IWSG – April 2022 – Supporting Independent Publishers

IWSG was created by Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh — because Alex understands we need a safe place to congregate, insecurity is part of our creative nature, and together we’re stronger.

On the first Wednesday of each month, you can write on any subject related to your writing journey or adopt the option of answering the month’s question. Either way, you’re in safe territory.

If this sounds like a good place to be, sign up here.

IWSG’s Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and the hashtag is #IWSG.

April 6 question – Have any of your books been made into audiobooks? If so, what is the main challenge in producing an audiobook?
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Alex’s co-hosts for the April 6 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Patricia Josephine, Louise – Fundy Blue, Kim Lajevardi, and moi.

I know nothing about producing an audiobook, so I’ll skip this month’s question and leave it to Spunky Diane Wolfe, who knows a thing or two about publishing. Actually more likely two-hundred-thing or two.

Instead, I would like to share how much I appreciate my publishers. So much so that I am sharpening my marketing skills. I know–you’d think after 14 years I’d be an expert. That’s never going to happen because things are constantly changing. Luckily, I’m stubborn, so there’s hope.

Not sure if I mentioned this before (probably) but one of my publishers (Dead Witness) closed its doors back in June. I immediately self-published my first novel with KDP, and just this week, created the hard copy version. I wish I could say it was easy. No. I don’t really like the new cover. It’s green with a shot of a tree from the ground looking upward. And it’s only available at Amazon.com, not Amazon.ca. On Amazon.ca it says it’s out of stock. What does this mean? I cannot order a copy of my own novel. Yes, I have some glitches to work out.

I had to edit Dead Witness’s copyrighted page on the pdf file from First Edition to Third because I have a new cover and I don’t want readers to think it’s a new book and buy a copy if they’ve already read it. I have a new cover because I finally gave up trying to upload my old one, which didn’t fit and wasn’t ever going to fit. Okay, truth: I couldn’t make it fit.

Publishers understand this stuff; I had to learn the hard way. What a nightmare. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can mess up the formatting. Which I did. And then spent an entire day fixing it. If you run into this problem, save yourself some hassle, download Adobe and use the edit feature for PDF files. You can go in and change as little as one word.

Everything I do via marketing and self-publishing reflects upon my other novels. If the third edition of Dead Witness does well, if I market Kiss of the Assassin effectively, both should increase the sales of Maski: Broken But Not Dead and Matowak: Woman Who Cries, which in turn, helps my publisher.

I created an ad on Bookbub for Kiss of the Assassin, which only took a week of watching Youtube; followed by two false starts that ended up in archives. Don’t get me started on Amazon–other than to say: I haven’t given up. My hope is to eventually create ads for all my novels.

For what it’s worth: BookBub is far more user-friendly than Amazon.

The bad part about producing anything as intricate as an ad campaign is that most days doing all this marketing hurts my brain. And then there are the doubts. Am I wasting money? Time? Or simply fooling myself? Am I too old for this?

The good part is that I have lots of kind friends who are quick to encourage me. Just recently one friend reminded me that however horrible marketing is, it could be worse. I could be a songwriter promoting my work online while sitting in front of my computer in my pyjamas with my white hair, turkey-neck, and scratchy computer audio.

Yes, honest friends are hard to come by; and yes, I write, do interviews, zooms and attend virtual guest posts in my PJs.

Doesn’t everyone?

 

With the release of Kiss of the Assassin, I’m falling back on proven methods, participating in podcasts, AND  offering autographed copies through the mail.

I’m an active member of BookBub, Draft-2-Digital, Amazon Author, FBCW (Federation of BC Writers), Facebook, Goodreads, BookSprout, and Friends of the Libary.

Once I return to Canada, there will be book readings, signings, and local newspaper and radio interviews.

I can state without prejudice that marketing is tough; it’s certainly not part of my comfort zone, but it needs to be done. If not for ourselves then for the independent publishers who take a chance on our work.

 

 

I’m assuming you’re all aware that our Ninja Captain has a new release. I read CassaDark last year and I’m here to say, Alex, once again, delivers. It’s been quite a while and yet I remember the story well. Bassan’s an admirable character. He’s young, a bit gullible, but honourable and brave and intelligent. And he loves his parents. Especially his mum. He has his father’s integrity. I was impressed by this young man and need to go back and read Alex’s novels in sequence. Congratulations, Alex. You are a phenomenal storyteller.

CassaDark
By Alex J. Cavanaugh

His world is unraveling…

Bassan’s father is stepping down from command. His best friend almost dies when Bassan freezes. Now, he’s being sent across the galaxy to speak at an important conference. Despite saving the eleven races years ago, he’s paralyzed by fear and doubt. Could things get any worse?

Once there, new acquaintance Zendar convinces Bassan to visit his planet for a humanitarian mission. Bassan’s special connection to ancient technology is the key to saving Zendar’s people. One problem though—it’s a prisoner planet.

On Ugar, he discovers things aren’t so straightforward. As each secret reveals itself, the situation grows more desperate. If he can’t find the right answers, he might die along with Zendar’s people. Can Bassan summon the courage to be a hero again?

Science fiction – Adventure / Space Opera / Space Exploration
Print ISBN 9781939844842 $16.95

eBook ISBN 9781939844859 $4.99

“Cavanaugh returns to the world of his Cassa Series…for a fourth inventive space opera.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Alex J. Cavanaugh works in web design and graphics. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is known as Ninja Captain Alex and is founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
http://alexjcavanaugh.com

https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/

Links:
iTunes – https://books.apple.com/us/book/x/id1574189874
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0982FL3SH
Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940164947033
Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/Search?Query=9781939844859
Scribed – https://www.scribd.com/search?query=9781939844859&language=0
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58461762-cassadark
www.dancinglemurpress.com

 

 

 

–namaste

joylene

Comments 79

  1. What you describe in this post sums up a lot of why I don’t want to self-publish. I don’t mind the kind of marketing that involves interacting with readers, especially in person. But the ins and outs of self-publishing–blurbs, cover design, cover copy, formatting… ugh. So outside my skillset. Congrats on your new release and on learning all of that.

  2. Marketing is definitely an ongoing learning process! I’m learning Facebook ads right now, then will look at BookBub next. But everything’s on hold while I prepare for an upcoming conference and speaking gig. It’s frustrating watching numbers fall while I’m busy doing other things and know I need to be doing the ads right now. Better to do them right, though.

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  3. Congratulations on the new release, Joylene!
    Online promo is hard (ask me how i know) but you seem to be doing it so well!
    Shall get a copy of your book. The cover looks amazing.

    Already got Alex’s book. Look forward to reading both!

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  4. Bravo, Joylene, on all you’ve accomplished. You are a true inspiration to all of us, my dear. Good for you to at least attempt and learn to do marketing and book covers. I can’t thank you enough for offering your insight into marketing.

    Thanks for cohosting this month’s IWSG question. All the luck with your releases. More power to you!

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  5. Awww, Joylene your sense of humor shines in this article. And happy you can make your trauma of publishing and formatting a book something fun to share with us. I’ve been there, done that! So many times I wanted to throw the computer at the wall! Somehow, eventually, I managed to create a paperback book. Whew….Thanks for advising us to use Adobe.
    Congratulations on your new release. Looking forward to reading it on Kindle!! Best wishes for continued writing success!

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  6. Hi Joylene – yes I’ve been working on the marketing – it’s hard work and nothing I did in the past seems to work now, so many new things on the block. I tired BookBub but I need to spend more time studying it. It does seem user friendly, as you say, but I’m not quite getting it yet.
    Good luck with it all (especially getting it fro Amazon.ca)

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  7. Wow, good on you for applying yourself to marketing again, Joylene. It is the hardest part of this business that is for sure!
    A friend of mine is a businessman who spends half his year at home in Ireland, running his little cafe and shop of Balinese arts and crafts, and the other half of the year in Bali slowly shopping and buying all the goods he sells. It’s quite the lifestyle. Anyway, we were talking about book marketing. And he said I should advertise on Facebook. He said he has a very modest budget of $20 per week, which he spends on FB advertising, and that it really works. I put that bit of advice in my pocket, thinking it could be worth a shot.

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  8. Hello Joylene. I’ve read some nice things about your latest release which is lovely. I will get me a copy soon. Brave you. I self-publish e-books no problem (well, I upload it dozens of times until it looks right, LOL) but I pay a formatter to do the print, even on Amazon. My eyes roll at all their instructions. To tackle a hardcover, well, you’re brave. I’ve heard the explanation for that ‘sold out’ thing from Amazon but I forget what it means. It doesn’t actually mean it’s sold out. Hope you work it out as your book should be available in your home country!!

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      Denise, I thought it had something to do with me not being American. The first time I tried to leave a review, I couldn’t until I brought $50 worth of stuff. I’m still a bit green when it comes to Amazon. Thanks for the kind words.

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  9. “Am I too old for this?” Youth and enthusiasm have nothing on age and experience. I can only imagine what it would be like to have a publishing team for support, to do those other things that are, as you rightly indicated, vital to getting your work out there.
    But then, while you may have to work through which buttons to press, and how to fit the square images into round holes, you have the experience learned to know what needs to be done and almost more importantly, what ‘right’ looks like.
    You got this!

  10. Uh, marketing. A necessary evil. I’m still trying to learn where I fit in, where to focus my energies, that sort of thing while creating my own images, log lines, etc., etc., and writing the next one! It’s a lot.

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  11. Congrats to both you and Alex for your new releases.
    If you want an intro to Amazon Ads, look up Bryan Cohen. It’s a free Ad challenge. A new one is starting next week. Particularly good for learning the basics and demystifying the complex-looking interface. I can send you the link if you’re interested.

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  12. I so agree with you about marketing. It’s difficult, time-consuming, costly, and way out of my comfort zone. You’re light-years ahead of me with all that you’re doing. Being consistently out there is so important. I haven’t been able to accomplish that yet, but I’m jumping back in again. Time will tell. Congrats again on your new book!

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      Lori, I read blogs on marketing and think the same thing, they’re light-years ahead of me. But I’ve come to realize we have to work at our own speed. We all have lives. I’m in awe of all the young writers with little children. This job is hard work.

  13. I am so horrible at self-publishing. We could probably have a competition over who is the slowest. I have to hire it done which sets off those same doubts in my head…am I wasting my money? My time? And time is valuable because I’m getting old.

    Keep at it! You can be my inspiration.

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  14. Good on you for all the marketing and yes it is tough. Podcasts seem to be hot right now, but I just can’t wrap my brain around creating one. I need to do more research on running ads with book bub and Amazon.
    I’ve done my last couple of books in hard cover with Amazon but find making the cover challenging. Though I imagine fiverr might be helpful for that.
    Mega congrats on your new release. If you want to spotlight on my blog one of these Friday’s just let me know.

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  15. Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Joylene! It’s really good, and I hope that it does well. A number of things have been making my brain hurt lately ~ LOL! But when I think of what so many others are enduring, I know I have nothing to whine about. You, my friend, are an inspiration! Thanks for co-hosting today. I hope that you are having fun! Take care!

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  16. Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart!
    There’s always something new to learn and do – which is part of the fun and part of the hard work 🙂
    Good luck with your latest release!

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  17. Self-publishing is most definitely a huge learning curve.
    Congrats on your new release! Same to you, Alex!

    I hired someone to update my website / cyber presence and help me with marketing. It is worth every single penny.

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  18. You are quite an inspiration, Joylene! Your experience is similar to mine, except you haven’t pulled out all your hair. Excellent point on how successful marketing skills, resulting in higher sales, reflects on the independent publisher as well. Thanks for co-hosting!

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  19. I am constantly awed at the talent, the fortitude and the sheer hard work that goes into giving birth to a book and ushering it into the world.
    This greedy reader thanks you. All of you.

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  20. That’s fantastic about your new release. Congrats! Amazon is this shapeshifting otherworldly being morphing into a different beast each year. Sometimes bimonthly. Ugh. I had my small publisher (may they stick around forever, but who knows) hand me a bunch of code and specs to try my own thing with the big A. Double ugh. I feel you, Joylene. Thank you for co-hosting this month, and Happy IWSG Day!

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  21. Wowza! Way to go with all of your hard work with publishing. Yes, Amazon is definitely a learning curve, but I know you’ve got this. You can do it. If you think of it like writing a book, page after page, word after word, the upload process is kind of like that, and thankfully, Amazon lets you revise some things.
    And you’re right, marketing isn’t fun, but it’s part of the job.
    Nice work!

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  22. Anything seems more user-friendly than Amazon–at least for me. Like you, I’m exhausted by online promotion. However, it must be done, or we’ll be writing books just for the exercise.

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  23. I do a much better job at selling things in person than I ever do online. Marketing is hard, and bravo to you for working to figure it all out. I hope you have lots of success with your books, and thank you for co-hosting!

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  24. Congrats on your new release. How exciting! After all you went through, I was encouraged by one thing you said: BookBub was easier than KDP. Of course, I write (and market, etc.) in my pjs. Doesn’t everyone? 🙂 Thanks for cohosting this month.

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  25. Book publishing has gone through so many changes in my lifetime–most for the better I think. It’s great to see so many publishing opportunities available to those who might have never broken into the major publishing houses.

    Thanks for co-hosting this month!

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  26. CONGRATULATIONS!! Your book sounds amazing!!

    I don’t like marketing, but its absolutely essential. I did create a couple of ads with Bookbub, which was easy, but it didn’t help with sales. I must be doing something wrong, and will have to try again.

    Wishing you much success! Thank you for hosting!

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  27. I wouldn’t describe marketing as fun, but Bryan Cohen’s free class on Amazon ads helped me set mine up, and they seem to help this small-potatoes romance author’s sales. A bit, anyway. I think I get more juice out of my newsletter and paid newsletters along with my reader magnet, but I’ve yet to do much data analysis because–spreadsheets, ugh! I wish you happy writing in April.

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  28. I have spent too many hours trying to get covers to fit. I finally gave up and now hire that out. No problems and worth getting rid of the aggravation! BTW, I like the new cover!

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      You’re right. I need to let go and get someone who knows what they’re doing. Because the last time I figured out how to do something, I fixed the problem, but then couldn’t remember how I fixed the problem. LOL

  29. Congratulations on Kiss of the Assassin! Marketing hurts my brain as well. I read that some famous author, I can’t remember who, did one small marketing thing every day, that way it wasn’t too overwhelming but he kept getting it in front of people. While I haven’t managed to do it every day, I try to follow that advice as much as possible.

    Good luck!

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  30. I so understand the challenges you describe. Even down to the scratchy audio. My computer sound card is broken.

    Kiss of the Assassin is a powerful read and deserves every five star review!
    Your interviews are inspiring and honest. I’m glad I have excellent Bluetooth headphones so I can hear every word.

    CassaDark By Alex J. Cavanaugh, promises exciting adventures in the sci-fi universe.

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  31. Hi,
    Yes, marketing is tough. It has made me appreciate the work of publishers. I am still learning how to get involved and how to spread myself, because it takes lots of time to do your own marketing. Keep on pushing. You‘ll make it.
    Thanks for co-hosting.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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  32. The struggles are real with self-publishing and marketing. Fortunately I have a background working at a print shop, so I’m pretty good at making files that WORK, but I’m not a designer, so I’m not good at making something that necessarily looks GOOD.

    I really want to do an audiobook, and I would kinda like to narrate it myself as I love reading stories, but I know I don’t have the time. I’m going to look more seriously into Amazon’s ACX soon (again, when I find the time)

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