We’re back… :)

Well, the team have spoken, we’re updating the site, and there’s a lot of fun changes coming up.
I thought today though, I’d share some of our best bits on the site.

Resources for miles

At the core of things at the Indie Author Group is our mission statement. Both Valerie Douglas and I felt, early on, supported by the rest of the team, that a safe space to get advice as an indie author. We don’t believe in judging others for their choices and are firmly all about making the most of everything. So, in 2011, when she set up the group, I was one of her first moderators, and we’ve gone on to build a really great resource. And we have an amazing team of moderators too!
We founded the site late 2011, but the group will be 10 May 2021!

What you can find in the group

Honestly? A little of everything. We have resources that range from advice and support, to sharing information and tips and tricks. And a listing for the group’s Twitter list, Facebook pages, service providers (cover designers, editors, formatters, audiobooks, and more).
If you’re not there already – why not? (tip, if you’re not, answer ALL the questions, and be aware we don’t allow advertising, at all, bar in communal documents for those reasons).

So…there’s more? YES!

So, we have other resources! Our pages are the main one – Indie Author Group, and we keep a page just for the blog, Indie Author Group Info.
Then we’ve got the main blog (here).
Then, there’s The Writer’s Information Reference Library – short answers for simple questions 🙂
We’ll also be adding a tech page, a news page and more…
Finally, we keep a newsletter, and Twitter 🙂

Please check out our resources and let us know what you think!

Happy birthday to the Indie Author Group. Founded just as the trend of self-publishing took off by Valerie Douglas, and her co-founder Kai Viola, we are a vibrant team of writers and artists that look after one of the oldest communities for self-publishing and hybrid publishing on the Facebook.
It’s our birthday today! We’ll be celebrating next week though, so watch the blog, group and page! (or the blog page!)
To celebrate our 9th birthday, we’ll be overhauling, adding resources and doing a lot more, so watch this space!

The Myth of Reviews and Sales

A lot of people will tell you that book reviews determine whether a book sells or not, that reviews with four or five stars sell books. While reviews help, that’s not what sells a book.

What sells a book is good writing. A storyline that captures their imagination, characters readers care about – heroes they want to root for and villains they understand. (Even the villain wants to be the hero of his own story.)

It’s really that simple.

https://insights.bookbub.com/how-readers-discover-new-books-to-buy/

Reviews can help, star ratings can help, but as you can see from the Bookbub graphic here, plot, price, and quality come before ratings and reviews. More importantly, though, not just any reviews, but honest, organic ones – in other words, not family/friends but from other readers. Readers are more likely to buy because a family or friend recommended it, but not a review from yours. (With thanks to Bookbub, see the link attached to the graphic for more information.)

Word of mouth is the best marketing.

Also, see this – https://killzoneblog.com/2018/07/it-helps-if-you-can-write.html

James Scott Bell knows whereof he speaks.

Reviews and stars help, but nothing beats a well-written book.

Update and addendum – Another voice about reviews from our friends at ALLi

Opinion: Why I Don’t Worry About Amazon Reviews

 

 

 

 

How and why to use Paper.li

For those who aren’t familiar with Paper.li it’s essentially a ‘newspaper’ about whatever you want to share and it’s easy to use. Simply go to the site and sign up. There are two versions – free and paid. (More on that later.)
Give it a title but think long and hard before choosing one. Don’t make the common mistake of naming it ‘YourName, Author‘ or ‘RomanticTitle Series‘, because using your author name is a giveaway for ‘buy my book’ promotion and if you go off that series track you have to remember to go back and rename your paper.li.  You want to consider it as part of your marketing plan but you don’t want to be obvious about it or no one will read it.
Since I write self-published fantasy, and that’s usually associated with sci-fi, mine references that. And, since no fantasy writer worth their salt shouldn’t also know something about archaeology (to ground their fiction in reality) and people are interested in that science, I reference that, too.
I’m also interested in giving back to other writers and educating them on the common mistakes many writers of fantasy make. Food, for example, was a lot harder to come by, you had to forage for vegetables and fruit, and it took a lot longer to cook. Say you have a character who takes down a bird or a deer. In some fantasy novels, writers roast them on a spit. A bird will take a fair amount of time. A deer is bigger than you think, it takes half a day to roast that way, with frequent turning.  As another example of a common mistake, do you know why ancient peoples used chariots? Because most early horses couldn’t carry a person. Centuries of selective breeding (evolution) created an animal that could. Even so, a horse will take a long period of time, even with its longer legs, to get from point A to point B. More so if hitched to a wagon. And they get tired.
So, back to Paper.li. You can give it certain parameters to search for and feature, but some come with it.

We’re back! A new look, a new set of blogs and looking forward….

Happy birthday Indie Author Group!

When Valerie and I started talking about the changes on the site, we realized that we were rapidly approaching seven years as a group.  Seven years is incredible! And we got to talking about how many changes we’ve seen the community undergo, and how much we’ve looked at in the last few years, because we share everything we’ve learned as we learn it.  And then we got to thinking how amazing our community is, that they share too.  So…happy birthday guys!

And… welcome back to the Indie Author Group Blog.  We’ve been offline a long time, while we planned and plotted and created some really neat new things, which will be rolled out in the coming weeks, plus, we’ll be updating and republishing a lot of advice, so it’s all go here.

Our history

Seven years ago in May, Valerie Douglas put out the call to create a group for indie authors and asked for moderators.  The result was the Indie Author Group.  I was one of the first moderator volunteers, and Valerie and I have gone on to build one of the most popular groups on Facebook for advice on writing.  She’s published over 20 books, and I’m not so far behind 😉  We’ve got an amazing team of moderators, and the site has gone from strength to strength.  We have a Facebook Page, Twitter profile, Instagram (new) and Pinterest.  Plus, we’re restarting the newsletter soon!

But we primarily run IAG on Facebook, and support people with their careers – basically, we share our mistakes so people can avoid them, and news in the indie community and more. So much so that everyone is *off* writing right now, so we’re hoping to kick things up a notch with the blog.  When we founded the group, KDP was in its infancy, as was Smashwords, and we’ve done it all.  Both Valerie and I are hybrid authors, and we have a team of seven other moderators who help out with their expertise, so it’s nice to think that we’re starting a new phase now.

So…what’s new?

I’m glad you asked.  New things include The Writers Information Reference Library (give it a Twirl 😉 ), and we’re launching a new blog on creating and marketing content on a shoestring, so you can save your money for the foundational stuff.  We’ve got a new publishing schedule, new guidelines and some new toys that I’ll roll out later in the year, once we’ve beta tested them.  We’ll be adding a provider database and all sorts of other new bits and pieces very soon too, but the biggest thing that’s new is we’ll be providing new and exclusive content at least fortnightly to the main blog, or Shoestring, and we’ll be constantly adding to Twirl, which is a bit like Quora, except its only one answer.  Though we are looking at adding a Quora-like function later in the year too.

At [email protected] we’ll talk about the things that indie authors should know – review technology and other items that allow people to keep up with everything they need to in the indie author community – it’s not so much about the technology, but about using technology to make the most of the things around them.  We’ll talk blogging software, and the software on blogs, plugins, RSS readers, how to search properly and more.  That launches in September.

Finally, we’ve got a news only blog that takes the most up to the minute news on all things author.  More on that in a bit, but if you’d like to subscribe, then head over to Breaking News.  It’ll have commentary and information on all the things important to writers with a focus on publishing and platform news.  We’ll also link to the best resources we use to research, so you can go straight to the horse’s mouth.  That’ll be launching as soon as we’re settled into the new blog!

And of course, our social media presence will remain.
Finally, Valerie and I want to thank our team and our members.  WIthout you guys, Valerie’s idea, and the work that we both do would never be the same and we’re grateful for our community, every single day.

 

KDP Select and Instafreebie – a caution

I’ve been talking to people a lot about the new promotional methods out there while we revamp the blog (you’ll notice that all bar a few articles are still up on the site for now – they need updating, to the point that we’re actually setting up some new projects and doing something new for y’all.  It’s a huge revamp, but I’ll talk about that in a separate post later in the week.).  For now, let’s talk about Instafreebie and how it could get you into a lot of trouble with Amazon.

Amazon’s KDP Select/KU rules are set up that they’re supposed be the only place your book is available from – bar those that you personally supply to reviewers.
I’ll repeat that.  The only place you should be sending your books out are personally FROM YOUR EMAIL or from a site such as Netgalley (for now, that may change), through your blog tour team if you’re using one and KDP select.

What’s the difference between KDP and KDP Select?

KDP allows you to publish to the KDP platform, gives you lower royalties on certain territories, and no promotional tools.  It also allows you to go ‘wide’, that is, publish on every existing writing distribution platform.

KDP Select means you’re ONLY on Amazon.  It gives you access to KU, which allows people to borrow your books (which is paid for from a subscription pool), and you earn a set amount per page, which they announce monthly.  It gives you promotional tools.  And it means that you don’t drop royalties from 70% to 35%  in certain territories.  KDP select is a rolling unless opt out 90 day period.  You can enroll, run for a few days, then tick the box to leave after 90 days, but many authors don’t, and frequently notice after 90 days have passed.

Well, what about Instafreebie?

Until recently, I thought Instafreebie was fine, but I’ve recently had to look into it when it was asked on a page and I was available to answer.
Believe it or not, Instafreebie says no. They’ve ALWAYS said no.  KDP select was introduced in 2011 (late 2011, I believe, possibly as late as November and December), and Libboo, which later became Instafreebie’s first archived terms and conditions page shows up in March 2014.

Here’s the clause in it’s entirety.  It exits on the current site, but for the purposes of research, I went through the Way Back Machine to look up it’s terms and conditions. (May 2nd, 2014)

3.7 Amazon KDP Select and other Exclusive Programs. By creating a Freebie campaign or giveaway on InstaFreebie, you represent that you are not forbidden to do so by other Programs in which you are enrolled, such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select program. InstaFreebie holds no responsibility for parties who violate the Terms and Conditions of other Programs by using the InstaFreebie service. Please check the Terms and Conditions of other Programs in which you are enrolled before creating a Freebies campaign on instaFreebie

Here are the current terms.

Libboo owns Instafreebie – note that the orange site is Instafreebie by Libboo, while the Green site appears to simply clarify the brand to Instafreebie, and acknowledge Libboo in the terms and conditions.

What does this mean for me?

It means that if your book is in KDP Select or KU, it’s important NOT to use Instafreebie.  Instafreebie has always had that clause in and while  it’s possible it’s just a protection, it’s equally possible that it’s not allowed.  Everything I’ve read in fact suggests that it’s completely not advised, so if you’re in the position of doing an Instafreebie right now and you’re in KDP select/KU, I would recommend removing the Instafreebie immediately.  The only way around this is to change it to 10% or less of your book and then give away it as a sampler, because that is within KDP’s rules surrounding exclusivity.

What do you think?   Does this affect you?

 

My experience with Twitter Ads

twitterAt the end of 2015 I had the idea to experiment with Twitter’s advertisement machine. It’s easy to find: http://ads.twitter.com. You sign in with your twitter account and there’s where you start.

You can set up all kinds of campaigns. I wanted one that got more traffic to my website so I went for that. (You can go into the ads site and look around without spending a penny if you’re curious.)

I set up a campaign from Dec. 30th 2015 until 9th of Jan. 2016, spending €3 per day (currently about $3.50 I think). You can also spend more, or set up a fixed amount for the total run of the campaign. Up to you.

focussed on the world, English speaking, mainly geared towards Science Fiction, Fantasy and Steampunk. The ads site will show you the probable reach per keyword like this:

reach

You probably shouldn’t bother with keywords that bring nothing unless these are important to you.

After this it gets interesting: you either compose a number of tweets to be used for the campaign (I made 4 different ones). You add an image (good to do, images draw attention) and you enter your website address with each tweet so people go to your site when they click the link or the image. You can of course do this for a specific book too, up to you.

Then you get your campaign going. If you want to have it run, you need to set up a credit card so Twitter can actually get your money. They’re clever like that.

After the campaign I ended up with this:

Impressions

Click for larger image

147.000 impressions. This means that in total my tweets were served to this many people over the days the campaign ran. The more you spend per day, the more impressions are served up. You can hit millions but that will cost you appropriately of course. Note that the first day made the biggest bang. After that it’s dropping.

Next to see:

Engagements

Click for larger image

2.54K engagements. Of the 147.000 tweets sent out, 2.540 people engaged. They either liked the tweet or retweeted it. That looks like not very much, does it?

Onwards, to the final results that I see on the campaign site:

Results

Click if you want. There is no larger image.

Of the almost 147.000 tweets sent out, 1.110 people actually clicked the link to my website. This means that 0.76% of all tweets were actually clicked. This also shows that each click I ‘bought’ this way cost 3 cents. This of course shows in the number of visits to my site:

Site visits

Click if you want. There is no larger image.

As you see that’s a dramatic increase in visits. The interesting detail you don’t see but I do, is that I have not seen an impressive increase in sales. Not in any way. Looking at that I think that this campaign sold 1 book.

So much for my foray into the wonderful world of advertising through Twitter. If you have questions or so, you can find me on Twitter.

Pinterest for Writers

Pinterest
First, remember that Pinterest is not a promotion or sale site, it’s simply another social media site except that it’s geared around pictures. For a writer, a Pinterest page allows readers to get to know the writer as a person, as well as your work. Your goal with Pinterest is to engage readers. So, with that in mind:
  1. Create a Pinterest page for you as a writer. Not your book or books, but something like John Smith Books or John Smith Author (but not Author John Smith – there’s a lot of pages that start with Author). Don’t create a page for your book, unless it’s a well-known series. It will also make you easier to Google.
  2. If given the option to add a “Pin” button, take it.
  3. Create a board of your genre or genres – that’s what readers usually search by. In that board, you’ll want to add your book covers and a short blurb with a link to where the book is available. Or go to the sites where it’s available, find the image of the book cover, and Pin should come up. Pin to the appropriate board.
  4. Suggestion: Create a board called Inspiration for your book title or series, and add pictures that evoke that book or series, or the characters. (I’d caution about the characters a little. As one famous quote says – “People will bring their own thing to your book”. That includes the characters. You might want to let them put their own image on the characters.)
  5. As a social media site, it’s a place for readers to get to know you, the writer. Create a Board of your favorite quotes, things you like or something you like or love – like movies you’ve watched, or your pets. Funny images are great, too.
  6. Update regularly. Give readers, other writers, etc. a chance to engage. Keep them coming back so when you release a new book, they’ll be used to looking at your page and see you have a new release. You can prep folks for that new release by adding pictures that are helping to inspire you.Pinterest can be a great social media site for interacting with your fans or potential fans. You can also add promotion for other writers you like.

***NEW*** Join us for some cool classes!

This year, the Indie Author Group is launching some classes to support writers.  We’re doing two trial ones in February, which you can read about below, and then if all goes well, we’ll run other classes as needed.  We’re charging under $10 for each class to ensure that people actually take part in the classes, and there will be resources and lessons, chats and a forum.  Everything runs on Moodle.

The nitty gritty of the trial classes

Author Branding – this is a basic, brass tacks class which discusses all of the different choices that authors can use to promote themselves.  The cost is $5, which you can be invoiced for and starts February 1st.  Your payment covers one month of access, one on one support via the lessons area, downloads and more.
Sign up for our Author Branding class here.

We’re also running a Facebook branding extravaganza, explaining how I raised my interactivity percentage from 9% to 59% in only a month.  Make your Facebook page useful again, and get your audience back in easy to access tips and tricks.  We don’t garuantee that you’ll get the same results, but we do give you the tools we used and they WILL increase your interaction from sub 10% to something a bit healthier.
This class is $7.50, and starts 15th February.
Sign up for our Facebook branding class here

Save and do both!

If you sign up and take part in both classes (which is easy – both classes only need a few hours a week of commitment and will not cut into your writing time too far) you can save $1.50, and book both at $11.

If these classes work out, we’ll run them several times a year and add more for people interested in joining in.  We’ve been running amazing day drop in tutorials on Facebook for the last year and have decided to give people the chance to join in on more structured classes, designed to make people think about their interactions on social media and supported tutorials to give them the chance to evaluate and redesign your social media, and gain more traffic from all areas that you use, or boost your Facebook interactions.

Last chance to book the social media overview class is 27th, to give us a chance to ask some questions and personalise the classes.

If you’d like to sign up for news on other classes, and other projects we offer people, please head on over to our mailing list and sign up.

 

 

New feature – Saturday Stuff to try – Tsu

Editor’s note – if you’ve got a ‘stuff to try’ article, we’d love to see it.  Just hit the contact page.  This blog is already distributed to several groups on Facebook for writers, and as I co-founded and look after the blog, the biggest indie writer’s discussion group on Facebook’s blog, Indieauthorgroup.com.

 

It was around the time that MySpace was on it’s downward spiral that I joined Facebook.  It was MANY moons ago, and I’ve seen it change from a small site which people hung out on to one of the top, and probably the most press-dominating social networks of the day.  It’s been a fairytale story for Mark Zuckerberg, but for the users, it’s been quite rocky too.

So, I keep an eye on new networks, just in case there’s anything that I think might be worth recommending.  In this series of articles, myself and serveral other writers will be sharing their experiences on the various networks we all use.

tsu

Today, I want to recommend something new…

With a few cautionary notes, of course.  I’ve been trying out both Ello and Tsu recently.  Today I’m going to focus on Tsu.

Tsu claims to offer it’s participants a share of the revenue it makes, depending on how active you are.  It says that it shares revenues and unlike Facebook considers all members equal.  It DOES use advertising, which ELLO does not, but that’s ok, because I think that’s where their revenue comes from.
As for how it works – it’s basically a blog system where you can post ‘updates’ and follow one another – it’s got all of the basic social things you want, but it’s no frills.  I’m sure if it takes off that will change, but it’s certainly not a social media network replacement.  And while it’s nice to earn a couple of cents here and there, I’m not hearing from people who are earning anything extraordinary.

As for me?  Like I said, there are some cautions.  It wants a lot of personal data at signup, including date of birth.  It can all be hidden from your profile, but some people don’t like that.  That said, Facebook now asks for your date of birth, and Google asks, but I don’t think it’s a mandatory question.  The fact that you have to join through someone’s referal link also seems to be a bit limiting, and strikingly designed like an MLM type project – the only difference being, you don’t pay for anything, you just get a share of your ‘family tree’s’ earnings.

I would rate it as a must try though – if only because it seems to have a huge uptake right now in my circle of readers, writers and artists.  And there’s no harm in having it and using it to cross-post to both Twitter and Facebook, which it can do.  Just be aware that the links aren’t always ‘pretty’ and the earning potential, for now, doesn’t look like it’s going to break anyone’s bank.  Want to join me anyway?  If you’re already there, I’m Kaiberie, and you can join on my link – that way I can friend you later!

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