This is about what I felt like Saturday morning. I think I had about three hours of sleep before Fred’s alarm went off at 5. I didn’t need to be downtown until 9:45 for the first class. It was the Self-Publishing panel with Marie Force, Bella Andre, Liliana Hart, Courtney Milan and Barbara Freethy. (I think half the classes I went to had Barbara Freethy, seriously.) So I got downtown, parked, got to my seat and settled in for 2 hours of awesome information. I’m going to break it down by who said what.
Liliana Hart–Her initial strategy was to have five books in, preferably a series, and release them at once, have one in reserve so you can release it a month later. To that end, I’ve requested rights back on three books. Though they’re not in a series, I’m going to see what happens if I drop them all around the same time I release book 2 of the Boom Town series. She also said most of the bestsellers (and most of us who aren’t!) don’t have an 8 hour work day. She has employees and because of that, she can have a group health insurance plan. She said forming an LLC in Texas is the worst thing you can do, so if you start making 6 figures, incorporate, put yourself on payroll because of FICA. Get a CPA and a lawyer before. (Because I don’t even understand what I just wrote!)
She said her worst mistake was that she changed/rebranded 10 covers for $5000 because Amazon said they wouldn’t market her with naked man chest covers. She went against her instincts, and lost $60,000 in sales in one month!
She did NO paid publicity for the first year. She also said when you have money to reinvest, put the money in German translations.
Bella Andre–She said when you have money to reinvest, put it in audiobooks, and spend at least $300 per finished hour to get the best narrator.
On focus, she said that the more successful one becomes, the more opportunities are offered and it gets harder. It’s hard to focus on writing. We want to capitalize on opportunities because we’ve built it. She said take advantage while you’re enthusiastic. Apparently last year she also said “Balance is overrated.” She’s rethinking that now.
She had a different POV than Liliana. She said she wouldn’t hold the books until the series is done. She would release them when they’re ready, but advises you to be patient. She said series hit between book #5 and book #6. She wrote an eight book series.
Barbara Freethy–Make a plan, work with a virtual assistant. She has a publishing schedule to keep her on track, and she divides her day between creativity and business. Her daughter is a VA.
Marie Force–pay for help. Don’t try to get things done when you know you can’t. Then you feel guilty (can I get a HOLLA?) When asked about mistakes, she said to keep moving forward, don’t look back. She advised not to cut corners to join the gold rush. She uses Amazon Crossing for her German translations. Also, she’s tiered pricing on her series so people just starting to read her won’t have to pay so much to catch up.
Courtney Milan–“Hire out your weaknesses.” “Learn how to be happy where you are in your career. Someone somewhere has something you don’t.” She also believed that since she writes historical, a lot of her experiences are different than the contemporary ladies. She does well in Spanish translations, but they don’t.
All of them said not to worry about reviews, that blog tours are a waste of time, and writing is key.
The next workshop was “How to Sell Books on Amazon by the Truckload.” This one will be a little harder to document because she was all over the place, but with good advice.
First, keywords. She suggested (as I heard in another workshop) that you change out your keywords. She said a good place to look for them is on the sidebar on Amazon. For example, set the search bar to “Kindle store.” Type in something like “rodeo romance” and scroll down the side. You’ll see something like this:
That will give you ideas for keywords to add to your books. She also suggested not just using one word, but using “strings,” like “rodeo romance.” She said to think about how people search for books, and use those. Try to repeat the keywords in your product review as well.
She also said narrow your category as much as possible. If you hit the top of your given category, say, “western romance,” the algorithms notice and you’ll get more promo.
Author Central is another area to look at. She said to add photos to your book page–inspiration, quotes, etc. She also suggested commenting on reviews and offering the reader an advance copy of your next book. She is the only person I’ve heard, ever, say this. As for quotes, she said you can see what people highlight on their ereader at the bottom of your book’s page. For example, these are posted about Midnight Sun:
You can use those to make quotes visual.
She suggested getting your own url, using keywords, and pointing it to your Amazon page. I kind of know what she means, but that seems a little pricey.
She said to have a reader letter at the back of the book to ask for reviews, and maybe mention other books, then have a reader letter in the beginning of the next book.
She suggested offering a book free for two days, to get reviews.
She said the trend is for 20,000 word novellas, and the sweet price is $2.99. I’m finding $3.99 isn’t so bad :)
ANNND she said to own a narrow market, to find your niche and publish exclusively to that niche.
So, LOTS of good info, coming at lightning speed, to a packed room!
Next, Trish and I went to a workshop that I THOUGHT was going to talk about how to best sell to all retail outlets. Instead, it just talked about the pros of each one.
At this point, I was looking at the carpet and wondering if anyone would notice if I just curled up and took a nap. After class, I told Trish I was going to skip the Rita awards and go home to bed. It meant I didn’t get to say goodbye to a lot of friends and didn’t get to wear my GORGEOUS dress, but I was miserable tired. I came home, got on the couch and fell asleep for half an hour, then went to bed at nine!
The next morning, I picked up Trish and her editor Johanna Raisanen and took them to breakfast at the Guenther House. It was very nice and more relaxing than I would have expected, lol! Then back to the hotel, Trish went and got her stuff, and back to my house. We spent a few hours debriefing and making lists, then she napped and I got ready for the game night we had that night! It was a blast. We KILLED in Pictionary! And the next day when Trish left for home, I went back to bed and slept until 2!