Do you remember silent films? And poor Pauline tied to the railroad tracks, a huge black locomotive chugging toward her, the train whistle blasting and the music thundering? I forget the hero who always rescued Pauline… I liken digital publishing to the Perils of Pauline–except we don’t have a lovely hero…we have to rescue ourselves when our careers or books are on the edge of a cliff on in front of that dang train bearing disaster upon us. I just this week rescued No Perfect Secret and a blot on my career within minutes of a train wreck.
A year or so ago I wrote about how confusing the whole indie publishing universe. I will tell you straight, a year and more ago, I was Eating Stupid for Breakfast. I did not know what I was doing and boy! Folks were so gleeful in telling me so. If I tried to upload a book or some info to promo sites and ran into snags… I was told: “It’s you. Change your browser.” I drove tech folks nuts trying to find out what was going awry with my computer. I am much more savvy today and I have WP and Tech smart colleagues I can call on to check the sites I have problems with–guess what? Dozens of promo sites and blogs are just thrown together by administrators who think they know what they are doing. They don’t. I don’t either, but I now know people who do. That is just as good. My computer and browser works just fine, thank you.
Instead of trying to rush through the indie universe like a comet, I stopped on a dime and started reading books such as Let’s Get visible and How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle. IMO, if an indie author does not read these two books, you will forever be tied to those dang railroad tracks. These two books, updated often, tell exactly how the indie universe works and puts paid to rumors. If there is any single thing you will learn, it is this: There are NO EXPERTS in our industry. If you want to know how Amazon works: Ask Amazon! Right this minute there is a GoodReads Librarian telling authors they may NOT Amazon gift books to readers in exchange for a review. She threatens to remove their books from Goodreads if they do. I have an email from Amazon saying it is perfectly acceptable to gift books to readers in exchange for a review.
The best advice I can share is: Think for yourself.
I have learned about Alexa, a company owned by Amazon. Alexa rates sites for traffic and activity. You can put the FREE tool right on your Browser bar. Before you spend five cents on promoting your book on a site that charges $$$, check its Alexa rank. Lower numbers are better. If the site doesn’t have a USA Rank and only 3 sites linking in–it will not move your books FREE or priced. Put Alexa on your Browser Bar and check your own blog’s rank.
As I compose this, my blog’s Alexa Rank is 142,168 with 91 sites linking in. When I host blog tours or have activity I’m tweeting and Facebooking, this blog gets a much better rating. I have a small writer’s group I founded, eNovel Authors at Work. Right this minute it’s Alexa Rank is 57,268 with 91 sites linking in and we don’t sell anything! All the site does is share information about indie authorship as we learn it. When the site hosts tours or has an interesting article that draws visitors, the Alexa Rank is often 23,000–much better traffic than some promotion sites.
I just this week had a Perils of Pauline disaster stalking my most recent release, No Perfect Secret. This happened: The book was no more published exclusively in Amazon KDP Select when I got an email from Amazon, the book was knocked out of KDP because it was also on Barnes & Noble/Nook. I checked. Yes, it was. The book had once been published by an online publisher, but the rights had reverted to me. Yep. Something hinky going on. I learned about DMCA Notices. It is a ‘take down notice’ to folks who illegally publish your book. I sent a DMCA notice to the publisher who no longer had the right to publish No Perfect Secret, another to the Legal department of Barnes & Noble and I copied Amazon. I also attached a copy of my reversion rights. In a few hours, No Perfect Secret was removed from B&N and Amazon gave the go ahead to again enroll No Perfect Secret into KDP Select. Nobody accepted responsibility for my title on B&N. Was that the end of it? Nope.
I scheduled a FREE five day promotion for No Perfect Secret. Set it up inside KDP and bought the promo from all of my choicest sites. Two days before the promo is to go live, Amazon removed the title from KDP once again. Yes, I suffered angst! The book was again on B&N. I checked the link. It was NOT for a digital copy of No Perfect Secret, but the CreateSpace edition that Amazon distributes. Huh? Five emails later and nicely worded ones, too–Amazon agreed No Perfect Secret was again eligible for KDP. But what Amazon does NOT tell you is when Amazon pulls the book from KDP–it also deletes any promotions you might have scheduled. Lesson: Teach yourself to double-check every dang thing that has to do with publishing a book. I checked to make certain the promo was live. It was not. Holy Smokes! It only took a keystroke to set it up again. However, had I not, readers would be flocking to Amazon to download the book FREE and find it priced and I would have annoyed a dozen or more promotion sites. Not to mention the loss of my promo $$$ and credibility. Whoa! A public relations disaster in the making. If the promotion doesn’t go as planned, somebody hand me a shovel because I’m gonna bury myself right then and there.
Here is a tip: When you have to email Amazon inside your KDP Account and you want urgent action or an answer to a question, insist the email be forwarded to a supervisor or a member of the Leadership Team for KDP Select. I want to know how it is that Amazon’s own employees don’t know the difference between an ebook and a paperback. Because if Amazon’s spy bots that travel the universe of sales venues searching for indie authors who abuse KDP and do not know the difference–then titles can be yanked out of KDP on a daily basis and how do we plan promotions with a train wreck coming down the tracks?
I never like to wrap a blog without sharing this: The best path to reviews is this gentle golden gem of a plea right after THE END in your book.
Thank you for taking time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review. Word of mouth is an author’s best friend and much appreciated.
P.S. My savvy author pals tell me I should always end a blog with an interesting tidbit you can use. So! Toss banana peels and bananas gone too soft to use near the roots of your rose bushes. Bananas help intensify the fragrance of roses. It works. Best to you and yours from Jackie Weger. Oh, Yes! The the promotion on No Perfect Secret is on! Go on over to Amazon and download your FREE copy.