Linkredirector Smart Links to Amazon, Apple and Google

LinkredirectorLinkredirector is not the only free smart link service, but it’s a good one. Try it by entering your book’s URL at one of the major retailers.

It will detect your title in all nations for Amazon, Apple iBooks and Google Books. The universal link it creates redirects customers to the most suitable store based on location and their device, like iPhone users to iTunes and customers with the Kindle app installed to Amazon. It even checks if the Kindle app is installed on Android devices, so it knows whether to show the book in the Kindle app or to take a buyer to Google Play.

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You can actually use Linkredirector for any store or website you want; just go into the destinations editor and use the URLs you want. And if you want a QR Code for your book, Linkredirector can handle that too.

Plenty of other similar services exist. BookLinker is popular but only works with Amazon. Geniuslinks works with Amazon and iTunes but not Google. SmartURL works with whatever retailer you set it up for, but isn’t designed to determine a user’s preferred retailer.

Below is what your link will look like. Test it to see if it sends you where you like to shop.

Linkredirector 2

Linkredirector earns money by adding their affiliate tag to the URL for your ebook. This doesn’t take money from you unless you use affiliate tags for a substantial number of sales. In my experience, a few dollars lost from affiliate tags would be worth having more major retailers covered by the smart link. That’s just one opinion.

For more info visit https://linkredirector.com.

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2015 Smashwords Survey Key Findings

smashwordsMark Coker has released findings that may help you sell more books. Let’s jump straight to the highlights, but you can also read the entire Smashwords blog post. These are Mark’s words below.

Key Findings of the 2015 Smashwords Survey

1.  Wow, preorders.  For the first time we analyzed the percentage of books born as preorders (as opposed to simply uploaded the day of release) and compared the sales of preorder-birthed books to non-preorder books.  During the survey period, less than 10 percent of books were born as a preorder, even though this feature has been available to Smashwords authors since mid 2013.  Yet despite the low usage, two thirds of our top 200 bestselling titles were born as preorders.   That’s right folks.  That small tiny minority of preorder books accounted for the majority of our bestsellers.   On a median basis, ebook born as preorders earned the authors 3 1/2 times more income than books that were simply uploaded the day of release.  The average was even more stunning.  The survey contains a full page of caveats about these numbers and why I think they’re exaggerated so I hope you take the time to read that.  The bottom line, however, is that about 90% of indies are failing to take full advantage of this amazing tool.  If you don’t have your next 12 months of planned releases listed as preorders today, then you’re leaving readers and money on the table.  I’ll go a step further:  Preorders are such an essential best practice that it’s simply dumb not to take the time to learn how to use them to your advantage.  I make it easy to learn because I’ve written multiple article on preorder best practices.  Learn more about our new Assetless Preorder feature here,  access the Smashwords preorder page here (includes links to my blog posts on preorders) or check out my NEW article I wrote last month on ebook preorder strategy for Publishers Weekly.

2.  Series with free series starters earn more money.  For the first time we analyzed the difference in sales between series with free series and starters and series without free series starters.  We looked at our 200 bestselling series with a free series starter and our 200 bestselling series without free series starters.  Then we added up the numbers and compared them.  First we looked at the average.  The free series starter group earned 66% more.  Impressive.  And then, assuming that maybe a few big sellers were skewing the average, we looked at the median.  The median is the midpoint if you arrange the sales results from highest to lowest.  Often in big data sets, the median can give you a more typical result.  The result?  Exactly the same!  The median title in the free series starter group earned 66% more.  This is the strongest quantifiable evidence that I’m aware of to date that proves what many of our authors already know by personal experience over the last several years.  If you write series and you haven’t yet experimented with perma-free series starters, then give it a try!

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3.  Free still works to build readership.  For each survey year, we’ve looked at how free ebook downloads compare to paid downloads using iBooks as our apples to apples comparison each year (bad pun, sorry!).  In the 2014 Survey, we found that free books got 39 times more downloads than priced books, down dramatically from 91x in 2013 and 100X in 2012.   I expected the power of free to fall further this year, given that this secret – which I’ve been advocating for nearly eight years – helps authors earn more money.  The result for 2014?  41x.  The effectiveness of free increased despite the glut of free books.  I think a couple things are going on here.  First, I think more and more readers are using free as their primary discovery path to try new, unknown-to-them authors, especially with free series starters.  Second, iBooks, more than any other retailer, provides amazing merchandising support for free books and free series starters.  Third, it’s a multi-step path to build a loyal readership of superfans who will buy everything you write.  Superfans are your evangelists.  They trust everything you write to be super-awesome.  You earn them one by one, word by word.  If you reverse engineer the trust building process, it starts with discovery which leads to a reader trying you for the first time, and then your book must earn the reader’s continued attention from word one forward.  A free book allows a reader to try you risk free, and if you’re offering them a great full length book, that’s a lot of hours the reader has spent with your words in which you’re earning and deserving their continued readership.  Free works!

4.  Longer books sell better than shorter books.  This finding is consistent with each of the prior year’s surveys, though as I mention in the presentation, this year’s finding comes with a lot more caveats.  In a nutshell, I suspect the rise of multi-author box sets, often at deep discount prices, is probably throwing off the data this year, and as I discuss in the presentation, some of the dynamics will cause it to understate impact of longer books and some will cause it to overstate it.

5.  $3.99 remains the sweet spot for full length indie fiction.  For the third year in a row, authors sold more units and earned more overall income with books priced at $3.99.  This is significant because it counters the concern of some authors that the glut of high-quality will lead to ever lower prices.  For great authors, readers are still willing to pay.  The pricing, earnings and unit sales data we share has been remarkably consistent now for four years, expecially when you consider how this translates to a competitive advantage for indie ebook authors compared to traditionally published ebook authors.  Indies still have the ability to price lower, net more per sale and reach more readers thanks to the lower pricing.  But traditional publishers are now making greater use of lower pricing, so this advantage will diminish in the years to come (more on that in my 2016 predictions to come).

6.  99 cents is still good for building readership, but not as good as $2.99 and $3.99.  And from an earnings perspective, 99 cents underperforms the average of all other prices by about 65%.

7.  Avoid $1.99.   For the fourth year in a row, $1.99 was a black hole in terms of overall earnings.  On a unit sales basis, although $1.99 books outperformed all books priced $5.00 and above, it dramatically underperformed on overall earnings, earning 73% less than the average of all other price points.  If you write full length fiction and you have books priced at $1.99, trying increasing the price to $2.99 or $3.99, and if your book performs as the aggregate does, you’ll probably sell more units.  Or if it’s short and $2.99+ is too high, try 99 cents instead because the data suggests you’ll earn more and reach about 65% more readers.  I’m not entirely certain why this is the case.  It’s not because our retailers pay lower levels for sub-$2.99 books.  They don’t.  Our retailers pay the same for $1.99 as they do for $9.99.  There’s something about the price point that readers don’t like.  Who knows, maybe readers see 99 cents as an enticing promotional price, $2.99 and up as a fair price, and $1.99 as the price for lesser quality books that couldn’t make the $2.99 grade.  Your theory is as good as mine.

8.  Bestselling authors and social media.  Bestselling authors are more likely to have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and more likely to have a blog.  Not a huge surprise, though it’s worth noting there are plenty of successful authors who have minimal presence on social media.

9.  Top 10 Fiction categories during the one year period:  1.  Romance.  2.  Erotica.  3.  YA and teen fiction.  4.  Fantasy.  5.  Mystery & detective.   6.  Gay and lesbian fiction.  7.  Science fiction.  8.  Historical.  9.  Thriller & suspense.   10.  Adventure.

10.  Top 10 Non-fiction categories during the one year period:  1. Biography.  2.  Health, wellbeing and medicine.  3.  Business & economics.  4.  Self-improvement.  5. Religion & spirituality.  6.  Relationships and family.  7.  Sports and outdoor recreation.   8.  Education and study guides.  9.  New age.  10.  Computers & Internet.

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Indie CreateSpace Title to Sell at Walmart

Beautiful Redemption Jamie McGuireJamie McGuire is an indie author, previously published but transitioned to indie. She’s written multiple books that have done very well at Amazon. Beautiful Disaster for example has over 5,000 reviews.

One of her CreateSpace titles released in 2015, Beautiful Redemption, is also selling well and raking in reviews. That should continue as the author just made a deal with Walmart to carry her paperbacks in select stores.

Yes, Walmart and CreateSpace for self-published books.

As you may know, getting major booksellers to stock a CS title from an indie author was considered mission impossible. What makes it even more remarkable, Jamie doesn’t have her own imprint for this title: the listed publisher is CreateSpace which means Jamie opted for the free CreateSpace ISBN. Remember the skeptics who always said, “you have to buy your own ISBN so it won’t be obvious that it’s a self-published book”? Turns out they can be wrong too.

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Jamie McGuireIf you’re a fan of new adult genre, why not pop in to your local Walmart and pick up a copy? And if they don’t stock the store at your Walmart, ask if you can order one.

How exactly the deal came to pass is something Jamie hasn’t disclosed. You can visit her website and ask: http://bit.ly/1K8aHY7.

Another example of how much the publishing revolution continues to produce changes that favor authors more each day. Congratulations, Jamie.

Please share any thoughts in the comments section.

 


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My Babelcube Experience (part 2) Getting Interesting

translate buttonMy optimism for self-pub opportunities spiked when I heard about Babelcube and their book translation services. I filled out a profile, uploaded books and began working with translators. I also wrote a blog post on that initial aspect (see part 1 of My Babelcube Experience).

Now comes part 2, what I’ve learned since a few translations have just been published. The answer is a fair amount. Some notes:

Babelcube uses Draft2Digital as a distributor, which doesn’t distribute to Amazon anymore so how does that work? Not sure, but it might explain why these titles went live two weeks ago to Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Scribd, but just today on Amazon and Google. Support mentioned they’re switching distributors.

(Save 92% Sell Ebooks on Amazon and Major Retailers)

Full length novels are much harder to get translated than shorter works or non-fiction. I still haven’t had any offers on my novels that are 96,000 and 105,000 words, but every other book has been translated, is being translated or has received offers.

Babelcube Spanish Book WebsitesNon-fiction seems easier to get deals. Perhaps it’s because the writing is simpler. How-to books attract attention, here and apparently abroad. One thing to beware of for authors of how-to guides: recognize any differences that exist in America (or your home nation) compared to the final destination. For example, my guides deal with websites and software that are popular in the US but not always elsewhere, so some changes were made accordingly. It helped to point that out to the translators ahead of time.

Take your time getting qualified readers to check the sample offer. Why rush into a decision when the book may take a few months once you agree on a deal? Babelcube doesn’t give advice or support there, leaving each author to find a solution. Fiverr, Facebook and Yahoo answers are places to get translations checked if you don’t have friends that read well in certain languages. However, you may have to take the word of strangers you don’t really know or trust.

Don’t ask proofreaders to read more than a few assorted paragraphs unless you’re giving something in return. If you have multiple books and offers in Spanish, for example, try not to wear out your Spanish-reading friends by asking them to read and critique large sections of each title.

Babelcube Italian Book Self PublishingDon’t expect masterpieces. These translators are working for free on the hopes of selling books and making a cut on the sale. They’re unlikely to be perfect in what they do. Of course you expect competency, but in some cases you may ask yourself, “Is it better to have something in a foreign language or nothing at all?” These can be hard choices.

Don’t upload MS Word .doc. Instead use .docx–it converts better. My uploads got stuck in a Babelcube cyber-vortex that took several emails and Twitter and Facebook mentions to sort out, segue to the next tip.

Don’t rely on prompt customer support whether you email them, make a post on their Facebook page or @-message them on Twitter. Presently Babelcube has slower than average customer support, which is surprising for a fledgling company that seems to have a good product and a jump on any competition. They should make an effort to speed things up and take social media a bit more seriously, IMO.

Below is the status of some of my titles. The top three have just been published, while the fourth is months away.

Babelcube translation status

There are some good translators out there. There are also some not so great people to beware of.

If you get along well with your translator, add their name to the cover design and give them some kudos in the “About the Author” section. Whatever extra credit you give should help in their interest at marketing the book in their country, which may be easier for them than you.

Part of me wonders if time and tech will make this obsolete. Google translate has come a long way in a few short years. I remember trying the program when it was younger, and it was terrible. These days it’s getting more intelligent fast, especially with non-fiction. Might there be a limited time before Babelcube’s service will be offered by Google and Amazon or some other computerized function?

Now for the real question: how are sales? At this point it hasn’t been enough time. Two of my titles just came out and I’m curious how they’ll do. I hope they aren’t duds because the translators spent several weeks on them. Sales will be a main focus next. Click here to read part 3 of my Babelcube experience.

What do you think about this: good idea, not so good idea or waste of time? Please share comments.


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Facelift or Botch for Amazon Author Central?

Seems like every time I publish something, like a video training course, the internet gives it a new spin. In this case Amazon Author Central profile pages got a facelift which may be a botched job. It appears an effort was made to have more show at the top of the page at the sacrifice of information about each item. This is the new look and I’ll explain the differences:
Amazon Author Central Oct 2014The biography is a thin column beneath the main photo, which shows less text than the old version (I need to shorten the URLs to appear on one line). Also only two photos display, whereas the old version showed a choice of boxes beneath the main one allowing readers to click on eight options. Just one blog post is listed unless you click the “pan sideways” button, where before several blog headlines were shown prominently. It took me a few minutes to figure that out as I am used to scrolling down, not panning sideways. Fortunately you can still scroll down and find the old information, but it’s not as apparent at first glance since it’s further down from the landing zone. The video area shows higher on the page but only one, where before there was a choice of eight like the photos. “Author Updates” have replaced “Latest Tweet” and “Blog Posts” so that’s kind of a toss-up. The horizontal book presentation has a lack of reviews displayed. This is a bit concerning for books with many good reviews, in the event people don’t scroll down further to see the reviews. Although for books with great covers and few reviews, it might help a bunch.

The image below is from the UK Author Central, which never displayed blog posts and must be next in line for the facelift (France already got hers, Germany and Japan waiting).

Amazon Author Central Oct 2014 2Perhaps it’s just a matter of getting used to the changes, but at first glance I prefer the old version. If they could figure out a way to add the reviews to the horizontal book display, I’d like it better. Plus the photos and video options from before were a nice touch.

What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments. Have you seen your new look and made any changes?


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