Createspace Versus Lightning Source

For self-publishers, choosing between Amazon's Createspace print on demand service, and Ingram's Ingram Spark/Lightning Source service can be difficult. Both services have their pluses and drawbacks. For fence-sitters, here's an article that argues uploading to both services is a good idea. An author client recently indicated this approach was working well for him, and we'd be happy to hear opinions either was other print on demand using authors.

Useful Resources for Australian Authors

The Australian Society of Authors maintains a very useful collection of documents for Australian authors. Some of them are free, others free for their members. Titles include: The Author as Producer, the Author as Brand, Copying payments to authors, Getting Published, Getting Started for Book Illustrators, Ghostwriting Agreement & Contact List, Guidelines to Permissions, Introduction to Digital Self-Publishing, Literary Agent and Author Agreement, Literary Competition Guidelines, Paying for publication and so on. See also the vast collection of resources at the Arts Law Centre's website

 

If You Build It, They Might Not Come — Promotional Realities Part 3

Guest Post by Jo Ettles

Public speaking and networking
I often speak at events both big and small. Some events are local and some of late have been interstate. This is an amazing way to get your books and your message out into the world. It takes a lot of energy to do this though so I tend to really only participate in events and networking opportunities where I know there will be genuine interest in my work. For obvious reasons, if you are asked to speak at an event to showcase your book, make sure it is a good fit!

Website
Invest in a good website. Create a beautiful website or blog and sell signed copies of your books from it. My website is actually a Wordpress blog combined with website design. I am lucky my husband is trained in this area so I can add and subtract information at any time. I post articles to my blog, I sell my books from my blog, I recommend other authors books from my blog and I also obviously promote my other services.

Your book is important and your website/blog should capture the essence of your work as well as who you are so invest some time and energy into this platform.

Keep going   
Recently, my publisher went into receivership. This was a devastating blow for not only me but also around 200 other authors, editors and talented designers. It would have been very easy to just call it quits but I decided that quitting would have been too easy. 

My thing is to write short, easy to read books that will inspire people to make positive life changes instantly. That desire has been so strong that I am now starting my third book. Imagine if I let my first publisher take that dream away from me through their miss management?

I was lucky enough to get picked up by another publisher recently and so the journey to get my work out into the world continues. 

Here is the thing though...

If you believe you can, you are halfway there. There are always going to be challenges, obstructions and hurdles that will set you back. If success was easy, well then everyone would be successful! 

Henry Rollins said, “You must do what others don’t to achieve what others won’t”. For that reason I am relentless when it comes to marketing my books. I make the time every-day to find a way to reach another reader, to connect with another person who may want to hear my message or share it with someone else.

If you have created a beautiful book that you are proud of, take steps every day to get it out into the world.  Think outside the square, take action and be consistent. Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen.

If You Build It, They Might Not Come — Promotional Realities Part 2

Guest Post by Jo Ettles

Social media
I love social media and it has worked well for me. There are so many options though, so my best advice is pick one or two social media platforms and then do them really well. I use Facebook and Twitter only.

Facebook – I have a personal Facebook account but I keep this for family and friends and a few colleagues that I have connected with. Off to the side of my personal account, I have a business/ author page which I post on daily.  Because I write self- help books, I post quotes and tips, wellness information that I hope will encourage people to take action towards having a better day.  To me, it is fantastic a way to instantly connect with people and it also reflects the way I write.  

I have used Facebook adds as a way of selling books, and I have had good results. If you are not familiar with marketing using Facebook advertising, the guidelines are strict and you need to be mindful on how to do it well to make it work.  It is trial and error and maybe that is another post down the track if anyone wants to know more about that as a way to market their books.

Twitter
You can actually connect your Facebook page to Twitter and when you post on Facebook, it automatically reposts it on Twitter- killing 2 birds with one stone (no pun intended!!!). Twitter is a phenomenal way to connect with the world.  I once connected with two amazing coaches in London via Twitter and I sent them a copy of my first book. When they received it, they took a photo of it and then shared the photo and some information about my book with all of their followers. It definitely generated interest in my work and resulted in an increase in sales.

Here is another way to look at Twitter. If you follow someone on Twitter, they automatically receive notification via email that you are following them. It is a perfect way to connect and introduce yourself to all sorts of amazing people who might want to follow you, connect with you and even share your work.

Review copies   
When my first book was released, I had a publicist that actually got me a few radio interviews and a couple of good reviews in magazines. For my latest book, I have no publicist. I am my own publicist! 

I wrote my own press release and sent a copy of my latest book to a few media publications. So far, I have had a few radio interviews, a great full page write up in a newspaper magazine and it is early days. I have only just started doing this.

I don’t have any real influential media connections so this method is a bit hit and miss for me, but I have nothing to lose. I think if you want to really get your work out there, be fearless. What is the worst thing that can happen?  They don’t respond?  Take a chance. You may be pleasantly surprised. 

Send review copies to journalists in your local paper or any papers and magazines for that matter. There is a great website called Sourcebottle and it is a free online service that connects journalists with sources so if you sign up, you get daily emails of upcoming opportunities to quote or feature in stories. I have found a couple of great opportunities via this website to promote myself and my books. 

Lightning Source versus Createspace

One of the benefits of digital printing combined with online bookselling is the capacity of printing books as they are ordered, rather than pre-printing and warehousing. This massively reduces costs for small presses and self-publishers. Two major players dominate this field — Createspace, owned by Amazon, and Ingrams Spark (Lightning Source in Australia). The two services offer a very similar level of functionality, but there are differences in pricing, approach, assistance and sales channel availability. Check out these interesting articles discussing  the relative merits of each service, and identify which one better fits your particular use-case.

Australian Society of Authors looks out for Self Publishers

The ASA has compiled a compact PDF booklet with practical advice for self publishers. Of particular note is their discussion re. pricing a book by factoring in production, distribution and bookstore costs, and a rather short list of distributors who may be willing to take on self-published authors (especially those with active promotional plans). The Arts Law Centre of Australia has also compiled an in-depth discussion of self publishing from their rights/legal perspective.

Fair Pay for Illustrators

Imagining a world where illustrators are paid fairly for their work, this page sets out suggested rates for various tasks and situations. In an increasingly borderless design world competing with much lower wage regions, those kind of rates may be difficult for many illustrators to achieve. The site hosting this page is a time portal back to the earliest days of eye-wateringly bad web design

Legal Deposit Wants You

Self-published authors may be unaware that they are obligated to supply one copy of their book to the National Library of Australia. One imagines a vast warehouse somewhere in Canberra containing the literary effusions of an entire nation. Besides an author's Federal obligations, each state usually has its own Legal Deposit scheme. Public-spirited authors will therefore need to save for two lots of postage stamps.

Consider a Publicist

Self-published authors typically operate on a very tight budget. Short run digital printing, print on demand and ebooks have made the economics of self-publishing more viable, but rarely do authors have much left over for the promotion of their work. Some authors have a natural talent for self-promotion and the confidence and energy to implement an effective campaign. Many, however, do not, and either avoid confronting the issue or cultivate the vague idea that their book will somehow be 'discovered' and 'go viral'.

In truth, the vast majority of books instantly sink almost without trace. They are very visible to the author, and to the author's friends and family, but beyond that, a great void. The book is invisible to everyone else. In a crowded marketplace of ideas and creative 'product' a book needs a champion, someone to present it to potential audiences, to tell a story about it and make it into a viable commercial entity. If you as an author have a lot of faith in your latest work and believe it will have a sizeable potential audience, perhaps consider the services of a publicist.

In recent times we have had several authors mention the quality of publicity work carried out by Scott Eathorne of Quikmark Media. If we hear positive things about other writer and small-publisher oriented publicists, we will post it on this blog. Those interested in a purely ebook promotional tactics, please see our post here for some useful tips.

Using Social Media to Promote Your Ebook

We asked successful ebook author Donna Usher for her thoughts on marketing ebooks online. She gives some extremely practical and achievable advice based on her own hard work and experimentation.

"When I published my first book I threw myself into social media as a means to market. I used twitter and facebook, and also lured people to my blog. In the first 11 months I sold 72 eBooks on Amazon and 1 on kobo. I also did a blog tour - paid $200 for it - and sold 8 books that month. It was pretty disheartening. The thing I realise now is that most of the people I network with on social media are not my readers. A few of them would be but most of them are writers. So now I think that social media is an excellent way to market once you have the readers that are following you. The trick is to get those readers in the first place.

So how do we get them to find us when out book is sitting at #350999 on Amazon? John Locke very cleverly managed to get his blogs to go viral, and then had his books for sale at the end of the blog for only 99c. But he had a lot of books published by that time. Would it have been as successful if he only had one book published? Probably not. So firstly I think the more books we have available, the greater our exposure, and the more powerful any successful marketing we do will be.

After the 11 months of watching the sales trickle in, and trying twitter and facebook and goodreads, I took my book off Kobo and signed up for KDP select. I figured I had nothing to lose by making The Seven Steps to Closure free for 5 days. I was hoping for maybe 1000 dowloads and expecting not to see any change in my sales for a while. In fact I was planning to release Cocoa and Chanel a few months later and was thinking perhaps some people might find it when I did.

I had about 42000 downloads in that 5 days and the sales took off immediately. I hadn't accounted for the exposure the book would have on the amazon site in the people-who-bought-this-book-also-bought-these section. Within an hour of the free days finishing I had more sales than I had the entire 11 months. Over the next two weeks it made itself up to #132 out of all books for sale on amazon. I sold over 1200 copies in the last 2 weeks of that month. It tapered off over the next two months so that I sold 300 copies in the month before I released Cocoa and Chanel. (By the way I put the success of my book's exposure largely down to my cover design. It's pretty and bright and not too fussy, and I've branded the two of them so they are obviously my covers!)

I made Seven Steps free again when I released C and C, this time for 2 days. I had another 12000 downloads and both book's sales took off. That month I sold 1786 copies of C and C, even though I didn't make it free at all. So the free days on Seven Steps was also selling C and C.

Since then I've played around with putting both books up for free and the number of days that I do it. Seven Steps is more effective than C and C as it is in a slightly different genre. It's women's fiction and romantic comedy. C and C is women's fiction and mystery/detective/female sleuth. So the genres that are more female/romance orientated get much better exposure.

This is backed up by two of my friends who each put their books free for 5 days. Kristy (who you know) had about 5000 downloads for her YA horror and another girlfriend of mine only had 400 downloads for a thriller over the 5 days. It didn't affect her sales at all.
I have a few theories on this.

  1. More women own kindles than men.
  2. More adults own kindles than kids.
  3. There are far more romance readers than there are thriller.
  4. The majority of men who read read non-fiction as apposed to fiction.

So I feel that the books with a greater chance of getting noticed are those aimed at the romance section. Hence my thriller writing girlfriend is now writing a romantic thriller.
Regarding the number of days that I place my book free. I find if I only have it free for 1 day it doesn't really increase the sales rate at all. So that's about 4000 downloads for 7 steps. Tomorrow I start 3 free days so I will be looking at how it effects my daily sale figures.
I have also played around with the price of the books. I put them down to .99c for a while, then up to $1.99, $2.99 and I know have 7 steps at $3.99. Funnily enough its ranking improved when I put it up to $3.99. I read an article that said $1.99 is a bad price point. At 99c people see it as a marketing price. Apparently they perceive $1.99 as being the price of a poorer quality book.

The other good thing about the free days is that I get a huge jump in reviews on my site whenever I do it. And good reviews sell books.

So how do I use Social Media?

Firstly I use it to set myself up as an expert. I interview authors and do author reviews on my site, which is a good way to lure potential readers onto your site. Random House has started using me to do book reviews on the books they are launching which is excellent as they allow me to link the review on their website back to my blog and the author interview I have also done. I write articles on writing and am publishing the How To book of Self-Publishing.
Whenever someone contacts me about my books I ask them if they would like to go onto an email list specifically to be used for letting them know when my books are released.
I believe that eBooks are the way of the future so am not terribly fussed about my print book sales at the moment. I will look at it in the future, but am actually hoping a big publishing company will approach me for the rights of the print books.

My aim is to get 2 eBooks published a year because the more I have out there the more effecive my free days will be. Imagine if I had had 10 books available when 7 Steps had the 42000 downloads. If only 10% of those people had liked me and bought all my other books that would have been 37800 books I would have sold off that 5 free days. That's powerful!!
So at the moment I intend to stay with Amazon. It is the most popular e-reader and I find that if people don't have the device they have the kindle app.