Self Publishing With NookPress And Marketing To Nook Customers

Barnes & Noble has been a well-known US book brand for many years, and the Nook has consistently been one of the top ebook retailers alongside Amazon, Apple and Kobo in the US.

NookpressBut up until March 2014, non-US authors couldn’t self-publish directly to the Nook platform. We could only reach Nook readers through other distributors like Smashwords. I struggled with price matching in the UK and since I wasn’t selling anything much on Nook, I pulled all my books from the platform in 2013.

But as soon as they opened up to UK authors, I jumped into NookPress and published all my books directly. In this post, I outline my experience with NookPress as well as things I have discovered about Nook marketing, plus, there’s a 25 min interview I did with Colin Eustace, General Manager of B&n Nook Europe with his thoughts.

Self-Publishing on NookPress Directly

I now publish direct on Amazon KDP, Kobo Writing Life, iTunes Connect for iBooks and NookPress. The sites all have their idiosyncrasies, with some good and some difficult parts. Here are my thoughts on NookPress:

  • Nookpress account

    Nookpress Project screen with drilldown per book

    NookPress is currently open to authors residing in USA, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands and Belgium. You can also publish in French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch as well as English and be paid in your local currency.

  • The platform is easy to use, with the same type of interface as KDP and Kobo. It has an overview screen, drilldown into each book for changes and a sales reporting screen with monthly downloads.
  • It requires ePub format for upload, but I have found that the same files that load perfectly well on iBooks and Kobo have a lot of errors on Nookpress. I ended up paying for my files to be fixed up, because I have no patience with formatting! Read the guidelines if you want to do it yourself.
  • A great feature is that you can make a change to the file within Nookpress without loading a new file. This is useful if you just want to alter back matter e.g. add in links to new titles.
  • After you have loaded the book, I’ve found that the Preview screen might not reflect what an ePub viewed on another device might look like. An improvement suggestion is for Nook to do the same as Amazon and have Previews by device so we can see what the book will look like on a Nook phone app, versus a tablet.
  • You don’t need an ISBN to publish on Nook but you can optionally add one
  • You can choose up to 5 categories directly, which can only be done with keyword optimization on Amazon, otherwise you only get the usual two.
  • You can list prices in USD, EUR and GBP. It would be great for this to be expanded as the markets are.

Nookpress desecrationMetadata is critical, as with any publishing platform, and I have found that my sales in one month going direct are significantly more than several years going through distributors. I can only put that down to the increase in metadata possibilities since my email lists are not generally Nook readers.

The actual Nook retail site has some of the same bugs as Kobo, in that if you click on an author name you get a lot of extraneous random books. Something like Amazon Author Central would be great to group them together. The review functionality is also missing, so it’s hard for customers to tell what’s good unless the book has been picked for merchandizing. But overall, it’s easy enough to use and the result of publishing direct is increased control, speed of changes and direct royalty payments.

Interview with Colin Eustace, General Manager of Barnes & Noble Nook Europe

I had a conference call with Colin Eustace and asked him a few questions about Nook and how indie authors especially can optimize their use of the platform. It was great to hear him talk so enthusiastically about the importance of NookPress and the company’s future plans for expansion globally. Colin talked about the partnership with Microsoft being important for the cellphone and tablet market, and despite the negative press we hear from the US, it seems that the view from Luxembourg is rosy!

This was an audio only interview, so you can listen below, or download an mp3 file here.

Tips for marketing to Nook customers

I have been searching for that elusive tip that help rocket my sales at Nook. But, like any book marketing, there is no magic bullet! The same Nookpress blogrules apply as to the other stores: Get your metadata right. Write a great book and add an eye-catching cover. Make your sales description brilliant.

Beyond that, remember:

  • Link to your book on Nook. Make sure your website is linking to the sales pages at Nook as well as Amazon. If you tweet book links, use Nook sometimes and not just Amazon all the time. (You know you’re guilty of that!)
  • Make your book attractive to Nook merchandisers by using a professional cover, appropriate pricing and, as on other stores, the more books you have and the more popular they are, the more likely you will get noticed.
  • Use the Nook pricing options if you do paid promotions, like BookBub. You can just tick the box for Nook and then update your price. It’s pretty quick to get price changes through.
  • Network with Nook employees at conventions and book fairs. Humanizing the people behind the store can often be a way to become more positive about your chances to sell more books on a particular platform. You might have a chance for a merchandizing opportunity too, but please be professional in any approach. Don’t just try to sell your book. Be a human and network with authenticity. I recommend the tips in the great book, “Opening up to Indie Authors” by the Alliance of Independent Authors for anyone trying to expand their reach into stores as well as libraries and more.

What’s your experience been publishing with Nookpress? Do you have any tips for growing the Nook reader base? Do you know any specific advertising or review sites for Nook? Please leave your comments below.

The Author Mindset. Researching And Marketing Non-Fiction. The Obstacle Is The Way With Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday has worked with some big names in the non-fiction book world, including Tim Ferriss and Tucker Max, and I’m thrilled to bring you this interview with him around his own latest book, “The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage.”

In the introduction, I mention the latest Author Earnings report, plus how our indie panel went at Bristol CrimeFest and why you should read ‘Opening up to Indie Authors‘ if you want to get into literary festivals as well as bookstores, libraries etc.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets kobo writing lifethrough the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

ryan holidayRyan Holiday is a media strategist for corporate brands and best-selling authors like Tim Ferriss and Tucker Max, as well as the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of “Trust Me I’m Lying: Confessions of a media manipulator,” and today we’re talking about his new book, “The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage.”

the obstacle is the wayYou can watch the interview on YouTube here, listen above or on the podcast feed on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the transcription below. We discuss:

  • What is Stoicism anyway and how Ryan integrates that into his life
  • How to find an emotionally even keel as an author in this crazy up and down life
  • Crafting stories and how to use that in non-fiction books
  • Creating a body of work and what really matters over the longer term
  • Definitions of success
  • How reading is changing and how it impacts authors
  • How Ryan researches his non-fiction books and how he tracks quotes using index cards
  • The importance of figuring out what you want to say, and why a proposal can help with that
  • The best ways to market a non-fiction book right now, and some of the biggest time wasters
  • Thoughts on the future of publishing

Continue Reading

Using SlideShare For Marketing Fiction And Non-Fiction Books

I know you don’t want to think about any other sites for marketing!

slideshareBut in this post, I outline why I think you should consider Slideshare and how I’m using it for both my brands, J.F.Penn thriller author, and Joanna Penn, professional speaker and non-fiction author.

Why care about Slideshare?

Slideshare is basically a presentation sharing network.

It’s a form of content marketing, but more visual, and if done well, it can be much more effective than writing a blog post on a topic, especially if you are unknown and your site has no ranking. Visual marketing is very much the big thing now. In an age of text overload, people are clicking more on visual content – whether that’s Instagram, pics on Twitter or Facebook, infographics or SlideShares.

TwitterSlideshare

Slideshare shared on Twitter shows clickable image

It’s easily shareable and viewable on any social platform as well as on mobile devices. On the right, you can see a tweet that actually embeds the whole SlideShare so it can be read within Twitter. Awesome for twitterholics like me!

Slideshare is one of 120 most visited websites in the world, with 60 million monthly visitors. It ranks highly in Google for keywords, and you can use embedded hyperlinks to direct traffic to your site.

It’s owned by LinkedIn and you can use your LinkedIn profile to log into SlideShare. You can also link it to your profile in order to embed content. If you are using LinkedIn at all in your marketing strategy, then you should definitely expand into SlideShare.

If you’re nervous or shy about doing video or audio, then this gives you a visual option without the personal contact, and an additional method to share your content. Plus, it’s a less technical solution so you don’t have to learn so much.

It’s free but you can also use a Pro version which includes video uploads, lead capture through forms, analytics, private sharing and professional branding. It starts at $19 per month.

To be honest, I’m incredulous that I haven’t been using it up to now, since I spent 13 years as a business consultant doing Powerpoints, so I’m used to thinking in slides! Perhaps that business background is what instinctively put me off, but now I am embracing it wholeheartedly!

Example of a SlideShare for a non-fiction book

I’m a fan of outsourcing things like this, so I used PeoplePerHour.com to find someone to create this slide presentation for me based on How To Market A Book. You can see how easy it is to click through the slides when embedded on a page. It’s also easily sharable.

How can authors use SlideShare?

There are a few ways to use SlideShare as an author.

  • For fiction authors, you can create SlideShares around the themes of your books BUT watch out if your topics include anything particularly contentious. I uploaded a presentation about ‘One Day In Budapest,’ which is based on the rise of right wing Nationalism and anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe (embedded below). It is definitely political in the guise of a thriller, and my SlideShare account was temporarily  “suspended as it was found violating SlideShare’s Terms of Service and/or Community Guidelines.” Perhaps the automatic service thought I was one of the bad guys … regardless, be careful what you try and load! I did email them and got it rectified, and I will be doing more on my J.F.Penn fiction SlideShare account here for my other books. Sharing my research will be a key format for me.

Example of a fiction SlideShare

This presentation goes into the historical background of Jews Budapest and the rise of right-wing nationalism in Hungary, the background to my thriller, One Day In Budapest.

Tips for using Slideshare effectively

  • SlideSharesonLinkedInProfile

    One of my Slideshares on my LinkedIn profile

    Understanding clickable headlines, the fundamentals of copywriting and keyword optimization are critical skills for anyone involved in content marketing. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go do the Magnetic Headlines tutorial at Copyblogger. Basically, Slideshare is the same as any other online piece of content. You need a great headline which includes keywords your target market are interested in and you use metadata that will help you be found for that topic. You should be using the same principles in your blog posts, your social sharing and your non-fiction book titles, so it’s a useful skill to master.

  • hot on facebookEmbed your SlideShares in your LinkedIn profile if it’s appropriate. In the Summary area of the Profile, add a link to the SlideShare and it will embed the presentation. You can check it out on my LinkedIn profile here (as pic above right).
  • Once you’ve loaded your SlideShares, use your other social media to spread the word. I embedded one presentation into Facebook, and ended up on the SlideShare Homepage Hot On Facebook list. As noted on my overwhelm post, I barely use Facebook these days, but you don’t even have to go there. You can just share directly from SlideShare. Awesome!

What do you think? Have you used SlideShare? Do you consume them? Do you have any tips? Please leave a comment below and join the conversation.

Love Thrillers? Day Of The Vikings Out Now!

I loved writing this book!

Day of the VikingsIt’s a fast-paced, action packed thrill of a ride, and just as fun to write as I hope you will find it to read. After my deep immersion into darker realms for Desecration and Delirium (in editing), it was great to just let loose!

A ritual murder on a remote island under the shifting skies of the aurora borealis.

A staff of power that can summon Ragnarok, the Viking apocalypse.

When Neo-Viking terrorists invade the British Museum in London to reclaim the staff of Skara Brae, ARKANE agent Dr. Morgan Sierra is trapped in the building along with hostages under mortal threat.

As the slaughter begins, Morgan works alongside psychic Blake Daniel to discern the past of the staff, dating back to islands invaded by the Vikings generations ago.

Can Morgan and Blake uncover the truth before Ragnarok is unleashed, consuming all in its wake?

Day of the Vikings is a fast-paced, action adventure thriller set in the British Museum, the British Library and the islands of Orkney, Lindisfarne and Iona. Set in the present day, it resonates with the history and myth of the Vikings.

Day of the Vikings features Dr. Morgan Sierra from the ARKANE thrillers, and Blake Daniel from the London Mysteries, but it is also a stand-alone novella that can be read and enjoyed separately.

Sample or buy now in ebook formats

amazon-iconnook-iconKobo_Icon-150x150

iBooks format, print and audio coming soon …

Audiobooks: Tips For Distribution With ACX And Marketing Ideas

The world of opportunity just keeps expanding for indies!

rightsWe know how to publish and sell ebooks and print-on-demand, and now audio is the next frontier (along with global markets, but I’ll come back to that in another post!)

Why you should care about audio

Audio is booming. Shifts in technology mean it is easy to buy and consume in mp3 format directly through mobile devices. Publishers are doing full scale productions with famous names to lure new readers in. And after all, humans have been listening to stories for millennia. It’s how we naturally take in content.

People can multitask while listening to an audiobook which enables people to read on the go. A survey from Bowker found that “47 percent of people who buy audiobooks listen while commuting in a car. About 25 percent listen while working around the house and 23 percent while exercising.”

In this demographic survey of American readers, 15-20% of readers in the higher earning wage bracket have listened to an audiobook, as well as skewing towards the more educated groups. I would propose that many of these people listen on their commutes, heading to jobs that perhaps they would like to escape from!

The survey also showed that 84% of audiobook listeners also read a print book in the past year, and 56% also read an e-book. This means that if a listener enjoys one book, and can’t find the author’s backlist in audio, they may go find it in print or ebook. This crossover in the market means that audio is a new method of finding potential fans, and since the market is less crowded than ebook or print, you have a better chance at standing out.

Most authors with a publishing contract will find that audio rights are included, but if you haven’t signed them away, or you are self-publishing and own all the rights, then you have options!

Producing and distribution with ACX

Authors have always been able to produce and distribute audio themselves, for example, Scott Sigler still does free audio fiction for his audience, and J Daniel Sawyer continues to produce full production audio dramas.

But it has been very hard to produce professional work, and sell it to an audience, without paying a huge amount of money upfront. Self-published authors don’t generally have lots of cash, so this has meant most indie books haven’t been available in audio. That is, until ACX opened up, first in the US and now for UK authors. Exciting news!

I already have 4 books available – Pentecost, Prophecy, Exodus and One Day In Budapest, with Desecration on its way soon, so I am fully embracing this opportunity.

You can read the FAQ at the ACX site here, and here’s a full post on the process with ACX from UK based author, Roz Morris.

To add to this, here are some of my specific thoughts:

The setup is very easy in the ACX backend, with a wizard like process guiding you through. You need your manuscript and an audition selection, plus a high quality square image during the production process. Auditioning and choosing your narrator, as well as the actual quality side of listening to and reviewing your audio files are the most time consuming parts of the process.

pentecost audiobookAmazon has Whispersync technology now, particularly high quality on the Kindle Fire, which means people can stop reading on the Kindle device and start listening at the same place, and then go back into the ebook at the new place when they stop listening. To optimize the chance of your book being accepted for Whispersync, check the guidelines here.

You have no control over pricing, which is quite strange as an indie, since we are used to making decisions about all that. Also, if you choose the exclusive option, which you have to with royalty share, you can’t distribute to other audio platforms. Neither of these are a big issue for me personally, but you can of course choose the paid upfront version and go non-exclusive. Or you can do the audio project entirely separately – if you want to do that, check out ‘Making Tracks’ by J Daniel Sawyer, and this podcast interview about audio options.

In terms of the money, the royalty share is still a good deal (despite reducing just before ACX opened up to the UK). You can also get a bounty payment for bringing new people into Audible, which can be a good addition. Personally, I love doing joint ventures with other creatives, as both parties are more invested in the success of the finished product.

At London Book Fair, both Bella Andre and Hugh Howey were talking about how good their audiobook royalties are, but of course, they are uber-indies! For most of us, I would expect a trickle, that may turn into a thin stream with enough books and exposure.

Personally, I see this as a longer term investment in a new type of reader, and a way to reach new potential fans. I’m also thrilled to be able to profit share with other creatives in a collaborative process, and I see no downside at all with giving ACX a go!

All that said, as with ebooks and print, you still need to let people know that the books are available. ACX has their own marketing checklist here, and I have expanded on some ideas below (plus, I would love to hear from you in the comments below if you know of any more!)

Marketing Tip #1: Use Soundcloud to create audio clips to embed and share

soundcloud bioIt’s an audio product, so you need audio to promote it!

Your ACX contract allows you to share ~15 mins so take the first chapter, or whatever is appropriate and load it onto SoundCloud, a great audio platform with 100 mins for free before you have to upgrade to the Pro Plan for a reasonable sum.

Create a bio that relates to the author brand you have audiobooks for, in my case, I only do this for my thriller fiction as J.F.Penn. Use the same keywords as you usually would for your books and bio, and upload each excerpt. You can add one buy link to the file so make sure you’ve added that!

Marketing Tip #2 : Update your website with links to Audible and iTunes

jfpenn audioNext, you need to audio-fy your website. (I’m not sure that’s a word, but it should be!)

A great model is Bella Andre’s audiobook page which includes all her audiobooks and information about her narrator. As Bella has so many, the page is quite busy but still manages to hold all the appropriate information.

Soundcloud has the option for including the cover as part of the Embed code, which I have chosen to do for my J.F.Penn Audio page.

Marketing #3: Get promo codes from ACX and get reviews started through your own email list

Like ebooks and print, reviews are critical to provide social proof and convince people to buy your audiobook. If you already have your book in other formats on Amazon, it will already be prophecy audiblelinked in some way to the other reviews, but for Audible and iTunes, you need separate reviews.

You can get free review codes from ACX if you email them directly. Then you can use those codes to give away for review copies. I tend to do this through my email list and also through my podcast, since those people are already favouring audio.

There are also a number of sites that review audiobooks specifically, but it’s best to search for those by genre, and only pitch those who like books similar to yours. If you are an audiobook reviewer, please do leave a comment below which what kind of books you like, and you’re likely to get some new books!

Marketing #4: Promote where audio is consumed e.g. podcasts

Work with your narrator to get an excerpt created, with atmospheric (royalty free) music if possible. You can then use that on your own podcast if you have one, or you can pitch related podcasts to include your trailer. For example, I have included my ARKANE audio adverts on my own podcast, and also on AuthorCast with David Wood and Alan Baxter.

There may be paid opportunities for promotion on some shows, but only pitch if your book is appropriate for the audience.

Marketing #5 : Advertise on your own blog with text links and banner ads

audiobookblogsidebarIt’s easy to include sidebar advertising on a blog, and promoting your own books is a great way to use that real estate.

Remember also to mention that you have audiobooks whenever you do an interview or talk about your books.
For example, I do a lot of podcast interviews these days, and I now always say “My books are available in ebook, print and audiobook formats at the main online stores,” so people know they can get the books everywhere.

Caution: Thoughts on ‘voice’ and narration

“You live or die by your narrator,” Bella Andre told me at LBF, and how true that is.

Audiobook listeners are used to a very high quality of sound, and I was discussing this new outlet for indie books with a friend who is blind and only reads on audio. He was excited about the potential influx of new, more varied reading material, and was looking forward to new indie authors. But he also described his favorite audiobooks as being narrated by famous actors, many more well known than the books they read, for example, audiobooks and the celebrities that were born to read them.

The complication for indies are:

  • An audiobook listener needs to like a) the author’s ‘voice’ in the book and b) the narrator’s voice – so there are two dimensions by which a judgement is made

Choosing a narrator can be difficult, especially if you don’t listen to audiobooks as a general rule. I listen to podcasts, but rarely audiobooks, and the ones I have listened to have been non-fiction and read by the author. Fiction is quite different, so I recommend trying a few audiobooks first. I have two narrators, Veronica Giguere for the ARKANE series (American voice), and also Rosalind Ashford for Desecration and the London Mysteries (British voice). These are two very different voices, and I like both for different reasons. Listeners will also have their favorite type of voice and reading pace, with some following narrators from book to book.

Overall, I think getting your books into audio through ACX is a brilliant way to expose your work to new readers, as well as potentially generating another income stream. However, it’s best done if you already have a number of books, or the ones you have are selling reasonably well, and make sure you get a fantastic narrator!

I’d love to know what you think about audiobooks in the comments below, as this is a very new part of the business for authors. What are your tips for producing audio? How do you market audiobooks? Do you review audio, and what genre do you prefer? Please do leave a comment below and join the conversation.