two-dozen to four-thousand (an e-book publishing case study)

two-dozen to four-thousand (an e-book publishing case study)

Platform. That’s the big buzzword in publishing these days. You’ve got to build your platform if you’re ever going to be successful in publishing. At least that’s what everyone says, right?

But what if e-book publishing is itself the platform and not the result of building one?

Let me explain by throwing some numbers out there from a recent experience with an author I’ve been working with over the last year or so.

In 2012, Alex Terego had a total of 5 books, all self-published. Throughout the entire year, he sold approximately two dozen copies of his books across all platforms. They were published in print through Createspace, and in e-book format on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble for Nook, and in the iTunes store for books.

If you looked at his blog and social media platform, you’d probably say that this makes perfect sense. He was getting about 15-20 page views per day on the blog. He had about 20-30 followers on Twitter and around 200 likes on his author page on Facebook. There are a few people listening to him, but it definitely isn’t a powerhouse social media platform.

In 2013, we changed the strategy pretty drastically. And the result was kinda mind-blowing…

Over the next year, the total distribution of his books went to over 4,000 copies!

How did we do that? Yeah, I get that question a lot. Here are some points on what we did, but before I share them, let me say this… we didn’t focus on growing his social media platform. (Insert gasp here.) I know, shocker, huh? In fact, I might point out that his social media platform (which still isn’t huge) is growing more as a result of selling books, and not the other way around.

Revising the Sales Strategy

The first thing we did is evaluate the impact of having the book available for sale on multiple platforms (Kindle, Nook, iTunes, etc). Common sense would say it’s important to have the product listed in as many places as possible. You wouldn’t want to miss any sales due to not having your book in certain stores, right?

Wrong.

In my personal self-publishing experience, Kindle has consistently outsold all other platforms (print, Nook, direct PDF sales, etc) combined by at least 20-to-1. On the surface, it already looked like focusing on Kindle would be a good strategy.

Consider this about the availability of Kindle e-books:

This means that virtually every Internet-connected device can give a reader access to Kindle e-books.

Only iPhone, iPod, and iPad users can read books purchased in the iTunes Bookstore. On the other hand, those same Apple product users can download the free Kindle app on their device and read Kindle books.

Exclusivity Has Its Benefits

Another driving factor in focusing on the Kindle-only approach for e-book publishing is the ability to enroll in the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program. This option is available when you grant exclusive e-book delivery rights to Amazon Kindle for 90 days. In return, you’ll get some nice benefits from enrolling in this program:

  • Your e-book is available to Amazon Prime members in the lending library. Prime members pay an annual subscription fee in order to get some extra benefits, one of them being the free lending library. It means they can get your book for free for a couple of weeks. Even though they get it for free, Amazon has a fund that they payout from, so you still get royalties when your book is “borrowed,” sometimes more than the actual sales price of the book itself!
  • You can offer your e-book as a FREE download. Because the greatest enemy of every author is obscurity, getting you book into people’s hands is a big deal. And offering it for free can do just that. There have also been several studies (including my own personal experience) that point to free promos like this resulting in an increase in paid sales after the promo is complete.
  • I’ve also tested the discount promotion tool by offering one of my $2.99 e-books for a reduced price of $0.99 for one week. Even at the discounted price, I’ve earned approximately THREE TIMES the royalty rate compared to non-promo weeks!

Common sense would say that switching to a single delivery platform would drop sales. However, the opposite is true. Opening up new promotional opportunities has allowed us to reach new audiences, resulting in an increase in overall sales!

Working the Amazon Ecosystem

Simply switching to a Kindle-only e-book publishing strategy isn’t enough. You still have to work the system in order to get the full benefit from these tools.

In the case of Alex Terego, the first thing we did was to set up a free promotion schedule. We call it Free Friday. Every Friday we would offer (at least) one of his e-books for free on Kindle. We had enough initially to create a cycle lasting about two months before a piece would come up to be offered for free again.

This helped get more of his books out there to more people.

Most importantly, it started getting his books into the “Customers How Bought This Also Bought” section of the page for other books. The cool thing about downloading a free Kindle book is that you still “buy” it. Your purchase price is $0.00, but you’ve “bought” the book. As a result, Amazon will begin to index that purchase along with other purchases you’ve made and use that data to help other people with similar tastes find new books they might like.

The More, the Merrier… Keep Publishing

The final piece of the strategy with Alex Terego is that we continued to publish new content regularly. Having more content out there for someone to find you can help broaden your exposure. I’ve heard similar feedback from other authors too… some say they didn’t see much traction until they published their fourth (or so) piece.

Having a strong launch plan is important for any book launch project. But remember, Alex Terego never had a huge following to begin with. So there just wasn’t much there to build a launch team with who could help by writing blog posts and building social media buzz.

So we used what we had…

While leveraging free promotions for existing books, we began to offer new books for free at the same time. The plan was to entice people to download BOTH Kindle books for free at the same time. If they did, then BOTH would become part of their purchase history, and build a stronger connection between the “Customers Who Bought…” links. This worked particularly well with getting some of Terego’s books to show up on the page for other books of his. The increased visibility built stronger sales for books with that link on other product pages of his.

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t take a massive platform, or thousands of Twitter followers, or (insert other standards you’ve been holding on to here) in order to be successful with e-book publishing. But it does take some work.

A typical book launch starts with a spike, (some “experts” say) followed by a drop into obscurity after the first 2-3 months. It definitely takes some work, but I’ve found the opposite to be possible! My first self-published work only sold 39 copies in its first month on the market. Total distribution/downloads now exceeds 10,000 copies!

The same principles worked for Alex Terego, blowing away our distribution expectations for that next year.

I know it sounds cliche, but if I can do it, and if I was able to replicate it with others, then you can do it too! I’m even willing to the help you figure it out.

the shocking truth about getting published

the shocking truth about getting published

getting published, self publishingNearly every blogger I know has the goal of getting published. Unfortunately, few ever reach that goal. Some struggle with the high perceived investment of time and/or money. Others feel like they may not be able to overcome certain technical aspects of publishing. Regardless of the obstacle, if you’re one of those bloggers who dream of getting published, then I’m here to share a shocking truth with you.

It may not be the easiest thing you’ve ever done. And it is a lot of work. Our dreams and goals rarely ever just happen to us. But if you’ve been blogging for a while (six months or more), then the truth is…

Let me tell you a little story that might encourage you. I had been blogging for a few years when it happened for me. And I was struggling with the idea that I wasn’t even close to getting published when someone gave me some encouragement. Then an author friend challenged me to consider the work I’ve already done. At the time I had about 600 posts on my blog. And at an average of about 500 words each, I had over 300,000 words of content already published!

Considering that an average 200-page book is about 60,000 words, I quickly realized that I had written enough content to fill FIVE full-length books!

So I had already done the work, I just needed to figure out how to convert some of that existing blog content into a book that I could market and sell.

To make a long story short, within a few months I self-published my first book. But that’s not even the most exciting part of the story! While I was in the launch process of that first book, a small, start-up publisher read the book, and offered me a contract to write another book with them. Then, within a few months after that deal I was signing yet another book contract, but this time with one of the major publishers in my niche!

This could be your story too!

How can I say something like that? Well, the truth is that I’m nobody special. Which means that if I can do it, then so can you. I’m so certain about this, that I’m going to help you make that happen! I know for a fact there are far better writers out there than me. But for whatever reason they feel like the obstacles preventing them from getting published are just too big. So I’m here to tear down those obstacles, and help you achieve your dreams.

The first step in this process is to stop listening to the lies that you can’t do it on your own. Do you know who says more than anyone else that you’ll never get published without a literary agent? You guessed it, literary agents!

The publishing industry is getting flipped upside down these days, thanks to a little device called the e-reader. That means anything is possible!

kindle, e-reader, e-book, publishing

My goal is to help you learn how you can leverage the latest technology and trends in the publishing industry to take the steering wheel for reaching your publishing goals into your own hands!

I’m developing a course as we speak that will help you learn everything you need to know about how to take the work you’ve done on your blog and turn it into a published book that you can market and sell. My plan is to deliver three key resources to help you out at whatever level you need:

1. FREE webinars where I’ll teach you more about the process of getting published
2. A full training program that will walk you step-by-step through the process and give you deeper how-to instruction an every task involved
3. Personal coaching from me to answer questions and offer advice to help you be as successful as you can be

Dude… seriously… let’s rock this thing! Let’s get you to where you want to be in your writing career!

from blog to e-book publishing

from blog to e-book publishing

When you’re passionate about something, and begin sharing that passion with others through blogging and social media, it won’t take long for you to develop a good amount of content on the subject. And that content can easily be leveraged to publish an e-book.

Publishing can be a fun and exciting space to get into, and can even help you reach your goals for developing your audience platform.

Consider this…

When I looked back at 5 years of blogging on BibleDude.net, I noticed that I had over a half million words of content on the website. I knew there had to be a book in there somewhere. So I started by looking at the series I’ve written, and one of my favorites was the daily trip journals that I wrote about my 2+ weeks in Africa (my first mission trip).

As I read through the posts, I realized that the series could have been an interesting e-book by itself. But I noticed something deeper happening, so I wrote a little more around the trip journals to talk about how I became The Unlikely Missionary: From Pew-Warmer to Poverty-Fighter. As a result, being a published author has opened new doors for me as an ‘expert’ on faith-based activism and foreign missions. The book is now a best seller in books in Christian Evangelism, and has passed 10,000 copies in total distribution!

As the Kindle and Nook versions started to sell, I decided to give away a free PDF copy of the book to people who subscribed to BibleDude.net. Before offering this free download, I was adding an average of 8-10 new e-mail subscribers per month (slow, but steady). And since offering the download, I’ve been averaging 70-75 new e-mail subscribers per month!

e-book, kindle, nook, blogThe bottom line is that if you’re sharing something on a subject that you’re passionate about, then you won’t want to miss the opportunity to expand your message beyond a single platform. There are obvious benefits to working from blog to e-book, including:

  • It’s a great way to re-purpose older content on your blog, and make it fresh and new
  • It establishes you as an expert on the subject that you’re writing about
  • It’ll open other doors to get you and your message in front of more people
  • It becomes an additional revenue stream as it continues to sell
  • It can be used to increase the size of your subscriber base

That’s all not to mention that your friends will now introduce you as their friend who wrote a book on (insert subject here).

Services like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace, and Barnes and Noble’s Nook Press have made it easier for writers to self-publish and make their work available online.

The best part is that guidelines and restrictions typical in traditional publishing are now gone! You don’t have to write 200 pages of content when your idea might best be communicated in 50 pages. In fact, I’ve seen some great e-books that would only be 17 pages long if printed. This means that you can focus on discussing one idea really well, and not have to worry about meeting someone else’s template for publishing (most likely driven by profit margin formulas).

publishing, ebook publishingTypically, publishing your e-book is free with the services I’ve mentioned. However, when converting blog content into an e-book, there are three pieces you’d be wise to consider spending money on:

  1. Content formatting
  2. Professional editing
  3. Cover design graphics

Using your blog to develop e-book content is definitely a good strategic move. And if this is something you decide to pursue, then let me know what I can do to help you!