Author Truths for Beginners (Part 10)

What happens when there are more books than readers?

We are getting close.

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Way to go mass media. Thanks to you, readership is in decline. Who saw that coming? The answer is everyone did, way back when it began in the1960’s. As is typical with the human species, we thought someone else would handle it.

When you couple media addiction to an educational system designed to disengage all but the most pliable minds, we find ourselves with a societal problem that goes way beyond the book marketplace; but I won’t go off on this tangent. Instead, we will get back to why it will suck to be you if you decide to become one of us.

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Trust the picture!

Look how much fun authors have.

Your author experience will mostly be decided by your expectations, your attitude, your budget, your commitment, and your reviews.

If you hold onto the best parts of yourself and enter into this well-informed, you can navigate these treacherous waters to find yourself in a strange new world full of worthwhile people who make your day a bit brighter.

Before you say I always wanted to be an author, be certain you are a writer or at least a good storyteller. Writing skills can be learned, but the ability to create an original story, and tell it in a unique way that captivates readers is what makes some writers truly special.

Don’t hone your skills by laying out $6000.00 to try to make a success of a three-star book. Try to get some short stories published first. Who knows, if it turns out you are really good, you may find a publisher who will foot the bill.

I wrote this blog series to let people see into our world. Being an author is not all gala dinners, cocktail parties, and book signings as television depicts; far from, and it is definitely not for people who are wearing blinders.

This is a real get up and get to work business 90% of the time, which is why we can get a little bit nuts with the other 10%.

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Not all of it sucks if you keep a sense of humor or act a little crazy.

There’s always therapy, various coping and escape mechanisms, or some combination thereof.

I see drunk naked visit to my therapist in that sentence.

She’ll love it!

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I tease my muse, at the end of yet another week in author hell, that I am truly ready to off myself. I detail how I will use the shower curtain rod, or the closet bar, or the plant hook in the living-room to hang myself just as soon as I can find my old cub-scout knot tying manual so I can make a proper noose. The left side of my brain always ruins the moment with mental images of me sitting on the floor rubbing my bruised ass while covered in a shower curtain, or clothes, or plaster dust. This is not how an authors life should end. It should be outlandish and romantic . . .

He kissed her and turned to run into the burning building across the street to save the crying baby. He never saw the speeding liquor delivery truck as he took those final fate-sealing steps.

It’s a start. I’ll polish it up and spring it on her next week.

 

The End.

 

Who is E. A. Barker?
I am a just a boy…
Standing in front of a bookstore…
Asking them to love me.

All kidding aside, I am an occasionally serious researcher who wrote a book about life with women, without having much of the needed foreknowledge of the book biz I shared with you here. Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond my control, I also did not have the working capital necessary to execute the most basic of marketing strategies like the one outlined in this blog. Now, I try to help others avoid the mistakes I made. My book echoes that goal as well.

Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers! is a non-fiction book chronicling one man’s journey to understand, cope, and make peace with our crazy existence.

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The large print 8×10 paperback and hardcover versions of Ms. Creant are available through bookstores and libraries around the globe from Ingram Spark.

ISBNs
978-1-77302-134-8 (Hardcover)
978-1-77302-132-4 (Paperback)
978-1-77302-133-1 (e Book)

The e-book options are many, and all can be viewed at:

http://mscreant.eabarker.com

My website is also the place to find the most comprehensive list of reviews.

© 2018 E. A. Barker

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Author Truths for Beginners (Part 9)

And the winner is . . .

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NOT YOU!

Indie-authors cannot hang out with the cool kids.

Back in Part 7, I covered the book awards available to indie-authors, but there are other concerns about self-publishing which you should consider before investing in this game.

I was SO naïve going into this, I actually believed success would be about carefully edited quality words being packaged in a book worth keeping in a library. While all the these are important, the truth is self-publishing takes you out of the game. There are a number of mostly invisible barriers to keep pesky new authors out of the gated community of the mainstream publishing world.

They have carefully barricaded themselves in.

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They are fearful, so they created an uneven playing field to keep us out:

  • If you want to make any royalties at all, your self-published print-on-demand paperback or hardcover will be priced higher than similar offerings coming out of Ingram, even though you published with Ingram Spark. Being “a little pricey” is enough for many bookstores and libraries to look to lower cost books from better known traditionally published authors.
  • Many mainstream publications will not review indie releases.
  • Some mainstream publications will not review foreign releases.
  • Legitimate literary awards will not consider indie releases because they did not go through an editorial selection process.
  • Libraries tend to favor homegrown authors when selecting books and they often are influenced by opinions from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, or Booklist—most of which pay little attention to indie-releases.
  • If you publish using an AMAZONIAN COMPANY to produce your POD books, it is doubtful you will ever make a sale in a non-Amazonian brick and mortar bookstore. I begged two different neighborhood bookstores to order a friend’s book for me but they refused. They would rather pass on a sale than support the entity that is crushing them. The hostility level is that high.

Sad indeed.

© 2018 E. A. Barker

Who is E. A. Barker?

‘I am a just a boy…
Standing in front of a bookstore…
Asking them to love me.’

All kidding aside, I am an occasionally serious researcher who wrote a book about life with women, without having much of the needed foreknowledge of the book biz I shared with you here. Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond my control, I also did not have the working capital necessary to execute the most basic of marketing strategies like the ones outlined in this blog series. Now, I try to help others avoid the mistakes I made. My book echoes that goal as well.

Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers! is an entertaining non-fiction book chronicling everything we are not taught, but need to know.

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The large print 8×10 paperback and hardcover versions of Ms. Creant are available through bookstores and libraries around the globe from Ingram Spark.

ISBNs
978-1-77302-134-8 (Hardcover)
978-1-77302-132-4 (Paperback)
978-1-77302-133-1 (e Book)

The e-book options are many, and all can be viewed at:

http://mscreant.eabarker.com

My website is also the place to find the most comprehensive list of reviews.

Author Truths for Beginners (Part 8)

Welcome to BOOK MARKETING FOR BEGINNERS with E. A.

Where all your dreams can come true . . .

but probably won’t due to limited budgets or effort.

pexels-photo-459971.jpegRule 1:
Neither you nor your book is worthless.

I hope you are taking notes because you will be tested on this. There are a huge number of people who will tell you this, usually so they can make a buck from you. If you have to give your work away online, as SO many people claim, then maybe the online marketplace is not where we should be trying to sell our books. My hardcover goes for $39.99 and it continues to sell here and there with me doing next to nothing these days to encourage those sales. My big large-print paperback still pulls in $24.99. So, how is it that we must entertain 99¢ or even free e-books?

I have a theory.

pexels-photo-288477.jpegImagine the aforementioned rich publishing executive sitting in their corner office high atop one of the BIG 5 publishing houses. Both they and their stockholders are worried by the ever-increasing number of indie-author e-book offerings that are priced roughly 66% lower than what the BIG 5 would like to be selling their e-books for. Pictures begin to coalesce in their mind . . .

They must go.

There are too many of them to kill . . . unless we could get them all in one place . . . Nah, we’d never get away with it, and the hit-squad required would make the venture cost prohibitive.
What if we created sites to take a pile of money from indie-authors using our industry people? Then, what if our people were somehow able to convince them that making NO money from publishing was a step in the right direction for their careers?
If they were all disheartened and broke, would they quit?
“Jane, get in here. I need you to take a memo.”

pexels-photo-206527.jpegYou may want to sit down and be drunk, or high, or both for these next few facts . . . this from a guy whose book takes a tough stance on escapism. What a fracking hypocrite!

According to statistics:

  • The average book will sell less than 250 copies. As soon as mine hits 251, I’m outa-here. I will be able to hold my head high and be able to boastfully state: I was an above average success as an indie-author. Whoever I am bragging to does not need to know the truth of it.
  • Each year there are more than 600,000 new books published to help to bury yours.
  • Each year the aging segment of the populace that still buys and reads full-length books shrinks a little more. Even novellas are a bit long for some younger readers. Enter the novelette.

The wealthy retired baby-boomers won’t last forever so if you are going publish a meaningful book, you had better hurry.

pexels-photo-221164.jpeg“What about groups and events on social media sites?
Won’t they help us reach readers?”

I would be lying if I said no, but we must put a VALUE on each of those based on our time spent preparing as well as the time spent on the activity. It goes to optimizing your time and the most PROFITABLE use of your time. If you won’t work for under $10.00 per hour anywhere else, why would you on social media?

In marketing:
COST vs. RETURN = VALUE

  • COST: whether expressed as hours devoted or in dollars, quatloos, whatever.
  • RETURN: your royalties.
  • VALUE: a measure of effectiveness expressed in PROFITS after deducting costs.

Yes, you read that right.

Your investment in marketing is supposed to sell at least enough of a product at a high enough gross profit to cover costs. Crazy, right? Would you stay with a Real-estate Agent who keeps telling you to lower your asking price until it’s lower than what you paid for your house? Sadly, some people will listen to so-called experts, but you are an author, ergo you is smart.

“But isn’t marketing expensive?”

So is that designer coffee you are drinking.

For about what you spend in a year on designer coffee (or tea or smoothies) from specialty shops, (+/- $5000.00) you can have a pretty solid book marketing plan that will not only begin to pay for your coffees again, but could do much more. It will depend on your reviews once the book is off and running.

If you self-publish or are published by a small press, make sure you have a marketing budget, however small, to get things rolling. Be aware, you must commit to your marketing plan for up to one year after your release, depending on whether your reviews warrant continuing.

Author Truths for Beginners (Part 7)

You will need my revolutionary new Bullshit-o-Meter 5000!

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80% Off!
Save BIG!

Order before midnight tonight and I’ll also send you my HOW TO BECOME A RICH AUTHOR video with the same super deep discount, subtitled:

There Is One Born Every Minute & How to Fleece Them.

There are SO many snake-oil-selling salespeople hovering around and feeding on unsuspecting authors that it would be laughable were it not for the authors who get taken for thousands each year by charlatans with lawyers or marketing packages that yield nothing.

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Here is my List of Hungry Zombies Authors Should Avoid:

a) Social media campaigns run by third party promoters who promise your book will be seen by their 100,000 followers, twice per day, seven days a week . . . If by being seen they mean scrolled right over, then there is at least some truth in their claims. It would be interesting to see how many fake followers they have, but who has the time. My Bullshit-o-Meter 5000 is humming.

b) ANY and ALL so-called reviewers who ask for money.

c) ANY and ALL so-called reviewers who ONLY accept print books for review. Some demand multiple copies. You will pay for the books and shipping, only to “mysteriously” begin to see used versions of your book appear on your book’s Amazon page, eBay or craigslist. If reselling your book isn’t already bad enough, they don’t review it either. This group fracked me out of hundreds of dollars. Don’t let it happen to you no matter how legitimate they may appear. They are scammers, plain and simple.

d) ANY and ALL so-called Book Awards asking for money.

e) ANY and ALL so-called Book Awards who ONLY accept print books for review. Some demand multiple copies. You see where this is going. There are a few that will give you the award by refining the categories down until you are the only one left in it, but you will probably have to buy into multiple categories—each with its own entry fee—to be sure of becoming an Award-Winning Author.

stock-photo-gold-winners-trophy-with-golden-shiny-stars-721703176Legitimate and meaningful book award organizations have a nomination process which begins with your book being referred to them by a trusted party. You probably will not even know this has happened until

THEY CONTACT YOU.

Hell, if you send me fifty bucks, I’ll give you my exclusive and very prestigious sounding award (because it is in Latin) that will make you an

Insignes Literatura Winning Author

You don’t even have to send me your book, just the money. If you get nine of your author pals to send money as well, I will build a website to legitimize the whole thing to the casual observer.

f) The We Will Handle Everything for You Publicity / Marketing companies will usually do what they claim, as long as your checks keep clearing. Typically, you will find options to suit any wealthy person’s budget, ranging from a basic book launch for $500.00ish to the Hillary plan in the tens of thousands. So, if you have a foundation with your name on it, you are good to go, but no matter which plan you choose, your royalties will never cover the costs. Publicists are for those people who write books to create a secondary revenue stream in support of their primary occupations. The best examples these days are politicians, scientists and celebrities who wish to stay in, or return to, the limelight. These publicity companies are often promoters of trade shows. Do not exhibit your book in EXPOs if you will not be there to network. I rolled the dice on this expense for a $0.00 return. It’s the equivalent of putting your book on a shelf in the Library of Congress for five days; nobody knows you are even there.

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g) ANYBODY who is selling you on the DREAM instead of tangible proven services. Their pitch usually goes something like this: ‘It happened for E. L. James and J. K. Rowling . . . so it can happen for you.’ This one has been known to break the Bullshit-o-Meter 5000.
These examples are anomalies. Forget about them.

h) ANYBODY who is trying to tell you to give away your work for nothing or next to nothing. There are more and more sites popping up everyday promising us that if we pay a small membership fee, mark our books down to where we no longer receive a royalty, and play well with others on the site, we MIGHT get a bunch of new reviews which COULD cause an upswing in sales even after the promo-period ends. My Bullshit-o-Meter 5000 has smoke coming out of it.

If any readers are willing to show me how any of the above mentioned actually grossed more royalties than they cost in either time or quatloos, I will happily print a retraction.
There is no magical formula that will sell any book to every person for little or no money. Marketing is mostly about common sense, or at least it was until the Internet came along.

Author Truths for Beginners. (Part 3: The Luck of the Irish Edition.)

We make our own luck!

16 WAYS TO GET LUCKY as an indie or small press author!

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A real-world book marketing strategy:

Get ARC s to reviewers three months in advance of your PUBLIC release date. In some cases galleys are required. (Print copies.) This only requires planning, time and organization to send out free e-book review copies. On the other hand, shipping galleys is an expensive proposition at +/- $20.00 each shipped. Send review copies to ONLY A FEW big time literary critics. Most will not give you the time of day, but just one published positive review from these influencers can launch a career. Some reviewers will only look at books that are less than six months old. Keep in mind that at most you have one year to get a mainstream review. Invest no more than $200.00. Limit these to your top ten most influential prospects.

Have a box of author copies in your car at all times to sell to people who are impressed by the fact you are an author. Barflies are particularly easy marks when they say: That’s SO cool. Where are your books available? You immediately reply with: I’ll be right back. When you return with the book, they are trapped. Few will admit they had no intention of ever looking up your book, nor will they admit they haven’t been in a bookstore or read a book in years. Tell them you can save them the trip and a few bucks off the retail price, PLUS as an added bonus, they will have a signed author copy. This is known in sales circles as: A Lay Down Sale, because they just laid down and spread their legs without making you work for it. They always have the twenty bucks on them if you drink in respectable gin joints. Yes, real world marketing will require you to go outside where it’s people-y. You will have to invest about +/-$120.00 but I make twice my usual royalty selling books in this way.

At a minimum, you MUST HAVE these two promotional items printed with your book details, and kept in your car at all times: bookmarks for going to bookstores and libraries, and business cards for impressing women in bars. Please feel free to substitute out my sexual preference for your own. I do not wish to offend or be insensitive, it just comes naturally. This investment will be +/-$100.00.

If you require help with your social media launch event, budget for it. Barter if you can. Free signed hardcovers can often do the trick. +/- $40.00 shipped.

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Run a targeted e-mail campaign to introduce the book to influencers: media, bloggers, stores, book clubs etc. via a professional looking press release. At least 1 out of 10 e-mails should generate a sale or you are doing something wrong. Expect to lay out $50.00 to $100.00 for creative plus $2.00 / contact unless you DIY. A total investment of +/-$250.00 should do the trick.

Have a quality website to showcase your book, which also allows you to publish a weekly blog. I recommend WordPress as they have powerful SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools, and you can feed all your social media sites directly from there. Budget at least $500.00 for a well designed operational website WITHOUT CONTENT. If you cannot upload your own content without trashing the site, then you should double your website budget.

Your advertising budget is only one part of your overall book marketing budget.

Advertising campaigns are about REACH so we must not spend it all in one place. Plan to spend your ad budget as follows: 30% in the first 30 days after your public release event, 30% in the next 60 days, and the last 40% to be used equally throughout each of the nine remaining months of the year.

Welcome to the low cost and usually low yield world of digital advertising . . . or The CPC Jungle as I like to call it. (Cost Per Click)

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CAREFULLY TARGETED facebook boosted posts with VERY SMALL BUDGETS ATTACHED do let us reach our desired audience for a brief time.

Just as with facebook and their endlessly diminishing organic reach, Amazon hates authors too; but for the life of me I don’t know why. We certainly pay them enough. Maybe itz cause we’s smart. Amazon gets extremely weird when you do not publish, distribute, and use their POD (Print On Demand) division EXCLUSIVELY. It’s like they would rather have total control than extra revenues from “outsiders”. If you plan to be an “Amazon author”, I would recommend advertising there for a 30-day period to test the results—again with VERY SMALL BUDGETS ATTACHED. Ideally you will make this move once you have hit their magic number of twenty reviews or when you have climbed atop your CATEGORY; whichever comes first.

Tip: When bidding in an attempt to make your ad more visible, double the CPC bid Amazon suggests.

Evaluate the effectiveness of advertising with them after the 30-day period, or when your CPC budget has disappeared, as to whether or not the ad campaign can become self-sustaining based on your royalties earned.

Do the same on Ingram Spark ONLY IF you can afford it. They want more money than the other two, but they are about getting your paper books seen, and their distribution channels are vastly different than Amazon so your OVERALL REACH will be magnified.

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Once you have a good number of stellar reviews, run a second targeted e-mail campaign to influencers: media, bloggers, stores, book clubs, libraries etc. via a professional looking newsletter. Again, your return on investment should be at least 1 in 10. Try and get that from social media. Another +/-$250.00.

Consider a book signing in your favorite local bookstore only if the store’s management and staff are enthusiastic. Some larger stores may have NYT best-selling authors in their store every week, so they may not give a rat’s ass about you—pick your spots. This will require an easel and signage from a print shop. +/-$200.00

Libraries often have book clubs that love a meet-and-greet with any author. They are more easily impressed than the bookstore crowd. If you don’t frack things up too badly, they will often buy your book for the club to read. That’s like a dozen books sold for an enjoyable 15-30 minutes of your time autographing books. The car might need gas. +/-$25.00

Attend local book fairs, and if you think you have earned a vacation and wish to travel, tie your vacation to a major book convention somewhere on the planet. Vegas baby! NO, this does not come out of your marketing budget despite what you tell the taxman.

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Bookstores are not the only option, local “artsy” shops, card shops, and the café where that barista works who smiles a little too much, are great places to sell books—no consignment bullshit either. Just walk out with a check and e-mail them the invoice; and don’t forget your date with the barista. +/- $100.00

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Goodreads could potentially be a great place to spend some advertising quatloos, and to engage with readers. My e-mail notifications tell me I have a bunch of followers there even though I never visit. In essence, it is an online book club filled with genuine readers. The only downside I can see is, it’s part of the Amazonian takeover of the world, and as a result you will have another CPC to manage. When the day comes when I finally lose it completely on facebook, I will go there. I find myself working on that final post in my head more and more these days.

How to discover what your advertising budget looks like:

We take our total book production budget of $5000.000 and subtract all the known production costs totaling $1825.00 which we will round up to $2000.00. This leaves a total marketing budget of $3000.00 less the previously discussed fixed marketing and promotional costs totalling +/-$2000.00. This leaves a total ad budget of $1000.00 to be allocated as follows to create an advertising schedule which is based on the 30-30-40% allocation of funds discussed earlier.

Month 1: facebook $300.00 = $75.00 / week budget, boosting a single post each Friday at noon EST.

Month 2: amazon $150.00 = $37.50 / week budget, starting each Thursday morning.

Month 3: Goodreads $150.00 = $37.50 / week budget, starting each Friday morning.

Month 4: Ingram Spark: $150.00 max.

Months 5-12: $250.00 / spent where your gut tells you. I sold more books by sponsoring one charity event than all the sales created by three years on social media.

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Fundamental Rules of book marketing:

Rule 1:
ALL ADVERTISING STOPS when your average book rating dips below four stars. There is no saving it.

Rule 2:
Any skipped step in the above plan might have been the one that REACHED a major influencer. Do not close doors leading to opportunities!

Rule 3:
In the first four months after release, YOU MUST STICK TO THE PLAN. Just because you had some apparent success last month on one site, does not mean you abandon the strategy.

Rule 4:
A great book never stops being great. It only fades from view through a lack of commitment from the author or publisher.