Gatwood Publishing

Gatwood Publishing Blog A comedy of errors by David A. Gatwood

David’s personal musings about writing, publishing, advertising, technology, music, art, design, and any other subjects that will have seemed like a good idea at the time.

Publishing The Hard Way

Part IV: Affiliate Marketing and Analytics (Hello? Is anyone there?)

If you’ve ever done any sort of marketing, chances are you’re familiar with the concept of affiliate programs, but for everyone else, they may be unfamiliar. Simply put, affiliate programs are a way of making money by referring your own site’s readers to other websites that sell products. Those companies pay you a small percentage of the purchase price of products purchased in exchange for that referral.

As an author, you can use affiliate programs to increase your share of the final purchase price of your books, at least for people who follow the links to those stores from your website. Additionally, you can use affiliate programs to help you determine the effectiveness of your ad campaigns. More on this in a bit.

Analytics is a related concept—so much so that you can’t usefully talk about one without talking about the other. Analytics refers to looking for patterns in large amounts of data. While wearing our marketing hats, we use analytics tools to learn more about the people who visit our websites and, more importantly, to learn more about how they interact with our websites. For example, with analytics tools, you can learn:

  • how many pages the average visitor visited before leaving your site
  • how long an average user spent looking at each page
  • what sites are linking to your site and how many people came to your site from each of those links
  • how many people followed a link from your site to a third-party seller site like Amazon

and so on. This, in turn, can provide valuable insight into how effective your website is at selling products and into what you can do to make it more effective.

At the core of analytics is the concept of tracking—using specially formatted URLs, referrer information, and other tools to figure out where a user came from and where a user is going. Many of the affiliate programs provide basic analytics support, and you should take advantage of that support to the maximum extent possible, so that you can find out how effective your advertising is. For example, if you’re doing a big advertising campaign, you could add the name of the ad campaign into your ads’ URLs. Later, when you’re looking at your sales, you can see how many people bought your book as a result of following links from those ads versus following normal links from your website.

This article—the fourth in a series articles on self-publishing—tells my experiences with affiliate programs from several popular U.S. book chains. (Stay tuned for future articles about print publishing and advertising. And if you missed the first parts, be sure to read Part I: Writing Over the Long Haul—What Went Right And What Went Wrong.)

Read more...   

Publishing The Hard Way

Part III: Electronic Release (It really shouldn’t be this hard)

Releasing the electronic edition is one of those things that in an ideal world would be straightforward, but in the real world is often angled backwards. I decided from the beginning that I was going to release my electronic editions directly to all the major vendors—Amazon (Kindle), Apple (iBooks), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo, and Google (Play)—rather than going through an aggregator. There were three reasons for that decision:

  • Aggregators charge an ongoing fee for every product sold, but mainly serve to simplify the initial submission process. While making resubmission easier might be valuable to folks who make frequent corrections to their books, I don’t expect to have to do that.
  • Submissions published through an aggregator are more likely to get flagged as low-quality submissions by association with other books from that aggregator.
  • Submissions published through an aggregator happen using some magic black box submission software written by someone else, that may or may not deliver my content correctly to the stores.

I am using an aggregator—two, actually—but I’m using them only for submitting to stores that I can’t submit content to directly, such as library sales channels, overseas stores, and so on.

In this article—the third in my series of articles on publishing the hard way—I talk about some of the fun problems I encountered while submitting content to those various stores and aggregators, from KDP’s preview showing white boxes where my letters should be to Barnes & Noble providing no way to submit content ahead of the release date. (Stay tuned for articles on other publishing subjects, including affiliate programs and print publishing. And if you missed the first parts, be sure to read Part I: Writing Over the Long Haul—What Went Right And What Went Wrong.)

Read more...   

Publishing The Hard Way Part

Part II: Electronic Publishing (Herein lies the path to madness)

The fun thing about producing a book in electronic and paper form is that you get to do all the formatting twice. If you’re lucky. In reality, you’ll do it far more than twice. However, most of the formatting work falls into one of two major buckets: formatting for electronic delivery and formatting for dead tree (paper) delivery. This section is all about the electronic delivery. I’ll save the dead trees for later.

In the minds of a lot of readers, electronic books cost nothing to make, and so should be nearly free. Most people think, “It’s no different than making a web page, and anybody can do that.” So why, then, do eBooks cost a lot of money? What makes them so tricky to produce that publishers spend more time and effort on them than on their print editions?

I’ll explore the pains of producing a high-quality eBook that attempts to replicate the design and feel of the print editions as much as possible in this article, the second in my series of articles on publishing the hard way. (Stay tuned for articles about other subjects, including affiliate programs and print publishing. And if you missed it, be sure to read Part I: Writing Over the Long Haul—What Went Right And What Went Wrong.)

Read more...   

Publishing The Hard Way

Part I: Writing Over the Long Haul
(What Went Right And What Went Wrong)

The process of writing a series of interlocking novels is a bit odd when compared with writing a single novel that stands alone. To begin with, you have to be able to adjust the timeline a little bit whenever events in one book take too much time to fit. This is, of course, the easy part. The true misery comes when all of the software you’re using to create the book gets discontinued during the course of the project, thanks largely to the almost geologic time scale involved.

Thus goeth the life of a writer.

This article is the first of several articles based on my experiences while releasing the electronic and print editions of the initial trilogy in my Patriots book series. In it, I talk briefly about writing the novels and the various challenges involved in writing a series of books over the course of more than a decade. Stay tuned for additional articles about eBook publishing, affiliate programs, and print publishing.

Read more...   

The Race to the Bottom

Why aren’t my eBooks priced at 99¢?

I recently attempted to purchase ad space from a blogger, and was basically told that they would only sell me ad space if I reduced my eBook’s price to 99 cents. My first inclination was to laugh and roll my eyes, but then I thought about it further, and realized that since the subject of 99-cent eBooks keeps coming up, it was worth explaining why my eBooks aren’t priced at that price point. This article is the result.

Read more...   

About This Blog

Please! Make it stop!

So there I was, staring at Facebook, wondering if I should really torture my friends with yet another rant about obscure publisher woes, when I suddenly realized, “Hey! I have a website! I could blog about it instead.” And in the realm of the ’book, there was much rejoicing, for most knew not what I spoke of anyway.

The result is this blog page. It is probably worth mentioning that not everything on this blog will necessarily be of interest to folks who read my books. In fact, I suspect that most of the things I post here will mainly be of interest to other authors and small publishers. With that said, this blog is syndicated (by reference) from my author page on Amazon, so I’ll try to avoid boring those folks too much.