Joan Reeves Can Write and Sell Ebooks Aplenty

Joan Reeves authorJoan Reeves is an author with a story to tell. Actually, that’s a huge understatement. Joan Reeves has many stories to tell, stories within her romance novels to thousands of published articles and from personal experience as well. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks and hardcover. They can be found in many nations around the world. Joan reports staggering sales in excess of 60,000 copies for the past 3 months. Not bad for an Indie author! (or any author)

As a freelance writer, she’s written for clients under her own name, used pseudonyms and has even ghosted several blogs over the years. She’s been published the traditional way by New York houses, and she’s made the crossover to independent, or indie publishing, where she’s the Joan Reeves Just One Lookboss. Just One Look has been on the Top 100 Paid list for more than a month, and another of her romance novels, Jane (I’m Still Single) Jones, is also on the Top 100 Paid. The remaining two ebooks, The Trouble With Love and Still The One, fluctuate on and off the Top 100 and consistently perform within the top 200 Amazon titles. Recently she published her 5th ebook, Written Wisdom, the “best of posts” of that same name from her popular blog, SlingWords.

I’ve read four of Joan’s books and can attest to her mastery of the written word. She’s a skilled weaver of both character and scene development. Her books are clever, hilarious and sexy all at once. Joan says she writes funny romances “because the world needs more love and laughter.” That’s another understatement; it comes as no surprise that her books are enjoyed by so many readers.

Joan, what’s your writing background in a nutshell?

I think I’ve been writing most of my life. I loved writing even in elementary school when I won blue ribbons for my compositions. I have to give a shout out to Miss Richard, my teacher, who cut short lengths of blue ribbon and taped the piece of ribbon to papers that rated her blue ribbon award for excellence. Through the years, I started writing novels, but I always put the project aside when I got to chapter 4 because I didn’t know what came next. Also, by that time the white heat of inspiration had cooled. Years of doing that left me with the theory that anyone can write 3 chapters of a book. What’s hard is going past that first tenth of a book to THE END because that’s where the real hard work lies. That’s also what separates writers from wannabes.

You’ve been traditionally published before becoming an indie. What was that experience like, and what made you decide to switch?

I loved getting published. Walking into a store that sells your book and smelling that new book aroma is priceless. I loved doing the book signings and always had good sales. The hard part of writing for print is getting past what successful indie authors charmingly call the gatekeepers. Those are the agents and editors whose job is to keep out the riff-raff, meaning just about everyone who hasn’t already got a huge following or the highest of high concept marketing hooks. That’s the soul-crushing part of this business.

My stories were like round pegs in square holes. That’s not what the big print publishers want. So if you can’t deliver a great marketing hook and can’t write stories like the popular ones already published–but with something a little different to set it apart from the ones being published–then you really don’t have a chance. You get turned down, like George Higgins said, more times than the sheets in a cheap motel.

I made the switch because I got darn tired of being turned down. I believed in my stories, and I believed others would like them. So far, my sales have proved I was right.

You write in other genres but specialize in romance novels. What about this format attracts you?

I love romance novels because I truly believe in the redeeming power of love to change people. A lot of people decry romance novels because they say it’s formulaic and it’s unrealistic because of the requisite happy ending. Good genre fiction — whether romance, mystery, horror, etc. — is not formulaic just because it fulfills the conventions of the genre. People have favorite genres because there’s something specific about the genre that appeals to them.

The happy ending in romance is one of those specific elements that appeal to readers. Maybe it’s because when you get a little life experience, you realize that a happy ending in a book is more uplifting than an ending that reflects the grim reality of too many modern relationships. I’ve been married more than 30 years, and I hit the matrimonial jackpot. I know more women with great marriages than those who are married and miserable or divorced and alone.

I’ll be honest, I just won’t read a book with a tragic, sad ending. Why? Because it’s too much like the reality we get with our daily news. I’ve dealt with my father’s descent into Alzheimer’s, the tragic deaths of my in-laws and my own parents, years of medical problems for my daughter, unemployment, and so many other real life issues. So when I sit down to read, I want a book that’s going to let me escape and also to feel good at the end of the story.

I keep those thoughts in mind when I write because I know there are probably millions out there just like me.

How have you done so well with ebooks? What’s the secret to your  success?

Joan Reeves Successful Indie AuthorThat’s a question everyone wants answered! *LOL* I could answer this in many different ways from “I don’t know” to “I was lucky” to “read the blog series I’m doing about this.” Probably reading my blog would give one the most definitive answer. Briefly, I’ll just say that I did a ton of research first to find out what was selling and analyzed each successful ebook I found to determine, in my opinion, why it was selling. I looked for common denominators, and once I identified those, I created a business plan covering several elements: cover art, pricing, ad copy, promotion, and a publishing schedule. I do discuss all these elements on my blog if anyone wants the long answer.

What role does social media play in your business?

Very little. Though I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, I spend very little time on my pages there. I feed my blog through these sites because I really have limited time to spend on anything other than writing and family. Most of my marketing occurs with my own blog. I’ve written SlingWords for more than 6 years so I have a modest, but faithful, following. Anything I learn, I pass it on via my blog because I don’t keep secrets. I think everyone should have the best shot at success so I do what I can to help.

You’re so prolific. Do you ever hit writer’s block? If so, how do you get past it?

Writer’s block is created by not writing. The more you don’t write, the harder it is to begin writing. I’m actually not very prolific. I’m rather slow, but I am persistent and consistent. You can move a mountain one shovelful at a time just as you can write a book one page at a time. The important thing is to produce content every writing day. My writing days are Monday through Friday. I learned to produce when I wrote for the newspaper because I always had a deadline to meet. When I wrote for print publishers, I had a deadline too. The book manuscript had to be completed by the date stated in the contract. The only difference is that now I set my own deadlines, and I respect them too.

How many books have you published? Should readers begin with a specific title?

Joan Reeves Trouble With LoveI’ve published five ebooks now. Readers can read in any order they wish. One of my ebooks, The Trouble With Love, is the start of a series: Texas One Night Stands. In July, I’ll publish book two of that series. I plan to always make clear on the book title listing in what order series books should be read.

How much are the characters within the books like Joan Reeves?

I’d love to say all the sexy, funny, smart women who people my books as heroines are just like me. Sadly, that’s not the case. I think I’m like most authors. We create characters who can say the things we’d never say and do the daring things we’d never do. These fictional people are just so much more interesting and fun than real people because we can move them around like chess pieces in order to create a world where everything works out right.

Do you think more traditionally published authors will join the ranks of independents, and what aspect of that change excites you the most?

Oh, yes. I see this happening every day. I’m on several lists with published authors, and they’re all trying to figure out how to make ebook publishing work for them with their backlist and even original fiction. I think all of this is exciting because for the first time digital publishing is giving authors a chance to take control of their careers in a way that’s never happened before.

What advice do you have for new authors?

Work hard. Write hard. Believe in yourself and your writing. Learn the narrative skills you need to write compelling fiction. If you retain someone to do some of the work, like copy editing, always check their work. Persist because success may not come overnight. Be prepared to be in this for the long haul. It takes time to succeed.

Do you do your own cover art, editing, formatting or do you hire out for certain things?

I always have an idea for how I want the cover art to look. My daughter is a graphic artist so she makes my vision come to life. In fact, I do everything for myself, and will be doing my own copy editing in the future because I’ve had poor results in that area. In fact, I’m in the process of line-editing my romance novels to make sure they’re corrected.

What new works are in the making that you can tell us about?

Joan Reeves authorI just published Written Wisdom, my first nonfiction, last week. This month, I’m finishing the writing of book 1 of my novella series: The Good, The Bad, and The Girly. I hope to have it ready to publish by the end of July.

I’ll also publish book 2 of my Texas One Night Stands series. This one is Romeo and Judy Anne.

Any predictions for the publishing industry, ebooks and indie authors?

This is an amazing time to be an author. There are so many opportunities. I can’t think of a downside to publishing your own ebooks. Just be sure you create a quality product. If you don’t know and/or don’t want to learn about the tasks formerly done by editors, as well as all the other technical things that go into publishing ebooks, then contract the work to someone who can deliver. Ebooks and e-readers are only going to become more popular as time goes on.

Thanks so much, Joan! You’ve already taught me valuable lessons, and I’m sure more will follow.

Joan Reeves can be contacted through her websites, http://www.joanreeves.com and http://slingwords.blogspot.com. Her books can be found at all major retailers and through her Amazon author page, http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001K8CIEW.


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Amazon.DE for German Kindle

german people waving flagsAmazon.de is the latest and greatest Amazon addition for a German Kindle Store, and the people of the great country are clearly uber-excited about it. There are over 650,000 titles to choose from, 25,000 of which are in German (so  assumedly that means the vast majority of the rest are in English). Any author already signed up for Amazon US or UK is automatically eligible for sales in the German store. In fact, think this is probably a given that requires no special attention from the authors, as this is the page for one of my titles. This morning there was an additonal Amazon store reporting sales for my books which made me think, “What the heck is DE?” Now it’s clear. Ja, ser gut. Sell ebooks in Germany!

Are the Germans big Kindle readers? Hope so, we’ll find out soon enough. Are my titles translated? Not yet, in fact the book descriptions aren’t even translated. Just the sections like “Product Description” becomes “Produktbeschreibungen” and “About the Author” becomes “Mehr über den Autor.” Yes, my author profile will have to be updated again, as it was in the UK. (Why doesn’t Amazon just sync these things together along with tags and reviews? Annoying, but oh well, they still sell a lot of books for me.) From the news reports Amazon also has their apps for the iPad, PC, Mac and Android devices in German versions.

What’s next? Probably more and more countries, but what would really be great is if Amazon figured out an excellent translation device that could automatically translate our best selling masterpieces to any language on Earth. Russian, Spanish, French, Chinese, Hindi and more.

What are your thoughts?


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Hurry, Before They’re Bought – Limited Time Only!

Someone is actually selling my paperback on Amazon for $184. Another is selling it for $187, one for $191 and another for an unbelievable $254.

Geez, what a deal?! I bet people are scrambling to their computers to snatch them up. Maybe it’s a typo on their part, but for all of them? Odd.

Update (Nov. 16), now there is only one left at $184. Maybe the others sold? Nah…

Update (Nov. 16 7pm), and now they are all gone… weird.

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Magic Formula for Selling Ebooks

Article first published as The Magic Formula For Selling E-Books on Technorati. (Updated here for October 2011.)

amazon kindle $79I read a lot of blogs posted by seemingly knowledgeable people telling others how to sell ebooks, and it amazes me how lacking many of these recommendations are. Typically half of these experts advise simply signing up with Clickbank or using E-junkie for a shopping cart on your site. That’s it, that’s the magic formula? Sounds more like a pitch for those paid services than truly helpful advice.

Assuming you have an ebook that contains useful information or entertainment and is not a waste of money, you want to sell it everywhere possible online: e.g. your own website, major retailers like Amazon, etc. I prefer these later options since they don’t cost any money. But to keep it even simpler, the vast majority of your sales can be accomplished by selling ebooks from these locations: your website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. What about Apple and other retailers, you might ask? I’ll explain.

In my experience the 2nd best place for total number of sales and the 1st best for royalties, are sales that happen at my own websites. Plus it runs on autopilot, which is nice when I’m asleep in bed and still making sales. After PayPal’s modest cut, I keep 100% of the profits and grow my email list. Setting up your website with a PayPal button that automatically sends buyers to a URL for download after the purchase is a piece of cake. Now you can sell and fill orders no matter where you are. Keep simple stats of download visitors with a free company like StatCounter, and you’ll know if any pirating is happening, which can be fixed with a simple URL change to your download page.

You must sell with Amazon Kindle because they sell more ebooks than any other retailer. Sign up at KDP Amazon where you’ll be asked to create an Amazon account if you don’t already have one and start making 70% on sales if your ebooks are priced in the $2.99 to $9.99 range.

Pubit with Barnes & Noble is also a great venue. Sign up there is very similar to Amazon; just go to pubit.barnesandnoble.com.

Finally upload and sell with Smashwords because they convert your document into multiple formats and then upload it to Apple, Sony, Kobo, Scrollmotion and Diesel (Amazon and B & N too, but you’re already there). And yes, you make good royalties when selling from those companies via Smashwords. (Mac users can also upload directly with Apple, but the rest of us can’t.)

That’s it, that’s the magic formula. Upload and sell ebooks from these  locations and your bases are covered at no cost to you. Should you also sell from places like Google Ebooks, My Ebook, Bookmato, Scribd, YouPublish and so many more? You can if you want to, but I haven’t found any of those places worth the effort. Things could change in the future though.

Click here for the home page of How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free.
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$39 Pro Plan by CreateSpace

self publish, self publishing, createspace, print on demand, amazonSeveral readers have asked questions about CreateSpace like “Is it really free?” and “How do I access the $39 Pro Plan” and other related things.

The answer is yes, it’s entirely free if you’re willing to do it yourself. If creating a document and formatting it to fill pages of a book is something you’re comfortable with, then you can do it. You can also either create a book cover from scratch or use one of their templates. I chose to do it all by scratch and had several issues with Microsoft Word for the interior files and Inkscape for the cover design, but I did get through them. After having done 3 books this way (and now 5), I feel very comfortable with the process.

For those wanting to check it out, here’s what I told an author friend about it;

CreateSpace is Amazon’s print-on-demand (POD) company. They offer a range of services for writers to make books in print. It can be a do-it-yourself and 100% free experience, or it can also be catered to your needs with bells and whistles (and far from free).

I chose the free version and have done 5 books this way. When it came time to actually order a proof copy (something required before your book goes live and usually costs me between $6 and $9 with shipping), I also chose the $39 Pro Plan which allows a significant reduction on cost per books that I buy plus a better royalty payment when others buy the paperback through Amazon or CreateSpace. But you won’t get prompted (or have any need) for the $39 Pro Plan until you’re at that stage of ordering your proof copy. This will only be necessary after you’ve filled in all the pertinent information about your book and after you’ve uploaded the interior files and the cover file and submitted it for publishing (which is a review by them). Once it’s accepted, a proof needs to be ordered for newbies. Then it makes sense to get the Pro Plan which they will give you prompts for.

First go to https://www.createspace.com/
Click on the link for Authors – Make your books available.
Under Book, click Create One (or Learn More if you want to read it from them).
It will then ask you to either sign in with an existing Amazon account or to create one.
Afterward there will be a series of prompts and items to fill in, which should be self-explanatory.

They also have an excellent community support forum that can do an even better job with instructions, and in some cases you’ll find detailed answers for the exact same questions that have been asked by others in the past. Here’s the link for the community support forum https://www.createspace.com/en/community/index.jspa

For much more information and advice on free methods to sell ebooks, please check out How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free.

You can also contact me by email without any of the following spaces, jason @ the little universe (dot) com

Click here for the home page of How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free.
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