I have such fond memories of working in a big music store in the heart of downtown Chicago for a number of years. Easily, the best job that I’ve ever had in my life! No other job has ever been more fun, more meaningful, more beneficial to me in my growth as a person. No contest. Hehehe! Just a bunch of high school and college kids with a love and passion for music and art and film, to the point where we appreciated the ‘misfit’ in one another and embraced as being something to be proud of, instead of judged. It was one of the most tight knit families that I’ve ever been a part of that wasn’t blood related. And I miss them terribly. I really do.
One thing that I remember, distinctly, however…are a few of my co-workers who could sing, or rap, or play guitar, or were going to school for film…and they were all really GOOD at their individual crafts, too! But, there was always this idea among them that, “I’m just a regular person. I don’t do this to get famous or anything. I just do it for free…just to do it. You know?” And then we’d feel compelled to ask one simple question…
Understand…I am well aware of the fact that ‘art and commerce’ very rarely make for good bedfellows, because each one thinks they know what’s best and are constantly fighting for control. I’ve seen it happen more times than you can imagine. They’re just thinking from two different sides of the brain, so it can’t be all about artistic expression that a wide audience might not understand…but everybody can’t just sell out for money and cheering crowds either. Without some sort of balance, both parties are bound to fail eventually. But…if you really believe in your writing, and you happen to be good at what you do…what’s stopping you from taking a shot at something bigger than a non-profit ‘hobby’?
You’d be surprised how incredibly EASY it is to edit, format, and publish, your own story as an online ebook these days. One that you can actually sell and make some extra pocket change off of, month after month, for as long as you keep it posted. Setting up an account is absolutely free in most places. You can set one up right here on GayAuthors, as a matter of fact, and sell your books to people who are already big fans of your work, or people who may become fans once they see what it is that you have to offer.
Today, we’re talking about possible ebook publishing…and why you guys should get in on this right away!
Before we get started…let me sweep the rumors and BS right out of the back door, k? You will NOT get rich off of ebook sales! Hehehe! Put that idea right out of your mind. If you go looking on Youtube or Google for tutorials on how to get started, sell more books, or quit your day job so you can stay home and make six figures a year just typing away at a keyboard…you will have been misled. I never once bought into that idea, myself, and you shouldn’t either. In fact, the truth is…if you’re able to make gas money for your car and grab some extra groceries every now and then for the first six months to a year of you having your work published…you’ll be doing GREAT! Don’t dive in expecting much more than that.
The good news is…you’ve got something to build on once you’ve reached that six month mark. When I say six month mark, I don’t mean just publishing your story and coming back six months later to see what your profits look like. I mean six months of a true (and DAILY) dedicated effort to promote your work! Promote to the point of exhaustion if you have to. If you need eight hours of sleep before getting up at 9 AM for work…and it’s 1 O’clock in the morning…spend an extra 15 minutes getting your name out there. Lose some sleep. You’re going to have to really work at making this happen. Because, if you thought it was tough getting your stories noticed on GayAuthors or Nifty or on some other story site online…you’re going to get absolutely CRUSHED by the lack of attention you will experience on sites like Amazon.com where people have to actually pay to read what you have to say! So promote, promote, promote! And don’t ever stop. Making some extra cash for your art, and reaping the rewards of the hours of hard work that you put into getting your voice heard, is awesome! It’s a great feeling to know that your words are worth a few dollars here and there. But it takes time and a lot of effort to get noticed. So why not get started today, right?
Stop reading this right now, and take a moment to think of the possibilities…”
Are you smiling? No? Hehehe, ah well…maybe by the time I finish this article.
The thing about ebooks is that they are, essentially, a goldfish in an ocean when it comes to getting your name out there. You will be competing with millions of other authors, from all walks of life, of all ages, from all genres. And, make no mistake…some of them will be BETTER than you. Hehehe, that’s just the honest truth. But, in life, we don’t get what we want…we get what we work for. And if you’re willing to stay up late, and keep typing, and promote your work…you can outsell any writer who’s got their ego telling them that they can relax. No matter how skillful they are, or how huge their fanbase. Your hard work will always win in the end. Just stay focused. Stay disciplined. And keep going.
You’d be surprised how quickly the word of mouth can spread once you’ve ‘seduced’ a few people into reading your work. As writers, you all have something to say. You all have a story to tell. And even if you’ve posted it already on GayAuthors or elsewhere…go back and see if you can improve on it. Re-edit it, give it some extra polish, and put it out as an ebook. Why not? Do you have any IDEA how many people there are out there who are looking to read exactly what it is that you have to say?
Take a shot. At the end of the day, it’s no different than posting your stories here or on Nifty for free. Except…maybe you get a little extra income on the side. If you only make five dollars, it’s five more than you HAD, right? So…score! Hehehe!
That being said, I want to give you guys seven quick tips on how to get your ebooks noticed, and make some extra income every month that you can use to spend on making life a bit easier, and being able to have a little fun every now and then. K? There are plenty of places online that offer free accounts for self publishing ebooks. Like I said before, there is an ebook section right here on GayAuthors. Feel free to look up the guidelines and find out how to get in contact with the right people to make that happen. Also, Amazon.com has the KDP program which is excellent and available to a wide variety of readers from all over the world. So that’s a great place to start once you get comfortable with everything. Signing up is also free. Another good place is Smashwords, although, their submission standards for formatting is a bit ‘precise’ for my tastes. Hehehe, if you don’t format it EXACTLY the way they want you to…your book will get rejected until you fix it. And the system doesn’t even tell you what’s wrong with it…so you can spend weeks trying to figure out WTF is going on before you get your books published. So, it’s a rough ‘audition’, but if you can get in…Smashwords probably has the widest reach of any site that I’ve been associated with so far. So, it’s worth a shot.
Again, it’s a one in a million chance that you’ll make enough money to actually retire and become a writer, full time…but if that’s your eventual goal, it’s not a bad place to start. So consider these seven rules as a ‘ground floor’ tutorial. 🙂
#1 – Editing and formatting! This is important. Before you submit anything to a ‘professional’ ebook site…do your best to be ‘professional’. Every ebook that I’ve put out, I’ve gon through and read every single word and edited it from beginning to end. Every open tag, every misspelled word, every plot hole…I tried to make a champion effort to find every last one of them and fix them up so that it reads like a book that I would, personally, pay money for. This isn’t little league anymore. If you’re going to put a book out on the actual market, and it’s riddled with spelling errors, misused punctuation marks, and character flaws? Then you’re wasting your time. Remember, you’re basically starting from scratch all over again as far as a fanbase is concerned. These people have no idea who you are. So you need to make a good first impression. Otherwise, you can kiss their support goodbye. So get it right! You’ve only got one chance to grab their attention. Make it count.
#2 – Keep your prices LOW!!! At least in the very beginning (Meaning for the first year or two. Or until you have a loyal group of followers who believe in you enough to pay a little more for your work after a few successful outings). Now, in my case…I already had a pretty big catalogue of stories finished and an established fanbase before I started publishing ebooks. So I never charged much, because I would rather have ten true fans buy every ebook that I put out there, then just one or two curious customers who might splurge on one or two ebooks a year. That’s counterproductive in the worst way. Again, nobody knows who you are yet. Your goal is to get people to take a chance on you. You want them to think, “It’s only a couple of bucks. I’m already here. Let me make a little impulse buy and see what he/she has to offer.” Don’t go trying to make ten dollar sales on your first book. It won’t work. If you have a story that’s 100,000 words or more? Save it for later. Try a few short stories first. Something you don’t mind putting out there as an apetizer to get people interested in something more substantial from you. You’re more liable to make a ten dollar novel/novella sell from someone who has enjoyed four or five of your shorter stories than you will from a new shopper who doesn’t have any idea what would make you any more special than other authors who are charging half the price.
Even if you wrote a ten dollar novel, and you put forth a ten dollar effort…hehehe, try giving it away for five. Tops. Remember, it’s better to have fans than ‘customers’. Fans come back for more. And they won’t do that if you tax them too heavily on what you’re writing. On Amazon, my ebooks are almost all $2.99 (Let me shamelessly promote them while I’m here! Hehehe! https://imagine-magazine.org/store/comicality/! That’s another rule! ALWAYS be in promotion mode!). The only reason they’re even that much is because anything cheaper gives Amazon 70% of the profits. Even though I set up the account, wrote the story, did the formatting and editing and all of the hard work…your ebook has to be at least three dollars for you to get a decent percentage of the profits from it. So keep that in mind. It’s as cheap as I can possibly make it…but I also have over 30 books available. So it’s a much better deal to gain a fanbase that wants to collect them all…like Pokemon! Hehehe!
#3 – Free shit!!! Hehehe, tell me…if you saw that on a sign on the side of the street…wouldn’t you look over there to investigate? LOL! Yes, the best promotion you can possibly put out there is gathering the interest of new readers. Readers who have WAY too much quality stuff to read online for free to want to grab their credit cards and pay for someone to give them more of the same. So, I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep writing and putting stories out there online. Let people see your talent. Let people wander by and stumble across the amazing stories that you have to tell. Then, once they’ve built up their faith in you to be consistently awesome…let them know about your ebooks. Let your free stories be the trail of breadcrumbs that lead to the stuff that might put some extra pennies in your pocket once a month. It’s not a ‘trick’. Think of it as a kick ass party that’s taking place in a club, and everything is free…but there’s more in the V.I.P. area upstairs if you want to check it out! Hehehe!
Also, ALWAYS allow a review of your story to be available on Amazon if that’s the route you want to take! There is an option where readers can see what your writing style is like, and they can read the first…ummm…I think it’s 20% of your story, before making a purchase. I ALWAYS allow that for all of my ebooks. If you want to gain new readers, but you tell them they have to ‘buy’ before they ‘sample’…you just cut your readership in half. Not a good strategy. Let them see what you’ve got. Grab them in the first few pages, and seduce them into wanting to read more.
Even drug dealers know that if you give the first taste for free…you’ve got a customer for life!
Annnndd….now i’m using drug references. 😛 Don’t do drugs, kids! Stay in school!
#4 – Bring your online fanbase with you! If you have people that have been reading your stories from the very beginning, or have been corresponding with you through email or chat or whatever…let them know that you have ebooks available. Give them the address, and ask them to leave comments and ratings when they get a chance. This will only help your ebooks to sell better. You may not think that people look at these comments and ratings…but I can assure you…they do! I have to admit that I look at them myself. So ask your biggest supporters to get involved in making your ebooks a success. However…remind them to be HONEST with their reviews. That’s just as important. If your best friend, ‘Billy Bob’, shows up on six of your online ebooks, and he’s giving every single one of them a five star rating and saying, “This is the greatest book I’ve ever read!” On every single one of them…that’s obviously going to look suspicious. Especially if it isn’t true. Inspire commentary, and tell folks to be sincere about it. It’s not going to hurt if you get a two or three star rating, once in a while. THAT review will get more attention from new readers than marks giving you all aces all the time. Becuse they’l be curious as to why one person thought it was great and the other one thought it was awful. Either way…another sale for you. So go for it. Don’t try to cheat the system. Play the game like everybody else and let the cards fall where they may. Amazon is set up to know when folks are being fake in their reviews. They can even tell when someone left a review without purchasing the ebook. So if you think you’re going to fool anyone…hehehe, you won’t. It’s better to be confident and let your ebooks succeed or fail based on the merit of your writing.
#5 – Set up a home base! I’m sure that I’ve mentioned this before a few times, but it really is more essential than ever when dealing with ebooks online. Find a place that you’re comfortable with, and STAY there! Keep a reliable email address, a website, a Twitter account…whatever. You have no IDEA how many people I’ve tried to answer their emails or send thanks for their feedback, and had the email bounce back to me. It’s frustrating as HELL!!! LOL! STOP friggin’ changing your email and contact info every 60 days! It comes off as flaky and unpredictable to new readers. They’re trying to get in touch with you, and they can’t because you decided you don’t like Gmail anymore or whatever. Sit still. If fans can’t reach you, then they won’t be fans for much longer. My email is Comicality@webtv.net right now, and it has been the same since 1998! Webtv doesn’t even exist anymore, but I was given the option to keep the email and I definitely wanted to do that. I don’t change my screen name, I don’t change my Twitter, and i don’t change my website address. So if you want a stable fanbase…then stay stable! Give them a place to go where they can talk to you. Where they can get updates and teasers and release dates from you. Stop moving around so much. It’s not good for business. Hehehe!
#6 – Get your synopsis and key words together! People may not always judge a book by its cover, but they WILL judge it by the brief description that put underneath it. I wrote an article on story blurbs a few weeks ago, just before the holidays, if you guys want to check it out. Make your story sound interesting to anyone who’s looking for something to jump into. it’s all about getting them to ask the question, “Well, this is what you told me…but what happens next?” If you’ve got an intriguing story blurb, an ‘impulse buy’ type of price, and an honest review or two for your ebook…then congrats! You just made another sale, and possibly made a new fan of your work! Make sure that your synopsis makes people curious, and that your ‘keywords’ are specific. If one of your keywords is ‘gay’…hehehe, well, congratulations…you just put your story in a GIANT cauldron with a million other stories that will probably get noticed before yours will. Try ‘gay TEEN’, or ‘gay COLLEGE’, or ‘gay VAMPIRE’…whatever it is that you’re writing, don’t be too vague with your keywords. A lot of people out there are looking for the exact story that it is that you want to tell. But they can’t find it if it”s just un the gay or erotica or coming of age tags. Think of a few tags that will separate you from the horde of other stories out there, and narrow their search down a bit where finding your particular tale isn’t so difficut.
#7 – Make a few exclusives! Now, if you’re writing stuff for free, but you want to draw attention to the fact that you have ebooks available as well…write one or two stories that are exclusive ONLY to your ebooks sales! Hehehe, I feel like I’m being a big con man by filling you guys in on this part, but I swear, that wasn’t my intention. Er…not entirely. 😛
Now, you guys know that I’ve always often my stories for free online 99% of the time, and I love doing that. But the ebooks that I put out have added material and a much more polished execution than the stuff that’s on my site. The “Gone From Daylight” and “Savage Moon” books have a LOT of added stuff that can’t be found anywhere else online. And then there’s “The Boys Of Widow Lake”, books 1 and 2, which are only available as ebooks and nowhere else. (Book 3: “Depths Of Devotion”, coming soon!) So…is that a mean spirited trick to get people to spend money? Hehehe, maaaaaybe! But I do occasionally lure people into that special V.I.P. section when I can. And if people don’t want to go, there’s still plenty of freebies for them to enjoy. No harm, no foul. But…eventually…many of them is going to want to know what’s behind that magic curtain. And while it won’t make me rich, a few diehard fans might end up inadvertantly buying me a lunch or two. And that’s alright with me! LOL!
SO…that’s my secret reveal on ebooks! if any of you are interested, get online and do some research on where you want to go and what the standards are. You can start right here on GA, and it doesn’t take long to figure things out. If *i* can figure out how to do it, you guys can probably learn it in half the time. Just remember, you put a LOT of work into your art! As authors, you pour your heart and soul into every project that you put out there. And while we may not be overly obsessed with material gain, and would rather just enjoy the prestige of being appreciated by an audience that we built on our own…
…A few dollars in the pocket wouldn’t hurt. Hehehe! if you don’t want them, feel free to donate them to Comicality! I’ve got a link for that too! LOL!
Take care! And I wish you all the best of luck!