How to Write a Bestseller



James Altucher is many things. If you classified him as an entrepreneur or a programmer, you’d be right. But he’s also a bestselling author. His latest book Choose Yourself sold over 44,000 copies within the first month of its release. It reached #1 on Amazon’s nonfiction book list and notably marked the Wall Street Journal’s bestseller list. The best part? He self published it. You might think that his success came from knowing the right people or because some of his previous work was traditionally published. But according to James, that wasn’t the case. In an article published by TechCrunch, James Altucher outlines how writers can get their book to the top of the charts by self publishing the “professional” way. Below are some of the highlights, but please feel free to read his entire article by clicking here.

Get Social & Build an Audience

Most people believe that traditional publishers can guarantee their authors a window front spot in retail stores. According to James, that’s simply not true. Publishers have to pay for these types of placements, and it’s done infrequently. Instead of hoping to build fans, create your own audience by getting on social networking channels and reach out to potential readers.

Don’t Cut Corners: Proper Editing Is a Must

If you think editing your own work is sufficient, you’re wrong. Anyone who’s anyone will tell you that proper proofreading comes from a second set of eyes. And if you’re smart, the second set of eyes belong to someone who knows a thing or two about spelling, syntax, grammar and, well… writing. When talking about his experience with his editor, James says: “Nils [editor] and I went back and forth on more than 15 different rewrites for my book. The difference between the original version and the final version is like the difference between chicken sh*t and chicken salad.” James also admits that his previously published work through traditional publishers, were not high quality. When he opted to self publish Choose Yourself, he researched editing firms and hand selected his editor. This is one of the benefits of self publishing – you can do whatever you want!

Selecting the Right Title

We’ve talked about choosing a great title in our Publishing Tips & Tricks series and how important it is to pick a unique, straightforward title for your book. James took it a step further: “I picked 10 titles that I liked, combined them with the cover and created Facebook ads that I sent out to all my friends and friends of friends in the U.S. Then I sat back and watched the click-throughs. After a few days and thousands of click-throughs I had my title.” Very smart!

We understand that everyone has different goals. But if you’ve ever longed to see your book on a bestsellers list, New York Times, Wall Street Journal or wherever, then you should heed the advice from someone who’s been there and done it. James Altucher and his thoughts on 3.0 publishing are beneficial for the independent author seeking success:

“If your goal is to put out the best possible product, maximize the money you make, and get the most readers, then follow the next steps, what I call “Publishing 3.0.”

1.0 was publishing with a traditional publisher.

2.0 was when the stigma of self-publishing went away and an entire new artistic outlet was open to millions of people (15 million books published last year versus 300,000 10 years ago). It’s cheap, quick, and easy to get your book published.

3.0 is starting right now — where you can self-publish better, more successfully, better edited, better designed, better marketed, and make more money than if you go any other route. The reason this is possible only now is because for the first time, the best editors, designers, marketers are no longer working at the big publishing houses. Instead, they are striking out on their own and independently charging for their services. The demand is there. This route is more expensive than “publishing 2.0″ but is much more lucrative.”

And there you have it!

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How To Market Your eBook Using Cover Design

And he's not alone...
GUEST POST

Today we are featuring an article by Amber, owner and co-creator of Me, My Shelf and I blog, MMSAI Designs, and Book Nerd Tours.  Amber has a lot of great insights about the art of marketing and selling eBooks, and the eBook self-publishing world in general, so we’ve asked her here to shake some sense into you. She wants to share some wisdom, gained through years of experience with Independent Authors, hopeful that it will rub off on at least a few of you.

WHY YOUR COVER MATTERS

I’m going to tell you something that might come as a shock to you, and maybe sound even a little harsh. But it’s the truth and frankly someone needs to say it. No matter how well your book is written or how intriguing your synopsis is, no one is going to even think about buying your book if you have a poorly crafted cover.

No one is going to even think about buying your book if you have a poorly crafted cover.

I know, I know, we constantly spout the phrase ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ but let’s face it, when it comes to using this phrase about actual books, and not as just a vague mantra about life, everyone really does judge a book by its cover. Book Buyers. Book Readers. Book Bloggers. Book Sellers.

Think about it, it’s the books first impression. When someone is scrolling through an eBook store, what do they see? Not the synopsis, not an excerpt. They see the cover. Your cover is the difference between someone clicking on your book to see that masterfully crafted synopsis, and them scrolling past and never thinking another thought on it again. First impressions are everything and if you are not using the cover to your advantage, you have no one to blame for poor book sales but yourself.

Independent Authors have a wonderful opportunity that traditionally published authors don’t – they have 100% full control over their cover art. Do you know how many traditionally published authors would kill to have even a tiny say in their cover?
Independent authors constantly waste this opportunity by looking at their cover as a way to save money. Instead of spending a few days looking around the millions of able bodied and extremely well priced graphic designers on the internet, they blow the dust off that version of Paint Shop Pro that hasn’t been used since Madonna had her last top 40 hit, and put something together themselves.

Independent authors constantly waste this opportunity by looking at their cover as a way to save money.

These very same people who would never consider doing heart surgery because they weren’t trained as a doctor. People who wouldn’t even entertain the idea of teaching an advanced English class because they do not possess an English degree. These very same people are more than willing to jump into the shoes of a Graphic Designer without batting an eyelash and think they can do that job, maybe not as well, but well enough. In any job, “well enough” is never a good option and it never works.

Not only can this be detrimental to your book sales, but quite possibly to yourself personally. Did you know nearly all photos on the internet are copyright protected in some fashion? If you’re just grabbing things willy-nilly you could get sued. And that if you are buying stock images, you could be wasting money. A designer already has accounts with all these stock places, they get the images for far less than you would and generally they come as part of the cost you pay said designer!

I know you believe you book is great, and if people could just read it they would love it. I don’t doubt you – but let me share with you something to think about before you dismiss the thought that the marketing that comes along with a book cover isn’t as important as I make it seem. Before you fully subscribe to the idea your writing style alone will carry your career remember this: JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter Series published a book under a pen name recently. Even her fantastic and multi-award winning writing could not sell more than 1500 copies of that book in 6 months. When it was leaked she was in fact the author her sales jumped 500,000% in 48 hours. That day JK helped prove that writing doesn’t sell books – marketing does. You’re not JK Rowling, yet. Your name alone won’t sell your books, and it’s not ever going to if people don’t want to read them in the first place.

That day JK helped prove that writing doesn’t sell books – marketing does. You’re not JK Rowling, yet.

- Amber



Check out these links for more author tips about:
Marketing your eBook
eBook Cover Design
Creating an eBook

And make sure to stop by the Art Writers group if you need help with your cover!



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Support Self Publishing by Sharing BookRix’s Amazon Shop Page!



Not many authors put their blood, sweat and tears into a writing a book so it can sit on a virtual shelf within their computer. That would be silly. Instead, self published authors tend to have similar goals: To have their work seen, read, and (hopefully) recommended to others. At BookRix, we’re continually coming up with alternate ways authors can promote their work, gain readers and fans, and market themselves to reach their full potential. Not only that, but we’re passionate about it!

This month, BookRix joined forces with Amazon. The result? Our very own shop page featuring our BookRix members work! We’re thrilled about this endeavor and are working hard to promote it so Amazon shoppers can discover new and exciting reads from our talented members.

Whether your eBook is listed on our Amazon shop list, or you’re just a diehard indie reading enthusiast like us, we need your help! BookRix continually strives to get our authors noticed. But our members would greatly benefit from added resources. We worked hard to get that shop page for our authors, and now we’d like to make it known within the reading community. Almost all of us use social media in some form or another, so let’s work together and spread some indie book love! Not sure what you can do? Share the link below on Facebook with your friends! Send a Tweet to your followers (feel free to tag us, @BookRixUS and say hi!). Share what our shop has to offer with your Google+ circles or make a recommendation to one of your groups on Goodreads. If you’re savvy behind a webcam, drop a line in one of your YouTube videos! No matter how you share our shop link, just know that each effort you’ve made has had a positive impact on our members.

Click here for the link to our shop. It’s filled with fantasy, romance, thriller, mystery, young adult and sci fi books. Something for everyone to enjoy. Share the link and share the love!

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We Love Indie Publishing!

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How to Get Reviews on Your Self Published eBook



What makes a self published book popular? How can an indie author create a buzz surrounding their work – or better yet, make it go viral? Sometimes it can be the right combination of self promotion and a bit of luck. But at BookRix, we don’t encourage our members to wait around for luck to strike. Self publishing is best when you have a plan in place. We’ve touched on various marketing opportunities, both before and after you self publish your book on previous blogs (How to Write Effective Book Descriptions: A Guide for Self-Published Authors, How To Have Successful eBook Sales as a Self-Published Author & Be Active On BookRix), but today we have something else that can help further your success.

An essential part of marketing your indie book is getting people to read it. Having your book read is fantastic, but in this scenario, let’s try to target the type of reader who is inclined to write a review. Book reviews serve as a form of promotion in themselves. When someone stumbles across a book with positive reviews, it often influences their decision to read or purchase it, thus increasing sales. Indie author Madeline Sheehan says her eBook sales grew drastically when her books were reviewed by online bloggers: “Cocaine & Cupcakes Book Blog and Totally Booked had gotten a hold of Undeniable [her third novel]. They loved it, they promoted it, and they contacted me for an interview, which led to Maryse’s Book Blog picking it up for review, which also loved it. All three of those blogs have huge, dedicated followings and after they reviewed Undeniable, I watched in awe as my sales skyrocketed.”

Take it from someone who has been there and done it themselves. In Madeline’s case, these book blogs found her book. But a lot of book bloggers take submissions! This week we came across The Book Blogger Directory, a wonderful site that categorizes bloggers by the book genre they enjoy reading and reviewing. Take a look at some of the blogs listed within the genre you write. Most of these bloggers have a Submissions link where you can see their requirements for book reviews. Don’t be discouraged if some of the blogs are no longer active or if the blogger cannot accept submissions because they’ve been inundated with books. Just move onto the next blog and see what you can do to submit your book.

If you don’t feel your work is ready to be reviewed by bloggers, use our BookRix community for feedback and suggestions. Remember, our community is filled with over 500,000 indie reading and writing enthusiasts who love to help.

We Love Indie Publishing!

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Marketing Your eBook Prior to Publishing: Why It’s Important



It might sound strange at first, but trust us. It’s a proactive step for an indie author and you’ll thank yourself for it doing down the line. If you’re a writer, chances are you’re working on a book (or several) as you read this blog. And if that’s the case, great! But in the same way you carve out time to write another chapter in your masterpiece, make sure you’re also making the time to set yourself up for success when you’re ready to publish. It’s better to be prepared. Even more so when it comes to eBook publishing and gaining eBook sales.

Know your topic. Know your audience.

Whether you’re writing about vampires, science fiction or romance it’s a good idea to thoroughly understand your topic and chosen book genre. Think about the stories you love – why do you love them? What makes them unique or different? How can you make your book stand out from the crowd? Once you’ve thought about that, you need to consider who your audience is. Who is it you’re trying to appeal to and where do they go online? Are they involved in social media? Do. Your. Research. This is a very crucial step

What’s your persona?

Recently I’ve been learning a lot about personas. Their role in work environments, in the entertainment industry, even in family dynamics – there are countless personas. And as an author, your persona will become very important. It is essential for you to determine who you and build from it. Don’t just be “Katie King who loves to write psychological thrillers” because that boring and won’t get you noticed. Instead, dig a little deeper and express yourself like this: “Katie King who loves phychological thrillers, kicks tail at Dungeons & Dragons and has a passion for photography”.  Make yourself stand out and get personal. This is also important if you decide to use a pen name. If you’re writing under an alias, you can be whoever you want to be. Just make sure YOU know who you are and stick to it.

If you build it, it will come.

Sorry for the Field of Dreams reference, but this phrase hits the nail on the head. One of the major benefits behind marketing your book before it’s published is to have an audience of people anticipating its arrival. It’s important to think ahead and have a strategy in place. The step before this involved knowing your audience. Once you know who they are, plot out how you’re going to draw them in. Videos? Podcasts? A blog? Take the time to really think this out. Be creative and think strategically.

Put your finger on the pulse of social media.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, Tumblr – social media channels are endless. I don’t recommend juggling all of them, but it’s imperative to a.) Understand what each one does, and b.) Identify which channel your target audience uses most. After all, why spend your time on YouTube if the people you’re trying to reach predominantly use Twitter? Once you’ve identified the channels you intend to use, create an “author” profile for each one and personalize it using the persona you’ve chosen. For additional marketing tips and how to further utilize social media, check out our complete marketing guide here.

Be proud of your eBook self-publishing goals.  You’re taking full control of your work and carving out a name for yourself in the publishing world. It’s an exciting time! Just remember, if you ever have questions or need advice, our community is full of experienced, self published authors who enjoy offering their assistance wherever they can. Come check it out!

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Self Publishing Success Story: Madeline Sheehan (Guest Blogger)



Indie author, Madeline Sheehan, at a book signing

Indie author, Madeline Sheehan, at the Boston Author Event

If you’re an indie publishing enthusiast like BookRix, then you undoubtedly enjoy hearing a self publishing success story. Learning about a fellow writer’s journey can be encouraging, provide insight and evoke inspiration for those with similar goals. Madeline Sheehan has published several eBooks and has 5 star reviews from over 1100 readers on Amazon. How did she do it?  I reached out to Madeline and asked if she’d be willing to share her eBook self publishing story in our blog. We’re thrilled she said yes!

Self-Publishing, Blah, Blah, Blah…

By Madeline Sheehan

When I say “blah,” I mean it in the very best way. Because self-publishing, in a nutshell, is a three-ring circus.

But let me start at the very beginning, before I was introduced to the big, bad, kill-or-be-killed, survival-of-the-fittest world of independent authors. Back when I was just a lowly Public Relations Coordinator/Editor at a nonprofit organization with a writing hobby that I indulged in during my downtime, dreaming the dream of most writers to someday see their book on a bookstore shelf.

I’d been writing nearly my entire life but hadn’t completed a full-length novel until 2010 (The Soul Mate, a dystopian paranormal romance centered around modern-day gypsies), spending my evenings working tirelessly on the story line and character development. When I was finished, I didn’t have a clue what to do with it, but I did know right away I wasn’t going to be submitting it to any traditional publishing houses only to get my cherished manuscript tossed into their slush pile. So I opted instead to send it to a few family members for their opinions and amazingly enough, both my father and little sister, who are both avid readers, loved the book.

So then I thought, now what? You see, I didn’t know anything about self-publishing other than I loved Amanda Hocking’s Trylle trilogy and My Blood Approves series. I literally knew nothing about Amazon, Smashwords, or CreateSpace’s self-publishing platforms until one day my husband came home from work with a tip from a friend of his who’d self-published a book of poetry on Smashwords. Of course I looked into it, created a profile, and submitted my manuscript, and within a few weeks my e-book was available through Barnes and Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo, etc.

And…nothing.

I sold a grand total of six books in six months. Don’t get me wrong; I was thrilled. Someone other than a family member had read my work. Had actually paid the $0.99 I was asking for it and READ it.

It was then that I decided to self-publish on Amazon as well, which, lo and behold, provided me with a lot more sales. A total of thirty in another six-month time frame.

Energized, I continued writing. While I was writing the sequel, My Soul To Take, I set up a Facebook author page to begin promoting my books to, well, my friends and family members. I had a total of a hundred likes, all of which were from people I’d known most of my life and weren’t interested in reading any of my books.

Halfway through writing My Soul To Take, I hit a mental brick wall. In the midst of trying to work through it, I pulled up a fresh Word document and began writing my third book, Undeniable. It was as far removed from the paranormal romance genre I’d been writing in as one could get. Undeniable is a motorcycle club dark romance set in a criminal underground world. It doesn’t hold back, it’s taboo, it’s gritty and ugly, it’s raw, and I make no apologies for it. I poured my heart and soul into that book; I used both real and fictional experiences, real and fictional character traits, and about a month after publishing My Soul To Take, I published Undeniable.

Fast-forward three weeks and the Internet BLEW UP. Cocaine & Cupcakes Book Blog and Totally Booked had gotten a hold of Undeniable. They loved it, they promoted it, and they contacted me for an interview, which led to Maryse’s Book Blog picking it up for review, which also loved it. All three of those blogs have huge, dedicated followings and after they reviewed Undeniable, I watched in awe as my sales skyrocketed.

I was suddenly #17 on Amazon’s Kindle Best Seller list. My Facebook page went from 100 likes to 1,000, 2,000, then to 3,000. Agents were contacting me, readers were contacting me, bloggers wanted character interviews, book-signing coordinators were inviting me to sign alongside well-known authors such as Karina Halle, Raine Miller, Katie Ashley, Tina Reber, and Colleen Hoover.

And everyone wanted to know when the second book in the series was coming out.

Sounds like a dream come true, right?

Eh. It was and it wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong; I was thrilled. This had been a childhood dream of mine, and for all intents and purposes, it was coming true. But like most things, self-publishing is not all roses and sunshine, and subsequently my dream come true came with a whole lot of baggage filled mostly with garbage.

Because I knew little about self-publishing, my books were not professionally edited, their covers were self-designed and, I’ll freely admit, poorly done. All of which led to my being attacked in reviews. The venom of some reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads was a shock to my system—some of which were personal attacks having nothing to do with my books—and couldn’t have happened at a worse time for me. I was being pulled in all different directions, felt like I was drowning in a sea of the unknown, and wasn’t emotionally equipped to handle everything that was being thrown at me all at once.



What I’m going to say next is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT advice for new authors considering self-publishing. You need a strong backbone. You must have thick skin. You don’t have a traditional publisher backing you, most times you don’t have an agent, you don’t have even half the tools available to you that publisher-backed authors do. This is all on you and if you aren’t strong enough to take the bad with the good—and there will be a lot of bad—you should reconsider the self-publishing route.

Needless to say, I persevered. With the help of a professional editor who took it upon herself to contact me, Jovana Shirley of Unforeseen Editing and I took Undeniable off the electronic shelf and re-edited it. Author Angel’s, another godsend, also contacted me and soon I had new-and-improved covers as well. Eventually, after assembling a small support team of incredible women, all three of my books received makeovers that I couldn’t have been happier with.

But that wasn’t the last of my battles; bad reviews were far from the worst aspect of being an independent author. You also have to contend with book pirating, dishonest bloggers, people looking to make a buck at your expense, and the worst, in my opinion, is the “competition.” By competition I mean jealous authors, mean-girl cliques, snooty authors, authors who want to hitch a free ride on others’ successes, who want to take the easy route. The list is endless and, quite frankly, it’s sad.

You will be let down, stabbed in the back, betrayed, lied to and lied about, because again, you are doing this on your own. You are making your own mistakes without a traditional publisher behind you to build you up, then pick you up when you fall down. You’ll have to weed through the bullshit all on your own—finding the “real” editors, honest bloggers, and people you can trust. The latter being the most crucial because in the world of self-publishing it’s dog-eat-dog, and if you don’t have a good support system, you could very well crumple under the stress.

I was lucky to find an amazing group of female authors, bloggers, and editors whom I cherish. They give me courage and strength, they hold me up when I fall down, and they have become some of my very best friends, despite that fact that some of us live halfway around the world from each other and have yet to meet.

Whereas some authors consider an overwhelming amount of good reviews and what big-name author they are hobnobbing with as indicators of their success, I do not. True reviews are important; they bump up sales. But friends—trustworthy friends—are even more important in this business.

Madeline Sheehan (left) at the Columbus Author Event

Madeline Sheehan (left) at the Columbus Author Event

I’m now a full-time independent author, and despite the stress of having to run a small business on my own, I’ve turned down two offers from traditional publishing houses. Why? Because self-publishing isn’t all bad. It does have it perks, the main one being freedom. Freedom to write as much or as little as you please. No deadlines. More one-on-one time with your readers. You get to make your own decisions, price your own books at reasonable and affordable prices, and distribute your paperbacks to the masses as you please.

Whereas my dream was once to be part of a big-name publishing house, it no longer is. Once you wade through all the garbage in this industry, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite the fact that my books have yet to appear on a Barnes & Noble bookshelf, I’ve found that my dream has indeed come true—I am a successful author. I’ve just published my fourth book, UnBeautifully, and it hit #13 on Amazon’s best seller list, #1 on Smashwords, #32 on Barnes and Noble, and #56 on USA Today! And you know why? Because I have a great team backing me and, more importantly, I’m doing things my way.

I honestly couldn’t be happier. I love writing, I love my characters, and I love sitting down at my desk every day and immersing myself in my fictional worlds. But most of all, I love how many people out there love my work, love joining me in my make-believe worlds, and have joined me and stuck around for this incredible journey of mine.

So, is self-publishing worth it? For me, yes. All in all, self-publishing has changed my life. For the better. And I wouldn’t change a damn thing.

And there you have it. Thank you so much Madeline for sharing your eBook Publishing story with our readers. We wish you the very best with Unbeautifully and look forward to seeing more of your work!

Whether you’re looking to publish eBooks, sell eBooks or simply improve your understanding of eBook publishing – we want to help. Like Madeline explained, independently publishing can be exciting but also discouraging at times. Please remember that our BookRix community is full of helpful writers and readers who share your passion. If you have questions, need feedback or advice, consult with our members or reach out to us directly. We want to help! And if you’re looking for effective promotional ideas, please look into the BookRix Marketing Guide. It was created to help prepare you for success.

We love indie publishing!

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Genevieve

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