Tag Archives: WG2E

Audiobooks

Good day, PJ Sharon here, coming to you from the snow-carpeted Berkshires. The first snow fall is always so pretty.  First snow picI have a couple of questions for all of you. Do you listen to audiobooks? How do you listen to them? And where do you find them? Best seller’s lists? Specific authors/narrators you love to read/hear? Let’s chat.

I’ll confess that I’ve only listened to a few audiobooks–and always in the car with a tangible CD (or 29 CD’s as is the case for OUTLANDER  which I’ve listened to five times). I’m afraid I haven’t made the leap to the next technological step in the evolution of how we read books and hear stories–digital audiobooks. As in–downloaded them onto my i-pod touch or my android phone, or listened to them directly from my computer. As hard as I try, I’m still resistant to learning/using new technology.

I often feel as if I’m being dragged forcibly into the future. I’m trying not to scream too loudly about it since I know that many people are having great success with audiobook sales. According to the world of publishing, audiobooks are in. Bob Mayer admits to having spent over $35,000 having all of his books turned into audiobooks, and I know Bella Andre thinks they are as untapped a market as the foreign marketplace. I’m pretty sure their audiobooks are selling…I’d love to ask them.

Personally, I’m not seeing it. Maybe because I’m not on any best sellers lists or because I’m not out “finding my audience” as diligently as is needed, but I don’t see my readers buying audiobooks. Whenever I mention that my book is available on audio, I’m asked where they can buy the CD so they can listen to it in their car. Um…sorry…no CD. These are friends and family I’m talking to, however–the folks like me who are always one step behind the latest tech trend. No problem, you say. You write books for teens, and teens in general are glued to the latest and greatest electronic devices. Surley, they must be listening to audiobooks. But once again, they don’t have the buying power of adults. And let’s face it, none of them is likely to spend $17.95 on a digital download of a book unless it’s someone they really want to read/hear.

When I decided to dabble in the realm of audiobooks, I figured I would start with a book that had universal appeal. Many adult readers loved HEAVEN IS FOR  HEROES for it’s sweet military romance, family drama and Thanksgiving theme. It seemed like the right story for an audiobook audience.HeavenisforHeroes_audiobookcover (2013_06_07 00_53_00 UTC)

You can hear a sample of Erin Mallon’s awesome narration of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES here. Just click on the little “listen” arrow beneath the cover picture on the sales page.

With companies like ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange), it’s much easier for authors to have professionally produced and fabulously narrated audiobooks. ACX offers two plans. You can either pay up front, which will likely cost you between $1,500-2,000, depending on the length of your book (mine was 78,000 words and would have cost me $1,000). Or you can do a 50/50 royalty share, where you pay an upfront cost (usually half) and then split the royalties until the complete cost of production is paid and I’ve sold a certain number of copies, at which time, my royalty rate increases.. Basically, I paid $500 for an awesome narrator who I found on the ACX site, and I split the royalties. It comes out to a nice little chunk of the $17.95 per copy price through Amazon, Audible, or i-tunes. If you want to read more about ACX and how it all works, the WG2E has several excellent posts here.

On the consumer’s side, If you’re an avid audiobook fan and decide to become an Audible Member, which is around $14.95/month, you’d get the $17.95 price point OR you can use the 1 Credit you get each month and download the book for FREE–or even gift it to someone else. You can also purchase the file from Amazon and get it FREE with a 30-day Audible Trial Membership.

Now, the other difficulty I find with audiobooks is getting people to review them. I don’t know if people who have bought the book have downloaded it and simply haven’t listened to it yet, or if they aren’t inclined to leave reviews on audiobooks. Either way, I can’t even give a copy away to get an honest review. ACX provides five free download codes to give out to reviewers or as giveaways, but finding reviewers for audiobooks seems to be a bit of a challenge. It’s a market that is getting increasingly flooded and some reviewers are backlogged for months. If anyone is willing to listen and review the book, I’d be happy to gift you a copy along with instructions on how to download from Audible, Amazon, or i-tunes. All I ask in return is that you give it an honest review.

If anyone has any suggestions on where’s a good place to market audiobooks or how I can get some reviews, I’m wide open! I’ve even tried to join a Goodreads group of romance audiobook reviewers, but those groups are pretty persnickety about authors promoting themselves. If you aren’t part of the discussion every day, it’s not really cool to just jump in and ask for reviews. And since I hang around mostly with the characters in my head and not the characters on Goodreads, I haven’t found an “in”.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on audiobooks. Questions are cool too–if you’re wondering about the process or have questions about working with ACX. I’d be happy to answer them. Have a lovely day!

Are you a Holiday Movie fanatic?

PJ Sharon here on this fine and busy Tuesday. I’ll keep it brief today since I’m doing double duty. In addition to my Scribes post, I’m hanging out with my WG2E Beach Book Blast buddies who have a slew of new Christmas stories for sale today and tomorrow, all for under $5. We’re calling it a BeachBookBlast e-Book Extravaganza!

HIFH Book front cover 2 jpgSince two of my YA romances culminate with a Christmas surprise and a heartwarmingly sweet ending, both Heaven Is For Heroes and On Thin Ice are part of this great sale. I hope you’ll stop by the site and check out the fantastic selection.on thin ice front cover jpg Rest assured, we have plenty of uplifting Christmas stories to keep you in the holiday spirit. Speaking of uplifting stories…

One of my favorite parts of December is watching all my favorite holiday movies. Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life are two of my favorites, but I have to admit I’m glued to the Hallmark Channel’s 25 Days of Christmas. I know; the movies are sappy, unrealistic, sticky sweet, and totally romantic, and I love them. A cup of warm cocoa and a box of tissues are a must, however. So far this season, my top three Hallmark Channel movies have been, A Christmas With Molly, Come Dance With Me and A Princess for Christmas.

What about you? Are you a holiday movie freak? What’s your favorite classic? Have you seen any new ones this year that you’ve added to your favorite’s list?

Anthologies Abound

PJ Sharon, here. Another Tuesday has come upon us—much too quickly in my opinion. If you haven’t noticed how time is flying by, you have either been in prison, or have been living in a cave. Not to poke fun, but it really does seem like our days are short a few hours. The energy is all but frantic around me, and everyone is hustling to keep pace. With recreational time at a premium, there has been a resurgence in the popularity of short stories, and writers are jumping on board to meet the needs of readers to have a quick story fix.

This is good news for writers. It not only offers us a chance to perhaps try something new, short stories are a great way to keep readers interested and entertained in the long months between full-length releases. Although I’ve never been one to write short stories, when the opportunity arose to collaborate with other authors, I happily accepted the challenge.

Since D.D. Scott began her “All for Indies” Anthologies last year, I’ve noticed lots of Indie-published authors following suit…and readers are loving it. What better way to get a taste of a new author’s style or to have several quick reads available in one, very affordable book. Here are a few treats you might like for Halloween.

I’m excited to be a part of this project with some very excellent storytellers. My short story prequel to WANING MOON is among these spooky shorts just in time for All Hallows Eve. SOUL REDEMPTION gives readers a peek inside the mind of Lily Carmichael’s thirteen-year-old brother Zephron, who has to deal not only with teenage hormones, but a dark power that threatens to take him over–a very creepy prospect indeed. This 15,000 word short story leaves you asking, “What would I do?” Read the first chapter on WATTPAD.

In honoring D.D. Scott’s “Great books at great prices” motto, this anthology is available for .99 cents at Amazon, and Smashwords.

If that isn’t enough to set off your fright meter, here are some more fabulously written short stories for your speed-reading pleasure.

Many of my friends from the WG2E Street team contributed to this one and I have to say, they did an amazing job scaring the heck out of me as I read by Kindle light all alone in my big old farmhouse in the woods while my husband was traveling. I know…crazy, right? But don’t we all love a bit of suspense and ghoulishness this time of year?

Tales from the Mist is available on Amazon for $4.99, a bargain for these ten creepy stories by ten fabulous authors! Check out the book’s Amazon page for details on contributing authors and their stories.

How about you? Have you read any good anthologies recently? Do you like short stories?

Indie Excellence

PJ Sharon here, talking about Indie Excellence today. With all the new indie-published authors flocking to the internet, the gazillion free self-pubbed books available for Nooks and Kindles, and the influx of Small Press publishers, how can we possibly separate the chaff from the wheat, or in this case, the good from the bad in published books?

Most readers, in an effort to narrow their search, will go to those trusted Top 100 lists on Amazon or BN. How do books make the list you ask? And which list are we actually talking about? Here’s a great article by David Gaughran about the difference between the Top100 lists and the Popularity lists. Most people don’t realize there’s a difference or what it means. The trick is getting on those lists and becoming visible to readers who routinely shop there. But making the list is one thing—staying there is another. Both require a tremendous amount of promotion, a dollop of good timing, and a heaping helping of luck. One big edge that traditional publishers have is the power of advertising. They know how, where, and when to advertise to get maximum exposure. Whereas us indies are figuring it out as we go along, and taking shots in the dark that either pay-off or they don’t.  

Ironically, there are nearly as many indie-pubbed books on the Top 100 list lately as traditionally published books, a fact that makes us indies very hopeful that the playing field is leveling out quickly. The truth is that readers don’t care HOW a book is published. They care about a good story. But finding great indie books can be challenging since there are no real controls in place to ensure that what is published is a quality product. And yes, there is a tremendous amount of poorly written, poorly edited, and shoddy work out there. My personal experience, however, has been that there are some amazing indie authors producing phenomenal books. Stop back next week to see my “Favorite Indie books” list.

My favorite part of reading indie books is that they are unique in plot, structure, voice, and character—all the reasons that they weren’t picked up by trad-publishers who are looking for “the same, but different”. Indie books often fall outside the traditional mold and therefore are overlooked by agents and editors who think they know “what the market wants”. Thankfully, the Top 100 lists filled with all those indie-pubbed books are proving them wrong. My feeling is that there is an audience for every well-written story.

If you want to find some great quality indie books, check out the following sites.

 Indie Bound

Good reads Indie Book List

American Booksellers Association

There are also more and more review sites that are now reviewing Indie books.

Kirkus Reviews (although it is pricey to get a review from them and paid reviews just seem wrong to me.)

Indie Book Collective

Indie Reader

Even RT Magazine is “Hot for Indies” according to this article on the WG2E. Still, there is something about being traditionally published that screams legitimacy. Not that being traditionally published guarantees quality. I’m sure we have all read poorly written and poorly edited books straight off the bookshelves of BN and the desks of Big Six publishers. But for most writers, the legitimacy of being traditionally published still means something. We want our friends, families, readers, and peers to know that we DESERVE to be published—that our work was recognized as standing out among the hundreds of thousands of writers who submitted their manuscripts into the fray. And that our writing has been judged worthy.

So who decides what truly makes the cut in the Indie world? Enter the IndiePENdents,  a group of authors who started a review site set up to judge and legitimize good quality indie books. Each book submitted to the site goes through a panel of three volunteer reviewers and a validation team prior to being awarded the IndiePENdents Seal of Approval. I’m proud to say that my first book, Heaven Is For Heroes was one of those books selected for the honor. I received a certificate and this lovely seal to place on the covers of my print books to show that this book has met the industry standard of excellence in writing. The book also made the Awesome Indies review site’s top picks.

I’m so thankful to the wonderful volunteers who read and review indie books, making it possible for readers to find the best of the best in Indie Publishing. You guys rock! be sure to stop by Rhonda Hopkins’ blog later this morning. I’m a guest on her Authors Give Back charity blog and I’ll be sharing one of my favorites and why I love it. The post goes live at 9 am EST.

Please tell me dear readers, have you read any good Indie published books lately? What did you love about them? How did you come to find them? And was the quality up to your standard for a good book?

Booklovers Buffet and the .99 cent Mega Sale

Last week I talked about FREE e-books, and we covered both the good news and the bad news. You can read here if you missed my take on how freebies have changed the landscape of book selling and author promotion. You can also get the scoop on how Amazon’s algorithms are changing to meet those market trends over at Nina Pierce’s blog that was posted just yesterday. Some folks are a bit nervous about what Amazon has up their sleeve next. The conglomerate seems to be masterfully diabolical about staying one step ahead of the curve.

Changes are happening very quickly in the publishing world and it’s tough to keep up, but I just  try to keep in mind, as I’ve said before, that my journey is all a grand experiment. I try a dash of this, a dollop of that, and hope to find the magical combinations that create the perfect recipe for success.

Sometimes you get lucky and hit the market just right, and other times, you put it all out there and find that you’ve missed the boat. What worked a few months ago will likely not work today. The trick seems to be staying fluid and riding whatever wave you happen to be on until the next one comes along.

To quote one of my favorite Disney sidekicks, Dory from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimmin’”.

I also live by the Marine Corp motto, “Adapt, improvise, and overcome.” I try to do one big promotional event per month and I’m taking opportunities as they come, choosing what I think will be the most effective way for me to move forward and build my readership. I recognize that it’s not just about making money, which means I’m willing to play with pricing to see if it helps with my overall growth and name recognition. 

I’d like to touch on another common cross-promotional tool that has been very successful over the past year or two for indie-pubbed authors—the .99 cent e-book. A year ago, this was the hottest promotional tool out there, and people were making best seller’s lists all over the place in response to those wildly successful sales.
Of course you have to sell a whole lot of books to make any money, but hitting the lists was worth the short term loss for the long term gain of leading readers to your door, especially if you have multiple titles.

 That .99 cent price point doesn’t have quite the same appeal now that there are so many free e-books available and there is a general attitude that cheap e-books may not be of the same quality as higher priced books. On the other hand, readers are having kittens over having to pay 9.99-12.99 for e-books that may, in fact, be more expensive than the print copies. It seems the sweet spot of pricing, according to Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, is 2.99-4.99.

Most readers are willing to take a chance on a new author if the book is for free, but if they are going to pay .99 cents, they would rather pay a few extra dollars to buy a quality read from a familiar author who has a few books available and has gained some recognition through a bunch of good reviews or by being on the top 100 list. I’m here to tell you folks that there are many awesome reads on those .99 cent shelves. Sometimes a bargain is just that, a bargain. If you are a reader, keep checking those .99 cent titles and I’ll bet you find some gems!

I am also still a huge advocate of cross-promotion (look for my guest post on the WG2E this Thursday.) I’ve been part of a few of these group promos and the experience is well worth the effort, whether you sell a ton of books or not. I’ve learned a lot about how to work in a large group, I’ve met some wonderfully tech savvy and innovative people, and I’ve found support among like-minded individuals who all have a common goal.

Nothing to sneeze at, I assure you. Best of all, it’s one more way to get great books into the hands of readers for a great price, as D.D. Scott likes to say.

So, beginning this Friday, June 8th, and continuing until June 22nd, a group of over one hundred and fifty authors from the Indie Romance Ink loop will put their books on sale for .99 cents. The Book Lover’s Buffet was first offered as a holiday promotion back in December. I didn’t make a lot of money on the sale, but I did make a best sellers list for the first time, and it gave me the  confidence boost I needed, to know that I could manage this Indie-pub gig.

When the invite came up to do it again, I jumped. It will be interesting to see how a .99 cent promotion goes with the current buzz claiming the wave has come and gone. My feeling is that I have nothing to lose, and that if I can help some other authors sell their books, reach a few new readers, and have some fun along the way, it’s worth another wild ride. Stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted on results.

Bookmark this page so you can check back on Friday when the Book Lovers Buffet Vacation Getaway site goes live and you can browse the list of over 150 indie titles, all for .99 cents. Be sure to enter for your chance to win some great prizes.

How do you think the trends in e-book buying will evolve? Will readers shun .99 Cent e-books in favor of FREE and higher priced books? I’d love to hear your predictions.

 

 

 

 

 

My “Visibility Experiment”

Every day since I began writing toward publication, I’ve sat down to my computer, rubbed my palms together in preparation, and stated the affirmation, “I am an excellent writer. I am a bestselling author.” That was six years ago when I was a decent writer with a lot to learn, and the idea of being a bestselling author seemed miles away. But I’m a firm believer in the power of affirmations. When I hit the Kindle top 100 list yesterday, I thought, Holy cow! I did it!

After a moment of grinning like a loon and jumping up and down, I came back to reality and looked at what that really meant and analyzed how it happened overnight.

As I mentioned last week, one of the key ingredients to achieving my goals is to create visibility. I spend a lot of time on Indie Romance Ink, a yahoo group where indie authors share ideas and information about all things indie. I also follow WG2E (Writer’s Guide to E-publishing) blog site where numbers are reported, analyzed and manipulated on a daily basis through creating a solid backlist of products and precise placement of advertising. D.D. Scott wrote an excellent blog on the importance of creating visibility and talked about bestseller lists and what they mean. View her blog here.

 I’ve been hearing for months about review sites, promotional opportunities, and what has worked for others. The candid communication and exchange of information on WG2E, IRI, WANA Minions and YARWA has been incredible–thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. So I decided to take what I’ve learned and do my own Visibility Experiment.

 Two of the promotional opportunities that are frequently mentioned are Pixel Of Ink and Kindle Nation Daily. Both are paid advertisements, but have reportedly garnered excellent results for many authors. When I finally decided to pay for the Pixel Of Ink spotlight ($119 for a one day ad), I knew I was taking a leap of faith. I had lowered the price of Heaven Is For Heroes to .99 cents and figured that I would have to sell 340 books to recoup the cost of the ad. I had no epectation that this might actually happen, but I was hopeful. I was also taking into account the long term effects of this kind of visibility and how the added exposure would fit into my overall marketing plan for the next month during my release of ON THIN ICE. I decided the cost was worth it, even if I didn’t make back my cash investment right away.

When the ad went live at 2:00 Sunday afternoon and stayed up through 2:00 on Cyber Monday, I was blown away by my results. I didn’t sell enough in one day to pay for my ad, but I did sell 170 e-books in twenty-four hours, which propelled me to #68 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Romance > Contemporary. Technically, being in the top 100 on any list puts me in the bestseller category, but THE top 100 in the Kindle paid store is a bit tougher to achieve. I would need to sell about 300 books in a day to get there, and staying there is the real trick. After the Pixel Of Ink ad came down today, sales went back to just above their normal trickle and my overall ranking in the Kindle paid store rapidly dropped from #638 to #1,219—still nothing to sneeze at in the bigger pool of 750,000 e-books. Was a day on the best seller list worth the $119 investment? You bet! Heaven Is For Heroes was viewed by about 80, 000 readers. That kind of visibility is bound to create momentum for my next book. I’ll be saving my pennies for a Kindle Nation Daily ad (about $199) in the near future and I’m not stopping there. I have a blog tour scheduled, (My first appearance is today at http://clovercheryl.blogspot.com/ where you can meet my main character, Penny from On Thin Ice). Beginning December 4th, I’ll be participating in a Blog Hop with several other authors, and I’m part of a Book Lovers Buffet .99 e-book blowout–all scheduled for December.

To further create visibility, I’m taking yet another page from Jennifer Fusco, Market Or Die guru, and working with other authors to cross promote. Starting this Friday, I’ll be giving up my personal blog through my Blogger site and joining four awesome indie YA authors at www.yabeyond.com. We go live December 1st. I’m excited for the opportunity to blog every Friday about Healthy Teen Tips, while my new grog partners cover topics like music and movies, dating, love, school, and all things YA. Cool, huh? I’m hoping to reach out to my target audience and really start using my knowledge about health and fitness to make a difference in the lives of teens. No worries, I’ll still be here every Tuesday passing along writing and publishing secrets to all of you wonderful Scribes followers.

Everything is slowly falling into place and I owe so many thanks for help along the way, I wouldn’t know where to begin, but one thing I do know, is that setting goals is the first step to any good marketing plan and that believing in yourself is an essential ingredient in achieving your dreams. Here’s to getting on and staying on the Kindle Top 100 list.

Sharing your goals can help you by holding you accountable. It can also help others by motivating them and giving them ideas. As December knocks on your door, have you set any goals for the first quarter of 2012? Any ideas about increasing your visibility?

Sales Numbers-Seven Weeks Into the Indie-Pub Journey

Hey readers and writers, PJ, here. Welcome to Tuesday’s Secrets of Seven Scribes. Since I know there are more than a few folks curious about how things are going with my book, today I’ll be sharing the secret of my sales numbers. Leave a comment and enter to win a copy. A winner will be randomly selected. Entry closed at midnight this Friday, Nov. 18th. Good Luck!

Well, I’m seven weeks in to this wild and crazy Indie ride. For those of you who are new to the Scribes, I chose to independently publish my YA novel, Heaven Is For Heroes, back in September. That’s right—no agent, no publisher, no publicist. My husband makes my covers, I hire out my editing, and I do my own formatting for all distribution channels. I’m responsible for setting up promotional opportunities, maintaining a social networking presence and sticking to deadlines just as if I have a publisher breathing down my neck. The difference? 70% royalties for one. Other reasons include total freedom in choosing cover art and the ability to write and publish what I want, when I want. My second book, On Thin Ice will be out next month. Yup, two books released in three months. Let’s see traditional publishers do that!

Of course, I couldn’t do it alone. Along the way, I’ve found some amazing help. The guys and gals over at The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing (WG2E), the Indie Romance Ink yahoo group loop, YARWA (Young Adult Romance Writers of America), and all of the individual bloggers that so generously give of their experience and time to blaze the trail for us newbies. One of the most inspiring parts of this journey is to watch the success of others. I’ve enjoyed following D.D. Scott and her fellow groggers post their sales numbers. To see the miniscule numbers grow exponentially with each new book added to their cyber-bookshelf and watch the jump in sales with certain promotional opportunities is absolutely inspiring! Not to mention highly instructional.

So here they are, gang—the real numbers!

September (the book was released September 24,  2011)

Hardcopies    28 (140.00)

Amazon         22 (44.31)

B&N                7  (13.58)

CreateSpace  1  ($5.14) Hardcopy direct through CreateSpace

Smashwords—from Sept.24th to Nov.15th  there have been 52 free downloads (promo giveaways through coupon code). In addition there have been $6.80 in sales.

 

October

Hardcopies   39 (195.00)

Amazon        12

B&N               3  (5.82)

CreateSpace  1 (2.84) Hardcopy sold through Amazon

November

Hardcopies   23  (115.00)

Amazon          6  (34.44 Includes October and Nov. sales)

B&N                0

CreateSpace   6 (2.04) Hardcopies sold through expanded distribution for libraries. Thank you super fan, Lorelei Buzzetti who recommended HIFH to her local library in Orlando!

 

Seven week totals:

Hardcopies    90    (450.00)

Amazon         40    (78.75)

B&N               10    (19.40)

CreateSpace    8    (12.32)

Smashwords    4    (6.80)

Grand total     152 books sold for a respectable income of $567.27. Not bad for a newbie.

I’m still learning the ropes, figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and working a ridiculous amount of hours, but I’m encouraged by a solid start and look forward to seeing those numbers grow as the next book comes out and I implement another wave of promotional opportunities through the holidays. Here’s to hoping Kindle sales are through the roof this Christmas!

Your turn Scribes’ fans, tell me about your recent successes. Have you finished a manuscript, sent out a query, gotten a request, been a finalist in a contest? Are you considering Indie-publishing? Spill people! Let’s celebrate!