Tuesday, July 28, 2015

#7 Publishing Plan – Ya gotta have a plan! It just doesn’t happen like magic! #USAToday

#7 Publishing plans – need to be decided on – the release date and whether the book will be self-published by someone in the group, say on a multi-venue such as Draft 2 Digital, or will you go with an organizer like Indie Writes who looks after all the formatting and does the publishing for you, and... takes 15% off the top. There’s a lot of work involved in the formatting area so you want to make an informed decision.(Original post on June 18, 2015)

First the release date is important. We found out early on that USA Today sales ranking is counted from the previous Monday to the Sunday. Therefore if you release the book on Tuesday, Amazon will send out all the books from the pre-sale the day before the release day and they will be counted into your sales for that week.

For the NY Times - say your book went on sale Tuesday, April 15th, the first list you could hit would be the one for Sunday, May 4th.   The New York Times counts books sold from Saturday to Saturday as a full week, so that first week is slightly more challenging because you have two fewer days of sales to include.

Now on to whether you release the book on your own or go through an outside company.

I can tell you that I’ve been involved with both types of collections—those with a formal publisher like Indie Writes and those we released on our own. My preference, of course, is to do it without any outside influence. Which means that you get to keep all the money and that is a huge plus.

But it also means that someone in the group has to be responsible for formatting the set. This isn’t as difficult as it seems - as long as each author makes sure that her file is done according to set rules.

With a template system like Pressbook, it’s a matter of copy and pasting which takes time but isn’t too difficult. Some people use Caliber to format to mobi and epubs and others use writing programs that allow you to pull off different formats. There’s many ways but none of them happen without some effort.

Another job that will have to be taken on by one of the girls is the bookkeeping. The royalties have to be made accessible to everyone, which means new accounts must be open for the book and the login and password available to all the authors. It also means that someone has to be in charge of the royalties that get paid into those accounts and divvy it up when the time comes. I know that there are all kinds of tax implications for those of you who live in the US, but because I’m Canadian, I can’t go into these - I just don’t understand them. What I do know is that the girl who did this for the Brides collections placed it with her accountant and we all split his bill.

And then, of course, the book has to be released on all the venues. Setting up the pre-orders and then making sure the final file is there in good time (I’m talking about Amazon) is something that needs to be looked after.

With Summer Fire, our organizer published it through her own company and did all the bookkeeping. For the rest of us, it was simple and went smoothly. We will recover our costs and probably make a few dollars but when you have a 20-way split, don’t expect to make a bundle. It ain’t going to happen unless your collection manages to get into the very high numbers on Amazon - say #1- #100 and... stay there. And that’s one hell of a huge task… or just blasted good luck!

I have been in collections where we did go with Indie Writes. Many busy authors opt for this choice because they like having the one-stop shop. One of the girls took on the responsibility of collecting all our files and making sure they were formatted to his instructions. In the end, it was less work for the group but I think having to rely on an outsider and split the money had disadvantages also.

But then again, I guess nothing is perfect and whatever hitches arise have to be dealt with in the most professional way possible. 

So are you still wanting to set up your own multi-author collection???

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

#6 The Title - So what's such a big deal? One title's as good as another! Sure... #NYTimes #USAToday


#6 The tittle – again you need to get everyone offering suggestions and then take the best five and do a poll. Otherwise, this discussion can go on for far too long and create a deluge of unnecessary e-mails – and trust me on this – the authors start zoning out if they get overloaded in this way. They neither have the time nor the patience. (Original post on June 18, 2015)

What comes first the cover or the title? We did the cover first and then the title (I think?) Nah…it must have been the other way around….maybe. For Summer Fire, It had all been organized by the time I’d come on board.

Personally, I’ve always come up with titles for my books while I was writing them. – many times before I’d even start. But when it comes to a collection for a group of authors, I guess it can go either way. All I know is that you must get it resolved quickly.

And… it can be one of the hardest arguments to settle. Since it’s important, I guess it should be. After all, everyone will be wearing it for as long as the book is for sale.
In Summer Fire, I think they made a good choice…especially the added on bit of 'Love When it’s Hot!' That was a direct jab at what the readers could expect in the collection and the authors didn’t disappoint.

The organizers were also going after those that had summer plans and might take along one book as their holiday read. With twenty new novellas to choose from, this was the perfect summer-time treat. And remember, there was a lot of competition. We needed to stand out.

Planning those small details are important and can give you that extra boost in sales. Therefore the title definitely can make a difference to what catches the buyers’ attention.

For example, if it’s a Christmas set you maybe don’t want to just depend on the cover to get that across. If you have some kind of hint in the title that it’s a seasonal special, it can only make the title stronger. If the holiday is secondary to the novel like my last Christmas book called Special Agent Finnegan, then having a festive suggestion on the cover should be enough.

So, take your time, get it right and then please go for a strong font when it’s in the finished product. It matters. Big Time!!!

Have you seen books where you had to strain to figure out what the title was? I think we’ve all been through that scenario…

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

#5 The Cover – This is the face of the book. Is it important? You bet your sweet… ahem… it is! #USAToday

#5 The cover - was important. It needed to show the readers what they could expect on the inside – the flavor of the books – and Summer Fire’s cover did just that. Most of the stories are explicitly sexual and it was certainly obvious when one looked at the naked chest of the male body on the front and the words “Love when it’s Hot!” printed on the side. If a few of the people in the group can make/organize a couple of covers – it’s best to hold a poll and get it decided quickly. Covers can be a huge argument if it isn’t nipped in the bud with majority rules. Original post June 18, 2015. 

I’ll only say this once. The cover is HUGE! It catches the eye of a potential buyer and it should tell them something of what to expect when they begin reading.  I’ve personally bought a book just on the cover and the title alone – didn’t check inside. Sometimes, I’ve kicked myself but many times it delivered. When it does, I go back and buy another from the same author.

As you all know the Summer Fire cover was explicitly sexual. Which should have twigged for me - that the books in the collection were also of an erotic nature. But I knew some of the others in the set and I also knew they didn’t normally write sexy and so I blithely went along with my sweet little novella Big Girls Don’t Cry, and submitted it.


When the set was finally delivered to my Kindle after it was released and I got to read the first few books, I was stunned. They were fabulous – don’t get me wrong – those girls can write! But they were not sweet little stories. On the contrary! I think some of the readers will be disappointed in mine but then again, it is a lovely romance and just maybe a few of them will enjoy a “heat” break!

I was in a group a while back where the cover became a huge argument. All Indie authors have had the control over their covers and most know exactly what they like and want and can visualize the end product (of course with their own story in mind). When it doesn’t come up to their expectations, then they will have something to say. This type of an argument can be a breakdown in goodwill and can start the whole process off on a bad foot. People can’t help but take sides. Everyone has an opinion and it can get nasty. In our case, thankfully, it didn’t. We worked through it and came up with the cover we all liked. Needless to say, not only did it have the authors upset, the process of choosing took a fair amount of time.

So… if I was to be in charge of a box collection, one of the first things I’d do is get two or three covers ready, do a poll and let the majority win the vote. 

In case you haven't noticed - the cover above is really different from the one we originally went with. I love the new one :-)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Budget #4 - Is it all about the money? Or not? #Promotions #Royalties #ROI

***Here's how Summer Fire made it to #13 on #NYTimes. It’s complicatingly simple. We worked our fannies off!! Maybe not everyone—all of the time—but we all kicked in some of the time. And with 20 authors making the effort, it worked.

#4 The budget – whoever is in charge needs to have a realistic budget prepared in advance according to their marketing plan. Make a list of all the free and paid promos, marketing and costly ads (Facebook, Twitter, Google?) you want to put into play and then make sure the others are willing to spend their share – both as a payment into the promo pot and the individual expenses expected from them for giveaways, Facebook ads etc.

For Summer Fire, our organizer had a detailed marketing plan that she shared with us right from the start. As you can imagine, with 20 people, the costs were considerably less than I usually paid as my portion of the 10 brides collections.

I knew I’d get my money back in royalties months down the road and was glad to pay up front so whoever was looking after buying the promotions would have a healthy budget to work with. Since that was normally my job, I had no doubt that what was asked of us would all be gone by the time the book was released and I was right. At the end, we all had to ante up a few bucks more so our organizer wasn’t left holding the bill.

Truthfully, I was glad we’d overspent. The more promotions you buy for a book, the better chance one has of making enough sales to hit the list. After all, no matter what anyone else tells you, it’s all based on the numbers. Not just from Amazon, don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll be successful if you have incredible sales there. They want the numbers from all the major venues. I’m not saying they have to be equal, and I’m not even sure the exact percentages they use. But I do know that if the numbers on Apple and the rest hadn’t come through for us, we never would have been #13 on the New York Times.

So therefore, how much you set up your budget for is crucial. And don’t think that the more expensive ads are the best. It happens in some cases - but not always. Do your homework and find out from others which places have been more successful in getting them sales. I have my favorites and I support them, not only because they’re doing a good job now but because they have the potential to be really good one day. So spending my money now might not produce everything I hoped it would, but the people who run these venues remember who helped them get started. Down the road, it’ll pay off. It certainly has for me. Whenever I approach these friends with a new release and request a spot on a certain day, I get it.

When you organize your budget, take into consideration not just the paid ads you need to use but also things like a Facebook event and the prizes, Facebook ads or boosts, a release day blitz, maybe a Read & Review program and the books you might have to gift, Rafflecopter prizes on the blitz, and the money for a Thunderclap campaign. Of course, if you have to pay for a cover, you’ll need to add that too. Just try and figure out every expense you can think of and add it in from the start. It’s best to be prepared at the beginning rather than scrambling later. 

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fair exchange – You promote us and we’ll promote you! I like it! @TheBooksMachine

Today, while I was filling in the form to promote with a site called The Books Machine, I was astounded by the offer I found at the end of this procedure.

The promoter's deal is this. If I was to mention their site on my blog and then send out their website to any of my followers on Social Media, which is just pushing the buttons at the bottom of my page, they would give me a post on their blog in return.

I decided to go a step further and show you their exact words...

This is what it said:

Free blog post:
We offer you:

·         1 blog post about a book of your choice with a button to buy that title on Amazon
+ 1 Tweet referring to the post about your book on our blog

In exchange for:

·         1 mention by you of our site with a direct link to http://www.thebooksmachine.com
The mention should be made on your website or blog, and on a social network

Lower down on this page, you can see an example of how your book will appear on our blog

Book featured on our blog

Free exchange with clients

How to do it

·         Mention The Books Machine on your website or blog, adding the following link: http://www.thebooksmachine.com
You may either write your own short text, or copy it directly from the samples below.
·         Mention our site on social networks including the link: http://www.thebooksmachine.com
·         Once the previous two points have been completed, send an email to contact@thebooksmachine.com with a link to the website or blog where you have mentioned and linked The Books Machine.
·         Send us the Amazon link to the book you wish to publish on our blog. Let us know if you would like us to include the Amazon description, or attach a brief text of your choice about the book. Include the price of the book.
·         After checking your text and the information about your book, we will notify you of the date we will publish it on the blog, according to availability.

***So, Meryl Wright, here is your post – I hope you like it, my friend. Have a lovely day and may you get lots of traffic from this exposure.


******  ******

Monday, July 6, 2015

The choice of authors #3 – Who are the right people to be your collection? #NYTimes

#3 The choice of authors – this decision made a huge difference. I have no doubt we were each chosen because of either being a titled author (USA Today, New York Times or Amazon Best-seller), someone with great sales or a social media buff who had a huge following on Facebook, Twitter and a street team they could bring into play. How did the organizers find these professionals? Most of us were invited by another already recruited. For instance - I was invited by one of the brides who I work with in those collections. And I’m sure the others have a similar story – it’s a bit of who you know!!

It’s a proven fact that getting your toe in a door can happen a lot quicker if the doorman’s someone who you know or is friends with someone else who owes you a favor.

It’s the same way in the book publishing world too. Every one of the girls who were invited to be a part of Summer Fire were there because they knew someone. In fact, it’s the same with all the book collections I’ve been involved with.

Every time we’d try to come up with the full roster of authors we wanted to join us, it was always thrown out to the original few – who do you think will fit in? The first names everyone would offer were those with titles.

Face it, popular authors bring the readers. Usually they have large street teams, lots of followers on Facebook and active social media links. When you’re trying to push a book as hard as you have to in order to hit the New York Times, you need as many of these kind of people with that much power as possible.

Just a hint: Don’t forget the worker bees. Many times, more famous authors are so busy writing to deadline that they don’t have any time or energy left to add to the social media side. They don’t mind sharing their name but when it comes to the daily promo grind, it’ll be left to others. So... unless you have a group you can rely on to help with this area, find a few authors who are really active.

One of the big pluses we came across in Summer Fire was healthy newsletters that some of the authors were able to rely on. For the last couple of years, I’ve been working on my personal newsletter and wished I’d started a lot sooner. It isn’t easy to build up an audience but it can be one of the best promotional tools in your stable. And trust me - it’s also very much of a draw to the organizers of a potential collection.

Speaking of newsletters…

As I’ve mentioned before, I have recently started a group called Author’s Billboard.  And one of our most important goals is to build a joint newsletter as large and as fast as we can. This will enable us to promote as a group and provide our wonderful fans with a whole bunch of amazing reading choices from best-selling writers. If you have a few seconds, please subscribe. We promise to provide you with unbelievable deals.

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*Giveaway* $50 Amazon Gift Card + 40 Best-selling eBooks. Up For Grabs! @mimisgang1 #mgtab

Authors Billboard Red White and Books Giveaway - final-05

The Authors' Billboard presents the 

Red, White & Blue Giveaway!

Enter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card and over 40 ebooks 

from Best-Selling Authors!

Entry form closes July 31st, 2015 and 42 winners will be chosen at random!