Sending Invitations with Paperless Post (Sponsored)

Launching Books with Paperless Post

As a small business owner—yes, writing books is a small business!—I’m always looking for interesting ways to get myself and my books in front of new readers. So when Paperless Post approached me, I thought “Why not?”

I’d recently released Any Other Love and thought Paperless Post’s cards would be a fun way to announce the book to my readers. I have to admit, at first I misunderstood and thought they were sending me 800 free coins for physical cards. I had visions of swag postcards dancing in my head. So I was a little bummed when I discovered I was “only” getting digital cards. My first thought was “Who sends e-cards anymore? It’s not the ’90s!” My second thought was “I can make this work.”

In the meantime, I’d set up giveaways via Goodreads for Just One More Minute and Any Other Love paperbacks. I decided that using Paperless Post would be a fun way to let my email list know about the giveaways, and started off by browsing their Business Launch and Event cards.

Figuring out the Paperless Post site came with a bit of a learning curve. I’d expected an interface more like Vistaprint’s, where I can edit text boxes with just one click, and place them wherever I want. Paperless Press is sort of like that; I could edit the text, but I couldn’t move it around on the card. I found myself a bit limited with what I could do. I could also start with a blank card and add my own image, but I only got a single large text box superimposed over the image. Since the image I planned to use was a book cover with its own text, that wouldn’t work.

I thought I’d just use a teaser, then, but I couldn’t resize the image; when I uploaded it, Paperless Post dropped it onto the card at an odd size. It took some playing around, but I ultimately found a card that matched the cover of Just One More Minute. (I’d really wanted to use Any Other Love‘s cover, but beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose.)

Choose a card from Paperless Post’s designs.
Use the card’s included stock image, or upload your own.

The design just so happened to have an envelope liner option that exactly matched Just One More Minute, which was cool but there wasn’t a way to choose an exact color. If I’d stuck with the Any Other Love cover, I would’ve ended up with a card that clashed.

I also wasn’t sure why an e-card needed an envelope, but what do I know?

Pick your envelope’s liner.

Paperless Post’s behind-the-scenes magic automatically addresses each envelope for you. (Their physical cards have a similar option, and you can have Paperless Post mail them out for you.) I could’ve chosen a fancy stamp, but I stuck with the default one because it would’ve been at least one more coin per email address. Each card starts off costing two coins per email, and I have almost 400 subscribers, so I had to be careful.

Customize the stamp on your card’s envelope.

Here’s where I spent an embarrassing amount of time being confused. On the next screen, you can pick a reply card option. Since I was just letting people know about the giveaways, not inviting them to an event where they’d have to RSVP, I didn’t need the default “yes or no” reply card. It took me a bit of playing around to figure out how to change it to a simple call to action with a linked button.

I could’ve changed the reply card’s design and its backdrop, but I decided to keep them simple. I wanted the book to be the focus.

Choose a reply card.

I also couldn’t figure out how to change the text on the reply card. Hoping I could figure it out later, I clicked “done.” I didn’t have to wait long, because on the next screen, I could customize the text itself.

Fill in the details for your reply card.

Finally, it was time to add my recipients. I could add them one by one, or I could import contacts under the “email list” option. I initially thought the email list option actually connected my MailChimp account, for example, and then imported my subscribers. That would be cool. Instead, I got a downloadable spreadsheet and had to manually add 300+ people to it. Thank goodness for copy and paste; I exported my MailChimp list as a .csv, then copied the names and emails.

Add your recipients.
Download the sample spreadsheet, then upload the spreadsheet with your recipients’ names and email addresses.

To be fair, my use of the card was a bit unorthodox; Paperless Post is intended for things like birthday parties and weddings. The average person would’ve just imported their contacts from their address book.

Before sending my card, I previewed it in my browser and emailed myself a test.

Preview your card before sending.

Then I sent the card off! I sent it to myself, as well, so I was able to open up the actual email and make sure everything worked properly.

The final product.

The animation is actually pretty cool. I saw right away why I needed an envelope. The flap opens and the card slides out. That’s not the coolest part, though.

Once my cards were sent, I could see who opened them in real time. My readers could even send me private messages.

View responses and receive private messages in real time.

If this were an event requiring RSVPs, recipients could click yes or no, and I’d see right away which they’d chosen. For my purposes, though, I could see as soon as someone opened it. I didn’t know whether they clicked my link, though—at least not through Paperless Post’s interface. (Instead, I used my website traffic stats to get a general idea of how many people clicked.)

I got a few messages thanking me for the giveaway, which was pretty cool. When I send regular newsletters, it’s rare that I get replies. (Does my aunt count? No? Damn.) It’s totally okay, because my email list has a higher than industry open rate, so I know my readers care. (Seriously—experts say to feel lucky if 18% of subscribers open; my average is something like 30%.)

All told, sending these e-cards would’ve cost me about $75 out of pocket. (I used 755 coins; 600 coins cost $60 USD and an additional 200 coins are $28—or I could’ve purchased 1,000 coins for $90.) Also, you can’t use coins to send paper cards. Though it’s an interesting concept, I’m not sure that I would spend $75 on e-cards. On the other hand, their RSVP response and private message system for paper cards would’ve come in handy when I got married. Their prices for print cards are comparable to, say, Vistaprint, so check them out!

When was the last time you sent an e-card? Let me know in the comments!


Disclaimer: Paperless Post provided me with 800 free coins in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Back to School

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

I love the newness of this time of year. Maybe it’s because it’s almost my birthday, marking the beginning of another year of life. Or maybe it’s because, all throughout childhood, this is always the time I’d be getting ready to start a new year of school. Whatever it is, the end of summer and early fall—this in between time—have always brimmed with possibility.

This is usually when my writing is most productive. Last year around this time, I wrote a 60K-word novel in two weeks. This year, I’ll be doing something a bit different.

I’m going back to school.

Throughout the past six years, I’ve learned a lot about publishing. I’ve released 11 novels (plus some now out of print short stories and novellas). I’m damn proud of all I’ve accomplished—especially recently making the bestseller list in three Amazon categories—and I’m looking forward to a lifelong career.

I’ve also long felt like I’ve been missing some valuable piece, though.

Whether I’ve been with a publisher or independent, I’ve been responsible for the majority of my marketing. While I can do things like write a marketing plan and create an email sequence, there’s a lot more I need to learn.

So I’ve decided to go back to school.

Right now.

I thought about it all summer, and then two weeks ago I applied to a program before I could change my mind. I start my B.S. in marketing on Monday.

I’m hoping that it won’t affect my production schedule too much, but since it’s an accelerated program, I know I’m going to have to make some sacrifices. I can’t do it all.

  • For the next eight weeks, I won’t be blogging much.
  • Aside from scheduled Facebook posts, I likely won’t be on social media often, either. I’ll do my best to reply to comments, but please know that studying will have taken over my life.
  • I will continue monthly email newsletters. You can expect them on Friday, September 8th and Friday, October 6th. (If you’re not already on my email list, sign up here.)
  • I’ve started working on a new novel. It’s a standalone second chance romance. I don’t have a release date for it yet, and likely won’t for a while. I do hope to continue publishing regularly, though.

What can I say? I like living on the edge.

Introducing Blurb Writing Services for Authors

Blurb Writing Services

I’m so excited to announce that I’m hanging up a shingle for blurb writing services. Writing the blurb—or product description—can be the hardest part of the publication process for authors. I have to admit that I actually enjoy writing blurbs; sometimes I even write them before I’ve written the book!

If you’d like me to help you make your blurb awesome, take a look through my books to get an idea of my style. Then check out my services page for my rates and more details!

You can also email me directly at elizabethbaronebooks@gmail.com.

Make a Facebook Page a Group Admin

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Recently Facebook started rolling out a new feature: the ability to make a Facebook Page the administrator of a Group. Through this feature, you can now post to your Group as your Page. This eliminates a lot of headache for authors using a pen name. Previously, authors who were using an anonymous pen name or who wanted to separate their personal life from their business had to create a second Facebook account, because you could only post to a group through your personal profile. This was kind of a pain in the ass, though, because then you had multiple accounts to run, plus your author Page(s) and Group(s).

For example, if I’m running a pre-order for my upcoming release, I would:

  • post to my reader Group through my author profile to let my inner tribe know first
  • post to my author Page to let all of my fans know
  • post to my author profile to let all of my author friends and a few readers know
  • post to my personal profile to let close friends and family know

As you can imagine, this gets exhausting—especially if you have a limited supply of energy in the first place. Who has time to deal with all that on top of running a business, writing a new book, and managing a chronic illness?

I saw that a couple friends had been able to make their Pages an admin of their group, and desperately wanted to know how. At the time, though, Facebook was just rolling out this feature and only a percentage of users were getting access. So I continued with my lengthy process—until Facebook released the feature wide and I accidentally stumbled upon it.

I figured I’d share the steps with you so that you can make your life a bit easier, too.

  1. Go to your Facebook author Page. As far as I’m aware, this feature can only be set up while on the desktop/browser version of Facebook (not the mobile or tablet versions).
  2. On the lefthand side, you’ll see your tabs. There is now a Groups tab. Click on that.
  3. There will be a prompt to connect a Group with your Page. You can do this with multiple Groups that you run, by the way. However, I don’t think you can do this with Groups that you’re just a member of. Follow the prompts and Facebook will make your Page an administrator of your Group.
  4. Go to your Group; you can now post as your Page! There will also be an automatic notification to the Group that you’ve made your Page an admin.
  5. When you visit your Page now, there will be a Group widget at the top (much like the Shop widget). Fans of the Page will now see your Group, and members of your Group will be able to see the latest Group post right from your Page.
  6. If you want to rearrange your tabs in the menu, by the way, Facebook has a step-by-step guide. I currently have my Shop tab first, then my Groups.

I’m hoping this new feature will allow for easier growth of my Group. At the very least, it’s cut down on the amount of time it takes for me to manage everything. Now I can deactivate my author account and simplify things a bit!

Was this post helpful? Please let me know by leaving a comment, tipping me via PayPal, or buying one of my novels! 😊

Sign Up for an ARC of Any Other Love

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It’s that time! I’m taking signups for those who would like an Any Other Love ARC. Please read the following carefully, then fill out the form to submit your request. If accepted, you will be notified by email and added to an ARC team email list. I will only contact you regarding Any Other Love, unless you choose to be contacted about future releases.

About Any Other Love

From the outside, Amarie has it all: a promising teaching career, a big group of friends, and a gorgeous boyfriend. On the inside, though, her immune system is attacking her own body and slowly taking away everything she loves. The specialists she’s seen are baffled by her condition, so Amarie takes matters into her own hands and makes an appointment with a renowned rheumatologist in NYC. She could finally get the diagnosis and treatment she needs to live her life—if only she can get there.

Charlotte may dye her hair bold colors, but she’s never been brave enough to chase her lifelong dream of owning her own restaurant. When she finds out about a restauranteur convention in NYC, she’s way too chicken to go for it—until her best friend signs her up. With no excuses left, Char heads out to the city, taking the girl of her dreams with her.

Five nights under the city lights could give Amarie and Char the happily-ever-after they’ve always wanted, but a devastating diagnosis and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity could send it all crashing down.

Any Other Love is a f/f romance.

Available August 21st
Cover Reveal August 7th

Any Other Love ARC FAQs

What is an ARC?

An ARC is an advanced review copy. They’re provided by publishers to get reviews for upcoming releases. Early reviews are important for a few reasons. A new book with zero reviews can be overlooked; reviews—whether 1- or 5-star—are social proof. They show readers that other people have read the book. They also help readers decide whether a book is the right choice for them.

Reviews are important for authors because many advertising services will not accept books with less than 10 reviews. Some require even more!

By posting your honest review, you’re not only helping other readers; you’re also helping authors.

What do I need to do?

All you have to do is read Any Other Love and post your honest review on Amazon on August 21st. I will email you reminders and links for posting.

Your review can be one or two sentences, simply saying whether you liked the book or not. Please be honest! Your review is mainly for other readers.

Note: I’ve heard about other authors who kick readers off their ARC teams for leaving “bad” reviews. This has become a legitimate concern among reviewers, especially when reviewing indie authors’ books. I have not and never would delete a reader for leaving a review that I might perceive as negative.

I do, however, remove readers who constantly request ARCs from me but never actually post reviews. This is an effort to fight piracy (there are people who pose as readers and then put the ebook for sale illegally on other channels). Please contact me if you have any questions.

What is a Kindle email?

Your Kindle email is provided when you set up a Kindle account. I can send your copy of Any Other Love directly to your Kindle device or app if you give me your Kindle email. You must also add @gmail.com to your approved list.

To find your Kindle email, follow these instructions.

To view and edit your approved list, follow these instructions.

Why do I need to provide a link to a review?

As I mentioned above, there are some people posing as readers requesting ARCs who never actually leave a review. Instead, they take the ebook file and sell it on illegal channels. In an effort to cut down on piracy of my books, I’m asking readers who are requesting ARCs to link to a previous review of one of my books.

If you’ve never read one of my books before, please feel free to link to a review of any other book. I’m just looking for legitimacy, so please don’t sweat it. Email me if you have any questions or concerns!

Why are you asking for social media links?

It’s not at all required, but I may ask you to share your review on social media if you’d like. I would then visit your page and share the review to my own social media for marketing purposes. I may also ask if you’d like to participate in the cover reveal, and it’ll be easier if I already have your links. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing them with me, just leave them blank. No worries! I just like being organized and planning ahead.

When will ARCs be sent?

I will be sending out ARCs on or by July 21st. If I send you a Kindle edition, I’ll notify you by email and, I believe, you’ll also receive a notification from Amazon. Regardless, I’ll be keeping you in the loop throughout the next couple of weeks!


Fill out the form below to request an ARC of Any Other Love. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.

My Business and Marketing Plan for Q3 2017

I can’t believe we’re already almost halfway through 2017. The past six months have been tumultuous, to say the least—not just in the publishing industry but also throughout the world and in my personal life. At this point I’m writing just to give myself some sort of center of gravity.

Or maybe it’s way too late for that.

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Toward the end of every quarter, I review my current business plan and see where I’m at. I also re-evaluate my writing goals for the year. I try to keep track of that here on my blog but yeah. I posted my original plan toward the end of last year, but forgot to post when I updated my plan in March. So if it seems like you’re missing something, that’s why.

Goals

I recently realized that I was pressuring myself to write every book as a series just for the sake of writing a series. Sometimes books truly are standalones and there isn’t enough story to span over three, five, or more books. It took me a long time to stop being stubborn and “should”ing on myself. I also had to acknowledge that my series wasn’t selling well enough to justify writing yet another book.

After some careful thinking, I decided that the titles in question could stay the way they were. Crazy Comes in Threes got a makeover and the South of Forever series is complete with one prequel and three novels (though I can always add more if I want).

I did write a fourth book for the SOF series, but it just didn’t feel genuine to me. I ended up scrapping thousands of words because I can’t publish something I’m not proud of, even if it means losing money or ending a series a bit early. I look at it this way: if I’m not into it, my readers won’t be, either.

Right now I’m writing the companion novel to Just One More Minute—small town f/f romance Any Other Love. It will be released this summer.

I’m also working on a new series that will begin this fall.

I’m still working on getting my books back into paperback editions; I’ve been using Vellum to format my ebooks and when they announced they’d be adding paperback formatting this summer, I decided to wait for that. If you’re an indie on a Mac, I highly recommend Vellum. It’s amazing.

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Marketing and Platform Building

I’ve been trying some new marketing strategies, mainly to build my email list. To be completely raw here, I have little to no marketing budget (though I’ve been doing a lot of copywriting in an effort to change this). Much of what I do has to be at low financial cost right now. This includes:

  • using Instafreebie, Bookfunnel, and Noisetrade to give away copies of books in exchange for readers’ email addresses and permission to join my list
  • joining cross-promotions with other authors in my genre
  • organizing my own cross-promos (though admittedly this is a lot of work and akin to herding kittens)
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When my new book comes out this summer, I’ll have a small advertising budget, but I’m planning on doing more advertising for my new series.

I’m also working on expanding my social media platform—mostly on Facebook. Throughout the past five years, I’ve determined that the majority of my readers and intended readers hang out on Facebook. This is backed up by research conducted by marketing experts (see Smarty Pants Book Marketing Podcast: Episode 39).

Recently I separated my personal and business Facebook profiles. I’ve also been making an effort to post to my author page three to five times a week, with more frequent posts in my reader group (as well as more live videos). I’m considering doing some takeovers again, though in the past I felt that they were very time-consuming with only a small amount of ROI.

Mostly, though, I’m spending my time writing.

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Basically I’m going to regain momentum in the second half of this year. I’d love to get back to releasing every two or three months.

I’ll have more details—and actual dates—soon.


Get a Free Copy of Diving Into Him

Jett might be sober, but she can’t kick her addiction to Koty.

Join my email list to get your FREE ebook copy. Click here!

Sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll—that was Jett Costa’s old life. After her wildly popular band falls apart, she’s determined to remain sober and rebuild her career. There’s just one problem. The only person who still has any faith in her is her ex-boyfriend Koty, and Jett isn’t sure that she can keep her hands off him.

Maybe living together wasn’t such a great idea after all.

She may have been sober when she made that decision, but she definitely wasn’t when she agreed to play a show on behalf of a band that no longer exists at one of the biggest bars in Boston. Now she has less than three weeks to get her new band together. Can she ignore the sizzling sparks that fly between her and Koty every time they play?

Click here now to get your FREE ebook copy.

Lessons Learned

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Five years ago, when I first started out on my publishing journey, I naively thought that I could use my existing social media for my new business. It wasn’t hard to separate business from personal at first, but everything changed when I signed with my publisher. Suddenly authors were friend-requesting me on Facebook, even though I’d resolved to keep my personal profile separate from my business page. I felt bad denying requests, though, and soon my feed became a mix of everything ever.

A friend suggested I make a separate account strictly for business. She’d done so and, even though it was one more account to manage, it’d helped her separate the two. I still stubbornly insisted that I only wanted one. Over the years, readers began friend-requesting me from my reader group. It was fun being friends with both readers and colleagues as well as my IRL family and friends, but it also got tricky.

For example, if I wanted to go on Facebook just for fun, there was no avoiding work-related things. If a friend tagged me in an off-color meme, I had to do damage control.

Keeping the two separate was getting more and more difficult. I kept tossing the idea around, but hesitated because creating a second account and moving people, pages, and groups around would be a gargantuan task. It wasn’t as if I had spare hours to just sit around cleaning up my social media act.

This weekend I decided it was time, though. Today I sat down and created a separate Facebook; soon I’ll be doing the same for Twitter. If you’re an author, reader, or someone else in the book biz and you get a friend request from this account, it’s really me. I’m friend-requesting here and there, though, so it doesn’t get too tedious or hard on my wrists. Feel free to add me if I haven’t already made it to you!

There’s an old saying that you can’t mix business with pleasure, and even though I love what I do, it’s still true. I’m really looking forward to being able to sign into Twitter, for example, and just see book stuff.

Speaking of book stuff, today I hit 28K for Any Other Love. I’m thinking about release dates now, and I’ll be able to share more info soon! 💜

Are you on Facebook?

Like my author page · Add me as a friend
Join my reader group

I’ve Got the Damn Flu

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The other day, right after I finished bitching about my “super bug” here, I found out that my girl friend, her husband, and her youngest daughter all have the same thing—killing my theory that this was just my immune system being an asshole. My girl friend said she and her husband were convinced it’s the flu, which made me stop and think. I’d said several times to Mike that this felt like the flu. Could it really be, even though I’d gotten my flu shot?

For hahas, I looked up flu symptoms and yup, it’s the flu—to a T. I had to come out of denial and surrender to the enemy. It was way too late for Tamiflu, so I’ve had to just ride it out: DayQuil severe, Gatorade, ginger ale, and rest. I didn’t bother with seeing a doctor, because there’s nothing they can do for me.

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12 days in, I’m still exhausted. Today I have a bit more energy, so I’ve mostly been reading Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran on my iPad and doing some administrative things with my books (categories, keywords, etc)—when I have a bit of energy. The tiniest things wipe me out, which sucks. I’ve said “This sucks!” more times in the past two weeks than I have the entire time I was a surly teenager.

I didn't put up our tree this year (flareup + flu = no energy), so this is our tree. 🎄 Happy holidays!

A post shared by Elizabeth Barone (@elizabethbarone) on

I’d planned a blog hop, which pretty much got blown because almost 50% of us have the damn flu. I’d also planned on finishing beta reading for my CP, which I’ve been doing in tiny bursts. And I’d planned on re-outlining SOF4 this week, but my brain is mush, I tell you.

Damn you, flu! *shakes fist at sky*

Mostly, I’m trying to save myself for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I mentioned in a previous post that Thanksgiving was basically a bust for me, so I’m determined to enjoy Christmas.

I’m not good at resting. I’ve always been a go-getter, so one of the things I’ve struggled with the most since getting sick in 2007 is just resting. I’m stubborn and impatient, so sitting still is not my forte. I’m absolutely sick to death of Netflix right now, so reading marketing books is a compromise. And even then, I can only do it in bursts because brain fog.

Just writing this blog post will cost me—which feels pathetic to me and not many people understand how this can be. But that’s the thing about autoimmune diseases and chronic illness in general; the invisible illness takes such a toll on your system, it’s exhausting. Throw in an illness like the flu, and you’re microwaved zombie.

You’d think, after almost 10 years, I’d be used to this by now, but no. I still hate it, I still get frustrated with myself, and I still stubbornly try to push my body. But the harder I push myself, the more I pay for it after.

The good news is, the flu won’t last forever, and the Prednisone/Plaquenil cocktail I’m on now should help with the pain and fatigue. Granted, it’ll be about six months before I notice any real difference. In the meantime, I need to practice patience with myself—which has been a theme in my life.

I’m getting there.


Need to get in the holiday spirit? I’ve got goodies for you!

Happy holidays!

December 2016 News and Goals

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I’m going to keep this one short, because my wrists and fingers aren’t happy with me right now.

First things first: What do you think of my new blog theme? Well, okay, it’s not new. It’s WordPress’s Twenty Fifteen theme. I think it’s slick!

Nerd things aside…

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Just One More Minute is now available. Grab your copy now!

Kindle · iBooks · Nook · Kobo · Google Play · More

Or, if you’d like a free copy in exchange for your honest review, please click here.

"Just One More Christmas" (Not Just Any Love Series, Book 1.5), by Elizabeth Barone

Speaking of Just One More MinuteI’m currently writing a Ro/Matt Christmas story, “Just One More Christmas”! It will be available very soon for $0.99. Make sure you’re on my email list; all my subscribers will get a free copy.

In case you missed it, I’m currently on hiatus from social media. Here’s why, and here’s a bit more of an in-depth post on my illness.

On to the goals!

I’m also reading a lot more. I missed reading! I recently finished I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai—the girl who fought for education and was shot in the head by the Taliban. It was an inspiring read, and also really insightful into the war on terror and its global effects. I strongly recommend every American reads it! We tend to live in a bubble out here.

I’ve also been reading Cold Fire by Dean Koontz—which is, as always, very good—and Chris Fox’s Write to Market. I’m learning a lot about writing better books, which is always a good thing! For some reason, I never finished David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Digital, so I restarted it. I think I just forgot I was reading it, to be honest. Brain=mush. Mostly, though, I’ve been focusing on the Koontz and Fox books. Then there are the many books on my iPad that are begging to be read…

Bookworm problems, am I right?

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That’s it for my December goals!

What are yours? Leave me a comment and let me know!

The Sky is Falling (Again)

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I’ve been working in the indie publishing industry for five years, with a smattering of trad pub experience right before that. I mean a very tiny smattering; I had a couple short stories and poems published in journals before I got addicted to self-publishing, and I was with a small press for a year. But I’ve always been an introvert, and the thing most people don’t know about us introverts is that we’re super observant. We may not say much, but we see everything. And we pay attention.

Lately there’s been a lot of ugliness in the lit community. Some high profile authors were outed for attacking readers, there’s been a lot of mudslinging over diversity in fiction, and now I’m seeing a lot of authors griping about how “oversaturated” the industry is.

I get it. Amazon sales have tanked for everyone this month. In general, there’s been a decline in sales. The industry has been plateauing, trying to find its footing in the midst of this digital revolution. But I’ve noticed the panic really dig in to authors when Amazon changes something. And then things get ugly.

I’ve been doing this for five years. It’s not a long time, by any means, but I’ve seen a lot of things change. It’s completely natural to look for something to blame when the industry shifts, but it seems kind of petty to lob it at the increasing number of authors and books out there.

For one, the market has always been full. Even before indie publishing took off—back when it was considered vanity publishing to go and print copies of your books and sell them out of your car—there was a vast traditional market. Book stores became more and more selective with who they gave shelf space to. It was a game of dollars—which publisher could pay the most to get their star author front and center in stores. And it still is.

New authors are debuting every day in the traditional world. Some never sell. Publishers are taking a huge gamble on them. Many authors will not publish again, or will and remain low- or mid-list. Those who buckle down for the long haul will ultimately have the most rewarding careers. Some will become overnight bestsellers and will be completely okay with their single famous series.

It’s the same on the indie side of the fence. The only difference is whose dollars are backing the production and marketing.

Authors, we’re not competitors. There are millions of readers around the world, with new markets opening up every single day. (Right now India and Nigeria’s ebook markets are booming, by the way.) Readers don’t play favorites. Sure, there are authors they love who they will always buy from right away. But most readers are just looking for something good to read that fits their tastes and their budget—especially while their favorites are in between releases.

We’re not competitors, the same way sushi and pizza aren’t. They’re different foods, with different flavors, but they’re still tasty. Depending on the day, I’ll have a craving for one or the other (or a variety of other foods).

Amazon tweaked an algorithm that slashed sales. Okay. That does sting. My sales, for example, aren’t that high in the first place. Being disabled and low income, I work hard so that my book sales help pay my bills. I more than understand the stress. However, Amazon isn’t the only retailer out there, nor are they the only avenue of income for authors.

For example, over on Kobo my sales are business as usual. I’m participating in a 30% off promotion and my standalone romance The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos is currently selling all over the world, with little effort on my part at this point. All I did was sign up for the promotion. Thanks to Kobo, I just sold my first book in Sweden. A couple months ago, I broke into the UAE market for the first time.

 

Kindle Unlimited is just not a long-term business plan for indie authors. It’s great in the short-term, but as Amazon tweaks algorithms to better service their customers, it affects the authors. And that’s fine, because Amazon is a business and they have to do what’s best for their customers. They don’t owe authors anything. Their job is to keep their business running—and our job is to keep our businesses running.

I was recently listening to an episode of The Creative Penn podcast and Joanna Penn said something like “readers don’t owe you a living.” This really resonated with me.

Amazon and readers aren’t obligated to keep our businesses running. We are. And we do so by being open to other streams of income, such as going wide (maybe rotating series in KU but not putting our entire catalogs in), writing in multiple genres, writing nonfiction, and looking for related work, like teaching courses and workshops.

Our entire careers do not and should not depend on Amazon. Our sales do not depend on whether other authors are releasing. Our sales do not depend on readers.

How well we do is up to us, the author—the entrepreneur at the head of our own businesses.

Our careers depend on how hard we want to work. It’s as simple as that.

I’m in it for the long haul. And no algorithm tweak or market condition is going to change that.