Podcasts That Feature Indie Authors

By Alan Levine via Flickr
By Alan Levine via Flickr

It’s not easy finding a podcast that will interview a self-published/indie author. Trust me I know, I just spent the past week researching, emailing and tweeting podcasters.  And I was pretty surprised to learn that there are still lots podcasters that won’t touch an indie book.  I was even more stunned to learn that there are podcasters charging fees for an interview.  By the way, it’s unnecessary to pay for an interview, because most podcasts make their money from advertising, not from charging their guests. I’m not saying these businesses are frauds, they do provide a service but there are no stats that say paying for an interview creates anymore buzz than a free one.  It’s kind of like paying for book reviews, often it’s unnecessary and yields no ROI.

In my search, I did manage to find several podcasts that will take a chance on an indie author and won’t charge you a dime.  But before I tell you that, let me explain why you should consider appearing on a podcast.

Podcasting is Hot Right Now

Podcasting has gotten so popular that even the New York Big 5 publishers have gotten in on the act. For example, Penguin, and Harlequin, both have podcasts where their editors give submissions tips and discuss upcoming books.

Not to be outdone, Barnes and Noble launched several podcasts via their, Barnes & Noble Studio division. Now before you get excited, be warned, B&N only favors bestselling authors. The same story goes for Apple, and even the U.S. Library of Congress. :( But don’t fret, if they want to pretend that we don’t exist, that’s fine, we can build our own networks.

Podcasting Authors

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By Zoomar via Flickr

In true indie spirit, some authors have started their own podcasts where they feature other indie/self-published books. In fact, 90% of the podcasts who welcome indie authors, are hosted by indie authors or authors signed at small publishing presses.  If you were wondering, authors at small presses often face the same uphill battle when it comes to marketing their work, so they really do feel our pain.

Two Possible Arrangements

There are two types of book podcasts, one where you submit your book for review and another where you get interviewed about your book or about writing in general. Both are good ways to promote your work.  Now before I go on, I need to be brutally honest with you, this will not make you a bestseller.  In fact, most marketing methods like blogging, radio and yes, even television are ineffective at selling products short term. However, they are very effective at selling books long term.

10 Podcasts to Consider

  1. Write Stream
  2. Red River Radio
  3. Kobo Writing Life
  4. Newbie Writers
  5. The Funky Writer
  6. WebWeaver Books
  7. The Bookcast
  8. Indie Books
  9. Paranormal & The Sacred
  10. Good Reads Mad Reads

Here’s a spreadsheet with more details such as genre, and contact info.

Important Tip: Make sure to read the description of the show and actually take the time to listen in because not all shows will fit well with your personality. If you’re a romance author, maybe a show like Dudes & Books isn’t your style. Trust me, you’re doing everyone a favor by doing your homework.  Also keep in mind, a lot of these podcasts are booked well in advance, and are biweekly or monthly shows.  There is only so much air time to go around, so if they say no, it’s nothing personal.

How to Find Indie Friendly Podcasts Yourself

Most websites like Blog Talk Radio, Podbean, Sticher and iTunes have terrible search engines.  To make matters worse, some podcasters don’t tag or categorize their shows properly making it difficult to find them, so you may have to get creative with your search.

Here are just a few keywords to type in the search engine:
  • author interviews
  • books
  • writers
  • fiction
  • novels
  • authors
  • indie authors
  • self publishing

For a more specific result, try your genre or niche such as; business, health, legal, sci fi, romance, erotica, mystery etc.

Your Job as a Guest

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By RoadSidePictures via Flickr

As the guest, there are certain things expected of you such as promoting the show on your social media sites, blog or newsletter.  Not long ago, we had an author write a press release before she appeared on our show.  That was unexpected, but very much appreciated because many authors just show up, promote their book then, leave.  No thank yous, or communication whatsoever.  If you’re having trouble understanding why that’s a bad thing, read my post: How to Approach & Pitch Social Media Influencers.

A word to the wise:  Keep in touch especially, if you plan on writing more books.  That means, if they have a Facebook page, like it.  If they’re on Twitter, follow them and retweet them whenever possible.  It doesn’t take much effort to do these things.  And if Facebook or Twitter feed overwhelms you, create lists and check on those lists often.  Again, it’s all about sowing good Karma.

Did You Know You Can Podcast Your Book?

Several years ago, a few indie authors created audio versions of their books and posted them to PodioBooks where they were able to grow a following.   This in turn, created a demand for the ebook and print editions of their work.  One of those authors ended up getting a publishing deal down the road.

For those of you who’ve never heard of PodioBooks it’s a site that uses a pay what you can business model. That means readers decide how much they want to pay if at all. PB is a sharing site like NoiseTrade, so there’s no real money to be made here.  On the flip side, you can serialize your books and possibly grow an audience.

Well there you go, I hope I helped you figure out with this whole podcasting thing.  I know this was lot to digest, so take your time and decide what’s best for you.  There are a myriad of choices when it comes to marketing, and podcasting can be a path to finding your audience.  So it’s definitely something worth considering.

Old School vs New School Crowdfunding: Which One Should Authors Consider? Part 2

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By chris@APL via Flickr

Last week, I discussed traditional crowdfunding and today, I’ll be explaining the new way the publishing industry is using that same model to test a book’s profitability. They (the publishers), do it mainly to get out of hardest and most costly parts of publishing, which are acquiring books as well as marketing them.

Think about it, if a publisher doesn’t have to actually commission a book, then there’s no risk involved. It’s the perfect model for them. However for an author, it may not be such a great deal but you didn’t ask me all that did you?

Don’t Have Any Money to Publish? Then I Hope You Like Sharing

Seeing an opportunity to make money on the crowdfunding craze, several companies popped up catering specifically to self-published/indie authors. Many of them are publishers operating on the crowdfunding model.

Another thing I need to point out is that not all of these sites operate exactly the same way. As an author you need to be aware of this, for example:

Pentian Allows backers to share in the book’s profits.
PubSlush  is a publisher operating on the crowdfunding model and has several packages where they help you with various things like landing pages, social media posts etc.
Unbound.co.uk  Here an author has to pitch the idea of the book and if the book gathers enough pledges, then the author can begin writing the book. Unbound takes 50% of the profits.

Now what do they offer authors in the way of distribution and marketing is a good question. None of them address those issues on their websites. Again at least with Kickstarter and other sites like it, you are in total control and after Kickstarter gets their cut, they leave.

The Problem With This Arrangement

Keep in mind that unlike a traditional publisher, these people don’t make their money from selling your book, they get it from crowdfunding. There is no incentive here to make your book a success.

Crowdsourcing for a Publishing Contract

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By Ritesh Nayak via Flickr

For those of you who don’t know what crowdsourcing is, it’s the engaging of a crowd for a skill or resource. The steps here are so similar to crowdfunding that I had to add it to this post.  However unlike with crowdfunding, where you campaign for funds, here you campaign for votes.
Several publishers such as; Mcmillan, Harper Collins and Amazon, have created websites to engage readers to pick out the best books for them. In essence, they want to farm out the responsibility of the slush pile to the public and the most popular manuscripts will get a traditional publishing contract.

Kindle Scout
Here an author uploads a book, and the readers decide if it is worthy of a contract by voting for it. The author that gets the most votes gets a publishing contract from 47North (An imprint of Amazon) as well as an advance of $1,500. They also offer a 50% royalty and insist on a 45 day exclusive.

Authonomy
Authonomy, which is owned by Harper Collins, only offers the possibility of a traditional publishing contract. Each month, 5 popular manuscripts are chosen by the editors for review. However, I’m told by authors who’ve actually used the site that those odds are miniscule. Also, their terms aren’t searchable on the website so there’s not much to tell about them. There’s no mention of a royalty split or advance of any kind.

SwoonReads
Owned by Macmillan, Swoon Reads, is a site for YA Romance writers and just like Authonomy, it promises a publishing contract to the most popular stories. However, unlike Authonomy and Kindle Scout, they offer a $15,000 advance. They also insist on all your rights in all languages and an option on your next book.

Common Complaints

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Game Dogs By FishFlicks via Flickr

A lot of the authors I’ve encountered online have utter disdain for the alleged politicking involved in these ventures. A few claim that some authors have gamed the system by spamming people all day and kissing butt. Well, duh!  These books are chosen based on their popularity, not their merit. In my opinion, these types of sites are testing an author’s ability to market their work and connect with an audience. It has nothing to do with literary quality whatsoever.  If you feel that campaigning for votes or money is demoralizing or degrading, then this isn’t for you.

The Takeaway

It’s worth mentioning Swoon Reads and Authonomy gets less traffic than this blog according to Alexa, so I don’t know who’s gonna discover your novel when no one is really using the site. You’d be better off going to Wattpad, which has serious traffic, or commenting in the comments section of this post.

Another disturbing thing I noticed was that most of these sites also have poorly managed social media pages. If these companies aren’t marketing their own product, why would they market yours? Personally, I would have a hard time parting with 50% or more of my royalties to someone who isn’t adding anything to my publishing project.

But then again, you didn’t ask me all that…

Old School vs New School Crowdfunding: Which One Should Authors Consider?

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Eat Money (Lynne Hand) via Flickr

Not long ago, Kickstarter became a household name when it became the go to place to raise money for independent artists without a corporate sponsor.  Crowdfunding websites have raised money for films, music albums, and yes, even books.  Now flash forward to 2014 and even mainstream artists like Kenny Loggins and Zach Braff have used the site to raise quite a bit of money for their own pet projects.

However, there is a new kind of crowdfunding popping up in the publishing world and it would be wise if authors learned the difference between the two if they want to fund a self-published book, or simply get a contract with a publisher.

In The Beginning There Was Old School Crowdfunding

Back in the day, artists would create an account on a crowdfunding site and go straight to the people thus cutting out the middle men like agents, acquisitions editors and yes, even traditional publishers.  It was like a miracle from heaven for independent artists everywhere.  Artists could keep their rights, retain creative control and still make money on a book.  However, as with most miracles, there was a catch…

Chicken Meet Egg

Quickly, a problem arose for those with no platform.  An author with very few connections often had a difficult time raising awareness let alone, funds for their project.  Like it or not, most successful crowdfunding requires a promotional savvy that most authors don’t have.

This is where marketing companies and PR firms who specialize in crowdfunding promised to come to the rescue, for a price.  In essence, another middle man had been born.  Go figure.

Are Promotional Services Really Necessary?

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David Goehring via Flickr

If you don’t won’t to build a platform then yes.  Because according to Kickstarter’s own statistics, only 43% of projects actually get funded.

I’ve seen prices for these promotional services vary dramatically from $17 to $2,991 which include anything from press releases written by a copywriter, to targeted advertising, templates for your email list (or so you can bug your family and friends), and even video tutorials. However, that’s only on the pricier side. If you want to go the cheaper route, you can get a press release (written by God knows who), a targeted Facebook ad, and a social media blast.  I’ve only listed the affordable ones because I know my audience.

*Not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned*

Since there are no guarantees that this visibility will result in a successful campaign, it makes more sense to build a platform and promote the project yourself.  There’s no way around this platform thing, trust me, I’ve looked into it!

Crowdfunding is a 24/7 Deal

Ask anyone who’s ever successfully funded a campaign and they’ll tell you it is a hard job that requires hands on management. Authors often promote tirelessly on social media, blog tours and even podcasts to raise awareness for their projects.  So this isn’t just a set it and forget it endeavor.  If your project is 30 days, then you need to be plugged in for 30 days. This money will not raise itself.

Ultimately the question you have to ask yourself is, do you have the dedication it takes to successfully raise money for a project? If not, then old school crowdfunding isn’t for you.  However don’t fret, that’s not the only game in town. Next week, I’ll explain another way crowdfunding is taking over the publishing world and why it may be the new business template for publishers.

Keywords & Subtitles: They’re More Important Than You Think

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A man of few words by Jason Mrachina via Flickr

It was brought to my attention that one of my posts “How to get Featured or Reviewed on Amazon” had an incorrect address, that has now been updated.  I apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused. 

Over the past few years, I’ve encountered article after article, lauding the importance of key words and categories. However, these articles were only centered around Amazon and its search engine but recently, I discovered the importance of keywords on Wattpad as well. It makes sense, because some readers are very genre specific. You rarely see a Sci-Fi fan reading a children’s book or an erotica fan reading religious fiction. When readers get on a site like Wattpad or Amazon, they go straight to what they’re interested in. Sometimes, they’ll type in the search engine what their looking for, while others go straight to the categories list.

My Own Experience

A few months ago, I did an experiment where I added subtitles with keywords to all my material on Wattpad.

Now before you think I did something shady or complicated, let me explain, I only added the genre in the subtitle. For example, with Eternal Bond I put in the subtitle: The Vampire Novel Series.  For Fedelta, I simply put in the subtitle: A Romantic Suspense.  And for Hag I put: A YA Romance and that’s it!

Here are my results:

Keywords Table

Stats as of 10/11/2014

Now before you ask, I wasn’t picked by the Wattpad editors to be featured and didn’t have to go exclusive for 6 months with them.

Looking at these stats it’s hard to argue with the logic of adding subtitles to your books. Keywords give your readers a surefire way of knowing what they’re getting and will get your work read. However, there’s more to this story…

Keywords on Social Media

The technique doesn’t end there, I also use hastags with keywords when sharing my work on social media. Yes, I often add hastags like; #Wattpad, #Paranormal, #Romance, #YANovel, and #Vampires to my social media posts whenever I share my work.  This way my posts can attract more attention beyond my immediate circle of followers and end up in the search engine, rather than just becoming an invisible post. Today, this seems to be a necessity since Facebook, Google+ and even Pinterest, all use hashtags.  And if you were wondering, yes, there are people who are paying attention.  Since getting serious about this a few months ago, I’ve been retweeted, several times and even had my work shared on platforms I’ve never heard of by nonfollowers.  Not bad, eh?
More tips:

  • To make sure you get some sort of response, try using Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule those posts during the most active times of the day.
  • Share quotes from your book using a free quote generator like Quozio or ProWritingAid.
    You can also make a shareable pic with a quote from your book using the Flickr Commons or MorgueFile.
  • Don’t forget to add the links to your work.  (You won’t believe how many authors forget this!)

It’s Not a Miracle but it’s a Start

Will this make you a bestseller? Probably not. Will it give you a slight advantage over the indie or traditionally published author who doesn’t use them?  Yes.  Many self-published authors are frustrated by lack of visibility online and this is just one way to get noticed and it won’t cost you a thing.  So why not give it a try?  Use keywords in your subtitles, then promote that work on social media using keywords in your hashtags.  And don’t forget, make it gorgeous and shareable!

Yes, this is a lot of work, but nobody said self-publishing would be easy.  Like any self-published author, you are the PR team, social media manager, cover designer and  even the accountant.  So it’s your job to get your work out to readers.  There is a market waiting for your book, it’s just a matter of finding it.

Selling The Foreign Rights To Your Self-Published Book

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By Max Sat via Flickr

Last week, I discussed how to get your self-published book translated using various techniques from hiring contractors to using a royalty splitting website. Today I’ll talk about the next logical step in this journey and that is selling your foreign rights to a publisher. Yes, you can sell your book’s rights whether they be digital or print to a publisher in another country.  Sounds cool huh?  Seeing our books being sold at  store overseas is the dream of many authors.

There are several options that self-published authors have, you can find an agent who can sell it for you, or you can try to do it on your own.  But before I begin, I have one very important question…

Have You Exploited All Your English Rights?

Did you know you can sell the English rights of your book to publishers in other countries? Just as English language music and movies are sold all over the world, so are English language books. So before you go and get knee deep in translations of your work, make sure you’ve exploited all of your licensing rights. If it’s possible to sell your book’s English rights to a German publisher, why not?  In fact, you can sell those rights to publishers in every country on the planet.

Unfortunately, many traditionally published authors stop with selling their U.S. or U.K. rights and that’s absurd.  There are many publishers in other countries that would love to do business with you so what are you waiting for?

Can I Still Shop Around My Book To Agents and Publishers?

Yes, if you’re upfront with your agent/editor there shouldn’t be any conflict. However, you must be specific as to what you’re actually selling them. If you’re selling only U.S. English rights you must make sure that’s in your contract. This is important because many authors are finding publishers doing what’s called a rights grab where a publishing company tries to buy up all your book’s licensing rights without paying you adequately for them.  Sadly, there are many stories of authors who have mistakenly sold all of their book’s rights for a few bucks and that’s just wrong.  A book publisher has no business owning the movies rights to your book!
Here are a just few ways you can license a book:

• Digital (Ebooks)
• Print (Paperback and hardcover)
• Foreign language versions
• Audio
• Movie
• Merchandise (T-shirts, toys, posters, etc.)

Agents

Unfortunately, in some countries it’s necessary to have an agent if you want to be published with a legitimate publishing company. There are some literary agencies that specialize in foreign rights sales and are happy to help you for a percentage of your royalties.  Some of these agents subcontract other agents overseas with whom they split a fee with if a property sells.  There are also literary agencies who prefer to deal directly with publishers.

Doing it DIY Style

By emdot via Flickr
By emdot via Flickr

Recently, several websites have popped up that cater to matching publishers with authors. The most popular ones with indie authors are Pubmatch and IPR License. IPR License has a yearly fee of $79, while Pubmatch, has both free and paid services.

Both sites are relatively new, IPR License was launched in 2012, while Pubmatch was created in 2009 and is co-owned by Publisher’s Weekly.  So neither site has been around for a long period of time.

However, I have yet to find any decent reviews or testimonials from either site. There are no Hugh Howey’s or Colleen Hoovers that have emerged from these places. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, I just wouldn’t shell out money for the paid services. Go free and check out the site for yourself then, decide what’s best for your book.

So there you have it, a complicate subject explained as simply as possible. If you have any experience with Pubmatch or IPR License please tell us about it in the comments section. Lord knows, I’d like to know if anyone is having any success.

Freebies: Forget What You’ve Heard

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By Jackson Ward via Flickr

When KDP introduced its Select program, many authors balked at the idea of giving away their work for free. After all, it took several months, or years to create a decent story worthy of publication so giving it away for nothing seemed like a waste. And I completely understand that line of thinking. I was a freelancer and was very adamant about getting paid for my work. However, I wasn’t a publisher at the time and therefore didn’t have large billion dollar corporations to compete with.

The one advantage indie authors have over the big guys is the ability to price low, very low. In fact, we can go free if necessary but when is it necessary to go free? That’s simple…

• When you want to build your email list.
• If you want to introduce readers to a new series of books.
• You need more social media followers.

A Gift with Strings Attached

Many writers like Hugh Howey and Sylvia Day are using free books to drum up their fan base. And I haven’t seen free books hurt their bottom line, actually, if used properly, everyone gets what they want: readers get entertained, and authors get new fans. It’s a win-win.

Perma-Free Myths

There is this myth in the indie community that you can’t go free on Amazon without KDP but you can. However it will take time and patience on your part. First you go to Smashwords and set the price of your book to free. When those prices reach retailers like Apple,  or Kobo the Amazon algorithms pick up on this and adjust the price accordingly. If not, you’ll have to log into your personal Amazon account and go to your book’s page.  Scroll down to the Product Details and click on the tell us about a lower price link and send them the link to Apple or Barnes and Noble.

Amazon Perma Free Link

Amazon Pop up free link

Be warned: This may not work the first time, in fact, you may have to enlist some friends to help you.

Should You Promote a Free Book?

Why not?  There are tons of places that will allow indie authors to advertise their free books for absolutely no cost.  In fact, here are just a few:

Keep in mind that paid services are usually more effective but not always, so be sure to do your research before spending your money.

In Closing…

If you have a plan, then giving away a book should help your cause whatever that may be. Don’t make the mistake that I did and give away a book with no real reason. If you don’t want to get a bigger fan base or need a exposure then, don’t do it.

Translating Your Book: What You Need To Know

Hello in Multiple LanguagesIt’s a subject most self-published authors avoid and I don’t blame them, translating a book seems complicated as well as expensive. It’s murky territory, where we’re flying blind because we don’t speak the language.  I mean could you imagine embarrassing yourself in another country?  So out of fear we indies stay put in the shallow waters too terrified to dip our toes in the deeper parts of the pool.  Well, I’m getting my poodle noodle as well as my floaties and I’m diving in.

Before I go on, I’m not discussing selling your foreign rights, that’s a completely different issue which I’ll discuss next week.  Today, I’m simply discussing translating your book and all the things that come along with it.

You’ll Need Two People To Help You

First you’re going to need a translator, you can find these people all over the place. The more established (expensive) translators can be found at the International Federation of Translators as well as the American Translators’ Association.

Many (cheaper) freelance translators can also be found at Elance, Odesk as well as Guru, the online outsourcing sites.  Now before you hire someone, please consider everything you’ll need to have translated. Believe it or not, it’s not only your book you’ll need to have translated. You’ll also need to translate the title of your book and any subtitles, your book blurbs, as well as your new Amazon author page.  Here are some more things to consider translating as well:

• Newsletters. You do plan on capturing emails in your ebook, right?
• Social Media Posts
• Ads
• Interviews/ Blog Posts
• Website landing/sales pages

Once your book has been translated, now you’ll need to find a line editor who specializes in your language of choice. You can also find line editors at Elance, and Odesk as well.

Important Tip: When contracting this type of work out, make sure to discuss the terms of the rights of the translation. In some countries the translators own part of the rights of the translated version of your book, meaning they get a cut of the royalties, so be sure you’re clear in your contract about who owns what.  However, if you’re smart, you can use this to your advantage and insist in your contract that if the translator owns part of the rights to your book, then they must help you with promotion.  Hey, it’s only fair!
This is the more expensive way to translate your book however, long term it’s the most profitable.  But there is another cheaper, way to translate your work…

Bablecube: The Poor Author’s Translator?

Bablecube is the only online website that I can find that offers translations services for no upfront fee. However, there is a catch, you must share royalties with the site as well as the translator. The split is 50% for the translator, 30% for Bablecube, 20% for the publisher (you). This means if you want to make big bucks off of your translations, you’ll have to price your book reasonably in order to get a decent cut of the profits. But there’s more…

There are issues that I find troubling with Bablecube. For one, you must keep your book on the market for 5 years as explained in their FAQs. (Click on the link that says Rights to the Translated Version of the Book) This is done so authors can’t grab free translations and skip town, leaving the translator broke.  Also, Bablecube holds the distribution rights of your newly translated book for 5 years. This could be a huge problem with indies who are still shopping their work around to traditional publishers.  Many publishers want you to own the rights before they’ll even think about purchasing a manuscript.

Another thing I noticed is that some authors upload their work to the site only to find that no one is interested in translating it.  That could be because of genre or even a poorly designed cover, who knows?  Ultimately, it is up to the discretion of the translators as to which project they’ll choose.

Reviews & Beta Readers

Now that you’ve gotten your book translated and uploaded, you’ll need reviews and beta readers. You can go to Goodreads or Shelfari to find native readers who can give an honest review. Just type in the search engine something like: “Arabic Literature” and see what comes up.  You can do this on other social media sites as well.

You May Have To Change Your Cover

Have you noticed that a book published by a company like Random House usually has multiple versions of their book covers for various countries?  Hopefully, you made sure to get all rights to your book’s cover, right?  If not, you may have to use a different cover for the translated version of your book.

The Hobbit Compairison
The Hobbit ebook cover: U.K. version on left, Spanish version on the right

Another thing to consider, are trigger happy censors in certain countries. Places like the Middle East, Asia and even Eastern Europe have some of the most notorious (annoying) censors who won’t hesitate to ban a book whose cover they consider obscene or controversial. This affects those writing in the romance or erotica genres the most.  Your best bet is to investigate the books in your genre in the particular country you’re targeting and see what’s acceptable, cover wise.

In Closing

I know I’ve given you a lot of information and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Take it slow and test the waters with one book then, expand gradually with your other work.