Dear Indie ♥ Weekly Resource Post

Independent

Alright Indies, before we get down to business, I’ve noticed a couple of things this week that I think are important to share.

  1. There seems to be a small flaw to the social media managing site Crowdfire. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, I just realized that any post I publish or schedule through Crowdfire doesn’t show up under my Twitter profile like all of my other posts do (If you’re familiar with this site and have additional information – like what I’m doing wrong – please let us know!) or I’ll stop being lazy and go look on their FAQ page. Also, none of my Instagram posts show up anywhere on my Instagram, whether it’s on my feed or profile. It shows up as being published under the Archive section on Crowdfire, but nowhere else. I don’t think it’s being posted. So for Instagram, I’m sticking to posting the traditional way. Which is better, anyway, since I use the NoCrop app in order for my entire picture to show up without getting cut off by Instagram’s Square photos only policy.

    NoCrop

    NoCrop Logo – courtesy of Google Play

  2. I received an email from a newsletter that I subscribe to that gave me great pause. I’m not going to name names, as I really like the site the email is affiliated with and they have really low, affordable author services on their MAIN site. This appears to be a spin-off or sister site. And the very first thing in the email is the fact that they are offering a new service that will charge you for reviews [insert gobsmacked expression here]. Paid-For Reviews are 100% BANNED on Amazon, as well as every other retail site, and Strictly Prohibited on Goodreads. Even if by some chance they can promise the review only reads: “Was provided a free ARC in exchange for an honest review” – it’s a big fat lie, because regardless if that money goes to the person who actually wrote the review or not – you, the author exchanged MONEY for that review, not a free ARC.
  • Please Indies, check out other resources before ever paying for a review. There are countless legitimate Reviewing companies out there that will review your book for free – there are countless Reviewing groups, folders and individuals all over Goodreads who are also willing to review for FREE. Granted, you have less control over if your book gets chosen or if you get a good review, or when you might ever see that review, but why would you pay to get a bad review or worse… a fake one? Reviews are important, yes, but they are NOT the end-all-be-all that sells your book – Your dedicated readers are! So focus on your readers, your followers, your newsletter subscribers more than your reviews. Just as with Beta Reads, you should never have to PAY for a review and in my humble, personal opinion, it’s just another unethical practice that ‘tricks’ consumers into spending money, on top of scamming authors!

Okay, now that I got that out of the way, this week I promised we’d cover Pre-Orders. Have you considered the process, or the purpose? Is this something you’d even want to try? There was just a lively discussion about this on Goodreads a week or so ago, and even though it only covered the ‘marketing & sales’ side of it, I did learn a couple of things on the Print end – which I’m unfamiliar with as of yet. I’m going to share those things here with you today, so you have more insight, too. 🙂

Print On Demand: There are no pre-order options with this service (I did not know that). One of the commenters warned us of that, followed with how she gets around it. She simply direct-publishes her POD books a few days before her eBook goes live so that her POD reviews seamlessly merge with the eBook version shortly after its release. So, if you’re interested in going that route, it may be something you want to research deeper. I will have a future post on POD’s, because I truly do want to try CreateSpace when I can.

eBook Pre-Orders: KDP, KDP Select and Smashwords all allow you to publish your book for Pre-Order (click on links for their guidelines). Smashwords then sends your book out to its affiliate stores (Kobo, iBooks, B&N) for pre-order as well. I would normally follow that up with a list of Pros & Cons, but there aren’t any Cons. It’s just a matter of preference and what your purpose for choosing Pre-Orders might be. The first question is usually: Does Pre-Order help with book sales? If you’re a well established author with a huge following, probably. Otherwise, you might not get a single pre-order. However, there are other benefits, and these are the reasons why I will always opt for pre-order:

When I tried to put Avarice up for Pre-Order on KDP, it came back BLOCKED. I spent 4 days pulling teeth (aka trying to get a straight answer from Amazon customer support), because they “retain the right to choose what they deem appropriate or not, without having to explain themselves” (almost a direct quote). The problem is that I had no idea if the issue was with the cover, the content or the book details – and they flat out refused to tell me – which tells me that they don’t know, it was merely something one of their algorithm systems picked up on. Luckily, I had also loaded my book to Smashwords for Pre-Order and when their infamous Meatgrinder kicked it out – they told me exactly why, without me even having to contact customer support! So I was able to take that mistake and apply it to a new upload on KDP and wallah! It went through the second time without a hitch.

Important Note: KDP will not allow you to remove or make changes to a BLOCKED book – you have to load it again, as if it’s a whole other book, under the “Create Title” option on your Author Bookshelf page.

How is that a benefit, you ask? Imagine if that had happened on Avarice’s Release Day. If I had waited until the 22nd when my book is due to go Live, I would’ve had a the worst Launch Day ever. No one would’ve been able to buy my book!

The fact is both Smashwords and KDP take 24-48 hours to APPROVE your book for publishing before they’ll even list it. Perhaps, publishing directly forces it to go through right away on KDP – I’m not sure, as I’ve never taken that route – but from everything I’ve read on Smashwords, even if you direct publish, it still has to make it through their Meatgrinder in order to make it into their Premium Catalog, before they’ll send it out to their retail affiliates. Therefore, your book may be for sale on Smashwords, but not on Kobo, iBooks or B&N until it’s been approved.

Going the Pre-Order route allows you to make sure that all mistakes (if any) are fixed, and your book is being released across ALL retail sites simultaneously, without any delays – leaving you completely free to spend your book’s Launch Day interacting with your tour hosts and readers, rather than trying to fix publishing issues. So, that is simply another aspect to look at other than just the ‘marketing & sales’ side of it.

DEADLINES: Both KDP and Smashwords allows you to put incomplete books up for pre-order. KDP limits some of your options if you’re only uploading the Rough version or what Smashwords calls “Assetless Preorders”: This is the unfinished/or unedited manuscript with or without a book cover. However – both of these sites also have Deadlines of when you MUST have your final versions with book covers uploaded. 10 days prior to its Release Date – and if you don’t, then you will not be allowed to use their Pre-Order options for a certain penalty period after that. *Note: this does not change your ability to upload an “Updated” version of your book, after you’ve met your deadline with the “final” version. You will always be able to load an updated version, even after it’s live. You just need to make sure you have a ‘final’ version up there first.

Well, that’s all I have for this week Indies! Next week’s post will be bittersweet, because I’m going to cover what to expect on your Big Launch Day! That means our Step-by-Step Guide portion is almost at an end – but worry not, even if Dear Indie turns into a Monthly post, rather than weekly, I will still be sharing every new trick, free and/or low-cost resource and anything else I continue to learn along this journey we all love so much!

Weekly Accomplishment: I’ve been diligently working on Scavenger, after having to go back to the very beginning and make changes throughout because somewhere along the way I lost my character’s true voices and was very unhappy with the tragic nosedive they were taking. Writing a scene should never feel ‘forced’ – and that’s where I was at. I’m quite happy with where we’re back to and hopefully will be soaring right to the end now. 🙂 What are you celebrating this week? Please share with us in the comments, if not for our drinking habits, then for yourself – every milestone, no matter how small should always be celebrated!

 

 

Dear Indie ♥ Weekly Resource Post

Independent

Publishing Part 1

This week, I’d like to start covering Publishing, but it turns out I have more to say about it than I thought, so I’ve broken it down into separate posts.  Maybe you’ve already begun looking into how you wish to publish, or maybe that day is still so far off you figure you have time to do that boring, time-consuming step later.  Hopefully I can help cut some of the dullness and time down for you here, while advising you not to wait until the last minute.  For this first part, I’m only going to talk about:

SMASHWORDS

The #1 Indie Publishing site in the world. If you’re still unfamiliar with their services, allow me to reveal what I know so far.  In essence, Smashwords is a one-stop platform that does all of the work for you.  Before I go any further, this is very important: You CANNOT successfully upload your book to Smashwords unless it meets their formatting and book cover criteria.

Fortunately, the CEO has put together a step-by-step walk through on exactly how to format the interior layout of your book (this can also save you $$$ on paying someone else to do it) with this Smashwords Style Guide.  He also went a step further and created “Mark’s List” of professional formatters and cover designers that follow their specifications, if you feel better not going the DIY route.

Formatting aside, you have 3 immediate options with Smashwords:

  1. Assetless Preorders: For up to 12 months in advance, you can create a link for readers to preorder your book without having to upload the manuscript or book cover at all.  This gives you an additional 12 months of possible sales on a book you’re not even done writing yet!
  2. Regular Preorders: This is where your book is already finished and you upload it and your book cover exactly as you would for normal Publishing, only Smashwords allows you to choose “Preorder” and then has you set the future date of publication.  For however long that is, your book is not only available for early buyers, but up to 30% of your content is available as a Free downloadable sample – which potential readers love more than just a blurb. (It’s the equivalent of the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon.) I don’t know about you, but I use that feature quite a bit.
  3. Direct Publishing: Publishing on the day your book is scheduled to be released. *NOT RECOMMENDED!* And this is why:

The first thing Smashwords does with your book is send it to their Meatgrinder to check for formatting errors.  This lists your book as “Pending Review” for their Premium Catalog.  That beautiful list is what allows your book to be distributed to their retail associates (i.e. Kobo, Barnes&Noble, iBooks, etc.), so you want to make sure you check your Dashboard for “AutoVetter” notices and fix them right away.  The sooner your book is accepted into the Premium Catalog, the faster it reaches all of those other retail sites.

So, choosing to wait until the exact date of your book’s release is taking the very real risk that your book isn’t even going to be available for sale anywhere other than Smashwords until they’re through approving it.  I would advise using one of the Preorder options, so your book is already approved prior to the publication date, plus it gives you a jump start on both sales and exposure!

Here are even more reasons to love Smashwords:

  • They assign an epub ISBN number to your book for FREE, if you don’t already have one.
  • You upload your book once, and they send it out to all of the retailers for you. (They only send out the epub version to retailers, that is why you only get the one ISBN number.)
  • Nothing is written in stone:  With their Dashboard feature, you will never have to ‘Republish’ your books.  Found a better cover? Just update your book from your Dashboard.  Realized your book had proofreading errors? No worries, just upload the corrected version of your book through the Dashboard and it’s taken care of – Smashwords will instantly send out your updated files to all of the retailers for you!

Here’s what Smashwords will NOT do for you: Distribute to Amazon.  Unless your book sales have reached $2,000 and even then, I think there is a waiting period or selection process that doesn’t guarantee you a spot.

More on Amazon next time!

Recommended Reading: Smashwords FAQ page. They have to have the easiest FAQ page to read and navigate that I’ve ever seen – and very thorough about answering any question you might have.

Publishing fun fact: Did you know that ePublishers don’t require you to have a literary agent and that you can submit to them directly?  Did you know that most brick & mortar Publishing houses have jumped on board that bandwagon and now offer their own ePub services that also don’t require you to have a literary agent?  Harlequin is one of them and you can find their non-agented ePub site here.