All of us at BookRix are self publishing enthusiasts, so when we hear indie author success stories, we’re elated! We recently read an interview on Alli with indie writer Liliana Hart and loved how honest and upfront she is. Unlike some other independent writers, Liliana approaches book writing with a “strictly business” attitude that we find admirable. Her determination and hard work have paid off, and now her mystery and romance books can be found within the bestseller lists of the New York Times and USA Today.
Despite her busy writing and traveling schedule, Liliana was able to carve out some time to answer our questions about the start of her writing career, how she uses social media and what she’s learned over the years.
When you wrote your first book in college, did you consider publishing with a traditional publishing house or were you drawn to self-publishing from the start?
When I first started writing, self-publishing wasn’t even available as an option. There weren’t eReaders and Amazon was a new company. Traditional publishing was all I knew and I worked toward that goal for several years. I never had a problem finding an agent. I’ve had four in my career, each one contributing in some way to my overall success. And though I had several books that were very close to being acquired by publishing houses, it never happened. Once self-publishing came along and I discovered I could have success and make a good living from it, I stopped trying to go the traditional route. Though I no longer seem to have any problem getting offers from traditional houses now that they know I can make money and sell a lot of books.
We love that you dedicate time to write, even when you’re not feeling creative. Would you encourage other indie authors do approach it the same way?
Absolutely. This is a business. It’s not a hobby. If I only wrote when the mood struck I’d never get anything finished. If writers want a career and they want to be taken seriously then they’ll treat what they do with respect, just like they would any 9 to 5 job. You have to sit in the chair with your fingers on the keyboard. Every. Day. Even if you’re writing crap it’s better than nothing. You can always go back and fix crap. You can’t fix nothing.
Your reviews on Amazon are all 4 and 5 stars. Do you think these have helped increase your book sales?
I’m not sure. I think people probably read them before purchasing, but I don’t know that they make that big of an impact. I’ve got great fans, so I always appreciate the positive reviews, but I never pay much attention to them. And if I’m being honest, I think the one star reviews can sell a book just as much as a four or five star review. The things some people hate are often things other readers love, and one star reviewers are much more vocal about giving that information in the review—not that I want an onslaught of one star reviews, but I think you have to have a good balance of good and bad reviews to appeal to a broader audience. I think word of mouth is far more important than any Amazon review.
Which social media outlets do you enjoy using to promote your work and engage with readers?
I love social media. I enjoy getting the chance to interact with my readers on a daily basis, and I love getting their comments and seeing their posts about my books. I use Facebook and Twitter mainly, and I make it a point to post at least a couple of times every day, even when I’m traveling or in the middle of a deadline. I also use Google+, Wattpad, Shelfari, and Goodreads. It’s all about being visible and giving people the opportunity to recognize my name when they’re browsing books on Amazon or one or the other sites. It’s a subconscious thing for them to see my name and think, “Oh, I recognize that name. She must be a big seller, so I’ll give that book a try.”
Which series do you feel most proud of and why?
Gosh, that’s like asking me to choose a favorite child. I’m not sure I can do it. I really love writing the Addison Holmes series. I have a blast writing them from start to finish. But I’m probably most proud of my J.J. Graves series. I love the way that series is evolving and the character growth I’m able to weave into the stories.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your writing career?
To never quit. There have been times I’ve wanted to—when the writing got too hard, or back when I was going toward the traditional path and couldn’t sell. If you want it bad enough you’ll keep going. Just write the book. And then write the next one after that.
If you’re a sucker for romance and mystery books like us, check out these bestsellers by Liliana. Whiskey for Breakfast is the second book in her Addison Holmes Series and is available now! But when it comes to a series, you always want to start at the beginning. So download the first book, Whiskey Rebellion, for free on Amazon Kindle Edition by clicking here (we did!). Dirty Rotten Scoundrel, the 3rd book in her J. J. Graves series, will be available on November 5th. So now is the perfect time to catch up on Dirty Little Secrets (book 1) and A Dirty Shame (book 2).
Thanks again, Liliana. You rock!
We love indie publishing
After recently turning 18, Adam Lewis LaValley is the youngest success story at BookRix. Adam, known as “rootrot”, is one of the most well-known young writers on BookRix, and his hard work is starting to pay off – His first self-published eBook, The Mountain Man, has been in our top 10 sales ranking since January! Adam is a multi-talented writer; he is a self-proclaimed history buff, and just published his first historical book, Freedom Ho! Extravagant Stories from America’s Past. He also recently published CORE – today’s featured book – a futuristic sci-fi action novel with intense descriptions, plot and back-story only a history connoisseur could create.
The world has been ravaged by nuclear war, famine, and terrorism. In a continent’s ashes, a new power has risen…In its pursuit for supremacy, the power attacks and conquers the neighboring, small thriving country of Maruvi. The Imperial CORE Warrior Program quickly wipes out Maruvi’s defenses and military structures, killing off their best fighters, the Jaspers. Only one lone rebel group remains to resist the invaders, but their attacks are futile…they are forced into hiding as the COREs continue their onslaught.
But that was until one of their own, Unit Radez1079, joined the Resistance. With this professional combatant, the rebels again take arms and rise up. After 40 years of hiding they must rise to fight this power, and this time it’s die or try…
You can find more free eBooks by Adam LaValley by clicking right HERE!
10 Things You Wouldn’t Have Known About Adam:
1. Loves cartoons and animation in general; anime travel series are a new personal favorite, and he is captivated by Kino’s Journey.
2. Is an amateur graphic artist.
3. Has a thing for messing around with animation; hopes to see one of his stories as an animation on the big screen or television one day.
4. Began drawing funny little cartoon characters at the age of 11.
5. Started a collection of Louis L’Amour Western novels.
6. Aside from Civil War history, loves the Industrial and Progressive Eras.
7. Prefers Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln over other presidents any day.
8. Favorite saying from Teddy: “Mistah SPEAKAH!”
9. Is a not-too distant blood relative of Ulysses S. Grant, and owns a copy of his autobiography.
10. Hates tomatoes, loves fries!
Adam Lewis LaValley was born and raised in Minnesota, and has been living there since. Having just completed High School, he is now being exposed to the world and all its opportunities. With a deep interest in American history, he plans to take courses at the University of Minnesota to strengthen his understanding of the past and later begin a career in teaching.
Having written his first full-length novel at the age of 13, Adam has gone on to better his skills at writing by introducing himself to various genres and writing forms. He has found, surprisingly, that his storytelling skill lies in tales of Historical Fiction and Sci-Fi.
After joining the Bookrix community in 2010, Adam has been introduced to a positive environment full of encouragement and ambitious young story writers like himself. His dream of publishing a novel came true when The Mountain Man hit the website’s front page in December 2012, and became a bestseller. Since then, two others have been published.
Aside from writing by himself, Adam is also collaborating with Bookrix writer Timur Iablokov (the.dragon) and DeviantArt artist Plaguey to create a Sci-Fi graphic light novel. Glory’s Palm, a Western novel that will feature three parts to its storyline, will also be published this September.
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.
And make sure to stop by the Art Writers group if you need help with your cover!
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!
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!
We’ve always been encouraged to never judge a book by its cover. But there’s a reason that phrase is figurative because from a literal standpoint, it’s practically impossible. Consumers are drawn to high quality, professional book covers. And sales numbers don’t lie: Authors who took the time to create polished and well formatted covers (or hired someone to do it for them) sell more books.
Some people feel professional book covers are a perk of being published through a traditional publishing house. Sure, it might come out looking nice, but did you know that authors publishing through big name publishers have little to no say in their cover design? Not only does the publisher have the right to edit the book as they see fit, but they can also do as they please with the cover. Seems unfair, doesn’t it? Remember, you chose eBook self publishing for a reason. When you do this, you have full creative control over your work. That includes everything from the table of contents to the book description to the cover art – the first thing your reader sees. So do your research! If you’re savvy with Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, dive in and get creative. If you don’t know anything about either program, all is not lost. Third party companies exist for this very reason – graphic designers are everywhere. But before you go exploring online check out the Art Writers group on BookRix and talk to the members. Many of them volunteer their time and expertise to help increase their skill. The best part is that you – the author – can tell them what you have in mind. If art isn’t your thing and you don’t have any ideas for a cover, you can discuss the genre, plot or subplot and see what creative ideas they can come up with. The Art Writers group is full of incredibly gifted members who strive to get your work complete so you’re ready to publish we’re proud to have their work on our site.
If you’re looking for examples of stand out covers, here are my three current favorites on BookRix. These images are eye catching, clear and free from visible pixels. Great job, guys!
Remember, if you want to sell ebooks, the cover is what draws the reader in. The book description is what entices them to read your book – and that should always be your primary goal after creating great work: To sell your eBook! For tips on how to write effective book descriptions, check out our blog here with tips from successful author Richard Ridley! With an eBook, self publishing can be easy. But it’s important not to cut any corners! With a proper cover and a great book description, your eBook is going to fly off the (virtual) shelves.
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