No, I’m not talking about where to begin a book, although that is a really good question. It’s just that there is so much going on right now that it’s difficult to know where to begin. So, instead of drawing it out, let’s dive right in.
It is impossible to ignore what’s going on in the world right now. Without getting into the politics of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I saw a story this morning that caught my eye. As writers, I know there are a number of us who have been wondering what we can do to help the Ukrainians. Activated Authors offers one possibility. (Fair warning, I have not vetted the site or how they are dispensing any funds raised. If you are interested in taking part, you need to check it out for yourself first.)
What initially caught my eye about the site was the 1 million word challenge. At first glance, it appeared to be the writers’ version of a walk-a-thon. However–and this is why I suggest you check them out before signing up. Of course, I make this recommendation for any site that asks you to sign up and commit to their cause–they also want you to make a monetary donation as well as take part in the challenge. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. Far from it, in fact. But I am saying to make sure you are comfortable with all the fine print before you commit yourself, your time or your money.
Moving on. . . .
Audiobooks have long been a part of the market out of reach of a number of indie authors. We want to do them but feel we can’t afford to do so. The upfront money for some services gives us pause because we don’t know if we will make that money back. The rights restrictions included in the contracts and the difficulty in getting our rights back precludes us from other groups. So what’s an indie author to do?
One alternative is auto-narrated books through Google. Before you laugh and decide I’ve lost my mind, two things. First, I’m hearing really good things about the service from a number of authors who have used them. Second, I haven’t used them and give the same warning I gave above. Check it out and be sure it works for you. But, having listened to some samples, I’ll admit they sound better than I expected and, in some cases, better than some of the “real person” read audiobooks I’ve heard.
Here’s the link.
What I find interesting and will be looking into more deeply is that Google is apparently allowing authors/publishers to download the audio file and sell it on other platforms as well as on Google Books. If true, this could be a real game changer for indie authors wanting to break into the audiobook market without investing a small fortune do to so.
Finally, we’ve talked about this before, but I’ve seen a lot of chatter about it online recently and thought I’d revisit it today. What do you do to keep up interest in your older books. This article contains some good information on what to do and I can vouch for most of it. Take a look at your covers and compare them to what the current best sellers in your genre look like. This means more than just your cover image. It means your fonts, what information you include on the cover, basically everything the reader sees in the thumbnail or on the shelf when picking up a hard copy of your book.
Next up and even more important are you keywords and categories. It costs nothing to go in and tweak your keywords every few months and it is important to do so. After all, these keywords a search terms people use to find books. When you type in your keywords, do books like yours come up or are they books in a completely different genre or sub-genre?
The biggest mistakes authors make when it comes to categories, especially on Amazon, are listing the wrong categories and forgetting to contact Amazon and asking for your book to be included in more than the two or three categories you are allowed when you first set up your book for sale. The problem with having your book listed in the wrong category is you wind up pissing off your readers. If you have a book that is primarily romance and you list it as science fiction without also toggling the romance sub-genre, you are going to be bombarded with negative reviews, especially if you don’t cue the romance in the description. So make sure you are listed in the right categories and sub-categories. But please, please, please hit your sub-genre categories and get them listed. Not only will it give you more exposure in searches but it gives you a better chance at hitting that “best seller” tag because it is easier to do so in sub-categories than in the main categories.
One other thing I will note about the article before I jump off and get back to work. If you are running a limited time sale, especially if you are doing it as part of an ad campaign, be careful to keep a close eye on your sales price on all platforms if you have gone wide. This is especially important if you are offering a book for free. One of my biggest complaints about Amazon is that it doesn’t allow an author to easily list a book as a freebie. Sure, you can do it for a limited time if you are in KU, but otherwise, be prepared for frustration. You have to take the book for free on the other platforms. Then you have to ask Amazon to match the price. Then you have to keep your fingers crossed and keep an eye on your sales page because Amazon might agree but then change the price back to full price before you want them to. The author forums on the various social media platforms are full of frustrated authors and their stories about that.
And now, before I head off to work, here’s what I worked on for a few minutes yesterday. I wrote a freebie short story for my newsletter subscribers last year. I’ve expanded the story, changed the title (for reasons I’ll go into in another post) and gave it a new cover. I’m still tweaking the cover and once I’m satisfied, I will release the story (which has approximately 3k new words). Here’s the latest version of the cover mock-up.