Category: Indie Books


I’m not going to mention any names here. The purpose of this post isn’t to ball out anyone specific or be mean. But yes, obviously I have someone in particular in mind when I write about the subject matter of today.

Typically indie authors aren’t media or marketing gurus. It’s just not in our nature. But to be a successful indie author, we have to learn some marketing techniques and do our best to be our own PR guy. It’s not always fun but it’s what we must do for our books to be a success.

But there comes a time when maybe we cross that line from being a marketing genus to being a little creepy and if you do that, it could cost you some fans.

If you are lucky and write a great book that people love and more over fall in love with the characters of the book, you want to build on that and maybe you will do even better and hit big with a successful trilogy featuring those beloved characters.

That’s great! That’s beyond great … that’s freaking fantastic! That’s what we all strive for. But when you are done with those books and some time has passed, is it really a good idea to continue on with those characters or just let them die out as you work on your next series of books?

Let me be more specific … I once read a great triology that featured a male character that everyone loved and swooned over. Some people were like omg he’s my favorite book boyfriend. Okay so the author started pushing promotion of this character, I assume to further her sales of the trilogy.

Then I noticed she started having items made up featuring quotes from the book. Okay not bad. Then having items made about that character in general. Then all of the sudden it went a little further and the character suddenly had a facebook page all his own. Next thing I know I read happy birthday (character’s name).  Suddenly this fake character from a book was celebrating his birthday in real life?

This got me looking at the author’s own facebook page and I counted more than 32 different little items she had made up – various products with the guys name on it or about his character in the book. 32? Really?

The books have been out for a long time now and the author in question hasn’t released a single NEW book in well more than  a year. This whole time all she’s talked about was this fake male character from her last book. And for Christmas she wrote a short story about him.

It was all just so creepy and really made me wonder about the mental stability of the author and quite honestly I even stopped following her on Facebook and Goodreads over it. She didn’t seem to get that the time for this character had long since passed. Marketing is wonderful but there comes a time when you need to move on and write a new book already.

So the point I’m trying to make is, there comes a time when you can cross the line from smart marketing to mentally unstable. It’s just creepy the way she posts as him and wishes him happy thanksgiving and merry Christmas like he’s real. It’s not like the books came out last month or even 6 months ago.

So before you decide to develop some sort of marketing campaign you should really stop and ask yourself … is this brilliant or am I just being way to attached to fictional people?

Because if you do it wrong then those marketing efforts could end up costing you fans instead of getting you new ones.

NA romance stands for new adult romance, just as YA romance stands for young adult romance.

While young adult romance covers those teenagers (or young adults) in love, NA or new adult romance novels covers those who are typically a bit older, as in legal age (18) but still new to adult hood, so under 25. Usually those who are in college, not yet out there experiencing the real world and still figuring out their lives.

New Adult isn’t about young adults having explicit sexual encounters because there are quite a few NA romance novels without those. No it’s more about a classification of age. Young Adult = 18 and Under. New Adult = 18 to 25 (or so).

But again keep in mind there aren’t any hard and fast rules and it could vary from story to story, author to author. In the end it’s really just a marketing classification. A way for retailers and book bloggers to easily classify material for the type of reading it includes.

Oh and for the record, someone else asked me this recently too…. HEA means Happily Ever After. Most people who read romance novels expect them to have a HEA or happily ever after. It sort of defines the romance genre. Life can suck in your book, you can brutalize your character but in the end, most people who read romance novels of any sub-genre usually want that happily ever after.

Today’s writing tip is a simple but tried and true method to improve your writing. Simply put, avoid words that end in ING. But why? Typically that is because those words are weaker than their active counterpart.

Passive voice turns your characters into bystanders, casually allowing the story to happen to them while the active voice makes them active participants. So let’s look at a specific example ….

“She was standing in a red room” is not as strong as saying, “She stood in a red room”.

She was standing is passive. It sounds almost like it was something happening to her, whereas she stood is active, it is her doing it.

You don’t have to delete every sentence in your entire book that uses the passive voice or a word that ends in ING, but do look at them and consider if maybe that line would be improved if you did change it to an active voice.  Just remember that words that end in ING often weakens the sentence, so consider alternatives.

I read a review recently that said they typically avoid contemporary romance novels because they often walk to closely to the line of chick lit books and that reader apparently doesn’t like that genre of books.

Chick is slang a common slang term for a women or girl and lit is the shortened version of literature. But then together and you have a genre of books that experts call Post Feminist Fiction. Which is simply a high brow way of saying, these are books about female empowerment. Sometimes the story is about romance, but not always. Sometimes the stories in the chick lit genre are about friends and family.

Think about Sex and the City, that is a perfect example of a chick lit type story. You have a strong female lead – Carrie Bradshaw and then her three friends. Their stories deal with every day women issues.

Today there are a long list of sub-genres of chick-lit books as well including Romance which is the most obvious but there is also Gothic, Christian, Young Adult and many more. The main idea though is the the book have a strong female lead who deals with whatever issue in a way that is empowering, making the female character more than just some poor helpless victim.

While it is true, there has been a major decline in physical book sales and a massive upswing in digital or e-books, there is still a very good reason to offer your book in paperback.

While most people will opt to buy your book in the e-book format because it’s cheaper and they get it now instead of waiting for your “real” book to ship to them and with an e-book they also don’t have to pay shipping charges. But they dones’t mean you should ditch offering it in paperback all together. Some people feel it’s not a good book if it doesn’t exist in the other format. It’s a strange yet popular belief that a book isn’t at least available on paperback, then it probably isn’t worth checking out in the first place.

While I agree that may seem strange, there is no explaining the consumer mindset and well, why even try? If offering your book in paperback can help increase your e-book sales, why not do it?

There is also another distinct advantage to doing this, especially with Amazon because they take the list price of your paperback book and then show the e-book version of the book as a discounted price. For example,

Digital List Price: $0.99
Print List Price: $5.97
Kindle Price: $0.99
You Save: $4.98 (83%)

Who doesn’t want to save 83%? I mean come on … that’s a great deal, right? People love bargains and if it looks like you are saving them 10%, 20%, 50% or 83% in this case, it makes them feel like they are getting a good deal and that has been proved time and again by marketing experts as a great sales tool.

So you finally write your novel and you’ve re-read it, and re-written parts of it 1,000 times. Now what? You send it to your editor and you wonder, just how much do book editors change?

The answer really depends on you and your own skill. The obvious thing they are looking for are major flaws in spelling and grammar but that isn’t all. They also look for mistakes in your story. For example in one place you may say that a girl is named Jennifer while in another part of the story you call her Nadine. Same girl that you changed the name of and missed the change in that one part. In one part of your story you may say the year is 1907 and then talk about World War II. Well obviously that’s a problem since World War I didn’t even begin until 1914.

But more than just the obvious mistakes, they are also looking at how well the sentences flow together and they also look for areas you can improve or expand on. Maybe there is a part of your book that might benefit from further describing the surroundings. They might also suggests minor restructuring where a bunch of secondary characters should be presented earlier in your story.  Or maybe in your book you are at a wedding and you write three paragraphs about your dress. Your editor will probably cut that down drastically.

Trust me when I say be appreciative of an editor helping you out with weak or awkward sentence structure.

They won’t change the heart of your story but they will help you present it in a way that the reader will enjoy it more … at least that is what a good editor will do. You can hire anyone to fix your spelling and grammar, but a great editor will fix your story in a way that makes the words you wrote, your story sing.

By the way, if you think you can’t afford an editor, you are wrong. Dead wrong. You can’t afford not to have one. You can find them super cheap at places like Fiverr.com and Odesk.com. Don’t publish your book without getting at least one strong edit!

Paperback is a general term which includes both mass-market paperbacks–that’s the small ones about 4 inches by 7 inches–and trade paperbacks, about 7 by 10 or so. (There’s some variation.) Mass market often cost about $6.99 or $7.99. Trade paperbacks cost more, usually $13.99 – $16.99. They’re somewhat easier to read, with a larger font, bigger gutters, and more widely-spaced lines, and are usually on better-quality paper which won’t yellow as quickly as mass-market paper, and made with better glue so the pages stay put.

Hardcover is better quality paper, and of course the hard cover which protects the pages. It’s often no easier on the eyes than trade paperback, though, and it costs substantially more.

Since I’m not hard on books, I usually opt for trade paperback unless it’s a book I’m sure I want to own indefinitely and will probably reread many times. Then I go for hardcover.

Mass market paperbacks tend to have cheaper paper, no (or very few) illustrations, smaller print, and a smaller page dimension.

Trade paperbacks (what your program is referring to as simply “paperbacks”), on the other hand, are usually printed on better paper, have easier-to-read print (even if the font size is the same, there’s often more spacing between the lines) and are more likely to have the illustrations that the hardcover version has.

Since there’s nothing definite about most of this, consider how big the book is and how much it costs.  We’re all familiar with that standard pocket paperback book size.  I don’t have a ruler handy, but I’d estimate it as being about seven inches tall by about 4 inches wide.  That’s a mass market paperback.  Those larger, odd-sized paperbacks that don’t fit neatly on my smaller bookshelves are trade paperbacks.  I’ve also noticed that mass market paperbacks all tend to cost either $6.99 or $7.99; trade paperbacks are usually over $10.  (I’m sure that’s not an absolute rule, but it certainly applies to most of the books I own!)

For posterity: “Mass market paperbacks” (or “MMPB”) are small, (relatively) inexpensive paperbacks sold through venues other than traditional bookstores: drug stores, convenience stores, gift shops, and so forth. The biggest giveaway is the bar coding: in a traditional book, the bar code on the back is the EAN “Bookland” code. It will typically have the ISBN written above it and will begin “978” or “979”. In a mass market paperback, the bar code on the back will be a UPC code, and the Bookland EAN will be inside the front wraps.

That’s a bit technical, but try this: if you have a paperback, open the front cover. If a bar code is there, on the reverse side of the cover, it’s almost certainly considered by the publisher to be a MMPB. If the bar code on the back begins “978” or “979”, the publisher almost certainly does not consider it to be a MMPB.

Someone once said that to be a successful author it’s like 10% writing,  90% marketing. This isn’t exactly all that off. I mean think about it … if you are the best writer in the world, how will anybody know if you don’t properly market your book?

That being said, today’s indie author question is, should I use Google Ad Words to promote my book?

Google will allow you to pay them money for every click they send you. So in theory that sounds like a great way to get people to find out about your book, right?

Well in theory, yes it does. But as I said before you should never spend more money than you could possibly make on your book to try and promote it.

As of right this very moment, Google is charging $1.68 (on average) to send a single person to your book sales page. If your book is only selling for say $.99 then how much did that one person just COST you – not _make_ you, but COST you?

And that $1.68 you spent to get that single person to view your book sales page, doesn’t mean they will actually buy your book, it just means they will look at the page. It may take on average about 400 people to view  a page to make a sale. That means at the current going rate of $1.68 a click you’ll have to spend about $672 to make a single sale. I don’t know about you but I could think of a lot of better ways to spend $672.

Of course these numbers are just estimates. Sometimes you can find a keyword that is as low as $1 a click instead of $1.68. Sometimes out of 400 people you’ll get 3 sales instead of just 1. Sometimes those people who don’t have experience in PPC (pay per click) advertising don’t write a good ad word summary and their sales are even worse than 1:400.

So to answer your question, do I think you should use PPC advertising to promote your book? No, I don’t. It’s just not a cost effective method for marketing your book. It’s great for other things, just not for this specific thing.

I got a great question sent in to me this week and it was basically asking me if it was worth their time to submit their book to all those hundreds (probably more like thousands) of book review blogs. Does it really help sales?

The answer is yes, they actually do help in sales.

Although there is no scientific formula and not every book review blog is going to be as good as the next. But assuming you have a decent enough book, with proper editing, and a well done cover, then you can roughly guesstimate about 10 sales per blog you get your book listed on.

Some obviously will be better and you’ll find your sales surge up 50 or by 100, but that’s a rare occurrence. Most of the blogs don’t get that much traffic so you’ll have to spend a lot of time making your submissions but in the end you’ll find it worth it.

When to comes to marketing your book you need to look at the numbers. You should never spend more than you could make. So let’s review the math …. A review on a book blog cost you $0 and in turn makes you about 10 sales. So you tell me, isn’t it worth at least 10 sales (maybe as many as 50 to 100) to submit your book for free?

This is not one of those ethical conversations about the merits of buying a book review. There are more than enough sites that debate this subject to death.

This article is to answer the question, “How do you buy a book review?” And the answer is simple  … there is pretty much nothing you can’t buy at http://www.Fiverr.com for $5.

Fiverr was started in 2009 and has become the largest market place for all  kind of things for $5.  There really isn’t much you can’t get there including book reviews, positive ratings on book review sites and more.

So there you have it. Now you know how you can buy a book review.

How simple was that?