Your Eyes are a Vital Part of Your Author Toolkit: Take Care of them!

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The RIGHT way to Copyright your Manuscript!

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You are fully protected by copyright law from the moment you fix your work in tangible form (write the words on paper, type the words into a computer, etc.). In countries that have an official copyright registration process (many don’t), registration provides no additional copyright protection.

However, it does offer various legal benefits. This is the way our lawyer puts it:

Where available, official registration provides prima facie evidence of copyright ownership that can be used in court. In the US, registration is a pre-requisite for filing a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Copyright prior to publication is not necessary or recommended (registering an​ unpublished manuscript ​may make you a target for solicitation. Some vanity publishers and questionable literary agents contact writers who register the copyright for their books​ prior to publication)​.​

If a writer feels the need to file a copyright​, it should be done in the first three months of publication to receive​ the full benefit​ of the law in an infringement​ case. After that, a writer can still file a copyright up to five years after the publication date, although the range of damages one can claim are more limited.​

But the best way for writers to protect their work is to keep all draft copies, notes, emails, and research collected in the process of creation to prove the immense work that went into the creation of the intellectual property​. Someone who lays claim to a work they did not create can not produce such convincing evidence.

That being said, intellectual​ property​ theft has become increasingly rare since the advent of the BERNE CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF LITERARY AND ARTISTIC WORKS (1971) which states that in countries that are signatory to the Berne Convention (the USA, the UK, Europe, and many other countries), the creator owns copyright by law, automatically, as soon his/her work is fixed in tangible form. Per the Berne convention, copyright extends for the lifetime of the creator plus 50 years.

Specific copyright laws vary among the more than 90 countries that are signatory to Berne, and in many countries, ​the term is longer. In the USA and much of Europe, it’s the creator’s lifetime plus 70 years. Also in the USA, copyright applies to economic rights only, and the moral rights provisions enacted in other nations–which are intended to help protect the personality and reputation of the author–don’t exist.


If you intend to copyright your work, you need to beware. There are many websites that offer to take care of  © registration process for you, claiming that it is complicated and time-consuming,​ but they are misleading at best, malicious​ at worst. Some of these services offer a kind of faux registration which is actually just a time-stamping or date verification service. Such services, which provide neither a legal advantage nor additional protection, are a waste of money. Other © services are an outright scam providing nothing in return for your $$.

It is safer and cheaper​ to do it yourself​ online.



The RIGHT way to register your work for copyright:

Note: This is a partial list and includes only those countries in which WN authors reside. 


  • Copyright Aware: …from the BBC: this is a comprehensive resource on copyright for creators.
  • Copyright Basics from the Copyright Office / US Library of Congress, covers copyright law in the USA.
  • British Copyright Council is “a national consultative & advisory group representing organizations of copyright owners and others interested in copyright in the UK.” Includes helpful articles.
  • DMCA Takedown 101, is an article by J. Bailey, provides instructions on how to compose and send a takedown notice in the event of online infringement (Digital Millennium Copyright Act).

The Right Way to Save and Share your Book’s Amazon Sales Page Link

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Amazon sales page link

Ever wonder why some of the reviews on your book’s Amazon sales page are removed by Amazon?

It could be because of the way you saved and shared your Amazon sales page link.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. When you do it the wrong way, you’re signaling to Amazon that you shared the link with lots of people.

When you do it the right way, Amazon doesn’t know that book buyers and reviewers got the link to your book’s sales page from you rather than on their own.

So how do you do it the right way?

It’s easy. Watch this short, two-and-a half-minute video to find out how.

Did I get this information directly from Amazon?


But it’s been widely promoted on the Internet by authors and others. And it makes sense, so I feel comfortable sharing it.

And really, it can’t hurt — it can only help.

Saving your Amazon sales page link with the Associates program

There’s another way to share your link, although it’s comes with restrictions. You can enroll in Amazon’s Associates (affiliate) program so you make a few extra pennies every time someone buys your book with the Associates program link you provide. If you do that, though, note thatAmazon doesn’t allow you to send Associates/affiliate links in emails or include them in e-books. You can use them on your website and blog, but that’s it.

Why? Because it’s Amazon.


Learn more about the Amazon Associates program and how to use it on the Amazon website on BUILD BOOK BUZZ..

If you’re starting to realize that you need to learn more about how to maximize your book’s presence on Amazon so you sell more books, our video training program is for you. “How to Sell More Books on Amazon” teaches everything you need to know. Learn more about the training at this link.

Think other authors might need to learn how to share their Amazon sales page link? Please share this article with friends and colleagues who need to learn this important step.



17 Things for Authors to Share on Social Media in 2017 (instead of advertising their books)

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! Welcome to 2017!

Make this year the year your book goes viral and becomes a best seller!

Some authors are much more comfortable writing books than they are writing tweets and other social media posts. If you are one of those writers who stares at a blinking cursor and wonders what to share that would endear you to your readers then this article from AME is for you.

17 Things Authors can Share on Social Media in 2017

Happy New Year and welcome to 2017!

The end of 2016 was a time for introspection and family, and now that 2017 is here, we are already hearing from indie authors who are hitting the ground running on their book marketing! If you haven’t yet begun to make a plan of action for 2017, then you may want to read our December article that offers 17 ways to sell more books this year! The third item in that article is to “refine your social media.” But even if you’ve already figured out which social networks are driving traffic to your book and/or website, like many people, you may have a tough time deciding what exactly to share on social media in 2017.  Our team has compiled these 17 ideas for you to consider as you begin kicking your social media—and book promotion—into high gear.

  1. Ask Fans for Input – Ask your fans to review your book, or who their favorite characters are – they may even give you an idea for a future book or novella, but more importantly, you’ll keep them engaged!
  1. Share Quotes – Use Canva to pull together an easy image, whether using a quote from your book, a quote about your book, or even just fun memes (those funny pictures with text you see people sharing).
  1. Share Books You Love – Not every post has to be self-promotion, and in fact, it shouldn’t be. Share a book that you really enjoyed, and what you loved about it. This will give another author a potential boost, but it also sets you up as a valuable resource to help readers find their next great books.
  1. Share Your Love for Writing and Books – Tell your readers why you do what you do; help them get to know you. If they feel like you have connected with them, they’re more likely to follow your accomplishments and future books.
  1. Thank People – Each time someone does something great, be sure to thank them. And while personal notes are great, what will really make them stand out is a social media mention. If they offer a great service, tell your fans why you love working with them. This goes back to connecting with people on a personal level and being a great resource.
  1. Share Good News – Have something exciting coming up? Get a major review for your book? Your fans will cheer on your success – so share with them.
  1. What Are You Reading? – Just like #3 above, telling people what you’re reading is a great conversation starter and potential boost for another author!
  1. Share Your Library – This could be a picture of the wall-to-wall bookshelves that are overflowing with books, or it could be a snapshot of your to-be-read (TBR) pile.
  1. Contests? – Know of any great giveaways? They could be books, products, whatever! Give a nod to whoever is offering them and then share, share away with your fans!
  1. Fill in the Blanks – Mad libs was a fun game when you were a kid, and now, with social media, it’s just as entertaining! See what fun ideas your fans have – and maybe, just maybe, in addition to boosting engagement it’ll spark the idea for your bestseller!
  1. Share Song Playlists by Book or Book Character – This is a fun one! What would your characters be listening to? Or, what songs describe their moods or attributes? Help your readers get inside your character’s – and your – head!
  1. Answer FAQs – this is fun! What are some of the common questions you get? What do you think people would be most likely to ask you? This can turn into a great blog post or article series… and if you’re stumped, think about what you’d like to know from some of your favorite authors.
  1. Promote Things You Love (charities, etc.) – Simple. If you love it, your fans deserve to know, and, especially in the case of charities, the charities deserve any extra love too!
  1. Share Good News (not just yours) – I always say that we should be connectors. Share in your friends’ successes, and take delight in what goes well for others…. One day they just might return the favor.
  1. Celebrate Your Character’s Birthdays and/or Major Life Events – this will help make your characters real to your readers! Real people have birthdays (or un-birthdays), weddings, anniversaries, etc!
  1. Share Things You’re Interested in (so fans can get to know you) – Be a connector! If your fans like your work (and they do!), it stands to reason that they might just love some of the same things you do.
  1. Show off Your Pets – this is my favorite thing to do. Pets are very personal, and everyone who has one loves seeing the exploits of other people’s furry, four-legged kids.

These 17 ideas should give you a great place to start! And, if you need some ideas on how to make the most of social media, check out some of these articles we wrote in 2016 on Facebook, (plus this article onFacebook’s Marketing PowerInstagram, and Twitter. If you’re new to creating images for use on social media, this article on creating picture-perfect images offers great advice. Plus, as we began pulling together ideas for items to share, we had a tough time stopping at 17, so tune in next week for 17 MORE things you can share on social media.

50 Things Under 50 Bucks To Promote Your Book, Part 1

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Penny Sansevieri is one of our favorite sources for marketing ideas. We highly recommend following her blog.



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I’m kicking off today’s post with the following question: can you spot the important difference between these two vintage car ads?

Advert #1


Advert #2


I first came across this comparison on a popular sales psychology website [link below], and it got me thinking… how do these kind of (genius) persuasion techniques apply to your career as an author?

As it turns out, they apply big time.

You see, whatever people might say, books – especially ebooks – are cheap. Most self-publishers who sell books on Kindle (or wherever) set the bar at $2.99 – $5.99 per title.

And I just know you break out in nervous sweats at the thought of charging more than that. I know I do. But price isn’t the only thing readers care about. In many cases, it isn’t even their top priority.

Raise your hand – ever drop your book prices down to 99c in the hopes of picking up some much-needed sales?

I know I have. But the main problem isn’t to do with price. $2.99 or $3.99 or $5.99 isn’t a lot of money. It just isn’t. The problem is all about POSITIONING.

That is, making your prices seem like a good deal. And that’s where your sales message comes in. In the case of the car advertisements above – the sales messages focus on what’s important to the prospective buyer and frame it as a benefit.

What constitutes one model’s chief feature (a quiet engine) is something the other model’s customers don’t care about. It’s not part of the deal.

The Rolls-Royce drivers want opulence and calm. The Land Rover crowd wants power and ruggedness (which they associate with a noisy engine).

It’s about giving people what they expect. Instead of selling steak to vegetarians, we need to learn to sell rib-eye to the carnivores.

Think about it like this – millions of people spend $50,000 – $100,000 on a college education. Or $30,000 on a new car. Or $500 on marketing and advertising for their business. Or $200 on a new cover design for their book (you can substitute your own numbers – but you get the idea).

And this doesn’t feel like a bad deal. Because you’re getting what you expect at the price you expect to pay for it. You trust the person or business selling to you. It feels like a good deal, and you’re more than happy to pay.

Because you understand the value.

But when you present your book to the world, chances are 99.99% of your target audience has never heard of you. They have no idea what to expect. Why should they? They don’t understand what value you provide.

So, while $3.99 or $5.99 isn’t a lot of money – you’re actually asking people for something else entirely.

You’re asking them to trust you. You’re asking them to invest their time, their expectations, AND their money. Which is a big ask if you’ve got no relationship with your prospective reader to begin with.

This is why free books work so well. They give you a chance to prove your brand. But there’s more to life than just slinging free books around the place. At some point you need to start earning a living, right?

Which brings me to my main point. There are three types of reader in this world:

– First, those who will buy ANYTHING you publish without even thinking twice.
– Second, those who will NEVER buy from you.
– Third, those who aren’t ready to buy… yet.

It’s our job as authors to convince everybody behind door number three to take the plunge. And when you learn about the reasons why readers aren’t buying from you, you’ll understand how to overcome these problems.

It turns out, these reasons can be boiled down into four main obstacles (see below). When you learn what these are and how they apply to your readers, you can overcome them. This inevitably leads to more sales, more visibility, and more readers.

When I learned how to do this properly, I saw a huge increase in the number of books I sold – both via Amazon, etc, and through my email list. And it turns out, the concept is a simple one:

Figure out your readers’ obstacles – and deal with them before they even become an issue.

And those four obstacles are:

1- Indifference
2- Skepticism
3- Fear
4- Procrastination

[source: Derek Halpern, Social Triggers, 2014]

Let’s go through each of these in turn…


This is a biggy. With countless other things a reader could be doing besides making their way through your book, why should they commit 6-12 hours of their life to reading what you’ve got to say?

This is especially difficult to overcome with fiction. At least with non-fiction, you’re helping people figure out a problem or addressing a concern they have. It’s easier for a non-fiction title to be relevant and, more importantly, to provide a tangible benefit.

The reader has a problem. You can solve the problem. Money changes hands, you deliver the solution. Easy.

With fiction, it’s a little less clear cut. At the end of the day, you’re providing entertainment. Nobody NEEDS fiction. It doesn’t solve any of life’s problems – other than an escape from boredom.

But your readers have other choices. They could be watching TV, playing video games, going to the movies, taking long walks, playing sports… the list goes on.

And this is where indifference can be a killer. Whether you’re priced at 99c or $9.99, it’s not going to make any difference to these readers. They have to care enough to even look at the price tag before this even becomes an issue.

So, your job as an author is to show the indifferent readers why they need your book. What tangible, measurable benefit will it provide?

You ever see a book, or a TV show, or a movie and think: “I’ve got to get that!”? Ever spend $25 on a hardcover book from your favourite author, even though the ebook edition is much cheaper? I know I have.

That’s because I’m not indifferent about these authors. I know they’ll provide a rockin’ story and interesting characters. I understand the value – and I’m happy to spend $25 on a hardcover to keep in my collection. And I’m equally happy to spend $5 on the ebook edition the second the title comes out.

Because I know the book will give me 6-12 hours (or whatever) of quality entertainment.

So, how can you overcome indifference in your readers? There’s no trick to it. You have to communicate the value of your brand and make it clear what you’re delivering, how you’ll deliver it, and to whom. Who is your target audience? What will people “get” from reading your book? If this isn’t clear, readers won’t understand your product.

They just won’t care. And dropping your price to 99c isn’t going to help you.


This reader doesn’t believe you can offer a quality product or experience. Perhaps you don’t have credentials, or perhaps you have some spelling mistakes in your product description. Maybe your covers look like they were drawn by a toddler.

The skeptic is a potential customer – but for some reason he or she doesn’t think you can provide the value you claim you can. So, even if we can overcome the indifferent reader, the skeptic is having issues believing you can deliver.

What are you doing to prove that you’re a credible author? Are your covers, formatting, editing, product description, etc, all up to snuff?

Remember – a professional-grade book is the cost of entry in this business. You’re not going to win any awards for having a book that looks good (well, you might win a cover-design award). But a quality product is the minimum expectation. The days of slapping an MS Paint cover on a badly-formatted title are (thankfully) long gone.

How many reviews do you have? Are reviewers enjoying your work? Do you have any testimonials? Any awards? Hit the top of any charts?

These are what I call “trust indicators”.  Little snippets of evidence that you are indeed a competent author, and that readers are enjoying your work.

To overcome the skeptical reader, you have to prove you’re up to the task. Only then will they even consider buying your work – whatever price it might be.


Where the skeptic is focused on why YOU can’t deliver, the fearful reader looks inwards – at themselves. The fearful reader worries that, while you clearly have a good product, that your book is somehow not for them.

Perhaps they have too many books to read already. Maybe they are worried that your story or your advice is something they won’t enjoy or won’t put into action.

Unlike the indifferent reader, the fearful reader knows the book is for them. But their own personal issues are getting in the way.

This is particularly problematic for non-fiction. Consider dieting books: you’ve got a product that can help people lose fifteen pounds in a month. You’ve got great reviews, testimonials from top nutritionists, and you’ve been featured on some of the biggest fitness blogs.

The fearful reader isn’t swayed by all this. At the end of the day, the fearful reader believes (in their heart) that, no matter how good your advice, he or she won’t be able to put it into action.

So how are you going to overcome this?

NYT Bestselling Author Tim Ferriss is an expert at dealing with this particular issue. Ferriss uses case studies and real-life testimonials from members of the public to PROVE his methods work. For anyone.

Never been able to stick to a diet long enough to see results? Never fear – Tim Ferris has two-dozen case studies from people just like you who have managed to make simple changes to their day-to-day lives… and have lost a ton of weight.

The fearful reader believes your product is good quality. But they won’t buy it because they believe they won’t be able to benefit from its value. It’s your job to prove your book will help these readers, despite their fears – and it’s your job to communicate that clearly and assuage them.


We’ve all been guilty of this. A new book comes out, it looks great, but for some reason we just don’t feel compelled to buy it right now. A few days later, and we’ve forgotten all about it.

This reader knows the book is a good fit for them – but they just don’t take action and buy it. So, how can you help this reader take action NOW, rather than later? Because “later” is a downward spiral towards a lost sale.

Limited-time promotions or bonuses work well. Scarcity is the key. Tell someone they can’t have something if they wait – if you’ve done your job properly, they will take action.

For fiction writers – perhaps you have a book bundle you can offer for a limited time. Instead of dropping your price, perhaps you can have a “sale without a sale” and offer a special bonus for anyone buying your books within a certain time period.

For non-fiction, maybe offer video training. Or a cheat sheet, or resource guide. The possibilities are endless. But the key is to get these procrastinating readers to take action RIGHT NOW rather than waiting.

And we all know this works. This is the reason Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year – because everybody knows they’ve only got 24 hours… and then it’s over. So people take action. People who would never normally splurge spend a heap of cash because they know it’s their only chance.

The same is true of buy-one-get-one-free offers. Or three-for-two. You don’t need to lower your prices, not necessarily – you just need to offer something of value for a limited time. Instead of dropping your prices, why not add something on and keep your prices the same?

Here’s an example of an email I sent out to my fiction readers – take a look at the two peaks in the sales graph:

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 22.24.07


This is the sales graph for one of my novels. I launched it back in August 2014, and emailed out on the second day. The first email simply told people the book was available and listed out the blurb and cover.

The second email I sent 16 days later was a little different. This time, I offered readers a free copy of one of my backlist titles if they bought a copy within 48 hours. All they had to do was email me with the first word from Chapter 41.

The result? 98 people bought the book from the first email. 215 people bought from the second email. And I didn’t even need to drop the price.

Why? Because I was dealing with these readers’ procrastinatory behaviour. And if it works for me, it can work for you too. Give it a try – run a “sale without a sale” for your readers. See what happens.


Okay, I get it. The burning question is: how am I going to be able to communicate these messages to my readers? There’s only so much information you can put in your Amazon product descriptions.

The answer, as I’ve said before, is to build a direct line of communication with your readers. One that doesn’t rely on Amazon, or Facebook, or Twitter. If you can reach your audience direct, you control the message.

And the best way to do this is via email. If you’re collecting your readers’ email addresses, and building a relationship with them, you can easily overcome the four obstacles I’ve listed out above – before you even offer something for sale.

By which time, you’ve already dealt with every possible issue your potential readers have. The result? Better sales, better visibility, and longer-lasting relationships with your audience.

This is the key to how to sell without being “salesy”. Build your brand, build your relationships. Offer value. Then offer something for sale. And you’ll get results.

If you want a step-by-step guide to getting started on your email list, go download “Reader Magnets”. It’s free on Amazon, Nook, and Kobo – or you can grab the PDF. It lists out how I grew my email list by 15,000 new readers in the last 6 months. Here’s the links:


Now, if you enjoyed this free article (and the free book), please take a moment to share this page with 3 of your author friends. Or post a link on a forum, or on social media.

✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦

This blog post is by one of our favorite marketing mentors -NICK STEPHENSON.

We highly recommend checking out his programs if you self publish, but whether you do everything yourself or have a traditional publisher, it is imperative that you build an email list of super fans. In todays market, this is the best way to sell tons of books. READ HIS BOOK “Reader Magnets” (link above) to learn the best way to do this.

21st Century Author = Internet Entrepreneur

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Why the 21st Century Author is an Internet Entrepreneur

The similarities seemingly end there when you consider that Amanda is an author of fiction. Specifically, she writes paranormal-romance fiction involving vampires, trolls, and zombies.

Amanda’s been profiled in the Times and many other places because she’s sold around $2,000,000 in ebooks — without a publisher. She was one of the early success stories to come out of the Kindle Store, joining James Patterson and Stieg Larsson as one of the bestselling digital authors on Amazon.

Then things changed.

Amanda’s self-made success got her  a deal with St. Martin’s that paid $2 million upfront for her next four books. Her “Trylle” series of books has been optioned by Hollywood, with the screenplays penned by one of the scribes of the film District 9.

It’s certainly an amazing story. But does she qualify as an entrepreneur, much less an Internet entrepreneur?

Is Amanda Hocking an Internet Entrepreneur?

First, let’s be clear on what an entrepreneur is.

Here is the classic 12-word definition of an entrepreneur from Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson:

Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.

So, let’s take a look at what Amanda did to generate that $2,000,000 in revenue.

She’d completed her first novel at age 17, which was rejected by over 50 publishers. Years later, Amanda took a decidedly different approach:

  1. In 2009, Amanda started treating writing as a job (a business venture), not a hobby.
  2. She began combing bookstores and doing industry research to see what was getting published and selling, as well as reading a lot in her genre (market research).
  3. She continued to submit her manuscripts to New York, and continued to be denied. Her last form rejection letter arrived in February of 2010 (no access to or control of traditional resources).
  4. In April of 2010, Amanda digitized her book “My Blood Approves” into the new .mobi format for the Kindle reader (adoption of a new technology standard) and uploaded it to the Amazon’s Kindle Store (exploitation of an emerging online marketplace).
  5. She offered her books for $.99 to $2.99 (industry pricing disruption).
  6. Profit? On the first day, Amanda sold 5 books. The next day provided similar results. A couple of months later, things got rolling:
  • June 2010, she sold 6,000 books
  • July 2010, 10,000 books
  • January 2011, over 100,000 books
  • Summer of 2011, 9,000 books each day

Sounds Like an Internet Entrepreneur to Me

It seems like a magical story, but Amanda was very deliberate. She treated her book as a startup.

Then lightening struck, which is what would-be authors inspired by her meteoric rise tend to focus on. Most often, that won’t be the case.

Amanda was in the right place, at the right time, with the exact right product. It’s the way markets are supposed to operate if you eliminate all the noise. And make no mistake — a great book that people want to read is still the core requirement.

The opportunities for the authors of great digital books, whether fiction or nonfiction, are still in the infancy stage. But you’re going to have to add one exceptionally important element to Amanda’s deliberate approach.

You can’t depend on the marketplace to notice the book on its own until you’ve sparked enough initial sales. But how do you make sales otherwise?

It’s a classic chicken and egg situation, until you tilt things in your favor.

One way or another, you need to build an audience. And the smart entrepreneurial approach for authors involves creating free online content to build that audiencebefore you try to sell a book (or anything else).

In other words, become an Internet publishing entrepreneur. Your first book is simply your first product, no matter the level of artistry you put into it, and your biggest asset is your audience.

Luckily, this entrepreneurial process can be much more lucrative than the indentured old school approach. Ironically, it’s the traditional publishing industry that gets credit for kindling this entrepreneurial fire among authors.


Big Publishing Drops the Audience Ball

Trey Ratcliff is a photographer who built a blog to showcase his work. The audience that platform attracted resulted in three prospective publishing deals.

Trey went with Peachpit Press, due to their size and reputation in the photography niche. Out to a fancy dinner with some of Peachpit’s top executives, Ratcliff realized the true nature of his publishing deal.

In his own words:

I’m sitting there in a nice restaurant in San Francisco with all these executives of a major publishing house. It’s one of these power dinners of lore. We’re there to discuss the upcoming launch of the book, and I’ll never forget what happened. They asked me, “OK, Trey, what are you going to do to market this book?”

It’s the dirty little secret no one tells you about the modern book deal: it’s up to the author to drum up interest, publicity, and sales for the book, despite the fact that publishers are ostensibly still in the “distribution” business.

It didn’t have to be this way.

To this day, Internet pundits plead with publishers to build “huge, vertical-specific communities, prime them with regular non-book value and establish direct relationships.” But the publishers rejected that very advice over a decade ago, a decision that forced authors to become online marketers, even within the context of the traditional book deal.

Author and entrepreneur Seth Godin saw it happen, upfront and personal.

A former book packager, Seth shifted to the Internet early, founding the email marketing firm Yoyodyne in 1995 and selling it to Yahoo! in 1998 for $30 million.

Godin’s first bestseller, 1999’s Permission Marketing, explained the online marketing practices he developed that allowed direct and profitable relationships with prospects. Moreover, the book itself achieved outsized sales using the very strategies and tactics Seth preached, via an opt-in email list that grew rapidly as Godin gave away a third of the book for free in exchange for an email address.

Seeing first hand the power of establishing a direct relationship with prospective book buyers, Seth tried to help the publishing industry see the power of building an audience for themselves and on behalf of authors.

How could an industry that exists to distribute books not want incredibly cost-effective direct distribution?

Strangely, Seth’s ideas were ignored, and sometimes rejected with the type of venom that accompanies an abject fear of change. Instead, the collective choice among book publishing companies was to throw authors under the bus and see who survived.

“By 2002, it was clear the publishers were not going to build an online audience,” Godin told me for this article. “The authors had to do it themselves.”

Got Audience, Why Stop at Books?

Meanwhile, Trey Ratcliff did some math.

The excited new author went to work, drumming up pre-sales support from his audience with a limited-edition print, along with a signed copy of the book. He promoted relentlessly via his blog and on Twitter. He even arranged and paid for his own book tour.

The book was a roaring success, selling out on Amazon in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. At that point, after all that hard work, Trey realized just how tiny his 15% royalty rate really was. Peachpit kept 85%, which in turn went to printing, physical distribution, big New York offices, staff, lawyers, bookstores, etc.

In other words, no one was making any money.

It was Trey, however, who was in the unique position to do something smarter. After all, he had the audience that attracted the publishers in the first place.

So, he became the publisher by founding Flatbooks. His fledgling ebook business hit 6 figures in revenue almost immediately, and now boasts 80% profit margins.

The secret to the quick success of FlatBooks? According to Ratcliff, it’s theaudience-enabled author:

The best way to successfully market something is to have true believers with big followings talk about it on the Internet. Since we have many authors who are socially popular, a multiplier effect begins to take place.

Notice he said “successfully market something,” which is specifically not limited to ebook publishing. Once you have an audience, the door opens to consulting, paid speaking, software, innovative new platform launches, and more.

You’re really only limited by the needs and desires of your audience.

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. If your goal is to write books and make a living from them, build your audience before you need it. Start today.
  2. Don’t think self-published. Think publisher. Better yet, digital mediaproducer.
  3. Accelerate. Once the audience is on your side, books are only the beginning. Be more like Jay-Z than James Patterson.

Not every author will do this, unfortunately. Many will grasp dearly to the Amanda Hocking story, depending on Apple and Amazon to become the new intermediaries that “magically” make them rich.

But Apple and Amazon don’t make money from caring about you. They’ll aggregate the hopes and dreams of millions along the long tail, letting just enough new stars shine to keep the dream alive.

At least the traditional publishers pretended to care.

Regardless, it’s up to you … now more than ever. Go make an audience happen.


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