Michelle Booth, aka Michelle Campbell-Scott, is the author of Goodreads for Authors and several other books. She is an expert on marketing and promotional strategies for self published and independent authors.
In today’s show, she shares some great tips on marketing and increasing your income as a self published author, including publishing your book in paperback and audiobook format, as well as some great free and low-cost marketing strategies for authors.
Michelle began writing when she was 4 years old. She was an only child and her family didn’t live close to many people, so she entertained herself by writing stories. She wrote a play that her classmates put on, and that convinced her not to go into acting or directing.
She loves writing. But Michelle is a people person and doesn’t like the idea of locking herself in a room for 12 hours a day.
She started working in public relations out of college before the personal computer was invented. She learned about computers, trained on them, and then began teaching people how to use computers.
She also did IT training for businesses. That morphed into social media training for businesses. Eventually she began writing things down and creating courses for other people. She got fed up making money for other people.
That’s when she decided to try writing because she loves it so much. She published her first book on Amazon in 2012. Now she’s a full-time author. She helps some famous authors with the technical side of publishing, but the majority of her income comes from her own books.
Self-Publishing the First Book
The first book Michelle published was on aquaponics. She and her fiancé took up the hobby together when they met.
When her first book started doing well, she resurrected a story for children that she hadn’t finished and put that up on Amazon. When her second book didn’t do as well as her first she started looking into ways to make books sell better.
She read Tom’s book on ninja marketing strategies for authors and started looking into alternate marketing strategies.
Michelle discovered Goodreads and at first couldn’t make sense of it, because Goodreads isn’t easy for authors to use.
Last Christmas Michelle and her daughter researched Goodreads and Michelle produced her book Goodreads For Authors: How To Use Goodreads To Promote Your Books.
A week after Michelle’s book came out Amazon announced they bought Goodreads. The sales of her book skyrocketed after the announcement. Since then Michelle has done a lot of podcasts, and been on a lot of discussion panels about Goodreads and marketing for indie authors.
That naturally led to her working with Nancy Hendrickson. Nancy started as a traditionally published author. She decided to get out of her traditional publishing contract because she realized how much money the publishing company was making, and how little work they actually put into promoting her work. Michelle and Nancy wrote Make Your Book Work Harder: How to Use Multiple Platforms to Make More Money.
You really should consider publishing your work on multiple platforms because it allows you to make multiple streams of income from one book.
How to Generate Additional Income from Your Books
“If you own the copyright to your work, there are so many different ways you can monetize it. There’s licensing deals. There’s international book deals. There’s translation rights, just to name a few.” – Tom Corson Knowles
Getting on multiple platforms is something you can do right away, as soon as you self publish. The first thing you want to do is put your book on CreateSpace so you can sell your book in print. Here’s a checklist for self-publishing your book on CreateSpace.
Getting Distribution for Your Book
There are three platforms you should distribute on to maximize your market penetration. Those are:
- E-book through Amazon and other digital bookstores.
- Paperback through CreateSpace or Lightning Source.
- And audiobooks through Audible.
Most books will convert well to print unless they’re very short. Likewise, most books convert well to audio, unless they have lots of pictures and diagrams. Even if they do have lots of pictures and diagrams, you can use the audiobook as a way to get traffic to your website by creating a PDF of all the charts and graphs in your book.
Audiobooks can be expensive to produce. Producing the e-book only costs you time if you follow the eBook formatting checklist, and producing the Print on Demand paperback can be very inexpensive (all you have to do is pay for a proof copy to be sent to you, and authors generally pay half of the cover price.)
Every new marketplace you put your book into opens your business to a new audience. So as soon as you can you should have books in all three formats: eBook, print, and audio.
Michelle’s CreateSpace sales make up about 20% of her Kindle sales. So she’s increased her audience by 20% just by making her books available through CreateSpace.
How to Turn an E-Book File into a File Formatted for CreateSpace
CreateSpace is print on demand. That means there is no upfront cost. If you wanted to self publish your book in the past, you had to go to a vanity publisher, and by hundreds of copies of your book which cost thousands of dollars.
You don’t have to do that now. When a book is ordered on Amazon, it is printed there and then. That’s what Print on Demand means.
When you sign up for CreateSpace which is another Amazon company, you can sign up completely free and use your Amazon login.
Everything you do including uploading your manuscript and cover file is completely free. The only cost is if you want to order a proof copy for yourself (which is a good practice, because it allows you to make sure that the book actually looks like you want it to look for your customers.)
You don’t have to order a copy for yourself if you don’t want to. It is possible to check the formatting of your book online. But it’s really good to order a proof copy, and it’s a wonderful feeling to hold a copy of your book in your hands.
After you have your book formatted for Kindle you can very easily format your book for CreateSpace. Formatting your book for CreateSpace can actually be a lot easier than it was to format your book for Kindle.
You can do a lot more with your CreateSpace book then you can do with the Kindle version of your book. You can’t have tables in the Kindle version of your book. You have to convert all tables and figures to images. You can have tables in your CreateSpace file.
In order to properly format your book for CreateSpace you simply have to get a few things right. One of the biggest elements that has to be correct is your margins. If you want to take a crack at formatting your CreateSpace book yourself, you can check out our CreateSpace publishing checklist.
Image Standards on CreateSpace
One of the problems authors have found using CreateSpace is that images have to be of a certain quality in CreateSpace books. CreateSpace asks for images that have a quality of at least 300 dpi (Dots per Inch). If the image has a quality of less than 200 dpi CreateSpace won’t accept the file for print. That’s because images that are less than 200 dpi may look blurry when printed on paper.
Designing Your Cover for Print
When you design a cover for Kindle all you need is the front cover. When you format a cover for CreateSpace you need: your front cover, the width of your spine (and the words that go on your spine), and your back cover.
Figuring out the size of your spine has to do with two things.
- The size of each page of your book. (6″ X 9″ is the most popular paperback size but there are several sizes you can choose from.)
- The type of paper that you’re going to use to print your book.
You can figure out the size of your spine by using the CreateSpace template creator and following the instructions on the website.
If you’ve paid a cover designer to create a cover for you, most cover designers will be able to create a cover that works with CreateSpace if you give them the dimensions of each piece of your cover.
If you don’t mind limiting your sales to CreateSpace and Amazon, you can use Amazon’s cover creator to create your print book cover for you. You give Amazon your Kindle cover to use as your front cover, and they will create the spine and back cover for you. All you have to do is use Amazon’s text tool to put your blurb on the back.
People think that formatting your paperback book is really difficult. There is a learning curve. But the wonderful thing about it is once you’ve set up your paperback book, you’ll make income from that forever.
Amazon CreateSpace and ISBN Numbers
Every paperback book in the United States needs and ISBN number. Indie authors have three options when it comes to ISBN numbers.
- You can get a free ISBN directly from CreateSpace. If you do this CreateSpace will be listed as the publisher of record on your Amazon product page.
- You can pay CreateSpace $10 for an ISBN. This allows you to list yourself or your publishing company as the publisher of record on your Amazon product page. Buying an ISBN from CreateSpace slightly limits the number of distribution channels you can make use of. But CreateSpace has been opening up more distribution channels recently.
- You can buy ISBN’s directly from Bowker. This gives you complete control over where you distribute your book. If self-publishing is going to be your career, it’s worth looking into buying your ISBN’s directly from Bowker primarily because it’s cheaper to buy them in bulk from Bowker than it is to buy them from CreateSpace.
We always recommend you buy an ISBN directly from Bowker for reasons explained in that blog post.
Goodreads Giveaways and Their Viral Potential
Goodreads giveaways are brilliant because they have the potential to go viral.
Michelle first came across Goodreads because a friend of hers on Facebook reviewed a book. Michelle clicked on that review and went to Goodreads to read more. She ended up signing up for Goodreads.
Goodreads is a social network for readers. You can link your Facebook, twitter or Google plus account to your Goodreads account.
Every time someone enters a Goodreads giveaway all of their friends on Goodreads find out about it. If they linked to other social networks, friends on those social networks will find out as well.
That’s how 50 Shades of Grey exploded. The first month 50 Shades of Grey was published, it wasn’t doing very well in sales. Then the author scheduled a Goodreads giveaway.
Now obviously, that’s an extreme example of the kind of success you can have with a Goodreads giveaway. But there’s no doubt that you can end up selling a lot of copies of your book from a Goodreads giveaway.
You can set up a Goodreads giveaway completely free. You go to Goodreads and set up the giveaway by telling them how many copies you have and how long you want the giveaway to last. Goodreads recommends that you let the giveaway last one month. At the end of that time you send the free copy or copies of the book(s) to the winner or winners.
Each Goodreads giveaway attracts on average 825 entries. Think about how much you’d have to pay Google adwords or Amazon advertising for 800 clicks on your advertisement. It would be quite a lot of money. Goodreads giveaways are completely free.
The average of 825 entries is just the people who will sign up for your giveaway. You have the potential of hundreds more people seeing the giveaway and checking out your author page on Amazon, to check out the book and see what else you’ve written.
Even if you don’t think you’re going to make any paperback sales, put your book on CreateSpace so that you can schedule a Goodreads giveaway. The advertising is priceless. They really do have the potential to be explosive.
Marketing Your Book on Goodreads
Once you have your paperback book live on Amazon, you can schedule a Goodreads giveaway. Goodreads is a social network for readers owned by Amazon.
Goodreads is a wonderful place to meet existing readers and build relationships with them.
One of the best ways to build relationships with readers through Goodreads is their Goodreads Giveaway Program.
If you just do a search on YouTube for Goodreads giveaway you’ll see tons of videos of readers who’ve won loads of books. Readers love this sort of thing.
By giving away your book free on Goodreads, you’re expanding your audience, and you never know how many people are going to end up reading that paperback copy of your book. That copy of your book could find its way any number of places during its life.
On the customer end all you have to do to enter a Goodreads giveaway contest is to click a button. The Goodreads algorithm targets people who are likely to give reviews when deciding who is going to win the Goodreads giveaway. They will target people interested in your book’s genre who are likely to write a review about that book.
So not only do you get a new reader interested in your genre. You get a review of your book which will help you sell more books in the future.
You can also make a portion of your e-book available for people to read for free on Goodreads. If possible you want to stop at a cliffhanger so people will want to keep reading.
If you don’t have a website or blog of your own you can set up a free one on Goodreads.
www.librarything.com is website that will allow you to give away free copies of your e-book to readers.
What to Do after Your 90 Day Period of Exclusivity with KDP Select
Most people will enroll in KDP select when they first publish their book on Amazon. That’s still one of the best ways to get visibility for your book if you’re an unknown author.
After that 90 day period you have to manually unenroll in KDP select to allow your e-book to go wide in distribution.
Michelle recommends Smashwords as a platform to distribute your e-book to multiple platforms.
Smashwords will distribute to the Apple online bookstore. Amazon is still the e-book distribution champion by quite a large margin. But Apple is number 2.
Formatting your book for Smashwords is tricky but you can easily pay someone on fiverr.com to format your manuscript for you.
Smashwords distributes to multiple platforms and you have one dashboard that keeps track of all your data.
Draft2digital is another way to distribute your book if you want to distribute widely. The company distributes to all of the major online retailers including Amazon (with some restrictions).
Marketing Your Book on Multiple Platforms
After you use Smashwords or draft2digital to distribute your e-book to multiple platforms, it’s your responsibility to drive traffic to your various product pages.
Use YouTube to Market Your Book
One of the easiest ways to market your book is to create a short YouTube video designed to make people aware of your book.
You can make a simple book trailer or book promo video using Windows Movie Maker
If you’re writing a nonfiction book you can create a tutorial video about your topic and put it on YouTube.
In your video description you want to put the link to your book as the very first thing, so people will see it before they have to expand the video description to read it.
The power of YouTube is that it’s owned by Google and Google indexes YouTube videos very quickly.
If you’re a nonfiction author, try to make your YouTube videos less than five minutes long. Shorter videos convert better. They are easier to do. And you can make a lot more of them than longer videos with the same material.
If you’re a fiction author, you can upload a YouTube video of someone reading a selection from your book. Just be sure to leave off at a really exciting point so people will want to continue with your story.
If you are afraid of putting your face out there for the world to see, you can simply make an image of the cover of your book the video part of the YouTube video.
You can also use animation software to create animated videos for YouTube.
Build a Team
“If you want to be a successful author you have to have a team of people around you. You can’t do it all yourself.” – Tom Corson-Knowles
If you don’t have a big budget starting out, you can look at your local colleges and universities to find college students who will help you produce your video for free to get the work experience.
You want to look in the media department or the performing arts department of your local college or university. These places will often have video equipment they use to help train students in their field, so you can get a better video than you might be able to produce on your own by going through your local college or university.
It can be scary to ask for help with this sort of thing. The truth is college students will be happy you’re giving them the opportunity to gain real-world experience.
Building a team of local people who are interested in helping you succeed often leads to better results than paying money to big production firms.
If you’re working from within your community, the people working with you will be more invested in your success.
The other great thing about building a team from within your community is that once your project is done, it becomes a local human interest story.
That means you can get publicity from your local news stations. Local news stations are happy to accept a press release.
The Power of Press Releases in Promoting Your Book
Press releases aren’t terribly complicated. All you have to put in your press release is:
In a press release all you have to do is say:
- [Your author name] has published [your book]. It helps people with [whatever your book is about].
- Here is a quote from the author: [include an author quote.]
- You can buy at all these major retailers. [List all the places you can buy your book.]
People think of press releases as a work of art. They aren’t. They’re just a document that gives news organizations information.
When you’re doing something your community will be interested in it. And once you have a local news story, you can branch out to regional and national news coverage.
What you’re doing by telling the story of your process is opening up the process to the public, and using the story of your process to promote the finished product, your book.
“The odds of making money when you don’t promote your own books are really very slim.” – Michelle Booth
You don’t have to promote in person. You can do a lot of your promotion by email. You can get interviewed on podcasts. You can get interviewed via Skype. There’s a lot you can do without having to travel. You just have to make yourself available and set aside the time.
Book Promotion on Blogs
Another way to promote your books is to approach book bloggers.
Early on Michelle was approached by a publicist asking her to promote a new book on her blog. The publicist sent along everything Michelle needed to produce a really good blog post. She sent:
- The book blurb.
- A question and answer sheet of the questions that Michelle would have asked the author in an interview.
- And a picture of the author.
This is a great way to go about promoting your book if you’re shy. You can give book bloggers the information, and you won’t have to communicate with them other than by email.
It gives them a ready-made blog post which is good for their audience. It allows the blogger to save time. It also saves you time while getting your book out there to a wider audience
People and Resources Mentioned in This Interview
Nancy Hendrickson – Michelle’s co-author on the Make Your Book Work Harder book.
Goodreads For Authors: How To Use Goodreads To Promote Your Books by Michelle Booth
Make Your Book Work Harder: How To Use Multiple Platforms To Make More Money by Michelle Booth and Nancy Hendrickson. This book shows authors how to publish the book on mobile platforms.
Download a CreateSpace template – this is a direct link to the CreateSpace page that will help you construct a template you can use to format your manuscript file for CreateSpace.
https://www.fiverr.com/ – this is a marketplace for authors and entrepreneur’s on a budget. You can search this website for people who will format your book for CreateSpace.
https://www.bookdesigntemplates.com/ – here you can buy preformatted templates that allow you to simply cut and paste your book into Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign, or Apple Pages, and format your book for distribution through CreateSpace.
https://www.librarything.com/ – a website where you can away free copies of your e-book.
https://www.draft2digital.com/ – one of the best companies to work with in 2017 if you want to distribute your e-book to multiple platforms. As of November 2017 draft a digital distributes to Amazon (with a few restrictions)
Windows Movie Maker – a free moviemaking software you can use to make simple YouTube videos to promote your books.
https://www.udemy.com/user/michellecampbellscott/ – check out all Michelle’s courses on udemy.