New name, same people! Hello 2017!

You may have noticed something different this year. That’s right, we’ve got a new name! The Scarlett Rugers Book Design Agency has now transformed into The Book Design House.  We’ve got a new name but our expectations of ourselves and our service hasn’t changed, and neither has the boss (me!).

So why the change?

After working in business successfully since 2011 I have learned a lot about what it takes to run a good business. Not just a business but a good one. A lot of that lies around community and support.

While I am exceptionally proud to have had my own name as the front runner of this business up until 2016, it is time to reflect on what my business really is- a home. A home for authors looking to realise their dreams, a home for my team to feel encouraged and supported, a home where you can focus on what you need to.

My goal has always been to help you be the best author you can be. Since day one.  But that dream is shared, it’s not just mine. It’s shared by my team members, by you, by other service providers- publishers, editors, printers. We all want your success.

I now believe the name of the business represents that. Everyone is important in our team, from the marketers to the designers to the clients- you are all a part of this team.

And I remain privileged to be at the forefront of that team, because I cannot wait to see what comes next.

Where to next?

There’s still some things to take care of so I apologise in advance for any bumpiness as we go along but as time goes by everything will be in its rightful place again. For now the website will be holding the scarlettrugers.com url until the transition is complete.

Gaining And Dealing With Book Reviews For Self-Published Authors

It’s well-known that self-published authors need reviews in order to be successful. These reviews activate algorithms on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, which in turn helps to get your book noticed. They also inform readers on what to expect, while using word-of-mouth marketing to increase your overall reach. Today, we’re going to look at the dos and donts of reviews for self-published authors.

How To Find Book Reviewers 

If you’re lucky enough to have an email list, this is a great way to ask for reviews. In her new release, How to Market a Book, Joanna Penn recommends a soft pitch to your readers with no pressure. Offer them a free digital copy of your book with a prompt to “please leave a review if you enjoyed the book”. Many of the places you can find reviewers can be found on our article about sending out Advanced Reading Copiesbut below is a bullet-point summary:

  • Email List
  • Social Media Pages
  • Kindle Boards/ Online Forums
  • Book Bloggers
  • Other writers

A Note On a Reviewer’s Obligation

 If people have been kind enough to say they will review a book for you, remember that they are in no way obligated to give you a positive review. Most people, especially if you send your book to a book blogger, are specific when they write a review. If they dont like it they will generally tell you why. This is why it’s so impotant to only publish a book you’re proud of. And you have to make sure you’re looking for honest reviews and not simply to have your ego stroked.

Benefits of a Bad Review

Trolls mouthing-off aside, there are – surprisingly – benefits to receiving a negative review. Some people just wont like your book. You have to accept that. But if more than one person is pointing out bad spelling, or inconsistent plots, then you need to take notice. This kind of dditing is something you can fix relatively easily. If you dont, it could well harm your credibility as a writer and as a publisher. The takeaway is, if you have the power to fix something, fix it.

Etiquette for Reviewers and Authors

If a book blogger or a reviewing company is kind enough to review your book, and you would like to quote that review, make sure you extended them the courtesy of linking it back to their website or social media pages, acknowledging them properly. Also, take the time to thank them in a message or an email. Manners cost nothing, while being polite will mean they will more likely consider reviewing your next book.

What NOT To Do

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A special warning should be issued to all writers in regards to responding to negative reviews on sites such as Goodreads and Amazon. It would seem that every couple of weeks an author goes into public meltdown over a bad review, engaging in a futile online battle with amateur reviewers.

This kind of behaviour will get you noticed for all of wrong reasons. Responding aggressively to a bad review will do nothing but churn the waters. Remember that the reviewers will never look like the bad guy in this situation no matter how abusive of inflammatory their remarks are. The author will always be made to look like a petulant jerk. If you receive a bad review release any anger or disappointment privately. Bad reviews can really suck, but you are a writer and a publisher, you need grow a thick skin to survive. You will never be able to please everyone.

Making The Most Of Your Book Reviews

Reviews can be a great tool to make you feel good about your novel as well as to help you to find where you could be falling down as a writer. Being polite and professional at all times will ensure that you grow your fan base and gain a reputation for being professional.

 For further reading the below titles come highly recommend:

As a reader do you buy books based their reviews or do you ignore them? Which approaches have you used for gaining honest reviews?

Image Credits: ANGRY-ANN by Josh Jansenn (Flickr)

How To Run a Successful Goodreads Ad Campaign

Goodreads is a revolutionary platform for book-lovers to meet, write reviews, and connect with their favorite authors. On top of this, their Cost-per-Click Advertising system is an excellent, cost-effective way to find your readers and drive sales. This article offers some helpful tips on how to run a successful Goodreads campaign, while getting discovered by people who love your genre.

Before you begin.

Make sure that you’re fully set up as an Author in Goodreads, and that each of your books are available before you even look into Marketing.

Using your Goodreads account, you can login to their advertising site here. 

Goodreads

The above image is what you can expect to see when setting up your campaign. Find your book by searching for its ISBN. This will double check that you’re advertising the right novel.

It’s a pretty straightforward system, but there are few things that will help you make the most of it. First, decide how much you are willing to spend on your overall campaign, and how much you are willing to spend per click, then consider doing the following:

Running a Successful Campaign

1. Schedule Two or More Ads At The Same Time

Unlike its cousin Amazon Marketing, you can use the same budget split across multiple ads in Goodreads. That means you can pay $30 for a campaign which has several ads running considerably. This is a great technique to to target different audiences and track which group performs the best. It also widens your net considerably, giving your ads far wider reach for the same cost. It’s also usefult to know that while Amazon has a $100 minimum campaign fee, but Goodreads does not!. So, it’s a pretty good marketing option for authors that don’t have the biggest budget set aside for marketing.

2. Target Multiple Authors for One Half of Your Ads

Take the time to research the bestsellers in your genre. Using a websites like Amazon can be extremely good for researching what is selling, and to what audience. Make note of the bestsellers’ names and their book titles.

While setting up your Targeting on your Goodreads campaign, take advantage of this bestseller list and make sure to include these authors’ names. Your ad will be targeted at their readers, and will hopefully gain you some readers of your own.

In saying that, however, don’t mislead your readers. If you haven’t written something like the next Go Set A Watchman, don’t advertise that you have. Readers will call you on your dishonesty, and like most online platforms it can turn nasty.

3. Target Multiple Genres for the Second Half of Your Ads

Make sure you know where your genre sits, and use Goodreads to target people who read those genres. If your book is Young Adult Romantic Fantasy, you can add all of that in one ad target, or you can split them up. If, like the Divergent series, your Young Adult book can appeal to adult readers as well, don’t forget to target the Sci Fi Dystopian Fiction audience as well as Young Adult.

The above warning remains however; select only the genres that your book actually falls in. Don’t try and sell something as Historical Romance if it’s Horror.

4. Try Multiple Taglines

Use multiple taglines for each advertisement. Mix it up because some people won’t necessary click on a title if you add that its only 99c, while others will, for example. Using a question such as, “Will Lassie Reach Tommy in time?” can intrigue readers to want to know more.

Taglines are great, and each audience will have something that will attract them specifically. Have fun with it, and see what makes readers click.

5. Promote Give Aways

Ads are a great way to promote your Goodreads Giveaways. This will give you double the exposure you would normally receive from a normal giveaway. If you are a new author, giveaways can help you receive reviews, as well as encourage people to talk about your book. Don’t forget to advertise your those giveaways on your social media pages, too!

6. Use a Call to Action

Use a call-to-action (CTA) on your ad such as “Add to Your Shelf.” When readers add a book to their shelf, for instance,  this action is displayed on their own profile, to all of their followers and sometimes to their Facebook timeline, too. This spreads the ad further than the one platform, and also encourages friends to discuss new books they have found with each other.

7. Clever Linking

You have the option in your ads to link to your book’s Goodreads page or any outside website. The above advice of splitting half your ads to link to its Goodreads page and the other half to your Amazon page can work to achieve two different ends. First, linking to a Goodreads page will help create a viral effect of adding books to shelves and sharing with friends and on Facebook. Second,  if you link to your Amazon page, this is more likely to result in an immediate purchase.

As you can see, Goodreads is a great advertising tool that lacks some of the restrictions of other Cost-Per-Click advertising (especially Amazon). Using the above tips will help readers find your work, while offering you value for your marketing budget, and hopefully driving higher sales.

For a more detailed explanation about setting up and running your Goodreads campaign, this is a useful video to watch:

What’s your favorite thing about Goodreads? What inspires you to click? Have you tried Goodreads advertising yourself?

 

 

What Are Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs), And How Do They work?

ARC is a commonly used acronym in the publishing industry that stands for Advanced Reading Copy. Here, we’ll go into some more detail about ARCs and why they can be a useful marketing tool for self publishers.

What are they?

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Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) are a preview of a writers upcoming release. ARCs are not always perfect copy, and they usually have a variant of the final cover, and are stamped with wording identifying it as an advanced copy.

They may also differ from the final published work if any additional editing is needed prior to publication. In general, ARCs will be sent out by publishers to reviewers, critics, magazines etc. before the launch date.

When should they get sent out?

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Three to six months used to be the official lead time for ARCs to be sent out by publishers. Yet thanks to e-reader technology, the distribution of ARCs has become a lot easier and less expensive.

Ideally as a writer you want to give your readers a chance to read your work and hopefully put together a review. This means a 6-8 week lead time is a good period. Don’t forget, it doesn’t have to be a perfect copy, or include a final cover, but it at least has to be edited.

These advanced readers will not only be able to offer you genuine feedback, but you’ll also come across as a a professional who really knows what they’re doing in the publishing world.

How do you find advance readers?

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If you’re lucky enough to already have an email list, this is generally a good place to start. These are the people that are already interested in your work and would jump at the chance to read a new book before everyone else.

If you don’t have an email list, put the call out on your social media pages. People love free stuff and, like your email list, if they are following your social media, they are (hopefully) interested in your writing.

Another option is to ask other writer friends to offer you feedback in exchange for reviewing their work in future. If you’re using Kindle Boards or other forums you could advertise with a new post, but don’t be offended if people are too busy working on their own books!

Benefits of ARCs for independent publishers

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ARCs can provide authors with valuable feedback for the work they wish to release. Remember, reader feedback is different from the feedback you’ll receive from an editor.

Readers will be able to tell you how they connected with your protagonist (or didn’t) and will be the first to tell you their emotional response to it. Sometimes people just won’t like your story, but if the feedback is consistent with a problem such as grammar or spelling, this is something you need to adjust before your final release.

Reviews received from ARCs also generate interest on sites such as Good Reads and Amazon. So, having some ready before your official launch date can help to drive sales. A good technique is to make your new release free on its first day to allow Advanced Readers to download a final version, adding the important Verified Purchase label for when they lodge their reviews.

Final tip

Be honest and don’t mislead your Advanced Readers about what your book is about. The last thing you want are for people who love romance to get a horror story that they will hate. You want people who understand and enjoy the genre you are writing. They will be able to identify holes within your story that unfamiliar readers may not notice.

Offer your Advanced Readers a free copy of your final work, by using Free Day technique or emailing it out to them. This is a thank you for their help and will hopefully encourage them to rleave you an (honest) review in the future.

What are your personal experience with distributing ARCS? What do you look for as an Advanced Reader?

 

Image Credits: Reading by Moyan Brenn, Calendar* by Dafne Cholet, Reading by Pedro Ribeiro Simões,  black & white Glasses & Book – exhausting read by photosteve101

How Authors Can Beat the Post-Publication Slump

Writers love to read about how famous writers failed before they became famous. Hundreds of articles and anecdotes abound on the Internet about how Carrie, by Stephen King, was rejected thirty times. And about how J.K Rowling was told “not to quit her day job.”

As self publishers, getting past the gate keepers is no longer the problem. For the self-publishing crowd, the biggest hit you can receive to your ego is right after you press that almighty PUBLISH button.

This article is going to deal with that post-pub slump and how to move your focus off your stats and back onto your writing.

You’re Published! So Why Aren’t You Excited?

Getting to the point where you press the publish button is a BIG deal. You’ve probably worked years towards this moment; writing your manuscript, sourcing professional editors, cover designers and formatters. It is a big journey only made possible through hard work and tenacity. The rush of the moment is there and you celebrate in whatever way you like. But then, The Slump may hit hard. This generally happens for the below reasons:

  • You’ve been working your guts out to produce your book and your body collapses from sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Well hello, burnout!
  • You realise you’re a very small fish in a very large pond.
  • You’re suddenly very aware that your difficult self-promoting and marketing journey has only just begun.
  • You start obsessing over your reviews and sale stats.

The majority of writers have impressive, yet grim stories of self-doubt that they try and keep hidden. It takes focused courage to put yourself out there, open yourself up to an audience you don’t know, and to receive criticism. This does not mean you have to dwell on it and allow it to cause you to question your writing ability or style.

What Should You Do About It?

First things first; remind yourself of your massive achievement and give yourself a pat on the back. Then consider the following alternatives to slumping:

  • Take a few days to relax, binge watch a favourite tv show or read something you have been waiting for. Let your body rest and catch up (sleep and real food is good.)
  • Create a marketing and promotional plan that fits with your budget (if you don’t already have one). Allocate a few promotional ideas each month. Remember, self-publishing is marathon, not a sprint (more on this in a moment).
  • Only permit yourself to check reviews and stats once a day, maximum. Take a moment to savour the good and the bad, then let it go. There’s more to life than analytics.
  • Get focussed on planning and writing your next project. Don’t just hitch your hopes and dreams to one horse. You are a writer so get writing!

A Reminder About Trad vs Self Frameworks

Before you crawl into your sulking comfort hole with chocolate and whiskey, remember this important fact – self publishing is the art of delayed gratification.

The traditionally published writers receive their royalty cheque with instant gratification and recognition. The traditional marketing platform works to produce and sell as many books as they possibly can in order to cover their investments and the writers royalty cheque. As time passes, the marketing efforts will fade away leaving the author to wait for their 2.5 % royalty cheque to come in (sometimes months or years later depending how well the book went).

The self publishing marketing framework is a different beast. You’re building your business from scratch. More often than not, when you hear about a successful self-publisher, it’s because they have been working at it for 5-7 years, have multiple titles and are now collecting their 70% royalty reward.

How To Keep At It Without Going Crazy

Firstly, try and think of yourself as having two separate creative personas. One is the writer and the other is the publisher. As such you need to consider these things:

  • You must allocate time for writing and time for publishing. Do not cross them over.
  • If you’ve already written a few books, or have some planned, write up a release guide for the next 5 years (or as long as possible).
  • Keep in mind your goal; whether that’s to be no.1 on The New York Times best seller list or to be able to quit your day job, it doesn’t matter.
  • Remind yourself of why you chose to self-publish in the first place. If you aren’t willing to learn about the business and acquire multiple skills (or network to find people with those skills), then it may not be for you.
  • Learn as much as you can about the industry, read about the ones who were successful and find out the marketing techniques they used. Not everything will work for you, but you don’t know until you try.

Publishing is a tough industry whether you’re traditionally- or self-published. As writers we have more options and opportunities than ever before, but self-doubt will always be there. Having goals, being even more guarded with your writing time, and remembering why you wanted to be in the business in the first place will ensure that you are too focussed to give self-doubt the time of day.

What do you do once you press publish? How do you stay focused on you end goal?

Image Credit: Diary Writing by Fredrik Rubensson (Flickr)

How to write the perfect Amazon Book Description

Amazon is a powerful tool in the self publishers shed so it’s worth taking the time to learn how to make it work for you. Knowing how to market your work properly in this huge book paradise can get you noticed by your target audience and drive your sales higher. Today we are going to talk about the importance of the Book Description on your Amazon page and how to get your book to sell.

 What It’s NotNo No

The term ‘Book Description’ can be very misleading in what it’s actually asking for. It isn’t meant to be a comprehensive layout of your book, with all your cast of characters and exactly what happens. You don’t want to lay down a full synopsis where you tell the potential reader all of your highlights. Giving away too much of the story will annoy readers and end up turning them off purchasing it.

 What It Is

The best way to think of Amazon Book Descriptions is to consider it in the terms of an enhanced paperback cover blurb. You are writing advertising copy to attract interest and excitement in shoppers. The goal is to intrigue, entice and convince customers that they simply must know more.

Yes

How to Lay Out Your Amazon Book Description

There are many good marketing resources geared towards the perfect Book Description but all agree that the following layout, in genre focused variations, works the most effectively:

  1. Jump onto Amazon’s #100 Best Sellers in your genre and study how their book descriptions have been assembled. Like cover design there will be a distinct difference in how your genre is marketed compared to all the others. Study them, pick up tips and tailor your description to these specifications.
  1.  If you have won any awards or accolades put them first in your description e.g. New York Times Best Seller, No.1 Amazon Best Seller. If you do not have any awards you can always start with a positive quote from a reviewer. NOT YOUR MUM. Someone who is a professional reviewer such as Kirkus Reviews or Self Publishing Review.

A good review can go a long way in establishing your credibility as a writer and publisher.

  1. The first line of your description is the most important. Try to think of it as your sales hook. Don’t be nervous about referencing other well known authors here. If you wrote a book about a young pre-adolescent boy who learns magic it doesn’t do any harm to compare it to J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter or Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci.
  1. Your book description should cover these points:
    • Don’t be vague or boring
    • Keep it simple– don’t go into too much detail
    • Don’t give your story or plot lines away
    • Introduce the character in a single line
    • Focus on your characters, and their goals
    • Short, punchy, emotive sentences.
    • Deliver the conflict, make the reader beg to see if it is resolved.
  1.  Always leave the reader wanting more. Closing with particular questions is a good way to leave a description open ended. e.g. “Will Lassie get help in time? Or will little Tommy be left alone in the dark forever?” You can also use this as a tagline on your front cover to catch a reader’s attention.

These are but a few helpful ideas to get your thoughts of your own Book Description flowing. It can be painful and time consuming activity but it’s worth taking the time to get it right as this section is the first example of your writing that readers will encounter. You need to get them interested!

Writing Book Descriptions isn’t an exact science, there is no magic formula that will work every time, but using them as a marketing tool can help attract your readers. The most important thing to remember? You can always rewrite and change it up until you find what works for you and your story!

For more information on crafting Book Descriptions the below is some helpful links and testimonials:

http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/10/05/the-11-ingredients-of-a-sizzling-book-description/

http://thefutureofink.com/kindle-books-sales-tool/

https://www.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1462

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2011/best-practices-for-amazon-ebook-sales/

What have you found works well in a Books Description? As a reader and consumer what turns you off about Book Descriptions when you are shopping?

 

3 Reasons To Hire A Designer Instead of Buying a Premade Cover

As writers and readers we judge books by their covers and as a self-publisher choosing the right covers to represent your books is a major step towards getting sales and building your brand. This blog is going to provide you with 3 reasons why as a self-published author you should hire a designer instead of using a premade cover to represent your works.

07042015_scarlettrugers_thesacrifice_7001. Your cover will be about YOUR story

It’s the job of the designer to visually interpret your book. Designers at the very least will want details about the story including a synopsis, settings, main character descriptions and themes. Here at Scarlett Rugers we are unique in taking this process one step further and will read your manuscript so that we can gain an even clearer insight into your books style. Hiring a cover designer will ensure that your cover will be specifically accurate to your story and that it is presented in the best possible way.

Pre-made covers lack personal insight. They are often a generic representation of the style that is trending in that genre. In fact the chances of you finding a cover that says visually what you need it to is very slim. You will end up settling for a cover that may, almost, be right for your story but will most likely leave it wanting.

After working on a manuscript for years to have it reach perfection you have a book that is uniquely you, hiring a designer will ensure your cover reflects that in a way that a pre-made never will.

2. Your unique brand as a self-published author

The-Great-GatsbyThink about all the really great classic covers out there like “The Great Gatsby” and more recently “Twilight.” These covers are instantly recognizable because they are distinctive, memorable and are a visual brand for that author. Influential design work will assist in building an iconic style for your future books, like Josh Kirby’s amazing illustrated covers that established Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Working with a designer will always guarantee that your cover will stand out amongst its peers and build up an identifiable brand for your publications.

One of the major problems with pre-made covers is that they lack that certain something extra that will individualize your book or establish you as a professional author. The majority of them are made by stock images with typography applied to them. This can have a flattering effect, but the image used on that cover will also have been used on three other covers as well. They use the general mass market styles as a guide, selecting the most commonly occurring elements. Unfortunately your book will end up getting lost in the sea of similar covers and won’t define your brand in the future.

carpe-jugulum3. You get one-on-one advice through the project

Designers work closely with authors, consulting and advising them every step of the way. They will make sure that you end up with a cover that that blends your wishes with a professional, market standard design. Many pre-made covers are not made by qualified designers, and you don’t get much flexibility in what you can and can’t change. You only have to look at the quality between a professionally designed cover and a premade one to see the difference. You don’t have a say on what goes on it aside from your name and the title. That’s an important point you must remember, whatever cover you choose will be what is associated with your name. A badly designed cover could send the message to your audience that the writing is of the same quality and rob you of potential sales. I know there are exceptions and that some pre-made cover designers will alter elements on their cover to more suit your needs for a fee, but if you are willing to pay more money you are better off hiring a real designer to get what you want.

A book cover designer’s mission is to create works of art that sell. They won’t just copy what is already out there but will use their strong knowledge of the industry and through extensive discussions with you will design something one of a kind to establish you as a brand. Premade covers, while appealing as a cheaper option, may end up causing your work to be unnoticed and limit your sales. As publishers you need to think and invest like a business. You need to ask yourself what is going to be the best representation of you as a professional writer and publisher because it will be what your audience will immediately associate with you.

What are your thoughts on Premade covers? What kind of experiences have you had with designers or the premade option?

Redesigning your book cover can make you a full-time self-published author

You’re lacking in sales, you’re not reaching new readers, and you’re running out of promotional steam. What’s one thing that could make all the difference in boosting sales and getting you onto the best seller list? Changing your book cover.

Getting sales

ahmadardalan_1 On July 29th 2014, an author named Ahmad Ardalan published a book titled The Gardener of Baghdad. He had been pushing to get it traction, sharing out the link where to purchase it, hitting the social media wave and working hard for reviews. But the success Ahmad had hoped for wasn’t clicking, a piece of the puzzle was missing.

He was ready to submit to the almighty Bookbub. The standards of Bookbub are high, which is why it makes it such a successful platform for self-published authors to get new readers through. In order to be accepted your book has to be at a decent standard, have a good concept, well written blurb, and a cover that doesn’t look DIY.

Ahmad tried three times to get into Bookbub, but he couldn’t crack it. He approached the KindleBoards for help and the problem seemed immediate- his cover wasn’t good enough, he needed something new.

Your story doesn’t matter if your book cover sucks

I know how hard it can be to be in the constant push to get your book into a consistent tide of sales, and sometimes affording a cover designer just isn’t on your list of priorities when you’re publishing. We can only invest so much, and if we have a few spare dollars of change it normally goes into editing and polishing so that the book reads well. That’s the most important part of publishing a book, isn’t it? The story?

Not if no one wants to pick it up in the first place. Your cover is what sells your book, not your writing. After you get a reader hooked, you’re in, but you have to get them to purchase it in the first place.

Remember, your readers aren’t just spending their money, they’re spending their time which is much more valuable. So does your book cover promise hours of adventure, heartbreak or conflict? Or does it say ‘I spent about as much time editing my book as I did on this cover-so that’s what you should expect’?

When authors go full time, thanks to book cover redesigns

M. Ward redesigned her book covers and her life changed overnight; she shared her experiences with us about it on our blog. When she changed over her books to a more genre specific cover for her romance books, she blasted her way onto the New York Times best sellers list.

Were the covers traditional publishing quality? No.

Did they do the job? Yes.

So what was the problem with H. M. Ward’s original covers? They weren’t genre, or audience, specific. They were creative, and beautiful, and the quality of them was stunning. But they weren’t reaching her intended audience. They weren’t genre specific enough.

Your potential readers are looking for books that:

  • Are in the genre they like reading
  • Hold a concept they are familiar with
  • Have a character they could relate to
  • Is “like this other book they just finished”
  • Looks interesting

The job of the cover: Sell the book

When I saw Ahmad’s plight at reaching new readers for The Gardener of Baghdad, I reached out. The cover needed an overhaul so that the audience knew:

  1. What to expect
  2. The genre
  3. Who it is targeted to

I offered the chance to redesign his cover which he graciously accepted, and got started on some new designs. His original concept made use of a painting but the concept wasn’t clear enough. He wanted to show the light and darkness in comparison to the past, and the present, in Baghdad. The beautiful Garden of before to the war torn city of now. I really liked that idea and thought it just needed refining, needed to be presented in a new way.

The concept he approved does exactly that, by using the bright beautiful garden against the contrast of a dark modern city, with simple, soft text we have grounded the design.

ahmadardalan_2The target demographic: people who love historical fiction, mainly women. By using the pastel colours and painted effects, combined with quiet typography, we have nailed the historical/literary fiction genre. We don’t need to tell the whole story, just make it look interesting and give the audience a sense of what’s coming, to get them onto the blurb.

Ahmad submitted the book with his new cover for the fourth attempt this week. He was accepted.

If your sales aren’t working for you, consider the cover. Reach out to a designer, consult with your self-publishing community for feedback, don’t be afraid to change it up. Covers aren’t permanent, even the professionals don’t get it right first try! Authors like H. M. Ward have proven it could mean the difference between working your regular job, and becoming a full-time author.

Why wouldn’t you change it?

How to increase your mailing list, and your sales numbers, as a self-publisher

Lindy DaleThis week we welcome brilliant author Lindy Dale to the blog, who has been kind enough to share with us her successful strategy for increasing subscribers for her mailing list, and her sales numbers. You can find her at www.lindydale.com/

Let me preface this by saying, if you don’t listen to the Rocking Self Publishing Podcast, you seriously should. I got this idea from an interview there. At the time (October 2014) my US sales were pathetic. I was selling about one book a day, if that. I had a mailing list of 49 people. My UK sales were okay but nothing could beat what I’d achieved in UK/US in 2012 when I was making about $2500AU a month. I put this down to two things. One, I got cancer and didn’t publish anything for a year so the momentum was lost and two, the golden days of Kindle had started to come to an end. It was harder to be noticed when the number of books tripled overnight. Add KDP select etc into the mix and my career was at a standstill.

 Enter the podcast where I got this advice:

  1. Start a mailing list (already had one but PA.THET.IC)
  2. Put a link to it in the back matter of all your books and offer a free read if people sign up. So far of the 450 people who’ve signed up I’ve only had five unsubscribe. Two were when I sent out a blast yesterday. I view these as people as freebie hunters who only wanted a free book and wouldn’t have bought my stuff anyway so I don’t care. 1% fall out is pretty good.
  3. Make one of your books permafree. Ie: you list it on Smashwords as free then inform Amazon and they price match. I chose one of my novellas It Started With a Kiss that had never really sold. It had links to the email list in the back matter along with an excerpt from another novel and a buy link to keep reading.

This is when things really started to change. When I made that book permafree it instantly went to #1 in short stories in both UK and US. At one stage it was #1 in Short stories, Women’s Fiction and Romantic Comedy simultaneously (yes it was the free list but hey) It’s been sitting at #20 in the whole UK free kindle chart since October (I think its about #23 today) and over Christmas it was #13. It went from having 3 reviews to 115+. In the US it sits between #145 and #200 in the entire free chart.

From it I get a minimum 5 mailing list sign ups a day. BUT I also get flow on sales because all my books now have an excerpt from another book in the back, plus buy links to that book at the end of it and buy links to all my books with a one sentence teaser. This took me a couple of days to do as I have ten books out.

The results:

Since I did this on October 16th

  • my royalties have increased from $50US a month to $250 (I think last month was three hundred). My UK royalties have bounced back to £450 (that’s about $700AU) a month from about £70
  • My unit sales have gone from one book a day in the US to 5-10 (yesterday after my email blast I got 20 US sales) and from 3 a day in UK to 20. So I’m now selling roughly 30 units a day. This has been consistent since October and is building every month. It went down a bit in the last week but I think that’s because the holiday season is over. It’s also mostly on my novels not novellas and these are priced between 2.99 and 4.99. The ones that are more expensive are the ones that are selling but they are also the latest releases
  • Another interesting fact: My Bastard series of three books has about a 95% read through rate meaning that of those who read book one 95% go on to read the other two. I think this has a lot to do with the beginning of the next book being posted as a free chapter or two at the end of the previous book.
  • Interesting fact 2: I have been testing out having ‘sales’ during this time where I lower my price to .99c but DON’T do any promo (eg: ENT Bookbub etc). when I do this I now get my own sales spike of about 30 sales in a day. If I send a blast to my list it’s about 50. I’ve tried this on every book over the past few months and it’s worked every time.

Fantastic advice from Lindy, so what are you waiting for? Get started on your mailing list today!