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Wednesday, April 16 2014 @ 08:24 AM CDT

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Smashwords' Big Year (and what it means for authors)

Adventures in Self-Publishing

If you haven't checked in on eBook publisher Smashwords (SW) lately, you're in for a surprise. The little business that Mark Coker started five years ago is now the biggest publisher of eBooks around. And you don't have to take his word for it - a Bowker press release in October reached the same conclusion.

So how big is big? According to a year-end blog entry by Coker, big is big, not just in numbers of titles, but in year over year growth. This year, the Smashwords author count jumped from 34,000 to 58,600, and the titles in the SW catalog leaped from 92,000 to 190,600. Eye-popping numbers like that would be the envy of any venture capitalist, but Coker has pulled this off without dipping into that well at all. Amazingly enough, he's also done it with only 19 employees (up from 13 at the end of last year, and only 3 in 2010).

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(The Return of) Adventures in Self-Publishing

Adventures in Self-Publishing


Bust of Janus/Vatican - Courtesy of Longbow4u and the Wikimedia Commons2012 has marked another memorable year in the transformation of the book publishing industry. The Federal Trade Commission forced Apple and all but one of the involved major publishers to abandon their eBook pricing. The Fifty Shades of Gray brand expanded to become (of course) a trilogy, and that franchise has now sold more paperback copies faster than any book to date – over 65 million copies in 37 countries. And the last person on earth that had not yet authored a self-published book announced the release of “My Little Ponies and Me – an inspiring tale of betrayal, forgiveness and ultimate redemption.”

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Adventures in Self-Publishing: The Electric Kool-Aid Book Promotion Test

Adventures in Self-Publishing

 

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?
 
It’s been awhile since I last provided an update on my adventures in book self-publishing, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been busy. Quite the contrary – I’ve been as busy as ever. That said, the questions for me are the same as for you: where exactly have I been, and where should I go next?
 
The reason for such uncertainty is this: what I’ve found is that trying to self-promote a book is the ultimate exercise in pushing a string: no matter how much effort you put into it, your ability to achieve the desired result is extremely slight. Matter of fact, your ability to do more is, in all likelihood, close to nil.
 
But what the hey. One reason I started this site, this blog, and my law firm, was to see how things work, and what I could achieve. This has been especially interesting in the case of my Internet-based efforts, since the Webscape continues to evolve rapidly, and there’s no substitute for trying things out yourself and seeing what works best.
 
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Adventures in Self-Publishing: Google Pulls the Plug on its Indie Bookstore Reseller Program

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

In a blow to diversity and independence in book publishing and distribution, Google announced yesterday that it will discontinue its partnering portal with independent bookstores next January (reproduced in full at the end of this blog entry). Despite the fact that the program was only six months old and had already signed up 16 reseller partners around the world, representing thousands of bookstores, Google concluded that the reseller program “had not gained the traction that we hoped it would.” 

The impetus for the unusually rapid decision may presumably be found in Google’s announcement on Tuesday that it will combine all of its currently separate, media-specific storefronts (e.g., books, apps, etc.) into the single iTunes-like outlet it calls Google Play.
 
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Adventures in Self-Publishing, Chap. 13: The Future of Writing and Publishing

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

Wiki Wine Bottle, courtesy Nevit Dilmen/Wikimedia CommonsAbout two weeks ago I interrupted my current cybersecurity thriller series to post an essay I titled Intermission: The High Cost of Free. It could as easily have been posted as part of this series, but I wanted to make a point to the readers of that series. If you’re planning on self-publishing a book and haven’t read that piece yet, I believe that it would be worth your while to do so.

That post generated some interesting responses, some appearing as public comments and others arriving by email.  Two struck me as being particularly relevant to this series, because they suggest the goal posts between which the future of writing and publishing is likely to lie.

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Adventures in Self-Publishing, Chap. 12: What I Learned Along the Way

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

This series highlights aspects of my experience self-publishing The Alexandria Project.   If you'd like to read the book this series is based on, you can read the first three chapters for free here (just click on the cover of the book). And you can read a new chapter of its sequel every Monday here. 

Greek coin with image of Janus, Courtesy Wikimedia CommonsWe’ve now gone through all the steps of self-publishing a book, so this week is summing up time: I’ll try and pull together the most important things I learned along the way, and especially those that I wished I’d known before I started. I hope to revise, expand and then self-publish this series at some point, just for the experience of doing a book entirely on my own, without a POD publisher. If so, you can expect to see more chapters pop up here from time to time as I work my way through that process.
 
So where to begin? Might as well go straight to the bottom line - or lines, in this case.

 

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Adventures in Self-Publishing, Chap. 11: How to Promote your Book (Part II)

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

This series highlights aspects of my experience self-publishing The Alexandria Project.   If you'd like to read the book this series is based on, you can read the first three chapters for free here (just click on the cover of the book). And you can read a new chapter of its sequel every Monday here. 

Social Media Marketing, courtesy of Paola Peralta/Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 UnportedLast week we talked about the concepts and goals behind launching a book promotion campaign.  This week, we’ll get down in the weeds, and talk about the specific tactics you can use to spread the word.
 
The first thing to decide is whether you want to target brick and mortar, as well as on-line, channels of distribution. The reason is that while activities that target real stores will also help with your online sales, they tend to be much more time consuming, and usually require travel as well. Persuading individual book stores to carry your book also involves one-on-one selling (to the store owner or manager), while the pay off in sales per book store beyond your home town will likely be modest. The return on investment marketing directly to book stores is therefore low.

 

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Adventures in Self-Publishing, Chap. 10: How to Promote your Book (Part I)

Adventures in Self-Publishing

This series highlights aspects of my experience self-publishing The Alexandria Project.   If you'd like to read the book this series is based on, you can read the first three chapters for free here (just click on the cover of the book). And you can read a new chapter of its sequel every Monday here. 

Might as well come right out and say it. This is where the going gets tough. 

Up until now, everything about self-publishing has been pretty much under your control – what your book will be about, what it will look like, and how you’ll get it to market. But now, like Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, it’s time to learn that you can’t rely on the kindness of strangers. And that only in an Iowa imagined by Hollywood, if you build it, they will come.

So let’s talk about how you’ll go about getting those hard-hearted strangers to buy your book (or even download it for free, if that’s your choice), now that it’s up there for all to see at Amazon.
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Adventures in Self-Publishing, Chap. 9: How to Price your Book – and Does it Matter?

Adventures in Self-Publishing

This series highlights aspects of my experience self-publishing The Alexandria Project.   If you'd like to read the book this series is based on, you can read the first three chapters for free here (just click on the cover of the book). And you can read a new chapter of its sequel every Monday here.

Courtesy of Julien Jorge/Wikimedia Commons - GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or laterThis week we’ll talk about how to come up with the “right” price for your book in each of the formats in which you plan to make it available (eBook, soft, and/or hardcover).  By “right” price, I mean a price that will make more, rather than fewer, people actually buy your book. My challenge will be to convince you that the title you see above makes sense.

But first, let’s cover the basics – how the pricing process works, and the factors that may put a floor under your book price.

 

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Adventures in Self-Publishing, Chap. 8: Designing the Interior of your Book

Adventures in Self-Publishing

 This series highlights aspects of my experience self-publishing The Alexandria Project.   If you'd like to read the book this series is based on, you can read the first three chapters for free here (just click on the cover of the book). And you can read a new chapter of its sequel every Monday here.

Courtesy of Aza Toth at the Wikemedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 UnportedLast week we talked about how to design covers for books - eBooks, soft cover books and hard cover books. If you've written a book, or are thinking of writing one, odds are good that you’ve already spent some time thinking (or worrying) about what the covers of your book should look like. But how about the interior of your magnum opus? Odds are also good that this isn't something that has engaged you yet at all. If so, that’s a shame, because how well the interior of your book is designed will have a major impact on what people think of your work when they read it. If it looks professional, you'll look professional. But if it looks like your local library newsletter, then readers aren't likely to take your work seriously, because it will look so, well, "self published."