Good morning everyone!
I just wanted to shared some of the information I learned this past weekend at a self-publishing seminar given by the super-awesome Smashwords CEO Mark Coker.
First, I’ve been self-pubbed since 2011 and have belonged to many indie loops for just as long. For those who don’t know what Smashwords is, it’s an ebook distributor. Instead of having accounts in multiple online retailers, you upload a word file or professionally designed .epub file to Smashwords and they distribute it to various retail channels such as Kobo, Barnes and Noble and iBooks and to libraries via OverDrive (serves 20,000+ libraries) and Baker & Taylor Axis 360. Here’s a full list of channels they reach – http://smashwords.com/distribution .
One of the concerns some Indies have about Smashwords is their automatically opted in to new lines of distribution when they opened and the quarterly payments instead of monthly. To answer these concerns, authors distributing through Smashwords can now automatically opt out of new channels from their Dashboard’s Channel Manager screen. As for the monthly payments, the accounting department is looking into it, but Mark believes more value is added to the author if he prioritizes Smashwords’ development efforts on adding more markets (more profit opportunities) and more tools (their new Assetless Preorder (http://blog.smashwords.com/2015/06/smashwords-introduces-assetless.html) feature is one such example).
Much of what was said is pretty much SOP for those who’ve been published. The top six are:
Write a super-awesome book (including editing and formatting) that makes the reader go WOW. Your book will be competing against a glut of high-quality low-cost ebooks. Good is not good enough.
Super-awesome cover that makes a promise that the book delivers (List of low cost designers and formatters)
Another amazing book in the works and put it on pre-order
Freebies (to get new readers to find you) especially in a series. Series with free series starters earn more readers and earnings for the author than series without free series starters.
Maximum availability, i.e. don’t limit yourself to one market (iBooks is currently the #2 seller of ebooks with 50+ markets and over 1 billion devices out there versus amazon with <20 markets) Your sales will fluctuate at each retailer each month. If your book breaks out, it may break out at different retailers at different times. Diversified distribution evens out the bumps and reduces your dependence on a single retailer.
A relatively new option for Indies is the Preorder. Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo now take preorders. This is an important tool for authors to make the most out of your marketing, it strengthens the bond between reader and writer by showing the reader you’re committed to deliver the next book, can help boost a book to best-seller status—gaining exposure to more readers, and enables your book to go on sale on the same day at all platforms.
Some random key things I took away from the workshop:
Use buttons on webpages to help readers identify the platform. The button should have the retailers logo, and should link directly ot your book page at each retailer.
Preorders are the next big thing for Indies, Less than 10% of authors are taking advantage of preorders, but over the last 12 months ebooks born as preorders at Smashwords accounted for 67% of their top 200 bestsellers.
Affiliate marketing opens untapped revenue streams for many authors, make sure your links from you pages are affiliate links.
The sweet price points haven’t changed: They’re 99cents, $2.99, and $3.99 sell the most units. $2.99 and $3.99 earn indies the most earnings. Longer books sell better. The top sellers at Smashwords and their retail partners are typically over 100K.
Having a blog and your own mailing list are more important than ever because these are platforms you control.
For more information on these topics and many, many more such as hard numbers from Mark, consider following his blog.
Also, there are YouTube videos of many of his workshops available. Click here to check them out.
Until next time.