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Thursday, January 29 2015 @ 06:21 AM CST

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Adventures in Self-Publishing: Launching a Promotional Campaign

Adventures in Self-Publishing

 Telstar Logistics / LOC Precision V2.0 launch, courtesy of Steve Jurvetson/Wikimedia Commons.   Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.According to proponents of the Brave New World of self-publishing, there’s never been a better time to write a book.  They seem to have caught a few ears with that claim, since in 2012, 391,000 new titles – an incredible number - were self-published in the U.S. alone – up an even more incredible 59% from just the year before. For the lucky few, that approach has succeeded brilliantly

But what about the rest of those authors? The same proponents point out that social media can turn a title into an overnight sensation, and that a self-published author has exactly the same access to social media channels as do published authors. That’s perfectly true. But needless to say, not every author is able to ring the social media bell, or it wouldn’t remain true that the average self-published author still sells only a few dozen books. So what’s the secret? Is it mostly luck, or should any self-published author of a decently written book, well advised and diligent in his or her approach, be able to find an audience?

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One Step Closer to the Open eBook Tipping Point: O’Reilly Joins the EPUB 3.0 Ecosystem

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

Anyone who reads eBooks is aware that a number of content vendors are using proprietary platforms in an effort to lock you into their content libraries: most obviously, Amazon, with its Kindle line, Barnes & Noble with its Nook devices, and Apple with its iPads and iPhones. But there are many non-content vendors that would love to sell you an eReader as well, such as Kobo, and Pocketbook, not to mention the smartphone vendors that would be happy to have you use their devices as eReaders, too.

But can you? Well, as you’re probably also aware, that depends. For example, in addition to selling content that will play only on their devices, Amazon and Apple also produce versions of their content that can be viewed on the readers of their competitors as well.

All of this not only makes it confusing and limiting for eBook buyers, but also for content publishers large (like Random House) and small (like technical title boutique publisher O’Reilly), that have seen their traditional distribution models not only upended by the eBook revolution, but complicated by the proprietary antics of the Amazons of the world.

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eBooks Sales Surpass Print Sales for Adult Fiction

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

From time to time I Google my way around a few search terms looking for useful information on one or another self-publishing topic. One of those topics, of course, is promotion.

Some time back, I ran across Smith Publicity, a book promotional firm that has been around for awhile. Smith puts out a monthly newsletter they call “Power Book Publicity Tips” which I’ve now been receiving for about six months. It’s short, relevant, and I usually find what I read there to be useful.

Here’s an excerpt from the February update, which contains a data nugget that I expected would arrive some day, but not as soon as it has (after all, it was only a few years ago that we’d never heard of something called a ‘Kindle,’ the device that launched the armada):

[Continues at Tales of Adversego]

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Adventures in Self-Publishing: Is Paying for Book Promotion Worth it?

Adventures in Self-Publishing

 Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

One of the more difficult issues the author of a self-published book faces is whether to pay others to help promote their book. Broadly speaking, such services fall into three categories: creating sales materials (postcards, posters, press releases), reaching out to influencers (reviewers, bloggers and interviewers) and direct selling (via mailings, social media and advertising). Most print on demand (POD) publishers offer at least the first, some provide the second, and a few may provide some of the third.

Assistance with sales collateral such as postcards, posters and the like makes sense, if you actually intend to use them. But what of the other services, which tend to be very expensive? Are they worth it or not?

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My New Author Blog: "Tales of Adversego"

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Well, I finally took the plunge. Every book marketing guide you'll find tells you that you have, have, HAVE to build a Web site to support your book. I've resisted doing so for a year now, because I'm not sure that I really see the point. After all, an Amazon page can carry all of the basic information and reviews, and if you do a good job adding content to that resource, what else does a reader need? And exactly how, by the way, is a reader likely to ever find your site, anyway, since the Amazon, B&N and other pages for your book will always out-rank it?

The obvious answer is that you have to continue to provide enough content at your book site to provide an incentive for people to keep visiting it. And that content has to be of sufficient value that they'll want to see the latest things you have to say. Having launched this site, I know how much work that can be - and I had the advantage of addressing a narrow, rather arcane topic, which made it easier to gain some visibility.

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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.