Go ahead! You know you want to indulge yourself with some more Roman-y-Steampunky-goodness! It’s okay! I feel the same way! Click HERE now!
Yes, it’s okay to feel excitement. I do too.
In Today’s posting, I wanted to talk about pricing your ebook. I know that many self-published authors are engaged in a ‘race to the bottom’ of sorts in an effort to eek out as much money from a book as possible. Someone once told me that I should always price my first book at 99 cents because “why would anyone spend more on a more expensive book when there are 99 cent ones out there?”
Good question. But I would like to say that there are not many other books out there just like my book. To be sure, there are a lot of quality 99 cent books out there. There are even many quality free books out there too. But for me, I know what my own book is worth, which is my first point.
1.) Price your book for what you think people will really pay for it. Everyone wants to get the most bang for their buck, and people are always looking for deals. But at the same time, don’t forget that you get what you pay for. If you purchase a 99 cent book, you’re expecting to read a 99 cent book. I don’t expect it to be great, just average. But if I see someone charging a bit more for their book – and it has good reviews with a good amount of traffic (I like to check the ranking numbers) then I’ll check it out.
2.) You will make more money by selling fewer higher cost books than you will selling more lower price books. Amazon, in particular, gives authors 70% of the profits if their book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99. So I make roughly $2.74 off each book I sell at the 70% rate. Contrast this to the paltry 30% offered to those who sell their book at 99 cents – a meager 30 cents (roughly) per book. So a person with a 99 cent book would have to sell nine books to make almost what I make in one book. One sell is a lot easier than nine.
3.) The flip side is also true. Nine cheap sells are a lot easier than one tough(er) sell. But this is where being smart ties in. Right now I have just one book. So I’ve priced it a bit high, with the idea that eventually I can lower the price. But how can you have your book, your work of blood-sweat-tears that took you a year to write actually have a helpful price while also keeping excited readers? Create a loss leader! Make a short story or two (ten thousand words or so) and price them at 99 cents or free. You don’t need an incredible amount of editing, just some basic formatting work and cover art. People will buy the cheap one, and be drawn into your story, then purchase your more expensive novel. By the way, Lindsey Buroker is an expert on this, check out her multiple 99 cent short stories that helped her get started in the world of self-publishing.
4.) Using a loss leader – This can be especially easy if you have a series. A loss leader is simply when you offer something at free or reduced prices to get someone interested in a product. You see this all the time when credit card companies give you a baseball hat or t-shirt when you sign up for a card. They lose a (small) amount of money on the shirt, but expect to gain more when you rack up big debts on your account.
So you set up your first novel as a cheaper or free introduction to your story, and hope the reader enjoys the story enough to purchase the next installments. Bingo, the ‘free’ book leads to two or three other purchases perhaps? Maybe more if you have multiple series.
What do you guys think about price setting? Is it better to start high then go low or simply stay low? Thoughts?
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Just to get you in the mood:
A clattering sound drew Julius’s attention back to the tower in time to see the tribune hastening down the metal ladder. He waited for Constantine to join them before asking nonchalantly, “So, Tribune, sir, how did reason fare over violence and anger?”
The tribune grimaced. “We’ll just have to reinforce the lesson with a bit of old-fashioned corporal punishment.” A thousand-throat scream of fury and belligerence interrupted him.
He ran back to grab the discarded speaking trumpet. This time he addressed the defenders. “Ready, boys—remember your training! Keep your thrusts short and cover your brothers. Repeaters, I want as much fire as you can place on those rebels. Aim for the leaders if you can!”
The guttural screams rose in pitch. “Here they come!”
The rush to publish is on! Here’s a quick update of the comings and goings during the last few days.
1.) The edited files are being read through as we speak (3/4 of the way through now, making notes to return it to the editor!)
2.) Illustrations are in progress (Saw the first one – looks awesome!) The readers will definitely be in for a treat!
3.) Super top secret awesomeness for the Kickstart Supporters (and later the newsletter sign-uppers) is completely finished! I’ll post the very first draft of it on here to give you a baby clue as to what it may look like.
4.) Finished the book series website, but holding off on publishing it until the book is almost ready.
5.) Upgraded my wordpress to change Modern Papyrus to danielottalini.com – This is now more my blog and author site, rather than the review and thoughts blog it was originally!
Wow, so much done, and yet still so much to do! It’s early April now, and my goal was to have the book published by June, so now that is a very reasonable goal (in my mind at least). Still have an array of things to do before then though. I’ve taken some time to sit down and set up a plan to promote my book.
1. Talk to friends, family, etc. (Short and sweet – they’ll probably get sick of me)
2. Build an online presence on Goodreads (Add me as a friend!) Twitter, Facebook (Coming soon!), and my blog. This is in progress now! For example, the folks over at Indie Book Collective had some great promotional things going down. I’d want to join in on that!
3. Set up and finalize book-website with cross-linking between it and here.
4. Set up a newsletter service through Mail Chimp or Adweber.
5. Get bookmarks, stamps, and business cards through Zazzle so that I can do low-level promoting (leaving bookmarks in books at library, business cards when paying tabs at restaurants, shamelessly self promoting myself in all areas 🙂
6. Set up giveaways on Goodreads and send books to be reviewed by several self-publishing blogs/steampunk blogs. One I’ll definitely be contacting is IndieBookSpot for their author interviews and reviews.
I’m sure I’ll think of more in the meantime, but that’s it for right now. Anything else I missed that should be included!?
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My Brother emailed me with the most wonderful birthday gift (not today, but soon!), a finished audio rendition of my chapter one. “Now hold up” I can imagine many of you saying. “Your book isn’t even out yet, how do you have an audio book component?!” Well my good friends, I’ll let you in on a little secret… Most editors will do a free test edit of your first chapter. If you like what you see, you can send them the rest. In my case, I was fortunate enough to have a great editor in Marg Gilks over at Scriptora Editing Services. Not only was she actually interested in the story, but I carefully reviewed her previous work and found a few books similar to mine. So I hired her.
Back to the main point! I asked my brother, who has lots of voice and drama experience, if he would be willing to read my book. I love his voice, and he is able to make the different voices. I’ll admit, the first time he read it, I got goosebumps! He emailed me the copy earlier today, and I set to work.
Just a brief background – he used his PowerBook G4 with GarageBand to make the audio. He spent a few days locked in his room, recording and fiddling and rerecording. No expensive microphone (he started using a headset microphone I have from Rosetta Stone, but gave up on it after a while and just used his regular computer microphone) was needed. The music comes from Garageband’s ample free library, and I think it fits the mood really well. You can even fiddle around with it to make your own music.
So after I got the files, I simply plopped them into iMovie, imported my cover art, and using a few ‘Ken Burns’ slides and transitions, I was able to make a pretty handy book chapter teaser. I wouldn’t say it is on par with the professionally produced ones, but it doesn’t have to be. I didn’t spend $800 on it either. This way, I get the best of both worlds: A free book teaser with increased traffic and attention, while also doing it quick and easy. Now granted, I used family to help out, but that’s what they are for! He was amply paid in food, and the chance of a free room in my condo/house at some point.
Anyways, the most frustrating part was splitting up the file. It was 22 minutes long, and YouTube only lets you load 15 minutes at a time. Keep that in mind! If possible, record your audio and stop at good points, so that you can split it up easier. I had a hard time finding my split, as the most convenient on was at… 15:05. Seriously. 5 extra seconds was all standing between me and perfection and I could not make it fit. So I cut elsewhere. A little bit rougher, but it still works.
The thing I like best was that I could upload it direct to Youtube. A click here, there, and poof, it’s online! Don’t forget to make sure you tag your video with appropriate tags to grab the right people’s attention! Another cool thing is that eventually, it will be the start of my audiobook as well if I don’t get it more professionally done.
By the way, FUN news! My Kickstarter project was actually funded! Hurrah! I’d honestly given up hope, but sometimes it just takes one person to make a difference. If you’re still interested in helping out, you can contribute for another two days here. Please consider contributing, each extra dollar helps me get more cool promotional things and keep the cost of editing the book down.
Here’s the second part of the trailer for your viewing benefit! Or read the entire thing here -> Brass Legionnaire Chapter 1
To Illustrate or not to Illustrate, that is the (expensive) question!
To begin, I’ve always loved chapter books with illustrations. They breathe life and culture and feeling into a story. Sometimes, I wish to high heavens that Harry Potter books had come with full page illustrations every couple of pages. Not every page mind you, even just one per chapter would have been awesome. Obviously, the style of your book has to lend itself to illustrations. Personally, I think all books could use them in one form or another.
But Wait! You cry. “I have my own created image of what this world looks like, why should someone else make it for me?”
Someone else already has, if the book you are reading has cover art. From the moment you open a book, your mind is building the world that you are reading. The cover (to me) is like the section in a library – Does it have dragons on the cover? Trigger the fantasy imagination component of your mind. Man waving a french flag with a musket? Activate the Three Musketeers and Napoleon memory centers! Illustrations in a book are a way of guiding the reader’s imagination, like mileposts or markers on an old trail. The trail is laid out for you, but you are making the journey. The markers guide you, even shape some of the world for you. But illustrations are expensive, and only the most well paid authors or those with a great amount of extra money to use, those who have won the family/friend lottery (Hey, wanna illustrate my book? I’ll pay you in pizza!) can truly fill a novel book with illustrations. Even Scott Westerfeld of steampunk fame doesn’t have illustrations on every page.
So what is a new/upcoming author to do if they want illustrations. There are a few options.
1.) Sell your firstborn (Just kidding!)
2.) Compromise – Have only a few illustrations that are super critical.
3.) Never have any illustrations and pour that extra money into cover art or extra promotional things.
Of these, option two is the best, and really the only option, that makes the best sense if you have the money for illustrations. As a visual person myself, I love having maps in my book. If your story is going somewhere, have a map! They make great interior covers, and can break up a story neatly into chunks if that is what you need. In my book, I have plans for two maps – one of the entire continent of Europe, and the other of my semi-fictional city of Brittenburg.
My plan for Brass Legionnaire is to have two illustrations that are critical to the story and really tie into the theme and idea of my world. Not only can I have them in the book, but I can get enlarged ones as posters and other things to use as freebies and contest prizes. Theoretically I could sell them eventually too, but I like the idea of having control of a limited number of them in really nice form. Those in the book would be black and white, while the promo ones would be full color.
I suppose I could lay down a pretty penny for one illustration per chapter, but maybe I’ll save that for the omnibus (in the far, far future!) Of course, if you want to make it happen, check out my Kickstarter project and donate. I don’t have much time left on it, and I’m sort of sad that it won’t likely happen, but I’m excited to still have the chance to share the book with you guys regardless!
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As a writer (And avid reader) of alternate history novels, I’ve often been asked why I read this ‘what if’ genre. I think the best way to answer it is to simply say ‘Have you ever wondered ‘what if?’
What if I was a police officer, or a medic, or a doctor, instead of a teacher? What would be changed? Who would have my job? Whose world would be turned upside down, for better or worse? Who would I have met/not met? How many of us ever wonder how the world would be different if one little thing happened? This is a ‘turning point’ or life change, or ‘point of divergence’ as some people say.
So what makes a good turning point?
I put forward three rules for good turning points.
1. It must be believable (makes sense in the story context).
2. It must be reasonable (COULD actually happen based on technology, characters, etc)
3. The results must be possible based on the outcome of the event.
Let me give you a good example. In my story, Brass Legionnaire, I have two main points of divergence. The first is the rescue of Julius Caesar by Brutus. The change is that Brutus loved Caesar (True in real life) so much that he was willing to forgive the general’s ambitions to save his life, rather than kill him for the sake of the republic.
Believable? Yes, I think so (so do several professors I’ve talked to over the years, remember, it was a big surprise to Caesar at seeing Brutus among his assassins)
Reasonable? Yes, hasn’t love for friends, family, or significant other driven you to do something a tad bit crazy? This is just asking Brutus to put his friend above the needs of the republic, a stretched, but still reasonable, idea.
Outcomes: Well, the assassins get turned in, Caesar gets his Emperorship, and the Empire gets off to a roaring start, rather than suffering through a few years of civil war at the hands of Augustus (Octavian) and the rebels. With security and stability, plus respected and talented military and economic leadership, the foundation for our world has been set.
So what is my point? Great authors create realistic and possible worlds by making their turning points believable and possible. Some of my favorites are Harry Turtledove and S.M. Stirling. Mr. Turtledove, in particular, creates beautiful portrayals of worlds that have undergone one major change, but it throws off the entire course of history. See ‘Opening Atlantis’ for a great example.
Let me know what you think!
So in case you didn’t know, I’ve been using the company Streetlight Graphics for my book’s cover art. I decided to splurge on their Ultimate Pro Package, which includes the following (Those people new to self-publishing may find this really cool!)
Ultimate Pro-Package: (Taken directly from their website)
Print (Createspace only)
Book Cover Interior Print (Createspace only)
Formatting E-Book Cover
Formatting for Kindle
Formatting for Nook
Formatting for Smashwords
A written tutorial explaining how to upload your e-book
All this for only $265!* (Since increased to $285)
(It also used to include banner ads for wherever you wanted them, but they claimed that most people didn’t want them. I asked nicely and got them included 🙂 )
To me, this was an awesome deal. I mean, I know I could spend some of my own time formatting them for all the different sites, or just pay someone $50 to do it, but the fact that I get a print cover, an e-book cover, and someone to do my formatting all at the same time is really cool. Also, its the convenience factor. It’s only one person to talk to, handle, and work with, instead of several different ones. Although I’m pretty technologically savvy, I’ll take all the help I can get on this first go around.
How did I find them, you ask? Actually, it was courtesy of Lindsey Buroker, (Encrypted) someone who I admire and have been following for the last few months. She puts out great comments, tips, tricks, and really useful stuff for us self-publishing people out there. She used these guys earlier to update her cover art for her novels. I have to say my experience with them has been awesome. No complaints at all! They are very communicative, open and helpful. They are able to change the smallest things to fit your wishes. They knew how to deliver what I hadn’t even known I had wanted (If that makes sense?).
Anyways, on to the actual point of this post. I asked for and got two different advertisements that I can use on my YouTube page (not much there now, much more planned in the future). In addition, I’ll see if I can somehow adapt it for my twitter (@dOttalini – Add me!) I figure that I can use these cool advertisements to point people watching my videos or tweets in the direction of my book once it is published. So here, I’ll post them below.
This one is a 728 x 90, which is a perfect size for a youtube video. They can be made on photoshop if you’ve got the time and desire (I’ve done it before, even though I’m a poor hand at it!)
The second one is simply 468 x 90. It’s a bit smaller and may be a pop-up ad in a video, rather than the header of a video or posting. Let me know what you think of them. Like I said earlier, It’s important to keep the theme simple, but also demonstrate the concept of your book.
I’ll take this last moment to plug my kickstarter project. PLEASE consider donating any amount of money, there are some pretty cool rewards you can earn (For those of you with lots of disposable income, You can not only name a character, but decide if, and how, you want them to die!) Here’s the link again, talk to you all soon! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/187272667/brass-legionnaire
I know it’s the third post of the day, but I’m hoping some of you may want to help me publish Brass Legionnaire. I’m a teacher, so getting the money together to get a good editor, cover artist, etc, can be tough. That’s why I joined Kickstarter, where hopefully some people may be interested enough to chip in. There’s some cool goodies on there you can get if you contribute!
Here’s the link
Hope to see/hear from you there!