Hello my friends! Welcome to Tammy's Tidbits here at Writer's Words of Wisdom. I know it's been a long time since my last post but I've a fabulous one for you today. I just returned from Denver, Colorado where I attended RomCon University and RomCon 2014. I had a great time connecting with fellow authors, readers, and friends—both old and new. If you've ever wondered whether or not you should attend conventions and conferences, stop right there. Do it. You need to interact with your peers, make connections, and overall enjoy yourself.
I'm what people call a hybrid. I have books published traditionally through a publisher (Siren Bookstrand), and I've self published the rest for FOUR pen names. I have the best of both worlds, but there's always room for improvement. That's why I looked forward to this conventions for months. Let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed at all.
I attended two talks given by Smashwords' Marketing Director Jim Azevedo. He gave out a thumb drive with his presentations on it as well as the three free books put out by Smashwords founder Mark Coker: Smashwords Style Guide: How to Format Your EBook, Smashwords Book Marketing Guide - How to Market any Book for Free, and Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success. All of these books are FREE and can be found on Smashwords.com or Amazon. Go ahead and download your copies now. I'll wait.
Got them? Good! You'll need those later, but for now let me give you the highlights of Jim's talks. Self publishing no longer has the stigma it had as little as five years ago. Before, if you said you published your own books, people thought you weren't good enough for a traditional publisher to take you under their wing, so why should they read any of your work. It's a good question, but very misguided.
You see, some of the most talented authors out there are self publishing/going "indie". Of course, there are some books published way too soon, without formal editing and publishing. There are some with covers that will make you cringe...but so many more with professional looking covers that draw you in. This is the group we choose to be in and Smashwords is one of the ways we can get there.
One thing many of us struggle with is how to price our books. Should we go for a freebie to draw in readers? Should it be 99 cents? What price is too much for an eBook? Jim shared a lot of research with us. It's a good marketing strategy to set the first book in a series for free in order to get the readers invested in the characters and the story lines. If they love them, they'll come back for the next books and pay for them.
He shared that 99 cent price point pays out quite well, but the $1.99 spot is a dead zone. Very few if any books sell at that number. Best to move it up to $2.99 and get the sales. For the larger books over 60k words or so, $3.99 is a good price point. Much higher than $5.50 and the sales numbers go down, but of course you make more per book than you would at the 99 cent price point.
Why did I share that? Well, for those of us still building up our following, it's valuable information. The lower prices do help get your name out there and new readers feel they aren't breaking the bank taking a risk on a new author. Once they're hooked, if you price your work fairly, they'll keep coming back again and again.
Smashwords of course isn't the only name in the Indie publishing game. If you want your work to get into the brick and mortar book stores, you need to have it distributed through Ingram. Now I know what some of you are saying. If you have the expanded distribution through Createspace, you do get distributed through Ingram, but buyers see that Createspace is the publisher (by the ISBN number) and they don't want the books. You can't do the expanded distribution through Createspace if you have your own ISBN number, so what are you to do?
Go directly to Ingram and have them distribute for you through their Ingram Spark program. With Ingram Spark, you can publish an eBook, paperback and hard cover all in one spot. Hopefully by the end of the year, they'll have reworked their process so you can use a Word.doc file for all your needs. For now, you need to upload a clean EPUB file for your eBook, and a clean PDF for the print versions.
Robin Cutler from Ingram gave the presentation on using Ingram's services. For minimal fees, you can have it all at your fingertips. For only $49 per title, you can distribute both print and eBook versions. It's the same cost for print alone so might as well do both. If you only wish to go the eBook route, it's only $25 per title. There is a $12 annual marketing access fee per title as well.
For these prices, you get included in the Ingram catalogs distributed to libraries and book stores. There are many other tools on their site to help you market each title and you have all the benefits of print on demand without the hassle of having to be responsible for books in a warehouse or for the cost of returns.
As the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Sassy Vixen Publishing, all of this was fabulous news. I came away from those lectures with a renewed outlook on the publishing industry and my part in it. Sure SVP only represents me and my other three pen names, but one day we will take on additional authors. At that time, I want to give them the best options out there for their books, just like Siren gave me when I first started out.
Still not sure going Indie is for you? Check out Ingram Spark and read the Smashwords guides for yourself. It's not the secret world that some make it out to be. If you have your manuscript edited, re-edited and polished until it shines, and you have a professional looking cover, get yourself to these sites and upload your work. Join the world of the published authors and have fun!
Until next time,