Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing

5 Essential Elements of Social Media to Market Your Book Successfully

Social media plays such a key role for authors today who want to find and connect with an audience for their book. For many, the dizzying world of blogs and tweets and posts leaves them confused and questioning what should they do.

Now there is a helpful book that can simplify and clarify the key elements needed for a social media campaign. Chris Bass, who is the Director of Author Marketing Services at Author Solutions, has worked with hundreds of authors on their social media campaigns. From that experience, he has identified five essential elements every author needs to be aware of as they use social media to market their book.  Here’s excerpt from the book that explains in more detail what was the inspiration for the book and how it might help you.

I have noticed that a lot of authors struggle to make the most of social media. Some authors post a single status update to Facebook saying that their books have been published and leave it at that. Some understand the importance of social media but are overwhelmed by the huge number of options available and don’t know where to begin. Some have never used social media before and aren’t even sure what the term means. Whether you’re a longtime blogger and user of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter or are just getting started, this book will teach you the five things you should know about social media to help you get the word out about your book.
You can download the book on a Kindle, Kobo, Sony e-reader or iPad for just 99 cents at Booktango  or from all the major  ebook distributors.
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self publishing

The 3 most common questions authors asked me at the GLAWS event.

Photos by Elaine Mura and Tony N Todaro

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak at an event sponsored by  GLAWS (Greater Los Angeles Writers Society).  It was held on the campus of Los Angeles Valley College and we had a packed house. It was a great day despite the 100+ degree weather in Southern California.  My presentation was titled, The Four Paths to Publishing and with it, I outlined the four different opportunities authors have today to get their books into the hands of readers.  In just a few weeks, I am going to publish a white paper with the same title, but essentially what I said was an author can choose from one of four options to get published today.

  1. DIY–This involves using an upload or online formating tool to get the book in distribution.
  2. General Contractor– Here the author hires a number of independent contractors to complete the book and market it.
  3. Publishing Package– With this option, an author chooses an assisted self-publishing company who packages all the services into a convenient one-stop shopping opportunity.
  4. Traditional Publishing–This is as it has always been.

    One of the four paths to publishing

The white paper will provide much more detail about each of these paths and discuss the advantages and drawbacks to each option, but the feedback from the seminar was this framework was very helpful to people as they try to navigate the new landscape of publishing.  After the presentation, we opened up the floor for questions, which I always enjoy. There were more than an hours worth, but as I reflected on them later, I realized there were some common themes. Here are the three most common questions I was asked and a brief sentence or two on how I answered them.

  • Which path is the best one for me? By far, this what most people were trying to figure out. Unfortunately, there is not one right answer, but there is a way to determine which path is best.  Make sure you clearly articulate your goal for the book, the skills and experience you have, what time commitment you can make, and how much of a budget you have. With those items clearly identified, you will be able to choose the best path.
  • I have a children’s book. How do I find an illustrator. Just like with the first question, there is not one answer that applies to every author.  Depending on your goals and budget, there are a number of ways you can find an illustrator. First, if you pursue the publishing path option, most companies offer illustrations as part of their services. If you don’t want to utilize that option, you can find freelancers on sites like www.elance.com or www.odesk.com. Finally, if you live near a college or university, you might find some talent on those campuses looking for projects. However, you always want to be careful about setting expectations, deadlines, deliverables and payment terms.
  • I have published three books with traditional publishers in the past, but all the editors I worked with are retired or dead. What do I do now? Ok, that was not a common question, but I thought it captured the anxiety and confusion many previsouly published authors are feeling right now. The publishing world has changed and while that can be frustrating, it also means there is more opportunity than ever before. So I told the gentlemen who asked the question that he should pursue self-publishing and agents and publishers would discover him anew.
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agents, Author Solutions, authors, Balboa Press, book marketing, book selling, Ebooks, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing, Thomas Nelson, writing

4 things every writer needs to know if they are planning on publishing today

The world has changed for authors which means they have new opportunities and consequently responsibilities.

As you can imagine, with the announcement a few weeks ago about Author Solutions being acquired by the world’s largest publisher, there has been an enormous amount of media interest. This is both a thrilling and confusing time for authors, so I think it is more important than ever for authors to be informed and choose the best option for getting published based on their goals, skills, patience, and budget. My last post suggested there were four paths authors could pursue today, and I laid out the differences among them. But recently, at the end of a very thoughtful and comprehensive interview, I was asked the question, “Is there anything else you would like to say to authors today?” What follows is my response to that question.

Gone are the days of walking to the mailbox and pulling out a pile of rejection letters and wondering if you would ever get published. Today, every author can get publishedand get his or her book into the hands of readers—whether you use a DIY method, assisted self-publishing, or sign with an agent and try to acquire a traditional publishing contract

That means authors have more opportunity than ever before, but they also have more responsibility. And that is not something anyone seems to be talking much about. Whereas before it was the publisher, now it is the author who has the responsibility to set clear goals and a budget. Having clarity about these two areas will help authors make the best decision about which publishing path is best for them. In addition, they also need to have a realistic assessment of the skill and time they have to put to the project.

You can absolutely change your brakes and wash your car for less money if you do it yourself, rather than paying someone to do it for you.  But if you don’t know how to change brakes or you don’t have time to wash your car, you should pay someone to do it for you.  I think the same type of decision-making should be applied to making a publishing decision.

In addition, authors should:

  1. Make sure you have a clear picture of who the audience is for your book.  Saying your goal is to sell to every man, woman, and child on the planet (I had an author tell me that) is not realistic.
  2. Understand your options. DIY, assisted, and traditional publishing all have advantages and drawbacks. Inform yourself. There is plenty of information out there. In fact, that is why we created the Author Learning Center (www.authorlearningcenter.com) and why I published 7 Secrets of Successful Self Published Authors. It’s an ebook on booktango.com  for 99 cents.  We have been told by many authors that both the ALC and the 7 Secrets are very helpful.
  3. Think about your marketing while you are writing your manuscript, and know there are no guarantees with marketing. Just ask any marketing director at any company in the world. You do some things that you think will work and they don’t, but you also do some things that far exceed your expectations. The key is to be consistent and experiment. Not everything is going to work, but if you do nothing, you don’t stand a chance.
  4. This industry-changing shift in publishing does not mean everyone will be successful, but it does mean everyone will have the opportunity to be successful. Honestly, I think that is the most exciting thing about the time in which we live. At ASI, we are simply providing the opportunity, whether you want to publish for free with Booktango or use an assisted self-publishing imprint like AuthorHouse or iUniverse or publish with an imprint tied to a traditional publisher like Westbow Press and Thomas Nelson or Balboa Press and Hay House. Not that long ago, authors only had one choice: find an agent and pray they could sell the manuscript. That has all changed, and I think that is amazingly exciting.

Too many authors publish a book with the expectation that the world is just sitting, waiting for their manuscript to get finished, and once they make it available for sale, the world will come to them. The reality is, being an author takes an informed, consistent effort, but when you get those e-mails from readers that tell you how much they enjoyed your book or found it helpful, it is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.

Certainly, there are economic considerations when it comes to publishing, but I think the one common goal that unites all authors is they want to impact people with their writing. That’s why those motivations I mentioned on our call are so key. Writing to help others or telling a story that has to be told or supporting a business or ministry are worthy pursuits because they impact people.

As I say to authors all the time, I don’t know how many books you will sell if you publish, but I know how many you will sell if you don’t. I don’t know how many people you will impact with your book if you publish, but I know how many you will impact if you don’t. And to all the naysayers and fearmongers, I would like say: quit bickering about methods, and let’s encourage authors to seize the opportunity.

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agents, Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing, writing

The 4 different publishing paths authors can pursue today.

It was that long ago that becoming an author meant there was one path to pursue. Find an agent to represent you and then have that agent sell your manuscript to a publisher. But as you know, the indie revolution has created more opportunities and choice for authors than ever before and so now there are four different paths authors can pursue to get their work into the hands of readers. 

…..the indie revolution has created more opportunities and choice for authors than ever before…

The first is what I call the Free DIY path. This is the author who uses a publishing tool like Booktango, Smashwords or Lulu to create a formatted book for limited distribution. It may only be an e-book and only  for sale on the publisher’s web site, but it is out there and available for readers.

The second publishing path  is what I call the General Contractor path. These are the individuals who serve as the “general contractor” for their book project and obtain all the services they need to create, publish, print and distribute their book. Some of the work they do themselves  and some they hire out , but they are in control of the whole project. I find this group is currently the most vocal and the ones most proud of how they are sourcing everything themselves or doing it on their own.

Which path is best for you? It depends on the skills, time and dollar investment you can make and what is your ultimate publishing goal.

The third path is the one where an author uses a bundled services package to get published. Imprints such as AuthorHouse or iUniverseoffer such packages.  This

More options mean more opportunity for authors.

Publishing Package path may mean paying more to get published than with the first two paths,  but there is a convenience and time savings to working with one company to get everything done. For whatever reason, the General Contractor authors seem to be most critical of this group of authors because they feel like they are overpaying to get their book published, but I think they are missing the point. You absolutely can use other means than a publishing package to get published, but if you don’t have the skill or time to mess with all the details, working with a professional services company is the fastest and easiest way to get to the goal of a published book.

The fourth path is the one that has always existed and will continue to persist. It is Traditional Publisher path. However,  the indie revolution has changed  where traditional publishers are finding authors they want to pick up.  It used to be they would only find them from query letters from agents, but now they are actually finding authors who are using free DIY, general contracting and publishing packages to publish.  That means the walls that have historically stood between authors and a traditional publisher have been torn down.

Now each of these paths has advantages and drawbacks, but the most important thing is that each of them can get you to the place where your book is available for readers. Which path is best for you? It depends on the skills, time and dollar investment you can make and what is your ultimate publishing goal. But you have four paths to choose from instead of just one.  That is why it truly is the best time in history to be an author.

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Author Solutions, authors, book selling, Editing, Indie book publishing, Kindle, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Is this a golden age for self-publishing? Listen to this podcast to find out.

Recently I was interview for a podcast called, Beyond the Book. This series is hosted by Chris Kenneally of the Copyright Clearance Center and focuses on the business of writing and publishing. It is available on iTunes, but you can also listen to the interview by clicking here. The title of the segment was, “A Golden Age for Self Publishing? Listen and let me know if you agree with my conclusions.

Here’s what Chris wrote on the web site to introduce the segment.

The wild growth in e-books and self-publishing has spurred a fiery debate over the future direction of the industry. While some argue that the growing mountain of books makes it harder than ever for any single title to succeed, people like Keith Ogorek, author of 7 Secrets of Successful Self-Published Authors, say that this time, our time, is the best time ever to be an author.

“This is the best time to be an author because if you have a manuscript, you do not need to die with that manuscript in your drawer. You have more opportunity than ever before to get your manuscript into the hands of readers,” says Ogorek, who is Sr. Vice President, Global Marketing, for Author Solutions and BookTango, its e-book publishing venture. “As an author you really have three different opportunities, depending on your goals, your budget, and your talents,” he tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “You can choose a DIY option, and do it only as an e-book. You can choose an assisted self-publishing option. Or, you can still pursue the route of finding an agent and pursuing a traditional contract. And the beauty of this is they’re not mutually exclusive.”

Ogorek’s sunny outlook for authors is confirmed by industry statistics released for BookExpo America in June. In 2011, “traditional” print book production climbed to over 347,000 titles, a rise of 6% over 2010. For the first time, the numbers from Bowker – the official ISBN Agency for the United States and a leading provider of bibliographic information– included self-published titles. By their count, ISBNs were issued to 124,700 such titles — 36% of the total “traditional” output. When self-published e-books are added, the total climbs to more than 211,000.

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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.

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Author Solutions, authors, book selling, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Kindle, self publishing

Booktango and the Future of DIY E-book Publishing

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Dena Croog for Publishing Perspectives. This respected online journal covers international publishing news and opinion and has been called “the BBC of the book world.”  They focus on the cutting edge of digital, global, and self-publishing all around the world. Here’s the article she wrote based on the interview. Hopefully, you will find it helpful.

There are a lot of options out there for self-publishers, but representatives of Booktango, a major player in DIY e-book publishing, truly believe their online formatting and

Authors can earn the most money on the sale of their books on Booktango

editing tools are best-in-class and easiest to use. The service, which is owned by Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI), currently offers a “Freetango” promotion wherein authors who publish by July 4, 2012 will receive the maximum possible royalties from their e-book sales. Authors receive all royalties for e-books sold through the Booktango bookstore, and, as Chris Bass, Director of Marketing for Booktango, explains in a press release: “If it’s sold through another outlet, the e-books retailer takes their standard fee, and the author gets the rest. Booktango takes nothing — no other publishing company is offering anything this beneficial to authors.”

Booktango prides itself in its superiority over other multiple-channel distribution competitors in three different ways: an easy-to-use interface, the widest distribution to every e-reader and e-retailer, and the highest royalties.

In addition to its free DIY features, Booktango offers fee-based add-ons, among them book formatting, correction and editing, and promotional services such as virtual book signings and multiple-author webinars.

“Because while everyone won’t be successful, everyone will have the opportunity to be successful.

“At the end of the book signing, every person who attends the event is e-mailed a PDF of a book stub, which allows them to download one free copy of each of the authors’ books,” says Keith Ogorek, Senior VP of Marketing at ASI, in an interview with Publishing Perspectives.

“I think it’s really going to be something authors will use to promote their books,” he adds. “Because you have the opportunity to get your books into the hands of readers in such a way that they’ll start to talk about it—which is one of the keys to helping books spread.”

The Future of Pricing

In response to a question posed recently by Digital Book World, “In three words, what is the future of e-book pricing?,” Ogorek stresses “word of mouth” in conjunction with promotional efforts such as those offered by Booktango. He suggests that when DIY authors must decide on an appropriate e-book price, they should “take price out of the equation” for a short time. He maintains that, as many authors strategize, the first concern is to get the book into the marketplace, even if that means selling it at a lower price. Then, if the book is good, readers will act as a “promotional team” of sorts. Once word of mouth leads to greater demand for the book, the price can be raised.

Ogorek also offers advice for authors who are deciding between using the e-book platform or going the traditional publishing route:

“Traditional publishers right now have cut down their title selections significantly. So if you’ve got a long time to wait and tough skin, then I think traditional publishing’s a good option for you. If you want to have your book available in all formats — hardcover, paperback and digital — you want someone to help you go through the process, which is assisted self-publishing. If you really know what you’re doing and you’re not concerned about limited distribution in terms of just being a digital book, Booktango is the best option out there.”

Evolving Formats

According to Jane Friedman in the May/June issue of Writer’s Digest, the coming and going of multiple e-book formats across digital readers, devices and services is comparable to the “Wild West.” Ogorek says a better analogy is the evolution of film from 8mm reel, to Betamax versus VCRs, to DVDs, and now to streaming videos. He predicts that, in time, there will be one standard format that would allow a person to stream a book on any device—Kindle, iPad, Nook—but it would be housed somewhere “up in the clouds” and wouldn’t actually be downloaded into any particular device.

This is Ogorek’s prediction for future e-book formatting. As for content, he predicts that it will become “richer and more enthralling” as the ability to add video, audio and interactive features becomes more and more commonplace, much in the way Apps became increasingly sophisticated.

“People started doing e-books, if you will, in the caves, when they wrote pictures on the wall. You follow that through history and you see now there are 180 million people blogging. The desire to continue to write and communicate is something that isn’t driven by technology, but it’s just made available by technology.”

Ogorek also predicts that traditional publishing will run parallel to the film industry. Traditional movie studios continued to produce what he dubs “celebrity films” (eg, Spider Man, The Avengers), as they have the size in capital, resources and distribution to do as much. But they also developed partnerships with smaller independent production companies to develop other films that didn’t require a 9-figure investment but still had the opportunity to tell a great story and make money (e.g. The King’s Speech, The Help).

“We’re seeing the same thing happen in publishing right now. Traditional publishers are publishing what I would call ‘celebrity books.’ Simon & Schuster did the Steve Jobs book. I’m not sure a small independent would have the capital resources to meet the demand for that book. While it did sell a significant amount in e-books, it still sold a significant amount in print. And you need the resources of a traditional publisher to acquire the rights, package it up and distribute it.

“But, what you’re also going to see is a significant portion of the revenues are going to come from e-books. They already have started and will continue to do that in the future. The other thing you’re going to see is that in the same way publishers created a relationship with independent film companies and Sundance was born as a way to find new and upcoming talent and ideas, so too will you see traditional publishers doing that.”

Ogorek refers to ASI’s strategic alliance with Thomas Nelson and Hay House to create self-publishing imprints. The idea is to find new talent: self-published authors make the initial investment to produce a title, but eventually they might be picked up and put into the traditional publisher’s traditional publishing imprint.

Are Self-Published E-books a Bubble?

In response to a recent Guardian article arguing that the DIY e-book boom industry is over-hyped, over-leveraged and an e-book “bubble” likely to soon pop (Ewan Morrison, January 2012), Ogorek states that, instead of an e-book bubble, the current phenomenon is akin to what we saw in the cell phone industry. There’s no threat of a bubble bursting; rather, technology will continue to improve and we will see a consolidation.

“Right now there are a number of people entering the market. But just like you saw with the cell phone market, there were a number of providers—whether they were local, regional, national or even global—and when the business settled out there were only a few large players around the world. I think you’re going to see the same thing in the DIY e-book market.”

Ogorek further connects the e-book and cell phone industries as both stemming from the desire to communicate.

“People started doing e-books, if you will, in the caves, when they wrote pictures on the wall. You follow that through history and you see now there are 180 million people blogging. The desire to continue to write and communicate is something that isn’t driven by technology, but it’s just made available by technology.”

The Guardian article also charged that there’s a dangerous delusion that all self-e-publishers can achieve success, when in reality almost all self-published e-books receive very few readers due to lack of visibility. Ogorek counters that there are other reasons that an e-book may not sell, such as because the topic isn’t relevant, the author doesn’t have a clear picture of who the audience is, or the book simply isn’t well written. He cites Bronnie Ware’s The Top Five Regrets of the Dying as an example of a book that wouldn’t have bubbled up to the surface had there not been the electronic and self-publishing options that we have today. After writing an article in a local publication, Ware published a book through Balboa Press (Hay House’s self-publishing imprint). The book was an internet sensation and was eventually acquired by Hay House (March 2012).

“While not everyone’s going to be Bronnie Ware, I would suggest to you that without the publishing opportunities that exist today because of DIY, Bronnie Ware would never have happened. To me, that’s the story here. It’s not about the failures, but about those who actually succeed because of this opportunity. Who otherwise would not have had the opportunity because there weren’t the technologies like Booktango available.”

Ultimately, Ogorek maintains that this is the best time in history to be an author:

“Because while everyone won’t be successful, everyone will have the opportunity to be successful. And that in itself is something that I think is worth talking about.”

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