Write and sell ebooks: use the self-publishing revolution to change your life
We’re freelance writers. We write for money. When we do, we trade a finite resource — our time — for dollars. This is a useful strategy. As soon as possible however, we need to shift our strategy to licensing our writing. That is: selling our words over and over again.
New writers start off great. They get the woman in the trunk of the car (or create some other hot action which starts things off.) Then they feel they need to explain who the woman is, and how she landed in the trunk of a car. They go on for pages and pages. RESIST! Please do not do this.
For one thing, your readers don’t care. They’re in your story, because you’ve done a good job getting them to empathize with your heroine’s plight. They want to know what happens next.
Kindle Unlimited has made short fiction profitable
I began my professional writing career writing romance novels. Although I’d had short stories published in magazines, making a career out of short fiction didn’t appeal to me. I love to immerse myself in my fiction, going deep into character. You can’t do that in a short story.
More to the point, in the early 1980s, short fiction wasn’t profitable. Publishing houses which published commercial fiction weren’t interested in short stories.
Amazon changed all that. Amazon doesn’t care whether you publish a 90,000 word novel, or 9,000 word short story. Ebooks can be any length you choose. That said, until Amazon created its Kindle Unlimited (KU) subscription service, short fiction wasn’t popular with authors. Short stories didn’t sell as well as novels did.
Look at it this way. Before ebooks, to get a nonfiction book published, you needed to convince a publishing house to publish it. So, the length was pretty much determined by the publisher. If your book was too long, it cost too much; the publisher couldn’t recoup his investment. If it was too short, it was a booklet, rather than a book.
Those constraints have gone. Ebook retailers like Amazon don’t care how long or short your ebook is. As a rule of thumb, I like the ebooks which I write for myself or ghostwrite to be over 5,000 words. That said, I’ve recently completed a series for a client, and each of the ebooks was around 4,000 words. Each one covered the topic, and that’s the essence of publishing nonfiction today: when you’ve delivered on your promise, your work is done.
Consider this. You’ve got a huge, worldwide audience, with literally billions of customers. Ebooks are selling not only in the English speaking world, but all over the globe – India is a hot market, and Asia is growing by leaps and bounds.
Did you know that people in India spend the more time reading each week than other populations? Currently, few ebook writers and sellers are taking advantage of these developing markets.
It’s all about search engine optimization (SEO), and copywriting, when you launch your new blog
Search engine optimization (SEO) counts. Not in the ridiculous and spammy “get on the first page of Google!” sense, but in the plain old indexing sense. First and foremost, the search engines are indexing scripts. They present your content to prospective readers.
Copywriting (writing to sell) matters because if no one knows that you’re selling books, who bother blogging?
It starts and ends with the basics. If you don’t get the basics right, you’re missing out on sales, because your readers won’t find you.
Today, promoting your blog content is just as important as creating that content — and in some ways, even more important. Today there’s endless content online. Your blog will sink without a trace if you allow it.
Whatever your goals for your blog, other bloggers have the same goals. If you’re blogging to get clients, so are thousands of other bloggers. if you’re blogging to promote your books, ditto.
Equally, if your blog is your business, you need a promotion strategy so that you can get as much traffic as possible. Without traffic, you don’t have a business.
I’m currently writing a series of short stories, each of which is under 5,000 words in draft form. They tend to get longer in revision – I’m a wordy writer – but I aim for just four scenes in the initial draft.
Scene 1: the setup.
Scenes 2 and 3: complications and conflict.
Scene 4: dark moment, climax… the end.
When you’ve got just four scenes, you roll everything into those scenes: exposition, as well as scene sequels, which may be just a few words, and then on to the next scene.
Many writers want to write fiction, but they’re hesitant. They need an income from their writing, even if it’s a small one. Fiction can be speculative, and you’re concentrating your energies on getting freelance work. Why invest time and energy on something which may or may not pay off…?
Did you know that you can make money writing short stories? You don’t need to write novel-length works, especially if you’re just starting out with fiction.
I write short stories for clients, and for myself, under a number of pen names. I use pen names to experiment. If you use a different pen name for each genre, you can easily track what succeeds, and what doesn’t. As I’ve often said, Kindle is wonderful for researching markets. If you get readers for a short story in a genre, you may consider writing full length novels in that genre.
Life means change, and if you self-publish your ebooks, you know that the self-publishing marketplace has changed. With four million ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle Store, and thousands of new ebooks published every month, that was bound to happen.
Previously, you could focus on writing, and releasing new titles regularly, and see results. Not today. Moreover, just because a reader downloads your freebie, it doesn’t mean that she/ he will read it, much less buy anything from you.
Now what? Now… you’ll treat self-publishing like the business it is, and you’ll develop a marketing strategy. Today, marketing needs to be front and center of your self-publishing business. It’s no longer optional.