In case you missed the first part of my discussion about the Challenges of Editing an Anthology, be sure to check it out, too!
So, you’ve got your shiny anthology complete. Editing is done, proofreading is done (You did proofread it properly, right? Like, more than once?) and you’re now wondering how the hell are you going to get this into the hands of readers?
Before you do that though, there are a number of things to consider:
This is likely to deter many first time editor/publishers.
I’ll say straight away, that if you have the budget, it’s probably time effective to outsource this to a professional. You’ll save a lot of time and heartache. But if you are the enquiring kind and like to control everything (like me) then this is an area you’ll need to look at.
You need to decide if you are going to make it available in eBook, print, or both.
I chose both for City of Hell Chronicles: Volume 1.
By going both routes, you’ll need to make sure the artwork for the cover is the correct resolution (300dpi) for print, and (72dpi) for eBooks. You then need to decide on what page size you’ll need for the print copy if you are having one. You can find information on this, including templates from CreateSpace and Lulu.
Once you have the print version formatted it’s time to look at the ebook.
This also ties into the section on distribution. It’s worth thinking at this stage exactly which market places you wish to enter as the formatting depends on this. I personally chose to use Amazon, iBookstore and B&N.
Some choose to use Smashwords. I didn’t, and I explain why in the distribution section.
There are a number of ways of creating your ebook.
You can upload a word doc to Smashwords or Lulu, and let them build an ePub for you, which they then distribute, or you can build the ePub yourself.
Why would you do such a thing? Well, by formatting the eBook yourself, you have total control over the formatting.
Word is NOT an eBook formatting tool. It makes basic, derivative ebooks in order to pass Smashwords and Lulu’s ‘meatgrinder’ process of conversion.
The best way IMHO is to program it by hand using HTML/CSS and use Calibre to convert to ePub and Mobi (Kindle).
This gives you perfect files for Amazon Kindle and ePub for everyone else. Because you are using CSS you can style the book to your tastes, and most importantly, you have a great deal of control, which you lose by trying to meet Smashwords/Lulu’s stringent Word doc requirements. For more information on how to do this. You should read the brilliant Guido Henkel guide — you’ll format your ebook in around an hour or so, and it’ll look amazing on all devices.
2. Distribution, Pricing & Proofs
There are loads of market places these days for both print and eBooks.
Smashwords will distribute to many, but I chose not to go with them — partly because of the backwards nature of submitting a Word doc for their conversion process, but also, the market places they submit to make up a tiny percentage of the overall marketplace, so for me, the time/cost factor wasn’t worth it. Also, I can manually submit to many of those markets myself and retain more of the royalty.
City of Hell Chronicles: Volume 1 was uploaded to Amazon as a Kindle book, and to Lulu for the paperback.
I’ve used Lulu’s free ‘extendedReach’ program which means the paperback will be listed with Amazon, so buyers will have the choice of both formats. This is free to do and an easy way of getting a print copy listed on Amazon.
I also used Lulu’s distribution package on the ePub to list with iBookstore and B&N. The reason I did this was because I’m from the UK and currently don’t have an American Tax Identification Number (TIN) which many marketplaces require you to have (Including Amazon with regards to receiving royalties from the .com site).
You can also use CreateSpace for the print version. I chose Lulu because they have printers all round the world, and international shipping rates are more agreeable. If you are mostly targeting the US, then CreateSpace might be the better choice for you.
The main thing you should do is check the proofs before you make the book live.
Amazon has a previewer for when you upload your eBook and Lulu/CreateSpace will let you purchase a proof copy of the print book for you to check. I’m glad I did this because no matter how much you check it on the computer, only by seeing it in print will you notice things that need altering.
DO NOT skip this part.
That leaves pricing. I won’t go into all the details as there is loads of information on this subject just a google search away.
Many people think the .99c approach is the way to go. You’ll sell more but the royalties drop to just 35% when you list your book under $2.99 so you’ll have to sell a great deal more to make up the shortfall.
Personally, I priced City of Hell Chronicles: Volume 1 at $2.99 because I don’t want to devalue the product, and I think it’s worth that. The paperback version is priced differently, due to the cost of printing, and we aimed for a price under $10. I don’t expect to sell many of these, but for the contributors, friends and family, it makes a nice physical souvenir of the all the hard work that has gone into it.
Before I talk about marketing, I think it’s important to say, your book should be as good as you can possibly make it. That means good editing, thorough proofreading, good cover art and a great synopsis/description.
So many people who indie publish these days focus on marketing to the detriment of their book.
A great book will sell itself once it gets in front of people.
Marketing can and will shift a crappy book, but it won’t last. And you reputation can suffer. So don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s all about marketing. It should be all about the quality of the product. The marketing comes afterwards.
So on to the nuts and bolts. How am I marketing City of Hell Chronicles: Volume 1?
1. Social Media
This is by far the cheapest and most effective form.
I use Twitter mostly, as well as G+ and Facebook. I’m also a member of various forums and communities. The thing to remember is no one likes to be sold to. Don’t be one of those ‘BUY MY BOOK’ tweeters who posts endless links to their books. It’s obnoxious and won’t win you any friends.
What you should do is embrace Social Media — the clue is in the name.
Talk to people about other things, get to know them, help promote them, build karma. Because when it comes to telling people about your projects, your new friends will be glad to help, because you’ve helped them and got to know them.
Build relationships with reviewers BEFORE you ask them for a review.
I spent about a year on twitter before I asked anyone to look at my work or to buy the book. It takes time, but if you plan this out, you can build a nice network of friends and supporters who will be interested in your book.
2. Forums & Blogs
This is really a continuation of the first. It’s all about communication, getting to know people and not being a self-promoting douche.
Your blog is a great way of talking about your project without being a spammer. Use it to discuss details of your work, how you work, the kind of research you’re doing. Maybe even post a short sample. Write good informative and interesting content, and others will reshare it, tweet it and post it on the various platforms for you.
Do this way ahead of the launch so that by the time you’ve got something to sell, you’ll have a ready built audience willing and waiting to buy your product. It’s the same with forums.
Don’t spam your product, but talk to people, discuss things, get to know them. Over time you’ll find people will ask you about your book, and then you can tell them about it.
Always remember: be a human being, not a sales bot.
Word of the mouth is the single most important way of selling anything.
A personal recommendation from a trusted source is a golden ticket to a sale. Some of your buyers will randomly stumble across your book, and as long as you’ve done your job right, and they like it, chances are they’ll tell someone, or many someones.
This is a slow and uncontrollable process, but you can give it a kick start.
I’m talking about book bloggers.
These wonderful people are book nuts. They love them so much they blog about them. They are the most passionate readers you’ll likely find. Which of course makes them your new best friend.
All the same rules apply though. When approaching a book blogger, don’t be all up in their grill about how great your book is, be humble, be human and follow their review policy. Don’t send a horror book to a romance reviewer, or vice versa, it shows you are dim and unable to read.
So take your time, find book bloggers in your genre, read their policy and approach them with a nice letter.
Or do what I did and combine Social Media. I followed a load of reviewers on twitter and other platforms and go to know these people way in advance of evening mentioning that I was putting together a book. Comment on their reviews, discuss the books, read the same ones.
Be human! (There’s a theme here, huh?).
It’s much easier to ask a reviewer to review your book if you have a history of being a nice guy/gal with an interest in their work. Take the long view, get involved early — perhaps even review some books yourself. But either way, be nice, be polite and approach these wonderful people with respect.
The word of mouth effect from a good review by a respected reviewer is golden and can really help give your project a decent amount of exposure.
So that’s what we are doing for City of Hell Chronicles: Volume 1.
Here’s the sales bit (see what I’ve done here… sneaky isn’t it?):
You can buy the ebook from Amazon:
and Lulu Paperback.
For more information on this project, and to see what I’ve been blogging about during the creation of this book, check out CityOfHellChronicles.com, my publishing company that has put it out (we’re open for submissions), and my personal site.