self-publishing · Writing

My Ongoing Adventure with Leanpub

Three years ago, I wrote about Leanpub here and then later, here.

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What is it? You ask. Well, Leanpub is an online platform where you can, in their words, “publish early. Publish Often.” You can even create your book on the site and using feedback from your readers, craft your book to perfection WHILE selling the book at the same time.

It’s not like Wattpad where you can post your books, rough drafts or not, and people read it for free. Leanpub has the option for you to sell your book as you write it and the price isn’t fixed either. Once you establish a minimum price, buyers can pay more for your book.

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It even tells the reader how much royalties you, the author, make per sale. And in the above image, you can see that a “cause” gets a percentage of your royalties, too, if you choose to do so.

Leanpub only took 10% (I think) plus 50 cents per sale which made for a good royalty arrangement. Not good for 99 cents books, though since the 50 cents would cut into the profits right away. But then, 99 cents was never a good long-term sales strategy. It’s a perfect platform for programmers to write their books which allows them to do testing with advanced readers all while the book is being sold. So the author gets to edit as they go, and in the case of programmers, tweak their information as they went along with all the testing by fellow programmers.

So it’s no surprise when you go to their online store, the top books are primarily programming language books.

But there was a time when the founders thought it would be a good idea for romance authors and they still do. But it’s just going to take a lot of convincing especially when the big elephant in the room is hard to ignore.

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However, you can still use it to sell your books if you’re wide. With Draft2Digital’s recent announcement that authors could sell their books directly from their websites and D2D would distribute them, I realized that Leanpub is perfect for that as well. I’m sure you’re thinking about piracy but it can’t be helped. There will always be people who refuse to pay for books or give authors their due. Always.

But this post isn’t about pirates, so back to Leanpub.

Up until a few months ago, it was free to set up a book and I set up a few from Loving Ashe, Loving Riley, Finding Sam, and more. These days, it costs $99 to set up a book and with it, you get a landing page and a selling platform to distribute your book. You also have the ability to have coupons if you’re having a sale, and other features like formatting your book in digital and print-ready formats.

I did that (paid $99) for my latest book, Falling for Jordan, and it was supposed to be part of my ongoing experiment with Leanpub. But after Pronoun (Falling for Jordan’s aggregator) announced on Monday that they were closing, I ended up migrating the book to Amazon and Draft2Digital while maintaining the Leanpub page the way it was.

But after a few hiccups on the wide retailers’ side and still no Falling for Jordan on their sites, I finally decided to put the book into Kindle Select, which means it’s the end of the Leanpub experiment because now I have to “retire” the book because Kindle Select (or Kindle Unlimited from the readers’ point of view) requires exclusivity with Amazon for 90 days.

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It was such a beautiful page, too…

Retiring a book means that you’ll still get a landing page but you won’t be selling the book. It’s good in cases like this when Falling for Jordan is in Kindle Select and once it finishes its 90 days and I un-enroll out of Select, I can un-retire the book on Leanpub and sell the book through the site again.

It would have been an exciting experiment, especially in light of Draft2Digital’s announcement that you can sell books through their site. I thought about doing that but then I realized that I have Leanpub for that. So my experiment isn’t a but—yet. I still have Finding Sam which will remain on Leanpub forever. I even made a few sales this month and the readers paid the full price of $5.99 for the book even when there was an option for $3.99!

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I actually like Leanpub very much. I liked it three years ago when I first learned about it, and I like it now even if I only have one book for sale through the site (the others are either retired or not yet published) and the only way people can find it is through my own links.

But that’s okay. I’m in this for the long haul anyway.

I just hope they won’t close anytime soon.

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Book Promotion & Marketing

Authors: 7 Reasons Why Your Book Is Not Getting Auditions on ACX

I’m currently having two of my books turned into audiobooks and from the moment I flirted with the idea of hearing my books narrated until today when I hit “Approve” on ACX.com, I have to say that it’s not as easy as it seems. In the beginning, when I sought for information through author groups, I found so many conflicting answers that it drove me crazy. Some authors would also charge you money to learn how to get your book into audiobook form. So I figured I’d look to narrators instead for the information I needed.

One of the first questions out of the gate was whether to pay up-front which usually ranges from $100 – $500 and up per performance hour (PFH) or do a royalty share (RS) with the narrator for seven years. That’s where you split the royalties – but this only happens if the audiobook sells. If it doesn’t sell, while you’ve already written the book, that narrator is out the time and cost of producing the audiobook.

But from a narrator’s standpoint, how do they decide whether to take on your book? Jeffrey Kafer boils it down to seven points which I’ve summarized below. Make sure to visit his blog post for the full post.

In my case, I paid up-front for one book and am doing a royalty-share with the second book. I can’t wait to announce them very soon!

Photo by Juja Han on Unsplash

 

I interact with authors all the time on message boards and often find them lamenting “Why isn’t anyone auditioning for my royalty-share audiobook??”

Here are some possible reasons.

  1. Your cover sucks. Indie authors are a curious bunch. They have a deep need to do everything themselves. As much as I appreciate the DIY mentality, if you’re using paint or GIMP to throw together a cover using stock MS Office fonts and free images you found online, you may not be representing your book in the best light possible. I’ve heard of people designing covers in Powerpoint. WTF?

    How to fix it: Get a decent cover. There are people who will make you an amazing cover for around $50. Seriously. Pony up a bit of change for a decent cover and eat ramen for a week, please.

  2. Your book is too long. If your book is a 300,000 word masterpiece, I’m not going to bother. The work to reward ratio is way too high. A 30 hour audiobook is going to take a month or more to record and master. The longer the book, the more units that need to be sold to recoup the investment. And with royalty-share, that’s too big of a risk, especially for an indie author.

    How to fix it: If you have more than one book, put a shorter one up. You’re much more likely to get someone to tackle a 6-8 hour book.

  3. Your book doesn’t sound interesting. A lot of narrators will do a Royalty-share book if the title sounds interesting. Put up your best synopsis and explain why the narrator should take this on: Hilarious comedy, intriguing mystery, lots of locales (be careful, this can hurt you), unbridled romance (again, this can be a con).How to fix it: Sell it. Make me want to narrate it even if I don’t make a dime.
  4. You don’t have enough Amazon sales and/or a low ranking and/or bad reviews. This one should not be a shock to any seasoned author. The first thing I do when I am considering a book, is to click on the link that says “View this title on Amazon”. If the book has 3 reviews over the past 2 years, I’m going to pass. If the reviews are mediocre, I’m going to pass. If your rankings are low, I’m going to pass. I need assurance that the audiobook is going to sell and Amazon ratings and ranking are a very telling insight into that.

    How to fix it: Write better. I know, I know, I sound like a total dick right now. But that’s the honest truth. There is no way to get more ratings or better reviews than to simply write better books and lots of them. And if your writing is good, but the sales aren’t there, wait until they are. Write more.

  5. You haven’t explained why we should take on the risk (you don’t do jack for promotion). As much as any narrator should volunteer to read your book for the sheer honor of it, that doesn’t happen if you don’t do anything to promote it. No book tours, no blogging, no external reviews, no nothing. The author is the primary vehicle for promotion. The narrator can add exactly 0.12% value in promoting the book. Unless you hired Scott Brick, people are not going to buy your book for the narrator.
    How to fix it: Explain in the notes how well the book has been received, how many sales you have, your ranking, blog articles, reviews etc. ANYTHING to help sell the book to the narrator.
  6. You are only doing the cattle-call. Simply posting your book on the audition list isn’t going to cut it. Look how many other hundreds of books there are to be narrated! Someone choosing to narrate your book is like winning the lottery, albeit with somewhat better odds. And if your book suffers from the bullet points above, then the likelihood decreases.

    How to fix it: Go to the list of narrators and find a handful that you like. Make sure they have Royalty-share as one the options on their profile and then send them a message. You play to the narrator’s ego when they know that you want them. I am MUCH more inclined to work with someone who has sought me out. This, of course, is also the time to SELL the book. See the tip above for more on that.

  7. You sound like you’re going to be a pain in the ass. This happens more often than you realize. If you have 3 different sections that MUST be auditioned, if you demand that each character has a certain flavor of accent (“Southern, but not Georgia, more Carolina”), if you say “I’ll direct you/provide feedback/listen in/co-narrate/help in any way”, or otherwise indicate that you are so in love with your words, that you can’t possible let go so I can do my job, then I’m going to run far far away. Direct author involvement is not a plus, unless I specifically need you to answer a question.

    How to fix it: Chill. If you’ve hired a good narrator, let him/her do the job. Let go of your baby and trust us to do the right thing. While the end result might be a bit different than you imagined, this is the way of art. You are NOT going to be able to direct an actor to successfully embody the book exactly as you want them to do. That’s the nature of acting and the choices actors make based on the source material. Embrace it.

So there you go. Several reason why you may not be having much success with royalty-share on ACX. Fixing these will go a long way to improving your odds of finding a narrator on your budget who will do an exemplary job with your book.

Source: 7 Reasons Why Your Book is not Getting Auditions on ACX | Jeffrey Kafer Voice blog

Book Promotion & Marketing

Let’s Create Professional-Looking Ebooks!

Before anything else, let me just say it’s been awhile since I last posted and boy, do I miss this place. Turns out, I also unpublished a few things from the blog one day, which turned out to be most of my book marketing updates. Ah, well, sometimes, it happens but I’m back.

So, where have I been all this time? Well, I’ve been here and here and here. So many websites, so little time.

So if you’re seeing this, thanks for hanging in there. Why don’t we start with some good news in the world of self-publishing, specifically, how to get your word file to look like an awesome ebook with professional templates from Draft2Digital?

Last year, I explored Draft2Digital’s print book formatting here, and wished they’d have something similar for ebooks. More than a year later, they finally did and it looks great!

I have a few books through Draft2Digital and I usually upload them as epub files, created by a few apps I use: Vellum, Ulysses, and Scrivener. However, if you don’t have any epub or mobi conversion apps (you can always use Calibre), Draft2Digital can now create your Word document into beautifully formatted ebooks.

They have a few themes – romance, mystery, literary fiction, to name a few, and each one is worth checking out for your books. Just select the theme and click Preview to see how your book will look like.

Remember, this feature only works if you upload a Word file, just like their Createspace-ready print PDF. Only this time, you can get your own epub for iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google, or mobi files for Kindle. So if you upload an epub, you won’t get to the template window at all.

Have you tried Draft2Digital yet?

A Writer Musing · Book Promotion & Marketing

The Daily Grind

Yesterday I launched my latest book and it felt good. Except for a rare half hour at Starbucks with my cafe mocha while chatting with a fellow author on my phone, there wasn’t much of a celebration. It was like a normal day – grocery shopping, picking up the kid and doing the laundry. Someone said I should have a glass of champagne but I just wasn’t in the mood. After following up with ARC readers from my mailing list and then peering with one eye open at their reviews, it was just a huge relief to finally get the book out to the world. Each review honestly scares the crap out of me (especially Goodreads where they can be brutally honest, with reaction gifs), but I can also not look.

But the feeling after this book launch feels like a rollercoaster ride that’s coasting back to the starting line and you have to get out and wait in line again.

So the waiting has started. I need to write my books again, although this time, I need to finish the prequel to Loving Ashe before releasing its sequel, Loving Riley. I can’t entertain anything else but that, not even a second book of Dax and Harlow. My dance card is full. That line to the rollercoaster ride is moving.

But that waiting in line isn’t just about writing the next book. It’s also marketing the existing books, and after trying out Facebook groups for two weeks where I post something about my book on two or three Kindle Unlimited groups, I’ve come to the conclusion that that shit just doesn’t work. You’re basically marketing to fellow authors, and maybe it gets you one sale here and there, but it’s a risk you take to post in many groups because Facebook will put your account in jail for a few hours or days. It’s just not worth it.

But you know what’s worth it? Facebook ads. Done right, that stuff works – but only when done right. When not done right, it’s money out the window with very low or hardly-there ROI. You don’t boost posts because that relies on engagement and somehow I’m not there yet when it comes to engagement with readers. I can count with ONE hand how many people will engage with me, and I’m grateful for every single one of them, but the same time it takes me to craft a single Facebook post hoping for engagement, I can literally craft a 2K word chapter. Seriously.

But FB ads, when done right, work. I don’t have to rely on engagement. Sure, it’s nice when people reply to the ads or boosted posts, and I envy writers who get thousands of likes and comments, but at least, with ad copy, I have the basics down. Four years of college majoring in Advertising and Journalism should give me the basics, right? And so I crafted my ad copy and let it loose. At first, there were more misses than hits. Performance versus clicks that were downright embarrassing. But at least you can test, and test some more.

That’s when I saw the sales happening, when I started with a good ad copy and then another. Started with one or two sales a day, then up to ten a day on a book that was released a year and a half ago. It’s not even my new release I’m talking about here. Loving Ashe is actually selling again. It’s also selling outside of Amazon, primarily iBooks AND Kobo.

I used to feel pangs of regret for leaving Kindle Unlimited, and it took awhile to get past that stage where my chest wouldn’t hurt from the mere thought of missed KENP reads and the bills I could pay with that money. But I don’t hurt anymore when I think about leaving KU. It’s nice to go wide. Scary at first, but nice.

And with the ads, I get to see my books sell on various platforms and that makes me feel good.

I just need to make sure to have the money set aside each month for my ad budget and go back to writing. Which brings me to one more realization after meeting so many “writers” who weren’t really writers after all. They’re strictly business people. They hire ghostwriters for their books and now every writer I meet is suspect. Seriously. It’s popped that “joy” bubble I thought everyone was on when it comes to writing.

Now I know better and it’s honestly made me hard inside, cold even. Real writers are hard to come by anymore. Sometimes I think no one writes for the love of writing anymore, but that’s really not my problem, not when I’ve got too many stories waiting for their turn. I still write for the love of writing because I need it to heal the wounds of my past and the unspoken words of my present, but I also know I have to run a business.

So the wait to get back on the rollercoaster begins. But, at least, now I’m wiser.

Writing for love is fine, but, hey, eventually you gotta write for the money. The bills still need to get paid.

Books

Everything She Ever Wanted: A Different Kind of Love Novel

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Everything She Ever Wanted
(A Different Kind of Love Novel)

by Liz Durano

Early Release Day: October 12, 2016

AMAZON | IBOOKS | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO

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Sign up for Liz’s newsletter and be the first to be notified of releases!

http://www.subscribepage.com/lizdurano

Join Liz’s Reader Group on Facebook for early news on books, chats and giveaways!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/librarycafereadergroup/

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Cover Model: Franggy Yanez

Blurb

I was never into fairy tales.

But discovering a real live princess in my house reminds me of the story of the three bears and some chick who breaks into their pad, eats all their food, and sleeps in their beds.

Just like the one that’s in mine right now.

At first, I thought she was dead, but the rise and fall of her chest told me that she was just passed out, probably from the half-empty bottle of Bordeaux I’d been saving for a special occasion. Two grand down the drain, courtesy of Goldi-effing-locks here, who’s not only passed out cold, but she’s also naked.

I should walk out right now and let her be…

But I can’t. Not when there’s something else next to the Bordeaux, something that shouldn’t be here. And it’s sitting on top of a note that begins with the words…

“I’m sorry I failed you…”

AMAZON | IBOOKS | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO

About the Author

Liz Durano is the author of four full-length novels, including the latest release, Everything She Ever Wanted: A Different Kind of Love Novel.  She grew up in the Philippines and credits her high school principal, Sr. Jerry, for setting her on the path to literature when she pulled Liz her out of Drama Club and enrolled her into Poetry Club (instead of suspending her for writing some NSFW stuff) in eight grade.  Although she studied Journalism in college, Liz prefers writing fiction over news and ad copy.  She currently lives in Southern California with her family.

Links

Website: https://lizdurano.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/lizduranobooks

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/librarycafereadergroup/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lizdurano

Instagram: http://instagram.com/lizdurano

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9858074.Liz_Durano

Writing

When That Marketing Hat Doesn’t Come Off As Easily As You Think…

I just realized that it’s been days since I last opened my Ulysses app, where I do most of my writing.  Ever since I clicked The End on my novel and the brand new cover was released to the world a week ago, no writing has happened.  Well, there were 580 or so  words the last two days but that’s nothing compared to my usual 1K a day minimum, with some days hitting 5 – 7K words.

So where did all my writing time go?

Book promotion.  Book promotion. Book promotion. (I know, it’s sad.)

This morning, while drinking my coffee (it’s #NationalCoffeeDay apparently, too), I thought about the many hats we self-published writers need to wear to get our books out there in the world.  Writing is really the easiest part.  And when you realize that you have no budget for the book release, it’s nerve-wracking.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-1-12-09-pmSo how do you promote a future release with NO budget other than agonizing over every decision down to, “did I choose the right font for my title?  Isn’t Times New Roman just way too boring?”

There’s always social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  There’s also blogging, and then there’s the trusty ol’ mailing list.  There’s also Thunderclap, a campaign that blasts out the book’s release to your followers.  I’m short 20 more supporters and it’s driving me crazy, so if you’re on social media and would like to help me get word of my book out to your followers on release day, here’s the link to the Thunderclap campaign.

And then there’s writing.  I need to get back to writing again, whether it’s working on that prequel to Everything She Ever Wanted or the bonus story, or editing Loving Riley, the sequel to Loving Ashe (finally!).  Maybe it will calm my nerves because I sure as heck am not calm, not when there are only 19 days left before release day.

So my plan for today is simple: get back to writing.  Find that joy again (because heaven knows, marketing and book promotions suck it right out of ya!) and write.  Write the next book and keep on going.

What about you? How’s your day going?

 

Books

Everything She Ever Wanted is Now Available for Pre-order!

Yup! My book is now available for pre-order and I couldn’t be happier.  With people asking where they could get the book, there was no point holding off on that pre-order so if you’d like to grab your copy, you can do so from most retailers here..

And you’re probably wondering why the title is the same, but something is different…?  Well, that’s because I changed the cover…again!  After looking deeper into genre expectation and polling other romance authors, I realized that I needed a man on the cover (preferably shirtless was the general consensus) and I found him – my perfect Dax Drexel in cover model and photographer, Franggy Yanez, a Venezuelan currently living in Amsterdam.

It even has a brand new description!

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HER PERFECTLY-PLANNED LIFE IS OFF-KILTER….

HIS IS OFF THE GRID.

At forty, transplant surgeon Harlow James’ life and career are in shambles.

So she hits the open road and ends up in Taos, New Mexico, hoping to find out where she went wrong.

But when master craftsman, Dax Drexel, unexpectedly shows up at her doorstep, sex and swagger all rolled into one, Harlow finds herself with the perfect distraction.  Sure, he’s rough around the edges and way too young, but he could also be the one man who can give her the only thing she’s always wanted.

At twenty-seven, Dax has everything a man could want – an award-winning career, friends and family who keep him grounded… and no commitments.

But when he finds a strange woman asleep in his bed at three in the morning, there’s something about her that won’t let him stay away.  Could it finally be love at first sight?

Or is it because of something that sits on top of her tear-stained note that begins with the words…

“I’m sorry I failed you…”


While it’s nerve-wracking to know that I’ve only got 22 more days before launch, I’m so excited to get this book out to the world.  Want to read the first four chapters?  Click here to read the preview.

Interested in reviewing, let me know and I’ll shoot you an ARC copy.

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