Q: Do self-published books carry a stigma?
A: Self-published books once carried a stigma of being less good, poorly designed, not worth the money. But that has changed as more originally self-published books like Wool, The Martian, and 50 Shades of Grey have become bestsellers and been made into movies.
Recent Amazon research shows that self-published books average better ratings than traditionally published books. And, on average, self-published books also sell better than traditional books.
Q: What if I hate to do marketing?
A: If they are truly honest, all authors hate marketing. They’d rather write.
Building relationships is the key to marketing. That any author can do. It’s just a matter of making friends.
Of course, if you write a great book, your marketing is at least half done for you. Because great books create great fans. And great fans sell books.
Remember: 80% of all books are sold by word of mouth. Your job is to get that word of mouth started by writing a great book and then marketing it whenever you can.
Q: How do I decide if I have a project worthy of the commitment?
I’m Native American. I have roughed out ideas for a couple of short books. My audience would likely be only part of the Native American population and even that whole population is only about 1% of the total US population. I am a good enough writer once I get started, just not quite ready to make the commitment. How do I decide if I have a project worthy of the commitment?
A: When I’m writing a book, I don’t worry about potential sales, potential audience, or potential marketing scenarios. My first concern is always this: Do I love the book project? Will I like being involved in writing the book for months? That’s how I decide if a project is worthy of my commitment.
Of course, I do like having an audience. But, like most writers, I write because I am following my passion not an audience. Fortunately, most of my passions do have audiences. So it works out.
As for your audiences, I suspect they are big enough to merit you writing your books. I suspect they will buy your passion as much as your words.
Q: What’s the best way to sell children’s books?
I am a self-published author of an award-winning children’s book series and have done well over the past few years. I feel that I may need more of a push in the right directions in reference to sales.
A: You have three choices in marketing children’s books: market to the children, market to their parents, or market to their grandparents. All three are audiences for children’s books.
Personally, I think it’s best to target the children through schools and libraries. Of course, that means first targeting teachers and librarians.
You can sell a lot of children’s books to libraries if you get reviews in Horn Book, School Library Journal, Booklist, and Library Journal. That’s how you target libraries. Once you get the reviews, you can do additional promotions to libraries by using colorful postcards featuring those reviews and any other testimonials you get from your favorite librarians.
As for schools, work to get booked to speak at schools. Check out http://www.schoolbookings.com as a tool to help you get school engagements. Also ask your favorite grade school teachers to give you testimonials, help you get local school bookings and, most important, teach you how to get such books.
Q: What is the best way, service, or provider to convert physical books to an eBook for Kindle format, etc?
A: If you have a well-designed book inside Microsoft Word, you can easily upload a clean ebook to Kindle. But you have to have done all the design using Word’s formatting tools. No extra spaces. No carriage returns. No formatting by hand. Use Word’s tools. And keep the formatting simple.
There are a lot of services out there that will convert your physical book or Word file to Kindle, epub, etc. Just Google them. Or check out this page: http://bookmarket.com/ebooks.htm.
Also check out the key ebook or POD services such as IngramSpark, BookBaby, Smashwords, or Lulu. Some of them offer an easy-to-use way to translate your Word file into multiple ebook and POD formats.
More questions and more answers to come.