By Lisa Maliga
I barely passed basic math in seventh grade, but I’ve learned a lot about numbers, percentages and book rankings since 2010.
On October 21, I released my $2.99 novel, Notes from Nadir, which I had serialized via this blog. The price was chosen because I would earn a 70% royalty rate. I sold four copies the first month, the same number in November, and soon the book was ignored.
By February 2011, I had five novels on Amazon and a few other stores. The titles were previously published online and I had regained my full rights. Sales in the dawn of e-publishing [2000-2004] were minimal and I noticed nothing had changed, except that I was now doing all the work.
I self-published my nonfiction titles as I had extensive experience making soap and bath and body products. Over time, my eBooks were available on 12 other Amazon marketplaces like the UK, Canada, Australia, Italy, Germany, etc. I uploaded titles to B&N, Smashwords, Kobo, CreateSpace [paperbacks], iTunes, and Draft2Digital. I joined AuthorsDen, Manic Readers, Twitter, Face Book and WordPress. I’ve had my own website since 2001 and this year I launched a newsletter and offered free eBooks. I have two instructional videos and two book trailers on YouTube, and I joined Pinterest because I like photography.
When it comes to nonfiction books, I’ve discovered that it’s exceedingly difficult to get linkbacks/mentions from companies/sources that are listed. I revised one of my titles to include several photos and interview some suppliers. While I provide their links and contact information, they won’t add a link to my eBook on their website, nor mention it in a newsletter/blog.
Why are those listed suppliers unable to provide a link? I’m asking for no money and in many cases have even spent money on their product[s]! I offered them a free copy of my eBook in their preferred format.
Don’t these suppliers realize that they can make money from eBooks? Should a consumer read it and want to buy supplies, that supplier has just picked up some biz? Also, if a supplier has an Amazon or B&N affiliate link, they’ll get money for each copy sold from their website. [I realize that not all websites sell via Amazon/B&N].
Indie writers are easy to ignore. They have no agents, managers or publicists to get the word of their eBooks out there. Ironically, while many of the bath and body suppliers are fond of the term FAIR TRADE, they won’t do a simple link exchange which would actually benefit their own company!
But I kept writing until my titles increased from 1 to 32, almost evenly divided between fiction and nonfiction. Contrary to the myth that more books equal more sales, I’ve found the opposite to be true. As of August 2015, I have 7 more titles yet I’ve earned 30% less than I did in June 2014 on Amazon.
Approximately 90,000 eBooks are released on Amazon every month. The chances of any book being seen are in the league of unlikely to very unlikely.
How does a writer earn a decent living by writing eBooks? Four years ago, I saw a pattern. They wrote an eBook or two, especially a series or serial, blogged, went to other authors’ blogs and left comments. Those other authors had a larger following, so the neophyte eBook author sucked up to the “bigger authors” and dished out excellent book reviews, hoping to get the same treatment for their books. Even after that exhausting circle of writing, praising other writers, and occasionally having other writers praise you, they still hadn’t seen an increase in book sales. Others have speculated that at the start of the self-pubbing boom, some authors bought dozens of good reviews on Fiverr, thus launching their careers. A self-published author/blogger exhorted their followers to write a book, write a second book, a third, and repeat indefinitely. Unsurprisingly, that author wrote a book about how to write and market books.
After releasing my twentieth title, I thought there would be more sales. I uploaded a horror novella that had small blocks of white spaces appearing randomly throughout the book. No one contacted me about it because I never sold a single copy of the aptly titled An Author’s Nightmare.
Since then, I’ve changed how I perceive indie publishing. Whenever I upload an eBook, or even a paperback edition, it’s not publishing, it’s uploading a manuscript. I also uploaded three freebies; hoping readers would discover my other titles. Occasionally, they did.
So, how does an “indie” author get noticed? By advertising?
Advertisers are popping up all over the place like psychedelic mushrooms. They’ll send your book’s links to the best potential customers — readers. Sometimes grand promises are made of thousands of readers willing to download or buy your book. I tried getting a $2.99 novel out to 106,000 Face Book fans. The result? Zip. I could have done that myself, as I’m a member of more than 50 book-related groups. In fact, I have. The result has been similar. With some advertisers, you’ll get a few sales or a few hundred downloads for a freebie. Then what? Not much. Your book plummets in rank, maybe you get a review or two, and the title rests in obscurity with hundreds of thousands of unread eBooks on Amazon, B&N and other online bookstores.
Getting lots of downloads of freebies is meaningless if no one buys your other titles. There’s another myth about more reviews attracting more sales. Sometimes it’s true, especially if they’re legitimate reviews by readers. Yet how many people actually read and review those freebies?
After my years in indie publishing, I’ve learned that only a few authors can make a lot of money. I’ve earned far less than I did when I was temping.
Being an author isn’t unique any more. Self-publishing is for anyone who can process some words, design a book cover or have one made for a few dollars. Many books aren’t even proofread, let alone edited. With the glut of available reading material, it’s almost impossible for an author’s book[s] to stand out. Most eBooks will plunge to the murky depths of internet bookstores far, far away from the best sellers. They’ll wind up with six or seven-digit rankings, doomed to obscurity.
Most people don’t read. Most people don’t buy eBooks or prefer downloading freebies. And most readers don’t review books.
And that’s what I’ve learned about selling eBooks [and paperbacks] for almost half a decade.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Friday, May 29, 2015
I Almost Married a Narcissist is a new and updated story about a woman who learns the man she’s dating is more than conceited and hung up on his body image – he’s a narcissist.
When I was going through some notes about a short story I’d written “Flipping Over Grigori,” I thought that exploring his personality disorder would make this a more moving story. From 12,000 words to nearly 23,000, the expanded version reveals more about both main characters and how they get to know each other. I also changed his name from Grigori to Andrei. His last name is still Antonescu, but A.A. are now his initials; it’s symbolic of him being a source of addiction to Charlotte White, the woman who falls in love with the gymnastics coach.
Briefly, here’s what I Almost Married a Narcissist is about:
Charlotte White falls in love with a younger Romanian gymnastics coach.
Andrei Antonescu is a sexy and handsome foreigner who loves to have fun and flirt with the ladies.
The more she gets to know him, the more red flags are unfurled. Once she’s able to see past his good looks and muscular body, Charlotte is unprepared for some shocking revelations.
Excerpt from Chapter Two
Three of the coaches introduced themselves to me. I liked them right away. But there was this one, a real serious looking guy, who completely ignored me. Maybe it was his dark blond curly hair and the fact that he was so tanned and muscular. His T-shirt’s sleeves were rolled up, showing off his strong arms. He was so self absorbed that he didn’t even notice me.
Later, I got to go out into the gym, and didn’t have to remove my shoes because I was a staff member. I had to give a message to Andrei, that serious coach. That was how I finally met the younger man – right next to the parallel bars. He had just dismounted from them after showing an element to his private student, a wiry adolescent boy. After handing him the message, he grabbed it with chalky hands and thanked me quickly, not even looking at me. But I was used to being treated like that.
A few days later, I was in the coach’s lounge for my afternoon break. It was a dark, depressing day and it seemed like nothing was ever going to go right. Svetlana had yelled at me that morning for taking too long to do the reports and I wondered if I’d even last the week at the job. Andrei rushed upstairs, and I thought of how young and energetic he was. He didn’t smile at me, but he lowered his sunglasses as he asked about his schedule. All I saw were his Mediterranean blue eyes.
I wanted to take the Tuesday or Thursday night adult gymnastics class he taught. I wondered how to go about asking Svetlana about it. I knew that Eastern European coaches were able to get excellent results from their students, and by taking the class, I’d get back into shape. That afternoon, I stood near the filing cabinet when Andrei walked in, went past me, and pinched my hip! There was no one else nearby. The gesture was something most American men wouldn’t do because they’d probably end up being sued for sexual harassment.
Amazon: I Almost Married a Narcissist
Amazon UK: I Almost Married a Narcissist
B&N NOOK: I Almost Married a NarcissistiTunes: I Almost Married a Narcissist
Kobo: I Almost Married a Narcissist
Scribd: I Almost Married a Narcissist
Smashwords: I Almost Married a Narcissist
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Monday, April 20, 2015
Copyright 2015 by Lisa Maliga
Just after the July launch of the Kindle Unlimited program an author of a soap making eBook emailed me asking for a review. After reading it, I got the impression that everything within the 50 pages was regurgitated information. There weren’t any resource links. The recipes weren’t coherent—add some of this oil with some of this water and this amount of lye. Instead of getting a review, the author received an email asking about her soap making experience. Unsurprisingly, there was no response.
That was my introduction to a Kindle Unlimited eBook.
Books in Kindle Unlimited, KU for short, are only found on Amazon’s website. None of the titles are available at Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Oyster, Scribd, Smashwords or other online bookstores.
While free for authors, readers pay $9.99 per month for the service that “…allows you to read as much as you want, choosing from over 700,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks. Freely explore new authors, books, and genres from mysteries and romance to sci-fi and more. You can read on any device.”
Authors with books in the KU program generally price their titles from $0.99 to $9.99. They can also give a title away for up to 5 days during each 90-day period their title is enrolled in the KU program. If free, anyone can download the book whether they are KU members or not. Another huge benefit for the KU author is the borrowing part of the program. Whenever a KU member borrows a title, the author receives up to $1.40. The amount varies every month but it’s always more than one dollar. Even if the book is priced at 0.99, the author still gets $1.40 [or whatever the amount is that month] PER BORROW. That’s why every single rip-off title is enrolled in this program.
There are many excellent titles in the KU program. But I’m going to concentrate on the rip-off titles that are often plagiarized from websites, blogs and Pinterest. By reading this article, you’ll learn how to avoid downloading rip-offs.
[For the record: I won’t tackle fiction because that’s a lot different, especially with series, serials, billionaire romances, erotica, and alphas.]
A rip-off title is usually less than 50 pages in length. Of course, regular nonfiction titles may also be brief, so I’ll point out the many red flags that boldly signal a rip-off. Again, this is only for nonfiction books, as that’s where I have the most experience as I write about soap crafting. I’m going to expand it to include all bath and body/bath and beauty books.
However, even if you read and write about real estate or farming, you still should find this article helpful.
Soap making books begin with the history of soap making. For other bath and beauty books, the opening pages will let you know how toxic commercial lotions, lip balms, sugar and salt scrubs, bath bombs, etc. actually are.
* LONG titles with up to 30 words. This is called keyword stuffing.
Example title: Homemade Body Butter: 25 Natural Body Butter And Lotion Recipes To Keep Your Skin Smooth And Feeling Moisturized! (How To Body Butter, DIY Body Butter, Natural Body Butter And Lotion Recipes).
I’ve only changed a few words, but this is how some rip-off books are marketed. It’s not necessarily wrong but it’s clumsy!
*Nonexistent Book Contributors
Every author credits him or herself, but there are also other contributors that can be added like editor, foreword, photographer, illustrator, introduction, preface, translator and narrator. I’ve found books that have ‘body butter’ as an editor, ‘lotion’ as a foreword, and ‘soapmaking’ as an illustrator. Doing this exploits the entire Kindle publishing program and if found should be reported.
* Not crediting stock images.
* No author biography
Interested in learning about the author? If there’s no bio, there’s no way of knowing how much knowledge they have pertaining to the subject they’ve written about. There won’t be any sort of email address, website, Etsy page or social media information such as Twitter or Face Book. They have no blog or newsletter.
The lack of an author bio may indicate a new to KU author who is unaware that Amazon offers this free promotional tool. Alternatively, it might be a deliberate omission.
An author bio should indicate the author’s experience in making the products they are writing about, as they should be an expert in the field. Do they include their company name and contact information? Whether or not they own a business, or have owned a business in the past? How long have they been making B&B products? If they don’t make and sell their products, what qualifications do they have to write their book?
* Common American Names
This is another way to lure borrowers and buyers—by using familiar surnames like Thomas, Brown, Mitchell, White, etc. It’s also how those from other countries make names seem more acceptable than their own. Authors who use several pseudonyms may do so to avoid detection. It’s also a way of using a name like a keyword – to attract more borrows and sales.
If a book has dozens of reviews, that might mean it’s often borrowed/sold. All of the reviews may be legitimate ones, especially if the reviewer indicates that they received a free review copy. To find a rip-off title, look beyond lots of 5-stars or 1-stars, or even no reviews.
eBooks may contain numerous 5-star reviews with only a smattering of bad reviews. Suggestion: read the bad ones. For example, a one star review written by a soap maker noted the amount of lye in a recipe in one of the rip-off titles was incorrect and the author had confused percentages and ounces. In other words, some “author” with no knowledge of soap making is presenting potentially harmful information. If a reader follows the instructions, that soap would burn their skin. Additionally, they would have wasted their time in reading the book and trying to apply the instructions, and money on buying ingredients and equipment. The responsibility of the author of any type of DIY book is to offer correct and accurate information. Sadly, the author of the questionable amounts has also written a dozen other titles in related fields.
A rip-off title may have garnered many positive reviews based on review swaps. I’ll go on record and state that I did a few of them from September to December 2014. Since then, I have completely stopped reviewing books due to the numerous rip-off titles I was getting.
* Proofreading problems
If the author is someone who is fluent in English as a first language, the quality of authorship ranges from excellent to riddled with grammar and “spell checkitis.”
* Poor Translating
Foreign authors may have run the manuscript through an online translator resulting in unintentionally hilarious reading. My favorite was the one about heating your soap over a “weak fire.”
* Offer FREE bonus or gift in the beginning of the book.
* Enticing Cover Photo of the Product[s]
All book covers should be enticing, of course. However, a rip-off will be revealed if the featured product[s] recipe and photo aren’t included inside the eBook. For example, a stack of oatmeal soap on the cover, yet there is no oatmeal soap recipe in the rip-off title.
* NO sample other than a table of contents or a legal disclaimer. The reader has to purchase or borrow the book in order to read more because there’s no actual writing sample.
* If recipes are included, they may be in a mixture of ounces, grams, tablespoons and teaspoons, which is very confusing for the reader.
* No medical or legal disclaimer. No safety precautions.
* The name on the cover may be spelled differently than the name on the book’s Amazon page.
* Rip-off titles can be heavily promoted and reviewed by bloggers. Unlike non-KU titles that only earn 4% commission on each title sold, bloggers may get up to 8.5 % on KU titles sold and/or borrowed.
In order to avoid being ripped off, please use this article as a checklist.
Sunday, March 1, 2015
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Sunday, February 1, 2015
I’ve never been sought after as a book reviewer until I began posting on some Facebook book promotion groups. I’ve written book reviews in the past, but I don’t mention that on my website, blog or Facebook page. I also joined some groups where readers gave reviews. Soon I learned that 99% of those readers were also authors who needed their books reviewed. I was sent requests to swap reviews several times a day.
“Hi, are you interested for a review exchange? My book is FREE on Kindle.”
“Hi Lisa, can we swap for your book? let me know. thanks”
“Hi Lisa, are you up for an honest review exchange? I have downloaded your book and if you’ll give me a go signal then ill leave a positive review for your book. I have two books for free right now and ill appreciate if you”ll choose one for this.”
“Hi Lisa, I just downloaded your book.My book is also free today. Would you like to trade reviews?”
“Hey There, Would you be interested in doing an honest review exchange for some free books? I have 4 free books.”
“Hey would you be interested in an honest review swap? I have two free books today. Please download 1 or 2 and send me over your book (s) Free Books Only Today”
“Hi Lisa . Do you have 99c books for exchange reviews? Please let me know . Thanks! Here’s my book :”
This is my latest request that I had to include as it’s so blatant. “Hi Lisa, I saw that you have an ebook available on Amazon – . I have one too, and I want to ask you if you want to exchange some reviews? I’ll buy your ebook and review it on Amazon with a 5 star and you’ll do the same with mine? Let me know if you are interested”
Whenever I got one of those review swap requests, the first image that came to mind was this:
Going by the casually written email examples, many of the free eBooks offered for review were of the same caliber. Worse than that, much of the information contained within the mercifully brief nonfiction titles could be found on Wikipedia and other online reference sites.
I’m not saying that all nonfiction titles are scams, but the way you can tell if they are is to see if the author is an expert in their field. Have they written a soap making book and make and sell soap? If the book is about dieting and weight loss, have they utilized the diet plan they write about? I’ve discussed it in this post about shopping for soap making or bath & body products eBooks, but it applies to all nonfiction titles.
What made me stop this quid pro quo review shenanigans? 1. I felt like I was at a certain vanity publisher’s message boards circa 2005 reading about authors asking other authors to buy and review their books. 2. Review swaps aren’t appreciated at Amazon.
So, I’m officially done with swapping, trading or exchanging eBook reviews.
If you want to put a stop to review swaps, feel free to share this photo!
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Yolanda Carter is gearing up for a hectic holiday season at her bakery, Yolanda’s Yummery.
The adjoining Beverage Bar is thriving due to owner Nigel Garvey’s expertise along with that of shift manager Quinn Hendrickson, a barista and a baker.
Visiting her grandmother’s gravesite, Yolanda is surprised to see a woman putting pies into an old-fashioned station wagon. Her parents mention an unsolved murder of her grandmother’s best friend who was an amazing pie baker. The story of the 1960s crime touches Yolanda, along with her new friend, Detective Winston Churchill. Her growing sleuthing skills lead her to search for the killer.
In between investigating and baking batches of pies in time for her latest product launch, Yolanda discovers more about the sweetness of love. And who is heating up the kitchen with Yolanda?
Includes the recipe for Yolanda’s Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!
CHAPTER 5 Excerpt
That morning Nick was helping one of the older appreciated guests who was taken with both him and the Fancy Vanilla cupcakes. “Sonny, can I have that a cinnamon coffee Bundt cake with vanilla icing?” The woman with the white hair worn in a pageboy paused, then sneezed loudly. “No wait, how about butterscotch icing?”
Nick’s grimace almost passed for a grin. Jeannie noticed it and shook her head slightly, not wanting the young man to insult the older woman. “I’m afraid we don’t have butterscotch but we have caramel.”
“Oh goodie, I’ll have that.” The woman smiled broadly, focusing all her attention on Nick.
After she shuffled out of the yummery, Nick shook his head and stared at the almost empty tips jar. “The least she could’ve done was leave me a tip.”
Jeannie smiled. “Show her more attentiveness next time. Tell her how pretty her blouse is or something.”
“Jeannie, I don’t want to encourage her. Geez, she’s old enough to be my grandmother.”
“I’ll have you know that she’s the widow of one of the wealthiest real estate moguls in the city.”
“So? That means she could afford to leave a big tip.”
“Not necessarily. She’s frugal. She told me she frequents every 99 Cents Only store she drives by and hangs out at Big Lots in Culver City. She’ll drive out of her way to save money…” Jeannie helped herself to a fudge sample. “Just the way some folks are, I guess. Oh, and you didn’t offer her a sample. Next time make sure you offer every appreciated guest a sample – even the older ones who have a crush on you.”
“I forgot to change the tips jar sign today,” he said.
“That could be another reason, though I doubt it. Old widows are lonely, so just make her feel a little less lonely and you’ll get more tips.”
Monday, December 29, 2014
By Lisa Maliga
Here’s a new excerpt from the eBook The Narcissist Chronicles: The WHOLE Story. Read about Arlen Stevenson’s first meeting with a woman he met online. A woman who sent him naked pictures of herself and is a fan of his zombie books. Mavis Preston, a lonely divorcée who enjoys trash talking with Arlen via IM and email. How will their planned weekend rendezvous turn out?
“Hello? Is this Arlen?” asked a breathy high voice.
“The one and only. I’m at this address here, numbered 6656 Bel…”
“Arlen, you’re here! Now!?” the phone clicked.
I looked up to see a stout woman with graying tightly permed curls and a pair of oversized glasses popular during the Reagan era, rushing toward me, her powder blue tracksuit emphasizing her undulating bulges and ripples. I pocketed my phone and embraced her, as I knew that was expected of me. I hid my disappointment beneath my pasted on smile—she looked absolutely nothing like those pictures she had sent…
Once I was inside her recently built home, I was impressed enough with the two story living room sporting a marble fireplace and walls containing built-in bookshelves. There was a large deck outside and a brand new gas grill that looked like it would cook lotsa steaks, burgers, hot dogs, and a few lobsters. The biggest turn on was the master bedroom with the elaborate king sized bed below a mirrored ceiling, plush beige carpeting which I wanted to test out when I got to some of my advanced sexual techniques, and the whirlpool tub in the adjacent bathroom made her look a whole lot better. Maybe ole Mavis was as good as she’d wrote.
When we went into her writing room, I saw that her computer was a laptop off in a corner next to a sewing machine and for some reason that disturbed me. Other than her bedroom, the suburban home seemed so normal and unsensual. Maybe it was the presence of a teenager; a door that was decorated on the outside with a poster of Hannah Montana, and remained closed because I doubted the woman wanted me to see evidence of her offspring. “Jeffrey, my only son! He’ll be spending the weekend with his father, like I told you earlier,” she assured me. The 4,000 square foot home was all ours from Friday through Sunday afternoon.
“I want you to autograph some books,” Mavis declared, leading me back downstairs into the living room. She immediately went over to a section and pulled out all three of my hardcovers, and I reasoned she didn’t break the bank to buy ‘em. Naturally, I always preferred it when they bought the more expensive and longer lasting version, and she happily handed them over.
“Why sure, Mavis, I’d love to…” hell, I just loved the fact that people actually bought my books and then wanted me to scribble in ‘em! I obliged her, thinking I was glad I’d left my overnight bag in the truck.
After the impromptu autograph signing, I pulled out my keys. “Mavis, I haven’t had a lot to eat today. Let’s say you and me go pick something up…”
“Nonsense, I won’t hear of it, Arlen. Why don’t I fix you a sub? I can make it to your liking…” she smiled suggestively.
Amazon Kindle version: The Narcissist Chronicles: The WHOLE Story
Amazon UK Kindle version: The Narcissist Chronicles: The Whole Story
Barnes & Noble NOOK version: The Narcissist Chronicles: The Whole Story
iTunes version: The Narcissist Chronicles: The Whole Story
Kobo version: The Narcissist Chronicles: The Whole Story
Scribd version: The Narcissist Chronicles: The Whole Story
Smashwords version: The Narcissist Chronicles: The Whole Story