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What if My Book Doesn’t Sell?

What if my book doesn’t sell? I think that is a question all writers at least think about. It is a legitimate question, but is it the most important?

I have put my best efforts into my latest book. Am I concerned about sales? Of course, but there are other areas that are more important. In my case, I have a website to maintain, a blog to write articles for, plus reviews to get for my book.

The truth is all of these things affect sales, but I choose not to focus on how many books have been sold. Long term that is important, but I write because I love to write. But sales don’t occur if people don’t know about the book.

Going forward, I am more concerned about getting the word out there to the potential readers. And that is going to require work on my part!

More about this on the other side of this break.

TR-WritingServices.com brings you this blog post or podcast to keep you informed on the issues of today. Authors need to stay informed so that they can relate to their readers facts as well as entertain them with their imagination.

 TR-WritingServices.com is a service dedicated to help authors reach their potential as independent writers. Knowing the world you live in and work in is essential to being a good writer, thus the need for the free flow of information.

To discover how we can help you be the writer you want to be, write to us at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. We will respond with a free copy of our Guide to Writing plus a brochure detailing our plans. We won’t ask for your credit card or any money, but we will send you these items for free.

Check us out and get your career moving.

Now back to the article.

What should I do about marketing?

The truth is that the more money you have available, the more you can do. But since you may be on a strict budget, I will discuss those things that are either free or inexpensive.

PRE-PUBLISH

I have divided this int Pre-publication and Post-publication. In Pre-publication your primary goal is to get noticed.

One way to get noticed is through book reviews. I have recently discovered a book review resource called Booksprout. You can try it out for free or signup for the $10 a month program or the $20 a month program. The essential difference between the two paid programs is that the $10 gets you up to 50 reviewers per ARC (Advance Review Copy) while the $20 gets you unlimited reviewers.

That is a very reasonable price. There are no guarantees about whether you get a 1-star, 2-star, 3-star, 4-star, or 5-star review. Only that you have the opportunity to get reviews.

Booksprout is recommended for pre-publication but can also be used for books already published. Booksprout explains how it all works on their website.

One warning: If you have your book listed in Select (KDP Select), you cannot use Booksprout. To use Booksprout cancel your automatic renewal of Select and when it reaches the end of its term, then use Booksprout.

Another pre-publish strategy is to make use of your email list. This strategy can be free or come with a subscription price. Email is a long-term strategy. By that I mean you can grow your Email list over time. You may need to experiment with your content and how it links to your book. But it is something that almost all ‘experts’ recommend.

Then there are ads.

You will need to look at what type of ad is your best. For instance, do you use a Facebook ad or an Amazon ad or a YouTube ad. Depending on which you choose there are rules that you would be wise to learn.

If you choose to run an ad, make sure to establish the budgeting with firmness. Advertising without control can end up costing you a ton of money.

Pre-Orders

Pre-Orders of your eBooks can accomplish two things. The first is the sales build up and are accomplished all at the same time; thus, providing your book a surge right at the beginning which Amazon will notice. Secondly, potential buyers will notice the surge and be encouraged to buy.

Pre-Orders are only for eBooks on Amazon, but if you have a website and sell your books (see under Post-Publish Website for more information), then you could create your own Pre-Order for print books. I plan on experimenting with this for my next book.

There are additional strategies you can use, but these four ideas standout and can work for a small budget.

POST-PUBLISH

Three of the four strategies you used for Pre-Publish can be used also for post-publish. Obviously, Pre-Order is no longer available once the book is published.

Reviews

Booksprout can be used for published books. See Booksprout for more information. Make sure to include all your reviews. That means the bad ones as long as you have more good ones. It lets people know that you are providing them honest information and it gives you the opportunity to review the reviews.

Ads

Ads are recommended. No matter which platform you use it will probably be your most expensive item. But a successful ad can make a big difference.

Website

Your website can be an integral part of your advertising. If you have reviews, you can post them on your website. This can be very important, especially if you sell your books on your website. KDP allows you to buy and sell copies of your book through the Author Copies program. That is only true of print books, but it gives you a great advantage.

I mentioned in Pre-Publish the idea of selling your books on your own website and offering your readers a Pre-Order of the print book. As far as I know there are no restrictions on doing that.

Ads

All the options you have for ads in Pre-Publish are available in Post-Publish. You might want to remember that books sold by Amazon have a 60-day window. Meaning, that the proceeds from the sales are not paid out until 60-days have passed.

But if your ad directs buyers to your website, then you get instant payment.

These are just a few suggestions. The more money you have available, the more you can do.

But one last principle: Don’t focus on the sales. If you are writing with the idea of making big bucks you may or may not succeed. But if you fail in that endeavor you could become discouraged.

I suggest you focus on why you write. I write because I love writing. Whether I become rich or not is not my focus. I love writing and will continue to write as long as I continue to love doing it.

Do I want to make money? Of course! I have a vision that God has given me and money would make that vision a reality. But whether I write or not is not dependent on sales.

I love reviews. Occasionally, as time permits, I review books by other authors. But reviews of my books are valuable. They not only tell potential readers what you think of the book, but they help me sharpen my craft and make me a better writer.

I plan on submitting more of my books to be reviewed on Booksprout, but you don’t have to wait. If you buy one of our books from Amazon, you can post a review. Or you can try Goodreads where I am listed as R. Riddle.

We are proud to be able to offer you the best possible experience at TR Independent Bookstore. Whether you are living in Southwest Florida or elsewhere in the United States, we want to be your local bookstore. We are located on the internet at tr-writingservices.com. Drop in and check us out.

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Understanding the Importance of Reviews

What is the importance of Reviews? Well, it just might make the difference in how the reader views your book. And whether a purchase takes place.

In my last blog I spoke about a very nice review I received, and I mentioned Booksprout. There seems to be a growing number of review services coming online these days. I have checked out others, and most seem to want to swap reviews.

As far as I know, that is fine as long as you are not swapping type of book review, as in ‘I will review and give your book 5 stars if you will do the same for me’. That would be wrong. But making yourself available to do reviews in exchange for someone else reviewing your book does not violate any rules that I know of. The key is there is no direct link from your doing a review to you receiving a review.

That said, I like Booksprout’s approach. With them I have choices: Free to up to 20 reviews per book; $10 per month for up to 50 reviews per book; and $20 per month for unlimited reviews.

It is easy, cost effective, and it works.

But are book reviews still important?

More about this on the other side of this break.

TR-WritingServices.com brings you this blog post or podcast to keep you informed on the issues of today. Authors need to stay informed so that they can relate to their readers facts as well as entertain them with their imagination.

 TR-WritingServices.com is a service dedicated to help authors reach their potential as independent writers. Knowing the world you live in and work in is essential to being a good writer, thus the need for the free flow of information.

To discover how we can help you be the writer you want to be, write to us at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. We will respond with a free copy of our Guide to Writing plus a brochure detailing our plans. We won’t ask for your credit card or any money, but we will send you these items for free.

Check us out and get your career moving.

Now back to the article.

I asked if reviews were still important. In a recent book I was reviewing the author had this to say, ‘any author’s marketing strategy should include the pursuit of reviews…[and] a good number of them’.

Reviews are important. Even bad reviews can be good for you. On a previous book I wrote and published I received a 2-star review. The reviewer didn’t like the book and was highly critical of it and me (the author). I could have deleted it, but I left it up.

Why?

Because it was obvious from the review that he didn’t follow reviewing rules. He skipped around and, in the end, he never finished the book. How do I know? He said so in his review (at least he was honest). But I was getting 4-star and 5-star reviews from others. So, it made a dramatic contrast.

If he had read the book through, the negative statements and/or observations he made would not have been named. In other words, the problems he cited were of his own making! He was careless, should have known better, and ended up writing a review that even a novice could see was wrong.

So, here is a review principle you might use: If you get a negative review while you are also getting positive reviews, consider keeping it on the list. Not on the top, but further down so that potential readers will already have read positive reviews before getting to that solitary bad review. There is a way to do this, but that isn’t the topic today.

Back at that time I had a different website and I posted reviews of my books on that site. It was a good practice that I got away from when I shifted to another website, but now I am returning to that practice.

In building my new website, which is using a storefront theme, I forgot about providing reviews. And in the process of time, I have lost some reviews when changing computers, but others I have now posted to the site. And I will be pursuing reviews more aggressively in the future.

Perhaps, you ask why I am returning? Because it enables readers to check out the reviews of any books they are considering. It shows the readers that I am honest by providing the negative review, but it also shows that the reviewer was quite likely off-base. (If you look for the negative review, I haven’t found it yet; it may be lost.)

Now, if there are a great many negative reviews, you might want to consider a different response. Read the reviews thoughtfully. Do they all harp on the same errors? If so, then maybe you should unpublish the book, fix the errors and then republish. If it is a major change you might need to retitle it as a new work and then seek new reviews.

I did receive another negative review, although it was more of a communication that a true review. In that review, the writer liked the book but felt some of my facts were wrong. Some of the criticism was off, in my opinion. But some of it made me take a closer look. The end result was an almost complete rewrite. So, I retitled the book and republished it. I tried contacting the man, but he never responded. But that was a case of a bad review influencing me to write a better book.

So, if you are doing a review, where do you post it?

The answer usually is Amazon. However, Amazon is making it harder to post reviews. For example, I don’t buy a lot off of Amazon within any given year. Over time, maybe. But not within a year. While I sell on Amazon, I usually like to go into a bookstore and ‘handle’ a book that I am thinking of buying.

But Amazon has installed a requirement that you have to purchase $50 or more from them in a year’s time to be able to post a review. It is unfortunate, but Booksprout for instance lets the reviewer post their review to Bookbub and Goodreads, as well as Amazon.

Reviews are a good way to influence sales. Finding a good reviewer is a little different and I may visit that subject in the future. One source of finding reviewers is kindleprenuer. But even such listings there need to be approached carefully. You want someone who works in your genre to begin with. Check them out. And definitely check out Booksprout. I have only limited experience with them, so I can’t say positively that they are the answer. Only you can answer that question.

All three formats of World of Joseph are available at Amazon. But the paperback and hardcover are available at TR Independent Bookstore where all our books are always discounted. Now that the special discount of World of Joseph of 20% ended at midnight of the 19th, both formats are still discounted the same as all our books. So, you still have great bargains!

Speaking of reviews, why not review one of my books. Next month I plan on submitting more books to be reviewed on Booksprout, but you don’t have to wait. If you buy one of our books from Amazon, you can post a review. Or you can try Goodreads where I am listed as R. Riddle.

We are proud to be able to offer you the best possible experience at TR Independent Bookstore. Whether you are living in Southwest Florida or elsewhere in the United States, we want to be your local bookstore. We are located on the internet at tr-writingservices.com. Drop in and check us out.

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Ron’s Lit Tip Website

10 15 2020

Welcome to Ron’s Lit Tip. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I will share a tip with you.

You’ve worked hard on writing and getting your book published. But what do you do next? Do you have a website where potential readers can find you? If not, you need to consider having one. Below I will discuss different types (type names are products of my imagination). Let’s begin!

Starter Website

Many people who’ve never built a website before have to begin somewhere. I call this type a Starter Website because this is probably their first and they will eventually move to more complicated websites.

Basically, a Starter Website consists of about three pages: Home, About, and perhaps a Product Page. The last one may vary according to needs. This type is rarely an Ecommerce site. It most likely is a beginner, but it could also be a site that directs people to a store. This has value for the store because potential customers can learn about them, their location, their hours, and their products.

Next Step

I call this Next Step because an entrepreneur who wants to succeed will quickly discover that the Starter doesn’t meet the needs. In this phase the entrepreneur may add additional pages such as more product pages, biography of owner, Question & Answer page, and other general information. At this time there is no activity such as eCommerce. In other words, it is still basically an ad.

Pre-Ecommerce Website

This is a site that authors should consider.

If you are an Independent Author, but don’t want to be involved with credit card transactions, and such, the Pre-Ecommerce site may fit your needs.

As an example, I will use our website at https://RFrederickRiddleBlog.Com. While I once owned an Ecommerce site for an online store I operated, that store no longer exists. My site is the home of my blog and the home of T&R Independent Books. By the way, I built that website using WordPress and have been very happy with it.

It is a website designed to inform people about our products (books) and services (TR Writing Services). One of our pages is a Catalog which lets readers search through it for our books with the purpose to buy. Here we show all our books, both mine and my wife’s. Each book’s cover is shown with a brief description and a link to their Amazon page where they can purchase the book.

Amazon takes care of all transaction details, including shipping, tracking, and delivery. This relieves the Independent Author of a great deal of stress and work, enabling the author to focus on the writing.

In our case, TR-Writing Services provides the would-be writer the opportunity to contact us and learn more about our services (beyond what they see on the site, which is a lot). If we approve of a request for our services, we will email a link to an order page that links to the PayPal System. Again, just as Amazon above, PayPal handles the order, processing of the payment, and notifies us of the transaction.

Ecommerce Website

This is structured similarly to the Pre-Ecommerce Website. The major difference is that the site provides the means to purchase right there. For you, the author it means you must have an ecommerce financial source.

Shopify, Wix, and others provide you with all the tools you need. You will want to be able to accept major credit cards like MasterCard, Visa, Discovery, and others. You will absolutely need a Privacy Page (good idea for your Pre-Ecommerce site as well).

In this type of website, you will be responsible for the order fulfillment, which includes packaging, shipping, tracking, delivery, as well as returns. When I owned my online bookstore, I was able to handle that, but the financial transactions were handled by a bank. And, most important for a writer, I was still able to have time to write.

So, which Should I have?

I indicated earlier that I think the Pre-Ecommerce site is ideal for an author. You can have unlimited pages (depending on the hosting plan) which allows you to put your products out there to be seen. In fact, you can do everything you feel capable of doing except the Ecommerce.

Grading Your Website

There are a lot of tools available for you to build a website. One tool you might want to check out is a website grader. There are free online graders, such as the one Hubspot.com provides. These will examine your website and grade it. The higher the grade, the better.

I use the one provided by Hubspot.com and it will tell me of any shortcomings my site has. I am then informed how to improve it with or without their help. I find it a helpful tool.

Tip: Check with various hosting plans for the type of website you want. Then go for it.

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ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

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R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.