At the end of your eBook, place a link(s) that directs readers to where they can buy additional books of yours. This is one of the best tips I’ve read recently online (apologies for not remembering where I read it), and it makes complete sense. Readers are most apt to buy a book of yours if they’ve just read one and loved it. I can remember lots of times when I closed a book, leaned back and thought, Wow, that was good, and went to the bookstore to check out more things from that author (Dan Brown comes to mind). The best way to capitalize on that high in the eBook world is to have a link at the end of your eBook that brings readers to a book retailing website — Amazon, for example, if it’s a Kindle book. This way, they can buy another one of your books immediately — sort of like an impulse buy at the supermarket checkout, the well-I’m-here-anyway-so-I-may-as-well-buy-it kind of thinking. Chances are if readers really like your book, they will find their way to Amazon or Barnes & Noble on their own, but there’s nothing wrong with pointing them in the right direction.
Well, it was bound to happen.
After 37 straight five-star reviews on Amazon in nearly four months of publication, and a string of four- and five-star reviews on Goodreads, Baby Grand got its first clunker. A two-star review. Basically, the dude thought that my book was boring, smelly, ugly, totally gross, and that its mother dressed it funny. (I’m paraphrasing.) No, seriously, it just wasn’t for him.
Hey, it happens. I knew my good fortune would come to an end eventually — it’s just the nature of criticism. My daughter, who was reading the review over my shoulder, asked, “Are you okay?” Surprisingly, I was. Stung, of course, but okay. My reaction reminded me of when I was in grad school and I had been getting straight As class after class — something you can certainly get used to — and a professor finally gave me a B+, breaking my streak. I remember thinking for a moment, Oh, darn. But then life went on. I thought that perhaps, being a professional writer, I’ve gotten used to rejection — editors not liking queries or articles, editors requesting changes. After all, Baby Grand was rejected some ten times last year by traditional publishing editors before I decided to self-publish and make a go of it on my own in January. Writing can be a very humbling profession.
But I think it’s just that I know, deep down, that bad reviews happen. Here are three things that I try to keep in mind when I get them:
1. Even universally beloved books –from the classics to contemporary favorites — have bad reviews. Author Ellen Meister, whose new novel Farewell, Dorothy Parker will be published in February, and I discussed this when she came out to East Hampton to appear on The Writer’s Dream recently. Pick a book, any book, that you absolutely loved. Find it on Amazon, and I guarantee you that there will be bad reviews for it. So if Toni Morrison, Haruki Murakami and Stephen King can deal with it, so can you.
My goal for the sponsorship was to introduce Baby Grand to readers who have never heard of the book or of me or my blog — to connect with complete strangers who might enjoy a good thriller. And, hey, if I could make a little money too, even better.
Kindle Nation Daily is a popular promotional choice for Kindle authors (when I purchased the sponsorship back in June there were only two dates left for August). KND offers all kinds of sponsorships, including daily and weekly options, as well as packages, that run from about $30 and up, and their newsletters and websites connect with tens of thousands of readers.
The sponsorship I purchased, eBook of the Day, is priced at $159.99. A bit steep. So right off the bat, I knew there was a good chance that I might not recoup my investment since I had planned on selling Baby Grand at the promotional price of $1.99 that day, which meant that I’d need to sell about 270 books (since Amazon offers 35 percent royalties for books priced under $2.99) to break even.
Yesterday was the last day of my three-month exclusivity agreement with Amazon’s KDP Select (Baby Grand made its debut as part of the program on May 23). For those who don’t know about the program, when you sign on to KDP Select, you agree to sell your eBook only in the Kindle format (you can continue selling your paperbacks anywhere you wish). In exchange for this agreement, you are given some marketing assistance, including several free promotional days, where you can basically give your book away, and also your book is included in the Kindle Lending Library — every time an Amazon Prime member (and there are oodles of them) “borrows” your book, Amazon pays you a royalty.
When I agreed to participate in the program, I looked at it as a limited release of my novel, much like an independent film might be first shown in New York and Los Angeles before going wide, and as a way to cultivate a following in the Kindle community while taking advantage of additional promotional help from Amazon.
Overall, I was satisfied with the results of KDP Select, particularly with a mass email intended for thriller lovers that included my book. Yippee!
But, in the end, I decided to leave the program after my first go-round. Here’s why:
It’s finally here! My debut novel, Baby Grand, is available on Amazon Kindle for the promotional price of $1.99.
It will be available on the Nook and other devices and as a print-on-demand paperback later this year.
Right now, I am completely overwhelmed and exhausted and excited and cannot think of anything clever or interesting to say. Just know that this book is what it is because of your support over these past two years — through all the writing, procrastinating, editing, more procrastinating, promoting and more.
Thank you. Truly.
I agree with today’s featured debut author, John Walker, who says writing a book is “a bit like riding a wild Mustang bareback.” Quite the adventure, indeed.
Name of book: Shadow Dancing (the first in the Charles and Amanda series)
Book genre: Romance, Invention and Crime
Date published: October 2011
Publisher: Amazon Kindle
What is your day job? Invention, engineering and, of course, writing
What is your book about? In Shadow Dancing, Italian Mafiosi unearth a priceless bronze statue, some 3,000 years old, in the Saharan sands. Smuggled back into Italy, it is sold to a wealthy industrialist. Our heroes get it back.
Why did you want to write this book? To say something positive about our brilliant inventors and engineers, drawing on some of my own experiences and some that might have been. And to explore in some depth the love between people.
What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? As they say, when you have written it, you are no more than a third of the way through.
Did you conduct any kind of research in order to write this book (visit certain locales, etc.)? I hardly needed to, since I know England, Italy, Greece and Egypt.
What motivates you to write? Wanting to make a difference.
Did you experience writer’s block? Never, although I spend a lot of time planning the next stage before going to sleep and upon waking up. It never works out as planned, of course.
As a reader, I think many eBooks are overpriced.
In my mind, there’s no reason for an eBook to be more expensive than a paperback. And when I find that it is, I will buy the paperback, even if I originally intended on buying the eBook.
For me, as a buyer, the magic price point for an eBook purchase is $4.99. I generally will not pay more than that.
So when it came time to price my own eBook, Baby Grand, I figured that would be the magic price point: $4.99. Case closed.
Imagine my surprise when my literary agent, during a discussion of price, suggested we sell Baby Grand for $2.99 — with a promotional price point of $1.99.
What?! Two bucks?
As a professional writer who has been paid a dollar PER WORD of an article, the idea of selling my entire novel (all 93,000+ words of it) for $1.99 totally freaked me out. My first thought was, This can’t be right. I worried about the perceived value of my product. Won’t readers think it’s cheap or (gasp!) worthless if they only pay $1.99 for it? I can’t breathe. Somebody get me a brown paper bag…
I spent a weekend mulling it over and researching — lots of researching. And in the end, I knew my agent was right.
Two weeks ago, I announced that I’ll be self-publishing Baby Grand as an ebook through Amazon’s KDP Select. Last week, I blogged about why I decided to self-publish my novel. Today, I’m discussing why I’m using KDP Select.
For those unfamiliar with KDP Select, it’s a new option at Amazon in which, in exchange for exclusivity on your eBook for three months, you get some extra marketing/royalty help. For instance, as part of the program Amazon Prime members who own a Kindle device can “borrow” your eBook from the Kindle Lending Library (even though members read it for free, you still earn $$$$ based on several factors — how many times your book has been “borrowed,” the number of total borrows for all KDP Select books for the period and how much has been invested in the program by Amazon in that given month).
In other words, Baby Grand, for the first three months of its publication, will only be available to Kindle customers, who will be able to buy the ebook for their device or Kindle Apps during the period of exclusivity, or “borrow” it from the Lending Library if they are an Amazon Prime member with a Kindle device.
This means I have had to tell more than a few non-Kindle e-reader users (including my sister-in-law) that, no, they couldn’t buy/read Baby Grand until August, when the exclusivity deal is over, especially now that I don’t plan on making a POD paperback available until later this year. And every time I say that, there’s this undeniable lump in my throat as I hope that these people will indeed stick around and wait the three months and that I can maintain some excitement for the book in the interim.
Why do it this way?
Today’s featured debut author is Sabrynne McLain who offers a truly insightful and in-depth look at the road to publication for her novel, When Red Is Blue.
Name of book: When Red Is Blue
Book genre: Contemporary drama/literary fiction
Date published: February 2012
Publisher: Elevin Books
What is your day job? Proofreader and editor
What is your book about? The theme of the book deals with how children are affected by parents who suffer from some form of dysfunction – in my book’s case, mental illness and alcoholism. The story is based on my own childhood experiences. The “in a nutshell” description is:
Kate Faraday, a young woman from a small town in Michigan, dreams of leaving her past behind her and moving to California. But when her schizophrenic mother is found dead in a ravine, Kate is forced to examine her conflicting emotions over her mother’s death, while coping with the demands of her alcoholic father and local residents who witnessed the shame of her childhood. In the end, Kate discovers that the most difficult relationship to reconcile is the one she has with herself.
Why did you want to write this book? When I turned 30, I realized I wanted to be a writer. I bought and studied numerous books on writing and, about six months later, began writing my first novel. I opted for the romance genre, which I thought would be a lighthearted way to start my new passion. My first attempt at a book was loads of fun to write, but then I decided I wanted to apply to the University of Iowa’s MFA program in Creative Writing. The application asked for 75 pages of a manuscript. I was too embarrassed to give them the opening chapters of my little smut novel, thinking it wasn’t serious enough. Then I recalled all the people over the years who had suggested I write a book about my family, so I started When Red Is Blue. I got to page 75 and kept going.