Indie Author Fringe October 2017 Conference

I spend too much time at the Indie Author Fringe October 2017 conference. In fact, the most part of 24 hours, watching videos, reading articles, following links to other articles on everything relating to indie publishing and taking notes, 26 pages of notes.

I am in information overload.

The main points I learned.

1] I actually use stealth release mode to publish each story.

This means I publish each ebook and print book without announcements, except for letting my blog readers, my email list, and two or three author forums know of the release.

I do not apply for BookBub acceptance, do not run advertisements in Amazon, Facebook, Google or other places to advertise each release. I do not send ARCs out to gain book reviews.

I do not pay to give my books away on the many reader blog sites.

2] Chatbots are a thing, and I need them to talk to my readers on my web site or blogs.

What happened to the comments section of blogs? Should I now turn that off?

I remember when I first learnt Artificial Intelligence programming in university many, many years ago. My assignment of writing AI questions to gain users answers, then automatically supply the correct information for the user to purchase the best computer they needed to undertake whatever they wanted a computer for. I received top marks, and a request from the lecturer to use my assignment for all future years of students to show them how it worked.

Yes, I understand Chatbots and how to program them.

But do I need them for my readers? No, I do not think so, not at this stage of my Indie Publishing career. My readers can ask questions on Goodreads, and when I visit Goodreads once or twice a year, I can answer the questions. Or the readers can talk to me via my writing blog, my author blog, or even via the publisher site.

3] Blockchain is a thing.

Apparently it is coming, if not already here, and will lead indie publishing into Self Publishing 3.0. It will follow/track all public lending rights for stories, send micro payments to authors, like Bitcoin.

I started indie publishing back in 2010. I knew everyone called each subject taught relating to self publishing, Indie Publishing 101, after the number order in universities for each subject matter. The more in-depth learning was subject 201, subject 301, etc.

Now those at the forefront of indie publishing are calling it Self Publishing 3.0.

The only take away from Blockchain learning was I should write a scifi story of governments inserting a chip into every newborn so they can not only monitor and alter thoughts, but know every cent the newborn earns for the rest of their life. The government will know what taxes are owning and the profit the newborn made, just by using Blockchain software in the chip inside the newborn’s brain.

Oh, wait! That has already been written. Many times.

4] Indie authors must advertise to reach more readers.

I should use Amazon Marketing Services to run advertisements for my books. I also should use BookBub advertisements. And Facebook Advertisements. And Google Advertisements. And Kobo and iBooks, and …. Of course, messenger bots.

And swap my email list with other author’s email lists, by working together advising each other’s freebies, list magnets, etc. Am I the only one who thinks this is unethical?

Oh, yes, I also need to use Facebook Messenger as an alternative to email. Why? Well, there is a high open rate of 30% in Messenger, compared to click rate on emails which is 10-15%.

Nowhere was the information supplied on how many Messenger users are included to get the 30% open rate. Or how many users were included to get the 10-15% rate.

Remember, if you have 4 emails in your email list and only one opens it, that is 25% open rate. So, until I locate more details of how the percentage was calculated, I will continue to ignore advice like this.

Also, if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you will be aware I do not use Facebook. Not at all! Not even for family and friends.

At this stage, I will not pay for advertising on Facebook. Why would I when they have the right to restrict who can see my Facebook page, and I have to pay to open my page to more people. They need to level their playing field before I will even think about participating!

5] IngramSpark is the way to go to get my print books into extended distribution which gets to brick and mortar stores.

Yes, I do agree with this advice, even though I get extended distribution book sales via Createspace.

CreateSpace is great and easy to use to upload your POD books and covers, but it is owned by Amazon. Amazon is beta testing their own POD print website now. They have advised CreateSpace users that Amazon will be shutting down CreateSpace soon, and moving all POD books (including mine) over to the Amazon POD area. And taking an extra 20% from each sale on top of what CreateSpace takes now. But as an inducement, they will only take an extra 10% each sale for the first six months.

So, everyone needs to understand where POD book sales are. 80% of POD sales are via the internet. Which means 20% are via extended distribution, which could also be ordered via the internet and posted to the reader.

I need to keep my POD print books in Amazon to reach 80% of the print book readers. Whether that 80% is just inside USA, or across the world, I am not sure.

I also need to get my POD print books into IngramSpark or another company to reach the rest of the world whether via websites or brick and mortar stores.

This means purchase my own ISBNs for each print book.

First, I need to pay AU$55.00 to register as an Australian publisher via Thorpe-Bowker. That is a one off payment to enter my publisher details into their database.

Then I need to pay AU$44.00 for each ISBN. And another AU$45.00 for a barcode for that ISBN. That means for one ISBN with barcode, I will have to pay AU$89.00.

Or AU$448 for 100 ISBNs. Plus a barcode for the same 100 ISBNs, whether still AU$45.00 each. I can’t find details of a lower price for barcodes if I purchase bulk. That means AU$49.48 each ISBN.

Or AU$3035.00 for 1000 ISBNs. And again, 1000 barcodes whether still AU$45.00 each or a lower price for bulk purchases.. That means AU$48.035 each ISBN.

Canada, you are lucky to get your barcodes free. Tell your government you appreciate their forethought on supplying Canadian barcodes to Canadian indie publishers.

So, until I can guarantee selling enough print books to cover the time taken to format the story and cover costs and the cost of an Australian ISBN to use in IngramSpark as well as IngramSpark’s fee to upload the book (or use a FREE IngramSpark promo code) I will not be publishing via IngramSpark.

I will stick with CreateSpace for now, then via Amazon so I can reach 80% of the print readers, even if I lose another 20% from each sale.

6] Running an Indie Author Business means create more stories faster and write better stories.

This I agree with. I have seen results of more sales of all books from publishing more than one story a year.

Each story I write, I believe I am improving my story telling abilities. And I need to write enticing blurbs. Yes, I know that. And I need to create great covers. Yes, I know that.

Do I need to know who my readers are, and where my readers are when they are online, so I can reach out to them and let them know when I publish each book?

I believe if my readers are waiting for my next story, they will sign up to my newsletter email list.

7] BookBub Advertisement for Beginners.

The most I learned from this subject is how to sign up for a waiting list for when Adam Croft next runs his course on how to create BookBub advertisements.

8] Does Facebook Advertising really work for Books: The Facts

Michael Alvear is running a survey to work out the best ways to use Facebook advertising.

So far, 67 people have taken the survey and the results are:

6 advertised free books, 16 for books priced at $0.99, 15 for books priced at $2.99, 12 for books priced at $3.99, 7 for books priced between $4.99 and $9.99, and 5 for books priced over $10.00.

30 spent less than $100, 13 spent between $101 and $300, 8 spent between $301 and $999, and 8 spent over $1000 on Facebook advertising.

7 have made between $100 and $999 and 8 people made more than $1000 from advertising with Facebook. 20 made nothing, and 9 were unsure because they don’t know if their ads led to sales or not. And 12 made between $1 – $10 from their ads.

Please note, the ones who advertised their free books could not have made sales, so take 6 off 21 to get the number who did not make sales. Therefore, 34 made money on their advertising, 9 were unsure, 15 made nothing, on top of the 6 who gave away free books.

59% said Facebook ads were not worth it, 13% were unsure, and 29% said Facebook ads were worth it. Note that the results were 101% surveyed, or the percentages were round up, not down.

If you do use Facebook Ads, you can take the survey here to help get a more accurate result.

9] Trends, Tips and Tricks for Indie Authors

I need to use social media!

Twitter: I have an account, which automatically announces my blog posts. And I get on twitter via TweetDeck once or twice a year to check in with friends.
Facebook: NO!
LinkedIn: No way will I use it. Even if you paid me.
Instagram: No.
Google+: No, I don’t use it, but if I did use it, it would help Google find me!

Do you see the conflict with a previous talk? Item 6 wants everyone to write more, faster. So, when will I have time to use all the social media web sites if I spend more time writing and learning to improve my writing?

10] Use tools to help produce and market more books

KindleSpy = Chrome add-in for US Amazon site only.

KDPRocket = tool to find keywords to help market the books

Scrivener = can sync audio recordings into scrivener.

I read another blog where he is dumping Scrivener, because of errors when compiling. I have Scrivener and use it to plot stories, move scenes around and take notes for the story, but do not write stories inside Scrivener. I use Word. I format using html. No extra code like formatting with Scrivener, or Word so the .epub or .mobi file is lean.

Dragon Naturally Speaking = helps spread up writing, if you have trained the program to recognise your voice. I stopped using Dragon over 10 years ago. It took too long to find and fix all the typos.

BookFunnel = get your ARCs or free copies out to readers for US$20.00 a year.

Patreon = subscription to receive your content, or a donation to keep you writing

Gumroad = sell direct and get email addresses, uses pre-order

Paypal = create sale buttons for selling on your blog, or web pages

Leanpub, GitHub, etc

My take away from the conference is to write your stories, keep improving in all areas from plotting, to character building, and description, and dialog, creating covers and interior layout and writing blurbs. Publish on all sites that are free, using free ISBNs for print.

Let your readers find your published stories while you write the next story. Money will drip into your account. Soon you will have a trickle and then a stream.

As you get time, add one more publishing stream into your process and learn to use it. And keep writing.

Then learn the next stream, like BookFunnel to distribute ARCS, or Gumroad to put “Buy” buttons on your site.

Don’t chase the latest fad.

I noticed they did not discuss bundles. Probably because if the authors go all inclusive with Amazon Select, they can not do bundles outside of Amazon Select. Or they may have discussed it but I missed that video.

Treat your indie publishing as a business, monitoring expenses and income. Keep writing and publishing.

And most of all have fun.

Did you attend the conference? Did you learn anything new?



1 comment so far

  1. Juneta on

    Great post pack with lots of good information.
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

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