Pikes Peak Writers Conference 5 – eBook Best Practices

What I’m read­ing: Sis­ter, by Rosamund Lup­ton (Book Club); The Scent of Fear, by Tom Adair (bike)

I’m busy this week — Today and tomor­row, I’m blog­ging at Just Roman­tic Sus­pense (with a give­away). Tomor­row is also my day at The Blood-Red Pen­cil. And Thurs­day evening, I’m over at Tri­an­gle Vari­ety Radio for another interview.

Mark Coker of Smash­words gave a sec­ond pre­sen­ta­tion at the Pikes Peak Writ­ers Con­fer­ence. This one was about the Best Prac­tices in ePublishing.

He opened with a sim­ple truth. Pub­lish­ing an ebook is easy. Reach­ing read­ers is not so easy. He’s writ­ten a book, THE SECRETS TO E-PUBLISHING SUCCESS, which is free at Smash­words. He touched on some of the more than 25 points he makes in his book, and I’m fur­ther touch­ing on those, so this is a diluted report. Elab­o­ra­tion, and deeper expla­na­tions of all his points can be found here. These are some of his suggestions.

1. First, you have to have a great book.

2. Be care­ful choos­ing a pen name. This is not to say he rec­om­mends using a dif­fer­ent name from your own, but you have to con­sider search engines. He says to avoid ini­tials because there are too many ways to search, and you might get missed. For exam­ple, if you’re going to use the name J. D. Smith, peo­ple might leave out the spaces, or add or omit peri­ods. So they could be look­ing for JD Smith, or J D Smith, or J.D. Smith, or J. D. Smith. Also, don’t use ‘cutesy’ names. If your name is Nate Forsyth, don’t spell it N8 4cyth.

3. Get a good cover. And make sure it looks good in thumb­nail size, which is the first image a reader is going to see.

4. Pub­lish another great book. If read­ers like your first book, they’re going to be look­ing for more. So don’t spend all your time mar­ket­ing. Write.

5. Max­i­mize your dis­tri­b­u­tion. Coker sug­gests that most books are dis­cov­ered while read­ers are look­ing for some­thing else—something sim­i­lar to your book. So, the more places your book is avail­able, the greater your chances of some­one find­ing it.

6. Patience. It takes time to be dis­cov­ered by read­ers, who then tell other read­ers. (Sounds a lot like my “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” mantra)

NOOK Con­test Ques­tion #2 (remem­ber, use the Con­tact form, NOT the com­ments, to answer)  In what state is WHEN DANGER CALLS set?




7. Don’t worry about piracy. DRM is coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. Pirates can strip it in sec­onds, and it just irri­tates read­ers who might want to read the book on another device.

8. Plat­form build­ing starts yes­ter­day. Use the social media to build your name (but don’t get a rep­u­ta­tion as some­one who does noth­ing but tout your own books. It’s about shar­ing, not hound­ing.) Google gives Google+ pref­er­en­tial treat­ment in search engines, so it’s wise to get a pres­ence over there.

9. Pinch Pen­nies. Don’t ever spend money that should be used for food and shel­ter on your book or marketing.

10. Think glob­ally. Coker reports that 45% of Smash­words sales through the Apple iStore are out­side of the US. And, he pointed out that other coun­tries are about 2–7 years behind the US in e-books, so your mar­ket is just start­ing over there.

He also showed us, based on an infor­mal sur­vey, how read­ers find books. The biggest per­cent­age of sales (29%) come from rec­om­men­da­tions from oth­ers (4% are from per­sonal friends and fam­ily). The next biggest per­cent­age (18%) is sales of favorite authors. You can see the full break­down, com­plete with a pretty pie chart, in Mark Coker’s blog post here.

Tomor­row, my guest is Peg Her­ring, talk­ing about writ­ing your­self into a cor­ner. Her visit to Terry’s Place is one stop on her blog tour, and she’s going to be giv­ing away prizes. Come back!

23 thoughts on “Pikes Peak Writers Conference 5 – eBook Best Practices

  1. Excel­lent advice. With an esti­mated 15 mil­lion ISBNs being sold this year, I would say the trum­pet­ing of titles is only just get­ting started. To me this means there will be a para­dox of mar­ket­ing. Writ­ers will stand out by being quiet, at least about their own books. Write a great book, then write another, and another. But don’t write more or faster than your own pace allows–the key is a great book. Make friends on the inter­net and in per­son who will nour­ish you while you write, and whom you can nour­ish back. You might be sur­prised by how suc­cess follows.

    • Great advice, Jenny. Suc­cess in sales is so hard to mea­sure, because you never know where your buy­ers come from, or when a par­tic­u­lar mar­ket­ing strat­egy takes effect. So it’s about being out there, and NOT scream­ing “buy my book” every time you appear on any of the social media.

      • Thanks Terry and Jenny for shar­ing some great advice here. Just get­ting started with my debut novella King’s Cross­ing (release date: 5/25/12; historical/paranormal romance) and haven’t spent too much time focused on the promo yet, wait­ing till it gets closer to the Big Day. Mean­time, I’ve been work­ing on the next one in the series and fin­ish­ing up the screen­play that con­tin­ues the story into the 21st cen­tury, as well as lin­ing up some blog spots & my book signing/reading tour for later this sum­mer. (Ch1 sam­ple is up on my web­site if you want to take a look­sie, no pres­sure tho–hope it’s ok to men­tion my good news with you here, if not my apolo­gies) :)
        Have a Faery Mag­ickal week!
        “Time­less romance with a touch of Fae Magick…”

  2. Thanks, Terry, for pass­ing on Coker’s tips — he knows whereof he speaks and I lis­ten when he speaks — I’m tak­ing the DRM off some of my ebooks today (kick­ing myself for put­ing it off this long.

    • Jackie — I think that’s a good idea. Let us know if you see any differences.

  3. Good advice. Thanks for putting this up. I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have looked at his book but now I think I will. As a PA I need all the help I can get. ROFL.

    WendyK *NOOK contest*

    • Wendy — I looked at the book (it’s free, after all) and he does give a lot of sup­port for his statements.

  4. Mark’s first point is most impor­tant. Too many writ­ers, anx­ious to get a book into print, do not take the time to have a good proof­reader or edi­tor look at it. The result is often one that should have stayed under the bed or a book that would have been much bet­ter for the extra effort. I guess it goes to the “be patient” sec­tion. Being in print does not guar­an­tee you are a good writer or a suc­cess­ful career.

    NOOK Con­test.

  5. Excel­lent post, Terry! Thanks so much for shar­ing this infor­ma­tion. Hope you enjoyed the rest of the con­fer­ence, too.

  6. Some great tips here that more peo­ple should uti­lize :) I ran right over and grabbed the book. Thank’s for post­ing the recap Terry.


  7. Over and over I keep see­ing the same advice, write a good book, then write another. It is so easy to get caught up in all the mar­ket­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties, espe­cially with social media, that we over­look that sim­ple truth. So I am going to get offline and write. (smile) Thanks for the reminder.

  8. Thanks for shar­ing the sug­ges­tions. They seem very help­ful, espe­cially the one about the pen names.

    Nook con­test

  9. I found this blog post infor­ma­tive & very inter­est­ing. A friend keeps urg­ing me to write, she swears quite a few of my life expe­ri­ences would make a good book. LOL

    Nook Con­test

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