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.

Pentecost. Ein ARKANE Thriller Now Available In German

I’ve talked before about the truly mind-blowing possibility of rights exploitation as an indie author, and I am trying to put it into action myself as much as possible!

Today, I’m thrilled to announce the launch of Pentecost in German, now out in multiple ebook formats and coming soon in print. If you read German, you might also like to sign up for my German language list – giveaways and another book coming this summer!

I’ll be doing a mega blog post in the next few weeks on everything from the translation to the launch marketing approach, so expect more detail soon if you’re wanting to experiment with the German market too. For now, here’s the book!

Mysteriöse Kräfte wurden 2000 Jahre lang geheim gehalten. Eine Frau ist in Gefahr, alles zu verlieren.

Pentecost GermanIndien. Auf den heiligen Ghats von Varanasi wird eine Nonne bei lebendigem Leib verbrannt, und Unbekannte stehlen den Stein, den sie bei sich trägt. Das löst eine internationale Jagd nach den Reliquien der Frühkirche aus.

Die Pfingststeine haben die Feuer und das Blut der Märtyrer überdauert. Sie wurden über Generationen von Hütern weitergegeben, die ihre Wirkung und die Aufbewahrungsorte geheim hielten.

Bis jetzt.

In einer Welt, die sich durch religiösen Fundamentalismus verändert, werden die Hüter ermordet, und die gestohlenen Steine sollen für dubiose Zwecke verwendet werden.

Als ihre Schwester und ihre Nichte entführt werden, macht sich die Psychologin Morgan Sierra von der Universität Oxford auf die Suche nach den Steinen. Sie wird dabei von Jake Timber unterstützt, der für ARKANE arbeitet, ein geheimnisvolles britisches Regierungsinstitut, das auf übersinnliche und religiöse Erfahrungen spezialisiert ist. Morgan muss ihr eigenes Leben riskieren, um ihre Familie zu retten – wird sie dabei am Ende verraten?

PentecostGermanBanner2Die Suche nach den Steinen führt Morgan und Jake von frühchristlichen Stätten in Spanien, Italien und Israel bis in entlegene Orte im Iran und in Tunesien. Es ist ein Wettlauf gegen die Zeit, bevor ein neues Pfingsten heraufbeschworen wird, bei dem es diesmal um die Feuer des Bösen geht.

PENTECOST ist die erste Folge der ARKANE Serie. Der temporeiche Thriller handelt von Grenzbereichen des Glaubens vor dem Hintergrund von frühchristlicher Geschichte, Archäologie und Psychologie.

Jetzt kaufen

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ePubli

Google Play

Weltbild.de

Buecher.de

Rezensionen

vorablesen reviewsRead some of the early reviews on Vorablesen.de:

„Das Buch hat mich ein wenig an Dan Browns “Da Vinci Code” erinnert, ist aber auf jeden Fall kein Abklatsch und es lohnt sich, das Buch zu lesen!”

„Zuerst war ich skeptisch und dachte ‚noch so ein Mystery-Thriller à la Dan Brown’ aber dieser Thriller hat mich von der ersten bis zur letzten Seite einfach mitgerissen. TOLL! Mehr davon!”

„Ich war positiv überrascht, wie es der Autorin gelungen ist, die Bibel so real in ihr Werk einzubauen. Ich werde sicher die weiteren ARKANE Bücher lesen.”

If you read German and have ideas for marketing, please do let me know! Or if you have any tips for marketing to German speaking readers, please leave a comment below. Thanks!

Publishing: Why You Should Care About Ebook vs Print Formatting

One of the fantastic rewards of writing a book is being able to hold a physical copy in our hands. Regardless of other definitions of success, the thrill never goes away.

letterpressI’m a huge fan of print-on-demand, and one of the most popular posts on the blog is Top 10 tips on self-publishing print books on Createspace by Dean Fetzer. Today, Dean is back to share a common question about formatting ebooks vs print.

I get asked this question a lot: “Can I use my CreateSpace PDF for the ebook version?”

The simple answer is ‘no’. Well, you could, but I doubt you’d be very happy with the finished results — and more importantly, neither would your readers. Frankly, a PDF is the last format you should use to create an ebook from as it does so many things that you just don’t want an ebook to do.

Flow vs rigid formatting

With a printed book, you want to control as much as you possibly can, from how the text aligns to the headers at the tops of the pages to where the page numbers sit on the page: that all needs to be exact to provide the best printed reading experience you can for your readers.

Ebooks, on the other hand, need to flow. You’ve no idea what the person reading your book is reading it on, much less whether they use really small text or enlarge it so they can read it easily. Even if all you format your book for is the Kindle platform, each model varies in the way it displays the written word.

If your book doesn’t adjust to that, they’re not going to enjoy reading it.

Differences in Kindle formatting

 

You can see from these three examples how different even the Kindle platform is when each device displays the book differently.

Ebooks are basically created using hypertext, the same language that web pages use to format content for the internet, albeit with fewer options for styling the text for the viewer. (No, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to learn HTML to set out your book, it just means you need to think differently about how you do it.)

The key for ebooks is about ‘flow’: how does your text look when you enlarge the font size on your reading device? What happens when it gets smaller? The pages reformat themselves automatically to fit the screen of the device and your book needs to do that, too. This is the main reason page numbers are pretty much worthless on an ereader — how do you know what page it is if the text has reflowed to fit the screen or the needs of the reader?

Minimal formatting

Your printed book looks great on paper, but that’s because a lot of effort has gone into making it fit the page, not to mention all the other work that goes into setting a book out for the printed page. Not so with ebooks – if anything you want less control.

The key to a successful ebook is to minimise the amount of additional formatting: that means no funky fonts, no weird margins and try to avoid tables or other text constructs in your copy that require a specific format.

I know, I know, “it looks so much better if that funny bit is in Comic Sans” — trust me, nothing looks better in Comic Sans. And if you want to keep your reader interested, you need to make the reading experience as easy for them as possible.

Keep formatting to a minimum. This means that rather than use an unusual font that isn’t supported by a lot of devices, go for bolding a basic font or use italics instead. If you have to use a different font, put it in a graphic. That way you can control the look and feel without resorting to embedding unusual fonts or anything else that will look bad on an ereader screen.

Sure you can indent a paragraph, just don’t try to lock it into a particular size or style at the same time. Don’t use drop caps as that’s another option that will just cause problems.

First tip: keep it simple. By that I mean take out any text formatting that is going to cause the reader problems with your book.

Graphics

Photos or other images need to be high resolution for a print book – at least 300 dpi – it’s just the way printers work and the best way to get good results from your printed book. Graphics for ebooks, on the other hand, only need to be screen resolution.

So the simple explanation is that graphics need to be resized. Don’t worry, this is done by a lot of the converters out there, so it’s not a huge worry, but if you use a lot of images, I would recommend resizing them yourself before you put them in the ebook to avoid complications later. And by all means, keep them to a  minimum.

Tip: keep images to a minimum and resize them before you submit your ebook.

Page breaks

Page breaks or section breaks are important in print and ebooks, as they keep chapters from flowing into each other and separate text you don’t want flowing on from a previous text block. Use them.

One of the worst crimes in terms of manuscript formatting I’ve seen is the use of paragraph returns to separate pages. I spend a good portion of my life taking paragraph returns out of manuscripts. So don’t do it. That’s what page and section breaks are for. I prefer section breaks between chapters because that’s more useful than a simple page break and provides a better standard of break.

Tip: use section breaks between chapters.

File formats

Okay, you’ve got your file ready for publication in print, so now what? That print file is a good place to start, just remember that you’ll need to simplify it for your ebook. It’s probably too complicated and not necessarily laid out in the right order to suit your electronic version.

For your ebook, you need to get it into the right format for the device you’re planning to publish on. The most popular version of format is the ‘.epub’ file format. Yes, I know, Kindle Direct Publishing until recently preferred a ‘.mobi’ file format (don’t write in), but they will now accept an unbundled .epub file, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

Personally, I always submit a .mobi file to KDP as I know where it’s been. By that, I mean that it is formatted in such a way that nine times out of ten I can predict how it’s going to behave.

This is probably the most common question I get asked: “How do I convert my book to the right format?” The straight answer is there is no simple way to do it that will guarantee you the best results. I usually code my books by hand until they’re ready to be made into an epub file, then convert them to .mobi for Kindle.

“How do I get my book into a .mobi format?”, I can hear you ask? Well, that’s the difficult part. No one has yet come up with an easy way to generate a .mobi file, although it’s easy enough to convert a file with a shareware app like Calibre. I find that Calibre’s conversion is a bit too rough and doesn’t always compile the files correctly.

A simple way to get to an .epub is to import a modern Microsoft Word file (.docx) into Calibre and then convert it to the epub format. You will need to add a table of contents and either link them to bookmarks for each of your chapters via the Hyperlink function or produce the file on a PC which will allow you to embed the links as HTML. Why the Mac version doesn’t do this, I don’t know.

Once I’ve got the epub file, I put the book through Kindle’s free application KindleGen on the Mac to convert it to a .mobi file. This isn’t something I’d recommend for everyone, as it uses Apple’s Terminal application and does take a bit of know-how of the Unix command line to do this kind of conversion.

If you’re converting to a .epub file, I would recommend Calibre as the results for that conversion have been pretty good for me. Once you’ve produced an epub file, you need to see if it validates by using something like ePub Checker or use an online validator to test it. If it doesn’t pass the checks, it won’t be a submittable file. And it won’t always give you enough information about what is wrong with the file.

There are a number of places to look for advice online but I’d recommend Mobile Read for general advice and great forums, Joel Friedlander  is always a good source (here he talks about decision making when producing your ebook) and this blog entry has some great resources, too. Oh, and Joel Friedlander has just added a new kind of template that allows you to do both versions from the same file.

I know Joanna uses Scrivener to compile her ebooks and is happy with the results, but again, it takes a bit of work to get it to come out correctly to the standard you want. Personally, I don’t like giving that control up – hey, I’m a control freak with a perfectionist streak, what can I say?

Alternatively, you can always pay someone like me to do the conversion, so you don’t have to or you can submit a Word file that you’ve reformatted to be as simple as possible, to KDP or one of the others and hope for the best.

The end result

This is what you’re looking for: a file that passes KDP or any other ebook platform’s checks to get your book published. It’s not an easy job and if you’ve seen a badly formatted ebook, you know exactly what I mean.

The final tip I’d give is to do the best you can to make sure your book provides a great reading experience for the reader.

And I can help!

If this all this seems too daunting, I can help you produce the best ebook for your project. And I’m reasonable!

Dean Fetzer - www.deanfetzer.com

You can find more information on the services I provide at www.gunboss.com or contact me through the form on the site.

Dean Fetzer is the author of four thrillers, a former pub reviewer and has been a graphic designer for more than 20 years, designing for print and then the internet before naturally moving into book design.

Book Marketing: On Changing Book Covers

One of the main reasons for self-publishing is creative freedom and control.

remake desecrationMany of us regularly update book blurb/descriptions, as well as changing categories and keywords. I’ve also blogged before about making sure non-fiction book titles are based on keyword research.

Today I’m talking about changing book covers because within a few hours, you can completely change the look and emotional impact of your book. When authors like Polly Courtney have resigned over the cover branding for their books, this seems like the ultimate indie freedom.

Desecration Michael ConnellyI published Desecration, a crime thriller, in Nov 2013, and after it debuted on the bestseller list alongside Michael Connelly, it pretty much sank down the charts. I haven’t done any further promotion, and it hasn’t sold as well as my other books.

It gets brilliant reviews, so once people read it, they love it. But not enough people were trying it … sure, I haven’t done any specific promotion, but based on my other book sales, it should be doing better.

The ‘aha’ moment

Russell Blake, the author who has sold over 400,000 thrillers and now writes with Clive Cussler, wrote a post in Feb 2014 about tweaking his covers. Russell changes covers in order to “find one that resonates with my readership – as expressed in increased sales.”

Continue Reading

Selling Books At Kobo And Publishing News With Mark Lefebvre

We’re lucky to have more than one option to distribute and sell our books globally as self-published authors, and today I’m focusing on Kobo.

In the intro, I talk about the launch party for Deadly Dozen (valid until March 8), 12 mystery/thrillers for just 99c (or equivalent). Plus, the royalty change at ACX and updates on my own writing.

mark lefebvreMark Lefebvre is Director of Self Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo. He also writes horror and dark humor under Mark Leslie.

  • How Kobo differentiates itself by being a collaborative partner with leading booksellers around the world. Kobo Writing Life was the first to offer payment in the author’s currency, which Amazon KDP then picked up. It’s great to have a comparison service, a challenger to keep everyone honest!
  • We also discuss the scheduling of promotions which you can do on Kobo, and can help you get visibility, as well as making sure the promotions start on time. It’s not dependent on being exclusive, and you can be free on Kobo at any time. [I use free on Kobo to get Amazon to price-match for permafree]. The Kobo Writing Life team mine the scheduled promos for gems and great deals for customers.

What do the Kobo merchandising team look for?

  • Obviously you need the best book you can write, plus a book cover that is aimed at your target audience. It’s
    kobo mark lefebvre jf penn

    J.F.Penn with Mark Lefebvre at the Kobo booth, London Book Fair 2013

    also important to think of the perspective of the booksellers’ curation process. Kobo is a bookseller and will make more money on higher priced products, or on pleasing customers with deep discounts. Mark also mentions the networking potential of being a ‘real person,’ so definitely say hi to the Kobo Writing Life team at conferences.

  • Kobo Next is a list of new authors and new books for people to discover. The authors and books that make it there are handpicked, and are proposed to merchandising teams.

Kobo News: Sony, new CEO & global expansion

  • We talk about the potential for global growth in 2014-2015, as well as translation deals, for example, what Kobo are doing with Bella Andre/Lucy Kevin. Plus, pricing by different territories, critical to seeing update in other economies.

On balancing two author brands

kobo writing lifeIf you’re not on Kobo yet, check out KoboWritingLife.com , which also has a blog and podcast for authors. [I'm on the next episode!]

You can find Mark on twitter @MarkLeslie and his fiction blog here.