Saturday, 28 July 2012

Guest Blogger - Joe Mynhardt

Joe Mynhardt is author of LOST IN THE DARK click HERE to buy a copy.

So you want to publish an eBook?
Joe Mynhardt

Let me start by introducing myself. I’m Joe Mynhardt and I started writing flash fiction and short stories in November of 2008. Need I say that most of my stories are speculative fiction and just plain old horror.

After over forty short story publications, I decided it was time to put together my first eBook, filled with a couple of my best stories to date. I realised I had a pretty solid base of support, readers and writers alike, and gathered it was time to really put my work out there for others to see.

Being a very analytical person (at times), I first looked into why I wanted to do this:
·        Promote myself
·        Promote my work
·        Learn more about the publishing industry
·        Gain experience and confidence
·        And make a little bit of money off my efforts

Pretty much in that order as well.

I was immediately met with excitement, and couldn’t wait to get the ball rolling. Luckily I’m not one to rush into things, and I hope you’re not. Being a writer is about being a professional. And professionalism lies in our actions, responses and choices. And don’t forget timing.

Like the cover of the eBook, for instance. Nothing shouts desperate wannabe-writer like a cheap cover. Now, living in South Africa, I knew I’d have to dig deep, but I made sure I got an award-winning artist to design my cover. I got a quote from Ben Baldwin and sent him a few stories I was planning to add to the collection. That way we could both discuss what would be the best possible cover.

While Ben was working on the cover, I thought about the stories I would include. A few would be previously published, but the majority needed to be unpublished, brand new material. The final tally is twelve stories. Just remember to choose your stories according to a theme. Some writers and anthologies prefer topics like zombies, or vampires, I prefer deeper themes like death or jealousy. The theme for my collection is lost hope and man’s struggle to retain it.

Originally I was looking to upload the eBook to Amazon back in April, but then I got some really positive feedback from other writers and my growing support of readers about the cover. It made me realise that I really had to write a few more stories in order to release this collection in print format as well. If you’re only looking to e-publish, word count isn’t that important. Print books shouldn’t be less than 40 000 words, as it just doesn’t look worth its cover price.

But, before I get ahead of myself, what about learning how to format an eBook. This is something that has given many a writer headaches. I immediately, thanks to the great advice of my friend Nick Daws, bought the ‘Formatting and Publishing on the Kindle by David Robinson’ eBook. I put all the stories I had so far, including the index, into one document and formatted it as I worked through the book. I’m also reading the ‘Smashwords Style Guide’ eBook at the moment. But, it’s nice to have someone ready to help in case something goes wrong. I have a few friends who can help out with formatting, and one who will help if I struggle uploading onto Amazon. Make sure you have some kind of backup, especially if you’ve given yourself a deadline like I have.

Now when it comes to the price, there are a few things you need to know about Amazon. Amazon of course takes a cut, but the size of their cut depends on the selling price of your eBook. From what I’ve heard, anything less than $2.99, you get 35% royalties. Between that and $9.99, you get 75% royalties. Anything higher than that returns to 35% royalties. So make sure what you want to ask on the launch day, but remember, you can always change it later. And don’t forget, you have the option of selling on Smashwords or even from your own website, if you know how. Just remember to read Amazon’s terms and conditions first, especially when you want to sell eBooks from another outlet. Any writers living outside the US also needs to register for an EIN number, otherwise the Amazon, Smashwords or Createspace will take an additional 30% for tax purposes.

Another reason for pushing back the release date was proper marketing. Lost in the Dark goes on sale as an eBook August 1st 2012. The print version will be available a month or two later. Here are a few things I’m working on at the moment:
·        A Blog tour two days before and 5 days after the launch.
·        Interviews
·        A Facebook Event
·        Just showing the cover on various Facebook pages and websites already created lots of buzz.
·        Spreading the word on forums and chat groups
·        Contacting local radio stations
·        Calling in support from friends, bloggers and folks in advertising I’ve helped over the years. There are some wonderful people out there who are always willing to help out. Just remember to return the favour.
·        I’ve recruited a couple of readers and writers alike to work on Amazon reviews. They’ll each get a free copy a month in advance and upload their reviews the day of the launch.
·        I’ve sent the stories to a dear editor friend of mine who is much better at spotting mistakes than I am. She will of course promote from her side as well, just like the other people who helped bring this entire project together.

And who knows what idea I’ll come up with next. Maybe you have a great idea you’ll share with me. All I know is, if I rushed this, I wouldn’t have thought of any of these ideas. I’m even working on a special event for Halloween.

But, always remember this, the stories are the most important factor here, be it a collection of short stories or a novel. You can promote as much as you want, but if you’re story isn’t the best it can be, forget about it. Also make sure your next book is better than your previous.

A month or two ago I became so overwhelmed with all these marketing strategies and formatting guidelines, that I almost suffered from writer’s block. Perhaps I was feeling the pressure of not giving the readers what they thought they’d get. With such an amazing cover, the reader will be expecting the same quality on the inside. And it is a scary thought, one every writer needs to face. We are putting our words out there for people to judge. Don’t think every reader will be happy. Don’t think every review will be positive. As long as you know you did your best and took no shortcuts, words shouldn’t hurt you, and you shouldn’t let them.

Here are a few wise words from my fellow authors:

“Remember, this eBook revolution is a marathon and not a race. Your latest release comes on the heels of a thousand more in the last hour, and another thousand in the next. When I put my first eBook out I took two steps back so I didn't get stampeded with customers tripping over each other to buy it. That never happened. I'm forty releases (and countless short story sales) in and starting to build an audience. The reality is this: promote this first release as much as you can, but that second one better be coming quickly to keep momentum going.”

Armand Rosamilia, author of "Dying Days" zombie series.

“. . . the most user friendly system is Amazon's KDP. It’s just so darned easy to use.”

Jack also recommends the ‘Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing’, free on Amazon.

“On your first day live on Amazon, you can expect your initial sales to be to friends and family. After that, sales will slow to a crawl or, more likely, stop completely, and the reason for this is as a new, unknown, author your book has no profile; it's just another indie book amongst a sea of indie books. This is the time you have to start promoting your book and, more importantly, yourself. Facebook and Twitter accounts are essential, as is a blog. Use Twitter to advertise your book page on Amazon, although bear in mind that every other author on Twitter is doing the same too, so realise you'll just become part of the noise. In my experience using Twitter in this way yields very few, if any results. A better way to use Twitter is to use it to drive people to your blog.

Your blog should be entertaining and reflect the kind of writing people will find in your book. Make sure your posts have the widest possible appeal. For example, if your blog is about food and recipes, include anecdotes about when you first discovered the particular Recipe, Food, Wine etc. You want your personality to shine through your posts, so people can get to know you and, hopefully, like you enough to become a subscriber. If someone likes your blog enough to subscribe to it, chances are they are going to be interested in looking at your book, so make sure you have a visible link to your Amazon book page for both the UK and US sites. If your market is likely to be in France, Germany, Spain or Italy, then include links to the relevant sites also.

On formatting: I would recommend purchasing a copy of Scrivener, which has long been available for the Mac, and is now also available for Windows. As well as being a brilliant word processor, Scrivener will compile your manuscript in a variety of formats including .mobi for the Kindle, and .epub for other e-readers such as the Nook and the iPad. Scrivener did a perfect job of compiling my novel for the Kindle, and I also used it to compile the PDF for the 5" X 8" paperback version, which will be available very soon.”

Patrick Fox, author of Trinity.

The only thing left to say go for it, have faith and enjoy the ride. You can read more about each story in the collection at:

All the best,
Joe Mynhardt
Author, owner and operator of Crystal Lake Publishing

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