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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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INDIE PUBLISHING

The Riddle Report 05 17 2021

These days the author has more responsibility than ever before and more opportunities! Indie Publishing plays a big role.

In days gone by the author wrote a novel, submitted it to a publisher, and once accepted, relaxed. But Indie Publishing has changed all of that !

There are all kinds of publishers out there. But here I want to present you with a different perspective. In a previous blog I have mentioned that there is a better way than self-publishing. You are about to see what I was talking about.

First a brief history. I published my first novel in 2003. Since then, I have written a number of books. The first four books were all published by self-publishers. But in 2013, I discovered Smashwords.com and published my first eBook. (My other books are also in the eBook format, but the publisher did this because I paid for it.)

This discovery has changed my life and now I am about to reveal to you what I believe is a better way to publish.

That better way is simply: You are the publisher!

At the time there was almost no information on the subject but today there’s considerable. It is called Indie Publishing which tells you right off the bat that as a publisher you are independent. This is an important distinction.

More about this issue 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 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 markting@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.

Indie Publishing is the author taking ultimate charge. Basically, it means selecting a printer or publisher to print our books. And there are publishers out there willing to be our printer and even our marketer.

The one I am most familiar with is Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). CreateSpace, whom I was with, merged with KDP so now all my print books are with KDP. Plus, I have eBooks with KDP and a few with Smashwords.

I will discuss KDP more in the example. I have also located at least one other printer called Best Value Copy. They are an online printing service that provides quality work at reasonable prices. However, I have not used them or any other publishing platform because KDP has proven to me that they are very capable and affordable.

In looking for a quality printer you can try your own neighborhood. For example, there is a Staples store not far from us that gives business discounts to authors using their printing services. That suggests the possibility that other office supply stores may offer the same services.

But assuming the role of publisher is more than just getting a printer. You literally take on the responsibilities of a publisher. You may have to seek your own ISBN, copyright, and other important items.

In our case, we listed ourselves with the State of Florida with a DBA (Doing Business As) name of T&R Independent Books. Because we use KDP we are able to use their ISBNs which are free, although they also sell other ISBNs for a modest price. Copyrights are free.

It is both exciting and scary. But the rewards can be awesome. For example, a self-publisher may give us anywhere from 8% to 40% royalty depending on volume of books sold. But as our own publisher the percentage jumps up to 60% and more (before costs and taxes).

In addition to that, we have virtual control over every aspect. It is true that with Kindle Direct some control lies with them, but it is also true that such controls are limited.

In establishing our own publishing business, we also took on the marketing of the books, which I may discuss in a future blog.  But in short, we will now be able to use the marketing tools that we used to buy from the publisher. Now we will have the authority to market the books as we see fit without incurring exorbitant costs.

Tip: As a publisher you pay the ISBN, the copyright, and other legal fees.                
Tip #2: Indie Publishers can get gross royalties of 60% or more. Even after taxes the profit is excellent.                

Example

I promised to discuss Kindle Direct Publishing and here we go.

When my wife first expressed the desire to start writing her own novels it fitted right in with the idea of T&R Independent Books. So, we immediately began researching what the costs would be to publish.

We searched the internet for both local and online printers. Eventually we settled on KDP because of three primary factors:

  1. We would retain ownership of all rights.
  2. Costs were reasonable.
  3. KDP would provide us worldwide marketing.

(At this time, we were dealing with CreateSpace but in 2018 they merged with KDP. KDP is virtually the same as CreateSpace and both are owned by Amazon.)

These are career changing factors. Although we have and will do our own expanded local marketing, being in the KDP loop will expand our marketing a thousand times over!

While the KDP name will be on our books, there will be no question of the identity of the real publisher which is T&R Independent Books.

Application

In establishing T&R Independent Books we also took over what was formerly known as RFrederickRiddle’s Bookstore. Initially, we closed down the store and opted to direct all potential buyers to Amazon and Kindle. However, in 2021 we opened a new store called T&R Independent Bookstore. In both cases, we have control over the marketing, including tracking of sales. Our initial relation with Amazon was the familiarity of Amazon for customers and KDP’s powerful tracking tools.

But our association with WordPress and Woo eCommerce has enabled us to set up our store using WordPress’s Storefront theme. It is another game changer and fits right into our Indie persona.

When using KDP, it enabled us to exercise several marketing options, some being free. Does this guarantee sales? Of course not. But it did give us, a relative newcomer maximum control and flexibility. And we still have them by our side with the primary difference that the controls, tools, and products (books) reside in our store while the eBooks are on Amazon.

When we started out in 2014 Indie Publishing was rather new and unknown, at least to us. But now becoming your own publisher is no longer a new idea. It has the potential to change the publishing landscape in years to come.

Not only the publishing landscape, but our future and yours. You should seriously consider this avenue. I can almost guarantee you that your book will be published sooner than traditionally, and it will cost you dramatically less. Quality is another story as it will be up to you to either do the editing or hire a professional.

Getting published doesn’t guarantee sales. But once again being an Indie Publisher involves great responsibility and great rewards. Being an Indie Publisher has great potential! If you are listening to this podcast, it is being brought to you by T&R Independent Bookstore. We want to be your local bookstore and we are located on the internet at tr-writingservices.com. Drop in and check us out.

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CreateSpace Revisited

I’ve been writing about the different methods of publishing. I have referred at times to CreateSpace, an Amazon company, which I have been very pleased with.
That said I feel it important to revisit the topic because CreateSpace is undergoing changes. Some services they once offered are being dropped.
Now, in all honesty, these changes so far don’t affect me. For instance, they have dropped the service where you could get professional help with your manuscript for a special price. I never used this or other similar services they offered. But it may affect you.
So what should I do?
Just because CreateSpace no longer provides a certain service doesn’t mean you can’t use CreateSpace. To get professional help in any area of writing you can find it on the Internet for a price. So it will cost more, but that’s true no matter what platform you are using. Professional help is rarely free!
So Google (search) for the kind of service you want. Just make sure that the service is familiar with and compatible with CreateSpace. If you do that, then you should be fine. Just keep a sharp eye on the service provider.
What about KDP?
KDP or Kindle Direct Printing is also an Amazon company. You can first have your book done as an eBook and then converted to a printed book. At the moment, in my opinion, they don’t quite match up with CreateSpace, but that could change at any time.
Check them out. Find out which platform works the best for you. And don’t forget that you can always change your mind. For example, all my books currently being written are designed with CreateSpace in mind. But I could change my mind and change to KDP. Some changes would need to be made, but nothing I couldn’t handle.
When I have CreateSpace do my book I then have them export it to KDP.
But I then import to KDP an edited version of the manuscript reformatted for Kindle. The reason is that eBooks don’t need headings and/or footings nor page numbers. These need to be removed. Otherwise the eBook may not be displayed in its best appearance.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.