With more than one million NOOK Books sold, bestselling author Barbara Freethy certainly knows how to make self-publishing profitable. Here’s an excerpt from a Facebook chat with Barbara and her tips for self-publishing, marketing and finding NOOK readers.
How many titles did you have available before you felt that you had momentum?
I had three titles up before I started to see an increase in sales. So I always tell authors not to panic over the first book and the first few weeks. It takes a few books to build a readership and start to gain momentum. Writers should look at their publishing efforts as a long-term career plan. While I have seen authors with just one book do very well, it’s more common for readers to find success through multiple titles published on a regular basis.
In what way do you use Facebook to promote your books; groups, fan pages, etc.?
I have a Facebook fan page and I use that to talk about my books and post any news. I also have it set up to post to Twitter so I can do two things at once. Facebook is a great place to interact with readers, and I have found it be used by my most active fans. Facebook ads can help build your Facebook page.
On which sites do you promote your books? In particular, places where there are readers with Nooks. 🙂
I use Facebook and Twitter primarily to promote my books. I sometimes use the hashtag #Nook on Twitter to generate more interest from Nook readers. And of course I have my website with Nook “buy” links.
What’s your opinion on pricing for ebooks?
I think pricing should be competitive and dynamic and thoughtfully planned. In general, if you have more than one title available, having one book a little cheaper as a lead-in is a good idea, especially if it’s the first book in a series. That way you can entice new readers to take a chance.The same goes for a free book. Get the readers addicted to your work, and they’ll keep buying. Sale prices for a set period of time are also a good tool. But aside from sales and the occasional loss leader or free book giveaway, I generally price my full-length books between $3.99 and $5.99, and my novellas between .99 and $2.99. I try to maintain my new book prices for at least 6 months before putting them on sale.
I’ve always loved your books and I’m excited to see them available again. What one piece of advice do you have for writers considering publishing their backlist as ebooks?
For writers publishing backlist, my one piece of advice would be to use the opportunity to give your books a new look. When I first started I thought I should follow the same tone as the older covers but quickly realized that it’s a new time and it was better for me to create a new look and an overall brand for my work. I think writers with backlist should stop thinking of their books as “old” because the books are new to anyone who hasn’t read them. You can always update any material in the story that is dated, but stories are stories and it often doesn’t matter if they were published ten years ago or ten days ago.
How should I handle a press release?
Press releases are great, especially for your local hometown papers and news stations. Definitely use that as an opportunity to gain some exposure. Sometimes just the hometown angle is enough. But if you have another tie-in to your book, that’s also good. I don’t think press releases sell books, however. I think they are used more to gain exposure for the author and their work in general.
Who does your editing and proofing? Do you hire someone? Right now my stalwart proofreader/editor is my mom!
I have a copy editor and three proofreaders, because I’ve learned the hard way that little typos seem to slip through even with multiple readers. You want to put your most polished work out, so I think investing a little and money in getting the book edited and proofed is worth it. The last thing an author wants are reviews pointing out typos.
When considering adjusting the price of your ebook how much do you suggest moving it? For example, should you move $1, $2 or .50?
There’s no rule, but I’d look at what other books are selling in your category and see where you fit in. Or if there are books that are similar in genre, you might see what those authors are doing. Studying the market trends in terms of pricing and covers takes a lot of time, but it’s valuable. In general, if you’re going to have a sale, it should be worth it, so knocking off 30% or 50% would make sense, but I would also set a short time frame around the sale, so that it’s a focused sale, and it should be supported by marketing efforts.
Do you think coming out with a series of say, three books at one time would be a benefit, or would it be better to spread them out?
Connected books, series, are fantastic. Readers love to get involved in a world and read through several books in that world. It’s probably a little easier to market connected books. If you’re a writer that’s only going to write one book a year, I wouldn’t wait to put it up. If you’re going to write 3-4 books a year, then I might wait until you have the first two done, put those up while writing the third book. I also have many standalone books on my list that have sold very well, so if you don’t have a series, don’t despair!
Do you find that it’s not the number of books, but the quality of the book that sells more?
It’s both. Quality first, of course. If a reader doesn’t like a book, they’re not coming back. But if they do love a book, they want more. That’s when quantity comes in. To continue to build a readership, you have to continue to provide new content. I encourage writers to spend 80% of their time on writing and 20% on marketing/publishing efforts. Because in the end, you need books to sell more books. But you can’t forget the quality. It’s not easy being a writer or an Indie publisher, but the great thing is that you have total control over your content, your publishing schedule, your pricing, your covers, and everything else.