Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Is There Gold in Them There Hills Part IV

This is the last in a series of four posts about how to succeed in independent publishing on Kindle. 

So, have I determined if there really is gold in the Kindle store world? Yes, I believe it's still there, but  a lot like the San Francisco gold rush days, it's not laying on the ground anymore waiting for people to scoop it up. The indie publishing world is now bigger than Kindle. The only reason it had ever shrunk, though, was because of the KDP lure that tied authors to publishing exclusively with Amazon.

Personally I don't believe authors can afford to put all their eggs in one basket, no matter how much gold may still be down that glittering mine. There are other venues for selling your books, and the question now becomes, can you be a successful independently published author?

I believe you can. But it's no longer a matter of just throwing together a book, slapping it up on Amazon and waiting for the checks to come in. Fact is, I'm not sure it was that easy anyway. The famous moneymaking writers who were spotlighted for having earned mouth-watering returns actually worked their butts off.
Keep the faith It's out there.

I actually think those of us coming behind will find it easier to earn a substantially adequate income because the pioneers have shown us what works and what doesn't.

What works is what has always worked in book selling . You have to put it out there, you have to tell people about it, you have to ask people to tell people about it, you have to ask them to buy. And most important, and so often said it sounds clichéd, you must write good books and lots of them.

What doesn't work is trying to game the system, tweaking numbers, getting bogus reviews, putting shoddy writing up to increase the number of titles for sale.

Right now, I'm becoming clearer every that all of this is about the writing. No matter the angle I look from, I can see that it's the writing that enriches me. Coming up with a new idea, tweaking it so it becomes a story that works, writing it page by page, meanwhile staying in touch with present and potential readers through the various social media. Those are the activities that make me happy and energized.

That's why I'm moving most of my books back to Barnes and Nobel, Smashwords, I-Tunes, Sony stores and the various library outlets out there. I may even sell them right off my own website. I'm in it for the long haul. I'm not here to get rich. I'm here to generate an income that frees me to have and do the things I need to maintain the peace of mind to write my books. If you're reading this, it's my guess you understand how outside distractions make it very hard to write the good book you need to succeed.

If you stayed with me this long, I'm going to give you a few more things that you need to be successfully indie published. We finished off last month with me extolling the virtues of Twitter. Hopefully, you've already signed up for the program and installed HootSuite to help you manage it. Be sure to read at least some of the tutorials. They're fairly good and it will speed up your progress with both Twitter and HootSuite. I did neglect to mention bit.ly (http://bitly.com/) This little program condenses your web addresses so they don't take up so many characters in a tweet. HootSuite also has that function, but bit.ly keeps track of how many clicks you get on their urls and that's very useful for keeping track of your promotions.

This is the time to bring up the remaining heavy duty marketing tools: the newsletter, the website, the blog and your Amazon author page. These are must haves if you hope to succeed.

You must have a website or a blog to have a central place to communicate to your readers. The advantages of websites are that the pages are static. You can put up content that doesn't change much and it won't move on with time. This is the place for your long bio or letter to your readers, your books and covers, the buy links. Put buttons for your social media links on every page of your website and remember to also link to your blog.

Although it requires a bit more diligence about updating, I also recommend that you list your appearances. You can put them on your Amazon page and announce them on your Facebook profile, but your website is where people go when they have a purpose. They've heard of you and want to check out your books or read your biographies or find out what social networks you're hooked into.

Now it's time to establish your 'brand.'  If you haven't done any of this already or even written a book, that's perfect. Because now is where you'll establish the tone and attitude and colors that will eventually announce you even before you've mentioned your name. Okay, that may be a little optimistic, but the idea is that you want your website, blog and newsletter to follow the same color scheme. Promo copy should communicate the same message from media to media. The headers and backgrounds of your Twitter and Facebook pages should also harmonize.

This may be enough to have you running from indie publishing altogether, or conversely, it may be a very exciting challenge.  If you're still with me, here are some links to help you get started.

Websites:  http://www.networksolutions.com/web-hosting/index.jsp

I use Go-Daddy but lots of my friends use Network Solutions. These are some of the places to get your domain name and to where you'll upload your website onto the internet.  You will still need to design and compose the website or have someone else do it.  There are free programs that will help you put together your own site if you don't already have web designing experience. This is the most technically demanding of the marketing tools you need and these programs help guide you through. Here's an example that had a good rating but I can't personally vouch for it..  Build a Website   http://download.cnet.com/BlueVoda-Website-Builder/3000-10247_4-10380081.html

These two companies have free blogging sites.
Set up Blogger: https://www.blogger.com/tour_start.g
Set up Wordpress: http://wordpress.org/
I use Blogger. I have tried Wordpress, but found it way too complex and it doesn't give you the freedom of color schemes and fonts the way Blogger does.
Check them both out because the Blogger/Wordpress debate is kind of like the P.C./Apple thing.  Here's a comparison chart you may find useful (or maybe not): http://pulsed.blogspot.com/2007/07/blogger-wordpress-chart.html

Mailing List: http://mailchimp.com/features
As said, you'll also need a mailing list. Here's a link to a very useful site that is free as long as you don't want their more advanced features. The mailing list is your primary tool for keeping in touch with readers. Currently, I'm still using the free program and with a list of about 650 subscribers it will probably serve me for quite a while. But I'm aiming to add 5000 new subscribers over the next couple years, which means I'll have to provide a lot more useful content than I do now, so I'm working on that and at that level I'll probably need a much more sophisticated mailing list program.

If you've enjoyed these blogs or have missed some, here are the links to the first three posts:

Part I http://muchcheaperthantherapy.blogspot.com/2013/02/is-there-gold-in-them-there-hills.html
Part II http://muchcheaperthantherapy.blogspot.com/2013/03/is-there-gold-in-them-there-hills.html
Part III http://muchcheaperthantherapy.blogspot.com/2013/04/is-there-gold-in-them-there-hills-part.html

Click Here to Buy
A Scottish paradise lost in time is invaded by 21st century thugs. It was a robbery gone terribly wrong, ending in Luke Slade and his wounded cousin being swept through a window in time, with  killers chasing in behind them, trapping them all in 1672.

Caryn McLaughlin rules Lochlorraine and when Luke appears she knows her worries will soon be over. He is Luke the Dragon Slayer, none other, and his duty is clear. Her duty is to convince him.

Connie Flynn, bestselling, award-winning author of ten published novels and three published short stories, also teaches fiction writing at Mesa Community College. She has been reissuing her legacy books in the Amazon Kindle store and her online bookstore is growing.  Busy polishing a recently completed new novel scheduled for mid-summer publication, she also had another new work in progress. She writes in several genres — paranormal romance, romantic comedy, action-adventure and contemporary fantasy. She also writes mystery and suspense as K.C. Flynn. Look for several new releases from Connie/K.C. in 2013.

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