Jim Azevedo 

Good morning!  Saturday I attended my local RWA meeting (Saguaro Romance Writers) and we were very fortunate to have Jim Azevedo, Marketing Manager of Smashwords, come to present to us about self-publishing.  Aside from being really entertaining, he's very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about self-publishing.

I'm excited to say I'll be presenting a panel on Cover Design with him at the Tucson Festival of Books this year!

Because so many of us new adult authors are self-pubbing these days, I thought I would share some of the notes I took from his presentation, which includes best practices of becoming a bestseller (the dream we're all chasing).

You’ve decided to self-publish.  Now what?

  • Finish “Super-Awesome Book” – his words. You’re the publisher – act like one. Do your research, editing, revising. 
  • Prepare book for conversion.  Needs to be in word doc for Smashwords.  Format for easy readability and what he calls "reflowability" (the ability for it to be easily displayed on all devices).
  • Covers.  Everyone judges a book by cover.  They set the first impression.  They should look professional, engaging and be matched to your target audience.  They need to be readable in thumbnail, both in color and black and white.  Don’t be lazy. Accept that most of us design poor covers (and I got a shout out as someone to talk to about good covers!). 
  • Conversion – turning it into formatted MS that's readable on all screens.
  • Pricing – Determine your reason for selling.  Platform building, sales, or both? What is your objective?  Free is downloaded 102% more than priced books.  Let them know who you are.  Hook them with low-priced books.  Considerations – quality, reader passion, length, platform, marketing that builds urgency, series or not.  Non-fiction supports higher pricing.
  • ISBN’s – digital identifier, required for distribution.  Does not connote ownership or copyright.  Does not imply professional or “real.”  Smashwords provides for free.  (You don’t need to pay).  Readers don’t search based on ISBN.
  • Copyright – by pubbing, you have a copyright.  Go to copyright.gov and register online, if you want to register for $35.  Beware of companies who want to charge you more.  You can do it yourself!
  • Distribution:  Use a distributer.  Upload to Amazon and use Smashwords for everyone else.  You can then use the ISBN provided by Smashwords on Amazon! 
eBook Best Practices - and what makes a bestseller.
  • Write a great book.  Be fanatical about quality.
  • Invest in great cover image - everyone judges a book by its cover, especially in this market.
  • Publish another great book (have a deep backlist! Or publish a series)
  • Maximize distribution and avoid exclusivity. If it’s not available everywhere, it’s not discoverable or purchasable. Distributors are also great for making quick changes in one upload, and get the changes up and available to sites fast.  Libraries are now looking toward indie authors.
  • Consider giving books away for free.  It's a great way to eliminate the financial risk for those who want to take a chance on you as the new author.  If you're going to have a price point, $2.99 is the best to maximize profits.
  • PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE!  Ebooks tend to start small and grow slowly before breakout.  Ebook are immortal (trad books only sell during short time on shelf space).  A slow build is good.
  • Trust your readers and partners:  don’t worry about piracy (not your true enemy – obscurity is).  DRM copy protection is counterproductive.  You need to trust your supply chain partners (yourself, distributor, publishers).
  • Platform building starts yesterday – use social network, blogs, Google plus, book sales, free downloads, but don’t spam your network!
  • Architect for virality – books are a word of mouth business, readers determine success, understand power of your FIRST READER, you reach them with marketing. Viral decay is reality (keep trying to find new first readers who will spread the word of your book).  Eliminate friction to getting your book out there (availability, sampling, purchasing, enjoyment).  Also, make it clear and readable! Your Viral catalyst is:  good cover, good story, strong editing, good title, readable formatting.
  • Architect for discovery: They did a survey on how readers find books.  29% find books from forums, bloggers, online communities. 19% favorite authors , 50% random methods for finding books.
  • Unit volume and royalty rate levers for success.  Unit volume (sales and downloads) increase platform - it drives reader to backlist.  Use Sales x Royalty Rate to maximizes profit.  
  • Pinch your pennies and always keep in mind that most books don't sell well.
  • Thing globally!  All of the epubs are going global.  50% of Apple's sales come from readers outside the US!

Well, there you go.  Have any questions or need any clarification?  Ask below.  :D

Have a great Turkey week!

Post a Comment

  1. Excellent post! I'm bookmarking this. And tweeting it. :)

  2. This is a really awesome post, J. Fantastic advise, I read it all and ate it up! :)

    1. Thanks! I thought it would be good advice to pass on!

  3. You know marketing-centric posts delight me. :D Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love the fact, 50% of readers get their book recommendations from random sources. I don't know why, but that gives me hope. :) Fantastic post! Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Sharon! I thought that was encouraging news, too. :D

  5. jaycee, loved the info. very helpful

    new follower, hi!

  6. Great post! So needed in today's market! Thanks!

    1. You're welcome, Megan! I agree, this is important information!

  7. Thanks for sharing this info. I totally agree about obscurity being a bigger threat than piracy. I'm off to find more 'first readers'! :-)

  8. Very helpful. I'd make one addition. I stopped used Smashwords to distribute to other sites because it took a month or more for changes to transfer over. (Not Smashwords fault) An author can't have a 99 cent sale for a weekend when she/he doesn't have the control to make the changes within hours. Now, I upload directly to Amazon, BN, iTunes (have to have a Mac) and Kobo.


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