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Top Kindle Indie Authors Worth Following

July 31st, 2012 . by Peggy

As a followup to my blog post for VivMag.com, about why women over 30 write better eBooks, here’s a list of the top female indie Authors worth following on Twitter, and definitely worth reading.

I was fascinated with how each of these women market themselves. Some have many books, others have very few. Some are wild about Twitter, and some are not. They use tools like video and podcasting to help get their eBooks out there. Their pricing is all over the map. And if you follow each of them carefully, you’ll learn more about their writing style, their attitudes about their business, and how that plays into their success.

In no particular order…

EL James

( https://twitter.com/E_L_James/)

- Fifty Shades of Grey

- Fifty Shades Darker

- Fifty Shades Freed

Karen McQuestion

(https://twitter.com/KarenMcQuestion)

- The Long Way Home

- A Scattered Life

- Easily Amused

Click here to see all of Karen McQuestion’s Kindle eBooks

Ruth Cardello

 (https://twitter.com/ruthiecardello)

- Maid for the Billionaire

- For Love or Legacy

- Bedding the Billionaire

Jamie McGuire

(https://twitter.com/jamiemcguire_)

- Beautiful Disaster

- Providence

- Requiem

Click here to see all of Jamie McGuire’s Kindle eBooks.

 

Tammara Webber

(https://twitter.com/TammaraWebber)

- Easy

- Where You Are

- Good For You

 

Colleen Hoover

 (https://twitter.com/colleenhoover)

- Slammed

- Point of Retreat

 

Zoe Winters

 (https://twitter.com/zoewinters)

- Blood Lust

- Save My Soul

- The Catalyst

 

Erin Kern

 (https://twitter.com/erinkern04)

- Here Comes Trouble

- Looking For Trouble

 

CJ Lyons

 (https://twitter.com/cjlyonswriter)

- Nerves of Steel

- Sleight of Hand

- Face to Face

Click here to see all of CJ Lyons’ Kindle eBooks.

 

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5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Wrote My First eBook

July 2nd, 2012 . by Peggy

I’m about to complete my part in eBook number 170. Here’s what I wish I’d known before I started this journey.

1. You will need to write much more than you thought.

Alice might be in Wonderland - but she's not in over her head.

I knew that I’d probably want to write more than just one eBook, in fact, I could imagine dozens that I wanted to create, but deep in my heart, I didn’t really think I’d get to be part of this many. While I’ve certainly not created all 170 alone (about 1/3 of them I did alone – the rest were collaborative efforts with some incredible people) from that first one, I gave myself permission to not do it if I didn’t feel like it. That was not realistic. It was also not professional. I recently said to someone who had just gotten through number 1, “That’s great – now do 7-10 more by the end of the summer.” She was not enthused.

The reality is that eBook success is exponential. This is a volume business. While each item that you create might be a wonderful success, it might also be a horrible failure. Long-term success depends on producing timeless content with a long life span, and creating enough content that you’re known for a body of work rather than one or two products. Besides, a pattern is easy to replicate – only the first eBook is a learning experience.

2. You must be committed to your niche.

Over and freakingover again, I say, know your keywords.

The most expensive part of any business is customer acquisition. (Aka, sales.) Once you get a client under your wing, it’s much cheaper to sell more of the same sort of stuff to the same person, than it is to get new customers. That means that you really need to know your audience, and their needs, from day 1. This is most easily discovered through keyword research. Then your job becomes very simple: just create more of that which your niche desires. Otherwise, you find yourself constantly in a state of experimentation and newness. Your niche is your reader family. Take them unto your bosom. They are actually pretty easy to feed – if they want spaghetti every night, then for heaven’s sake, give it to them.

It took me a few years to get really good at doing keyword research. In the meantime, I did a lot of guessing, and wrote a lot of lovely content that didn’t sell. Spare thyself this agony. I’ve shared the basics here in this free eBook: Keyword Cheat Sheet, now in version 4.2. Costs you nothing to both download and use.

Don’t forget you can also serve multiple niches. I write under 11 different pseudonyms (some for clients, and confidential) and each of those serves a completely different niche. I’m sure there’s crossover, but a pseudonym is like a sign that says to readers, “Hey, remember that stuff you liked? There more of it right here.”

3. The money is in affiliate marketing.

While it’s true that things like SEO and social media are extremely important, affiliate marketing allows me to leverage the networks of others. (I had heard that expression for years before I knew what they were talking about.) By making small payouts for each referral, and making it easily trackable, it means that if I just focus on creating really great stuff, I can make other people confident in recommending it.

Affiliate marketing is a fairly broad term that has a number of different meanings, but essentially, eBookers can use it to track payouts to others who help them sell more books. There is no limit to the number of affiliates you can have, or how creative you can get with it. Watch for more help with this topic from me in coming months, in things like classes and eBooks.

4. It can be extremely boring.

I admit there have been days when I feel like if I spend one more minute looking at a monitor, I’ll claw my own eyes out. To top it off, for a little over 5 years, I worked from home in a beautiful but isolated area, a small gulf island off the west coast of Canada. This meant that if it weren’t for the dog, there were days when I wouldn’t open my front door. If I were to do it again, I’d make sure that I worked in a shared office space of some kind, like I do now, and networked in the real world more, like I do now, and lived in a city or more populated area, like I do now, in Las Vegas.

Besides the lifestyle issues, I now know it wasn’t good for my writing. Isolation is often seen as a requirement of Authors, and while I’ve seen the benefits of that sometimes, I can now see that I lacked objectivity about my business in general, and certainly about writing. It definitely makes for better non-fiction writing to be part of a team, where I’m not working exclusively on my own agenda. Being able to think like a reader, instead of like a writer, is an important skill for writers of all types.

5. The ramp-up time took a lot longer than I thought it would.

Partly because I was a noob, and partly because I was unfocused, it took me a long time to learn what I really needed to get done in what period of time. The original audience that I assumed existed, it turned out, didn’t exist at all. At first, I ignored the ghost writing market. (Stupid.) I didn’t write any fiction because I assumed it wouldn’t have a market. (Also, incredibly stupid.) I chose prices that were both too high and too low. (Stupid, and unresearched.) I agonized over the little things, which it turned out was a waste of my time. I took forever to figure out that I needed to partner with others to create cool products and services.

While I still struggle with typical self-employment issues, like setting aside time for my own projects versus that of clients, I now realize that the instant success that I thought was coming was a joke. I ignored the concept of critical mass, and it took until my own product number four before many people noticed my product number one. This took over 2 years, and in the meantime, instead of recognizing that this was all part of a normal development cycle, I called myself a failure.

The lifespan of eBooks can be just as long, if not longer than printed books. They are subject to update and regular revision, as they’re not burdened by the overhead of a stock of books. This means that you can spend a lot longer ramping up an audience, building your list, your reader base, and your discoverability. It’s worth it, and it’s normal. Savour it as part of the journey.


So when I take my daughter into my lap, and explain to her what it takes to be a good eBook creator, (and those of you who know me know that I do this often…) I talk to her about technology, commitment, and taking the dog for a twice-daily walk. At six years old, she already has a plan to write a series of books about cats and Barbie. Next week, we’re doing the keyword research about that.

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Why I tell writers not to get too excited about copyright.

November 7th, 2011 . by Peggy

There are reasonable privacy precautions to take when you start a publishing project. But don’t obsess over the stuff that doesn’t matter.

Almost every Author comes to me with a lot of fear (read: baggage from bad stories they’ve heard or imagined) about “copyright” and the possibility of people stealing their stuff. In all 12+ years I’ve worked as an editor, I’ve only seen two Authors who have lost anything because they didn’t sign the proper contracts. Neither were clients of mine, but they came to me for advice after such a thing happened. One was a case involving a divorce, (yeah, like I’m going to get involved in *that*!) and the second was a business partner that wasn’t happy and split, taking the IP (Intellectual Property) with her to market on her own. I’ve seen many, many more people throw around their IP without any protection at all, and never had anything happen. From what I’ve witnessed in my own businesses and those of my husband, disputes over ownership of content are very rare and usually involve something much more complicated, like an ugly divorce or the breakup of a business. It seems to become less common as technology advances, as it’s easier than ever to simply show a date stamp on a document and prove that we thought of it first.

All written works are protected by default copyright laws in Canada, the USA, and most of Europe, as per the Berne Convention. As it states on Wikipedia,

In all countries where the Berne Convention standards apply, copyright is automatic, and need not be obtained through official registration with any government office. Once an idea has been reduced to tangible form, for example by securing it in a fixed medium (such as a drawing, sheet music, photograph, a videotape, or a computer file), the copyright holder is entitled to enforce his or her exclusive rights.

In other words, as long as you can prove that you were the originator of the work (old files, notes, printouts with your edit marks, etc.) then you’re pretty safe in a general sense. The thing is, if you catch someone stealing your stuff, you would still need to prove it, and take it to court to be compensated in any way. (Although usually the threat to sue is enough to make people hold off.) The only benefit of actual copyright registration is that if you sue, you can sue for more money, and in different ways. But you’d still have to decide if it was worth it to fork out money for a lawyer in the first place.

When should you worry about copyright? In the music community, it’s a popular theme and debate. I’m not saying that theft doesn’t happen, because of course it does. And nothing I say here on this website replaces the advice of a good lawyer. But if worrying about this is stopping from creatively progressing with your work, I think you need to pause and consider if there’s a real issue, or an imagined one.

Now on the other hand, a smart and cheap way to give everyone a little more comfort is to sign an NDA, or non-disclosure agreement. I paid a lawyer to write mine, which you can now download by clicking the linked image at the top of this article. (Feel free to steal this and re-work it for your own evil purposes.)

What does this NDA do?

- It says that you promise not to steal my ideas about editing / technology / marketing, and I promise not to steal your ideas about your content.

- It says that you can’t circumvent me and go to one of my suppliers without paying me, nor I to your suppliers.

- It says that we’re both bound to do this equally. This contract doesn’t make a distinction between you or I, and so it doesn’t favour any one party.

- It says that we both agree to do this for 5 years, for a variety of projects in that time. (You don’t need to sign one for each of the 5 books on which you’re working.)

- It says that this NDA does not constitute a contract to do work, and that we’re just agreeing not to steal from each other.

So, to whom should you send this document? Certainly your editor, because we know all your secrets. And possibly any consultants that you hire to work on the project, and your graphic designer. And anybody that you ask for input as you develop your ideas. But that’s about it. You would not ask early reviewers and potential distributors, for example. In the first place, you want to be really nice to those people, and in the second place, they’re not interested in stealing anything anyway. Not that asking people to sign an NDA isn’t nice, but it can put some people on the defensive.

It’s not that your stuff isn’t worth stealing – I’m sure it is. But it seems we’re all too worried about our own ideas being stolen to worry about stealing anyone else’s.

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Why I’ll Never Sell An eBook For 99 Cents

February 12th, 2011 . by Peggy

Is volume the name of the game when it comes to eBooks? I’m not convinced that it is.

In this post by Chris Brogan, he makes two extremely important points about pricing digital products.

1. People never truly know what your content is actually worth. Even after they’ve read it.

2. People assume what content is worth based on the up-front price.

If you give a kid a puppy, they will, from day one, forget to feed it, walk it, and they will never EVER scoop the poop. However, if that kid begs for a puppy for 3 years before you finally cave and let him have it, they will feed it for a year, walk it for a week, and scoop the poop once. This is still imperfect, but an improvement. The old adage about people not holding value for something that comes too easily is still true.

It’s rare for people to take the advice of any expert seriously. The real value of the words of great men and women, people who’ve been there, those who are self-made millionaires, the kids who’ve made it, is in the action that follows. Reading Think and Grow Rich once will tell you that. It’s all stuff you already know. (Or at least, that you should know.) Nothing in that book is groundbreaking. But the people who’ve taken it seriously and then acted on it, their success becomes legend. And then, the book gets a reputation. But everybody hopes for a free puppy.

When I price my books, I have nothing like the reputation of Andrew Carnegie nor his student Napoleon Hill to rely on to drive sales. I need to justify right up front why my stuff is good, whether it be an instruction manual or any of my crappy fiction. If it’s 99 cents, more people will probably download it than if I had priced it at $9.99. (Or in some cases, $99.00.) But I doubt ten times more people will. And at 99 cents, there’s nothing for my readers to brag about. No reason for them to tell their neighbour about how great this book was. It will be forgotten because it was not valued before they even cracked the cover.

I’ve had clients who have grossly underpriced their work. Every single time, I plead with them to not do it. Some listen, and some don’t. Before you underprice your next eBook, ask yourself, “Why do I feel the need to do this?” Is it fear that the book won’t sell at a higher price? (Fear motivates rarely motivates us to do anything positive, but that’s another article.) Instead, what about doing the tougher job: demonstrating value. Only a poor salesman drops his price. Demonstrating benefits, offering testimonials, samples, and showing long-term cost savings are the way to come out on top.

Remember, you only have to sell 1/9th the quantity of eBooks at $9.99 than you do at 99 cents to come out on top.

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Top Marketing Blogs Worth Reading

February 10th, 2011 . by Peggy

The Power 150 from AdAgeAd Age does a daily rank of the world’s 150 top marketing blogs. Here are my faves off that list, and why.

The daily list is at: http://adage.com/power150/. I read several of them regularly, although I don’t read any of them daily. My list of favourites – in the order they are found on the AdAge list – includes;

- Seth’s Blog: Seth Godin, the sexiest head in marketing, has daily blog posts that are short, to-the-point, and don’t waste time. Inspirational.

- Chris Brogan: Also sexy, but different. I’ve heard Brogan speak at various conferences, and he’s a real, down-to-earth guy with stuff that works. Simple.

- CopyBlogger: Brian Clark talks about words that sell, and why. He’s a WordPress advocate, and his posts are uncomplicated and explanatory. Interesting.

- JohnChow.com: I love him for so much more than being Canadian. John is a racehorse in the world of marketing; sleek and fast. Aggressive.

- ShoeMoney.com: Love this guy’s backstory. A real Basement Techie, all grown up. An eager and hardworking guy with great advice. Funny.

- ProBlogger.net: Darren Rowse has plenty of guest bloggers on his site, all about blogging for money. Specific and technical. Aussie.

- JoelComm.com: If you want to learn about how to use ClickBank or AdSense, this is the guy. Believable and trustworthy. Sensible.

- ChrisG.com: Garrett’s generous new media and WordPress blog fills a gap that others have missed. Smart, understandable, and practical. Clever.

I’m sure there are others just as worthy, but these are the guys on that list that I read regularly. I notice that Michelle MacPhearson’s blog and Frank Kern’s variety of crazy sites have missed the list entirely, which is a real shame. Both are also great folks worth following.

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Chris Garrett on Affiliate Marketing

December 12th, 2010 . by Peggy

I really like Chris Garret’s honest comments in this article about his experiences with affiliate marketing. While he talks about it more from the standpoint of running ads for someone else’s product, rather than having an affiliate program for your own products, he gives encouraging advice that mirrors my own.
Pay special attention to his remarks about mistakes that he made while starting up: as a product owner with your own affiliate program, you can use quality documentation (good written instructions) to make it easier for your affiliates, build their trust, and help them to avoid potholes.

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Jill Exler Is My Hero

December 7th, 2010 . by Peggy

Jill Exler is a Mum, Author, and Entrepreneur who is really hitting the streets with her tool for self-published Authors, Jexbo.com.

Jill’s smile isn’t the only bright thing about her. Jexbo only takes 5% for any self-pubs that list their books on her site, as compared to (ultimately) over 50%, depending on the variety of services available for Authors. Jill created the site herself after stuggling with her own self-publishing issues.

I love that Jill took things into her own hands, and that she’s kept her business model so simple. Her service is complemented by an interview series (Hey Jill! I’m available!) and a newsletter aimed at self-pubs. It’s all about helping self-pubs advance their businesses.

Jill takes things seriously, and she doesn’t mess around. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jexbo. What a clever cookie.

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The Word On The Street – Here I Come!

September 14th, 2010 . by Peggy

I’m super proud to be speaking at this year’s The Word On The Street Festival in Vancouver, BC. On Sunday, September 26th, the other two Book Broads and I will be hosting a FREE panel titled “Build it and they will come – NAH!” It’s all about book marketing, publicity, and generally being in people’s faces.

The description of our talk goes something like this: “Many writers assume once the book is complete, it will sell itself, right? Wrong. No matter the method of publication — traditionally published, entrepreneurially published, or electronically published — the onus of promotion falls on the author. The Book Broads offer practical advice for writers (published or not) to raise their profiles, extend their reach and build their fan base.
Join Angela Crocker, Kimberly Plumley, and Peggy Richardson as they take the sting out of the overwhelming prospect of media interviews, blog posts, Facebook updates, podcasting, and so much more.”

Queue up early! We start at 1:45pm downstairs in the Peter Kaye room of the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library. (Yeah, that building that looks like the Roman Colloseum.)

See you there!

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Tim Ferriss Agrees With Me

August 29th, 2010 . by Peggy

Read this fantastic blog post by Tim Ferriss; book marketing guru, world traveler, and Author of The 4-Hour Workweek. Please pay special attention to the part where he mentions, “First off, writing books is a terrible revenue model for authors.”

His summary of the opportunities in eBook marketing are very clearly pointing to using affiliate marketing as the way to make that huge hit really happen. This is the important component that I see missing from almost every single plan that every Author has put in front of me, like, ever. If you want to make money from eBooks, learn every little thing you can about affiliate marketing, and then do it for a couple of years before you decide to get serious about the details.

I love this guy.

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If Seth Is Doing It, Why Can’t We All?

August 25th, 2010 . by Peggy

Seth Godin, AuthorThe adorable Seth Godin announced this week that he has created his last traditionally-published book. Here’s why his plan may or may not work for everyone.

(It’s a great post, by the way, and I strongly suggest you read it.)

Seth is brilliant – that’s not debatable. He’s a rebel, a visionary, and his writing has caused me to seriously question many things about the way I consume, and the way I conduct my own business. He has spent the last 12 years developing great books that (mostly) turned out to be bestsellers. He claims this latest book, Linchpin, is his “life’s work”. (Can’t wait to read it.) And he has decided that none of his future writings will be distributed through traditional publishing channels.

Why this works for Godin;

- He already has years of live market research under his belt, which is by his own admission, really because of his relationship with great publishers.

- He has a massive private following through his blog and social media connections.

- He really does know his stuff, and he practices what he preaches.

- He has plenty of capital, both monetary and intangible, to re-invest in his business.

- He has a staff.

Do you have all of those things? Possibly not. I know I don’t. So here are my suggested alternatives for those of us who don’t, in the same order.

- We can perform a surprising amount of market research on our own. Let’s start with keyword research.

- We can build a following by doing exactly what Seth does, such as using our own blog and social media connections, and building slowly. We don’t need it to be massive to be effective – we just need it to be loyal. Loyalty must be earned.

- Very simply, we need to do and be the same. This does not take money or even much time. Transparency sells.

- Does it really take a ton of money to make things happen? Can we adjust our expectations to take advantage of our existing resources? What is the value of sweat equity?

- Staff can be had easily and quickly using virtual assistants. Knowing what to delegate has been my big project for 2010. I think I’m finally getting the hang of it.

Does it work for everyone? Not if they don’t have the drive and imagination. But since all of us are writers, perhaps we have an advantage.

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