Category Archives: Author Success Stories

A Shortlist of Google’s Top Ranking Factors … an Excerpt from Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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

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Throughout this T-shaped marketing ebook series, in several of my past blog posts, and in many of my other books, I’ve referenced the following six ranking factors that will help you to improve your website’s SEO. Improving your SEO is crucial to your success as an author because it will help you to attract more readers and sell more books. How do I know these things work when applied with a consistent focus? Because I’ve watched the PPG Publisher’s Blog increase from a mere 1,000 registered users in early 2017 to over 5,000 a short year later (and still growing) by doing all the things I recommend to you. I’ve also seen downloads of my backlist books on ecommerce sites such as Amazon, Kobo, and E-Sentral collectively increase from under 5 books per month to over 300 per month on average (and still growing) within the same time period. That’s my firsthand experience with this to date. I also regularly read the research published by SEO industry leaders, such as Moz, which has guided me in building my book business so I can guide authors like you in doing the same. In short, this stuff works!

  1. Publish relevant content on a consistent basis:
     . 
    Blogging is one of the best ways for you to stay engaged with your current and prospective readership; and, the more often you post something new online, the more points Google will award to your blog site thus improving its SEO. But you should know that Google is far from being the only search engine that rewards new content. Amazon and Kobo do, too, as mentioned in this book. Want to dramatically increase your SEO over the next year? Start posting relevant content on a consistent basis that pleases all these search engines.
     . 
  2. Build a high number of relevant backlinks to your website:
     . 
    In addition to blogging, I’ve also mentioned how legitimate book reviews, guest blogging, and content syndication can be used to increase the number of relevant backlinks to your website. This, too, is worthy of a higher ranking in Google’s eyes thus improving your SEO.
     . 
  3. Protect and improve your SEO with proper HTML coding (REL=CANONICAL and META NOINDEX tags):
     .
    While guest blogging and content syndication are both fantastic ways to improve your own website’s SEO, they can also cause duplicate content issues if too much of the same copy is being reused on different sites without due care. This is where implementing REL=CANONICAL and META NOINDEX tags can come in really handy as discussed in the HTML Coding for Beginners T-shaped ebook.
  4. Attract regular click-through traffic to your website:
     . 
    It stands to reason that the more content you post, the more backlinks that redirect to your site, and the higher your SEO ranking grows, the more traffic will find its way to your website and click on it. You want these people to stay there as long as possible. If they only click once and then leave, that’s called a bounce; but, if they click on a few different pages and stay there for a while to read things over, that’s called a click-through. A high bounce rate may affect your SEO negatively while you’ll garner more SEO points via an increased click-through rate—all the more reason to ensure your website contains relative and enticing content people will want to stay there and view.
     . 
  5. Encourage more social media activity and shares (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube):
     . 
    I dedicated an entire book, titled Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors, to teaching authors how to utilize social media marketing as part of your online sales strategy. Did you know social media activity is one of the things Google rewards that can help to improve your SEO? Well, it is. And certain social media sites will earn you more points than others, so I’ve learned. For example, did you know YouTube is owned by Google? Now that you know, you may be more inclined to start posting more video content on a regular basis.
     
  6. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly:
     
    On March 26, 2018, Google went live with its new Mobile-First Index. According to Google, “Mobile-first indexing means Google will predominantly use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query. Since the majority of users now access Google via a mobile device, the index will primarily use the mobile version of a page’s content going forward. We aren’t creating a separate mobile-first index. We continue to use only one index.” If you want to know how to ensure your own website is mobile-friendly, be sure to pick up a copy of the Mobile Marketing T-shaped marketing ebook for some great tips.

Although I’ve written and spoken about the above six SEO ranking factors before, I’ve never discussed the below six. We’re going to review them in this book because, according to Searchmetrics Ranking Factors, they are some of the strongest factors that were found in all the sites surveyed that ranked in the top 10 Google search results:

  1. Protect your website’s security with HTTPS (SSL security certificates).
  2. Include attractive images and easy-to-read fonts in your website’s main content area to encourage more time on the site.
  3. Increase Pinterest activity.
  4. Increase Google+1 activity.
  5. Ensure you have a strong local SEO (e.g., free listings in business directories such as Google My Business, White Page, Yellow Pages, Yelp).
  6. Answer industry-related questions on your blog to encourage featured snippets inclusion (as briefly mentioned in the Pay-per-click (PPC) Advertising T-Shaped ebook).

As you can see, there are even more things you can do to improve your SEO that will be covered in this latest T-Shaped Marketing for Authors mini ebook. Do all these things, and the end result will surely be an increased readership and more book sales for you. Now, let’s dive in a little deeper to learn more….

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



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 under 5 books per month to 300+ 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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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

An Excerpt from How to Build a Loyal Readership So Your Self-Published Books Get Picked Up by Literary Agents and Trade Publishers

Now available through AMAZON, KOBO, and E-SENTRAL!

In the first section of this ebook, I highlighted a few different authors who are seeing significant success in terms of the volumes of books they’re selling online every single year. These three, in particular, have earned six- or seven-figure annual incomes from their ebook sales and have openly shared their stories in prominent online publications:

  • Amanda Hocking was one of the first reported Amazon millionaires who utilized “rapid release” publishing (releasing a new book online at least every six weeks, if not oftener) to self-publish her fictional books after multiple rejections by the traditional trade publishers. Of her success, Ed Pilkington wrote in The Guardian:
    “When historians come to write about the digital transformation currently engulfing the book-publishing world, they will almost certainly refer to Amanda Hocking, writer of paranormal fiction who in the past 18 months has emerged from obscurity to bestselling status entirely under her own self-published steam. (Pilkington, 2012)”
  • Mark Dawson, by contrast, was first trade published. But when he saw how few copies his publisher sold of his fictional novel, he switched to self-publishing and learned how to become an entrepreneurial author instead. Of his six-figure success, Jay McGregor wrote in Forbes:
    “Dawson’s recent success isn’t representative of his time in publishing, however. He actually had a book published by Pan Books called ‘The Art of Falling Apart’ in 2000, which completely bombed. Not because it was bad – ironically it’s now available on Kindle and has 32 five-star reviews out of 39 – but because few people read it or are aware of it. Mark puts the book’s failure down to the publishers inability to promote his work and generate any sort of interest.” (McGregor, 2015)”
  • Steve Scott is a notable non-fiction success story, proving this “rapid release” technique can work for all kinds of books—not only fictional novels. Of his success, Joanna Penn wrote on The Creative Penn blog:
    “If you want a six figure income from your books, it’s a good idea to model people who are already making this kind of money. Steve Scott seemed to burst onto the indie non-fiction scene in early 2014, but in fact, he has 42 books and has had an internet business since 2006. (Penn, 2014)”





These three success stories confirm what I’ve been writing about and teaching to aspiring and established authors alike for several years now: the most successful authors are the ones who treat book writing, publishing, sales, and marketing as their own businesses. They don’t only write; they sell their books. This is true of all self-publishers and most trade-published authors, and it’s always been that way—contrary to popular belief—which is why people like Mark Dawson are switching over to self-publishing (or supported self-publishing) to produce their books. Why hand the majority of your book’s copyright ownership and creative control over to a trade publisher if you’re the one who’s going to have to sell it, anyway? (If my question has raised your eyebrow and you’re feeling any sort of resistance to it, then I invite you to click on this blog post and read a few quotes from the trade publishers themselves regarding how much time they actually spend selling their authors’ books. It’s an enlightening read.)

To read more, you can pick up a copy of this book at AMAZON, KOBO, or E-SENTRAL!

What if you could sell 1,000 copies of your book every month?

CLICK HERE TO BUY IT NOW!

What if you could sell 1,000 copies of your book every month? How about 3,000? Or even more?

I’ll be the first to admit that I used to think the likelihood of this was quite low. But I’ve done some research, this past year, and I’ve come across quite a few teachers who have shown me just how possible this truly is. Now I’m going to share their teachings with you, and I’ll begin with this short excerpt from the first book of my new mini ebook series titled Book Publishing Shortcuts for Online Marketers | Six Weeks to Creating a Book Series that Earns Passive Income from Several Sources:

…one evening, while I was researching bestselling strategies for authors, I came across an online Forbes article by J. McGregor (McGregor, J. 2017) titled “Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer.” That began to shift my thinking. It was an eye-opening piece about a highly successful UK author named Mark Dawson and how he sells massive quantities of books online. Following that, I attended a conference in Columbia, Missouri, where I met a US author named Liz Schulte who also earns a six-figure income selling her books online. A while later, I met an Aussie author named Timothy Ellis through an online Q&A site called Quora (Ellis, T. 2017, July), and he willingly shared his personal formula for selling a minimum of 3,000 books online every single month. (You can read more about these authors in this post from the PPG Publisher’s Blog.)

These three authors write fiction. So, I went in search of a non-fiction success story to confirm for myself that this strategy can work for everyone and every type of book—not only fictional novels. With a quick Google search, I easily found a post on The Creative Penn blog about a non-fiction author named Steve Scott (Penn, J. 2014). He, too, appears to be using this “rapid release” publishing method in conjunction with various other strategies, some of which will be discussed within this ebook series. (You can read more about Steve’s story in this post from the PPG Publisher’s Blog.)

Pre-order your copy today!

You may be wondering to yourself how they do it. What is the strategy? After quite a lot of research, I can tell you that, while they each have a unique relationship with their respective readers, there are two qualities they all share. And these are the two qualities that allow them all to sell the equivalent of thousands of books per month.

If you’re interested in learning more, then I highly recommend you pick up a copy of each mini ebook within my new series titled Book Publishing Shortcuts for Online Marketers | Six Weeks to Creating a Book Series that Earns Passive Income from Several Sources. Inside these books, I talk in detail about the two techniques each of these authors use to sell their books … plus a few more I’ve learned along the way while studying how Amazon’s and Google’s algorithms work.

The first book in the series is available for sale now. The remaining three are all available for back order. Order them today. Read them in full. Learn these strategies because they may just help you to improve your own sales in ways you never dreamed were possible before.




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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

A Non-Fiction Self-Published Author Success Story with Ryan Biddulph

Ryan Biddulph, Bestselling Non-Fiction Author on Amazon

4 measly eBooks.

In 4 months.

I was floored.

After becoming overwhelmed with a sense of excitement about writing and self-publishing my first eBook, I failed miserably.

A good friend nudged me to write an eBook. I had resisted my own inner pull and advice from friends for years.

I bought a domain, churned out the eBook and sold 1 each month before I trashed my site and eBook in a fit of complete frustration, anger and anguish.

3 years later I have written and self-published 126 bite-sized non-fiction eBooks. A few of my eBooks became Amazon best sellers. I even ghost wrote an Amazon best selling ebook which netted tens of thousands of dollars in sales.

How did I make the transition from struggling self publisher to rocking self-publishing machine?

I followed a few basic steps to right myself.

1: I Got Clear on Why I Wrote and Self-Published eBooks

I honestly saw my first eBook launch for what it was: I primarily wanted to make quick money.

I did self-publish a helpful eBook. I also chose a relatively unknown platform through which I sold the eBook.

I was heavily focused on getting profits so I gave little thought to the eBook title, my marketing strategy and the problem I solved through the eBook.

Worst of all, I had no specific reader in mind before I brainstormed, outlined and wrote the eBook.

I learned my lesson for the Blogging From Paradise eBook series. I wrote these eBooks mainly because I enjoyed writing. I also visualized a specific reader in mind before contemplating eBook titles and outlines.

Get hyper clear on why you want to be a self-published author. Tie the reason to something fun and freeing. Get your energy right to build your self-publishing campaign on a solid foundation.




2: I Wrote What I Knew

I’ve had self-publishing success by writing 6,000 to 15,000 word, short and punchy reads on topics I know inside-out. I address specific problems suffered by my blog readers to match my passion and know-how with reader pain points.

Unless you are writing an in-depth, heavily researched eBook I suggest you cover familiar topics to confidently self-publish eBooks.

My creative process: I brainstorm eBook titles based on reader problems, create titles solutions to address those problems, outline eBooks and write the eBook chapter by chapter.

CLICK HERE TO BUY IT NOW

3: I Became Comfortable Writing in My Distinct Voice

Purists may cringe after reading my blog posts and eBooks.

I am not a polished author.

But I also have circled the globe over the past 6 years as a world traveling blogger and Amazon bestselling author.

I feel comfortable writing how Ryan Biddulph writes. Even if this means turning off writing purists.

My eBook How to Find Your Writing Voice is the top ranked eBook from its category on all of Amazon.

All 49 customer reviews are 5 star reviews because I give readers permission to write best sellers on Amazon in their own unique, authentic voice, even if this writing style is unpolished.

Write 1000 words daily in a Word document for practice. Trash the document after you reach your daily word count. Feel comfortable with your writing style. Position yourself for a successful non-fiction self-publishing career.

4: I Found My Niche

My readers would become bored reading a 30,000 word eBook on blogging.

They prefer a 6,000 to 15,000 word pillar style blog post masquerading as a pillar style post.

My readers also enjoy shopping from a wide range of eBooks on a variety of blogging and travel-themed topics.

I wrote 126 eBooks to follow James Altucher’s advice: “The best way to promote your current book is to write your next eBook.”




5: I Built a Community

Struggling self-publishing authors tend to worry about how or where to find readers.

I decided to embody this quote well before I considered self-publishing.

“The wealthiest people on earth look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work.” ~ Robert Kiyosaki

I patiently and persistently built a friend network of blogging tips and travel bloggers by promoting them, endorsing them and featuring them on my blog.

My patience paid off.

Since I looked for and built a friend network my blogging buddies help to build momentum behind my eBook promotional blitzes. Many of my blogging buddies purchase and review my eBooks too.

Build your readership by promoting top authors in your writing niche. If you are an author blogger, promote top bloggers in your niche. Co-promote one another to build large, loyal, supportive communities.

CLICK HERE TO BUY IT NOW

6: I Built a Blog and Email List

I helped people with their blogging problems through my blog.

I built strong bonds with my readers through my email list.

My readers expect a helpful blogging eBook delivered to their email inbox every other Friday.

Start blogging through a self-hosted WordPress blog.

Grow your email list to stay in touch with your readers.

Use these 2 tools to help folks for free and to announce new eBook releases.

7: I Used Free Promotions to Boost Sales and Reviews

I sometimes use free promotions to increase eBook sales and reviews.

Giving eBooks away gratis is a generous way to increase your exposure.

Create a buzz around your eBooks by giving your creations away for free on the release date.

8: I Created Authentic, Rough and Ready eBook Covers

When I think of how much money I paid to design my eBook covers I have probably spent more than James Patterson, Lee Child and George R.R. Martin combined.

I personally photographed every one of my eBook cover backgrounds in exotic places like Fiji, Bali, Thailand and Costa Rica. Add up my plane ticket costs and you quickly see what I mean.

I chose to be ruthlessly particular in all things branding. The Blogging From Paradise logo graces all of my eBook covers. Factor in my pictures from paradise and you have an authentic experience for any of my eBook readers.

These rough and ready, simple, clean covers deviate from normal eBook cover design but I always intended to differentiate myself and my brand from the average eBook author.

CLICK HERE TO BUY IT NOW

My #1 Piece of Advice for Aspiring Self-Publishers

You need to love writing to get through the ups and downs of being a self-publishing author.

If you feel passionate about self-publishing an eBook write 1000 words or more daily for practice. Make writing as habitual to you as breathing.

Have fun writing. Even if you’re a non-fiction author let your imagination run wild. Develop a daily writing habit.

Hone your skills, enjoy the ride, build your reader base and you too can become a successful non-fiction writer.

Amazon eBook Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Ryan-Biddulph/e/B00MWC59RS/

Website: https://www.bloggingfromparadise.com/

© Ryan Biddulph 2017

Steve Scott’s Six-Figure Success with Non-Fiction Books

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

I love author success stories! And the minute I decided to focus on finding success stories to share with you on this blog was the minute I started finding more and more of them for you.

Several recent posts on this blog have focused on authors who have seen massive success selling fictional novels and children’s books such as Amanda Hocking, Mark DawsonLiz SchulteTimothy Ellis, and Sheri Fink. Interestingly, posts such as these led to comments such as this one: “An important difference in Fiction Writing as opposed to non-fiction — Readers buy for entertainment, not to solve a problem, so you can successfully sell multiple products to the same reader pool.” This comment seems to suggest that it’s somehow easier to sell multiple fictional products to a single readership than it is to sell multiple non-fiction books—that it’s easier to build up one’s readership based on entertainment genres rather than self-help/problem-solving genres. I’ve also since received a similar comment from another local “author marketing consultant” that echos this person’s presumption: “…our particular audience is business (in many ways a tougher market than fiction) and business types rarely write more than one book. … Writing a book and getting it published are the easier parts. Making enough money to live on or even to cover the time invested in the writing of the book, let alone make a significant profit on book sales is extremely difficult.

Of course, you know me by now. You know what I had to do next, don’t you? I had to go in search of a non-fiction success story to prove that it is, indeed, possible for non-fiction authors to enjoy the same success as the above-mentioned fictional authors, and I quickly found one such success story in Steve Scott. (You get what you focus on!)

HERE’S HOW TO DO IT STEP-BY-STEP!

I won’t cut and paste the entire post from The Creative Penn here. I’ll let you click on the link to visit their site and read it for yourself. But I will list a few of the commonalities that I see with all of the successful authors I’ve personally interviewed or read about or invited to guest post on this blog.

1. All of these authors are prolific writers. They’ve all written several books and are releasing them one after the other, strategically, in order to leverage the success of each previous book’s release-date traffic. In other words, the best advice an “author marketing consultant” can provide to one’s business clientele is, “Don’t just write one large book. Break it down into topics. Create a series and release several smaller books within this series one after the other within six to nine weeks of each other. This will get you more bang for your buck by keeping the momentum of your release date going.”
.

2. All of these authors build meaningful relationships with their readers. These authors stay in regular touch with their growing readership. They maintain regular communication with them by replying to each and every comment they receive from their fans. They build a more personal relationship with these people by doing so, which really cements their fans’ support. Some of these authors even use their top supporters as “focus groups” or “beta testers” by sending out manuscripts to them ahead of time to inquire whether or not they like the book’s content or have recommendations on how to improve it before it is officially released to the masses. In other words, they get additional free help with substantive editing from the people that matter the most—their buyers.

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3. All of these authors use email marketing and/or blogging to promote the release of new books. For authors, building an organic email marketing list or blog subscriber list is equivalent to building a near-guaranteed readership. This allows them to let their greatest supporters know when to expect the next book in a series which leads to more sales of all their books. And this increase in sales raises their online profile which, in turn, attracts more and more new traffic to both their back list and front list titles.

If it can work for one author, it can work for you. If it can work for fiction, it can work for non-fiction.

Yes, you have to work at it. Nobody said it was going to be a quick and easy fix. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you get what you focus on. Focus on success.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Amanda Hocking: Another Fascinating “Rags to Riches” Success Story

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

I’m always on the lookout for author success stories to share with my blog subscribers because this is a tough business that requires a lot of inspiration to keep oneself motivated. It takes motivation to get yourself to consistently take the types of actions you need to be taking in order to achieve the success you desire.

I believe you get what you focus on. You can focus on the difficulties and heed the warnings of business advisers who insist that 90% of authors will never see the kind of success that authors like Amanda Hocking and Mark Dawson are seeing, and that you should therefore set your goals much lower in order to avoid disappointment. Or you can focus on the possibilities by going in search of the proof, all around you, that what you desire is indeed achievable … whether you write fiction or non-fiction.

The fact is, many authors are earning fantastic livings writing books nowadays. Wouldn’t you love to read an article that tells you exactly how they’re achieving this? If the answer to that question is “yes” then you’ll enjoy reading this: What Makes a $100k Author: 8 Findings Every Author Should Know. What I appreciate most about this article is that it provides relevant data about the realities of this business while also showing authors what is possible if they’re willing to put in the time and effort. It encourages authors rather than discouraging them.

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I created the “Author Success Stories” category on this blog as a place where you can read about the possibilities. The purpose is to encourage you rather than discourage you because, at the end of the day, if even one author can accomplish something that means it’s achievable. It’s possible. Focus on that, and you may just be the next success story that is inspiring others to do the same. You may become one of the pioneers who steers others in the right direction so that, perhaps one day, it will be 90% of authors enjoying massive success and only 10% who will never achieve it.

Which brings me back to Amanda Hocking, an extreme success story that first appeared in The Guardian back in January 2012, who went from obscurity (and essentially poverty) to bestselling status within 18 months of publishing her first book online. Amanda is now a self-made millionaire. Granted, there were several years of writing and work beforehand … as it often is with these “overnight success” stories. Amanda makes sure to emphasize that in this interview which I highly recommend you read. It is eye opening and inspiring. And most importantly, it shows what’s possible even after several disappointments.

Keep writing. Keep working. Keep the faith!

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Adventures in Publishing: Why I Chose to Go Independent

Sheri Fink, Best-selling, Award-winning Children’s Author

One of the biggest decisions today’s aspiring authors make is whether to go the traditional route with a publisher (whether large or small) or to explore the independent publishing path. I chose to go independent and many writers have asked me about my decision. So, here’s the scoop:  when I made a commitment to myself six years ago to bring The Little Rose children’s book to life, I had limited experience with self-publishing and was beginning to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the variety of publishing options available.

I attended writers’ conferences and networking events with writers. I asked both traditionally published and independently published authors about their experiences. I learned so much and decided to independently publish The Little Rose for several reasons:

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Passion and Speed – I felt a burning need to get the uplifting message of The Little Rose to children quickly. I didn’t have the time or patience to woo an agent, find a publisher, go through the whole process, and then wait for a slot on their release calendar several years later.

Control – I wanted to be 100% happy with the final result of all of my hard work. I wanted to choose the right illustrator to bring my story to life and to influence the ultimate look and feel of my book. Even though I published independently, having a high-quality product was really important to me and I knew I could find the right partners to make that goal a reality.

Entrepreneurial Spirit – I’ve always been very entrepreneurial and I was excited about the possibility of building a business around doing something that I absolutely loved. I also learned from other authors about the value of the rights tied in with a book and felt like I would be able to make those decisions for my brand better than a big publisher could. And, my background was in marketing. I believed that I could leverage my knowledge and skills to be successful.

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Happiness – When I talked with other authors, the happiest ones tended to be the self-published authors. They had control over their destiny, their schedules, their agreements, their rights licensing, etc. That really appealed to me.

My best advice for authors who are exploring traditional vs. independent publishing is to talk with successful authors who have already done it. See what their experiences were like and what they would do differently knowing what they know now. Find out who’s happy and why. Writing and publishing my first book was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve done. Since the successful debut of The Little Rose, I’ve independently published six additional books across three genres.

Independent publishing is exciting and easier than it’s ever been before (although it’s still not an easy business), but it isn’t the right solution for everyone. Only the individual authors can truly decide what’s right for them, their books, and their careers.

About Sheri Fink

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Sheri Fink is an inspirational speaker, a #1 best-selling author, an award-winning entrepreneur, and the creator of “The Whimsical World of Sheri Fink” brand. Sheri writes books that inspire and delight kids of all ages while planting seeds of self-esteem. All five of her children’s books have become #1 best-sellers, including The Little Rose which was a #1 Amazon Best-seller for over 60 weeks.

CBS Los Angeles selected her as one of the top three authors in the local area, a distinction she shares with Dean Koontz. Sheri’s brand is the recipient of the prestigious Gold Mom’s Choice Award for the best in family friendly entertainment. She was recently named an inspirational beauty by supermodel Cindy Crawford’s “Beauties Give Back” campaign.

Sheri’s newest adventure is a contemporary romance. She was inspired to write Cake in Bed, her debut novel, to empower women to be their authentic selves and to not settle for less than they deserve in life or in love, because everyone deserves to have their cake and eat it too … preferably in bed! Discover more about Sheri and her books at www.SheriFink.com.

© Sheri Fink 2017



3 Ways Introverted Authors Can Sell Thousands of Books

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Many authors out there lean a little more toward the introverted side of the personality spectrum; but don’t mistake their introversion for shyness or social awkwardness because these are all different things. Most love people and socializing. What separates them from the extroverts is simply that they expend energy in the same social situations that fill the extroverts up, and they rejuvenate their reserves when they’re alone. Writing is a favourite rejuvenation pastime for many introverts; and, believe it or not, that can be an advantage when it comes to the T-shaped book sales and marketing methods many authors are now using to sell thousands of books each year.

What is T-Shaped Marketing?

Possibly one of the most succinct descriptions of T-shaped marketing was written by Rand Fishkin and posted on the Moz blog along with a useful diagram: “T-Shaped basically refers to having a light level of knowledge in a broad array of skills, and deep knowledge/ability in a single one (or a few). This model may not seem particularly remarkable or unique, but it carries qualities that are essential to great marketing teams. … By having multiple overlapping T-shapes, a marketing team can invent and evolve remarkably unique and powerful solutions to problems.”

Now let’s take this description and apply it to authors. Basically, the stem of the T (the deep knowledge) refers to an author’s genre and the content of his or her book(s). The horizontal part at the top represents all the other creative and analytical skills the author can learn in order to sell more books online. The good news is many of these skills require prolific writing—something that already comes quite naturally to most introverts. Just how powerful are these tools in the hands of an author? You may be pleasantly surprised when you read the below three real-world success stories.

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1. This UK Author’s T-Shape Combines Social Media Marketing with Email Marketing:

Email marketing goes hand in hand with books much like writing goes hand in hand with an introvert. Why? It’s because this type of marketing is about promoting, sharing, and selling information. And that’s exactly what a book is—an information product.
 
All you have to do is Google the name “Mark Dawson” and you’ll likely come across a Forbes article titled “Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer.” It’s an enlightening read. After a disappointing go at trade publishing that resulted in meagre sales of his first book, this author decided to take matters into his own hands and become an entrepreneurial self-publisher for every other book that followed.
 
Through some trial and error, Mark learned how to significantly scale his readership and book sales. He grew his email subscriber list organically by replying to each and every message he received from his readers—the compliments and the criticisms—so he could build a rapport with each and every one of them. As a result, back in 2015, he already had 15,000 subscribers that converted to “near guaranteed sales” (his words) every time he sent out a mass email to announce a new book in the series. According to the Forbes article, another effective tool Mark combines with email marketing “…is Facebook advertising. Dawson is pumping $370 a day into Facebook advertising and he’s receiving double that in return on investment.”

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2. This US Author’s T-Shape Combines Cross Promotion with Anthologies:

Liz Schulte is a self-published author with more than 20 mystery and paranormal romance novels, short stories, and audiobooks to her credit. Much like Mark Dawson, she is earning a six-figure income marketing and selling her books online; and she does it through a combination of prolific writing and clever cross promotion.

Where some authors may view their competition as “the enemy” to be avoided, Liz viewed hers as an opportunity for shared success. She partnered with several authors within her genre, and this group now cross promotes each other’s front and back list titles through their respective subscriber lists, newsletters, and blogs. What a treat for all their readers who now have that many more great books to choose from—not to mention the added bonus for each of these authors who have basically quadrupled their individual readerships through the partnership.
 
Not only does Liz write and publish multiple books every year to keep her fans engaged, but she is also one of several authors who contribute one story each to an anthology within their genre. This is yet another clever form of cross promotion that can be used to plug upcoming books to an extended audience while producing incremental revenue.

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3. This Aussie Author’s T-Shape Combines Abundant Publishing with Q&A Site Networking:

Here’s an author who takes “prolific writing” to a whole new stratosphere in order to keep his readers satisfied. Think you could write and publish a new 90,000-word novel every 60 to 90 days? This is what Timothy Ellis does to consistently sell 3000+ books every single month. According to him, “The single best way of promoting any book is to release another book.” He’s personally written and published 34 since 2006 (an average of three per year and growing).

The reason for publishing these many books, according to Timothy, is ranking: “Visibility comes with rank. I can only talk about Amazon’s ranking system, and it is very cut-throat. The single most important thing is release day debut rank. … After the debut, ranks begin to slide. About a week later, Amazon sends out emails to your followers, and this can spike you up again. But at about 20 days, you start being cycled downwards unless you have promotions which can hold your sales up. At 30 days you fall off the new releases lists. By 60 days, your book is gone into Neverland.”
 
No money for promotions? No problem. Publish another book instead. That will keep your name and overall book series on top even as individual back list titles start to slide.
 
Much like Mark and Liz, Timothy also has a mailing list and social media presence that he grows organically in a couple of different ways: first, by staying in regular touch with his readers; and second, by mentoring other writers and authors on Q&A sites such as Quora. He pays it forward by over-delivering on the value he provides to each and every person he encounters.

HERE’S HOW TO DO IT STEP-BY-STEP!

Authors Are Entrepreneurs

For some people, the very idea of authors selling their own books seems to be an impractical notion cooked up by contemporary publishing “gurus” who lack the influence within the book supply chain that the traditional trade publishers have. For many, the belief is still held that, as purveyors of “the greatest literary writers” in the industry, trade publishers always do (and have always done) everything that is necessary to ensure their authors’ success because they’ve carefully selected only the crème de la crème … the sure sellers that will guarantee a profit for them.

For those who balk at the idea that authors are entrepreneurs because they believe sales and marketing is the publisher’s responsibility—and that all traditional publishers do it for all their authors all the time—you are invited to pick up a copy of John B. Thompson’s Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century (Thompson, 2012, Second Edition, Kindle Edition, p. 263-265) where this myth is busted by “The Big Five” trade publishers—Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster—themselves:

“As soon as a book shows signs that it’s going to take off, the sales, marketing and publicity operations mobilize behind it and look for ways to support it with extra advertising, trying to get more radio and TV appearances, extending the author’s tour or putting together a new tour to cities where the book is doing particularly well, and so on. … the sales, marketing and publicity operations are geared and resourced in such a way that, when they see that a fire is starting to ignite, they are able to pour generous quantities of fuel on the flames. … But if further appeals fall on deaf ears and sales fail to pick up, then the marketing and publicity effort will be wound up pretty quickly – ‘In two to three weeks we might pull the plug,’ … So how long does a book have out there in the marketplace to show signs of life? How many weeks before it becomes a dead fish that will be left to float downstream? … I would say the life of a book today is about six weeks. And quite frankly it’s even shorter than that, but you probably have six weeks and that’s it.”

That’s the reality of this business. Unless a book takes off within the first three to six weeks (which usually only happens when the authors, themselves, already have a platform and are out there actively promoting that book alongside their publishers), then that’s the most time a trade publisher will spend on selling it: six weeks. Maybe even less. After that, it’s up to authors to sell their books completely solo … or let them die along with the rest of the ignored and forgotten back list titles.

Authors are entrepreneurs. Always have been. Always will be. And today’s authors need to be that much more savvy to stand out among the competition … or, as Liz Schulte does, stand beside the competition for everyone’s mutual success.

You’re not only a writer or self-publisher or trade author. You’re a marketer. You’re a salesman. You’re an online networker.




This is a Dream Come True for Introverts

For the introverts whose favourite rejuvenation pastime happens to be writing, T-shaped marketing is a dream come true. Don’t you think? Can you imagine selling thousands of books every month by doing what you love, what comes naturally to you, what you’ve already been doing for free for the past several years anyway? Mark Dawson, Liz Schulte, and Timothy Ellis are the real-world proof that it is indeed possible.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

How Timothy Ellis Consistently Sells 3000+ Books Per Month

Prolific Writer Timothy Ellis

[Timothy Ellis] Thank you Kim for inviting me to your Blog. I’m delighted to be able to talk about publishing novels, and what I’ve found works for me. I find myself answering a lot of author related questions on Quora these days, and the following represents a lot of merged answers. I hope some of this is helpful.

[Kim Staflund] How many books have you published? What genre are they?

[TE] I started writing in 2006, with a spiritual how to heal using meditation book, followed by a how to do Feng Shui book. Both were rejected by traditional publishers, but I must admit, I didn’t try very hard.

These were followed by 2 game handbooks for a PC space combat simulator style game. I’d been writing game guides for several years, before I suggested all the guides by everyone be put together into a handbook. The answer came back, your idea, you do it, so I did. It had 5 versions in pdf format over as many years, and now has 2 Kindle editions.

Once a long running thread on a spiritual forum vanished in a clean-up, I turned it into 8 Wisdom of the Ages books, based on questions and answers in the thread. The last three deal with Karma, Indigo’s, and Ascension, and include a lot of articles I’d been writing over the years, all brought together in one place.

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I was late to adapting to Kindle, somewhat accidently discovering how good it was to read in that format. Once I accepted it, I used the first of the game Handbooks to test how to publish this way, followed it with the spiritual and Feng Shui book, and then the 8 Wisdom of the Ages books. This was in 2014.

At this point, with practically no sales of anything but an occasional handbook, I started writing fiction novels. Even now, if I sell more than 20 non-fiction books a month, I’m doing well. So currently the count goes like this, if you break it down by genres.

  • 1 Feng Shui.
  • 11 Spiritual, including one 5 volume omnibus.
  • 18 Space Opera Science Fiction books, which includes 14 novels, 1 novella, 1 Christmas story,1 Companion book, and 1 short story which was included in one of the novels a year after I wrote it, but is still available on its own.
  • 2 Omnibus editions, covering 6 books.
  • 2 PC Game Handbooks.

So a total of 34 books.

Technically I have 4 series now. The Wisdom of the Ages in the spiritual non-fiction genre, the X3 Handbook in the PC Games genre, and The Hunter Legacy and A.I. Destiny series in Space Opera.

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The interesting thing is, only the 2 Handbooks do not have a spiritual connection. So while Space Opera is my main thing these days, I am still a spiritual author, mixing genres quite successfully.

The Space Opera is by far my best sellers. But because I chose to mix spiritual into Space Opera through a spiritual main character, several of my novels link back to a spiritual book, and there is a small feed of sales as a result.

[KS] What do you do in terms of promotion for your books?

[TE] The single best way of promoting any book is to release another book.

It’s not enough to write a good book. It needs to be visible, it needs to be findable, it needs to attract the eye, and suck the reader inside.

Visibility comes with rank. I can only talk about Amazon’s ranking system, and it is very cut-throat. The single most important thing is release day debut rank. You achieve this with a mailing list and social media presence, where you already hyped up your readers to expect the new book in some time frame, usually short.

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The more people who buy the book on day 1, and the more people who download it to read using Kindle Unlimited, (remember, I’m only talking Amazon here), the higher the book debuts in the ranking system.

The book gets a rank in the paid store in a number of places. The whole book store, the Kindle store, the main genre, and the sub-categories of that genre. For a lot of genres, the sub-categories happen because of the keywords you use, and especially for Sci-Fi, there are specific words which put you in specific sub-categories.

The better your rank in all of these, the more visible the book is. How well all your books are doing determines your author rank. Getting your author rank high in a major category makes you very visible, but it’s quite difficult to do.

After the debut, ranks begin to slide. About a week later, Amazon sends out emails to your followers, and this can spike you up again. But at about 20 days, you start being cycled downwards unless you have promotions which can hold your sales up. At 30 days you fall off the new releases lists. By 60 days, your book is gone into Neverland.

The best strategy is to release a new book, before the 60 day abyss comes along. It used to be 90 days, and this is still a major accelerant into the abyss when you get there.

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For me, with a main series of 13 books with 3 extra books, and now into a spin off series, each time I release a new book, I get a small back flow to the first book in the first series, as people go looking for what else I’ve written. Some of those continue on to book 2, and a slightly diminishing percent continue on through the whole series. So each new book I release, keeps a flow of people starting my first series, and as long as I keep releasing in timely fashion, all of my novels sell.

And this is how you make a living, once you have a series people like. With each book, your mailing list gets bigger, your social media presence is bigger, and you have a solid group of fans to buy each book on day 1. The visibility brings your book before new people, and these feed back into your older books. With enough visibility, each book doesn’t have to perform all that well to give you a decent income.

Visibility isn’t enough though. Once it’s been seen, your cover has to attract the eye, so it must be good looking, and be what the genre expects it to look like. With the eye drawn, the blurb has to entice the reader into the sample.

Bad covers and bad blurbs are where most people fail. Too many blurbs give backstory and a synopsis, which I recommend are never used. Backstory should be in the story. A synopsis always gives away too much, and once I’ve read one, I have no need to read the book. Blurbs should be about who the main character is, what their challenge is about, and what the stakes are, put together in a way which entices the reader into the first chapter of the book.

The sample is the first 10% of your book, and it is freely available both online and as a download. The object of the exercise is to make sure a reader gets to the end of it immediately wanting to know what happens next. But too many books start with backstory and info dumps, and a bored reader doesn’t finish the sample. The sample must also be formatted correctly, with no spelling mistakes, bad grammar, or typos. A common mistake is releasing a book which needed an editor or proof-reader, or both, and didn’t get either. Such things bounce people out of a story, and stop them buying.

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So the art of not needing promotion is to write stories people want to read, and present them to the highest standard you can, in a time frame where you don’t lose the momentum of the previous book.

The days of 1 book a year are well and truly gone. On Kindle, although it varies by genre, more than 6 weeks between the release of say 75,000 word (avg.) books means you lose the momentum of the previous book. At 3 months, you need to jump start things again.

When you can’t release inside the 3 month expectation, keeping a steady income happening requires external promotion. Of these, the freebie Bookbub ad is by far the best in terms of results, but also the hardest to get, since Bookbub are very limited in the number of places on their emails, have hundreds of books for each slot to choose from, and are very picky about the books they put on them.

Most of the main promotion sites are for free or 99c books, which means you get almost no return on downloads of your promoted book. Which is where the back catalogue of your work comes into its own, and where writing series really helps. You offer your first in series for free, and make your money from it as people read down the series. It’s when you have few books to your name, or they are all stand alone, that the freebie promotion sites are ineffective for anything except getting your name out there.

I’ve been submitting to Bookbub for 2 years now, and am yet to be accepted. This is normal and should be expected. Since my third novel took off, I’ve only had to use a freebie service once, when I was over 3 months between releases, and this worked well enough to keep me going until the next book was released. But all the same, it was my worst month since that first take off month.

The bottom line here is, you either choose to write enough to release within a 3 month period, or you promote. The first costs time, the second costs money. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to write enough to release regularly, and only needed to promote once.

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Bonus tip: The authors who release a new novel of a decent size every 4 weeks, never lose their momentum, and these authors make a decent income. It only takes 1 book to get the ball rolling, but you will never know which book it is until it happens. Once it does, a whole heap of things kick in to boost you up, and as long as you keep releasing, you can stay there and make a living from writing.

[KS] You’ve indicated you consider “3000 sales per month is a bad month” for you. This is phenomenal. How are you achieving this level of sales?

[TE] My first novel series was originally supposed to be 6 books. I started book 1 to get it out of my head. It took the longest to write, nearly 14 months, because of health issues, and the need to learn how to change from writing fan fiction and how-to books, into a novel writer. A lot of this was how to proofread and edit to a much higher standard, and initially being taught how by someone who used a great deal of red ink. It is worth the frustration of all that red to learn how to edit effectively yourself.

After release of book 1, I kept writing book 2. And the same with book 3. Book 1 was attracting maybe a sale every couple of days, with book 2 it became a sale most days, and occasionally two.

With book 3, I suddenly found the story wasn’t anywhere near finished, had taken on a life of its own, and 1 book turned into its own trilogy. So I was already well into book 4 before I completed editing of 3. And when released, 3 took off with 16 sales on day 1, much to my total amazement. This was enough, even without a mailing list at that time, to boost me into visibility range. Book 3 also had a much better opening hook, a substantially better cover, and people were reading it without having read the first 2. Then they went back to them, and between the sales of all 3, an upward spiral began.

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Now the key point here is book 2 was released about 5 weeks after book 1, and book 3 was about 4 weeks later. Book 4 was another 4 odd weeks after, and continued the momentum, with book 5 being 5 weeks later. So each one built on the previous one. Book 6 broke the momentum as I had a bad health period, and so it was released at 7 weeks, and was only a novella.

Book 7 was 5 weeks later, and hit the beginning of the 2015 Christmas book buying season, and I managed to get an author rank of 14 in Science fiction. It only lasted a few days, but this is the visibility you really need to do well. Being in the top 20 of a major category is where you have to be to do really well. I’ve never managed it since, but this was what gave me the biggest boost.

The series went for 13 books instead of 6, with diminishing returns after 9, indicating 9 books in a serial type of series is as far as you should go. But I’d locked myself into a time line by the time I reached book 10, and couldn’t stop.

I then began a spin off series, using the most loved secondary character as the main character, in a completely new setting, but directly following along from the first series. I’m finding the new series is feeding people back into the original series, even though it’s been designed to be read stand alone.

So at the moment, I’m getting the benefit of a new release in a second series, which is feeding back into the old series enough readers so all my books are selling consistently at a rate where the accumulation boosts me past the 3000 a month mark.

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I should also point out this 3000 a month includes Kindle Unlimited full reads. Amazon’s subscription service pays less than a sale, but in money terms, it generates more income than sales do. This has dynamically changed the eBook market place, and it works for some authors and not for others. It certainly works for me, and early on I had reader feedback they wanted my books in KU from minute 1. What this does for me is day 1 is almost all sales from my mailing list, Facebook Group and Facebook Page, and day 2 is mainly made up of the KU reads from day 1 appearing on the day 2 report.

There are 3 parts to a monthly income. The release that month, the flow-back from that release and its subsequent ripple down the back catalogue, and the base sales and reads from each book’s own rank and visibility sending people to book 1. From book 1, people can directly find all my books in order, from the links in the back-matter of each book, where I put both cover thumbnails, and the direct links. The months where I’ve had 3000 or less sales/reads, were when I didn’t release a new book in the previous 2 months, and was in freefall into the abyss.

The most important thing for sales on day 1 is the mailing list, and the link to it should be in the back of every book. You also put the links to your Facebook Page and Group if you have them, from which your fans will buy on day 1, sometimes before you even know the book is live, given you announced the upload as soon as it’s done. You also include links to your Amazon AuthorCentral page, where people can follow you, which gives you a boost a week after launch. You should also include your Goodreads page, and Bookbub page. Each of these helps people find your book rapidly after release.

[KS] What advice do you have for the other authors who aren’t selling anything right now?

[TE] Write. Write more. Write faster. Write more often. Keep writing.

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Making a living from writing novels requires you treat it like a job. You allocate a time each day to write, you write for a set amount of time, and nothing interrupts you. It becomes a habit, and the people around you learn to leave you alone.

How much you write every day is less important, but it determines how much momentum you can keep in the rankings.

The biggest comment people make is how long it takes to write a novel, with the assumption it has to take a year for a decent book. But it doesn’t have to take very long, if you look at it on a constant daily basis.

3000 words a day for 30 days writes a 90,000 word novel in a month. Plus editing and it can be released in 6 weeks.

2000 words a day for 40 days writes an 80,000 word novel inside 6 weeks, and you might get it out in 7, depending on its editing needs.

2000 words a day for 30 days writes a 60,000 word novel in a month, and gets it out under 6 weeks.

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1000 words a day takes 2 months to write a reasonable length novel, and you can get it out in 3 months before you fall off the 90 day cliff.

How long it takes you to write 1000 words is a different thing, and everyone is different. But if you do it daily, you can release a novel on a regular 3 month basis. A novel is 50,000 words or more, and while in some genres this is way too short, in others this a good length. Know your genre and its expectation. But also try to be consistent with book length so your fans build an expectation you can deliver.

What matters the most is writing something every day. Establish the habit, and try really hard not to break it. The habit will keep you going, when other things try to put you off. The habit only needs to be what you can do consistently. Even 100 words a day will write a book in a year. A small book, but still a book.

One thing I keep writing about on Quora is motivation. Anyone who goes into writing novels thinking they will write the next best-seller straight off, is delusional. One of the most often asked questions on Quora in the books topic is a variation on how do you write a best seller. You don’t! You write a book, get it out there, and a whole heap of hard work, circumstances and luck, might make it one. But so many things have to happen exactly right for this to occur, and most of the time, it only takes one thing wrong to make it certain it won’t. It can be the best book ever written, but just one wrong thing will doom it to the abyss. Unfortunately though, those who think their book is the best ever, are generally blind to reality. Sorry to be blunt. Blind and delusional are very common these days. Do yourself a favour, and don’t be. The advice you will need is out there, seek it.

I’ve yet to write a best seller. I’ve had books below 500 in the Kindle store a couple of times, and I usually debut below 1500. This is Woohoo territory, but it doesn’t make a best seller. To have a best seller on debut requires 1000’s of sales on day 1, and no drop off in the weeks following. It means debuting below 100, and keeping on going down. Once you get below 500 in the Kindle store, the sales curve to go lower is almost exponential. You can’t do this on a first book without having the movie first or pumping in serious money. And yet, this expectation is very common. Do yourself a favour, and don’t even think about it.

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It’s important to go into writing with the right attitude. You are writing the book because you love writing, you need to get the idea out of your head, and your characters are driving you to tell their story. You are writing a story in the hope someone will read it and like it, but the writing is the important part. Write it, edit it and proofread it as best you can, get as good a cover as you can, write an enticing blurb, and get it out there. Then forget it, and go on with the next one.

The authors who give up are the ones with unreasonable expectations. Any given book not only might not sell, but probably won’t. So give it the best launch you can, and then forget it. Even if this one does the rocket, you still need to finish the next book.

Pay attention to what the successful books in your genre are doing. That means reading them. It means looking at which sub-categories they are in, why they are there, what the cover looks like, how the blurb reads, and how they convert a sample into a buy. There is no real competition in eBooks. The competition for rank and visibility is major, but the average reader finishes a book inside 2 days and spends the next 30 to 45 days waiting for your next book, by reading someone else’s. Some people read multiple books a week, all in the same genre. So there is plenty of room for you, as long as you write what people want to read. And being the number one also-bought on an author doing better than you, is really helpful to sales, and you achieve this because your readers read everyone else. So your main competition is also your best friend, especially if they do better than you, but all your readers read them too. The flow-back from your book on the first page of another author’s performing book’s also-boughts, can be exactly what you need to boost your book.

In some genres, it’s common to write in trilogies, long serials, or a series of stand-alones with the same characters. Series are great because once any book in it takes off, the series itself will take off. And this is what you want. Any one book which converts into series sales, gets you the momentum to make a living. The trouble is, you never know which book it will be.

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My recommendation is to write in trilogies. Leave the door open for sequel trilogies, and spin offs, but see how it’s received at the end of the first one. Build a universe, and start filling it. So first trilogy is world building around a story. The spin off extends it with new characters. The sequel extends the original and maybe merges in the spin off. When you get to 9 books in the same universe, assuming the books are liked, you should have a fan base. If you use a Facebook Group to talk to them, they will tell you which way to go next.

If the first trilogy doesn’t work, start work on something different. But here’s the thing: Always complete your trilogy. Nothing annoys readers more than a trilogy which isn’t finished. In fact, a lot of people won’t start reading a trilogy until book 3 is out, just to make sure it is completed. I found a lot of people didn’t read my 13-parter until it too was complete. Breaking your covenant with your readers is a sure fire way of losing a reader forever, and by announcing this is book 1 of xyz series, you are making a covenant with your readers to finish it. So make sure you do.

A trilogy which doesn’t sell is not a waste of time. It’s part of your back catalogue. This converts to dollars when you finally have a book take off.

If you can, and you take longer to write than 6 weeks a book, hold off releasing book 1 until book 3 is in editing, and then release all 3, 30 days apart. This gives you the most momentum. On book 1, you include the series list for the other 2, noting they are forthcoming. You update each book as you release the next.

If the first series isn’t successful, as I said, it’s now part of your back catalogue. Get on with the next. And the next. And the next. When you finally get the surprise of your life when one book takes off, people will go back and look to see what else you wrote. And it’s how the whole catalogue performs rather than any single book, which defines income. What do trad publishers do when a new author hits the best seller list? They relook at their last decades’ writing, groom it, and then release it while the next book is being written. In eBooks, they are already out there, just waiting for the jump start. Your next book might be it.

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The last big thing to talk about is sample conversion. You have a good cover, an enticing blurb, the reader opens your sample, and what? When the reader reaches the end of the sample, they should immediately click on the book and buy it. But will they? This depends on you, and how you write the front end. The best way to do it is genre specific, and I can only talk about Space Opera. In Space Opera, you need a big hook. Your words need to reach out of the book, grab the reader by the throat, and drag them inside their own reader device. Way too many books in Sci-fi and Space Opera start with back-story, world building, and boring conversations. Somewhere around chapter 5, some action happens. WRONG! You lost your reader already, and didn’t get the sale.

If you have action, start with it in the first paragraph, and keep writing it until it’s over. Hit the reader in the face, and then keep on hitting them. Somewhere around chapter 3 or 5, you can slow down, go back, and show the reader how you got there, and start filling in details. But up the front end of the book, never explain anything. Drop the reader into the action, and carry it to its conclusion.

There are some very successful exceptions to this, but the main reason is two words. Bookbub ad. Forget it. You’re not going to get one as a new author or so far unknown author, so let’s get the reader hooked on the first page, and simply don’t let go. Yes the backstory is important, the world building is important, the info dumps are important, but they are no use if the reader gives up on page 1, or is bored at the end of the first chapter. By the time they end the sample, you want them invested in knowing what happens next, to the point they click the buy button without thought. Only the really established authors with very large mailing lists can ignore this.

Learning the craft of writing novels isn’t easy, but there is a lot of help out there. There are writer forums and groups, where it’s safe to ask questions. You won’t always like the answers, or the way they get delivered. But the people who do well, learn the lessons the successful authors are happy to teach. Sad to say, the ego driven people who ignore all the advice available, are the ones who crash and burn, then give up. So find a place you like, read everything posted there, and start asking intelligent questions. Someone will give you something which works.

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Bottom line on being a writer though, is to keep writing, and keep releasing. You can only get better with each new book, and at some point, something has to work.

There is no waste in not selling now. Stephen King’s worst books were the ones he wrote early on before his first trad published book was accepted, which all were released later on, and because he now had a name, they still sold well.

You are building a catalogue, and one day, it will pay off.

Stay positive, and keep writing.

As Douglas Adams once said on a totally different subject, “Go to it, good luck.”

The Hunter Legacy series Amazon Page:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01I8EAL1C 

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The Hunter Legacy universe mailing list:
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You can also follow me on:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HRTTIJG.
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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8020436.Timothy_Ellis.

Timothy Ellis ranks (paid store), as at writing time:
1853 in the Amazon Book store.
1023 in the Kindle store.
180 in Science Fiction and Fantasy.
79 in Science Fiction.

© Timothy Ellis 2017