Choosing between an Author Website or Blog

This post is the sixty-third post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

My last two post have been covered author bios and your Amazon Author page. These allow readers to know more about you the author. Another way to connect with your readers is to have a website or a blog. Really into today’s tech savvy world, it is surprising when a company – or in this case an author – doesn’t have some sort of web presence.

So, which should you have – a blog or a website? (And before anyone says anything – yes, a blog is technically a website. The difference is that a blog is typically update more often than a traditional static website.)

Blog

Blog is short for web log and is a frequently updated website consisting of blog posts arranged in reverse chronological order. When readers come to your site, they see your most recent post first.

A blog can include static pages in addition to the current posts. (I have 2 static pages on my blog – “About Me” and “My Books.”)

Positives:  Blogs are typically updated regularly (daily or weekly – it is up to you) which give readers a reason to return. Blogs also provide an opportunity for interaction between authors and readers through comments on posts.

Setting up a blog is easy. You don’t need any computer or programming expertise. You will simply use blogging software such as Blogger or WordPress. If you are on a tight budget, a blog can be established for free.

Negatives: You need to update it regularly (or lose readership of your blog) which can take time away from your writing. You will also need a topic to write about unless you plan to just update readers about your exciting life as an author, which is not something I recommend unless you have a very exciting life or can make it extremely interesting.

Website

A website is a static group of pages containing text, images and videos accessed from the same domain name.

Positives: Easy if you want to put up information that won’t require updating on a regular basis.

Negatives: Unless you have the knowledge, you may have to hire someone to maintain and update your website. You will have to pay for your domain name as well as a site to host your webpage.

Website offer only one-way communication. While you can inform your readers, they cannot comment which means no reader/author interaction.

Website with a blog

The lines between a blog and a website are blurring. You can easily design a website that incorporates a blog. I designed a WordPress-based site for my husband’s law firm that has a static front page as well as three other static pages. It also includes a blog regarding recent court decisions. His website was done through WordPress.org verses WordPress.com where I have my blog. (The difference is .com is hosted on WordPress’s website and includes WordPress in the address while when using WordPress.org you need your own domain name and web hosting site.)

WordPress.org actually offers a comprehensive content management system that allows people to build sites with their software even if they don’t want a blog. Quite a few companies or groups have done their website through WordPress – The Rolling Stones, Carleton University, BBC America, and Best Buy Mobile – to name a few. The benefit of using WordPress is you can publish content such as text, audio and video and have it done in minutes. If you had a traditional static website, it could take hours to build a page and hours to update which can cost you time (or money) each time.

Here are some tips for those of you who choose to set up an author website.

  • Don’t put a blog on your website if you are never (or rarely) going to update it. If you want to blog about something other than the books that you have written or are working on, you might consider setting up a separate blog.
  • Make it easy to buy your book. Readers should not have to hunt around your website to find out what books you have written or how to purchase them. If you don’t have a shopping cart/purchase program on your site, be sure to provide direct buy links to your books at other internet retailers.
  • Make sure to name the site after your author name and not your book or series. This way you can focus on a site that incorporates all your books in one location.
  • Make sure you incorporate social media buttons (widgets) so readers can find you on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Goodreads and any other group you are involved in.
  • Make sure you have a place for readers to submit questions or comments. You do after all want to connect with your readers.
  • Do not use too many images – simple is better. A lot of images will increase load time. But then again you don’t want to go overboard with text. You want to find a balance.
  • Make sure you update your site! And this means not just with your information and latest book but to occasionally change the layout or design colors/style.

Your main goal with an author website is to provide information to not just fans but potential readers. Make it exciting, interesting and some place that will want to visit again.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

#55 – Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results

#56 – Selling your book through book ads

#57 – Using a Book Trailer to promote your novel

#58 – Offering your novels or short stories as a box set

#59 – Deciding whether to offer your book as an audio book

#60 – Taking your book on a virtual book tour

#61 – Writing your Author Bio and selecting an Author Photo

#62 – Setting up your Amazon Author Page and International Amazon pages

Setting up your Amazon Author Page and International Amazon pages

This post is the sixty-second post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about your author bio and author photo. One place you should definitely list this bio is on your Amazon Author page. Don’t miss out on this free option to let your readers know more about you.

I’m always amazed at the number of authors who do not set up this free page. Here readers can find out more about you and can easily see all your books as well as feeds from your blog or posts on Facebook. There is no excuse not to have an Amazon Author page.

Setting up your Amazon Author Page

Go to Amazon’s Author Central and log in.

The Welcome screen invites you to update your author page. This is more than just listing your author bio (which of course should be on the page). You can add photos, blog feeds, videos and even includes your latest Tweets or Facebook posts.

Click to view your list of books to ensure that Amazon is showing all the books you have written. If any books are missing, simply click the “Add more books” button, which will bring up a search screen for you to locate your other books.

Clicking on any book in your book list will bring up details about that book. Here you can edit the product description, add snippets from professional reviews, add notes from the author, inside flap or back cover information as well as your author bio. Whatever is entered in these sections will appear on this book’s Amazon page.

At the top of the page, you will see Sales Info. Here you can look at your Author Rank or your Sales Rank. Author Rank can be viewed in various increments from 2 weeks to 2 years or all available which will how your rank since you began publishing on Amazon. This information can help you evaluate how well any marketing endeavors have fared.

For Sales Rank, the main screen shows the rank of all your books (actually 5 books per page). Clicking on one book will let you see the sales rank over 2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months or all available. It shows both your paid and free book sales. This is updated hourly.

The last tab at the top of the screen is Customer Reviews. Here you can see every review any of your books have received.

International Amazon Author Pages

When you published your book through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, you probably went ahead and selected the Worldwide rights option which allows customers from around the world to purchase your title on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom), Amazon.de (Germany/Switzerland), Amazon.fr (France/Belgium and Monaco), Amazon.es (Spain), Amazon.it (Italy), Amazon.co.jp (Japan), Amazon.com.br (Brazil), Amazon.com.mx (Mexico), Amazon.com.au (Australia), Amazon.ca (Canada), Amazon.nl (Netherlands), and Amazon.in (India).

Updating your U.S. Amazon Author page will only have this information showing on the United States and the UK sites.

In order to create author profiles for a few of the other Amazon websites, you will need to set up Amazon Author Central profiles on those respective sites. Right now, you can only do this on the US, UK, Germany, France and Japan sites. India brings up your US Author picture but will not allow you to input an author bio or any blog or website links.

Here is a list of the Amazon Author Central sites that you should set up with profiles. (My German one is shown above.)

USA – https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/landing?

UK – https://authorcentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/landing?

Germany – https://authorcentral.amazon.de/gp/landing?

France – https://authorcentral.amazon.fr/gp/landing?

Japan – https://authorcentral.amazon.co.jp/gp/landing?

When you go to the German, France and Japan sites, you will probably either need to have your English version of Author Central open or use a translation page (Google has one, or they are easy to find by a quick Internet search.) I found it easier to have my U.S. page open and since the format is the same, it was easy to answer the questions and get my books and bio listed with very little use of a translator.

You will have to decide if you want to translate your bio into the language of that site or leave it in English. I have seen authors giving reasons for both scenarios. However, since my books are in English, and I am only expecting those who speak English to buy them, I left my bio in English too.

You may be thinking why do I need to set up all these author profiles. People in these countries speak a different language. Does it matter if I have an author profile?

Yes, it matters. English is the most popular second language in the world. Even if English isn’t the primary language of some of these locations, many people still speak it, read it or are trying to learn it. And when these readers find one of your books, they will want to know more about you and what else you have written. Your author profile page is an excellent way to get readers interested in you as an author and to form a connection with your readers.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

#55 – Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results

#56 – Selling your book through book ads

#57 – Using a Book Trailer to promote your novel

#58 – Offering your novels or short stories as a box set

#59 – Deciding whether to offer your book as an audio book

#60 – Taking your book on a virtual book tour

#61 – Writing your Author Bio and selecting an Author Photo

Writing your Author Bio and selecting an Author Photo

This post is the sixty-first post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Every author needs an author bio, whether it is for their back matter in their book, their web page, Facebook, author page or when appearing as a guest blogger. The purpose of an author bio is to give readers a clue about who you are and what you are about.

Here are a few tips for drafting your author bio.

Length

I suggest you create two bios. You can use a longer one on your website or author pages on Amazon or Goodreads, but you will need a shorter one for your books or for appearing on other blogs. Typically, your shorter bio should be about 75 words (give or take about 10 words).

Limit your accomplishments

When writing your bio, don’t list every book or award you have ever won. Focus on a few accomplishments (no more than three) to highlight. If you have written only a book or two, you can list them but once you have a list of books, you don’t need to list each one.

Keep it updated  

Don’t forget to update your bios as you continue writing. If you are using the same one as when you first became published, you probably need to change it from saying you finished your first book to you are now on book seven. (This is what makes Draft2Digital so awesome. With one click you can update the bio in all your books published through them.)

Contact information  

An author bio is like your business card. It should provide readers with a way to contact you. The contact information should appear at the end. You can use your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or email address as your contact info or simply provide your web address.

If you don’t give readers some way to contact you, then you have missed an opportunity to interact with a fan and interaction means everything in today’s high-tech world, even if it is just virtual interaction.

A few other dos and don’ts

  • An author bio should always be written in third person.
  • Keep the information relative to who will be viewing it and tailor it to that audience.
  • Don’t include “resume” type information such as education and job history, which tends to be boring unless they are relevant to the book you are promoting. (This could be key if you are writing a non-fiction book and want to establish yourself as an expert.)
  • Include biographical information such as marital status, number of children, pets or hobbies as these items show you are a normal person and can help readers relate to you.

Author Photo

As with your author bio, you want to take some time and find the best author photo. If you are serious about being an author, you need to think of writing as your business. If you want people to take you seriously, invest in the time to find a good, professional-looking photo.

This means don’t use the fuzzy photo taken of you at the last picnic or use one where you have cropped out your honey’s arms around you. You don’t need one of you with your cat or your kids (unless you are known for writing about these topics.)

Here is my author photo which was cropped from a picture taken inside my house.

Now this doesn’t mean you need to hire a professional photographer or go down to a studio for pictures. In fact, studio pictures may be too formal for your author photo. You can opt to do the photo yourself (or with the help of a friend). There are many websites that can help you with setting, poses or clothing.

It is a good idea to use the same photo everywhere, so you can build face recognition. But you may need to crop the photo depending on the use – a tighter crop for Twitter while using a wider shot for Facebook or your own website.

Whatever photo you decide to use – formal, fun, serious, or happy – just make sure it projects the image you want to convey as an author.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

#55 – Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results

#56 – Selling your book through book ads

#57 – Using a Book Trailer to promote your novel

#58 – Offering your novels or short stories as a box set

#59 – Deciding whether to offer your book as an audio book

#60 – Taking your book on a virtual book tour

Taking your book on a virtual book tour

This post is the sixtieth post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

A popular way to promote your book is to do a book tour. In the technology world where books are now often e-books only, the book tours are now virtual.

Virtual book tours (VBT), also called book blog tours or virtual author tours, usually consist of book reviews, author interviews, guest posts and book excerpts on various blogs or podcasts over a set time frame.

A VBT is designed to generate interest in your book. A VBT can get your name in front of people and help you build a relationship with your readers and potential readers. In turn this should increase your sales, but often it is hard to see a direct correlation between the two. What you are hoping to do is get your name and books in front of as many people as possible.

As an author, you can schedule your own tour or hire someone to do it for you.

Do-It-Yourself

Setting up your own virtual book tour takes commitment, and you need to be very organized. You can find bloggers to host you by visiting blogs that feature your genre. Or you can post on various writer or blogger boards to connect with bloggers who would be interested in hosting you.

You want to look for blogs with high-traffic volume and preferably ones with followers who read your genre. The hardest part is finding enough bloggers to fill up your tour dates. Some blogs fill up quickly and need to be booked months in advanced.

Hire Someone

If you don’t have the time to set one up yourself, there are many companies that will coordinate one for you. The prices can range from inexpensive ($30) to expensive ($1000+) depending on which company you use and how long of a tour you choose to have.

Either way, expect to spend quite a bit of time writing guest posts or answering interview questions.

What to look for in a book tour service

First, check out their stats. If their site ranks in the millions on Alexa, it means they get very little traffic. (The lower the number the better. Numbers in the hundreds of thousands are good.)

Next, check to see who is on their list of bloggers. How many bloggers are listed? (Make sure it’s a lot.) Go to those sites and check how many followers they have. This may be time consuming, but if the blog sites have few followers, it will do you little good to have them post an interview or review.

How effective is a virtual book tour?

That depends entirely on where reviews, spotlights, and interviews are posted. Highly trafficked sites will be more effective than sites with just a few followers. If you plan it right, a book tour that includes influential sites can create considerable buzz. The difficulty many Indie authors face is that they don’t have the time it takes to research well-trafficked sites. And, of course, tours require some planning. You may need to start booking two to three months in advance of your book’s release date.

How long should a blog tour last?

In general, the length of the book tour is determined by the number of hosts. Ideally, you want one or two bloggers a day to be talking about your book. That means a 1-week tour may have between 7 and 14 bloggers. A 2-week tour would have 14–28. The reason you don’t want everyone talking about your book at once is that, just like a conversation, it will be impossible for readers to pay attention. On the internet, too much simultaneous talk looks like spam, which people routinely tune out.

Whether you plan it yourself or hire someone, a virtual book tour can only help build your exposure which you can hope will turn into sales.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

#55 – Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results

#56 – Selling your book through book ads

#57 – Using a Book Trailer to promote your novel

#58 – Offering your novels or short stories as a box set

#59 – Deciding whether to offer your book as an audio book

Deciding whether to offer your book as an audio book

This post is the fifty-ninth post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Audio books are extremely popular. People listen to books while driving, exercising, doing household chores or simply relaxing. To have your own work performed is an exciting idea. But is it worth it for an independent author to make the jump into the audio book market?

First let’s consider if your book would make a good audio book. If it relies on charts, diagrams and graphs then no it won’t make a good audio book. Cookbooks, guidebooks or any type of reference book should not be made into an audio book.

If you have a fiction book, an audio book might be an option, but realize that selling an audio edition is harder than selling a paperback or e-book especially as a relatively unknown author.

However, an audio book might benefit you by introducing your writing to a new and different audience. It also can make you stand out as not all author offer audio books. There are 100,000 books on Audible compared to the millions of books on Amazon.

The first thing you would have to decide is if you want to do it alone or hire someone to help you put together your audio book. While self-publishing an e-book is easy to do yourself, I would suggest getting some help on doing an audio book.

One of the most popular digital platforms for producing and distributing audio books is Amazon’s ACX (Audio Book Creation Exchange).

If you go to ACX, they list the steps for producing an audio book through their site. You can do your own narration through a program such as Audacity and upload it, or they can help match you with narrators (called producers on the site).

Producers on ACX are either paid up front (at $200 to $1,000 per finished hour with the average book being up to 16 hours) or they can agree to split the royalties 50/50 with the author and receive no advance payment. (This option is only available if you do the exclusive option for audio book distribution).

Of course, many producers aren’t looking to split the royalties unless you are a well-established, bestselling author. This means if you are an unknown indie author you will need to shell out your money upfront.

ACX allows you to hear samples of thousands of narrators and you may “audition” them with your own work. (Hint – make sure you select a section that includes dialogue between key characters.)

Once your audio book is complete, ACX will distribute it through the three leading digital retailers for audio book – Audible, Amazon and iTunes. One major drawback is they control the pricing of your audio book (unlike KDP and CreateSpace where you set the price.)

If you grant ACX exclusive rights to your work, your royalty is 40%. If you opt out of the exclusive rights, the royalty rate is 25%.  Keep in mind that Audible is the largest seller of audio books so it might be worth taking the exclusive option.

You also are agreeing to give ACX the right to distribute your book for 7 years no matter if you pick the exclusive or non-exclusive rights. They renew their agreement yearly after that unless they receive written notification of termination of the agreement.

So, with all this said, is it worth it do make your self-published book into an audio book? Only you can decide that. I have never released any of my five books as an audio book but would certainly be interested in trying it.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

#55 – Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results

#56 – Selling your book through book ads

#57 – Using a Book Trailer to promote your novel

#58 – Offering your novels or short stories as a box set

Results of my latest free book promotion

On Sept 20, I wrote my 54th post in my writing a novel series. It covered my results from offering my novels for free, usually as part of the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program.

Since my post, I have done another free promotion for Blood Bond.

If you remember from my original post, I have already done one free promotion on Blood Bond. It resulted in 781 books downloaded for free over 5 days. But based on the numbers from a free promotion from one of my previous books (The Heir to Alexandria), I wasn’t pleased with these results.

The Heir to Alexandria had 2740 downloads in just 3 days. I attributed the success of that promotion to my paid advertisement of my free book. Most of my downloads came on the day of my E-reader News Today ad.

One of the ads I posted on Facebook and Twitter.

When I did my first free promotion for Blood Bond, I applied to have an ad in the E-reader News Today, but they denied it, and I went with an advertisement on a different website. But I was able to secure an ad on E-reader News Today for my next promotion.

In October, I decided to run Blood Bond for free for five days. I applied to many of the same websites that would allow me to post (for free) information about my free book. And I applied for an ad in the E-reader News Today for Thursday – the mid-point of my free promotion.

Here is the breakdown of the free book downloads.

Oct 9 – 9 Books

Oct 10 – 3 Books

Oct 11 (day of E-Reader News ad) – 1171 Books

Oct 12– 165 Books

Oct 13 – 19 Books

That is a total of 1367 free books. My book did rise in the rankings but never did break the Top 100 Free list. It got as close as 104. Breaking the top 100 would have increased my exposure. But it did rise to #2 in both Fantasy/Epic and Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery.

Here is Blood Bond at #6 on the Fantasy/Epic charts.

It has only been a week and half since my book ran for free. I have received one new review (5 stars) and sold 2 more copies of my book. And the number of pages read through Kindle Unlimited has soared.

While this is still not as good as my results with The Heir to Alexandria, I consider this more of a success than the first time I ran Blood Bond for free.

I can definitely say that advertising helps with the free downloads, but I am still not sure if there is enough of a benefit in doing a free promotion. The goal is to get people to read your work and love it enough to buy your other books. And while that did work with The Heir to Alexandria, it hasn’t always proved to be the case as you can see with the past two free promotions for Blood Bond. This is why I caution new writers from even offering their books for free. The benefit only comes if you have other books already published.

Offering your novels or short stories as a box set

This post is the fifty-eighth post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

One way to increase sales of your books and increase your fan base is to offer your books as a bundle, or if you wrote a series to offer them in a boxed set. This applies no matter if you published a print or e-book version of your novel.

An e-book bundle or box set is simply multiple books offered together. It is one download and payment for a reader followed by hours of enjoyment. This ensures readers of a se

ries can read each story in order (and immediately). And usually because the books are offered at a lower price than buying them individually, book lovers are getting a bargain. And who doesn’t love a bargain?

It cost you, the author, next to nothing to offer your e-books as a box set or bundle. You simply create a file with all the books and then create a picture of a virtual box, and add it to your usual distributor websites with an appropriate blurb and price.

Box Set – One Author

You don’t have to have written a trilogy or series to have a box set. You can make a bundle out of any of your novels. This especially works well if they have a similar theme (small-town romances) or are the same genre (mysteries).

Box Set – Multiple Authors

It just doesn’t have to be your novels in a box set. You can get authors which write in the same genre together. Or you can have all women authors but different genres. Or perhaps there is something else that ties your novels together such as they are all second-chance romances or all have a dog as a character.

These multi-author sets bring readers entire new worlds in one convenient package. It is just a matter of getting some other authors to go in with you on a set. You will then have to work out how you will promote it and how profit will be distributed, but these are small issues compared to the amount of exposure it can bring you as an author.

Cover Art

I would say that most authors had artwork that looked like a box set – sort of 3D looking where you have a front and then see the spines of the other books. (See my box set image at top of post.) Or if you have a four-book set, you could lay them out like the set by Kristen James on the right.

Smashwords would not accept a 3D image so I had to create this one to be in their Premier catalog.

Pricing

Readers typically expect some sort of price discount if they buy a box set or bundle. Basically, plan to knock off several dollars off what it would cost if they bought the books individually. On my box set for my trilogy, I reduced the price by $1 per book. So Summoned costs $2.99 (as do Quietus and Destiny), but you can get the box set for $5.99.

No matter how you do it – your books, your series, a collection of books from various authors – a box set or bundle is an excellent sales tool that every author with more than one book to their name should consider.

 

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

#55 – Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results

#56 – Selling your book through book ads

#57 – Using a Book Trailer to promote your novel