Advance Review Copy (ARC) for Book Launch Success

Advance Review Copy (ARC) for Book Launch Success

Advance Review Copies for Book LaunchesBefore you publish, it’s common practice to give away pre-release copies of your book. These are called ARCs which stands for advance reader copy or advance review copy.

These books allow fans to create a buzz by reading and reviewing your book before it’s released and prepares them to post a review on Amazon when the book is published. The more awareness you create around the launch of your book, the better your sales will be.

Who Do You Send Your ARCs To?

Advance copies of your book are sent to the press, your launch team, and influencers who can help you get the word out about your upcoming launch.

ARC readers (excluding the press) are expected to write reviews for Amazon, but they can do much more. For example, ask your ARC readers to:

  • Blog a review on their own website
  • Post a review as a guest writer on a relevant website
  • Film a video review for YouTube
  • Post a review to Goodreads or LibraryThing

To help your ARC readers (and yourself), it’s a good idea to create a highlights sheet to reference the sections of your book that you want them to talk about. Clarifying what you want your ARC team to do makes the marketing of your book easier for everyone. If you want feedback, ask for the kind of feedback you want. If you just throw your ARC out into the world without any instruction or encouragement, you will be disappointed.

Since you are giving away a book as an incentive to leave a review, you need to ask the reviewer to include the following in posting to Amazon, “I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.” For a detailed reason why you must add this disclaimer, read our blog  Everything You Need to Know About Amazon Reader Reviews.

Different Types of Advance Releases

The following is a list of ways to pre-release part or all of your book:

  • Beta copies
  • Advance review copies
  • Galleys
  • Sample chapters

Each of these has different applications. Advance review copies are not the same as beta copies of your book, nor are they galleys or samples. If you are confused about what your pre-release material is used for, everyone else will be confused too!

Let’s take a moment to discuss what ARCs are not:

Beta Copies

The beta phase of book development happens when you finish a second or third draft of your book and need feedback from real readers. Traditionally, this is used for fiction, but in the self-publishing world, author of all types of books employ beta readers.

Beta copies are in manuscript form and are sent to (typically unpaid) test readers. What you want from a beta reader is an early critique of the viability of your book. (Which sounds sort of like a review, but it’s not.) A beta reader will tell you if the book is engaging. Their job is to look for problems like plot holes, lags in the story, unfinished ideas, or repetitiveness. Traditionally, beta readers are not professional editors or proofreaders. They are not supposed to write a review of your unfinished book, at least not based on the beta copy. They are volunteers who help you fix your book BEFORE it goes through proofreading and design.

Can you use the same people as beta readers and ARC readers? Perhaps. It depends on if your team is willing to read the book twice with completely fresh eyes and for different reasons. Not everyone can or is willing to do this much unpaid work.

Sample Chapters

Sample chapters are also not ARCs. Sample chapters generate sales and are intended for a cold audience that won’t value your unfinished work. In fact, indiscriminate circulation of unfinished work can hurt sales. Do you want to be ridiculed for typos? I doubt it. You want your paying customers to have the most polished and immersive experience possible. An early version won’t give them that.

Galleys

Galleys are similar to ARCs, they are just a much fancier version. Galleys tend to be an exact or almost exact version of your final printed book. In the self-publishing world, galleys are seldom used because they are expensive to produce. Traditional publishers send galleys to consumer publications and book buyers. Galleys are used to generate early editorial and consumer reviews and to stimulate distribution.

How Do You Qualify ARC Readers?

The most important qualifier is that your ARC readers must be willing to write a review! You are wasting your time if you take all comers without pre-qualifying and getting commitments first. The job of an ARC reader is to read your book, form an opinion, write a review, and post their review in as many places as possible. Amazon is the priority, and each ARC reader is required to post to Amazon. However, the wider the distribution of their reviews, the better.

Because we want these reviews posted far and wide, the second qualifier is influence. An ideal ARC reader has a large following and they are trusted in their community. Imagine if your mentor or someone who has achieved the success you’re after told you that a book has changed their life and you have to read it. Would you buy it?

You want your ARC readers to have this same kind of clout.

When Do You Create an ARC?

Remember, an ARC is a finished version of your book. A good way to measure if the book is finished is to ask yourself, “Would I send this out to a journalist?” At the very least, your book needs to have passed through editing and proofreading, have a cover, and a complete blurb. In short, the core of the book is done.

Do you need the foreword, endorsements, and every little bell and whistle? No. In fact, sending out your ARC is a good way to get endorsements. However, you don’t want typos or a hard-to-read layout unless you want that mentioned in your reviews. Furthermore, if you send an unfinished book to trade publications, at best, you’ll get ignored.

A Word About Intellectual Property

Once you publish something (which includes an ARC), for all intents and purposes, you have copyrighted the material. However, there have been rare occurrences where an ARC was stolen and published to Amazon before the author released the book. This is a repairable crime, but do you really want to track down book pirates and prove your case to Amazon in the midst of a book launch?

In light of this, you probably want to start your copyright filing and include the following language in the front and back matter of your ARC – “Advance Proof / Not for Sale.” If you’re really worried about it, you can have each page watermarked, you can use a distribution service that tracks each copy that is sent, and you can even ask your readers to sign a confidentiality agreement. (The confidentiality agreement is overkill in almost all cases.)

When Do I Send ARCs Out?

In the self-publishing world (which moves much faster than traditional publishing) you will create your ARC two to three months before your release date. When you form your launch team, one of the first things you will do is distribute the ARC. This gives your launch team time to read your book and to prepare their plan to help you promote it. Much of your book launch group activities will be based on the ARC such as chapter discussions, cover reveals, and requests for endorsements. Furthermore, if your book is outcome-driven, activities from the book will be shared.

In traditional publishing, ARCs are created six months before release. This has to do with soliciting reviews from mainstream media outlets and preparation for distribution to bookstore chains.

How Do You Distribute Your ARCs?

The simplest way to distribute ARCs is by email in PDF format. No matter what word-processor you use, you will have the option to export your book to a PDF file. Distribution can be as easy as attaching the file to an email. In most cases, your launch team members will be on your mailing list. If you are recruiting launch members through social media, make sure to ask for their email. A landing page that requires an opt-in to claim the ARC is a good way to capture these needed emails.

Note that if you join the Amazon Select program, you have agreed to distribute your book through Amazon exclusively. This means that once you go live with your release, you need to remove or deactivate access to your book through any other distributor including ARC services like BookFunnel.

Now that you know a little bit more about the importance of ARCs, think about who you’d like to invite to your ARC reader team. ARCs are an important marketing tool when launching your book. The more awareness you create around the launch of your book, the better your sales will be.

Do you have a great idea for a book or a manuscript in development, but you don’t know the best way to turn it into a bestseller?

Daily House’s team of editorial, production, and marketing experts will evaluate your project, send you a complimentary custom assessment, and a next-steps plan. To get started, fill out our short questionnaire

Follow us on LinkedIn, join our group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to The Bestseller List on YouTube for weekly videos on writing and publishing.

How to Find a Publisher That Will Buy Your Book

How to Find a Publisher That Will Buy Your Book

How to Find a Publisher That Will Buy Your BookWhen you sit down with Randy Peyser, Founder and CEO of AuthorOneStop.com it’s easy to get swept up in her storytelling. Many of her stories involve pitching manuscripts to literary agents and publishers in rapid fashion. She is extremely selective as to what books she pitches because her reputation is on the line each time she meets with an agent or publisher. She recently attended Book Expo America (BEA) where she had 25 meetings in two and a half days. With a schedule like that, you need sensible shoes!

Recently, Kitty Turner, Founder and CEO of Daily House and I had the opportunity to interview Randy with some burning questions about what’s hot and what’s not in the world of traditional book publishing.

It is estimated that there are between 600,000 and a million books published each year. About half of that number are self-published. The others are published through traditional book publishers. According to Randy, a common misconception about having your book published is that when you have a book publisher, they do all the marketing for you. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, one of the first questions a prospective publisher asks her is about the author’s platform. Not only do they want to know the size of their email list, they want to know click-through rates and how many followers you have on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

As Randy noted, book publishing is a business first and foremost. The publishers are looking to make money, and they realize that marketing is key when it comes to book sales. Randy is an author too. She wrote the book, Crappy to Happy which was featured in the movie, Eat, Pray, Love—yes, Julia Roberts held Randy’s book in her hands.

What’s hot in publishing now?

Outcome-driven titles and content! This essentially means that while the readers are reading the book, they learn something and then are able to implement it in their lives. At BEA, Randy received this feedback from multiple agents and publishers. So, if self-help, mind-body-spirit or business topics are your genre, you’re in luck.

Even if you are writing fiction, book publishers want authors to have a following. For many authors, marketing is an afterthought. Whether you choose to self-publish or pursue a traditional book publisher, building your platform is something you should take seriously. Before Randy takes on new clients, one of her first questions is about the size of their following. Each August, Randy attends the Writer’s Digest Pitch Slam to pitch books to literary agents. She has one minute to pitch the book. Yes, you read that right—60 seconds. Whether you are self-publishing or going with a traditional publisher, being able to describe your book in one minute is vital.

Here are some of the highlights from our conversation:

Think Outside the Box

Think outside the box when it comes to marketing your book. Her friend, Jane Ubell-Meyer created a Bedside Reading Program that is popular in five-star hotels. In this program, books are placed in hotel rooms for guests to take with them. It’s a great way for unknown authors to gain visibility and find a new group of followers. The program accepts both traditionally published and self-published books. Each book is vetted to determine if it’s a good fit. They consider both fiction and non-fiction books.

Get Book Endorsements

There’s an effective way to request endorsements for your book. First, an endorsement should only be about two sentences. Randy suggests including one or two sample endorsements in case the potential endorser doesn’t have time to write one. Most people don’t need a copy of the entire book prior to writing an endorsement. Typically, a book summary along with a couple of sample chapters is enough information.

Be Bold!

You can’t be timid in the book publishing industry. Randy shared how “hiccups of hesitation” can derail you. This is true no matter if you are self-publishing or seeking a traditional publisher. You can’t be shy when promoting your book.

Thoughts on Children’s Books

Children’s books differ from fiction and non-fiction adult books. Word count, the number of pages, vocabulary, reading level and the age of the reader all need to be taken into consideration. Randy’s expert children’s editor prepares a juvenile submissions packet to accompany the book when pitching to publishers and agents. Writing children’s books is an art that not everybody can do. There’s a common misperception that writing children’s books is much easier than writing books for adults.

Randy says the secret to publishing a successful book is to do it in the right sequence.

Here is a replay of the webinar.

Do you have a great idea for a book or a manuscript in development, but you don’t know the best way to turn it into a bestseller?

Daily House’s team of editorial, production, and marketing experts will evaluate your project, send you a complimentary custom assessment, and a next-steps plan. To get started, fill out our short questionnaire

Follow us on LinkedIn, join our group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to The Bestseller List on YouTube for weekly videos on writing and publishing.

How to Get a Book Deal with a Top Literary Agent and Publisher

How to Get a Book Deal with a Top Literary Agent and Publisher

Get an all-access look at how to get a traditional publishing deal. Simply put, in this fascinating interview, you will find out what it takes to pitch books to literary agents and publishers and win a book contract!

This interview is fascinating and informative regardless of whether you are seeking a traditional publisher or you are self-publishing your book directly.

The Daily House team talks to Randy Peyer of Author One Stop. Her job, for the last 20 years, has been to pitch books to top literary agents and publishers to get her clients contracts.

To begin, you’ll find out:

  •  What book topics are hot and what’s not.
  • The quickest way to get an agent or publisher to stop in their tracks.
  • The one thing to absolutely NOT DO if you are serious about getting a publishing contract. 
  • Two things that publishers always look for.
  • The biggest questions publishers ask before they make a buying decision.
  • And so much more!

Do you have a great idea for a book or a manuscript in development, but you don’t know the best way to turn it into a bestseller?

Daily House’s team of editorial, production, and marketing experts will evaluate your project, send you a complimentary custom assessment, and a next-steps plan. To get started, fill out our short questionnaire

Follow us on LinkedIn, join our group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to The Bestseller List on YouTube for weekly videos on writing and publishing.

Publishing 3.0 and How It Benefits You as an Author

Publishing 3.0 and How It Benefits You as an Author

What is Publishing 3.0? Find out what it means to you! Industry-shaking news is changing the publishing game and opening doors to your career as an indie author.

Do you have a great idea for a book or a manuscript in development, but you don’t know the best way to turn it into a bestseller?

Daily House’s team of editorial, production, and marketing experts will evaluate your project, send you a complimentary custom assessment, and a next-steps plan. To get started, fill out our short questionnaire

Follow us on LinkedIn, join our group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to The Bestseller List on YouTube for weekly videos on writing and publishing.

Neil Gaiman MasterClass Review

Neil Gaiman MasterClass Review

Neil Gaiman created a MasterClass and I just had to enroll. I was so inspired by Neil’s process and techniques that I have started work on a new novel. It’s going swimmingly! If you are at a place where starting a new fiction project works for you, I’d like to invite you to write with me! I’ll be posting writing exercises, progress reports, sprint events, and stuff I haven’t dreamed up yet. Hope you’ll join the fun!

Do you have a great idea for a book or a manuscript in development, but you don’t know the best way to turn it into a bestseller?

Daily House’s team of editorial, production, and marketing experts will evaluate your project, send you a complimentary custom assessment, and a next-steps plan. To get started, fill out our short questionnaire

Follow us on LinkedIn, join our group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to The Bestseller List on YouTube for weekly videos on writing and publishing.

How to Upload Your Book to Apple Books

How to Upload Your Book to Apple Books

These are the steps you need to take to upload your book to Apple Books. While it can be a complicated process, it will give you a competitive advantage. Uploading your book on Apple Books is not easy compared to booksellers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Here’s what to expect: online documentation that is out of date, bugs at every step in the process, and needing multiple apps and logins to complete the process.

Do you have a great idea for a book or a manuscript in development, but you don’t know the best way to turn it into a bestseller?

Daily House’s team of editorial, production, and marketing experts will evaluate your project, send you a complimentary custom assessment, and a next-steps plan. To get started, fill out our short questionnaire

Follow us on LinkedIn, join our group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to The Bestseller List on YouTube for weekly videos on writing and publishing.

Everything You Need to Know About Amazon Reader Reviews

Everything You Need to Know About Amazon Reader Reviews

How to get reader reviews on AmazonReviews of your book are one of the most important parts of your book marketing plan. There are several kinds of reviews—editorial or trade reviews that you pay for directly, reviews in consumer magazines and newspapers that you normally pay for by hiring a publicist, and reader reviews on sites like Amazon. No money changes hands for reader reviews. In fact, paying for reader reviews could get you suspended or banned from Amazon.

How NOT to Get Amazon Book Reviews

Not too long ago, gaming the Amazon reader review system was a very common practice. At the beginning of 2018, it was estimated the 30% of reviews on Amazon were not submitted by real buyers of books (or even real people).

Amazon has put a lot of effort into cracking down on these shady tactics.

Why would someone go through the trouble and risk to fake reviews? It’s a common belief that when a book gets 20 to 25 good reviews, Amazon starts to include the book in their recommended lists.  At between 50 and 70 reviews, Amazon might promote the book in their email newsletter and send it to millions of potential readers! This is a huge boost for any book.

Although Amazon’s exact algorithm can only be speculated about, I can assure you the number of reviews is a factor in search page rank. Because of the perceived value, some authors are willing to pay hackers to get phony reviews.

Black Hat Techniques

Before we move on to methods that you should use to get legitimate reviews, let’s cover the absolute DO NOTs. Avoid these at all costs:

  • Don’t ask family members, close friends, or employees to post reviews.
  • Don’t tell a group of followers or your launch team to post fake reviews ( i.e., they haven’t read the book or even laid eyes on it). A fake review might read, “What a great book! I loved the ending.”
  • Don’t offer any kind of compensation for reviews, especially “positive” reviews – this can be monetary, trade, or gifts. Contest prizes are a grey area — we’ll talk about that a little later in this blog.
  • This goes without saying, but I’ll mention it anyway. Don’t buy reviews on Fiverr or from click-banks, don’t scrape emails using append services, and don’t use zombie-bots (seriously, it’s a thing).

Why Book Reviews Are So Important

Direct Book PublishingWhat’s far more important than the free promotion you get from Amazon is that book reviews are how most people judge the quality of a book that they can’t hold in their hand before they buy. To potential readers, a bounty of 5-star reviews proves that a book is good, well-written, and useful or entertaining. Reviews are the primary sales driver of books!

If you are a new author, you are probably desperate to know how to get reader reviews. If you already have books on Amazon, you also may realize that waiting for people to feel compelled to write a review is a zero growth proposition (even if your book is the best thing since sliced bread). Most people are simply not in the habit of leaving reviews. It’s extra work in a busy world.

Free Book Review Websites

Review websites (that offer free reader reviews) are run by book fans and avid readers who enjoy reading and reviewing books. Site owners also get a great deal of traffic and other ways to monetize their lists out of the deal. Some sites, like Ko’s Stuffed Shelf, are run by a one-person powerhouse. Other review sites list dozens of reviewers to choose from. Either way, you will probably be in for a wait. Review websites that offer free reader reviews are flooded with requests. It can take months for your review be posted. Keep in mind, you are not guaranteed a good review either. In light of this, book review sites should not be your only tactic.

Changes to Top Reviewer Contact Information

Get reviews for bookAmazon is constantly cracking down on what they deem invalid reviews. One of the newest attempts to make sure reader reviews are “real”, as of 2019, is that Amazon has removed access to Top Reviews email addresses.

Amazon reviewers are awarded rank by how active they are and how many reviews they write. To view the list, check out Amazon’s Top Customer Reviewers. In most cases, the top reviewers don’t earn their rank by accident — they write reviews in order to promote themselves for a variety of reasons including self-promotion, getting free books to read, or simply being social. In the past, reviewers could set up profiles on Amazon that included their email and other contact information.

Savvy authors would comb the reviewer profiles, either manually or by using a bot, in order to request reviews for their books. Often a free book is offered in exchange for the review, which is still legitimate IF the reviewer included the following at the top of the review,

“I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.”

However, because the system was being abused by sellers, Amazon has removed the visibility of email addresses on all Amazon profiles.

Pay-for review solicitation services like Book Review Targeter and Bookrazor indexed Amazon’s profile pages to scrape emails and relevant reviewer behavior so that authors could request book reviews in bulk. With the change in policy, Bookrazor has ceased to offer their service altogether. Book Review Targeter is still offering lists, but now they scrape website URLs and social media links that still are available on Amazon. It would be a safe bet that Amazon will remove these final contact details from profiles soon.

Link to Reviews in Your Book Back Matter

Especially with e-books, you are missing a huge opportunity if you don’t fully utilize your book’s front and back matter. See Why Your Front and Back Matter DOES Matter for an overview of all the things you should link to in the back of your book. For this blog, we are going to focus on one of the most important sections in the back of your book and that is, of course, a request for a review. What better time to ask for a review than when a (hopefully) happy reader has just finished your book?

I suggest dedicating a whole page to your review request. I like to format the request for review page as a letter to the reader.

Here’s a book review template to use:

If you enjoyed this book, please take a moment to leave a review.

 

How your review helps!

 

Readers choose books based on recommendations. Leaving an Amazon review is like telling your friends how much you enjoyed Bestseller List. After 20 reviews, Amazon starts to promote the book in the “you might like” lists. After 50 reviews, Amazon might promote Bestseller List by email. This would be HUGE for Bestseller List.

 

Your review means a lot to me! Thank you for downloading, reading, and reviewing 🙂 Get your book here – https://www.amazon.com/Bestseller-List-Kitty-Turner-ebook/dp/B07NC15Z79/

 

Thanks for reading,
~ Kitty

Book Launch and Street Teams

Of course, there are many reasons to write a book—expression, legacy, or simply the pleasure of writing. However, on the outset, one reason that is not typically considered is that launching a book is an enormous marketing opportunity.

The primary goals of a launch are:

  1. To turn fans into super fans that use their own platforms to promote your book
  2. To funnel as many people as you can through your book sales channel pages at launch to increase your visibility on bookseller websites
  3. AND to generate reviews by distributing advance review copies (ARCs) of your book to your launch team and encouraging them to give you an honest review.

Prospective launch team members need to understand that leaving their review is one of the most important things they can do to help you succeed. Being a member has rewards like free books and the opportunity to win prizes, but participation is expected in exchange—this includes writing and posting a review.

When a Review Might be Removed

  • If they are written by more than one person at an address
  • If they are written by someone who resides at your address
  • If they are written with people who share the same credit card
  • If the review indicates the reviewer knows you personally
  • If the review is posted immediately after purchase (the reviewer hasn’t had enough time to read the book)
  • If the reviewer uses a link that includes time/date, location, or search information appended to the end of the URL

Contests, Giveaways, and Challenges

Sometimes simply asking your launch team to write a review isn’t enough. If your launch activities are boring or author-centered instead of engaging to fans, you are in for a rude awakening—you might discover that very few book orders and reviews come in.

Contests, giveaways, and challenges are a surefire way to increase participation and fun. Benjamin Hardy used a contest for Willpower Doesn’t Work and got over 12,000 downloads on the day of his release and nearly 400 reviews. In Ben’s case, he gave away a Tesla, so the prize itself created a lot of buzz. However, this illustrates the point that contests are powerful. I have run very successful launches that were incentivized with prizes valued under $500 like subscription gift boxes, coaching or consulting packages.

Remember, if Amazon sees your effort as compensation in trade for reviews, they can delete all the reviews they think are associated with the contest. Word your entry details carefully and make sure you tell participants to wait at least 48 hours between downloading your book and posting their review. If they post a review minutes after download, to Amazon, it will be seen as a fake.

To reiterate, if you are giving away a book as an incentive to leave a review, ask the reviewer to include the following, “I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.”

It can be challenging to get reader reviews, but it’s essential for your success. Spend the time to plan your strategy and execute some, if not all of the tactics recommended here. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to get all of your reviews at once. Plan a steady routine, approach reviewers in a personal way, and before you know it, you’ll be neck deep in 5-star reviews and selling books like mad.

Thanks for reading!

Do you have a great idea for a book or a manuscript in development, but you don’t know the best way to turn it into a bestseller?

Daily House’s team of editorial, production, and marketing experts will evaluate your project, send you a complimentary custom assessment, and a next-steps plan. To get started, fill out our short questionnaire

Follow us on LinkedIn, join our group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to The Bestseller List on YouTube for weekly videos on writing and publishing.

My First Trip to BookExpo America

My First Trip to BookExpo America

BookExpo America Daily HouseBookExpo America (BEA) is the largest annual book trade book fair in the United States. It’s an opportunity for publishers to showcase upcoming books. Originally when the book fair started out in 1947, it was named the American Bookseller Association Convention and Trade Show. In 1994, it became BEA. In the early 2000s, I attended my first BEA event.

As a new acquisitions editor at a publishing company back in Minnesota, I was almost giddy when I got the invitation to not only attend the event and all the seminars included, but work in our booth too. Because of the large amount of books I received, I had to go to the post office and mail 54 pounds of books to my home address. You see, publishers eager to get the buzz going about their newest published books or upcoming titles, have book signings with authors who would either sign an advance reading copy (a galley of the book) or a copy of the actual book if already published. Not only did I have an opportunity to meet the author in person, I received a free copy of the book too. For a book lover like me, I was in pure heaven!

Richard Simmons!

One of the highlights of the event was when I noted Richard Simmons (the fitness guru in the 1980’s who was famous for his Sweatin’ with the Oldies workouts) was going to be signing a copy of his newest book. I told my marketing director, Claire, I’d need to leave the booth in the middle of my shift in order to attend the book signing. She was humored by my fascination with the fitness guru with the tank top and short shorts. As we were setting up our booth, lots of people were walking by. As I was on the floor opening boxes of books, I heard my name. It was Claire saying, “Richard, there’s someone I’d like you to meet. Her name is Corrine.” I looked up and there he was…Richard Simmons in the flesh. I stood up to shake his hand. He gently took my hand and placed it up to his lips and kissed it and said this, “Corrine, your name should be Dream.” From then on, everyone at work referred to me as Dream Corrine.

BookExpo America Daily HouseAlthough I haven’t attended BEA in over a decade, I’ve kept tabs on the event and noticed some significant changes. For example, back when I attended BEA, I went to a seminar on e-books. There was only one e-reader available and it was incredibly clunky, heavy and it was difficult reading the screen. Pretty much the consensus was this isn’t going to catch on anytime soon. Also, back in the early 2000’s, self-publishing wasn’t talked about much. However, Stephen King, published his first self published book, The Plant, on the Internet in 2000 and cautioned that self-publishing would be one of the biggest nightmares for publishers.

Today’s BEA is much different than the BEA of the past that focused so much on traditional book publishers. In fact, self-publishing is taking center stage with events such as uPublishU where industry experts share how to bring your first book to market, engage readers and advance your publishing efforts and provide new opportunities to reach readers. There’s also an author marketplace where self-published authors can display and market their books.

I can’t wait to attend BEA next year where it will be held in New York City at the Javits Center on May 27-29, 2020. You never know who you will meet. Another Richard Simmons sighting? I can only dream about that.

Do you have a great idea for a book or a manuscript in development, but you don’t know the best way to turn it into a bestseller?

Daily House’s team of editorial, production, and marketing experts will evaluate your project, send you a complimentary custom assessment, and a next-steps plan. To get started, fill out our short questionnaire

Follow us on LinkedIn, join our group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to The Bestseller List on YouTube for weekly videos on writing and publishing.

Pricing Books: The Best Strategies for Self-Publishers

Pricing Books: The Best Strategies for Self-Publishers

pricing books strategies for self-publishersThere isn’t a catchall answer on how much to charge for your self-published book, but there are great methods for determining how to price books to sell. After all, you have spent a lot of time writing. You want some return on your investment.

Of course, if you have a traditional publisher, your publisher determines the price of your book. You normally get around 15% of the net price of the book after everyone takes their cut. Self-published authors, on the other hand, have control of their price point. In fact, if you publish direct, you can change your book pricing daily if you want to. That may sound erratic, but strategic experimentation is not a bad practice.

Sales and Giveaways

Giveaways, countdowns, and discounts on ebooks are encouraged by booksellers like Amazon. The country where you live, what kinds of books you write, and what your overall strategy all affect the price of your book. What platform you sell your book on and if you use promotional services like BookBub will also affect your pricing choice.

Amazon Royalty Window

For Kindles or ebooks, the first thing to look at are the royalties. The basic info for Amazon Kindles published in the US is if you price between $2.99 and $9.99 you get a 70% royalty. By pricing outside of that window you receive half of that—35%. However, there are exceptions and different pricing outside of the US. Login to KDP bookshelf to get the specifics for your area.

For print, the royalty is 60 percent of your list price minus the printing costs, which depend on page count, ink type, and cover stock. When it comes to print, you especially want to research your competitors and match the average pricing because there is no royalty window to guide you in many cases. Market research is important at every phase of your book’s development. If you price yourself high above your competitors without positioning your book as a luxury item, like a coffee-table book, you will price yourself out of the game.

Your Goals

Before setting a price strategy, examine your goals for publishing. The big question you need to ask yourself is, “What do you want most—book sales, readers, or conversion to some other product or service?”

If your primary motivation is profit from your book sales, you need to understand the math. You need to make twice as many sales at $4.99 or ten times as many sales at 99¢ to match the profit on a book priced at $9.99. The question is, “How many more books will you sell if you choose a lower price point?”

Competitive Analysis

A market and competitive analysis will be your biggest help in answering this question. Look up at least 8 to 10 titles that compare to yours. If your goal is profit, calculate the average and price your book at that average or a little higher. Download this free competitive pricing analysis for books worksheet to analyze the competitive titles.

If your goals are either exposure (more readers) or awareness of your brand and business methods (conversion), then price your book lower than the competition or even give your book away.

Free books are used as a funnel to other services or products or to introduce a series. If you have nothing that your book is a gateway to, then giving away your book makes zero sense.

Permafree Books

It’s important to note that you can’t actually publish a permanently free (permafree) book directly on Amazon without some extra steps. But you can accomplish this indirectly by using their price match practice. Amazon no longer assures that they will match prices; they did away with the actual policy a few years ago, but they still do it if you send a request to KDP support. Amazon will match the lowest price of a legitimate competitor, so price your book for free on Apple Books, Nook, and Kobo then submit a price match, and voilà, you’ve got a free book. Note that this is not guaranteed, but it works most of the time.

The following is a sample of a support ticket for free pricing:

Subject: Price match request

Hello, I am writing to request a price match for the book Bestseller List B07NC15Z79 (ISBN
9781733668705). I would like the book to be priced at $0 (no charge) to match the following booksellers:

Barnes and Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bestseller-list-kitty-turner/1131411840 (Priced at free)

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/bestseller-list (Priced at free)

Apple Books US – https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1462545112 (Priced at free on the US site + 51 other countries on Apple Books)

To get Bestseller List for free on Amazon, visit our giveaway page.

Amazon Promotions

Another extremely effective method is to give away your book temporarily. Every 90 days, Amazon Select members can offer free promotions for a maximum of five days. When you run a giveaway, promote across mailing lists, free book websites, free book social media groups, podcasts, videos, and anywhere else you can imagine.

Other promotional pricing campaigns offered to Amazon Select Members are preorders and countdowns. Preorders are amazing and are currently my favorite type of promotion. People are eager to pay from 99¢ to $4.99 out of sheer excitement and support for the author. This is particularly effective if you have a street or launch team. Countdown, giveaway, and preorder promotions are excellent for launching books and almost guarantee bestseller status (if only for a short time) if run correctly.

To run any of the Amazon promotions I mentioned, you need to enroll in Amazon Select. Your enrollment period is for ninety days. During that time, your distribution is limited to Amazon only. At the end of the ninety days, you can opt-out.

Quick Answers

If you are looking for the simple answer, romance, mysteries, and YA categories tend to do well between 99¢ and $3.99, while nonfiction or literary fiction ebooks range between $4.99 and $9.99. If you’re running a BookBub promo or similar advertising, 99¢ promotions are the most effective. Books promoted at $2.99 or below do better on BookBub. The lower the price, the cheaper the advertising cost. BookBub can be a promotional powerhouse if you make the cut. However, I still recommend that you do your own analysis because trends change.

This information will get you started. Remember, you can change your pricing as often as you want, so experiment. Self-publishing is not a set-it-and-forget-it enterprise. Far from it. The more actively you try different pricing strategies and book promotions, the better your book sales will be.

Do you have a great idea for a book or a manuscript in development, but you don’t know the best way to turn it into a bestseller?

Daily House’s team of editorial, production, and marketing experts will evaluate your project, send you a complimentary custom assessment, and a next-steps plan. To get started, fill out our short questionnaire

Follow us on LinkedIn, join our group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to The Bestseller List on YouTube for weekly videos on writing and publishing.

How to Upload Your eBook to Apple Books

How to Upload Your eBook to Apple Books

Upload eBook to Apple BooksUploading your book on Apple Books is not easy compared to booksellers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Here’s what to expect: online documentation that is out of date, bugs at every step in the process, and needing multiple apps and logins to complete the process. Apple Books doesn’t have a web interface, so you need to choose one of the following apps to format and upload your book files:

  • iTunes Producer
  • iBook Author
  • Apple Pages
  • Calibre

You might be thinking, “If it’s excessively complicated and takes many steps, why bother?” Here’s why:

  • Apple is stepping up their ebook game by making reading on phones enjoyable.
  • The Apple Books app user experience is immersive and the recommendations engine might even be better than Amazon’s.
  • Apple’s book marketplace is much less competitive than Amazon.
  • Apple’s international distribution is excellent.
  • If you are trying to position your book as permanently free (permafree) on Amazon, Apple Books is the best bookseller to submit a price match from. Again, this is because their international distribution is so extensive.

Aggregators such as Smashwords or Draft2Digital can get your book listed on Apple Books (as well as all other major bookseller sites) for a lot less hassle, but if you’re like me, you want to have control over each account.

PC Users

As far as I can tell, if you have a Windows PC, you’re somewhat out of luck. Apple does not allow access by PC users, so for that part of the process, you do need an Apple computer or tablet of some type.

Very tech savvy PC users can install the Mac operating system on their Windows computers. Frankly, this is beyond my tech ability, so I’m not going to recommend it. Instead, I suggest leasing a virtual Mac to get the job done. One company called MacInCloud I’ve found cost about $1 per hour for the remote use of a Mac server in the Cloud.

I’d love to hear from you if you have successfully published to Apple Books from a PC. I’ll reach out to collaborate on a tutorial to get the needed information out. I couldn’t find anything online that showed how to do it.

PC users aside, if you have a Mac or iPad, here are the steps you need to know.

Steps for Upload to Apple Books

Step One: Determine if your book is going to be free or if you’re going to charge for it. If you intend to sell your book on Apple Books, you will need a valid Tax ID. A social security number is not acceptable like on other bookseller sites. If your book is free, you don’t have to worry about this and can proceed with the following steps.

Step Two: Go to https://itunesconnect.apple.com and login with your Apple ID. If you don’t have an Apple ID, create one. Read and agree with the Terms of Service. If creating a paid book account, enter your tax info, bank account and routing number, and your contact and entity information.

Step Three: If you’re using Pages, you can write your book, lay it out, and publish it all from the dropdown menu item Publish to Apple Books. The Pages publishing process walks you through a wizard that includes adding a cover, pricing, categories and tags, you can even set up a pre-order, customize availability by date and country, and more. In addition, you can update an already submitted book.

The drawback is that Pages formatting looks amateurish, sort of like what a Word document looks like on Kindle. That’s why Apple created iBook Author. It’s a free book layout tool and it allows you to create a fixed layout, design elements, and add in all the professional touches that make your book indistinguishable from a trade published book.

Okay, so then what is iTunes Producer? Producer is the upload interface to Apple Books and it’s included in iBook Author. It is also available as a standalone app.

Step Four: Whether you use Apple Pages, iTunes Producer, or Calibre, you’ll need the following data:

  • Series
  • Author
  • Description
  • Book Title
  • Category
  • Publisher Name
  • Original Publication Date
  • Number of Pages
  • Language
  • ISBN
  • Rights
  • Price

The information most online booksellers request is similar, so I suggest creating a master document to copy and paste from.

Step Five: Upload the cover image.

Step Six: Click upload your book and you are done. It can take up to 72 hours for your book to appear in the Apple store and up to a week to be listed across all countries.

In summary, these are the steps you need to take to upload your book on Apple Books. While it can be a complicated process compared to Barnes & Noble and Amazon, you’ll have a competitive advantage if you do all three. Need help? Daily House will upload your book to all major online booksellers. For pricing and package information, click here.

Do you have a great idea for a book or a manuscript in development, but you don’t know the best way to turn it into a bestseller?

Daily House’s team of editorial, production, and marketing experts will evaluate your project, send you a complimentary custom assessment, and a next-steps plan. To get started, fill out our short questionnaire

Follow us on LinkedIn, join our group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to The Bestseller List on YouTube for weekly videos on writing and publishing.