Archive | 14:48

CreateSpace in Europe

22 May

Things have been hectic around Catherine HQ over the last few days, and so when people started saying to me “Great news about CreateSpace and Europe, right?” I didn’t really have time to go and check if it was good news. I presumed it must be, because up until now, paying for CreateSpace’s expanded distribution channel upgrade did not guarantee that your book would appear on Amazon.co.uk which, for self-publishers on my side of the Atlantic, was very important indeed.

So if CreateSpace was now saying that your paperback would appear on Amazon.co.uk (and Amazon.de, and Amazon.fr, and Amazon.etc) in the same way it would on Amazon.com—automatically, and only a week or so after you published—that would be A Very Good Thing.

Which it is.

But now that I’ve had a chance to go investigate, I’ve realized that it’s even better that that.

No More EDC Lottery

Up until now, using CreateSpace only guaranteed that your POD paperback would appear for sale on Amazon.com. It might show up on Amazon.co.uk (and other international Amazons) but if it did, it could take anywhere from a couple of weeks (as it did with Mousetrapped in March 2010) to a few months (as with Self-Printed a year later), or it might never appear at all— or appear and disappear at will (as with Backpacked). If you were lucky, you got the next best thing: a third party seller flogging your book on Amazon instead. But that would mean that your book was unlikely to qualify for Super Saver Delivery, or ever be discounted. In short, it was a bad deal and the alternative, i.e. directing people to buy your book from Amazon.com, would mean higher shipping costs and a longer wait for your customers.

Now CreateSpace is saying that international Amazons are going to be just like Amazon.com: publish, and you’ll be on there. For free, as part of their publishing service. And on the same time schedule, which is 5-7 days. You don’t even have to upgrade to the EDC. (Now, that’ll just be for getting on the likes of Barnes and Noble, I presume.)

So, yay for guaranteed availability!

More Money

This is what I didn’t realize until I went onto CreateSpace to find out for myself what had changed: this means more money.

Flashback to a year ago. I’m selling Mousetrapped, a 232-page paperback in a 5.5 x 8.5 trim size, and I’ve paid a one-time fee of $39 to upgrade to CreateSpace’s “ProPlan” which gives me cheaper unit costs and enrolls me in their Expanded Distribution Channel, or EDC. If I sell a copy on Amazon.com, I pocket around $4.52. If I sell a copy through the EDC, I make around $1.53. And because every online retail site except Amazon.com falls under this EDC umbrella, I only make $1.53 from paperback sales on Amazon.co.uk.

Now that the international Amazons are on a par with Amazon.com and have been taken out of the EDC, there’s a lot more money to be made from paperback sales there—and I don’t have to pay for any ProPlan to avail of it.

More Information

There’s yet another bonus to this whole CreateSpace Europe thing: more information. Up until now, you could only find out how many books you’d sold through Amazon.com and how many books you’d sold through the EDC. You had no idea if those EDC sales were from B&N, other Amazons or a guy with a trunk full of books. (Well, you could probably guess it wasn’t the last one…) But now you’ll know—or at least know more, because your sales will be divided into Amazon.com, Amazon Europe and EDC. Furthermore, your payments will be divided into dollars (Amazon.com + the EDC), British Pounds (Amazon.co.uk) and Euro (Amazon.de, Amazon.it, Amazon.fr and Amazon.es), so it should be fairly easy to figure out where your paperback sales are coming from.

The Downsides

This leads me on to the one real downside of this I can see: separate cheques. Right now if you publish on KDP Select, you receive three different cheques: one in dollars, one in pounds and one in euro. That’s all well and good, but in order to get them, you have to reach the minimum threshold for them, which I believe is a hundred apiece. Up until now, you only ever received one cheque from CreateSpace and it was in dollars. Now, you’ll have to wait to meet that $100/£100/€100 threshold before you receive the cheques, so chances are you’ll be waiting longer to get paid.

The other sorta downside is shipping charges. According to the CS website, if I order stock of my own book, they’re still being shipped from the US and still costing me a small fortune to get to my house ($112 at economy/6 weeks speed for 100 books). That’s approximately a third of what the books themselves would be costing me. But fingers crossed, that’ll get sorted out eventually…

Come Join the Party

If you have titles already for sale through CreateSpace, they won’t be entered into the Amazon Europe channel automatically. You need to do a few things:

  1. Log on to CreateSpace and update your royalty profile information
  2. Go into each title and manually open the Amazon Europe channel
  3. Select your prices: automatic conversions (as with Kindle books) or set your own GBP and EUR prices.

I did this just after midnight yesterday, and this morning I already have a few euro and a few pounds in my CreateSpace kitty. Also yesterday, Backpacked‘s paperback was showing “out of stock” on Amazon.co.uk, but now it’s in stock and reflecting my new end-in-99p price. So the switch-over must take effect as soon as you do it on your account.

Now that’s customer service for you.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: I LOVE CreateSpace.

(And isn’t it nice to be talking about actual books for once?!)

Thanks to Sally Clements for alerting me about this!

Don’t You Forget About Me

22 May

May is How To Sell Self-Published Books Month here on Catherine, Caffeinated. First, I poured a bucket of ice-cold water over your dreams in Read This First (which, thanks to Freshly Pressed, is the most popular post ever on this blog), and then explained why I think you should go guns blazing for the launch of each book instead of waiting until you’ve a few to sell in One at a Time. This week I’m presenting my Not So Scientific Theory of How Self-Publishers Can Use Social Media to Get Amazon to Sell Their Books, which is based on how I think I’ve managed to sell my own books over the last couple of years. You can catch up here

[Apologies for the lateness of this post. I wrote it on Friday morning, lost half of it thanks to a silly mistake on my part and then didn't have a chance until now to re-do it. Still, better late than never, eh?]

Oh, happy day: you’re selling books. A few of them, at least. But now that you’ve done the whole launching your book thing and you’ve made sure that no one could possibly escape your Amazon listing without being convinced to click that “Buy” button, what’s next? Personally I think you should have two goals from here on in:

  1. To do something everyday that informs at least one more person of your existence
  2. To aim to get every reader who encounters your book first to come join your online platform afterwards. 

From Book to Blog

If we have achieved our goal of getting Amazon to practically sell our books for us (and especially if we’re using things like KDP Select), chances are that most new readers will never meet us (as in, our blog or tweets) before they read our book. But wouldn’t it be nice to have them around the next time we release a book? So encourage readers who only know your book to come visit your blog afterwards. Put a URL at the beginning and end of your book. Maybe put some extra material on your website (photos, an extra story, a story about writing the book) and link to it after “THE END” so the reader has a reason to visit. Ask them to tweet you as they’re reading the book, or to say hi to you on Goodreads (Facebook for books; join if you haven’t already) after they leave their review. The beauty of e-books is that the links can be live, so all the reader has to do is click.

From Blog to Book

We know that only a fraction of our blog readers will end up buying our book, but they can’t do it if they don’t know about it, right? So a few cover shots in the sidebar and a page dedicated to your literary offerings is a must.

Can I just say this though? STOP WITH THE POP-UPS. My pet hate is visiting a website and having a big thing (I don’t know the technical term; let’s use thing) popping up and blocking my view of it. This thing is usually an advertisement for something that I have to enter my e-mail address to get, and the only way to get rid of it is to find the tiny “x” that closes it in the top right-hand corner. I understand the theory: no one visiting the website is going to miss it. But here’s the practice: my computer is on its last legs and my broadband is slow at the best of times. This thing makes loading your website even longer, and I don’t have the patience. So I either (i) add you to Google Reader so I never visit your site again—which means I never see any of the stuff in your sidebar, etc. or (ii) I don’t bother at all, and never visit in any way, shape or form again. It’s like when hotels cover the desk space with a load of stuff: guest directory, stationery, magazines, etc. It looks nice and seems sensible in theory, but what is the guest going to have to do when they arrive? Find somewhere else to put it so they can actually use the desk. Next time you’re considering adding a “welcome” pop-up window, think of your visitors. Please.

E-mail = Cockroach

When I was a teenager, everyone I knew was on Bebo. Was on what? you say. Exactly. There was also a time when everyone was on MySpace which, with its flashing HTML LCD trip design, is probably why so many people I know of my generation are getting glasses these days, myself included. Yes, it’s hard to imagine a world where Twitter and Facebook have fallen by the wayside, but it could happen. And just like a cockroach surviving a nuclear winter, the only thing we can be certain of surviving the downfall of today’s social networks is e-mail. Regardless of what happens, I’m pretty sure that ten years from now, I’ll still have an e-mail address.

So it doesn’t hurt to have a mailing list where readers can sign up to be informed of your next release. I recommend MailChimp, which is free to use if a bit tricky to navigate. Invite people to sign up and then send out maybe 3-4 newsletters a year. To see how its done, sign up for crime writer Karin Slaughter’s newsletter. (Trust me on this.)

Bonus Material

A year and a half passed between the release of Mousetrapped and its sequel, Backpacked, as I hummed and haahed about whether or not to self-publish another book. But I didn’t want all my readers to forget about me in the meantime, so I came up with a plan: More Mousetrapped.

The idea was simple. I’d spent a year and a half in Orlando, but I hadn’t written about every last moment of it in Mousetrapped, because it would have been about 500 pages long. I had a few stories—incidents, really—that I could’ve added, but didn’t because it would’ve been too long and they in themselves wouldn’t have warranted a chapter. So instead, I started a mailing list, and once a month I’d send one of these newly-written, exclusive stories to everyone on the mailing list. I put a link at the end of the e-book so if readers wanted more, they knew where to go to get it. And of course, when Backpacked came out, I was able to tell this list about it.

I don’t do this anymore, but next month I’m going to take the More Mousetrapped stories, bundle them with some other previously unpublished Mousetrapped-related stuff and offer it as a 99c “bonus material” e-book. This will also extend my “shelf space” on Amazon, making it slightly easier for people to discover me.

Yes, that is the sound of me patting myself on the back…

Think Outside the Box (Or Off the Page)

The beauty of self-publishing (and especially self-publishing e-books) are the many different ways you can use it to your advantage—ways that publishing print books confined to a specific price range just don’t allow. Here are some ideas I’ve had, some already done and some coming soon:

  • As I mentioned above, I’m going to take the More Mousetrapped stories subscribers received last year, bundle them with some other previously unpublished Mousetrapped stuff and release it as a 99c e-book.
  • When I published Self-Printed, I took three main sections out of it—Publishing an E-book, Publishing a POD Paperback and Building an Online Platform—and released them as $1.99 e-books I called Self-Printed Shorts. (The full book was $4.99.)
  • In the next few weeks I’ll be releasing a 99c e-book of all my self-publishing themed blog posts called The Best of Catherine, Caffeinated: Caffeine-Infused Self-Publishing Advice. I’m going to do KDP Select right off that bat so readers of this blog can get it for free. After that, who knows? Having the book on Amazon might bring me blog readers and as the content in Self-Printed is also totally different, maybe even throw a few sales that way as well.

I’ve even played around with POD paperbacks although, cost-wise, I wouldn’t recommend it. I sold signed copies of Backpacked from my website when it was first released, and every pre-order also received this adorable little preview of Results Not Typical.

Paid Advertising

Other than a test run with Facebook ads that had a budget of $15, I’ve never paid to advertise my book, but I’m seriously considering doing it in the run up to next Christmas (the time of the year when the majority of books are sold). If it’s targeted paid advertising, I think it has a chance of boosting your sales.

Don’t just pay to stick a cover of your book up somewhere. Get strategic. Facebook ads, I found, were a waste of time, because people are not on Facebook because of books. But that’s the only reason why they’re on Goodreads, and Goodreads operates a similar pay-by-click advertising service. (Have you used it? Let us know in the comments how you got on.) I know a lot of authors who’ve had success with a Kindle Nation Daily sponsorship, and then there’s genre-specific blogs and book review sites who offer banner and sidebar advertisements.

Just do your research and make sure advertising is a worthwhile investment before you hand over the cash.

Be Useful

I don’t want to destroy your faith in humanity, but our number one priority is always ourselves. Subconsciously or otherwise, we’re always asking, what’s in this for me? So if you want your blog (and, by extension, our books) to be successful, make yourself useful. The most popular blog posts on this site are all instructional, all posts that help other people self-publish. I really enjoy writing them, and people enjoy finding the information they need. We’re all winners.

Perhaps you don’t have this type of blog, and you can’t—or don’t want to—write posts like that. That’s fine. But make sure what you’re writing aren’t diary entries. Make sure there’s something in there for other people. Write with the door open, as Stephen King says. Make sure you’re ticking one or more of the “Why Everyone is On The Internet” boxes: information, entertainment, connection. And make sure you’re doing it with practically every post.

Diaries are for you. Blogs are for everyone else.

Another Book

And what to do next when you’ve done all that? Write another book, of course!

So to recap, my Not So Scientific Theory of How Self-Publishers Can Use Social Media to Get Amazon to Sell Their Books (very basically) involves:

  1. Building an online platform—a blog as your hub, Twitter to make connections and drive traffic, Facebook because you might as well (and it’s a good way to rope in your friends and family)
  2. Slowly but surely—and without any spammy Jedi mind tricks—assemble a band of loyal supporters, some of whom might even buy your book just as soon as it comes out
  3. Getting these loyal supporters excited about your book by blogging about it and involving them in the process (e.g. get them to help you decide on a cover, etc.)
  4. Making all your online homes party central for the week of the book’s release.
  5. Maximizing your presence on Amazon by using Amazon Author Central to dress up your listing, etc.
  6. Continuing to produce quality content (that either provides information, entertains or makes a connection) and never forgetting about the guy or gal who’s been reading your blog since day one and will never ever ever buy a book of yours, i.e. keeping up your end of the bargain
  7. Think outside the box (or off the page)
  8. Get started on writing your next book.
Get it by e-mail by subscribing to this blog or follow me on Twitter (@cathryanhoward) for links. 
%d bloggers like this: