idea. Take care, however. You don’t want to be confused with one of your villains! Practice Your Pose Body language matters, and so does being relaxed in front of a camera. This is the time where the mirror is your friend.   Choose a pose that feels natural. Don\'t force a smile or anything that doesn\'t feel right. If you\'re not comfortable, it will come across in your photos.   Consider if you\'re going to have your hands in the picture and what you can do with them to add to your message. For example, you could rest your chin and hands on a flat surface for an informal feel. Or hold your chin to look like a professional with good advice. Some authors cross their arms, but remember that depending on your genre this can look defensive and may make you look unapproachable.  Again, take a look at what other authors are doing. Some writers opt for the close up to be framed so no arms make it into the shot (a lot less pressure). Props You could also think about using an appropriate prop (and whether it would make you more or less comfortable during the shoot). Perhaps, you could hold your own book, or the Golden Dagger you were awarded last year. Again, the emphasis should be on you, so keep it simple and avoid cliché. Only use a prop if it will add to your overall message.   Also bear in mind whether this photo is just for one book, or you want it to be used for a number of years. It doesn’t always help to use a photo of you holding up your debut when five books down the line you are known for a lot more.  Rest Before The Shoot A photoshoot may seem like a largely passive activity, but how you feel on the day will affect how you look and come across on camera. Avoid those dark under-eye circles by drinking plenty of water and getting a good night\'s sleep beforehand.  Look Directly At The Camera Many headshots break this rule, but it helps create a sense of connection with the viewer. Again, ask yourself if you want to come across as a whimsical, mysterious writer or direct and approachable.  Be Relaxed The photographer will do their best to put you at ease, but there are also practical things you can do to help yourself on the day.   Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the shoot, so you\'re not rushing.   Remind yourself that however badly it turns out, your author headshot is nowhere near as important as writing a good book. And the photographer will take lots of photos, so you can always discard those you hate at the end. If it puts your mind at rest, ask to take a look at the first few shots to see if they are working.  And, going back to acting like a character in your own book, if it helps hide behind your new persona. Yesterday you were a nervous introverted debut writer, but today you are a famous author - cool, calm, and collected.  Listen To Your Photographer They should be able to guide you to an author headshot that works. If they say that a certain pose works best, listen to them. Take direction. They know what works.  Ask For Black-And-White Copies Of Your Colour Photos This increases your choice later on. You can convert the photos digitally yourself, but it’s usually better done by a professional.   Select The Right Images You may be tempted to choose the image that makes you look fifteen years younger or like a supermodel - but the best author headshot is the one that conveys the right message and reinforces your \'brand\'.   Ask other people to tell you honestly what they think, especially if they read the genre you write. Why not enlist the help of your followers on social media or your publisher’s publicity department? This can be a fun way to connect with readers and see yourself through their eyes.  Use The Same Photo Across All Of Social Media Consistency is key when it comes to self-branding. Whatever image you choose to use on your website or the back of the print book, use the same photo across online stores and social media. This will make it easier for readers to recognise you as the same person and, hopefully, increase your number of follows.  But, like most rules, some are made to be broken. Picture book author, Julia Donaldson, uses a headshot with a plain studio background for her Amazon page but she’s surrounded by soft toy versions of her characters on her website. There’s a particularly good photo of her reading to the Gruffalo.   So, if your Linked In profile is serious and you are using it to connect to the industry to sell them a self-help book you are pitching – perhaps don’t use the same sultry image of yourself that appears on the website of your raunchy erotica series.  Keep Your Photos Up-To-Date Whatever the temptation to stay eternally young in your reader\'s minds, you should upload a new book author headshot every two to three years – especially if you change genre or publisher. As your career evolves, so should your photos. To Summarise… All in all, preparing for the perfect author portrait shoot is simple.  Hire a professional, brief them well, prepare your look and setting beforehand, and relax during the shoot. If you follow this advice, you should have a great headshot to add to the rest of your marketing package.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Best Genres For Self-Publishing

Self-publishing has come a long way since its days of being seen as an alternative for books that failed to go trade. It’s now a booming sector that, according to Forbes, is growing far faster than trade publishing.   Since self-publishing is no longer an “option B” authors are now asking themselves from the start whether the trade route or the self-publishing route is right for them and their books.   A lot of factors go into the decision of whether to self-publish a book - royalties, marketing, distribution (to name but a few), but one of the most important factors is genre. Whilst some genres are best served by trade publishing, others are better suited to self-publishing.  In this guide you will find a breakdown of which genres are the best fit for self-publishing, which I hope will help you decide the best route to publication.  Most Popular Self-Publishing Genres Before taking the leap into self-publishing it’s important to figure out whether your genre is a good fit for this form of distribution. Many factors are at play here, like varying levels of commercial success.  For example, romance and thrillers are both heavy-hitting genres for indie writers – that’s great if that’s where you will find your readers, but not so great when you’re up against so much competition.   There are also logistical reasons as to why your genre might not be a good fit for self-publishing. For example, print quality for self-pub book printing and POD (print on demand) services, such as Amazon, are not the highest on the market. Therefore, if you are releasing an illustrated children’s book or a coffee table photographic compilation book, then much like with audiobooks, self-publishing won’t be the best option.   Similarly, if you are planning on self-publishing you also have to think about who shops online and who is likely to be exposed to your book. Since middle graders and young children don’t often read e-books and tend to choose books they can pick up and look through in a bookstore, then kid lit may not be the best choice for self-publishing either.   Do your research. The easiest way to do that is simply take a look on Amazon at the kind of book you plan to write and see what sub-genre lists it’s doing well in. You may be surprised by the sub-categories and their popularity.  To give you a better idea of whether your book will do well on the indie scene, here are the most successful genres in self-publishing: Romance The romance genre accounts for a whopping 40% of self-published books in the Kindle market. Romance readers are notoriously avid consumers and the self-publishing industry, which moves at a much faster rate than trade publishing, is able to accommodate this need.   Since self-publishing has lower overheads and a faster turnaround time, indie writers are also able to accommodate a variety of popular subgenres and niche subgenres. For example, where trade may have jumped on the back of the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon and produced a few similar titles, self-publishing is able to hit every niche of the erotica genre - from BDSM to Reverse Harem to even alien sex – without affecting their brand or worrying about stores stocking the books.   However, since romance takes up a profitable chunk of the self-published market it’s also a highly saturated genre and thus highly competitive. Romance has many sub-genres, so if you’re able to find a niche for your work, you have a better chance at competing.   We will discuss popular romance sub-genres further in this article. For now, let’s look at a totally different kind of action…  Mystery, Thriller And Suspense  20% of mystery, thriller and suspense sales in the book industry are self-published. Readers of this genre are just as fast and avid as romance readers. Therefore, because self-published authors often “rapid release” their work, self-published authors can fulfil their readers’ ferocious appetites faster than trade can (most traditional publishers only publish one book per year by each author).   Here are a few popular thriller and suspense sub-genres:  Private investigator thrillers  Mystery and espionage  Legal thrillers Cosy crime Historical thrillers British detectives  As with romance there are many sub-genres to choose from, and this is just a small selection of the most popular ones.   Fantasy Fantasy is a growing genre in self-publishing, especially since many genres overlap with fantasy. There’s an increasing interest in this genre, with around 50% of fantasy books sold on Kindle being self-published.   Here are a few popular fantasy sub-genres:  Paranormal and urban fantasy (these cross over well with romance) Epic Fantasy  Dystopian fantasy  Sword and sorcery  Fairy tales   Science Fiction Science fiction is another relatively popular self-publishing genre with around 56% of Kindle’s sci-fi eBooks self-published. Science fiction, much like fantasy, spawns a lot of hybrid sub-genres.   Here are a few subgenres in Science Fiction that are currently doing well on Amazon:  Space opera  Paranormal and Urban Post-apocalyptic Dystopian  Epics  Note that sci-fi shares many genres with fantasy, with the two genres often crossing over. Horror and bizarro fiction are also popular in self-publishing, as writers are free to push limits and try new ideas.  Non-Fiction, Self-Help And Niche Subjects  If you are an expert on something that you think people want to read about, yet there’s no book on the subject – then write it! But that doesn’t mean traditional publishers will want it.  Trade publishers don’t take risks, so they can’t justify publishing a book called (for instance) “yoga for dogs” - unless it’s been written by a celebrity, with a huge following, who is known for pet gymnastics.   But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for it.   For distribution reasons, your trade publishing journey often starts with an editor considering the target market, a specific territory, and the bookstores who will help get the book into the hands of readers. For this reason alone, a publisher needs to justify there are enough readers in that region for your type of book before they sign it. This can be hard to do if you are penning a niche book on (for instance) how water therapy can help PTSD. However, if you are writing niche non-fiction, or niche self-help, self-publishing could be the perfect answer for you as most distribution is online – so the world is your oyster.   Note that though self-help and personal transformation books do well in self-publishing, these books often come from authors with an existing audience (i.e. social media presence). This type of non-fiction requires trust from the reader, they need to believe you are an expert in your field, so in this case the building of the brand often comes before the book.  How To Pick A Genre For Self-Publishing Needless to say, many aspiring authors want to make money with their writing, or (if really lucky) make a living from it full time. The best way to do this in self-publishing is to “write to market,” and to approach your chosen genre with commercial intent.   This means writing based on what is appealing to the market. Writing what sells. Sometimes the ‘best’ genre for a particular writer may be the genre they are most familiar with, like pilots writing in the war and aviation sub-genre, or ex-military personnel writing in the military sub-genres.   If you to want to self-publish we recommend you first select your primary genre, identify sub-genres within your selected genre, and research how well they do and what your competition is.  Self-Publishing And Romance   Now let’s go back to romance. As a writer of self-published paranormal romance (under the co-written pen name of Caedis Knight), my writing partner and I, who both have traditionally published books, purposely chose to self-publish this series and write to market. We saw a gap in the spicy paranormal world for books that were set outside of the US and we went for it. The reception we have had has been phenomenal – and that’s partly due to the research we conducted and being able to give our readers something that’s hard to find in bookstores.  Let’s take a closer look at sub-genres in romance – the most popular self-publishing genre worldwide: Romance Subgenres Here are examples of popular romance sub-genres that sell well in both trade and self-pub, followed by niche sub-genres that are likely to do better in self-publishing (because there isn’t a lot of room for them in the trade marketplace).  Bestsellers Contemporary Romance YA Romance New adult and College Historical Romance Romantic Suspense Rom Com Fantasy Romance Inspirational Romance  Niche Erotica in all forms (many agents around the world won’t even consider erotica, so self-publishing is a good place to start) Romance Westerns (and modern cowboys) Holiday romances Christian Romance  Historical Romance (Regency and Scottish being the most popular) Classic retellings (Jane Austen being one of the most popular muses) Military romance (including army wives)  Sports romance LGBTQ+ romance (this is available in trade publishing, but the self-pub market is much larger)   The romance genre, much like love itself, is varied and wondrous and has no limits!  Now You Know As you’ve probably realised by now it’s helpful to determine where your book will fall in the market before writing your bestseller.   This might seem counterintuitive because you want to write the book of your heart, but your book (regardless of whether indie or trade) will have a much better chance if it can be marketed well, especially if you can position it in a sub-genre within a popular genre.   In summary, if your book takes your readers where trade publishing fears to tread (and it’s something you know people will enjoy reading about) – then go for it. And who knows? You may even invent a new subgenre!  Want some help ensuring your book is as good as it can be? Try our copy-editing service. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How to Turn Your Book into an Audiobook

Take Advantage of the Growing Audio Market You’ve taken the plunge into self-publishing, and now you’re considering creating an audiobook. You’ve heard that audiobooks are a good business opportunity, but how do you go about making one?  In this article, we’ll explain the possible approaches to creating an audiobook, along with their pros and cons. After reading, you’ll be able to make an informed plan and starting working toward your first audiobook release.  Why Make an Audiobook? Audiobook sales are soaring in English-speaking markets—and it’s not just because of lockdowns in 2020. In fact, audiobooks have experienced eight straight years of double-digit growth. In the US alone, the audiobook publishing market has grown to encompass $1,100,000,000 of revenue as of 2021.  Clearly, there is a hunger for audiobooks. And it makes sense: they fill gaps in our daily routine that printed books and e-books don’t, such as when we’re travelling, exercising, or preparing food. Plus, most people already own a mobile device capable of playing audiobooks: a smartphone.  Some authors are concerned that audiobooks will steal sales from their other formats. At a market-wide level, across-the-board growth in print sales and ongoing strong e-book sales suggest this isn’t happening. Plus, more than half of audiobook listeners say they make “new time” for audiobooks and read more books overall as a result, while other readers credit audiobooks with helping them rediscover their love for reading.  In short, the business case for audiobooks is strong: added sales today, plus excellent year-over-year growth facilitated by a widely-adopted technology.  Best Audiobook Genres Be forewarned, not all genres work well as audiobooks:  A book that is intended specifically as a visual experience, such as a coffee-table photography book, obviously doesn’t make sense as an audiobook.A book that relies on diagrams, graphs, or images to convey key information won’t work as-is, although it may be possible to adapt it. Ask yourself whether the images in your book could be converted into short spoken passages that convey the same information. (For example, a diagram showing how to dress a turkey before roasting is helpful but could easily be narrated instead. Meanwhile, a map showing alternate routes between several towns, plus nearby landmarks, would be difficult to narrate in any useful way.) Reference books typically don’t work as audiobooks, because of the need either to search for particular words or to jump between sections easily.  However, any book that’s primarily running text, whether fiction or non-fiction, will likely work well as an audiobook. Some of the top audiobook genres, based on today’s sales charts, include:  Mystery/thriller/suspense Self-help and self-improvement Business & Personal Finance Science fiction and fantasy Popular science History Romance  You may also have heard that autobiographies and memoirs do well as audiobooks. By the numbers, that’s true, but much like print and e-book editions, you need either a pre-existing “name” and platform or an excellent marketing campaign to perform well in these genres.  How to Create an Audiobook The core of creating an audiobook is recording and editing the narration. You’ll also need to prepare the Whether creating your audiobook yourself or hiring professionals to do it, the core of the work will be recording and editing the narration. Lesser (but equally necessary) tasks include preparing the script, commissioning a cover design, mastering the edited recording, and uploading the package to a distributor. Let’s take a look at what some of these terms mean, and then we’ll explore two approaches you can take to getting the work done—working with a company that can support you, or doing it yourself. Narration Narrating an audiobook is more than just “reading out loud”. The narrator needs to achieve an error-free performance, which is a challenge compared to speaking casually, where we make a surprising number of errors. Another challenge is that an untrained voice will begin to sound rough after 30-60 minutes of constant talking. (If you have public speaking experience, none of this is news to you!) The average person speaks at a rate of 120-150 words per minute. This might seem to indicate that someone can record a 70,000-word novel in 10 hours, but a more realistic estimate would be 20-30 hours, depending on experience. Bad takes, interruptions, and preparation time all inevitably add to the total. Recording, Editing, and Mastering The job of the recording engineer is to set up a suitable recording environment and, using specialized hardware and software, to capture the performance into a digital file. After recording comes editing, which involves choosing the best takes, marking any passages that need re-recording, and “cleaning” the audio of defects such as pops and clicks. This process is laborious and can take three-to-four hours of work per finished hour of audio, depending on experience and the quality of the initial recording. (Note, this means that narration and editing together require five-to-seven hours per finished hour of audio!) After editing comes mastering. This is where an edited recording is adjusted so that the volume is even throughout, with no sudden jumps. The tone will also be balanced, so that the final result sounds good on all types of speakers and headphones and won’t fatigue the listener’s ears. Cover Design Audiobooks use square cover images. If your book has already been published in print or ebook format, it may be possible to adapt your existing cover, or you may have received an audiobook format cover as part of a package you paid for. Otherwise, you’ll need to commission a new design.  Assembly and Uploading When all of your final files are created, you’ll need to assemble them and upload to your distributor. You’ll need to make sure that what you upload meets the distributor’s specifications and requirements. (Be sure to check these requirements before you begin the recording step!)  So, now that you have some understanding of how to create an audiobook, what’s the best approach to use? There are two broad audiobook creation options, one costing mostly money, the other costing mostly time.  Approach One: Use Professionals Using a professional narrator and audio engineer(s) allows you to spend less of your own time on your audiobook, and receive a reliable, high-quality result—but the investment is significant, often $2000US or more. The two most common ways to hire professionals are by using a marketplace, or by dealing with a specialist audiobook company.  Marketplaces A marketplace is a service that connects you with a variety of professional talent, allowing you to review samples, see prices, and choose the narrator you prefer. Two popular marketplaces for audiobook production are Findaway Voices and ACX. (The two sites work somewhat differently and offer different business terms. You should explore both to see which best fits your needs.)  The voice actor you hire will handle the recording process and deliver the final recording to you. Contract terms may be either a one-time fee, or a royalty-sharing agreement that delivers a percentage of each sale to the voice actor.  Specialist Companies If you prefer an approach that’s even more hands-off, you can hire a company that specializes in recording audiobooks. The advantage of these companies is their integrated approach: because they specialize in recording audio, they’ll typically have a dedicated high-quality studio, a staff of experienced professionals, and a well-defined production process that produces reliable results. On the downside, they may have a smaller or more expensive roster of voice talent. Expect to receive an all-in-one quote and delivery of a complete (edited and mastered) audiobook.  If you need to minimize the time you put into audiobook production—for example, if you have an established writing routine and don’t want to disrupt it—or, if you really don’t want to handle the creative direction or price negotiations, using a specialist company could be a good option for you.  Approach Two: Do It Yourself If your preference is to spend less money, but invest more time and effort, then the do-it-yourself approach may be best. Be forewarned that narration, recording, and editing all take practice. And no, DIY isn’t cost-free—particularly not the first time.  Recording your own audiobook gives you a very intimate connection to the final product, and if you do a high-quality job, it can give your readers a special connection to you. Plus, reading your script out loud can improve your writing, particularly (if you write fiction) your dialogue.  Essential Equipment You’ll need to acquire some essential equipment for recording audiobooks:  A high-quality vocal microphone. This is a purchase you can’t avoid and shouldn’t skimp on. (Expect to spend around $60US minimum.)  A “pop guard” or “pop shield”, which is a small barrier of nylon or metal mesh which blocks bursts of air from B and P sounds that can ruin your recording.  Depending on the acoustics of your recording space, you may also need an isolation box—a small, padded cube that surrounds your microphone on all sides but the front, blocking unwanted reflections from nearby walls and surfaces.   You’ll also need a computer with recording and editing software to create audiobooks. There are free options that will work just fine, though professional software often has features that can save time.  Note that if you live in a space where there’s constant noise (such as an apartment above a busy street), it’s unlikely you’ll be able to prepare this space for recording without a significant investment in soundproofing. In this situation, hiring professionals to record your audiobook may not cost any more than doing it yourself.  Technique A complete how-to is beyond the scope of this article, but expect to learn and practice the following to record your own audiobook:  How to use your recording and editing software, and how the various audiobook formats work. How to warm up your voice before recording, and things to avoid before a recording session. How to schedule your recording and editing sessions to avoid vocal, auditory, and mental fatigue. (The twenty-ninth hour of recording and re-recording your novel can test your endurance in ways you didn’t know were possible!) How to ensure recordings made on different days have the same tone.  Because of this learning curve, you might consider creating a short or free excerpt as your first audio release. Much like writing a short story before you dive into a complete novel, this will give you a low-risk opportunity to work out the kinks in your process. You’ll also get useful feedback from your dedicated readers: if they tell you the quality isn’t good enough, you have a chance to recalibrate before recording the full book. (And if they tell you it sounds amazing, that can give you the reassurance to forge ahead!)  You should also consider the possibility of hiring a professional to master your final recording. Much like a manuscript editor, their outside perspective can give much-needed objectivity. Plus, if you arrange to send them your first chapter for review, they can warn you of any serious problems before you record any more. Creating a partnership with a professional audio engineer can be a great way to ensure a high-quality result for your self-recorded audiobook.  Do Your Research and Be Heard As you can see, there’s a lot of flexibility in how you go about creating your audiobook. You can choose to spend time or spend money, and to forge long-term creative partnerships or to outsource for minimal distraction.  Importantly, if your budget is tight, you don’t need to feel shut out of the growing audiobook market. With diligence, you can produce a quality audiobook your listeners will love.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community.

Choosing The Right Book Printing Service For You

Given the choice, would you rather see your name on the cover of an ebook or a paper book? Would you rather see your name in pixels or in print? Would you rather hold an amorphous concept of your book, cached away in an ebook reader or the actual physical object, you know, the one that allows you to feel the weight of your words?   Okay! I’m aware that I’m asking increasingly leading questions. Nor do I want to disparage ebooks as an effective route into self-publishing. But there’s still a romance and joy to seeing your words on an actual page. Not to mention the practical advantages of having something you can press into someone else’s hands, and even (if you’re feeling expansive) autograph for them.  Why Get Your Book Printed? There are some big names that, as a self-published author, you may choose to publish under who will print and distribute for you. They tend to take a hefty cut from the sale price for themselves but do cover a large percentage of the hassle. Plus their print-on-demand service means you can have your book in your hands in a matter of days.   But what if you want to go at it alone and retain full control?  As a self-published author, the advantages of printing a book are clear. Although there are also obvious disadvantages. Most notably, while it doesn’t take too long for those self-publishing to find out how to create a decent and marketable ebook, book printing is a tougher and opaquer proposition.   There are several potential pitfalls and many important questions to answer before you can proceed with confidence. This article will give you the guidance you need to help you choose the best printing services.  What Are Book Printing Services? Perhaps the easiest way to describe book printing services is to explain what they are not. They are not publishers. They do not (generally) offer the kind of distribution and marketing services you would expect from a conventional publisher, and they do not (generally, again) offer editorial advice. At the most fundamental level, a book printer’s job is to take your finished digital manuscript and turn it into a print copy.   That may sound straightforward, but the more you look into custom book printing the more questions you are likely to have. But before we get onto those, let’s answer a few basics.   Many (if not, most) self-published authors opt to print their books via Amazon. Their KDP service ensures distribution of ebooks, along with paperback and, more recently, even hardback options! Although they take a hefty cut from the sale price for themselves, it does cover a large percentage of the hassle and their print-on-demand service means you can have your book in your hands in a matter of days.   But some authors want more control – and more profit. A lot of what you decide to do will depend on the kind of printing you go for. There are two main methods of paperback and hardback book printing: print on demand and offset printing.   Let’s take a quick look at those: Print On Demand Book Printing As the name suggests, print on demand book printing is a form of printing where a book is produced once it has been ordered. Digital book printing technology enables printers to produce books in the exact quantity required with a rapid turnaround so that a customer can order a book on a website, or from a bookshop, and expect to have it within days.   It’s particularly useful for self-published book printing. It means you don’t need to worry about storage because you have no inventory. Printers are able to do single book printing, or many print several on demand books at once, depending on the orders that come in. On demand book printing services are also often integrated with sales and distribution channels, meaning your book is generally only a few clicks away from your potential readers. Importantly, there are also fewer upfront costs because once the files are loaded onto the printer’s system, the individual production cost for each book is absorbed at the point of sale. (Which is to say, the book printing cost is deducted from the sale price and you and the store get the remainder.) The most well known and reliable Print on Demand services are IngramSpark and KDP via Amazon. Let\'s look into each of these options more closely. IngramSpark IngramSpark is a service that allows authors to self-publish print books and ebooks. There is lots of information on their website in order to learn more about self-publishing, help you choose the best printing option for your book, and how to create files for uploading your book. The costs of uploading a book with IngramSpark: Print and Ebook - $49 (when uploaded at the same time)Print book only - $49/title Ebook only - $25/titleThey even have an option for you to see how much you will pay to print and ship orders directly to yourself or customers, based on the specifications of your book. This money will come out of the money earnt on the sold books, so consider this when pricing your book. With global distribution, hardcover and/or paperback, a variety of print options, ebook and print book publishing all in one place, and online sales reporting, this is an excellent option for self-publishing authors. If you want to sell hard-copy books through every channel, then most authors prefer IngramSparks as they distribute to over 40,000 retailers and libraries globally, including Amazon. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) KDP is Amazon\'s self-publishing and printing service, allowing authors to self-publish Ebooks, paperbacks, and hardbacks. They give you direct access to your book on Amazon, allow you to create a product detail page for your book, give you the option to expand your book’s availability on a global scale, and gives you full rights to your book The cost of printing with KDP: Paperback - No upfront costs. KDP prints your book on demand and subtracts your printing costs from your royalties.Paperback printing costs are calculated based on the specifications of your book - page count and ink type - and which Amazon marketplace the customer bought your book from. You can estimate this using their calculator.Hardback - No upfront costs. KDP prints your book on demand and subtracts your printing costs from your royalties.Hardback will automatically be more expensive than paperback to print, but the printing costs are calculated in the same way, factoring in page count, ink type, and which Amazon marketplace the customer bought your book from. You can estimate this using their calculator. Authors earn money from royalties, and KDP has a minimum list price so that your royalties earned are always enough to cover the cost to print your book. This means that you don\'t need to part with any money. KDP also offers different types of sales reports, so you can track how many books you have sold, how much you have earnt from it, and much more. As KDP only allows you to sell on Amazon it is not ideal for authors wanting to sell on multiple platforms, but if you’re selling exclusively on Amazon, then this service would be perfect for you. Disadvantages of Print on Demand Most self-published authors find that this kind of custom book printing works best for them. But there are some disadvantages. Digital technology has improved a lot over the past few years, but it’s still much harder to guarantee good quality book production with print on demand. The differences are often small, but noticeable: the paper can look too bright white, the definition of the ink on the pages can be wrong, the pages can feel weirdly smooth, a few books come out that aren’t properly aligned. There’s also the issue that if you start selling in big quantities, for instance, it can make sense to move to offset printing since the unit costs are generally lower.   Let’s look at that now.  Offset Book Printing Offset book printing is the form of printing that traditional publishers generally use, whereby you order a set quantity of books - ranging from the low hundreds to hundreds of thousands. These are all produced at once, in one print run and the more you print, the more the unit cost comes down.   These savings on book printing prices can be significant, but you have to balance them against the potential problems relating to storing and distributing the books, fluctuations in demand over time and the horror of paying a lot of money upfront and not being able to shift enough units to cover your costs.   Offset printing can make sense for self-publishers who have a shop eager to buy large quantities of their work. It might also be a good solution for people who have a steady book-selling outlet, like public speakers who can make a tidy income from bookstalls at the back of the room or at events.   But most self-publishers should approach it with caution.  How To Choose The Right Book Printing Service Talking of caution, it isn’t altogether easy to choose the best book printing services. There are a lot of different online book printing services.  It’s hard to make the right choice and to know how to protect both your hard-earned money and the quality of the book bearing your name.   There are, however, several useful things you can consider when weighing up your options. It’s important to give serious thought to which service provider will work best for you. Don’t rush into anything. Do make sure you’ve done your research. And, crucially, ask the right questions.  What Should I Be Asking? The first question you’ll probably be asking will be about the book printing cost and various book printing services. But there are plenty of other things to ask. You will need to know what is the turnaround time? What kind of binding will work for your book? (Hardback? Paperback? Or maybe even spiral or wired binding?) What kind of paper will it be printed on? How much do you want to spend on paper quality? Will the cover be on good paper stock? Will the images be printed at the right resolution? Do I need a matt or gloss finish? How much control do I have over the size of the pages and layout? What file format should I use? Where does the paper come from? Is it responsibly sourced? What other environmental impacts will the printing have?   You may also want to consider if you want to use the services of a printer experienced in the genre of book you have written. Do you need a printing service that provides integrated sales and distribution? What level of interaction and customer service do they need from the printers?   The tricky thing here is that many of these questions quickly start to have very technical answers. You might soon discover, for instance, that you’ll also need to employ a professional typesetter to get your words looking good on the page. You might also need a cover designer who can properly discuss ink colours, embossing and different finishes with the printers.   Worse still, since this is your book, and your project, there are perhaps also quite a few questions that only you can properly answer. And then, there are also the restrictions of your budget and the returns you hope to get back from your book. I understand the desire to have a book printed on vellum and bound with leather - but it isn’t generally the most practical option, unless you’re going for a very special kind of one-off book printing.  Evaluating Book Printing Services I’m aware that I’ve given you a lot of questions and not quite as many answers. But these questions are the ones that will help you narrow down your choices.   The important things to think about are how well your prospective printer will be able to handle your queries and how well they will be able to produce the finished book according to the specifications you give them.  It’s also vital to thoroughly evaluate book printing services before making a commitment. Look at plenty of examples of books previously printed. If you can order copies so you can see the finished item. Examine the services printing rates/costs per unit. It’s also a good idea to ask other authors about the service and check on writer forums for good tips. (Naturally, we recommend Jericho Writers Club).   The world of book printing online and on demand publishing is also fast-changing, so check how long your printer has been operating and make sure they have a decent reputation for delivery and quality. Also, remember that you’re the customer and most printers will want to help you and answer your queries so put your questions to them.   Do they provide sales and distribution?   What is their turnaround time?   Do they do hardback as well as paperback book printing?   The answers to the queries you make will also help you gauge the other crucial question about what level of customer service your printer provides. If they’re good at helping you, they’ll also hopefully be good at bringing your book into the world.  Finally… After all that, I hope you still want to see your name on the cover of a paper book. I can’t pretend that it’s an easy process. You have to be very aware of costs, quality and the importance of making sure that your chosen service can meet your specifications.   But the joy of holding a beautiful copy of your own book in your hands will make it worth the hard work. It’s a happiness all writers deserve.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Everything You Need to Know about Hybrid Publishing

Are you a writer, daunted by querying, trying to snag both an agent and a traditional publishing contract? Are you concerned about your lack time or expertise to completely self-publish? If this applies to you, please keep reading this guide, which explores a lesser-known alternative: hybrid publishing.  What is Hybrid Publishing? Hybrid publishing models blend together traditional publishing and self-publishing. Let’s compare all three publication avenues to help you better understand the positives and limitations of hybrid publishing. You\'ll determine if hybrid publishing is a viable option for you.   Differences Between Traditional Publishers, Self-Publishing, and Hybrid Publishers Traditional Publishers  Obtaining a traditional publishing contract usually means you must query multiple literary agents to find one who believes your work can be sold to a traditional publishing house. Most traditional publishing houses (often referred to in the industry as ‘trad publishers’) only negotiate with agented authors. The agent will attempt, on the writer’s (your) behalf, to sell the writer’s work to a trad house, and obtain a book deal for the writer. Once a deal is secured, you sign a contract with the trad house. This is a significant risk and investment for the publisher.   What Do They Offer? Trad houses cover the entirety of publication costs and assume primary responsibility to sell and market the book. They provide authors an advance for their intellectual property, prior to publication. The “catch” is that the advance isn’t considered “earned” until the author’s book sells enough copies to equal the advance.   Average advances for first-time fiction authors without celebrity status are somewhere between $5,000 - $15,000 (this varies considerably). Once that many thousands of dollars-worth of copies sell, the author begins to receive additional money. This is paid in the form of royalties (a percentage of total book sales). Both agent and trad house take a portion of those royalties.   Considerations: Trad houses typically own the rights to authors’ work, exercising significant control over what and how the author writes. That’s because trad houses focus principally on what will sell based on their knowledge of the publishing industry. They also value their own expertise on how best to refine, package, distribute, and market those raw ideas. All this is done to ensure the books sell - so they can recoup their investment.   Once authors have a traditionally published contract, their job is simplified. They pay no money to publish their book. Rather, they receive money from the publisher, and that amount of money can be substantial. They can ignore editorial, production, printing costs, distribution, and other complicated publishing aspects. This they leave to the publisher, while focusing their efforts on writing a bestseller.   Although the traditional publishing model is risk-averse, few new authors manage to obtain a book deal. Only one book out of five ever earns back their advance. These considerations have led many authors to turn to self-publishing. Self-Publishing  With self-publishing, the burden of the services provided for free by a trad house, are instead borne solely by the writer. The writer must not only write the book, but also prepare it for publication in terms of editing, cover design, layout, pricing, and much more.   The only alternative is to sub-contract out all (or parts) of the process, unless the writer possesses the capabilities to do it themselves. Perhaps, even more intimidating, once the book is published, the writer is wholly responsible to promote their work, without the enormous influence and advertising budget a trad house can provide.   Why Do it Yourself? One advantage to self-publishing is the quick turnaround from book completion to publication. Publication times are as expedient as the author can make them. Your book will be out there significantly quicker compared to a trad house (which can take two years from signing a book to release).   Additionally, if the author becomes a high-volume seller (more than 30,000 copies), completely self-published authors will come out ahead compared to those traditionally published. Moreover, while there are no upfront advances received, there is no quest required to secure an agent through lengthy querying (which can take years). There are also no contracts to negotiate, and no agents or publishers taking a substantial percentage of your profits.   Finally, self-published writers have complete creative freedom to write what they want, how they want it. Without interference from a trad house focusing solely on book sales, the author focuses on what they desire. Sometimes, this works out just fine.   We’ve all heard of self-publishing successes, like Fifty Shades of Grey, The Martian, and Eragon, which have far outsold many a traditionally published bestseller. But these successes are rare. Many writers are exploring their options on how to achieve their dreams of both publication and profitability.    So is there a middle ground?  Hybrid Publishers  Hybrid publishers often offer the best of both worlds.   They don’t accept just any book, so you still have quality control. But the gatekeeping is less stringent (i.e. no need for agents). They too want to represent quality writing, which enhances their reputation and increases their share of any profits.   Just as with traditional publishing, not every work submitted is accepted by hybrid publishers. The book is first evaluated to see if it meets publisher standards and their business lines. But unlike trad publishing, there’s a cost.   What Will it Cost You? Publishing fees with some hybrids can be exorbitant (averaging between $10,000-$20,000). You are paying them to do what you could do yourself as a self-published writer, but with the kudos of their name behind your book, and their expertise. Some people are happy to follow this route, but many writers get exploited. So research who you are working with before you sign anything.  Some hybrid publishers don’t charge direct, but you are expected to pay for your own editing and proofreading before submitting. You may forfeit some creative control. Each contract varies, so please be vigilant as to what you are expected to manage (and what they will) in exchange for a percentage of profits.  Is it Worth it? Once your manuscript is accepted, the editing, printing, and other stages of publication mirror those of a trad house. This leaves writers free to focus on writing. Depending on the hybrid model, many hybrid publishers also provide some level of marketing for their authors\' books, as well as distribution.   As opposed to complete self-publishing, hybrid publishing offers a “one-stop shop”. You don\'t have to slog to find editors, cover designers, and deal with getting your book onto various platforms. As well as all the other worries and expenses associated with self-publishing. And hybrid publishers can get your book published faster than trad too - often within six months. Not as quickly as one potentially could self-publish, but markedly quicker than one could ever be traditionally published.      With hybrid publishing, royalties are higher for the author than with trad houses. Yet, let’s be clear. Most hybrid companies are smaller and less prestigious than their trad counterparts, despite their ability to mass produce books. Sales will be lower and cover prices may be higher (so readership will be lower too).  Hybrid publishers seldom match the brand recognition and worldwide reading audience reach that a trad house can offer. It will be more difficult to get your book reviewed by elite reviewers if it doesn\'t come from a trad house, and it\'s challenging to make top bestseller lists outside of Amazon. One exception that stands out is author Laura Gassner Outing, whose book Limitless, published by hybrid publisher Idea Press ascended the ranks of the Washington Post bestseller list.  Different Types of Hybrid Publishers? Now that you have a better understanding of what hybrid publishing is, let\'s look at specific types of hybrid publishing, and which type may best suit your needs as an author. Some of the main hybrid publishing models include crowdfunding, assisted self-publishing, and partnership publishing.  Crowdfunding Based As the name suggests, a Crowdfunding-based hybrid publishing model means authors campaign to raise funds by asking for donations from interested parties. The hybrid press must attain a certain level of donations to move forward with publication and will ensure distribution to those who have pre-ordered the project. Should the project fail to reach that level of donations, it could be cancelled. Unbound, alias United Authors Publishing Ltd, is perhaps one of the best-known crowdfunding publishers. Assisted Self-Publishing Assisted self-publishing, formerly called vanity publishing, is another hybrid model that has suffered from an unfavourable reputation in the past. Extremely high-end self-assist publishing companies have emerged in the last decade, where authors can feel confident – if they have the funds – that their work will be professionally published.      The self-publishing assist company I publish with, FriesenPress, is well-established, with a sterling reputation for professionalism. I retain full rights for my books and the royalties I receive are 50% higher than what I earn off Amazon, where my book is also published.   FriesenPress has their own virtual bookstore which exclusively sells and advertises their published authors. FriesenPress also promotes any awards received by their authors and their authors\' professional reviews on their social media pages. Downsides? Well, one is that authors are largely responsible for their own marketing as many hybrid publishers have very little reach. Another detractor is the cost - FriesenPress’ top-of-the-line package exceeds CAN$10,000.   Partnership Publishing Partnership Publishing most closely aligns to a traditional publishing system. This model means writers split marketing and production costs with the publisher. As the author, you are primarily charged with marketing, but both author and publisher lose or make money together. Thus the publisher is heavily invested in the author’s success, and will not accept just any book, if the publisher desires to remain profitable.  Top Hybrid Publishers Some of the most reputable hybrid publishers we have found include Amplify, Forbes Books, Greenleaf Book Group, IdeaPress Publishing, LifeTree Media, Mascot Books, and Scribe Publishing. As with anything as monumental as making the decision as to where to publish your book, and how, do your homework. There are numerous hybrid publishers out there. Take your time to research and find the best one for you.   How Do I Select the Right Hybrid Publisher for Me?  We\'ve discussed some of the potential pitfalls of hybrid publishing. Hybrid publishing is not for everyone, because of these pitfalls. Yet, it is fairly easy to avoid these drawbacks by choosing the correct hybrid publisher. Here are some aspects to consider when selecting a hybrid publisher. What types of books does the publisher publish? Some hybrid publishers don’t have the experience publishing specific genres, possibly including the genre you write in. Look for one that has enjoyed success in publishing books relevant to the sort of book you write.   In the same vein, when you look at the books published, do they look professional, of superior quality? Could their books sit on the shelves of a major book chain, and look right at home beside traditionally published books, especially in terms of cover design? Speaking of major book chains, what sort of book distribution scope does the publisher have? Does the publisher have those critical relationships with outlets where you want to stock your book? Do they have their own bookstore, as another avenue to sell your books? Do they edit their books well? Does the publisher have a sterling reputation? Does the hybrid assist at all with marketing authors’ books?  If the answer is “yes” to the above questions, then you may wish to consider the hybrid publishing route for your book. Apples and Oranges Taking care of the complex and potentially confusing nuances of publishing, enhanced retention of creative control, increased royalty compensation, and other benefits combine to make hybrid publishing a potentially viable option versus complete self-publishing, or the traditional mode. Every hybrid publisher is unique, and some can curtail creative freedom in a manner like trad houses. Yet if an author can find the right hybrid publisher, they might find a more attractive method of getting their work out to the world more expediently, and ultimately, more lucratively than with one of the big five trad houses or going it completely on their own as a self-published author.  For writers who feel certain they will be consigned to self-publishing only, after lengthy unsuccessful querying trying to land a trad contract, the diversity of options available in hybrid publishing can be enticing.      Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How to Control Your Self-Publishing Costs

How to Control Your Self-Publishing Costs So you’ve chosen the self-publishing route, and as a responsible author-entrepreneur, you’ve no doubt set out to create a detailed self-publishing budget for your book. Unfortunately, you’ve discovered you don’t have unlimited money, and are facing some tough choices. How do you control your costs without compromising your vision? In this article, we’ll show you some effective ways to reduce your self-publishing costs—and warn you away from some unsafe ideas that could do more harm than good. To begin with, let’s examine your budget situation. Know Where You Stand I’m going to assume you’ve set a maximum budget for your project, and that you have an idea of the cost to publish a book. You should therefore know the relationship between your budget and your expected costs. If you’ve got room to work with, great! You can use this article to check for any extra savings that might allow you to shift more of your budget to promotions or future books. But if you’re feeling the squeeze, start by calculating how much you need to save. Then, you can use this article to identify the safest ways to save that money, without compromising your book’s potential. As you read, keep in mind your audience’s quality expectations. Each genre or category has its own standards. Don’t do anything that would bring your book below your audience’s expectations. Book Editing and Proofreading Costs Editing and proofreading can easily take up 40-50% of your budget, making this a tempting target. But savings here are not always easy to come by. You should banish from your mind any thought of not paying a professional editor. No matter how good you are at self-editing, you can’t see your own blind spots. Use a professional, but prepare your manuscript well, so that their time and effort produces the most possible value for you. And please don’t even think of using an automated correction tool for your final edit. The technology simply isn’t there yet—you’ll end up “incorrecting” passages that were actually correct as-is. Check spelling, of course, but leave grammar and phrasing to the humans. So, with those ground rules in mind, what can you actually do to reduce your book editing costs? Keep a list of any errors your beta-readers report. Before sending your manuscript to your editor, correct those errors, and search your manuscript to see whether you’ve made the same mistake elsewhere.Learn to self-edit effectively. By removing distractions such as repetitive tics or basic errors, you help your editor to focus on finding problems you can’t see.Avoid unnecessary rounds of editing or proofreading. Keep your audience’s quality standard in mind, but don’t get caught up in perfectionism. Internalize this truth: widely promoting a book that contains a handful of trivial errors is a better business strategy than weakly promoting a book whose text is flawless. In the end, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to save a lot of money on your required editing. It’s simply a less flexible cost than others—so let’s move on and look at some of those. Book Layout Costs Your layout needs and costs will depend a lot on the type of book you’re publishing, and so will your cost-cutting decisions. If your book is a visual product (for example, a recipe book), you should be very cautious about cutting any corners on your layout. For books that are primarily text-focused, understand that layout isn’t so much about aesthetics as it is about readability. Font choice, line spacing, margins—many aspects of your layout, if done wrong, will make your book unpleasant or even difficult to read. Because layout is a specialized technical task, your options for cutting costs are limited—but you do have a few: Use an automated layout program, if appropriate. If your manuscript contains only running text (for example, most novels), you can safely use an automated layout program with a professionally-made template and get acceptable results for both e-book and print (but do resist the urge to tinker with the results).Ask your designer to provide a no-frills design, if that will lower the price. Fancy chapter graphics or other custom design are pleasant, but never necessary.Publish in fewer formats at first. If your audience is strongly focused on either e-book or print, you can publish first in the main format, making other formats available afterward as demand justifies it. For example, a hard sci-fi novel can safely be published as an e-book first, since that’s the preferred format for that audience.Merge your hardcover and paperback layouts. If you’re publishing both a hardcover and paperback edition (which is a decision you should scrutinize), you can potentially use a single interior layout for both formats if they have the same or similar trim size. Ask your designer about this possibility. Saved anything yet? If not, don’t fear—we’re about to enter more fertile territory. Book Cover Design Costs Authors have a strange relationship with their book covers. For something that has the same business purpose as the sticker on a tin of sardines, the intensity of emotion involved can be surprising. (Alright, alright, I’m teasing—barely.) My point is that you need to approach your cover from a business perspective. It’s a piece of advertising, it targets a specific audience, and it needs to convey a specific message. Have you taken the time to identify that audience and that message? If not, how will you instruct your designer, and how will you know when you’ve got the right cover? And have you surveyed other covers in your genre, so you know the stylistic conventions? Avoid any temptation to use a style that’s cheap but doesn’t fit your genre. Your buyers will be confused, and your sales will suffer. With those cautions in mind, here are some safe ways to cut costs on your cover design: Buy a pre-made cover. Only do this if you’ve thought hard about the message your cover needs to convey. Otherwise, you’ll end up making compromises to convince yourself this approach is workable. If you do find a pre-made cover that truly fits your book, ensure that you’re licensing it for exclusive use.Commission a cover based on stock photos. Assuming a photo-based cover is appropriate for your genre, stock photos are an inexpensive way to get a striking, detailed image. Make sure your designer composites or manipulates the image in some way, to reduce the likelihood of your cover being (legally!) cloned.Go with a less-detailed design. Authors, especially of fiction books, often ask for too much detail on their covers. Talk to your designer about ways to pare down the level of detail to save costs, especially if your cover features an original illustration. Even better, allow your designer to provide their own ideas—conveying a message with only a few visual elements is part of their skill set.Avoid custom photography or illustration if you have other viable options. These are the two most expensive sources of cover imagery. Only use them if required in your genre or central to your book’s marketing. We’ve now covered the production side of your expenses: editing, layout, and cover design. What about cutting costs on distribution and marketing? Self-Publishing and Distribution Costs The rule here is simple: any choice that reduces the reach of your distribution is a bad one. Always maximize your availability by distributing to all retailers with significant market share, and in all formats that are in demand with your audience. However, there are two quick ways you can save a little on your distribution costs: Don’t buy more ISBNs than your immediate need. Of course, if you can get a large bundle cheaper than individual ISBNs, you should do that. But don’t buy a hundred-pack for hypothetical “future use”.Don’t pay for a bar code. These are supplied for free by most distributors, and there are also free barcode generators on the web. Book Marketing and Promotion Costs Marketing and promotion is individual to each book, and so are the opportunities to reduce costs. We can’t anticipate your unique situation, but let’s examine a few tips that apply universally. First of all, remember that your goal is to generate awareness of your book. So avoid any big mistakes that “save” money by crippling your marketing:MARKETING MISTAKES Relying solely on word of mouth. Maybe you’ve heard that “a good book sells itself”. Unfortunately, that’s a lie. Don’t sabotage your hard work—plan and expect to spend money on promotions.Relying solely on local legwork. Selling books in person can be invigorating and builds positive relationships. But keep in mind that your audience is global. You need to reach the 99.9% of your readers who don’t live in your neighborhood, and to do that you’ll need to invest.Paying for shady shortcuts. For example, paying for social media followers or likes, paying for Amazon reviews, and so on. These scams are worthless, and worse, they can get you banned from the very platforms that are vital to selling your book. Okay, so you know not to make those big mistakes. Is there any other universal advice for controlling book marketing costs? Marketing Advice Never pay for promotions you can’t measure. Book marketing is a long-term game of finding the right promotional methods and fine-tuning them. Without measurement, you can’t make those decisions rationally. You’ll end up spending randomly, and that means waste.Only pay for tangible results. Always ask yourself, what impact will this ultimately have on sales? Don’t get caught up with abstract or intangible concepts like “buzz”, “exposure”, or word of mouth. The best way to get people talking about your book is to get them to buy it, so look for promotions that have an obvious pathway to generate sales.Don’t spread your money too thin. Many promotional options require a certain investment to produce results—or to get sufficient data to know whether they’re performing. Rather than trying everything at once, concentrate your money on the most promising options and evaluate their performance. Save Money and Make Money If you’ve made some tough sacrifices, but your expenses still exceed your maximum budget, don’t push ahead in denial or make damaging cuts out of desperation. Instead, make it your mission to find creative ways to raise the remaining funding for your book. Hopefully, though, this article has helped you to trim your self-publishing budget to something you can afford, or even better, free up additional money for promotions or a future book. These decisions aren’t easy. One of the best things you can do to get feedback on your plan is to join a community of other authors. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book?

How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book? As a writer, your passion is your writing—you care about getting your ideas out there. But as you near the end of your writing process, the question of publishing costs pops up with all the tact of an uninvited party guest. Suddenly, there are decisions to make—important ones, and they can be daunting. How much is this really going to cost? How do I know if this quote is reasonable? Do I really need this service? The temptation to ignore the business side can be strong, but don’t give in. Your book’s success depends on you giving it a solid business foundation, and that starts with a sane budget. After reading this article, you’ll feel confident creating a budget for your book. You’ll know which factors affect prices, how much you should expect to pay for each service, and a reasonable ballpark for your total budget. Book Publication Costs A budget is more than just a list of prices—it’s about priorities. This article will familiarise you with what various services cost. Allocating your money wisely and planning your launch are topics of their own, and you can read about them here: How to Self-Publish Your Book on Amazon KDPHow Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Book?Literary Agent Fees Meanwhile, if what you’re really interested in is traditional publishing, you’ll want to read How to Get Your Book Published in 2021. And if you’re not sure of which route to take, Traditional Publishing vs Self-Publishing is the article for you. Still here, and still ready to talk prices? Let’s go! Production Costs Almost all publishing budgets include editing, layout, cover design, and ISBNs. For certain non-fiction books, indexing will also be a significant expense. What do each of these services cost? How are the fees typically structured, and which factors influence the final price? Let’s take a look at each one in detail. Book Editing Costs and Proofreading Costs For most self-published books, the biggest non-marketing cost is editing, accounting for around half the production budget. And rightfully so! Ask any successful author and they’ll tell you: never skimp on editing. Even if you’re a professional editor yourself, there’s no substitute for the perspective of a trained professional who lives outside your head. What Influences Editing Costs? The length of the manuscript. (You want them to check every word, right?)The difficulty of the manuscript. If you’re the type of writer who can weave a great yarn, but is a little “loose” with their text, your editor may charge a higher rate. Meanwhile, technical non-fiction content will require a specialist editor, also at a higher rate.The depth of the edit. Editing that reviews elements of style (phrasing, tone, word choice) is more costly than editing strictly for correctness (grammar, spelling, typos). The experience of your editor. An experienced editor won’t necessarily catch more mistakes, but they will have established work habits that allow them to be more efficient, reliable, and consistent. How Do Editors Structure Their Fees? There are two common fee structures: per-length or per-time. In a per-length scheme, the editor quotes a guaranteed cost based on the number of words or pages in your manuscript. In a per-time scheme, the editor quotes an hourly rate, and usually provides an estimate of the number of hours required. Per-length rates are more common in the modern self-publishing community, probably because they provide cost certainty to the author. However, there’s nothing wrong with a per-hour rate. If your editor can provide a reliable estimate of the time your edit will require, it boils down to almost the same thing. A Note on Terminology: Editing terms can be confusing because they vary between countries and between writing communities. Is it a copy edit, or a line edit? A line edit, or a stylistic edit? When requesting quotes, it’s best to specify the scope of editing you need, instead of assuming a common vocabulary. For example, you might ask for an editor to correct “grammar, spelling, and typos, but not matters of style or flow”. (If an editor’s website gives you their definition of terms, you can safely use those.) What Does Editing Actually Cost? Here are typical ranges, using all three price structures, in US dollars: Type of editPer-wordPer-page (300w)Per-hourStyle + correctness$0.015-$0.020/word$4.50-$6.00/page$15-20/hrCorrectness only$0.010-$0.012/word$3.00-$3.60/page$10-12/hr The lower end of this range would be for a less experienced editor and a less difficult manuscript; the higher end would be for the opposite. A Note on Structural / Developmental Edits: The editing we’ve described here is what’s sometimes referred to as final edits, meaning that you’ve finished making structural changes to your manuscript, and are now focused strictly on making the text the best it can be. There’s an entirely separate service known as “structural editing” or “developmental editing”, whose purpose is to make higher-level suggestions about your manuscript, such as restructuring chapters or cutting or adding content. If you plan to pay for a structural edit, make sure you budget for it separately from final edits. Book Formatting Costs With a number of do-it-yourself layout tools available, it’s tempting to try this step yourself. However, book layout is about more than just “converting” a manuscript into PDF or EPUB format. The wrong choice of font, font size, line spacing, or margins will reduce readability and cause reading fatigue. Unresolved widows, orphans, and rivers will distract the reader. If your book also contains tables, images, footnotes, or other rich content, the decisions are multiplied. What a designer offers is the judgment and best practices to make those decisions correctly. This is why, for most books, the right choice is to hire a professional. Fortunately, layout is often one of the less costly services you’ll need. What Influences the Cost of Layout? The formats you’re publishing in. An e-book layout is an entirely different thing than a print layout. If you publish in two print formats (e.g. hardcover and paperback), those may require separate layouts as well.The length of the manuscript. Sometimes this is only considered if it exceeds a certain threshold, such as 100,000 words.The complexity of the content. A novel is usually composed of what’s called running text—simple paragraphs. Meanwhile, a textbook or recipe book would include diverse elements, such as footnotes, tables, images, captions, headings, and so forth. How Are Fees Structured? For a running-text book, it’s common to see a single, fixed price. For books with more complex content, expect a custom quote. You may be asked to fill out a form identifying the number of images, tables, footnotes, and so on; or the designer may ask to review your manuscript. What does it cost? Here are some typical costs in US dollars: Running text, one format (e-book or print): $300-500.Running text with some images or diagrams (memoir or simple how-to book): $500-1000.Rich content (recipe book, textbook, technical how-to): $1500-2000 or more.Multiple formats: For one print and one digital format, expect to pay a bit less than the sum of the individual prices. For multiple print formats, there may be larger discounts. (Always let your designer know all the formats you’re considering.) Book Cover Design Costs Your cover is the centerpiece of your marketing; as with editing, this is an area where you shouldn’t skimp. A good cover designer doesn’t just create an image, they also give you valuable insight into the visual language of your genre or category. Book cover design costs vary considerably, and represent much more than just the technical quality of the final image. Careful research is essential. What Influences Book Cover Design Costs? The source of the content on which the design is based. Licensing fees for a stock photo may be as little as $20, while the cost of an original photo shoot can easily exceed $1000. In both cases, the final cover would be based on a photo, but the creative flexibility and licensing restrictions would be different.The labor-intensity of the work. The more detailed a cover is, or the more precisely some part of it must be executed, the more it will cost.The depth of the design consultation. This ranges from no process at all (buying a pre-made cover) to multiple drafts and revisions plus audience testing. How Are Fees Structured? Many designers offer packages at fixed prices, in exchange for limiting the design parameters. For example, it’s common to see a package in the $400US range that offers a cover based on a stock photo, with one or two rounds of revision. These package prices give both you and the designer a degree of certainty. Other designers, meanwhile, operate on a more open-ended process. They’ll provide a quote after receiving a brief or discussing your project with you. The quoting process itself takes time and effort, so this is uncommon at lower price ranges. A Note About Add-Ons: When dealing with package prices, you’ll often see “extras” included, such as a 3D render of your book, pre-made ad banners, or the source files for the design. Don’t compare packages based on a bullet list of “items” you’re getting—instead, focus on the design process and the designer’s skills and experience. (If you need specific extras, just ask for them.) What Does a Book Cover Design Cost? Keeping in mind that there’s a wide variation, here are some reasonable benchmarks: $400-600US is a typical price for a cover based on a stock photo, using a more “assembly line” design process. This price is typically a sweet spot for first-time authors who need a cover that conveys a sense of quality, but are on a tight budget.$500-800US is a typical range for an established designer using a more interactive process, but without any original illustration or photography.$800-1500+US is common for in-depth design processes, veteran designers, and covers that incorporate original illustration.For a print cover, expect $50-100 more compared to the e-book cover price. (This is for layout of the spine and back cover, plus meeting the printer’s specifications.) For both formats together, the price should be only slightly more than the print format on its own. Don’t Forget Genre... Every genre or category has certain conventions for cover design, and this can tie your hands with regard to some costs. For example, a space opera cover will typically be illustrated (where are you going to get a real-life photo of an alien planet?). That illustration will cost more than licensing a stock photo for a steamy romance cover. Book Indexing Costs If you’re publishing a non-fiction book in print, you may need indexing. (E-books are searchable, so are not normally indexed.) If you do need indexing, expect it to be a significant part of your total budget. What Influences the Cost? Length of the book, measured by the number of “indexable pages” (any page with text that needs to be indexed).Density of index entries (number per page).Difficulty of the text (degree of technicality or specialization). How Are Fees Structured? The most common model is a fixed cost per indexable page. However, some indexers may charge per index entry, per hour, or even a flat rate per book. What Does Book Indexing Cost? Generally, from $2.50-6.00US per indexable page. The low end would apply to the least dense and least technical books, such as business, political, popular science, and memoir. The high end would apply to the most dense and most technical books, such as textbooks, academic books, and technical manuals. ISBN Number Costs An ISBN is a stock-keeping number used by retailers to track inventory and/or sales. (It’s not a license to sell, and doesn’t affect your copyrights.) Although not strictly obligatory, the world’s book distribution infrastructure is built around ISBNs, so serious authors always use them. Each country has one national agency that manages ISBNs—sometimes this is the government, and sometimes this is a private entity that has been granted a monopoly, so prices vary. You need a separate ISBN for each format of your book. Below are some sample costs: CountryISBN agencySingle ISBN10-packUKNielsen£89£164USABowker$125 US$295 USCanadaCanadian governmentFreeFree A Note About “Free” ISBNs From Distributors: Some distributors or retailers offer “free” ISBNs as part of their service. However, these come with limitations. Typically you won’t be listed as the publisher in the ISBN registry, which can look unprofessional. And you’re usually not allowed to “take the ISBN with you” if you stop using that distributor or retailer. (This doesn’t affect your copyrights, but it can create a huge administrative hassle.) We recommend you buy your own ISBNs. A Note About Barcodes: When you buy ISBNs, you may be offered barcodes as well. A barcode is a way of representing your ISBN so a scanner can read it—you’ll see them on the back of every book.This is generally not something you need to pay for. If you’re using a mainstream print-on-demand service, such as IngramSpark, your barcode is automatically generated for you. If you need barcodes in other situations, there are free barcode generators on the web that you can use. All-in-One Packages The appeal of an all-in-one package is that it removes the entire process of comparing quotes from multiple contractors… and the risk is that it removes the entire process of comparing quotes from multiple contractors. Package Deals Commonly Come in Two Flavours: An “assembly line” package is focused on reducing your costs. It achieves this by streamlining the administration that would be duplicated across services, and through pre-existing relationships with specific contractors. You can save money this way, but watch out for unneeded services, and expect a more cookie-cutter result than you might get from hand-picked professionals.A “project management” package is focused on integrating the whole project under a consistent vision, selecting professionals suited to your project, and providing you with advice to make smart publishing decisions. With this approach, you pay more money than doing it yourself—in exchange for consistency, convenience, and advice.  When looking at costs, refer to the benchmarks for total costs later in this article. Expect an “assembly line” package to cost less than our benchmark, and a “project management” package to cost more. In all cases, investigate package deals carefully—remember you’re effectively making several hiring decisions at once. Book Marketing Costs Marketing is Different From Production in Important Ways: Production is a one-time expense to create a product. Marketing is an ongoing process, with no limit to total spending.Certain production tasks apply to almost every book (editing, cover design), while marketing plans are unique to each title.Production is about achieving quality and suitability while controlling costs. Marketing is about experimentation, and focuses on return on investment. Unfortunately, This Means There’s No “Average” Cost for Book Marketing. However, Here Are Some Useful Benchmarks:  “Deal” newsletters are a tried-and-tested promotional method, and there are effective options at prices from $20 to $1000. Remember to compare cost and audience size.Editorial review services can provide you with credible, positive marketing quotes for $200-400.Many authors achieve positive return with Amazon ads and/or Facebook ads. These systems are too complex to describe here, but as a rule, at least $100 (preferably more) is needed to properly test per-click ads for your book.Your author portrait is a useful marketing asset and can boost your credibility. $200 is a reasonable investment for a professional portrait that will last you several years.When you’re starting out, it’s safe to DIY your author website. Keep it simple, include links to your books and your social media channels, and revisit it over time.NetGalley is a service for generating buzz, media, and reviews. Although very useful for books with a larger marketing budget, it needs to work in conjunction with other efforts, so it should never take up the majority of your marketing budget. Costs range from $450-850US for a listing.Copywriting for your book description and marketing text provides a high return on investment. For as little as $50 you can obtain a strong marketing text that will generate a much better response than something self-written. As Far As How Marketing Fits Into Your Overall Budget, Again, Every Book is Unique. But Here Are a Few Rules of Thumb to Follow: A $0 marketing budget is almost always a mistake. At minimum, include $100 for inexpensive options.For a book with a budget of $2000 or less, allocating a quarter of your budget to marketing is reasonable.As your budget rises, the fraction allocated to marketing should also rise. For budgets $2000-$10,000, about a third of your total budget for marketing is reasonable. Above $10,000, most of each new dollar should go to marketing rather than production, as you should already have a top-quality product. Average Cost to Publish a Book So, with everything taken into account, what does it cost to publish a book? It should be clear by now that this question doesn’t have a single answer, and it would be unhelpful if we simply gave a range without any context. Instead, here are three sample budgets, each with a breakdown of costs: Example #1: Romance Novel. E-book and Paperback; 60,000 words. Editing for correctness and style: $0.02/w = $1200Book layout, e-book and paperback, running text only: $550Cover design based on stock photo: $400Total $2150 + ISBNs + marketing. Example #2: Epic Space Opera Novel. E-Book Only; 120,000 words. Editing for correctness and style: $2400Book layout, e-book only, running text only, extra cost for length: $320Cover design based on original illustration: $800Total $3520 + ISBNs + marketing. Example #3: Academic Text on the History of Steam Engines. Hardcover and Paperback; 85,000 words; Numerous Images, Diagrams, Tables, and Footnotes. Editing for correctness and style: $0.02/w = $1700.Book layout, hardcover/paperback with same dimensions (one layout), complex content: $2300.Cover design, based on historical photo: $400Indexing: $5.00/page @ 270 indexable pages = $1350.Total $5750 + ISBNs + marketing. As a general rule, you would rarely spend more than $5000 to produce a novel, and only the most complex non-fiction would exceed $15,000. At the low end, spending less than $1200-1500 on book production likely means you’re cutting corners. There are exceptions to every rule, so always base your decisions on an analysis of what your book needs to succeed. Compare with other authors wherever possible; budgeting and planning your book can be daunting, so why navigate these waters alone? Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How Does Instafreebie Work?

How To Use Prolific Works To Promote Your Books Looking for an article on Instafreebie? It’s called Prolific Works now. Prolific Works (formerly Instafreebie) is a site that gives ebooks away free to anyone who wants them. That sounds nice for readers, but not great for authors, except that the giveaway comes with a sweet little wrinkle. Because, to collect their free ebook, readers must give you – the author – their email address. Here, for example, are what Prolific Works giveaway pages look like. You’ll see there’s a book cover. A “come and get it” headline. And an easy sign-up form. PW isn’t really a way of giving away books, then, rather a way to give away books in exchange for an email address. And since presumably no one downloads a British-set crime novel unless they are interested in reading British-set crime novels, the email addresses you collect are from the reader group you are seeking to target. Expert tip: when you set up your giveaway page, you’ll be asked whether you want to oblige readers to sign up to your email list, or whether you’re fine making it optional. In the old days, we used to urge people to make the sign-up mandatory, but with changes to the system post-GDPR rules, we now advise you to make the email list signup optional. Conversion rates will be lower, but those will be balanced out by much better visibility. So – sorry – but optional it is. How Does Anyone Find Your Giveaway Page? People will come to your giveaway page in one of two ways. You’ll have directed them there, via your blog, your social media activity, and all the rest.PW will highlight new, interesting giveaways using its own resources (it’s had millions of downloads from its site already and the firm only started in 2014). And who does Prolific Works choose to highlight? Just those authors who are most active in promoting their work. The more you do, the more they’ll do for you. It’s win-win. Expert tip: if you’re active on social media, use @prolific_works or in your Tweets. If you’re doing other good things, just drop them a short summary email so they can see what you’re up to, but don’t let your good work go unnoticed. You don’t need to badger them, though. Stay professional, not needy. Why The Book-For-Email Exchange Is Good (Even For ‘Lazy’ Authors) You and PW between you will promote your giveaway page. The reader gets a book. You get an email address. What next? You don’t want to spam or abuse the trust of that reader. You wouldn’t make money if you did, so how do you – honestly and honourably – use your ability to make direct contact with that reader? Even if you’re almost totally passive on Prolific Works, you might make some money. Let’s say you get readers’ email addresses on them downloading books from PW. You do nothing straight away, but when your next book comes out, you email everyone on your list – including those PW readers – to say, ‘Hey, my new book is here, do come and get it’ (or words to that effect). That strategy is low-effort, but it can be rewarding in three ways: Your PW readers may love that book and go out and seek your other work on Amazon.Your PW readers may buy your new book when you come to launch it.The added weight of those PW readers will help boost your sales rank on launch, and that higher sales rank will mean higher overall visibility on Amazon, which means more eyes looking at your book, which means higher sales. That’s how PW can work for you, even if you’re not fussed about using it actively. And perhaps you’re lazy like me, but you don’t have to be disorganised, right? Let’s look at a more engaged, active strategy. Expert tip: Read the next section. Do what it tells you! Why The Book-for-Email Exchange Is Brilliant (For ‘Lazy’ Authors) The trouble with Lazy Strategy is simple. People float around the internet all the time. They click buttons, collect free stuff, add themselves to random mailing lists. Where’s the bond, though? The relationship? The loyalty? Often, it’s not there. People will forget where they got the book from and quite likely forget your name as well. Easy come, easy go. That’s the problem you must overcome. Don’t just use Prolific Works to give away your books. Use your mailing list to cement the bond. You want to turn a user download experience into a proper relationship. So how do you do that? How do you do it easily? We all like an easy life, so we replace our Lazy Strategy above with Astute Strategy: Reader downloads book from PW.You get their email address.Immediately, send out an email to welcome that reader. Say something like, ‘Hey. You just downloaded a book from PW. I’m so happy you did. Here’s a little bit of blurb to tell you about the book. I really hope you enjoy it. Oh, also watch out for another email from me tomorrow, because I’ve got another gift for you, it’s free, and I think you’re going to love it.’The next day, send out an email with another freebie. It doesn’t have to be more than a short story, and you say, ‘Here’s your next gift. And here’s a little bit of text about me, the author. Oh, and I’ve got one more gift for you, so keep watching your inbox.’Then, a little bit later (I leave it two days), you send an email which says, ‘Now you’ve had two freebies from me. I hope you loved them. Now here is a free bit of a full-length novel, #1 in the series. If you read that and enjoy it, it’s available over here on Amazon.’ And the book should be hyperlinked, available at an attractive price, probably no more than $2.99 for that first one. The beauty of this approach is multi-dimensional: You automate. Set up and activate those emails via an ‘Autoresponder’ on your email service. If you use Mailchimp, then just click the “Automation” tab, and set up a new workflow. It’s quite straightforward. I’m hardly Mr Tech, and I find it easy.You build connections. Turn that here-today-gone-tomorrow download experience into the start of a more authentic bond between reader and author.You put the book into their hands. If they read a third of your full-length novel and love it, they’re not going to resent the small extra that enables them to complete the journey. And if they get that far, that reader’s interest means they’ll be interested, all being well, in hearing news on the rest of your series.You get committed readers standing by to support your next launch. The advantages of the mailing list driven launch are still available – as before – only with this strategy, you should expect better conversion rates, because you’ve done more to nurture your bond with the reader. This approach lies at the heart of pretty much every successful indie author strategy, and I can’t stress enough that you need to follow it – with care – if you want to succeed. Expert tip. Don’t try to go it alone! Did you know that Jericho  Writers is a club for writers like you? We’ve gone overboard in trying to make our membership as rich and useful to you as it can possibly be. So we’ve taken our super-premium video course on self-publishing . . . and made it free to members.Yep. A totally comprehensive course on self-publishing totally free.And our complete 17-video How To Write course – one with a gazillion awed reviews from super-enthusiastic users – that’s free too. And everything else as well.We built our club to offer incredible value to writers like you, and we’d genuinely love you to come on board. You can find out more about what we do here. And honestly? We think it could be the best move you ever make. How To Get Even More From Prolific Works: Astute-But-Social Strategy In Action So far, so good – but, so far, our strategy has been quite solitary. We haven’t teamed up with anyone. We haven’t developed any real synergies from joint action. In fact, we’re going to ditch the Astute-but-Solo strategy in favour of the Astute-but-Social one. The idea is that you team up with authors in your genre to co-promote books. Readers will eye ones that best fit their tastes (so readers will be well-targeted), and since they may download several books from the range offered, you’ll also increase your downloads beyond what you could achieve for yourself. The other reason social giveaways work is that PW itself loves them. It’ll heavily promote group giveaways, because they offer much to their own readers, meaning total traffic to those pages can be huge. Make sure, as before, that PW knows about the giveaway, but if they know about it, assuming participating authors are active, results should be great. An expert tip: Don’t know other authors in your genre? Search PW forums to find a group to join. If your book looks half sensible, they’ll be delighted to have you. What Does Prolific Works (Instafreebie) Cost And Is It Worth It? PW presently offers three pricing bands as follows: a basic free plan, a package of US$20 a month, or US$50 a month. You’ll need to research each of these, but you’ll likeliest want to pay the $20 a month, the plan that integrates all those downloads with your mailing list – since, if you don’t get those emails, this strategy is defunct and, unless you writer under a lot of pen names, you probably don’t want to pay the $50. That’s what it costs, but do the results give you back those twenty bucks of value? And, here let me report the experience of J.N. Chaney, who compares her experience with Facebook advertising with her experience on Prolific Works (then Instafreebie). Her Facebook budget for an ad being $23 a day, giving its average of 49 subscribers per day (at an average cost per lead of $0.51), didn’t compare to PW at $20 per month, with its average of 84 subscribers per day (at a cost per lead of $.0076). So is it worth it? It’s worth it if: Your book is good enough to grip and retain readers.You have some short freebies to give away.Your book cover is strong enough to attract interest.You are willing to pay $20 a month.You have a morning or so to spare, clipping all these parts together. Or, to put it another way, your email list is the foundation for everything else in your self-pub career: the very first blocks in the wall. And PW gives you that precious way to get things started. It’s kind of insane not to give it a go. How Prolific Works Works and What to Do Next What next? Well, two things. Number one, hop over to Prolific Works and sign up. Number two, create your giveaway page. (A process that’s so spectacularly simple you don’t need us to talk you through it.) 5 Golden Rules Of Prolific Works Here’s Ashley Durrer, Director of Business Development at Prolific, with her own golden rules for success. Over to you, Ashley. 1. Do you already have some fans? Make them your biggest. I love learning how different authors approach engaging fans. Once you have subscribers, it’s so important to show them how much you value them. Respond to each reader email personally. Think about how you would feel if your friends forgot about you. The same feeling can be applied here. So take advantage of “The Lazy but Astute Strategy”. Remember your fans, reward them, and make them feel special. In the future, you can surprise them again with short stories, or novellas about one of your characters. 2. Link Prolific to your website or blog. Link your PW Author page to your website or blog for a more engaging landing page, where readers can sign up to your mailing list. Now you can share all your active, public giveaways with a single link, including book descriptions, bio, social media, and more with readers. It’s important to us that you can communicate with readers. 3. The Big Secret: Make your giveaway campaign “Shareable”. The big secret at PW is that we fully believe in reciprocity. You share, and we share. If you check the “shareable” checkbox when making a giveaway campaign, we will connect your campaign with the right readers. The more you connect with, the more we accelerate your work. 4. Take care of the reader. Relationships matter. Sometimes readers receive too many emails or requests to buy work. Maybe they receive too many emails in general. A good rule of thumb for emailing readers: maximum of one email a week to readers. These activities will help reduce spam reports and high unsubscribes. 5. Make unsubscribing easy and focus on readers who stay. No one likes being tattled on, reported, or blamed for spam. We also know that we can’t please everyone in the world. Let’s all do our best, and give everyone the opportunity to easily unsubscribe. If you aren’t a right fit, that’s okay. It’s better to have the right readers instead of more of the wrong readers. You can make it easy for them to move on, and get back to the people who really care about you. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Self-Publish Your Book On Amazon Kindle Direct (KDP)

The ultimate guide for serious self-publishers, with everything you need to know about kindle publishing and how to sell e-books on Amazon. This is a jumbo post, because it tells you everything you need to do and how to do it. If you only need to research a specific topic, then use the index on the right hand side. Otherwise, jump right in – and let’s get you self-publishing successfully via KDP, Amazon\'s self-publishing platform. Self-Publishing – How To Make a LivingAn Overview Of Effective Self-PublishingStep 1: Write A Good BookStep 2: Create A Strong CoverStep 3: Prepare Your ‘Look Inside’ MaterialStep 4: Prepare Your End MaterialStep 5: Format Your E-bookStep 6: Build Your Print Book (If You Want To)Step 7: Build Your WebsiteStep 8: Create Your Readers’ MagnetStep 9: Mailing Lists And Other TechnicalitiesStep 10: Social Media: Why You Can (Mostly) Ignore ThisStep 11: How to Choose Categories (BISAC Codes) On AmazonStep 12: How To Choose Keywords On AmazonStep 13: How To Price Your E-Book On AmazonStep 14: How To Launch Your Free BookStep 15: How To Launch Your Paid BookStep 16: The Long Term: Where Do You Go From Here? Self-publishing: How To Make A Living Via Amazon’s Kindle KDP The good news: self-publishing is easy these days. If you have a book and a cover, then uploading it is: Free. You pay nothing to Amazon, though there will be some costs involved in preparing properly. Fast. Allow 12-24 hours for the book to go live worldwide. Awesome. KDP can make your work made available to a worldwide audience. That’s something that even the largest traditional publishers can’t offer, unless they have acquired worldwide rights. That’s the great side of self-publishing, but there are challenges, too, of which the biggest is simply this: Invisibility. Amazon has 3.4 million titles in ‘literature and fiction’. 3.6 million history titles. Half a million comics and graphic novels. And of course, the flood grows ever bigger. Half a million new titles became available on the Kindle store in the last 90 days alone. Your title might be great, but bury it amongst 499,999 competing titles and it’s still likely to vanish. In short, self-publishing on Amazon is awesome and scary in about equal measure. This post will tell you how to publish your work on Amazon in a way that is low-cost (not zero cost), professional, and effective. Just how effective it is will depend on you, your books, your genre, and how much work you put in. But it is, these days, perfectly realistic to aim at earning a decent living wage from Amazon KDP publishing (possibly supplemented by publishing on Apple, Google, Kobo, etc). And just to be clear, although a good chunk of my author earnings come from traditional publishing, the money I earn from self-publishing my work in North America alone is excellent. In 2017, I earned $100,000 from just six e-books. And as you build your range of titles, your readership, your email list and your marketing skills, your income should follow suit. Yes, it’s hard work. Yes, it involves a little upfront cost. Yes, it depends on some clever tricks of marketing and presentation, but it works. It worked for me. It can work for you. The same basic principles underlie the success of thousands of other indie authors. And I’m going to share everything. This post is basically the ultimate guide to self-publishing your book on the Amazon Kindle store and I’ll update if things need to be tweaked or changed. Since the post is super long, I recommend that you bookmark it and use the Table of Contents up top to navigate. Tweet it, share it, link to it from your website, if it’s all helpful. To business. An Overview Of The Self-Publishing Process Effective self-publishing on Amazon requires: Strong underlying material. In other words, your book needs to be good. If it’s not, no amount of clever marketing will save it. A properly presented e-book. What I mean by this is that the cover needs to be strong. The material at the front of your e-book (the ‘Look Inside’ portion) needs to tempt the reader to complete their purchase. The material at the back of the e-book needs to clinch the deal. It needs to turn a one-off reader into a permanent, committed fan. (Not sure which ebook format to use? Then check out this article). A properly constructed author platform. That means a website, a reader’s magnet and a properly set-up mailing list. If that sounds scary or technical, don’t worry. There’s nothing hard here and I explain it all, anyway. Sensible pricing. No one will buy your book if it’s too expensive. You won’t make any money if it’s too cheap. Well-chosen metadata. Another scary term for something that’s basically simple. Because a lot of purchases on Amazon come via different types of search, you need to make sure that your book will pop up in the right places, not the wrong ones. And it’s all easy. Proper book promotion. So far, everything in this process is about getting ready for publication. Actually launching your book comes right at the end of the process. And, once you’ve built any kind of track record, you do that launch via your mailing list. You basically tell these guys (your committed fans) that you have a new book for sale. They rush out and buy it. Amazon notices that there’s a huge sales surge in this cool new book, so their search engine starts showing it to more and more people. So now you have totally new readers buying your book and as they enter your world, they start signing up for your mailing list, so your fan base grows and your next book goes even better. All that works well once you’ve got started, but how do you get started in the first place? Well, there are tricks there too and we’ll cover them. In short, the basic marketing process on Amazon is (A) prepare properly, (B) build a mailing list, (C) sell your work to that mailing list, (D) acquire additional sales from brand new readers who arrive at your work thanks to the visibility acquired via those mailing list sales, then (E) rinse and repeat, ad infinitum. Once you’ve mastered the basic essence of this underlying technique, you’ll want to add in the following methods too. (I’ve put the easiest techniques first, the harder ones later. Don’t work this list in the wrong order!) Book promotion sitesCross promotions with other authorsAmazon AdvertisingBookbub advertisingFacebook advertising Of these methods, Facebook is probably the most powerful and scalable … but it’s also the most complicated and the easiest place to lose money. Most indie authors want to add Facebook advertising right away. That’s a mistake you pay for – with dollar bills magicked out of your pocket and into Mark Zuckerberg’s Fund For More Digital Wickedness. And though this post is long, don’t panic. Yes, there is set-up time and cost involved in getting started, but the basics of marketing are really quite easy thereafter. In July 2015 I launched a book in the US where my complete marketing plan consisted of: One email to my mailing list. Nothing else. (My wife had her second set of twins that year and we were … busy.) I didn’t tweet, post on Facebook, blog or send out review copies or anything else. You want to know how much money I made? I earned $30,000 from that one email and, since then, things have only got better. I’m going to show you how to do all of that, so buckle up as we hit the detail. Step 1. Write A Good Book People always laugh when I say that, “Write a good book,” but it’s the only absolute essential of the whole marketing process. It’s also the area where writers most tend to rush things. (Simple starter guide on writing a book here.) Again and again, we see writers struggling to achieve sales on Amazon. They talk with intensity about their metadata, their Facebook campaigns, their experiments with permafree and a million other things but when I look at their books, they’re too often just not good enough. And if your product isn’t a hundred percent, your sales will only ever be mediocre. Remember that if you’re writing thrillers, you are selling head-to-head against Lee Child and John Grisham. If you’re writing YA fiction, you are selling head-to-head against Stephenie Meyer and Veronica Roth. Getting nice comments from your beta-readers is not enough, because – scary truth – everyone gets nice comments from their beta-readers, so do things properly. Hone your craft, say with a writing course. Get detailed feedback from professional, third-party editors like ours. Put your work in the way of people who are skilled at finding flaws, not too quickly generous with praise. There are a lot of different editorial services out there; from manuscript assessments to developmental editing. We obviously think ours are pretty good, but do check out what different types of editing have to offer. Some of them are damn expensive and best avoided. There’s one school of thought, which is that you may as well get your work out there. Make some sales, acquire some readers, and learn on the job. Well, maybe, but I think that’s the wrong attitude. I think the writers who succeed are the ones who want to put the best possible product out there always, every time. And indeed, in self-publishing, there’s a strong argument which says that book #1 in your series should be the best one you write. That’s the portal into your series. That’s the one which hooks fans and compels them to read on. If you write a dud Book #4, your core readers will forgive you and buy Book #5 anyway. If you write a dud Book #1, you won’t have any readers for anything else you write. Another way to look at the same thing: Great marketing + a lousy product = a lifetime of struggleSo-so marketing + a brilliant product = easy sales A great book is the foundation for everything else. So get it right. Build those foundations strong. They’re going to support your entire career. Step 2. Create A Strong Cover The cover is second in importance only to the book itself. If the cover doesn’t immediately appeal to your core reader, then that reader won’t even arrive on your first page to read a single word. You must get the cover right. Nothing less than perfect is enough. That means your cover needs to: Look good in thumbnail. The book must work at small scale. Designers always like showing you the hi-res version of their image, which is fine, it needs to look nice at scale, too. Still, your very first task is to shrink that right down and see if it works when tiny. Look good when compared with competing titles. I always copy that thumbnail sized image onto a screengrab of an Amazon search page, full of books written by my own direct competition. Then I ask: does my image look competitive on that page? If not, try again. Inform the reader instantly what kind of book it is. A YA dystopian cover should announce its YA dystopia instantly. A rom-com cover should be instantly interpretable as such. Yes, that means that those covers tend towards clichés, but in this case, that’s good. The first task of a cover is to say, “I am a book of this genre”, where said genre is a rom-com, or thriller, or romance, or whatever else you’re selling. Convey a mood or feeling. Readers typically buy books because of a hook and a feeling, e.g.: ‘It’s this book about an ordinary girl and vampire who fall for each other.’ That’s a hook plus a feeling, giving a reason to buy. A book cover can’t really convey the hook (that’s the job of your blurb), but it can and must convey the feeling. Those Twilight covers conveyed a general sense of dark, forbidden sexiness. That was all they needed to do, and they did it superbly. Generate questions, don’t close them off. Covers that answer questions don’t tempt readers in. Covers that prompt questions invite further exploration. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight cover is a good example. Why that girl? That apple? That black background? You instantly want to know more. If the cover had been pretty-girl-plus-hunky-vampire gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes, it would have sold some copies, but never have been the global hit it became. Similarly, your approach to your subject matters needs to be oblique and suggestive, not right on the nose. Use good quality images. That’s sort of obvious, but it’s common to see self-published books where the images look like (and almost certainly are) stock images from some free or low-cost image library. And they don’t look bad, exactly, they just look like stock images. They have a seen-it-before quality, death to your project of attracting a reader’s eye. If you need to pay money for a top-dollar image, then pay that money. Use good quality typography. Again obvious, but getting the typography (font styles, etc.) on a book is harder than it sounds. If a draft cover feels a tiny bit ‘off’ when you see it, then it is wrong. That feeling never lies. So once you know what you want to achieve, how do you achieve it? It’s strangely hard. You’d think getting a strong book cover was a reasonably mechanical process. You write a design brief. You hand it to a competent person. Boof, you get back a design that’s going to be anywhere from good to excellent. And, in my experience, it’s not really like that. I’ve had poor to mediocre covers from best-of-breed traditional publishers. I’ve had mediocre book covers from talented, award-winning freelancers. I’ve used competition type websites with results that were okay, but not utterly satisfactory. And, yes, I’ve also got some book covers that I’m totally happy with. So my recipe for success is as follows: Fire your Uncle Bob. Unless your friend, relative, etc., is a professional designer, that person is not right for you. And yes, you may save some money. But NASA would probably save some money by patching their rockets together from stuff found in a junkyard. There’s a reason they don’t do it. Use pros. You can go to competition type websites, of which 99Designs is the most prominent example. (Personally, I think you have to pay a lot of $$$ to get a good outcome from this, however.) You can go to outsourcing type sites like Fiverr or Upwork. You can search libraries of premade book covers for sale (for example, The Book Cover Designer. You can just Google around (search “book cover designers”) and look at different offerings. Or, simply design your own ebook cover. There are pros and cons to every avenue and in the end, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You may blunder around a bit until you find the right solution for you, but that’s fine. This is a creative process and you may need to experiment before you get it right. Spend money. Just to be clear: the phrase “blunder around a bit” can mean “spend some money getting projects started with designers who looked really great (and are great, actually), just you didn’t like their initial designs and twigged things weren’t going to work out.” Don’t end up settling for almost-good, because you couldn’t bear to write off the $150 that you had to spend. Either invest again with the same designer to get something you’re happy with or close off that avenue and start again. Remember that your first cover will almost certainly be by far your most expensive. Once you’ve settled the look (the kind of image, the mood, the typography, etc.), the next batch of covers will be easy-peasy. Only work with people where you’re happy saying ‘no, not yet’. This is a crucial one. You must be happy with your cover. That means continuing to look at images, to work away at typographical niggles, until you’re genuinely delighted. If your designer charges you $90 an hour beyond a certain level of changes, or if your (talented, but not infinitely patient) Uncle Bob is just going to start rolling his eyes, then those people may not be right. You must feel okay with demanding perfection. And yes, that may mean being pushier than you normally like to be, but it also means working with someone where you can feel safe to be pushier. If you’re unsure, look up more tips on how to commission ebook cover designs, if you need. Now we turn to the book itself. Step 3. Create Your Ebook: ‘Look Inside’ What is the front material there to do? For ebooks, there is only one answer: the front material is there to convert ‘Look Inside’ browsers to people who buy your book. It’s effectively a front door that has to look welcoming if you want to tempt readers inside. If your front-end material does not directly contribute to that goal, then it needs to go elsewhere. Yes, you may want to find room for your thanks, your copyright notices and all the rest. Those things don’t make people buy your book, though, so bury them at the back. The front of your e-book probably only needs: The cover – because you need it, and readers expect and want it. A title page – ditto. Formal proofs – that means any plugs from fellow authors, from newspaper reviews, or anything which tells readers, ‘Yes, serious, professional readers have read this book and rated it highly’. At the start of your career, you may struggle with those formal proofs, but that’s fine. All new authors are in the same position. Do what you can, but don’t fret too much. Social proofs – in other words, any comments from readers that tell people, ‘Yep, people like you have read and enjoyed this book.’ Social proof is quite possibly just as important, maybe more important, than any number of great notices in the New York Times Review of Books, and even as a newbie, you can accumulate social proofs. So go do it. And put those proofs up front where casual browsers can find them. Constant reminders about what your book is and what it offers. Remember that people who click on the ‘Look Inside’ feature may well only be browsing in quite a casual way. They’ll have sort of took in your cover design, sort of read your book description. Just as bookstore browsers flip books over to look at them in quite a casual way, though, so it is with people browsing on Amazon. You need to assume that these browsers haven’t intently studied anything. They are only two or three clicks away from buying something quite else. Hammer home your message, by carefully choosing formal and social proofs and other related text. My own ‘Look Inside’ text will try to remind readers that, “This is an exciting crime thriller featuring a really interesting female detective.” That proposition won’t appeal to all readers, but it should appeal to the kind of readers my book is aimed it. So make it clear. Keep it uppermost in the browser’s mind. Offer a freebie. I’m going to talk more about readers’ magnets and email lists in a later section of this post, so for now, just notice that I recommend you offer a freebie, a story available for readers to download for free, up at the front of your e-book. We’ll talk more about what and why soon. And plenty of text! The shorter your other front material, the more room you have to give readers what they really want, which is a taste of your book itself. Make sure that your first chapter is strong, and let readers get there fast! Step 4. Create Your Ebook: End Material If the front material in your e-book is there to persuade the browser to buy, the end material has a rather more complex set of functions. It should: Get your readers to buy another book from you.Get your readers to give you their email address.Build a real human bond between you and your reader.Encourage readers to write reviews.Make the extent and structure of your book series and other works really clear. The thinking here is simple. A reader has just finished your book. We have to assume they enjoyed it (if they didn’t, no marketing genius in the world will entice further sales.) So what next? Now is the moment to reach out and build a lasting bond between you and the reader. E-books that just finish without doing that are kind of like the door in the image: they kick you out onto the street, leaving a slightly disappointed feeling behind. E-books that look after the reader are far likelier to create a pool of keen buyers, who’ll come back to your work again and again and again. So how to achieve those happy results? Answer: Write an author’s note that feels personal. Make sure it’s full of your voice and personality, and directly thanks (perhaps even compliments) your readers. Invite participation Notably by encouraging readers to give you their email address in exchange for a free story from you. More on this shortly (and it’s key, you can’t miss this step). Be smart about offering those buy links. Remember that Apple won’t accept books with Amazon links in, so you can either (A) work exclusively with Amazon (probably the best bet for newcomers to indie-dom), (B) have a mobi (Kindle) file that is different from your epub (Apple, Google, Kobo, and everyone else) file, or (C) create a landing page like this to let readers choose their own store. Remember that e-readers are probably reading in an online environment where they can take instant action, meaning print books are a terrible model for how to put together your end-material. Web design is a better model. You want easy-to-access links in places where your readers may want to take actions enabled by those links. In other words, don’t just talk about other books in your series, make it simple for readers to buy those books on Amazon, Google, Kobo, wherever. Making it easy will make a huge difference to your conversions and that means making a difference to your pocket. Step 5. Format Your Ebook Don’t feel too fussed by this. Writing a great book, preparing inviting front material, developing material at the back of the book that seals the deal with the reader, those things matter. The rest is a technical exercise that you can either do yourself or outsource. It’s not expensive and easily done. So first, make sure that your Word file is in good shape to be converted. We’ve lots more advice if you need on how to format your ebook. (This section assumes that your MS is basically textual. If you are creating a design-led book that involves a lot of images, then Visme offers a great, simple, e-book creator. Did I mention that it’s free? Well, yes, it’s free.) Then, iff you’re working exclusively with Amazon (which, as I say, I recommend when starting out), then you can just upload your Word document to Amazon. It’ll make the conversion for you. And boom, that’s it. If you are distributing to all the e-stores, you’ll need an epub file, not just a mobi one. You can create that file yourself via simple online tools, Scrivener being one option (you pay for this, but it has loads of other features and loads of writers swear by it). Calibre is another. Apple users love Vellum. Some e-book distributors, for example Draft2Digital, offer free online tools that are very simple to use and come with no strings attached. Whatever route you take, just make sure that you preview the ebook before going live with it. All the those conversion tools offer previews, and just go through, checking every page. This is your product we’re talking about. Checking matters! Step 6. Want A Print Book? Then Sort That, Too. Most self-publishers will sell work in e-form, not book-form. My own e-sales are probably about fifteen times greater than hard-copy sales. (With my traditionally published work, the balance is much more even, or even leans more to print.) What’s more, print books are harder, more expensive to put together. You have much less control over the selling price. A lot of the promotional techniques that work brilliantly for ebooks don’t work as well for print. And so on. I say that to be honest, not to put you off. I sell several thousand self-published print books each year. I make a little over $3 per sale, so I end up with a satisfying amount in my pocket because of those sales. And I do nothing at all to promote those books. Nothing. All I do is promote my e-books actively and intelligently via the Kindle Store and elsewhere, and that visibility brings my work to the attention of some readers who think. ‘Hey, this looks good, but I’d rather have it in hard copy.’ And it’s easy enough to add a print element on to your offering. KDP offers a print option too. You’ll need a back jacket and spine design, as well as your front cover (but those things are easy, once you have the front sorted). The additional cost involved is minimal. You’ll also need interior formatting, to be sure your book looks lovely when laid out on the page. Don’t try to do that yourself – it’s harder than you think. Your best bet is an outfit, BB eBooks, which is based in Thailand and combines excellent experience and quality with Thai pricing. Once you have your cover and your text, you just upload them via KDP. Bingo. Worried about an ISBN? Don’t be. Ebooks don’t need one and most top-performing indies don’t bother with them at all. In terms of your print books, your print partner will sort out an ISBN for you. So, for example, if you create print books via Amazon KDP (your best starting option), Amazon will simply take care of it for you. Easy! Just remember, e-sales are likely to predominate by a large margin, and your print sales will only start to take off if your e-sales do. National or international distribution via bookshops is basically a fantasy, unless you have a traditional publisher to take care of that for you. Step 7. Build Your Website You know you need a website, but why? What do you want it to do for you? There are lots of flaky, fuzzy answers floating around the internet, and they’re almost all wrong. Some people will tell you: ‘Oh, it’s a key part of your brand. You need to build a platform.’ Really? Why? Most readers will surely just be happy with (a) the book, and (b) Amazon. Why do they need anything else? Or: ‘You need to make yourself discoverable by search engines.’ This is rubbish. Or it is if you’re writing fiction. Google-search and similar just doesn’t matter to most novelists. How could it? Here’s the one thing you need to know about your author website. Your website is there to collect reader’s email addresses. That is its purpose. That is why you have it. If it does that and almost nothing else, you’re doing fine. (Or, full disclosure, that’s true if you’re a novelist. If you’re writing non-fiction, then the truth may be a bit more complicated.) Yes, you will probably want a page for each one of your books. Yes, you probably want some kind of bio. Yes, you probably want a contact page. If you like writing blogs, you probably want a ‘news’ or ‘blog’ type page as well. Still, I can’t even remember the last time I posted on my author blog. I don’t make sales from my book-specific pages (I make them on Amazon.) The contact function is nice because it means readers can get in touch with me, but if I disabled the page, the world wouldn’t collapse and my sales would remain untouched. Your website is there to collect reader’s email addresses – and how does it do that? Well, the primary chain is simple. It’s this: You have a link in your e-book that says, “I’ve got a free story for you, please come and get it”.That links passes the reader to a page on your website that handles that story-for-email exchange.The reader gets your free story. You get a way to contact them in the future. That’s a fair exchange: you are, in a way, giving the reader something of more value than the thing they’re giving you. And it’s an honest one. You will make it clear that yes, you will retain that reader’s email address and sometimes make use of it, though only for matters directly related to your books. The way you structure that basic exchange is critical. Tiny differences in set-up will make a few percentage point impacts on your conversion rates, and, when cumulated, those little impacts can make a huge difference to the success of your campaign. Your ebooks need to take people to a page on your website that maxes the number of people downloading your story. Here is an example of a good page from my own website (and see what happens when you click the buttons – functionality matters). Key design points to consider are: Eliminate all in-site navigation. This page exists on my website and has completely normal navigation tools up at the top, excepting this page. On this page, I want people to click those buttons. I don’t want them to be distracted by any other good stuff I have on the site. This page has to say, “Either download the story, or close this page: there is nothing else to do, read, see here.” Have incredibly obvious calls to action. Giant orange buttons on a monochrome background works for me. Don’t ask for an email address straight away. It’s better to make it a two-stage process: (A) let the reader give you an order: “give me my freebie”, then (B) obey the command. And it just so happens that obeying that command involves collecting an email address. Around two thirds of visitors to my website end up leaving me their email address. They’re readers who have liked my work enough to buy it in the past, and to collect the free story I’ve offered. Those are the people who are likeliest to buy my work again in the future, and now I have a way to get in touch with them direct. Since you’re building a website, too, you may as well do the obvious bits right. Its branding should be synced with your books’ branding. The site should communicate what you are all about as an author as swiftly as your book covers do. Your site should be mobile responsive, so that it looks as good on a phone as it does on a PC or tablet. And so on. There are other bits and pieces to get right, but any half-way competent designer should do them fine. A few rules to follow are these: Pay that little bit extra for your own domain name. So pay for or Yes, is cheaper, but you’ll regret it in the long rum.Use WordPress. Wix and Squarespace and their like are cheaper in the short run, but they have vastly less power than WordPress. So again: think long term, not short term.WordPress needs a theme – a stylistic chassis, in effect – to hold your site together. I strongly recommend Parallax for Writers, because it’s great, it’s designed for you, and it’s crazy cheap.Learn a little bit of basic tech. You don’t have to be a tech wizard – I’m not – but if you know nothing, you’ll always have to go through someone else to make minor site tweaks which means that, after a bit, you won’t even bother. Your website doesn’t make you money directly, but it’s the launch pad – the blast station – for everything that follows. So build it good, and get ready for launch . . . Step 8. Create Your Readers’ Magnet OK, now listen up, because this stuff matters. We’re talking reader magnets. A reader’s magnet is a free story you give to your readers in exchange for their email address.You advertise the freebie in the front and back of your ebook to maximise the number of people who take you up on that incentive.You will then use the email list you build to bond with readers, launch books, boost promotions and, in general, to send you off, giggling, to the bank driving your own gold-plated Cadillac with a trunk stuffed with high denomination bills. To secure these outcomes, your reader magnet needs to be good. So be sure your story lives (broadly speaking) in the same fictional world as your for-sale novels. You can’t use a horror-fiction magnet as a lure for your fluffy romance readers, or vice versa. Be sure that your magnet is well-presented and has a lovely book cover. Obviously, you’re going to scatter plenty of links in your ebook (the front and back of it, not the actual text), so readers can’t miss the fact you have something free to offer. I also recommend you make at least some of those links visual (i.e. you use a book cover or similar) to invite the eye. Text links are great, and you should use those, but visual plus text beats text alone. That story you offer does not need to be a full-length novel. Anything from 5 to 15,000 words is fine. Just make sure it’s a satisfying piece of quality writing. Don’t cheat your reader. And that’s it. One story (a magnet) to attract readers and collect email addresses. That already sounds good, but in fact, as we’ll see, it’s going to form the absolute heart of your promotion strategy. Step 9. Mailing Lists And Other Technicalities Now we’ve got links in our e-books to take readers to your website, where the story-for-email exchange is made, but how does the actual plumbing of all that work? The answer is that you will need two tools. The first is Mailchimp (or any other mailing list provider.) They will store your email list, send mass emails, eliminate duplicates, handle the unsubscribe process, and plenty more. Some people find Mailchimp hard to use and prefer Mailerlite. If you are ambitious and tech-confident, you might want to use the more powerful Convertkit. The second is Bookfunnel, an outfit that makes the delivery of your free ebook (your reader’s magnet) unbelievably simple – both for you and for your reader. Both services are paid, but the money isn’t crazy. You’ll pay $100 a year for Bookfunnel, and Mailchimp is free until you hit 2,000 mailing list subscribers, and $20-30 monthly thereafter. Bookfunnel is so simple to use, you won’t need any help setting it up. In fact, I would be insulting you if I told you how to use Bookfunnel, so I won’t. (Phew. We’re still friends.) Integrating Mailchimp with your website could require help, depending how much you hate fooling around with that kind of thing, but don’t cut corners. Creating a smooth path for your readers is key. They need to: See a link in your ebook.Click over to a (navigation-free) landing page on your website.Hand over an email (to your Mailchimp mailing list).Be delivered a book via Bookfunnel. That’s all easy. If you need help with web bits, then get this. Again: all this set-up stuff can seem boring, but so is climbing up a long flight of steps. You’ve got to put the effort in, if you want the reward at the end. Rushing to publish too soon is the absolutely class, #1, gold-plated mistake that most indies make. Put in the effort, then enjoy the rewards. There’s a lot to take in, right?There is, yes. Self-publishing is more complicated than regular publishing, especially at the start. (Later on, it can actually seem simpler in many ways, especially if you hate giving up control.)But still: a lot to take in. A lot to do. And there’s this horrible (but accurate) sense that getting the detail right really matters.That’s kind of yikes!, right?Well, yes and no. Because the thing is we created an entire step-by-step video course that’s intended to be everything you need to know about getting set up as a self-publisher. That course is super-premium, which is a fancy way of saying (a) really high quality, and (b) scarily expensive. (You can see the $$$ here.)So don’t buy the course!That’s right: don’t buy it.It’s a great course, but it’s expensive, and you’re on budget, so – don’t buy it.After all, why buy, when you could rent? For a crazy-cheap (and cancel-any-time) monthly fee, you can become a member of Jericho Writers – a club designed for writers just like you.Quite simply, we aim to give members as much as we possibly can. An insane amount of value for as little as we can possibly charge. Think of us as a kind of Netflix for writers.So members get unlimited access to our self-publishing course.And unlimited access to a whole heap of filmed masterclasses, including some brilliant ones on self-publishing.And filmed interviews with authors and agents and publishers. And an incredibly supportive community. And live webinars from top experts on all the topics that matter most to you.Why so much? And why so much for so little? Well, that’s easy.We’re writers too, and we built our club for writers like you, writers like us. You can find out more about joining us here. We really hope you do. Step 10. Social Media: Why You Can (Mostly) Ignore This A lot of writers worry that self-publishing is going to be all about bigging yourself up on social media. Endless tweets, endless bragging Facebook posts. And it’s not. It’s not. Those things don’t work. They’re a waste of time. They’re horrible to do. I do have a Twitter account and an author page on Facebook, but I don’t get book sales via either route. (I have a Twitter account mostly because that makes it easy for Twitterholics to contact me if they want. Some of those contacts have proved of real value. I also have an author page on Facebook because a traditionally publisher once told me I had to have one. I got one, and neither they nor I ever used it.) Nor do you need to blog. Although I do blog here, I hardly ever blog about author things on my own website. And if I do, that’s because I feel like doing it. Actual book sales deriving from those blogs are trivial. There will be categories of author where social media does really matter. If you’re a fashion blogger wanting to sell books, you’ll need an Instagram following, and so on. It’s also true that social media can be a great way to network with fellow authors and influential bloggers in your niche. Those relationships are worth fostering but they’re not, directly, to do with selling books at all. For most of us, the big news is this: If you hate social media and want nothing to do with it, you can still sell books very effectively on Amazon. If you don’t want to blog routinely or do the work involved in building a large following, that’s fine, too. It doesn’t matter. To be clear, there are exceptions. In particular, if you build a strong audience on Facebook, you will make your FB advertising life a lot, lot easier.  If you’re interested in doing that, the rules are: Stay narrowly focused on your audience and their interests. Don’t ever stray from that core.Quality posts and interactions beat quantity. Post good stuff when you have something good to say.Be recognisable. When people scroll down their feeds you want them to know it’s your content straight away. Instasize is a great app for editing your images and keeping them on brand.If/when you have a decent FB following, you should pay to boost your launch post / promo posts.You can also think about advertising to your FB audience to support your email and boosted post campaigns. These are later stage tactics, though, and you can safely ignore these for now. If you’re nervous of getting involved in all that stuff, though, don’t be. Just forget about. You don’t need it. (For now.) Step 11. How To Choose Categories (Bisac Codes) On Amazon When a bookshop shelves your book, they need to choose where to shelve it. With romance? With crime? With general fiction? With health and beauty? Or what? It’s the same with Amazon, except that Amazon has far more categories. When you upload your book to Amazon (which is easy, and has become easier) you will see a little box prompting, and you need to choose categories highly relevant to your book. It’s important to understand the reason for this. You’re not choosing categories because you want to help Amazon with its filing. You are choosing categories in order to sell more books. Amazon has an overall bestseller list, of course, but it also has a massive range of sub-bestseller lists – for things like “Fiction > Crime” or “Fiction > Mystery & Detective > International Mystery & Crime”. Readers like perusing those lists, and Amazon likes to direct them there. If you can get on your chosen lists, your book will get more eyeballs, and all the clever stuff we’ve already put in place will convert those browsers into buyers. You need to choose categories by thinking of bestseller lists you’d most like to be on, and which you have a realistic chance of appearing on. That’s the whole deal right there. That’s (almost) all you need to know about choosing categories. For newer authors, it’s better to target rather more niche lists – in my case, “International Mystery & Crime” is more niche than “Fiction & Crime”. It won’t get as many viewers, but my chances of sitting close to the top of the list and staying there for a time outweighs that issue. Also – pro tip here – if you are picking a sub-category (eg: international mystery & crime), you are automatically entered in the relevant parent category (in this case, mystery & detective). So don’t waste your second category choice by entering the parent category as well as the child. Until you have a little experience of your book, your genre, your sales, you are largely guessing as to which lists to target. But at least you know what you’re doing here. If you are already published, then check out your Also Boughts to understand what kind of readers you have – what other books they like. You can use Goodreads or other online book recommendation tools to achieve the same kind of thing. Two last things on this topic: Amazon now uses the term ‘categories’ for this selection process. It used to talk about BISAC codes, a hoary old library classification system. You may come across both terms being used, but don’t worry about it. They’re the same thing.You need to read this section, on categories, in conjunction with the one that follows, on keywords. It’s when you put those two things together that the magic happens. Step 12. How To Choose Keywords On Amazon When you come to upload your book, Amazon will ask you to give it seven keywords that describe your book. (As you’ll see, some of those keywords can be two or three word phrases. That’s fine, but the term keyword is still used.) So far, so easy. Whilst categories have only one role (they let you choose what bestseller lists to target), Amazon keywords have two roles to play, and they both matter. Those keywords let you: Choose what sub-bestseller lists to target.Choose what thematic searches to target. Take the first of those things. When you look at the overall Amazon bestseller list, you’ll see that there are 330,000 or so mystery and detective books available for sale. If you’ve targeted that list, you might be a little nervous. You think your book is good, but do you really want to fight off 329,999 other bad-asses? What you need to do is break that group of 330,000 titles down into manageable sub-units, and if you click on the relevant broad category, you’ll see Amazon has given you a host of more manageable sub-units or mini-bestseller lists. Under ‘Moods & Themes’, for instance, I’m given various boxes to check under words like ‘Action-packed’, ‘Horror’, ‘Racy’, ‘Noir’, and more words to define the feel of my book. Under ‘Characters’, I’m given ‘Female Protagonists’, ‘British Detectives’, and so on. And something magical happens. Counting the number of books allocated to Amazon categories I want, the book count – i.e. your competition – goes down. More than half your competition disappears, just because authors and publishers haven’t chosen keywords that pin down good books into relevant sub-categories. (Recent changes have removed those numbers from the Amazon site, so you can’t now check what I’m saying. It’s still true, however!) Now you’re not going to get caught in that disappearing act, because you’re going to do this: Pick your broad category,Go to the relevant Amazon bestseller listFinding out which sub-categories might be relevant to your work. (You are looking at the left hand sidebar for this.)Pick out all the sub-categories which might apply to your workUse those sub-category titles as your keywords Obviously, it’s important that you don’t cheat at this, or your readers will feel cheated, too. So if your book isn’t racy, don’t use that keyword just because you feel you could clamber onto that list. If you see a sub-category where your readers are likely to gather, then jump on it. That’s it. Oh and the best way to find bestseller lists is just to enter ‘Books’ or ‘Kindle Store’ in the dropdown box on the Amazon search bar, and then, leaving the search bar blank, hit enter. Since the search bar is blank, Amazon knows you want to look for books but doesn’t know which books you want, so it just takes you to its default book navigation page. You want to explore the left-hand sidebar. That little baby is your friend. A useful pro tip here is that you can use multi-word phrases as your keywords, and every word counts. So for example, my sub-categories include options like Dark, Disturbing, Noir. My books tick all those boxes, so I could use three keywords to scoop up those terms … or, much better, I could have “Dark Disturbing Noir” as one keyword, and keep my powder dry. Keywords are best used in this sub-category extension way, but remember that people use Amazon’s search engine in multiple different ways. So people can find books in at least four ways: Author name (“Harry Bingham)Book title (“Talking to the Dead”)Series name (“Fiona Griffiths series”)General search (eg: “Murder mystery novels”) Now although it seems obvious you want to scoop up general search enquiries, it’s very doubtful that you’ll actually get a ton of sales from that route. Yes, “Gripping thriller” might seem like a great keyword, but if there’s any traffic on that term, it’s most unlikely that you’ll appear anywhere near the top of an Amazon search page. And if there’s no great traffic on the term, you won’t get any sales anyway. So don’t spend too much time on your general search terms, but for what it’s worth, here are the guidelines: Make a list of possible keywords – at least 12-15 if you want to do this properly.Start to type the first few characters into Amazon’s search barTake a look at the autocomplete suggestions, and adjust your terms if Amazon is nudging you towards a slightly different version of your search term.Then actually look at the page of results that comes up. Check out the bestseller rank of the lowest ranked book. If that book is #5000 on the overall bestseller lists, it’s a pretty safe bet that your work will never meaningfully appear for that search term. If the lowest ranked book is #50,000, then you have a decent chance of appearing on that list, at least during launch/promo periods. If the lowest ranked book is #500,000 or below, then you can pretty much bet that there’s not enough traffic on this search term for you to care much about it anyway. To sum up this section: Choose categories according to what overall bestseller list you want to appear on. (Important)Choose keywords first according to what sub-bestseller lists you want to appear on. (Important)Choose keywords next according to what you think your readers will be searching for. (Not important) The whole exercise might take an hour or two, but can generate steady sales for years to come. Step 13. How To Price Your E-book On Amazon Pricing is scary, but also easy. The data you need: Free e-books get more downloads than paid ones.77% of readers who download free work also buy paid work.Amazon offers two royalty bands of 70% and 35%. You get the 70% royalty if you price inside $2.99 – $9.99. Anywhere else, you get 35% royalty.Indie authors tend to price work (excluding free and promotional material) in the $2.99 – $4.99 range.It’s the same broadly for Amazon Publishing. That fact is relevant, because no one is going to be smarter than Amazon at interpreting data from pricing experiments. If $5.99 is their ceiling (and it is), then it should be yours. And that, really is all you need to know. Your price envelope is basically $0.00 to $4.99. (Some niches may vary, though, so always check against your own genre.) Now, pretty obviously, we don’t love $0.00 sales as much as we love $4.99 sales, but we’re going to use the cheap or free pricing, in a kind of Amazon ju-jitsu, to maximise our $4.99 sales. Free books get you readers. They build your fanbase. They make no money.$0.99 books get you lots of readers (but fewer than free). They make a bit of money, but not much. Sell a $0.99 e-book and you make $0.35. Sell a $2.99 e-book (at that higher 70% royalty rate) and you make $2.09, so you have to sell 6 times as many of the cheaper books to make as much.$1.99 books are kind of pointless. They’re too expensive to attract freebie readers, and they’re too cheap to get the 70% royalty. Just don’t price at that price point.You make money by pricing between $2.99 and $4.99. That’s where the money is. Where exactly you pitch your wares depends on all kinds of things. Do you want to aggressively grow your business in the longer term (while sacrificing some short-term revenues)? Then price at $2.99. Do you want to harvest your existing success? Then price at $4.99. Are your readers generally younger, or poorer? Then price low. Are your book buyers generally more affluent? Then price a little higher. Can’t decide? Then price at $3.99 which is an excellent compromise. Now we need to do two things. We need to get readers into our sales funnel – into our series – at the kind of price that won’t put anyone off (ie: $0.00 or $0.99), then use the love and commitment we’ve generated with our amazing writing to sell lots more books at $4.99. In short: You need to offer a free or highly discounted ($0.99) book to get readers into your universe. Without an existing fanbase, you have few other routes to this happy outcome.You need to have full price ($2.99 to $4.99) work that puts some money in your pocket. Those of you competent at mathematics will notice that I’m telling you to write two books to sell one. And yes, I am saying that. Except that, as you write more over time, that one free book will start leading readers into a larger pool of paid work. So you’ll be using one free book to sell two, then three, then four, then ten full-price ones. Also, those of you supremely gifted at mathematics will also have noticed that I’ve told you that: You have to give away a reader’s magnet, a roughly 10,000-word short story, for example, in order to collect emails. You need to write two books and one lengthy short story or novella to sell one book. Really? Well, yes, really. You are selling a series, not selling a book. If you understand that fully, your selling efforts will be vastly more successful over the long run. Step 14. How To Launch Your Free E-book I hope I’ve persuaded you that it’s worth giving away a book for free. Your purpose is to attract the greater downloads, to acquire fans. And it’s to get the email addresses of those fans so that you can contact them when you have a new book to share. There are four broad methods for doing this. Old articles never leave the internet, so you’ll see old advice that appears authoritative, but things change and change fast. Some of those older methods just look limp or expensive or awkward compared with more recent ones, so do read all of this section before you make your pick. So. Method 1: Just Give Your Book Away For Free Everywhere What you’re going to do here is upload your book on Amazon (at $2.99, or whatever), then upload it to Google, and Apple, and Kobo, and everywhere else, too. It’s too annoying to do that second part yourself, so you get an outfit like Smashwords or Draft2Digital to do it for you. They’ll charge a kind of agency fee on any revenues you make, but pay it. It’s money well-spent. Then, via your distributor, you simply make the Apple-Google-Kobo price $0.00. That’s easy-peasy. You just do it. Amazon doesn’t like free. (It’s a shop and it likes selling things.) Look at your book page, though, and scroll down to the Product Details section. You should see at the bottom there a little rubric (with contact links) that looks like this: “Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates to the product page?” Well, yes, you would like to tell Amazon about a lower price, so tell them. Report that lower price using the automated tool. I also recommend contacting Amazon more directly via the contact page on the KDP site. Say something like this: “I’m a serious and long-term author, looking to build fans for my work or series. I’ve made this book available for free through other stores, including Apple, Kobo, Google etc. I would really like it if you would consider making the book free on your store as well. And, to be clear, my long-term aim is to sell a lot of work, at full price, through your store. I very much appreciate your help.” They won’t guarantee to help. It’s not automatic. Their response is variable in terms of outcomes and timings, but you’re probably fine. Fingers crossed. The results can be very good. I did a freebie in January 2016 using roughly this method. I notched up about 10,000 downloads in the first week, through Amazon alone. Other e-stores were additional. Some further downloads followed (though at a much lower rate). And of course, my mailing list took a terrific jump upwards and I got plenty of emails and reviews from readers telling me that they loved that first book so much, they wanted to jump right into the rest of the (paid) series. Method 2: Give Your Book Away On Amazon Only (For A Limited Period) If you agree to work exclusively with Amazon – by enrolling in KDP Select – you will enjoy the ability to schedule Kindle Countdown promotions, which give you the opportunity to price your book cheaply, or for free, for 7 days in every 90 day period. Amazon will promote those deals itself and, if you go for the $0.99 option, you’ll still be on a 70% royalty (rather than the normal 35%). If you are exclusive to Amazon, and I think the default choice for new authors is probably to go exclusive as you learn the ropes, then you should use these opportunities fully. (I wouldn’t ever discount for seven continuous days, however. You’ll find that any sales surge quickly tamps down. You’re better off doing one three day and one four day promotion spaced about 1.5 months apart.) To be clear, though, these short one-off promotions are not really the same as the ‘perma-free’ option we’re mostly talking about. If you want a ‘perma-free’ book, you are probably making that one not Amazon-exclusive, pricing it free elsewhere, then coming back to Amazon as per Method 1 above. Method 3: Give Your Stuff Away Via Facebook Ads This approach had a real surge in popularity recently, but it’s a strange one, I think. With other approaches in this section, you pay nothing (or little) to give your work away for free. With the Facebook approach, you pay real money to acquire each new reader. You literally place ads on Facebook that say (in effect) “Hey, come and get your free book (but you’ll need to give me your email address to get it.)” And as a method of getting readers, it works, but that new reader of yours might be a flake. They might or might not read your free giveaway. They might or might not go on to buy other books in your paid series. The arithmetic looks like this: Unit revenue from your free giveaway: $0.00Unit cost of acquiring those readers: $0.50 (or something like that)Your profit per reader: -$0.50 That arithmetic does not look attractive to me, but it is possible to make things work, if: You’re very good at managing your Facebook ads, so you target the right readers and keep your costs per click down very low.You’re very good at coaxing giveaway-readers into your paid-readership. That normally involves further little free gifts and a strong series of automated emails aimed at shifting kinda-interested readers into committed ones.You’ve a long tail of paid work to sell because, of course, the more you have to sell, the higher the expected long-term revenue that will be generated by each new reader. The people who succeed with Facebook ads do tend to have a lot of work to sell and they work hard and intelligently at managing their ad campaigns – which is all fine. All the same, do you want to be an ad manager or a writer? If (like me) you think the business of managing a Facebook ad portfolio could quickly become wearisome, there are probably better ways to do this. The one real exception I can think of applies to new writers who do have some cash to spare who just want to get on and do it. Instead of following my (very organic) sales method, where each new book just expands the mailing list and readership ready for the next one, you could just invest (say) $3,000 in basically buying 6,000 reader emails. Just be aware that paid-for emails will have a lower conversion rate than freebie ones. I assume about 1/3. Method 4: Use Book Promo Sites To Shift Your Work The best method, however, is to use book promotion sites to get your work out into new hands. There are two big ways to do this. One is via book discount sites. These sites have built large reader databases and they email their readers, saying, in effect, “Hey, these great books are on promotion.” You can build surges of attention to your work – and these tools can work very well indeed. The info you need about these sites can be found via Nicholas Erik here. Use those tools! Especially for newer indies, they are an indispensible way to get the word out. An excellent additional support is Prolific Works (formerly Instafreebie.) Those guys have good email lists themselves, but they also have great tools for collaborating with other author and cross-promoting work there. And I’m not going to tell you how to use that site here, because I’ve already told you in detail in this blog post right here. One indie author, J.N. Chaney, who has used both Facebook ads and Prolific/Instafreebie reports these results: “I just scaled back my Facebook Lead Ads. I still use them, but I’m now seeing better results with a lower price tag using Instafreebie. … My Facebook budget for that ad was $23 per day yielding an average of 49 subscribers per day at an average CPL [Cost Per Lead] of $.51. … Instafreebie is $20 per month yielding an average of … 84 subscribers per day at a CPL of $.0076. Not even joking. (It could have been 129 per day had I figured out that I need to require an email address to download.)” I also moved on from Facebook. I use Instafreebie myself, and it’s worked very well for me. Yeah, there’s a lot to think about isn’t there?So think about joining Jericho Writers and getting a TON of really classy learning materials that take you step by step through the whole process. I’m not going to give you a heavy sell. I’m just going to say that we built our Jericho Writers club for people like you, and you should think about joining us. You can find out all the details here, and we’d absolutely love it if you went ahead and joined us. Step 15. How To Launch Your Paid Book On Amazon KDP We’re there. We’ve done all our prep work. We have written a great book. Commissioned a great cover. Got great front and end material. We’ve written our reader’s magnet. We’ve got our website and other bits of plumbing in place. We’ve sorted out our metadata (our BISAC categories and keywords). We’ve figured out our pricing. We’ve got some initial names on our mailing list, probably because we’ve made use of Instafreebie or other tools to distribute free samplers of our work. And now we want to launch our first proper paid-for book on Amazon. We don’t just want readers. We want money. Good. (We need to live.) Now here’s a simple launch strategy for you to follow: Upload your book to Amazon, Apple, Google, and everywhere else.Send an email to your mailing list to tell them your book is now available for sale.That’s it. Have a drink, go for a long walk, take a nap. You’re probably thinking, you have got to be kidding, there must be more to it than that. Must there? On the one hand, yes, there are advanced strategies out there – and they make sense – but mostly, no. Follow this and you’ll do just fine, so long as your books are good. You can’t sell bad books. And the ultimate reason for the success of this strategy has to do with Amazon’s sales rank algorithm. That algorithm is crucial, but it involves just a tiny bit of arithmetic, so bear with me. Every book (indeed, every product) on Amazon’s system has a score which is made up of how many units you sold today, plus half the units you sold yesterday, plus a quarter of the units you sold the day before that, plus an eighth of the units you sold before that, and so on. A score is calculated for every book on the system. Those scores are placed in order. And, bingo, what you’ve got is Amazon’s sales rank. That piece of information is astoundingly important. Why? It tells you that short term movements in sales are intensely influential in determining overall rank. Let’s say you want to hit #100 in the Kindle bestseller lists. Good target, right? Well, you have broadly two ways to get there: You can sell (roughly) 500 e-books every day for a month, or you can sell (roughly) 1000 e-books in a single day. The first of those things is very hard to achieve. How, after all, would you even do it? Maybe a massive (and expensive) Facebook ads campaign could do it, but you’d end up spending a lot more than you were earning back. The second of those things, the big, one-off pulse in sales, is easy to achieve. And you already know how to do it. You just contact your mailing list and tell them, ‘Hey guys, I’ve got a new book out!’ They like your stuff now, so phrase it well, and they’ll look to buy your book. (On my last launch, 30% of my mailing list bought my book within eight hours of me sending the email.) And bingo! That’s your sales surge right there. The sales surge powers you right up the Amazon sales charts. All the good stuff you did with categories and keywords means your book will get to be visible right where it needs to be: in the exact places that your potential readers are browsing. All the good stuff you did with covers and your Look Inside section means those browsers will convert into readers. And those guys are new readers. They aren’t buying your book because they were on your mailing list. They’re buying your book because they were casually browsing, but you managed to ensure that your book was under their noses when they were doing so. You’ve just expanded your readership. And that’s good. But it gets better. Because all the lovely stuff you did with the end material of your book means that your new one-time readers will soon turn into your committed fans. They’ll join your mailing list and expand your reach for the next time you play this game. And that is the whole secret of successful self-publishing on Amazon. You turn that wheel and keep it turning, with book launch after book launch. If your work is strong enough to keep your readers reading, your sales will only increase from cycle to cycle. Step 16. The Long Term: Where DO You Go From Here? This (uber-massive) post has revealed the basic art of self-publishing success – but, believe it or not, it’s still something of a starter guide, a basic template. As you get your self-publishing career properly started, you’ll soon start to think about some broader questions, for example: How often am I going to publish a new book? Me, personally, I’m very old school. I write one book a year and can’t see myself going much faster than that. Loads of indie-publishers will aim to write and publish a book every three months. If anything, the trend is for writers to try and bring that down to one every two months. The more you write then (probably) the more money you’ll make, but you’re not just in this game for the money. You want a nice life, and you want to be artistically proud of your books, so where do those things settle for you? Are your current writing rhythms capable of change or are you happy where you are? What do I do between launches? The mailing list-driven, sales-spike approach works well to promote your book on launch and you’ll enjoy a lovely month or two of elevated sales as that book floats gently down the rankings. That still leaves plenty of months where your book sales spitter-spatter along at the rate of a few books per title per day. How do you gee things up there? Well, as I say, there are five basic add-on techniques that you will start to use as you build out your series. They are: Price promotions, combined with Kindle Countdown deals (if you’re Amazon exclusive) and juiced up with the support of one or more book promotion sites. (Info here.) You should look to build this technique into your selling process as soon as you feel ready.Amazon Advertising. A cranky system has become less cranky and more powerful. You can place Amazon ads on Amazon itself, so you are buying the attention of book browsers direct in-store. That’s great, but (a) Amazon ads are now quite expensive if you don’t have plenty of books in your series, and (b) they are desperately hard to scale. You should find it relatively easy to make some money each month via Amazon Ads, but a lot of money? I don’t think anyone anywhere manages that.Cross-promos with other authors. Find those authors via Prolific Works or Bokfunnel. Team up with them. Cross promote each other’s work. Make money. This is also easy and a strong way to make sales and build your email list. (Pro tip: don’t team up with anyone who’s not in your genre. You want to keep your email list full of core readers, otherwise you’ll confuse Amazon’s marketing robots.)Bookbub ads. A very powerful tool once you get it working for you. Read Dave Gaughran’s book. Subscribe to his newsletter. Do as he says.Facebook ads. Extremely powerful, especially if you have strong website traffic or a busy Facebook page. FB’s ad system is complex however, and it’s easy to lose money. Use this as the final element in your marketing system, not the first. Are you going to be Amazon-only? Or sell your work everywhere? You can go either way on this or, indeed, vary your approach. The Amazon-only approach has some advantages in that: (A) it’s easy to manage, (B) you enjoy sales via KDP Select that would otherwise be closed to you, and (C) Amazon is so dominant that you’re accessing most of the market anyway. And against that? Well, there are other retailers and they’re keen to make sure that they don’t totally lose out on the indie-publishing boom. Some prominent indie authors get a full 50% of their writing income from the non-Amazon stores, which they’ll achieve using techniques additional to the ones described in this post. With those other retailers, you don’t win via an approach of fire-and-forget, and where you stand on this decision is up to you. There are prominent voices on both sides of the fence. I strongly urge newer indies to go Amazon exclusive at the start. Once you’ve got a few books out and are hitting, say, $10,000 in annual revenues, you have a decision to make. Till then, stick with Uncle Jeff Bezos. And don’t worry. Copyright remains with you no matter what. If you ever want to remove your books from Amazon, you’ll still own the copyright to do with as you please. How do you strike a balance between writing and managing your business? Personally, I don’t do much business management at all. Most of my mailing list growth is organic: people like my books and sign up. I make enough money with my current approach and I just don’t particularly want to spend my time fiddling around with Facebook ads and the like. You may feel differently. You’ll have to figure out the balance that’s right for you. You might want to outsource some tasks to third parties. You might want to do it all yourself. A classic small businessperson’s dilemma. Do I need a literary agent? Once upon a time, that would have seemed like a strange question. You’re an indie author, right? You’ve turned your back on that whole traditional superstructure – except things do change. If you do well in English language markets, literary agents have a role to play in selling those additional rights. Foreign language sales. Film and TV. Audio. Or maybe you want to go for the full traditional publication with some portion of your portfolio? Or in one specific national market, such as the UK? If you’re not thinking about these things yet, you will probably want to do so in time. And that’s it – the ultimate (starter) guide to self-publishing on Amazon. It’s not comprehensive. There’s more to tell – but, this being a starter guide, you have what you need right here on how to self-publish with Amazon. (And if you found it all helpful, do click to tweet: The Ultimate Guide to Self Publishing on Amazon. (We hope!) If there are techniques working for you we haven’t covered, which you think others should really be adopting, drop us a line. We’d love to hear. As ever, best of luck, and happy writing! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Price An Ebook

The Publishing Industry Is In A State Of Change New authors face, for the first time, a real question about whether it makes sense to approach the market by the traditional agent and publisher route, or whether to go it alone. For now, I think most authors still need the resources and experience of proper publishers. There are some striking exceptions, of course, but it’s still notable how many self-published authors end up working with the biggest firms (E.L. James and Random House, for example.) But it’s still vital to understand this new market. And one of the most critical interrelationships is that between the price of an ebook and the eventual sales. I’ve just come across this chart, which is the best thing I’ve ever seen on that topic. What the chart says very simply is: price too high and you throttle sales. Price too low and you give away money without any addition to sales. (My guess is that readers assume, correctly, that a $0.99 ebook is often not going to be much good.) There’s a weird twist here, however. Traditional publishers are deeply reluctant to sell books at the $2.99 level. Although they might boost sales on an individual title by pricing low, they can’t boost sales overall by slashing prices because, in the end, a reader is only going to buy and read so many books a year. So there’s a curious way in which traditional authors are inhibited by their publishers. The most obvious and proven method of increasing sales (and readers) is to cut the ebook price... yet that’s the method least favoured by publishers. I still think that regular publishing is the best move for most authors. That’s not mere talk. I’ve got a non-fiction project that I’m tinkering with and am trying to figure out whether to sell it via my agent or whether to publish it myself online. I’ve not finally decided, but I’m inclining to go the conventional route. Like I say though, these things are moving all the time. The right answer today may well not be the right answer in a year’s time. As the Bard remarks, Don’t speak too soon, cos the wheel’s still in spin, and there’s no telling who that it’s naming. (And no, not that bard, this one.) Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How to Format your Ebook for Publishing

We want all our writers to have access to readers and we’re not snobby about self-publication. Self-publishing is easier now than it’s ever been, but there are some mysteries involved, the thought of which can put some people off. So we’ve cherry-picked the finest talent to assist in your journey. Today, we have guest blogger Ben Bryant to tell you how to format your Word document so as to simplify the digital conversion process involved in formatting ebooks. I have worked with Harry Bingham on his past few novels, formatting them into ebooks, specifically the two most common file types, namely Kindle’s mobi and ePub, which is the file type widely accepted by most other ebook distributors, including Apple. He has asked me for some tips to help other writers publish in ebook formats. The following advice is basically a list of ‘good practice’ whether it be preparing a Word document for sending to a conversion service or self-formatting a Word document for direct upload to an ebook store’s automated conversion system. Firstly, simplicity is key in formatting ebooks. The beauty of an ebook file is that the same file can be read on hundreds of different devices from desktop computers to tablets and mobile phones. Device manufacturer and operating system make no difference, the file can be read on all. Although the file can be read, it won’t always display as intended, particularly if the formatting is complex and you are using an older device. Though newer e-reader devices or apps can deal with complex formatting, such as multiple column layouts and tables, there are hundreds of thousands of older devices still in use. You need to ensure that your book reads as intended on all devices so avoid complex layouts such as multiple columns on each page, text wrapping images, text boxes and drop-caps. This next point may sound ridiculous to some people, but you will be surprised how often I come across it. Do not use the space-bar or the tab key to centre text. Multiple space-bar keystrokes and tabs are ignored by e-reader devices, so you will find your text back on the left. Instead just use the ‘centre text’ button on Word’s Home tab. There are at least three common ways to create indents in a Word document, however only one is understood by e-reader devices. Do not use multiple space-bar keystrokes to create indents, for the reasons mentioned above. Likewise, the use of the tab key is also ignored by e-reader devices. The correct way to create indentions is to set the indentation using paragraph styles. Just expand the paragraph options on Word’s Home tab and select the indent type and size you require. I recommend indents of less than 1cm as e-reader screens can be quite small and a 1cm indent can look excessive. You can use multiple paragraph returns to space out paragraphs but ensure that you use a page-break at the end of each chapter. This ensures that your next chapter (and all chapter titles) will start at the top of a new page. You should not add headers or page numbers. Every e-reader device will automatically create headers based on the book title and/or author name. Page numbers are generated by the e-reader device itself. Note also that your book will vary in number of pages depending on the screen size of the device and the user’s font size settings. It is therefore unwise to refer to specific page numbers within the body text of your manuscript. Following on from my previous point regarding pages, footnotes do not work in ebooks, as you cannot be sure where the page break will fall. Instead you can use endnotes, either at the end of each chapter, or at the end of the book. There is no problem including images in an ebook, however there is a significant issue that needs to be considered when selling through Amazon, namely delivery fees. Unlike other ebook sellers Amazon charges you, the author/publisher, a delivery fee every time your book is purchased and downloaded. This fee is based on file size. The more images you use, the larger the file will be and the higher the delivery charge. The issue is further complicated by Amazon’s royalty structure where if you select the 30% royalty option, they waive the fee. You can factor the delivery fee into your ebook’s list price but if it is a large file and you wish to sell it cheaply this may not be the best solution. You will need to weigh up which royalty option works out best for you, based on the price you wish to charge for your ebook and its file size. It sounds a little complicated but more info can be found here. Body Text Rules to Follow Use a standard font such as Times New Roman, Georgia or Arial.Use a point size of 10, 11 or 12 for the main body text.Use black text.Avoid line spacing greater than 1.5.Use standard margins.Do not use leading or kerning as these will be ignored.If you wish to highlight particular words or sentences, use only basic formatting tools such as bold, italic, and caps. The above tips cover the essentials when preparing your work for ebook formats. All ebook sellers will have their own list of requirements for the files you submit to them and many still will not accept Word documents for automatic conversion. Some that do, such as Smashwords, have further stipulations such as limitations on font colours, restrictions on indentation options, and the requirement to credit them as publishers. A quick Google search should provide you all the info you need on your retailer of choice. Unfortunately, creating an ebook from a Word document can still be a bit hit-or-miss as the process is an automated one. This is why many people employ people like me to create their books using html code. If you have any questions about this article or have other ebook-related queries, you can reach me via my website or email address below. I hope this short guide comes in useful. All the best with your literary ventures. Ben no longer formats ebooks for clients, but you can find other paid services such as Word-2-kindle’s service, just by Googling around. Search for “ebook formatting services” and take your pick. Be sure to go for a service that allows for no-added-cost revisions. A regular novel should cost an absolute maximum of $100. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Why A Best-selling Author Chose To Self-Publish

Guest author and blogger William Kowalski is a bestselling, traditionally published author. He’s shared with us here why he’s chosen to self-publish. This is a tale of two worlds, two centuries, two distinct epochs in the history of publishing, and one author – that’s me – who stands with a foot planted firmly in each age, a devil-may-care grin on his slightly-exhausted-but-still-boyishly-optimistic features, doing his best to appear as if he knows what he’s doing and hoping like hell no one figures out he hasn’t a clue. And it contains, at the end, an Amazing Discovery, certainly the most amazing discovery of my authorial career. Our brave author (that’s me again) is heading out of the familiar and comforting land of Traditional Publishing, wistful for the old days but mature enough to realize that they are gone forever. He is striking out into the frightening wilderness of Self-Publishing, which is not only scary in and of itself but also seems to involve a never-ending foray into the even more frightening world of The Internet, that vast space filled with pictures of cute kittens, videos of baby monkeys riding backwards upon pigs, and approximately 1.9 squillion other self-published books. How did all this happen? How did this come to be? Our intrepid author (hi!) remembers all too well the luminous glow that surrounded him during what he realizes now were the last days of a glorious age, in the final moments of the twentieth century. When he was just a stripling of twenty-eight, you see, he wrote a book, and some Important Publishing People said to him, “What’s that? You’re completely unknown, have no platform from which to promote yourself, might not ever produce a second book, and aren’t even thirty years old? Well, in that case, we’d like to dump this large bucket of money on your head.” Well, said our author modestly, you may certainly go right ahead and do that. He rather thought, in his youthful optimism, that things were always going to be that way. They say the worst thing that can happen to a man is to win a lot of money on a horse race at an early age. A similar statement might be made about young writers who publish the first novel they attempt to write. Our young author moved to New York and took up the business of living just like a Real Writer. It was great fun: cigarettes and smoky bars (you could smoke places then), cool artists, trendy openings, literary cocktail parties. Then came big box bookstores and the home entertainment revolution; then 9/11, George W. and his wars; and then the crash of 2008. All of it was reminiscent of a long, long water slide with no end in sight, and quite possibly no pool of water at the bottom, either. The publishing world, like so many other worlds, was essentially turned upside down and shaken like a snow globe. Fast forward to the present day. Our author is no longer quite so young, but is still incredibly good-looking, and his talent has only matured in the manner of a very expensive French cheese. (Or at least that’s what he tells himself.) “What’s that?” say the Important Publishing People to him now. “You’ve published nine books, including one international best-seller, you have a global readership, and you’ve just finished a new book that critics and readers alike are hailing as not just Really Sorta Good, but also relevant to the pickle our modern society finds itself in? Welp, sorry, chum. We might be able to cough up a few bucks to print twelve copies of it, if you give us a year or two to think about it first. Then again, we might not. You’ll just have to wait and see.” That’s the situation in a nutshell. My latest book, The Hundred Hearts, which is my ninth published title and my fifth work of what I refer to with eternal optimism as literary fiction, was published in Canada in 2013 by Thomas Allen Publishers. Just after it came out, Thomas Allen was promptly gobbled up by another house, whose job it then became to do all the things Thomas Allen was supposed to do–all the things publishers have historically done, such as, oh, I don’t know, sell books. Yet that didn’t seem to be happening. Why not? I don’t know. Neither does anyone else. One might be forgiven for getting the impression that publishers buy books these days not to put them out, but to suppress them. “We hate this book!” I imagine them saying. “We hate its guts. We detest it. So we’re going to buy it, and we’ll pretend to publish it but really we’re going to stick it under this rock here, and because we own the rights, the author won’t be able to touch it!” Well, no, they don’t do that at all, but really, when I got my last royalty statement and realized that the number of copies sold in the last sales period was lower than my shoe size, and when I got on the phone with my agent last week and further realized that the chances of an American publisher putting this book out any time before my children become parents themselves were about equal to Sarah Palin’s chances of being made an honorary member of Monty Python, I knew with a great and mighty knowingness that the time had come. If anyone outside Canada was ever going to read this book, it would have to be self-published. Once I said the phrase “self-published” nine or ten times out loud in the mirror, it didn’t sound so bad. Not nearly as bad as the word “unpublished,” anyway. Why not, after all? I know how to make websites. I know, vaguely, how self-publishing works. It’s no longer considered the domain of the hopeless crank, the type of person who still often buttonholes me at social events to explain the sheer genius behind their scheme of writing a ten-volume series of novels in which they never use the letter E. There are plenty of perfectly respectable writers who self-publish, and in fact there always have been. Perhaps it was my own snobbery that needed to be laid to rest. After all, I had nothing left to prove. I could boast publication by the largest houses in North America and the UK. Even books I’d ghost-written under false names had been published by major literary houses. It was proof, to me if to no one else, that I could really write. That was something I could whisper aloud to myself as I lay in bed at night, staring up into the darkness, remembering the warm caress of the last rays of golden light as the sun went down on twentieth-century Manhattan. I would have to hold that memory close to my heart. Lord knows I couldn’t buy groceries with it. The most painful thing was to admit that I really had nothing to lose, either. Despite stellar reviews, generous blurbs, and even some most welcome press coverage from the likes of Lainey Lui at, my book had only sold a double handful of copies in the land of snowy beaver pelts. If I sold even one copy anywhere else, it would be an infinite increase, percentage-wise, over previous non-Canadian sales, which were zero. So, here I am. It still feels strange, but is decidedly pleasant. I don’t know what the Other Writers are going to think of me now. Will they giggle into their hands as I walk by? Actually, I don’t care. Other writers don’t buy my books, after all. I strongly suspect they don’t even read them. Well, how could they? They’re too busy writing books of their own. Most surprising has been the reaction of the people who do read my books. They seem even more excited by this venture than I. I flatter myself into thinking it’s because they are happy to have another book by me to read. Certain friends of mine have been urging me to self-publish for years. The fact is this: readers don’t care who publishes a book. They only care that they get to read it. That’s the Amazing Discovery I want to share. The imprimatur of the publishing elite is growing increasingly irrelevant. Publishers and authors once needed each other to exist. That is no longer the case. People will always want to be told stories. They will never care whose colophon graces the front page of a book. So guess who will still be standing when the dust clears? I have plenty more to say about self-publishing, but that will have to wait for another post, perhaps. In the meantime, I need to send some emails out to reviewers, I have to finish converting the manuscript to yet another format, and I need to interact with fans on Facebook. Am I busy? Yes. Am I happy? Deliriously so. Onward. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Author Website Essentials: A Writer’s Toolkit

You’re an author. You need a storefront. You could put a sign up in your front garden or (better idea) you could build a website. Here’s everything you need to know. 1. The Book Comes First Do you have a book cover already? If not, you must get that in place before you start to design your site. That cover will define your brand as an author. It’ll be the primary way that readers ‘know’ you. That book cover will define the fonts and images that are part of your visual brand. Your website needs to support that, not conflict. There are no exceptions to this rule. That means: if you are an indie author and don’t yet have a cover, then get one. If you’re a traditional author, then wait for your publisher to produce a cover before you start to build your website. Either way, start with the book, then roll that look out to the site. 2. Build For The Long Term It’s really easy to think small, early on. That means limiting your budget. Limiting the design energy. Using a free domain such as instead of just (Or, if some celebrity has got to the domain name first.) On balance, I’d advise writers to somehow find the extra money needed to do this right. As your writing business expands, you’ll want your core assets to be strong enough to support that expansion – and that means getting the site right from the start. What’s more, doing it right doesn’t mean a lot of investment. Once you have your book cover, you’ll have the basic look of the site right there, together with font selections and images. Generating the rest of the site should not be hard or expensive. If you’re paying more than £1000 or $1500, you’re probably paying more than you need. So if you’re a pro or semi-pro designer yourself, then build your own site. Anyone else, commission a site, but make it clear from the outset that the designer should use the fonts and images that are used in your book cover. You’re essentially looking for a technician to plug things together for you, not an artist to create something wonderful and new. And pay the small amount needed to get your own proper domain name:, not harrybingham[.] Those little things do count. 3. Your Site Must Be Mobile-friendly These days, it would be a crazy designer who didn’t generate a site that wasn’t mobile friendly, but still, do be explicit in your brief. And when you see a draft site, then check it. If you’re working on a laptop not a phone, just resize the window so it’s phone-sized and take a look at your site now. If your key assets and messages are being buried at the bottom, you need to re-order those things so that they float up to the top. This isn’t hard to do, and any competent designer can do it fast. 4. SEO Doesn‘t Matter For Fiction, It’s Essential For Subject-led Non-fiction Are you writing fiction? In that case, Search Engine Optimisation basically doesn’t matter. If people want to search for your site they’ll almost certainly search you by name, in which case your site should pop up at or close to the top of any search. (If it doesn’t, just go out and do a few guest post with bloggers active in your niche. Make sure there’s a link through to your site at the end of the guest post. Those links should be enough to tickle Google’s algorithms that it figures out what to do.) If you’re writing creative non-fiction (a travel book, a personal memoir, or bringing some little-known historical narrative to life) then much the same thing applies. Those sort of books can pretty much forget Search Engine Optimisation as a source of readers and traffic. If, on the other hand, you’re writing subject-led non-fiction (a book on ‘How To Build a Great Author Website’, for example), then SEO matters a lot. Your first step is probably to ditch the idea of using your name as the site’s domain name, and instead use something like – basically embed your core search term in the website title itself. Then give proper, search-engine-friendly titles to every page on your site. Make sure the content is good. And go build some links. That recipe basically works every time . . . but this isn’t a blog post on SEO, so I’ll leave it there. Suffice to say that for this type of non-fiction author, SEO does matter and it’s a big, important subject. Go research it with people like Brian Dean and Neil Patel. 5. Don’t Confuse The Brand Are you an eclectic, interesting person, with numerous interests and passions? Great. Please don’t tell me about it, or at least not on your author website. Your website is there for readers of your books. You need to target your site at them. You need to leave everything else at the door. If you want a more personal site that shows the full range of you to a wondering world, then fine. But your author site needs to stick to its knitting, which is your books and nothing else. If you write two very different series – slasher horror fiction under one name and heart-warming children’s books under another – then you’ll need two websites. Sorry, but again no exceptions. You can of course link between the two, so readers from one can easily navigate to the other but keep the core message clear. 6. Figure Out Your Priorities What do you want your site to do? Your answer is quite likely to be ‘help sell my books’, but remember it will basically never achieve that objective. If people haven’t heard of you, they won’t come to your site. If they have heard of you and are curious about your work, they will go to Amazon. The only people likely to visit your site are readers who have read your work and who are passionate enough about it to investigate further. Certainly, you may achieve some additional sales by providing a warm and interesting experience, but the truth is, you can probably only convert one or two percent of people that way. It’s not a priority. So if an author site isn’t there to sell books, what should it do? For me, there’s one very, very clear answer to that, and only a fraction of author sites do this properly. Your author website is there to collect the email addresses of passionate readers. Why does that matter so much? It matters for two reasons: When you next release a book you can contact your core readers and tell them directly about the launch. A high proportion of those readers will make the purchase and those are nice easy sales to make – one email, to sell hundreds or thousands of books. Better still, you can time the sales you make. When I send out a sales email relating to my Fiona Griffiths novels, about 30% of my list will buy within 8 hours of my hitting send. That causes a huge wave of sales to hit Amazon … which drives my book way up the salesrankings … which means that (because most Amazon search pages promote high-selling books over low-selling ones) my book becomes more visible right across the Amazon system … which means I start attracting the interest of completely new readers. Of these two issues, it’s the second which will make you the most money, so don’t neglect it. You can get a ton more help with all this from us and don’t forget to check out our post about Instafreebie. 7. Connect, Connect, Connect These days, the first thing that someone will do if they want to learn more about you is seek you out on social media. You don’t need to be a social media junkie to succeed these days. Personally, I’m more or less Trappist on both Facebook and Twitter, and I’m perfectly happy to stay that way. Still, you do want to make yourself open to the world for all sorts of reasons. For example: You want your site to be easily shareable for those who do use Twitter and Facebook You want to be easily contactable You want to have all channels open so you can, for example, make contact with a key blogger in your area who is contactable via Twitter, but may not be easily reachable via email. Your super-fans need a way to reach you direct. You don’t have to answer every email that comes your way – and you certainly don’t have to answer promptly – but those super-fans are the absolute heart of what will drive things. Happy site-building! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Start A Writer’s Blog (The Basics)

Whether you’d like to be traditionally or self-published, this kind of contact between yourself and readers can start with a blog. Sharing your thoughts and writing life in a blog helps create a connection to readers, whether you’re published now or are hoping to be. For in-depth social media and blog insights, you may like our self-publishing course content – but, be you published or not, here’s a whistle-stop tour on how to successfully start a writer’s blog for time-pressed writers. What To Write About In Blog Posts A few first ideas. Opinion post (perhaps wise or poignant, perhaps funny, depending how you write)How-to guide (on something you know well)Personal anecdotes (sharing stories that serve audiences and serve you)Book reviewsBook giveawaysRound-ups (e.g. writing or competition news, links, etc.) Enjoy mind-mapping, as this should be a passion project and unique to you. A blog you love is a blog others will love. (If you’re a planner, you may enjoy creating a blog content calendar, too.) What Blog Platform To Choose If you’re an uncertain blogger, try starting a hosted blog., for instance, is a free platform that makes it easy to transfer to, the latter giving autonomy on domain, design choices, and more. You’ll have the option of upgrading later to a self-hosted site when you feel confident. Joanna Cannon, for instance, uses WordPress. Squarespace is an alternative blog home, as used by Tor Udall. If you’re time-pressed, another idea is a micro-blog. Writers like Erin Morgenstern, Rainbow Rowell and Neil Gaiman use Tumblr. On a hosted site like Tumblr, it’s easy to ‘re-blog’ if you’re on the move. You can re-share social content (bookish images, links, quotes, audio, and video), whilst still linking to original users. If you know you’ll struggle finding time for posts, Tumblr is a ‘low-maintenance’ choice, and you can buff up less-frequent writings with this sort of re-sharing. Question how much time you can really commit to a blog, how confident you are, your aims and the content you want to create. Research your options and work from there, as best suits you. How To Write Blog Content That Sticks You need writing readers can return to. How will your blog shine out, and how will your posts stick over time? Creativity on your own time and terms should bring fun and fulfilment, so write posts that bring you to life. Just remember, if you’d like to create engagement and connected readers, everything you post needs justification. What value is it bringing? If you’re writing for other authors, as an example, why must people with limited writing time stop by to read? Is there timeless advice you’re posting, encouragement you can share, a round-up of quotes, or tips for productivity and self-confidence you can give? Brainstorm advice, anecdotes, lists and inspiration you can offer. Write for enjoyment, but make it worth a reader’s time stopping by. If your content grips, they’ll linger, feeling more connected to and interested in you and your books. Look up popular authors’ blogs for ideas. A Note On Copywriting You’ll have no in-house editorial team as a blogger, no line- and copy-edits made, just as if you were self-publishing a novel. As a plus, you can write what you want. As a minus, you can write what you want. Shakespeare’s observed brevity is the soul of wit, so keep sentences clear, concise, and sharp. Use shorter paragraphs, bullet lists and subheadings, remembering people will often read on the move. Simpler is better in blog copy. How To Get People To Blog Your Book Whichever social channels you feel comfortable using (never the ones you don’t), add your blog URL to profiles. Make use of writers’ and readers’ hashtags like #amwriting, #askagent or #bookstagram if you’re sharing post links on Twitter. If there are calendar days or months like #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November), tap into these, schedule thematic blog posts and join the chats. Social media helps feed your blog. (Just don’t spend too long on social media. Keep it to only an hour a day.) What’ll make readers linger on your blog, though, is still value of content. Once those readers are there, really enjoying your words and your stories, they can enter their emails to subscribe to your feed. Ultimately, whatever you’re posting should bring readers value and wisdom in some guise. This gets readers to your blog and keeps them there. Do Writers Need Blogs? You’ll need a website and social media, online spaces your readers can find you. A personal blog should display writings, musings, advice, insight into what readers may find in your books. It’s the space you can create meaningful connections with readers. Do share your links on social media with us. For more free insights, peek at our prose advice, or other writing advice pages to give you ideas. There’s also our self-publishing course with details on arranging blog tours, plus more marketing essentials for self-publishing writers and bloggers. Happy blogging! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How Tim O’Rourke Became A Kindle Bestseller

Publishing direct via Kindle is increasingly becoming a sensible option for new writers. Guest author and blogger, Tim O’Rourke, succeeded in becoming a #1 bestseller within his category by taking that exact route. In just four months, he has sold 40,000 books after manuscript feedback from us, and sales are still increasing. Here is his story. My name is Tim O’Rourke. Recently my ebooks have really taken off, and on this blog, I’m going to tell you how I did it – what I’m discovering – and how you can do it, too. I’ve only been self-publishing my books for the last ten months. If I really think about it though, that short space of time has been tough, fun, exciting and sometimes surreal. Like many aspiring writers, over the years I’ve had my fair share of knock backs from agents and never got close to even getting any of my books in front of a publisher. But, I never stopped writing and that’s the most important thing. I kept on writing because I just loved doing it. Last February I was bought a Kindle for my birthday. I didn’t want one as I loved books. I loved the feel of them, the smell of them and the noise of the pages being turned over. Nevertheless, I switched it on and started downloading and downloading and reading and reading and downloading and reading – you get the picture and rightly or wrongly, I haven’t bought a paper version of a book since. In March, I happened across an article on the internet regarding self-publishing your own books onto the Kindle to be sold on Amazon. Intrigued by this and with a fair amount of hesitation (what if I didn’t sell any?) and the numerous articles on the internet telling you that you shouldn’t self-publish on the Kindle as it’s killing the publishing industry, and self-published authors on the Kindle are lucky if they sell more than 150 copies, and although Amazon offer an attractive 70% royalty programme, 70% of nothing (the amount of books you will sell) is still nothing, I thought I would give it a go. What did I have to lose? I would have been happy to sell 50 books as that meant I’d shared my stories with 50 more people than I had previously. So with very little effort and totally free of charge, I uploaded my first book Doorways onto the Kindle, which meant it was available as an ebook on Amazon in the UK, US, Canada and Australia. The original cover was designed by a friend. The book was a fantasy adventure aimed at 14 – 16-year-old boys. I set the price low at 99 cents (77p). Why so low? Two reasons, I thought that as a self-published and unknown author it was more important for me to find a readership for my work than to make money. Secondly, I have two teenage sons who, believe it or not, have never walked into a music store and bought a CD. Every piece of music they buy, they download for 79p from the iTunes store. The Apps and games that they download are never more than £1.00. So, as I was aiming my book at a similar age group and my books were going to be downloadable, it made sense to me to set the price of my books at the same levels as equivalent media that my own children were downloading. With my book on Amazon, I waited to see what would happen. Not a lot. After initial copies that were snapped up by friends and family, the book just kind of sat there. Undeterred, I uploaded another book that I had just finished writing. This book was called ‘Black Hill Farm, a psychological thriller with a paranormal twist aimed at the YA market (16 plus). Again, I got my friend to design a cover, and I uploaded to Amazon. This did a little better and I sold about 65 copies in the first few weeks and a few more copies of ‘Doorways. Pleased by my progress (hey, I was halfway to that magic 150 number!), I wrote a follow up book to Black Hill Farm called Andy’s Diary. I put this out about six weeks later and my sales crept up again and I think I sold about another 50 copies. (Happy days as I had passed the magic 150!) The problem is, there are over 600,000 books available to download on the Kindle so how do I make mine stand out? I’m competing with books promoted by massive publishing houses – my books must compete with thousands of traditionally published books! Kiera Hudson series, again another set of books aimed at the YA market. Kiera Hudson is a feisty twenty-year-old new police recruit who has the wonderful knack of solving crimes that others can’t, especially when it comes to vampires and all other things paranormal.   Eventually my £80 marketing budget dried up, and although my sales had increased to anywhere between 150 – 200 a month, I couldn’t tell if this was due to the bloggers, the Facebook adds or if my books were spreading by word of mouth. I had started to sell books in the US and I knew this wasn’t friends or family who were buying them. Then one day, just before releasing the first book in my Kiera Hudson series, I googled my own name and the title of my book ‘Black Hill Farm’ and I was surprised that it was being mentioned on blogs that I hadn’t even contacted. It was also being mentioned on a website called Goodreads. I’d never heard of it. It’s a site where avid readers and writers review books, join communities and talk about authors, etc. I was surprised to see that my book and been put on the virtual bookshelves of members of the site and some had mentioned that they had seen my book on Facebook – so I knew that in some way, my £80 had been well spent. I joined the site and created a blog which I connected to my own books. I put the first Kiera Hudson book out in July and then something exciting started to happen. In August, I had my best month ever and sold approx. 400 books. Then, in September, something truly amazing happened and I sold just under 1,000 books. October, I sold approx. 4,000 books, November, over 8,000 books, December over 16,500 books. Why did this happen? To be honest, I think there are several reasons. I set the price of my book low, I write in a genre that is popular, I personally answer every single piece of fan mail that I receive, I contact those people kind enough to have left me reviews on Goodreads and thank them for doing so. I believe this is important, not to sell more books, but to say thank you to that person for spending their money on my book, taking the time to read it, then to leave a review for me. For instance, I received an email only the other day from a young girl you said that she had been given a Kindle for Christmas along with a £10 gift voucher. She went on to say that my books were the first that she downloaded and had loved them. It’s nice to know that she enjoyed them, but more than that, she spent her Christmas present on my books and that really made me think how nice that actually is. So the very least that I could do was email her to say thank you. I also have my own website which I have linked to my Facebook page. This is where I post news about my books and a place where people can become a fan of my books and leave messages. Again, I make sure that I respond to every message that is left for me and answer any questions. This for me is important and the bit I love the most, because it gives me a chance to chat to those people that are taking the time to read my books. I’m not very good at ‘Twittering’ but this again is an important tool, so I have linked my Facebook page to my twitter page, which is linked to my Amazon author page and website. This is a great way of connecting to the readers of my books. I also run competitions and giveaways, which have included signed T-Shirts that I had made with my book cover on the front, bookmarks that were kindly made by a fan, signed prints of the book covers and original pieces of artwork from the book cover designs. This to me is the most important part of what I’ve done, to have a good relationship with the people that read and enjoy my books. I have made so many new friends. At the beginning of this blog, I said that I had experienced many things in the last ten months and one of those was at times I had found the experience tough. How can it be tough? I’m doing what I’ve always dreamt of doing? But the thing is, I still have a day job and a young family. Everything that I have done in the last 10 months, including writing eight novels, publishing them, marketing them and everything else that I have mentioned above has all been done in my spare time. One night I was caught by my family asleep sitting in front of my laptop halfway through writing a chapter. The point I think that I’m trying to make is that, although my books are selling well (and there are other independent writers out there that are doing just as well and better) it has taken a lot of work. This is not easy. As an indie writer you are just that, plus the publisher, the editor, the marketing department, finding artists to do book covers, answering and dealing with all the correspondence, updating your blog, website, Facebook and a hundred other things that I’ve probably forgotten. I am no expert in publishing, but my heart tells me that things will change in the publishing world. I’ve read plenty of articles on the internet that authors are now leaving their agent and publishers to self-publish on the internet. Some of them have said that they earn more money that way, and others say it gives them more creative freedom. But for me, I’m starting to wonder if publishers will look straight to the internet to see what they want to publish next. Maybe the test of a good book won’t be on the suggestion of an agent, after all that is just one opinion, but if a book seems to be selling well on the internet, doesn’t that suggest that the public are enjoying it? Maybe that will be the real test. I believe this for a couple of reasons. The first book in my Kiera Hudson series was rejected by an agent as they said the book was for adults, not children, but the Amazon Children’s Horror chart and Amazon Children’s Romance Chart didn’t reflect this. Despite the concerns the agent had that my book wasn’t really a children’s book (although I wrote it for YA), doesn’t the fact that it was at the top of the Children’s/Young Adult chart suggest it did fit into that age range? Secondly, another agent recently said “no” to the same book because they didn’t think they could sell the foreign rights, despite that the book sold more copies in the US than anywhere else, as well as in Canada, Australia, Mexico, Germany, France and Italy – without even being translated. I even received an email from a US Publisher asking if I had an agent because they were interested in buying the rights, so they could sell my book in China. Yet I’d just been told by an agent that the book wouldn’t sell abroad. The point that I want to make is this: isn’t it the children/young adults who are buying my books the people that decide whether it’s a kid’s book or an adult book? Why pigeonhole everyone? Children have different reading ages, and likes and interests. With regards to my Kiera Hudson books, haven’t the young adults who are downloading them in their thousands already decided they like them? Yet it seems it’s just a handful of adults deciding what is right for them and what they should and shouldn’t be reading. I don’t know, I could be wrong – but if young adults didn’t feel that my books were right for them, would they be buying them? This point was never made clearer to me than the other day, when I received an email from a young teenage girl who said in big bold letters at the end of her email: “I want to be Kiera Hudson!” If you’ve been inspired by Tim’s story then learn more about self-publishing yourself. From how to write an Amazon description, which ebook format to use, and whether developmental editing is something indie authors should invest in, we’ve got you covered. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Self-Publish An E-Book And Why You Ought To Do It

We’re storytellers, so I’ll start out with a story. (It\'s Harry Bingham writing, by the way.) The story is true, and has been life-changing for me. Follow some of the advice in this post, and your life might change, too - in a very, very good way. How Self-publishing E-books Makes Me An Easy Six Figures A few years back, the first novel in my Fiona Griffiths crime series was bought by Kate Miciak of Delacorte/Bantam Dell in New York. If those names don’t mean anything to you, suffice to say that Kate also edits the work of Lee Child. Back then, she also edited the work of Karin Slaughter. She edits, or has edited, the work of countless other megastar authors. Delacorte is an imprint of Penguin Random House, and a leading crime imprint in the US. My literary agents in the US and UK were (and are) both outstanding, so it looked to me like I had pretty much a full house, aces over kings. The perfect editor, at the perfect imprint, at the perfect publisher, and with superb agents by way of support. That’s dream-come-true territory. Only, of course, if the book was lousy, no amount of good publishing would save it, so there was that to consider. There was a possible pitfall right there. Except – the book did okay. It got a starred review in Publishers Weekly. A starred review in Kirkus. A full four stars in the USA Today. It got rave reviews in the Boston Globe, the Seattle Times, and a host of others places too. Second book in the series, the same thing. Brilliant reviews. Great publishing team. The best names in the business. And the books flopped. Curled up and died. They did so badly, that the second book never even went into paperback. How come? Response from readers had been good. Things seemingly lay more in the difficulty that my publishers had in finding the right look – the hardback of that first book had a nice but weird cover on it. Retailers were unconvinced, and didn’t stock it. Readers, the same. When they saw the book in store, they didn’t really know what kind of book it was. The failure of that cast a pall over a radically rejacketed paperback. Since that also didn’t sell, the second book was pretty much dead in the water, despite yet another desperate attempt at rejacketing and rebranding with the hardback of the second book. And that was that. My US career pretty much over. Nice reviews, no sales. Too bad – but I believed in those books. And if what I’ve described was correct, that seemed to me an extremely solvable problem. So I wasn’t quitting the North American market. My Self-Publishing Experiment I chose to self-publish book #3 in that series (more about how to do that in a minute). That experiment went well, so I bought back the rights to books #1 and #2 from the (very generous) people at Penguin Random House. That repurchase cost me $10,000, but it was probably the best investment I’ve ever made. In June 2017, I published #6 in that series. I’ve earned about $100,000 from my Fiona Griffiths books over the last twelve months. I do almost no marketing. I release just one book a year. I have an incredible relationship with my US readers – the best I’ve had in twenty years of being a professional author, and readers like my books. I hope you’ll agree that’s a great outcome. How do you achieve it? What’s the secret? Well, two things. Number one: my books are good. If your books are poor, or even mediocre, they won’t get that level of success and, frankly, don’t deserve it. And number two: I self-published an e-book. (Or, rather, a series of e-books.) Yes, I also sell in print, but ebooks account for 95% of my sales, or more. And the print sales I do get arise, almost entirely, as a result of my ebooks’ visibility. An e-book \'boxed\' set of the first three Fiona Griffiths novels Why Ebooks Haven’t Peaked – And Are Here To Stay Is this all a bubble, though? A flash in the pan? Well, you might well think so, given the number of daft stories like this one, which claim the ebook revolution is on the wane. And the short answer is that, yes, the number of ebooks sold by traditional publishers have flattened off and even dipped, but that’s largely the result of an acute decline in the market share of traditional publishers. The Association of American Publishers reports double figure declines in ebooks. The British Publishers Association notes that sales of trade fiction (i.e. novels for adults and kids) have declined by a quarter. In five years. Ouch! That’s a horrendous loss of revenue, but it’s not that people have stopped reading books. It’s that they’re not reading traditionally published work in anything like the same quantity. What tells you is that, between 2014 and 2016, Amazon’s own publishing imprints doubled their market share. Indie authors have relentlessly accumulated share. And traditional publishers as a group, and the large publishers most of all, have lost share seriously. In short, the ebook market is thriving, and the market for books of any format sold online is now utterly, utterly dominant. AuthorEarnings reckon that sales of adult fiction are now more than 75% online, and that’s just unbelievably excellent news for writers like you. Why? Because you can’t compete in bricks and mortar retail. Except in exceptional circumstances, or in minuscule volumes, your books just won’t get sold through those channels. You have fully three quarters of the entire market for books to aim at, and: Not only can you compete here – no one is blocking your wayBut also it’s free to compete here – there’s no entry chargeThe dominant player wants you to compete here – it positively welcomes self-pub authors And best of all: You actually have a competitive advantage over big traditional firms, because readers positively want a direct connection with the author. No one in the world positively wants a direct connection with some giant multinational. You have a marketing edge they cannot match. So it’s perfectly possible to make good money with e-books. As Amazon continues to flourish, the indie tide is rising all the time. The simple fact is: More and more indies are making more and more money than ever before. Next year will be better than last year. Good to know, right? But money doesn’t just drop into your lap. You gotta to go make it. So – after a pretty picture of that rising tide – let’s go figure out our next steps. Step 1: Set Up An Account With KDP KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing and you will grow to love those intials very much indeed. You just go here – – and sign in with your regular Amazon account. If you have everything else ready, you are about ten minutes away from publishing your first ebook. Step 2: Prepare Your Ebook (In Word) It’s absolutely fine to prepare your book as a regular Word document. Just be aware that you need to think about an ebook in three sections: The front matter: this is the “Look Inside” section and you need to prepare this part thinking about readers who are curious about your book, interested in buying it, but who haven’t yet made the purchasing decision. This is the place for any lovely reviews you may have, any good selling text – and of course plenty of the actual book itself. What you don’t want is any tedious copyright notices and that kind of thing. Yes, sure, you have to get those in somewhere, but you can bundle them right out of the way, at the end of the book.The book itself: Obviously you want to make this as strong as possible. Your only thought here should be to deliver the very best reading experience possible.The end matter: This is where you want to solicit reviews for the book and, crucially, where you want to collect your readers’ email addresses. I’ll tell you how to do that in a moment, but it’s probably the single most important element in the whole selling chain, so don’t neglect it. Make sure as well that you have done the basic formatting bits and pieces right. So, for example, you need to: Use the tab key or the paragraph format menu to indent paragraphs. (Do not just hit the spacebar five times: that’s a real formatting no-no.)Ensure total consistency in your chapter numbering and formatting. So if you use simple digits to mark out each new chapter, make sure those things are formatted the same way every time.Ensure consistency in other headings, such as Author’s Note, About this Series, etcAnd of course, the entire book should be in a single document – don’t even think about trying to format something chapter by chapter If you want KDP’s own formatting guide, you can get it here. Step 3: Create Your Cover Top-end cover design is hard. It can be fairly expensive. And, even if you splash the cash, results can be curiously disappointing. Nor is that even surprising, really, given that everyone knows that covers really matter, and everyone is trying to out-compete everyone else. Just don’t get too worried. It’s not hard – it’s actually easy – to get a good, professional cover on your book. And it doesn’t have to be expensive, either. For a really detailed overview on how to commission a cover, check our advice, but mostly I’d suggest that you: Search “pre-made book cover.” What you’ll find here is huge libraries of covers that have been put together by pro designers and then discarded. If that sounds crazy, then bear in mind that a large publisher or picky author may well commission multiple designs, in order to pick one. Rather than bin the unwanted designs, designers simply remove the specifics of author name and title and make the design available to anyone with $50-100 to spare. Sure, the cover may not be super-specific to your book, but that really, really doesn’t matter. Readers buy on mood and genre-indication. The specifics just aren’t relevant.Fly solo, using Canva. Canva announces itself as ‘amazingly simple graphic design software’ and it really is easy. It offers a variety of book cover templates. You just pick a photo. Add your text. And off you go. Depending on whether you use a free image or not (I’d suggest probably not), that route will cost you between nothing at all and a few bucks. Step 4: Format Your Ebook These days, you have multiple options for formatting an e-book. You can: Pay someone. These people, for example – but look at various quotes, as you shouldn’t really be paying more than $100 for this service.Do it yourself via Scrivener, if you like Scrivener.Do it yourself via Vellum, if you like Apple.Do it yourself via Draft2Digital. (The service I mostly use – it’s free.)Do it yourself via KDP’s own conversion platform – though this will leave you with a mobi file only and all other e-tailers use epub files. (These are basically the same, but also irritatingly different.) The DIY version of things is fast and simple. Once you’ve got the hang of a particular system, it’s a ten minute chore, if that. Remember that the cover is part of the e-book, so you can’t progress to the formatting step until you’ve got your cover sorted. And of course once you’ve ticked off this step – congratulations! You’ve created your product. Now your only job is to get it on the shelves and starting to sell. Step 5: Set Your Ebook Details So the new model is to ignore the keyword bundling, and instead use subtitles that present the book in the most attractive possible light, e.g., “The Seventh Corpse: A tense thriller that you won’t be able to put down”. I think that’s a better strategy, and it’s the one I recommend. Do note that Amazon requires you to have the text of the subtitle present somewhere on the cover. (You can read more about their requirements here.) But Amazon doesn’t effectively enforce that rule and the truth is that, at the moment, you can ignore it if you want to. So one perfectly practical strategy woul be: experiment with different subtitles, see what works best, then change the cover when you’re ready. But also: don’t spend too long on all this. It’s not a game-changer. SeriesIs your book part of a series? If so, say so. Anyone searching for my books, for example, might use my name to look for them, or they might look for the name of my detective protagonist, Fiona Griffiths. To make sure that anyone searching for “Fiona Griffiths” finds my books, I call my series “Fiona Griffiths”, and Amazon will add “Book X” to each book in the series. So, for example, my sixth book in the series is entitled (with title, subtitle, and series data) as follows: “The Deepest Grave: An ancient battle, a dead researcher, and a very modern crime (Fiona Grifiths Book 6)”. That’s not a bad template to follow. EditionYou probably won’t need to use this. You can just ignore it. AuthorThat’s you. Check for typos! Don’t misspell your name. ContributorsDo you have co-authors? Illustrators? Other collaborators? If so, this is the spot to include them. DescriptionThe book description matters. It’s how you pitch to the reader. How you convert that opening interest into the hook of purchase-intent. I like descriptions that follow a little story arc all of their own. So: An opening sentence or two, that acts as a hook, or teaser. The purpose of this sentence is to make the reader curious and choose to read on.The blurb proper. Usually this will describe the set up only, and will include those elements most likely to intrigue the reader.A cliff-hanger type ending. The sort of thing that runs, “But that’s when he started to realise how serious the danger really was – and when he wondered if he’s escape with his life.” You can definitely choose your own strategy, but that basic Teaser – Content – Cliffhanger template is hard to beat. Note that if you want to make use of bold, italics, and that kind of thing, then you can. If you know basic html, then feel free to use it. If you don’t, then use a simple formatting tool like this one, to generate beautiful looking text. Don’t overuse those tools though – too much bold just looks childish. Keep it nice! RightsYou need to declare that you own the copyright and hold the necessary publishing rights. If you are the author of the work, then you’re fine. KeywordsThese are the keywords that help Amazon determine what kind of book yours is and will guide what searches it appears under. Amazon’s own guidelines – here – are quite helpful, and you should use them. Do remember that it might seem clever to shove a keyword like “thriller” into your keyword choices – because lots of people like thrillers, right? – but your book is unlikely to feature on highly competitive searches, unless you have reason to be very confident of hitting a good salesrank early. Again, it’s worth doing a reasonable bit of research into possible keyword selections, but don’t go crazy. 2-3 hours work on this is easily enough, or more than enough. Keyword choices won’t make the difference to your sales. CategoriesJust choose the library-style classification for your book where your readers are most likely to congregate. For me, for example, I choose these categories: Fiction > Mystery & Detective > International Mystery & CrimeFiction > Mystery & Detective > Police Procedural The ‘International Mystery & Crime’ category is relatively niche, but works very well for me, because I want US readers with an interest in non-US set crime. And ‘police procedural’ precisely describes what I write, so I’m going to find my natural readers in that category. Age rangeSelf-explanatory. If you’re not writing for kids, this isn’t relevant. Pre-orderUnless you are an experienced author with a strong sales plan, I’d recommend against using a pre-order. And even if you are experienced, they may not work for you. I don’t pre-orders myself any more and my sales have benefitted. And, to be clear, if you don’t set a pre-order date, then your book will publish within about 24 hours of you hitting the publish button at the end of this form. You are that close to getting out there! Yowch! This is a lot to take in, right?Yep. One big reason why a lot of self-publishers mess up is that they’re so keen to get published that they don’t invest enough time in learning how to do it right.(And yes, I’m guilty of that myself. I threw away plenty of easy money as a result.)So we created a really comprehensive, easy to follow, step-by-step video course that teaches the whole self-publishing game – and it’s designed for people just like you.And yes, yes, I know. As soon as someone says “video course” to me, I think here comes the hard sell for a product which might really be great, but which is going to have some eye-watering price.And yes, the course does have an eye-watering price (details here), but you can get it free.That’s right. You can get an entire, super-premium video course FREE, just by taking out membership of Jericho Writers. We’re a club, founded by writers for writers, and our aim is just to deliver a spectacularly huge amount of value within that membership. So it’s not just that one course. We’ve also got an incredible how to write course. Loads of stuff on trad publishing. Filmed masterclasses. Live online webinars with agents, writing tutors and more.If you’re even one tiny bit interested (and, if you’re reading this blog post, then you darn well should be), then hop over here to learn a whole heap more. We look forward to welcoming you soon. Step 6: Set Your Ebook Content We’ve already dealt with the two biggest ingredients of your content: your book itself and your cover. With those two items, just upload the relevant files and wait for Amazon to digest them. I do recommend that you use the eBook previewer tool: it’s just a comforting way to make sure that everything looks as it should do before you hit publish. In this section, however, there are three other things you need to think about. DRM choiceYou can choose whether or not to protect your book from potential piracy with ‘Digital Rights Management’. And while protecting your book sounds like a no brainer – of course you want to protect it! It’s your baby! – the simple fact is that DRM doesn’t work. Easily available software can strip the DRM out of your book in a couple of minutes, and once some idiot has done that, the pirated version of your book can spread everywhere anyway. Meantime, DRM can be a real pain for perfectly legitimate readers who may want to lend your book, read on a new device, or whatever. So my choice – and this would be the advice of a majority of experienced indie authors – is not to enable DRM protection. Realistically, there just isn’t much you can do about piracy. Treat any manifestations of piracy as a compliment to your book and your writing, and focus your efforts on all the millions of legitimate readers who want to buy, not steal, your book. ISBNTo get your book into a bricks and mortar bookstore, you would need an ISBN – effectively an international identifier for your book. But e-books don’t need ISBNs. And even if you’re publishing in print with Amazon as well, you can let Amazon just allocate a free ISBN to you when you publish. So basically, just ignore the ISBN box. It doesn’t matter to you. PublisherHuh? You’re the publisher, right? So why is KDP asking you for this information? Well, no reason, really. Lots of self-publishers just leave this box blank, and there’s no reason not to do that. But personally, I just like the idea of having a publisher’s name on my books, so I call my publishing imprint ‘Sheep Street Books’ and give that phrase to Amazon when it asks me for my publisher. Note, there’s absolutely no requirement for any legal substance here. There isn’t a legal entity called Sheep Street Books. My accountant doesn’t have to handle anything different. It’s literally just a name. Nothing more. But it’s nice, no? Step 7: Choose If You’re Going To Go Exclusive To Amazon At this stage, you need to determine if you’re going to make your work exclusive to Amazon or not. That sounds like a bad idea – why wouldn’t you want your book to be sold in every store possible? – but there’s a catch. The thing is, Amazon doesn’t just control the world’s largest bookstore (, it controls the second biggest one too – Kindle Unlimited, which makes e-books available for free to participating members. The word ‘free’ in this context might cause you some alarm but, be not afeard, Amazon pays about $0.0045 for every page of your book that a KU subscriber reads. Your KU income, therefore, comes in the form of payments for pages read, rather than a traditional type of sale. And KU is huge. KU is disproportionately important to indie authors and, indeed, indie authors in 2017 made a total of about $180 million from Kindle Unlimited, compared with just $50 million a year from Apple and all other non-Amazon sources. To me personally, that logic is overwhelming. I offer the first book in my series wide (i.e. with every store) in order to capture as many readers as possible. After that, though, all my books are Amazon exclusive. I make about a third of my income from KU reads and I know some very successful authors who make a full 50% of their income from KU. If you are just starting out, then I urge you to follow that exact template. When and if you start to generate decent sales for your series, you should reconsider the matter. Some pro indies urge the wide route; others advocate the narrow one. For these experienced authors, there’s a real choice. But starting out? Go narrow. Make it work. Then think again. Step 8: Set Ebook Pricing Finally, you need to determine royalties and pricing. Amazon likes people to sell e-books in the $2.99 to $9.99 range. It wants to avoid excessively high pricing (because that would damage the extent of the e-book market), but it doesn’t like super-low pricing all that much either (because it doesn’t make enough money.) The result is that is offers an (amazing, brilliant, wonderful) royalty of 70% to indies publishing their books within that range and a (still good) royalty of 35% outside that band. In terms of where you should sell your books, you need to think about (A) where you want to end up, and (B) the best way to start out. A typical end-point for you will be something like mine: Book #1 – $0.99 (make it attractive for readers to get into the series)Book #2 – $4.99 (make some money)Book #3 – $4.99 (make some money)Book #4 – $4.99 (make some money)etc But you can only sell books in volume at $4.99 or more if you already have a bunch of committed readers. If you’re not yet at that stage, then remember: FREE IS A MARKETING STRATEGY What’s more, and by the same fine logic: CHEAP IS A MARKETING STRATEGY Sure, you don’t actually make any money from free, and you don’t make much from cheap . . . but your job now is to tempt readers into your series (and your book’s job is then to blow them away.) For newer authors, then, I think you want to fool around at the $0.00, $0.99 and $2.99 price points to find readers and build your base. Remember, you can change your decisions at any time, so just try out one option, see what happens, then change it if you need. Step 9: Hit That Button, ‘Publish My Kindle Ebook’ You’ll get a message telling you that the book may take up to 72 hours to be published, but it’s generally a lot less than that. You’re on your way, my friend. You’re a published author now. But don’t walk alone.We created our Jericho Writers club to be here for you on your journey. We’ve helped all types of writer get published, including some of the biggest selling indie authors of recent years. I’m not going to start yelling about how much we make available for free in our club (clue: it’s masses). Instead, I’m just going to tell you to hop over here and take a look.Honestly? I think it’ll be the best investment you ever make. Step 10: Market Like Crazy And Build Your List I told you earlier that that the back matter for your book needed to include an inducement for readers to leave you their email address. The way you do that is by deploying the power of free. You create a reader magnet – a nicely written, properly formatted short story with a decent cover – and say, “Get my wonderful story, for free.” Readers, blown away by the power of your storytelling, sign up for this new free story. You send it to them by email. You now have their email address . . . and their permission for you to market to them direct. That, in essence, is the strategy that lies at the heart of every self-publishers success. Your core readers buy each new book when you ask them to. That sales surge blasts you up the Amazon sales rankings. That delivers a ton of visibility you couldn’t get in any other way. And a whole host of new readers enters the series and falls in love with your writing. Now needless to say, that strategy is important enough that you need to get it right. This post – already too long – isn’t going to talk in detail about how to build your list, but it matters intensely,and fortunately for you, this post goes into detail about how to set up the various elements. Get published, my friend. Sell some books. Have some fun. And good luck. About the authorHarry Bingham has been a pro author for twenty years and more. He’s been trad published and self-published, and hit bestseller lists via both routes. He’s also had his work adapted for the screen, has had a ton of critical acclaim, and been published all over the world. (More about Harry, more about his books.) Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Mobi Vs Epub: Which Ebook Format Is Best For You

The battle of the ebook formats. You’ve written a book. What you have is a massive Word document and you can’t wait for the world to read it. Only now it seems that ebooks are a totally different kind of beast from Word. You have to start converting your Word document to some other file format, and you don’t know which one to pick. And you don’t know how to do it. Well, relax. It’s all easy. What Is Epub? When you think about it, an ebook is a bit like a special sort of webpage: a way to get text and images to appear on screen. The most universal and flexible ebook file format is the EPUB. Those kind of files can: Fit the text to whatever device you are usingHandle text-to-speechOffer a pagination-type experienceChanges in font size and typeHandle embedded imagesPermit highlighting and bookmarkingAnd plenty more What Is Mobi? And what is a Mobi file? It is the same thing, in almost every respect. The only differences between a mobi file and an epub file is that the MOBI file: Is an Amazon proprietary standardAllows Amazon to control your ebook from afar – and in particular,Mobi files have embedded “digital rights management” (DRM) that allow Amazon to restrict your mobi files only to devices that are associated with your Amazon account. In short, epub and mobi files are basically indistinguishable to users – with the exception that mobi files are kept within Amazon’s walled garden. What File Format Should You Choose For Your Ebook? When you are choosing your file format, you basically need to answer the question of where you want to sell your ebooks. Here are your choices: Only AmazonApple and Kobo and everyone else except AmazonAll e-stores – Amazon, and Apple, and everyone else Now, there are basically two smart choices there, and one dumb one. The dumb choice is to sell your book with Apple and Kobo and all the rest, but not with Amazon. How come? Because Amazon (depending on what stats you look at) accounts for about 75-85% of all ebooks sold in the United States. Their dominance of the UK market is somewhat similar. Only in Canada and some other minor markets does Amazon have anything less than an absolute lock on the market. So, OK, you’re definitely going to sell your ebook on Amazon. And Amazon only works with mobi files. So you’re going to have to create a mobi file. Fine. But are you going to be exclusive to Amazon? Or sell via Apple and everyone else as well? Now that sounds like a dumb question, right? You might assume that you just want to be selling books in as many places as possible. Except if you agree to sell your work exclusively through Amazon, you get to participate in Kindle Unlimited (KU). If KU subscribers borrow a book and read it, you will be entitled to a payment based on the total number of pages read. Loads of indie authors report that KU income is as large as regular sales royalties, or even more. Other indies (who prefer to be ‘wide’ rather than exclusive) prefer to sell through as many stores as possible. Without getting into the weeds on that argument here, you’ll end up deciding between two options: Amazon Exclusive: You are only selling through Amazon. You need a Mobi file and nothing else.Selling Everywhere: You’re selling everywhere, so you need both a mobi file and an epub. Just to be clear, you can easily create both a mobi file and an epub file from the same Word document. Before You Create Your Mobi / Epub File Before you create your ebook file, you just need to make sure that your Word document is in good shape to convert. That means three things: Your text needs to be (very largely) free of typos and other errorsYour document needs to be consistently formattedYou need to put together front- and end-material that will support your ebook marketing I’ll talk just a bit more about those things. Text Should Be Free Of Typos If you are preparing to self-publish, it’s not enough just to tell a good story. Your text needs to be free of spelling and punctuation mistakes, accidental typos, messy formatting and other issues. Even if you’re naturally very attentive to these things (and most authors aren’t), you will need a second pair of eyes finding those typos and correcting the errors. If you know someone who can do this for you (an English teacher friend, a librarian, or whatever), then you should definitely take that route. But if in doubt, pay for a professional copyeditor – such as our own copy editing services. These days, a badly proofed book stands next to no chance of selling. Consistent Formatting When you convert your document from Word to Epub / mobi, the converter will scan your document and look for major headings and sub-headings. So if all your chapter headings (whether numbers or titles) are formatted the same way, the converter is almost certain to find them and render them correctly. If your chapter headings are a mish-mash of different font sizes, caps and lowercase, bold and not bold, then the converter will almost certainly have no idea how to structure your document, and your mobi or epub books will be unreadable. You can read up on how to format your manuscript, here. So the message is simply – be consistent. Use a consistent font size and format for your major headings, and the converter should be able to do the rest. Simple. Support Your Ebook Marketing Remember that your Word document will form the basis of your ebook. And remember that your ebook can basically be divided into three slices: The front “Look Inside” part of the ebookYour text itselfThe bit after the actual end of your story It’s pretty obvious what your text has to do: it has to dazzle readers and blow their brains. But you need to remember that the front part of your book should be all about converting a possible reader. So if someone comes to your Amazon page and hits the “Look Inside” button, you want to present them with material that makes them most likely to convert. So don’t fill it with long author’s notes and thanks to friends. You want to include a few positive messages about your book and then leave plenty of room for text. All the boring stuff can live at the back of the book. And that leaves end matter. When a reader finishes your book, you want them to complete three actions. You want them to review the book they’ve just read. You want them to buy the next one. And you want them to give you their email address in exchange for a reader magnet of some kind. I’m not going to get into detail here – this jumbo post on self-publishing does that – but just remember: an ebook is not a print book. Your document needs to look forward to the ebook it wants to become. How To Create A Mobi File The easiest way to create a mobi file is … just upload your Word document to Amazon, via your KDP dashboard. Amazon will handle the conversion for you. Once Amazon has completed the conversion, it’ll ask you if you want to preview your ebook. And you do! Every page. If there is a formatting error, a slipped heading, a page break in the wrong place, now is your time to catch it. If you do find an error, you need to rework your Word document, then re-upload it. Continue that process until all your errors are fixed. And one other thing: when you preview your ebook, you need to do so using a variety of different device / font settings. Because pagination varies from device to device, a faulty page break may not show up on one view. You may only find it when you switch from one font setting to another. In essence, though, creating a mobi file is simplicity itself. Step one: write a book. Step two: ask one of the world’s largest tech companies to do the fiddly stuff for you. Step three: become a kindle bestseller. Easy. How To Create An Epub File You can’t ask Amazon to create an Epub file for you, because Amazon doesn’t work with them. You have a couple of alternatives here. One, if you are an Apple user, you use Vellum – a very easy to use and beautiful formatting tool. Everyone who uses it, loves it. It comes very highly recommended. For people in PC-world, I generally recommend that you use Draft2Digital, which has a very easy to use – and free – conversion tool. The principle here is exactly the same as with the Amazon / mobi conversion process above, so just repeat that same basic exercise. And that’s it. It takes maybe three minutes to convert your files, assuming that your Word document was in shape to start with. Easy right? Epub Vs Mobi Vs PDF Older posts used to include the PDF file format in a discussion of ebooks. But you know what? PDFs aren’t ebooks. They’re fine for corporate brochures and that kind of thing, but for a responsive reading experience, you need the flexibility of an epub or mobi file. So, please, just forget the PDF. It has no place in this discussion. Conclusion And that’s it! The question isn’t really mobi vs epub, because you’ll quite likely need both. They’re simple to create, and the creation process comes free. The main thing to think about, in fact, is getting the raw material – your Word document – in shape first. Good luck with the process. Happy editing. Happy converting. And, most of all, happy publishing. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Book?

A short, honest answer... So you’ve written your book. Congratulations! Now you want to self-publish your work and you’re excited about what might lie ahead. But, getting the damn thing published? How exactly does all that work? And (yikes!) just how much does it cost? In this blog post, we will honestly answer exactly how much does it cost to self-publish a book. OK. We’re not going to tell you HOW to self-publish your work in this post. If you want a complete guide to what to do and how to do it, then hop over here for everything you need. That guide deals step by step with what you need to do to self-publish successfully, but for now, lets talk about costs. Oh, and before we talk about costs: you probably want to know who I am and whether I know what the heck I’m talking about. Well, I’m Harry Bingham. I’ve written and self-published a fair few books. (You can see some of them here.) In the last 12 months, I’ve earned $100,000 from my self-published work, and I look to do even better in the future. If you can write well, and if you have the diligence and commitment to put together a series of books, not just the one, then there is no reason why you should not go all the way to a rich and satisfying career. Here’s what you need to know. How Much Does It Cost To Self-publish A Book? For a typical manuscript, allow: Editing – $800 (optional, but probably sensible)Copyediting – $1200 (optional, best avoided)Cover design – $70-400Formatting – $0 (do it yourself)Typesetting – $300 (optional)Uploading to Amazon – $0Email list builder – $0 (at first)Bookfunnel – $100Website – from $12/month, but spend more to get it right How Much Does Self-publishing Cost? OK, I’m going to start with the headlines, and a giant BUT. The ‘but’, quite simply, is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer here. Every single book and indie author will do things a bit differently here and that’s just fine. Different writers have different skills, different access to resources, and different audiences. What follows then is just a broad set of guidelines for you to adapt as you please. I’ll assume you have written a novel of about 80,000 words, and that you are serious about actually making money from this project. That is: you are happy to invest a little in the expectation of a proper future return. Do read the comments that follow these headlines, because the juice is in the comments, not the headlines. Okie-doke. Your costs very roughly are: Book Production Structural editing – $800 / £550You can skip this, but we’d advise against doing soCopyediting – $1200 / £850You need to do something here, but this is an area where you can and should, save moneyProofreading – $0 / £0Don’t do this as well as copyediting. The big publishers do both, but for you it’s a waste of moneyCover design – $70-$400 / (£50-£250)You have to get the cover right, but there are some great low cost options available.Formatting (for ebook) – $0 / £0You can do this yourself perfectly easily for freeTypesetting (for print) – $450 / £300 (if you want)This is more a vanity-type cost. You can just upload a Word file and it’ll look OK. But if you want a fancy-shmancy book to give to your mother, then you’ll want to pay a bit more. Skills Building OK, that’s not a normal entry on a list like this, but if you jump into a complex area like indie-publishing – an area where you’ll be competing head-on against some very skilful and well-resourced authors and publishers – you’ll just waste a ton of time and money if you don’t learn the ropes in a disciplined way. You have to make room in your budget for intelligently directed learning. Books – $20Just buy everything by David Gaughran, Joanna Penn and Nicholas Erik. This is small potatoes in terms of money, but the wisdom is yuuuuge.Podcasts, blogs, video – $0It’s all free. This blog post is free. Reading that stuff makes you a better, more effective entrepreneur.. You’re doing the right thing.Courses – $50I’ve done most of the big expensive courses out there, and I’ve learned a lot. But some of those things are $699 and upwards – and that’s crazy money. We have a big expensive self-publishing course of our own and it’s very damn good indeed. (Check it out here.) But why buy it? As a member of Jericho Writers you can get access to it for free. Signing up with us for a month costs just $39. You can just grab the entire super-premium course in that time, download all the notes, and walk away a massively better equipped writer. Basically a good course gives you a step-by-step template for success and you’re just crazy if you don’t do something along these lines. You can take out a simple, cancel-any-time Jericho Writers membership here. Uploading To Retailers Uploading to Amazon – $0 / £0I know everyone knows that, but it’s still amazing, isn’t it? You get unlimited access to all the readers in the world. And it costs nothing! How good is that?Uploading to everyone else – $0 / £0Same thing, except everyone else combined isn’t worth half of one Amazon. Creating Your Platform Building & hosting your website – $12/monthIf you use an all-in-one service like Squarespace or Weebly, you can get web-hosting plus drag-and-drop type editing tools that make it unbelievably simple to create your site. It’s crazy-cheap for what you get.Email list builder – $0Did I just say free? Yep I did – at least for anything up to 2,000 email addresses with Mailchimp. And within this starter package, you get automation tools which are essential for pinging readers thank you emails whenever and wherever they sign up to your list. Another amazing thing that the modern world just gives you.Book delivery (Bookfunnel) – $20/yearNot strictly essential, but any serious indie author will use Bookfunnel or something like it. And at this price? You gotta have it.Prolific Works – $20/monthYou don’t need to be permanently signed up to Prolific Works, but you can use it as a superb mailing-list accelerant. You probably want to budget at least a few months’ membership here as you start out.Other design costs – $100?You can use your cover design plus Squarespace’s design tools, plus freely available photos, to give you a pretty damn good website along with any other design bits and bobs you might want. But some amazing photos need paying for. Sometimes a designer offers you something too good to turn down. So chuck another $100 into your budget, and consider that as your way to treat yourself to stuff you like. Paid Advertising AMS – Budget $200/monthAMS is Amazon’s own in-store advertising system. (You’ve seen those “sponsored result” messages – that’s AMS doing its stuff. AMS is a pretty ropy system, in truth, but it’s pretty easy to get results. So assume you’ll spend some cash here. You should get it all back, and then some.Bookbub – $500 (if you can get it)If you enter your book for a featured offer type promotion, and Bookbub accepts you, then kiss BB’s sainted feet and hand over your wallet. You will certainly make money. That said, it’s hard to get accepted by BB these days, so that money is likely to stay in your wallet.Bookbub ads, Facebook ads – ????You could spend $10,000 here, or nothing. This post is hardly long enough to go into the ins and outs of the two biggest ad platforms for authors, so I’ll just observe that (A) some indie authors essentially make their livings by playing the ad-game with great care and extreme skill, and (b) other indie authors – including me! – make a fat living while making almost zero use of ads on either of these platforms. I am in a minority, but it is possible. So much for the headlines. But do read on, because there’s real debate about whether some of these costs are necessary – and real opportunities to shave money off these figures if you’re agile enough. What Costs Are Involved In Self-publishing A Book? Editing and copyediting OK. We’ve talked about headlines, and some of those headlines are uncontroversial. It just doesn’t cost any money to upload your book to Amazon. And yes, you can pay $2000 for a professionally created website . . . but you’ll end up with less control over it than you would if you build it yourself, and you won’t actually get any additional sales. But let’s home in on a few areas where it might or might not make sense to save money – and where there might or might not be opportunities to cut corners. We start with the heart of the entire publishing industry – the editorial process itself. Structural editing(Also known as developmental editing, or manuscript assessment, or just plain editorial advice.) What’s involved?An experienced, professional editor reads your text in detail and tells you what’s working, what’s not working and (crucially) how to fix the stuff that isn’t yet right. An editor isn’t there to inflict changes on your work directly – this is your book and you need to be the final judge of what changes are needed – but you should get a very good idea of how to develop and improve your text. Likely costDepends on the length of your book and the quality of the editorial service. An 80,000 word book will generally be charged at around $850 / £550, assuming that you are going to a really good editor with a load of experience and insight. You will find offers online for a good bit less, but I’d question whether they’re worth it. Good editorial advice can be THE thing that turns it from good-but-not-dazzling to the kind of thing that readers are recommending to their friends. Bad editorial advice on the other hand can actually kill a book. So if it were me, I’d rather pay a proper wage to a proper editor – or skip editing altogether. And me personally (but see the disclosure below), I’d never send a book out, unedited. DisclosureI’ve had a dozen novels traditionally published, and have worked with each of the world’s three largest publishers. I’ve had a ton of critical acclaim and have a big fat load of experience. But even so I use third party editorial advice. I have never published a book without it. I never will. Now, I truly believe that and have always lived by it. But just to be clear: Jericho Writers is (among other things) an editorial agency. We offer editorial help on books such as yours, so you could argue that I’m totally biased. And, OK, I do have a financial interest here, but the single reason why such huge numbers of Jericho clients have gone on to get published and (in some cases) sell millions of copies / win film deals / etc is because we take editorial advice incredibly seriously. You can read more about the editorial help we offer here. I really hope you take a look! Right. Enough of that. Just two more comments before we move on Remember that editorial advice may not be a one-shot thing. Especially if you are on your first book and don’t have a ton of previous experience, then your first draft may be horrible. Your second draft will be better. It may take multiple rounds of editorial advice to get your book to where it needs to be. Don’t worry about that. Just put in the time and the investment. The other thing is this. A bad product can’t sell – but you’re not just investing in the product. You’re investing in yourself. Every time you work with an editor, you will become a better writer. Your next book will come faster, slicker and more confident than it would otherwise. I promise. Copy-editing and proofreading What’s involved?A big traditional publisher will typically engage in one or two rounds of editorial work per book. Then the manuscript will be copyedited (or line-edited.) Then it’ll be typeset. Then there’ll be one last set of checks prior to printing, and those final checks are referred to as proofreading. The two activities – copyediting and proofreading – are much the same, except that copyediting is broader. So where proofreading will only be looking for clear errors (misprints, typos, spelling errors, and the like), a copy-editor should also be looking for: factual errorsclumsy phrasingawkward repetitionsinconsistencies (grey eyes that turn blue, for example)plotting inconsistencieserroneous or awkward punctuation Do I need copyediting and proofreading?No. Save yourself the money. Do it properly once, and a few remaining typos won’t kill anyone. How can I save money?To get a formally trained copyeditor doing a Big Publisher quality job on your book is eyewateringly expensive. In the figures above, I suggested $1200 might be a reasonable guide for an 80,000 word book. Well, maybe. But only if you got a hungry copyeditor and your manuscript needed only the lightest of edits. The truth is, because this work is painstaking and done page by page and line by line, it’s slow. Because standards in the Kindle store have risen over the years, readers have (rightly) become a bit tetchy about sloppy spellings / puncutation / presentation etc. That means you’re in a bind: On the one hand, you want to do a decent job. On the other hand, you don”t want to pay $2000 and more to fix some commas. So what do you do? Well, as it happens Jericho Writers does offer pro-quality copy-editing services (more about that here), but 99% of people reading this will NOT want to use them – and probably shouldn’t: they’re just too expensive for what you get. So the best advice, really, is as follows: Train yourself to write a really clean manuscript. Grammarly is a great tool, but better still, you start to build a Grammarly-style app in your own head. Find your own errors. Be your own copy-editor. You still won’t eliminate all errors – you just need a second pair of eyes for that – but you’ll vastly reduce the work (and the cost) involved in copyediting.And then, once you have your – fairly clean – manuscript, just use whatever resources you can find to work with you cheaply or for free. Are you friends with your local librarian? Have a keen reader who used to be a school teacher? Have a college friend who’d do some work for cash? If you snuffle through your contacts (and reader emails) you’re quite likely to find someone who will work for nothing. I’ve had offers from readers along those lines and have ended up choosing to pay $300 – partly as a thank you, but also as a way to say, “Look, this is a professional relationship and I’d really appreciate it if you did the best job you possible could.” Will you get a perfect result from this approach? No. Will you get a perfectly OK one? Yes, if you do it right. And will you lose any sales as a result of low-balling it? Well, no, not really. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Typeset Your Own Book

Typesetting a book: it’s the stuff of writers’ dreams. Your double-spaced, A4 sized, agent-ready manuscript turns into a beautiful paperback book; that first line that you agonised over for days, leaping out at the reader; your paragraphs neatly aligned and looking as they should – actual real-life pages in a beautiful looking book. Ahhh, we can almost smell the paper. Every day, writers turn manuscripts into quality paperback books, either for self-publishing or to give to family and friends as a handy editing tool. Readily-accessible tools such as Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign mean that writers can now typeset their manuscripts themselves. Once you learn the tricks of DIY typesetting, it’s straightforward and immensely satisfying to learn how to typeset your own book and see it take shape. Here are some top tricks for DIY typesetting that every writer should know. 1. Paragraph Styles The key to any book interior layout is consistency. This includes making sure your chapter headings, typeface, quotations and asides are all in the same style and format. You won’t see many books that start in 11pt Times New Roman and then suddenly change to 12pt Helvetica (unless it’s intentional, of course!). You can find paragraph styles on most Word processors – in Word, they’re placed in a bar at the top with different fonts and headings. Once you’ve perfected the font and placement of your first chapter heading, highlight it and then right click on ‘Heading 1’ to save it as a style. Then, when it comes to writing Chapter Two, you can easily replicate the same style. You can also do the same for your main body text and any other headings and styles, perhaps a character’s handwriting, a quote, or other graphic elements if you’re writing non-fiction. 2. Page Breaks No more shall we press the return key multiple times to get to a new page. If you do this, you’ll find yourself having to go back and forth adding and deleting paragraphs every time you make a change to the text. Instead, just insert a page break. This will take you onto the next page, right where you want to be. You’ll be surprised how many times you’ll use this when you know it’s there! 3. Justification Authors who typeset their own work often don’t justify their text. This is where you make sure each line meets both margins, so that it looks like a perfect rectangle on the page. This just makes things a bit neater and is a key part in giving your manuscript that extra finesse that will make it look as beautiful after printing as it reads. 4. Prelims and Title Pages Title pages are where you get to be creative as your own typesetter. They are the first few pages that the reader sees when they open your book. This might include a page that states title and author name, a copyright page (if you’re self-publishing) and then maybe a half-title page which also lists the publisher. Many publishers use the title pages to bring some of the aspects of the cover into the book itself – perhaps by using the same font as the title on the cover or similar black and white illustrations or shapes. There are some really great examples of title pages around – just look at the books on your shelf for inspiration! 5. Indents As standard, a first paragraph after a new chapter or heading shouldn’t be indented, but every new paragraph afterwards should be. Although using the ‘tab’ key to indent your text on your A4 manuscript is fine, this space suddenly looks huge once you size the page down to your standard paperback size. I’d recommend an indent of 0.5-1cm to match the other books on your shelf. To alter the indent, just drag the small, top arrow on the ruler at the top of your screen. Remember to update your paragraph style with the change to save you the time of decreasing every indent! And Finally... Whether you end up typesetting your own book or not, you’ll be surprised how often some of these typesetting skills will crop up in your writing career. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Author Platform | What It Is And How To Build One

What Is An Author Platform? What it is, why it matters, & how to build your own. The author platform 101 step-by-step. I remember when I first learned about author platform building– and its extraordinary power to deliver readers, sales and publicity. I was writing non-fiction for HarperCollins at the time (I’m quite proud of this book), and I shared an editor with the mighty Ben Goldacre. If you haven’t come across Goldacre’s work, he’s the guy behind Bad Science and Bad Pharma – essentially a scientist’s quest to expose poor quality science across the globe. He’s a campaigner for truth and loves nothing better than exposing fraudulent ‘scientific’ claims for what they are. He was early into the blogging arena, and quickly built up a substantial worldwide following. That following was big rather than huge, but it was passionate. These were people who cared about the same things as Goldacre, and loved the fact that he was making a noise about them. (The blog is here, by the way. The design now looks rather elderly.) The result? Goldacre didn’t use HarperCollins as a marketing operation. He used it as a fulfilment one. To paraphrase my (somewhat stunned) editor, Goldacre effectively walked in and said, “Here’s the manuscript. I’ve arranged these online promotional activities. I’ve got this many science editors from the major international newspapers agreeing to review it. I’ve got endorsements from all these famous people. Now can you please get this thing printed up and into bookshops.” Now, OK, I’m sure it wasn’t quite as simple as that, but you get the point. HarperCollins provided the sales network, but it was Ben Goldacre who actually brought the readers. The result? Half a million books sold . A further best-selling book to follow. A hyper-successful career as public speaker and campaigner. And more than any of that? He changed the world. The British government recognised the truth in much of what Goldacre was saying, and used him to reshape the way they fund and support science. You want to know what an author platform is? It’s that. It’s what Goldacre did. It’s owning your audience. Or, if you want a more formal definition, then author platform can be defined as the ability to deliver readers, through having direct and effective channels of communication with them. And please note, the issue here – the thing that this definition makes central – is your ability to deliver readers. It’s not how many Twitter followers you have, or how many likes you’ve acquired on Facebook. The fact is, the scale of your platform is measured in terms of the number of people who, when you say “Buy!” will go right ahead and buy your book. Platform Vs Authority While we’re still on definitions, it’s also worth distinguishing between your author platform and your authority. Authority is about how much kudos and respect you have acquired in your niche. It’s a measure of your knowledge. Platform is about your communication potency. It’s about your ability to reach – and influence – readers in your niche. So, in the popular science space, a Harvard Professor of Physics might have super-high authority, but zero platform. Equally, the host of a TV science show might have great platform but relatively low authority. Both routes can generate sales. Ben Goldacre had a huge platform . . . and he sold a lot of books. Daniel Kahneman had no platform to speak of, but he did have a Nobel Prize – so, when he wrote his Thinking, Fast and Slow, people wanted to read it, and it too became a global bestseller. Authority and platform at the same time? Not many people can bring that. Jordan Peterson – psychology professor and YouTube sensation – can. This guy outscores him in both dimensions, though.) Why Author Platform Matters If author platform equals your ability to deliver readers, then it’s sort of obvious why it matters. But depending on what type of author you are, the specific issues vary a little. Tradtionally Published Non-fiction If you are a non-fiction author seeking traditional publication, then most literary agents will demand to see evidence of either: Platform, orAuthority Indeed, it can sometimes seem that if you can’t provide evidence of excellence on one of those two issues, then you simply won’t be able to sell your book. Luckily (for most of us), that’s just not true. When I sold my This Little Britain – a book of popular history about Britain’s role in the world – I had no platform at all. Nor did I have any authority: I didn’t even study the subject at college.. But what the heck? I had a great concept. I loved my subject. I could write well. I could make people laugh. My agent and I laid three sample chapters in front of a bunch of publishers, and we had a blow-out book auction that netted a two book £175,000 ($250,000) book deal. That wasn’t thanks to my platform, or my authority, just plain good writing. The fact is, quality sells. Traditionally Published Fiction When it comes to fiction, there will, of course, be some authors who bring a platform with them: oftentimes, celebs wanting to cash in by writing a book that relates in some way to their celebrity. For example, a political reporter writing a political thriller, or a reality star ‘writing’ romance. (The inverted commas are needed there because those books are often ghostwritten. If you’re a reality TV star, why would you actually need to write anything? You can get staff for that.) But the vast majority of times, debut authors will bring exactly nothing by way of platform. Yes, maybe a couple of thousand Twitter followers. Yes, maybe a blog – ‘My Writing Journey’, that kind of thing. But those things won’t impress publishers. (What would be impressive? Well, I think you’d need to look at monthly blog traffic in excess of 100,000 visitors. Twitter followers in the several hundred thousand.) So for ordinary writers, the short message is: just don’t worry. If you have a huge following – great; publishers will like that.If you have no great following – doesn’t matter; publishers weren’t expecting one anyway.If you just don’t like and don’t get on with social media – don’t worry; publishers will just find other ways to promote your work. That said, there is a caveat here and it’s a very important one. It actually has the potential to alter and enlarge your entire career. How come? Well, just consider the following question for a moment: How do self-published authors sell their work? After all, indie authors don’t have the ability of Big 5 houses to get your book into bookstores across the land. They can’t get newspaper reviews. In fact, most of the options open to Big 5 publishers are closed to indies. Yet these guys now sell more adult fiction than all the Big 5 houses combined. So something’s going on there . . . and that secret sauce is something that absolutely any author should be interested in concocting for themselves. More on that subject coming right up. How To Build Your Author Platform How indies do it – and how you can do it too. When self-publishing first became serious business, back in about 2010 or thereabouts, the new breed of indie authors had to figure out how they were going to crack this exciting new market. Pretty quickly, it became clear how not to market your book. Failed approaches include: Yelling about your book on TwitterYelling about your book on FacebookBlogging a lotGuest blogging a lotTaking out full page ads in the New York TimesHiring a trad publicist for $5-10,000+ to do all the things that a trad publicist doesArranging book signingsArranging book tours & multiple signingsHand-selling your book, bookstore by bookstore, across the countryHiring a zeppelin to criss-cross Manhattan, while a troupe of performing monkeys scamper along below handing flyers to passers-by Now, in truth, I’m not absolutely certain that the last of these methods doesn’t sell books, because I’m not sure it’s been tried. (The zeppelin gambit has probably already been used a few times by now. But zeppelin and monkeys? That’s cutting edge.) Instead, the indie community has come to cluster around a few author platform examples and techniques which do, absolutely, 100% guaranteed, sell books. (If done right, and if the books are good enough, and so on.) Those techniques are: Distributing free or very low cost booksEmails, sent direct from author to readerFeatured deals on Bookbub and similar. (more here, if you’re interested.)Advertising on various online platforms (notably Facebook, AMS and Bookbub). These techniques only partially work for trad-published authors. On the free/deeply discounted book idea: just try running that past your editor. Her laughter may be loud and demented enough to crack glassware. On the featured deals on Bookbub : well, yes, trad publishers do make more use of those than they have in the past. But they don’t always use them well, and, in any event, you’ll only enjoy those once a year or so, and the benefits won’t flow mostly to you. On the advertising: yeah, right. Publishers do extremely little online advertising, and it won’t be worth your while to do any at all, because you can’t make ads work if someone else is collecting most of the revenue generated. Which leaves emails. Which sounds sad. And boring. And kinda hopeless. Except that email marketing is one of the most potent tools ever invented and you have it in your power to do it exceptionally well. A well-built, carefully curated email list is, in fact, one of the most potent author platforms it is possible to build. And you can build it. And I’ll show you how. Just add monkeys How Email Marketing Works Here, in a nutshell, is how email marketing works: You sell an ebook.In the back of the ebook, you say to your readers, “Hey, I’ve written a great story. Would you like a copy of it for free?”They say yes, because they love your writing, so they click through to a page which collects an email address (with all appropriate consents, of course)You email them the story (a process which can be easily automated), so they’re happyBut you have their email address and that reader’s permission to email themWhen you have your next book out, you email that reader, saying, “Here’s my book, and here’s where you can buy it.”That reader is happier than a Trump with a Cheeseburger, because – remember? – that reader loves your work, is thrilled to hear from you, and would love nothing better than buy your latest release. This is permission marketing at its purest. You’re not marketing to people who resent being marketed to. You’re marketing to people who love your stuff! Who get genuinely excited when an email from you plops into their inbox! Who actually contact you asking you to write faster, because they’re impatient to read your next release. And email marketing is a lot, lot better than you think How come? Because, let’s say you work hard to create a mailing list of 10,000 names. And let’s say 3,000 of those buy a book when you ask them to. (The other 7,000 were maybe busy. Or never got your email. Or thought, “yep, I must buy that at some point in the future.” Or lost all their powers of taste and judgement and decided against reading your books.) But still. You want to amplify your sales, not just sell to a smallish subset of the people you sold to last time. Luckily, there is a very fine solution to that conundrum, and that solution has a name: Amazon. Amazon’s bestseller rankings are highly susceptible to short-term movements in sales. Which means those 3,000 sales can blast your title right up the search rankings, so it starts popping up in the search results of readers who have never heard of you or your book before. Sure, most of those casual browsers won’t buy your book, but enough will. And before too long, you are making a heap of sales to brand new readers, who’ll read your book, and love it, and see that invitation in the back of your book (the one about getting a free story), and they’ll think, yeah, sounds good, and they’ll go get that ebook, and add their names to your mailing list, and the next time you launch a book, you’ll have even more firepower than you did before. Get it right, and this type of author platform can be: Easy to build (but you have to get the details right; this game is all about detail)Cheap to build (there are few significant costs involved)Versatile (it works for almost any type of author)Durable (those readers will stick with you)Self-sustaining (each new launch will bring new readers to your email list) And best of all, this kind of marketing can be: very lucrative. I self-publish my Fiona Griffiths books in the US and Canada only. (I’ve been trad published elsewhere.) I built my email list using the techniques described here. I do minimal amounts of paid advertising. I do very little of anything else either. (No book signings, no zeppelins, no monkeys.) But last year I earned $100,000 from sales of my work in the US and Canada. If I wrote faster (or spent less time moonlighting for Jericho Writers), I’d earn a fair bit more. That’s the power of email marketing. That’s a writer platform that delivers readers, time after time after time. Indeed, if I could only one bit of advice to about-to-be debut novelists, then it’s this: Build your email list! It’s the single most effective thing you can do to sell books. It’s the single thing that is most likely to future-proof your career. You will be called upon to do countless other things in your career – those book signings, those festival appearances, and all the rest of it – but only two things matter. Writing books, and building your list. Your sales rep. How Email Marketing Works For Authors OK. This post has gone on way too long – but at the same time, if you are serious about building your platform, then constructing a really good email list should be your first duty outside actually writing the damn book. In fact, your priorities are, in order: Write the damn book,Collect email addresses,Eat, drink and be merry. Truly, nothing else matters as much as this. How do you accomplish step #2 above? And accomplish it as fast as possible, as cheaply as possible, and without making yourself scream in frustration at any tech stuff? Well, I said it’s about getting the detail right, and it is. We’ve put a really detailed post together on how to self-publish. You can find that post here. If you are heading for trad publishing, then the material on actually preparing your manuscript for publication is irrelevant to you. But the material on email lists and websites and best-practice e-book construction does matter to you. Ignore the fact that the post references self-pub, and just home in on anything that relates to the collection and use of email lists. Honestly? That information is just about the most helpful material we have anywhere on this website. But it’s hard doing things from a blog post alone. Which is why we developed a complete set of video courses on  – well, everything. You want to know how to set up your email marketing platform?We have a course on that. (And a filmed two hour tutorial with a heap of slides. And a ton of other supporting material.) You want to know how to get published?We have a course on that. (Tons of tutorials, loads of PDF downloads, every topic expertly covered.) You want to know how to improve your writing?Yep, we’ve got a course on that. (A very good one, with a bazillion stunned testimonials from writers just like you.) You want a brilliant database of literary agents with super-easy search tools?Yep, we built one, just for Jericho members. It’s the slickest, most comprehensive tool of its kind in the world. You want to pitch your work live online to literary agents?Yep, we got you covered. Each month, we stick a camera in front of some agents, we give them some work submitted by Jericho members and see what they say. Then fire questions at them. And you get to watch... if you decide to become a member. You want tons of other stuff too? For free, within one low cost, cancel-any-time membership plan?OK, sure. We’ll do that too. We look forward to welcoming you soon! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How to Commission a Cover Design for a Book

17 Tips (And Every One Of Them Awesome) If you are planning to e-publish your book on Amazon and elsewhere – as an ebook and/or in print – you’re going to need a cover. And needless to say, getting that cover right can make a huge difference to sales. The right cover can make the difference between a book that works, and one that falls flat. But commissioning a cover design from an online book cover maker is not easy, and can easily become very expensive. I’m Harry Bingham, and I make six-figures annually self-publishing my work. And truthfully? I think commissioning your first book cover is hard. And it’s especially hard when you’re starting out and don’t have a lot of moolah to spend at a book cover design agency. So what follows are the tips I’ve derived from my own personal experience – and from hanging out in the industry a long time, and seeing a lot, a lot of successes and failures. Hold on to your hats, and let’s go design that cover. Where Do You Find a Book Cover Designer? First up, where do you source your designer? There are basically five possible answers to that question. 1. You Google “Book cover designer” (or similar) Nothing wrong with that. Do some proper research though: it may well be that the right person for you is on page #5 of a set of Google search results. Remember that Google ranks websites, not book cover design quality! Remember too that designers tend to have specific genres that they’re most comfortable with. So a designer who’s great for upmarket women’s fiction may be awful for genre romance . . . and may not even want to touch space-opera type SF. 2. You Google “Pre-made book covers” (or similar) Same idea, except that here you’ll be buying covers that pro designers have designed for a particular commission, but then not gone on to use. So you can get pro covers for (typically) $49 to $99, some of which are just excellent. A good site to start with is Self-Pub Book Covers. I’m not always convinced they have the best material out there, but they certainly have a lot of it! 3. You Run a Competition 99 Designs offers a design-based solution for your book cover needs. So does Design Crowd. So do others in that arena. The idea here is that you set a prize. Different designers from around the world compete for your prize. You award it to the design you love the most (or pay nothing if none of the designs pleases you.) Don’t low-ball this, though. A bottom-end sized prize will get you bottom-end type entries. And you don’t want bottom end. 4. You Create your Own Design Probably using Canva, or its cooler sister, Colorcinch. Those two tools are, by a country mile, the best design-tool-for-idiots out there. There are plenty of templates, a lot of scope within the free packages, and they\'re fun to play with. So what’s not to like? 5. You Use a Friend or Relative And I don’t mean Auntie Ira, who likes messing about on her laptop now and again. I mean a friend or relative who has actual design skills (as in: makes a living as a pro designer in some way.) All of those options can work. In the rest of this piece, I’m assuming you are actually commissioning someone . . . but even if you use one of the other routes, the basic tips & advice apply in just the same way. Two last comments: Golden Rule #1Get this right! If the first design isn’t good enough, spend more money.Almost good-enough isn’t good enough. Scary, right? Because self-publishing book covers matter a lot, because the quality of competition (from both indies & trad publishers) has increased, and because design processes are necessarily open-ended. But that brings us to the second, and more reassuring rule: Golden Rule #2Your first cover is (nearly always) your most expensive How come? Because that’s where you evolve the look which will apply to all the titles you ever do. So, for example, my book covers are stark black-and-white images, with bright text. The basic look is fixed. The fonts are fixed. The only real variables left are (a) what image to use? and (b) what colour are we going to go through this time. Some of my later-in-series covers have taken just a couple of hours to build at a fraction of the original cost. OK. Preamble done. Now let’s turn to the design guidelines themselves . . . 1. Don’t Be Too Specific Unless you are a designer (and maybe even then), you should avoid thinking that you know what you want. You probably don’t. The perfect book cover will be one that you only know when you see it. If your design brief is hyper-detailed (“I want a kitchen table and a silver coffee pot, and an range cooker in front of a cottage window …”), you really aren’t giving the designer any room to use their best imagination. 2. Don’t Be Too Literal Let’s say your book is called ‘The Parting’, you might be tempted to depict a parting on the front cover. So you might go for two lovers, with outstretched arms, torn apart. Maybe you might even have a tear-line ripping down the middle of the book. That says Parting, doesn’t it? So it must be a good cover, right? Well, actually, no, not at all. It’s way too literal. You need a cover to convey a mood, not a word. So a much better cover would be a cafe table with two seats, but only one cup of coffee. Perhaps one person (a woman, probably) in the shot, but only half seen. And that gives you all you need. The title – which conveys loss – and a picture which in that context tells you something about the post-parting atmosphere. Beautiful, simple – and oblique. Anything too direct will almost certainly feel heavy handed. 3. Do Be Specific About Atmosphere Your cover designer is not going to read your book, so they won’t know about setting, atmosphere, mood, protagonist or anything else, unless you tell them. So let’s take that idea we just discarded (the coffee pot and an range cooker one), a good way of sending the right kind of message to the designer might be as follows: “This book is a quiet domestic drama set in rural Ireland. The protagonist is a 34-year-old Irish woman, living quietly alone in a pleasant rural cottage.” You might even want to offer more texture than that, but you can see what you’re trying to do. You’re giving the kind of guidance that might indeed end up with coffee-pots, range cookers, cottage-windows, but which also might express the same kind of domesticities in a million other ways, too. Give the designer creative freedom within boundaries that you set. The boundaries give you what you want. The freedom gives you the best possible ideas. Here for exampke is just such a cosy/domestic cover that evokes exactly the right ideas, but without the specific images we first thought of. 4. Do Offer Sample Images By all means, include a section in your design brief which says, “The following images evoke the kind of landscape I have in mind,” and then includes let’s say 8-12 smallish images, copied from Google images, which convey the kind of landscape you have in mind. And of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to landscapes. Just offer a collection of the kind of images (cities, people, homes, lakes, whatever) that cover the approximate territory you have in mind. Again, don’t be too specific. Don’t search for the perfect image. For one thing, the perfect image may be copyright and not available for purchase. For another thing, you are the author, not the designer. Give the designer room to breathe. Offering a wider spread of images is a good way to encourage creativity in your designer. 5. Do Mention Authors Who Write in Your Niche If you are writing a quiet Irish-set romance, then refer the designer to a handful of authors who write in the same area. Partly, there may well be designers who know those authors and who will get instantly what kind of book you are writing. But partly, too, any competent designer will head straight to Amazon to see what others are doing. That means that a designer stands the best chance of being able to create a design that acknowledges the current market trends, while adding a genuinely original tweak or two. 6. Do Refer The Designer to Book Covers, in Your Genre, That You Like It will really help a designer if you say, “I like the following book covers”, and include thumbnails of (let’s say) a dozen or so books that you rate. If you come across covers where you really love the image but don’t rate the typography, for example, then say so. It doesn’t matter if you find yourself liking both pale-and-mysterious images for a crime novel, let’s say, and dark-and-bloody ones. If your taste includes both areas, then it’s fine to let the designer know. It’s their job to interpret your guidance to come up with a cover that pleases you. If you try to hard to be consistent in your choices, you are quite likely excluding some possible covers that would, in fact, delight you. 7. Do Include All Cover Text The designer needs to know what elements they have to handle in the cover design. So if you want title and author name and shout line and puff or review, then you need to tell the designer upfront. If you don’t, you risk evolving a brilliant design which then becomes cluttered with an excess of text. (A shout line, by the way means something like this: “In rural Ireland, nobody hears you”. A puff or review is something like this: “Literally a genius.” – Maeve Binchy. Never make up reviews. And remember that jokes which seem funny to you at the time don’t tend to seem funny on the page.) These thoughts bring us to rule 7a: 7A. Keep Cover Text Very Economical Title, fine, but don’t let that title exceed six words or so, unless you want a purely typographical cover. Author’s name, well, yes, you’re not going to leave that off. Shout line or puff: it’s easy to decide to cram text in, but remember that the more text you have, the simpler your actual design needs to be. You can’t have any real complexity in the image if you have a lot of text and for most books, the image should take priority. Note that you’ll see lots of successful commercial covers that do have a fair bit of text, but that’s because they’ve many quotes from major national newspapers. If your text is not equally strong, you probably want to prioritise the image. 8. Be Open to Purely Typographic Covers There are some fantastic text-only covers out there. Against Happiness by Eric G. Wilson is one example (below). If your book could handle a text-only design, don’t write a design brief that blocks that route. If your genre is commercial fiction, you probably need an image. But upmarket fiction and anything non-fictiony can certainly handle a text-only design. 9. Keep the Image Simple – Think Thumbnail Simple images work. Complex ones don’t. Complex ones don’t even work at full-size – but they are car-crashes when seen at thumbnail size. And if your thumbnail view doesn’t work, you will get no eyeballs on your book page anyway. So keep it simple. That means, probably, two main visual elements only: A woman’s coat, plus a flight of steps. Bingo, that’s a cover.A guy’s back, walking away from a burning building. Bingo, that’s a cover.A rowing boat, rocking at a misty jetty. Bingo, that’s a cover. A woman walking up a flight of steps, while a flock of doves fly overhead, a rosebush smothers a garden wall and a pair of wedding rings glint from a silver bowl, shown in inset format … that’s not a book cover, it’s a car-wreck. It’s a total mess and will never work and never sell your book. For an example of the simple, complete cover, try this, for example. No doves, no rosebush, no rings . . . but it works, right? 10. Clichés are Good Well, sort of, since we sort of hate clichés. They’re like a red rag to a bull to us. We will rewrite text a million times rather than allow the merest whiff of cliché to invade our precious text, but that’s the text. On the cover, we love cliché. Or, to be precise, we love the instant communication that the clichés offer. So you can laugh all you like about the familiar clichés of the front-of-store book tables – but if you follow that link, you’ll see that nearly all the covers they’re laughing at are really good covers. Man lurking by fence: yes, a cliché, but what atmospheric covers! Woman in long white dress: yes, a cliché, but what lovely, buyable covers those are! And so on. Clichés work because they quickly (i) identify the type of book, (ii) appeal to the right kind of audience, and (iii) encourage a casual browser to click through to find out more about the book itself. (You’ll also notice, by the way, that the clichéd covers keep it simple, reinforcing our earlier point about the beauties of simplicity.) 11. Be Realistic Nearly all books put out by publishers use stock images from image libraries, that are combined and tweaked and textured and layered in ways that make them look amazing. Your designer will have access to commercial image libraries and should be able to find things that you love that impose no additional cost on you beyond that initial design fee. And a good designer will be able to use those images to create something every bit as good as those produced by a traditional publisher. But that’s all. If you want a hand-crafted illustration by a professional illustrator or painter, you are talking about an investment, plus you are sort of committed upfront. So if you bought £500 or £1,000 worth of an illustrator’s time, you kind of have to use the image that results, even if that’s not really quite the image you had in your mind. Unless you have stupid amounts of money to throw at this, forget about commissioning an original illustration. You don’t need to do that to create a wonderful cover. Most professional covers never use anything beyond stock images. I’ve had more than a dozen books published, and those have typically been published in multiple countries across the world, and not one of those book covers used an original illustration. (Plus, those stock libraries do include drawings, so if you want a drawing of Paris, let’s say, ask the designer to find one. Don’t commission your own.) 12. Don’t Ask Your Cousin, Brother, Aunt, or Friend for Help They probably aren’t professional book cover designers, and this, remember, is the project on which you are now professionally engaged yourself. You can’t say to your them after they’ve spent twenty hours on your cover, “You know what? I know we’ve put a lot of work into this, but on reflection, I don’t think that cover looks right. Do you have any other ideas at all?” And you have to be able to say that. If you feel you can’t, you have the wrong designer. 13. Don’t Please Yourself, Please the Reader You aren’t always the best person to make the final decision on cover, as the book is highly personal to you. Do get the views of other readers, but don’t allow the final choice to be decided by a simple poll. When you get feedback from readers, you need to think hard about how much weight to give each bit of feedback. If you are writing gentle chick-lit, then the views of someone who reads that kind of thing are much more significant than someone who doesn’t. Equally, someone who is trying to please you is much less useful than someone who just expresses their view and doesn’t give a damn about what you think. You want honesty, here, not touchy-feeliness. 14. Demand the Hat I read a book by a sell-a-million-on-Kindle type author, which contained the following anecdote (and apologies for not referencing the book: I just haven’t been able to place the quote). A Jewish grandmother takes her grandson to the beach. He’s wearing his swimsuit, his sunhat and all is well … until he is swept away by a giant wave. The grandmother shakes her fist at heaven and shouts at God, “Have I not been your faithful servant? Have I not kept the law? Raised a family? Honoured you in all that I do? Now give me back my grandson.” Sure enough, the clouds part, there is a rumble of thunder, and a second giant wave deposits the grandson on the beach unharmed. The grandmother inspects her child, then once again yells upwards, “HE WAS WEARING A HAT!” Moral of that fine story: don’t be satisfied until you are really, truly satisfied in every detail. If you have any kind of personal relationship with the designer, you can’t be obstreperous about the very last shade of red in the shout line. And you have to be that obstreperous if you want a perfect book cover. 15. Always Consider the Thumbnail Some designs look great at full size and just dwindle down to nothing when they get to Amazon’s thumbnail view (which is a mere 160 pixels high). Find thumbnail covers you like and figure what works. You need intelligible text, images with clarity. 16. Put the Assignment out to Tender More controversial, but I personally would recommend using a contest-based service to select your designer. The idea of these services is that you put your brief online, and thousands of designers review that brief to see if it’s something that appeals to their creativity. With a good service, you’ll get 100+ designs to choose from. You can rate them, discard them, encourage modifications, and massage your way to a shortlist, then a finalist. Many of the designs you get will be, quite frankly, poor – but unless you really try to low-ball the budget, you should get a slew of really attractive designs from which to make your selection. Services that offer this kind of system include 99designs, Designcrowd, elance and others. There are two huge advantages of this service: (1) you get a massive range of ideas and approaches to choose from, and (2) because you will start working in detail only with an idea that is very close to cooked, from your point of view, you won’t suffer from the don’t-demand-the-hat problem mentioned above. In terms of budget, I would think you should be setting aside about £350 or $500 if you are genuinely ambitious for your work. You can get the job done for less, but your odds of a not-quite-good-enough cover go down the more you low-ball it. 17. The Final Tip And finally. Covers are essential to piquing the reader’s interest, but no book has ever sold well on Amazon unless it tells a good story and is presented properly. If you want to be a professional author (and that includes any indie author who genuinely wants to make sales), you must be even more obsessive about your text than you are about your cover design. That means getting professional feedback on your text and it means making sure that the copyediting is up to scratch (even if it doesn’t quite have to be as good as a professionally published text.) We offer both those services and we are excellent at both things. If you really want to make a go of your book, don’t get a perfect cover that encloses a so-so text. Get both things right. Click for more on our editorial services – and go get yourself a fabulous book. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community.

How to Increase Amazon Book Sales

This post will tell you how to increase book sales on amazon, primarily by using categories and keywords. The ever-rising power of the Amazon Kindle Store in the publishing market offers the possibility of extremely lucrative book sales for self-published writers. However, to get visibility in the Amazon charts, you need to be deadly smart about the categories and keywords (the ‘metadata’) you choose for your book in order to get maximum sales. Luckily for us, guest author and blogger, Dave Gaughran, is here with his many successful years’ experience as a self-published author to explain how you can get the most sales out of your book on Amazon. This is an adapted excerpt from the third edition of Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should by David Gaughran, available from Amazon and other retailers. You can find our own complete self-publishing guide right here and advice on which ebook format to use here, should you need it. Categories And Keywords On Amazon Kindle Why it pays to be smart with your metadata Authors are an impatient bunch. In the eagerness to share our scoundrel rakes and dastardly villains with the reading public, we can often rush through critical steps, and miss powerful, free opportunities for visibility in the Kindle Store — a classic example being keywords and categories. Many writers give little thought about metadata until confronted with the box on KDP, which is hardly the optimal time to be researching keywords and categories. Best to be well-prepared so you are not caught short during a stressful launch. You can rather cleverly “bake in” little bits of marketing and discoverability into your book. This is all that is meant by the somewhat intimidating phrase of “optimizing your metadata” — you’re simply attaching the right pieces of information so retailers know what kind of book it is and fans of that genre can find it more easily. If you are smart about metadata, you can give yourself a huge advantage over much of the marketplace, and increase your kindle book sales on amazon. How To Choose Categories Most publishers — even the largest — have only a rudimentary understanding of Amazon’s store, categories in particular. You often see books from huge authors in sub-optimal categories, decreasing their visibility in the biggest bookshop in the world, and hurting their chances of being discovered by readers, even ones searching for that exact kind of book. Publishers will fail to use all categories available to them or, without drilling down further, will choose something generic like Fiction, which is useless as a category unless you are at the very top of the Amazon rankings. Just choosing the right subcategory for your work can give your book a real head start. You only get two choices when uploading. As I will explain in the next section below, smart keyword picks can get you into additional sub-categories, but they must be related to the categories you pick now, so you must choose wisely. Appearing in the Top 100 of Fiction in the US Kindle Store requires a tremendous number of sales — around 650 in a single day — which will be beyond us most of the time. However, choosing Fiction as a category is a waste for a much simpler reason: electing a subcategory of Fiction will get you into the Fiction category as well. Even if you drill down several levels to choose something like Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Political, your book will still show in all the top-level categories above the one you have chosen (i.e. each of Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense; Thrillers). When you pick something more specific, you are multiplying your potential visibility opportunities rather than restricting them, and more successfully promoting your book. Each one of those sub-categories has a Top 100 of its own, and qualifying on those charts requires a much more manageable number of sales. If your book is doing particularly well, you will appear on a number of Top 100 lists, all of which will bring you new readers. Wherever possible, it’s wise to choose categories in which you can compete. Let’s say you have written a Contemporary Inspirational Romance, more Nicholas Sparks than Fifty Shades. If you pick Romance > Contemporary as a category you will need a rank of #500 or better to hit the back of the Top 100, which is 200 sales a day, or more. It’s a competitive category. But you have alternatives. The competition is a little less tough in Romance > Inspirational, where a rank of around #3,000 will get you into the back of the chart, around 80 sales a day. A little more manageable, and even more so if you drill down to the sub-categories under Romance > Inspirational. A little nosing around the Kindle Store might turn up more suitable opportunities, such as Romance > Clean & Wholesome. Qualifying for that Best Seller list requires a rank of about #10,000 or in the region of 20 sales a day. This is starting to seem more achievable, particularly if you consider what you might be selling during or after a promotion. Also remember that new books qualify for Amazon’s Hot New Releases charts, which are even more attainable. At the time of writing, only one sale a day is needed to hit the back of the Clean & Wholesome Hot New Releases chart. Of course, there’s no point picking a less competitive sub-category if it’s not a relevant choice for your book. Going through potential sub-categories can indicate the relative size of each genre and subgenre, and can also help you identify a category that might provide an easier path to visibility. Be warned, however, that a very small category might not receive a lot of reader traffic. If the lists are small and stagnant, readers may not return to be faced with the same books each time. As a self-publisher, you have just two categories to play with. It can be a good approach to pick one competitive category you occasionally qualify for, and one that is a little less competitive and enables you to always hit the Best Seller list. This way, you have a chance of front-page action in a smaller category, plus you’re covered if you have a good run of sales and start moving up the Best Seller list of a more frequently browsed category. You may wish to freshen up your category choices at some point to hit new readers. Or your sales may increase to the point where you feel confident about charting in those bigger categories, which will naturally attract more browsers and lead to more sales. Alternatively, you may realize you were targeting the wrong readers and need to tweak your approach. It’s always good to have alternatives. Just be careful that your book is a good fit for the categories you are playing with. You don’t want to incur the wrath of romance readers because your book doesn’t have a happily ever after. And if you don’t know what that is… Like virtually all ebook retailers, Amazon gives you numerous category choices when uploading your book or making changes. These are based on BISAC subject headings, which are industry standard. However, it’s extremely important to note that these don’t always reflect the actual categories in the Kindle Store. I could go into this in granular detail but all you need to know right now is that it’s important to first identify your optimal categories by browsing Amazon as your target readers might. But if you want to learn more about categories you can get a free copy of Amazon Decoded: A Marketing Guide To The Kindle Store by signing up to my mailing list. It’s the only place you can get that book at the moment, and you can unsubscribe right away if you wish. How To Choose Keywords The final piece of metadata you need to consider are keywords. Great keywords give two killer benefits. First, you can expand your number of assigned categories. Second, you will appear higher in search results on Amazon. You need to consider both angles. (At this point, you might be considering looking for a publisher instead but, trust me: they don’t know this stuff.) For any given search term entered by a reader, Amazon’s system will return a list of books it considers relevant. Relevancy is determined by a number of factors, including keywords, your book’s title, and subtitle. You may not have too much wiggle room with your book’s title, although, for non-fiction, putting keywords in the title is very important; for example, Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should or Guitar Mastery Simplified: How Anyone Can Quickly Become a Strumming, Chords, and Lead Guitar Ninja. You only get to choose seven keywords, so make sure they are relevant to your book. Try to put yourself in the shoes of one of your target readers, and picture the kind of terms they might enter into the search box when looking for books. Each “keyword” can actually be made up of several separate words as long as you remain within the limit of 50 characters. Try to maximize the opportunities here. You want to increase your categories and cover what readers might search for, although the latter is much more important for non-fiction than fiction. Some examples: my book Liberty Boy is set in Dublin in 1803, in the aftermath of a failed rebellion against the British. It’s a plot-driven historical novel, with some slight literary inclinations. In this case, expanding categories is most important, as historical fiction readers use Amazon charts to browse for new recommendations, and don’t use Search as much to find books. By consulting this list on KDP Help of extra categories, I immediately get keyword ideas. My two primary categories for that book are Historical Fiction and Literary Fiction. I can then expand my footprint by choosing keywords like “18th century,” “19th century,” “politics,” “politician,” “military,” and “love.” I myself can think of things that might be appropriate for the book like “Ireland,” “Irish,” “British,” “history,” “historical novel,” “historical fiction,” “literary fiction,” and so on. We can combine some of those to optimize the space. With that in mind, I might have “historical novel literary fiction” as one keyword and “Ireland Irish British history book” as another. And then I’ll appear for variations of those searches, like “Irish history” or “historical fiction.” You can change these keywords at any time, so don’t worry if it’s not perfect the first time out. With a non-fiction, search becomes much more important — and there are few appropriate categories to add with keywords. Try to make a comprehensive list, then be artful with how you maximize your allotted keyword space. At all times though, only choose relevant keywords. You don’t want to appear to anyone outside your target audience; that only works against you, something I’ll explain in comprehensive detail later. Metadata might not be the sexiest topic in the world, but getting smart about it can give you a real advantage, one that costs you nothing but a little effort. With a pair of well-chosen categories and a set of smart keywords, you will make your book instantly more discoverable and expand your footprint in the world’s biggest bookstore. And it won’t cost you a penny, either. The updated and expanded third edition of David’s Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should is available from Amazon and all other retailers. David has helped thousands of authors self-publish via workshops, blog, and books, and you could be one. Visit to sign up to his mailing list and get a free copy of Amazon Decoded. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Promote Books On Bookbub For Huge Sales

How to get chosen. How to structure your promotion. How to maximise sales across your series. And why servies like Bookbub are great for authors. You’ve launched your book, you’ve accrued some sales, you’ve had some nice comments from readers and then … … Launch sales drop away. You may not have another book out (if you’re me) for another twelve months. It’s not that your books become invisible on Amazon, exactly – you’ll still be kicking around on some sub-bestseller lists, you’ll probably be visible on some Also Boughts – but, no question, your sales drop off to levels that are a pale shadow of what they were. So what do you do? Well, there are a few possible answers to that. After Your Book Launch: Some Strategies Option #1- Quick Release Model One popular answer is: just keep pumping out the books. Bookouture, a wonderful British digital-only publisher, works on a book-every-three-months model. The beauty of that is that no sooner has a reader finished one book by Author X than they can pre-order the next one. (Amazon pre-orders are limited to 90 days, hence the three-month model.) Although Bookouture is the most visible example of such a publisher, the basic model was invented by indies. John Locke, Sean Platt / Johnny B. Truant, Adam Croft, and countless others blazed that trail, or variants of it. And the model works. Each new launch helps build the mailing list and elevates the visibility of the entire series. What’s more, because you accumulate backlist so fast, even if you only make $200-300 per title in a quiet month, your list may be as big as 10-20 titles long. You only have to multiply that out, add in some extra money during those juicy launch months, and suddenly the financial arithmetic starts to look more appealing. Disadvantages? Well, none really, except you have to pump out the fiction and maybe (like me) you feel that you can’t do that and retain the quality. Option #2- Paid Ads So a second popular answer is: advertise the heck out of your books. That’s easier said than done, to be honest. Facebook ads are very expensive these days, and conversion rates have fallen. AMS ads are fabulous value, but can be hard to scale meaningfully. Bookbub’s own advertising platform (ie: paid-for ads, not featured deals) is great but Ex. Pen. Sive. So yes, advertising is still an option. It still works for some authors, some genres, and some titles. But you do need to be very careful with it – you need to become as as skilled at advertising as you are at writing. Option #3- Join Bookbub So a third – beautiful – answer is Bookbub, designed to stuff money into your pockets, and the more the better. Bookbub isn’t so easy to access, and even if you do succeed in accessing it, there are tricks and tools for maximising the value it creates for you. So buckle up, sit tight, and let’s go Bookbub. What Is Bookbub? Bookbub is basically an email service. Readers can sign up (here) for a series of emails that alerts them to high quality ebooks at deeply discounted prices. That’s great from a reader’s point of view – the emails are human-curated, so you are getting some real assurances as to quality and the books are priced at a minimum 50% discount, but are often free or just £0.99/$0.99. Obviously, readers can specify what genres they’re interested in, and Bookbub is smart enough to flex those lists as tastes and interests change. The reason why this service is so great for authors is that Bookbub’s free books email lists are huge. I write crime fiction and Bookbub’s crime emails go out to nearly 4 million crime readers worldwide. Sure, lots of those 4 million won’t read or open every email. And sure, not everyone is going to be interested in your book, but the numbers are still huge. Bookbub reckons that a free crime book should expect around 50,000 downloads. A £0.99/$0.99 one might hit 4,000 sales. In a day. How Does Bookbub Make Money? Bookbub’s service is free to readers, but as an author (or publisher) you have to pay to play. The full data can be found here, but suffice to say that the cost in a popular genre can run into thousands of bucks. If you want to submit your crime novel as a free ebook, it’ll cost you $512. If you want to advertise it as a $2.99 ebook, it’ll cost you a thought-provoking $2,560. How Does Bookbub Make Money For Indie Authors? These numbers are impressive, but the astute indie may be thinking, “50,000 downloads multiplied by no money at all, equals, uh … hang on, that can’t be right.” Even if you price your book at £0.99/$0.99, it’s quite likely that the actual sales made on the day of your Bookbub promo will only just cancel out the cost of buying the promotion in the first place. This might makes it sound like Bookbub is fun as a way to draw attention to your books, but not actually a way to make money. Except it is. Because Bookbub’s numbers are so huge, they basically buy you access to the upper end of Amazon’s sales rankings. And sure, you may or may not make money on the day of the actual promo, but who cares about that? If you’re smart (and have any kind of backlist), you make money by the spadeful in the days and weeks that follow. In essence, Bookbub gives you visibility on Amazon. That visibility brings new eyes to your book page. Not just Bookbub users. Not just your existing readership. But completely new readers. A proportion of those guys buy your book. That’s new readers, new fans, for you. And the day after Bookbub, sure: your sales rank starts to crash back to earth again. But not all the way, and as you travel back down from (say) #100 on Bookbub day to (say) #30,000 or wherever your ‘steady state’ sales rank tends to settle, you will accumulate new readers and new sales. Because most writers eliminate or reduce their discounting post-Bookbub, those new sales will be at full price. And, of course, a good proportion of those new readers will become committed fans of your whole series, so a £0.99/$0.99 or free Bookbub offer could bring in readers who then buy half a dozen books or more at the full £4.99/$4.99, or whatever your chosen price point is. (Need some actual figures on an actual Bookbub promo? Stay with me. We’re getting there.) How To Get Selected For A Bookbub Promotion There’s no real magic here. Bookbub tells you exactly what you need to be considered, so you just need to go ahead and supply it. The minimum requirements are clear enough (listed in full here). Your title, minimum, needs to be: Free or discounted by at least 50%.Error free.A limited-time offer.A full-length book.Available at least in either the US or the UK. In short: you need to submit a book that is a full-length text, at a radically discounted price, which hasn’t been offered for less money over the past few months, and is high quality (no errors!) and widely available (which is code for “not exclusive to Amazon, please.”) In addition, you should certainly also review this advice on how to make your submission stand out. The gist there, quite simply, is you need to make sure you are offering Bookbub’s readers a wonderful, professionally produced text that has already demonstrably satisfied numerous readers. In particular, you should check that: Your book has a classy, professional cover. (More advice here.)Your cover copy (or book description) is classy, inviting, and error free.You have a good number of positive reader reviews for your book or your series. I’d suggest that your entry level ambition should be an average star rating of no fewer than 4.0 and (depending on genre) anywhere from 50 to 100 or more reviews in total. For crime or romance books, you might need to do a fair bit better than that to pass muster.Ideally, you’ll have scored some prize shortlists or awards, or positive critical reviews in nationally recognised outlets, or been a NYT bestseller, or something along those lines. Those things are harder for indies to come by than it is for traditionally published authors, but don’t panic. They’re more of a nice-to-have than a real essential. Great, authentic reader reviews will do just fine instead.You should also aim to have your title available wide, not narrow – that is, not exclusive to Amazon. You should also aim to have your deal global in scope. A flexible promo date also helps with the scheduling. Personally, I don’t think any indie author should be soliciting a Bookbub deal unless they’re offering their work free or at £0.99/$0.99. (Unless it’s a box set, in which case £1.99/$1.99 is OK too.) Bookbub tells you that they won’t offer the same book to their readers more often than once every six months or any book by the same author more often than every 30 days. That’s true, yes, but a bit misleading in bigger genres. If you’re not a Mr John Grisham or a certain Ms Rowling, I’d suggest that you should bank on getting at most two Bookbub deals in the course of a year … or, more likely, just the one. How To Make Bookbub Work For You The key to making these promotions work is twofold. You need to lure people from the book to the series, and you need to expand the sales window from one day to 2 weeks, or even two months. Let me explain. Let’s say you’re like me and you have a six-book series to play with. My standard ‘full’ price is $4.99, and I might want to give the first book away for free. So here’s one way I could do things: The Naked Bookbub Strategy Book #1: down from $4.99 to free. Back to (say) $2.99 post-promo Books #2-#6: $4.99 (no change) That’s fine, except that it doesn’t really do anything to lure Bookbubbers into the series then and there. A lot of them will probably think, “hey, this series looks interesting, but expensive. I’ll read this free book at my leisure and if, in a few weeks time, I want more, I’ll take a look then.” And sure, you will pick up new readers that way, but you’ll get a thin trickle drawn out over a number of weeks, and that trickle will do nothing so great for your sales rank, or your visibility. We’ve reached those Bookbub free-sample types, and no one else. So let’s try running our promo like this instead: The Enticing Bookbub Strategy Book #1: down from $4.99 to free. Back to (say) $2.99 post-promo Books #2-#6: $0.99 (for a few days post-promo, then $4.99) The brilliant thing about this approach is that Bookbubbers are likely to see that the free book is an entry to a whole, wonderful, cheap series, and they’ll fill their boots. Yes, you’re giving the book away free, but you’re making money back from all those $0.99 sales. $0.99 is hardly great, but those are paid sales, which means they boost sales rank, so that by the time you do snap back to full price, your books are going to be a lot more visible than they were before. But it gets better. Because there’s a really obvious extension to this strategy, and one that instantly adds a ton of profitability. The Crafty Bookbub Strategy Book #1: down from $4.99 to free. Back to (say) $2.99 post-promo Books #2-#6: $0.99 on a Kindle Countdown deal (few days post-promo) Then snap back to full $4.99 price. If you’re okay with having your #2-and-later books exclusive to Amazon, then you can jump from a 35% royalty share to a 70% one, simply by synchronising your Kindle Countdown deal with your Bookbub promo. That’s an easy-peasy way to put money in your pocket. It’s like having your very own $100-bill counterfeiting plates. Only legal. And, you know, less likely to land you in a Federal Penitentiary. The Ultimate Bookbub Strategy But it gets better. We said that to make real money from Bookbub, we wanted to achieve two things: Lure people from the book to the seriesExpand that sales window We’ve done that by pricing the rest-of-series books aggressively, and keeping the discount window open for long enough to really boost sales rank and visibility. But there’s one easy – free – way to ramp up the success of a Bookbub promo, and it’s this: you co-promote the giveaway. Sure, Bookbub boasts an email list that’s a gazillion times bigger than yours. But who cares about that? You boast an email list consisting entirely of your readers and ones who already have a personal connection with you. Use that list. Load bullets into that little Email Service Provider gun of yours, and blaze away like a deranged Charlton Heston. Like the end of a Schwarzenegger movie. Or, to say the same thing in somewhat less colourful language, allow me to unveil the Ultimate Bookbub Strategy. The Ultimate Bookbub Strategy Book #1: down from $4.99 to free. Back to (say) $2.99 post-promo Books #2-#6: $0.99 on a Kindle Countdown deal (4 days post-promo) Then snap back to full $4.99 price Email support from your list: Emails to go out Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4 If you like, also a teaser on Day -2, or something like that And sure, most of your readers may have bought most of your books, but only a fairly small fraction of your list will have bought everything. Even committed fans may have missed the launch of #5, or have lost the copy of #2 that they once had on their Kindle. And even if they have got everything, maybe a low-cost sale like this is the moment where they think, “Oh, what a great offer, I’ve got to tell my reader-buddies about this.” In short, if you email your fans to say, “Hey, if you’ve got any holes in your collection, this is the perfect time to fill them,” that’ll seem like a helpful, kind and generous offer. You’re not annoying them, you’re helping them. Meanwhile, the support that Bookbub has given your books gets another kick from the further support that your readers give them. Result: huge sales rank boost, long term visibility gains – and sales. New sales, to new readers, at full price. Why the hooting heck are you even reading this post?I’m gonna guess that you’re an indie author and you want to maximise your returns from your list. But did you know that Jericho Writers is a club for writers just like you? And we have an entire, complete self-publishing course with tons of information in it for writers in your exact position? And that you can get free access to ALL our materials, just by taking out a simple, low-cost, cancel-any-time membership.Your best strategy as an indie? Learn more about Jericho Writers now.Like right now. This minute. Go. Bookbub Series Promotion: A Case Study That all sounds good, right? But you’re an indie author, and I know how your mind works. Talk is all very well, but in the end it comes down to the figures. So here are some figures. I ran a Bookbub promo earlier this year, using essentially the Ultimate Bookbub Strategy described above. The full price for my books is $4.99. My email list at the time was then about 6,000 names, but a good chunk of those related to the UK, where I’ve been traditionally published in the past. I’d say my email list then wasn’t huge – it’s more than doubled since February – but it was committed. My open rates and click rates were always excellent. So. That’s the background. I ran a Bookbub promo, bringing my #1 series title down to free, on February 21, 2017. Here’s what happened: On the day of the promo My #1 title hits the #1 rank in the Amazon free charts in the US. It does the same in the UK. My other titles start to sell like crazy. I’d earned out my $512 Bookbub fee by about midday EST on the day of the promo. Subsequently I had a big kick in sales in February, which was solely because of my Ultimate Bookbub Strategy. I did no other promo activity at all. I didn’t even tweet. March and April: the same thing. That was the tail end of the Bookbub effect. There’s nothing else jigging those numbers around. No new ad campaign. No launch. And, to be clear, those were all paid sales. I’m not taking the free downloads into account. And aside from my #1 series title, my books are exclusive to Amazon and so eligible for KU borrows as well. There was no huge effect in February itself (because Bookbub readers were digesting book #1 before turning to the rest of the series.) But then came a huge surge in March. The effect was still significant in April. And even May was ahead of the “steady state” reader-flow in January. Indeed, if we take January as my “steady state” month, then Bookbub probably delivered the equivalent of an additional 8 new sales-months, and maybe 4-5 new KENP-months. All that, from a one day free promo. That cost $512. In my experience, nothing at all delivers a better outcome than this … aside of course from launching a new book, which has the irritating disadvantage that you actually have to sit down to write the thing. How To Maximise Your Returns From Bookbub Final reflections Posts like this one follow a conventional strategy. Introduce a book-promotional topic (in this case, Bookbub)Outline a basic strategyIntroduce some refinements to that strategyReveal some case-study style dataAnd – ta-da! – job done And whilst posts like this one are useful, and the strategies outlined do really work, they also miss something. The thing that they miss is still the one thing that really, really matters. Think about it: why does our Ultimate Bookbub Strategy work? Bookbub’s giant email list pours gasoline over your sales, and your laser-targeted email-support tosses in a stick of gelignite, but plenty of authors use broadly similar tactics and don’t always see the same results. In the end, the difference between a good Bookbub experience and a dazzling one is simple. Whether readers love your book. That Bookbub free promo put a free sample of my work into the hands of 50,000 readers. Do those readers read beyond the first chapter? Do they read all the way to the end? Do they feel compelled to sign up to your email list? Do they feel compelled to go and buy other books in your series? Or maybe the entire series? The ultimate success of a properly structured Bookbub promo has to do almost entirely with the actual quality of your actual book. And not just the quality of that very first book, but of the entire series. In the end, you can market books as hard as you like. But if the product is duff, the product is duff. So the final moral of this post is the same as it should always be. Write hard, and market easy. It’s more satisfying that way – more satisfying to you, the creative artist – but long run, it’s more profitable too. The best of both worlds. Happy writing. Happy editing. Happy publishing. But don’t leave it there!We created our Jericho Writers club especially for writers like you. Members get access to our super-premium self-publishing course completely FREE. And our crazily popular writing course, completely FREE. And masses of other stuff as well. All free. You can find out more about what we offer and what our club is all about. But remember: we’re writers too, and we built this club for you. Learn more about the club. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Book Launch Plans 2022

Indie and traditionalBasic | Intermediate | Advanced Launching a book is the most exciting moment in an author’s journey, but it’s also the scariest. You only really appreciate the sheer scale of the competition facing you when you’re getting ready to launch your book into the world. And launch is confusing too. There are so many strategies out there, but which one is right for you? You can easily feel that you have to do everything – which is impossible – so you end up feeling like a failure before you even start. So let’s make things clear and simple. We’re going to show you four strategies for how to plan a book launch. They are: New author (first book launch)Intermediate author (third book launch)Advanced author (tenth book launch, let’s say)Traditionally published author Obviously, these strategies are guidelines only. If you have specific assets (a well-listened to podcast, for example), then you’re going to make use of them in cross-promoting, no matter where you are in your publishing journey. Likewise, you have skills and preferences and those need to play a part too. If you just hate tech, you probably aren’t going to get heavily involved in advertising. If you’re great on social media, you’re going to want to be active there. And so on. In short, what follows is a set of guidelines for you to adapt around who you are. If you don’t follow one exact recipe in what follows, that’s not you being dumb. That’s you intelligently adapting an approach around your specific needs. Oh, and yes, I know you want to plunge straight in here, but don’t. The single thing which will most determine the success or failure of your book is the quality of your preparation. If you’re so impatient to get to launch that you’ve rushed your cover, or your text, or any of the other essentials, you’ll simply be leaving a big fat heap of money on the table for someone else to pick up. Think of launch as a bucket where you are trying to scoop up as many readers, fans, sales and reviews as possible. If you don’t make damn sure that bucket is sealed and watertight before you start, you are going to leak readers like crazy. You can work like seven devils and still not be rewarded for all your effort. So before we get to your launch plans, we’re going to run you through a checklist. If you’re solid on all those bullet points, then please proceed to launch. If you’re wobbly on some of the checklist items, then fix those things before doing anything else. Preparation: it’s boring, but it matters. Your Book Launch Checklist So you have an upcoming book, and you feel ready to launch it into the world. Here’s your checklist, organised in rough order of priority. The Essentials This first set of bullets are things that you just can’t compromise on. Yes, you can theoretically publish a book if you haven’t done these things, but you can’t do it well. So for a successful book launch, don’t skimp. Completed text.Professional editorial review. I’ve put this in italics, just because Jericho Writers offers a very high quality editorial service and we have an obvious interest in boosting editorial services. But I’ve been a pro author for twenty years, and I’ve never once launched a book without a third party editorial review. And you know what? My books have always got better. So: yes, I’m biased. And yes, editorial help makes a difference.Copy editing / proofreading. Same thing here. You will need help with copyediting, unless you want your book to go out into the world strewn with errors. We also offer copyediting help but honestly? This is an area where you can save money. If you’re friends with an English teacher, or librarian, or anyone else you trust to read a text very closely and pick up errors, then go with that. You DO need a second set of eyes to review your text. You SHOULD save money here if you can. A few errors won’t hurt anyone.Quality cover. Don’t skimp. Get this right. If you only 95% like the design you have, then go on until you’re at 100%. The first cover you ever make will be the most expensive, because that’s where you’re evolving the strategy for the entire series. Once you have the basic template, your future covers will be easy. But get this right.Amazon book description. Get this right.Categories and keywords. Get this right: an hour or two’s work upfront will pay dividends for literally years to come.Front matter. This is the “Look Inside” portion of your e-book. This is where you convert the curious browser into the brand-new reader. So make sure that the front part of your e-book helps that conversion process. You need to be clear about what your book is, and why someone should read it.End matter. This is so crucial. The platform for all your future launches is the readers you collect from this one. And the place to collect those readers? Is right after they’ve finished your book and are still in a state of focused excitement about it. In particular, the back of your book is the place where you need to (A) offer a free download and (B) solicit reviews.Free download offer. You need to offer your core readers a freebie. The basic offer is, “Hey, do you want a free story / video explainer / set of cheat sheets / anything else?” Not all readers will engage with that offer, but your best readers WILL engage … and you’ll get their email address … and that email list will form the basis of everything else you do.Email collection system. You can’t just offer people a free story (or other incentive). You also have to deliver it. That is going to mean you have an author website with the right technology on it, or you are going to use a third party service (like the ever-excellent Bookfunnel) to collect the email address and deliver the book.Email service provider. You need to be signed up with a Mailchimp or ConvertKit, or some similar company. Those guys are going to collect emails for you, automate emails, send emails, and everything else. If you need more help with any of this, you probably want our monster self-publishing guide, which you can view for free here. If you need more than that (and you probably do), we have an exceptionally good self-publishing course. That course is expensive to buy – because it’s really, really good – so don’t buy it. That course, plus a ton of other incredibly good stuff, is available FREE to members of Jericho Writers. And if you’re serious about your writing, we’d love to welcome you as a member. You can find out more about us and how to become a member right here. The Nice-To-Haves What follows are things that you may well already have in place, or think you absolutely need. Advanced authors are likely to tick every one of these boxes. For newer authors – well, you can’t do absolutely everything all in a single go. So don’t panic. Facebook author page. You need to make sure that your profile picture is 100% consistent with your book cover visuals. You need to add content at least weekly and – this is the important bit – that your content is very narrowly focused on your ideal reader. So if you are writing non-fiction about training dogs, then your Facebook page should be very narrowly focused on that topic, and nothing else. If you have to choose between 100 passionate fans and 1000 people half of whom are there for the freebies or the cute puppy pictures, then choose the 100 every time. The “not all that interested” brigade will ruin your engagement metrics and blur your audience definition. Focus matters. Scale doesn’t – or not nearly so much.Amazon Author Central page. It’s an easy win this one, so you probably want to take care of it. Basically: Amazon lets you build your own author profile on their system. Will it sell books for you? Not really. Maybe a few.Author website with blog. You\'ll notice that I DO think you need an email collection system that works, and for most authors the actual story-for-email exchange will be done on their website. But that’s by far the most important element of any author site. If you also want to blog, then do, but it’s no big deal. If you blog, then see what I’ve said above about the Facebook author page. Narrow focus is much, much more important than just grabbing random sets of eyeballs.Facebook tracking pixel. If you want to use some more advanced ad techniques on Facebook, then you’ll want a tracking pixel on your site, so Facebook (in its incredibly creepy way) can watch when its users visit your site. Even if you don’t use that data now, you probably want to start collecting it, so Facebook can start populating its creepy databases.Twitter. Oh heck. Some people love Twitter. If you do, then you’re already on it. If you’re not, well, maybe you don’t want to be. I don’t think it sells books, so don’t worry. The “Why Bother?” List Somethings that people say you ought to do, you don’t need to do. Including: Your Goodreads profilePrinting flyers / postcardsPress releasesA launch party. I mean that’s fun, and you should probably have one. But you should have one because it’s fun celebrating with your friends. It’s not a serious book launch technique.Book trailer. Not much point here, unless you have a significant YouTube audience, or similar.Giveaways, unless these are very carefully targeted. OK. Checklist all done and dusted? Then let’s move onto three book launch plans, graded according to author experience. We start easy, and build from there. A Book Launch Plan For The First Time Author This is your first book launch. And your first job is to set your expectations appropriately. You will not make much money from this book. You will not reach many readers. You will not get many reviews. You will probably lose money, if you take into account all your upfront costs. All the same, this book launch really matters. This first-of-series book is going to be your little ambassador to the Big Wide World. It’s where the majority of all your series readers ever are going to start. So the quality of the book matters. Ditto the number and quality of reviews. The quality of your cover and book description. And so on. Here’s your book marketing plan. 1. Price This is your first book and nobody knows you. So this is like one of those little bits of cheese they give you as tasters, when they want you to buy the whole damn cheese. It’s free to nibble, but you pay to gorge. In short: price your book free or at £0.99/$0.99. Or yo-yo between those two price points. Or kick the price up to £4.99/$4.99, so when you slash the price to free, it looks like a great offer to readers. At this stage, you’re not looking to make revenue. You’re looking to: Build reviewsPopulate your Also Boughts with the right type of readers (more on that in a second)Collect emails for your mailing list If you tick those three boxes in a satisfactory way, don’t worry too much if your revenue is small to negligible. You are building a platform for the future. 2. Ask For Reviews At the end of your book, include a note to the reader that you would love them to review your book. Tell them how to do it and say how much it means to you personally. Those direct appeals really help secure reviews. Oh, and it probably goes without saying that you should never buy reviews or anything of that sort. Amazon will sniff those things out and send an army of tiny robots to invade your bloodstream and turn your skin yellow. 3. Offer A Free Download We sort of covered this in the checklist material, but it’s so important I’m going to say it again. You need to offer your readers a free download. They get a story (or video, or cheat sheet, or whatever). You get their email address and permission to contact them. This is the rock that stands at the heart of everything else you ever do. Don’t neglect it. Get the details right. You have to make this part work. 4. Friends And Family It’s fine to ask your friends and family to buy your book and leave an honest review, BUT only ask those people who actually like and regularly read your specific genre. If your mother only ever readers slasher-zombie-horror books and you only write Sweet Romance, then her purchase of your romance book will be an active negative. How come? Because Amazon needs to understand who the readers of your book are, and if you start, in effect, saying to Amazon “this Sweet Romance book will be enjoyed by readers of Slasher-Zombie-Horror” then Amazon won’t know how to market your book. Key lesson: A bad sale is worse than no sale at all. Don’t be tempted. 5. Hit Your Email List (If You Have One) Let’s say you’ve already released a free novella via, for example, Instafreebie. That release will give you a list of email addresses. You can and should go to those people and say, “hey, I’d love you to buy my book [or get the free download]. But in particular, I’d really love it if you left a review for me on Amazon. I’m just starting out in my career and those reviews are invaluable for me – and they’re so helpful to other readers too. Thanks so much.” 6. Go Narrow Don’t be tempted by Apple and all those other book stores. You are better off going all in on Amazon. Yes, you lose the (pretty meagre) sales available from Apple and co, but in return you gain access to Kindle Unlimited readers, who may easily make up 50% of your income, or even more. This isn’t even a marginal decision, to be honest with you. When you have 3+ books out and are making $10,000+ in sales revenue, then maybe you have a decision to make. But starting out? Go narrow. You’ll do far better. 7. Don’t Go For Pre-orders Pre-orders stink. Why would you want to drive traffic to an Amazon page that has zero reviews and which doesn’t actually let readers get a book on their devices right now this second? Answer: you wouldn’t. So launch naked. No pre-orders at all, please. (And yes, there are exceptions to this rule, but if you are a newbie, then you’re not one of them.) 8. AMS Adverts AMS – Amazon Marketing Services, Amazon’s own in-house ad-platform – is a great but frustrating ad platform. It’s great, because it’s easy to build ads that convert well and make money. It’s frustrating because the interface is dire and because the ads are really hard to scale. (Unlike on Facebook, where you just have to throw more money at the service.) But still: AMS ads are great for new authors, because they’re cheap and because the sales and reviews will mount up over time. (Also, and this post is in part an overview for what works at the moment, Amazon will surely give AMS a much-needed overhaul as currently, the interface is just embarrassingly bad.) 9. Free / Discounted Book Sites There are sites like Robin Reads, ENT, Freebooksy and others that build large databases of readers interested in free or discounted titles. Those lists are segmented by genre, so if you write Space Opera you won’t be bothering people who only love Cosy Mystery. You definitely want to drop some money on those sites. Get your book right in front of people specifically looking for titles like yours. And yes, those email lists go to discount hounds, but a lot of those discount hounds are looking for a new series to commit to and enjoy, so they want their “taster” experience to be free (or low cost). Thereafter they’ll be happy to pay full e-book prices. Oh yes, and while Bookbub is the biggest discounted book site by a mile, you are extremely unlikely to get access to it at this stage in your career. So start smaller and build up. Expert tip: you probably want to stack promotions if you can. It’s better to drop $300 over several promo sites at the exact same time, than to pay the same money in split promotions. Especially on Amazon, big, bold promos work better than multiple small ones. Expert tip II: Use the great Nicholas Erik for an always up-to-date guide of which book sites are great and which ones are just meh. Get his insights here. 10. Blog Tours, Etc I’ve listed this last on the checklist, because I think it’s optional. I don’t think you get a lot of readers from blog tours, soliciting reviews from bloggers, etc. But – this is your first book. Maybe you just want to get out there and you will get some readers, and those readers are gold dust for you at this stage. So if you want to go for it, go chase around some bloggers in your niche. If you can’t be bothered, then don’t bother – and don’t feel guilty either. Is all this doing your head in? I’m not surprised. There’s a lot to take in and it can seem overwhelming. The solution for most people will be to take a really good step-by-step course that just walks you through the entire process.We have just such a course – here – and it’s superb. Inspirational, practical, and lavishly documented. Trouble is, our course, like all the other good uns on the market, is really expensive. So don’t buy it. That course, and a ton of other good stuff, is available totally free to members of Jericho Writers. If you’re serious about your writing & your publishing, then we’d love to have you join us. All the info you need is right here. We look forward to meeting you! A Book Launch Plan For The Intermediate Author This is maybe your third or fourth book launch. Some of the strategies above are either second nature to you now, or they’ve dropped away completely. (Approaching friends and family is mostly a first-book-only thing. Ditto blog tours and the like.) So for your third or fourth book launch, you’re going to use all of the above strategies – where they make sense – and then add / elaborate as follows: 1. Sophisticated Use Of Email Lists With our first book launch, we just thumped out a “buy my book now” email to the few names we had on our list, and we got what we got. OK, but that was then. Now we have a stronger list, and we can play things a little more cleverly. Because here’s the thing: Amazon likes email-driven sales surges (and drives your book high up the bestseller charts as a result).Amazon LOVES strong and steady sales surges, especially those that continue over four or (play safe) five days. So, assuming that we have a decently performing list of, let’s say, 2,000 names or more, we’re not just going to bang out a “buy my book” email on the day of launch. Instead, we’re going to divide that list into three or four roughly equal slices, and launch emails on day #1, day #2, day #3, with reminder emails to non-openers on days #3, #4, and #5. (Or something like that. The principle is more important than the exact way you choose to implement it.) The resulting steady pattern of sales will signal to Amazon that this book isn’t a one-day wonder. There’s real selling strength behind it. That signal will prompt Amazon to work harder, and for longer, than it otherwise would. This simple, free email strategy remains the most powerful single strategy at your disposal. If you do this well, and little else, you can still achieve great things. 2. Get Reviews From Your Best Readers Once you are developing your email list nicely, you can go to your best readers and offer them an Advance Review Copy of your forthcoming book, in exchange for a review once they’ve read it. You’re not asking them for fake reviews. You want honest verdicts. But crucially, you want anyone with an ARC to post their review within 48 hours of your book being launched. That’s the part that really, really matters. How come? Because with all your activity around launch, the visibility of your new title will never be as high as this again (give or take a huge Bookbub promo, perhaps.) That visibility means that a ton of totally new readers will be finding your work for the first time. And that means, you want to populate your page with reviews as soon as humanly possible. Waiting 30-60 days for the reviews to populate organically will slaughter your conversions at the time when your Amazon book page has its maximum levels of traffic. So get your readers engaged early. And feel free to nudge them. Get the reviews, and get them fast! 3. Series Listings In Your End-matter The best place to sell your e-books? Your other e-books. As you start to build out your list, make sure you go back to the e-books you already have out on sale and list all your titles. Make sure that you include the series number and a very short blurb (50-100 words is plenty) for each book. You also, of course, need to include purchase links for each book with link text that’s more tentative (“Find out more”) than pushy (“Buy now!”). 4. Remarketing Ads On Facebook And Google Both Facebook and Google let you “remarket” to your “almost-but-not-quite” customers. So Google allows you to push ads at people have who have recently visited your website. Facebook does the same, but also lets you market to specific audience groups – for example, people on your mailing list, or people who didn’t open and click your launch email. Because these ads are going to a very warm audience, they tend to have an excellent conversion rate, with good CTRs and low CPCs. Even so, before you start to advertise with any kind of meaningful budget, you do need to test carefully to get the right creative. It remains a lot easier to waste money with ads than it is to make it. Take care! 5. Series-level Promos Now that you have a series of books to play with, you can get a bit more creative with the way you structure your promos. You should no longer think about promoting a book, but about the series. So if you’re launching #3 in your series, you might want to arrange things like this: Book #1. Free promo. Use Freebooksy, ENT, and other sites to promote the freebie. Make sure you stack promos to deliver downloads in the necessary volumes.Book #2. Use a Kindle Countdown deal to earn 70% royalties at £0.99/$0.99. Maybe use some of the other promo sites to support this offer. Maybe try some remarketing ads, using a carousel to display all three of the products you have for sale.Book #3. Launch, launch, launch! This is where you’re going to spend most of your firepower. You’ll use your email list to support the launch, of course, but you’ll probably want to draw attention to the other offers too. The more your whole series increases its visibility in Amazon, the more new readers will pour into your series as a whole, with all the lovely readthrough sales you’ll collect over the long term. 6. Think Kindle Unlimited If you’re still intermediate in terms of sales and list, then you should stick with Kindle Unlimited. It’ll simplify your life, and make you more money. But you also need to have a KU mindset, because the way you make money on Apple/Kobo/etc is different from the way you’ll earn money on KU. The essence of effective Kindle Unlimited marketing is simple. You want to achieve big bursts of visibility. As much visibility as possible, extended over a minimum of four days, but ideally for a week or even more. That extended big-burst visibility will earn you money for weeks and weeks. You’ll see a surge in page reads that dies off slowly rather than fast. Granular, drip-drip-drip marketing techniques cannot achieve this effect. On this model, you’d do much better to have a big budget, 0% ROI promotion that really lifts visibility, than to have a couple of nicely performing little campaigns that achieve decent ROI but don’t really impact visibility. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How to Write a Book Description for Amazon That Sells (Examples & Template)

An easy template | Loads of writing descriptions examples | A flood of sales … You’ve lured readers to your book page. Congratulations. Maybe, your stunning cover art has done it. Or a great title. Or a really well-constructed email campaign. Either way, you’ve got readers where you want them. They’re curious. They’re interested. But . . . they’re also suspicious. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying those potential readers are unusual in any way. Quite the reverse. They’re like you or me. Sure a $2.99 ebook isn’t a huge purchase decision – but a dollar is a dollar, and we value our time, and no one wants to buy a book that doesn’t grab them. And that’s why your book description is so intensely important: a vital member of the Fab Four of sales conversion. A strong description may make a reader buy the book or, perhaps more likely, go to the “Look Inside” feature which gives them more data on which to base their decision. And that really is the task of your book description: make readers click “Look Inside”. If you do that, you’ve won. Keep reading to find out how to write such a description. (Oh, and before we go further, I should say that the basic description writing template we’re about to lay out works for both novels and non-fiction – but it produces very different results in both cases. Bear with me, because we’ll look at both.) The Sales Pathway In fact, if you like to visualise the complete sales journey on Amazon (and excluding a ton of complicating factors), then it looks like this. Amazon Search Page ⇒ Your Book PageKey conversion factors: Cover, Price, Reviews (total number)Supporting cast: Title, Reviews (average rating) Your Book Page ⇒ Look InsideKey conversion factors: Book descriptionSupporting cast: Cover, reviews Look Inside ⇒ Buy NowKey conversion factors: The book itself!Supporting cast: Cover, book description, Reviews, Price Every step of that pathway is critical, except of course that in some cases the book page will push users straight to the Buy Now button. (Although, who actually makes purchase decisions that fast? You do if you’re buying Lee Child #97, because you’re already a keen fan of Lee Child #1-96. You do if you’re buying a “How To” style non-fiction book and you know that this author and this topic will meet your needs. But mostly? Mostly, I think, users want to try before they buy with authors who are new to them, and that means it helps you to visualise your sales journey in three steps, not two.) What Your Amazon Book Description Has to Do So, OK, your book description has to push people into hitting that “Look Inside” feature. That’s the step which defines success. But how do you actually accomplish that goal? How do you write Amazon book descriptions that really sell the book and compel the reader? To answer that question, you have to get a clear read on your who reader is – what their state of mind is. So let’s say, like me, you are a crime novelist. I’m going to assume that you’ve set your keywords and categories correctly. (Not sure about them? Check here for guest blogger, Dave Gaughran’s super-expert guide.) So, if you’ve done things right to this point, your book should start popping up in front of readers who: (a) have come to Amazon looking for a book,ie: they have real purchase intent – they want a crime novel (b) are interested in your genre,that’s how come your work is showing up in their searches, but (c) don’t know anything specific about you or what you’ve written Your great cover and great reviews persuade those people to click through to your book page. And these people are your perfect customers, in the sense that they have an immediate purchase-intent and they want a crime book. But They’re impatientBecause this is the internet, and everyone is impatient.They need information about what you’re offeringBecause you as an author are new to them, and they need help in understanding your product.They need to understand why they should buy your productBecause they need you to answer the question, “What will this book do for me? What will I get from it?” And finally of course: They want to be blown away They want to find themselves trapped in a place, where the only way out is to read your book. (And they probably need to be nudged towards that course of action.) So how exactly do you do it? How do you nudge the reader to set out on a book-length journey with you . . . when you only have maybe 150 words to convince them to take the trip? How to Take The Reader With You . . . In 150 Words or Less We’ve said that readers are impatient (it’s them that set that 150 word limit, not Amazon.) So you have to achieve a lot in a very short space of time . . . and here’s the basic template you need to follow. First, you need (1) to hook your readers in your first or second sentence. Then you need to (2) provide more data about what kind of book you’re offering. (Yes, a crime book, in our example, but police procedural? Or violent gangland thriller? And set in a quiet English village? Or south central LA?) And beyond that, you need to (3) give the reader a sense of what emotional payoff they’re going to get from your book. And that means that your reader actually needs to feel that payoff. Sure, there’s only so much emotion you can generate in a short space, but your readers understand the difference between the trailer and the movie. They understand the difference between the book description and the book. Then finally, (4), you need to nudge your reader towards the next action (either “Buy Now” or “Look Inside”). I’m not a huge fan of really direct calls to action in a book description, but you can still tip the reader in the direction you want to take. So that’s what our description has to accomplish. I’m about to tell you how to do it. Do just note that this is not a complete guide to the art of self-publishing. Luckily, though, we already have one for you, if you want it. It’s right here. Your Amazon Book Description Template The basic template for a book description is: Hook. This is one sentence, maybe two. Ideally, no more than that. If you go for three or more sentences, that can be fine . . . as long as they’re very short ones!Content. In the case of fiction, this will be a mini-story in its own right. In the case, of non-fiction, you will be laying out the substance of the book. In both cases, though, you’ll be answering the “what is this?” question and the “what will it do for me?” one. For fiction, your mini-story should run to about 75-100 words. Non-fictioneers can (and probably should) go long.Climax / call to action. If your main content is a mini-story, you want to end it on a cliffhanger, or a question, or some other place that is unsatisfying to the reader. In that sense, the cliffhanger IS your call to action. You’re effectively saying, “Hey, you don’t like being left in that place of suspense? Well, there’s only one way you can fix that problem, buddy . . . and the ‘Buy Now’ button is right up there.” You don’t even need to say that explicitly to say it. Oh, and the same basic approach works with non-fiction too. We’ll look at both. In terms of length, your climax is probably just one sentence. It could be two, but if so, they’re probably short ones . . . To be clear, that template works for every book. It’s the heart of every successful book description ever. We’re going to go on to look at some specific examples of how that template works out in practice, but before we get there, we have to face one more question. Do you want a very clean, pared-down book description, of the sort that Amazon Publishing generally favours? (One example here.) Or do you want to follow the kitchen-sink model favoured by Bookouture, an outstandingly successful British e-publisher? (One example of their monster book descriptions here – note the huge number of reviews etc included as part of that book description. Personally, I prefer the latter model. I like the ability to hold the reader on “my” part of my book’s web real estate. So I want readers to look at the reviews that I choose to shove under their nose. I don’t want my reader wandering down to look at the “also boughts”. I want them to feel complete before they even reach the end of the book description. But to be clear: that’s not the only method. Amazon, in case you hadn’t noticed, is rather good at data, and if their publishing arm favours a very trimmed-down version of the book description, it clearly works for them. So you can go light, or you can go heavy . . . the one thing you can’t do is mess with that template. The next thing for us to do? See how it works in practice. This stuff is helpful, right?But, you know, there’s a lot more where this came from. We’ve got an entire self-publishing video course, that’s expensive to buy (see details) . . . but which we’d like to give you totally free.And not just that course, but an awesome on on How To Write. And live webinars with literary agents and top book doctors. And an incredible cinema, full of films by writers for writers.In fact, our Jericho Writers club is made for writers like you – and was created by writers like you. We think you’ll be blown away by what we have on offer. To find out more, just Explore Our Club. We’ look forward to welcoming you soon. Your Book Description: Some Examples OK, you want an example of a top quality book description? Well, here’s one from Amazon imprint author, Mark Edwards. Mark writes his own descriptions and Amazon loves them so much, they don’t change a word. Mark opts for a super-pared down description and it works unbelievably well, as you can see. Here’s an example from his BECAUSE YOU LOVE ME. (Here on, or here on Amazon UK.) You can see that the hook / content / climax template is alive and well in that short piece of text. (Which totals just 100 words, by the way. I’d say that 100 words sits at the very short end of what you can get away with. Anything between 100 and, say, 180 words feels about right.) In this case, the hook is simply: “this author is a #1 worldwide bestseller, and if you like stories about jealousy / obsession / murder, you’re probably in the right place.” Works for you? Yep, it works for me too. Notice that that one short sentence has ticked two boxes. It’s said, “here are the themes of the book [so you already know what kind of emotional journey it’s going to offer.” But it’s also said, “And you don’t need to be worried about wasting your $3.99, because I’m a top author and you’re in good hands.” The story here is delivered with extreme economy, but just look what it accomplishes. That first sentence (Andrew meets Charlie) gives us the premise. In effect, that’s the initiating incident right there. In one sentence. Not just that, but you’re given the first uh-oh moment. (“He is certain his run of bad luck has finally come to an end.” You and I known damn well that it’s only just starting.) With the starting position swiftly drawn, the story instantly escalates . . . things missing, a stalker, misfortune, tragedy. The issues start small and build fast. In effect, in the tiny world of this book description, Mark Edwards has succeeded in building a perfectly formed story. What’s more, that little story answers the “what kind of book is this?” question. You just know exactly from the information you’ve been given. But it answers the “what feelings will you have when reading it?” question too. You know exactly what your emotional payoff is going to be. And then the climax / CTA: in this case, a question. Is this woman an angel – or a demon? Notice that you don’t actually need to do anything as crude as say, “Hey, go and buy my book!” That would actually spoil the emotional place you’ve got the reader into. What you’ve done is smarter than just some crude “buy me” message. You’ve engineered a little emotional conflict in the reader. They want to know the answer to your angel / demon question . . . but the only way they can resolve that is to buy the book. Don’t know about you, but that works for me. Different Ways to Deliver Hook Marks’s hook was a neat and uncomplicated one. Basically, “This book is a story about X, and you can trust that it’ll be a good one because I’m a #1 bestseller.” That’s OK if you are a #1 bestseller. If you’re not? Well, there are a million other ways to do it: Social proof. (“Readers are raving about this book. ‘Awesome, gob-smacking.’ Annie J. ‘Breathtaking. I never wanted it to end.’ Jaco R.”)Formal proof. (“The New York Times called this book ‘dazzling’.  The Washington Post said, ‘It’s so good, you’ll want to read it twice.\'”)Question. (“Was she an angel? Or a demon?”)Provocation. (“Finally – a heroine to kick Lisbeth Salander’s ass.”)Comparison. (“If you loved Donna Tartt’s Secret History, you’ll love this tale of darkness, betrayal – and Homer.”)Premise / set-up. (“She was his ex-wife. He still loved her. But why was she driving the getaway car in Chicago’s biggest-ever heist?”)Sales. (“100,000 copies sold in the series. And fans rate this as the best one yet.”) Or whatever! Be imaginative. Use whatever you’ve got. It doesn’t matter what type of hook you use. It does matter that you have one! Different Ways to Deliver Your Climax / CTA Likewise, your climax can operate in different ways. Choice / question. (“Was she an angel? Or a demon? Or – worse still – was she both?”)Suspense / cliffhanger. (“There was only one way to find out. And that was to open the tomb.”)Reminder of social proof / sales / formal proof. (“This is the novel that has sold a bazillion copies / that the New York Times raved about / that readers have awarded 100s of 5-star reviews.”)Comparisons nudge. (“Perfect for fans of Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins.”) Again, it doesn’t really matter what you do; it does matter that you choose to do it. Personally, when it comes to fiction, I think you want to leave your readers in the story. That means the choice / question / cliffhanger ending works better for me than the jump back into “hey, the New York Times loved this”. But that could be a personal thing. Certainly you see plenty of competent indie authors / trad publishers using a whole variety of methods here. One More Example Just to show you how universal this model is, I’m going to give you an illustration from my own work – this one comes from the UK edition of my police procedural, THE DEAD HOUSE. I wasn’t in fact the primary author of this description – I just tweaked a description written by my publisher – but it’s probably the best of the descriptions of my work out there. You’ll see how precisely that description follows our template. The hook delivers a sense of emotion (“Chilling, atmospheric and gripping”), and a proof of quality – here’s top author Mark Edwards bigging the book up. (I’d forgotten, actually, that Mark had plugged The Dead House when I extracted his description above – but he’s a damn nice guy, with excellent taste . . . and he can write quite nicely too!) The story / content builds from the premise (victim’s body found), adds some mystery (who is she? why is she here? what’s with the thin white dress?), then escalates is one more time (another woman went missing). All that in a space hardly longer than Mark Edwards’s super-economical 100 words. And then the climax / CTA follows the template too: a question of the type that crime readers love. In fact – big claim here – if you find ANY good book description on Amazon, you’ll find it follows the same basic template. You don’t believe me? What about non-fiction, you cry? Pshaw, says I, and fiddle-de-dee. It’s true of non-fiction too. I’m going to show you an example of that in just one moment – but first some very important remarks about formatting, and how to make the most of the 4000 character allowance that Amazon grants us for book descriptions. Book Descriptions: Formatting, Length and Additional Content If you’ve been thinking about book descriptions at all, you’ll have noticed that some descriptions make good use of formatting (bold, italics, subheadings, etc), some make wildly excessive use of them, and some make no use at all. About Formatting Although Amazon’s own imprints make almost no use of formatting (and those guys test extensively, so they’re not just being stupid or lazy), my own view is that some good, calm, tasteful formatting adds structure and intelligibility to the blurb. I’m not going to talk in detail about how to insert bold and italics, etc. The short answer is that you use html tags like or to make text bold or italics respectively, and then lose the tags with, for example or , once you want the bold / italics to stop. But that’s not really a complete answer, so: You can read Amazon’s own guidelines here, but better stillThere’s a really easy tool here, which allows you to format your text on screen in a way that you’re happy with. Once you’re happy with the way your book description looks, you just hit “Get code” and the tool will deliver you with the text you can just cut and paste into your Amazon book description box. Simple! I’m happy enough using html tags, but I still use that tool, just because it’s easier to design nice-looking text if you can see what you get, real-time. In short, my advice is DO use formatting, but carefully. I think both my DEAD HOUSE description and the Italian guidebook description we’re about to look at use those formatting tools in a nice, clear, helpful way. But then another question looms. It’s this: do you want your book description to look very short and sweet – like the Mark Edwards description we looked at first – or do you want it to segue from book blurb into a whole pile of reviews and the like? Book Descriptions: Short Versus Long? Compare the Mark Edwards book description here, with this one from Angela Marsons, who is published by hyper-successful British e-publisher, Bookouture. The Angela Marsons one follows our template at the start – so it has a blurb-like blurb with intro / story / climax like all the others. But then it tells us “Readers are loving Dying Truth” and lays out a whole set of reader / blogger / formal reviews. Now there’s something interesting here. If you look at their records over the last several years, there’s a strong case to be made that Bookouture and Amazon are the world’s two best publishers when it comes to publishing and selling on Amazon’s KDP platform. They text extensively and monitor outcomes. But one firm – Amazon – goes for extremely short, unformatted book descriptions. The other, Bookouture, goes for very long, highly formatted ones. Which to prefer? Well, if you have two great firms making quite opposite choices, that says to me that both options work. Personally, I prefer – and use myself – the Bookouture model, of conventional blurb followed by a ton of reviews, but it’s your call. There’s no absolute right and wrong here. Using Formatting to Brand Your Book Finally, do take a look back at that book description for Angela Marsons. Notice the way that the publishers use formatting not just to say “this book is great”, but to ram home their key marketing messages for the book. So take this bit from the book description: ‘Just wow. This is police procedural at its best…It is complex, intriguing, and the writing hooked me in completely. I read the majority of this book in a few short hours not pausing for breath’ (5 stars) Rachel’s Random Reads That quote (and use of bold) is reminding the reader that this book is a police procedural. In other words, it’s sending out the not-so-subtle message to readers who like police procedurals that this book could well be for them. So the perfect reviews to select for your book description will be ones that (a) say “this book is great”, but also (b) reinforce your basic message of what this book is and what the emotional payoff will be. In effect, any reviews you include at the bottom of your book description should say, “You know that implicit promise from the blurb? About what you can expect to get from the book if you buy it? Well, trust me, buddy, this book will more than deliver for you.” So the blurb part of the book description delivers a promise, and the review part of it affirms that other readers / reviewers consider that promise to have been met. That’s a template that I personally like very much and use for all my self-published work. Has This Been Helpful? Before you leave this page – and just before we get to that long-promised non-fiction book description – may I ask you a question? It’s this: Has this page been helpful? And, because you’re an indie author, what that really means is: Will you make more sales by using insights from this page?Will you develop your career?Will you look like – and be – a more professional author? I’m really hoping that the answers to those questions are yes, yep, and you betcha. In which case – why stop at one blog post? Why not go the whole hog? Because – did you know this? – we have an entire course on self-publishing that tells you everything you need to know in incredibly clear detail. It’s fun. It’s engaging. It’s comprehensive. And it will get you from zero to sixty in no time at all. Basically, it’ll cut out all the mistakes and get you on the road to indie-dom fast and properly. And yes, there’s a catch. But, panic ye not, there’s a way to sniggle your way past that catch without being snared. So the catch is quite simply price. The course is a super-premium course and it costs hundreds of dollars to buy. (You can view the course outline in full here.) The price makes sense. You get 13 full length videos, plus a ton of bonus material too. Those videos come with full, extensive PDF-downloads, so you have notes on every topic at the click of a button.  Unless you are a super-sophisticated indie author already, this course WILL make you a better, richer, happier author. It’ll basically cut out all the mistakes and trial-and-error decisions, and put you on the road to success. But it’s expensive. So what to do? The answer is: don’t buy it. Rent it. If you become a member of Jericho Writers, you get all the learning material on this site FOR FREE. All of it. There’s no limit to your access. So you can gobble up that video course, and all our self-published filmed masterclasses, and all our material on how to write, and everything else besides, and not pay one dime over your monthly membership fee. You can learn more about Jericho Writers here or just sign up here. What’s more, our membership is cancel-any-time, so you can just sign up, help yourself to whatever you want from our learning tools, then quit. We’d love it if you stayed, but if you don’t want to, that’s fine too. We’re writers ourselves and we’re here to help. Non-Fiction Book Descriptions – Also Formatting, Length & Reviews The thing about non-fiction, is that you still need the hook, to draw readers into your page. You still need the springboard-style lift So here, for example, is the book description from Rick Steve’s Italy – a guidebook that I’ve chosen to complement the beautiful images of the Italian landscape that adorn this post. Notice the enticing intro, the meaty content, and what is effectively a call-to-action right at the end. Notice too the clever way this blurb moves from standard guidebook stuff (“top sights and hidden gems”) to things that make you start visualising yourself in Italy with this book in your pack (“Over 1000 Bible-thin pages”). That’s the whole book description template in (beautifully formatted) action, right? In fact, I hope that you can see our book description rules are basically universal. If they can cover dark crime fiction like mine / Mark Edwards’s / Angela Marsons’s AND a standard-issue Italian guidebook, then they just have to work everywhere, right? So go write your book description, entice those readers and grab those sales! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community.
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