should-i-sell-the-book-myself

“Should I Sell the Book Myself?”

should-i-sell-the-book-myselfEvery author plans to have a “Buy now” button on their site, which allows visitors to purchase their book with one easy click. But the more complicated question is where that link goes. In other words, should authors simply link out to Amazon/B&N to sell their book? Or, as many authors ask me, “Should I sell the book myself?”

There are a lot of things that go into such a decision, but here’s what you need to know about the benefits and drawbacks of delving into online sales.

Benefits of Selling Yourself

  • There’s more money to be made. Obviously, when Amazon sells your book, they keep a large percentage of the profit. When you sell your book, that money all stays with you. So, for example, instead of earning $3 a book, you can make $10. That’s a significant difference.
  • You can offer bonuses, like a signed copy. When you are selling the book yourself, you can sweeten the pot for people interested in buying it. For example, you could offer to sign each copy before you send it, or throw in a fun extra, like a tote bag or bookmark to thank people for buying from you. This can help solidify your relationship with readers, and may increase the likelihood that they’d buy your next book.
  • You can collect information about who is buying your book. As C.J. Lyons, a self-published author of 27 novels who runs the NoRulesJustWrite.com, recently told Publisher’s Weekly: “The greatest success stories I’ve seen in POS have been nonfiction authors, particularly those who have other offerings and can use the ebook sale to upsell a course or webinar … The greatest value comes not from the financial gain from selling the e-book but from the lead capture.”
  • You can take it on the road. Going to an event to promote your book? Doing a book signing? This Publishers Weekly article points out that indie authors can use these accounts on point-of-sale systems at events as well. Authors can use Square, Stripe, PayAnywhere, or PayPal Here and simply swipe a book buyer’s credit card at a reading or conference on their tablet or smartphone.

Warnings About Selling Yourself

  • You need to set up a system to collect payment. Collecting credit card information is no easy thing. To do so, you need an account with a merchant. The easiest one to work with is PayPal, but just about all of them require setting up an account, synching it with your bank account, and/or paying a monthly fee to keep it active.
  • It’s a fair amount of time/trouble to sell and distribute yourself. Yup, you very well may find yourself in a whole new business if you go down this road. You’ll be keeping track of orders, packing/shipping books, and making lots of trips down to the post office (if you’re lucky enough to sell lots of copies). Joel Friedlander, a book design and self-publishing expert who runs TheBookDesigner.com, tells Publishers Weekly that his recommendation is for authors to avoid selling books directly on their websites. “The time and energy it takes to work out these e-commerce platforms, install the necessary code, landing pages, buttons, etc. are not that productive for this group.”
  • Taxes, taxes, taxes. Are you selling a book to someone in California? Are you collecting California sales tax on that purchase? And are you keeping track of your profits/losses to pay your own income tax on what you’re selling? I highly recommend that before you commit to selling yourself, you consult with a local tax expert to make sure that you’re following all the rules.

So there you go! Now it’s up to you to decide if you’re going to sell your book yourself … or leave the work (and the profits) to the pros.

And if you’ve ever sold yourself through your site (or through an on-the-go payment collection system), please let us know what you’ve learned!

may

5 Author Must Reads From May

mayApologize for posting this a little late this month. But with May quickly behind us (this time of year goes so fast!), here’s a summary of the the author must reads from the month.

1. Develop Your Author Platform to Position Yourself as a Leader
Eunice Nisbett/LinkedIn
May 1, 2015

2. Kick Ass Book Launch Tips (from Two Authors Who Really Know)
Publication Life
May 13, 2015

3. Another Reason to Perfect the Mobile Version of Your Author Website
Smart Author Sites
May 14, 2015

4. Author Blog Tips
Build Book Buzz
May 19, 2015

5. 5 Free (or Almost-Free) Ways to Market Your Book
Smart Author Sites
May 28, 2015

Happy June, everyone!

mobile-friendly

Another Reason to Perfect the Mobile Version of Your Author Website

mobile-friendlyLike it or not, mobile is the wave of the future. As each year goes by, a larger and larger percentage of people surfing the web are doing it on a smartphone. This further enhances the need for every author to have a mobile-friendly design.

But, apparently, having a functional mobile version of your author website can now even impact your desktop users. How? Google.

As Google begins to acknowledge the growing impact of the mobile audience, they are changing the rules. According to a recent article on Mashable, starting this month, “when you do a Google search on mobile, search results will prioritize websites that the search engine deems “mobile-friendly.”

Here are some common questions about this change.

Who will this affect?

The truth is that this change will impact nearly everyone. Forrester Research estimates that a whopping 38% of web sites for businesses with 1,000 or more employees don’t meet Google’s criteria for being mobile-friendly. That number is expected to be much higher for small businesses — let alone individual authors.

Also, if your author website is more than a few years old, it’s likely not to be considered up to snuff.

As the Mashable article explains, “The change will impact millions of sites, more than Google’s last major search ranking algorithm update, Google Panda. Panda, which was launched in 2011 and has been updated several times since then, downranked 12% of all sites that Google rated low-quality.”

What’s the impact of the change?
The change is simple to explain, but may have devastating results. If your site is not mobile friendly, you are likely to start appearing lower on a user’s search results. In other words, if you wrote a book on divorce, and your site had been showing up near the top for a search term related to divorce, you very well may lose that placement to sites that are more mobile-friendly.

What makes a site mobile-friendly?

There are a lot of criteria, but here’s a basic overview…

  • It avoids software like Flash
  • It features larger text
  • Most importantly, it has what’s called a responsive design that adjusts for mobile users

How can I tell if my site is mobile-friendly?
Whether or not a user would rate a site as mobile-friendly may be relative, but that’s irrelevent. Because all that matters here is whether Google finds your site mobile-friendly. So use their mobile-friendly test. You’ll get a quick and simple answer.

How can I make my site more mobile-friendly?
There’s no easy answer to that question. It depends greatly on how your site is built, when it was built, what platform it was built on, etc… It could involve a few simple and quick fixes, or you may be better off with a complete redesign.

But if you’re interested in making your site more mobile friendly, contact us at Smart Author Sites. We’ll help you make sure you stay near the top of search results.

Happy Googling.

april-may-roundup

April Round Up: 6 Must-Reads for Authors

april-may-roundupHere’s what the leaders in the fields of book marketing and author websites were talking about in April. Don’t miss this list of must-read posts and articles.

1. “What should I send to my author e-mail list?”
Build Book Buzz
April 7, 2015

2. How to use e-mail to transfer a book to your Kindle
Build Book Buzz
April 14, 2015

3. FAQs About SEO for Author Websites
Smart Author Sites
April 16, 2015

4.  Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer
Publishing-Resources.org
April 19, 2015

5. 5 Creative Ways to Use a Book’s Call to Action Page
Smart Author Sites
April 23, 2015

6.  4 Ways to Revive a Stale Book
Build Book Buzz
April 28, 2015

Happy May, everyone! April showers bring May flowers!

winter

February Round Up: 5 Must-Reads for Authors

winterAnother month has come and gone. With that in mind, here are some of the must-reads for authors that I put together in the month of February.

  1. 21 free resources for authors — Build Book Buzz
    What are your favorite free resources for authors?

  2. 5 Ways to Go from an Author to an Authorpreneur — Smart Author Sites
    Here are seven steps you can take to turn yourself from a writer into a successful author in today’s complicated world of publishing.

  3. Keeping Tabs on Best-Seller Books and Reading Habits — NY Times
    Last year, the release of the Hollywood adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s 2012 novel “Gone Girl” propelled the book onto best-seller lists in several countries around the world. Millions of people bought it, but how many of them actually read it from cover to cover?

  4. How to get media exposure that helps sell books — Build Book Buzz
    You’ve written a book. Congratulations! But now what? How do you get your book to its audience?

  5. How To Build A Top-Notch Media Kit — Molly Greene
    What comes to mind when you think of a Media Kit: A trad-published author with representation and an assistant tackling all the press and promo needs? Do you think this level of preparation is too fancy for a self-published author? I’d suggest you reconsider.

Enjoy! And Happy March, everyone! Spring is just around the corner!

calendar

January Author Round-Up

calendarJanuary has come to a close! Here’s a list of our hand-picked top three reads for authors from around the web.

1. The Dos and Don’ts of Digital Marketing for Authors

Huffington Post
January 16, 2015

2. Social Media Marketing: Simple Tips That Some Self-Published Authors Tend to Forget

Tech Cocktail
January 6, 2015

3. 12 Publishing And Marketing Predictions For 2015

The Future of Ink
January 1, 2015

 

And, just for kicks, here are the top-three most read Smart Author Sites blog posts for the month…

How to Write the Perfect Book Teaser

The Importance of an Author Tagline (and How to Write One)!

Looking to Get Published? Consider Harper Collins’ Authonomy

 

Please share any other good reads with us and we will consider including them in future posts!

calendar

December Author Round-up: Must Reads for the New Year

calendarThere have been a lot of good pieces of content published over the past month — many of which I highly recommend for authors. Here’s a quick round-up of our five favorites (in addition to our own, of course).

Amazon Offers All-You-Can-Eat Books. Authors Turn Up Noses.
New York Times, December 28

Set book marketing goals for 2015
Build Book Buzz, December 16

Publishing Service Index: December 2014
Independent Publishing Magazine, December 5

The Author Platform Effect: Techniques to Grow Your Mobile Audience
Nessgraphica, December 3

Why you shouldn’t give your book away
Build Book Buzz, December 2

Enjoy! And stay tuned for more!

pottermore

JK Rowling and “Book Secrets”

pottermoreWhen I put together a proposal for a fiction author, I often recommend adding a feature to the site called “Behind the Book” or “Book Secrets.”

Well, it appears as if JK Rowling is taking my advice (wink, wink).

What JK Rowling Is Doing

I came across this story today about new writings she is releasing on Pottermore.com in honor of the holidays.

According to the Daily Telegraph, “One of the stories that will be published as part of the ‘festive surprise’ will contain details about what Rowling thinks about the young wizard’s enemy, Draco Malfoy.”

This follows her previous Halloween post in which she shared her “personal opinions on the character of Dolores Umbridge, a teacher at Hogwarts whom she compared to Lord Voldemort because of her ‘desire to control, to punish, and to inflict pain, all in the name of law and order.’ … Rowling also explained that Umbridge was based on two real people she had encountered during her life.”

What You Can Do Like JK Rowling

So what do I mean when I recommend posting a section called “Behind the Book” or “Book Secrets?” Well, I like to think of it as a place on the website — be it a page or a series of blog entries — where people who have read the book can get “bonus” material that they can’t find anywhere else. Think of it as a special thank you for those who read the book, and a way to keep fans of your writing engaged between book publications.

Examples of the types of things you can post in this section include:

  • tidbits on how certain characters got their names
  • which characters were based on real-life people
  • segments of the book that might have been cut during the editing phase
  • at which points you might have hit writers block
  • if there are hidden messages in the book that a reader might have missed
  • which characters are your favorites
  • which celebrities you could envision playing your characters in a movie

and the list of options is endless!

So take my advice (and JK Rowling’s, apparently). Think about a Book Secrets page on your author website.

kindlescout

5 Things Authors Need to Know About Amazon Kindle Scout

kindlescoutHave you heard about Amazon’s new crowdsourcing publishing program? It’s called Amazon Kindle Scout, and it’s basically American Idol meets book publishing. Here are five things you need to know about this program that might just turn the publishing world upside down.

1. Almost anyone can post their manuscript to Amazon Kindle Scout. It’s kind of like an open audition. If you have written a book in English and want to get it published, you can post it through Amazon Kindle Scout and let the voters decide. The first genres open for submission are Romance, Mystery & Thriller and Science Fiction & Fantasy, but that is expected to expand going forward. Any adult with a valid U.S. bank account and a U.S. social security number or tax identification number is eligible.

2. There is no due date. Authors can post books at any time thoughout the year. Thirty days after a book is posted, the Kindle Scout team will review reader votes to determine whether the book will be published by Kindle Press. An author will be notified within 45 days of submission whether or not their book was selected. There will be a lot of voting going on during those 30 days, so it’s in your best interest to make sure your friends, family and colleagues are aware of the timeframe during which they can show their support for your book.

3. You can check out other entries before submitting your own. In fact, it’s highly recommended that you take a look at what other authors have done (book descriptions, thank-you notes, etc…) through Amazon Kindle Scout before submitting your own materials. See what’s working and what’s not, and learn from it!

4. This is in no way self-publishing. According to Publishers Weekly, selected authors will receive a $1,500 advance, a five-year renewable publishing contract and a 50% e-book royalty rate upon selection. In other words, if your book gets chosen for publication, you don’t pay a penny to get your book published. That’s every author’s dream right about now.

5. You must agree to the Kindle Press Submission & Publishing Agreement to participate. Under the agreement, you grant Amazon a 45-day exclusivity period to consider your work for publication. If they select your book, Amazon then has the exclusive, worldwide rights to publish your book in digital and audio formats in all languages for a 5-year renewable term. If they don’t select your book, you get all your rights back after 45 days.

Learn more about Amazon Kindle Scout and whether or not it’s the right option for you.

pottermore

J.K. Rowling Sets and Example on Bonus Material for Author Websites

pottermoreThere are lots of things that are givens on author websites, like details on the book or books, an author bio, a contact form, etc…

But what makes author websites truly different and appealing is something that goes above and beyond. That’s why I always recommend that authors include bonus material on their site.

Why bonus material?
Bonus material serves a duel purpose: it makes the book extra appealing to those who haven’t read it yet (hopefully increasing book sales as a result), and offers some interesting and satisfying information for people who have read it.

In short, it makes readers feel like they’ve gotten an “inside” story that just the book itself doesn’t offer.

What’s an example of bonus material?
Just what makes up bonus material depends on the subject matter of the book. For fiction titles, that bonus material could include “book secrets” (i.e. hidden meanings in the book), how characters got their names, where the author may have hit writers block, etc…

For nonfiction books, that bonus material may be a discussion guide, a “behind the book” story (i.e. what prompted him/her to write it), segments of the book that were cut out, etc…

Can I see bonus material on someone else’s site?
Check out nearly any author website in our portfolio and you will see some form of bonus material. Feel free to grab ideas from there.

But today, we’re going to focus on one very high-profile example of bonus material: that being used by the infamous J.K. Rowling.

Just this week, Rowling launched her latest author website, Pottermore.com. In it, Rowling celebrates the 18th birthday of one of her most beloved characters from the Harry Potter series, Celestina. As part of this celebration:

  • Visitors get their first chance to actually listen to a song sung by Celestina and the Banshees (who, by the way, perform live everyday in the fantasy world of “Harry Potter.”) The song is titled “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart.”
  • Rowling shares some background information on the character and the source of her inspiration for it. That, apparently, starts with Shirley Bassey, the singer known for singing in the James Bond movie “Goldfinger” in 1964.

If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series, this type of information can satisfy an appetite that you never even knew you had. Talk about bonus material! Authors, take note…