Update on Book Sales

It has been a while since I updated my website due to some issues with WordPress. I was essentially unable to login until recently. I wanted to make this update back in April because it was ahead of schedule by a month! On April 3, 2014 I sold my 5,000th copy of the ebook version of my book, 25 Money-Making Businesses You Can Start in Your Spare Time! This was a goal of mine that I wasn’t sure I would reach. I am just amazed at how my book took off and some of the amazing reviews it has garnered on Amazon.com.

I suppose I should shoot for a loftier goal now — say 10,000 ebook sales? Sounds great to me! I will be sure to let you know when this happens. In the meantime, I launched the paperback version of the book and have been very busy raising my one year old daughter and starting a new business.

Thanks for the ongoing support, and feel free to post comments or questions anytime!

 

Another Book Sales Milestone!

I hit another milestone the other day in goal to be an author. I sold the 4,000th copy today of my book – 25 Money-Making Businesses You Can Start in Your Spare Time! I launched the Kindle book as an experiment after removing the content from my other book, Starting Your Own Business: An Entrepreneur’s Guide. It was one of the chapters in that book.

That was in late September 2012. And to my amazement it began selling quite well on its own. It has been a fun and interesting time since. My end goal is to sell more than 5,000 copies…and at its current rate, I think I just might hit that goal by May!

 

Self Publishing: Release the Author Inside of You

In November 2012 I took part in a local event (which also happens around the world) called Ignite Sault.   Participants had 5 minutes and 20 slides to talk about something they are passionate about.  I spoke about self-publishing.  I wanted to share my experiences in writing, creating and promoting ebooks on Amazon Kindle.  Below is the video:

Starting Your Own Business — My New Book!

I recently finished my latest book project, entitled Starting Your Own Business: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Growing a Small Business.

This Amazon Kindle ebook is geared towards new entrepreneurs and anyone who is considering starting a small business.  I talk about my small business experiences and the things I have learned over the last 12 years as I started and grew several businesses.

I have also learned a few things from the hundreds of small businesses, students and entrepreneurs I have worked with over the years.

I share a lot of real-world tips, advice and strategies you can use to be successful with your new venture.

Whether you are just graduating from college, have been working at a job you don’t enjoy, or you are looking to capitalize on a new opportunity, you can start your own successful business using the information found in this book.

Some of the things you will learn about:

  • What makes entrepreneurs successful
  • How to come up with a great business idea
  • How to use market research to assess your market and competition
  • Where to find the funding you need
  • How to get your business online to maximize success
  • The best tools for marketing and promoting your business on a budget
  • How to harness social media to drive traffic, gain customers and make sales!

If you’d like to get your copy on Amazon.com please click here.

If live in Canada and have an Amazon.ca account, please click here.

Approximately 90 pages.

The Path is Now FREE on KOBO!

My short story, The Path is now available for free on the KOBO platform.  Since you are not able to permanently list books for free on Amazon kindle, and I have exhausted my 5 promotional days, I was looking for a new way to share my story.

It has been on KOBO for a few months now, and will be available for free from now on!  If you have a KOBO reader or have the app installed on your PC or any devices, please check it out!

http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/The-Path/book-hvhoLxbtKUyCEXShZ0japw/page1.html?s=vcEsWJuvEUiozd3ZfGOULg&r=1

My other book, The Science of Getting Rich (Wallace D. Wattles) is also available for KOBO at the following link:

http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/The-Science-of-Getting-Rich/book-ycy5AZTcWUuSMQQSEGvxzQ/page1.html

Look for details on my upcoming book project, tentatively entitled The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting a Small Business very soon!

Kindle Book Promotion – Part 2

In my previous post on Kindle promotion I discussed the first day of my short story promotion on KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing).  To review, prior to the promotions I had sold 4 units at $0.99.  My promotion (free Kindle story) began on a Friday and through various posts and tweets, I was able to manage 106 downloads in the first day.  It may not sound like a lot, but I was quite pleased with this.

On day two, I utilized similar tactics (4-5) Twitter posts and 1 post on Facebook and LinkedIn.  On Twitter I used some new hash tags such as #ShortStorySaturday, #authors, and a few others.  According to the Amazon.com page for “The Path”, the ranking for my story actually reached as high as 1,341 out of over a million books!  I decided to use this little tidbit for my post on Facebook and LinkedIn.  It got some great responses from friends!  Overall I was able to get another 46 downloads on day 2 — for a grand total of 152 downloads!

I even got a 5 star review!  I am pretty happy with the results.  It is hard to say if readers stumbled upon my story via Amazon or if they were directed to the site straight from a tweet, retweet or Facebook.  But it does show that these “free” promotions work.  If I had been trying to give away a full novel I am positive the numbers would have been much higher.

I will continue to learn from my fellow writers/authors on Twitter — looking for promotional ideas that work.  And I will continue to work on my material.

I will repeat my belief in what John Locke noted in his book,How I Sold 1 Million Ebooks in 5 Months.  If you have other books available for sale, when a customer reads and enjoys your free book, there is a good chance they will buy your other books.  I hope to benefit from this strategy in the future.  I intend on promoting additional short stories (they will all be longer than “The Path”) and also hope to one day soon have a full novel for sale, as well as other non-fiction books.

And I hope to one day be able to call myself an author, and perhaps even make a living out of it!

What has your experience been like promoting your ebooks on Amazon, B & N, Kobo or iBooks?

 

Kindle Book Promotion

Day one of my very first Kindle promotion for my short story “The Path” just ended.  When you sign up on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select you are given up to five days during the 90 day period where you can offer your book for free to Kindle users.  This allows you to (potentially) gain a significant number of new readers who may not have heard of you or your book before.  The ultimate goal is to gain positive book reviews and create word-of-mouth buzz to boost your book sales.  Also, as John Locke noted in his book, How I Sold 1 Million Ebooks in 5 Months, if you have other books available for sale, when a customer reads and enjoys your free book, there is a good chance they will buy your other books.

I don’t mind sharing specific details, as this whole experience is an experiment to learn the best approach to promoting ebooks on Amazon.com.  Because I do not have a novel to sell yet, I am relying on a short story to carry out the research.  This already puts me at a disadvantage because when faced with getting a free novel or a free short story, I’m sure most would go with the former.  However, they can also download both — so there is hope yet :).

My story has been available on Amazon.com since April 4, 2012 — approximately two weeks.  I did some promotion of the story on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn — first focusing on letting my friends and followers know that my story was available.  And then promoting the fact that the story was free for Amazon Prime members.  As I mentioned in a previous post, because I am not able to offer the story for free at all times, it normally has a cost of $0.99.  Do I expect to sell a lot of units at $0.99?  Definitely not.  Since this effort is really about getting some exposure, and learning the ins and outs of promoting a book/story I really just want downloads, whether I get paid or not!  This is why the promotional days are so important.

So let’s get to the results.  In the two weeks prior to the “free” promotion I actually sold four units!  It doesn’t sound like much, but I was happy that four people were willing to pay $0.99 for my story!  This meant that some of the elements of my promotion worked — be it the cover graphic, or its description, or simply curiosity from one of my tweets or posts.  What ever it was, I sold four copies!  In just one day of the “free” promotion I had an additional 106 downloads!

That is quite a difference in exposure!  Now potentially 110 people have read my story on a Kindle, and hopefully most of them will check out my future stories and novels!  I am pretty excited about the potential here.  To put it in perspective I had previously posted the story on my website and invited friends and social media contacts to check it out.  If I had to guess I would say I got about 40-50 views.  I also posted the story to Wattpad and got another 85 views over the course of a couple months.  When I signed up with KDP Select I removed the story for both of the other sites.

In order to promote my Kindle story this time, I came up with 4 or 5 tweets that I could post throughout the day which would let my followers know that my story was available free for a limited time.  I also used tags such as RT to ask for a retweet,   #Thriller to classify the story genre and allow people searching for thrillers to find my posts.  I used #Kindle and #Amazon for the same reason, as well as some others like #authorssupportingauthors which helps to rally the writing community to support you.  I used HootSuite to schedule the postings at specific times throughout the day, as I work full-time and would not necessarily have time to manually do this myself.

I have been observing my fellow authors and writers on Twitter for several months now, and there are definitely techniques and best practices for promoting your books on Twitter.  Because of the nature of Twitter, a post can get lost almost immediately, so it is necessary to post many times throughout the day.  I often notice this practice on my Twitter feed and although it seems like overkill or even borderline spam sometimes, it would be difficult to capture enough attention without this practice.  I highly recommend not doing this with some other social media platforms, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, however as those feeds have a much longer life and this would definitely come across as spamming your “friends” and colleagues.

There is definitely a fine line.  I posted two of the five tweets to my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts as well.  Even that felt like too much, but from past experience, I have gotten much more response from Facebook than other platforms as there is a personal connection and my Facebook friends are often truly interested in what I am up to.

Tomorrow is day two of my “free” promotion and I look forward to many more downloads.  I will be utilizing 4-5 different posts again on Twitter and perhaps one on Facebook and LinkedIn.  I will be recording the results, and refining my methods as I go along.  Then I will have three days remaining, over the next few months to repeat what I have learned.

I am currently working on more short stories which I hope to complete in the next few weeks, and a non-fiction project that I will be discussing soon enough.  I hope that each time through the process will become easier, and more successful.

Please check back to read more about my experiences publishing and promoting ebooks on Kindle and other platforms including Nook, Apple iBooks, KOBO and others.  I look forward to comments and suggestions!

Publishing Kindle E-books

As an update to my ebook saga, I did manage to produce my two ebooks — the reprint of The Science of Getting Rich, and my short story, The Path. Using PagePlus X6 I was able to import the Word Docs and then re-edit them for conversion into the Kindle format (.mobi) and ePub format used by others like Kobo, Barnes & Noble Nook and Apple iBooks. I finally found software which actually mimicked the ebook text flowing through the entire book. This made it much easier.

After becoming frustrated with editing the 60+ page The Science of Getting Rich, I decided to take a different approach and convert my eight page short story first — so I could finish and see the final product — to make sure everything worked alright. At first I imported the Word version, and things went well. I made a few edits and then converted it to Kindle, choosing my cover graphic and entering some details such as author, publisher etc. along the way. I previewed the finished product using my PC Kindle program — it looked fine. Next I emailed the file to my iPad and viewed it using my Kindle App. Again it looked great! I was excited. But there was one nagging issue…the file size was almost 4 MB. I new something was up — most ebooks, full novels even, aren’t even 1 MB in size.

I decided to worry about the file size later. I moved onto re-editing the book. I made it 5-10 pages in, and decided to convert it to see how it looked. Most of the re-edit was working ok, but some things were still out of whack…especially when new chapters started. I quickly learned that I had to insert page breaks after each chapter, to ensure that the next chapter would start on a new page. Somewhere along in the process I decided to start over. This time I converted the Word version to plain text before importing into PagePlus. This removed all of the formatting…I had to completely re-format once in PagePlus anyway…so I wondered if this was a better approach.

Once again I began editing and formatting the book, every so often, converting it to check the progress. Things were going well, except for some table of content issues, and the title page which I had the title of the book in large font. After conversion, it basically ignored my large font and printed almost regular size (12 point). What now, I thought to myself. I went back to edit the title page…this time I used the “Heading” tag from within PagePlus…most of the other text was “Body”. I noticed that this somewhat fixed the font size issue, and gave me more control over the document. Another bonus? The file size of the whole book was in the 400 KB range — that was more like it.

I discovered several things through the process of editing and converting my book to Kindle and other formats. First, it is best to start with plain text, and fully edit and format within the program you are using to create your ebook. This is kind of a pain, especially since you most likely have your book already looking great in your word processor. But the truth is, using the text version you can “correctly” format within the software so that it will turn out right once converted…and the file size will be much smaller (Word inserts tons of its own tags which increases the file size immensely).

Armed with this new knowledge I repeated the process again for The Path, and the file size came in at about 100 KB.

Now I had both ebooks and they looked great on my PC and on my iPad. I was ready to upload them to Amazon. I signed up as an author, and then proceeded to add the books to my author “bookshelf”. During this process, you must enter information about your book, provide a description, choose a selling price, upload your cover image, and choose whether you want to lock it down using DRM (copy protection) or not. I clicked save and then publish…and my book was uploaded. I was surprised to see that it was re-converting it to Kindle format. I wondered to myself if that might screw up some of the formatting (again!)

Now the book was in a que for review by Amazon staff before it would show up on the site, for sale. I somehow missed the option to preview the book. I would have to wait until it was live on Amazon.com to see if there were any issues with the formatting.

My short story was live within 12 hours, while the book took about 18 hours. I now had books for sale on Amazon.com! How exciting. There were a few formatting issues with the book, by the way. I had to do some fixes and resubmit it. Another issue with the whole experience was, that you have to charge a minimum of $0.99 for your book. I was hoping to have my short story as a free book. I just wanted to post it for exposure. But alas, it is $0.99 to purchase…so I doubt I will be selling many copies considering it is only 8 pages long. Turns out the only way to offer something for free is to sign up for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). By signing up you agree to publish exclusively to Kindle for 90 days. Within those 90 days you can offer a promotional price price of $0.00 for up to 5 days.

I decided to wait and see. So I will keep monitoring sales (if there are any!) and make the decision on KDP in a few weeks. In the meantime, this has been a very challenging experience, but one I learned many things from along the way. I now know how to properly format and convert my documents to ebooks, and how to post them to Amazon for sale.

The next time will be much easier…and there will be a next time!

Creating Kindle eBooks

Making ebooks can be frustrating! I have spent the last several days messing around with different ebook converter software, and importing combinations of file formats such as Word Docs, PDFs, RTF, and ODT documents into Amazon Kindle’s converter software. Everytime I get an ebook output in which the document’s formatting is all messed up.

I can’t believe how many hours I have spent messing around with this! I even started to consider using one of those online companies which will do the formatting for you…for a fee of course. But maybe it would be worth it. Especially if the product was perfect!

But before I went that route I decided to try one last thing. I have been getting blasted with email solicitations to upgrade my Serif PagePlus X4 desktop publishing software, and I remembered seeing something about creating ebooks in the last email. So I did a search for Serif in my email and voila, the last email I received from Serif was three days ago!

Sure enough one of the many new features of version X6 is to create ebooks from your documents. Success! I watched the demo and it looked incredibly easy. So I have decided to upgrade. If this weekend was any indication, I will need to produce a number of ebooks in the near future and beyond…and I need an easy way to do it! I prefer to keep control, as opposed to relying on someone else or a company to do the conversions and formatting.

So I am currently downloading the update, and should know within the hour whether or not PagePlus X6 will do the job! I will keep you posted on the results!

What tools do you use to create ebooks?

Barnes & Noble NOOKcolor E-reader Review

By Nevin Buconjic
For Fresh Magazine
March 15, 2011

I am a big fan of ebooks — I have been for a long time. Although I’ve never been a fan of reading books on my computer screen, now that e-readers have evolved and the iPad has single handedly created a tablet market, the options today are greater than ever.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, consumers spent $1 billion on ebooks in 2010, and that is expected to triple by 2015. The number of e-readers increased from 3.7 million in 2009 to over 10 million in 2010.

I have been wanting an e-reader for a while now, but the grey-scale versions just didn’t have enough appeal for me. When the KOBO e-reader (from Chapters) came out last summer for under $150 I was really tempted, but then Barnes & Noble announced that a color version of their NOOK e-reader would be out by year end!

The NOOKcolor was released on November 19, 2010 and received good initial reviews. Not only was it a full-coIor e-reader running on Google’s Android operating system, but it promised users the ability to play music and video, surf the Internet and lots of other extras — this was basically a tablet optimized for reading. I had to have one.

I received a NOOKcolor for Christmas and after using it for a few months I wanted to share my experiences. In just the short time since Christmas, the market has been flooded with over 100 new tablets and in March 2011, Apple released the iPad 2. I think it will become harder and harder for dedicated e-readers (like KOBO, Kindle and Nook) to compete in the future, but for now, they continue to sell very well.

From all appearances, the Nookcolor looks like a 7-inch tablet computer — it has a sleek and stylish design. But when you power it on, you immediately see that it was designed and optimized first and foremost as an e-reader. Barnes & Noble has done a good job of designing the menus and screen layout to focus on quickly picking up where you left of in your latest book, magazine or newspaper. You can easily find everything in your library, including other files such as PDFs, music, videos or Microsoft Office files. You can customize your home page, personalize your bookshelves, and even share passages, recommend books or update your reading status directly to Facebook or
Twitter.

Through the integrated NOOKbooks online store, you can choose from over 2 million books, 125 magazines, and several dozen newspapers. After setting up my account (requires a credit card), the buying process was fast and efficient. Upon clicking the “Buy Now” button, your book or other item downloads in seconds.

I decided to purchase George W. Bush’s new biography entitled Decision Points. The price was $9.99 US. Not bad, considering I had recently seen the hardcover in a bookstore for well over $20.00. I have purchased several other books and magazines since. Magazine subscriptions are substantially cheaper than normal as well.

Of course, I have read ebooks before both on my PC and iPhone, but this was a different experience all together. It actually felt like reading a real book. I had purchased a leather case for the Nook which not only protects it from scratches, but, adds to the “real book” effect. I will admit, the unit does feel quite heavy compared to an average sized book. So heavy in fact, that I chose to read by placing the unit on my leg or knee and just holding the top of the case for support. I have also tried reading without the case which lowers the weight quite a bit and makes things a bit more comfortable.

The reading experience itself takes a bit of practice. You are able to make adjustments to the page brightness, font and text size, which comes in handy and helps the eyes as well. The unit has an LCD screen similar to that of a laptop, so I don’t think it’s quite as easy on the eyes as a regular book. So far I haven’t had any problems, but if you are a voracious reader and spend hours at a time, you might need to take breaks.

Pages are turned by swiping your finger or simply pressing on the side of the screen. Page turning is quick — much quicker than the grey scale e-ink units such as the Amazon Kindle, where the pagemust refresh each time. The advantage of e-ink, however, is that they require much less power, so the battery charge lasts a lot longer.

Which brings up the issue of battery life. I have found that with steady reading and use the NOOKcolor lasts me several days before it needs a charge (6-7 hours of battery life). It really depends on how you are using it. The NOOKcolor has built-in Wi-Fi, a browser to surf the Internet, as well as some extra features such as a picture gallery for your favorite photos, a music and video player, games such as chess and Sudoko, as well as a Pandora streamingmusic app (which only works in the US). WithWi-Fi on and regular browsing, the battery is used up much more quickly. Placing the device in standby mode — the NOOKcolor lasts up to a couple of weeks (with occasional reading), and with the device shut off completely it can last considerably longer.

The NOOKcolor can read Microsoft Office files so it can come in handy if you want to review anyWord, Excel or PowerPoint files — perhaps on the commute to work. I really like the device’s ability to read PDF files as I already had several PDF books from over the years — which I was quickly able to transfer by connecting the NOOKcolor to my PC via the included USB cable.

The NOOKcolor can also read Adobe Digital Editions formatted books, which I quickly learned was the format of choice for digital books you can borrow from your local library. The format prevents books from being copied, but also has a built in lending feature — which is obviously the main attraction for libraries.

Using services like the Ontario Library Service, via your local library, you can download free ebooks and audiobooks for up to two weeks at a time. All you need is your library card number to sign up! Although I found the selection was somewhat limited, it was nice to have the ability to “borrow” up to three books at a time, right from home. The service, which uses technology by Overdrive, is also available for your iPhone, iPad and Android device. I was able to download books directly to my iPhone, because it has an Overdrive app, but with the NOOKcolor I had to download first to my PC and then transfer over — a simple step once you figure it out.

I really like the online Ontario Library Service, because it presents an affordable way to load up your device — especially in the beginning, when you are most anxious to try it out! And with Barnes & Noble’s own LendMe function, you can lend your own books to your friends and vice versa (there are some restrictions).

So what is the verdict? Well, I definitely found the device to be compact, convenient, and fun to use. The fact that I can have a considerable sized library in the palm of my hand, the ability to borrow digital books from the library for free, surf the Internet, check email and buy books right on the device is great. Some of the functionality I found to be quite quirky though — I had trouble playing some music files, the video player was a great added bonus, but is quite limited in the formats it will play, the Pandora streaming music service does not work in Canada, and the built in games got boring fast.

Although I still enjoy using the NOOKcolor for reading ebooks (although I use much less than even a month ago), I find myself wishing for more andmore of the Android functionality it has promised. I see so much potential for this device, once there are more apps available from Barnes & Noble. I hope that it will someday have access to the Android market (tens of thousands of apps) as well — which is probably unlikely.

I don’t think I would recommend the NOOKcolor to someone who is looking for a tablet experience. The NOOKcolor is first and foremost an e-reader, but both the iPad and its Android tablet competitors do a good job of e-reading and a better job at everything else.

If you are a dedicated reader, and would be satisfied with the more “book-like” experience of grey-scale readers, then the Amazon Kindle might be a better buy at just $139 CAN. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have excellent online ebook selections (millions of books), and prices are similar. It is definitely cheaper to buy ebooks instead of paper books, and might save you some space as well.

If you are seeking a great tablet experience then I think there are better options out there, with much greater features and capabilities. So that leaves the NOOKcolor somewhere in the middle. It is an excellent device, and provides a solid reading experience, with the added functionality of a tablet for a pretty good price. With the selection of options on the market I don’t think you can go wrong with any choice. Both e-book readers and tablets have finally hit the mainstream, after years of false starts and I think this will only lead to more and more choices in the future.

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