Monthly Archives: June 2018

Pay-per-click (PPC) Advertising (T-Shaped Marketing for Authors Book 5) … an excerpt

Enjoy this excerpt from the upcoming fifth installment of the T-Shaped Marketing for Authors mini ebook series. Coming soon to an e-reader near you…

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Much like Google AdWords and Facebook, LinkedIn PPC campaigns are run as auctions. Advertisers like you place a bid to pay a certain dollar amount (e.g., $2.25) per click on selected keywords or criteria; your prize for winning the auction is effective ad placement on whichever platform your ad appears. Yet, there is more to winning a PPC auction than just placing the highest bid. Nine times out of ten, you’ll end up paying even less than you bid as these sites will only charge you whatever price per click was necessary to win the auction, and that price is based on many factors including the amount of competition involved and the overall effectiveness of each bidder’s ad.

LinkedIn PPC Targeting Criteria

LinkedIn PPC advertising is much better suited to non-fiction books than fictional novels because of LinkedIn’s audience and that of the LinkedIn Audience Network as a whole. As of writing time, your LinkedIn targeting criteria is limited to:

  • Geographical regions: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America, and Oceania (of which you can drill down to your choice of the countries and cities that you wish to “include” or “exclude” from your campaign).
  • Other business-related criteria: company name, company industry, company size, job title, job function, job seniority, member schools, field of study, degrees, member skills, member groups, member gender, member age, years of experience, company followers, and company connections.

Once you’ve made the above choices, you can the select your bid type: cost per click (CPC); or, cost per mille which means the cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM). CPC is the best choice to make when you want to drive more sales whereas CPM is used when your sole purpose is to drive top of mind awareness (TOMA) of your brand. I personally always choose CPC because my goal with PPC advertising is first and foremost to sell books, and I believe CPC also achieves TOMA over time. Two birds, one stone … as the saying goes.




The Price of an Affluent Audience

From there, you will choose your maximum daily budget and your CPC or CPM bid for the criteria you chose earlier. Although you can start your bid as low as $25 per day and $2 per click, you’ll most likely end up paying more on this site to get any significant results. LinkedIn PPC campaigns tend to be more expensive than Google AdWords or Facebook. Some will say it’s because you’re paying for exposure to a more affluent business audience. Here’s another way to look at it according to JD Prater, author of “How Much Do LinkedIn Ads Cost? [New Report]” on the AdStage blog:

…LinkedIn boasts more than 500 million users, which is impressive but still limited compared to Facebook. With a limited supply of ads coupled with growing demand, the auction is getting more competitive, which means advertisers will pay more to enter.

…Hanapin Marketing conducted a paid social survey asking marketers where they plan to increase and decrease budgets in 2017. They found that 43% of marketers were NOT investing in LinkedIn Ads. However, 39% advertisers planned on increasing their ad spend within the following year. It looks like LinkedIn Ads are delivering results for certain companies, which is leading to budget increases. (Prater, n.d.)  

The anatomy of a LinkedIn PPC ad is similar to Facebook in that you can include an image, a punchy headline, some brief ad copy, and a link to your desired landing page. All these elements are important; but some would say the image is the most critical element. Igor Belogolovsky reports the following in his article for the Kissmetrics Blog:

Hot tip: According to LinkedIn’s own optimization team, choosing a photo of a woman typically drives the best clickthrough rates. Only use your business logo if you’re trying to build brand awareness. Don’t have too much going on in your photo — remember, it’s a small thumbnail and you have a lighting-quick opportunity to draw the eye to your ad before, poof, it’s gone. (Belogolovsky, n.d.)

If this is to be believed, then female authors may want to include your author picture in your LinkedIn PPC ads; male authors may want to include your eye-catching book covers, instead. Whatever you decide, make it stand out. Put yourself in your audience’s place. What would grab your attention? Before designing a book cover, I always recommend to my authors that they should browse the section of the bookstore where their books will one day appear and see which covers stand out ahead of the rest to them; use that data as the starting point for their own designs. I think it’s a great idea to do the same thing with PPC ads. Log into LinkedIn and view the ads on your page. Take note of what appeals to you most. Use that for inspiration.

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I hope you enjoyed that little excerpt. Watch for the book this month on Amazon, Kobo, and E-Sentral.



Hiring a Fiction Editor, Part Two

Marnie Lamb

2. Set a budget.

Hiring a professional editor is expensive. As with hiring a professional contractor, working with an editor will cost at least a few hundred dollars and possibly up to several thousand, depending on the service and the amount of work your manuscript requires.

Some editors charge a flat, per-job rate. One benefit of this approach is that both editor and writer know exactly how much the job will cost from the outset. However, from an editor’s perspective, a flat rate can be problematic because it requires her to estimate the time involved in editing a manuscript, including time for administrative duties. Even for experienced editors, estimating is an imprecise science, particularly if the editor and writer have never previously worked together. To guard against over- or underestimating, some editors present a range of fees, with a minimum and maximum.

Other editors bill by an hourly rate. This is often easier for the editor because it saves him the conundrum of estimating. Yet for the author, an hourly rate can be risky because the ceiling price is unknown. You can try to negotiate for a flat rate instead, but be aware that some editors won’t agree to a per-job rate. I once had an editor tell me that she didn’t believe in flat rates. Her perspective was that her time was worth a certain amount per hour, which is completely valid.

So what are the average hourly rates charged by editors? On its website, the Editorial Freelancers Association in the United States provides a chart of common rates. Copy editing starts at a rate of US$30 per hour, substantive editing at US$40 per hour (see https://www.the-efa.org/rates/). Editors Canada does not publish suggested rates, but I can share anecdotally that most Canadian editors will charge rates comparable to those of their American colleagues.

Two points mentioned in part one of this article are relevant here: First, a manuscript page is usually defined as 250 words (though for proofreading, this number is closer to 400 or 500 because a formatted page will be single spaced). Second, Amy Einsohn generalizes that copy editors work at a pace of anywhere from one to nine pages per hour; Editors Canada estimates the editing pace for structural or stylistic editing at one to three pages per hour (see https://www.editors.ca/content/what-do-editors-charge). If you multiply the number of hours needed to edit the manuscript times the hourly rate… well, you can do the math. Flat rates won’t necessarily be cheaper because they are based on the editor’s hourly rate times the number of hours that she thinks the job will require.

Don’t forget about tax. Like hairdressing or repairing cars, editing is a service for which practitioners can charge tax. In Canada, once an editor has earned an annual total of C$30,000 per year from his editing business, he must register with the federal government to obtain an HST number. Thereafter, he is required to charge tax for his editing services. Some editors choose to apply for an HST number even before they’ve hit the minimum threshold of earnings. In Canada, a Canadian editor working with a Canadian author will charge federal tax based on the province in which the author resides. Hence, an Ontario-based editor will charge 5% tax (GST) to an author who lives in British Columbia but 13% tax (HST) to one who lives in Ontario.

As you can see, a budget of $400 will not suffice in most cases. Unless your manuscript is short, has already been through a critique and several substantive edits, and requires only a light copy edit, which is not the case for 99% of manuscripts, you’re better off spending that $400 on a writing course or a writing coach.

3. Research editors with whom you might want to work.

Researching an editor’s specialties and contacting only editors whose skills and interests match your needs saves time for both writer and editor.

An excellent way to find editors is by using the free Online Directory of Editors (ODE) from Editors Canada (https://www.editors.ca/ode/search). (In the United States, the Editorial Freelancers Association has a similar directory.) The ODE lists each registrant’s editorial skills (e.g., copy editing), media or genre of specialty (e.g., fiction), and subject fields in which she has worked (e.g., family). You can choose from a drop-down menu in any or all of these three areas or type keywords into a general search bar. One word of caution: Searching for a skill, media, and subject field all at once will show you editors who have experience in all these areas but who don’t necessarily have experience in the intersection of these areas. That is, editors who come up in a search for “copy editing,” “fiction,” and “family” may not necessarily have copy edited fiction manuscripts about families.




Therefore, it’s wise to conduct further research by reading the profile statements and looking at the websites of editors who pop up in search results. For example, my ODE entry includes substantive editing as a skill. I have experience substantive editing journal articles, grant applications, and resumes. While I enjoy this type of editing in certain contexts, I’ve chosen other editorial services as the focal points of my business. My website showcases these services, including manuscript evaluation and copy editing. If you’re seeking substantive editing for your manuscript, contacting an editor who lists experience in “substantive editing” and “fiction” is completely fair. But because those terms are likely to yield dozens of potential candidates, digging into the backgrounds of some candidates should help you narrow down the list to those editors who are the closest matches.

If you’re interested in hiring an editor to undertake multiple types of editing, as some self-publishing authors are, then be sure to look for editors who can handle all the kinds of editing you need (e.g., structural editing, stylistic editing, and copy editing).

While you’re digging into an editor’s background, double check whether his ODE entry and website contain spelling or grammatical errors (surprisingly, I’ve found a few). Also consider how long the editor has been in business and what sort of testimonials he has garnered.

When you’ve decided on a group of editors to whom you’d like to reach out, limit your first round of emails to no more than five or six people. Emailing thirty editors is tantamount to sending the same resume and cover letter to thirty employers: the broader the target, the less likely you are to hit the bullseye. If the first round of queries doesn’t yield a hire, embark on a second round, again of only a few people.

4. Craft a detailed introductory email and prepare a sample from your manuscript.

Write a detailed, courteous (see point five) email introducing yourself and your manuscript and answering the questions I posed in part one of this article.

During the initial negotiations, an editor may request a short sample from your manuscript (perhaps ten pages) so that she can assess which type and level of editing are required and how long the job will take. Although you should have a sample available before contacting an editor, don’t send your sample when you first reach out to her. Don’t presume that an editor has the time or desire to read your manuscript. Remember that at this point, you’re only querying. You and the editor haven’t yet agreed to collaborate. Also, many people will not open unsolicited attachments from unknown individuals, and emails containing such attachments may end up in the receiver’s spam bucket.

If you have a deadline (e.g., you’re writing a family memoir and want it completed for a relative’s eightieth birthday), by all means share that with the editor and make it a parameter of your agreement. But in that case, plan ahead. Editors can’t necessarily accommodate a quick, urgent turnaround. The more experience an editor has, the more likely he is to be booked weeks or even months in advance. If you procrastinate and then want your manuscript edited immediately, you might get lucky and locate an editor who has the right credentials and is available right away. You might have to compromise by hiring someone whose experience and background are not exactly what you’d been seeking. Or you might have to jettison your original deadline to respect your chosen editor’s availability.

5. Be courteous in all your interactions and give each editor a final response.

Editors talk. We have associations with conferences, monthly meetings, and email discussion groups. Many of us are friends as well as colleagues. If you’re sending out a slew of emails that sound unprofessional, suspicious, or generic, editors might pass on this information to one another as a warning (e.g., “Has anyone else received an email from a guy looking for an editor for his 200,000-word manuscript on a rebellion by Martian dry cleaners?”). The greater the number of editors who are contacted, the less likely each particular editor is to be hired for the job. Hence, many editors don’t want to spend time responding to queries that sound as though they’ve been sent to dozens of other editors (failing to include the editor’s name in the salutation screams mass email). If your query falls into this category, you might find yourself receiving a lot of nos or no responses.

It’s astonishing how many people lack basic email etiquette. Often, I don’t receive a final response from writers who have queried me about editing their manuscripts. I’m fine with not being hired. The editing market in North America is a free one, and writers are at liberty to choose whomever they’d like to work with. Both writer and editor must be comfortable with their mutual arrangement. If a writer feels that I’m not the best match for her, then our working together is not a good idea. But I do get a bit grouchy when I’ve taken the time to correspond with and offer advice to a budding writer, only to have that person go silent and leave me dangling.

So regardless of whether you hire a particular editor, if you’ve corresponded with that person, be sure to thank her for her time and let her know your decision. Editors are busy professionals, and any time spent corresponding with you may not be billable even if the editor is hired and is definitely not billable if she isn’t. So be grateful that you’re getting free advice and respond accordingly.

6. Recognize what an editor can—and cannot—do for you.

An editor can provide an honest, unbiased, professional assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript. An editor can offer practical suggestions for improving your manuscript. An editor can help you make your manuscript the best it can be.

Note the word “help”: the onus is still on you. An editor can provide an insightful manuscript critique, but if you choose to ignore parts of it, that may result in the manuscript not realizing its potential. Likewise, an editor can suggest edits to a manuscript, but you have the final say as to which ones you accept. Certainly, you should act on and accept only critiques and edits that make sense to you and with which you’re comfortable. But be aware that rejecting too many of the editor’s ideas defeats the purpose of having hired an editor in the first place.

An editor cannot guarantee that a traditional publisher or agent will accept your manuscript. While having an editor assist you is likely to increase your chances of getting published, it’s important to understand that an edited manuscript offers no promises. Many other considerations, mainly surrounding the marketability and potential sales of a book, come into play in a publisher or agent’s decision to accept a manuscript. Be suspicious of any editor who makes promises about your manuscript being published—unless he owns a publishing company and is telling you that he will publish the manuscript himself.




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You may be thinking that hiring an editor seems like a lot of work. Perhaps, yet consider this: How many years of work did you put into your manuscript? Surely, your manuscript is as important to you as a kitchen renovation, so why not take the same amount of care in finding the right person to help you take your project to the next stage? Even if you plan to self-publish and don’t need to worry about polishing a manuscript to please a publisher, think of your readers. You have only a single chance at that all-important first impression. Do you want a weak structure, confused paragraphing, and multiple typos to be part of that impression?

Lest you think that all of this advice is coming from the perspective of an editor only, let me share a personal story. Ten years ago, I was a published short story author who had a book-length manuscript, a young adult novel. The manuscript had grown out of the thesis I wrote for my master’s degree in creative writing. I’d been shopping the manuscript around to publishers without success and wanted an honest, non-academic perspective on the story. After searching the ODE, I found an editor and hired him to conduct a manuscript evaluation. His enthusiastic feedback confirmed that my manuscript had value outside of an academic institution. The evaluation included a few suggestions for structural improvements, which I implemented myself.

Several years later, after having sent the manuscript to several more agents and publishers to no avail, I heard that my manuscript evaluator had started his own publishing company. Resubmitting my manuscript to him in the hopes that it would be published seemed like fate. Last spring, The History of Hilary Hambrushina was published, after an eighteen-year journey from academic thesis to published book.

My story is proof that working with an editor can be a rewarding experience that ultimately results in success in finding a publisher. I hope that it will inspire you in your own publishing journey.

Happy editor finding!

© Marnie Lamb

Marnie Lamb is a Gemini incarnate: half writer and half editor. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in Journey Prize Stories 25 and various Canadian literary journals, including filling Station, The Nashwaak Review, and The Dalhousie Review. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, was published by Iguana Books in the spring of 2017. She pursues her other love, editing, as the owner of Ewe Editorial Services, which offers copy editing, manuscript evaluation, indexing, permissions and photo research, and proofreading services. When she is not writing or editing, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out fashions—preferably ones with polka dots—at Toronto’s One of a Kind Show.

Hiring a Fiction Editor, Part One

Marnie Lamb

As a freelance editor, I receive queries from aspiring authors seeking editing for their book-length fiction manuscript. Getting a book published, particularly with a traditional publisher (as opposed to a hybrid or self-publisher), is even harder now than it was a decade ago. More and more, publishers and agents are seeking polished manuscripts. If you’re an author, working with a professional editor can improve your chances of having your manuscript accepted for publication. However, simply requesting “editing” in your email query without further specification is similar to saying, “I want some renovation work done on my kitchen, but I don’t know what type of renovation I need or what my budget is.” Just as a kitchen can be renovated in many ways, a manuscript can be edited in many ways.

Many authors don’t have a strong sense of what occurs between a manuscript’s acceptance and its appearance on a bookstore’s shelves or website. And why should they? The publication process is not a basic subject of a secondary-school or university education. When I launched my editing career in earnest, I was a published short story writer with three university degrees in English literature. Yet until I began taking editing courses, I didn’t know the difference between a copy edit and a proofread. But having basic knowledge of the steps in the publication process, including the different types of editing and their order in the process, will serve you well if you’re contacting an editor. The more specific you are about what you want for your manuscript, the more an editor will be able to help you and the more likely you’ll be able to choose the right editor for the job.

Let’s look at a typical first email from a budding writer looking to hire a fiction editor: “Hi, I’ve just completed my first novel. It’s 100,000 words, and I’m looking to have it edited. What you do charge?”

Now let’s break down the problems with this email:

I: Who are you? What is your background as a writer? Do you have a degree or certificate in creative writing, or have you taken any courses in that area? Do you have publications or a website? Granted, many writers seeking editing are first-time authors without a lot of credentials or an author website. But providing even a few details about your writing background is a helpful clue to the editor about what type of editing you might need (e.g., “I’m a yet-to-be published author who has just completed the novel writing workshop at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies”).

My first novel: What are the title, subject, and genre? Whom do you envision as the audience? How would you summarize your story in a sentence or paragraph?

100,000 words: This is a good start, but word count is only one chapter in your manuscript’s story. What is your manuscript’s history: How many people have read it? Are they experienced writers or other professionals who regularly assess creative writing and who have no emotional connection to you, or are they your family and friends? How many drafts has it gone through?

Edited: What kind of editing are you seeking? What is your goal for your manuscript? Are you looking to self-publish it or submit it to a traditional publisher or an agent?

Charge: What is your budget? Do you have a deadline for completion of the editing?

As you can see, the initial email is vague. It doesn’t provide an editor with enough details for her to determine whether she’s even the right person for the job, let alone whether she’s interested in undertaking it. When I receive such emails, I respond requesting the missing details, particularly the type of editing that the writer is seeking. Many writers come back with quixotic ideas like “I want the prose to sing” or muddy direction such as “I want the book to be a good read.” But these statements don’t give an editor any sense of what the writer actually needs.




You don’t have to provide an editor with answers to all the questions I asked above, but you should at least be able to talk about your manuscript’s history and your goals for your manuscript. Teasing out such details is time consuming for everyone involved. So in the interests of saving time, frustration, and potentially miscommunication, here are some steps you should take if you’re considering hiring a fiction editor.

1. Determine which type of editing you need.

To return to the kitchen metaphor, let’s say that you’re selling your house and you want to update the kitchen (the manuscript) to entice potential buyers (publishers and agents). Each type of editing represents a different type of renovation. For a fiction manuscript, these are the potential types of editing, in the order in which they need to be completed.

Manuscript evaluation: A manuscript evaluation is a ten-to-fifteen-page critique of a book-length fiction manuscript. The critique focuses on areas such as plot, structure, characters, dialogue, setting, and writing technique and style. In our kitchen metaphor, a manuscript evaluation is the equivalent of a contractor, designer, or realtor looking over your kitchen and making a list of suggested improvements. That person doesn’t make the improvements. Rather, he itemizes what he thinks the kitchen needs and you decide which items to act on.

While not an absolutely necessary stage in the editing process, manuscript evaluation is highly useful for most writers. If you haven’t had your manuscript critiqued by an editor or writing instructor, taken a writing course, or been part of a writing group, I strongly recommend that you begin with a manuscript evaluation. Writing is like any other skill: it’s developed in part by having people critique your efforts. This critique is particularly valuable to those who haven’t studied the craft of writing, either formally or informally. Even if you have had a writing teacher or fellow participant in a workshop read your manuscript, obtaining a second (or third or tenth) opinion from a dispassionate source is wise. If nothing else, an evaluation will show you the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript, which will help you decide whether you want to proceed to the more costly and time-consuming steps that follow in the editing process.

In Canada, manuscript evaluation has standard rates. The Writer’s Union of Canada, which offers a manuscript evaluation service performed by anonymous reviewers, charges C$125 for the first ten pages of a manuscript (in publishing, a manuscript page is usually defined as 250 words) and then $2 for each subsequent page.

Structural or substantive editing: Structural editing refers to big-picture editing of both content and form. Structural editing is the equivalent of adding or removing walls, building an extension, and reinforcing floors. Unlike manuscript evaluation, structural editing addresses all structural problems, rather than merely pointing to the biggest ones. Once your manuscript has been evaluated, it will most likely need at least some structural editing. Alternatively, you may decide to skip the evaluation and instead hire someone to help you with the structural editing. This editing could comprise a total tear-down or just a few well-placed tweaks. Depending on your arrangement with the editor, she might suggest the changes or make the changes herself.

Stylistic or line editing: This type of editing involves combing through a manuscript line by line and smoothing paragraph and sentence order and construction, clarifying unclear wording, and eliminating wordiness. The kitchen renovation equivalent is adding or removing cabinets, replacing appliances, and retiling the kitchen floor.

Copy editing: Copy editing is what many people think of when they hear the word “editing”: checking and correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and word usage. For the kitchen renovator, this equates to updating the wallpaper or paint, installing a Lazy Susan in a cabinet to ensure that pots and pans are easily accessible, and recycling that rickety chair that you’ve never gotten around to fixing.

Proofreading: The final step in the editing process is proofreading, which involves reading text after it has been placed in its final format. A proofreader double checks page numbers, ensures that design specifications have been followed, and fixes typographical and formatting errors and any flagrant mechanical booboos missed by the copy editor. In our kitchen metaphor, this amounts to buying matching cushions for your chairs, ensuring that cabinet handles are not loose, and replacing your rustic cutting board with a sleeker model to complement the kitchen’s contemporary look. Proofreading is frequently confused or conflated with copy editing. Unless you’ve already found a publisher and your manuscript has been put through page-layout software such as InDesign and a PDF file generated, you’re not looking for proofreading.




For all types of editing other than manuscript evaluation, keep two points in mind. First, there are different levels of edit: heavy, medium, and light. The heavier the edit, the longer the task will take. For example, in The Copyeditor’s Handbook, Second Edition, Amy Einsohn estimates that a copy editor typically works at a rate of four to nine pages per hour for a light copy edit, two to seven for a medium edit, and one to three for a heavy edit. (These are generalizations. Many factors, including the number of words per page and the complexity of the material, influence an editor’s pace.) Second, the rates for editing services vary, depending on the type of editing and the amount of time the edit takes. I’ll talk more about rates in part two.

The biggest error that most writers make when contacting an editor is assuming that their manuscript is at a later stage than it is. Most writers need manuscript evaluation or substantive editing; their manuscripts simply aren’t ready for copy editing. You wouldn’t update the wallpaper on a wall that you might end up removing. So too is it illogical to copy edit a manuscript that needs substantive editing. Your manuscript could be edited to have sterling spelling, gorgeous grammar, and perfect punctuation. But if the manuscript contains chapters or paragraphs that are confusing, repetitive, or tangential, they will need to be reworked or even cut from the story before publication. Then the sterling spelling, gorgeous grammar, and perfect punctuation—and the expense of paying for them—will have been for nought.

If you’re uncertain about what your manuscript needs, don’t fret. You can still approach an editor, giving him some sense of what you might need (e.g., “I think I need substantive editing”). Editors will appreciate the fact that you’ve tried to understand the terminology.

Regardless of the type of editing you’re seeking, you should have a complete manuscript, at least a first draft, if you’re approaching an editor. You can’t renovate a kitchen that exists only in theory. If you’re seeking help with a first draft that is still in progress, you’re looking for a cowriter, ghostwriter, or writing coach, someone to help you write the book, which involves a different skill set than editing. While some editors may offer these services, they are not editing services.

For more details about the various types of editing, visit the Editors Canada website: https://www.editors.ca/hire/definitions-editorial-skills.

© Marnie Lamb

Marnie Lamb is a Gemini incarnate: half writer and half editor. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in Journey Prize Stories 25 and various Canadian literary journals, including filling Station, The Nashwaak Review, and The Dalhousie Review. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, was published by Iguana Books in the spring of 2017. She pursues her other love, editing, as the owner of Ewe Editorial Services, which offers copy editing, manuscript evaluation, indexing, permissions and photo research, and proofreading services. When she is not writing or editing, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out fashions—preferably ones with polka dots—at Toronto’s One of a Kind Show.

BookShots: The Hachette vs. Amazon Truce?

A few months ago, I published How to Build a Loyal Readership So Your Self-Published Books Get Picked Up by Literary Agents and Trade Publishers which highlights a few highly successful independent authors who are using “rapid release” publishing (among other tactics) to sell thousands of books online. Many of them are earning six-figure incomes. One of the early pioneers earned seven figures in her first year. I’ve since come across an article from 2016, titled “James Patterson Has a Big Plan for Small Books,” discussing how one of the world’s most famous trade-published authors is using the same tactic to sell more books to an extended audience:

…Mr. Patterson is after an even bigger audience. He wants to sell books to people who have abandoned reading for television, video games, movies and social media.

So how do you sell books to somebody who doesn’t normally read?

Mr. Patterson’s plan: make them shorter, cheaper, more plot-driven and more widely available.

In June, Mr. Patterson will test that idea with BookShots, a new line of short and propulsive novels that cost less than $5 and can be read in a single sitting. Mr. Patterson will write some of the books himself, write some with others, and hand pick the rest. He aims to release two to four books a month through Little, Brown, his publisher. All of the titles will be shorter than 150 pages, the length of a novella.

This article states that Patterson created the idea of BookShots to try to capture the growing number of people who just don’t have/make the time read traditional 300- to 400-page novels anymore; but, considering he’s offering these novellas in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats, I’m willing to bet Patterson also sees how BookShots can help him to monopolize on today’s digital selling trends. The fact is, the best way to sell a book online is to publish another book. When done on a consistent basis, as the above-mentioned independent authors do, it can successfully ping both Amazon’s and Google’s algorithms to place an author higher and higher up in the rankings. The higher your rank, the more books you will sell. Online selling has more to do with indifferent computerized processes than publicity or popularity.




I also see Patterson’s BookShots concept as a form of truce between Hachette Book Group (which publishes his books in the USA through its Little, Brown imprint) and Amazon after their epic battle a few years ago. To refresh your memory, Amazon believed that all ebooks should be priced low all the time. The Amazon Books Team went so far as to send out a mass email to all its ebook publishers seeking support of its stance. Below is an excerpt from that email which was also published by Dave Smith for BusinessInsider.com in August of 2014:

Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year. With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores.…

…Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book.

Skip ahead a couple of years, and James Patterson announced his plan to publish cheaper BookShots novellas to reach the same audience Amazon was talking about. In the 2016 article, it states:

In some ways, Mr. Patterson’s effort is a throwback to the dime novels and pulp fiction magazines that were popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, when commercial fiction was widely available in drugstores.

There’s the truce. In November of 2014, Hachette was victorious in negotiating a deal that allowed trade publishers the continued right to dictate their own retail prices for the books they produce (as it should be, in my opinion). But Amazon got through in some ways, didn’t it? The company planted a seed with the traditional publishers that obviously grew. And now James Patterson and his team write BookShots.

The independent authors mentioned earlier may not be as famous as James Patterson. Just his name alone commands an automatic audience to sell all the BookShots he publishes each year with ease. But, as mentioned earlier, many are now selling thousands of books online each year using the exact tactics that are detailed inside How to Build a Loyal Readership So Your Self-Published Books Get Picked Up by Literary Agents and Trade Publishers. I now do the same and have seen my personal blog users increase from 1,000 to over 5,000 in one year. I’ve also watched my personal monthly book downloads increase from up to 10 books per month to 400+ books per month on average. Now you know what I mean when I say it’s unecessary to add a bunch of extra “fluff” into a book to get it to a certain word- or page-count to make it more saleable. That’s irrelevant in this day and age. You can sell just as many—if not more—books by writing and publishing BookShots like James Patterson does, whether you write fiction or non-fiction.

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How Content Syndication Can Help Authors Sell More Books (An Excerpt)

Enjoy this excerpt from Guest Blogging and Content Syndication (T-Shaped Marketing for Authors Book 2)

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An SEO Analogy: Retail Merchandising

When you think about it, SEO is a lot like effective merchandising in a “bricks and mortar” bookstore. It’s all about positioning. The books that are strategically placed at eye level in the front aisles, or on shelving units and tables in the high-traffic areas of a store, are going to sell more than the books that are tucked away on low shelves where most people don’t bother to look.

It works much the same way online. The whole point of improving the SEO of any webpage is to ensure it appears as close to the top of an online search as possible so that more people can easily see it. The higher its visibility, the better your chance of it being clicked on which translates into the better chance of a sale down the road. And that’s what we’re all after here, isn’t it? At the end of the day, authors are blogging to promote their books with the intent of selling more copies and improving their readerships.

Here’s the good news: it’s somewhat easier—and much more cost effective—to improve your positioning online than it is within a traditional bookstore, particularly the major chain stores. If you want prime real estate in a major chain, allowing you to be seen by hundreds or even thousands of impulse buyers on any given day, you’re going to have to pay upfront for the privilege. How much will it cost you? John B. Thompson provides details about this in his 2012 Kindle ebook titled Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century:

The front-of-store area that is in your field of vision is a thoroughly commodified space: most of the books you see will be there by virtue of the fact that the publisher has paid for placement, either directly by means of a placement fee (that is, co-op advertising) or indirectly by means of extra discount. Roughly speaking, it costs around a dollar a book to put a new hardback on the front-of-store table in a major chain, and around $10,000 to put a new title on front-of-store tables in all the chain’s stores for two weeks (typically the minimum period). … Visibility does not come cheap. (Thompson, 2012)

While you can choose to pay for increased exposure online by running pay-per-click advertising campaigns or buying banner ads on high-traffic websites, the difference here is that you don’t have to. Blogging is an organic—not to mention free—way of improving your online ranking. Your only cost is your time.




Don’t Get Dinged by the SEO Gods!

Now, here’s the kicker: all of your online articles and blog posts have to be original content. Why? Because also built into these search engine algorithms is the ability to detect copied/reused content—and copied/reused content is a no-no in the online world. It is treated like a form of plagiarism and penalized by search engines in the sense that it won’t be indexed by them at all; rather, it will be ignored altogether. The search engines will compare two webpages that contain the same content and choose only one—most likely the original, higher ranking page—to include in search results. The copycat webpage will fall into online oblivion, never to be seen or heard from on the search engines again.

Content Syndication to the Rescue

The obvious issue here is time. Where is the time to write all your books, and write original articles for other online publications, and post unique content to your own blog on a regular basis so you can organically grow (and maintain) a strong online presence? Even the simple idea of it is daunting enough itself, never mind actually doing it day in and day out. We all have busy lives, after all.

This is where content syndication comes into play as explained by Christopher Ratcliff in his article titled “What is content syndication and how do I get started?” on the Search Engine Watch website. According to Ratcliff, content syndication is great for new authors and publishers who want to expose their books and blogs to a much larger audience, but who just don’t have the time or manpower to write copious amounts of new content on a daily basis.

Content syndication is the process of pushing your blogpost, article, video or any piece of web-based content out to other third-parties who will then republish it on their own sites….

Content syndication is particularly useful if you’re a smaller publisher or an up-and-coming writer who wants a larger audience from a more authoritative site.

By having your blog content published on The Guardian (for instance) you will be exposed to a much wider audience that isn’t your own, who may then visit you on your own blog.

The other major reason for doing this is SEO. Some of that bigger site’s authority should be passed down to you. (Ratcliff, 2016)

“Okay. Great,” you’re thinking. “So, I won’t have to write as much unique content on a regular basis. But how does this resolve the issue of copied/reused content?” That’s a great question, and here are three simple solutions to that problem.

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Hope you enjoyed that excerpt. You can learn the three simple solutions here: Guest Blogging and Content Syndication (T-Shaped Marketing for Authors Book 2).

A Foreign Rights Agent is to Authors What an Affiliate Marketer is to Online Entrepreneurs

This content first appeared on Digital Point Forum and has been republished here with permission from the author.

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So many people are publishing digital books to supplement their online businesses nowadays, and they’re using affiliate marketers as an extended sales force to help them move more of their products and services. Turning your followers/subscribers into your promoters by paying them a commission on all the sales they generate for you is a fantastic way to earn incremental income—for both the affiliate marketer and the online entrepreneur that owns the rights to the items being sold.

I’m here to tell you about another similar concept that is unique to the book publishing world, and the best way to explain it is to include this blog post by an experienced foreign rights agent named Bob Erdmann: The Importance of Foreign Rights. Basically, when you own the copyright to a book (or any other kind of intellectual property), you can increase its sales potential by selling off various types of subsidiary rights. Maybe someone in France will want to buy the exclusive French language rights to reproduce and sell your e-book in their country. Maybe a movie producer in the United States will want to purchase the exclusive English language film rights for the North American trading area. And so on, and so forth. (It’s a little more involved than that, but you get the picture.)




You can divvy up the rights to your intellectual property in so many different ways, it would be impossible to list them all here. But I’ll tell you this much: it is worth a lot of extra money to you. How much? Who knows! It could be worth thousands of dollars, maybe even millions … think Harry Potter if you’re having any doubts about that. In fact, J.K. Rowling is now a billionaire due to the sale of subsidiary rights on top of the traditional book sales of her series.

If you’re new to all this, it is best to hire an agent to help you with the promotion and sale of your rights. You can find agents and all the other information you will need through PubMatch.