Using multi-channels to sell your ebooks

Anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time will know that I’m a keen advocate of the multi-channel approach when it comes to selling books as an indie author. Had I come into the publishing industry a few months earlier, say around December 2011, then Amazon’s Select program may have well stirred enough interest to get me to sign up. As it is, I published Inside Evil in March 2012, and after reading several reports that the advantages of Select were already waning, decided against becoming exclusive. It seemed pretty obvious to me; I didn’t want to put all of my eggs in one basket.

Select continues to draw a large number of people in, and I’m sure that they’re doing very well out of it. However, distributing with Smashwords and Kobo Writing Life has never been easier. I hear a lot of people saying that they have issues with Smashwords, but in all honesty, I can hand on heart say that I’ve had no problems. I’ve gone through their Meatgrinder without ending up with a completely ruined eBook file, I’ve got into their Premium catalogue with no worries, and I’ve been distributed fairly fast. B&N does take a while to get going, but I don’t necessarily think that this is Smashwords’ fault because CRYO landed in the iBookstore just days after being distributed.

Why use the multichannel approach?

Readers

Readers want flexibility, and whilst the Kindle is still a huge eReader, an increasing number of people have other devices. I read everything on my iPhone and I have fans of my work who read on the Nook and Sony devices. Had I started on Select, none of these readers would have got to sample my work whilst the exclusivity contract was in place. And, though I’ve thought about putting subsequent work into Select, it ultimately means that any readerbase I’ve already gathered would be penalised for not choosing Amazon as their number one ebook provider.

Maximum Exposure

There’s no denying it; Amazon is a huge marketplace and has millions of readers awaiting your novel. But this can have its downsides too. It will take more sales to get into Amazon’s Top 100 lists than it might on Apple or Kobo, and you’ll fall out of those lists more quickly too. Being on Amazon alone also stymies the places you can promote, and you’ll be stuck to advertising methods that only point directly back to Amazon. In addition, the Select contract means that you can provide excerpts of no more than 10% (i.e. the sample that Amazon offers) and links must direct back to them. However, by choosing to use a multi-channel approach, the world and all the eReaders really are your oyster.

– Limiting Risk

Placing all your work in one place is risky. What happens if Amazon suddenly decides to stop promoting indie authors? They make a deal with the Big Six and, almost overnight, all those top ranking indie books disappear way down the lists because of changed algorithms? This is not a good thing, and it’s made worse if your work is only available on Amazon. Of course, creating a newsletter is the best option if you want to reach readers regardless of where they are and whatever happens to the market. However, by having your work in as many places as possible,  you can limit the risk of a big hit due to one market changing or closing.

I love Amazon, and they do make it very easy for us indie authors to sell our books. But I also love the multi-channel approach, and I’d be severely stunted if my readers suddenly couldn’t download on iBooks or the Nook.  CRYO: Rise of the Immortals has now made it to Apple, just days after it was uploaded to Smashwords, and you can find it for both US and UK versions. Having it in multiple places has helped its launch and got the book off to a good start. As for your advertising, which do you prefer? Amazon Select or multi-channelling?

LibraryThing Giveaway Promotion

As some people will know, early in June I offered a LibraryThing giveaway, providing 50 copies of Inside Evil to people on LibraryThing in return for reviews. I had many hopes, not to increase sales, but to get reviews. Here are the results.

It can safely be said, that the LibraryThing giveaway was a bit of failure. At the very least, it failed to live up to expectations. Of the 50 books that I offered, 39 people downloaded the novel from Smashwords which I would think is a pretty good result. However, over the course of the past month, I’ve only had ONE review and around FOUR Goodreads adds. It’s a little disappointing, as I hoped that a ratio of at least 10% would give me a review, but alas, so far, the one sole review is all I’ve had. Still, this was a 4star one so it’s not a complete loss and I was ecstatic to see that the reader posted on LibraryThing, Amazon and Smashwords.

Of course, when you’re running a LibraryThing giveaway, it’s important to remember that the types of people bidding in these contests are the type of readers who may well have a substantial backlist of books to read. After one month, I’ve had one review. However, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be more to come in the future as individuals finally get around to giving Inside Evil a go.

Would I use LibraryThing’s giveaway again?

At the end of the day, it’s a great giveaway tool and so, yes, I would use it again. I plan to offer 50 copies of Tower of Souls to readers about a month before the release. This should give people the chance to read the book and make a few reviews so that when it goes live on Amazon and Smashwords, there is already some feedback available. Obviously, it’s a sequel, so people winning the book may even buy Inside Evil first so that they’re caught up on the story.

If you’re thinking of using a LibraryThing giveaway, then don’t expect great instant results. Be happy for the reviews that you do get in, and utilise it as a way to get your work read and find a few new fans and followers.

The first review

Today has been a brilliant day. I found three neglected venus fly trap plants in my local garden centre for 10p each (yes, only TEN PENCE). They’ve got new shoots coming up, and all they need is some sunlight and rain water to start thriving again. Oh. And I got my first Amazon review as well. A five star one.

I haven’t been rushing out to find reviews from people, and though I’ve heard that this obviously helps sales, I like the organic process of gaining write-ups. Asking for a review and getting five stars is one thing. Having a random reader buy your book for $2.99 and love it enough to come back to Amazon and leave a FIVE star review,  is quite another.

A few days ago a Goodreads member gave me three stars. I was a little downhearted, especially, as from looking at her ratings, she either reads from the moment she wakes or simply goes through awarding book ratings by their covers and descriptions. I mean, can anyone seriously read four or five books A DAY? She wasn’t just having a sudden blitz either as looking through her history, she seems to do this every day! Still, a three star rating was a great ‘I like this book‘ rating, which in itself is very good. Followed the next day by a five star review. Wowzers. ‘Well written‘, ‘believable characters‘, and ‘great descriptions‘ were all highlighted. I’m in awe. I’m encouraged. I’m certain that this little review was totally worth it.

To think that in the current economy, a reader chose to pay $2.99 by buying a book from an unknown author with only a single title in their catalogue is great. To think that the unknown author was me, that someone liked my book, enough to go onto Amazon, write a review and give me five stars – well, that’s just a feeling that’s quite indescribable.

Library Thing – Giveaway Promotion

There are many resources that you can use when it comes to advertising a book. I like to take the passive marketing approach, joining in with discussions posted on communities and groups such as Kindle Boards (KB) and Goodreads and getting clicks from signatures, rather than aggressively posting about my work. KB really is a must if you’re a self published author, and you’ll find all manner of help in the Writer’s Cafe forum. Meanwhile, I am slowly getting to grips with Goodreads, and after my post the other day, I’ve noted that Inside Evil is now on several people’s ‘to be read’ lists. I haven’t actively advertised at all. I’ve simply engaged with readers and writers in the forum and they’ve decided to add my book.

I’ve been looking for a way to offer a limited number of freebies of late because, of course, getting people to read your book must be your main aim. Having opted out of KDP Select, there’s no way I can offer freebies of my book on Amazon other than changing the actual book price to zero. However, someone on KB talked about Library Thing and the opportunity for no-cost free promotions and so I decided to get involved.

I’d taken a look at Library Thing once before, when I initially published and was looking for advertising options. However, I hadn’t realised that they offered a wonderful give-away option. It’s superbly easy to navigate and as long as you’re not offering your title for free anywhere else, you can sign up a certain number of copies to be offered to members. I’ve set a one month deadline and 50 copies, and on June 5th, Library Thing will email me a list of people who have requested my free book in turn for a review, along with their email address so that I can send out the correct files.

I only set this up a few hours ago, and I already have one request, so it seems like it could be a great way to get a book out there, especially if you’re a new writer. I can only speculate as to whether reviews will come out of this promotion, but I think Library Thing could be a good resource for building fans and spreading the word.

Free ISBN’s back at Smashwords

Let’s face it, I came into self publishing with a blindfold on. I really didn’t know what to expect, and the question of getting an ISBN hadn’t even crossed my mind. Then, questions emerged…did I need an ISBN for an ebook? Were they even available? Wasn’t it only printed books that required ISBN’s? What was even the point of having one?

I looked on Amazon – no ISBN needed there, just your unique ASIN code which can be used on Goodreads in place of an ISBN. Result. I looked on Smashwords – ISBN needed for Sony, Apple and Kobo. Oh dear.

However, getting an ISBN is not as scary as it sounds, at all. There’s no lengthy paperwork to fill out and, even better, there’s no cost at all. That’s if you use Smashwords. Whilst you may opt to buy an ISBN, Smashwords regularly gets in a new batch of ISBN’s for you to utilise. Simply head to your ISBN Manager, click the ‘Actions’ tab to go to the purchase page and choose the ‘Free ISBN’ option. Click accept and hey presto, ISBN assigned. There’s no legal bearing over assigning a free ISBN from Smashwords and you’ll retain the rights to you work.

They’ve just got in a fresh batch of 50,000, so head there and assign your ISBN now so that you can start shipping ebooks to Apple, Kobo and Sony pronto.