Everything I've learned about writing a book, Grammarly, Hemingway, and AutoCrit Apps, getting Amazon Book Reviews, Indie and Audiobook Publishing, Book Promotion, the (huge) importance of Amazon keywords, Cover Creators and other things to help authors write and sell…
I’ve not changed the price of my first book on Amazon in a year and a half. My guess is that frequent price change or even free days will not do much for your sales and won’t result in many new reviews. Nonetheless, I thought I’d make my book free for a day and see what happens.
The day is about half over, and per the KDP report Amazon offers, I’ve had about 70 downloads. Given that I barely advertised it — a few tweets only — that is not too surprising. But there are a few surprising things.
A recent article argued that there is a formula to writing bestsellers. The article says the algorithm is “built to predict, with 80 percent accuracy, which novels will become mega-bestsellers. What does it like? “Young, strong heroines who are also misfits (the type found in The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). No sex, just ‘human closeness.’ Frequent use of the verb ‘need.’ Lots of contractions. Not a lot of exclamation marks. Dogs, yes; cats, meh.” So if you are writing a novel and want to trump your competition, you should abide what this book says, right? Let’s see how I’m doing with my upcoming science fiction novel:
* Young, strong, heroine — check. * Misfit — check. * No sex — this one is an in betweener…you’ll have to read the novel to understand. * Human closeness — check. * Frequent use of the verb “need” — hmm… 154 times in a novel of 116k words…I can work on this one. * Lots of contractions — I probably need more, so this is fixable. * Not a lot of exclamation marks — I’ve got too many. I can fix this. * Dogs — Several of them. * Cats — One. Dead.
I suppose if I put an image of a young woman on the cover… Bestseller, here I come!
Traditionally Publish or Self-Publish? This is a more complex question than it first appears. You also have to answer 1) What are your objectives? 2) What are you willing to do/not do yourself to help sell your book(s)?
I have modest experience with both traditional and self-publishing: 20 years ago I wrote a novel, printed it, put it in a box and sent it to what back then was a medium size, independent publisher of military history that was trying to break into the fiction market. I had no agent and put a letter in the box to the effect of ‘let me know if you want to publish this.’ A few weeks later I got a thick envelope back. They loved the book and had sent me contracts for it and two more books. I signed all three contracts and they sent me advances for all three.
I stumbled on a powerful and simple way to make a 3D book cover for free. Several sites offer book cover makers, but they all seem to either want your email address, have poor resolution or offer only a few predefined views from which you must pick. I found one that with a little bit of “post production” work on your part will leave you with a very nice ebook cover or paperback book cover, much as you see above and in my sidebar. Now you can do your own book cover design, and see it in 3D. Let me show you how it’s done.
In a recent blog, Neil Patel shared an article titled: “Modern Online Marketing Education: 18 Courses and Resources”. There are only a few blogs I follow closely, and Neil’s is one of them. I know of no one who provides so much value so clearly. In his most recent post, his intent is clear given the title. Too many writers don’t understand that their success has as much to do about marketing as it does about writing well. That is why most books published on Amazon never sell more than 20 copies. Writing blogs can help you write better, but you have to know who you are targeting to sell.
My first novel has been the #1 bestseller in its category in the UK, and it has made it into the top 10 of nine Amazon bestseller lists worldwide. My sense is that when most US authors post their book to Amazon, they don’t think twice about their overseas or international sales. This is a mistake because there are a lot of big markets outside the United States. You can fall further behind or you can ramp your sales. About 10% of my volume is now coming from non-US Amazon sites.
I have not translated my novella into any other languages, and I have spent less than $10 on advertising outside the United States. Here are a few things you can do in about an hour to help ramp your own international book sales…
So this was cool… Last night one of my 12-year olds asked me what was my favorite book when I was her age. I told her Dune. The other book I thought of, though I was a bit older than 12 when I read it, was one of the few books I’ve read several times. It was Leon Uris’ Battle Cry. It is the story of Uris as a young man in the Marine Corps in some of the most vicious fighting in the Pacific during WWII. Though the book rambles a bit and is a bit choppy, I was deeply impressed by his depiction of coming of age in combat. I was also engaged by how he showed the development of the unit. A bunch of young men became an unrelenting fighting force.
My Vietnam War novella is small in size and stature compared to Battle Cry, but my story is also about young men coming of age in battle. In some ways, I’m sure, my novel is a product of Battle Cry and many other stories and life events.
For those of you who don’t remember him, Leon Uris was one of the big names of fiction in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. His books consistently hit the New York Times Bestseller lists and were made into movies.
I never imagined I’d see my first novel side-by-side with his on Amazon’s bestseller list, but it happened today.