I’ve never been big into the numbers of running an independent publishing company, so long as the hobby of writing supports itself. Because I want to make sure I’m following the law, at least, in terms of taxes, etc, and honestly I think I was cheated and paid more taxes than I was supposed to last year, I joined Outright.com to help me track finances.
Outright.com is like a Mint.com but for individual and small businesses rather than personal finances. They connect with your seller accounts on Amazon, Etsy, FreshBooks, PayPal, Shoeboxed, Harvest, and all the major USA banks. Let me tell you, I’m really liking it so far.
Until September 2012 they provide free charts to know who your most popular distribution channel is (pictured below). This is great. I know that I sell most my books through Amazon, but seeing the chart really drives this point home.
Outright also does you a favor and gives you an estimate of your quarterly and yearly taxes. Now since I’m such a small entity, I don’t make enough money for taxation (especially this year, where I used my royalties of the last two years to pay for the audio book). See below.
I say that these charts and tax estimations are free for now because after September 2012, I believe you will have to pay about $10 USD to get that information. I might be wrong. But honestly, if I can get this sort of information automatically, I’m not going to complain. It would save me SUCH a headache come tax season.
The only complaint I have, and this is because I’m a book publisher, is that I don’t know the quantities of books I’m selling, only the deposit amounts from my distributors. So I still have to do that by hand in a spreadsheet, which, I have to admit, I am AWFUL at.
But at least when it comes to finances, I feel like I can breathe a little easier. To read more about taxes as a self-published author, check out my 2008 post on the topic, which still pertains today.
If you own an Etsy shop or sell items via Amazon Seller Central, I suggest giving Outright a try. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the experience!
As you may (or may not) remember, this time last year I won the funding for Haunting Miss Trentwood by pitching a campaign via Kickstarter. That 40 days of promotion was a whirlwind of stress, exuberance, and exhaustion, which led to the success of the project. Because I was blessed to get funding, I do my best to support other writing/publishing/local projects as a way of paying it forward.
So far, all six of the projects I’ve backed have been funded, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Today I’d like to highlight other writing and publishing projects that piqued my interest, and might pique yours as well. If you find these projects interesting, back the projects by choosing a reward tier and the amount you would like to pledge.
Four Creative Projects
Blood Sex & Cogs interests me because my masters thesis was about the Steampunk craft culture. Here, the author is crafting their own book, with your help. Check it.
Children of Earth and Star interests me because it’s going to be a digital and physical illustrated book. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the story intriguing… what happens when an earth child and a star child meet and fall in love?
The Gremacht Episode is about a family of Victorian archeologists by author/illustrator Ruth Lampi who encounter demons, immortals, etc. My favorite part? The author is dressed like her characters in the video. Talk about dedication!
The last one I just found out about yesterday, and isn’t on Kickstarter, I assume, because Kickstarter is only available to those living in the United States at this time. It’s a historical by Dubliner David Doughran called A Storm hit Valpraiso. I’m interested to see how his project goes, since I have no experience with any crowdfunding other than Kickstarter.
I’m a big fan of supporting the little guy, and maybe you are too. If so, I hope this post helps.
Everyday I’m Tumblin’
Also, don’t forget that I’m on Tumblr these days! I’m becoming more obsessed with the platform hourly, and am finding all sorts of quotes, images, and funnies to share with you. Make sure to hop over there from time to time.
I feel like Tumblr is a great way for you to see my personality (well, sense of humor, really), more than a blog. I don’t know. We’ll see. Fact is, I love it, and I’d love to see you over there to share in the nerd love.
I was asked an interesting question via the Self Publishing Review website the other day about copyright and publishing. I figure many have this question, or might find it interesting, so I’ve taken the liberty of answering here on the blog. From the United States Copyright website…
No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
Now for most self-publishers, this isn’t really an issue. It’s seen as another expense that you may or may not be able to afford. Ask yourself this question, and be honest with your answer: if someone did infringe upon your copyright, would you sue them? Do you have the money to sue them? What do you expect to be a satisfactory resolution to that situation?
I’ve broken down the different items of a book that authors, aspiring and published, might want to copyright below, telling you whether you can copyright it or not, and why.
Copyrighting a Title
You can’t do this. This would technically be more of a trademark, because it is a specific combination of words to create a phrase. A trademark “protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from those of others.” So don’t try to copyright your title, because you’ll just be directed somewhere else.
The best protection for your title is to run a number of searches online to ensure that your title is unique so your readers can find you.
Copyrighting an Idea
You can’t do this. No one can lay claim to an idea or discovery. Technically, you can patent a discovery, but your book is hardly a discovery. Your book is an expression of an idea, or collection of ideas. It is that expression which deserves protection, as I’ve explained below.
Copyrighting the Implementation of an Idea
You can do this. For someone to copy your exact words in your exact phrasing with your exact paragraphs is called plagiarism, and is grounds for a lawsuit. You have a stronger foothold with this lawsuit if you have registered for copyright because it is a form of copyright infringement.
Keep in mind copyrighting does not protect you from plagiarism. Having the publication year listed inside the book would be suitable evidence for a plagiarism case. As long as the plagiarist released their work after yours, of course.
That said, you can preregister your work if it is unpublished… Not sure why you would want to do that, though. I guess if someone broke into your house, stole your manuscript, and tried to sell it to the highest bidder? But then that would be outright stealing, and would go to a different court.
The point of making a copyright is that it gives you the right to make copies and that is it. Filing for copyright means that you are the only one allowed to publish it in whatever form you wish. Anyone else trying to publish your work is performing copyright infringement because they don’t have the right to make those copies.
I hope that helps clear the confusion!
This was a GOOD week for Round of Words. Not only did I copy over my entire plot for The Rebel’s Hero over from sticky notes into the computer (you can see it on my fan page), but I also wrote character bios for half of my characters, and wrote another 1667 words on top of that initial 750 words, thus completing the first drafts of chapters two and three!
And then yesterday, while working in a coffee shop, I realized something awful. The Rebel’s Hero continues to change and morph away from Catching the Rose. So much so that it feels weird using the same character names. So I changed all of the character names and have finally broken free from Catching the Rose. The Rebel’s Hero is still technically a rewrite, so there might be a similarity here and there, at least between character relationships… Anyway, I think this is for the best.
Oh. And I made the cover for The Rebel’s Hero and unveiled it Friday evening on my fan page. If you’re a subscriber to the newsletter, you got a larger version in your inbox. As a bit of housekeeping, from now on I will be releasing book information first to the newsletter subscribers, then to Facebook fans, and then on the blog. That makes sense, right?
I updated the website home page, so if you haven’t visited in a while because you have an RSS reader, hop on over, if you please.
Now as you might have guessed, I’m exhausted. Because on top of all that, I worked full-time last week where I wrote a 32-page report that had a ton of diagrams (ok I’m cheating, I took two weeks to write that). And last night, I was swing dancing until midnight.
Belinda iz ded nao.
I’ll check in next week with a brushed up excerpt from chapter two, I think. Or maybe not. Not sure. My brain hurts.
All the best,
I wrote two thousand words last week. Pretty pumped about that. It’s for the Catching the Rose rewrite. I also wrote out a preliminary outline for the new book which has yet to have a real title. The working title is Secondhand Sister.
It pays to sleep all the time from being super sick. Yeah? Yeah? Not really, but at least I got some writing done.
That’s a deal if I ever heard of one. I decided to make the change across all my distributors, so that includes Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance Ebooks, and Smashwords. We’ll see what this does with sales.
How are the other ROW80 writers doing? We’re winding down on the last month and our numbers are dwindling…
Man, that illness took me out last week! I’m still sleeping an inordinate amount of time, so I’m keeping this blog post short.
I had a guest post at Indie Horror last week where I talked about how Mr. Trentwood, my ghostly father in Haunting Miss Trentwood surprised me time and again… even though I created him! Check it out, it was fun talking about how my character got away from me in the best way possible.
Happy eBook week! Starting March 6, get a 50% discount for Catching the Rose and Haunting Miss Trentwood with coupon code RAE50; and 100% off Mad Maxine with coupon code RE100 at Smashwords!
Also, Stacey Wallace Benefiel is discounting her books, so you should scoop those up as well. She’s tons of fun to read, and I know, because I read her Day of Sacrifice short and really enjoyed it.
That’s really all the writing I had energy for… my apologies. Enjoy your discounted books!
Last week I talked about how I finally got a Welcome tab up on my Facebook fan page, and was asked to write a tutorial about how I navigated the murky depths of Facebook HTML editing. And so I shall, gladly.
This isn’t so great for branding, though, especially when trying to appeal to newcomers. What we want is a welcome tab where we can put our welcome message, maybe an image or two.
Good thing we have the option to use the Facebook Static FBML app, amiright?
Sure, once you figure out how to use the stupid thing.
When you click edit, you will see this list of options on the left. Your editing options will be in the center, and the typical Facebook ads will be on the right.
We want to go to the apps tab so we can customize our page with the additional functionality afforded through the Static FBML app.
Static FBML stands for Static Facebook Markup Language. When I saw this originally, I thought, “But I just want HTML. This is stupid. Why would Facebook make their own language?”
Turns out, you use this app for HTML as well. It will accept images, text, and tables. It won’t accept embedded media such as videos, as far as I’ve tried.
Anyway. At the bottom of your apps page, you might see an option to add the Static FBML app to your page. If you don’t see that, search “Static FBML” using the search field at the top of the left options menu to find it.
Once the app is installed on your page, you will have no idea what to do next. Logically, clicking “Settings” would take you to a page that allows you to edit this random tab that is now appearing on your page, right? Wrong. But you are right to think that.
Facebook is stupid and actually makes you click “Go to App” in order to make edits. It’s ok. I can say Facebook is stupid from a heuristic standpoint: it’s my day job to find the weaknesses in a web design and point them out for the next iteration to improve the design. Are you listening, Facebook??
You should see a blank text box waiting for your HTML magic, like so pictured left. I made a 500 pixel wide x (??) pixel tall image that I threw in there for the welcome tab. Just to see what it would look like.
I noticed at the bottom, there’s a link that says “Add another FBML tab” or something like that. Don’t do that until you’ve saved your first tab.
Essentially, you can create as many customized tabs as you can think of, using this app. It’s pretty useful once you get to this point.
I made two tabs: a Welcome tab and a Buy a Copy tab. The latter is a simple 2×2 table that has the images of my books, descriptions, and links to where readers can buy them. Simple and straightforward.
From here, you’ll want to make your new Welcome tab the default landing tab. To do this, you need to choose the Manage Permissions option in the left menu.
Whatever floats your boat, I’m not the boss of you.
In the end, you will want to log out of Facebook to ensure that the landing tab is the one you specified. It took me an hour or so to realize that it didn’t matter how many times I refreshed it, I would always see the Wall tab as the landing tab because I’d liked the page.
The default landing tab, when made to be the Welcome tab, only appears first when you haven’t liked the page yet. So it’s kind of perfect. Welcome me if I’m new, but give me the juicy stuff if I’ve been around for a while.
So if you haven’t liked my fan page and are coming to it for the first time, you should see something like the image on the left. Otherwise, you will see the wall tab like in the first image of this post.
Ta-dah! Now you have a snazzy welcome tab. Hopefully you have some awesome content to throw in there.
Ask questions and provide additional suggestions in the comments!
All the best,
Once again I reflect upon the idea of self-promotion, something which leaves a dour taste in my mouth and flags my spirit, making it difficult for me to be creative and write. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I was cutting out social networking for a while, which in essence meant I was cutting out all marketing (other than my AuthorBuzz subscription through fReado).
I have been concerned about my sales. Everyone has been bragging about their sales, which eclipse mine to the point of it no longer being depressing, but laughable. I read the blog of Zoe Winters, paranormal romance author, regularly and am inspired and jealous of her success.
Here’s the thing: I’m amazed and more than a little frightened by how much Zoe does. The promotions, contests, videos, book trailers, blog tours… So you have no idea how relieved I was when she wrote her post “No Shortcut to Awesome.” The content of the post was a comparison between her two writing names, Zoe and her pseudonym. Zoe goes crazy (literally) over promotion. Her pseudonym focuses on her writing; other than posting on social networks and in her blog that she’s released something new, she doesn’t go overboard.
Get this: they are making the same amount of sales, roughly. Wait. What?!
Man oh man, did I need to hear that. Yes, it is good to be available and connected to readers. No, it doesn’t help to freak about numbers in any format: Twitter followers, Goodreads friends, Facebook friends, Facebook fan page likes, Kindle sales, NOOK sales, blog subscribers, etc.
I was watching all those numbers. And then some. I don’t even like numbers. I hate numbers. Numbers have, on occasion, made me break out into a cold sweat because they make me nervous. Which makes it even more amazing that I graduated with an engineering degree. Give me variables any day.
Watching Zoe’s process and seeing the similarities in my own is giving me the permission to do what I want to do, which is write. My friends and family keep reminding me that I do this because I love it, not because it’s my day job. I have a day job to support my writing. I don’t have to kill myself to make my writing a day job in itself. The goal of self-publishing, for me, is for my writing to be a self-sustaining hobby.
As long as I keep that in mind and stop peeking over the shoulders of other indie authors, I think I will regain my sanity and sense of well-being. I also bought a sun therapy lamp last week for work to combat my seasonal affective disorder. Both items, I’m sure, will be beneficial in the long run. In the meantime, I’ll continue to write, or not write, whichever feels right at the time.
All the best,
Part of being an entrepreneurial author, indie author, self-publishing author, etc, is that I make my prices and have to watch my supply and demand. I have to experiment with marketing and production and everything else. My primary product right now is Haunting Miss Trentwood, the eBook version. It’s the one that’s selling and the one I’ve made any attempt at marketing. I’m rewriting Catching the Rose and I’m working on my anthology, Love or Lack Thereof, so there is no point playing around with those books right now.
Last Tuesday (Jan 18), I changed the price of Haunting Miss Trentwood from $2.99 to $3.99 for a couple of reasons.
- I believe it is worth that price.
- It has gotten good reviews that make me think others believe the same.
- Honestly, it’s my best (and sometimes only) selling product.
- I’m interested to know the perfect pricing for supply vs demand.
- I have no idea what the perfect price point is for my books.
I know pricing down is not what I want to do. Pricing up is something I’m interested in testing simply because I’m curious to know what a dollar more will do to sales and interest. I know customers can assume that a cheap eBook means it’s cheap in terms of more than just finances.
I know other authors have experimented a bit more… Right after I made the decision to change the price, I read John’s post about experimenting with his prices. He’s going higher than me, but he also has a larger following. Will my pricing ensure a larger following? Not sure. But I’ve had Haunting Miss Trentwood at $2.99 since October 16, 2010 for two months. I’m willing to try $3.99 for the next two months and see what happens.
I began with $2.99 because multiple authors say that’s the sweet spot. But I’m just not seeing the sales. Thinking changing the price will do something about that?
All the best,
This guest post is brought to you by fantasy author Lindsay Buroker. You can visit her e-publishing blog for more information on internet marketing, search engine optimization, and online advertising, as it relates to marketing one’s books. She’s a new author, but she’s been making a living online for nearly a decade now.
Can Giving Away a Free Ebook Help Sell Your Other Work?
Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, you’re most likely on your own for marketing. It’s hard getting noticed in the beginning, too. I’m a new ebook author myself, so I know all about it!
I’ve seen some debate when it comes to giving free ebooks away. Is it a way to create interest and possibly sell your other works? Or is it a waste of time?
Numerous people argue, surprisingly vehemently, that folks who hurry to grab freebies aren’t interested in paying for anything–ever. (And they probably still go to their parents’ houses to have mom handle the laundry, too!). I’ve seen fewer folks tote the benefits of giving away a free ebook, but I decided to try for myself. I figured it couldn’t hurt, and it might help.
As I write this, it’s been about two weeks since I released a fantasy short story as a free ebook at Smashwords and Feedbooks. It’s had more than a thousand downloads.
I chose to use the same main characters as were starring in the novel I had coming out a few days later (one I charge for). At the end of the free ebook, I included an excerpt from that story. I also included a link to the novel’s page at Smashwords with a not-so-subtle hint that readers who enjoyed the free adventure might like to purchase the longer piece.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that this flooded my inbox with oh-my-gosh-someone-bought-your-book notifications, but I believe it is what led to my first few sales at Smashwords. I’ve heard authors say they sell twenty books at Amazon for every one at Smashwords (since it’s a much smaller marketplace). I’m well above that ratio right now, even though I’ve worked harder at promoting my Amazon link. I’m positive my free ebook is what’s been responsible for those Smashwords sales.
If you think you’d like to try releasing a free ebook of your own, here are a few suggestions:
Make your free ebook Book 1 in a series or try using the same characters that star in your other works
I don’t have enough novels written yet to release a free “Book 1” as the entry point into a multi-ebook series, or I’d definitely try that. Smashwords fantasy author Brian S. Pratt made well over $100,000 from his ebooks last year, and he gave the first one away free while charging for the rest. I don’t know if his first novel ends in a cliffhanger or not, but it sounds like a good way to get people to go on and buy more in the series!
Since I couldn’t do that, I used a short story I had sitting on my hard drive, collecting virtual dust. It’s a fun little fantasy adventure that stands alone, but I also hope it leaves readers wondering about the characters. How did such an unlikely pair get together? Why are they wanted by the law? Etc, etc. etc. These questions are of course answered in the novel.
I suspect putting out a free ebook that’s unrelated to your other titles would be the least likely to help with sales, but I’d be happy to be proven incorrect.
Upload your ebook in a number of places
Once you’ve chosen your freebie, it’s time to get it out there to the world. The great thing about free ebooks is there are numerous websites that accept them. As I mentioned, I started with Feedbooks and Smashwords, but others I’m checking out are Fictionwise, Scribd, and the Bit Torrent network. (If you have any others you’d recommend, please mention them in the comments.)
Make sure to let readers know where to buy your non-free ebooks!
Most e-readers let you click on links in the ebook itself, so don’t be shy about including a link to your author page and/or a sales page for a related book. The whole point here is to market your other work, so be sure to tuck in those details. You may want to try including an excerpt as well.
What do you guys think? Is a free ebook a good marketing tool?