The practice of self- publishing ebooks on Amazon.com has taken off to the point where that site competes and even threatens the traditional book publishing industry.
As bloggers, most of us do indeed have a book inside us, since a compilation of best blog posts can be easily edited into a book.
So, how can we take advantage of the new paradigm in publishing? How do we authors become publishers and use Amazon as our distributor?
Martin Crosbie is happy to answer those questions.
Crosbie is a BC-based, best-selling author on Amazon whose novel, My Temporary Life, was downloaded 150,00 times. The success of that book motivated him to expand into a trilogy with the second book titled, My Name is Hardly, as well as to publish How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle – An Easy-To-Follow Self-Publishing Guidebook.
I have been a Facebook friend of Crosbie for a while, and when he was scheduled to speak to the Vancouver Business Network on October 7, I took the opportunity to meet him in person.
Crosbie’s presentation was titled, “How to be a Self-Published Success Story,” and he outlined ways to succeed at publishing ebooks on Amazon.
He started by advising us to write a great book that readers want to read.
But how do you know you’ve got one of those?
1. Use Beta Readers
Beta readers are volunteers who will read your book and give you honest advice for improvement.
While he was having beta readers telling him they liked his book, he sent his book to agents and publishers who rejected it.
“I got 130 rejection letters and printed them off and hung them on the wall. At the same time, I was getting positive input from the beta readers saying they liked the book.”
That’s when he decided to self-publish. Using Facebook to contact other author and enlist their help and advice, he published My Temporary Life with remarkable success. In an article, The Globe and Mail called him a Traditional Publishing Reject, a moniker he happily embraces.
After sharing that tale, Crosbie elaborated on the best ways of publishing ebooks on Amazon.
2. Prepare Content Thoroughly
(Follow steps in this order)
- Use beta readers and incorporate their comments
- Get a good professional editor who has worked on books in your genre — $500
- Send the edited manuscript back to a 2nd group of beta readers for comments
- Hire a proof reader to kill typos and grammatical errors
- Use a 2nd professional editor to make a quick read-through — $200
- Hire a formatter to put file into a format that Amazon accepts — $50
3. Create a Professional Book Cover
Design cover art that accurately represents the content.
(Pick options that work for you)
Use Amazon’s Cover Creator which offers cover templates that give you control over colours and fonts – Free
Get a good cover designer referred by book author friends — $150-200
Post cover design ideas on Facebook group to have friends choose one
4. Better Blurbs
Write a great synopsis to use as your product description.
Get help from other authors and groups.
Remember that synopsis can be changed later and can incorporate reviews.
5. Use Author Central
Claim your author page on Amazon’s Author Central. The author page you create there works like a personal web site with links to books, events , etc.
Crosbie advised uploading your synopsis through Author Central, and not the basic product page, because Author Central offers more formatting options.
6. Choose Categories Wisely
Choose two categories to place your book. One for readers to find your book and another to break out as bestseller.
- Popular – compete with the best authors in your genre in these heavily populated, general categories.
- Winnable – pick a relevant, more specific category with less products and competition that you can break out as a bestseller in. Check stats found on the Amazon product page on the left at the bottom, in the category list of which shows the number of books in parentheses.
- Non Classifiable – on the drop-down menu, click “NonClassifiable” and enter a specific category. This is where you can suggest a category to Amazon, and if they accept, you will be the bestseller in it.
7. Pick Proper Pricing
Generally, non-fiction books sell for more than fiction. Find your genre and price your book to fit among others.
$3.99 — $5.99 is the sweet spot for most books. Books priced at $2.99 – 9.99 receive 70% royalty payments.
Under $2.99 and over $9.99 receive 35% royalties, so stick to the sweet spot.
8. Promote ebook with Print Book
Have Amazon’s printing partner print copies of your book and throw a book signing party.
Sell the print book to bookstores and participate in bookstore events.
Get your friends and family to download the ebook on same day to get on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list within 30 days.
Get with libraries events to promote and sell books.
Join the Facebook Library Group that requests each other’s books at local libraries
9. Take Advantage of Amazon Tools
Use Shelfari, which is similar to Goodreads. Both are Amazon sites and may amalgamate in the future.
Get into KDP Select, an Amazon program where your book must be exclusive for 90 days. KDP Select offers earnings on borrows and features a book a month.
Give the book away for a short time and pay for the promotion of the giveaway. Giveaways push the book up on popularity charts, which leads to increased sales.
Participate in a three week Kindle Countdown which lowers the price to .99, but the royalties remain at 70%.
10. Promote Online
Get interviewed on Blogtalkradio.com and other podcasts to tell your story.
Participate in sites like Indies Unlimited, The Displaced Nation, to get more exposure to readers.
Use your own blog to connect with readers and help other authors.
Participate in boxed sets of ebooks with other authors to drive sales and exposure.
Buy promotion on sites like Bookbub.com to feature in emails that go to 2 million subscribers.
Pick a maximum of 3 social media platforms to promote on, like Facebook, Goodreads (Amazon) and one more that you enjoy, like Stumbleupon or Twitter. But don’t spread yourself too thin!
11. Stay Balanced
Crosbie closed by reminding us we are writers first. Our job is to write, not just promote and sell. His trick is to set an achievable number of words to write every day and stick to it using a spreadsheet. Always balance your writing and marketing, he said.
I bought a soft cover copy of Crosbie’s 2014 Edition of How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle – An Easy-To-Follow Self-Publishing Guidebook and I am already using his tips as I edit and update my ebook, Create a WordPress Website in Ten Easy Steps – updated for 4.0 for release on Amazon soon.