Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction Writers => Self Publishing Discussion => Topic started by: Michael Sullivan on December 21, 2011, 01:37:30 PM

Title: Willing to answer questions
Post by: Michael Sullivan 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.
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: xiagan 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. :)
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: ColinFBarnes 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 :)
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: professional-liar 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?
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: Michael Sullivan 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.
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: Michael Sullivan 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 (http://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 (http://www.riyria.com)) I discuss "writing tips." My wife's blog (www.write2publish.blogspot.com (http://www.write2publish.blogspot.com)) covers issues such as ISBNs and marketing and what not.
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: TrackerNeil 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?
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: FlemmingHansen 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 ;)
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: Michael Sullivan 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
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:

(http://www.ridanpublishing.com/images/crown_review_request.jpg)

Notice a few things about this:

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:

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.

Approaching them
Now you are in a position to approach this strategically rather than haphazard.

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:

That's about all I can think of.  Hope this helps.
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: Michael Sullivan 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.
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: FlemmingHansen 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 :)
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: TrackerNeil 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.
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: Rtkaelin 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 (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=4696)

Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: DavidJNormoyle 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.
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: DavidJNormoyle 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?
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: Michael Sullivan on July 10, 2012, 09:20:00 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.

Oops...sorry for the delay, I forgot to watch this thread.  I'm glad you liked the thread and the information. Yes I did it with Google Docs and the image is a .jpg that I have posted on the Internet.
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: Michael Sullivan on July 10, 2012, 09:23:46 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?

No. I had submitted the books to a agents through standard query and landed one who sent it around to the various houses.  She didn't get anywhere and since her husband was relapsing from a leukemia ended up closing her doors.  She suggested I try some small presses and I submitted to 4 and got picked up by one. They put out the first book, but ran on hard times and although they did the production for book 2 they couldn't come up with the cash for the press run, so I reclaimed the right and self-published.

While self-published I was releasing a book every six-months so didn't bother submitting anything to anyone because it would have thrown a huge monkey wrench into that situation.  When I got the 5th book out, sales were seeing a nice climb so I thought...why not try New York again. By this time I had a foreign rights agent, and she is the one who actually sent it to New York.
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: robertbevan on August 06, 2012, 04:53:45 AM
i have a question if you're still around. (this thread's gone kinda dry) i notice you don't have any links on your sig line here. in fact, i had to actively search through the first page of this thread to find a link to your blog (i'm glad i did. it looks like it's going to keep me busy for a while). why is that? is it a "why bother? i'm already successful enough" sort of thing? or did you make a conscious decision to not include links to your books, or your blog, or your facebook author's page (or whatever) in your signature line on this forum (or on other forums) because you think it would do more harm than good for some reason?

right now, still being new to the whole self-publishing game, this sig line is the only marketing i'm doing. i've got a small blogger account set up, but i haven't made enough posts on it yet to justify showing it to people. and when i have some news, i'll make a post about it on facebook, but i want to be careful not to get spammy on there. anyway... i think i've about milked all the facebook sales i'm going to get.

thanks for making this thread, and for making yourself available for questions.
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: Michael Sullivan on August 13, 2012, 02:24:59 PM
i have a question if you're still around. (this thread's gone kinda dry) i notice you don't have any links on your sig line here. in fact, i had to actively search through the first page of this thread to find a link to your blog (i'm glad i did. it looks like it's going to keep me busy for a while). why is that? is it a "why bother? i'm already successful enough" sort of thing? or did you make a conscious decision to not include links to your books, or your blog, or your facebook author's page (or whatever) in your signature line on this forum (or on other forums) because you think it would do more harm than good for some reason?

right now, still being new to the whole self-publishing game, this sig line is the only marketing i'm doing. i've got a small blogger account set up, but i haven't made enough posts on it yet to justify showing it to people. and when i have some news, i'll make a post about it on facebook, but i want to be careful not to get spammy on there. anyway... i think i've about milked all the facebook sales i'm going to get.

thanks for making this thread, and for making yourself available for questions.

Hey, I'm on vacation in Maine and haven't been on line.  It's not a "why bother" thing it's that when I'm here discussing things with authors I'm not in "selling mode" I'm in "helping mode".  I'm pretty sure all the information is in my profile page (should check that to be sure).  Also different forums have different rules about signatures and at the time I set up this account, I probably had just come from a site that didn't allow signatures and I didn't do the research to see what was allowed and what wasn't.   So no it probably wasn't really a conscious decision, probably more of a I can in quick and didn't realize how long I'd stay ;-)  Now that I've been here a while I might have to revisit that.

As to you using the sig line - I think that is good, and worth doing, just keep in mind that authors are pressed for both time and money so many probably won't buy from you posting in a writing forum area.  Best rule of thumb is go with the readers are - like goodreads.  Some groups there allow for signatures, others don't so be sure and check their rules before using one.

You are welcome - and feel free to stop back and ask any others in the future.
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: robertbevan on August 14, 2012, 12:31:17 PM
thank you, michael sullivan.

i joined goodreads because i thought it's something i'm supposed to do now that i'm an author. but i really don't know what i'm doing there. the account is just sitting there stagnant, and every once in a while someone asks to be my friend, and i accept.

i'm a member of a few gamer forums, because my book is about a group of gamers. and i talk about game stuff (not about my book), hoping people will be curious about the links in my sig line.
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: Michael Sullivan on September 07, 2012, 10:00:02 PM
thank you, michael sullivan.

i joined goodreads because i thought it's something i'm supposed to do now that i'm an author. but i really don't know what i'm doing there. the account is just sitting there stagnant, and every once in a while someone asks to be my friend, and i accept.

i'm a member of a few gamer forums, because my book is about a group of gamers. and i talk about game stuff (not about my book), hoping people will be curious about the links in my sig line.

As with anything you get out of goodreads what you put into good reads.  Participate in the groups.  Give recommendations when people ask.  Answer questions for other authors that are newer than you are.  Recommend another author's books that you enjoyed. Being a member of the community first and and an "author" second is the best advice I can offer.
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: jefGoelz on September 14, 2012, 04:37:03 AM
Can you use self-publishing as a vehicle to get comments/reviews and improve your book for eventual submission to a publishing house?  How well do publishing houses welcome a book that is self-published?  In other words, will they publish something you have already sold 1000 or more copies of (presumably after their own round of editing and revision)?   How about picking up a series that started as self-published?  On the other hand, if an author is disappointed with the results from a publishing house, can he get back the rights and self-publish?
Title: Re: Willing to answer questions
Post by: Autumn2May on September 17, 2012, 01:00:41 PM
Can you use self-publishing as a vehicle to get comments/reviews and improve your book for eventual submission to a publishing house?  How well do publishing houses welcome a book that is self-published?  In other words, will they publish something you have already sold 1000 or more copies of (presumably after their own round of editing and revision)?   How about picking up a series that started as self-published?  On the other hand, if an author is disappointed with the results from a publishing house, can he get back the rights and self-publish?

Good question. I'm curious about this too.