October 17th, 2014

Make Your Self-Published Content Work Harder for You

Elizabeth S. Craig

JMM_0564When writers offer other authors’ advice about generating more income, the advice inevitably is, “Write a lot of good books.”

Although it’s true that volume is key to visibility in an increasingly crowded book market, there’s another way to gain visibility—offering our content, our books, in a variety of marketplaces.

While working to release more books, there are smart things we can do to make our already-written content work harder for us through diversification.

If we diversify our distribution, offering our work on a variety of different channels and platforms (beyond just the usual suspect, Amazon’s Kindle), we can develop multiple revenue streams from a single product.

Here are some examples of different places that we can sell our work…and one place where we can give it away for free.

ACX: ACX is the audiobook option for self-publishers in the US and UK. I’ve discovered that audio is a more popular reading platform than I’d realized. What’s more, it cost me nothing to have my work available there since I used the royalty share arrangement with my narrator (my narrator and I split the royalties from the sales). The money I make from ACX is pure profit. More about payment options for narrators from the ACX site.

Print: It’s a sign of how much publishing has changed that I even have to include a reminder to consider putting books into print. CreateSpace and Lightning Source are the two companies that most authors use when pursuing print. With CreateSpace, readers can order print copies of our books through the Amazon site and with Lightning Source, physical booksellers can order our books for their shelves. I have all of my self-published books available through CreateSpace and the only costs I incurred were one-time expenses for print and cover formatting from my design team. With print-on-demand technology, books are printed when they’re purchased—no need to have hundreds of books in our garage.

Digital publishing—beyond Amazon. Although Amazon will (almost certainly) be the primary source of our royalty income, putting all our eggs in one retailer’s basket isn’t the best approach. There are other ebook platforms out there, including Kobo, iBookstore, Nook, Scribd, and Overdrive that readers are using. For most of these retailers, if you have the ability to attach a file to an email, you’ve got the basic skills necessary to upload your book to these platforms. We can also choose to go through a distribution platform like Smashwords, which will upload a single file to all the main retailers in exchange for a 10% commission of the retail price of affiliate retailers (Apple, Nook, etc.)

Foreign sales: Are your books available for sale on Amazon’s international sites? On Apple’s? It only takes a click of a mouse to sell our book to foreign markets. Some writers are also pursuing having their books translated for international readers (particularly the German market) through sites like Babelcube and Proz.

Wattpad: Wattpad is a publishing platform with about 17 million unique international visitors each month (and a strong youthful demographic). To use Wattpad most effectively, authors should upload books a chapter at a time, allowing each chapter to garner votes and comments, which is key to visibility on the site.   The platform is free both to upload to and to read from, so this is about exposure. It almost serves as advertising for our series. For me, it’s about exposing my book to a completely different demographic than I reach with the Amazon algorithms…a younger one. I’ve found the community there supportive and engaged. It’s important to put a call to action at the bottom of each uploaded chapter—a buy link for our other books.

Although we should keep writing new stories, it’s just a smart idea to make our already-published books work harder for us in the meantime. As time goes on, the options for reaching readers will only increase for writers.

Have you diversified the publishing platforms you’re using?

What platforms are you currently using?

About Elizabeth

E. Craig Headshot1Elizabeth writes the Southern Quilting mysteries for Penguin/NAL, the Memphis Barbeque mysteries for Penguin/Berkley, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and independently.

She blogs at ElizabethSpannCraig.com/blog , which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers. @elizabethscraig

27 comments to Make Your Self-Published Content Work Harder for You

  • Elizabeth – I couldn’t agree more about offering content in different places. Each marketplace you mentioned is a bit different, and each one offers advantages to the author (and challenges). Each one also has a slightly different audience, so all are worth exploring. In the end, you can choose the outlets that work best for you.

  • Margot–And if one doesn’t end up working out for us for some reason, we can always back out again. It’s great to be in charge!

  • […] writer Frédérique Molay  for guest posting today.  A quick note that I’m posting on the Writers on the Storm blog today on Making Our Content Work Harder for Us. […]

  • I’m saving this one, Elizabeth. Great ‘cheat sheet’!

  • Perfect timing as my co-author and I prepare to leap beyond Kobo and Kindle with our first contemporary romance. Thanks for the great advice!

  • I always think it’s silly that folks will do the 98.6% of the work to get their book into digital outlets, and then not put in the 1.4% left to offer them in print for cranky old curmudgeons like me.

    Note that CreateSpace has the same opportunity to get your books into physical bookstores, and Lighting Source will get your book on Amazon. Virtually identical distribution endpoints. Primary difference between them is that CreateSpace is geared toward DIY types, and Lighting Source toward experienced professionals (with their punitive costs for do-overs, etc.)

    • Joel–I know what you mean. Rumors of print’s demise are definitely premature. There are readers who *want* printed books.

      Good comparison of LS and CS. There is some cost involved with moving beyond the Amazon sphere of availability with CS (they call it “expanded distribution”), but it’s taken care of via a royalty share agreement, so no out of pocket advance cost.

    • All of my books are in print in addition to ebooks on various platforms. I also have five in audio already, and the sixth is in production. But it doesn’t make a whit of difference if you don’t perform like a huckster at a sideshow to sell them. I’ve actually tried that approach, and it doesn’t work either.

  • Eventually, I want to put something on WattPad, but I need backup (stories) or book first. I could, I guess, expand on one of my A-Z stories. I have an account with WP, so we’ll see.

    As always, you’re the best info-giver out there.

  • What a fantastic post, Elizabeth! I haven’t self-pubbed yet, but I plan on it for the future. 🙂

  • I’m with Laura, this is a keeper post. Thank you

  • Have any Canadian authors been able to use ACX (or another platform) to self-publish their audiobooks? I’ve got one all ready to go but haven’t been able to find a way to publish it yet (as ACX and others say they’re not set up yet to serve Canada). Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • Fae Rowen

    What a wealth of information I haven’t seen before. Thanks, Elizabeth. I’m hanging on to this one to use in the near future!

  • Hi Elizabeth – this is a great list of resources and the alternatives around … and once we’ve learnt all the various ways in and around each type – then we’re set .. the second time around will be easier, the third a piece of cake …

    Cheers Hilary

    • Hilary–Yes! Such a good point and thanks for bringing it up. If this seems like a steep learning curve, y’all, it’s only a learning curve for the first book or two. It gets easier. I could almost do all this in my sleep now.

  • historyweaver

    Well said, Elizabeth.I have my novels on Kindle and in book form through CS. They are on several shelves in bookstores and libraries. My first, Tree Soldier, has its own book club kit at my local library. It’s on ACX. I tried KOBO for a bit with the new one, but I didn’t the author support like I do at KIndle and especially CS, so I withdrew it. Mayb try again later. Books are here to stay, so it’s important to be in print. There is nothing more satisfying to see it in someone’s hand and that reader gushing to you in person.

    • HistoryWeaver–Thanks for coming by! You’ve explored a lot of different avenues and it sounds as if they’re working well for you. Print is incredibly important still, isn’t it?

      Kobo’s interface isn’t as easy and their author earning statements are a bit odd. 🙂 I like dealing with them through Smashwords better than one-on-one, actually.

  • historyweaver

    Sorry, for the misspellings. My screen is dying and I have large black and green spots that are hard to see around. LOL.

  • Orly Konig-Lopez

    Very late to the party but wanted to add my thanks for posting with us. Definitely a keeper post!