Monday, November 22, 2010

Monetize It

I just updated my website, www.JAKonrath.com, with links. Lots of links, which all lead to my books.

Since writing in my sole source of income, it's in my best interest to make as much money from it as possible. And since I'm keeping the rights to the majority of my work, it makes sense to exploit those rights for all they're worth.

Here's what you can do squeeze the most revenue from your intellectual properties.

Kindle - The Kindle accounts for the overwhelming majority of my current income, and I'm selling over 350 ebooks per day. If you're new to the Digital Text Platform program that Amazon runs, you can get started by visiting dtp.amazon.com.

If, like me, you need some help formatting your manuscripts to make them Kindle-friendly, I suggest Rob Siders at www.52novels.com. He's fast, reasonably priced, and a true professional who will work with you to make your book look terrific on Kindle, and other ebook formats.

Smashwords - Once your ebook is up on Kindle, you should explore other ebook retailers. www.Smashwords.com allows you to list your ebooks on various formats, including Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo (which links to Borders), the Apple iBookstore, and Diesel.

B&N is the most promising so far, and now that Books-A-Million have begun selling Nooks (along with Walmart, Best Buy, and other brick and mortar retailers) I predict a nice holiday bump in sales.

As far as money goes, you can make slightly more, and get paid faster (with faster sales updates) if you deal with each of these companies directly. But I like the one-stop-shopping aspect of Smashwords. It makes things easier.

IndiaNIC - This company turns your ebooks into apps for sale on iTunes and the Android store. You have to contact them at www.indianic.com to set up a free account, and the money so far is underwhelming (I'm making maybe $50 a month) but it's a good idea to make your books available for the giant smartphone market.

Amazon Associates - This program is a bit labor-intensive to set up, but once it's finished, you can make 4% - 6% from every Amazon item you sell through your website. I have over fifty books, ebooks, and audiobooks available on Amazon, and my site gets a fair amount of traffic, so it made sense to implement this. Get started at affiliate-program.amazon.com.

Paypal - I began selling signed copies of my books off my website years ago, as a courtesy to fans who wanted my autograph but missed me during my various tours. It was a break-even venture.

But now, since I'm printing my own books, I can now function as a bookstore and make a few bucks. Paypal makes it easy to set up a website account and add a shopping cart and buttons to your site, as evidenced HERE.

Createspace - Ever since I began to earn money with ebooks, I've gotten requests from fans who want the print versions. During BEA, I met with many folks on the Createspace team, and also talked with a few authors who used the service. Recently, I took the plunge and made nine of my ebooks available in print through Amazon.com.

They're priced around $13.95 each, for 6" x 9" trade paperbacks, though Amazon has begun discounting a few. On each Amazon sale, I make about $3 - $4 in royalties.

While the basic version of Createspace is free to use, the Pro Plan costs $39 per title. For this extra cost, you get expanded distribution, better royalties, and cheaper author copies. I pay less than $5 per book--that's less than it would cost getting a Xerox at Kinko's, and the books are quality.

Since I'm no better at formatting fro print than I am formatting for Kindle, I hired someone. Her name is Cheryl Perez, and she's professional, reasonable, and easy to work with. You can reach her at yourepublished(at)gmail.com. Tell her I sent you.

Cheryl also took my cover art and created spines and back covers, perfectly sized for Createspace printing--yet another thing I couldn't do on my own.

My Agent - I often get asked what my literary agent thinks of all of my self-pubbing, since she doesn't get a commission from it.

I'm lucky that my agent is forward-thinking, because she helps me make even more money from these properties. Recently, she sold audio rights to my ebooks, and she's currently working on the foreign rights.

Conclusion - The Ron Popeil axiom "Set it and forget it" is pretty appropriate for all of the methods I've discussed here. Though there are time and monetary costs involved in setting these up, once they're live you can pretty much ignore them.

Including my website, I'll be selling books through ten different retailers. Createspace also works with a distributor, so bookstores can order the books. If you add audio and foreign markets, a property can be sold dozens of times.

Never before has it been so easy for an author to reach so many potential readers. I'm pretty excited by the possibilities here. The biggest enemy of self-publishers has always been distribution. Not anymore.

What's the new biggest enemy? Obscurity. But that's a blog topic for another day...