Why Indie Authors Should Avoid the Big 5 and Instead Focus on Taming the Marketing Beast

big5Enjoy this guest post from author, Carol Vorvain, of Writers Boon.

3 simple truths about traditional book publishers all authors should know:

  • The Big 5 publishers keep authors on a tight leash. You must write about what they think is marketable. You must publish as fast or as slow as they want. The book must have a certain number of words to be considered a commercial book. They are your employer. So, you’d better listen. You are under a standard contract. You have little or no opportunity to negotiate the provisions.
  • Unless you are already famous, the Big 5 don’t help you with the marketing. They simply don’t have the cash for it.  
  • The Big 5 pay you peanuts. They offer low royalties and seize your publishing rights. A penny for your thoughts. Literally. That’s what’s left after they cover their own expenses and take the cut.

3 simple reasons why authors like you resiliently still knock on the door of the Big 5:

  • Fear of failing. I’ve got news for you. You can hide as much as you’d like behind their big name, but you, my dear freshly employed author, are still on your own. You have to make the miracle happen, you have to learn how to stand out from the crowd. And to do all this, you still need to befriend the marketing beast. You are not yet that precious for them to hire a marketing team focusing on you. And when you’ll be, you won’t need them. Right?
  • That feathered thing called Hope… Hope to be praised, get recognized and ultimately make a living out of it. It will happen. But you will make it happen, not them.
  • The Ego monster. You dream of the day when you will brag to all your family and friends that you are hanging out with them now, with the big 5. You got the golden stamp of approval. You have been chosen.  

1 strong enough reason to be an indie author:

  • Control. As the saying goes, “If we were meant to be controlled we would have come with a remote.” So, be the master of your own publishing journey. Unleash your creativity both in your writing and in your marketing tactics. You are now an entrepreneur.

Take advantage of all the resources out there that pave your way. Take advantage of Writers Boon, the digital platform that helps indie authors with marketing and the business aspect of publishing.

How?

Well, it provides guidance, tips and resources that serve as a blueprint for action on all types of marketing and public relations: content marketing, email marketing, advertising, social media marketing, SEO, copywriting.

Let’s say, for the first 6 months, you decide to focus on content marketing.

On Writers Boon, you will start by browsing and learning about all the different types of content book marketing: author and book videos, virtual book tours, public speaking, content distribution and promotion, interactive content, press releases and so on. Then, you can start focusing on finding resources, some at big discount prices: experts in the field or, if you are more of a DIY author, DIY tools &apps. There is also a how-to guides section where you can look for books, courses, webinars or blog articles to learn more.

For example, you’ve heard it’s a good idea to run giveaways. You’d like to try it, but first you’d like to understand more about the process. Easy. Simply look under the Giveaway how-to guides section. If still confused, head to the Q&A section, ask your question and a giveaway expert will answer you. Once it’s all clear, start browsing different giveaway tools. Add notes, tag favorites, read reviews and take the leap.

And don’t forget to use the power of networking. Schmooze or lose. Keep track of live training and book events with Writers Boon free Calendar of Events.

Carol Vorvain Writers BoonRemember the 3 simple truths about traditional book publishers we’ve talked about? Perhaps now it’s the time to embrace the opportunity of being an indie author rather than being frightened by it. Be confident that you can reach worldwide audience through digital marketing. And always remember this old Chinese proverb: “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it.”  

Carol Vorvain (@writersboon) is an Australian international lawyer, mediator, author and founder of Writers Boon. Her books, When Dreams are CallingWhy not? – The island where happiness starts with a question and  A Fool in Istanbul – The adventures of a self-denying workaholic have been featured in a number of travel magazines including the International Traveller magazine and can be found in libraries, bookstores and on Amazon.

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Nick Winters Hollywood Scent

Indie Authors #57 features Nick Winters, Australian actor and writer, discussing movie stars, murder, sex and witchcraft in his novel, Hollywood Scent.

Amazon author pages:
http://www.amazon.com/Jason-Matthews/e/B004A8W4BG/
http://www.amazon.com/Marla-Miller/e/B000APJYSE/

Websites:

http://nickwintersauthor.weebly.com
http://www.thelittleuniverse.com/
http://www.marlamiller.com/

G+ Pages:
Nick Winters – https://plus.google.com/115143853797404372402/posts
Jason Matthews — https://plus.google.com/117850331447734054313/posts
Marla Miller — https://plus.google.com/104880672110890238358/posts

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Screwpulp Unique Ebook Business Model

Screwpulp logoA novel approach for an ebook business? It appears Screwpulp has one. An innovative platform may benefit new authors and readers alike.

How are they different? “By giving away the initial copies of the book for free, in exchange for a mention on social media and a star rating, we quickly get your book into the hands of readers. This builds a fanbase for the author quickly and this exchange creates buzz around your work. As demand for the book goes up so does the price in one dollar increments.”

All books begin as free downloads then go to $1 after receiving 25 downloads. Will they go to $2 at 50 or 100 downloads? We’ll see soon as they are a fledgling company with a current best-seller topping the charts at 30 downloads. However, that will change quickly. My curiosity wanders to the price ceiling, which might come into play around the $3 or $5 or dare I say $7 to $9 mark. Will be fun to watch. But even for the $1 sales–at 75% royalties to the author, that’s good money compared to major retailers.

I asked Richard Billings, CEO of Screwpulp, how it all began?

I came up with a form of the idea about 3 years ago and inadvertently did customer discovery by speaking with readers and writers for a couple of years, which helped me to define Screwpulp to what it is today.  We listened very carefully to both sides in order to create a marketplace that would be beneficial to all types of readers and writers.  Our company was officially formed in February 2013 and launched in beta on May 1st 2013.

Who are the founders?

I am the original founder with Will Phillips Jr., our designer, coming on in July of 2012.  I found through my discovery process that design was important to both readers and writers.  We brought on Richard Batt for business operations, and Kris Spencer for development in Feb 2013.  More recently Joe Wikert, a 20 year publishing insider who has spent the last several years focusing on change in the industry, joined the team as a board member and mentor.

What motivates you?

I’m an amateur writer and found several problems with self-publishing model.  Also, like the rest of the team, I’m an avid reader.  As a reader I found that most self-publishing sites weren’t very user friendly or visually appealing.  They sold books by authors I didn’t know, with no ratings to base my decision on, for higher prices that I was willing to spend on so many unknowns.  Our motivation is to make the self-publishing experience better for both the reader and the writer.

What sales growth are you seeing?

We launched on May 1st with 4 books, 4 authors, and of course 0 users.  Today, nearly six weeks later, we have about 50 books, 45 authors (from 3 countries), and we’re approaching 800 users.  This growth has been mostly organic as we done very little marketing.

Not bad to start. That will change dramatically soon. Where do you see book prices eventually rising to?

That’s hard to say.  So far there hasn’t been a mechanism that allows the market to decide what prices should be.  We think our crowd-driven pricing will give real indications about what readers are willing to spend on self-published titles.

How do authors upload and in what format?

Eventually authors will be able to submit through the website.  We’re in early beta and will be adding features regularly.  Currently the submission process is found at this link:  https://www.screwpulp.com/?publish

Have to admit, this is a brilliant idea. Good for authors and readers. Here’s a YouTube video with a bit more:

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Facebook Group Explosion

Facebook Group explosionIs your Facebook Group suddenly getting way more traffic or requests to join than normal? Are 30 newbies in line to be added today, and normally that total is 2? If so, you’re not alone.

Once again Facebook changes have come about. FB is recommending areas of interest to users based on what they’ve been doing and joining (ugly yellow arrows).

Smart idea? Probably. Group recommendations make sense although the new influx might overwhelm you, especially if you prefer doing a little research to cut down on the fly-by-spammer types.

How to avoid Facebook Group spam? Check people’s profile. If they just joined FB last week and are in 13 groups–not a good sign. If they only have one photo and no comments–not a good sign. If she’s smoking hot and you can’t understand why she’d want to join your group–not a good sign and she’s not really the girl in the picture (probably not even a girl).

Have fun, enjoy the bigger party. But don’t let these newbies waltz around thinking they can promote every one of their products and websites. Take a stand–this is your house.

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Ebook Retailers Grade for Upload Process

report cardJust finished an update to stay current with the e-publishing industry (not an easy task), then went to the sales venues to submit ebooks and paperbacks. Here’s the graded list in order of most efficient and user-friendly IMO to the least:

1. Amazon KDP. A+, love the subtle changes to their preview mode, still with the ability to both download the converted document or to view the newly enhanced on-screen version with Kindle options and working hyperlinks–very nice and fast. Available in the Kindle store in about 6 hours. This company has always done the most to sell ebooks and help me do it.

2. CreateSpace. A , the interior digital proof and final proof including cover design are miles better than years past. I love this company for paperbacks. Proofs went through in about 12 hours online and a physical copy delivered to my door in 3 days at the slowest shipping speed (because I chose to order a copy). Used to take a week. Fine quality and price is fantastic, can’t be beat by LightningSource or Lulu. Only wish they did more to proof the cover design online before submitting and perhaps add interior template options.

3. Smashwords. A-, some of this is my familiarity and loyalty but they still do a great job and give LOADS of advice on self-publishing. I wish approval times were faster for Premium Status, but it has sped up to around 24-48 hours compared to several days in the past. Also it can be a grizzly bear passing meat-grinder for newbies, but indies should learn proper formatting. SW is doing everyone a service by keeping formatting standards high.

4. Kobo. B, they have a great way of handling uploads for cover, description and content, but their Previewer needs work to get past the B grade. Don’t like the required download to view on Calibre or some other method–Kobo, keep up with the others and create an online Previewer. Props to them for more monthly sales than B & N, a pleasant surprise.

5. NookPress. B-, my first time uploading since the change from Pubit. Definite improvements with the ability to edit within their system and working links in Preview mode and an improved online Previewer. Still not as sweet as the way Amazon handles TOC but getting better. Needs improvements with the Editorial Review department, couldn’t get that to work right or to just delete it altogether. Now if they could fix their Nook Store search engine and get sales going (a long story), which is still affecting their overall grade.

6. Draft2Digital C+ My first experience with them and mixed feelings. Love how they’re attempting to simplify approval for authors without formatting experience, but does it currently come at a cost to those of us with experience? Maybe, maybe not. I’m only distributing to Apple through them and have been watching my book in Publishing status for a week now, assuming it will be distributed to iTunes soon. Excited for the promise of “real time” sales reports. Jury still out on this company but since they’re new, that’s understandable. Wishing them the best.

Besides the biggies, I upload to my own websites for direct sales (pdf, epub, mobi) and give that an A+ at both Webs and Yola. So easy and nice to sell books via PayPal.

I may update the samples at Scribd and other venues but doubt to upload again to Google Ebooks-Partners-Play, not even sure what they’re calling it theses days.

Your thoughts?

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