Thinking about self-publishing but worried about the cost?
Very few of us have the resources to compete with the big five publishers. Even if we aim to publish the highest quality book possible, we must watch our spending very carefully.
Publishing budgets vary wildly. I’ve heard some authors bragging that they spent nothing on their books – which frankly makes me regard their books a bit dubiously. I’ve seen beautiful, well-edited indie books published for between $1,000 and $3,000. And of course, I’ve seen jaw-droppingly gorgeous books produced for many times that amount.
Do you want to limit how much money you spend on self-publishing your book?
1. Use free eBook formatting software. If your book has already been professionally edited and you are not looking for custom design, you can use free tools to create high-quality book interiors. Personally, I’ve been very impressed with the Reedsy Book Editor. I also am a big fan of Vellum – which isn’t free, but allows you to create lovely books without a designer.
2. Scrappy cover design. A poorly-designed cover will repel readers. A custom cover by a professional designer can cost upwards of $800. Before you spend the big bucks, check out alternative cover sources. Use Fiverr for $5 prototypes. Contact artists directly on Deviant Art, Renderosity or Epilogue to request custom art or use of work already created. Use a service like 99Designs to run a cover design contest for $299.
3. Skill share. First, sort everything that needs to be done into three categories – things you can do yourself (at a professional level), things you need to pay someone else to do, and things you can barter with friends. Most of the writers I know have other professional skills. For example, you may be a top artist and perfectly capable of designing your own cover, while a friend of yours may be an eagle-eyed editor. Work together! Trade a cover design for a copy edit.
Would you like more information on how to get all your editing, formatting and design done on a tight budget? Sign up for my online class How to Self-Publish Your First Book. You’ll gain a wealth of resources for your indie publishing projects – plus tools to help you set and manage your budget.
Save $150 when you join during this weekend preview special.
Do you know any other great sources for budget-minded authors? Hit reply and let me know! I’d love to share them with my students.
Uncertain if you book is ready to be released into the wild? You want to publish your best book possible. It can be challenging to know if your manuscript has any weak areas, or if it’s been properly edited.
If doesn’t matter whether you intend to self-publish, or send your manuscript off to agents and publishers. Taking the time to work through these stages drastically improves your manuscript and your ability to realize your publishing goals.
While not every book goes through each of these steps (or needs to), each action adds value and refines the final book you will offer up to readers. While it’s easy to make big changes in the development stage, these changes become more and more emotionally difficult later on. Here’s a quick manuscript editing checklist to help guide you.
Stage one: Development
Stage two: Editing
Stage three: Final Review
In a very crowded market, it may feel impossible to get your books the attention they deserve. Many authors complain that they spend incredible amounts of time on marketing, but don’t see many sales result. Worse, they don’t even have time to write!
It doesn’t need to be that difficult to find your audience and give your books the readers they deserve. Here are four steps to getting your book noticed.
1. Publish your book with a professional, compelling cover design and description. It doesn’t matter how many eyeballs you get on your book if the cover turns them off.
2. Create a compelling offer. No, “buy my book” is not a compelling offer. Imagine readers are discovering you for the very first time. What can you do to make it easier for them to take a risk with a new author? Limited time low pricing can work, but doesn’t help support your career. Can you offer a free sample? A bundle with other products? Companion material that is free for you to produce and distribute — such as guides, education, videos or audio?
3. Expand your reach. With a beautiful book and a compelling offer in place, NOW you are ready to start spreading the word about your book. Start sharing with your personal network, grow your following on social media, share your free content on sites such as LinkedIn and Medium, email your list, schedule readings and talks, offer guest posts and reach out to influencers.
Caution! If you don’t have an attractive book and a compelling offer to send all the attention to, your efforts will not have the impact you desire. Your time will be wasted.
4. Advertise. Yes, sometimes you get out what you put in. I’ve seen the best results with two particular ad channels. I love the precision and control offered with Facebook ads. I’m blown away by the reach and result achieved with BookBub ads.
While these 4 steps will help you with an individual book push, you’ll fare even better if you grow your personal audience. Perhaps you’ve heard of Kevin Kelly’s theory that an artist really only needs 1,000 true fans to support a career?
What if instead of a constant hustle, you spent your time gaining your 1,000 fans? With a solid fan base, each work has a strong launching pad that will amplify all of your efforts.
Want help with this?
Insider tip: My blog friends can use the code BLOG100 for a $100 credit towards full course enrollment.
One of the biggest complaints I heard from the authors who completed my 2016 Book Marketing Challenges survey was how easy it is to waste money on advertising.
Luckily, I’ve tested strategies and practices that remarkably improve ad results. This means that I’ve also paid good money for ads that were complete flops. Painful! These failed ads taught me very important lessons. I am happy to share my experiences so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.
Here is a quick 2-minute video lesson that shows how a specific change I made to my Facebook ads TRIPLED my book sales.
If you don’t have time to watch the video, here’s the big lesson I reveal.
Don’t direct your ad directly to your Amazon book page. Instead, offer an easier “next step” such as downloading a sample of your book for free.
Insider tip: This lesson is a free preview of my Online Marketing Masterclass for authors that will be released to the public later this week.
Get more help with Facebook Ads:
Facebook Ads Workshop – Thursday, March 31st at noon PT >> RSVP TODAY
Join me in a free Google hangout this Thursday at noon PT to workshop your Facebook ads. We’ll review best practices and troubleshoot common issues. We will use YOUR ads and books as examples. We’ll discuss content and design, audience and targeting, and conversion optimization.
Do you struggle with the same book marketing challenges as other authors in your field?
I released a book marketing challenges survey earlier in the year and received responses from 93 authors. Some authors were just starting out self-publishing their books, others have published traditionally for years and years. Despite the wide range of experiences, there were a few themes that kept coming up.
Here are the most-reported book marketing complaints:
Scroll down to read actual quotes pulled from the survey. But first, here are the numbers:
Primary income sources: 93 authors completed the survey. 10 of these authors make most of their income from book sales. The other 83 authors have another source of income.
Publishing cost: While many authors spent none of their own money publishing their books, others spent over $20,000.
Marketing budget: While most authors spent less than $500 marketing their books, many more invested thousands of dollars into their book marketing efforts.
Stage of career: Authors that answered the book marketing survey were in all kinds of stages of their writing career. Some were very well established, others were just starting out.
“My main problem is getting interest in my books.”
“I feel like I’m not reaching the folks who would buy my books if they knew about them.”
“I don’t know how to stand out in all the noise.”
“I thought i had a decent fan base but with a new book out this doesn’t seem to be reflected in sales or reviews. There’s so much online noise out there, how does one stand out? How do I make the most user of my time?”
“I don’t know which market or platform is the best for my books.”
“I don’t get noticed among the hundred and thousands of other releases. My blog is… a waste of time. No one visits except writer friends and colleagues.”
“I don’t want or need marketing tips that are fast and easy. What I want is marketing that is EFFECTIVE.
“Despite having consistent and topical blog posts, I also rarely saw a return on the effort, and I’m burned out!”
“Instead of wasting my time say buying useless adspace or sending free copies of my book to a website with only 3 visitors, I want to know where I should focus my energies to find people who want to read my books.”
“I have worked hard cold-calling book bloggers for reviews, sending personalized review requests, and soliciting free newsletters to promote price-reduction sales, and looking for guests posts for an author who neither will promote nor spend any money to promote. I have failed in both reviews and sales garnered.”
“I will probably do a guerilla marketing campaign, dropping cards and stuff. But I don’t know if that will help at all. I feel like such a noob.”
“I can promote until I’m blue in the face, but the only thing that seems to get results is giving away my books, something I am loathe to do on anything other than a one-time, limited basis.”
“Posts that I make are not always seen. I don’t know how many times to make a post or know when to make to reach my audience.”
“I deactivated my Facebook account a few years back primarily for lack of understanding. Although I have a Twitter account I have not taken the time to make it truly viable as a tool.”
“Social media seems like one massive endless swap and shop; people do stop to browse yet after piles of junk mail and slightly damaged articles offered as a real deal, they peruse seemingly legitimate offers warily.”
“I have trouble getting people to click through to blog posts and engage on topics surrounding the books. People are happy to approach and say that the books sound really interesting, but getting the clicks and better numbers is difficult.”
“I’m clueless when it comes to the internet. I’m sure I’m not using it properly to maximize sales.”
“With so many other novels flooding the market, it’s difficult for me to find the time and motivation to chase marketing avenues. Oh now I have to write a blog, oh now I have to tweet about this, oh now I have to make a Facebook page about that. “
“Marketing is a full time job but so is writing and I simply don’t have the time or the energy to do both.”
“I don’t have the time or energy to put as much into social media as authentic relationships would demand.”
“Can I do it all alone with no contacts, author involvement or budget?”
“Which social media sites have the potential to help you market and which are a waste of time and effort?”
“I’ve gone to conferences and read all the information but it’s not sinking in.”
“I have great ideas, but no time to implement them.”
“I struggle with being authentic while also promoting my book. I don’t want to be one of those authors who is always pushing a link to her book (and there are a lot of them!).”
“I don’t know what words to use to attract people without being cliché.”
“I hate being a salesman for myself. It feels awkward.”
“Plus, how do you promote yourself on social media without annoying people? I share when someone else says something positive about my work (through retweets, reposts, etc…) with a ‘thank you’ included, and I’m fine to share when my work is discounted, but otherwise, I don’t know how to promote my work without feeling like I’m being a slimy used car salesman.”
“I don’t like talking about my book or, worse, ‘selling’ people on my book. I just really hate being like ‘Buy my book! Buy my book!’ It is the worst.”
“Can I do it all alone with no contacts, author involvement or budget?”
“I don’t have the resources to do anything that will make a big impact.”
“I want to hire a professional to help me, but I don’t know if it will be a good investment or not.”
Do any of these book marketing complaints sound familiar to you? Clearly, you are not alone. Authors work very hard to identify effective ways to promote their books, while salvaging some time to write and work on their craft.
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Want to avoid irritating the crap out of your Twitter followers, but still need to make sure the time you spend on the platform results in traffic and sales? Here’s my golden rule for self-promotion on Twitter:
What does this mean? This means for every single time I talk about myself, or my books, or classes, I talk about something completely unrelated to me at least three times.
Give. Give. Give. Take.
This 3:1 ratio is a bit high on the promotion side. I only talk about myself this much when I have something I am pushing hard. When I don’t have anything new, that ratio drops down to more like 10:1, or even 20:1.
Guy Kawasaki, who was my mentor and advisor during my Writer.ly years, told me his ratio might even be much higher on the “give” side. He manages aggregate news sites and tweets a huge volume of content. For mere mortals, the 10:1 or 3:1 goal is more achievable.
How does this play out? Let’s say I am promoting a new free class. Even though the class is technically a “give” as a free resource, it’s a “take” as I’m talking about myself and asking people to give me their emails when they sign up.
I know that to meet my signup goals, I need to tweet about the class about three times a day. I will use Hootsuite to schedule my tweets for prime times (early in the morning, one in the afternoon, one late in the evening). I make sure to change the tweets so that they don’t all say the same thing.
Once my promo tweets are scheduled, I fill up the space between with at least 3 high-interest “gives”.
What counts as a give? A give can be an article, a quote, a writing prompt, a recommendation, a joke, or links to other people’s events or books. As long as the gives are appropriate and interesting to my audience, no one seems to mind the tweets about my class. Most of my followers will miss them all, even though I spread them throughout the day.
The take is just as important as the give if you are on Twitter for business or audience purposes. If all you post are “gives”, then your efforts will not feed your email list or sales. If you have nothing in particular you are promoting, you can at least schedule out occasional tweets for people to come back and look at your most popular blog posts, or to sign up for your wonderful email newsletter.
It’s more of an art than a science. I break my own rules occasionally and do not always follow my own advice. Luckily, Twitter has a short term memory. It’s easy for my followers forgive my occasional over-excitement for my own projects thanks to the all the other wonderful content I curate for their benefit and enjoyment.
Sign up for my 3-Day course “How to Get More Followers on Twitter.” It’s free and delivered via email, so you can complete it on your own schedule.
This is day three of my week of social savvy posts. Check back tomorrow to learn more about how to use Twitter to achieve your promotion goals.
Authors on social media often struggle in the beginning.
Aside from the fact that self-promotion seems daunting and distasteful, you must also contend with a vast number of social networks to choose from, each with their own best practices, unspoken rules and effectiveness. How can you possibly be expected to know where to start?
Good news! You don’t need to figure out everything right away. You have plenty of time to try out different platforms. You may explore each one-by-one if you wish, trying them on for audience, ease of use and enjoyment. This is my best piece of advice for authors on social media.
Do this right now:
What does this mean? This means creating an account on all the major social networks, as well as any niche networks you think might be a good match for your work and your readers. This does not mean that you need to start using all these accounts right now. This simply means that if you do decide to try them out in the future, you will not suffer the annoyance of discovering your name is already taken.
These are the social media networks I suggest for all authors. Do you already have your name claimed on these sites?
There are many other social media or community sites that may also be a good match for you. Check out:
There are a billion more. Ask your readers where they spend their time online and what sites they like. That’s where you need to be.
When you create your username, you will be very lucky if you can get your first name, or even your full name. Already taken? Don’t worry, there are many ways you can craft a well-branded, professional username that will likely work across platforms. Let’s say your name is Stephen King, you could try these public user names:
If possible, you want to find a user name that you can use on as many social media platforms as possible. This will make it easier for people to find you.
Tip: DO NOT create profiles in the name of your book. You’re an author for life, right? You are going to write many books, yes? It will be a big pain to have to start over again every time you publish something new.
Are you 8 for 8 for claiming your name on the primary social media accounts I listed? Do you know more social sites for authors and artists that I may add to the secondary list? Let me know in the comments below.
Sign up for my 3-Day course “How to Get More Followers on Twitter.” It’s free and delivered via email, so you can complete it on your own schedule.
When you are developing your manuscript and your book proposal, start developing your wish list, those dream publishers or agents with whom you’d love to sign. As you peruse the shelves or search competitive titles online, pay particular notice to who’s publishing each title. Notice if certain publishers keep coming up again and again, which might indicate that they publish regularly into that category or genre. For instance, if you are researching spiritual books, you might find that Hay House or Thomas Nelson crop up again and again. Write them down; they might be the first publishing houses you add to your wish list.
Now, the fun part. Investigate those publishers! Hop online and look at each publisher individually. Note what books they are promoting on their home page, and then search by genre. See if they offer a mission statement or an explanation of their different imprints. Do you like what you see? Will your book feel at home here? This is an easy exercise that you can do in your pajamas or while watching TV.
If you think the publisher may be a good fit for your book, check out their Submission Guidelines. Virtually all publishers offer them online. Here, you’ll find out if they take unsolicited proposals or if you’ll need to work with an agent. They may also indicate how to send the proposal (e-mail vs. snail mail), how many pages it can be, response time, and other pertinent details.
Some other fun ways to compile your publishing wish list:
Did you know that building your author platform in advance can GREATLY improve the possibility of a publisher taking you on? Get expert help growing your audience with the masterclass. Class details here.
This post first appeared on Writer.ly.
There seem to be as many editing payment structures as there are editors. Editing rates can vary wildly based on the editor’s experience and the depth of editing required. As a writer, it can be hard to know if you’re getting a fair rate. As an editor, it can be difficult to find the right balance between providing good value for your client and being paid what you deserve.
The Editorial Freelancers Association provides an extremely helpful rate card that provides a range of fees for specific editing jobs. Here are some sample rates from the EFA’s rate card:
|Editing, basic copyediting||5–10 pgs/hr||$30–40/hr|
|Editing, heavy copyediting||2–5 pgs/hr||$40–50/hr|
|Editing, website copyediting||$40–50/hr|
|Editing, developmental||1–5 pgs/hr||$45–55/hr|
Based on the above rates, basic copyediting for an 320 page novel (about 80,000 words) could cost $1,500, while a more extensive developmental edit could run $6,400.
These amounts are enough to knock the socks off many indie writers. However, when you consider the experience, value, and time given by the editor, these numbers are more than warranted. These are the average rates a professional editor may charge. One with many books under her belt and the experience required to help you produce the most professional, best book possible.
If these prices are out of your range, have no fear! There is still an editor for your project. Many factors contribute to an editor’s rate. Here are a few:
If you simply cannot pay full market rate for a well-qualified editor, you may consider working with an editor who only has a few books under her belt and is willing to take on your project at a lower rate in exchange for the experience and a future recommendation.
If you do have the budget, and you are working to publish a business or nonfiction book, or even a well-heeled novel, your best bet is to invest in a highly qualified editor. The book you put on the shelves (or on the web) is a product. If you have expectations of financial return, it’s in your best interest to create the very best product possible to satisfy the tastes of today’s discerning readership.
Publishing success is something that happens to other people – people with MFA’s from Iowa, people who dine with agents in New York, people sprinkled with fairy dust and set apart from us mortal writers. Right?
Not so much.
The most inspirational self-publishing success story I have ever heard begins with two parents facing an incredible family crisis. Jack and Jasinda Wilder were just 30 days from losing their home. They stretched the one small salary between them to the breaking point while supporting their five young kids. Their wildly daring solution? Start writing – and publishing!
In just six months, the husband and wife team published 20 titles, including many romance and erotica. Then, their fast-paced and deeply felt novel “Falling Into You” zoomed to #4 on the New York Times Bestseller List and hit #1 on Amazon.
Through Writer.ly, I had the great luck to talk to Jack and Jasinda about their amazing publishing journey and ask what tips they have for authors seeking such success. Open, intelligent and incredibly real, these authors shared some gems. Watch the video and just try not to feel inspired, I dare you.
~~~~~~ About Jack and Jasinda Wilder ~~~~~~
CBS video: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50149108n
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jasinda-Wilder/e/B0095HTK0A