Tools for Authors 

HOW DO I MAKE A LIVING AS AN AUTHOR?

It is extremely difficult to make a living as a writer. Wow! What an opening, right? Stay with me now-  there’s more. Yes, people are doing it, so what’s the secret?

 

First thing's first: there are no secrets. I know we see ads all the time on how we can be a New York Time's bestseller. All we have to do is purchase this or that service and we will be on our way. 

 

How about these quotes?

“There is no substitute for hard work.” -Thomas Edison

Out of the Stack

“To succeed, work hard, never give up and above all, cherish a magnificent obsession.”  -Walt Disney

 

"But remember this—if you give little, you will get little. A farmer who plants just a few seeds will get only a small crop, but if he plants much, he will reap much.” II Corinthians 9:6

 

Honestly, the best way to increase your chances of attaining every author's dream is to write, write, and write some more. The more books you have the better.

HOW DO I MEASURE MY SUCCESS?

There are many answers to that question. Some authors give their books away. I don’t. You worked hard writing and rewriting, paying for editing and cover design. Why give it away? I understand the premise. You want your book in the hands of as many readers as possible, but you can do that without giving it away. (As always there are exceptions.) You just need to optimize your book and price it to sell.

My philosophy is a simple one. If you only have one book available, free makes absolutely no sense unless of course you are not interested in and have no intention of making a living at it. There is nothing wrong with that if it makes you happy or fulfills a particular passion you have. However, if you are looking to make writing a career, then read on.

WRITE A SERIES

Writing a series is a great way to sell books. I have a 9 book series out right now. In my case, pricing book one at $0.99 makes sense. I am confident that once a reader begins the series, they will continue the journey through all nine books. Selling 500 books at 99 cents won't pay the bills, but selling 8 books at the regular price will.  

WHAT IF I ONLY HAVE ONE BOOK?
 
No problem. Build your brand. Your first book is key to future success. Monthly promotions create sales and higher rankings, leading to increased royalties and more reviews. Your brand begins with book one, so don’t delay. While you are busy writing the next one, let us promote your current book and build your audience in preparation for your next release.


 

ATTRACT READERS WITH A GREAT BOOK SALES DESCRIPTION

Most novels have a hook in the headline; something that makes the reader intrigued and want to know more. It is called a hook for good reason. It needs to be genre-specific targeting the reader in your particular niche. For example, the first line for my series On the Edge of Time is “On the Edge of Time involves the human heart’s earnest search for heaven in the midst of Hell come to Earth.”

 

CHOOSE THE RIGHT CATEGORIES & KEYWORDS FOR YOUR BOOK

The category/genre gives readers specific expectations. If you don't meet those expectations, they will be disappointed, which could lead to bad reviews. It's extremely important to match reader expectations and the promise of what your book delivers with what your book is actually about. 

 

A keyword is a word or phrase that is associated with your book. It's based on the words that people use to search online, and this is a crucial aspect to getting found. Often the language you use is not the language that your readers might use. We select keywords that your target audience would use. 

 

PRICING YOUR BOOK TO SELL & SCHEDULING SPECIAL PROMOTIONS

We all like to receive large royalty checks, but from a reader's perspective, it is a risk to try a new author, when it's so much easier to pick up the next John Grisham or James Patterson novel. Everyone loves a sale and that gets you new followers and much needed reviews.

Out of the Stack

Optimize Your Book

Advertising & Promoting Your Book

Once your book has been optimized for best performance, it is time to get out of the stack.

 

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS A REASONABLE BUDGET?

As I said before it’s best to start slow. We all get excited when it comes to launching day. I know I do. However, spending thousands of dollars and expecting to make the New York Times bestseller list is overdoing it, to say the least (and yes, people do this!).

Out of the Stack
You will end up disappointed and it will leave a big hole in your pocket as well. You might be thinking, "Man, Russ. You are a major downer!" No, I'm merely wiser than I was a few years ago. You must prepare for a marathon. Here is my advice:

CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS

Advertising costs money - there is no doubt about that. Unless you have money to burn, it is better to have a plan that you can sustain. That is why we include our 3-month launch package designed for success. 

UNDERSTANDING AMAZON RANKINGS

Amazon updates their rankings every two hours, so your book could be #42 in Christian Fiction and the next time you look it might be #32 or #62.  Your book's overall ranking directly affects your Top 100 Bestseller rank. So, what is a good overall number? A ranking of 80,000 means you are selling approximately 3 books

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per day. Staying around 100,000 to 130,000 usually means you’re in the game. Keep in mind there are 6 million books in the stack!

 

WILL I BECOME AN AMAZON BESTSELLER IN MY GENRE?

There is a good chance you will! Part of the process of optimizing your book is finding the best genre path for success, but the fact is some genres are very difficult to break into. For example, an overall Amazon ranking of 200,000 will get you in the Top 50 in a very specific category like

"Crafts > Hobbies & Home > Antiques & Collectibles > Pottery & Ceramics" but it would take an overall Amazon ranking of 1,610 in a broader genre like "Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction."

THE BOTTOM LINE IS ALWAYS THE SAME

Whatever fuels your passion for writing, your book must be interesting enough to grab the reader’s attention. My personal opinion is, plan to promote consistently for at least one full year. I have promoted my books every month for the past 5 years. Consistency breeds success.

Relaunching Your Book

Pumping new life into a book you released 3-5 years ago is not only doable, but wise. 

Remember you are in this for the long haul! A big book launch sounds enticing, but ask yourself... if I put everything on the line for one big push, will I have enough resources to continue my campaign for months to come? The last thing you want is to watch your book fall into the stack never to be heard from again.

Out of the Stack

Coca-Cola Spent $4.24 billion in advertising in 2019, $20 billion in the last five years. Why in the world would they do that? Everybody already knows what Coke is. The answer is simple: by continually advertising, they keep their brand on top of the stack and in everyone’s mind, so when they introduce 

a new product, their customers will buy it. 

Slow and steady wins the race. Building momentum will not only give you a constant royalty flow, but will allow you to build up needed reviews. So what to do?

NEW COVER

I have updated my book covers several times over the years. A facelift can work wonders. A new book cover can garner more attention. Major publishers do it all the time because it works.

REDO YOUR METADATA

Revisit your categories and keywords, because Amazon adds more categories all the time. For example, literary fiction used to be one category and now has multiple levels below that, and you will rank better and be more discoverable in a more specific category. Amazon has thousands of categories. Finding the right one is key. 

BOOK DESCRIPTION

This the simplest way to improve your chances of success. The first few lines are critical. I can’t emphasize this enough. Your cover and the description of your book is your first impression. And you know what they say about first impressions.