Reviews are a key signal used in the ranking of online books. The more reviews, the higher the book ranks and the more books are sold. Of course, given this logic, reviews have been widely gamed by authors and publishers, to the point when they are sometimes not reliable guides as to a book’s quality and popularity. Authors round up their friends to review their books, or pay other services to generate reviews, or review other authors’ books in the hope of reciprocal reviews. Amazon has been fighting back against this degradation of the reviewing signal — the outlines of said epic struggle are described here, along with the latest strategies for independent authors.
Many authors have never heard of Bookbub. The service is essentially a regular email offering selected discounted ebooks to a massive subscriber list. Most of the titles promoted therein are from major publishers, but a significant fraction are from independent authors and small publishers. Publishers and authors pay over $600 per title just to be considered for inclusion in their featured deals. They are extremely powerful in the world of ebook sales and massively profitable.
Peter Ralph has done a stellar job analysing the performance of bookbub and advising authors how to get one of the sought after featured deals. Other bloggers have useful posts about setting up effective ads for Bookbub, Others point out that while the sales spike created by bookbub is real and substantial, it can be rather short lived. This author suggests that the real benefit of being featured on bookbub is exposing the rest of your published work to a new audience.
In a world where bookstores, though gamely hanging on, represent a decreasing fraction of overall print sales (not to mention ebooks and audibooks), authors have to come to terms with the necessary techniques for online sales success, and letting the market know they even exist.
A note regarding the preparation of your book manuscript for ebook conversion, from our preferred ebook converter, Warren Broom:
What can be done in the ePub format:
Firstly, to convert to the epub format, we require a print ready PDF. This must be single page single column. If not, all of the sentences that form each column end up shuffled like a deck of cards. We will also need an ISBN and a description and subject to place into the meta-data that shows up on the retail site. Descriptions should be kept to 2 to 3 paragraphs.
We prefer to take the images from the pdf as many have captions that we include in the image so that they do not get separated from the image. We do all images in colour for those reading devices that support colour but, of course, they will render in greyscale in those that don’t.
We can only do tables that are two cells wide as any more and the words start to get squashed up at higher zoom levels. Tables with more than 2 columns are done as images. Sometimes when table cross “pages, some of the text can separate but this is not usually a problem.
If the text is justified, some words break in two, utilising a hyphen. Once again, this is not really a problem but, if the author wants to avoid them, we can align the text to the left.
Table of contents:
eBook reading devices produce a digital TOC but we usually add hyperlinks to the TOC in the ePub for earlier reading devices that don’t. We can also link sub heading to the TOC but they are not really necessary.
Redundant in ePubs as all reading devises have a search function. However, if the author really wants to include an index, it should only include single word references as multiple words will link to all references in each of each word included within the entry.
We place all of the footnotes at the end of the chapter and can link the reference within the text to its’ corresponding footnote. I can also add a return link back to the text the reference is in. It should be noted that footnotes are very time-consuming and can dramatically increase the price of the ePub.
Fonts can be embedded but, many reading devices have a default font that overrides the embedded fonts. A maximum of 2 fonts can be embedded. It is also possible to add audio and video to an ePub but, this is very complex and dramatically increases the file size and also, the cost. Our recommendation is that that a hyperlink to an external website be employed to view or listen to these forms of content.