Archive for category Self-publishing

A Facelift for The Promise

The rights for psychological thriller, The Promise, have reverted from the original publisher back to me.

To celebrate, the Kindle version now has a shiny new cover and new, lower, price point. I’m also delighted to say, the e-book is available on Kobo for the very first time and, fingers crossed, it will qualify for one of Kobo’s Mystery & Thriller promotions soon.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been possible to carry the reviews across from the old version of the book. But they are currently still available against the secondhand hand editions of the original paperback.

I haven’t yet had time to sort out a new paperback version of the book – that is a project for the coming months.

“Jenkins spins a web of intrigue” – Judith Cutler

Olivia has recurring nightmares about the murder of a man which took place when she was a teenager.
Petty criminal Tina is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
With the clock ticking, Tina needs money and a wife for her younger brother, Wayne.
The discovery of a forgotten letter from an ex-cellmate puts Tina on the trail of Olivia – with devastating consequences.

The Promise is a psychological thriller set in north Birmingham, UK.

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Get Your Book into More Categories on Amazon

Amazon KDP only allows the selection of two categories at the time of publishing a book and it can be difficult to decide which two categories are most important. For example, with Public Speaking for Absolute Beginners, I toyed with, ‘Speaking and Speech Writing’, ‘Communication’, ‘Assertiveness’ and ‘Practical & Motivational Self-Help’ amongst others.Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners
But there is a way to get a book into up to ten categories after publication.

There are two main advantages to a book being in more categories:
• Increased exposure on Amazon. The more categories a book is in, the more people will see it.
• An increased chance of the book gaining one of those coveted little orange ‘bestseller’ badges for a particular category. Some categories are small and therefore the number of sales required to win this badge will be correspondingly fewer.

Before we start, an explanation about categories:
The categories available for selection during the KDP publishing process do not exactly match the categories seen by buyers on Amazon and these categories seen on Amazon can differ between countries and between book formats (e-book, paperback etc.) The categories available during KDP publication are based on the Book Industry Standards and Communications Code. The categories you select are used, along with your keywords, to place the book in Amazon’s own categories. It is Amazon’s own categories that we are interested in for the purpose of this exercise not the BISAC ones.


The steps required to access more Amazon categories are listed below:

  1. Decide on the most appropriate Amazon categories for the book. 
    Go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/ and on the search bar change ‘All’ to ‘Kindle Store’. Click on the Search icon.
    On the left side of the page click “Kindle eBooks” under “Kindle Store” (which is beneath the Department heading). 
    Scroll down a little and the available categories will now be available on the left, beginning with Arts & Photography.
    Click on a category to view subcategories. Choose the most suitable ones and make a list of category paths. As an example here are the first three entries in my list for Public Speaking for Absolute Beginners:
    1. Kindle Store/Kindle eBooks/Education & Reference/Words, Language and Grammar/Public Speaking & Speech Writing
    2. Kindle Store/Kindle eBooks/Education & Reference/Words, Language & Grammar/Speech & Pronunciation
    3. Kindle Store/Kindle eBooks/Education & Reference/Words, Language & Grammar/Communication

  2. When the list is complete: Within your KDP Bookshelf, click the Help tab at the top of the screen. On the next screen, scroll down and click ‘Contact Us’ on the left-hand side of the screen. On the next screen, click ‘Amazon Product Page & Expanded Distribution’ and then select ‘Update Amazon Categories’. You will be presented with a form to fill in with your selected categories, book format, ASIN/ISBN and market place. Press submit.

  3. When your request has been actioned, you will receive a confirmation email and this comes from a real person! The first time I did this I wasn’t explicit enough about the categories and was asked to confirm exactly what I wanted, so pay attention to detail.

  4. It will be necessary to repeat the above exercise for other territories/book formats as you wish. However, for the time being I’ve concentrated my efforts on my UK e-books because that’s my greatest market share.

Do let me know if broadening Amazon categories results in better sales for you. Fingers crossed!

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An Update on Me

I’ve been rather quiet about my own literary endeavours of late, so here’s a quick update.

Cup Cakes

Pre-Covid Memories from March 2020

At the beginning of February the first three chapters and synopsis of last year’s NaNoWriMo manuscript generated a call for the full manuscript from my agent. Since then I’ve been working on bringing the rest of the manuscript up to scratch. Today I pressed ‘send’ and now have around six weeks to wait for the verdict. 

I’ve also completed a training course (via Zoom) to become a Shared Reading Group Leader. I’m looking forward to the end of restrictions and the opportunity to get a real-life group started.

So what do I do while I wait for the above two things to come to fruition? I’ve made a little list of possibilities. They won’t all get done but, hopefully, the list will mean I don’t waste too much time procrastinating:

  • Complete article commissioned by The People’s Friend
  • Chase up pitches outstanding with other publications.
  • Attempt to win my way to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School by entering their short story competition.
  • Publish my short story collections on Kobo when the relevant KDP Select enrolments end. This will involve sourcing new covers. Kobo cited the existing covers as a factor in stopping the books being accepted into their promotions. 
  • Investigate whether I have enough short stories to publish another collection.
  • Revisit the categories/keywords on my existing KDP publications.
  • Update Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners.

Watch this space to find out how I get on!

What’s everyone else working on? Are you a list-person or do you just go where the whim takes you?

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Indie Publishing: No Barriers, But Plenty of Responsibility

Today I have a thought provoking post from long-time indie author and publisher, Elizabeth Ducie plus a heads-up about her free and discounted books on the Business of Writing – essential reading for those serious about making an income from their writing.

Over to Elizabeth:

I’ve been an independent publisher for more than a decade now. And by that, I mean I am responsible for publishing my own books, in a variety of formats, using a variety of tools and platforms; and for the ongoing marketing and sales.The Business of Writing

But do I do everything myself? Of course not. There are aspects I can’t do: cover design for one; proofreading for another; or production of physical copies. There are experts I contract in for that, and I pay for their services. But I take full responsibility for, and maintain full control over, the project.

One of the biggest benefits of indie publishing to me is the absence of barriers to entry; or gatekeepers. The technology is available for all, at a low cost, or even free in some cases. There are no agents to turn down that manuscript you’ve spent years getting right. There are no publishers to decide your book isn’t on trend. The decision to go ahead with the project rests solely with you, the author.

Conversely, one of the biggest disadvantages of indie publishing is also the absence of barriers to entry; or gatekeepers. Just because it’s possible, even easy, to get your book out there, doesn’t mean you necessarily should. Not until it’s ready.

That’s where the responsibility comes in. I once had a conversation with a member of staff for a well-known retailer. He picked up a copy of my debut novel, which had been runner-up in the previous year’s Self-published Book of the Year awards and said “wow, it looks like a proper book!” As you can imagine, I didn’t know whether to be proud or insulted!

There should be no difference for the reader between an independently published book and one that’s gone down the traditional route. The cover should be professionally designed; the content should be correctly formatted; the text should be free of typos and other errors. The quality requirements are the same however a book is published; the only difference is who takes ultimate responsibility. Actually, there’s no difference there, either. In both cases, it’s the publisher. The only difference is that as an indie, the author is also the publisher.

Elizabeth DucieSelf-publishing, as being an indie is sometimes called, used to be a really dirty word in our industry. It’s less so these days, as more people realise it’s not the route of last resort, but a viable option. And frankly, I don’t believe most readers ever notice, or care, who’s published something. But there’s still a number of books out there that aren’t ready and shouldn’t have been published.

If you are considering going down the indie route, I wish you good luck; it’s a fun time to be an indie. But please, please, please take it seriously and take responsibility for the quality of the finished product. Your readers, and fellow indies, will thank you for it.

 

Elizabeth Ducie is the author of The Business of Writing, a series of books on business skills for authors. This week, her books are all on special offer:
Part 1 Business Start-Up is free until 27th January.
Part 2 Finance Matters; Part 3 Improving Effectiveness; and Part 4 Independent Publishing are all on Countdown deals and are available today at 99p / 99 cents each.
For members of Kindle Unlimited, the entire series is free to download at all times.

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Be Inspired!

So, we’re in that weird time between Christmas and New Year when we eat chocolate, watch TV and wait for the world to start turning again (or not, depending on lockdown restrictions where you live).Public Speaking for Absolute Beginners

Kobo PublishingBut this is also the time to get inspired for all those great things we’re going to do in 2021, whether it be write a novel, exercise more or increase our confidence. Following the disaster of 2020, many of us have high hopes for 2021, so let’s use out current enthusiasm and inspiration to get started on that journey towards a new skill.

On that note, I’m pleased to say Kobo has included Public Speaking for Absolute Beginners in their ‘Be Inspired‘ promotion which runs from January 1st to 14th in Canada and the U.S.

I don’t want my UK Kindle readers to feel hard done by, so I’ve already lowered the Kindle price of Public Speaking for Absolute Beginners to only £1.50 for a limited time (and the paperback is not bad value at £5.49 if you’ve had an Amazon gift card for Christmas).

Public Speaking for Absolute Beginners will give you everything you need to know in order to face an audience, whether that be a handful of people in your writing group or work team, or a larger gathering at a book launch or other event. You will learn how to craft an attention grabbing speech, banish self-consciousness, use gestures, inject humour and finish speaking with a persuasive call to action. And it will improve your confidence in everyday situations as well.

For those who prefer to write rather than speak, I’ve also reduced the price of Kobo Writing Life Publishing for Absolute Beginners to just £1.50. This book takes the reader all the way from e-publishing first principles to accessing Kobo promotions and marketing suggestions. So no excuse not to get your book in front of readers during 2021.

Finally, A Happy New Year to all of you and a massive thank you for sticking with this blog and supporting me through the last twelve months. May you all enjoy health, happiness and success in the coming year.

 

 

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Kobo Writing Life Publishing for Absolute Beginners

Many of you are familiar with my e-book Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners. Now there is a sister publication: Kobo Writing Life Publishing for Absolute Beginners. Both books are structured in a similar way, taking the novice e-publisher from the definition of an e-book and deciding what to write to uploading a manuscript to either Amazon or Kobo and using the marketing tools provided by these respective platforms.Kobo Publishing

The idea for the Kobo Writing Life book was born after a consultation with Tara Cremin, a Kobo Author Experience Manager, about making the most of the Kobo platform.
Kobo is based in Canada and has a large audience share there and in Australia. The company’s market share is also growing very fast in the Netherlands and Kobo’s partnerships with bookshops around the world, including Bookworld in New Zealand and FNAC in France and Portugal, are a factor in its increasing popularity. Importantly for self-published authors, in 2019 one in four of the titles sold by Kobo in Canada was by an independent author published through Kobo Writing Life. This love of new independent voices is a growing trend across Kobo’s major markets. More than 30 per cent of the titles sold in Australia are from independent self-published authors, 27 per cent in the United States, and 20 per cent in the United Kingdom. These statistics are a compelling reason for making your book available on the Kobo platform. Another good reason is that Kobo Writing Life is one of the easiest and friendliest e-publishing platforms to deal with. Kobo has a personal touch with authors that Amazon often lacks. If you have any questions, Kobo Writing Life is very approachable which means that some writers choose to cut their e-publishing teeth with Kobo instead of publishing on Amazon first.
Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute BeginnersAmongst other things Kobo Writing Life Publishing for Absolute Beginners explains how Kobo can make your e-book available for purchase by public libraries via Overdrive and how to get access to promotions run by Kobo where your book may be mixed in with titles on sale from major publishers. In common with the original KDP book, it also covers more general e-publishing topics such as how to obtain a book cover and writing a series of books. This is in order to fully inform the newbie e-publisher.
Kobo Writing Life Publishing for Absolute Beginners is available on Kindle and Kobo.

And I’m delighted to say that Kobo Writing Life Publishing for Absolute Beginners is currently featured on Kobo’s Best Books for Writers page.

In tandem with producing the Kobo e-book I have also revised Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners for 2020. The tweaks are mostly small, the only major change is the removal of VAT from e-books sold in the UK. This means that the 35% KDP royalty rate now applies to books priced from 77p to £1.76 and the 70% royalty rate is from £1.77 to £9.99.
The revised version of Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners is available now from Amazon.

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Universal Buy Link for All E-Book Retailers

I’ve written previously about BookLinker. This is a free service which enables authors to create an ‘intelligent’ link to a book’s Amazon page. The link automatically directs the reader to his home country/currency Amazon site. However, this is of limited use to those authors who have ‘gone wide’.

‘Going wide’ with an e-book means making it available for sale from a number of online retailers, rather than sticking just with Amazon. These other online retailers might include Kobo, Apple, Google Play and others. Going wide increases the number of possible sales but also creates another problem: how to efficiently direct a reader to the site from which he would prefer to buy.

Internet and social media book promotion works best when potential readers can easily click through to the correct page to make a purchase. If a reader has to start searching around in order to make a purchase, he’s likely to lose interest or go off at a tangent somewhere else. It’s important to keep book buyers happy by directing them to their preferred e-book retailer (Amazon, Kobo, Apple etc.) and the correct currency/country for their location.
This can be done by listing all the different retailers’ links but it’s messy and confusing on a blog post and is impossible within the confines of the Twitter character count.

An efficient way to do this is to use the universal links provided by Books2Read. Simply go to the site, paste in the Amazon, Kobo or any other e-book retailer’s link for your book and click ‘Make My Universal Link’. Books2Read will search all online retailers for the book before creating a single ‘universal’ link. This link will take the reader to a choice of all the retailers where your book is available. If the reader has previously expressed a retailer preference via an earlier use of another Books2Read link, he will be taken straight to his preferred retailer.

To see how neatly this works, try this universal link for my psychological thriller, Bedsit Three. (Tip: Select the Amazon option to get the book for only 99p).

Bedsit Three

 

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To Hire an Editor or Not to Hire an Editor?

A few weeks ago I met freelance editor Ameesha Smith-Green at a networking event and was impressed by her full order book and great enthusiasm for her job. She generously offered to share some advice about when an editor is required and what tasks that editor might perform.  Ameesha Smith-Green

Over to Ameesha:

Whether you’re a professional writer making a living from your words or someone who enjoys hobby blogging, there will no doubt come a time when you wonder whether it’s worth hiring an editor. In fact, “Do I need an editor?” is a question I get asked fairly often by writers. As an editor, you might think I’d leap up and shout “YES!”, but the answer isn’t so cut and dry…

Are you writing for pleasure or business?
If you’re writing for fun or catharsis, then an editor isn’t really necessary. It’s more important that the writing fulfils your personal needs and desires. However, if you’re a freelance writer, an author, or a blogger hoping to make money from your work, then it might be worth hiring an editor, because your writing needs to be of a higher quality than if you were just writing for yourself.

What value does an editor add?
A good editor knows the industry relevant to your writing and what your readers want. They understand genre standards, word counts, structure, and flow. Importantly, they’re objective and honest about whether your writing is good enough—and how to improve it. A good editor should make you a better writer, not just fix your errors. Even the best writer can sometimes find themselves unable to see the wood for the trees, and that’s where an editor is invaluable.

What do editors do?
The term “editor” is very broad, but in writing there are two main types: content editors (also known as developmental editors) and copy editors. The former look at the big picture—structure, content, message, narrative, and so on. The latter focus on the small picture—grammar, language, wording, punctuation, and so on. It’s worth noting that the role of a copy editor is often confused with that of a proofreader. However, proofreading is merely checking the final version of the text (such as a designed book or website) for any last typos or errors.

Which should you choose?
If you’re a book author, you’d normally start with a content edit, then progress to a copy edit, then a proofread. If you’re writing blogs or website content, then you’ll probably only want copy editing and/or proofreading. Some editors offer both content and copy editing services, while others specialise in just one. If you’re confident in your writing skills and don’t need an editor, it may be worth hiring a proofreader to ensure there are no embarrassing typos before you hit “publish”.

Where do you find editors?
You can find editors and proofreaders through generalist freelancing sites such as Upwork, niche sites like book-specific freelancing site Reedsy, or industry organisations such as the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). Before hiring anyone, carefully read their feedback and have preliminary discussions about your requirements to see whether they’re the right editor for you. With copy editing and proofreading, you can request a sample to see their skills in action.

Links:
• To find out more information about book editing, check out: https://thebookshelf.ltd/
• To find out more information about freelancing, check out: https://afreelancelife.co.uk/
• You can get in touch with me via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ameesha-smith-green/

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Make New Virtual Friends

One of the nice things about being a writer is the lovely people you meet along the way. These may be real world contacts, virtual acquaintances from social media or cross overs between the two. If you meet other writers at a workshop or conference it’s rare that you’ll part without swapping Twitter handles, Facebook existence or other means of giving each other virtual support. And sometimes that person who’s said ‘Hi’ on social media will turn out to be local to you and it’s possible to meet in person.

These contacts aren’t necessarily always other writers. There’s a growing trend towards freelance working, aided by technology, internet and social media. Writers are one small part of this freelance world. We are usually not salaried and have only ourselves to rely on to find commissions and markets for our work. Mixing with freelancers from other professions can help us to treat our ‘creative calling’ as a business and manage our time better.

Over the last few months three different contacts have offered me internet publicity via blog interviews. These people all started as virtual contacts but two were near enough to meet in person as well. Below are the interview links. You’ll find out stuff you (possibly) didn’t know about me plus, if you settle back with a cup of tea and rummage around, you’ll discover information on co-working, writing tips and help managing your freelance business.

Ameesha Green is a freelance editor of non-fiction books and also runs the Freelance Life blog.  My favourite question from Ameesha was, ‘What skill do you think is most important in freelancing?’

Lorraine Mace will be a familiar name to many of you; she writes for both Writing Magazine and Writers’ Forum as well as writing crime novels and doing much more. My favourite question from Lorraine was ‘Do you Google yourself? What did you find that affected you most (good or bad)?’

Dispace is an organisation facilitating co-working in coffee shops and other venues up and down the country. For when you get fed up of staring at the same four walls! Dispace asked me for five tips on writing and self-publishing non-fiction.

Has anybody else made helpful contacts via the internet?

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Using HTML in Amazon Book Descriptions

This is a post for those of you who have self-published on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or are planning to do so.

KDP requires a Product Description for each book. This is the equivalent of the blurb on the back of a traditional book and it is very important in selling the book. These short paragraphs help readers decide whether or not to buy the book. Therefore the product description must be set out in an easy to read format. This is not as straightforward as it sounds because Amazon doesn’t provide any formatting options within the box where the the product description is keyed i.e. it’s not possible to use bold or italics or bullet points. This means the product descriptions of many self-published books appear flat and uninteresting.

But there is a way to slip formatting into the product description and thus make it more attractive. HTML can be used. HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and is the standard markup language for web pages. DO NOT GLAZE OVER OR RUN AWAY! This is simpler than it sounds.

For example, to make the word ‘thriller’ appear in bold in a product description, use <b> and </b> immediately before and after ‘thriller’.

And, to make the word ‘scare’ appear in italics, use <i> and </i> immediately before and after ‘scare’.

Put ‘A <b>thriller</b> guaranteed to <i>scare</i>.’ in the product description box and it will appear as ‘A thriller guaranteed to scare.’ on the Amazon page.

It’s also possible to use HTML to underline, create lists and give other text effects. This page lists the HTML acceptable in the product description.

To complicate matters, when publishing in paperback through KDP, the product description has a tendency to lose the line breaks. Use <br> to manually indicate where the line breaks should go and use <br> <br> to create a blank line between paragraphs.

Why not experiment with HTML to liven up your book descriptions?

 

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