Saturday, August 31, 2013

Blood Brothers now on Nook and Smashwords

Blood Brothers is now available on Barnes & Noble Nook, and on Smashwords.

Click here for Nook.

Click here for Smashwords.

(Smashwords is currently reviewing the book for Premium Catalog inclusion, whereupon it'll be available on Kobo and the Apple ibookstore and pretty much everywhere else.)

I also want to mention that I've been pleasantly surprised with Smashwords so far. I'd never used the company before--my approach to D.I.Y. is usually to try to do everything myself, directly, and Smashwords is sort of a middleman service. But I'd heard of other authors like Lindsay Buroker using Smashwords, and I figured I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did. I like their orientation toward keeping things simple, and I appreciate the efforts Mark Coker (founder of Smashwords) makes to provide support to indie (self-published) authors. Among these efforts, Mark has written two different books about how to self-publish more effectively and have better success doing so. The books are titled Smashwords Book Marketing Guide, and The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, and they're both available for free (click the title of each book to go to the Smashwords page for it, though you can also find them on Kindle and elsewhere). I've read through both books, and while I've already come across some of the strategies and information they offer, I've also found a lot of new ideas in both. Here are a few things that come to mind:

1) Mark stresses the importance of making your books as easy for your readers to find as possible. That sounds obvious, but he gets specific about things I'd never thought of. For example, he doesn't recommend using initials in your author name (like, for instance, M.F. Soriano... whoops!), because it makes it harder for people to search for you. They might put "mf soriano" in the search bar instead of "m.f. soriano", or maybe they'll mix up the letters, and your books won't necessarily show up in the search results. (And what "mf" in particular will get you can be pretty eye-opening; I was actually contacted by a reader who'd tried to search for me on Kobo, and the "mf" brought up all sorts of crazy titles. Try it for yourself and you'll see.)

Also related to this: if you have more than one book in a series and they're already all written, put them all out at once. Don't try to release them on an ongoing schedule. If a reader has to wait for the next title to come out, they might not ever remember to buy it.

2) Although Mark goes to lengths to give indie writers hope, and to make them feel valued and supported, he also states pretty plainly that selling books is very hard, and that the vast majority of books (either independently or traditionally published) never sell very many copies. Because of that, he recommends spending as little as possible in self-publishing ventures--preferably nothing. I've pretty much come to that conclusion myself. I decided to contract professional services for Blood Brothers, and although I feel like the price was good (total cost for cover design and formatting for both ebook and print editions was $460) and I'm happy with the work I got... it takes a lot of sales to earn back even $460 when you only earn a buck or two per copy sold.

3) And speaking of money, though it is an obvious goal in most publishing, Mark stresses that there are other factors that are more important to a writer's career: namely, finding readers. If you're likely to earn the same amount of money at two different price points, Mark recommends choosing the price point that will move the most copies. If that means selling your book for half as much, but selling twice as many copies, that's what you should do.

4) Another little aside about money. Usually, selling a book directly through the store (like uploading it yourself to Barnes and Noble, for example) will get you more money than you'd earn if the book passes through a middleman like Smashwords. But in one important case, that's not true. If you upload the book yourself on Barnes and Noble, and set a 99 cent price for your book, you'll earn 40 cents a copy. If you put it up on Smashwords with a 99 cent price, and they distribute it to Barnes and Noble, you'll earn 60 cents per copy that sells there. This only works at the 99 cent price point, but it's something to consider.

There's a lot more to learn, and a lot more to be said about Smashwords. I'm still waiting for Blood Brothers to be approved for the Smashwords Premium Catalog. When that happens, I'll have more to share.

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