* 28% of Americans read at least one eBook last year.
* Only 4% of readers are eBook-only, so print books still play the largest role in book sales.
* 50% of adult Americans (18+) now own either a table or an eReader.
* 32% of eBook readers are reading on their smartphones.
* 50% of readers under the age of 30 read at least one eBook in the past year.
In summary: eBook sales have increased but they make up a small percentage of the total book sales. Why not use both formats to take full advantage of sale opportunities?
Why do readers still like books? Each reader’s reason may be different – tactile, emotional, practical, educational, etc – the infographic below (click to enlarge) helps to answer the question.
Some say there is something special about the printed word. It is there forever and can’t be tampered with or “changed”. As one author put it: ‘Even if I sell zero, I still want a book on my shelf that I can point to and say, “See, I did finish something.” It’s like a trophy — it is on a shelf on my bookcase – always there to be a reminder. Others are happy to have their eBook listed on Amazon.
When you are in control of your own writing career, there’s a lot to keep track of: the writing itself, book design, publishing, accounting, social media, maintaining a website, book tours, PR campaigns, blogging, etc.
But stay focused: Your #1 goal should be to build your email list.
Why? Because countless studies have shown that a subscriber on your email list is FAR more likely to take a requested action than one of your social media followers. In other words, when you announce a limited-time sale on your newest book, you’re going to get the best results from your email newsletter. Make sure you have an email signup form on your website.
Certainly you can grow your email list through real-world promotion (bringing a signup form to your readings, signings, lectures, panel discussions, etc.), but probably the most common opportunity you’ll have to capture someone’s email is when they’re visiting your website. Be sure to add an email signup form to your website (which should be displayed on every single page — because you never know which piece of web content is going to attract readers).
Note: there is a difference between a “subscribe to blog” widget and an email newsletter subscription widget/form. The first allows a visitor to subscribe to the blog itself, giving them email notifications whenever you post new content on your site. The second provides you with the individual’s contact info, so you can email them your newsletter, so they can buy your books, write reviews and support your writing career.
So you have just published this truly amazing book and are waiting for the world to beat a path to your door (website)…. but they are not coming. Why? The world doesn’t know about it. This is the major disadvantage of self-publishing — the need to publicise and promote — the role traditionally carried out by the publisher. With tens of thousands of books published on a daily basis, what chances are there that yours will be noticed? — the curse of the easy self-publishing eBook world.
There are plenty of self-help books and websites on how-to-do promotion — again which to pick and which is any good? A recent, FREE, no upsell, no cross-sell, no email opt-in, nothing. Just a free resource is available from Brian Dean. He calls it “The Definitive Guide to Keyword Research”.
Keywords are those words and phrases that readers use when they’re searching for information—like your books. They can make a difference between a book that sells or one that sits there in obscurity. Brian suggests that long tail keywords should be used. Long tail keywords are long, 4+ word phrases that are usually very specific. Phrases like “affordable life insurance for senior citizens” and “order vitamin D capsules online” are examples of long tail keywords. Even though they don’t get a lot of search volume individually – when added together– long tails make up the majority of searches online.
Traditionally publishers have required authors to produce business plans for their books. These plans are most often referred to as book proposals. Although self-published authors don’t need a formal book proposal, because they alone make the decision to publish their work, they do need business plans. As the publishers of their own books, they alone must determine if their books are viable business propositions. Traditionally published authors rely on agents, and, ultimately, acquisitions editors, to make this determination.
Brian Klems (photo) contends that no matter how you want to publish, and whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you should produce a business plan for each and every book you write and publish—before writing a word of your manuscript. He offers eight good reasons:
1. A business plan helps you hone your message or story into a viable product.
A clear statement about your book’s benefits, why someone would want to read your book rather than someone else’s book on the same topic or with a similar story.
2. A business plan helps you determine if a market exists for your book.
Ensure you know who you are writing for and that you have a large enough market.
3. A business plan helps you produce a unique and necessary book.
You want to write a book that is different enough to make it stand out from the pack — what is your point of difference.
4. A business plan helps you create a marketable structure and content for your book.
A business plan includes a table of contents and chapter summaries.
5. A business plan allows you to tweak your idea for maximum product viability.
Recheck the benefits—the value—you plan to provide readers.
6. A business plan offers you an opportunity to plan for success.
Promotion needs to begin the moment that light bulb goes off in your head, it makes sense that you should start planning how you will promote your book before you even begin writing it.
7. A business plan helps you evaluate your readiness to publish.
A fan base, or a large, loyal following of people who know you means a higher likelihood of selling more books upon release.
8. A business plan helps you determine if you are a one-book author.
The more books you write, the more books you sell. When you write a business plan for your book, take time to consider spin-off books, sequels and series.
Even established authors are beginning to recognize the benefits of self-publishing. When you publish independently, you get to:
1.keep creative control — YOU have the final say over all creative matters, including your book’s style, tone, subject, organization, cover design, and more.
2. publish your book now — Don’t wait two years or more to see your book in print; bypass the querying, book pitching, negotiations, and other hurdles that slow down the traditional publishing process.
3. keep full ownership — This means you’ll earn more money per sale (you can earn up to 85% of the net revenue from eBook sales).
4. own your direct relationship with readers — In this publishing world where even famous authors are shouldering more and more of the marketing burden for their books, you might as well handle those efforts on your own, and when you do, YOU keep the email contacts, social media followers, and friends you earn along the way. An author shouldn’t have to watch while their hard fan-acquisition work gets absorbed into the customer database of some huge publishing house.
5. answer to yourself — no boss, committee, or shareholders staring over your shoulder! You make the decisions about your writing, publishing, and promotional efforts so they make sense for your life, family, and career.
Here at Kalmak Consultancy we have the tools and experience to assist you to produce your eBook. We use the services of BookBaby for worldwide eBook distribution and short-run printing. We can help you in the design and layout of your own website and blog to promote the eBook and do the heavy-lifting regarding web hosting and social media marketing.
Two years ago I finally achieved one of the main tasks on my ‘bucket list’: to complete my research on an ancestor who had worked as a senior detective at Scotland Yard in the Victorian era; to write a book about his experiences that a commercial publisher would be prepared to take on board, and to see that book on the shelves of high-street bookstores. Unwrapping the box containing the first copies of the book will always remain with me as a truly memorable experience.
I learnt some lessons along the way which I thought I would share with other budding authors of non-fiction books.
1. If you get carried away by the fun of research as much as I do, it is essential to discipline yourself. Don’t go off in too many directions at once and make sure that you file the information you obtain in a structured fashion. For my purposes, I assemble the information that emerges from my research, into a chronological order (relevant to the main subject of the book), and incorporate cross-references to documentary sources, including photocopies, online databases, and my hand-written or electronically-captured notes. It is extremely frustrating, while writing the book, if you are unable to quickly lay your hands on that newspaper clipping, photograph, website or research notes that you remember discovering or writing a year or so previously. There is really no excuse these days for the muttered “where the hell did I put it” comment. There are specific software packages and databases available to help authors organise their research, but I have found that creating a chronological table of relevant events, cross-referenced to my information sources, is perfectly adequate.
2. Before you start writing, you need to answer a series of questions about the book, such as the 10 questions posed in Bobbie Linkemer’s blog article. If you are going to approach a commercial publisher with your plans, they will expect you to have such information at your fingertips, including a draft book title and subtitle; expected word count; deadline for completion of the text; how many illustrations will be included; why your book will be original; your target market; organisations to which your book should be publicised etc. If you are planning to self-publish, this preparation is still invaluable. Your ideas will evolve further as you get down to the writing, but I certainly felt better once I had thought about my target audience more, and had set a word limit and time deadline.
3. Writing. You don’t have to start a book at the beginning. I knew that the subject matter in the second chapter of my last book was likely to be easier to write, and would probably provide a better indication that the book would contain new information. So when my potential publishers asked for evidence of my writing, I wrote that second chapter and I was fortunate that they rose to the bait and we agreed a contract. In addition, I now had a good chapter ‘under my belt’ and felt greatly encouraged as a consequence.
4. We all have different approaches to writing. Once I start, I try to write for at least 3-4 hours a day even when the muse isn’t with me. I will then spend an hour or so ‘polishing’ the text that I’ve produced that day before metaphorically ‘sticking it in a drawer’ for about a week before taking a fresh look at it. This won’t work for everybody and you will need to develop your own rhythm.
5. It’s a good idea to identify at least a couple of constructive people who will be prepared to read and comment on individual chapters and/or the entire text before you submit your final draft for publication. I test out my drafts on at least two readers who have a general interest in the subject and ideally another one or two who have specific expertise on the subject matter of individual chapters. This can provide an invaluable set of comments that help remove any substantial ‘howlers’ from the text, and give you a good guide about the likely interest of the book to general readers and specialists. If you are like me, your first draft of the book will be longer than the word count that you set out to achieve. Cutting the text can be painful but has to be done, not least to reduce additional page charges for hard copies of the book. However, make sure that you save any substantial deleted material as you may be able to use it on your website and blog, to help promote the book.
6. OK, so now your final text is with the publisher. Well done; but don’t waste the time between submission and publication (which can be short, particularly for self-published material). You need to be working to promote your book even if you have a commercial publisher behind you. If you haven’t already got a website and blog, I would recommend that you do so. I received excellent mentoring and support for that process from James Kalmakoff at Kalmak Consultancy, and continue to do so. In addition, to help build a target market and to promote my book(s), I use Facebook and LinkedIn and make myself available for talks.
None of this is rocket science, but I hope that my comments will help encourage other budding authors through the process. I’m now writing my next book, and fitting in research for another, which has been prompted by exciting contacts that I have made via my blog. Keep writing!
It’s getting towards the end-of-the-year and a time for tidying up all those loose ends you didn’t get around to doing during the year. Also it is traditional to start the New Year with some ‘resolutions’ for the great leap forward. I came across a blog by Daniel Scocco who was summarising a book by T Harv Eker called “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth”. It sounded like one of those ‘power of positive thinking’ books, but Daniel’s summary would indicate it is more about that inner mind-game that some people are able to play out with their lives. Not that I am ambitious to become a millionaire but my resolution is to read this book in the New Year. Here is a summary of the core of the book — some of the ‘pearls of wisdom’ may struck a resonant note with you.
1. Rich people believe “I create my life.” Poor people believe “Life happens to me.”
2. Rich people play the money game to win. Poor people play the money game to not lose.
3. Rich people are committed to being rich. Poor people want to be rich.
4. Rich people think big. Poor people think small.
5. Rich people focus on opportunities. Poor people focus on obstacles.
6. Rich people admire other rich and successful people. Poor people resent rich and successful people.
7. Rich people associate with positive, successful people. Poor people associate with negative or unsuccessful people.
8. Rich people are willing to promote themselves and their value. Poor people think negatively about selling and promotion.
9. Rich people are bigger than their problems. Poor people are smaller than their problems.
10. Rich people are excellent receivers. Poor people are poor receivers.
11. Rich people choose to get paid based on results. Poor people choose to get paid based on time.
12. Rich people think “both”. Poor people think “either/or”.
13. Rich people focus on their net worth. Poor people focus on their working income.
14. Rich people manage their money well. Poor people mismanage their money well.
15. Rich people have their money work hard for them. Poor people work hard for their money.
16. Rich people act in spite of fear. Poor people let fear stop them.
17. Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.
To follow up on the previous posting on relaunching a website, one of the factors that determines the success of a site is the speed of loading. If the speed is much greater than 4 seconds, than people are likely to ‘click away’ before your fabulous site even gets loaded to the browser. Also you will get a lower ranking in the search engines. A great (and free) tool to check the speed and the performance of your website is GTMetrix — just type in your URL and a report on your rating is provided online in seconds. You can compare up to four URL’s — your competitors as well — and the analysis ranks the sites against a list of performance factors. Furthermore GTMetrix provides advice and links to other tools. If you are using WordPress, it suggests some useful plugins for optimisation.
One of the major issues affecting the speed of loading is the size of your images. The internet is all about visual impact but it comes at a cost of file size. If you use Photoshop you have the tools to determine (usually by trial and error) the best size without compromising the quality of the image. But there will be times when you don’t have access to Photoshop or never could afford it. The solution is to use the online image editor, PicResize. You can upload the image from your computer, crop it, edit it, manipulate it and then download the new image back to your computer. This is a great tool when you are editing on the go or don’t have your desktop computer handy.