• My Guest Today Is Robin Crumby Talking About His Perspective on Indie Publishing with Some Insights into Book Marketing Tactics

    Robin is an author and lives in London. He ran a B2B publishing business for 20 years and specialised in marketing. Robin says:

    "‘Everyone has a book in them and that, in most cases, is where it should stay’ or so said Christopher Hitchens.

    There’s a revolution underway in book publishing. Over the last few years, Authorearnings.com data shows digital book sales from independent (self-published) authors remain on course to outsell those from traditional publishing.

    Up until 2014, if you wanted to have your novel published, then you needed an agent and a publishing deal. For 99.8% of aspiring authors that meant the end of the line. No publisher meant no distribution and no readers. In many cases, that didn’t mean your novel wasn’t good enough, it meant it wasn’t commercially viable.

    Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) changed all that. Launched around 2008, KDP allowed authors to self-publish their book and earn up to 70% of royalties on sales.

    It all sounded almost too good to be true. All you needed to do was upload your book to the Amazon platform and hey presto, thousands of people would buy your scribbles and you could retire on your new passive revenue stream. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

    Over the last year or so, I’ve been undertaking an enjoyable voyage of discovery in the world of self-publishing. After nearly 20 years of co-founding and growing Melcrum, a research and training business, now part of CEB, I wanted to do something I’d always talked about, but never found the time to do: write a novel.

    For anyone who fancies themselves as an entrepreneur, self-publishing is a lot of fun. From the creative writing process itself, to working with an editor, proof-reader, advance readers, book cover designer and formatting for digital devices, there’s a lot of work to be done before your book is even ready to upload.

    For years, independently published books got a bad rap for poor quality. Not many people knew about self-publishing so telling friends that you didn’t have an agent or a publisher was like admitting that you didn’t wear underwear. It prompted a variety of reactions from disapproval to pity (the self-publishing bit I mean). The first assumption is that your book didn’t make the grade and that self-publishing is a last resort. However, for many authors, myself included, self-publishing is a choice.

    So why choose the self-publishing route?

    For a start, you retain control. You are master of your own destiny. You can do as much marketing and promotion as you want. You can experiment with different platforms such as Facebook advertising, Goodreads, Twitter, Amazon Marketing, Google advertising and others to generate awareness and ultimately readers and sales. You can choose to make your book free and run competitions and giveaways. For many authors, retaining control is everything and making your book a success is hugely fulfilling.

    That doesn’t mean to say that traditional publishing is inherently bad or redundant. Lots of successful authors have chosen to switch between models, and back again, and speak highly of both approaches.

    What it does mean is that to be successful, aspiring authors now have a choice. If they just want to write and don’t want to roll up their sleeves and get involved in the ‘business’ of selling and marketing books, then a traditional publishing route is probably right for them.

    So what works when you’re launching a book?

    I’m still learning as I go, but already there are many lessons I’ve learned. For a start, as tempting as it is to press publish and be done with it, the reality is that your novel won’t be ready until it’s been through successive rounds of edits and corrections. Self-editing is not advisable and feedback from your friends and family is unlikely to be free of bias. The good news is that digital publishing allows for unlimited revisions. The bad news is that you’re never done and eventually, you have to step away and recognise that further changes will only make for incremental gains, at best.

    On the sales and marketing front, the best advice I was given was to sign up for Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula 101 course which has been outstanding. Mark is a best-selling author who has created a step-by-step guide to every aspect of the process. His SPF team has established a community of like-minded authors helping each other out and sharing what works. Mark Dawson is living proof that this self-publishing approach works.

    Through experimenting with Goodreads Giveaways, Amazon free promotions, enrolling your book in Kindle Unlimited, you quickly learn what works and what doesn’t. There are a lot of people out there who just want freebies and will probably never pay for your next book, write a review or help spread the word.

    Because my first novel Hurst is book one in a post-apocalyptic thriller series, I’m playing the long game and am very happy to either give book one away or sell it for a notional $0.99 to help build an audience. By the time I’m on book five or six, my hope and expectation is that I’ll have grown a loyal readership and be able to charge a reasonable amount for the digital version or audio book, certainly enough to repay costs and earn a living.

    Printed books are another story though and the economics of printing remain rather against the low-volume author. For example, Amazon is happy to print your book on demand but in return, they pay the author a token royalty and the lowest sale price available is $15 or so. Unless you are prepared to print copies and sell them direct (not recommended), digital publishing remains the only real viable publishing route.

    So as I race towards my self-imposed publishing deadline for book two, I can’t say enough good things about the self-publishing experience so far.

    Have I made any money from self-publishing?

    Not yet. I’m still underwater from the upfront investments, but with over 1,000 books sold so far in 9 months, I’m confident that with more books and more selling time, this will become more than just a hobby and prove a nice little earner.

    If anyone wants to get a copy of Hurst, you can download book one for free by joining The Hurst Chronicles Readers’ Group. http://hurstchronicles.us12.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=e60b9a6d4136330da8a2c8666&id=08e41beac1"

    Honest feedback and constructive criticism very welcome

    Hurst - "An action-packed, disturbing and thought-provoking story of an all-too-possible dystopian future." - The Book Reviewers

    "One of the most original and just flat out interesting and intelligently profound dystopian novels I’ve ever read." - Indie Book Reviewers

    What would you do to survive during an outbreak? Where would you go? Where would you be safe?

    At the end of the world, surrounded by the tidal waters of the Solent, the survivors of a pandemic flu virus hide behind the high walls of a Tudor fortress. Scraping a living far away from the smoking ruins of the cities, they wait in hope.

    Hurst Castle stands alone. Its seventy-four occupants united in a struggle for survival against all the odds. The Millennial Virus is the least of their concerns.

    When the arrival of outsiders threatens to tip the balance of power, the people of Hurst are faced with a desperate choice: set aside their differences and join an alliance that promises new hope or unite against the newcomers and their plans for reconstruction. Who can be trusted? Only time will tell.

    The battle for Hurst has begun.

    If you enjoyed fast-paced, post-apocalyptic stories such as The Day of the Triffids, The Road, Station Eleven, The Stand, and The Atlantis Plague, you'll love The Hurst Chronicles series.

    To get your copy, then please visit Amazon


    I too have been influenced by The Day of the Triffids and I think your book looks great and I can't wait to read it.

    Many thanks



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