Monday, January 12, 2009

Victoria Strauss -- How Not to Epublish

The Austin American Stateman has an interesting story today by Omar L. Gallaga, entitled Publishing Changes in the Digital Era--interesting to me, that is, though possibly not for the reasons Mr. Gallaga intended.

"Here's a pleasant surprise," the story begins. "One of the areas where I'm seeing some of the most interesting new-media marketing is in the oldest of old media: book publishing." The story goes on to describe the publishing and promotion efforts of Tam Thompson, a writer who has just self-epublished a fitness guide for women, Busy Sexy Body. She's doing a signing at a local library, printing out color copies of the ebook's cover which she will sign for buyers (purchases can be made online right at the library). Says the article,

Thompson deals with lots of writers and says many of them are hopelessly mired in the past, waiting for a publisher's paycheck to land on their door. She thinks they should instead aggressively promote themselves using whatever technology is available.

"They are stubborn as mules. They will not come out of the 18th century," she said. "A good book with great marketing will outsell a great book with good marketing all day long. Any writer who doesn't do this in the next year or two is just going to be dead in the water."


What's surprising about this? Not much. Until you read that Thompson's 60-page ebook is priced at $29.95, and she has spent $7,000 on promoting it. No, those are not typos.

To my electronic-savvy readers, I don't need to point out that $29.95 is an insane price for an ebook (not just for an ebook, actually--many hardcover books don't cost that much). Most ebook readers feel that an ebook shouldn't cost a lot more than a mass market paperback, and the high ebook prices that so many commercial publishers insist on charging for the e-versions of their print books are a frequent source of reader gripes. Even the 3 FREE Special Bonuses you get if you order Thompson's book "right now today" don't do much to sweeten the deal.

Much of Thompson's promotional spending, according to the article, went to "an Internet consultant and Web team who helped [Thompson] set up a blog and a payment system for selling Busy Sexy Body online." (Uh...Paypal.) But $7,000? Ebooks are a niche market--only around 1% of the total book market, according to the COO of Ingram Digital. In other words, at the moment, most people don't read them. Does it make any sense to spend that kind of cash on promotion, especially if you've priced your ebook into the stratosphere?

Maybe not. In its first week of online availability, Busy Sexy Body sold one copy. New-media marketing, indeed.

54 comments:

Kristi Holl said...

You wouldn't think you'd have to spell out the obvious, but those $$$ figures are insane! What is she thinking? I, too, refuse to spend HUGE bucks on an ebook.
Kristi Holl
Writer's First Aid blog

Susan in Cruces said...

It could make sense, for nonfiction, just as it might for self-publishing. If you have a little conference circuit going, you do some public speaking here and there, and you want to sell your eBook primarily to people who either are already attending, or wanted to attend and couldn't, you can fetch a pretty penny for them. Want the eBook copy of the tax update manual for a seminar I recently attended? It'll set you back $150. But people don't buy it because they heard some random guy was selling an ebook on tax, they buy it because they know and trust this guy as a seminar speaker, and they know this will get them good info and CPE credit.

But you can't look at it like you wrote a book. The book becomes an informational product, one which is only worth money if you can prove to people that you are an expert.

In this case, her "expert" certifications would make me feel less than confident. *Former* owner of a fitness center? *Formerly* a certified trainer? And why should I care if she's a professional writer? In this case, I want to buy a fitness book from someone whose real living comes from helping people get fit, the same way I want my tax seminar speaker to be a guy who really does taxes. Writers are not known for fitness, you know?

I think that this is a good idea, but she's gone about it in a way that isn't going to be successful. And it's definitely not something likely to work with fiction. It's hard for a novel to be worth $30, whereas this book *could* be marketed not as an alternative to other books, but say, as an alternative to shelling out $30 for maybe two weeks of gym membership.

December/Stacia said...

*gapes*

Ebooks are hard to sell even with a professional ebook publisher; only the very biggest ebook houses, selling very specific genres (erotic romance, chiefly), manage to draw enough readers for their authors to make decent money.

Outside that genre, and some ebook reader early adopters, the idea of a self-published ebook at that price managing to attract anyone is just...sigh.

That poor woman, really. I'd feel sorrier for her if she hadn't made snotty comments about those of us who worked very hard in order to be paid advances, as if we're a bunch of stupid leeches who expect money for nothing.

December/Stacia said...

Oh, and btw, those early ebook adopters? The tend to either be Kindle owners who buy from Amazon, or *insert-device-here* owners who buy from Fictionwise or a similar online-ebookstore type of site. They do not wander the internet looking for random independent single-book websites to buy ebooks from any more than regular book buyers do. If you can't get your book onto Fictionwise (or similar; there's one or two others but F-wise is the biggest), it's not going to sell.

Think about it for a second; do you buy things and download them from sites which might give you a virus or steal your money? People aren't stupid. They're going to buy from a site they know they can trust.


Sorry...I've just spent a lot of time in the ebook world. :-)

Marian said...

According to the article, that author believes most writers "are hopelessly mired in the past, waiting for a publisher's paycheck to land on their door."

Even if that were an accurate depiction of what we do, I'm not clear on how blowing thousands of dollars on promoting an overpriced e-book is any better.

JS said...

Omar Gallaga is the king of misinformation. He's on NPR now and I swear he makes some substantive error every time he appears.

Melissa said...

Looking at her page, what she's trying to do is copy the strategy of Tom Venuto's "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle."

http://www.burnthefat.com/

Tom's book is similarly overpriced, but it's written by someone who walks the walk AND has TONS of successful adopters. Lots of good extras too. There is lots and lots and lots of good word of mouth on Tom's materials DESPITE the annoying hard sell on his page.

Inkpot said...

*jaw hits floor*

Whaa...

*eyes spin crazily*

ahem. I expect ebooks to cost A LOT less than a print book. How much would this cost printed - $100?

Omar said...

The article wasn't about book pricing, but about how people are marketing and promoting their work (whether they're self-published or not).

I thought part of what was supposed to make self-publishing/ebook publishing great was giving authors the freedom to sell their work at whatever they feel the market is willing to pay. Not sure that comparing this new kind of book selling to selling books the traditional way is comparing apples to apples, especially if you believe in the long tail.

Also, please feel free, JS, to e-mail me when I make an error on NPR (don't worry, I have enough space on Gmail for that volume of correspondence).

I'll correct any mistakes I make if you promise to buy me a crown engraved, "King of Misinformation."

Victoria Strauss said...

Not sure that comparing this new kind of book selling to selling books the traditional way is comparing apples to apples, especially if you believe in the long tail.

Self-published ebooks have been around for a long time, so this kind of endeavor isn't really new. Nor was I making comparisons to traditional bookselling. I was pointing out that in the context of the ebook market--a niche market with a small audience where readers are demanding lower prices--both Thompson's price and her publicity budget seem unrealistic. Other commenters have suggested that readers might be able to swallow a high price for an ebook like Thompson's if she were well-known or had a following--but it doesn't appear that's the case.

Poorly-conceived marketing is poorly-conceived marketing, whether in new media or old.

I don't believe in the long tail, BTW, and I didn't even before the theory started smacking up against the reality of consumer behavior. Even if the long tail idea eventually proves out, its benefit is to retailers, not to individual artists, unless they're incredibly prolific.

BuffySquirrel said...

That's even better than the paperback I picked up in Waterstones the other day, and hastily dropped when I saw the price--£32.50. That's about $48. Yikes!

Georgie B said...

$7,000 is a lot for publicity. One question would be is what constitutes a reasonable amount to spend on publicity?

firsttimeauthoress said...

All thge flunkeys that bow to these women are dorks. All sucking up thinking that one day she will get their books published for them. She'll never help yo. Her goal inlife i sto lord it over you that she got publshed but that YOU didn't. Thats why she runs this blog: to make people feel bad about failing. She loves to plug her (mediocre) books and rub them in your face! I'm going to write to Bill Maher to get him to do a piece on you people, so that you can be exposed for what you really are! He exposes ultra capitalists like a bodily function. You destroy the reputations of honest hard working Americqans and think you can get away with it. Then we'll see who thinks they're so smart! You'll be on real time in february to account for why you contribute (for HUGE bucks) to the sites that you claimare frauds like yourself. Let's see you explain that one away....

Jill Wheeler said...

...

Wow.

Basil Sands said...

Many authors seem to be confused about the usefulness of digital marketing and ebooks. My philosophy is that the e-versions (via textual ebook, or mp3 audio podcast versions) should be marketing tools, not the final product.

I have recorded the audio version of four of my books and offer it online not for the hope of making a living off the eversion, I give them away for free. I do it in hopes of spreading my name and then making money as a few of my fellow podcast authors have via the traditional print route.

It may come but it's going to be a long time before anyone makes a six figure income from digital books, no matter their marketing.

Lili said...

Thompson deals with lots of writers and says many of them are hopelessly mired in the past, waiting for a publisher's paycheck to land on their door [...] "They are stubborn as mules. They will not come out of the 18th century."

My publishers do, in fact, send me cheques (although they don't land on my door, which would be kind of difficult, balance-wise). I thought this was a good thing, but now I'm confused. Does this mean that I'm hopelessly mired in the past? Or that all my publishers are? Am I supposed to get unmired by sending the cheques back? Or what?

Also, firsttimeauthoress? Take the red ones before the blue ones.

Jill Elaine Hughes said...

This poor woman has been scammed, big-time. I kind of feel sorry for her.

FYI, most authors who are published by traditional publishers who get decent-sized advances (i.e., $25,000 or more) will often hire a professional publicist out of their advance to help promote the book beyond what the publisher does. You can usually get a decent publicist to do a book marketing package for $1000 or less. (FYI, I've done my own marketing for free on my current release, and have managed to get several guest blog appearances as well as a profile in the Chicago Tribune). I know something about marketing and PR from my days as a theatre producer, however.

First-time authoress? Once you come down off whatever hallucinogens you are currently taking, I suggest you learn how to write something resembling the English language.

Omar said...

Lili -- she was referring to unpublished authors who imagine that a book deal will magically land on their doorstep, not professional cheque-earners like yourself.

firsttimeauthoress said...

Just as I imagined. I asked a simple question: the name of her agent. Not even a word in answer, just the predictable hate messages I've come to expect. "Look for a reputable agent" she says. "Name one," I ask. No answer. "Look for a reputable publisher," she advises. Name one, I ask. Nothing. Why do you all keep praising this woman for giving out such obvious advice. "Don't pay out thousands to conmen" she says. "Oh, thank you darling Vicky for this brilliant advice, I would never have thought of it!" you all intone in unison. Do you really need someone to tell you not to give your money away?! breathtaking. firsttimeauthoress.

A. C. Crispin said...

Hi, First Time Authoress:

It's much easier to read your messages if you proofread them before posting. Just a little FYI, there.

To respond to your second post, not too long ago, Victoria blogged about why Writer Beware does not recommend any specific agents or any specific publishers -- even our own. You should probably look up that blog post and read it.

To briefly recap her point: no ONE agent is right for every author. No ONE publisher is right for every author.

For that reason, Writer Beware doesn't make specific agent or publisher recommendations to aspiring authors. It would be impossible to pair up the right agent or publisher to an aspiring author, because each author's needs and work are different.

However, it's not hard to find reputable agents and publishers. All you have to do, in the case of agents, is look for the ones that have good track records of sales. Other indications of quality might be AAR memberships, or, in the case of a new agent, a solid internship with a commercial publishing house or topnotch agency.

In the case of publishers, it's even easier. Reputable publishers are, by and large, the ones you can find on the shelves in most brick and mortar bookstores.

Take a notebook to the bookstore and check out books like yours, then note down which company or imprint published them. Then look up the publisher's submission guidelines in a marketing guide such as the Jeff Herman Guide or Writer's Market.

Any aspiring author with two print cartridges to rub together can accomplish this, witness most of the folks that follow this blog. It's hardly rocket science.

Re your first post: It's considered both clueless and tacky to write to an author you don't know and demand the name of his/her agent. Writers don't recommend other writers to their agents unless they've read their work. Don't send your work to an author demanding that they read it, either. That's even tackier.

Writer Beware would LOVE to be featured by Bill Maher. If you can arrange it, that would be GREAT! Have his reps drop me an email. anncrispin@aol.com

BTW, Victoria's too modest to correct you, but her book reviews consistently praise her writing skills. She's one of the most literate and skillful writers I know...and I know a LOT of writers.

You've obviously never read her work, which doesn't surprise me a bit.

-Ann C. Crispin
Chair, Writer Beware
www.writerbeware.com

Sally Zigmond said...

Just a quick word to firsttimeauthorress or should that be Michele Glance Rooney, the wonderful agent?

I'm far away in the little ol'UK but even I can detect the aroma of something distinctly fishy.

firsttimeauthoress said...

You treat me like the Scooter Libby of the publishing world. When I wrote that blog I was choked with emotion at having received my hefty check because of someone who worked hard to get me to where I am now. Gratitude, not grammar, was the first thing on my mind. The people here at this blog delight in telling you how NOT to get published. They just love to tell you how hard it is and rub it in your face that they got published but you never will. They ruin the reputation of hard-working people without a qualm. It makes my blood boil that they get away with this, all their hate-filled messages. Look at me, they don't even know who I am, but since I disagree with them they immediately turn to sarcasm, ridicule and doubt. Yes, they tell you how NOT to get published. I say, find someone who can tell you how TO get published - like I did. That is the difference between a negative person who delights in seeing others fail and a hard working person who delights in seeing her people succeed. I rest my case.

firsttimeauthoress said...

To quote a previous post from this blog:

"I of course cannot prove that MGR is posting these blogs".

Ha! If you can't prove it, how dare you make the accusation! You have no right to slander a hard-working woman and her family. It is against all I stand for and against the Laws of Moses.

JaxPop said...

Ann - Your reply comments addressing 1stTime were very professional. I've always found this blog to be a huge help (thanks by the way).

$30 for a 60 page e-book is expensive - I don't care what lengthy credentials the author may hold. $7K to market it at the outset? Wow.

Traditional or Self publishing - a choice for some, an option for others. In any case, Victoria has always stuck to the facts in her posts, offering warnings to benefit all - free of charge I might add. Keep up the great work.

Cheryl Pickett said...

Back to the topic of ebooks,
I continue to find it interesting that there are basically two worlds when it comes to the subject.

First, there's the traditional author and book world, where people do seem to expect an ebook to cost less than the print.

However, in the information marketing world, that price range for an ebook is not only common, it's not even that high.

In addition, there are people who make a good living selling special reports of less than 10 pages for $10 and under 20 pages for over $10among their list of offerings.

As someone else touched on, in that world, price is driven by the value of the information contained in the product.

Also, I also think that say that to say one shouldn't charge a higher than normal price for X kind of book is a little unfair, has been for a long time in some ways.

As an example, I can go to Walmart and buy a T-shirt for $8. I can also go to a designer boutique and buy a T-shirt for $80. Why? Because there is a value difference, and sometimes it is only a percieved value. It's still a T-shirt, maybe slightly better made, but to someone it's worth the asking price.

Ebooks may only count for 1% of the market, and, as mentioned, the model may not work well for fiction. But if someone can net $15or more from 1 sale, I it's at least worth a shot.

A. C. Crispin said...

I got snookered by Michelle Glance Rooney?

Dearie me. I should have suspected it was someone on one of the "Thumbs Down" lists.

If Michelle has actually made a verifiable sale for a client, why not list the sale? We're always happy to see good news.

Does this mean we don't get to be interviewed by Bill Maher?

Rats.

-Ann C. Crispin

Anonymous said...

Whats an Americqan?

December/Stacia said...

Well, gee, "First Time Authoress/MGR", I guess I did something wrong, because thanks in large part to Victoria and Ann's great advice I got myself a fantastic agent and a three-book-deal with Random House.

I must have missed the part where they gloated and told me I'd never get published; all I saw was kindndess, intelligence, support, and great information.

Darn. I always miss stuff like that.

Sally Zigmond said...

Come on, firsttimer: I'm agog. If you're not Ms Rooney in disguise then please tell us who you are. What's your book called? What's it about? Is it romance or SF? Who's the publisher? You won't convince anyone you're the real deal until you do.

When my novel was accepted for publication, I was so excited I told everyone about it. I have a link to Amazon (and my publisher) on my writing blogs.

And I take extra-special care to get my spelling and grammar right on all three of my blogs. I know all about emotions. Taking pride in what I do is one of them, however 'choked' I am. And I'm not afraid to say who I am.

Jane Smith said...

At the risk of taking this thread off-topic yet again (and feel free to delete this if you'd rather we stuck to the point here, Victoria and Ann), I have to say that my agent asked me a long time ago not to tell everyone who she is on message boards or blogs--as did the agent who represented me before.

Sure, if I know of a good writer who is looking for representation I'm free to mention my agent's name: but posting that name on the internet, where anyone can read it, means that my agent will get a surge of extra submissions when she's already snowed under with the things. And most of those submissions will be from people who haven't taken the time or trouble to research what she represents, or to even edit their own work.

So no, I won't blab about agents nor would I expect anyone else to. It's not good form. Unless I'd had an agent who had ripped me off--and then I'd slap their name on every single blog and message board that I could find. As I'd suggest Michele Glance Rooney's clients do now.

Stacia said...

I'm not sure why, because none of them violated the Austin American Statesman's comments policy (I live in Austin), but all of the comments from yesterday have been removed. I guess critical responses to this article are not welcome.

Stacia said...

::addition to previous comment::

Oh, they did leave some from yesterday - but at least three comments seem to have vanished since yesterday afternoon.

Omar said...

That's absolutely not true. The comments are still there, they just take a moment to load.

Please check your facts/assertions before posting, Stacia.

Stacia said...

Omar, what I said absolutely is true. Right now there are three comments on that page, which is how many were there when I made my comment earlier. Gone are the comments I read yesterday, including the one I left last night. Two different computers with different operating systems and browsers yield the same result.

Perhaps others are able to see more comments, but those three are all that show up when I visit the article page, and the comments I read last night are no longer there.

Omar said...

What you said was, "All the comments from yesterday were removed," which is not true.

The three comments that are there now are the only ones I saw yesterday. But I wouldn't assume that others were deleted for the reasons you imply.

If you look at other Statesman stories, there are plenty of harsh comments about stories we write that aren't touched.

If you posted a comment last night and it's not there, I can only ask that you post it again or send it to me directly and I will make sure it appears on that page.

We don't remove comments for being are critical of stories and I'd love to hear an example of that if you're aware of one.

What were the other comments you read that seem to have mysteriously vanished?

Stacia said...

Okay, I see the problem: Two versions of the same story appear on the Statesman website. If you navigate to the article via the Statesman, you arrive at a different page than if you follow the link from Victoria's blog (one URL has a single backslash, the other a double backslash), and there are different sets of comments on each page.

Omar said...

What I should have typed was:

"We don't remove comments for being critical of stories. I'd love to hear an example of that if you're aware of one."

I'd hate to expose myself to further criticism by posting a grammatical error/typo on this page given the feedback so far.

Omar said...

Stacia -- well, that explains it. Sorry there was no conspiracy to censor.

Stacia said...

Omar, I pointed out the problem without ever pointing fingers, and then I found the explanation. All you have done is accused me of not checking the facts and railing against nonexistent conspiracies. I made an honest mistake and never attacked anyone--a tone which you did not echo.

Omar said...

My apologies, Stacia. I'm glad the issue was resolved, I just wanted to make it very clear that we don't remove comments unless they clearly fall into the abuse policies of the site.

Chris said...

Wow, wow, wow, wow!!!!

I'm just surfing around, digging up information regarding vanity publishers, as my oldest daughter came home from school simply gushing about how a poem she had written was going to be published by the 'Poetry Institute of Canada' and so on and so on. While she continued gushing and I began reading the literature she had received in the mail, I began to smell something fishy. The sole I was thawing for dinner was ready to be cooked.

Back to the Poetry Institute letters; I had a funny feeling ( which wasn't gas ), so I grabbed my wireless surfboard and have today, discovered an awful lot about publishing and more specifically, about vanity publishers. Awful. Awful.

I have enjoyed reading these blog posts, not only for the info I have picked up, but also for the incredible side-splitting ramblings of 'firsttimeauthoress'.......such vitriol......wow!

Is it really the red ones before the blue ones? That one really got me laughing.

All the best folks....

Anonymous said...

Ms Authoress: "I of course cannot prove that MGR is posting these blogs".

Ha! If you can't prove it, how dare you make the accusation! You have no right to slander a hard-working woman and her family. It is against all I stand for and against the Laws of Moses.


That Laws of Moses, eh? Huh. Somehow I missed, "Thou shalt not accuse a literary agent of posting as a fictitious client." Must be in the Midrash.

p.n. elrod said...

"He exposes ultra capitalists like a bodily function."

Backing away now. I don't want any part of that metaphor on me!

Chris said...

OMG....I wanted to add a couple of other letters in that short acronym, but I figured I should not so that this post won't be deleted for profanities.............

Have any of you posters read 'firsttimeauthoress' ' blog??????????

I just perused briefly and my brain still hurts.....WTH......forget the red ones before the blue ones......Here is proof that Darwin was wrong......http://firsttimeauthoress.blogspot.com/

Yikes.....

JS said...

Also, please feel free, JS, to e-mail me when I make an error on NPR (don't worry, I have enough space on Gmail for that volume of correspondence).

Will do! I've been emailing the "All Things Considered" address, but will find yours and email you directly in future.

And I will make you a crown if you promise to do some fact-checking, okay?

Lili said...

Lili -- she was referring to unpublished authors who imagine that a book deal will magically land on their doorstep, not professional cheque-earners like yourself.

Omar, I'm still confused. I wasn't born a professional cheque-earner. Three years ago, I was an unpublished writer with no book deal. Then I got a book deal. Now publishers send me cheques. They also pay people to promote the books.

My point: this pattern isn't a thing of the past, and you don't have to be 'mired in the past' to think publishing works this way. It does work this way, right now, not just for established writers but for brand-new newbies.

Anonymous said...

Well there are a lot of off-topic comments, but Victoria I wanted to let you know that although I enjoy your blog and find it very useful, I think you were way off-base in this post. Tam is doing a pretty classic information product based on a typical 'how-to' offering, so you can't compare the pricing of it to an eBook version of a traditionally published book. As a previous poster pointed out, $29.95 is low for an information product. Information products are not priced as a regular 'book', they are priced based on the value of results you'll get from using the information.

Also, you have to look at the $7000 number in a different way too. To breakeven, she needs to sell just 234 copies. If she has the pull to exceed that number (i.e. speaking at conferences regularly and doing 'back-of-the-room' sales), it would be a good investment since her margin on every sale above breakeven ('royalty', in regular publishing terms)could easily be 90-98%.

Lastly, the information marketing world is it's own beast and probably not a part of Ingram's eBook numbers.... ;) Check out the earnings by good information marketers and you'll see that $7k is a worthwhile investment, in general. I have no opinion whether or not is was wise for Tam in particular, since I have no idea about her ability to pull sales OVER TIME ('nuff said).

I don't know how open you are to doing follow up posts to admit when you've made uninformed comparisons, but if you are this would be the time to do so.

Jeff said...

Seems like among the comments only Cheryl Pickett and anonymous understood that this ebook is not comparable to traditional publishing but an example of an Internet marketing info product.

Notice the classic long format sales pitch. A device that I hate, but Internet marketers swear that it works.

Products in that arena are priced way higher than print books or ebooks by traditional publishers. I'm not saying they should be priced that high, but that's an entirely different market, appealing to people based on perceived value, which doesn't have a thing to do with the price of any other book.

I do agree that she got taken by spending so much on that poorly designed web site (but it does follow the formula specified by many net marketers). There are a lot of flaws in the way Internet marketers work but there's a lot also that the publishing industry could learn from that segment, as many people are making a good bit of money selling ebooks at $30 or more.

Publishers must figure out how to sell quality e-books to the audience buying these overpriced, overhyped e-books for $30. Until publishers figure that out, Internet marketers are going to keep cashing in on an audience untapped by traditional publishers. And savvy Internet marketers already have added subscription-based content to their offerings, realizing that a recurring payment is better than a one-off sale.

Again, I stress that there's a lot of trash among Internet marketers but some valuable things to learn, too, as they understand not readers but people who spend money on products.

Tam said...

Hi, Tam Thompson here. With all due respect, fellow writer, you simply don't get it about either marketing or internet marketing.

Let's look at bricks and mortar publishing. From your end of it, as a writer, all you see is a contract, an advance check (if you're lucky), and if you're very fortunate, about $1 a book if you earn out your advance.

What you DON'T see is how much the publishing company spends on marketing your book.

Anyone want to guess? Bueller? BUELLER? Yeah, at least $7,000 or more if they think you've got the right stuff.

Now consider what I am doing with "Busy Sexy Body."

For one thing, you're wrong about the value for $29.95. My internet marketing mentor and I brainstormed considerably to come up with that price point.

And no, I will not tell you our thinking, since you are clearly dense.

Suffice to say, the $29.95 includes

1. A full-color 64-page ebook written by me--a professional writer with 7 years experience. The ebook was professionally formatted by a graphic designer at a cost that I negotiated down from $1,875 to $1,00.

2. A bonus report on fat loss tips.

3. Another bonus report on recovery techniques

4. 33-day audio postcard coaching (that means that every day for 33 days I send them an email to keep them on track because I care if they succeed.)

5. A contest entry to win a nice Carnival Fun Ship cruise--first 9 people to send before and after pictures that I approve will win these.

At the point at which Omar interviewed me, the ebook had only been on the market for one day. So yes, only one sale in one day.

And yes, it IS non-fiction.

You really shouldn't bash other authors before you get your facts on straight.

Tam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tam Thompson said...

Forgot to add:

1. I understand that people are concerned that I am some newbie who got seduced by the internet marketers and one of the unscrupulous "mentors."

It's not like that at all.

I started out as an SFF writer. Joined Slugtribe and Turkey City in Austin, did the submission dance, went to ArmadilloCon several times, the whole nine yards.

Nada.

And I hated working a corporate job, so I started a personal fitness training biz (got credentials like a B.S and M.Ed. in Kinesiology, Master Fitness Trainer, etc, lifelong athlete, etc.)

So I became a pro freelance non-fiction writer, and have been for over 7 years. I quickly learned that the highest paid form of writing is advertising.

Thus, I zeroed in on writing sales copy. It wasn't hard--most difficult part was to put myself in the mindset of Mr/Ms Joe Average Buyer.

Made lots.

Then I had a client who paid me $5,000 to write "The Art of War For The New Millenium," which is still on Amazon.

He was low-key, friendly, reasonable...and I started noticing he paid his bills (milestone payments of $1,250) within HOURS of being invoiced through Elance!

I deduced he had money. So I looked at his site.

He was selling info marketing info and seminars, books too. My defenses rose up. "Oh, a scammer," I thought.

I was wrong.

That was 3 years ago.

Since then, he he's hired me for more well-paid work.

Even so, when I saw he was "now accepting new clients for one-on-one mentoring", I thought it was a scam, so I didn't respond.

Then the offer went away for a year, as he was booked (I found out later.)

Offer reappeared 3 months ago.

By now I'd realized that if I EVER wanted to move past being chained to the keyboard churning out copy for often cranky clients, I had better learn how to market and sell my own stuff.

But I'd allowed myself to be held back by fear of the tech involved--I knew just enough to know that I didn't know enough.

I needed a mentor.

So I sought HIM out, and he accepted me.

I pay him monthly, no contracts, can cancel at any time--I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm no dummy, are you getting that?

On the ebooks...as Willie Siros told me once at a party at Bruce Sterlings old house (the one with all the wood, before the divorce), "Ebooks will only go over once they can stand up to the 4 B's."

Don't remember them all, but a few were beach, bathtub...

Yes, ebooks have already been selling exponentially more each year for non-fiction.

Someone asked abot fiction...I'm not sure, but I think it could be made to work. Another author asked me about it when I was volunteering at my local library a few weeks back.

She was finishing a novel, and was paranoid about NOT releasing it in ebook form. She was afraid it would be stolen. "You don't know how many copies they're printing," she said.

I replied, "Well, you can do a few things, like watermark it. But why not use it as a selling opportunity for MORE ebooks and stuff by making sure your URL is on every page with the copyright notice?"

"That way, when someone who picks it up, even if they didn't pay for it, if they like it, they know where to get it and more books from you!"

I also told her the REAL money actually isn't in the ebook--it is in the back-end offer, as my mentor told me (so far, he's worth at least 20 times what I'm paying him!)

What's back end?

It's those offers you get in an email after you buy one thing where you give them your email. And it's almost always for a higher-priced item, since they know you are 7 times more likely to buy from them as a repeat customer."

In fact, there's one guy on Clickbank (where I will also be marketing "Busy Sexy Body", along with PayPal and other venues) who gives his affiliates (the websites who agree to sell his book for him) 100% of the sale!

Why?

Because he makes so much money on the back end that he doesn't NEED that ebook money!

FYI, I make $8 from the sale of each ebook thru Clickbank, and $27 thru PayPal.

How much royalty do y'all get for one book? Uh-huh. See why I invested $7,000 and counting in starting my own publishing company and owning my own stuff?

Anyway, yes, I think this could work for fiction. Some fiction authors are probably already doing it.

It's on my "to-do" list to try it out with one of my novels.

Interesting times we live in, eh?

Bottom line is, ebooks are not the end of the fiction author's world! Not if you play it right.

You just need a good business strategy.

Later, man!

Oh, and on that $29.95 price...go over to Clickbank and look in the "health and fitness" category, then "women's fitness" and check out the price tags. My system is very competitive on price.

Tam Thompson said...

On my credentials...yes, "former" owner of a fitness training business because I was quickly reminded that I am NOT an extrovert who likes meet with clients face-to-face all day!

So I became a fitness WRITER. And yes, I did let my credentials expire as there was no point in keeping current with them since I was moving into sales writing.

Dang, Kristi, cut me some slack or learn more about me, OK?

Anonymous said...

Hello writers!

I've been informed by Xlibris that they would publish my book-it will be my first book. I'm not sure whether I should go ahead to publish with them as I can't trust them wholeheartedly.
It'd be much appreciated if anyone could give me some useful suggestion and advice.

Victoria Strauss said...

Hi, Anonymous,

Xlibris isn't a publisher, but rather a POD self-publishing service--a very different thing.

Xlibris is part of the Author Solutions conglomerate (AS also owns AuthorHouse, iUniverse, and Trafford). We tend to receive more complaints about the companies in this conglomerate than we do about other POD publishing services. Complaints typically involve hard-sell promotional tactics, delays, and customer service issues.

There are many similar companies, and they all offer a different mix of services and prices. Some comparison shopping is definitely in order. On the Print on Demand page of Writer Beware>, there are resources to help you do this, as well as a rundown on the challenges of using POD publishing services.