Self publishing and e-books – by Debbie Bennett

Hamelin's Child by Debbie Bennett

Debbie Bennett recently self-published her e-book on Amazon – below she gives a few tips to those considering doing the same. 

Six weeks into this ebook experiment and I’ve learned a few things:

Edit, edit and edit some more. There are some shockingly bad ebooks out there. You may have seen the book review blog that went viral recently, where some poor woman criticised a reviewer for picking up on bad grammar. Rather than saying thank you and uploading corrections – or at least making a quiet and dignified exit – she stood her ground and insisted she was right, before descending into unpleasantness. Bad move. All publicity is most definitely not good publicity, although I’m sure the reviewer’s blog has a lot more followers now than it did before.

Keep the price low. Amazon’s 70% royalty rate may look attractive, but 70% of low sales is generally less than 35% of better sales. There is an argument that says everything is worth what you pay for it and there are readers who think cheap books will automatically be rubbish.  But on the other hand there are a lot more readers out there who simply won’t pay paperback prices for an unknown author. 70p is about the lowest you can price on Amazon.co.uk, depending on the $ exchange rate, as it’s pegged to the lowest price of 99c on the US Amazon.com site – for this price, many readers will take a chance. And you still make 35%.

Edit. Did I say that already? Send your book in html format to your kindle and this is how it will appear to buyers. Play with the layout until it looks right. Resist the temptation to overload the front of your book with dedications, quotes and reviews – not only does it look amateur, it will cut into the % of free sample readers can download before they buy, and nobody will buy a book when the free sample consists of what your dad and Auntie Mabel thought.

Network. You have to let the world know your baby has been born. Join discussions on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. Promote other people’s books – be generous. It’s all karma. Join the kindleboards forum, goodreads, facebook groups – anywhere to spread the word. Get involved in conversations but resist the temptation to yell ME, ME, ME at every opportunity. Once a day is enough. I did a promotional event at work recently with a few other writers. I work in a police headquarters (appropriate for a thriller) and we had a stand in the canteen with books for sale. Even though I only had some rather naff cards with a url on, I made an impression. Work colleagues got interested, my blog got more hits and I sold more books. The downside is that half my office is whispering about me and the other half just think I’m weird!

But getting reviews is wonderful. Getting 5 star reviews from complete strangers is simply awesome. They have nothing to gain or lose from being honest and no vested interest in being nice. This is why we write – not to make money (though it would help), but to be read by people other than friends and family.  There are people out there who I have never met and don’t know me, who have bought my book, read it and liked it enough to leave me amazing comments.  How cool is that?

www.amazon.com/dp/B004PLNLWY

4 thoughts on “Self publishing and e-books – by Debbie Bennett

  1. L A Traynor

    Just found your website after a pitch to a literary agent who announced that she just didnt get thrillers..or suspense. Your website has really enthused me again.
    I too self publish e books and agree about the edit part. I also let as many people as possible read my books before going live with them. You can always miss something. I also had to teach myself how to use a graphics package to produce high quality book covers.
    I find self publishing is freeing as it allows me to write in lots of genres and some new ones. I don’t need to pigeon hole myself for a publisher so that it can easily fit on a shelf somewhere.
    At the moment I am in the middle of writing a series of fantasy based novels and have the first two on Kindle, but publicity is a full time occupation and agree that you have to be proactive. I keep a twitter and Facebook account. I am also a member of the Federation of Writers Scotland and the Scottish Writers Centre.
    One interesting development has been several local library services wanting to use my books as part of their ebook servcice. They hadn’t realised that they could put local authors books onto the service without a publisher behind me. I am the publisher! Again quality of cover and content that matches the paper books available is essential.
    PS The series I am writing at present is The Tea Club. Once I have time I will be puting previous romantic suspense, Water and Time on ebook.

  2. Rowan Kemble

    Hi

    Read with interest your experiences. I have just finished my first book, a children’s action/adventure story and I am in the process of trawling through the agents and getting the usual thanks but no thanks letter. I have now discovered Amazon Kindle and e publishing and thought ‘why not!’ but I need to get my story proof read but the prices I have been quoted on line seem huge. Any ideas where I could try and get my story proof read for a more reasonable figure?

    Sorry to pick your brains but I’m very new to all this?

    thanks

    Rowan