5 Fabulous Insider Tricks for Success as an Indie Author

by Kristina Ludwig
Oct 14
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: October 14, 2013 at 12:42 pm

This Saturday, Antonio and I had the pleasure of attending the Digital 2.0 Self-Publishing Conference in LA. This conference included writers of all levels, from brand-new (i.e. “I’m thinking I want to be a writer but don’t know how”) to established and successful.

There’s something magical about networking with writers from all stages of their journeys. Seasoned authors make for perfect mentors, while new ones inspire us to recapture our passion for the written word.

I also witnessed the beauty of collaboration — the participants in the conference were not competing, but learning from each other. One of the best things about being a writer is that we’re like snowflakes: no two of us are exactly alike, which cuts down on the odious comparisons of who’s the “best,” and keeps us focused on working together.

It was a beautiful day for a writing conference this past Saturday in LA!

It was a beautiful day for a writing conference this past Saturday in LA!

The conference centered on how each writer can make his / her individual voice heard in the self-publishing world. It was not the place for writers who were looking for intensive technical workshops or story-structure hints, but it was the perfect place to learn about marketing, promotion, and all those things that generally elude writers. Here are five new insider tricks I picked up at the conference.

  1.  Publishing on KDP select is the recommended 1st step in self-publishing. Roughly 85% of eBook sales are through Amazon, so KDP select is the perfect venue for new indie authors to build their names. After the period of exclusivity, authors can move on to publish on Smashwords premium, which distributes eBooks to other platforms such as Kobo.
  2. 25 customer reviews on Amazon is the sweet spot. We all know how important it is to get a few customer reviews, but authors who reach 25 reviews, especially by top-rated reviewers, are considered to be successful and will be recommended to readers more often by Amazon. Jackpot!
  3. There is a system for choosing free days on KDP select. Don’t use all five free days at once — it’s recommended to schedule them two at a time. And Fridays are the best day to choose because of all the Free-Book Friday promotions.
  4. Schedule free days during the “soft launch” of your book. During the soft launch, writers work on gaining reviews and building sales momentum. That’s why making the book free during this time is so important — more people will download the book, which leads to more reviews.
  5. Most of us are tweeting wrong! We all know that Twitter is an incredibly effective medium for promoting self-published books, but many of us send tweets like, “Check out my free book…” These can be a huuuge turn-off, and can come off as spammy and self-serving. A better technique is to structure tweets around a specific topic found in your book, with a link to the book or an excerpt. Tweets should be leading questions with interesting buzzwords. It’s so common-sense, but so overlooked!!

 

Reflections on eBook Launches: The New Book Launch Paradigm

by Kristina Ludwig
Oct 10
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: October 10, 2013 at 2:03 pm

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve just published my Amish YA fiction novella, Rumspringa Break, on Amazon Kindle, and I’m now officially in the launching stage! Naturally, I’ve been reflecting about book launches — what they once were, and how they’ve evolved.

When I was growing up, I always thought of a book launch as a huge party for the literary community, like that scene in the first Bridget Jones movie when she botched her speech at the Kafka’s Motorbike launch. I visualized a book launch as a swanky event full of glamorous and brilliant literati. And hey, who knows — maybe some book launches are still like that, especially for uber-famous authors from ginormous publishing houses.

The fun book launch scene from the Bridget Jones movie.

The fun book launch scene from the Bridget Jones movie.

However, with the advent of self-publishing, there is a remarkably fresh new paradigm for book launches. They’re heavily focused on social media because of the burgeoning online community of readers and writers. Book launches have also become incredibly DIY; indie eBook authors control their own book marketing, and that’s super exciting as well as challenging.

Book launches are a lot of trial and error. I have learned so much during the launch of A First Time for Everything and Rumspringa Break, so I’ve compiled a list of tips that I believe will help anyone launching a new eBook.

  1. Watch this Tom Corson-Knowles video: It outlines a strategy for marketing a KDP Select free book. However, many of the  Facebook groups mentioned in this video will promote links to non-free Kindle eBooks as well. Also, some of the websites, such as http://awesomegang.com/submit-your-book/ allow you to submit a non-free eBook, so they’re great for promotion during the launch!
  2. Invest in Twitter Advertising: It allows you to send promoted tweets for your book to a select group of Twitter users — either users who search specific keywords or followers of specific users related to your product. I’ve launched campaigns both ways, and was very successful when I targeted followers of the free or discounted eBook Twitter accounts (i.e. @IndieKindle, @kindleebooks, @CheapKindleDly, @Bookyrnextread).
  3. Look into Facebook Advertising: It’s great if you want to build followers on your Author page, reach your target audience, and therefore sell more books during your launch.
  4. Spread the word through flyers: Check out this earlier blog post about making high-quality book flyers. Face-to-face promotion is still priceless, especially at conferences and other networking events. These flyers are also perfect to hand out at the local library or at any events attended by the target audience.

This list is only the beginning. As always, I will share more of my journey with you as I go. Please be sure to check out Rumspringa Break – It’s a fun, quick read, and I would love some honest reviews!

 

 

How to Work From Home Effectively: 5 Quick Tips

by Kristina Ludwig
Oct 7
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: October 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm

It’s official: I’ve been working from home for practically a month now, and it’s been, in a word, ahhhh-mazing!

During my six year stint as a pharmacist, I had to be physically at work. This had some advantages: Work never came home with me, and if something bothered me, I could “leave it at work.” Working from a set location had notable disadvantages, too: The schedule was too rigid for my tastes, and there were some (okay, many) days when I just didn’t want to get up, get ready, and drive to work.

Working from home is awesome because it’s so flexible. For writers, it allows us to vary our writing routines according to our moods, which enhances creativity and wards off boredom and writer’s block. However, all that flexibility can be a double-edged sword. It’s super easy to become distracted by housework, or take two-hour lunch breaks.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve learned so much about working from home productively. Here are 5 quick tips to jump-start your Monday, especially if it involves working from home!

  1. Set daily and weekly goals. It’s especially important to write them down, since it makes them more real. And, as always, make sure they’re SMART, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
  2. Monitor your progress. This is where checklists come in handy. Review what you’ve accomplished daily. Celebrate what you’ve achieved, and you’ll be driven to push yourself even further.
  3. Keep distractions to a minimum. Check your email and other forms of social media at set intervals, and limit personal phone calls. It’s incredible how those little distractions can add up to a lot of time.
  4. Prioritize. Many people who work from home take care of errands and home chores as well, and it’s super easy to let these trivialities take over the work day. I recommend spacing them out over the week. I started doing that and found that I still accomplished all the home tasks I set out to do, but they didn’t take huuuge chunks of time away from work.
  5. Set up an office. It’s much easier to focus if you’re sitting at a desk in a cushy office chair. It feels more official somehow. However, don’t be afraid to work in other areas of the house, or in other locations entirely. Changing location can be key for creativity.
My new home office.

My new home office.

The biggest challenge of working from home is that you can’t escape work — literally. But the good news is,  these tips will make you waaay more productive, so you won’t even want to!

Gearing Up for a Book Launch: 5 Things to Do

by Kristina Ludwig
Oct 3
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: October 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I’m excited to announce that I will be launching the Kindle version of my new Amish YA fiction novella, Rumspringa Break, on October 10th. Long-time followers of my blog may recall this title in short story form. Since then, I’ve tweaked the storyline, added more drama, conflict, and intrigue, and changed the ending. (And the middle, for that matter — the beginning is the only part that’s somewhat similar to the original version.) The short story ran about 11 pages, and the novella is a whopping 54 — hopefully the ideal length for YA readers and adults looking for a relatively quick but satisfying read with crossover appeal.

Gearing up to launch an indie eBook is both energizing and exhausting. There’s so much that goes into it: promotion and marketing on the endless stream of social media, attending networking events to spread the word in person, putting together the book description, and editing and formatting the book. I recommend checking out this article by Nick Thacker about launching a book in three easy steps.

The cover of Rumspringa Break

The cover of Rumspringa Break, coming to you on 10/10/13!

Here are 5 things I’ve done to prepare for the book launch on 10/10, in no particular order. I hope it helps any writers out there who may be gearing up for their own book launches.

  1. Attended a Network After Work event, where I distributed flyers for the new book and met professionals in various areas of employment. I even connected with another author, who’d just published a book on Amazon.
  2. Signed up for a writing conference in LA. It’s called the Digital Author and Self-Publishing conference, and it will be the perfect place to connect with other authors and promote the new book, especially because it’s happening 2 days after my launch. There’s still time to sign up by the way, so any writers looking to hobnob with other indies should check it out!
  3. Prepared to launch my author website. The developers are still working a few kinks out of it, but my author website is officially up and running. As soon as it passes my test, I will post all the information on this blog, as well as my other social media accounts. Soon, this blog will be running from my author website! The website will have fun features like Free Book Fridays, where I will host giveaways for all my eBooks, especially Rumspringa Break. 
  4. Maintained social media presence. Authors’ platforms are important all the time, but especially before launching a book. I have been focusing on increasing my Twitter followers, posting regularly to Facebook and Google+, and blogging twice a week. I love these activities anyway, so it’s as much fun as it is work.
  5. Put together the most professional product possible. I enlisted the services of Katrina Joyner at Premade Covers 4U, and purchased the perfect book cover. And, of course, there’s editing, formatting, etc. It may seem tedious, but it’s so important for self-published authors to put their best work out there!