Bestselling Keywords for Amazon Authors Video Course

keywords for authorsAuthors, are your keywords doing their job? When you type your own book’s keywords into Amazon searches, does your book appear in the results?

If your books aren’t popping up in the results of Amazon searches, it will be hard for potential readers to find it. Some of this is a matter of simply using keywords better. This video explains that and much more using Amazon’s internal search engine and Google’s Keyword Planner in easy to follow steps.

The video course, Bestselling Keywords for Amazon Authors, has just been released at Udemy and other educational retailers. For a very limited time, a free coupon will be available to new students on a first come, first serve basis. Once the coupons are gone, they are gone. Here is the coupon code: AUGUSTKEYWORDS.

Course description:

Most readers find books at Amazon by typing terms into the search bar. Think of Amazon as a search engine and these terms being keywords, which are misunderstood by many authors. Using keywords wisely in every aspect related to your book makes an enormous different for how many people find your book.

This course is designed for writers about to publish and for authors already selling books on Amazon. It explains everything in an easy to follow method to help you find and implement the best keywords for your book, whether it’s already published or not.

Taught by Jason Matthews, an author, speaker and publishing coach, this course gives your book the advantages it needs to reach a greater audience. Each video lesson shows real-time examples at the sites you’ll be using. All of the videos are between 2 and 5 minutes, making it simple to follow and implement the advice.

Doing better with keywords and Amazon searches leads to good things: more people will find your books, which means more people will buy your books.


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Formatting MS Word for Amazon Kindle

For a limited time this new video course, Formatting MS Word for Amazon Kindle, will be available for free. First come, first serve until the coupons are gone. Use this coupon code before they expire: AugustFormattingExtras.

The video below is just the Preview. Click here for the course.


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Intrigue Queen, Branding an Indie Author

https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadsidepictures/2226476015/It’s no secret indie authors need to market their books, but how many are branding themselves? It’s one thing to pick a genre and produce multiple books–it’s another to intentionally build a brand.

This is why we can learn a few things from Alana Woods, who splits time between the UK and Australia. Besides writing gripping novels (winner of the Australian Fast Books Prize for Best Fiction), she’s a source of great ideas on writing and marketing.

Alana, how does an author brand herself?

Alana WoodsEvery indie author knows that promotion and marketing is our own responsibility.

It isn’t essential, but to focus my mind I made a business plan and it consists of this.

  1. A brand to build exposure—Alana Woods is the Intrigue Queen. I chose this because I write suspenseful thrillers. It’s the central theme around which I market my product.
  2. My target market—The narrow market is book publishing. The wider market is the entertainment industry as books not only compete with other books but also TV, cinema, games etc.
  3. My product—What I write, packaged in books.
  4. Where my product sits in the market—Narrow market: genre. Wider market: books.
  5. Where to place my product—Online and/or physical book stores, direct selling.
  6. My goal—To be the top selling author in my genre.
  7. Strategies to achieve my goal—Promotion and marketing. Currently it revolves around ebooks and paperbacks. Eventually it will include audiobooks and foreign translations.
  8. Hanging on to the apron strings of 7 is the question: are there any circumstances unique to me as an Australian author?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/epsos/5902557577/If I were starting an actual business and wanted a loan my bank would require me to identify the competition. I’d also have to detail my projected growth, i.e., market penetration, number of sales, takings and profit over a given number of years.

Identifying the competition is one thing but projections … I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pulling figures out of the air. Fortunately I don’t have to satisfy the bank.

“So what does Brand Alana Woods do?”

Steps 1 to 4 of the business plan: Writing is Paramount

First and foremost I write. I need a product to promote and market.

Publishers and others in the game will advise sticking to one genre and becoming known in it. But as an indie I can cast a wider net.

Alana Woods imbroglio cover Alana Woods automaton cover Alana Woods 25 tips covers Alana Woods Tapestries cover

Principally I’m a thriller fiction writer. Imbroglio and Automaton.

But because editing is my profession and I’ve done quite a bit of work with other authors, I’ve also produced a writing guide. 25 Essential Writing Tips: Guide to Writing Good Fiction.

Then there’s my book of short stories. Most authors have a collection they’ve written over the years and I’m no exception. Tapestries and Other Short Stories.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ferruccioberti/5345935870I’m currently working on a third thriller (Dragline) and considering an editing guide to add to my how-to’s.

I have another string to my bow. I’m an editor. I consider the expertise this experience gives me is invaluable in making me a better writer because in honing someone else’s manuscript I’m honing my own writing skills. A spin-off is that if the authors I’ve worked with like the results they may promote me, which could lead to more readers seeking my books.

Step 5: Product Placement

I’ve done both direct selling of hard copies and online selling through Amazon exclusively to date. Direct selling for me consists of bookshops, speaking engagements, book shows, libraries, book clubs and weekend markets.

Promotional material is essential when direct selling: a poster or two and business cards especially, but bookmarks are also handy and well-received.

Steps 6 and 7: Goals and Strategies

I’m continually striving to achieve my goal and there is a continuing learning curve.

I have used social media in every way recommended by already successful authors. To begin with I flung a very wide net but soon learned to be discriminating. I focus now on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads and to a lesser extent Google+ and LinkedIn. I have a presence in Pinterest. (click icons below for Alana’s links)

icon Facebook 2 icon Goodreads icon Twitter icon Google Plus icon linkedin 2

I engage with core groups on Facebook, those like Jason’s that have members committed to helping others as well as themselves. I also belong to several Goodreads groups.

I post regularly on my website-blog, featuring articles targeting authors with writing, editing and other writing-skewed information and readers with book reviews and author interviews.

I chase book reviews but am not anal about it. I believe they’re important because the more reviews a book has the more widely read and desirable it will appear to potential buyers.

As for family and friends. I don’t pester them. I request a shout out for a new book and after that if they’re willing to help they’ll do so spontaneously. Those who have helped have made a big difference by finding bookshops to stock my books, lining up book-club engagements and buying dozens of copies to give as presents for birthdays, Christmas etc. You can’t beat word of mouth.

I accept invitations for guest blog articles and author interviews because all they cost me is a little time and they help spread the word.

To date I’ve succumbed only once to paying for advertising or promotion. I’ve just joined BOTM (the Venture Galleries Book of the Moment Club) and paid $49.99 per book for a one-week feature for my two thrillers. The books then remain in the BOTM catalogue. It’s a new venture so I don’t have feedback yet.

Babelcube logoTranslations are now looking possible with the appearance of a new translation service—Babelcube. It operates like ACX, offering translations into other languages for a royalty split instead of an up-front fee. I’ll be giving this a go.

Step 8: Unique Circumstances for International Authors

As an Australian author if I wanted to use the traditional publishing route my publisher would decide where my book would be sold: within Australia only or also overseas. Until WWII the UK had a stranglehold on the English-language global book market. The US split off after the war. If you’re interested in a bit of detail, here’s a link.

E-publishing has demolished that wall. Authors in every nook and cranny of the world can now publish our own books wherever we please. Ebooks and paperbacks, that is.

ACX Amazon Audio BooksBut unless you’re in the US and UK, audiobooks are still out of reach. Amazon’s ACX is available in those countries only. Amazon holds out hope that this will change. (See my audiobook production articles for more on this.) And as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, Amazon has the market cornered; there are no alternatives.

Another factor—that I’ll only touch on today because this article is already long enough—is parochialism. Believe it or not, in this digital publishing age, my two thrillers have been criticised for being parochial. In the 1960s, when Australian artists and writers were deserting the country like rats abandoning a sinking ship, their reason for doing so was because Australia was a cultural wasteland no-one was interested in. I thought that thinking was well and truly behind us. Apparently not!

Conclusion

Am I achieving my goals? You’ll be the first to know when I’ve made my first million and maybe I’ll see you in the winner’s circle—we can have a celebratory drink and toast our successes! (Yes, we will–I’ll get the bubbly on ice.)

Questions or comments for Alana Woods? Please share them in the section below or by clicking here.


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My Babelcube Experience, Author Seeks Translators (part 1)

Babelcube logoWhat author wouldn’t love to have her/his books translated into other languages? Babelcube could be your dream come true. Ah, I see you’re reading the Danish version of my latest… marvelous translation… hope you enjoy…

The concept of Babelcube is genius; they put authors and translators together to create foreign versions of the author’s book. Additionally, they distribute those books to retailers and offer a fine royalty to both author and translator. For authors,  it’s free to sign up with minimal effort, and the royalties get better as sales get better plus you have a translator with vested interest in selling your books.

Too good to be true?

Maybe, maybe not. Definitely deserves a test run.

I found the upload process very user-friendly. Just sign up (for free), fill out a profile and add books. All the standard stuff goes there including title, cover image, description, genre, 2000 max character sample and more. They only accept books already listed on Amazon. You’re asked to briefly write about existing sales/rankings plus give website links, social media, Goodreads and more to show your commitment to author platform and marketing. This is a good thing IMO, something perspective translators probably appreciate. (Here’s an example of an author’s Babelcube page: http://www.babelcube.com/user/jason-matthews.)

After filling out that info, you wait. Within a few days two offers came in for two of my books, one for an Italian translation and the other for Spanish. The translators wrote in perfect English, which gave me some peace of mind (see below), and you can research them as well. Along with the offers came sample translations of the first page or two so I could check with foreign friends who read Italian and Spanish before moving on to the next stage.

Stage 2 is sending your entire book minus any of the front or back matter. The translators work on the first 10 pages and return it. Then you go back to your foreign friends and see if those 10 pages read well. At this point you can still cancel the deal. Otherwise, if you like it and want to move forward, you agree to the full translation and go from there. (I’m waiting on the first 10 pages from both translators and will follow-up as this continues and link them here. *Update: the Italian version has been approved and is due for full translation by Sept. 16th.*)

Peace of mind?

One obvious concern is if a translator has a high-end translation software and uses that instead of doing an actual human translation; the results might pass my tests but upset a foreign reader. Do I really know enough people who read fluently and can identify a high-end software translation versus a human one? That remains to be seen, and Babelcube’s FAQ section is fairly limited in this regard. I emailed their support with this question and received no response to date. Bummer.

Payments – The Bottom Line

The translators make the most when the book generates less than $2000 in royalties, and the author does better as more books are sold. Babelcube’s cut is 15% across the board. Remember the translator is doing all the initial work and has the most at risk. Good for authors as the translator wants to sell books when they are published.

Babelcube royalties chartWhat about distribution partners and retailers? These are all the biggies with more probably entering the picture soon.

Babelcube retail partners

I’m an optimist and am going for it, but it wouldn’t surprise me if people have concerns about piracy, rights, length of terms, professionalism and more. Any comments, please leave them below or click here for the comments section.


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Smashwords or Draft2Digital for Ebook Distributor?

smashwords or draft2digitalThis article by Jason Matthews first appeared on The Book Designer.

You’re selling ebooks on Amazon. Where else? The options keep expanding as a rising global market embraces digital books. There are dozens of potential retailers, but only a few of the big sellers have enabled indie authors to directly upload in do-it-yourself fashion. KDP Amazon was the first to offer that. In recent years, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Google Play have followed suit. Apple iTunes allows DIY uploading too, if you’re a Mac user.

Beyond those options, other retailers exist that are only available through a distributor. Since 2008, Smashwords (SW) has been the established solution, where authors can upload for sales and also distribution to many retailers that don’t enable direct uploading. Smashwords admits it is primarily a distributor, where most authors will make about 90% of their earnings via the SW distribution partners and not direct sales from the SW bookstore.

Lately more distributors have emerged, some charging upfront for their services and others free of cost with their earnings made on a cut of any sales, usually around 10% of the retail price like with SW. I prefer the no-cost-up-front companies. One choice is Draft2Digital (D2D), and it’s often compared to SW. Each distributor has pros and cons, but is this just a case of apples and oranges or is there a frontrunner? I’ve written on this in the past as have many others, but since e-publishing is an ever-changing industry, it’s nice to reevaluate some of the deciding factors.

Fear the Meatgrinder?

The most obvious difference is the formatting to be done before uploading. SW CEO, Mark Coker, is an expert on formatting that will be compatible for all reading devices. The Smashwords Style Guide, is a 27,000 word manual explaining the majority of requirements for the average ebook. Its length and scope have been reported to cause hair-loss, migraines and contemplated suicides for tech-challenged authors. In contrast, Draft2Digital doesn’t have a style guide. Their goal is “to support your style guide.” Just send them your Word doc, RTF or EPUB file and they’ll convert it.

An intriguing contrast: do we trust D2D’s program as an intuitive ebook formatter or do we buckle down and learn to do it ourselves? Not surprisingly, this factor alone divides the masses. Some writers (like me) appreciate the knowledge to upload with their own personal touches, while others love skipping that learning curve altogether. Would you prefer not to learn how to create an NCX file or even know what an NCX file is? Would you prefer not to be subject to the rigid requirements of the Meatgrinder, the endearing name given to the SW file converter and spell-check software on steroids? You don’t have to worry about that with D2D. Hey, if Google can build a car that drives on autopilot, D2D can probably design a program to format ebooks.

I wonder if quality is compromised. Are aesthetically unpleasing ebooks getting published more by D2D than SW? I believe that’s probably true, but I also think the quality is getting better all the time.

Sales Potential

This is what matters to me: who are the distribution partners? Presently D2D will get your ebook into

  • Apple
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Scribd
  • Page Foundry

(Recognize that all of those except PF can be done on a DIY basis, though it’s harder for PC owners to get into Apple. Still, there’s value in doing things once and having it relayed to all channels, or after the inevitable updates happen when a reader points out a typo or you decide to add your latest link to the About the Author page.)

Outside of Amazon, those first three retailers are the main players. Apple is now my second biggest seller. But those retailers aren’t exclusive to D2D.

SW distributes to

  • Apple
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Scribd
  • Page Foundry

In fact, SW has been doing it longer and also distributes to

  • Baker & Taylor Blio
  • Flipkart (India)
  • Oyster
  • txtr (Germany)

plus three channels to libraries

  • Library Direct
  • Baker & Taylor Axis 360
  • Overdrive

Note that India represents a ton of potential readers, and as the digital age matures Flipkart could be a great source of sales. For current ebook distribution partners and sales potential, the advantage clearly goes to SW.

Paperbacks

Want your book in print with the same ease of skipping the format learning curve? D2D also enables a paperback version to be uploaded to CreateSpace (CS), Amazon’s print-on-demand company. Again, I prefer to upload directly, but formatting books for CS can be a Herculean task for newbies, known to drive even pacifists to seek gun applications and home addresses for Microsoft Word designers. Interior templates exist and formatters too, but D2D is offering an attractive option for CS paperbacks. I haven’t tested their system to comment on performance, though I admit being a fan of the concept. Can you envision being chauffeured to a book signing in a Google car while D2D formats your next release in paperback? It’s a nice thought. Fortunately CS has an excellent digital previewer for analyzing results and determining what changes need to be made. Advantage for paperbacks goes to D2D.

Small Victories

Another bonus with D2D is monthly payments compared to quarterly payments from SW. D2D also doesn’t stamp their edition with their name as SW does (Smashwords Edition), making it a more attractive copyright page for those who feel the self-publishing stigma is a factor. I’ve also checked my titles at B&N online and noticed the D2D book description displays entirely while the SW description is limited to the short version. Small advantages to D2D.

Leveled Playing Field: Sales Reports, Speed, Preorders

In recent times D2D had much faster sales reporting and speed of uploading to retailers, especially after updates were made (price change, newer version, metadata, etc.), but SW has evolved and caught up in both regards. I believe the speed for updates taking effect at retailers still leans to D2D, but the new sales data from SW is more detailed and appealing.

Another SW special has been setting up a book for preorders before publishing. The benefit: on the day of release the retailers will count all of the preorder sales as if they happened in one day, which can result in your book showing up at the top of popular charts, thus resulting in even more sales. Recently D2D set up preorders too, and it works in the same way. Just publish your book with a firm future date listed for release.

Price Points

At SW you can create coupons to make your book available at any discount, even for 100% off. This is handy in case you’d like to advertise specials for things like gifting copies or generating reviews. At both vendors you can set your price to always be free, but the coupon option is a bonus for authors who would prefer to charge most of the time. Advantage here to SW.

The Future

Expansion is an important element. SW has been expanding its distribution channels since they began. In the past year SW has added OverDrive, txtr, Scribd, Flipkart and Oyster. Just recently D2D added Scribd and Page Foundry and mentions they have plans in the works to expand. D2D has also seen its titles briefly removed from B&N and Kobo shelves, though they were replaced and that was largely due to retailers taking a stand on adult material. Hopefully that won’t happen again.

I like betting on proven winners, and since Mark Coker has such established history and ongoing presence in the publishing community, my choice is to stick with SW and plan for more expansion.

Decisions

There are a few options that make sense. I recommend always directly uploading to KDP Amazon of course (plus B&N, Kobo and Google Play if you want to).

Option A: Use SW exclusively. Bottom line: it has the most retailers under its belt, and learning basic formatting is good for you and not really that bad, just like eating spinach.

Option B: Use D2D exclusively. It gets you into the most important biggies like SW does, plus it can make CS paperbacks. And it’s as simple as sending them whatever you have.

Option C: Use a combination. Decide which one for Apple, B&N, Kobo, Scribd and Page Foundry based on the personal preferences. Consider D2D for CS paperbacks and rest assured that Smashwords will get you into FlipKart, Oyster, txrt, Baker & Taylor, the library channels and the new set of retailers destined to join the field.

Ultimately it boils down to your skill sets, your time and your needs.

Have a comment? Please share them in the comments section.


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