Publishing. It’s complicated. Here’s our basic guide on wtf, how to go about doing it, and all that snazz. Get coffee. We’re warning you. This is legitimately complicated.
Note: this post has been brought to you by A Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) Starter Pack, which is $0.99 until Sunday. (February 7, 2021.) If you found this useful, we appreciate pennies tossed into our jar. If you already have it, grab a gift code and shove it down the throat of a friend. Lovingly, of course. Also available at B&N, Kobo, and Apple Books.
Second Note: Apparently, the female puts this set on sale every two years, judging from previous historical data.
Third Note: FOR PONY!
When you are wide, quality matters. Quantity is less important than quality. You are no longer catering to a membership subscriber crowd. You’re catering to readers who want a great read. This means the following:
1: You can’t get away with mediocre editing. People are paying good money for your book, and they’re expecting minimal typos and strong storytelling.
1a: armchair editors will plague you. The female gets this often. This is a price of having readers. The more readers you have, the more Amazon’s armchair editors will plague you. If you don’t format your own novels, this will be a problem. (You have to fix and upload the fixed version.)
As such, you need to hire a really strong editor. Some people could get away with self-editing in KU… but that really isn’t the case with wide. And I’d recommend looking into vellum (which is a program that runs only on mac, but really simplifies the whole formatting problem.) (Otherwise, you need an amazing formatter who does not mind dropping what they’re doing to fix your book on the fly.)
$600 per 100,000 words is a fairly standard rate for a good editor. You often get what you pay for. Editors often offer samples (of a page or two) of editing so you can see their work in your book. How they do this varies from editor to editor. A good editor is worth their weight in gold, and when you have one, you will see the rewards in your rewards.
“Well-written” is what you’re looking for in reviews of your book. If you aren’t consistently getting that… fix it. A good editor can probably help you with that. (That’s harsh, but it’s also reality. If your books don’t have a lot of comments stating how it’s well-written or edited well, you need to fix your books.)
2: Your cover needs to shine. It is a reflection of the interior, and if they see a poor cover, they’re going to assume low-quality writing. I wish this wasn’t the case, but it really is. When you’re wide, readers are far more sensitive to your cover.
They’re looking to spend their hard-earned money, and they want to read a good book.
3: Wide readers often check samples. If you don’t catch them in the sample, that’s it, that’s all. They’ll spend their money elsewhere. This is harsh, but it’s unfortunately true. Scroll up to point 1 again; it’s really important.
If we of the Furred & Frond Management had to rank things of importance, we put editing at the top, the cover second, and the description third.
4: Editorial reviews, such as through booklife, readers’ favorite, or from other authors, are very very useful things. Getting editorial reviews can be hard, but if you know an author who writes what you do and they are receptive, ask politely if they’d do an editorial review of your book.
Here’s an important caveat: the more street cred/success the author has, the more likely you just Should Never Ask for an editorial review.
(The female has one from one of her favorite authors. It was offered. The female may have cried.)
There is an etiquette to it. The female has not figured it out. But the female would never just go “Hey, OMG Favorite Author? Would you editorial review one of my books?” Because it would be not good of the female, we think.
In short, the female has no idea what the etiquette really is, but the female has like no time for editorial reviews herself… but there is some etiquette. Somewhere. Out there. Over the painbow, where stuff hurts real bad. With blood. And a general descent into madness.
Right. Moving on!
5: Authors aren’t your competition. They’re your friends. Embrace this general mentality. See a book you love? Share it.
Hated a book? Don’t say the title or the author.
Rant all you want about the ‘type of book’ you don’t like but don’t mention the author’s name or sabotage them. Your garbage is another person’s treasure, and a good way to lose a reader is to talk shit about their favorite author.
Nobody cares you hated a book. Your readers want to know what book you LOVED. Because they want to read those books, too. (Seriously. The female loves it, because her readers will go read a book she loves, and then they can GUSH about it TOGETHER! And this is an amazing experience.)
It’s okay to say, “I don’t like books about bullies.” Or “I don’t like reverse harem novels, sorry. Glad you enjoy them!”
It’s NOT okay to rant about how much you hate the authors of these books.
This should be obvious…
Also… stop fucking assuming whenever someone says something negative about a trope type they are talking about your book.
This is from the female’s Facebook… as is most of the content from this post. Enjoy the rants.
This section is dedicated to rants the female posted on the Book of Faces. Keep scrolling to “Publishing Wide” if you aren’t interested in ranty females ranting.
This is my personal profile. If I want to “rant and rave” about a book I didn’t like without naming and shaming the author, I absolutely can.
When I do this, I target super common tropes and general things I personally don’t like. There are plenty of readers who do enjoy those things. That’s why I make a Never the Fuck Again shelf.
Let me repeat myself: this is my personal page.
If I’m reading a book I love, I will gush about it and drop links. (addition: Gena Showalter’s Shadow & Ice? Pretty good! I enjoyed it.)
If I don’t, I will vaguely comment about the awful tropes involved and make snarky commentary.
If you can’t handle the humor in that, door is that way.
Coming onto my personal page and telling me I can’t rant about an untitled book I didn’t like is some bullshit. Now, if I named the author/title? Take me over some coals.
But if you get offended I don’t like a trope type, you have more issues than anyone can help you with, especially me.
Calm your fragile hearts, y’all. Tropes aren’t sacred. And I’m allowed to state I don’t like a trope type.
Just like you’re allowed to not like things too.
This does not mean you aren’t allowed to like the thing.
So, go calm yourselves. It means nothing beyond “oh! RJ has personal preferences.” SHOCKER!
Here is a piece of advice for every author out there:
Unless someone EXPLICITLY states a complaint or rant is about your book… don’t assume it is.
There are millions of books out there. Why would you assume it’s about you?
I love my author friends… but don’t be stupid. Don’t make commentary about a book about your book.
If you think a commentary is about your book, as yourself why you think that. Do you REALLY believe your book is THAT bad??
If you feel your book is ‘guilty’ of the things I rant about… own it. You wrote it that way on purpose. If you like whiney, flatter-than-cardboard characters because you don’t have to think or feel or worry about the characters, that is GREAT.
Enjoy that. Enjoy the FUCK out of that.
I don’t. And I own that. I like a dramatically different type of book. If I pay for a book, I typically at least skim read it to give the book a fair chance to change my mind.
But fuck, if I don’t like a book, I’m going to have FUN with the experience.
But seriously… stop self-sabotaging yourself. There is a reason I didn’t list the author or book title, and there is a reason I stayed to NON-IDENTIFYING commonly bad tropes within the book.
You can’t throw a stick without hitting hundreds of books with this same trope and characterization type.
And while I understand some of you want to read these books, I’m not doing that to another author. I’m also a reader, and I’m totally allowed to make fun of bad tropes.
Don’t assume it’s your book. (It’s very probably not.)
And if it is… you entertained the HELL out of me through allowing me to make fun of horribly bad tropes I personally dislike. So, thank you for that.
You entertained me. Probably not in the way you wanted, but you did.
Stop! Assuming! The! Book! Is! Yours!
Now… if I went and said “This book by this person is all this” then I’m a horrible person. But this is about the tropes, not the author.
Tropes are tropes for a reason.
But please, please, please STOP assuming your book is garbage.
Okay, just a reminder, y’all. I love when you defend my honor from someone who got upset because how DARE I make fun of common as dirt tropes in a bad book (that was not named or exposed) but this is NOT an invitation to go be a vigilante.
Don’t go to her page and rant at her. Do NOT find her books and do anything rude, like leave reviews. Don’t do anything.
She is entitled to show her asshole if she wishes. I really don’t care. This is my personal profile, and if I want to rant and rave about tropes I don’t like, I absolutely will.
My fragile little snowflake feelings are not hurt.
So, no mobs. No trying to teach her manners. None of that, please.
Let it gooooo~
But seriously. I don’t give a flying fuck if she doesn’t approve of me disliking common as fuck, boring, lame ass tropes and flatter than cardboard characters. This is such a common issue in books I can’t throw a stick without hitting ten titles with these problems.
So, let it go, please.
And no, I do not at all care what she has to say on her personal page. Add “no screenshot wars” please to the list.
I blocked her because I have no interest. Okay?
And yes, I absolutely will vague rant about books again in the future when they are that bad. But I won’t name and shame the author.
And seriously? If you think it’s your book… ask yourself why.
And then write a better book next time.
For more on rants about bad books, please visit the female’s person profile page on facebook and click the follow button. The female is not accepting new friends at this time.
As a side-note, much like Nora Roberts, the female’s field of fucks is fallow and barren. There ain’t a single fuck to give at this point, y’all.
- Write the Book.
- Edit the Book.
- Acquire Cover Art.
- Write a Description.
- Proofread the Book.
- Proofread the Book.
- Proofread the Fucking Book.
- Now proofread it again.
- Invest in a copy of Chicago Manual of Style (current edition, or the one right before. Whichever is fine.)
- Proofread the book, this time double checking things you’re not sure about.
- Proofread. The. Fucking. Book.
- Format the Book. Pretty books make people happy. (Vellum is great for this. Use Mac-in-Cloud if you do not own a mac.)
- Optional: Acquire ISBNs.
- Optional: Sacrifice coffee to the goat gods.
- Optional: Acquire print spreads/set up print editions.
- Optional: Acquire Aux Cover / Product Aux versions.
- Optional: Set up a preorder.
- Not-Optional: Deciding if you’re doing a preorder.
- Set a date.
- Upload to all vendors. Do not check the KU box.
- Set all vendors to release book on same day… or embrace chaos. All is well. Do what makes your heart sing.
- If you do a preorder, make CERTAIN you do for at least 5 weeks. Amazon has some algos that get screwed up if you do a 4 week or shorter preorder. 32 days is fine. 31 days can be sketchy. 32 days is safe territory.
- Upload the preorder by the 10th day before launch window. Once you upload, upload it again after it goes through processing the first time. I try to get five copies through. This has always successfully navigated the bug waters.
Being bugged sucks.
I recommend Draft2Digital for all distribution venues EXCEPT Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Amazon. I do these direct mostly, unless it’s a box set/anthology, in which case I do everything but Amazon at Draft2Digital.
I recommend Findaway Voices for distribution of audiobooks. I am removing most of my titles from ACX/Audible distribution due to their policies. According to my current tests… I’m not losing much dropping Audible.
Mileage will vary.
Once you have published your books wide, here is you to-do list:
- 1: Tell everyone the books are available.
- 2: Begin advertising. I like using $5 per day facebook campaigns to ‘warm a book up’ to new audiences. $5 per day usually equals a nice profit. Slow profit, but nice profit. Slow is fine. Slow burns last longer. If you can scale your ads to $10 or $20 a day, great.
- 3: Do not expect books to magically do well. They probably won’t. Apply to get bookbubs once you are wide.
Wide is basically publishing for KU, but you are expected to write to higher standards. You can’t halfass anything like you can in KU. QUALITY over quantity when wide.
If you can’t handle quality… stay in KU.
All right. Self-publishing and advertising.
Here’s some harsh love commentary.
Chances are, you are not going to be a bestseller without spending ad dollars OR having a traditional publisher work PR/spend ad dollars on your behalf.
Instant bestsellers happen for several reasons:
- Someone influential published a book. Everyone who loves this influential person dives on buying the book the instant word spreads. (This is often the result of super hard work on previous series, and the readers LOVE THIS PERRRSSOOONN.)
- Someone influential gushed about the book. Everyone who loves this influential person dives on buying the book the instant word spreads.
- Someone in a commercial capacity (See: Publisher’s Weekly, Locus, Etc) gushed about the book. People dove on buying the book the instant word spread.
Basically, instant bestsellers happen because of word-of-mouth. That does NOT happen by accident. Someone had to gush about the book somewhere.
This is why bookbub can create instant bestsellers. They gush about the book where a fuckton of people can read about it all at one time. If the market is right and the stars align, instant bestseller.
Everyone else advertised.
Knock advertising all you want, but it’s how people who DON’T have someone boosting them gets their book seen.
Go ahead and invest in your books. That’s how you’ll get seen, because those who get into the first few categories… are lucky unicorns.
They are not the norm.
Traditionally published authors may not be doing the advertising themselves, but you better believe the big name trad publishers are doing at least the basics. They want to make money as much as you do… but they’re not going to spend on the big advertising campaigns unless they think you’re going to bring them in millions.
George R R Martin gets Big Advertising Dollars.
Someone with a $500 advance gets no advertising dollars and a token mention in publish catalogs, and the publisher does the bare minimum.
So… yes. Unless you’re a unicorn, you need to advertise.
How much you need to advertise is dependent on several factors, which include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Marketability: are you hitting a commonly sought-after trope?
- Quality: Does your book stand out above the crowd in terms of cover, description, and writing?
- Editorial Reviews: Do you have Someone Really Cool vetting your books for quality?
- Customer Reviews: Do your readers think your books are well-written, addictive, immersive, etc? (If not.. fix that. Write better books.)
The rest… details, mostly.
This is from the Department of My Personal Opinion.
Quick & Dirty Guide to Facebook Ads
This is the female’s current best ad, with nearing a thousand dollars in ad spend on it with a $0.09 CPC. (Which is good for my specific advertising, no sex/sex appeal used, etc.)
Ask questions, but this is literally how the female set it up. I have zero idea if this methodology will work for you, but it works for her.
Here is the original ad image, licensed from Depositphotos. (Yes, you need to own licensing rights for all ad images you use.)
Traffic -> Website
Budget: Daily budget, started at $10 per day. It is currently at $180 a day in spend.
Targeting by Tier.
All Things Spec Fic M & W
21 – 65+
People Who Match:
Interests: Oprah’s Book Club, Storytelling, Mystery fiction, Reading, Creative writing, IBooks, Author, Bestseller, Kobo eReader, Barnes & Noble, Publishing, E-books, Writer, Amazon Kindle, Romance novels, Library, Goodreads, Literature, Fiction books, Librarian, The New York Times Best Seller list, Book discussion club, Books, Penguin Books, HarperCollins, Kindle Fire, The New York Times Book Review, Writing, Barnes & Noble Nook, Simon & Schuster, E-book readers or Penguin Random House, Behaviors: Owns: Kindle Fire
And Must Also Match:
Interests: Stranger Things (TV series), World of A Song of Ice and Fire, Speculative fiction, The Vampire Diaries, Twilight (series), True Blood, Lora Leigh, Dark fantasy, The Hunger Games, Angel (1999 TV series), J. R. R. Tolkien, A Song of Ice and Fire, High fantasy, Once Upon a Time (TV series), Nora Roberts, Romantic fantasy, Twilight (2008 film), A Game of Thrones, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Karen Marie Moning, The Twilight Saga (film series), Grimm (TV series), Jeaniene Frost, Sleepy Hollow (TV series), The Lord of the Rings (film series), The Lord of the Rings, Patricia Briggs, Gena Showalter, The Vampire Diaries (novel series), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Walking Dead (TV series), Twilight (novel), Charlaine Harris, Stephenie Meyer, Teen Wolf (2011 TV series), Christine Feehan, Cassandra Clare, Sherrilyn Kenyon, George R. R. Martin, Urban fantasy, Paranormal romance, Nalini Singh (author), Ilona Andrews, Game of Thrones, Supernatural, Divergent (novel), The Hobbit (film series), The Originals (TV series), Supernatural (U.S. TV series), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games (film series), The Mortal Instruments or The Hunger Games (novel)
Detailed Targeting Expansion:
Image: See attached. (Ad in action, also see attached.)
Headline: 🦉 $0.99 until February 7, 2021. (A $31.93 value.)
Ad Content (Primary Text)
🦉 Great. A quartet of trouble with a dog in tow had come to my woods, and they’d come searching for me. Ever since the fight, Brad had forgotten my name, calling me a stupid so-and-so for landing him in hot water with law enforcement and the CDC.
I’d been a different person in high school, one who still believed in hopes, dreams, and everything else the young and the foolish thought possible before life exacted its toll.
I’d wanted to be a nurse.
Those infected with lycanthropy couldn’t become nurses or doctors. The risk of infection was too high.
I’d become a landscaper instead, doctoring lawns and old mowers since my preferred options had been closed to me.
Daniel and Brad glared at each other, and I thought they’d come to blows, but Daniel exhaled and shook his head. “It is our problem. No, it’s your problem. Remember what I told you?” His tone turned so cold I fluffed my feathers and hunkered down on my branch. “You knowingly infected her. You picked a fight understanding you were contagious. You did so hoping to infect her. You wanted her for your pack. That you infected her pre-shift is unforgivable. That you’re doing a poor job of fulfilling your parole terms disgusts me. You started the fight. You wanted her to be infected. It’s your job to figure out which animal she became, bring her into custody, and finish making your amends. Do I need to remind you what’ll happen if you violate your parole?”
Brad growled. “Not necessary.”
“No one is going to miss a wolf if you screw this up.”
🦉 For a limited time only, the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) Starter Pack is available for $0.99 in ebook format. ($31.93 to buy these books individually.)
This sale ends February 7, 2021.
🦉 You can acquire the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) Starter Pack at the following vendors:
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-magical-romantic-comedy-rj-blain/1130910117?ean=2940161217535
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-magical-romantic-comedy-with-a-body-count-starter-pack/id1456125981
🦉 Hardback Edition (Small Print):
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-magical-romantic-comedy-blain-rj/1130954894?ean=9781949740400
🦉 Audiobook listeners can begin listening to this series with Playing with Fire, available at Audible and iTunes.
The teaser is from Owl Be Yours: A Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count.)
🦉 This collection is available at most public libraries. Please inquire with your librarian about reserving a copy of the title. (Library books can be read on most e-readers and mobile devices.)
From the department of commonly asked questions: In this fictional version of our world, the lycanthropy virus was named after the predominate species infected with the disease, which are wolves. Other species (such as the owl, felines, and so on) were not discovered until after lycanthropy was already named.
Quick and Dirty Guide to Bookbub Ads (From the Female’s Perspective.)
I prefer audiences with 5,000 to 20,000 readers. Those tend to perform the best. Bestsellers of genres, including some of my favorite authors, tend to perform the worst.
I have my personal assistant do market research on the type of books/authors I want to target so I have a good list.
I like to run $25 dollar tests, but after about $5, I know if the ads will work or not, so I will turn the tests off if they aren’t 1% CTR or better.
These are the ads I used for my current ad drive on Bookbub. My average CTR worked out to be 2% on my successful ads, about .72% on my failures, and I shut anything off below 1%.
My best ads are about 9% CTR.
All of these ads performed about the same, but I changed colors to draw attention to them. I find a single ad has about a 3 day lifespan before it goes stale in serious advertising efforts.
I set my CPM higher on purpose, because I’m fairly confident in my conversion rate.
My cost per lead worked out to $3.68 for my advertising venture this go around. I had budgeted for $10 per lead, trusting in my general writing skills for people to buy more books later in series or try other series.
(Historically, $10 per lead will result in a very nice profit for me. I’m looking for readers who will be in for the long haul.)
This works for me. Won’t work for others. Your mileage will vary. I am neither recommending or not recommending this method for you.
This is how I set up:
Delivery type: CPM, As quickly as possible.
CPM: You have to pick what you’re comfortable with. Me telling you what I bid will not make your ads perform well. I will say it’s well over what the winning bids are.
Budget: $25 per target
Target: 1 author with an audience of 4-5k to 20k.
I promote to Amazon, B&N, Apple, and Kobo.
Here are the ads used.
If you have questions, ask. The female will do her best to answer questions on an every-other-day basis or so. (Sometimes, the answers can be long and complicated.) Please be patient.
We of the Furred & Frond Management hope you found this useful and interesting.
It’s probably a stupid question (and a bit off topic -sorry about that), but why are audiobooks available only in certain countries?
I tried to find a specific audiobook from apple books a couple of times now with no success. But, since I got a direct link to your Booked For Murder, I again tried to buy it through apple books only to be told “Item Not Available…” because of my location.
I then checked apple support for this and found out we are not the only ones to be denied audiobooks…
The Sneaky Kitty Critic
It is usually due to legal laws from the country being denied; Apple and other distributors have to abide by all taxation laws and content laws. If the country in question has restrictive laws that make it difficult to sell products to that country, they bar them. Publishers (such as myself) have no ability to control this; it’s a vendor issue. The vendors are essentially responsible for making sure us publishers maintain legalities in all countries where our content is sold.
So, if your nation is barred from audiobook sales… it is very probably due to some law your government has set.
It figures, it has something to do with our brilliant politicians…
Thank you for your reply 😀
This looks amazingly helpful to authors. I read the whole thing because I love authors who write books I enjoy (yes, you).
I do have a couple of proofreading suggestions. I tend to read really fast and miss things,, so if I MUST proofread something I either read it aloud or read it upside down.
WOW! I don’t do Facebook anymore but I can’t believe how snappish, judgmental, and downright crazy people can be. Because you can’t see them, they feel they can spew on everything and everyone. I sincerely love most of your books and try to rate them highly.
Thank you for this! I read your recent 20Booksto50K post and came straight over here to read this post. It’s really helpful, especially the Facebook ad info. I’ve never been able to get under $0.16 average CPC, but what you shared gives me ideas for a few more things to try. Does “M & W” means you’re targeting men and women?
The Sneaky Kitty Critic
Yes, M / W means Men and Women.
Thank you SO MUCH for this helpful information. As a new to self publishing writer, this is gold. Best wishes, Liza