Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The digital journey part 3...

You succeeded in transforming your manuscript into digital formats. You have a compelling cover, and an ISBN for every occasion. Your book is available on Smashwords, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Apple etc... You are exhausted and would like to pull a Rip Van Winkle and sleep for a very long time. But now you discover the truth about the digital world. It is an endless sea of book titles and you are but a single molecule of water tossed along by an indifferent and relentless tide. It is too easy to become fish pee.

I am unaware of any sure fire method for becoming a best seller (I'm afraid I couldn't guarantee to pass this information along to you if I did know it). But you can expand your horizons.

One of the lovely side effects of joining organisations like Storylines, Kiwiwrite4kidz, NZSA and NZ Book Council, besides making friends with lots of wonderful book addicted people just like yourself, is that you get to know the book reviewers and the publications they review for. Now is the time to utilise this information and ask if the reviewers would like to check out your new book. Always ask and never demand - it is a reviewers prerogative to decline your request. Digital formats do put some reviewers off. They will not review a book not available in print. Fair enough. But some reviewers are happy to take digital books and make sure you get in touch with as many of these people as possible. Both Crissi Blair of Silvertone and Maria Gill at KidsBooksNZ will consider reviewing your e-book. Have you written a press release for your book that shows the cover, says a little bit about the book and you as the author and provides info on the book such as length, price, genre, age range, ISBN and availability, and your contact info? Ideally this should be enticing, fit on one A4 page and be able to be posted or emailed to prospective reviewers. Make sure your book is loaded on Goodreads so that people can find it. Be prepared for the slow build and don't despair if things don't happen straight away.

It can be nerve-wracking to send your own work out for review. If you have been responsible for every aspect of your book it is doubly so. The buck stops with you and any quality issues are your responsibility. But reviews are an important promotional tool. Be brave. Laminate on an extra skin and bite your tongue if criticism comes your way. Even the most beloved authors and books have received the most scathing reviews. Complaining about your reviewer in public (or public forums) will NEVER work in your favour. Being dignified however is always a good look. Wear it well.

Also folks, the NZ Post Book Awards are now open to e-books. You only have one shot at this for each title as you can only submit your book for the award in the year it was published. It will not be eligible for subsequent years. Go check out the rules, take a leap of faith and submit your book. There may be other awards and competitions open to e-books - I don't know of any others yet but I will try let you know if I hear of any. And I reckon more awards will open up to e-books in the future as digital formats become more commonplace.

Last but not least consider other distribution channels like Wheelers and sales through your own website. If you choose to sell your e-book through channels like these you cannot use the conversions provided by Smashwords or Amazon. Well actually, you can, but seeing as those folks converted your book for free it would be biting the hand that feeds you to then sell those conversions without any recompense to them. Do the right thing and produce your own conversions. There are conversion and management software options available for download online. Watch out for anything that requires you to send the file and provide an email address for its return. It is better to do it on your own premises, so to speak.  Look for software with a reputable name. And make sure you have the right ISBN's for the right format at the right time.

Okay I think that's enough for today. I haven't ventured into print for Sally Bangle yet. It is a bigger job than digital publishing and I need to do some information gathering and have a clear plate before I approach this. If you have any questions just ask in the comments.

oh and here is a very helpful view of what self publishing actually means (it means being writer and publisher, both BIG jobs) from the very salty (you have been warned) Chuck Wendig - thanks to the fabulous Ms Tania Hutley for bringing this post to my attention.

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