How to Write a Strong Opening Sentence & Hook Readers

How many times have you picked a random show on Netflix, tried it, and then given up because it just didn’t quite hit? Those first five minutes or so are vital, and showrunners know it. A strong opening scene is everything. If you’re not hooked, you’re not going to keep watching, and once you’ve clicked off, there’s a big chance you’ll never come back. 

It’s not so different when you’re writing a book! Readers make judgments super quickly. Your opening scene is no exception.

First they’ll judge your cover and whatever excerpt or blurb you’ve got on the back, and then you’ve got that first chapter or prologue to catch them. 

Think about the last time you went to a bookstore. Even after a cover caught your eye, even after the synopsis sounded pretty good, how many books did you put back on the shelf when the first few paragraphs just didn’t land? 

In this article, we’ll teach you how to write a stellar first sentence to hook your reader and ensure that they not only buy your book, but stay invested all the way through! 

This guide on how to write a strong opening sentence covers:

  1. Asking a question
  2. Hooking your reader’s emotions
  3. Starting in media res
  4. Making it matter
  5. Examples of strong opening sentences
  6. Why is the first sentence important?
  7. Establishing tone
  8. Engaging your reader
  9. Introducing key concepts
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How to Write a Strong Opening Sentence

In the same way that a compelling opening shot will hook a moviegoer or Netflix-scroller, a compelling opening sentence will hook your reader. 

That feels like a lot of pressure! But it’s not that hard. Here are a few ways to catch your reader’s interest right off the bat: 

1. Ask a question 

I don’t mean to literally ask your reader a question–this would probably come off as a little cheesy, and you almost never address the reader in a fictional narrative. I mean do so with a scenario in the opening scene to add mystery and intrigue to your story.

When I say ‘ask a question,’ what I mean is to present a question to your reader. Make them wonder what the heck is going on, and make them want to find out. 

This is especially effective in short or flash fiction, when it’s important to introduce the central conflict as soon as possible. But in all forms of fiction, long-form or short-form, getting into some conflict will get your reader on board. 

2. Hook your reader’s emotions 

Humans are empathetic–this is why we read in the first place! We want to hear about what people are going through and watch them overcome insurmountable obstacles to win wars, fall in love, whatever the case may be. 

Open with a strong emotion. Describe the sadness or delight a character feels, or the strong emotion of the current scene. This will help your reader relate to your character quickly, and once they’ve related to your character, they’ll want to follow them into the story

3. Start in medias res 

This one’s my personal favorite.

In medias res means, roughly, ‘in the middle of the action.’ Drop your reader right in the middle of the good stuff. Maybe your rogue is mid-heist, and things are looking sketchy. This is a strong opening scene, you see this often in Hollywood, they then reveal it as a flashback to start the story.

Maybe your protagonist is in the middle of being fired from their big-city job, which will send them back into the arms of their small-town crush. 

4. Make it matter 

Whatever you do, don’t make it boring. If the first sentence of your story is a piece of exposition, or a long-winded description of landscape, your reader’s gonna get bored and find something else. 

Remember: readers are attached to people and their emotions. If you can’t open with conflict, at least open with people facing some sort of dilemma, and preferably feeling some kind of way about it. 

Examples of Strong Opening Sentences to Learn From 

One of the best ways to learn how to do something well is to watch how it’s been done by professionals. There’s a ton you can learn from these opening lines, just don’t copy them exactly (obviously). Remember the opening scene creates space for dialogue, development, and questions from the reader.

The Autobiography of Henry VIII With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers by Margaret George:

“My dearest Catherine: I am dying. Or rather, about to die–there is a slight (though unconsoling) difference.” 

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut:

“All this happened, more or less.” 

American Gods by Neil Gaiman:

“Shadow had done three years in prison. He was big enough, and looked don’t-f***-with-me-enough that his biggest problem was killing time. So he kept himself in shape, and taught himself coin tricks, and thought a lot about how much he loved his wife.” 

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer:

“I’d never given much thought to how I would die – though I’d had reason enough in the last few months – but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.”

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson:

“Congratulations. The fact you’re reading this means you’ve taken one giant step closer to surviving till your next birthday. Yes, you, standing there leafing through these pages. Do not put this book down. I’m dead serious–your life could depend on it.” 

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson:

“The funny thing about facing imminent death is that it really snaps everything else into perspective. Take right now, for instance.” 

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan:

“Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood. If you’re reading this because you think you might be one, my advice is: close this book right now. Believe whatever lie your mom or dad told you about your birth, and try to live a normal life.” 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt:

“The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we began to realize the gravity of our situation.” 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein:

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” 

Bunny by Mona Awad:

“We call them Bunnies because that is what they call each other. Seriously. Bunny.” 

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbricht:

“For a long time, he didn’t have a name. What he had were white long fingers that hooked into purses and a mouth that told easy lies.” 

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff:

“People often sh*t themselves when they die.”

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone:

“When Red wins, she stands alone. Blood slicks her hair. She breathes out steam in the last night of this dying world.” 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides:

“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” 

The H8 U Give by Angie Thomas:

“I shouldn’t have come to this party. I’m not even sure I belong at this party. That’s not on some bougie shit, either. There are just some places where it’s not enough to be me. Neither version of me.” 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green:

“Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I barely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.” 

Paradise by Toni Morrion:

“They shoot the white girl first. With the rest they take their time.”

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones:

“My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist.” 

The Martian by Andy Weir:

“I’m pretty much f*cked.” 

Why is the first sentence important? 

So, okay, what’s the deal with all this ‘first sentence’ stuff anyway? Surely it can’t be that important to have a stellar first sentence in a book with about a billion sentences. You must pay close attention to this tendency to dismiss parts of the process. Your opening scene needs to be strong because without it, your audience may lose interest and never get to your great scenes later.

Well, it is…and it isn’t 

When it comes to novels, it’s fair to say that your first sentence doesn’t necessarily have to be an eye-catching, one-of-a-kind showstopper. And in fact, putting way too much effort on a standout first sentence can read as forced and mess with the flow. 

It’s really more about your first paragraph than your first sentence, and even then, it’s more about your first page than your first paragraph. 

However: thinking carefully about that very first sentence will set you up for a better first page. You want to start in the best possible spot, and focusing on your first sentence will help you do that! 

Establishing tone in your opening sentence

In almost all of the examples I listed, especially the ones which open Young Adult novels, the sentences had a very strong tone. Your first sentence is a great place to establish what sort of a tone you’ll take for the rest of the piece–it helps you start strong, and it gives your reader a great idea of what to expect in the coming pages. 

Is your book funny? Open with something snarky, like James Patterson does with Maximum Ride. Is it introspective? Open with something moody, like Stephanie Meyer does with Twilight. Let the reader get a taste of what you’ll be serving them! 

Engaging your reader 

Most obviously, your first sentence will help you hook your reader. If you can get them on board to read the first sentence, they’ll be on board to read the first paragraph, and once they’ve turned the first page for more? You’re in the clear. 

Look at openers like Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief. He starts off with a clear voice, which the reader can expect through the rest of the series, and he starts with a warning for the reader to put the book down. Any childhood fan of Percy Jackson can tell you that it was reading that warning that got them hooked for good! 

It’s true that some books are slow burns, and readers get invested over time. But you’ve got the opportunity to grab their attention on the first page, so why not use it? 

Introducing key concepts in your book’s opening

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not always possible to establish the core conflict of your novel on that first page. Sometimes that conflict simply hasn’t had the chance to come about yet! In The Goldfinch, for example, we can’t really get into the conflict until the bomb goes off in the museum, and it would be a little weird to start with that. 

That being said: you can still use your first sentence to introduce the key themes and concepts you’ll discuss in your novel. This is par for the course on writing a novel.

Twilight, for example, deals intensely with Bella’s mortality, so we open with her confronting it head-on. The H8 U Give introduces Starr’s internal conflict–the book goes on to deal with how she struggles with her identity as a Black teenager, and in that first paragraph, she’s talking about the different versions of herself and how she feels about them. 

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What’s the best opening line you’ve ever read? What’s the best one you’ve ever written? Let us know in the comments! 

The Essential Author Media Kit for Promotion in 2021

Your author media kit, or press kit, is a thought-out, tangible way to promote yourself and your book with the intention of landing some form of publicity.

When creating your media kit, it’s crucial to first consider your audience.

Just as your book proposal is not for your readers, neither is your media kit. This kit is for potential interviewers, book store owners, bloggers, or anyone who may be interested in featuring you or your book.

Think of it as a tangible elevator pitch: Your elevator pitch tells your entire story (ending included) so editors, marketers, etc., know what they’re working with. 

Your marketing kit should include material that gives potential marketers information about you. Not teaser material, but concrete examples of your credibility as a writer, and of course, an excerpt from your book.

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As we go through these three points, keep this one question at the forefront of your mind: What makes me and my book unique?

author media kit cover image

This guide to creating your author media kit covers:

  1. What is an author media kit?
  2. What is typically in a media kit?
  3. Why does an author media kit matter?
  4. How to make an author media kit
  5. Next steps to take

What is an author media kit?

Your author media kit is your writing resume. Remember graduating high school or college and needing a resume to land that first job? Maybe you spent hours organizing your past experiences into perfect bullet point lists with engaging headers.

Today, you may put your work experiences online via LinkedIn or a page on your writer website.

In a resume you’d include your contact information, who you are, what you do, etc. The same is true for your author media kit. 

When creating your kit, start by going through this check-list. You may want to exclude one more of these points, or include other points, depending on who you send your media kit to (a TV station will need different content than a blogger). 

What is typically in a media kit?

To start, here is what should be in your author media kit:

  • Cover sheet (think of it as a title page for your kit)
  • Author name (if you write with a pen name, use it)
  • Contact information
  • Website link
  • Author biography
  • Author headshot
  • Business card
  • Endorsements or testimonials
  • Recent articles
  • Best press mentions (or if you’re just starting, your most recent will work as well)
  • Book excerpt  

Feel free to include details unique to you as an author or to your book. If you have merchandise for readers and it sells well, this may be beneficial to include. Perhaps you write a middle grade series set at a summer camp and you happened to be the head of camp activities for ten years.

This detail would reinforce why you are uniquely credible to author this series.

Why does an author media kit matter?

If you want to land a TV interview, it’s important to present yourself in a credible way. 

The above list may seem a bit overwhelming, or maybe you feel unsure about the time commitment necessary for creating a media kit, so remember why it matters.

As a writer, the majority of your time should be spent writing, but you also need to market yourself if you’re going to build a strong readership. 

Social media is one way to market yourself. However, if your social media is full of salesy posts, you’re likely to lose followers, and therefore, lose potential readers.

Landing author interviews, getting shelf space in your local bookstore, guest blogging, all of these are ways to build your following without going on social media simply to post links to buy your book.

But how do you gain those author interviews, shelf space, or blogging opportunities?

It starts with credibility.

Your local news station isn’t going to give that time slot to just anyone.

Creating a professional author media kit is a great way to boost your credibility for those who don’t yet know your name or your work.

It’s one thing to say, “I wrote a book and it’s on Amazon, will you interview me?”

It’s another to say, “Here is a kit of my work, endorsements, previous interviews, and an excerpt from my book. I think your viewers would connect with my book and I would love to share my story with them. My contact information is on page one. Thank you for your time!”

If you’re still unsure why you need an author media kit, think of it this way: You are a professional in your chosen field and need something to represent your work.

Actors have acting reels: A several minute highlight reel of their best acting from the different TV shows, films, or commercials they’ve been in. Models have portfolios of their headshots, photos from their varied work experience, or both. Photographers have online galleries of their past bookings.

In every instance, the professional’s work is condensed into an easy-to-see format that showcases the work experience and is presented in a credible and engaging way.

The same should be true for you.

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of creating a media kit and what to include, how do you do so?

How to make an author media kit

Just like writing a book, creating an author media kit starts with a blank page.

When writing a book, it’s often easiest to start with your front matter. You can easily complete several pages without even writing the first sentence of your book. For your author media kit, steal this format.

Start with your cover sheet.

List every main aspect that you’ll include (without page numbers yet) and then, depending on your personality, work from there.

If long to-do lists overwhelm you, complete the easiest aspects first (such as your recent articles and author bio). Or, if you’re a procrastinator, you might want to start with the more difficult aspects (such as your choosing which endorsements to use and selecting your best press mentions).

Wherever you start, make sure you don’t get too focused on the details. This is your first draft. It’s crucial to get everything down. You can edit later.

Here are a few tips as you begin creating your media kit:

  1. Cover sheet
    • List page numbers after you’re satisfied with every word and done drafting. This will save you time and ensure your page numbers are correct.
  2. Author name
    • Use the exact spelling you have on your book cover. If you use your middle name or initial, include this in your author name.  
  3. Contact information
    • Double check to make sure all your contact information is up to date, including the author email address.
  4. Website link
    • Briefly click through your website pages to ensure everything is in working order and that your author bio on your website correlates with the author bio in your media kit.
  5. Author biography
    • This can be written in first person or third. First will have a more personal touch, but if you do choose to go with first person, make sure it’s still professional.
  6. Author headshot
    • Your headshot should be taken by a professional photographer. They will help you with posing and with background. Usually a blank wall in soft natural light works well, or professional studio lighting. Make sure you dress in a way that best presents you and your author brand, and that your personality comes through in the shot. Include both a black and white and a full color headshot.
  7. Business card
    • You can create your own business cards quite easily. A simple online search will provide you with numerous options. If you feel uncomfortable with design, hiring a professional graphic designer may help you reach your desired outcome with less stress.
  8. Endorsements or testimonials
    • Don’t go overboard here, but also don’t be shy about including your best endorsements.
  9. Recent articles
    • A quick read through for any missed typos will go a long way in taking your media kit from good to great.
  10. Best press mentions
    • Again, don’t go overboard but don’t be shy. Your media kit needs to present a clear and accurate picture of both you and your book.

Next steps to take

Now that you have your author media kit completed, it’s time to send it out into the world! 

A great place to start is by creating a page on your author website. Simply create a new blank page, title it appropriately (something like example.com/media-kit works well) and reformat your media kit onto this page. 

You may also want to create a PDF form on your website. This allows for easy download access as well as printing if a particular company asks for a hard copy.

Now, when a TV station, blogger, or interviewer asks for your media kit, you can respond in a timely manner with zero stress. 

Creating your very own author media kit is no small feat. 

You took the time to do the appropriate research and create the best product you could. Celebrate your accomplishment. 

Then get out there and start interviewing.

It’s time to promote your book

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Amazon CreateSpace – 2021 Guide for Authors

Many of today’s aspiring writers choose the self-publishing path for several reasons – one of them being that this rapidly evolving industry offers an abundance of opportunities. Plus, the chances of getting your book picked up by a traditional publishing company are becoming slimmer.

If you’ve already done some research into self-publishing, you’ve probably heard of Amazon’s platforms CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). These two used to be the go-to options for most self-publishing authors. 

In this post, we’re going to cover what happened to CreateSpace and what other options you have for self-publishing your book in 2021. 

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Here’s what what we’ll be covering on Amazon CreateSpace today:

  1. What was Amazon CreateSpace?
  2. Why use Print on Demand? (POD)
  3. Amazon launching KDP Print
  4. CreateSpace is now Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
  5. CreateSpace and KDP — similar features
  6. What’s the difference between CreateSpace and KDP?
  7. CreateSpace alternatives in 2021
using Amazon CreateSpace on a laptop

What was Amazon CreateSpace?

CreateSpace was a self-publishing platform using the Print on Demand-model (POD), i.e., printing and shipping books to fulfill customer orders. They produced high-quality paperbacks from files you uploaded yourself. 

Does Amazon still have CreateSpace?

CreateSpace was a popular choice among self-publishing authors, mainly because of their reasonable prices, speed and convenience. They offered a range of reasonably priced services, such as design, marketing, printed proofs, and extended distribution. In 2005, Amazon bought CreateSpace while developing its existing self-publishing service, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Why use Print on Demand? 

POD books used to be considered an inferior product, with cheap covers and low-quality paper. That’s no longer the case. Today, traditional publishers also use POD technology for books they don’t intend to store. For the most part, POD books are equal in quality to those printed on a press. 

Plus, the POD-model means that you can save money by not printing hundreds or thousands of copies at once. It’s an excellent option for self-publishing authors, especially if you’re on a limited budget. Print on demand gives you more freedom to market and sell your book without worrying about shipping, storing, or checking stock levels.  

Amazon launching KDP Print

For a few years, CreateSpace and KDP were two separate Amazon-owned businesses, with the first being a POD service and the latter a platform for publishing e-books. In 2016, Amazon launched their second POD service, KDP Print. One of the reasons behind the launch was to encourage authors more strongly to add a print version to their Kindle book. 

However, KDP Print’s launch left many authors confused about whether they should stay with CreateSpace or shift to the new platform. Since Amazon wouldn’t allow authors to go back once they’d made the switch, the decision had to be permanent. And rumors about CreateSpace closing down or merging with KDP were already starting to arise. 

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Is CreateSpace still in business?

Two years later, in August 2018,  Amazon confirmed the rumors and announced that CreateSpace and KDP were merging into one. Effectively, all CreateSpace services were now discontinued, and the books were shifted to KDP

The merge inevitably brought about a few changes, but on the whole, there are more similarities than differences between the two platforms. KDP is an established and trust-worthy service that’s been around for years. And with KDP Print, you have the benefit of being able to publish both paperbacks and e-books. Plus, you receive the combined royalties on one platform. 

If you want to find out more about this platform, you can read our extensive KDP guide here

CreateSpace and KDP — similar features 

Amazon made the transition as smooth as possible, keeping most of the features that made CreateSpace such a popular platform. Few of the affected authors seemed to encounter any significant hiccups when shifting their books. 

After Amazon moved the books to KDP, you could track your sales on the new platform. You could also access the older CreateSpace report data in your KDP reports, minimizing the risk of losing anything. 

The paperbacks are still printed in the same facilities as CreateSpace, except when they’re distributed to Europe. Other features that remain the same are:

  • International Standard Book Number (ISBN). You still have the option to use your own ISBN, get a discounted Bowker ISBN, or a free one through KDP.
  • Distribution and associated fees. KDP Print also offers distribution to Amazon only (with a 40% fee) and extended distribution to stores outside of Amazon (with a 60% fee). Note that there are new requirements around extended distribution, which you can read about below. 
  • Book cover and design tools. KDP Print uses the same Word templates and Cover Creator tool that CreateSpace offered. So the quality of the design remains the same. 

What’s the difference between CreateSpace and KDP?

For the most part, CreateSpace authors have gladly moved over to KDP, despite inevitable changes and new features. KDP is an excellent all-in-one platform and a quick print-on-demand service. It can help you reach the paperback markets in the US, Europe, and even Japan with comprehensive distribution services. There are many areas where KDP is gaining ground on CreateSpace, such as:  

  • The integrated sales dashboard. Having a combined publishing and accounting platform for both Kindle and print versions is a big plus, giving you an improved user experience. 
  • Updates without losing the old version. With KDP, you can update your book while the old version is still available for purchase. This feature is a vast improvement, especially for those authors whose books are selling well. 
  • Expanded international distribution. Authors will now be able to distribute to Japan, which wasn’t possible with CreateSpace.

Along with these three changes, there are a few more differences between CreateSpace and KDP. We’ve put together a list that summarizes the most important ones you need to know. 

Other changes between CreateSpace and KDP

  • Royalty payment schedule. While CreateSpace paid royalties approximately 30 days after the end of the month where you earned them, the KDP payment comes out 60 days later. But the payment schedule is still monthly, the same as it was on CreateSpace. 
  • Unsupported languages. Some languages supported by CreateSpace may be unsupported by KDP. CreateSpace books that are already published will continue to be available on Amazon, no matter what language. But you can’t publish or update new books in an unsupported language, and drafts that you move over may need to be translated. Note that Amazon continues to evaluate its features and services, including supported languages.
  • Expanded distribution. On KDP, your book must be available on Amazon to enable expanded distribution, which wasn’t a requirement with CreateSpace. 
  • Author copies. KDP lets you order author copies by adding them straight to your Amazon cart, like a regular order. If you’re a Prime member or if your order is above Amazon’s minimum spend, this process can save you both time and money. 
  • Local printing for Europe distribution. CreateSpace only manufactured their books in the US. With KDP, local printing and shipping are available within Europe. Good for the environment and more convenient for customers. 
  • Printing costs. There are some minor differences in terms of printing costs. For example, certain low page count books printed in Europe (color books less than 30 pages and black-and-white books less than 110 pages) will have increased printing costs. However, this affects only a few titles.
  • Amazon advertising. With KDP, you’re able to purchase Amazon advertising for both e-books and print books. 

CreateSpace alternatives in 2021

As we mentioned before – the self-publishing industry is evolving vastly, and there are so many alternatives. While Amazon’s KDP is undoubtedly one of the giants, other options may suit you better. Here are some other examples of self-publishing companies offering print-on-demand services: 

  • IngramSpark is a self-publishing company located in Nashville, with a global distribution network offering print books and e-books. 
  • Lulu has been around for over a decade, offering a range of services, including print, publishing, global distribution, and Shopify integration. 
  • BookBaby has all the services necessary for self-publishing, such as book printing, e-book conversion, and cover design. 
  • Izzard ink is a hybrid publishing company founded in 2013, offering everything from distribution to marketing and design. 
  • Blurb is a POD service offering image-based products (such as photo books and magazines) and standard print books. Thanks to their printing software, they’re an excellent option for high-quality images. 

This list is only the tip of the iceberg. If you want to read more about other alternatives, you can find our comprehensive guide on self-publishing services here, including comparisons and reviews. 

Pssst…. want the “fast pass” for learning how to self-publish in as little as 90 days?
Check out our free training linked in the image below!
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We hope this post has given you some more insights into the world of self-publishing and cleared up any confusion around CreateSpace. 

Feel free to leave a comment below and share your thoughts on self-publishing services. 

How to Find the Right Book Editor for Your Next Book

So, you’ve finally completed the first draft of your book after months (or perhaps years) of hard work, self-doubt, and resilience. That’s a huge achievement worthy of celebrations. But does it mean your book is ready for publishing? Not quite. At least not if you want your writing to really shine. 

The truth is, no matter how well you write, you eventually become blind to your own piece of writing. You can easily miss flaws, small or significant ones, that are obvious to somebody else. Hiring a skilled editor is an investment worth making if you want your book to ooze professionalism – from the first page to the last. 

We’ve put together this guide to teach you about what an editor does, why you need one, and most importantly – how you can find one that fits your budget and needs. Let’s dive in! 

Here’s what you need to know about finding a great book editor:

  1. What does a book editor do?
  2. Do I need a book editor?
  3. How much will a good book editor cost?
  4. Where to find a book editor
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What does a book editor do? 

A book editor is a professional who reads manuscripts to improve the writing, suggesting and applying necessary changes. Depending on their specific expertise, they’ll focus on different areas. But the goal is to polish your work into a high-quality, professional book ready for publishing. 

Book editors aren’t there to take over or to write your book for you. Their job is to help you create the book you aim for by guiding you in the right direction. They can do this in many ways, and different editing types often overlap. 

book editor

Developmental editors

This type of editor focuses on the big picture rather than fine details. Their job includes reading through the entire manuscript and letting you know what works and what doesn’t. Developmental editing is useful in the writing process for both fiction and non-fiction writers, helping you find issues in your writing’s overall structure. It can mean shifting chapters around or deleting some of them. 

After submitting your work to a developmental editor, they’ll review and write what is known as an ‘editorial letter,’ a summary of the flaws they’ve found in your book. This editor should come in before working on the details since this may lead to a few rewrites. At this point, it’s about hitting the mark with the story and finding the right direction.

Structural editing

A structural editor focuses on the narrative structure, helping you find one that suits the type of story you’re telling. Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, your book needs a solid structure to hold together. Good storytelling means presenting the plot and story elements so that readers understand what’s happening while keeping their interest piqued by not giving too much away. 

Structural editors will look at the introduction, rising action, climax, resolution, etc. They may also consider the length of chapters, the timeline of your narrative (whether it’s linear or non-linear, i.e., has flashbacks) and suggest changes accordingly.  

Line editing 

A line editor does what it sounds like – they look at your book line by line and analyze each sentence. They consider word choice, syntax, and flow to ensure that sentences are as sharp as possible. 

By looking at what you emanate with your word choices, they can help you find other words that are more accurate and precise. Or perhaps a sentence needs tightening to create a better flow? A line editor will focus on elevating your writing by making it sharp and clear.  

Copyediting 

Copyediting can often be confused with line editing since they go hand in hand. However, line editing is a slightly more in-depth and analytical type of editing. While a line editor looks at the style, a copyeditor focuses on spelling, punctuation, and grammar. 

They fix all the mechanical errors to polish your writing, ensuring your language follows the rules and sticks to the house style guide. However, they don’t analyze sentences to improve voice or style. Copyediting typically comes into play after line editing, and it’s usually the least expensive form. 

book editor

Proofreading 

Proofreading is the final step in the editing process before a book is ready for publishing. At this stage, the focus is on technical errors such as typos and punctuation mistakes, formatting issues, and other inconsistencies. 

Quite often, copyediting and proofreading will be folded into one step and provided by the same person. Depending on your skills (and budget), you can also choose to proofread yourself. Either way, it’s an essential part of editing for any texts shared with an audience. 

Do I need a book editor? 

At a traditional publishing house, a book will go through many rounds of edits before going to print. But if you choose to self-publish, you won’t have the benefit of working with a company that has your best interest at heart. So, even more reason to find a good editor before putting your book out there. 

Not only can an editor discover flaws and enhance your writing, but they can also guide you through what works or doesn’t work in a particular industry/genre. That kind of guidance is valuable if it’s your first time self-publishing a book. Basically, they help you avoid making rookie mistakes before your book is published. The bottom line is that you’re more likely to sell more with an improved product. And that’s why you should invest in an editor. 

What about a beta reader? 

Beta readers are great if you want to get some general feedback from a ‘normal reader.’ However, they are not the same as a professional editor. You could have a trusted friend or family member read your first draft, but you can’t expect the same results as you get from an editing service. An editor is impartial, objective, and has the knowledge to improve your writing and polish your work. 

How much will a good book editor cost?

First of all, how much you’ll pay depends on the type of editor you’re hiring. Generally, developmental editing is more expensive, while copyediting or proofreading is cheaper. Although that’s only a rule of thumb, prices vary depending on experience and skill. We advise you to be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true. Because like other industries, you get what you pay for. 

In most cases, editors will charge per word or page. Some may choose to charge per hour, but it’s rare.  How much you’ll pay for an editor depends on a few other factors, such as: 

  • The length of your book. 
  • The complexity of your industry and the level of technical knowledge required. 
  • Your timeframe – how quickly you want your book published. 
  • Your flexibility regarding schedule and timeframe. 
  • Your experience as a writer, i.e., how much editing work is needed? 
  • Your editor’s experience (the more experienced, the higher they can charge).

With the industry standard of 250 words per page and with the assumption of your book being only 100 pages long, here are some price ranges you can expect. These figures are based on a survey by the Editorial Freelancers Association.

  • Proofreading, nonfiction $500 to $725
  • Proofreading, business/sales $1,000 to $1,225
  • Copyediting, nonfiction $750 to $975
  • Copyediting, business/sales $1,000 to $1,225
  • Developmental editing, nonfiction $1,000 to $1,225
  • Developmental editing, business/sales $1,750 to $1,975

Tips for how to reduce editing costs

Hiring an editor isn’t cheap. But it’s money well spent if you’re serious about writing a book that many people will read and appreciate. In saying that, you can do things to keep the costs down as much as possible. The trick is to cut down the amount of time your editor needs to spend on your book. Because we all know that time is money. 

  • Use free tools. Tools like Grammarly or Outwrite can help correct your spelling and grammar. You can use both of them for free. However, the paid versions are very affordable and can save you money in the long run. But remember that no automated tool is perfect; some mistakes can only be picked up by the human eye. 
  • Proofread yourself. When you’re finished, take a break from your manuscript. Then proofread it yourself, paying close attention to details. You’re looking for obvious flaws and spelling/grammar mistakes. A good tip is also to read backward since this forces your brain to focus on each word. 
  • Plan before you write. By having a synopsis and a plan in place, you can save your editorial or structural editor lots of time. If you know what you want to cover and in which order, they probably won’t have to shuffle sections around as much. 

Remember to ask questions about what specific services they provide, ask for references, professional training or education, and what they charge. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to more than one editor before making your decision. It’s your book, and you’re the one who’s in charge. 

Where to find a book editor

Alright, we’ve covered the why, the what, and the how – the next logical question is where. Where do you find a book editor? Well, you could easily spend hours googling, comparing, and searching for the right one. And you absolutely should do your research since an editing service is a significant investment. 

To make your job a bit easier (and save you hours of googling), we’ve put together a list of excellent editing services. It’s the perfect place to start your research and point you in the right direction. Do you have any questions or thoughts on book editing? Leave a comment below.

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self-publishing platforms

Self-Publishing Platforms – 12 Options for Authors

Deciding on the right self-publishing platform is an exciting time for any author.

When you reach this stage in the process, your book is so close to being enjoyed by readers. All of the time and energy you’ve invested is about to bear fruit. All that’s left to do is choose the best way to make your book available to the world.

Choosing a platform isn’t something you should rush. Your choice will impact the number of potential readers you are able to reach. It also determines how much you can charge for your book and the royalties you receive. 

So what are your options? Which self-publishing platforms are available, and how can you choose between them?

Read on to discover our guide to twelve options available to independent authors today.

self-publishing company

This guide to self-publishing platforms covers:

  1. Amazon KDP
  2. Apple Books
  3. Barnes & Noble Press
  4. Blurb
  5. Bookbaby
  6. Draft2Digital
  7. Ingramspark
  8. Kobo
  9. PublishDrive
  10. Smashwords
  11. StreetLib
  12. XinXii 
self-publishing platforms

What is a self-publishing platform?

Before we delve into our list of self-publishing platforms, let’s stop and consider exactly what the term refers to. 

A self-publishing platform is simply a service that allows you to offer your book to the world. 

Broadly speaking, you have two types of self-publishing platform available:

  1. Retailers 
  2. Aggregators 

Retailers are stores such as Amazon that allow people to browse and buy books. 

Aggregators are specialist services that allow authors to distribute their books to a large number of retailers through a single service. 

Choosing an aggregator involves a trade-off. You can save time and effort by not having to manually upload your book to multiple retailers and monitor its performance, but you will have to pay for this convenience in the form of a one-off fee per book, a monthly subscription, or a portion of your royalties, depending on the retailer. 

Now that the basic idea of a self-publishing platform is clear, let’s take a closer look at your options!

self-publishing platforms

Amazon KDP

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service is the dominant platform in today’s self-publishing marketplace. 

Offering your book on Amazon should be an easy decision. It’s the platform where most people go to buy new reading material. Amazon also offers the Kindle device and app, giving customers another way to discover your book that doesn’t exist on some other platforms. 

For self-published authors, there are plenty of benefits to being on Amazon. You can easily offer print and audiobook versions of your work. You also have the ability to create a hub where readers can discover more about your work via the Author Central service.

If you decide to offer your book on Amazon exclusively, you gain access to special programs like Kindle Unlimited. Every author should evaluate if that’s a choice that makes sense for their situation.

Whether or not you decide to publish on Amazon exclusively, you should make its platform part of your approach to publishing. Otherwise, you’re missing out on a vast number of potential readers.

Apple Books

Apple Books might not account for the same level of sales as Amazon, you would be unwise to dismiss it.

There are plenty of iPhone, iPad, and Mac users out there who prefer to stick to apps made by Apple wherever possible. Apple is known for frictionless integration across its entire ecosystem, so this preference makes sense.

Aside from access to devoted fans, Apple Books has a number of other benefits. A 70% royalty rate is on offer no matter the price of your book, so you don’t need to go through the price constraints imposed by Amazon. Apple also offers authors more control by not engaging in automatic price matching, allowing you to know your book’s price will remain stable.  

Barnes & Noble Press

While Barnes & Noble might be one of the biggest names in the publishing world, the company has struggled to compete with Amazon’s success. However, they provide an easy to use platform for self-published authors, meaning there’s no harm in offering your book there if you decide to avoid Amazon exclusivity.

Barnes & Noble Press supports both ebooks and print books, and also has the benefit of promoting titles to customers of its Nook device and app. 

One final benefit to choosing Barnes & Noble Press is that all of the platform’s print books can be ordered by request to any physical Barnes & Noble bookstore. 

Blurb

Although Blurb is most famous as a major provider of print on demand services, the company also offers the ability to create eBooks using either its own tools or 3rd party options like Adobe InDesign. 

When you decide to use Blurb as a platform for creating a print or eBook version of your book, the company lets you sell it through either its own retail service, or via its partnerships with Amazon, Apple, Ingram, and even Kickstarter. 

If physical books are an important part of your approach to self-publishing, you should check out Blurb further. In addition to print on demand you also have the option to order a large batch of your book with a lot of options relating to design and format. 

BookBaby

BookBaby is one of the powerhouse players in the self-publishing world, offering not only one of the best-known aggregator services out there, but also its own retail store. 

Authors who choose BookBaby as their self-publishing platform benefit from the size of  its distribution network. The company claims to have the widest reach, partnering with over 60 retailers from across the globe.

If you’re willing to invest money upfront, and you need the full range of services provided by BookBaby, it’s a platform worth exploring further. However, if all you’re looking for is a simple retailer or aggregator, BookBaby probably isn’t the best fit for your needs. You can learn more here.

Draft2Digital

Draft2Digital is one of the most famous aggregators out there, distributing books to almost all of the major retailers, including Amazon, Apple, and Kobo.

As well as its aggregation service, Draft2Digital offers authors help with formatting and promotional abilities such as Universal Book Links. One of the major reasons to choose Draft2Digital is the company’s lack of upfront fees. Instead, Draft2Digital makes money by taking around 10% of the retail price each time a copy is sold. 

Before you settle on Draft2Digital as the right aggregator for your next book, take a moment to read in more detail how the service compares to Smashwords

IngramSpark

IngramSpark is a good option if you are looking for an aggregator with global reach that offers excellent customer support. 

Authors who decide to use IngramSpark as a self-publishing platform tap into one of the largest worldwide distribution networks possible. As well as the major book retailers IngramSpark’s titles are available to libraries, universities, and indie stores.

You need to pay an upfront fee to publish via IngramSpark. The company supports both eBook and print formats and you get a discount if you will only be offering one type or the other. Check out our full guide to IngramSpark here.

Kobo

Rakuten Kobo, commonly referred to as just Kobo, is one of the biggest international book retailers on the market. As well as its retail operations, the company provides a self-publishing platform known as Kobo Writing Life. Like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Kobo also offers a physical eReader device. 

Kobo distributes books to more countries than the vast majority of other platforms, claiming over 190 nations at the time of writing. 

The ability to set your own pricing, the backing of parent company Rakuten, and the lack of an exclusivity requirement are some of the major reasons to think about publishing with Kobo. 

PublishDrive

Like a lot of the other aggregator platforms featured in this guide, PublishDrive boasts of the wide reach of its international distribution network. However, while offering everything you would expect, PublishDrive also has some rarer features that help it to stand out.

A lot of aggregators support print and eBook formats, but PublishDrive also supports audiobooks. Also, PublishDrive offers you control of how you want to pay for their service. Most platforms either charge a flat fee per book or take a slice of your royalties. PublishDrive operates on a subscription model where authors pay a monthly rate depending on the number of books they have.

If you’re trying to decide between different book aggregators, it’s worth crunching the numbers and seeing how many copies you would need to sell to cover PublishDrive’s monthly subscription. Depending on your popularity, PublishDrive might make a lot more financial sense than giving up a portion of your royalties. 

Smashwords

Smashwords is one of the oldest and most famous book aggregators out there. For many authors, the choice of platform comes down to weighing up the pros and cons of Smashwords and Draft2Digital. So what are they?

Draft2Digital is widely considered to be an easier and more intuitive service than Smashwords. The Smashwords interface is older and looks a little dated. Smashwords also doesn’t provide the formatting capabilities found at Draft2Digital. 

Also, one thing to be aware of is that Smashwords doesn’t distribute to Amazon. It has a wide reach other than that, but it’s something to keep in mind. We feel that most authors will prefer Draft2Digital to Smashwords after weighing up both options.

StreetLib

If international publishing is a big part of your approach to self-publishing, you should check out StreetLib. 

An international approach is baked into everything StreeLib does. For example, its dashboard is available in a wide range of languages and the company website has dedicated pages for almost any country you can think of.

StreetLib distributes audiobooks in addition to print and digital. You can access all of your worldwide sales data directly within the StreetLib dashboard, removing the need for any external sales tracking service. 

If you’re based outside of the USA, or are an American author who wants to sell books around the world, take a closer look at what StreetLib has to offer. 

XinXii

XinXii is another example of an internationally-focused book aggregator. So what are the key facts you need to know about XinXii?

This aggregator offers support for eBooks and audiobooks only. There is no print on demand option, so if you are looking to sell physical copies of your work, this isn’t the right service for you. 

Although XinXii has a wide range of international distribution partners, there isn’t anything that really stands out about their service. If you don’t care about the lack of print book support, and you particularly like the markets XinXii distributes to, you might want to explore further. 

What is the best self-publishing platform?

So now that you have a good grasp of the different self-publishing platforms, how can you determine which is the best fit for your needs as an author?

Overall, there’s no single best platform. Different companies have various strengths and weaknesses. It’s all about asking the right questions to narrow down exactly what you’re looking for. 

To help you determine the right self-publishing platform for your needs, take the time to ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I looking for a retailer to upload my book to directly, or an aggregator service that will distribute to multiple retailers on my behalf?
  2. What formats do I want to offer my work in? 
  3. Would I rather pay an upfront fee for aggregated distribution, a portion of my royalties, or a monthly subscription? 
  4. How important is international distribution to my book marketing plan?
  5. Do I need help with formatting and other services, or do I want a simple distribution platform with no added extras?

Want the “fast pass” to finding the right self publishing company for you?

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You now have everything you need to choose the best self-publishing platform for your book

Will you decide to be exclusive on Amazon to take advantage of their special author programs? Or will you go for the widest international reach possible with a powerful aggregator?

No matter what type of platform you end up going for, we wish you and your book every success!

Crowdfunding for Authors: A Simple Guide for 2021

Do you have a fantastic book idea just waiting to be written, but you’re lacking the funds for publishing, marketing, and distributing? While you want to pursue your passion project – bills need to be paid, and groceries need to be bought. And the idea of being a starving artist isn’t that appealing. If your finances are holding you back, there are alternatives to consider before giving up on your project. 

You’ve probably heard of crowdfunding before, but perhaps you’re unsure of what it means and whether or not it’s the right path for you. It can be an excellent way for self-publishing authors to get their book out into the world. In this article, we’re going to guide you through how crowdfunding works, how to have a successful campaign, and which platforms to use. 

free copy of published for authors and writers

This guide on crowdfunding for authors covers:

  1. What is crowdfunding for authors?
  2. Who is crowdfunding for?
  3. How long does crowdfunding take?
  4. How to give yourself the best chance of crowdfunding success
  5. Common pitfalls of crowdfunding
  6. Best crowdfunding sites for authors

What is crowdfunding for authors?

Crowdfunding is a method of raising money for a project through family, friends, and other individuals willing to invest in your work. As an author, you’ll sometimes need financial help to complete your book project since many expenses are involved. And that’s where a crowdfunding campaign comes in.  

Financial support

Crowdfunding means that you’re running a campaign to find people who are willing to pay for your book ahead of time. After choosing a platform for your crowdfunding project, you set a target amount of money you want to raise and a price for the package you’re offering. Essentially, it means that your readers are pre-paying for your book, giving you the financial support to finish your project. 

As long as you reach your target amount, you’ll receive that money to cover necessary costs, such as: 

For a successful campaign, you usually need to offer something more than just your book to the people funding your project. For example, many authors choose to provide a signed copy, a signed poster, tickets to a launch party, or something else that would be valuable for your customers. The goal for your crowdfunding should be that the money you’re receiving can cover the platform costs as well as other costs. That way, you won’t need to take money out of your pocket. 

Validating your book idea

More than just raising money, a crowdfunding campaign can be a perfect way to gauge how readers will receive your book once it hits the shelves. Say you can get a big group of people prepaying; then chances are you’ve got a book that people want to read. They believe in your idea enough to pay for it ahead of time.  

Marketing your book

From day one, you’ll need to share and promote your project through social media, email newsletters, and other marketing tactics. And although marketing may not be the primary purpose of crowdfunding, it’s still a great way to hit two birds with one stone. 

Who is crowdfunding for? 

You may wonder if crowdfunding works regardless of what type of book you’re writing. The answer is that, to varying degrees, it works with any genre. Looking at past campaigns, it seems like business, fantasy, and sci-fi are some of the more popular genres on crowdfunding platforms. 

That’s not to say you can’t be successful with a completely different type of book. A campaign’s success has more to do with the creator than in what specific genre they write. Crowdfunding is for anyone passionate about their project and willing to put in the hard yards when it comes to promotion and marketing

How long does crowdfunding take?

The typical timeframe for a crowdfunding campaign is around two to three months. You’ll need to allow for one to two months of planning and setup (once your book is written) and one month of running your campaign. 

In general, you can expect around 100-200 hours of work from initial planning to the finished campaign. Remember that the more time you spend on planning and executing, the more likely you will reach your goal and have a successful campaign. 

How to give yourself the best chance of crowdfunding success

The downside of crowdfunding (with some platforms, not all of them) is that you don’t get any of the money if you fail to reach your target goal. You will then have to put your book publishing plans aside and inform your investors that the project is canceled. 

So, with that in mind, you’ll want to set yourself up for success when you start your crowdfunding campaign. Here are a few pointers that will help you do well: 

Start early and plan ahead

Having a solid plan and giving yourself enough time is crucial for a successful campaign. Think about where you can reach your target audience, what your timeframe for the campaign should be, and how you can sell your idea most compellingly. 

Figure out how much money you need

It can be tricky to work out how much you need to raise. Ask for too much, and you may not reach your target. But if your amount is too low, it might not cover the necessary costs. You need to consider both of these aspects when you’re setting a target for your campaign. 

Work out all the costs (cover design, marketing, printing, distributing, etc.) and decide on a realistic amount. Also, look at similar campaigns to see what their funding target is and what they’re offering in return to make sure you’re correlating. 

Start growing your audience

If you’ve never published a book before (and you don’t have a large audience), you need to spend some time building a follower base to promote to. That can mean growing your social media followers, getting more readers to your blog or getting more podcast listeners. Because what happens if nobody is familiar with you or your book before your launch? Chances are it’ll be challenging to get enough traction for a successful campaign. 

Grab your audience’s attention

The first 24 hours of a campaign are often the most crucial, so you’ll need to grab the attention of your potential readers early. You can do that by following these steps: 

  • Setting up a quality website to refer people to.
  • Setting up social media accounts. 
  • Creating a video to convey your pitch.
  • Writing a clear and compelling synopsis. 

Write your passion story

The story behind why you’re doing this is the foundation of your crowdfunding campaign. So it pays to spend time perfecting it. By creating a compelling story, you’ll hook your audience and make them want to support you. When crafting your story, keep these tips in mind: 

  • Be authentic and relatable. People want to feel like they’re reading a story from a friend, someone they can relate to and understand. Put all your personality into it and write from your heart, as cheesy as it sounds. 
  • Be honest. Make sure people know what you’re using their money for. If someone’s planning on investing in your project, they’ll want to see where the money is going. 
  • Edit your story. A crucial step is to give your text a few rounds of edits to make sure it’s flawless. If possible, let someone else read it as well. 

Focus on building a community 

Crowdfunding is about more than raising money. Think about how you can use this campaign to build a community. Anyone helping to fund your project is a potential reader, and you’ll want to nurture those relationships. That includes giving updates on your progress, sharing exciting news, and giving them special recognition. By keeping them invested in your project, they’re also more likely to share it with others. 

Stay on top of your campaign

Once your campaign launches, make sure you stay on top of it. You’ll need to keep your social media active, respond to questions and comments and keep a close eye on how things progress. Your audience wants to see you engaged and invested in the project. Besides, if you go MIA on your launch day, you might miss out on some great opportunities. 

two people use a laptop for crowdfunding for authors

Common pitfalls of crowdfunding your book

When you plan to build a crowdfunding campaign, it’s good to be aware of some common issues and setbacks. That way, you can learn how to avoid them or decide whether a campaign is worth the risk of failure. 

  • On most platforms, failing to reach your funding goals means you receive nothing, even if you’re only a few dollars short of your goal. 
  • There’s a high failure rate for authors, mostly due to a lack of planning and promotion. According to a market report, between 69 and 89 percent of projects fail to reach their funding target. 
  • Crowdfunding is time-consuming and more complicated than many realize before starting. 
  • For authors who don’t have an existing base of followers, getting traction can be very difficult.
  • Crowdfunding platforms aren’t free. Most of them will take 30% of the revenue generated from your book sales. Although the fees come out of the money you’ve raised, some authors miss factoring this into their calculations. Only breaking even can be disappointing when you’ve so much time and effort into your project. 

Best crowdfunding sites for authors

If you’ve gone through the pros and cons of crowdfunding and decided to give it a shot, it’s time to find the platform of your choice. Make sure to do your research before you commit to anyone. You’ll want to check for fees, what type of crowdfunding they do, and their rules and regulations. 

Some can take weeks before your account is approved, which can cause problems if your project is time-sensitive. Other platforms may require you to back a campaign before you can launch one for yourself. So whichever one you choose, research them well before you start your campaign. 

Here are seven of the best crowdfunding sites for authors:

  1. Patreon 
  2. Kickstarter
  3. Indiegogo
  4. Inkshares
  5. Publishizer 
  6. GoFundMe
  7. Unbound

Ready to get started? Grab your copy of “Published” that you can read anywhere and start your book today!

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book distributors

How to Use Book Distributors to Reach More Readers

Are you getting to your manuscript’s final touches and starting to prepare for the anticipated launch? However, before you pop the champagne and book the release party, make sure you have a distribution plan in place.

As a self-publishing author, you need to work out how to get your book in the hands of your potential customers. 

Step one is marketing to your current audience through blog posts, emails, and social media.

But how do you make sure your book reaches a broader audience?

And what about getting it into bookstores and libraries across the globe? 

That’s where having an experienced book distributor comes in. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using a book distributor as a self-published author. 

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Looking for something specific? Here’s what we’ll be covering in this book distributor guide:

  1. What does a book distributor do?
  2. Why you need a book distributor as a self-publishing author
  3. Book distributors vs book wholesalers
  4. eBook vs printed book distribution
  5. Finding the right book distributor for your book
  6. Book distributors in the United States
  7. Book distributors in Canada
  8. Book distributors in the United Kingdom

What does a book distributor do?

Book distributors pitch and sell titles directly to retailers, book stores, and libraries through catalogs and sales reps. Their job is to maintain a relationship with the bookstores and take care of the marketing side of things for you. More precisely, they help authors and publishers with these two things:

  • Getting your book listed with wholesalers (usually a condition for getting it into bookstores).
  • Actively selling and pitching books to retail buyers, getting as many as possible in front of customers. 

Distributors can also be responsible for warehousing your book, depending on if you’re using a print-on-demand service (like Amazon KDP) or not. Authors usually have to sign an exclusivity agreement, meaning that your distributor is the only one who can sell your book to retailers.

Since distributors take a cut (sometimes as much as 55% of your book’s sticker price), you want to make sure you take your time finding the right one. 

In self-publishing, there are three common types of book distribution models. Let’s take a closer look at them to help you decide which one is right for you. 

Full-service book distribution 

A full-service distributor is similar to a publishing house regarding what services they provide. They’ll do book fulfillment, warehousing, sales representation, inventory management, and much more. 

The key benefit of working with a full-service team is that they often have plenty of experience and good connections in the industry. That said, it can be tricky for a self-published author to get a foot in the door with a full-service book distributor. Especially as a newbie with no sales records.

Having high presale numbers or a large online audience will make it a lot easier. 

Wholesale book distribution 

Wholesale book distribution is the most common model for self-published authors, with companies such as IngramSpark and Baker & Taylor.

They can help you publish your book online and take care of your printed book’s distribution. Your title will appear in their wholesale catalog to send out to book stores and libraries.

Of course, they can’t offer any guarantees that the book stores or libraries order your book – but chances are a lot higher when you’re partnering with a well-known distributor. 

Self-distribution 

Some self-publishing authors may choose to take care of the distribution themselves. The obvious downside of this approach is that it’s more time-consuming.

Plus, bulk printing your book will be a significant investment (rather than using a print-on-demand service). 

Since many larger book stores won’t work directly with authors, self-distribution usually works best if you want to reach your local independent book stores. 

Why you need a book distributor as a self-publishing author 

There are many reasons you need a book distributor as a self-publishing author.

First of all, you’re otherwise limited to your network, and the chances of seeing your book on the book store shelves are slim to none. 

Here’s why: book store buyers use wholesalers to order their books, which means your book title needs to be in the wholesaler’s catalog.

To complicate things further, wholesalers often have an application process and require a minimum number of titles before listing your book. 

For example, to be listed in Ingram’s catalog, authors or publishers need to have at least ten titles.

Otherwise, you’ll need to work with a distributor.

So as a self-publishing author, chances are you won’t get very far without a distributor. 

book distributors

Boost the marketing of your book

Not only can they get your book listed with wholesalers, but they’ll also actively market and sell your book to retailers.

Without someone continuously pushing to get your book into the book stores, it will likely stay in a warehouse somewhere, far away from potential customers and readers. 

Experienced distributors and their sales representatives often hold credibility in the industry and already have a well-established relationship with retailers. Even if you had the time to approach every store in your area, they’re more likely to do a better sales job. Plus, they’re just as invested in selling your title as you are.  

If you already have a large online audience, you could get away with not using a distributor.

But even then, a distributor could amplify your sales and give you time to focus on other things. 

Book distributors vs. book wholesalers

While wholesalers are the middlemen between you – the author or publisher – and the retailers, distributors take a more active marketing and promotion role. You could say that wholesalers act as depots for your book, storing copies in a warehouse and sending them out as customers order them. Retailers usually want to order from a few trusted sources (i.e., wholesalers) rather than hundreds of individual authors or publishers. 

Book distributors often function as book wholesalers (although this isn’t always the case), but their main focus is to handle the promotion and generate demand for your book. Really, there’s no need for a wholesaler if you’re using a print-on-demand service, but a book distributor is still necessary. 

eBook vs. printed book distribution

Since you’ll only need to deliver files digitally, eBook distribution is less complicated than print distribution. It’s also cheaper, with the eliminated shipping costs. For this reason, eBooks are typically less expensive to buy for the customer. 

And naturally, you and the distributor would usually get a smaller profit from this deal. But eBooks are still a great way to sell your book, especially when more people choose the digital format.

If you choose to go down the road of eBook distribution, the process looks something like this: 

  • Find a self-publishing platform (such as Amazon KDP) and set your price. 
  • Customers will find your book by searching online and then (hopefully) place an order. 
  • The self-publishing platform syncs with the customer’s eBook platform.
  • The eBook is delivered for the customer to read. 

Amazingly, the whole process is done through automated systems online, so you free up more time and concentrate on writing your next book. 

Finding the right book distributor for your book

Getting set up with the right distributor is vital for self-publishing authors. Ideally, you want to find one specializing in your particular niche or genre. If you’re self-publishing a book about personal finance, signing an exclusive deal with a children’s book distributor isn’t the best move. Ensure that you do plenty of research, check their websites, and read about the services information. Be aware, and pay close attention to detail and make sure you understand what they’re offering, so they line up with your niche, values, and priorities. Here are some more tips to help you find a book distributor that fits: 

  • Check impartial reviews online (i.e., not the reviews on their website.) 
  • Ask questions. Prepare a list of questions about the process and how they’re going to promote and distribute your book. Here are some examples:
  • Is it an exclusive contract? 
  • What are their fees and commission structure? 
  • What are the costs of warehousing and logistics? 
  • Are there other fees or requirements along the way? 
  • In what regions will they be promoting your book? 
  • To what types of outlets will they sell your book? 
  • Can you see some examples of books they’ve sold successfully? 
  • Read the fine print carefully. You need to know what you agree to before signing anything. 

We hope this guide has given you some clarity around planning your book’s distribution. If you’re ready to start searching for your next distributor, check out the list we’ve put together. 

Book Distributors in the United States

There are many book distributors in the United States. Check them out!

Ingram Content group

The largest distributor of books to schools, libraries, online and retail stores.

Website: https://www.ingramcontent.com/
Email: online.marketing@ingramcontent.com

Independent Publishers Group (IPG)
The second-largest book distributor in the U.S, distributing for large and small independent publishers.
Website: https://www.ipgbook.com/
Email: frontdesk@ipgbook.com

Baker & Taylor
No longer supplies books to retailers but focusing instead on public library and publisher services businesses.
Website: https://www.baker-taylor.com/index.cfm
Email: btinfo@baker-taylor.com 

Publishers Group West
The largest distributor of independent titles in the U.S, with full-service distribution.
Website: https://www.pgw.com/

American West Books, Inc.
A nationwide supplier, focusing on regional chains, specialty grocers, and mass merchandisers.
Website: http://americanwestbooks.com/
Email: info@americanwestbooks.com

BCH Fulfillment & Distribution
Distribution services for small presses, with ten or fewer titles. Authorized distributor to Baker & Taylor and Ingram.
Website: https://www.bookch.com/
Email: customerservice@bookch.com

Bella Distribution
Distribution to independent and chain bookstores for small presses.
Website: http://www.belladistribution.com/
Email: info@belladist.com

C&B Books Distribution
Specializing in urban books and African American authors. 
Website: http://www.cbbooksdistribution.com/
Email: cbbookdist@aol.com

Cardinal Publishers Group
National book distributor for print and digital books.
Website: https://cardinalpub.com/
Email: customerservice@cardinalpub.com

Casemate Group
Book distributor specializing in military history books.
Website: https://www.casematepublishers.com/
Email:  casemate@casematepublishers.com

Consortium Book Sales
Distributor working with independent publishers and academic, wholesale, and specialist markets.
Website: https://www.cbsd.com/

DeVorss & Company
Distributor and publisher specializing in spirituality and self-help books.
Website: https://www.devorss.com/
Email: service@devorrs.com

Gem Guides Book Co.
Publisher and distributor of books on rocks, minerals, gemstones, fossils, and crystals.
Website: http://www.gemguidesbooks.com/
Email: info@gemguidesbooks.com

Greenleaf Book Group
Publisher and distributor focused on helping independent authors and small presses.
Website: https://greenleafbookgroup.com/
Email: contact@greenleafbookgroup.com

National Book Network
A full-service sales, marketing, and distribution company, serving publisher’s on a global scale.
Website: http://www.nbnbooks.com/
Email: customercare@nbnbooks.com

New Leaf Distributing Co.
The world’s largest distributor of new age, spirituality, and metaphysics titles.
Website: https://newleafdist.com/
Email: domestic@newleaf-dist.com

Sunbelt Publications
Distributor specializing in natural science, outdoor guides, and regional history, mainly distributing to specialty retailers.
Website: https://sunbeltpublications.com/
Email: info@sunbeltpub.com

Book Distributors in Canada

Publishers Group Canada

An award-winning wholesale and distribution company offering full-service distribution to independent and specialty retailers. 

Website: https://www.pgcbooks.ca/
Email: info@pgcbooks.ca

Heritage Group Distribution
One of Canada’s largest independent book suppliers and a leading book distributor.
Website: http://www.hgdistribution.com/
Email: orders@hgdistribution.com

Raincoast Book Distribution
Full-service book distribution working with large chains, libraries, and online retailers.
Website: https://www.raincoast.com/
Email: distribution@raincoast.com

Sandhill books
Marketing and distribution with a focus on indie authors.
Website: https://www.sandhillbooks.com/
Email: info@sandhillbooks.com

Book Distributors in the United Kingdom

Allsorted 

Distributor of gift books, children’s books, and stationery in England and Ireland. 

Website: https://allsorteduk.com/

Email: customerservice@allsorteduk.com

CBL Distribution Ltd

A distribution company focusing on books and digital media, working with publishers across the U.K. and Europe.
Website: https://www.cbldistributionltd.co.uk/

Email: sales@cbldistributionltd.co.uk

Gardners Books

Britain’s leading independent distributor of books, eBooks, music, and film.
Website. https://www.gardners.com/
Email: sales@gardners.com

Combined Book Services Limited
One of the largest distributors in the U.K, offering publishers in the U.K and overseas full-service distribution. 

Website: https://www.combook.co.uk/

Email: info@combook.co.uk

Oxbow Books

Distributor specializing in archeology, history, and sciences. 

Website: https://www.oxbowbooks.com/oxbow/

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what is KDP select?

What Is Kdp Select? Everything You Need to Know in 2021

As a self-publishing author, you’re met with several decisions to make, with everything from a publishing platform to distribution and marketing. Often you have to weigh the pros and cons since what works for another author may not be suitable for you.

A perfect example of that is KDP Select, an Amazon platform and Kindle book program that lets you reach more readers. The program is free to use for any authors or publishers who want to enroll their Kindle books. What’s the catch, you may wonder? Well, the restriction is that you can only sell your eBook exclusively on Amazon for 90 days. 

In this article, we’ll guide you through the ins and outs of what KDP Select is so you can determine whether it’s the right choice for you.

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This KDP Select guide covers:

  1. What is KDP Select?
  2. The pros of KDP Select
  3. The drawbacks of KDP Select
  4. How much you can expect to make with KDP Select
  5. Some final notes

What is KDP Select?

Before jumping into the details, let’s cover the basics; What is KDP Select, exactly? We’ll also cover the differences between KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and KDP Select.

KDP Select is a free program, open to all authors willing to give Amazon exclusive rights to their book for 90 days. By enrolling in the program, you get access to promotional tools and the opportunity to earn higher royalties. 

After the 90 days, authors can choose to leave the program or auto-renew for the same amount of time. Keep in mind that while digital copies must be sold exclusively on Amazon, print copies can still be sold elsewhere. You can also distribute a 10% sample of the book outside of Amazon. 

The pros of KDP Select 

infographic showing the benefits of KDP select

Without a doubt, you have a lot to gain from enrolling in KDP Select. The number one advantage is that your eBook automatically becomes available to Kindle Unlimited users, where a baffling 100 million users have the option of borrowing your book. 

Kindle Unlimited is an Amazon service where users sign up for a monthly subscription and access an unlimited number of eBooks from the KU library. Essentially, it’s the eBook equivalent of Amazon’s Prime Video platform. Being available there immediately expands your reach, putting your book in front of many potential readers each month. 

Plus, if your eBook generates more traction through KU, its chances of ranking higher on Amazon increases. KU gives customers the possibility to test-read books before purchasing. They also send out emails with book recommendations based on reading history, making it very easy for their readers to find new books. All in all, this makes it a top-rated platform, and it’s hard for books to rank well on Amazon without being listed on KU. 

Besides Kindle Unlimited, which is the main benefit, there are some other incentives for enrolling in KDP Select. 

  • Kindle Countdown Deal. This means that for one week every 90 days, you have the option of discounting your book on a ‘countdown deal’ to attract more readers. Even if this pushes your eBook price below $2.99, you can still keep earning a 70% royalty. Typically, you would only get a 35% royalty if your book drops below that price.
  • Free Book Promotion.  You can offer your book to readers for free for up to five days in every 90-day period. (Note that this can’t be done in the same 90 days as a Kindle Countdown Deal). Both these deals will boost your book’s visibility and draw more readers.

What are the disadvantages of KDP Select?

There are some negatives with using KDP Select, the obvious one being that you have to sign exclusively with Amazon. That means that you can’t sell your eBook anywhere else, not even on your author website. It’s a big commitment and should really be taken into consideration. One of the main reasons that authors decide to go wide is so they can distribute and sell their eBook to as many e-retailers and library distributors as possible. 

While Amazon is prevalent in the US and UK, there are other regions you may want to target. In some countries, Amazon isn’t as dominant. For example, Apple Books make up around 30% of the sales in Australia. And in Canada, Kobo controls over 25% of the eBook market. So you could be missing out on a lot of potential readers by not going wide. 

Widening your reach across multiple platforms and marketing channels can mean laying the groundwork for long-term success. On the contrary, limiting yourself to Amazon may be a good short-term investment but not necessarily the best for long-term prospects. Since Amazon uses algorithms, your book’s ranking can change quickly. 

Non-Amazon stores rely more on human curation, meaning it can take more time to reach the spotlight. But once you get to that position, you’re more likely to keep it.  

Note that if you have an existing reader base, they may not own a Kindle or use Amazon platforms which means they won’t get access to your latest offering. Also, some ‘best seller’ lists require your eBook to be available on at least one more platform other than Amazon. So your choice depends on where your readers are and how important it is for you to be established outside of Amazon.  

Kindle Direct Publishing on a laptop

How much does KDP Select pay?

So if you do decide to go with KDP Select, what are the monetary benefits? With Kindle Unlimited Royalties, you make money on a per-page basis. That means the more pages of your book are read each month, the more money you can make. To make sure this is fair across the board, the page count is based on your word count rather than only looking at the total pages. 

Amazon uses something called the KENPC system (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count) to work this out. For example, a 50,000 word book will typically be calculated to around 250 pages. You’ll receive a per-page royalty for up to 3,000 pages per title, per reader. That is to say, each time a user reads your book, a maximum of 3,000 pages will be counted. 

At the end of each month, a KDP Select Global Fund is announced. This fund determines how much each title on KU has earned. In January 2019 the fund was $24.7 billion. The exact per-page amount you’ll receive depends on the earnings for that specific month and the number of books enrolled. 

Generally, you can expect to earn around $0.004 to $0.005 per page (40 to 50 cents per 100 pages read). Whether that’s from a hundred people reading one page or one person reading a hundred pages is irrelevant. 

You can also earn increased royalties in a few select countries, such as Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico. In these countries, you can earn 70% on sales through KU where you’d otherwise only earn 35%. 

Is KDP Select a good idea?

As you can see, there are a few cons to using KDP Select even though it certainly comes with enticing perks. Here are a few reminders and pointers to keep in mind before you decide. 

  • Even though you’re limited to selling your eBook only through Amazon, no other format is restricted. That means you’re still welcome to sell it in audiobook, paperback, or hardback wherever you like. 
  • For promotional purposes, you are allowed to offer up to 10% of your eBook as a digital sample or send reviewers a copy. 
  • You’re only signing for a 90-day period. If you find that it’s working well, you can sign for another 90 days. But if not, there are no obligations to keep going. 
  • To avoid frustration and confusion for your readers, it’s best to settle on a platform as quickly as possible. If you come and go from KDP Select, this means your eBook will only be available to readers on other platforms intermittently. This can cause problems and lead to less sales for you. 
  • If you’re only planning to sell on Amazon anyway, KDP Select is a great option with many benefits. If not, consider your options carefully. Look at bestsellers in your genre. If they’re prevalent on Kindle Unlimited then that’s where you’ll want to publish your eBook. Otherwise, you might find KDP Select to be limiting. 

We hope this post has been helpful in guiding you through the pros and cons of KDP Select, and that you feel more confident in making the right decision for you. 

Looking for a book that gives you everything you need to know to successfully write and publish your book? It’s here…

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Self-Publishing Programs – 9 Teaching & Tech Resources

So, you’ve reached the stage in your journey as an independent author where it’s time to seek out the best self publishing program for your needs.

Investing in knowledge and technology to bring you success is a smart move, but it’s easy to make the wrong choice.

Ask around the writing community and you’ll be sure to come across plenty of disgruntled authors who shelled out cash for a program that wasn’t the best fit. There’s nothing more annoying than getting your hopes up about a particular tool, only to find out it wasn’t what you expected.

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So how can you avoid making the wrong choice?

No matter if you’re looking for a writing course to boost your self-publishing knowledge, or a software program to give you better capabilities, we’ve got you covered.

Read on to discover our curated list of the best educational and software programs out there for self-publishers.

This guide to self-publishing programs covers:

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Self-Publishing Programs

#1 – Self-Publishing School

Trying to navigate the maze of self-publishing on your own is no easy task.

There are so many different skills to master and things to learn. From the initial process of coming up with a book idea, all the way through to marketing your work in a way that sets you up for a successful career, there are plenty of hurdles to fall at.

You could spend an eternity trying to figure it all out, but there’s no need to do that.

Our partners at Self Publishing School have distilled years of wisdom into several concise programs that set you up for success.

A lot of people seem to have the misconception that Self Publishing School is a single course, but that’s not the case. This is not like other self publishing programs, as the name suggest, it’s delivered like an actual school. They can help you no matter how far along you are as an author. From teaching first-time writers to come up with a roadmap to publish their first bestseller. Or helping existing authors set themselves up for a full-time career. Self Publishing School has a program for every situation. See our full review for more details.

They also have an incredible range of free resources, so take the time to check those out if you aren’t sure about investing in a full program at this stage.

#2 – Authority Pub Academy

Authority Pub Academy is taught by Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport in tandem. This is a refreshing change from a lot of the other programs out there, as it allows you to enjoy two different personalities and teaching styles.  

This teaching program is a good option for new authors who are looking for a mix of tangible and intangible advice on what it takes to make the leap and become an author.

Some of the content covers aspects such as the mindset authors need to adopt to succeed, as well as more practical tips such as the process of writing a book. It also delves deep into how to set up an account on KDP.

If you’ve already published a book, you might find a lot of the material in this course to be a bit beneath your existing level of knowledge. That’s not to say it has nothing to offer seasoned authors, but it is better suited to those just starting. 

Like many of the programs featured here, Authority Pub Academy covers book launches and marketing in some depth, showing the importance of these topics. 

Authority Pub Academy might not cover anything groundbreaking, but there’s no denying the credibility of Steve Soctt and Barrie Davenport as teachers. If you’re a fan of their personalities, consider exploring this program in more detail. 

You can learn more here

#3 – Self-Publishing 101

Mark Dawson is one of the most successful authors to ever self-publish. If you’re looking for an inspirational success story, look no further than Dawson.

As the name suggests, Self-Publishing 101 is intended to teach the fundamentals for authors who might be adept at writing a book but unsure of how to take things further. 

Dawson’s course covers the basic elements of establishing your author platform, some guidance on whether to commit to Amazon on an exclusive basis or go wide, how to put together the right team to help launch your book, and how to attract the right reviews to boost your book in Amazon’s eyes and sell more copies. 

If you want to learn from a true self-publishing rockstar, Self-Publishing 101 taught by Mark Dawson could be a good choice for you. Explore it further in our full review. It’s easily one of the most personal self publishing programs.

However, if you’ve been around the indie author scene for some time, you might already have a good understanding of most of Mark’s ideas.

#4 – Your First 10K Readers

Your First 10K Readers by Nick Stephenson stands out from several of the other teaching programs featured here due to its focus on a more advanced approach to publishing. 

You won’t find basic tips on writing a book here. This course instead offers advanced tips on how to succeed as an author if you have already mastered the fundamentals. 

If you choose Your First 10K Readers as your program of choice, expect to learn the truth about how Amazon’s algorithm operates, how to not only build but monetize your author platform, advanced approaches to book launches, and how to advertise a book on Facebook.

While it’s great to see a course aimed at intermediate and advanced publishers, not all of the material here will be useful for everyone reading this. For example, a lot of authors feel that advertising a book on Facebook isn’t as useful as advertising it on a more buyer-focused platform such as Amazon or Bookbub.  

If you feel you have a solid grasp of the basics of self-publishing and would like a structured course to take things to the next level, consider looking at Your First 10K Readers in more detail. Just be sure to look at the contents carefully to double-check it covers the material you will find useful and take action on. 

#5 – Tribe Writers 

Jeff Goins is one of the most likable people in self-publishing. 

His blog is a fantastic resource for self-publishers who see themselves as artists looking to make a decent living from doing what they love.

So what does Jeff’s Tribe Writers course cover?

The first focus of the course is helping authors to find and hone their unique voices. The course then delves into more practical aspects such as platform building, how to reach more readers, and how to eventually get published.

While there’s some useful material here, there’s not nearly as much as found in other courses. You can learn a lot more in-depth information elsewhere. 

That’s not to say that Tribe Writers is bad. Far from it. If you are a fan of Jeff Goins and want to get an understanding of his approach to platform building, this might be the right self-publishing program for you. You should compare the contents and pricing with the other programs in this guide before making your final decision. 

Software

What is the best self-publishing software?

Well, before we take a look at five great software programs for self-publishers, let’s stop and consider how to choose the best one for your needs.

To help you weigh up different options, keep these factors in mind:

  1. Features. What features do you need from a self-publishing software program? It’s useful to write these down so you don’t overlook anything when evaluating different options.
  2. Compatibility. Is any software you’re considering compatible with the hardware you use? For example, if you want to work on Mac and iPad, you need to check compatibility with macOS and iOS.
  3. Cost. How much does the program you’re interested in cost? Is it a one-off payment or do you need to subscribe? How does this cost compare with other options?
  4. Learning curve. How difficult will it be to learn to use a particular program? Are you willing to invest the time or is it better to use a simpler option?
  5. Integrations. Is your intended program capable of integrating with other software? Do you foresee any issues using it in conjunction with your existing tools?

With those five guiding criteria in mind, let’s take a look at five of the best self-publishing software programs. 

Writing Software

#1 – Publisher Rocket

If you’re like most self-published authors, writing your book isn’t the difficult part. You’ve probably been a lover of the written word for most of your life, so putting words down on the page is a pleasure for you.

The frustration often begins when the time comes to market your book. Knowing the right categories and keywords is an entire science on its own, and figuring out manually can be seriously time-consuming.

Thankfully, a better way exists!

Self-publishing stalwart Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur fame created the Publisher Rocket program to make his personal book marketing process more efficient and effective. It’s a powerhouse software solution for authors that takes the mystery and guesswork out of book marketing.

If you want to save wasted time and energy, you owe it to yourself to give Publisher Rocket a closer look. New features are being added all the time, such as the data you need to market your book internationally.

You can learn more about Publisher Rocket in our in-depth review here.

#2 – Scrivener

Have you tried to write an entire book using a program like Google Docs, and found it didn’t have all the features you would hope for?

If so, you’re in the same boat as a lot of other writers. As versatile and useful as Google Docs is, it wasn’t designed with book creators in mind.

Enter Scrivener!

Scrivener is one of the most fully-featured writing programs out there. It’s jam-packed with the features authors need to research, write, and export their books.

Scrivener has something of a reputation for being difficult to learn. While it does have a learning curve, it’s a lot easier to understand in its current iteration than was the case with older versions.

If you’re willing to put in some time to get to grips with Scrivener, we’re confident you’ll find it a rewarding experience. It happens to come with a full free trial so you can decide if it’s right for you before investing a single cent.

See how Scrivener compares to other options in this book writing software guide

#3 – Grammarly

If a self-editing tool isn’t part of your stack of author programs, you’re seriously missing out.

One of the main criticisms of self-publishing is that it lacks the rigor and care that an editor from a traditional publishing house would bring to the table.

To be truthful, editing is one area where some indie authors feel they can cut costs. But what if you could cut down on the amount you need to invest in a human editor by using a state of the art program in the first instance?

That’s where Grammarly comes into play. Let’s be crystal clear about one thing – Grammarly is no substitute for a talented human editor. However, it is an amazing way to self-edit your work initially, catching your most glaring errors and allowing your real editor to make deeper improvements, rather than spotting your spelling and grammar mishaps.

If you use a tool like Grammarly consistently, you’ll learn more about yourself as a writer and where your weaknesses lie. This is invaluable feedback that not only gives you polished writing but also invaluable insight.  

Delve deeper into what Grammarly is capable of with our full review here

#4 – Hootsuite

When used properly, social media is a fantastic way for self-published authors to connect directly with their readers and form meaningful connections. But it’s very much a double-edged sword for a lot of writers. There are so many different social media platforms that they can end up being a time drain that doesn’t produce meaningful results.

To avoid social media becoming a burden rather than a blessing, you need to be proactive and disciplined about the way you use it.

One of the best ways to regain control over your social media as a self-publisher is to use a program like Hootsuite to efficiently manage multiple platforms from a single app environment.

Hootsuite allows you to advance schedule content for your social media platforms. Rather than having to manually post, you can line up all your content for a period of time. This allows you to take advantage of the efficiency that comes with task batching.

If you find yourself constantly checking multiple social networks to like and reply to comments, please stop!

You can save massive amounts of time by using Hootsuite to make social media work for you, rather than the other way round.

self-publishing company

Conclusion

Although picking is entirely a function of your needs, we hope that our thorough look into self publishing programs as well as writing software offered you value when considering your next step. We encourage you to let us know in the comments below what course or software you choose and any results or observations you find helpful for the community to consider.

Additionally, if you have any other suggestions for the best programs out there, feel free to leave a comment!

How to Sell Your Novel: Learn Essential Steps Here

Writing a book is hard work. The crying, frustration, and stress of getting all those words down on paper (and it is fun!) but let’s be honest: Writing is work. Knowing how to sell your novel is even more work.

But what about selling your book once it’s published?

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Marketing Your Novel

This is—for every author—when the real work begins. You created this great book, and now, you have to sell it and try to recoup your money from the initial book production investment. Now, I said it was a lot of work, but it’s the part of the process where you really learn how to promote and sell your book. That can be both scary and exciting.

To sell your novel like a pro, there are several things you MUST get right before you even think about publishing. As an author, you want to set yourself up for success in every area possible. Ask yourself:

Do you have a  great cover?

Is your book professionally edited?

Did you research your market genre to write to market?

Is your book description optimized with high ranking keywords?

Are you in at least 8 categories to rank well on Amazon?

Do you have a lead magnet set up to build an email list?

In this article, we are going to dive deep into the best ways to sell your novel. Although we can’t promise you will sell books by the truckload, we are confident that by following these steps and implementing the process for getting noticed, you will create an impact with your message and possibly change many lives along the way.

Book Selling Strategies

If you’ve already published your book, you can start implementing these book-selling strategies now.

If you haven’t yet published, you can start working these ideas into your book launch plan. Every action you take towards having a successful launch will funnel your book’s success. 

Do you know what you need to have a successful book launch? 

Download your FREE Book Launch Checklist here!

Here are The Four Pillar Strategies to Sell Your Novel

  1. Run Ads with Amazon Advertising
  2. Book Your First 5 Podcasts
  3. Create a Box Set Bundle & Series
  4. Run Regular Book Promotions (Book Promo Sites)

Before you think about selling your great novel, we need to dial back to the basics. The reason most authors fail to sell their books after publishing, is because they fail to set up the book for success before publishing.

You need to have the critical elements lined up first. Briefly, let’s take a look at what these best 5 elements are:

5 Critical Elements for Selling Your Book (Before You Sell Your Book)

Optimize Your Book Description

Your book description will be a sales page that lists the best features of the book, and why readers should buy your book over another in the same genre. The description should have a mixture of various font styles and structure to create a clean, attractive description of your book.

We recommend using the free Amazon Book Description Generator Tool at Kindlepreneur.com. Your book description should include highly-optimized keywords selected from Dave Chesson’s Publisher Rocket software.

Here is an example of a fully-loaded book description:

A Magnificent Book Cover

Your book cover has to be smashingly convincing. Unless you’re a famous author, and can guarantee to move millions of copies per year no matter the cover, you need to impress people with your cover design whenever you can. But even best-selling authors need great covers. Your cover doesn’t have to win an award for creativity, but you do have to win the sale.

Here are a few examples:

Best advice is to do your research. Check the authors and books in your genre, see what is selling, and then customize your cover design to feed your market. When you write to market, you are also presenting your book with a professional design.

Professional Editing

Please don’t forget to edit your book. Or better yet, hire a professional to edit your novel. Nothing will kill a book sale faster than a poorly edited manuscript. 

A book that has been poorly edited is going to receive negative reviews.  By poor writing quality we’re not talking about the occasional grammar error (which can easily be corrected,) but a book filled with bad grammar, misspelling and a sloppy appearance.

You can hire a great editor. Your editing will be the biggest expense for the book but, you don’t want to cut corners with this. The cost is worth the price for your book’s success.

Optimized Keywords for KDP

Finding the best keywords will get your book ranking in the top search results, which means it’ll turn up in front of your customers as they search for the relevant keywords. High rankings means more visibility which leads to greater book sales. This makes it easier to promote your book when you already have the best keywords locked into your description and KDP.

As mentioned, your best tool for this is Dave Chesson’s Publisher Rocket for sorting out great keywords. Keywords that rank in the Amazon algorithm will drive the right traffic to your book. This accumulates into book sales. 

Publish Your Book Across Ten Categories.

When you publish your novel, did you know that you can promote your book in ten categories, and not only the two categories offered in KDP? At a first glance, you will notice that the selection seems rather limited and is missing plenty of categories that you’ve seen other books rank for. Unfortunately, Amazon has done this intentionally so that they can place new books into their own kindle categories.

There’s thousands of sub-categories you can rank for, and you can even include an additional eight sub-categories not found in the usual channels.

Using Publisher Rocket, determine 8 more categories to place your book in. Be sure to make a list of the category strings and then, when your book is live, email Amazon directly through the KDP contact form and request your book to be placed in the additional categories.

Take a look:

Click on the top tab and then send them an email with your list that should look something like this:

You can do this for both the eBook and paperback version. Then wait 24-72 hours for Amazon to update this.

Here is a walkthrough of the top 4 book selling strategies to sell your current novel—and all future books

Our Best 4 Top-Level Strategies for Selling Your Novel

Learn to Run Ads with Amazon Advertising

If you want to sell books (and we all do!) setting up and running AMS ads (also known now as Amazon Advertising) is a must. You should be using this platform, even if you hire someone to set up the ads for you. You can use the AMS feature built into the Publisher Rocket software to discover thousands of keywords for your ads.

The best way to set up AMS is to dive right in and get to it. You can sign up for AMS by following these steps:

  1. In KDP, next to your book and under Promote Your Book, click on this.
  2. Scroll down to Run an Ad Campaign and go into Amazon.com Store. Yes, you can run ads in many more countries, but keep it simple for now. Only set up ads in the US store to start with. Click on Create an Ad Campaign.

3. You will be met with a choice of three types of ads. Only do the first option, Sponsored Products.

To further demonstrate, we will set up an automated ad. This ad is easy to do in under 5 minutes as it requires almost no research.

There are several types of ads you can create that are keyword specific ads, suggested keyword ads, and category/product ads.

4. After entering the ad section, fill in the required information. Keep your budget to $5.00 to start.

Next, select automatic targeting.

Then, choose dynamic bids—down only. You can choose up and down but be aware, you could end up with high click costs.

Now, choose your ad format. You can enter a customized blurb (recommended) or a standard blurb, in which case, Amazon pulls your blurb from your book description.

Next, choose your book. Note: You should set up one ad per book format, so one for eBook and another for paperback.

Select your bid price. Amazon defaults this to 0.75. But if you want to bid less, you decide what your pricing is. Recommended 0.15 cents to 0.40 cents for a first generation ad.

Now, plug in your custom text and hit Publish Campaign!

Amazon ads are a great way to start selling your books. For a FREE course on how to set these up and organize your campaigns, we recommend you check out Dave Chesson’s FREE AMS training here:

Book Your First 5 Podcasts

When Hal Elrod launched his international champion The Miracle Morning, he says he did over 250 podcasts in one year. That’s a lot! You don’t have to do that many, but this goes without saying, podcasts can drive book sales in a huge way. 

Podcasts can be broken down into three areas as seen here:

how to sell your novel

Reachout: These are cold call direct reach outs to podcasters through a contact page or website. Depending on your own platform, this will determine if you get an interview or not. For audiences with large subscriber numbers, you may have to wait until you can build up your own platform.

Research: You can do a quick Google search to find podcasts in your genre. Or, the best strategy is to go directly to iTunes and discover the loads of categories there with direct links to podcasts. This is the fastest way to put together your list of nifty fifty (the best 50 podcasts for your platform). Start with direct reach outs, and then, as you get these interviews you can use…

Referrals. During your podcast interview, you should have a few minutes before and after to talk with the host. This is an opportunity to ask for a direct referral to another podcast. It is a thriving community and somebody knows somebody that can help you get featured onto another podcast. Referrals are far easier to get connected than direct reach outs. 

To begin putting your list together, here is what you should do:

  1. Put your list together by visiting the iTunes store.
  2. Plug in Apple Podcasts and search for your genre.
  3. Reach out to podcasters via cold calling by visiting their site
  4. After you get a podcast booked, ask for referrals for getting featured on more sites.

Now, go line them up! Get featured on as many podcasts as you can. This is a great way to drive traffic to your book pages and site.

Create a Box Set Bundle & Series

A book series keeps readers returning for more of your content. It shows your fanbase that you’re a serious author that continues to deliver value-packed content with each book release. Plus, if you have a series, readers are anxiously waiting for your next release. The box set product is a great way to balance your writing between the next set of books.

For a series author, publishing a box set bundle of your books is a strategic way to boost sales. Box set bundles have been around for a long time, and if you visit a bookstore, you will likely discover boxsets in the traditional fashion for popular series such as Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

This method of releasing box sets has been a strong marketing strategy for book publishers and the music industry giants. Who doesn’t want to pick up a compilation album featuring all the #1 singles from their favorite artist? The book industry is no different.

For authors in the self-publishing space, writing a series and creating box sets are an effective strategy for increasing book sales consistently and cross-promoting other books.

How do you set up a box set bundle? What are the specific steps to launch for success?

What are the advantages to publishing your series in a boxset and series format, even after the single editions are published?

The Benefits of Creating A Series Page for Your Titles:

1. All books in the series are linked together: Having multiple books allows you to discount one title to 0.99 for a limited time, or offer it for free to drive higher converting traffic to your backlist and the series funnel.

2. Build a Higher Converting Traffic Funnel: You can drive traffic to your book series page instead of individual books. Linking to your series page will result in higher conversion rates than linking to your individual book product page.

3. Provides advanced options for 1-click purchases: A series page lets readers view all books in the series on a single page. You can see the titles in the series already purchased. Amazon allows you 1-click shopping to grab the rest of the titles you don’t have yet.

4. Reduce “Click” Distractions: Series pages are free of ads and other distractions keeping customer attention on your books only. When you direct potential readers to your single book options, they still have recommended books from Amazon in your genre that could result in losing a sale if the customer opts for another book that is more appealing to them. Keep the user experience on your store front whenever possible.

5. Customized Series Description: You can now create a description—similar to a book description—for your series page only. Generally, Amazon will pull the description by default from the first title features in the series. This could lead to a poor user experience if they land on your series page and want to know more about what the series of books is about.

Setting up Your Box Set (and Series)

A couple of restrictions to observe:

  1. Kindle (eBook) series only is available. For now, the series page exists for Kindle only, and not paperback. You can create a paperback with the series books, but not a series page.
  2. Limited stores available for the series page. As of now, series pages are available: Amazon.com. Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, and Amazon.co.jp. Amazon is increasingly expanding these options and will improve in the future.

Here is a screenshot walkthrough for setting up a series page:

  1. Choose the language.
  1. Enter your series title.
  2. You can select the reading order. These books can appear randomly or in the order they are published.
  1. Amazon will add the series image of the first three books (if you have 2 books only, it will be the two book covers side by side.
  2. Write a description for your series page. This description should reflect the series as a whole instead of focusing on one specific book. 

Your series page should be live within 24-72 hours, but generally, takes only a few hours to appear. Now you have a book series!

Driving Promotions

Once you have a few books in your series, you can drive traffic to the series page instead of individual books. This works better for conversions and the more books you have—your backlist—the better are the chances that you’ll sell a ton of books from just one click.

When running BookBub Ads, you can now include a link to your series page:

For Amazon Ads, you can now run ads for your series page through sponsored brands:

Create a Box Set

It is surprisingly easy to create a box set for your trilogy.

Here is how you do it:

1. Hire a cover designer to make a box-set cover. Get a 3D and a flat version, since iBooks only accepts the flat version and Kobo recommends the flat version for better sales, so it’s better to have both options.

2. Merge all books into one file. When you build your boxset, you will need to take all the books that are to be included in the set and combine these together into one file. Depending on the size of the box set, this could be three books (Life-Changing Habits Series) or ten books (Universe in Flames Series). 

3. Set Up Your Kindle Box set in Amazon KDP. You set up a box set the same way you create an individual book.

KDP Box Set Publishing:

  1. Log into your KDP Bookshelf
  2. Enter the box set title, subtitle, series title, series number (Boxset/Volume 1, 2, or 3)
  3. Enter your author name. Note Reminder: In order for this to be a series, all books must belong to the same author.
  4. Write a book description. Enter it in the book description box.
  5. Research keywords (7) and enter in the Keyword boxes.
  6. Categories: Choose 2 categories. Use Publisher Rocket to determine additional categories.
  7. ISBN: You can purchase ISBNs at Bowker.com for US based authors.
  8. Upload your formatted manuscript. Check for KDPs recommended formats that include MOBI, Word, or ePub.
  9. Upload your box set cover in jpg format. This could be a 3D version of the cover with a side shot of all books in the series.
  10. Set your price. Recommended $0.99 for launch. KU reads are critical for box set launch success.
  11. Hit PUBLISH!

Now you can run Amazon ads to your box set and BookBub ads.

Publish Your Book in Various Formats

Here is an example of a great lineup in the Amazon store:

If you have your book set up with every variation possible, you can exponentially expand your book sales. Instead of having one income stream with a kindle book, you have two with a paperback. Instead of just two with kindle and paperback, you have three if you add an audiobook. And you can now add a Hardcover book published through Ingram Spark or Amazon.

The more variations you have of your book, the broader your scope and this feeds into the Amazon algorithm. When you run ads to do your books, this works even better! People can land on your Amazon page and take full advantage of your other versions of the book they want. 

There are many other ways to get your book out there. To break it down, you can publish a:

  • Kindle Book: This is the first version of your book used as the initial launch out of the gate.
  • Paperback. With a different format in PDF form, you can sell paperbacks to customers in over 12 different countries through Amazon.
  • Audiobook: Record this yourself or hire a professional to record your book. Audiobooks are on the rise as huge sellers for driving book sales. Don’T miss out on this!
  • Hardcover: THis is optional but another version of your book that is easy to set up. And now, Amazon is rolling out hardcover books (currently in Beta) but is another option for authors to expand their reach. Note: You will need a different formatted size for your hardcover book size.
  • Social Media Snippets: Another alternative is to record five minute snippets of your book and post to social media. This doesn’t bring indirect income p

Advantages to Publishing in various formats:

  • Earn more royalties per book
  • Build your email list exponentially
  • Become an expert in your field by reaching a wider audience
  • Feed into Amazon’s algorithm that fuels traffic towards your products

When you launch your book, consider all the options available as a self-publishing author. Plan ahead and make the most of your launch! Expand on your potential for maximizing book sales. 

Run Regular Book Promotions (Book Promo Sites)

I run regular promotions with my books—at least once every three months—and a great way to leverage this is to use the best of the Book Promo Sites for bringing in sales. These are the book promo sites you should use to rocket to a #1 bestseller by gaining book sales.

How to use Book Promo Sites:

You can use these Best Book Promo Ads two ways:

Launch a new book: Stack up your promo week with book promo ads.

Promoting an existing book: You can promote current books every 3-6 months using the book promo sites. Drop the price of your book to 0.99 for 5-7 days and set up the ads. Use this in conjunction with your email list (or influencer lists) and you should have a successful launch/promo week.

How to schedule book promotions

There isn’t any one-size-fits-all formula for scheduling book promo sites. You can set up one promo per day over the course of 10-12 days, or stack 2-3 promos per day over five days.

When I launch a book, I usually set up a group of paid promo sites to boost the rankings and get the book onto the front page [and the #1 spot] of that category.

Book Promo List Consolidated

Here is a list of the best performing promo sites I target for both a new book launch, and running regular promotions on existing books.

The price will vary depending on the category and audience (wide or niche) of your book.

Most of these sites charge a standard one time fee to promote your book for one day at 99 cents, or when running  a free promo if your book is in KDP. For best results, and to maximize on your book rankings, I recommend using the sites for their paid ads (at 0.99cents).

Buckbooks

Price: $29. You need 10 reviews before they’ll schedule you. Note: You can promote a 2nd book on the same day for only 25% of the price. Great deal. But you can only promote each book once every 6 months. You can apply here: https://buckbooks.net/

Robin Reads

Robin Reads is an innovative and supportive service for both publishers and authors looking to expand their audiences. They offer several premium promotion plans with genre-based pricing.

https://robinreads.com

Note: Tough to book in advance. RRs calendar is booked out 3-6 weeks in advance. Pricing: $85.00 / Reviews: 10 Reviews Needed.

BookSends

If you can match this up with Robin Reads or Bucks on the same day it’s a great little boost. https://booksends.com/ Needs 5 reviews.

Booksend partners up with BookRunes and will give the option to sign up with Bookrunes at the same time. 

Pricing:$40.

BKnights [Fiverr]

You can’t go wrong for $5. I would also take the extra gig for $5 and get in on their daily newsletter. You won’t get a ton of downloads but on average 12-25 depending on the book. No Reviews needed.

eReader News

Great gig but can be hard to get approved. Takes several days for a response. $50.00. http://ereadernewstoday.com/ 0 reviews needed but they do check if you have reviews. May sway their decision to promote your book or not depending on review count.

Check here for promotional requirements.

Pricing: $50.00

Booksbutterfly

You are basically paying for downloads, one of the few [if only] sites that does that. They have various packages for everything. I recommend the Silver Eagle [$90] that gets you 50+ downloads KU borrows. [https://www.booksbutterfly.com/bookpromo…/paidbookpromotion/

Note: Books butterfly has a lot of packages so be sure to choose the right one. 

My Book Cave

My Book Cave offers authors the possibility to promote their book to an audience of 75,000+ readers. According to their notes they prefer to select titles with over 10 reviews, but will consider books with at least 5 great write-ups. In addition to promoting links to retailers, authors have the option to offer \reader magnet\” titles to attract new subscribers.”

https://mybookcave.com

For Fiction and Nonfiction

Reviews: 10 Reviews Recommended.

Pricing: $19—$31 (depends on genre)

Choosy Bookworm

Choosy Bookworm provides subscribers with a daily selection of free and discount eBooks. So long as your books are $3.99 or less, you can submit it for free consideration. For a guaranteed placement, you’ll be looking at one of their paid options starting at $25.

Fiction and Nonfiction Books

Price: $36 for the Premium Package

Reviews: 0 reviews needed

The Fussy Librarian

[http://www.thefussylibrarian.com/]. Great promo but very hard to book in advance. Booked out 2-3 weeks ahead. Need 10 reviews to get accepted.

Bargain Booksy

Great promo, no reviews needed and you can sign up right away and get approved. $30 for nonfiction. Lots of categories and good results. https://www.bargainbooksy.com/sell-more-books/

Pricing: From $20, depends on genre. Works for Fiction and Nonfiction

Awesome Gang

Awesome Gang is a place for Kindle book authors to share their books and get them in the hands of readers. You can submit your book for free and also decide to have it featured in their special books listing for $10/book (this includes a featuring in their homepage for 2 days, as well as a special mention in their newsletter and social media). Paid promotion: $10

Book Runes

[http://bookrunes.com/]. Global reach with over 40k mailing list, $25—$35. Good results. Trustworthy Site.

Reviews: No reviews needed / For Fiction and Nonfiction

There are both paid and free book promotion sites to tap into.These sites, depending on their conditions, will help you get more exposure by putting your book in front of thousands of visitors on their website.

Conclusion

As you can see, it takes a lot of effort to sell your novel. But with the right pieces in place and a commitment to marketing and promoting your work, anything is possible. The secret to book sales and selling a truckload of books varies from author to author.

You have to try several strategies and often, do several things together to make it work. I would recommend trying one strategy first, get the results, and then diving into something else. Give it a chance to work, and if it doesn’t, you can always try again later on. 

How do you sell your book? What has worked for you in order to get more book sales? Share your story here!

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