WHAT DO YOU KNOW?
I have debated for months whether to blog on this topic or not. I just gave in. Sometimes when I read blogs by marketing
doyennes such Jane Friedman, I feel like a rank amateur. Next, I’ll visit a Facebook page and a new indie author is asking: “Should I publish with Amazon or KDP?” Somebody gave the answer, so I moved on. Believe me, when I was a newbie I Ate Stupid for Breakfast five days a week. I was intimidated by digital technology. Still am. Honey, I hire that stuff done. But! I know what the technology is supposed to do, because I see the end results. I asked indie authors, I asked Google, I asked editors and I asked Amazon. I didn’t know what a Tweet was. Didn’t know how to compose one. When I uploaded my first indie book, Donna Fasano, (bless her kindness) got on SKYPE with me and walked me through it.
I was bluntly told I didn’t know what I was doing. Okay. Nailed me. So I stopped and learned the industry. I read Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran and another by Martin Crosbie. I’ve read them more than once. I read blogs and articles by the dozens…I came away with conflicting ideas and suggestions, good information and buckets of misinformation. I’ve since learned nobody knows it all. Boo-ya.
So what’s my problem? So few of the newest wave of indie authors are doing their homework. They want to be spoon fed ehow. It’s wearying. I must answer a half-dozen emails a day fielding questions and the answers are already all over the Web. Everything I’ve learned in the past three years is blogged on this site or jackieweger.com/blog.
I have a huge amount of empathy for the new guys. I do because I know where they’re coming from. I answer their questions and emails. Indie authorship is work. There are no shortcuts. I wish. I encourage authors to read Amazon’s Terms of Service. Few do. Some have never explored
their Amazon book pages top to bottom or side to side. Do I know it all? Heck No! I recently begged help for a basic MS Word setup.
What I notice most now is awful misinformation being bruited about. Want to know the worst offenders? Legacy published authors who have never hired an editor, ordered a cover, formatted or uploaded a book, bought promotion or set up a Rafflecopter. These guys don’t have a clue how to track a book, check a site’s Alexa rank or read an Amazon royalty report. Last week I noticed a legacy pubbed author blogging about setting up a review exchange and trade. Moreover, the author asks the reviewers to buy one another’s legacy priced books. Wow! That is expensive. Doesn’t have a clue about ehow to Amazon Gift a book to a reviewer. It slipped past the guy that Amazon frowns on author-traded reviews. A legacy-published author is not on the indie author’s side of the fence.
Here is another: A legacy published author wants 299$ to promote my books in a newsletter. I asked how many subscribers and click through rate. Way under 10,000 subscribers. Click through rate 1%. HUH? That ain’t worth 299$. If the author knows how to sell books, how come his are sucking mud in bestseller ranks on two venues? If the author can’t sell his/her own books…how the heck is he/she/it gonna sell mine or yours?
Here is a fact: Snake Oil is made from both poisonous and non-poisonous snakes. When you cotton on to a viper, you know to get out of the way and sit on your wallet. But the benign snake can do just as much damage due to a serious lack of know-how.
Here is an example.
One indie author is asking another about price-matching on Amazon. The author wants to price a book 99c on every sales venue, but wants to force Amazon to price match the unit currently at 2.99 on Amazon. When Amazon price matches at 99c the author earns 70% royalty instead of 35%. But! After ten days or so, Amazon tells the author to price the unit at a straight 99c. The author who wants to engage the system says: “What if I just ignore Amazon?”
Well, boo-ya, honey. Ignore an email from Amazon KDP or Quality Control and you will find yourself in a world of hurt. Amazon may do you a nice and return the price to 2.99. Or, Amazon may block the sale of the book. Or, in a snit, Amazon may and can remove all of your books from sale, and suspend your KDP account for up to a year. Amazon has been very good about price-matching a 99c unit while in promotion. It has been good about price-matching a first book in a series to perma-free. Lest you think otherwise, both price-matches are a courtesy to benefit the Amazon book buyer–not the author. I don’t know these facts first hand. I do know authors who have had these experiences. They told me and others about them. I have had Quality Control notices from Amazon KDP and handled them in a timely and appropriate manner. No problems.
The real issue is: Know who you’re listening to on the Web and in the indie industry. If you’re listening to somebody who wants to get into your wallet–think twice. Do your research. If an author is telling you ehow–get ALL of the facts. Every fact and event has an upside and a downside. Right this minute, I’m hearing “to get your indie print editions into bookstores and libraries, sign on with IngramSpark.” I’m digging now to find authors signed with IngramSpark to learn if they see sales to libraries and bookstores. I did look at the author testimonials on IngramSpark. I also looked at the author’s print book best seller ranks. Here are two: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,092,508 in Books. Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,869,356 in Books. They ain’t selling. Woot. So I looked on Barnes and Noble. No book rank at all because not a single sale. Most recent review 2099 days ago. Here’s the scary part: It ain’t good business sense to post testimonials from authors who are not successfully using your product. Just sayin’…
Jane Friedman blogs about 4 Lessons for Authors. IMO, one of the best was presented by Rand Fishkin who said: “…a lot of good content never gets seen because no one has thought through who will help it gain traction or how.” In plain language that means if you ‘sit’ for an interview or write a guest post, who is gonna see it? The interviewed author/guest poster often has to tweet the interview and call up his/her followers to share it, because the blogger/interviewer has NO reach. Perhaps only 3 sites linking in, no active followers. So the author ends up ‘singing to the choir.’ I have a name for this: I call it hijacking, because the blogger is hijacking the author’s followers and supporters to bring traffic to his or her site. I don’t like it.
Here’s why: For three years I’ve worked like the dickens to build my two Twitter accounts. I registered a hashtag with Twubs. I pay a virtual assistant to help so I don’t fail to RT and say thank you my 30,000 followers. I have out-of-pocket expenses for Twitter ads and boosted Facebook posts. I’m not being selfish or egocentric. It is simply not good business sense for me or any indie author to loan a hard won brand/reputation/platform–whatever those buzz words mean, to a site that has no traction, which translates to no exposure. Rand Fishkin nailed it.
I believe in Author Choice. If you enjoy those interviews and guest blogging, go for it. eNovel Authors at Work is designed around paying-it-forward. All all 50+ members do. We support one another. We network. Each and every member has helped to make the group successful. We exchange value. Our goal is to sell books. We do that, too. We learn from one another. It’s wonderful. Until I read Friedman and Fishkin, I thought I was becoming cynical and jaded. I felt guilty. Now, I realize my common sense was kicking in. Got it. I hope you do, too.
I’m Jackie Weger, founder of eNovel Authors at Work. We don’t sell anything here. We share what we learn. If you visit our other pages and blogs, you will see promoters mentioned, because we vet promoters. If a promoter is named on this site, we do business with ’em. Some are ace and above the fold. Some are ace, but smaller and below the fold. Some are just on our list because while the promoter may not move many books, the owner is honest and aboveboard and growing his/her site organically. That’s golden. @JackieWeger 2016
Comments welcome. Love it, if you can add to the discussion. If you are an indie author, by all means, mention the title of your book after your comment/signature.