I gave up sleeping in on a Saturday morning to go see Trish McCallan talk about Indie publishing at the Wenatchee Valley Community College.
For those that don’t know, Trish McCallan is a romantic suspense author and her book, Forged in Fire was first indie published two and a half years ago. It’s now been re-released by Montlake and is available in paperback and ebook versions. Check out the cover, which she said is the same one that she used on her indie release:
It has the pretty!
What did Trish talk about?
First and foremost, how Indie publishing works, and specifically with Amazon.com. Almost all my notes are about Amazon and their algorithms, pricing, promotional ideas, and best seller lists. Her biggest must-do? Make sure your book looks professional and is professional. There’s a lot of competition out there, and you’re not only competing with other indie authors – would that was the case! – but all the other authors in your genre in your same price range.
McCallan urged authors to study covers in the same genre and study the price points that sell. Why? If your cover is too different, readers will scan by it and not even see it. And if your book is priced differently, you won’t get an “Also Bought” recommendation to readers in the same genre. So if your book is priced at 1.99 you won’t get any recommendations to readers who buy at 2.99. Big difference in sales? It could be. It could cost you a lot of money.
She also said the first 30 days your book is out is critical to Amazon ranking. What kind of promo works to get your numbers up? Reviews are key. Blog tours, which she said worked back in 2012, no longer work to push sales. As most people know, getting a blog tour is much easier than getting a review on Amazon! But it happens, it just takes an awful lot of work.
What does work? Having a series and putting the first book on Perma-Free still works, she said, as does the .99 price point for new authors. Having a loss leader is not a unique idea to indie publishers – traditionally published authors do it, too – but for most indie authors it can mean the difference between garnering a new reader, or not.
She also talked about Front matter and Back matter, and cross-pollination of other authors in your genre. I think it would be great to promo other author’s work in the back of my book and mine in theirs – as long as they are short and sweet. When Amazon lists a 50 page book and 25 of them are promo, the reader push-back can be hell!
Thanks to Trish McCallan for coming to Write on the River and for attempting to tackle the ever-broadening subject of Indie publishing in three hours. I think next time she visits, we’ll need drinks and an overnight girl’s pajama party!