authors, book marketing, book selling, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing

Wall Street Journal reports: After 360,000 Copies, Publishers Take Notice

In Friday’s Wall Street Journal, Alexander Alter, told the tale  of self published author, Ms. Garvis Graves, a 45-year-old mother of two who lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa. She is just one more example of how self publishing is creating opportunities for authors to be discovered. I have copied the text of the article below, but there are some key points we can all learn from her experience.

1. Rejection can be motivation if you believe in your work. Like many authors, traditional publishers said no to her many times, but that did not deter her from getting her book in the market place. She believed in her work.

2. Pricing has to be part of your marketing strategy. She employed a common strategy today with respect to pricing her book. She came out as a very inexpensive e-book even selling for as low as 99 cents, but that helped her develop a following and get word of mouth started.

3. No matter how good the book, we all need a little help. In her case, Amazon featured the book in a promotion and sold it for 99 cents. That was a key to accelerating her sales, but it wasn’t anything she had control over.

Here’s the full text of the article.

After getting 14 form-letter rejections from literary agents, Tracey Garvis Graves figured there wasn’t a market for her

Author Tracey Garvis Graves self-published her novel which led to a traditional publishing contract

debut novel, a romance about two castaways stranded on a remote tropical island. But she decided to find out for herself.

So last September, Ms. Garvis Graves, a 45-year-old mother of two who lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa, self-published the novel, titled “On the Island,” as an e-book, also making it available for print on demand. She has since sold more than 360,000 copies through Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and other self-publishing platforms.

 Publishers took notice this spring when the book broke into the top 10 on major best-seller lists. Earlier this month, Plume, a Penguin imprint, acquired “On the Island” in a seven-figure, two-book deal. Plume rushed the book into print and is planning a first print run of 400,000 copies for the paperback edition, out July 10.

Ms. Garvis Graves is the latest self-published author to land a high-profile publishing deal. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers paid six figures for “Life’s a Witch,” a self-published series by Brittany Geragotelis that had millions of readers on the website Wattpad. Young-adult fantasy writer Amanda Hocking, who sold 1.5 million copies of her self-published books, got a multimillion-dollar deal with St. Martin’s Press.

Ms. Garvis Graves says she has always been a fan of island survival tales, including the TV show “Lost” and the movies “The Blue Lagoon” and “Cast Away.” In 2010, she had the idea for a novel about a young tutor and her pupil—a teen boy who missed school while being treated for cancer—who get stranded on an island in the Maldives after surviving a seaplane crash. The characters, Anna and T.J., fall in love as they struggle to survive by fishing and scrounging off the limited supplies that wash up from the crash debris (conveniently, Anna’s suitcase is brought in by the tides, carrying island essentials like hair conditioner and a yellow bikini).

It took Ms. Garvis Graves 18 months to write the novel. She got up at 5 a.m. to write for a couple of hours before heading to her job as a human-resources recruiter at Wells Fargo. She sent queries to literary agents, and gathered a string of rejection letters. “I was heartbroken,” she says. “That’s a pretty strong indicator that the premise isn’t working.”

She didn’t expect to sell many copies when she released it herself last fall, priced at $2.99. She sold 100 copies the first month. Soon it was selling a couple of thousand copies a month. Sales spiked this spring after Amazon included the novel in a promotion and discounted it to 99 cents. In April, the novel sold around 140,000 copies and shot up the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal e-book best-seller lists.

Publishers in Indonesia and Hungary bought foreign rights before Ms. Garvis Graves even landed a literary agent. She signed with Jane Dystel at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, who has since sold the book in nine more countries. This past May, Temple Hill Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer optioned the movie rights.

Plume bought the book in early June and rushed it into print to capitalize on the online buzz. A print edition was ready 10 days after the deal was signed.

Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, Ebooks, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, self publishing, writing

iUniverse Author Lisa Drucker talks about her new book, Arise, O Phoenix and how you can get a free copy

A few weeks ago Author Solutions announced the release of it’s 100,000 e-book, which just happen to be an iUniverse title, Arise, O Phoenix, written by Lisa Drucker. In this book inspired by the events of 9/11, Lisa weaves a love story into the fabric of  the aftermath of our nation’s most tragic event in recent history. To celebrate the publication of the book as the milestone e-book for Author Solutions, iUniverse is giving  readers a free download of the book through the iUniverse bookstore. Simply use  the promo code ARISEPHNX when going through the checkout process in the bookstore to obtain one of 1,000 copies  being given away.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Lisa a few questions about her book, what inspired her to write and the joy she finds from being an author.  I trust her words words will be motivating to you and you will take a moment to download a free copy of the book.

Lisa, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Author Lisa Drucker shares about her new book.

I’m a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and editor working in publishing since 1997. I was an editor for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series from 1997–2005.

Writing is my calling and my passion. My previous books are The Princess-in-Training Manual (under the pseudonym Jacqueline de Soignée) and ASVAB Flash Cards.

I’m a native New Yorker currently residing in South Florida. I have a BA in classics from Vassar College and an MA in communications and media studies from The New School.

What inspired you to write this book?

Hearing all the phone calls people made from the Twin Towers and Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. I wanted to pay tribute to the heroes and victims, but I also wanted to explore the relationship between love and tragedy. I wanted to approach love from a different angle than what we heard in those phone messages. The victims we heard called the people closest to them, the people who were present in and integral to their everyday lives. But I wondered, “What would have happened if two people deeply in love had ended their relationship years before, and then the events of 9/11 made them realize what a mistake it had been? What if some kind of twist of fate engendered by the tragedy brought them together again?”

What is the book about?

A twist of fate following 9/11 brings a pair of long-lost lovers together again, showing us the indomitable power of love and the triumph of the human spirit, both of which, like the phoenix, rise from the ashes of 9/11 to remind us of what truly matters in life.

What do you hope readers get from the book?

That tragedy, as heartbreaking as it is, offers us hope and the opportunity to live with deeper meaning and purpose. Beyond that, it reminds us that nothing matters more than love. The most important thing we each can do every day is not take the gift of that day—or the gift of those we love—for granted.

What is most enjoyable for you as a published author?

The greatest joy for me as an author is when readers tell me, “I loved the book! I couldn’t put it down, and I didn’t want it to end.”

I’m a writer because expressing myself in words is my calling and my passion. I’m a published author because I choose to share my words with my readers. I hope reading my books brings them as much joy as writing brings me.

Author Solutions, self publishing

What every author needs to know about royalties. (Part 2)

In an earlier post, I referenced a conversation I had recently with the leadership team of a leading trade publisher. In that discussion, I was surprised to learn that one of the biggest issues book publishers deal with every day is royalty inquiries from authors. I have to admit, at first I was a bit surprised, but after I thought about it, I realized that royalties—and how they are calculated—can often times be complex and confusing. In my first post, I tried to define the key terms used when discussing royalties.In this post, I want to address some additional issues that I believe create confusion for authors.

Royalties can be confusing, but important.

  • New books can be sold by a used book retailer–On some online retailers, you will see books described as both used and new.  Despite those descriptions, it doesn’t mean the books are any different. There are many used book dealers who sell new merchandise as well.  They just mark it as used because that is the majority of what they sell. However, this description gives the impression to the author that a bunch of books have been sold and now are being resold.  The fact is most books are actually printed using print-on-demand technology so there are not really any used books at all.
  • Only 4 left” is almost always a marketing ploy to create urgency to buy–Even though books are printed print-on-demand, some online retailers will put a statement like “Only 4 left” near a book to try to get people to make a decision to buy. Again, authors assume that there have been other books printed and sold, but the reality is there were no books printed and stored in a warehouse. This is referred to as “virtual inventory,” and is simply a way to get people to buy more quickly.
  • If the retailer has a sale, it does not reduce the author royalty–In almost every case, this is not true. Royalties are calculated on Suggested Retail Price (SRP) and not the actual sale price so the retailer takes less margin on the sale to drive volume, but the author is paid the same regardless of the sale price. As with anything, there are always exceptions, but this is almost always the case.

I hope this information helpful. Please use the comment section to let me know if there are any other royalty questions I can answer.