My cousin is a musician. He’s worked his entire professional life amidst notes; touring with a successful band for years, producing several fantastic CDs and teaching. When iTunes slammed into the planet and made music digital and cheap he was angry.
“Too bad, cuz,” I’d say. “You know what they say. Adapt or die!”
Okay, I didn’t say it like that, but it’s the message that he probably took away from our debates.
Then Spotify and its ilk pushed music even further into the ether. Songs became not just a commodity, but a common element. Like air, except louder and with a riff.
Poor music business.
But what if indy authors have more in common with our musical peers than we think? What if the proliferation of subscription services is sending us down a path of permanently earning less for our books.
I’m an optimist. I believe that the writing life is a wonderful life. I know it’s here to stay. But it may need to change into something different.
So I got to thinking. Stand back. It’s a dangerous thing. Ask my wife. Or my cousin.
Here’s my take…
Musicians have concerts. Gigs can add some cash to the coffer as music sales drop through the stage. At gigs, bands sell CDs (and LPs!) to the audience.
But writers have nothing similar. Book readings are the closest thing, but they’re not as essential to the reader as live music is to the music fan.
So are we doomed to just maneuver the same turbulent sea of shifting tactics to survive Amazon’s whims, or Facebook’s changing policies, or a tiered Internet?
Believe it or not, I’m going somewhere positive with all of this.
What if writers need to produce their work to find that alternate revenue stream? Produce our work? What the hell does that mean, Ben? Well, what if I need to make The Camelot Kids a comic book and a weekly animated short for it to make me money? What if Shirley Link is a monthly podcast and a small indy film? Maybe your book is a future YouTube hit? What I’m searching for here is that secondary revenue stream that leverages the wonderful book we’ve written and builds upon it for a modern audience.
Does that makes sense? I mean, we tell stories. On paper. On touchscreens. But maybe we need to ponder other ways to tell our stories.
Maybe we need to tap into these social network thingies and find audio recording, film making, 3D animating peers who will work for a cut of the profits.
As importantly, maybe new services need to spring up that help us make our books into animated movies, or plays, or films, or games, or virtual reality experiences. Yes, there’s ACX. There are fun toys like Booktrack. Those are along the lines of what I’m talking about, but what I’m starting to see is that I need to break out of my comfort zone (even more than I already have). I’m starting to see that the same way that musicians had to learn to set up a gig, perform and connect with music fans in a whole new way, well maybe in some twisted, introverted wordish way that’s our future, too.
What do you think? Could you envision writers as media producers? Do you think a successful indy author will need to be a successful media producer in the near future? Is the thought too terrifying to ponder? Or does it excite you?
As usual, I’m at my standing desk doing squats (poorly). I’m in the throes of marketing bliss as I find ways to promote my book.
I check on the sales of my book Shirley Link & The Black Cat.
Time for a promotion.
So I plan until my brain stem hurts: the right day, the right level of social sharing, the right promotional materials… You know the drill.
Now all I have to do is post my book to the book listing sites! Wheee! So let’s see. That means I get to…
… scour through my bookmarks to find sites that still exist.
… excavate the correct submission page and read through the site rules that run, on average, 4,987 words.
… enter the same information over and over until I hate my name/book title/genre/sub-genre/description…
Of course, even with all of this work, there is no guarantee that my book will actually appear on the promotional site.
Can I lick the floor instead?
So when I heard about Book Marketing Tools’ ebook submission tool I stopped doing my lame squats. Book Marketing Tools promises to let you easily promote your book on 30 of the top free/deal sites. How easy? Like one-click per site. Fifteen minutes from start to finish.
This isn’t like Authors Marketing Club’s tool where they list out the links and send you off to fill out the form to promote your book. It’s a service that promises to make the submissions easy. That’s a promise I’m delighted to take them up on.
How does the ebook submission tool work?
I headed in with high hopes and low expectations. I’ve been burned by promotional tools before.
So I was pleased to find a good-looking site that told me what it did and got me into work-mode fast. The service asks you to enter some basic data about you and your book. It’s the same info you’re usually asked to enter on the deal sites. ASIN, Title, Author, Genre, Author bio. The idea here is that you should only need to enter the data once for all 30 sites.
When you finish with that step, you get this…
See the list of sites with the light gray backdrops? Those are the ones that you can submit to automatically. All you have to do is click on the first site (Awesome Gang) and a pop-up window appears. You verify the pre-populated info and click on the ‘Next’ button.
Repeat 29 times.
Did it work? Yup. Some of the steps required an extra few seconds of data entry, but the process took only 15 minutes! Fifteen minutes to promote your book on 30 sites. Wow.
I think my favorite part was watching dozens of verification emails flood my inbox one after another.
Unfortunately, the blue-button sites at the bottom of the dashboard screen cannot be filled automatically. They act more like the AMC tool — sending you off to the correct submission pages where you do the heavy lifting. Still, it’s nice to have the list in one place.
With all of its strengths, I’d like to see the tool track two things:
1) Which of the sites under the “Additional sites you can submit to” header did I submit to already? I’d like to check it off my list once I’m done submitting manually.
2) What’s the success rate of the submissions? Did Edreader News Today show my book on promo day, or not? I’d use this service to track my progress if it had the tools.
But won’t the submission sites be angry about this new service? Not if they think it through. I discovered a bunch of sites I’d never heard of before on the dashboard. Besides, when I submit to a promo site I’m not there to browse. I want to submit my book and move on. That’s not the behavior of a valuable visitor. In my opinion, promotional sites should work with Book Marketing Tools to make things as easy as possible for us. It’s a logical way to strengthen their services and their brands.
So yes, the ebook submission tool can help you promote your book to 30 sites in 15 minutes, as advertised. If I could track details of my promotions then Book Marketing Tools could become one of my default browser tabs.
The price is $29 per book promo. That seems a little steep to me, but I might do it to save myself a couple of hours of work.
Give it a try and let us know how it works for you.
By Ben Zackheim
Disclaimer: Book Marketing Tools reached out to me and offered me a $5 credit to test their new tool. I’m posting my experience, which was a good one.