Friday, 25 October 2013

Tablet and eReader domination!

Just looking at some old tablet and eReader stats as we start to build up to Christmas 2013...

During Christmas 2011, 1.3 million eReaders were sold with Amazon accounting for 92 per cent of the market share.

One in 40 adults in Britain received an eReader for Christmas.

61 per cent of Kindles were received by women (from a YouGov poll of more than 2,000 people).

Over 55s were twice as likely to receive an e-reader as 18 to 23-year-olds.

A survey by the Data Conversion Laboratory revealed that 63 per cent of publishers intended to publish an eBook in 2012.

A tablet was being bought every second in December 2012.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Factoring Amazon and the Kindle into your marketing strategy

It's hard to believe we've had the Kindle for almost six years. With it came an entirely new industry, an entirely new concept and the capability for the self publisher to reach millions with their work.

If you are struggling with the number of eReader devices and formats and wondering which to take on, it might be best to just focus on Amazon and the Kindle platform for the moment. That's what I'm doing. Smashwords, Kobo and the other big distributors can come later. Amazon still has the lion's share of the market, so it's wise to concentrate your efforts in the place you're likely to get the highest return.

We'll be taking an in depth look at Amazon's KDP program over the next couple of weeks.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Introducing enhanced eBooks

You say enhanced eBooks to me and I get very excited. The possibilities!!! Rich media. Alternative endings. Interview audios. Videos. Photographs. Interactivity like never before! For the 75th anniversary of The Hobbit, HarperCollins released an e-version with recently discovered Tolkien recordings and his own book illustrations, and Penguin has updated Pride and Prejudice with movie clips and instructions on the dancing.

But before we get lost in all of the hype, it's time to get down to the realism because the main problem with enhanced eBooks is they are not economically viable to the little author like you and me. You also have the concerns that embedded multimedia interrupts the reading experience and these interruptions take away from the reader's ability to imagine the story and characters. Maybe.

The art of merging sound, movies and images with text is constantly evolving and mastering the new technology will take practice. You won't necessarily need coding knowledge as there are apps for non coders to create enhanced eBooks.

Check out these sites:

For an example of one of their enhanced eBooks created through an app, have a look at this


Blurb Mobile

Urturn previously Webdoc

This article gives you more information on creating enhanced eBooks

While I will probably dabble in enhanced eBooks more for fun than anything, I do agree with the sentiments of Seth Godin when he says, "Sure, there will be experiments at the cutting edge, but no, they're not going to pay off regularly enough for it to become an industry. The quality is going to remain in the writing and in the bravery of ideas, not in teams of people making expensive digital books."

Friday, 18 October 2013

Showcasing writing sites

Number eight of why you should self publish is because the technology and social media is there to be exploited!

Rather than forums, I'm more a fan of what I've dubbed showcasing sites - online writing communities like HarperCollins Authonomy, Stories Space and Write On where you can get ideas out there and receive instant feedback and be motivated in the process. Interaction, whether through networking or through social media and writing communities, is so important when you spend hours, days and months writing alone. It's too easy to withdraw and lose confidence when you don't see or talk to anybody.

And who knows - you may even be talent spotted like Leigh Fallon or E. L. James!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Self publishing marketing on a shoestring budget

We all need a little helping hand every now and then, so here is a great post by The Writing Bomb on how to sell more eBooks on a shoestring budget.

The featured magic website is

There are some downright bizarre things on there, but if money's tight and you want to continue with those all important book marketing and promotional experiments - give some of the suggestions in this post a whirl.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Getting noticed in the Kindle store

Today's post has my thoughts on how to get your work noticed in the Kindle store.

Build up a back list so you can showcase all of your work to your readers and give them lots of choice. I wrote one book and when my readers wanted more, I had nothing for them! I wasn't ready with my second book so I'm going to have to start from the ground up once again.

Be clever with your pricing. Don't just think the 99p pricing model will solve all of your problems. Take a look at my earlier post about the pros and cons of the 99p strategy.

Think about branching out into audio versions and foreign rights to offer even more choice.

If you're writing a series, consider selling the complete work once all the books are finished and on sale. You can offer a cheaper price for a limited time, or price the complete set higher and include additional material.

Reviews! Include a review request in the back of your printed copies to remind your readers to leave feedback. A quick word on reviews - bad ones are all part of the business BUT DON'T RETALIATE as you'll destroy your credibility - possibly forever. I've learned not to engage at all on negative topics relating to my work. Let the non constructive criticism wash over you, but do read the constructive negative reviews and try to learn from them.

I'm wary of forums as they are a haven for nasty people to gang up on others. It's up to you, but don't waste your time defending yourself.

Be active on Twitter. You all know it's my favourite! Read about my Twitter journey here:

Getting started on Twitter

Twitter tit bits Part 1

Twitter tit bits Part 2

Social media mistakes to avoid

Social media techniques for newbies

The great thing with Twitter is the community feel to it whatever your areas of interest. There is a fantastic mutual promotion going on constantly whereby we retweet each others content and posts so, not only do we reach our own fans, but we reach each others fans too! And remember the 90/10 or 80/20 rule - either way, spend much more time engaging with people in proportion to the time you spend promoting yourself and your work.

Have a Facebook page hmmmmmmm like forums I'm not sure about this one either. It works for some people but I've not stumbled upon a winning formula for me yet.

While we all just want to write every day, all day, you do need to schedule in some time during your day for marketing and promo stuff. Your book might well be amazing, but if no one knows about it, you won't sell enough copies (or any) to fund future writing efforts.

Take advantage of Amazon's sneak peak "Look Inside" feature. This is usually 10% of the book. Perhaps also offer a longer online sample of your book in PDF format on your own website where you can end on a cliffhanger in the story. Hopefully people will be enticed enough to buy the book to find out what happens.

As well as time for marketing and promo activities each day, work on self improvement - you and your work - and having the confidence to talk about your writing life and your work. Most of us are shy, retiring types at heart, so try recording and / or videoing yourself and playing it back, or talking to yourself in the mirror when no-one's around.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Why self published printed books are expensive

This post also relates to books published by small independent presses, which is how my first novel came about.

A couple of years ago I wrote about the printing process and how errors creep in because of all the to-ing and fro-ing between documents. This is the process I went through with my Publisher and POD printers.

The traditional printing technique is called offset printing. Plates bearing the book's page images are prepared and the set up costs are the same despite the number of books printed. Trads will print as many books as they can in the initial print run to keep the costs per unit to a minimum.

As my previous post explains, with the print-on demand model, books are saved in PDF format and printed off a computer. They can be sold as single units to the public because it's quick and easy to print one at a time once the order has come in and been paid for. There's no minimum print requirement which has many benefits - books are paid for in advance so no cashflow issues, no need to rent a warehouse to store hundreds of copies of your book, easy to make amendments to the manuscript, books don't have a limited shelf life and they never go out of print!

However, here comes the bad news. The problem with POD publishing is the cost per unit is determined by the size of the PDF manuscript ie. by the number of pages that need to be printed. The way the trade works is they buy in bulk from the Trads, so they get a big discount which they then pass on to their customers. This is how it translates: I'm selling the printed version of my debut novel for £12.99 (approx 275 pages in PDF format). A Trad could sell the same book for RRP £8.99 and further discount it for the trade by a couple of quid, or even reduced further as part of a two book offer. These discounts are possible because the mass market incentive is clearly visible. There is no such appeal with self published or small press books because we just don't have the clout.

Don't despair though! If someone reads your eBook and really connects with it, they might be inclined to buy a printed version. Also, as your backlist grows and especially if you're writing a series, there's an opportunity to produce a really nice complete works, which you could offer to your readers in print. It's all about experimenting with format and price, finding out what your audience wants and then delivering it to them.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The pros and cons of the 99p eBook pricing strategy

We've touched on this subject already within the Self Publishing series, but the raging debate about eBook pricing rumbles on and on ... oh ... and on ...!

So here are my pros and cons for your consideration:


  • Readers will take a chance on new authors
  • Could be considered an investment in your future writing endeavours
  • Great way to gain instant recognition
  • Great way to build an initial readership and audience for your work
  • The "Impulse buy price" allows your book to get into the hands of many more readers
  • Lots of websites promoting bargain priced eBooks with free exposure
  • Good promotional or "Sale" tool (rather than a permanent pricing strategy)


  • To some readers an eBook is simply seen as a download like a PDF doc
  • The author will need to sell much more just to break even (at 99p an author makes 33p) - after shelling out for cover art, editing and marketing (based on the figures in my Self Publishing Budgeting and Funding post approx £3,000) so let's do the scary maths: £3,000 divided by 33p = 9,091 books to be sold to break even. I won't depress you with the fact that most indie authors only sell about 100 copies of their eBooks!!
  • Will be a long time before you can quit the day job - and all the time you're working full time, you can never give writing and promoting yourself your full attention
  • Not a good strategy for permanent pricing because you're undervaluing yourself and your work long term
  • Even at this cheap price, you still need to market and promote to make the sales. 99p doesn't automatically guarantee sales
  • Success with the 99p pricing strategy won't necessarily mean success with a Traditional Publisher. The business models are completely different. The Big 6 publishing houses have a no discount digital pricing model
  • Risk the label - "It's too cheap! It must be crap!"

My personal view is, it's ok to sell an informational "How To" eBook at 99p, but maybe for a novel the price needs to better reflect the time and energy that went into producing the book. Unfortunately for newbies, the price still needs to be attractive and competitive so people will "take a chance", but we all have to start somewhere, right. Personally I'm thinking about pricing my novel at £2.99 so that I can get the 70% royalties from Amazon and break even faster. This way I can also lower to 99p if sales are slow. People pay £2.99 for a Costa coffee and just think how much more work went into the story. In conclusion, I believe the 99p pricing model needs to be a part of of your overall promotional and marketing formula because as a standalone element, it will cause problems for the serious author further down the line.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Amazon's rules

In my humble opinion, one of the most exciting parts of why you should try self publishing is number seven on my list: Yes, marketing is hard work but you are in control of the experiments!

So before you let loose and start experimenting, here's a quick reminder of the frowned upon "Don'ts" within Amazon's guidelines for the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) service:

1) Don't price your eBook at £2.99 to get the 70% royalty and then price it at 99p elsewhere.

2) Don't hold multiple accounts to increase book sales.

3) Don't discuss your Amazon sales figures on social media / on your website / on your blog / in forums.

4) Don't publish inappropriate content.

5) Do follow the above and indeed all of the terms and conditions because if Amazon finds you in breach of any of it, they will keep any outstanding royalties owed to you and ban you for life.

The full terms and conditions can be found on the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) website.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Cutting out the middle men

Tying in with number six on my list of why you should self publish, it's a history lesson today for those just joining the world of all things publishing and self publishing.

Two years ago a big shake up was taking place. Amazon was about to announce its New York imprint had bought print and digital rights to bestselling self-help author Timothy Ferriss and his next book, and JK Rowling was launching the new Pottermore website which would be the only outlet for the eBook versions of Harry Potter. These significant developments in the world of publishing posed a couple of mighty big questions: Will authors start to cut out all of the unnecessary middle men ie. agents, publishers and commissioning editors and begin dealing solely with the companies that sell their work direct to the public? And if that's the case, what is the role of the Traditional Publisher from this point onwards?

Traditional Publishers naturally came in for a bashing. They were accused of not keeping up. They were also accused of giving in to supermarkets and the high street retail chains for greater discounts in order to keep stock moving, thereby pushing the price of books down. In doing this, they had been chipping away at the royalty rates for their authors.

When an author realises their income is in the hands of just a few buyers, why wouldn't they reach out to a bigger audience if the opportunity presented itself?

This time two years ago the first Kindle Fire was also released. Amazon had created "an end-to-end service" that "developed, promoted and delivered the product." A neat little package indeed.

So here we are, fast forward a couple of years and Amazon is stronger than ever, but interestingly Trads still exist. The debate rages on and the quality and pricing of eBooks comes under fire quite regularly. Amazon has introduced strict policies to keep books in their KDP program up to scratch. We still have Waterstones even though the tablet market continues to explode with better and better handheld devices for reading. But most importantly, if you're a writer and you want to see your work published instantly, you now have that opportunity. Nobody stands in your way and there's no financial risk.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Books you wouldn't believe were self published

Number five for why you should self publish is because respectable authors are doing it - and have been doing it for years and years!

Check out this great post "9 Books That Began Life Self Published"

Let's continue to smash the stigma!