Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Best Practices for Bestselling Authors #Indiesbeseen #amwriting

I spent some time listening Mark Coker, found of Smashwords, sage advice a couple of weeks ago at the RT Booklovers Convention in Dallas. It’s hard to miss Mark considering how many presentations he hosts in the short span of a week! I’ll break down a couple of his presentations and share the information here on the blog in the coming weeks, but I thought we could start with a recap of his “Best Practices for Success: Secrets of the Bestselling Ebook Authors”

Best Practice #1: Write a good book.
     The best marketing tool available is a good book.
     The seems like a no-brainer, but as I’m sure you know, maybe people cut corners on covers, content, editing and length. Your first “best practice” is creating a  quality book worth promoting. (What is the best length? 84-96K words)

Best Practice #2: Have a great cover.
     It should “make a promise”, providing a dynamic and interesting image that draws readers in.

Best Practice #3: Write another book.
     There is no “one and done” in publishing. The bestselling authors have deep backlists. They’ve built a career and a brand.

Best Practice #4: Make it free.
Coker: “If you have a deep backlist, make at least one full-length book free.” This works best if you make the first book in a series free.  Readers are willing to read a book by someone they’ve never heard of if it’s a low-cost/low-risk. Furthermore, freebooks get an average of 41K more downloads (Coker). If your readers love the book, they are much more likely to commit to the remainder books in the series. And you’re already writing book 6 or 7 right? ;)

Best Practice #5: Maximize availability
Making your book available in more places makes it easier for you to be discovered. Furthermore, iBooks is beginning to gain a little ground on Amazon, so it is good for you to be able to distribute to them as well. For example, in the last 90 days, I personally had 11,338 downloads for iBooks, and 9523 for Barnes and Noble compared to roughly 60K for Amazon’s kindle for my book Dying for a Living. And while the majority DID come from kindle, over 20K downloads from other distributors is hardly something to scoff at!

Best Practice #6: Pricing Strategy
According to Coker, books sell best that are priced at 2.99-3.99.

Best Practice #7: Release Your Book as Preorder
While this won’t help you with amazon’s ranking system, it will help you with iBooks, Barnes and Noble and all other Smashwords distributors. By having your book set up as preorder, all sales are accumulative. Therefore, they have the potential of boosting you to the bestseller’s lists on your book launch day, and making your title more visible to others. Mark is super excited about this actually, so I’m sure if you emailed him for more information on how to make preorders work for you, he’d love to chat.

Best Practice #8: Add three sections to your back matter
About, Other Books, and Connect With. This will help circulate traffic and your fans so they have better access to you and your work.

So please note that this is a truncated list of Mark’s presentation (he had 16 best practices). I simply distilled it down and shared what I could given space (and what I suspect attention span) on the blog.

If you have questions or concerns, fire away in the comments below. Otherwise, I hope this helped! :)



  1. What an awesome list. I was curious of what you thought about Google Play Books. Since they have the edge on marketshare for their operating system, I am curious what role their book sales are in comparison as well. I do plan to make my first book free later after I publish the second book.
    I will definitely split the back matter into three parts next time. I love the organization that you laid out there. (It was something that really frustrated me while doing the setup for the first book)
    I have bookmarked this list to come back to as I need to be reminded over time. I am a rather stubborn person so it takes a while to get through my hard head.

    1. I have my first two books on Google Play and they don't do much there. But that's just my experience, and a small limited sample, I'm sure of what others are experiencing!

  2. The free book really works for me. I get notifications from Bookbub and it’s how I got here and read all your books. I do buy books from other people on recommendations occasionally but mostly I try free books and if I like them buy more from that author. (If I don’t like them I delete them because they were worth what I paid for them. So it still has to be a book I like to make me finish it and want to buy something by you.)

    Pricing is interesting. If you’re publishing the “new way” which is relatively often, say 2-3 books a year, then I’d agree with that price point. But I’ve just about finished Seveneves, and paid I think £8.99 for it. But since he only publishes about 1 book every 2 years and they’re mostly thick enough to give you a hernia if you buy them in deadtree format, that’s OK.

    More stores - definitely. I hate reading on the kindle app, so I’m about 50x more likely to get your eBook if I can get it via the iBooks store. OK, I’m still in a minority but don’t ignore it. It’s not that hard to set up an account and publish everywhere.

    Ok, it’s all an anecdote but it does work, at least for me.

    1. I'm happy to hear it Eloise! And you may be the minority now, but not by much! I think the iBook market will continue to grow :)

  3. Kory, Great share! Just wondering, were all those downloads you mentioned above paid downloads or a combo with promos? Either way, you are rocking, lady! Congrats :-) BTW, love your books, and of course, I'm a huge fan of the pug!

    1. Hi LG! Thanks for the love! I appreciate it ;) As to the downloads, those numbers are for my first book, which is permanently free (permafree), so they are free downloads. Of course, when people like the book, they then buy the other two ;)

      Thanks for reading!