Tuesday, 17 June 2014

KDP Select Promo and Imitators (It was bound to happen sooner or later!)

It's been nearly a year since my last post. Truth is, I haven't been doing much to promote my work these days (although there will be a KDP select promo for Text Me, Guido today till Saturday). I've been focussing my efforts on writing two novels that I plan to have published through traditional means. Why have I given up on self-publishing? I guess I will save that explanation for another post. I just wanted to comment on something I noticed recently.

Here's a book that was published on May 30, 2014: http://www.amazon.com/Text-Me-Love-Eli-Shulga-ebook/dp/B00KOWOMOE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1402984382&sr=1-1&keywords=text+me+love

Sound familiar? Even the cover page is the same concept as Text Me, Guido. Oh well, I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. I wish Eli Shulga the best of luck with his book, and maybe he will have more luck than I've had.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Watch for Pirated Versions of your Book

I first published Text Me, Guido through the KDP Select program last July, and as early as September (after a promo) I started noticing a pirated version of the book appearing on the web.

At first I was flattered. Someone thought my book was worth pirating! But after some thought, I became angry. It's one thing to pirate a copy of J.K. Rowling's latest book (she's a billionaire, I'm sure she can handle it), but little old me? My books are priced at $0.99 and I barely make peanuts!

What's more, the pirates converted it to other formats like epub and nook. I downloaded a few copies just to see how it functioned, and to my horror, it was awful: poorly formatted and not at all indicative of the quality of a legit copy.

The easiest way to find out if your book is being pirated is to google the title. Pirate websites will show up near the top. The biggest offenders are sites like pdfbook.co.ke and ebookee.org. The good news is, most of these pirate sites have a copyright policy. You can notify them of your copyright ownership, and they will remove the links. However, when notifying these sites of a copyright violation, you need to use very specific wording, or your inquiry will be ignored. Here's what I had to write before anyone started listening to me:

Title: Text Me, Guido
Author: Adrian Staccato
Link: (Direct link to pirated book)

I am the legal copyright owner of the novel 'Text Me, Guido' by Adrian Staccato. I have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by me (the copyright owner) or the law.  The information in this notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed. Please remove this link immediately.

Please feel free to contact me if necessary,

Address and contact number

You need to be vigilant about this. Sometimes, they won't take down the links, even if they said they would, and other times they'll just ignore your inquiry. I've had to email a few sites more than once before they actually followed through and removed the links.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Helpful Site for Promoting your Kindle Select Free Days!

If you're planning a Kindle Select Promo any time soon, you might want to check out this great website I've recently discovered. It's been around for a while, so you may already be familiar with it, in which case, feel free to ignore this post.

It's called ebookbooster.com. Don't be turned off when you see dollar signs on the page; they offer to submit information about your ebook promo to 45+ sites for $40, but this is only for the lazy amongst us. You can do it yourself manually (and for free) by using the list of websites they provide in the left sidebar. All the sites are listed (45+) and as an added bonus, they link you directly to the book submission page, so you don't have to waste any time navigating through each site.

Very helpful indeed!

Monday, 15 April 2013

How To Publish a Paperback Using Createspace

With the e-book market booming, many self-publishers are inevitably faced with the question of whether or not to invest in a paperback.

If you're new to the publishing game, it's understandable why you might be apprehensive: it's far more likely that readers will pay for your $0.99 e-book compared to your $9.50 paperback, especially if you've yet to establish yourself.

However, there are many good reasons to have a paperback available, even if they might not sell as well as your e-books. Here are a few:

- 80% of all books sold are paperbacks.

- Readers like deals. If they see you have a $9.50 paperback available and a $0.99 e-book, they might be more inclined to buy your e-book based on that huge discount.

- They're cheaper than you think.

- They're EASY to produce, so you have no excuse!

This past February I took the plunge and published my first paperback, and Createspace made it so easy and streamlined that I cannot recommend it enough!

This post will go through the basic process of using Createspace to publish your own paperback.

Let's get to it, shall we?

1) First, go to the Createspace website and register an account. It's as easy as it sounds.

2) Once you've made an account and logged in, Createspace will ask you what you want to publish, select book, and fill in the title information. This part is really straight forward, so I won't go into detail. Just follow the instructions.

3) Next, you'll be asked about an ISBN:

I selected the Free Createspace Assigned ISBN. As the name implies, it's free, and Createspace assigns it for you, so it doesn't involve any work on your end. HOWEVER, there is a catch: this ISBN is only valid through Amazon and Createspace channels. That means if you wish to sell your paperback elsewhere (in stores, Barnes & Noble, etc.) you will need to purchase your own ISBN and select the second option.

4) Next, you'll be asked to format the interior of your book:

Select Black & White (unless your book requires color, in which case, it will be more expensive to produce).

For Page Color, I selected White. Some people prefer Cream, but this is a more expensive option, and I really don't think it's worth it, in my opinion.

Next, choose a trim size. I selected the default 6" X 9". Createspace recommends this size as it is the most popular, but by all means, select whatever size you prefer. Next, click to download a Word Template. I recommend downloading a formatted template and replacing all the words with your book's text.  Keep the text and formatting exactly as is to avoid any possible formatting issues when it comes time to proofread your book. That means keeping the font at Garamond 11. This worked perfectly for me and when I ordered the proof, no changes were required.

Once you've placed all your text into the formatted file, and re-read it a healthy number of times, upload it.

5) The only tricky part of this whole process is designing your cover. Createspace provides three options: 1) Build your cover using the Cover Creator, 2) Professional Cover Design, and 3) Upload a Print-Ready PDF Cover. Avoid Option 2), since Createspace charges the ridiculous fee of $399, and, assuming you've already published an e-book, you probably already have a cover designed.

Option 3) is more complicated than it sounds because it requires you to not only have your cover in PDF format, but to also format the spine and back cover, and these require exact measurements. I chose Option 1) which is by far the easiest method (if you follow these instructions). Launch the Cover Creator and you'll be provided with a bunch of possible templates:

Go to page 5 of 5 and select "The Spruce 6 X 9 Spineless". This template makes things easy because all you need to do is upload your cover image and input the back cover text (If you want your back cover to have an image as well, then select "The Palm 6 X 9 Spineless" or "The Pine 6 X 9 Spineless"  on page 4 of 5).

Keep in mind that your cover image should have a size of 6.25" X 9.5" and that no text should appear within 0.5" of the outer edges. The resolution should be at least 300 DPI. If you need to tweak your cover image to meet these configurations, I recommend using an image editor such as GIMP.

6) Once your cover is ready, all that's left to do is Complete Setup. Here, you can review everything you've submitted and confirm its quality. Once confirmed, Createspace will get back to you within a day to let you know your proof is ready to order. But before you order your proof, go over your book one more time with the virtual previewer. If everything is perfect, go ahead and order. If you've followed these instructions to a tee, this should be the only stage in which you are required to pay a fee. But don't worry, it's very cheap. In my case, it only came to $11.63, and it would have been even cheaper had I not required shipping to Canada.

7) Once you receive your proof in the mail, go over it with a fine tooth comb. If everything is satisfactory, approve your book for distribution. Within 5-7 business days, your book will be available on the Amazon website. As long as the title is the same as the original e-book title, it should appear for sale on the same page as your e-book.

It's really that simple, folks!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Facebook Ads: Do They Work?

The short answer: No. They don't. And although this sentiment has been echoed by authors everywhere (a quick google search can attest to that), I was under the naive (and overly optimistic) impression that I could do better. That, somehow, despite the warnings from authors far wiser than myself, I could accomplish what they couldn't: I could make facebook ads work. And by all means, if you're as stubborn as I am, give it a shot. But believe me when I tell you, they are an exercise in futility.

One of the "advantages" of facebook ads is that you can target a specific group of people who may be part of your book's intended demographic. For example, in my case, I chose to target individuals who live in Canada and the US, who are 30 years old or younger, and who "like" Jersey Shore. I set my budget at $50 a day and paid $0.54 per click.

Have a look at my stats (click to enlarge):

68,280 unique individuals saw the ad an average of 6.5 times each. 114 people clicked on the ad on the day I had it running. Unfortunately, this only yielded a grand total of 1 sale, and it wasn't even for the book I was advertising, but my short story, so I can't say for certain if that sale was the result of my ad campaign.

You may be wondering why I paid $51.23 if my daily budget was $50. Well, it caught me by surprise as well. I was under the impression that facebook considers a "day" to be 24 hours since the ad first started running. I was wrong. For facebook, a day ends at midnight, regardless of when you started your campaign. For example, if you set your daily budget to $50 and start your campaign at 11 PM, that budget only applies for the one hour until midnight, and then resets to zero for the next "day". Luckily I caught on and stopped the campaign before they could rob me of another $50.

Don't waste your money.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Goodreads Giveaways: Do They Work?

Goodreads Giveaways are one option for authors looking to promote their work. They're free, and provide exposure to potentially millions of Goodreads visitors. All you need is a print edition of your book (ebooks are not allowed).

Given that I recently released a paperback of Text Me, Guido, I decided to give it a shot.

Make sure that if you decide to run one, you schedule it a few days in advance since they can take up to 3 days to be approved. I scheduled mine a week in advance for Feb. 18-Feb. 20 (little did I know that when Goodreads says the giveaway will end on Feb. 20th at 12:00 AM, they mean the start of the day on Feb. 20th...so my giveaway ended up being only two days long).

In those 2 days, 379 people entered the giveaway, and approximately 175 people added the book to their "to be read" list. Whether these people will actually end up buying the book remains to be seen.

Did it generate any actual sales? Not really. During the giveaway I had 1 sale, and 2 sales soon after it ended (plus an additional 2 sales of my short story Fifty Shades of Azzurri). So I didn't exactly light the world on fire. I did, however, receive a 5-star review on Amazon shortly after the giveaway ended (but I can't say for certain this review came from someone who bought my book because of the giveaway).

The moral of the story? If you're goal is to increase the number of readers who have your book on their "to be read" list, then giveaways work wonders, but don't expect your sales to take off. I acknowledge that 2 days is a pretty short period, so you might have more success if you increase the length of the giveaway (something I plan on trying in the future).

Monday, 18 February 2013

Goodreads Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of Text Me, Guido in paperback, I am giving away one autographed copy on Goodreads. The Giveaway is from Feb. 18th (today) to Feb. 20th. Please ENTER!

I will be writing an update to this post in the future, where I will discuss the effectiveness of the Giveaway. Also, look forward to a post on how to use Createspace, and another on the utility of Facebook advertisements (here's a hint: they're not very useful).

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Text Me, Guido by Adrian Staccato

Text Me, Guido

by Adrian Staccato

Giveaway ends February 20, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win