Authors: Do You Know Where Your ACX Promo Codes Are?

acx_logoDid you know that once you complete an audiobook for ACX that you’ll receive 25 promo codes that you can use to give away copies of your new book? I actually didn’t know that until recently. It’s pretty cool of ACX to want to help you jump-start the review process for your book. You can give these codes to anyone you want — professional reviewers, your grandmother, social media fans, anyone who is an audiobook listener.

Author and podcast extraordinaire Paul Teague turned me on to Audiobook Boom!, which, for 10 bucks, will get your title in front of thousands of audiobook listeners. I used a good chunk of my Baby Grand codes through Audiobook Boom!, and I also used them to gift books as prizes for contests I held on Facebook, Twitter, and through my email list. You can either distribute the codes directly to listeners or use the codes yourself to gift the book for listeners (this guarantees that listeners use the credit for YOUR book and not someone else’s). Within a few days, my audible.com rating went from a dismal one-star review to a string of four- and five-star reviews. Woo hoo!

Currently, I’m working on the audiobook for Baby Bailino, the sequel to Baby Grand, and I’m already thinking up some fun caption contests to run when I receive my promo codes. Last week at #DBWIndie in New York City, it was reported that in 2016 more than 3 million audiobooks were self-published by indie authors. It’s a big market, and if you want a piece of it, you have to find ways to boost your discoverability. I’m not saying these codes should be your only promotional tool, but they’re definitely a good start.

 

 

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Blurbs

BabyBailino_digital_final_FINALAs you work on self-publishing your book, you may want to consider getting a blurb or two. What are blurbs? Words of praise or reviews from another person that go directly onto your book cover or flap. Their purpose is simply to convince readers to buy your book. People like to read books that are liked by other people, so if a popular author gives a book an endorsement or her stamp of approval, that author’s legions of fans are opt to get on board and buy that book.

Who should write a blurb for you?

Well, there are no rules, but there are three good candidates:

  1. Celebrity
  2. Well-known author in your genre (fiction)
  3. Well-respected individual in your field (nonfiction)

How do you go about getting a blurb?

It’s easy. Create a list of potential book blurbers — maybe 7 or 8 — kind of like a list you would make when applying to college. Divide the list into “reach” (blurbers who are probably hard to get, like celebrities), “match” (those for whom you have a good shot a landing a blurb), and “safety” (people very likely to provide you with a blurb). And then simply go down the line and ask each one. The great thing about social media and the internet is that anyone is accessible.

Remember, of course, to always be courteous and to make sure that you’ve spelled the person’s name correctly and that your request carries no typos or grammatical/punctuation errors. (I believe written requests, in the form of emails, are best. Also, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a telephone number for someone famous.) The worst that could happen is that person will say is no, but he or she might surprise you and say yes. At the very least, even if the person declines, he or she will remember your name.

I humbly asked David Baldacci to blurb my new book, Baby Bailino (he declined), but his associate remembered that I had asked four years earlier for Baby Grand (as you can see I tend to never give up). My hope is that the third time will be the charm.

Cover Reveal!

BabyBailino_digital_final_FINALI’m so THRILLED to premiere the cover of the sequel to BABY GRAND — BABY BAILINO — coming out this fall! I decided to go with a more literal interpretation for the cover this time around, rather than conceptual, like Baby Grand’s. I’m sooooo happy with it. I think it really captures the flavor of the series. What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts!

#PubSmartCon Pieces: Jane Friedman

Last week, I attended the inaugural PubSmart conference — an unprecedented gathering of publishing professionals who really are some of the smartest on the planet — in chilly (where were the warm temps??) Charleston, South Carolina. The participants came from all aspects of publishing: self publishing, traditional, small press and hybrid. As a journalist and author, I’ve been to quite a few of these things, and I truly was blown away by the value of the information presented as well as the generosity of spirit of the event’s keynoters, panelists and organizers. (Hugh Howey, the bestselling author who served as one of the keynoters of the conference, is not only a savvy author, but he just might be the most gracious one I’ve ever seen, stopping to answer questions for anyone who asked one. Very cool.) By the time I got on my flight back to New York on Friday, my brain was heavy with all sorts of actionable information.

Today, I’d like to share pieces of Jane Friedman‘s enlightening keynote address titled, “What does it mean to publish?”

  • 25 percent of the top 100 books on Amazon last year were self-published. “This would have been unfathomable at the beginning of my career,” Friedman said.
  • Publishing used to have a scarcity of content and a controlled environment, but now there’s an abundance of content and a scarcity of attention.
  • Through the 20th century, to print something was to amplify it. Not so today. There’s too many competing printed materials. Then whose job is amplification. The traditional role of the publisher was:
    –Gatekeeping and editorial. But… gatekeeping is broken. People are self-publishing en masse. Quality is not a useful debate to have anymore, because we’re not going back to the way it was.
    –Distribution. But… distribution is no longer of value anymore in the eBook world. I distribute. You distribute. Mobile is important to the future of reading. It is a myth that what we have to say has to be in book form. We’re slowly coming out of that cultural myth and moving into trans media: how one story can be told in many different ways.
    –Marketing/Publicity. But… it is now about lifetime marketing. The conversation never stops. Authors have direct engagement with readers. The sales life of a book is no longer a few months, but forever.
  • Free has become the tool of the unknown author who is looking for a readership. “Loyalty comes first,” Friedman says. “Monetization comes afterward.” For example, she said, “I haven’t paid a dime for Candy Crush. You can download it for free, but if you run out of lives, you have to pay 99 cents. Now, the company that produces Candy Crush is valued at billions.”

 

Memo to Publishing Industry: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

In addition to feverishly working on my edits for In the Red (I’m still on schedule, yeah!) I’ve spent the last few days reading the flood of posts that are out there regarding Author Earnings: The Report. There are a slew of posts, including:

Anylyzing the Author Earnings Data Using Basic Analytics

Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings Report Is Going to Cut the Anti-Self Publishing Rhetoric Off at the Knees

The New Class System

Fisking Donald Maass

Needless to say, my head is spinning. What strikes me most is the ill will being put forth by both the traditionally published and self-published camps. Call me naive, but why must we label and gang up on one another? The long-standing traditionally published (“snobby,” “elitist”) authors versus the up-and-coming, entrepreneurial self-published authors (“hacks,” “bottom feeders”). It’s a regular Lord of the Flies out there! Perhaps this is the way change works — it’s ugly and people take sides because they’re scared that they won’t have a place (or might lose their place) in the new regime. But, people, I think we all need to work together rather than choose sides. Isn’t it fair to say that self-published books, as a group, are truly making inroads within the publishing industry and that there are many talented authors who are choosing to self-publish? And isn’t it also fair to say that there are many, many self-published books that are truly awful?

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Hugh Howey: `Every Author Has to Sort Out the Pros and Cons for Themselves’

Today, Hugh Howey, author of the best-selling WOOL series, conducted a Facebook Q&A. Tempted, of course, to ask Hugh “if he were a tree what kind of tree he would be,” I instead decided to pose a publishing question. In the Continuing Education class I teach at Hofstra University, we discuss the various paths authors have available to them, and I asked Hugh what, in his view, publishers were able to offer authors these days that they could not attain by self-publishing? Here’s what he said:

A few things:

1) Better print distribution.
2) A seal of approval (good for asking for professional reviews, interviews, blog mentions, etc.).
3) A team to offload the business stuff.

The question is whether or not what you give up is worth these advantages. Countering each, I would say:

1) You only get 3-6 months in a bookstore, and more and more books are being bought online these days.
2) I’m not sure if these mentions drive enough sales to warrant losing ownership of your art. You are better off writing than worrying about blog mentions and reviews. They follow sales rather than drive them.
3) Hiring your own team, each member based on merit and able to be replaced if need be, might be better than having people you don’t know assigned to work on your book, and only for a very brief time.

Every author has to sort out the pros and cons for themselves.

I totally agree. Frankly, if I had to point to one author today who is successfully “hybrid-ing,” as they say, between traditional publishing and self-publishing, it would be Howey. If you have a moment, check out the piece he penned earlier this year for Huffington Post titled, How WOOL Got a Unique Publishing Deal. It’s a fascinating read, and I think you’ll agree that what separates Howey from the crowd is not just his willingness to embrace new technologies and self-publishing, in particular, but his confidence and staunch belief in his craft and his abilities that allowed him to say no to a deal that wasn’t right — or, as he calls it, “an offer I can refuse.”

Guest Post: Why I Chose to Self-Publish after Being Published by New York

One of my favorite things is hearing about the publishing experiences of other writers. Today, author Carole Bellacera tells us why she chose to self-publish her novels after having had deals in the past with traditional publishing houses.

I admit it. I was a snob. Back when I finally sold my first novel to a major New York house, I looked down my nose at anyone who’d self-published their books. For thirteen years, I’d struggled to sell a novel, coming close a few times, but always falling short. But even then, after working with three different agents, and suffering years of rejection, I held fast to my belief that if I had to stoop to self-publishing, I wouldn’t be a “real author.”

And now here I am, almost 30 years later, a self-published author. How did that happen? Well, it’s a rather familiar story to many authors. After my fourth book came out by the New York publisher, my editor left for greener pastures, leaving me an unwanted orphan. No one else, apparently, saw in my work what my editor had, and all support dried up. Of course, my sales sucked swamp water, which, I’m sure, accounted for the lack of excitement on Fifth Avenue.

Burned out and discouraged, I took a few years off from the business side to renew my love affair with what was important to me – writing. I wrote two complete novels and then waded back into the quick sands of publishing – only to find that I was starting over from the very beginning. Agent hunting, editor hunting… rejection followed by rejection. Having a track record didn’t seem to make a difference.

That’s when I decided to take back control of my career. I was sick of being told “no, your work is not worthy.” I knew it was worthy. I was the same writer I’d been when I sold four novels which earned raving reviews, if not sales. So I got my rights back from my New York publisher and put my backlist out on Amazon’s Kindle program. But I didn’t stop there. I’m in the process now of reissuing all my backlist in print, too. And then I took the two unsold books I’d been shopping to New York and put them out through Amazon’s CreateSpace.

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