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How to Publish Ebooks - an Ebook Publishing Intensive by Mark Coker

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Learn how to publish an ebook like a professional. This presentation bundles four ebook publishing presentations in one. Learn how to self-publish an ebook with pride, professionalism and success. These presentations were given by Mark Coker at the 2015 Pacific Northwest Writers Conference (PNWA Summer 2015) in Seattle. The four presentations include:

1. Introduction to ebook publishing
2. Ebook publishing best practices (16 secrets for success)
3. Sell more books in the Apple iBooks store (how merchandising works at iBooks)
4. How to hit the bestseller lists with ebook preorders

Ebook publishing is easy. Reaching readers is difficult. This presentation will teach authors how to reach more readers.

Published in: Business

How to Publish Ebooks - an Ebook Publishing Intensive by Mark Coker

  1. 1. Ebook Publishing Intensive (Four Presentations in One) Presented at the 2015 Pacific Northwest Writers Conference July 16-18, 2015 Mark Coker Founder, Smashwords Twitter: @markcoker
  2. 2. Welcome On July 16, 17 and 18, I presented a total of four 90-minute workshops on ebook publishing best practices at the 2015 Pacific Northwest Writers conference in Seattle, WA. Here, I’ve bundled all four presentations together with additional supplemental notes to cover some of the information that was conveyed verbally. These presentations are designed to teach indie (self- published) ebook authors how to publish with pride, professionalism and success. The secret to ebook publishing success is to adopt best practices! The information herein is useful to all authors, even if you don’t yet use Smashwords for your publishing and distribution. Authors who wish to learn more about Smashwords can sign up for a free account at www.smashwords.com. The confirmation email we send you will walk you through a step-by-step process to help you get started. We look forward to working with you!
  3. 3. Please Share NOTE TO ALL WRITERS: If you find this information useful, please don’t keep it a secret. Please share this with your writer friends. Working together, we can help more writers learn to publish with pride, professionalism and success. Thanks, mark
  4. 4. Mark Coker Ebook Talks at Pacific Northwest Writers Summer Conference (PNWA 2015) 1. Introduction to Ebook Publishing: A Primer 2. Ebook Publishing Best Practices (Slide #89) 3. iBooks Merchandising Secrets (Slide #180) 4. How to Hit the Bestseller Lists with eBook Preorders (Slide #231)
  5. 5. My Backstory
  6. 6. This lovely woman is my wife. She’s a former reporter for Soap Opera Weekly magazine. About ten years ago we wrote a novel about the wild and wacky world of daytime television soap operas.
  7. 7. Our Journey  Got a great NY agent  Got rejected by every publisher (twice) over the course of two years and two submission rounds  Faced choice • Give up, accept failure? • Power on?
  8. 8. The Reality 10 Years Ago The Blessed and the Damned, 1500s, http://www.themorgan.org/drawings/item/109776 Back in the dark ages of publishing (10 years ago), publishers were the bouncers at the pearly gates of authordom. They decided if you became an author or not. Rejected authors became failed authors.
  9. 9. My Ephiphany • I decided the publishing industry was broken. • Although publishers are great and add a lot of value to books … • Publishers judge books on perceived commercial merit (the wrong way to value books!) • They don’t always know what readers want to read. They throw spaghetti against the wall, and most of it doesn’t stick. • Publishers unable, unwilling, disinterested to take a risk on every author
  10. 10. I imagined hundreds of thousands of rejected authors. What if I could take a risk on every author? What if I could say yes to every writer?
  11. 11. Publishers offer important services. What if I could empower authors to become professional publishers? - 1 - Printing Press - 2 - Retail Distribution - 3 - Expertise - Best practices knowledge
  12. 12. My solution: Smashwords • FREE eBook Publishing Platform  Free ebook publishing  Distribution to major ebook retailers and libraries  Free educational resources – best practices knowledge - to help writers publish like professionals  Free professional publishing tools that support marketing, discovery and sales
  13. 13. How Smashwords Works 1. Sign up for a free account at www.smashwords.com 2. UPLOAD • Upload a Microsoft Word file, formatted to our Smashwords Style Guide, or upload a custom-designed .epub • Ready for immediate sale online 1. DISTRIBUTE • Distribution to major retailers 1. GET PAID • Author receives 85% of net
  14. 14. Smashwords Distribution Network Upload/Update Once, Distribute Globally
  15. 15. Ebooks published at Smashwords
  16. 16. FIVE BIG EBOOK TRENDS
  17. 17. #1: The Rise of Ebooks
  18. 18. Ebooks as a percentage of US wholesale trade market Source: Association of American Publishers, publishers.org. 2012-2015 Smashwords estimate
  19. 19. Follow the Eyeballs (unit market share is much greater than dollar market share) Print books Ebooks UnitsDollars Print books Ebooks
  20. 20. #2: The Rise of Indie Authorship
  21. 21. A Global Cultural Movement See http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/04/indie-author-manifesto.html
  22. 22. Indie authorship on the rise • Indie authorship is a global cultural movement • Authors self-identify as “indie” as a matter of pride and tribe membership • Ebooks enabled democratized distribution, and with distribution indies started selling books! • Indie ebooks scaling all the bestseller lists • Indie titles on the NYT list nearly every week • Retailers giving indies seat at merchandising table
  23. 23. Advantages of Indie Authorship • Indie ebook author advantages  faster time to market  total creative control  better distribution to global market  immortal ebooks never go out of print  lower expenses  lower prices to consumers  earn more per book Check out the Indie Author Manifesto to learn more about the indie author movement - http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/04/indie-author-manifesto.html
  24. 24. QUADRUPLE +
  25. 25. Indie Ebook Authors Earn Higher Percentage of List Price • Indies earn more at lower prices • At $3.99, indies earn ~$2.50. Traditional authors would have to be priced over $14.00 to earn $2.00 • Lower indie price = a book that’s more affordable and desirable to readers = reach more readers = more sales at higher profits per sale • Traditionally published ebook authors at a disadvantage to indies due to high prices, low royalties 60-80% 12-17% Indie Traditional
  26. 26. #3: What Stigma? The stigma of self publishing is disappearing
  27. 27. #3: Stigmas reversing: percentage of authors who aspire traditional vs. indie Aspire Traditional Aspire Indie Today? Aspire Indie Aspire Traditional 7 yrs ago Near future? Last year
  28. 28. TREND FOUR Glut of high quality low cost ebooks
  29. 29. Tsunami of great books • Unlimited low-cost shelf space means retailers will shelve all books • Books never forced out of print • Rise of ebook self-publishing means everyone can be an author • When supply outstrips demand • authors sell fewer books on average • price competition ensues
  30. 30. TREND FIVE Indie Authors Hitting All the Bestseller Lists
  31. 31. Indies are Now Out-Publishing Big Publishers • Self-published ebooks scaling all the bestseller lists • Every week, indie ebooks in retailer bestseller lists of every retailer • Indies hitting New York Times bestseller list each week • Prediction: In the near future, most bestselling ebooks will be self- published ebooks
  32. 32. Indies taking ebook market share from traditional publishers Publishers Indie Authors 15-20% Today? 0% 7 years ago
  33. 33. Indies taking Market Share from Traditional Publishers Source: http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/03/sizing-self-publishing-market-10.html
  34. 34. Indies taking Market Share from Traditional Publishers Source: http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/03/indie-ebook-author-community-to-earn.html
  35. 35. THE GREAT RECKONING
  36. 36. Publishers losing their monopoly • Writers no longer need publishers to publish, distribute and sell • Writers asking two questions: 1. “What can a publisher do for me that I can’t do for myself?” 2. “Will a publisher harm my ability to reach readers?”
  37. 37. Let’s learn the basics of how to publish, distribute and sell an ebook!
  38. 38. Checklist for Publishing an Ebook  Finish a super-awesome book  Format the book prior to conversion  Prepare cover image  Prepare the metadata  Ebook conversion  Pricing  ISBNs  Copyright  Piracy  Distribution to retailers and libraries  Preorders  Marketing
  39. 39. Finish Your Super-Awesome Book • Ebook publishing tools make publishing fast, free and easy … • … but they don’t make it easy to write a great book • Your book must move the reader to an emotionally satisfying extreme. Make the reader go “WOW!” • You (the author) are the publisher • Edit, revise, edit, revise • Involve beta readers (then revise again) • Hire professional editor if you can afford it
  40. 40. Ebook Formatting
  41. 41. Formatting is the layout and design process to prepare your book for publication
  42. 42. Formatting for Smashwords 500,000+ downloads! It’s FREE!
  43. 43. Formatting Secrets • Forget (some of) what you know • Don’t try to make e- look like p- • Ebooks consumed differently than print • Design for reflowability, small screens • Less = more with ebooks • If the thought of learning how to format scares you, hire a freelance pro for ~$50 at http://smashwords.com/list
  44. 44. Reflowability: Ebook devices (and customers) shape shift text • Example of Smashwords novel, Heller by JD Nixon as viewed in iBooks e- reading app • Users can select font style, font size and nightime mode, or view in portrait or landscape mode. Reflowability enables this!
  45. 45. Cover Image
  46. 46. Create Your Ebook Cover • Covers are important • First impression • Great covers make a promise • Make it:  engaging, matched to target audience  professional  good as thumbnail  good as B&W, greyscale
  47. 47. DIY Cover, or Hire Professional? • Your cover should look as good or better than the covers from large NY publishers • It should look professional, not amateur • Professional cover design is surprisingly affordable • Email list@smashwords.com for low cost cover designers (and formatters too) or go to http://smashwords.com/list • $50-$150 (Mark’s list) or under $300 elsewhere (still cheap!). Before you hire anyone, check out their online portfolio. If you don’t love their portfolio, research other designers.
  48. 48. The next three cover images are for romance ebooks. Note how each micro- targets a completely different type of reader. One targets a reader who wants to experience a sweet romance and possibly first love. The next offers a hotter, sexier romance, possibly interracial. The next shows a woman as the object of desire from two men (yay!), and there are dragons so it’s a paranormal romance. Professional cover designers know how to provide multi-layered visual cues that tell the reader, “This is exactly what you’re looking for!”
  49. 49. Great covers make a promise
  50. 50. Great covers make a promise
  51. 51. Great covers make a promise
  52. 52. WE’LL ANALYZE MORE COVERS AND I’LL SHARE A COOL CASE STUDY IN THE BEST PRACTICES SECTION OF THIS PRESENTATION. Cover discussion starts at Slide #106
  53. 53. Metadata
  54. 54. Metadata is data that makes your book discoverable in a store Book title Book description Author name Book category Price Publication dateISBN Language Tags
  55. 55. Backmatter (the stuff at the end of your book)
  56. 56. Backmatter: Add three sections to end of book, and link to in your Table of Contents 1. About Yourname Lastname • Short bio 1. Other books by Yourname Lastname • Title 1 • Title 2 1. Connect with Yourname Lastname • Facebook: • Twitter: • Web site/blog: • Smashwords author page: • Learn more at http:// blog.smashwords.com/2013/11/how-to-add-navigation-to-smashwords.html or Google “Smashwords navigation”
  57. 57. Ebook Conversion
  58. 58. Conversion = Turning your formatted manuscript into an ebook file readable on multiple ebook reading devices
  59. 59. E-reading Devices
  60. 60. Upload and Conversion at Smashwords
  61. 61. Pricing
  62. 62. Pricing • Determine objective • Build readership, sales, or both? • If you publish multiple books, cover multiple price points to capture the most readers • FREE, $.99, $2.99, $3.99, $4.99+ • $2.99 and $3.99 are sweet spots for full-length fiction • Non-fiction: Look at $5.99 to $9.99 • Pricing strategy is integral to building readership Learn more pricing strategy at the Smashwords Survey - http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/07/2014-smashwords-survey
  63. 63. ISBN
  64. 64. What’s an ISBN? • What it is: • Unique digital identifier • A 13-digit number • Helps supply chain communicate about book • Ebook ISBN must be different than print ISBN • Required for Smashwords distribution to Apple, OverDrive, Kobo, others • What it is NOT: • Does not connote ownership or copyright • Does not imply “professional” or “real” • Not a common discovery method
  65. 65. Where to Obtain an ISBN • Go to Bowker.com • Purchase blocks of 10+ for $295 • Lists you as “publisher” • Go to Smashwords • FREE ISBNs
  66. 66. Copyright
  67. 67. Copyright Simplified • By publishing something you created, you have copyright • Copyright entitles you to an exclusive bundle of rights • The notation of © is optional • For best legal protection in US, go to Copyright.gov and register copyright online
  68. 68. Distribution to retailers and libraries
  69. 69. Smashwords Distribution Network Upload once, reach multiple outlets * Learn more at http://smashwords.com/distribution
  70. 70. Distribute everywhere – avoid exclusivity • Ebook retailing is not like sports, politics or religion where you pick one team. • Distribute everywhere - if your book is not available at every retailer, it’s not discoverable or purchasable • Exclusivity is high risk • angers fans • increases dependence upon a single sales outlet • strips you of your independence • limits global audience and opportunity
  71. 71. Maximize Distribution • Global Reach of Different Retailers • If you’re not everywhere, you’re missing out. • Smashwords sales outlets reach over 100 countries Amazon iBooks Kobo Smashwords Store # of countries 13 51 ~160 ~200
  72. 72. Two options for getting your book on a retailer’s virtual shelves 1. Use a Distributor (like Smashwords!) • Time savings: Spend more time writing, less time managing multiple upload platforms  Upload one file or update, reach many retailers  Centralized metadata management  Consolidated sales reporting, payments and tax reporting  Tools: Preorders to Apple, B&N, Kobo  Access: Access to retailers (FlipKart, Oyster, Scribd, others) and Libraries require a distributor 1. Direct to Retailers • Format for each specific retailer • Upload to, and manage each retailer separately
  73. 73. Preorders
  74. 74. Ebook Preorders  Advance book listing at major retailers  Readers reserve a copy in advance of release date  Customer credit card not charged until release date  Preorder Benefits  More effective advance marketing  Accumulated orders credit toward first day sales rank at iBooks and Kobo  Preorders at Amazon and B&N cannibalize first day’s sales rank  See the fourth section of this presentation for more about preorders (starts at Slide #231)
  75. 75. Marketing
  76. 76. Marketing • Marketing is a catalyst, not fuel • Your book is your best marketing • Reader word of mouth determines your success • Book must take reader to an emotionally satisfying extreme • Focus marketing on activities that lead to permanent discoverability and platform building • Viral catalysts amplify word of mouth
  77. 77. What’s a Viral Catalyst? • A viral catalyst is something that makes your book more available, accessible, desirable and enjoyable to readers • Read the Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (it’s
  78. 78. Viral Catalysts Connect a Book to Readers • Every thing you do right increases virality Great cover Great title Great writing Broad distribution Fair price Good categorization Great book description Great formatting Professionally edited Preorder Great marketing Sampling enabled Multiple formats Patience LUCK! • Fall short anywhere, and you undermine your true potential
  79. 79. THE PLAN FORWARD
  80. 80. YOU are your own gatekeeper YOU decide when your manuscript graduates to published book
  81. 81. Honor your readers Give them great books (and do it faster with lower prices)
  82. 82. The task before you is not easy, yet…
  83. 83. The Opportunity to Reach Readers Has Never Been Greater
  84. 84. LEARN MORE E-PUBLISHING BEST PRACTICES WITH THESE FREE RESOURCES
  85. 85. Learn Best Practices • Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices of successful authors) • Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book) • Smashwords Style Guide (how to format an ebook)
  86. 86. Learn how to e-publish like a pro with Smashwords Tutorials at Youtube at youtube.com/user/Smashwords
  87. 87. Mark Coker Ebook Talks at PNWA • Next up: • Ebook Publishing Best Practices – 16 Secrets for Success (Slide #89) • iBooks Merchandising Secrets (Slide #180) • Hit the Bestseller Lists with eBook Preorders (Slide #231)
  88. 88. PART II: The Best Practices of Successful Ebook Authors July 17, 2015 – Seattle, WA Mark Coker Founder, Smashwords Twitter: @markcoker
  89. 89. • What we’ll cover • 16 best practice secrets of the bestselling indie authors • Learn to: • Reach more readers by e-publishing with greater pride, professionalism and RESULTS • Who this presentation is for • All writers, published authors, publishers, book marketers • No technical experience required! Welcome
  90. 90. The Good News: There has never been a better time to self-publish an ebook There’s a worldwide market of millions of readers looking for their next great read. You can reach these readers with indie ebooks, fully distributed across all major retailers (Smashwords can help!)
  91. 91. The bad news: Things get tougher from here
  92. 92. Ebooks as a percentage of US wholesale trade market Source: Association of American Publishers, publishers.org. 2012-2015 Smashwords estimate
  93. 93. The slowdown: Say it ain’t so!!! • Drivers  Early adopters have adopted  Approaching equilibrium between screens and print books?  Price competition, indies and traditional  50 shades hangover  Glut of immortal ebooks that never go out of print
  94. 94. The glut • Self publishing criticized for tsunami of drek • Yeah, but… the real issue is…
  95. 95. A tsunami of awesome • Indie authors offer readers • Low cost immortal ebooks • Amazing diversity • Amazing quality • Readers are propelling indies to bestseller lists • Indie authorship a global movement • The movement has only just begun • Power center in industry is moving to authors
  96. 96. How to Thrive in the New Slow- Growth Environment Learn how to succeed in a slow growth environment: http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/11/ebook-publishing-gets-more-difficult.html
  97. 97. Platforms like Smashwords make ePublishing and eDistribution Easy…
  98. 98. Reaching Readers is Difficult * * most books don’t sell well
  99. 99. The Secret to Reaching Readers: Best Practices!
  100. 100. The Power Curve – Sales at Each Sales Rank Best practices yield incremental advantage in sales rank, exponential advantage in sales Sales rank Sales
  101. 101. Let’s review the best practices of the best-selling indie authors
  102. 102. Secret One
  103. 103. #1 Your best marketing is a great book • With the power to publish comes the responsibility to act like a great publisher • Honor your reader with a great book • Move reader to an emotionally satisfying extreme • Wow them. Turn readers into evangelists • Wow books earn five-star reviews, generate word of mouth • Be fanatical about quality • Edit, revise, edit, revise, repeat, proof • Leverage beta readers
  104. 104. Secret Two
  105. 105. #2 Create a Great Cover Image • Invest in a quality cover image • Your first impression on path to discovery • Look professional • Should arrest reader with thumb nail • Must resonate with target audience • Know your target reader with micro-precision • Makes an honest promise to the target reader
  106. 106. What’s this book about?
  107. 107. Don’t be sloppy This author misspelled his name on the cover as “Time” rather than “Tim”
  108. 108. Great covers make a promise Great cover. This novel is targeted at fans of steampunk fiction. It uses quintessential steampunk images of blimps and aviation goggles to signal time, place and topic. These visual cues are eye candy to steampunk fans, help them self- identify as the target reader
  109. 109. Great covers make a promise Targets steampunk fans who want something a little steamy
  110. 110. Great covers make a promise The blimp makes it clear this is steampunk erotica. Our brains are programmed to process the symbolic meaning of images faster than we can process words. Images + words = reinforcement
  111. 111. Great covers make a promise Who would have known? There’s a Christmas story for steampunk fans. As you design your cover, use visual cues that will tell the reader, “This is exactly what you are looking for!!!” Micro-target your images. You’re not trying to reach all readers. You just want to reach readers who will enjoy your book the most.
  112. 112. Great covers make a promise Sweet romance targeting young adults. They’re fully clothed and in tender loving embrace. Romance authors know how to micro-target their readers with cover images.
  113. 113. Great covers make a promise I love this cover as a case study in targeting. The cover promises a sexy romance, and possibly also interracial. It’s elegant, sexy yet tasteful. It promises an interracial billionaire romance.
  114. 114. Great covers make a promise This cover is brilliant. Romance is read mostly by women. In fiction, we put ourselves inside the minds and experiences of the protagonist. This means readers will imagine themselves in the role of the woman in the center. She’s at the center (brilliant), the center of attention, and she’s the object of desire of two men, not one. The dragon signals this is a paranormal romance. So the imagery does a great job of piquing the target reader’s interest.
  115. 115. Know your target reader This book targets hunters. It’s a simple yet effective cover. A big attractive shootable animal on the cover is eye candy to a hunter. Great covers are aspirational. The reader wants something. A great cover promises what your book will deliver.
  116. 116. Know your target reader Another book that targets hunters.
  117. 117. Don’t look amateur Although the imagery does a good job of targeting hunters, the sloppy handling of the book title’s text, the invisible author name (and look, they even put their copyright on the cover – don’t do that!) conspire to communicate that this is not a quality book. The book may in fact be excellent, yet the cover undermines it and will prevent readers from giving it a chance.
  118. 118. Don’t create an ebook cover by photographing your print cover Notice how this image looks fish-eyed and bowed? The author probably took a photograph of the print book and used the photo as their ebook cover. If not for that, it would have been a reasonably decent cover because the dead deer (the hunter’s prize, the aspiration) is eye candy for hunters.
  119. 119. Great covers make a promise This is a solid cover. It targets people who fish, or who aspire to catch this particular type of fish. What does your reader aspire to experience or learn? The opportunity for the author is to create a cover that honestly promises to fulfill the aspirational desire of target reader.
  120. 120. Great covers make a promise You instantly know this is science fiction with spaceships and action. Great cover.
  121. 121. Great covers make a promise You instantly know this is a western. Another great cover. Put yourself in the shoes of the reader. They’re sifting through hundreds of cover images in a bookstore, looking for the image that promises them the reading experience they desire.
  122. 122. And now my favorite case study… The evolution of one cover This writer writes great romance, and often earns enthusiastic 5-star reviews from readers. This early version of her cover didn’t communicate that the book is romance. So she uploaded a new cover (next slide)
  123. 123. to this cover This cover is better, but it still doesn’t communicate romance. One of the great things about ebooks is that if you decide your cover’s not making the appropriate promise, you can upload a new cover. Smart authors iterate and experiment. So this author again uploaded a new cover (next slide).
  124. 124. … to this cover… Much improved! Finally, this cover makes an honest, accurate promise to the reader. In the next slide, I’ll show you how this new cover caused an immediate increase in sales. In retrospect, we now know that the prior covers were discouraging readers from buying the book. This cover worked like magic.
  125. 125. The cover sparked a breakout at Apple. Daily sales in units sold.
  126. 126. The new cover caused sales to explode, and a few weeks later she hit the NY Times Bestseller List for the first time A great cover backed by a super-awesome book (RL Mathewson is a super-awesome romance writer and a smart businesswoman!!) can help the book reach its full potential. Romance authors have pioneered many of the best practices for indie ebook publishing. They experiment and iterate. They realize their book is a dynamic living creature that can improve over time.
  127. 127. Secret Three
  128. 128. #3 Publish Another Great Book • The best-selling authors on Smashwords offer deep backlists • Each new ebook offers opportunity to • cross-promote other titles • build trust with your reader • build your brand
  129. 129. Secret Four
  130. 130. #4 Give (some of) Your Books away for Free • The highest grossing authors at Smashwords offer at least one free book • If you have a deep backlist, offer at least one full-length book for free • Makes it easier for readers to take a chance on an unknown, untrusted author • ~41X more downloads (New 2015 data!) • Turbocharges a series • Free works for standalone promos too
  131. 131. Series with Free Series Starters Earn More
  132. 132. Series with Free Series Starters Earn More
  133. 133. FREE Series Starters Lead to 66% Boost in Series Sales
  134. 134. Secret Five
  135. 135. #5 Patience is a Virtue • Ebooks develop differently • Traditional print books – big sell-in, then yanked from shelves, then sales go to zero • Ebooks – can start small and grow slowly before breakout • Ebooks are immortal • Never go out of print • Never unpublish (remove) your book • When your book lands at retailer, it’s a seedling, nourish it • Let’s look at some examples…
  136. 136. Slow boil, breakout, slow boil, bigger breakout
  137. 137. Slow boil, breakout, slow boil, smaller breakouts
  138. 138. Slow boil to breakout Ruth Ann Nordin’s An Inconvenient Marriage
  139. 139. Secret Six
  140. 140. #6 Maximize Availability, Avoid Exclusivity • Ebook retailing is not like sports or politics • If your book is not available at every retailer, it’s not discoverable or purchasable • Avoid Amazon KDP Select • Exclusivity • angers fans • increases your dependence upon a single sales outlet • limits global audience
  141. 141. Maximize Distribution • Global Reach of Different Retailers Amazon iBooks Kobo Smashwords Store # of countries 13 51 ~160 ~200
  142. 142. Smashwords Distribution Network Upload/Update Once, Distribute Globally
  143. 143. Secret Seven
  144. 144. #7 Build a Platform You Control • Platform is your ability to reach readers and cultivate fans • Platform gives you control, leverage • Let fans decide how to connect • Facebook • Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn • Blog and/or website • Mailing list subscription • I’ll share a big platform-building tip later!
  145. 145. Secret Eight
  146. 146. Secret #8 Use Viral Catalysts to Drive Word of Mouth • Books have always been a word of mouth business • Your readers determine your success • “Wow” books convert readers into superfans, spark word of mouth evangelism • Viral catalysts are the triggers that drive word of mouth
  147. 147. What’s a Viral Catalyst? • A viral catalyst is anything that makes your book more available, accessible, desirable and enjoyable to readers • Read the Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (it’s
  148. 148. Viral Catalysts Connect a Book to Readers • Every thing you do right increases virality Great cover Great title Great book Broad distribution Fair price Good categorization Great book description Great formatting Professionally edited Preorder Great marketing Sampling enabled Multiple formats Patience LUCK! • Fall short anywhere, and you undermine your true potential
  149. 149. Secret Nine
  150. 150. Secret #9 Pricing Strategy is Lever for Success •Pricing strategy impacts unit sales and earnings •Each sale or download generates a reader and a $ royalty •Readers more important in the long run than short term royalty •Unit sales X royalty per unit = profit •Pricing strategy essential to maximize both readership and earnings
  151. 151. Common Price Points (2015)
  152. 152. Which Price Points Get the Most Downloads
  153. 153. Which Price Points Yield Highest Earnings For full length fiction (about 90% of the sales to derive this chart were from fiction), $3.99 is the sweet spot where most indies maximize readership and earnings.
  154. 154. (2014 data) Non-Fiction Only: Which Price Points Yield Highest Earnings Non-fiction authors should price higher than fiction. Earnings, on average, increase as the price of the book increases (no so with fiction!)
  155. 155. Secret Ten
  156. 156. Secret 10: Don’t Let Fear of Piracy Paralyze Your Publishing
  157. 157. Everything you need to know about piracy • The only 100% method of preventing piracy is to never publish. • Obscurity is bigger risk • Black hat pirates who steal your book wouldn’t have purchased it anyway • Most piracy is accidental – it’s an enthusiastic fan evangelizing your book to a friend • Mitigate piracy by making your book easier to purchase than steal • Broad availability at all stores • Low, fair price
  158. 158. Secret Eleven
  159. 159. Secret #11 Add three sections to backmatter 1. About Author Name • Short bio 1. Other books by Author Name • Title 1 • Title 2 1. Connect with Author Name • Facebook: • Twitter: • Web site: • Blog: • Smashwords author page: Learn how at http://blog.smashwords.com/2013/11/how-to-add-navigation-to-smashwords.htm
  160. 160. Secret Twelve
  161. 161. Secret #12 Release your ebook as a Preorder! • What’s a preorder?  Advance book listing at major retailers  Allows readers to reserve a copy in advance of release date  Customer credit card not charged until release date  Enabled more effective advance marketing  Fast track to bestseller lists – spike in bestseller lists  Learn about preorders at http://smashwords.com/preorder  Check out the preorder slides in the fourth section of this deck.
  162. 162. Preorder Fun Facts: (Data from 2015 Smashwords Survey)  7 of top 10 bestsellers born as preorders (6 of 7 preorders were romance)  Only 9.8% of books published during period were born as preorders (HUGE implications here)  On average, preorder books earned authors 10.6X what non-preorder books earned (median earnings for preorder 3.5X non-preorder books)  Of top 200 bestsellers, 67% (134) were born as preorders  Of top 200 preorders, 82% supplied by romance authors
  163. 163. Preorder Best Practices  Get preorder listing up 12 months in advance  Smashwords supports this, even if your book isn’t finished yet!  Leverage the backmatter of your other books to promote your preorder  Create an aggressive, rolling series of promotional events leading up to the release of your book  Offer a price incentive  iBooks and Kobo credit accumulated orders on day-one; Amazon & B&N do not  An Amazon/B&N preorder will probably harm your first day’s sales rank
  164. 164. Secret Thirteen
  165. 165. Secret #13 Be a Nice Person • Your fellow authors and service providers are your partners • Develop relationships • Your fellow author’s success is your success • Share your secrets • Positivity trumps negativity • Relationships give you upper hand • Avoid all negativity in social media - Internet rants are permanent, divisive and turn off readers and potential partners • Google alerts keep no secrets
  166. 166. Secret Fourteen
  167. 167. Secret #14 Collaborate with Fellow Authors on Box Sets • Identify authors you love and your fans will love • Publish collaborations • Box sets of full-length • Short story collections • Joint promos • They have fans you don’t reach, you have fans they don’t reach • Everyone wins • Learn how to do box sets: http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/08/how-to-do-box-sets-at-sm
  168. 168. Secret Fifteen
  169. 169. Secret #15 Think Globally
  170. 170. Apple, B&N, Kobo, Amazon and others are going global You Have the Tools to Reach a Worldwide Market Today The tools are FREE
  171. 171. The market for your English-language books outside the US will soon exceed the US market Apple operates iBooks in 51 countries. We distribute to Apple. In 2014, 45% of Smashwords Apple iBooks sales were outside the US
  172. 172. Secret Sixteen
  173. 173. Secret #16 Pinch Your Pennies • You’re running a business • Profit = Sales minus Expenses • Most books don’t sell well (!!!!) • NEVER borrow money to publish a book • NEVER spend or invest money you need for food and shelter • DIY then reinvest • I want you to succeed. Approach this
  174. 174. That’s it!
  175. 175. FREE RESOURCES
  176. 176. Learn Best Practices • Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices of successful authors) • Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book) • Smashwords Style Guide (how to format an ebook)
  177. 177. Learn how to e-publish like a pro with Smashwords Tutorials at Youtube at youtube.com/user/Smashwords
  178. 178. Mark Coker Ebook Talks at PNWA • Next up: • iBooks Merchandising Secrets Followed by: • Hit the Bestseller Lists with Preorders
  179. 179. PART III: iBooks Merchandising: How to Sell More Books in the World’s Second Lagest eBook Store July 17, 2015 – Seattle, WA Mark Coker Founder, Smashwords Twitter: @markcoker
  180. 180. THE OPPORTUNITY
  181. 181. Quick Introduction to Apple iBooks • Launched in April 2010, concurrent with iPad launch • Over 2 million books listed • Millions of customers who only shop here • #2 GLOBAL SELLER of ebooks since 2013 • 1 Billion+ iOS devices sold • New! – iBooks app integrated on home screen of EVERY iOS device • Operates in 51 countries • 45% of iBooks sales outside US (SW data)
  182. 182. APPLE’S AMBITION
  183. 183. Apple’s Ambition Don’t underestimate Apple Apple wants to do for digital books what they did for digital music with iTunes – become #1
  184. 184. Let’s learn about merchandising at Apple iBooks
  185. 185. What is Merchandising?
  186. 186. For Authors, Merchandising is a Fast-Track to Visibility • Equivalent to front-of-store placement with a big “Recommended!” sticker • Merchandised books have SIGNIFICANT discovery and sales advantage • greater visibility to customers • increases sales trigger additional automated discovery advantages (also boughts, bestseller list ranking) • no cost to author, no exclusivity!
  187. 187. The Job of the iBooks Merchandiser • Apple maintains a global team of merchandising professionals • Seeks to feature books that will please readers • Everything else is irrelevant • Must have confidence in the title • They’re agnostic re: traditionally- published books vs. indie books • Indies have advantages!
  188. 188. How Apple Promotes Featured Books  Email promotions • Tough to get this: like winning the lottery  Social media • Apple’s Twitter account has 510,000 followers  Front-of-store promotion on iBooks home page and in sub-catalogs • Often accompanied by custom artwork
  189. 189. Let’s view some of their other merchandising features Multiple paths to book discovery
  190. 190. iPhone Top of store rotator Another themed feature Major themed feature Home Page Features
  191. 191. Sneak Peeks of Preorders
  192. 192. Top Charts & category drill-downs
  193. 193. Store-wide and category-specific bestseller lists Store-wide bestsellers Category bestsellers
  194. 194. 28 Category-specific curated merch pages
  195. 195. 28 Category-specific curated merch pages
  196. 196. Home page category-specific features
  197. 197. Category merch pages offer deeper levels of promo opportunity
  198. 198. Five-Star Features
  199. 199. Book of the Week!
  200. 200. How to get your book found on iBooks
  201. 201. How to drive discovery in iBooks I’ll cover: 1. What the author can do 2. What Apple does for you
  202. 202. 1. What the author can do
  203. 203. What the author can do to get found  Deliver ALL your books to iBooks!  FREE promos and perma-FREE • Free titles yield 41x more downloads than priced at iBooks  Release all books as preorders  Series  Leverage Smashwords Series Manager to link up series books  FREE series starters  Author marketing • Use Apple’s free tools to promote direct links to your book page at iBooks (next slides)
  204. 204. Apple Tools: Widget Builder • Get at http://widgets.itunes.apple.com/builder/
  205. 205. iBooks Tools: Link Maker • Get at https://itunes.apple.com/linkmaker
  206. 206. Google trick for finding your book’s hyperlink at iBooks • Google ‘book title Apple iBooks’ then click on the listing
  207. 207. iBooks Tools: Banner Builder 1 2 3 4 5 6 Go to https://banners.itunes.apple.com/
  208. 208. iBooks Tools: Badges and Buttons • Go to http://www.apple.com/itunes/affiliates/ then click Linking Tools, then click “Get badge and art guidelines”
  209. 209. 2. How iBooks Helps Authors Get Found
  210. 210. How iBooks Helps Readers Find Your Book 2a. Automated merchandising 2b. Merch team selects titles
  211. 211. 2a. iBooks automated merchandising • Search • Customer searches for your title or author name • Web search • Bestseller lists • Customer-sales driven, unit volume • + Category filters • Also boughts • Other books by this author • Other books in this series • “Buy this book” at end of samples • Preorders (next slide)!
  212. 212. 2a. Preorders (Smashwords delivers preorders to iBooks, B&N and Kobo!) • Customers reserve copy before book is officially available • Can download free sample • At onsale date, accumulated preorders credit at once, causing spike in sales rank and increased discoverability • Tips for preorder success • List preorders up to 12 months in advance to maximize preorder runway • Promote heavily during preorder period • More at www.smashwords.com/preorders
  213. 213. Apple iBooks Home Page Preorder Merchandising
  214. 214. Book not finished yet? Or no cover yet? No problem…
  215. 215. Learn more: http://blog.smashwords.com/2015/06/smashwords-intro
  216. 216. Smashwords Can Deliver Metadata-only preorders to iBooks Many of our authors will deliberately establish their preorder without a cover so they can turn their cover reveal into a separate marketing event.
  217. 217. On Deck: The Next Bestsellers (started as assetless) 12/219/68/18
  218. 218. How Apple Selects Books for Merchandising Love
  219. 219. How Apple Selects Books for Merchandising • Can only feature a small number of books each week (less than 1 in 20,000) • Global merch team considers combination of factors to gain confidence to recommend a book • 1. Customer-driven factors • 2. Book/Author-specific factors • 3. Publisher/distributor recommendations
  220. 220. 1. Customer-driven selection factors
  221. 221. 1a. Customer-driven factors • Leverages customer-driven metrics to identify books worthy of promotion • Sales performance • What’s trending, what’s holding • Preorders - Apple and Smashwords track preorder rates • Author track record at iBooks • What’s selling well at other Smashwords retailers? • Customer ratings and reviews • Most downloaded free titles • Does author have priced titles too?
  222. 222. How to earn the attention of iBooks customers • Distribute all your titles to iBooks and NEVER remove • Write awesome books - Bestsellers invariably earn 4.5+ stars and “WOW” reviews • Great book + great cover + great price + great promo plan • Promote your iBooks titles on your blog, website and in social media • Each of iBooks’ 51 territories represents a separate micro-market • It takes time to build readership in each market • A breakout in a smaller market may catch attention of other merch managers (K. Moseley broke out first in AU!) • Release all new titles as preorders as far out as possible
  223. 223. 2. Book/author-specific factors
  224. 224. 2. Book/Author-Specific Factors • Factors for editorial judgment • Apple merch team reads books! • Cover design • Author track record, platform • Evaluate author marketing plans and social media platform • Is author website iBooks-friendly? • Breadth of author list (all books on iBooks?) • Series starters
  225. 225. 3. Publisher/distributor recommendations
  226. 226. Smashwords recommendations • iBooks makes all merchandising decisions, but they also regularly solicit input from publishers and Smashwords • Smashwords aggregates sales data from Smashwords-distributed titles, shares with Apple every week • Sell at Smashwords store • Distribute with Smashwords! • We track preorder performance, helps us identify HOT titles • If you have a track record at Apple, work with me, provide me advance notification of new releases on preorder
  227. 227. Summary of Key Points • iBooks is the world’s second largest ebook retailer • Every week, iBooks is providing indie authors high- profile promotion alongside traditional publishers • If a book is selected for merchandising love, it can dramatically increase the author’s sales • Title selection for merchandising love is merit-based • Write a book that WOWS Apple customers • Make sure your marketing supports iBooks and their millions of customers • If you’re a Smashwords author, and your book is among our top sellers at other retailers, we’ll advocate for you at iBooks (because Apple realizes we can help spot promising titles worthy of promo love).
  228. 228. Thanks! Next up: Part Four: How to Hit the Bestseller Lists with Preorders
  229. 229. PART IV: How to Hit the Bestseller Lists with eBook Preorders July 18, 2015 – Seattle, WA Mark Coker Founder, Smashwords Twitter: @markcoker
  230. 230. Welcome • What we’ll learn • All about ebook preorders!!!! • What’s a preorder? • How to set up a preorder • Preorder strategies to hit the bestseller lists • This presentation is for • Authors • Publishers • Book marketing professionals • Author support teams
  231. 231. Let’s get started
  232. 232. The Power Curve – Sales at Each Sales Rank Best practices yield incremental advantage in sales rank, exponential advantage in sales Sales rank Sales
  233. 233. Smashwords Launched Preorder Distribution July 2013  Ebook Preorder distribution to Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo
  234. 234. What’s an eBook Preorder?
  235. 235. Introduction to Preorders • eBook Preorders  Advance book listing at major retailers  Readers reserve a copy in advance of release date  Customer credit card not charged until release date
  236. 236. Why Preorders are Super Exciting
  237. 237. It’s All About Advantage
  238. 238. Five Benefits of eBook Preorders
  239. 239. #1 Preorders Enable More Effective Buzz- building
  240. 240. Buzz-building • Start promoting the book months in advance of publication  Capture the order at the moment you have the reader’s interest and attention  Anticipation - Things in the future often more exciting than things in the present
  241. 241. #2 Fast Track to Bestseller Lists
  242. 242. Bestseller Magic • Bestseller lists based on recent unit sales • At iBooks and Kobo, all accumulated preorders credit toward the first day’s sales rank  Causes a pop in the bestseller lists  A bestseller …  is more visible to readers  is more desirable to readers  sparks a virtuous, self-reinforcing flywheel of sales leading to more sales
  243. 243. #3 Same-Day Availability on Launch Day
  244. 244. Same Day Availability • Advance delivery to retailers … • Gives retailers time to receive, ingest and list book • Retailers release to readers on launch day • Allows superfans to start reading and reviewing first
  245. 245. #4 Increased Merchandising Opportunities
  246. 246. Merchandising Magic • Preorders open up new merchandising opportunities • Preorders listed alongside your other books • Preorders can be merchandised inside your other books • Retailers do preorder-specific promotions • Long preorder runway gives merchandisers more opportunity and flexibility to plan promotions • “Sneak Peek” promotions (iBooks) • If the book is accumulating a lot of orders, it gives merch managers confidence to give the book extra front page promotion
  247. 247. #5 Books born as preorders sell better
  248. 248. Bestselling Authors Utilizing Preorders at Much Higher Rate
  249. 249. Bestselling Authors Utilizing Preorders at Much Higher Rate than Poor Sellers
  250. 250. Fun Preorder Facts from the Smashwords 2015 Survey  Most authors aren’t doing preorders yet!  Only 9.8% of books published during period were born as preorders (HUGE implications here)  During the 12 month period between April 2014 and March 2015:  7 of top 10 Smashwords bestsellers born as preorders (6 of 7 preorders were romance)  Of top 200 bestsellers, 67% (134) were born as preorders  Of top 200 preorders, 82% supplied by romance authors
  251. 251. Let’s look at a preorder example
  252. 252. A Smashwords Preorder at iBooks
  253. 253. A Smashwords Preorder at B&N
  254. 254. A Smashwords Preorder at Kobo
  255. 255. Preorder Merchandising Examples
  256. 256. Apple iBooks Automatic Merchandising (1) Your preorder is automatically merchandized alongside all your other titles, making it easy for fans to reserve a copy now, before they forget.
  257. 257. Apple iBooks Australia Home Page Preorder Merchandising (2)
  258. 258. Apple iBooks U.S. “Sneak Peeks” Preorder Merchandising (3) Apple’s Sneak Peeks is an ongoing merchandizing feature that promotes highly anticipated preorders with free samples. Samples help sell preorders. Preorders with strong preorder accumulation, awesome covers, and from authors with good track records and reviews at iBooks have the advantage.
  259. 259. Preorders Can Appear in Bestseller Lists Before they Go Onsale Preorders can appear in bestseller lists even before they go onsale Recent preorder
  260. 260. Planning Your Preorder
  261. 261. Runway
  262. 262. Maximize Runway • Budget a long preorder runway into your publication timeline • More days = more time to accumulate orders • 12 months advance ideal • Minimum 4-12 weeks runway recommended, though even 5 days can provide a small incremental advantage
  263. 263. With 4 month runway 1 order per day = 120 orders 5 orders per day = 600 orders 10 orders per day = 1,200 orders
  264. 264. Timing
  265. 265. Timing • Most large publishers release books on Tuesdays. Release on a different day and chances of chart-topping increases • Saturdays and Sundays are the biggest ebook selling days. Consider releasing on a Saturday to fully leverage the increased visibility of your sales rank. • Consider a Monday release to maximize odds of NYT/USA Today placement • Consider early-in-month release to maximize odds of hitting the Smashwords/Publishers Weekly list • Holidays (that don’t involve sit-down family gatherings) can be strong too.
  266. 266. Marketing and Promotion Ideas
  267. 267. Marketing and Promotion for Preorder Success (Tip One) • Plan an aggressive, multi-week, multi-part marketing campaign • Contests, chapter reveals, giveaways, blog tours, etc. • Unveil a different promotion or incentive each day or week to build and sustain momentum • Most authors do advance book launch marketing for new releases anyway, yet without a preorder they have no way to capture the order! • Promote direct hyperlinks to preorder pages • Direct links make it easier for readers to reserve a copy at their favorite store
  268. 268. Preorder Marketing and Promotion Ideas (Tip Two) • Mobilize your fans as your street team • Incentivize actions that help you spread the word, or accumulate orders • Offer a free Smashwords Coupon for another of your titles to any fan who emails you their preorder receipt • Offer a free Smashwords Coupon to any fan who takes an action that helps spread the word (blogging about preorder, FB Like, tweeting, etc) • Promise to include a “Street Team Acknowledgements” section in your final book that names and thanks the first 100 fans who sent you their preorder receipt, or performed the right action • Set a deadline two weeks before the release date, then two weeks before release click “upload new version” to update your ebook file
  269. 269. Preorder Marketing and Promotion Ideas (Tip 3) • Offer preorder customers special price to incentivize action  If you’re planning to retail for $3.99, offer the preorder for $2.99 as a thank- you to your most loyal fans and supporters  Communicate that the book will go to the regular price shortly after the book goes onsale.  Preorder customers are guaranteed the lowest price
  270. 270. Marketing and Promotion for Preorder Success (Tip 4) • Leverage your other books to market your preorder • Authors with multiple books have extreme advantage • Advertise in the backmatter of all your books: • “{Title X} coming {Month Day, Year}! Available now for preorder at select retailers” • Include free sampler in the backmatter • A nice touch: add navigation to your backmatter. • Do a deep discount (free works best!) on another title to drive readers to the preorder • If your preorder is the #2 or later in a series, consider pricing the series starter at FREE, if even for a couple weeks or a month
  271. 271. Uploading Your Preorder
  272. 272. Uploading Your Preorder to Smashwords (Click “Publish”) Uploading a preorder to Smashwords is easy. Simply choose a future release date on the upload page.
  273. 273. Book not finished yet? Or no cover yet? No problem…
  274. 274. Introducing Assetless (metadata-only) Preorders at Smashwords
  275. 275. Smashwords Can Deliver Metadata-only preorders to iBooks, B&N and Kobo
  276. 276. On Deck: The Next Bestsellers (started as assetless) 12/219/68/18
  277. 277. Summary: Preorder Checklist  Review your publishing schedule 12 months out  Choose your onsale date as far in advance as possible  Get all firm projects on preorder now  If your release date needs to change, that’s OKAY!  Offer preorder customers a discount incentive  Once preorder is listed, start marketing and promo  Leverage your backlist, update backmatter  Weekly events and buzzbuilding  ALWAYS have at least one preorder working for you at all times
  278. 278. Final Thoughts on Preorders • Preorders give you an incremental sales and discovery advantage • Less than 10% of indie authors are doing preorders! • Preorders are a best practice • A well-executed preorder will make your next launch more successful
  279. 279. Learn more @ smashwords.com/preorder
  280. 280. Download My Free Ebooks to Learn Indie Author Best Practices • Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices of bestselling indie authors) • Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book, build author platform) • Smashwords Style Guide (how to format and publish an
  281. 281. Q&A: Thanks for Your Time! Connect with Mark Coker: Twitter: @markcoker LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/markcoker Facebook: facebook.com/markcoker Google+: https://plus.google.com/+MarkCoker Huffington Post: huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker Connect with Smashwords: Web: www.smashwords.com Smashwords Blog (subscribe to receive via email): blog.smashwords.com

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