Announcing my new e-book conversion business

I’m pleased to announce the launch of my new e-book conversion business, E-Literate, specializing in formatting manuscripts for sale on the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook.  Because this is a small business, the costs are lower and the turnaround time quicker.

Properly formatting your book is essential to making sure it’s readable on the Kindle and Nook.  But the formatting process can be time-consuming and frustrating.  That’s where we come in.  We do all the intricate formatting necessary to turn your manuscript into a readable file on both e-readers.  The file is then tested and re-tested to check for the highest accuracy possible.  Finally, we send you the file so you can upload and sell it as an e-book.

Pricing is based on the length and complexity of the manuscript, but our rates are highly competitive.  For more details or for a price quote, send us an email at indiewriting [at] gmail [dot] com, or visit our Facebook page.  We look forward to doing business with you!

Mike Madden

British indie author Mike Madden has written several books in several different genres and finds success and challenges in each one.  He details his success with Amazon’s KDP Select and discusses the other ways he’s marketed his work.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

Mmm…No1…Cookbook was originally conceived so that I could keep all of my recipes in one place.  I am an avid cook (not chef!), and have around 40 cookbooks, as well as newspaper and magazine cutouts and handwritten recipes handed down from my mum.  This way all of my recipes are in one handy place, on my Kindle, and I can easily take that to the shop as my shopping list.  The recipes can be described as “Every Day Cooking For Every Day Lives”, there’s nothing too fancy in there, and they range from starters and soups, to main meals including lots of curries, and finally desserts and cakes.  I find that television chefs use too many obscure ingredients, and they seem to have every utensil under the sun to aid preparation.  These recipes are essentially very simple, and are presented in an easy step-by-step format.  The book was originally designed for the Kindle, so even in the paperback version there are no pictures, but do you really need to know what Key Lime Pie or vegetable soup look like before cooking it?

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I am only an indie writer because I have not yet been “discovered” by a major publishing house!  Seriously though, I do not choose mainstream formats, preferring instead to challenge the market.  A cookbook on Kindle?  On Amazon.co.uk there are less than 1,000 available compared to 90,000 paper cookbooks.  No market or a gap in the market; I’ll let the market decide.

3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?

As I mentioned earlier, I do not write in mainstream formats so am unlikely to appeal to a traditional publisher just yet; however, I have had plenty of praise for my writing.  My adult humorous novel Stags! reached number 1 on Amazon’s Free Kindle Humour list, and is currently in 3 Amazon bestseller lists for paid books.

4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?

Self-publishing is great for getting your work out there quickly and relatively easily, but it is also a great tool for learning.  I knew nothing about fonts until I self-published Stags!, and I knew nothing about Kindles until I started to look at that medium too.  You quickly realize that marketing is the hardest thing in the world, and the realization that no one will buy your book just because you believe in it is a harsh lesson, but one that all indie authors must learn quickly.

5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?

I have tried book signings; for instance, my children’s picture book Ole And Zac And The Port Of Tumbattle has a pirate theme, so I sat outside a couple of local Tesco supermarkets dressed as a pirate and signed copies.  A book signing for Stags! was featured at the Levenshulme festival, as a result of which I got coverage in The Irish Post.

These are fine for small coverage, and I realized how much fun it can be to dress up as a pirate, but by far the most successful marketing technique has been via KDP Select.  This allows you to offer your book free for up to 5 days every 90 days, but during this time you must push it.  Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Goodreads, anything you can think of.

But it can’t just be a one way thing.  Follow blogs and they will follow back, but you must participate.  Download other free books and engage with other authors.  Contact Pixel Of Ink, Kindle Nation Daily, Digital Book Today, and others, and consider a paid promotion which can be done for as little as $29.99.

If you are successful you will get thousands of downloads.  Stags! got around 5,000 in 5 days, and then the fun really starts.  If you have done it right you should continue to push, push, push when it is a paid download again. Stags! hit around 200 paid downloads in the first week and then sales started to taper.  Bear in mind that the more sales you get, the more Amazon will “recommend” your book.

If you can get it into the top 20 in any category this will generate more sales.  When a potential customer looks at a bestseller category the first page has 20 entries.  A few will go to the next page of 20 entries, but after that visitors dwindle.  It’s a bit like getting on the first page for a Google search.

The next phase is to drop the price to less than $1. This hits the bargain promotions and sales will get an uplift. Continue to expand your network, and make use of your free KDP Select days every quarter.  There is no such thing as overnight success.  You have to work at it.

6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?

I disregarded local newspapers and trying to get book reviews.  There is just simply not enough coverage.  If you have enough friends they will cover the local area for you, and even in your own area, if someone does not know you personally they will not be inclined to buy your book.

7. Which services or vendors do you recommend for the marketing methods you used?

Business cards and flyers are invaluable, but cheap and cheerful will do fine.  Make sure they have your email address on, mobile number if you really must, book details including website and blog details, and Amazon, Amazon, Amazon.  Amazon is king and is a very trusted site.  If your book is on Amazon people trust it.  In terms of internet marketing there are tons of free sites that will push your free days, including Pixel Of Ink, Digital Book Today, etc.

8. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?

It’s all about the marketing.  Apart from your family and friends no one will buy your book – you have to sell it to them. Or get Amazon to sell it for you by exploiting the free KDP Select feature as described.

9. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?

For paperbacks I now exclusively use Createspace.  I have used Fast-Print, but only because Createspace did not support UK distribution.  Now they do.  Createspace is quicker and easier to use, produces a better quality product, and the finished book gives more profit to the author.  The only caveat to this is that the Createspace cover designs are limited, but I would not be surprised to see them expand these in the near future.

10. Indie authors face the challenge of marketing their books without the resources of traditional publishers. What advice do you have for an indie just starting out?

Start slowly and dedicate at least an hour per day to it.  Don’t expect it all to happen overnight, and do not disregard any channel.  It is a learning exercise as much as a marketing exercise, and by the time you get to book number 10 you will be well on your way to becoming an expert!

11. What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a sequel to Stags!, the working title of which is Infidelity.  I got some really nice fan mail after my latest marketing exercises, and that prompted me to finally put pen to paper, metaphorically speaking.  I am also looking to produce a book of dark poetry in collaboration with a friend who does some terrific illustrations.  In the pipeline there is the biography of an English rock and roll singer, but he is based in Madrid so there are a few logistical issues with that one!

12. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?

Having launched three books in three very different genres, each one challenging the market in a different way, it would have to be “Laughing in the Face of Tradition”.

13. How can readers learn more about your books?

You can visit my website at michael-madden.co.uk and my blog at mmm-number-1.blogspot.com.

K. Ford K.

K. Ford K. went from freelance writing to indie publishing, finding frustration along the way with traditional publishers.  Now enjoying the freedom of self-publishing, K. discusses the varied tools she uses to reach readers.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

What if a timid, sexually-inhibited woman suddenly developed the psychic ability to see what everyone else needed to be blissfully happy in bed?  And what if she started blurting out sexual advice against her will?  That thought was the seed for my new novel, The Concubine’s Gift, and the poor, long-suffering character of Bernice Babbitt was born.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I became an indie author by choice.  I was a freelance writer, publishing articles and short stories in newspapers and magazines and had several near misses with major publishing houses.  Many times they decided to publish my novels and then changed their minds at the last minute.  I was starting to feel like I was in an abusive relationship.  Editors told me they loved my work; I cozied up to them and then they slapped me with a rejection. After awhile I was back and the same thing happened all over again.  ‘Indie-authorhood’ has been wonderful.  I love being in charge of my own career and being able to make all the editorial and marketing decisions about my novels.  I’ve been lucky in that readers have been very supportive.

3. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books.  Which ones have been the most successful?

Some of the marketing techniques that have been the most successful were getting book bloggers to review my book and being active on the Goodreads site.  I have hosted lots of book giveaways and those are always fun.

4. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?

I have my novel listed on Amazon’s KDP Select.  The best thing is the free days of promotion but I think I will discontinue after one more month so that I can list the book on other sites such as Smashwords.

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Larissa Hinton

YA writer Larissa Hinton is always working on both her writing and her marketing efforts.  Read more about some of the specific services she uses and her advice for finding your target audience.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

An anthology that will quench your thirst for more than the ordinary.

Everblossom is a journey through poems and short stories that may seem ordinary on the surface but which digs a little deeper as the world not only shifts, but changes.

The author who brought you Iwishacana/Acanawishi now brings you a dash of everything from dark fantasy to the paranormal to even romance.  So prepare yourself to delve into the three stages of the flower from bud to blossom then back to seed; you’ll go through them all with a whole new perspective on what it all truly means.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

Ah, the question everybody wants to know.  Well, before I self-published, I was a staunch traditional publisher junkie.  I sent out query letters to publishers and agents every summer.  And I dreamed of that one day of getting the dream contract.

When the dream became a reality, I could hardly believe it.  There I was, the email of my dreams congratulating me on obtaining a contract and all I could do is cover my gaping mouth and think, “Oh.  My.  God.”

But of course, the contract was faulty so I walked away.  That was the hardest thing I had to do but I survived and started querying once again.  The more I queried, the more I got frustrated that no one saw my talent.  If I was talented to get a contract once, I could get it again. That’s what logic says.

And during this time, a lot or people from Critique Circle loved my book and wanted to buy it and were wondering when I was going to be published.  And it wasn’t just one person, it was multiple people.

Yet no contract came.  Instead, a professor talked about self-publishing and spouted about how much more money an author could make, but I just ignored him until Amanda Hocking’s story came to light.  Then came JA Konrath’s blog.  I read it and I couldn’t help but agree with his arguments.  And he made me laugh.  So after puzzling over the logic and what I thought was my dream of trad publishing, I decided to self-publish.

In short: I decided to self-publish because I was tired of waiting for someone to give me the green light.  Instead, I decided to believe in my books and my readers to find them.  I decided to self-publish and not look back.  And I’m glad I did.

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JK Mikals

JK Mikals, author of A Chip in Time, has found the self-publishing process enjoyable and educational.  She discusses how she listed all the marketing tasks she wanted to use and which methods ended up on that list.

1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book.  Pitch me your book in five to ten sentences.

Unkempt, lonely and full of self-pity after her recent divorce, the last thing on Cybele’s agenda is saving the world.  But saving the world is exactly what the Goddess of Time insists that she do.  Dead bodies are multiplying in Xanadu and the surrounding loco-weed filled mountains.  Fertility gods are reluctant to mate.  And worst of all, her only supplier for the Sacred Brine Shrimp so key to all godly technologies (and addictions) has run mad and can no longer supply them.  So when the goddess finds the naïve but well-meaning Cybele through a cosmic computer glitch, she is desperate enough to snatch the girl into the Akashic Records.  There, an appalled Cybele is equipped with special cameras and a crew of ghosts, told to re-arrange certain life sequences for different outcomes and to film her efforts to prevent future rewrites.  She is to give the head fertility god an attitude adjustment and then repair the time warp – she is to save the world.  If you like sci-fi, fantasy and/or romance novels, don’t take it all too seriously and like to laugh, you’ll love this book.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

I’ve always been a do-it-yourselfer.  If I can possibly get my hands dirty with a process, then that’s for me.  If I were a guy and had been born 50 years sooner, I would have done the freighter-around-the-world thing just so I could have that background for writing.  I have really enjoyed learning how to publish and market.

3. Have you been traditionally published? 

Hee.  I guess you could say so.  When I was a freshman in high school my brother found an essay I had written about our grandfather.  I guess Bro thought it was pretty good, because he sent it off to Readers Digest.  And they apparently also thought it was decent, because they published it in The Most Unforgettable Character section and sent him a check for $25.  He never breathed a word until we were both in our forties.  I was also privileged to write and edit a stack of computer instruction books, and a whole lot of software specs.  As to novels, Chip is my first finished child and I obviously chose the indie route.

4. How have you liked self-publishing so far? 

Self-publishing has been loads of fun for me.  I published on Smashwords.com and on Amazon.com and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

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Sylvia Ramsey

Sylvia Ramsey is a 17-year bladder cancer survivor who uses her experience to both shape her writing and advance cancer awareness.  She offers multiple ideas for marketing and compares the indie and traditional routes.

1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book.  Pitch me one of your books in five to ten sentences.

This one is for the new book, Traveling a Rocky Road With Love, Faith and Guts:

Let me share with you what a couple of reviewers said after reading the book.  The first was Dr. Aman Kay: “Taking the rocky road with Sylvia is a joyful challenge.  It takes the reader through the most common and uncommon hardships, but at the conclusion of this delightful journey, the reader feels more joy and satisfaction: Love, faith, and incredible guts turn the rocky road into an assuring path that all of us so humanly desire.  This book is so uniquely universal in every essential aspect that I enthusiastically recommend it to all readers regardless of their age, gender, and race.”

The second reviewer sent me an email saying, “I just read the book, wow!”

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?  Have you been traditionally published?  Why or why not?

I am a cancer survivor of 17+ years.  I have been writing for years.  I have had by-lines, feature articles, short stories and poetry published since I was about nine years old.  I was reading at an open mic, and the editor of a small publishing house liked my poetry.  My first book, Pulse Points of a Woman’s World, was thus published.  Because I had been working for several years to establish a foundation for bladder cancer, I was giving all my proceeds from my royalties toward this endeavor.  After a couple of years, the publisher decided to return the publishing rights to me because of what I was doing with my royalties.  That was when I decided to become my own publisher of my books.  The latest book being Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.

3. How have you liked self-publishing so far?

It doesn’t seem much different than using a traditional publisher.  Regardless of the route you go, you must still do you own marketing (unless you have lots of money to hire a publicist).  That holds true both ways as well.

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Custom URL for Amazon Author Page

For those of you who have your books listed on Amazon, Kim Wolterman informed me you can designate a URL for your Author Page.  Here are the details from Kim:

Go to Amazon Author Central and click on Author Pages, and then log in.  You should see your page listing Biography, Blogs and Events on the left hand side and then Author Page URL, Photos, Videos and Twitter on the right.  Click on Author Page URL and it will show you if the URL with your name is available.  If so, all you have to do is accept it.  Takes about 30 minutes for the new URL to show up.

The link will redirect to another url, but it’s a neater, more memorable way to post your page and get your information out there.  My link – http://www.amazon.com/author/kriswampler – is now live.  Thanks for the tip, Kim!