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Author Topic: Willing to answer questions  (Read 10716 times)

Offline Michael Sullivan

Willing to answer questions
« on: December 21, 2011, 01:37:30 PM »
I think I can say with some certainty that I've been successful at self-publishing. I've sold around 70,000 books and had four months where I sold more than 10,000 copies a month. My self-published books are mostly out of print (only a free short story remains) as my Riyria Revelations was picked by a big-six publisher. But I've been through it all and have a lot of experience - so feel free to pick my brain.

Offline xiagan

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Re: Willing to answer questions
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2011, 02:03:07 PM »
Thanks for the offer! Will do when my novel is finished. :)
Your wife's blog was one of the first I ever read about (self-)publishing. :)
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline ColinFBarnes

Re: Willing to answer questions
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2012, 11:00:42 AM »
Hi Michael,

It's very kind of you to offer to answer questions. I have a couple if you don't mind.

I read on your wife's blog that she used book bloggers and Goodreads giveaways to help promote your books, do you think this is still a viable approach? And was there anything else that you personally did to help your book be found?

Thanks, and congratulations on your book deal, I look forward to buying the UK print versions :)

Offline professional-liar

Re: Willing to answer questions
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2012, 08:11:22 PM »
A question about ISBN's. Did you buy your own and invent your own publishing company or did you go a different route?

Do you already have a blog that goes over some of these things?
Check out my webcomic-The Venom King www.venomkingcomic.com

Offline Michael Sullivan

Re: Willing to answer questions
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2012, 12:10:56 PM »
Hi Michael,

It's very kind of you to offer to answer questions. I have a couple if you don't mind.

I read on your wife's blog that she used book bloggers and Goodreads giveaways to help promote your books, do you think this is still a viable approach? And was there anything else that you personally did to help your book be found?

Yes Goodreads giveaways (and personal message followups) as well as utilizing the blogging community are still great approaches. A lot will come down to "how good the book is" as if you do this and your book is a stinker it could backfire on you - but that will also give you some feedback to correct some things and re-release.

The other thing I'll add, as a means to success is to write books in a series and release them on a regularly timed schedule - I wrote six books before publishing the first and spaced them at six month intervals (April & October). That way as one begins to fade from the consciousness of people, another comes out and gives a well needed shot in the arm to all the books.

Thanks, and congratulations on your book deal, I look forward to buying the UK print versions :)

Great, thanks for the support. I hope you enjoy.

Offline Michael Sullivan

Re: Willing to answer questions
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2012, 12:13:42 PM »
A question about ISBN's. Did you buy your own and invent your own publishing company or did you go a different route?

Do you already have a blog that goes over some of these things?

You should always buy your own ISBN's and yse use an imprint...Mine is actually done through my wife's imprint Ridan Publishing (www.ridanpublishing.com). She now buys them in 100 packs but you can buy them in 10 packs which is much more economical than singles.  In general you need a different ISBN for each "format" of the book (paperback, ebook, hard cover) but I wouldn't assign a different ISBN for each "type" of ebook (i.e kindle, nook, mobi).

On my blog (www.riyria.com) I discuss "writing tips." My wife's blog (www.write2publish.blogspot.com) covers issues such as ISBNs and marketing and what not.

Offline TrackerNeil

Re: Willing to answer questions
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2012, 07:53:38 PM »
Hey, thanks for the generous offer. I would like to pick, please.

I self-published my novel about two-and-a-half months back, and the greatest challenge is getting reviewers - ANY reviewers - to take me seriously. Can you recommend the best approach?
The Duchess of the Shallows was named to Kirkus' Best of 2012.

Offline FlemmingHansen

Re: Willing to answer questions
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2012, 06:43:04 PM »
Hello Michael

First of all, thank you for providing this opportunity to pick your brain. Secondly, I hope you’re enjoying yourself at the bar at Balticon, too bad I’m on the wrong side of the Atlantic, otherwise I’d properly been picking your brain there.
Currently I’m working on my very first draft, which I plan to finish and self-publish within this year.
The thing is. People don’t know me. I don’t have anything out there. I have to start from scratch and build a reputation from the ground up.

The question is - What price would you recommend that I set for my debut novel? I plan to make two promo short stories (free) that are related to the novel itself.
The novel is the first part of a trilogy. The genre of the novel is Epic Fantasy. The length will properly end up at about 110-120k words.

Thank you in advance, and thanks for a brilliant blog. Your writing tips has helped me a lot.

Last and not least...

Cheers ;)
Status: Draft completed 22.07.2012 (114198 words)

twitter|blog|website

Offline Michael Sullivan

Re: Willing to answer questions
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2012, 08:46:53 PM »
Hey, thanks for the generous offer. I would like to pick, please.

I self-published my novel about two-and-a-half months back, and the greatest challenge is getting reviewers - ANY reviewers - to take me seriously. Can you recommend the best approach?
Yes I can!! The following is actually something I copy and pasted from a reddit post I did no exactly this subject. It goes into a few other details such as my views on paid reviews and whatnot so I didn't take that out, so it might have more information then you were looking for but I think it is all good stuff.  Feel free to skip over those things that aren't relevant.

I wrote this as a response to a post here on reddit but thought it might be useful to those that might not be following that thread.

It is a quick summary of how you can get book bloggers to review your books.  I'll cover these things:
  • What not to do
  • What to send (the email)
  • Where to send them (how to find bloggers)
  • Getting to know them
  • The Approach
  • Improving your chances
  • What to do afterward

What not to do
I think the biggest mistake people do is they email them a "Hey my name is joe, blow, I have a book about xyz, do you want me to send it to you?"  This doesn't get much response. Bloggers are BUSY PEOPLE. They have lots of books just waiting to be read. You have to find a way to get yours ahead of all of the others (many of which will be coming from "big presses" and "established names".

What to Send
My wife actually did my "blogger" campaign and she made a little "mini" ad. (using Google doc and cut/paste into the body of the email - don't send attachments).  Here is an example she used for my first book The Crown Conspiracy:



Notice a few things about this:
  • The cover of the book
  • A headline: They killed the king. They pinned it on two men. They chose poorly
  •  A one paragraph snappy "back of the book blurb"
  • Quotes from other reviews (use what you have and trade out as you get better ones)
  • Link to sample chapter
  • Call outs for any awards or special recognition
  • Easy access to reference "quick list with: Genre, ISBN, page count release date etc.

Where to send it
Okay...now that you have "what to send" let's talk about "where to send"

Do a Google search for "book review" and your genre" For instance I just did this for Fantasy and got:

But these into a spreadsheet and go to each site and look for a "blog roll" where they will give you other sites they follow.  For instance at Fantasy Book Critic they show:
  • @Number71
  • A Dribble Of Ink
  • A Fantasy Reader
  •  ... (editted for space) ...
  • Walker of Worlds
  • Whatever
  • When Gravity Fails
  • Zeno Agency

Put these in your spreadsheet.  Check each one's blog rolls and it will grow exponentially...Make yourself a goal to add 5 new blogs to your spread sheet a day. Soon you'll have hundreds.

Get to know them
Like everyone people will do things for people they know (and like). Always treat bloggers with the ultimate respect...they deserve it...they are going to be helping your career and get nothing in return except a free book and some gratitude. So be nice to them...always.

Before you start sending stuff out do some research and get acquainted with them.
  • Note the ones that show up on multiple blog rolls - these people have the most "influence" rate them.
  • Go to each site and find their submission guidelines do they like electronic or print.  not it in the spreadsheet.
  • Record the email address in your spreadsheet
  • Record their "real name" in the spreadsheet
  • Follow the blog
  • Follow their tweets
  • Comment on their postings through comments
  • Get a feel for what types of books they like and which ones they don't
  • Make all kinds of notes in your spreadsheet

Approaching them
Now you are in a position to approach this strategically rather than haphazard.
  • Prioritize the blog based on influence and whether they like your types of books.  
  • Start with the "little fish first" this might be a new blogger, or stay-at-home mom who is a voracious reader.  They aren't often approached to do a review and they will be flattered and usually say yes.
  • Start working your way up to the more influential blogs. They all read each other's stuff so when getting to the "bigger" fish mention, John, at xyz really liked the book, and based off of your review of abc, which is similar to mine I think you will to.

Maximize your chances
Bottom line if you follow all of the above you will get people to review your books. The more interaction you have with them - the more likely is they will move your book up in replacement of others.

Don't waste their time. If a blogger reviews primarily paranormal romance don't send them your military science fiction piece.  There are more than enough blogs that will be a better fit.

After the review
After they review the book do the following:
  • Always thank a reviewer for their time...even if they hated your book.  
  • Never "argue" a point with them. Even if they didn't "get" your book don't try to explain what they missed.
  • If they didn't like your book, tell them you hope that next time you hope they find something more to their liking and that you understand (they proably already feel bad enough...but your understanding will make them feel better)
  • Ask them whether they want you to respond to comments or "stay away" some want interaction others want an "author free" area so that their readers can talk honestly
  • If they wrote something nice - ask them if you can use one of their quotes in promotional material (they will be honored and say yes)

That's about all I can think of.  Hope this helps.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 09:01:57 PM by Michael Sullivan »

Offline Michael Sullivan

Re: Willing to answer questions
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2012, 09:06:00 PM »
Hello Michael

First of all, thank you for providing this opportunity to pick your brain. Secondly, I hope you’re enjoying yourself at the bar at Balticon, too bad I’m on the wrong side of the Atlantic, otherwise I’d properly been picking your brain there.
Currently I’m working on my very first draft, which I plan to finish and self-publish within this year.
The thing is. People don’t know me. I don’t have anything out there. I have to start from scratch and build a reputation from the ground up.

The question is - What price would you recommend that I set for my debut novel? I plan to make two promo short stories (free) that are related to the novel itself.
The novel is the first part of a trilogy. The genre of the novel is Epic Fantasy. The length will properly end up at about 110-120k words.

Thank you in advance, and thanks for a brilliant blog. Your writing tips has helped me a lot.

Last and not least...

Cheers ;)

So most people will tell you that $0.99 or $2.99 is the "right price" for an unknown author. I personally don't like those prices because they send a message, which is, "I don't think I'm very good."  When I released my books they were priced at $4.99 (first 4 books) and I increased the last book to $6.95 and they sold well.  I think if you promote yourself than $4.99 is definitely doable.

One other thing I should mention. With one book out don't expect many sales at any price (and another reason to "price higher rather than lower." At that point you need to concentrate on writing your next book.  Once you have three books available, then it might make sense to make one a "low price leader" but with the others still priced at $4.95 you are still sending the message that you value your work and the readers should as well.

Offline FlemmingHansen

Re: Willing to answer questions
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2012, 08:18:51 AM »
Hello Michael

Thank you for the reply. 4.99$ sounds reasonably, I was thinking along the same lines.
I think I’ll follow your advise once the book is complete.
And thanks again for taking your time to help us aspiring scribblers :)

Cheers :)
Status: Draft completed 22.07.2012 (114198 words)

twitter|blog|website

Offline TrackerNeil

Re: Willing to answer questions
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2012, 03:44:27 PM »
Yes I can!! The following is actually something I copy and pasted from a reddit post I did no exactly this subject. It goes into a few other details such as my views on paid reviews and whatnot so I didn't take that out, so it might have more information then you were looking for but I think it is all good stuff.  Feel free to skip over those things that aren't relevant.

Hey, thanks! that is helpful indeed. I appreciate the feedback.
The Duchess of the Shallows was named to Kirkus' Best of 2012.

Offline Rtkaelin

Re: Willing to answer questions
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2012, 04:12:47 AM »
Hello Michael

First of all, thank you for providing this opportunity to pick your brain. Secondly, I hope you’re enjoying yourself at the bar at Balticon, too bad I’m on the wrong side of the Atlantic, otherwise I’d properly been picking your brain there.
Currently I’m working on my very first draft, which I plan to finish and self-publish within this year.
The thing is. People don’t know me. I don’t have anything out there. I have to start from scratch and build a reputation from the ground up.

The question is - What price would you recommend that I set for my debut novel? I plan to make two promo short stories (free) that are related to the novel itself.
The novel is the first part of a trilogy. The genre of the novel is Epic Fantasy. The length will properly end up at about 110-120k words.

Thank you in advance, and thanks for a brilliant blog. Your writing tips has helped me a lot.

Last and not least...

Cheers ;)

So most people will tell you that $0.99 or $2.99 is the "right price" for an unknown author. I personally don't like those prices because they send a message, which is, "I don't think I'm very good."  When I released my books they were priced at $4.99 (first 4 books) and I increased the last book to $6.95 and they sold well.  I think if you promote yourself than $4.99 is definitely doable.

One other thing I should mention. With one book out don't expect many sales at any price (and another reason to "price higher rather than lower." At that point you need to concentrate on writing your next book.  Once you have three books available, then it might make sense to make one a "low price leader" but with the others still priced at $4.95 you are still sending the message that you value your work and the readers should as well.

I wholly agree with Michael here. Avoid the $.99 book like the plague. You might think you are luring new readers in at such a low price, but what you are saying is that "this is only worth $.99." Dean Wesley Smith did a wonderful post on this a while back called "Oh, The Math Of It All" that delved into the economics of the $.99 book. I would highly recommend it for anyone considering the self-pub/indie route: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=4696


Offline DavidJNormoyle

Re: Willing to answer questions
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2012, 08:47:08 PM »
I just registered to thank Michael for this thread and especially for the post on getting reviews.

Love the ad you sent to get reviews. It was created with the google docs drawing program? And you inserted it in an email as a jpg? As html?

I'll need to send out review requests myself soon.


Offline DavidJNormoyle

Re: Willing to answer questions
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2012, 09:36:06 PM »
Just thought of another question. Were you submitting your books to trade publishers all along up until you decided to selfpub and what was your experience with trade?