Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Indie Pub Part 6

We’ve covered a lot of material to this point in our series, from a review of the Indie Pub Revolution, to preparing your book, your cover, selling, and finally promoting your book. We'll conclude with building an effective marketing strategy.

Designing An Effective Marketing Strategy
The objective of that strategy is to help you sell as many books as possible, to even sell sufficient quantity to earn a satisfying living selling books.

Setting the Bar

With the e-book revolution, it is no longer necessary to write a “bestselling novel” in order to make a satisfying income from being an author. Midlist authors can now live quite comfortably on the proceeds from their books without having to sell nearly the quantities that traditionally published authors must sell. Due to the higher royalty rates that indie authors earn, we can make more money selling fewer books, because we don’t have all the costly overhead to pay for that a traditional publishing house must contend with.
If we were to set a goal of “earning enough to quit” as the benchmark of success, then selling about a thousand books a month is probably the minimum threshold. If your books sell for the minimum 70% price threshold of $2.99, you’ll make about $2 on every sale, or $2,000 a month. That’s $24,000 a year, almost enough to live on. At $4.99, your net on a thousand books would be around $3,500 a year, or $42,000.
That being said, there are some key factors that play into the ability to reach the 1K threshold. First: of those indies who’ve sold at least a thousand books a month, 67% of them have three or more titles to sell. 17% did so with two titles. Only 16% sold at least IK books with only one title available.

The obvious conclusion is this: the more books you have to sell, the more likely you are to reach the threshold. This chart shows the genres that sell best. Obviously, there is a huge market for paranormal romance (ie: Twilight).

So write several books if you want to succeed.



Cross-Promotion

Once you begin selling your books, recognize this also: each book is not only a product, but also a marketing pitch for your other books. Promote every other title in the back copy of every book. Be sure you provide a listing of the links, blurb, and a thumbnail of the cover art for those books.
Just having five or six titles to sell doesn’t guarantee you success, however. You still have to promote and work for it.

Using KDP Select

Is it wise to publish in print or electronic first? You decide, as the author, which you prefer. I will point out that most indie authors who’ve reached the threshold have done so by publishing e-books primarily, and then print for those who don’t yet have a kindle or nook or tablet.
One of the more useful tools that Amazon provides is their KDP Select program. KDP Select is a 90 day commitment, with an option to renew (this is the default option), whereby your book becomes available to borrow in the Kindle lending library for Prime members. When your books are borrowed, you are paid a stipend out of the KDP monthly allotment. Currently it’s around $700,000. Every book borrowed gets a piece of that pie. It is evenly distributed to all authors. The number has gone up from $500,000 since they started the program, and they’ve extended it to Great Britain, Germany, and France.
This is very important: if you sign up for KDP Select, you must grant them the exclusive right to your e-book for the 90 day period. Print books are excluded. So, to effectively use this strategy to launch a book, you’ll want to release on Kindle for at least 90 days prior to publishing a book on Smashwords. It is extremely difficult to take a book down from Smashwords’ affiliate sites (and there are so many of them), so it’s best not to do Smashwords until you’ve launched from Kindle. I recommend waiting at least six months from Kindle to Smashwords.
When you sign up for KDP Select, you are given the option of five days of free promotion. This means you can make your book available free for giveaways for up to five days. Free means free. There are no royalties paid for this. But you can, however, create a huge surge in your book’s sales rankings and generate a lot of eyeballs on your work. I personally gave away over fourteen thousand copies of my book The Coppersmith. That’s 14K readers I never would have had otherwise. KDP Select is a publicity machine.
The free promotions drive up your page rankings. And you really don’t want to do more than three days at a time. If your book does not reach the top 20 by day three, it probably isn’t going to. Once you decide to promote a book, you’ll need anywhere from a week to a month to get the word out about it. Here is a list of sites you can use to announce your free books:
Planning Ahead

Undoubtedly, there are far more links than just on that particular site, so plan your strategy carefully. Make use of the forums listed in the previous lesson as well. Announce your promotion on these free sites, on the blogsites that have reviewed it, and your own blog and Facebook pages as well.
Thinking long term, you want to launch your book(s) multiple times. Promote each launch on multiple sites as well. So, for example, you could start off with print, then a few months later, do KDP Select, and then three months after that, Smashwords. Or, you could do KDP, six weeks later, Print, and seven weeks after that Smashwords.
Also, if you are launching several books, you can stagger them, so that you are promoting multiple books multiple times, and thus creating a buzz and a sense of energy about your next project. It’s tempting, when you finish a book, just to toss it out there willy-nilly without any regard for how it might be received. A book promotion strategy such as I’m describing will avoid that, and will take advantage of the natural energy that “newness” carries to generate a buzz about your books. This will sell many more books than an unfocused approach.
That being said, there are a few seasons in which you can promote your books, and you should plan your launches accordingly.

·       Late Spring/beginning of Summer (for the summer reading list) - May/June
·       Beginning of Fall (back to school frenzy) - September
·       Christmas season – Black Friday through December 24th
·       After Christmas sales (when people who just received new Kindles as presents begin looking for content) – December 26th through mid-January (ie: Martin Luther King Day).
·       Valentine’s Day (The week before February 14th) for Romance novels can also be effective.
Lay out a strategy for a year’s worth of promotions. With enough books to release, you can devise an effective strategy that will help you have a long and successful career as an author. And who knows? Maybe a best seller is in your future.
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