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5 Tips To Rescue Your Failed Nonfiction Ebook

5 Tips To Rescue Your Failed Nonfiction Ebook

You wrote a nonfiction ebook. It failed. One of my writing students is in precisely this situation. At the start of 2016, she wrote an ebook, and… Crickets. She can count her sales on the fingers of one hand. She contacted me, to ask whether I had any ideas.

Of course I do. You ask, I deliver. 🙂

Nonfiction ebooks: can you still make money?

Firstly, let’s talk about whether you can still make money writing nonfiction ebooks. The Amazon Kindle store is crowded. That said, some authors report that 2016 is their best year since 2010.

Here are the tips I shared with my student.

1. Keywords! Update your meta data today (be creative, and persistent)

Discoverability is the biggest challenge for all authors on Amazon, as well as on the other ebook retailers. If your readers can’t find your nonfiction ebook, they can’t buy it.

Check your ebook’s product page, and redo your keywords and description. Start by putting yourself in your readers’ shoes. If you were a reader, looking for the information in your book, what words would you use?

You have seven keywords you can use, as well as 4000 characters (approximately 800 words) which you can use for the description.

In addition to discoverability, remember that once a reader reaches your product page, he needs to feel that your book can help him. Give a clear description of your book: the challenges it solves, and the benefits to the reader. If you have great reviews, add a snippet of a review to the description.

Once you’ve revised your ebook’s meta data, you should see an uptick in sales within three or four days. No results? Tweak the meta data again.

2. Create a bright and sparkling new edition

I love ebooks, because you can edit them as often as you please to create a new edition. If you have material you’d like to add, go ahead and add it. Happy with the cover image? Change it if you aren’t.

Put “2nd edition” on the title page of your book, with the year: “2nd edition, 2017.” Update your meta data as well.

Additionally, remember that updating your nonfiction ebook is news. Create an online news release, and promote your new edition on social media.

Consider creating a new edition of your ebook once a year, or once every couple of years.

3. Contact influencers (your blogging and Facebook page finally pay off): reciprocate on promotions

The more people who know about your book, the more people can buy it. One of the best ways to promote your ebook is to use other people’s audiences.

Contact influencers in the subject matter of your ebook, and offer to do a guest post on their blog, with a link to your ebook. If you have a following on any of the social media networks, offer to do reciprocal promotions with an influencer in your niche. You promote them, they promote your ebook.

Consider partnering with three or four other authors in your niche, to create an ebook. Each of you writes a chapter or two. Add a link to the signup page for your mailing list in the book, as well as a link to your nonfiction ebook.

Webinars are a great way to promote ebooks. Join with another author or two, and create a webinar. With each of you promoting the webinar, you’ll be able to expand your audience, and create buzz for your ebook.

4. Give away free copies: hint you’d like a review

While “free” is no longer the excellent promotional strategy it used to be, you can still use it. Give away 200 free copies. You can’t force people to give you a review, but you can ask.

Aim to get copies into the hands of influencers.

5. Write more ebooks on your topic: explore it vertically (find out how well your topic sells, first)

Consider your nonfiction ebook’s subject matter. Could you write another ebook, which promotes your first ebook? Write another ebook, exploring your subject matter more deeply.

A suggestion: do make sure that ebooks in your subject are selling. KindleSpy is a useful tool which can show you how many ebooks are selling in any niche. If you find that the bestselling ebooks in your nonfiction ebook’s area are only selling a hundred copies a month, writing another ebook on the same subject may be a waste of time. Can you find a topic which sells better?

Use the tips to rescue your failed nonfiction ebook

Start by updating your ebook’s meta data. You should see results within a few days. Then revisit your ebook’s product page every three to six months, and update again.

My writing student put the above tips to use, and is thrilled with her sales. She’s now consistently selling copies every week, and is confidently getting ready to release her follow-up ebook.

I wish you similar success when you use the tips. 🙂

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Write AND Sell in Just 8 Hours: Create Top-Selling Ebooks FAST

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Become a Bestselling Author: This Is Clever

Become a Bestselling Author: This Is Clever

You’re writing books, and you want to become a bestselling author. How do you do it? Most writers believe it’s just a matter of luck, but it can be a matter of a strategy too. I’ve heard of writers using what Hugh Howey calls the Liliana Nirvana Technique, but I don’t know whether I’d have the patience to apply it as-is.

Here’s what the strategy/ technique boils down to: you write several ebooks, and you publish them together – all on the same day. This gets you Amazon’s help to make more sales. Here’s how Hugh explains it:

Why does this work? I think it has to do with “impressions,” or the number of times people see a product before they decide to take a chance on it. (In this case, the product is your name.) It also has to do with recommendation algorithms and how new works are treated on various online bestseller lists.

Become a Bestselling Author With an Explosion of Titles

As Hugh says, this strategy – which Liliana calls her “5 down and 1 in the hole” technique apes what happens when traditionally published authors get control of their backlist, and shovel their titles onto Amazon:

They didn’t gain a massive following until after they regained rights to their backlists and self-published. When they did get those rights, they secured works that were already written and edited. They could do some minor tweaks, update cover art, and release those works in rapid order.

Fast releases seem to lead to fast sales and – providing that the books are good, of course – that can lead to bestsellerdom.

I love the idea of the strategy, because it uses Amazon’s database to gain traction. The more books you have for sale, the more Amazon can promote you, automatically.

Wonderful as the strategy is however, it depends on an author having an enormous amount of patience. Not to mention, the ability to write six books quickly. If it takes you six months to write a book, you’ll need to be patient for the next three years, and a lot can change in that time.

A Modification of the Strategy: Three Months to Release

If you’re anything like me, and your reaction to this strategy is, “not in this lifetime”, you can modify the strategy. No one suggests that you need six full-length novels. Why not five short stories (to act as teasers), and a novel, or novella, to act as your “1 in the hole”?

I’m considering creating a pen name to write a series of mysteries later this year, and I’m planning to use “5 down and 1 in the hole” using short stories and a novel. Short stories are quick. The novel will take longer. I should be able to get all six books ready to roll within three months. It’s a way of kicking off the pen name with a bang, so to speak.

Another Modification to Become a Bestselling Author

You can modify Liliana’s strategy in any way you choose. Release two novellas, and have a novel ready to release a month later. You can tinker with the strategy in any way which makes sense to you.

If you have the patience to write six full-length novels, to use the strategy as-is, more power to you. With great books, you’ll get the exposure, and you may indeed become a bestselling author.

Write Commercial Fiction

Writing fiction? Is it commercial? Get more info: write commercial fiction. Once written, your books will sell for years, and if they’re commercial, they’ll sell well.

Write Commercial Fiction

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You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

photo credit: via photopin cc

2 Essential Fiction Writing Tips for Great Story Beginnings

2 Essential Fiction Writing Tips for Great Story Beginnings

You’re writing fiction. You know that if your readers don’t read past the first couple of pages, they won’t buy your story. They certainly won’t join your mailing list or buy your next story.

So, you need to put some thought into your story beginnings. You need to start strong. In a sense, your story’s ending is in the beginning, so in addition to starting strong, you also need to know how your story will end up. (By “story” I mean novel, short story, novella – any piece of fiction.)

If you’re familiar with Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat story plotting method, you’ll start your story with the Opening Image, the first “beat” in your story. Snyder’s final beat is the Final Image, which relates to the Opening Image.

A tip: in your first draft, don’t worry about your story’s beginnings. Too many writers spend days on a “great” beginning. Usually this wonderful beginning doesn’t get used because the story changes as you write it. Work on your beginning in your second draft.

Before we get to our fiction writing tips for beginnings, let’s look at some great first words, which keep readers reading. I’ve chosen these three stories because they’re romances I’ve recently read, there’s no deeper meaning than that to my choices.

The first is from Her Teddy Bear: Complete Collection, an erotic romance collection of novellas by Mimi Strong:

‘When my sister Nikki first told me about the blind date, I said to her, “If he’s so freakin’ fantastic, why don’t YOU go out with him?”’

Next, All Jacked Up, an erotic romance novel by Lorelei James, from her Rough Riders series:

‘Keely McKay’s lucky cowgirl boots kicked up clouds of dust as she paced across the wooden plank floor.’

And finally, from Mr. Perfect, by Linda Howard. This romantic suspense novel has a prologue, which clues us in to what happens later in the book. Much later. The book’s actual beginning, Chapter 1, Scene 1 starts with these words:

‘Jaine Bright woke in a bad mood.

Her neighbor, the blight of the neighborhood, had just roared home at 3 A.M.’

Would those three story beginnings keep you reading, if you were looking for a romance story? In just a few words, the authors have given readers not only a sense of the primary character, they’ve also established a conflict. Character and conflict are the two essentials you need to include in the beginnings of your stories.

1. Start With Your Primary Character: an Original (Real) Person.

Victorian novelists could get away with waffling about the countryside and the weather in their story beginnings. We can’t. Readers expect to meet an intriguing character, to whom they can relate, as soon as possible after your story starts.

In our examples above, the authors introduce the viewpoint character immediately, so that readers can start getting to know the character. We’re in no doubt that the three heroines we meet are strong women. Each has a singular character: she’s not a generic woman. She’s an original.

2. Conflict: Start With a Bang, or at Least a Thump.

Would you be inclined to keep reading if the above three authors had started their stories by simply describing these women? You might. On the other hand, you might be inclined to think… Meh, who cares? And click away, looking for a story which offered a little more. That “little more” is conflict.

Not only do readers want to meet an original character in your story beginnings, they also want something which inspires emotion. They want to feel. Your original character has a problem, which inspires emotion. There’s no need to start your story with a bang – a big conflict. Introducing a big conflict before we get to know a character is a mistake. We don’t care enough about the character yet to be worried if she’s fired from her job, held up at gunpoint, or discovers her husband’s corpse in the garage.

So there you have it. Two essential fiction writing tips for great story beginnings. Happy writing. 🙂

Updated: February 14, 2017

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Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

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Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →