New Release: The Indie Author Power Pack: How To Write, Publish & Market Your Book

indie-power-pack-blogFor the last few months I have been secretly planning an assault on the New York Times bestseller list. Today, I can finally announce the release of the book I’m hoping will do the trick.

The Indie Author Power Pack: How To Write, Publish & Market Your Book contains three top-rated guides:

  • Write. Publish. Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
  • Let’s Get Digital (2nd ed.) by me
  • How To Market A Book (2nd ed.) by Joanna Penn
  • + Bonus Content!

It’s only available for a limited time, and you can pre-order it now for just 99c at:

Amazon | Apple | B&N | Kobo | $0.99

The box will launch on Monday, November 3, but if you pre-order now the book will automatically download to your device next Monday.

I took great care in selecting the books for this box set. I wanted to present the very best books covering the three main tasks an author faces: writing, publishing, and marketing.

cover-write-publish-repeat-finalWrite. Publish. Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant is wonderful, containing all sorts of useful information for writers at any stage of their careers. You can read my five star review on Amazon here from when I first read it – and that’s just one of over four hundred five-star reviews.

This book covers so much great stuff, but the section on Story Beats really blew me away and revolutionized how I write. You can read my post on that here, along with an excerpt from the book.

That chapter on Story Beats (and the one on Product Funnels) would be worth the normal full price of this book alone – $5.99 – but you can get it now as part of this box for just 99c! I called Write. Publish. Repeat “the best book on self-publishing” when it was released. It’s the book that raised the bar and inspired me to update Let’s Get Digital so extensively.

Digital2Let’s Get Digital will be very familiar to most of you, and the box contains the most recent update, the brand new second edition which was just released at the start of September. If you want to read more about this update, go here.

How To Market A Book by Joanna Penn is another great read, this time focusing on marketing. I chose this title because I felt it was the very best guide out there covering the whole world of marketing as it pertains to selling books.

It’s equally useful for a beginner and those who are comfortable with marketing concepts and strategies, and is especially handy for authors who don’t know how to approach marketing, where to focus their time, or how to get things moving.

HowtoMarket2What I love about Joanna Penn’s marketing advice is that it’s all actionable – no pointless waffling on theoretical concepts with little practical use. She is someone who has walked the walk too: Joanna is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. You can get a sample of her no nonsense, hands-on approach to marketing in this guest post on my blog.

Again, Joanna’s book alone would be easily worth the price of this box – especially because this is the new updated second edition only released a couple of weeks ago.

You can now grab it, along with Write. Publish. Repeat and Let’s Get Digital for just 99c from the following retailers:

Amazon | Apple | B&N | Kobo | $0.99

BONUS CONTENT: As some of you may already own all three books, we have some exclusive content only available in this box. Myself, Joanna, Sean & Johnny recorded a Google Hangout discussion which covers the key things that writers need to focus on as they build their career up from having just one book to have a whole catalog, and how your marketing approach changes along the way.

There is a link in the box set to the audio, the video, and a transcript too, and we also reveal some personal stuff we’ve never shared anywhere, and I talk about my, uh, baboon heart…

Power Pack Banner

To recap, that’s three top-rated writer’s guides, with a normal retail price of $17, available for just 99c AND you will get exclusive content you can’t get anywhere else. Do your career (and your wallet) a favor, and grab it now at:

Amazon | Apple | B&N | Kobo | $0.99

Shooting for the NYT Bestseller List

As I said up top, I put together this box set with the explicit aim of hitting the New York Times bestseller list. That might be a long shot, I don’t know. I think we have a chance. There are some promo fireworks lined up for the launch, and three big platforms to put together, so anything could happen.

But we need your help.

Nanowrimo kicks off in a few days, and I think this box set is ideal for anyone participants. Indeed, there is stuff in here which will be of great assistance to all writers at any stage of their career – over 1,000 pages of advice on every imaginable topic related to writing, publishing, and marketing. This box set is something that writers will be able to return to again and again as their career develops.

However, The Indie Author Power Pack is only available for a limited time. And we’re launching it at 99c so the time to buy, and the time to spread the word, is now.

If you can help with our push that would be great. Here are some things you can do:

1. Buying. Purchasing is the easiest way to help. Any time from now is good! We want you to shop at your preferred retailer, but if you have multiple accounts, and are wondering where your purchase will help us most, that would probably be Barnes & Noble (for New York Times list-hitting reasons), followed by Amazon, but a purchase anywhere will assist in that goal, and will be hugely appreciated. If you want to help in other ways…

2. Reviewing. Even if you have only read Let’s Get Digital it would be great if you could copy that review across to the box set (here). You won’t be able to do so until it moves out of the pre-order phase (next Monday). And, in case you are unaware, it’s perfectly acceptable to review a box when you’ve only read one of the books – that’s standard procedure for box sets, just note same in your review (i.e. this review applies to Let’s Get Digital…). If you have read more than one of the books, even better. Just a line or two would make all the difference.

3. Sharing. If you are a writer (or an aspiring writer) I’m sure you know lots of other writers too. Please tell them about this box set! You’ll be doing them a favor, I promise. Feel free to forward this email to any writers you know (there’s a handy button below). You can also use any of the graphics or words in this email when sharing on Facebook, Twitter or your blog (contact me if you need anything specific).

If you like, here is a tweet you can share easily:

4. Cross Your Fingers! Hitting the New York Times bestseller list will be tough for three reasons. First, you need a lot of sales. Second, you need a minimum number of sales from more than one retailer (hence the Barnes & Noble suggestion above). Third, you need favorable winds. But with your help, we have a real chance.

If you have any questions about the books in the box, the aims, the motivations, or the strategies, fire away!

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What’s Next for Authors United?

authorsunitedAuthors United has been spectacularly unsuccessful in its supposed mission to get Amazon and Hachette to agree a deal.

By contrast, Simon & Schuster was able to agree a deal in just three weeks – without the intervention of Douglas Preston’s group.

To be fair, Authors United has been very good at one thing: getting media attention.

Perhaps it’s time for Douglas Preston to widen the aims of the group and start campaigning on issues which actually matter.

It would be great if Authors United could get the media to focus on any of these problems. Alternatively, Authors United could continue to focus on propping up a broken system which only rewards those at the very top (like Douglas Preston, surprisingly).

1. Diversity in Publishing 

Publishing is very white and very middle class. And, at the upper echelons, often very male too. One of the many knock on effects of this is that traditionally published books tend to be very white and very middle class. Publishing claims to want more diverse books from more diverse voices, but I don’t think that’s going to happen until more people from diverse backgrounds are representing authors and acquiring books.

2. One-sided Contracts 

Contracts offered by publishers can contain awful clauses. Option clauses which unfairly tie authors’ hands. Reversion clauses which are meaningless in a POD/digital world where books never go out of print. And non-compete clauses which can pointlessly damage a writer’s career.

Some say that a good agent will negotiate those out. My experience of talking to fellow writers is that it’s often the case that even good agents can fail to negotiate these out because they don’t want to damage their relationship with the publisher. But, really, these clauses should form no part of any boilerplate. Agents shouldn’t have to negotiate them out because they shouldn’t be there in the first place. And the upsurge in digital-first imprints taking unagented submissions means this is a growing problem. Continue reading

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Amazon and S&S Agree Terms. Who’s The Bad Guy Again?

s&sSimon & Schuster has agreed a multi-year deal with Amazon covering both e-books and print books. Business Insider reported that negotiations only took three weeks and were concluded two months before the original contract expired.

I’m confused, does this mean the end of literary culture or not? Someone needs to run up to Douglas Preston’s quaint writer shack to find out. (If you get lost, it’s at the back of his 400-acre estate).

It also begs a question: what exactly is Hachette holding out for? As everyone knows at this point, Hachette’s contract with Amazon expired in March and the two parties have been unable to agree a deal since.

The narrative being pushed by the media was that Amazon’s desired terms would harm Hachette and its authors, yet Simon & Schuster was able to agree a contract very quickly which CEO Carolyn Reidy called a “positive development.” She characterized the deal as “economically advantageous for both Simon & Schuster and its authors and maintains the author’s share of income generated from e-book sales.”

In a brief statement, Amazon noted “the agreement specifically creates a financial incentive for Simon & Schuster to deliver lower prices for readers.”

Exact terms haven’t been disclosed but it appears to be a modified version of agency – i.e. where Simon & Schuster sets retail prices, Amazon has certain discounting powers, and the publisher has various incentives not to price too high. In other words, both sides got some of what they wanted.

And the sky remains stubbornly in place. Continue reading

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Building A Better Industry

Mike Shatzkin is confused. He can’t seem to understand why self-publishers spend so much time documenting the ills of the publishing industry.

Or, as Shatzkin puts it in one of his typically snappy headlines, “The motivation of the publisher-bashing commentariat is what I cannot figure out.”

I did a fair bit of bashing myself last week when I said that “Publishing Is Rotten To The Core.” I had intended to follow that up with a more positive counterpoint in a couple of weeks, but Shatzkin’s post demanded an immediate response.

Motivations are less interesting to me than the arguments themselves, and questions about motivations can often be an attempt to avoid the actual issues, or a simple fishing expedition – i.e. looking for a point of entry for an ad hominem attack. But the misunderstanding on this issue is so fundamental that it is worth addressing.

So, why do we care? Is Jamie Ford correct when he claims that we are motivated by bitterness? Was he right when he said that we’re all “people who’ve been told that their baby is ugly”?

It’s possible that bitterness/rejection is a factor for some self-publishers. And maybe even most of them at some level. But the idea that it’s the prime motivation, or any significant factor here, doesn’t stand up to any real scrutiny because the “publisher-bashing commentariat” doesn’t just list the failings of the business, but also suggests remedies.

If we wanted to destroy publishers (or cackle as they destroyed themselves), why would we write posts suggesting that they drop DRM, embrace low pricing, and hurl themselves with lustful abandon into the digital future? Continue reading

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Don’t Wait For Permission: Why Authors Should Be Entrepreneurs

EntrepreneurSmallThe self-publishing blogosphere usually focuses on making money from genre fiction, and tends to advise producing as much quality work as you can as quickly as possible, and then marketing it aggressively.

That’s not bad advice at all, but there are many other types of books, several different kinds of authors, and multiple ways you can approach making a living.

Joanna Penn (writing as JF Penn) has hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists with her fiction, but also has an extremely popular blog and podcast aimed at writers, as well as several non-fiction books.

I invited her along today to talk about her latest – Business For Authors: How To Be An Author Entrepreneur – in which Joanna provides excellent advice on ALL the ways that authors can monetize both their work and their knowledge/skills. And it’s especially useful for those who don’t fit exactly into the “write genre fiction as fast as possible” model.

Before we dive into the Q&A, I should mention that Business for Authors is available in e-book, print, and audio. The above link goes to the e-book on Amazon US, but for links to all other retailers and formats, go to Joanna’s site.

Why are you so passionate about authors embracing the entrepreneurial side of things?

This site is all about empowering authors to choose themselves, to take their words out into the world and reach readers directly. It’s about the truly amazing opportunities that authors have when they take action on their dreams. I’m passionate about that too, and now I want to take it one step further.

At the very basic level, an entrepreneur creates value from ideas, which surely is the definition of an author! But more than that, an entrepreneurial author goes beyond just one book into the realm of running a viable business with their writing. So that means taking one manuscript and exploiting all the rights – having ebooks available worldwide, print on demand so anyone can buy the books anywhere, exploring audio options, considering translations, investigating direct sales, and collaborating with other creatives on new projects like graphic novels, even TV series as HM Ward has recently announced for her Ferro series. It might be deciding to sell some of those rights, working with agents or publishers if the creative project suits that approach, but it’s doing so with a definite business aim in mind.

We create art. We manifest our ideas in the world in glorious creative ways, but to be entrepreneurial is to care about the business side as well as the creation. It’s about being excited to generate something new and original, but also being enthusiastic about how the book will reach customers as well as the financial side. Continue reading

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Publishing Is Rotten To The Core

"Rotten apple" by Kulmalukko. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Rotten apple” by Kulmalukko. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

There is something seriously askew with the supposed values of the publishing business.

The most egregious behavior continually gets overlooked, ignored, and swept under the carpet, in favor of pursuing pet targets.

As always, I’m conscious of whose agenda this serves and why writers allow themselves to be used as pawns in this game.

Exhibit A: Harlequin

Amazon is regularly slated for the way it manages its tax affairs. I have written extensively about this before, but, in short, Amazon is using extremely common methods for minimizing its tax bills that are used by every major tech company (and many other multinational corporations too).

You can argue these loopholes should be closed (and I would agree), but these actions are legal. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the major publishers, and the global media conglomerates which own them, are doing the exact same thing.

Take Harlequin, for example. Harlequin doesn’t just use these corporate structures to minimize its tax bill. It has also used them to reduce the 50% digital royalty rate agreed in some of its contracts to a paltry 3%. Harlequin is facing a class action suit because of this, but you won’t find coverage of that in the news media or outrage about Harlequin’s actions among publishing professionals.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I think exploiting authors in this manner is worse than legally minimizing your tax bill.

Exhibit B: The New York Times

I have a fun game you can play! Well, it’s more of a thought experiment and it goes something like this: try and construct a hypothetical scenario where the New York Times writes an article that is critical of a major publisher. Seriously, give it a shot. It’s probably harder than you think, as it would need to be something worse than price-fixing or exploiting authors on an industrial scale, subjects which the New York Times routinely ignores, or whitewashes.

It would also have to be worse than a publisher pretending it was a victim of the Nazis when, in reality, it secretly donated to the SS, used Jewish slave labor to publish hits like The Christmas Book of the Hitler Youth, and then refused to apologize in 2002 when caught lying about it!

That publisher is Bertelsmann, 51% owner of Penguin Random House. I guess being a global media conglomerate keeps the right stories on the front page and helps the wrong ones disappear. Continue reading

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Let’s Get Digital 2 Problems Fixed, New Kindles Launched & More

voyageI’ve info below on six new Kindle devices which launched today below, but first some welcome news:

Amazon seems to have fixed things at its end. Those who purchased the old version of Let’s Get Digital should be able to now download the new version with a few clicks via Manage My Content & Devices (formerly Manage My Kindle) in their Amazon account.

Note: none of these problems affected new purchasers.

More detailed instructions below, but for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I decided to upload the new expanded and updated second edition of Let’s Get Digital directly over the old version.

I explain the reasoning here, but the general idea was to thank the readers who supported me over the last three years by recommending this book (in huge numbers) to their fellow writers.

Digital2Some launch snafus meant the update wasn’t immediately available to download for purchasers of the old version, and when people tried, they got the old edition with the new cover. Ack!

It could have been a very stressful situation, but it wasn’t as bad as it might have been. Not least because everyone was so cool about it and help get word of the solution to those who needed it (and thank you for that. Really. It made things so much easier on this end).

However, that should all be fixed now. If you don’t know how to download updates, here’s the process:

1. Go to Manage My Content & Devices (formerly Manage My Kindle) in your Amazon account.

2. Search for “Digital” in the box on the right-hand side.

3. To the left of the book title, click the button.

4. Click “Deliver.” Select your device. Click “Deliver” again.

5. Once your device synchs, you should have the new update and see the book at the top of your TBR.

If this isn’t working for anyone, please let me know in the comments. Continue reading

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