Author Topic: self publishing fiction  (Read 1014 times)

c-kat

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self publishing fiction
« on: August 24, 2017, 02:12:58 PM »
Hello,

I'm looking to hear from others who have successfully published fiction.

I have written a contemporary YA novel that has been edited.  But I'm not sure where to find a book cover, formatting and also would like to know how to market it. I plan to publish under a pen name, so am not sure how that will work from a marketing perspective, as I won't be able to use my personal social media accounts.

I have two other novels underway and I'm wondering if I should be releasing them under the same name or different names? One is a YA Romance. The other is a NA Romance. Readers might prefer one over the other. How have others handled this?

Best,
ckat

MandalayVA

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Re: self publishing fiction
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2017, 02:18:56 PM »
Kboards' Writers Cafe has been a great source of information regarding marketing and covers.

www.kboards.com
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SeattleCPA

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Re: self publishing fiction
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2017, 12:44:32 PM »
I know nothing about successfully publishing fiction... but I have had a lot of luck with nonfiction. Also quite a bit of experience. (Maybe a couple of hundred books at amazon.com, for example.)

I mention that to provide a bit more credibility for next comment...

I have heard people say that with fiction you need to hook readers' interest in your characters... and then continue with a series.

E.g., you write a Miss Marple mystery... and then another and another and another. And you hope to grow your readership over time and everytime some reader likes your work, you've got several other titles they can buy and read.

I've also heard people in industry I respect say this is way you get the kindle model to work... giving away first book for free and then using that to begin building the reader base.

Again, though, I have only successfully written and published nonfiction. So take all this with a grain of salt. Or with two grains of salt.
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Trede

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Re: self publishing fiction
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2017, 12:47:47 PM »
Seconded on KBoards being a great resource.  I can also lay out a few options to consider:

1. Amazon exclusivity ("Kindle Unlimited" to readers, "KDP Select" to authors) or not?  As you are on your first book and marketing from scratch, it's worth some consideration.  In Ebooks, Amazon has the largest market share.  In exchange for publishing your ebook exclusively on Kindle, in 90-day enrollment increments meaning you can get out in the future, Amazon gives you a couple marketing tools.  These include the ability to offer your book for free or at a discount "countdown deal" for I believe 5 or 7 days every 90 day period.  Paired with some free or low cost promoting, it can help establish some readers.  One strategy might be to start your books in KDP Select until you build readership, then expand out to other outlets.

2. Independent of that decision, Amazon also has "Amazon Marketing Services" at ams.amazon.com.  They are still offering $100 worth of free clicks for pay-per-click advertising.  Once you are up on Kindle, you can set up a product ad through this portal and bid on clicks.  There are a number of blogs out there that explain how to optimize your results.  My short version: Use "Sponsored Product" ads, use at least 300 keywords per ad (primarily author names and titles of books that you think are similar to yours as well as more general genre or theme-related words or phrases), bid at whatever level you are comfortable with (I'm typically around $0.25 on a fresh ad for each keyword but competitiveness of bids does depend on genre) then tend your bids like you would a garden, as you can raise or lower them by keyword as needed to get your ad seen.

3. On book covers, I've gone both the custom and pre-made cover route.  Just starting out, I see no reason to avoid pre-mades provided you have a good eye for quality.  The last vendor I used was Ampersand Book Covers and I bring her up because I had a good experience with the vendor and also her pre-mades have a fair amount of romantic and YA themes.  There are a slew of cover artists out there, however, just google "premade book covers".  KBoards probably has testimonials/referrals to offer as well.

4. On formatting: It really isn't hard to do yourself.  Amazon has published a guide that is easy to follow.  I format in Word, upload to the Kindle Direct Publishing portal, and get good quality outcomes.  (If you plan to go wider than just Amazon to start, it is easy to format for Nook once you've got your Kindle Word file.  After that I do a Smashwords version - Smashwords being a distributor portal to get to iBooks, Scribd, Kobo and elsewhere.)  If you don't want to do it yourself, again check Kboards, or if you are looking to distribute widely, consider one of the formatters you can find through Smashwords.  While I've never used one, Smashwords keeps a curated list I believe and the pricing has always appeared reasonable.

I hope this helps with some directions you can go.  Feel free to ask more specific questions.  Mr. Trede just published his eighth book last week, and guess who is his formatting and marketing arm?

MLHoosier

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Re: self publishing fiction
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2017, 06:45:25 AM »
Great info, Trede. I'm a few days away from publishing a novel on Kindle and trying to figure out how best to launch. I set up a mailing list, but am waiting to see how the launch goes before investing time/money in a website, advertising, etc.

Does Mr. Trede write a series or is each book a standalone? My book could easily transition into a series, but I'm waiting to see the results from the launch before I commit. 

Trede

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Re: self publishing fiction
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2017, 07:34:37 AM »
MLHoosier, he has seven books set in his fictional galaxy; he completed a 5-book series, then started a spinoff series picking up an alien invasion thread left open (Book 1 is done, Book 2 comes out next year), and also wrote a standalone book in the same galaxy that isn't military science fiction but a smugglers story (sort of in the spirit of Firefly).  Somewhere in there he threw me a curve and wrote a dystopian supernatural novel in a completely different world.  But that's the joy of self-publishing... he just writes what comes to him.

The truism of "the best marketing for your first book is writing a second book" is valid.  If I were launching a first book today, I'd stick with Kindle for at least the first 90 days to use KDP Select for an initial discounted marketing campaign, and I'd create a solid Facebook author page and a Goodreads author profile as a minimum social media presence.  Twitter seems pretty marginal in terms of sales results, but handy for networking.  I've been remiss in exploring Instagram, so I don't have an opinion on that one.

If you get a few reviews, some cheap and effective services I've used to market discounted books are BKnights on Fiverr and Ereader News Today.  Bookbub is the gorilla in email list marketing, but they are very selective and you need a good number of reviews to get in. 

lizzzi

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Re: self publishing fiction
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2017, 08:03:59 AM »
Oh, wow--a fictional galaxy! I know you're not supposed to advertise on here (we're not, are we? Has not come up for me--I'm not selling anything.) But Mrs Trede,  can you tell us how to access the books? Sounds like my cup of tea.

Trede

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Re: self publishing fiction
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2017, 08:14:22 AM »
Oh, wow--a fictional galaxy! I know you're not supposed to advertise on here (we're not, are we? Has not come up for me--I'm not selling anything.) But Mrs Trede,  can you tell us how to access the books? Sounds like my cup of tea.

I quoted the above just to document I was asked!  :)  (Moderators, I certainly won't be offended if you delete this post for sharing the following.) Mr. Trede's website: ThisCorneroftheUniverse.com has links to everywhere he's at and the type of content he supports his books with.

MLHoosier

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Re: self publishing fiction
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2017, 08:40:45 AM »
Thanks so much, Trede! Really appreciate the advice.

One more question if you don't mind: Has self-publishing been a positive experience financially?

lizzzi

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Re: self publishing fiction
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2017, 09:53:14 AM »
Oh, wow--a fictional galaxy! I know you're not supposed to advertise on here (we're not, are we? Has not come up for me--I'm not selling anything.) But Mrs Trede,  can you tell us how to access the books? Sounds like my cup of tea.

I quoted the above just to document I was asked!  :)  (Moderators, I certainly won't be offended if you delete this post for sharing the following.) Mr. Trede's website: ThisCorneroftheUniverse.com has links to everywhere he's at and the type of content he supports his books with.

Thank you very much! (Moderators: Sorry if I was inappropriate. I'm a bit of a science fiction freak.)

Trede

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Re: self publishing fiction
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2017, 10:41:30 AM »
One more question if you don't mind: Has self-publishing been a positive experience financially?

The short answer is yes, and I don't even think Mr. Trede makes decisions that optimize his revenue stream.  For example, his annual revenues went down when he ended the first series cleanly.  It was more important to him to tell his story the way he wanted to (and neither of us would change that decision), but when the original story ended that slowed his sales momentum.  He also doesn't believe in giving away his first book free, which is a common tactic for hooking new readers to a series.  99cents is his personal floor although someday I hope to change his mind.  Finally, among the self-publishing blogs there are two camps: the Kindle exclusivity camp and the "don't give Amazon a monopoly" camp.  We're in the second camp, even though for his subgenre the Top 100 Kindle books are dominated by Kindle Unlimited (exclusively Kindle) titles.  (It's worth checking if you are just starting out and are genre-focused.  It's also worth noting that a hybrid strategy is possible, some books in KDP Select and some not.  For example, I put Mr. Trede's dystopian novel in KDP Select since it's outside his main galaxy and was essentially like building a different following from square one again.)

He's been cash-flow positive since the first book by design.  At first, we sought out the free places to advertise, found every polite place in every reading forum we could find to put his book out there.  With a little revenue we upped our game on book covers, started experimenting with paid advertising, etc.  He's somewhere over 20K books sold now.  It's not a living wage, but it's more than beer money even if we were raging alcoholics.

asauer

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Re: self publishing fiction
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2017, 06:34:36 AM »
You've gotten some good advice, but I'll add from my experience-
My sister and I have written 3 female action/ adventure novels and self published on KDP.  Here are some things we learned:
1. Use your real name. Seriously, there's no reason not to and it's SO much easier to communicate with marketing partners and keep taxes/ accounts straight.  We started with a pen name and it was a nightmare.

2. Find your audience and build a following before publishing (via goodreads board interaction- quality interaction, not selling your book) or other groups.  we found goodreads to be the best platform for interacting with our readers

3. publish more than one at a time to encourage binge reading (see research on goal gradient for the reasoning behind this)- encouraging this behavior gets you more sells and more established readers

4. For fiction, don't bother with offering print versions unless you're going for the over 60 reader.  print sales have to be higher $ to justify the printing and it doesn't sell nearly as well as kindle

5. See if you can get picked up by county libraries, university libraries and independent bookstores (lots have local author programs).  Then do events at those locations for local buzz

6. Ask for honest reviews on reader blogs in our genre- really helped us

Hope this helps!