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Self-Publishing: Putting it all Together

Yesterday, I finished the re-editing of Chroniech (second book in the Galactic Alliance series and the first book I ever wrote). Today, I start on the Kindle formatting pass. Once that's done, I'll do the Createspace formatting and then build the new cover. I fly to Charlotte, North Carolina today and I should have plenty of time to work on the formatting. From this point forward, I am not going to be re-editing any of the other books, just reformatting.

I had a short story idea pop into my head a couple weeks ago. It's not my normal genre (in fact, I'm not sure where it fits). I had a bunch of it stuck in my head and the only way to stop thinking about it was to get it into the computer. I read it at yesterday's writers group and there were lots of suggestions about where I could go with it. When I have time, I'll play around and see where it goes.

I've run out of self-publishing topics and so I asked the writers group for suggestions. Most, were things I've already covered. A few are aspects of writing I'm not familiar with. So, instead of a single topic, I'm going to throw it all together. If you have anything you want to hear about, please let me know.

Putting it all Together
Here is what has been covered over the past few weeks:

Writing is a Business
Establish Your Network
What Not to Do
Protecting Your Work
You as an Author
Time Management
Tools of the Trade
Ups and Downs

Some of the suggested topics include:

  • Marketing your book - A subject that can take a huge amount of research and may or may not actually help to increase sales.
  • Resources - I'll cover this below.
  • The Power of Reviews - I've talked about this in other posts when I discussed the different philosophies of reading or not reading your reviews. I believe an author should read them.
  • The Amazon "Monopoly" - There is no doubt about the fact that if you want to make money selling books, you must put them on Amazon.
  • Synopses and Back Covers - This can be an entire book in itself and any post would have to cover many other aspects of writing. I suggest reading a lot of books on how to improve your writing.
  • Aspects of Building a Good Narrative - See the previous note.

I was asked how I managed to have such good sales back in 2012. I've done a lot of thinking on this and I've come to believe that it was caused by Amazon and how their secret algorithms work. Amazon is in the business of making money and if they can promote a single book and make a good return on that virtually free investment, then they'll figure out a way to spot such opportunities. Here is what I believe happened:

The secret algorithm tracks all purchases. It knows who bought what and when. One of the trends the algorithm searches for is how people treat an author's series. If I buy book one and then buy book two, the algorithm notices this. It I then go on to buy book three, the algorithm ranks that as a string of purchases. If this pattern is repeated by a number of people (even if it's a small number of people) the algorithm concludes that the author has a following because people go back and buy the other books in the series. Amazon may then decide to promote the first book of the series because doing so will result in the sale of not only the first book, but the other books in the series as well.

I am convinced that this is what happened to the Galactic Alliance series in 2012. Based on this, if you are planning on writing a series, you might want to consider setting things up so that at least 2 of the books are released very close to each other. The algorithm might also have an expanded view in that it might look at all the books an author has written. If I buy a book from someone and like it enough, I will search for and then buy another book by that same author. I'm sure Amazon's algorithm will notice that as well especially if the books are in the same genre. So, even if you're not working on a series, if the books are in the same genre, then perhaps you should wait and release them together.

I've had a lot of people ask what kind of books I've been reading to help me improve my writing. Reading is just one way to improve your skills -- actually writing helps as well. Our writing group leader made a statement yesterday that makes good sense. The reason it's a good practice to wait until you finish a story before you start editing it is that you will be a better writer after finishing the story than before you started it. I couldn't agree more. Writing improves your writing. To back that up, read.

My library is full of books. Most of them I've read. Some I've glanced at and others I haven't gotten around to yet. I am the type of reader who reads a book from cover to cover. This includes books that are normally used as reference manuals. I read them that way because if I don't, I don't know what's in them. Instead of listing all my reference manuals, Here's a series of pictures of my shelves:

Some notes:

  • Power Struggle is not another book written by myself. It is Chroniech as it was originally published. Don't buy it!
  • The last shelf was purchased so I could gather up all of my signed copies in one location. It also has become my overflow shelf for my reference library. I will be moving the copies of my own books to this shelf and use the space on my reference library to house more reference books such as the massive Chicago Manual of Style sitting by itself in the last photo.
So there's my wrap-up. Please let me know if you have any additional topics you would like for me to discuss. I'll keep thinking about it as well.

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