Distributing Your Self-Published Book: The Overview

Blog 53 ImageIn my blog series called How to Self-Publish, it’s time to turn to the question of how to distribute your book.

Subsequent posts will look at various eBook and print-on-demand (POD) distribution channels that a self-published author can access. This post starts the process with an overview.

It’s amazing what’s available. When I’m finished the posts on distributing your self-published book, you’ll see that there are many options to make your book available far and wide, both in eBook and print formats. The pace and scope of this development have been astounding. Writers have unprecedented ways to publish their manuscripts and control the promotion of their books.

What’s available is constantly changing. At the core of the advent of self-publishing has been the development of technology that allows the uploading and sale of manuscript files on sites like Kindle. That technology is advancing quickly, so self-published writers will find that distribution platforms come and go, and change often. Writers must regularly assess what distribution strategy will work best for them.

Don’t ignore print. When I wrote my first book, The Case for Killing, I imagined only publishing it as an eBook. The world of self-publishing was full of commentary that readers were moving from hard and softcover books to digital versions on their readers or tablets using apps.

I’ve now ensured that print versions of The Case for Killing and False Guilt are available in many markets as well. Why? The rate of growth in the adoption of eBooks seems to have slowed. A recent study by Publishing Technology shows that higher percentages of both older U.S. readers and millennials (18-34) prefer print books to eBooks. And I’ve found something similar. I often hear readers say they still prefer the look and feel of paper books.

A few self-published authors will actually make money; most won’t. Occasionally, I still encounter people who are surprised that money can be made distributing self-publishing books. More often, I encounter writers who read about a few massive successes and think they’ll get to the same spot. You can find lots of speculation and some studies about self-published author income. Bottom line, it takes enormous perseverance and some luck to recover upfront costs, let alone make money. And…

You still need a great book. Given the huge numbers of self-published books, the starting point for selling any copies of a self-published book, eBook or print, is writing a great manuscript and ensuring the cover and interior are well designed.

Don’t confuse distributing with promoting. Another naive thought I’ll confess to is that sales would come simply by having my books on a well-trafficked site like Amazon. Nope. Self-published writers, more than traditionally published authors, must promote, promote, promote. Readers won’t be looking for your book in a distribution channel if you don’t.

You will be pitched other services. Many self-publishing retailing sites will pitch writers other services like editing and advertising. I’ll write more about this later. The point is that writers should tread very carefully to avoid additional expenses.

More posts on distribution soon.

Hard to believe I’ve been blogging for one year. Thanks readers!

Copyright ©2015 Peter Fritze

Buy False Guilt

Buy The Case for Killing.

Follow me on Twitter @PFritze.

My Guest Blog

This week, I’ve guest blogged for Melodie Campbell. Melodie is a crime/comedy writer, a winner of the Derringer and Arthur Ellis Awards, a fellow Canadian and just an all-around really nice person. I read her book The Goddaughter and found it hilarious.

Read my cringeworthy young lawyer experience on Melodie’s blog at http://funnygirlmelodie.blogspot.ca/.

Back to a full blog here next week. Thanks!

Copyright ©2015 Peter Fritze

Buy False Guilt

Buy The Case for Killing.

Follow me on Twitter @PFritze.

A Protagonist’s Birthdate

Blog 42 ImagePeter Bradley, the protagonist in my first book, The Case for Killing, was born on July 20, 1960. It’s an interesting day to look back on. Eventually, it also causes Bradley some trouble.

From the July 21, 1960 Toronto Daily Star, we learn time-capsule things about July 20 like:

  • The Cold War utterly dominated international politics. Fears were growing of a new U.S.-Soviet clash in violence-stricken Congo; England’s Prime Minister Macmillan thought Premier Khrushchev had been particularly aggressive in the previous sixty days; and the wounds of the Cuban Revolution were raw and the seeds of the Cuban missile crisis sowed.
  • A Quebec divorce was front-page news. Divorce in Canada then required a salacious precondition like adultery. Quebec divorces were only available through private acts of Canadian Parliament.
  • It was warm and pleasant in Toronto, high 72 F (22 C) and low 55 F (13 C).
  • Measured by price, products were cheap. The newspaper cost ten cents; a sixteen-ounce jar of peanut butter was on sale for twenty-nine cents; a ten-piece bedroom set was on special for $159; inspected used tires were $4.95; and a Chevrolet Impala cost $2500-$3500, depending on the model and options.
  • Everything was much less connected. New Zealand had just introduced legislation to permit television. Two Toronto men became the first to travel by car from North America to Bogota, Colombia. In jungles, they lived on monkey meat, iguana and wild pig. People sold things using the classified sections of newspapers.
  • People worried how to fund the Toronto Transit Commission and that fare increases would worsen street congestion. Sound familiar?
  • President Eisenhower announced there would be a one billion dollar surplus for the year. A surplus.
  • The S&P 500 closed at 55.61. Last Friday, it finished at 2051.82. My parents should have bought and held.
  • In baseball, Mickey Mantle had the most runs in the American League; ditto Willie Mays in the National League. Like today, even in July, hockey figured prominently in Toronto sports news. Unlike today, news about horse racing did, too.
  • Suddenly Last Summer, The Battle of the Sexes and something called Cha Cha Boom played in the movie theatres.

Why does Peter Bradley’s birthdate cause him trouble? He may be Canada’s foremost anti-trust lawyer and quite engaging, but he’s also manipulative and arrogant. The type of arrogance that makes him believe he’s incapable of mistakes. He should have chosen a better online banking password, though. He keeps his wife, Amy, on a shoe-string budget and she’s after more cash. With her brother’s help, she steals Peter’s banking password then laughs at his choice: 072060PB.

Copyright ©2015 Peter Fritze

Where to buy The Case for Killing.

Follow me on Twitter @PFritze.

Eight Thoughts to Help Writers Persevere

IMG_20110531_095913I took a hard look at my writing accomplishments in 2014 and they’re mixed. I received a lot of positive feedback on The Case for Killing. I’ve also had strong beta reader and editorial support for False Guilt. However, sales of my first book have been modest; somewhat above average for a first time self-published author I think. And while I received some reviews, for which I’m very grateful, it’s challenging to get them.

That’s led me to ask how writers persevere. Here are eight thoughts for a writer to work with.

Recognize how perseverance contributed to other successes. My life successes have all involved dogged perseverance and its close cousin, patience. I doubt success at writing is different.

Writing gives pleasure. The challenges in writing are persistent self-doubt and finding a broad readership. But writers are not like Sisyphus rolling a rock up a hill for eternity. What they do is (or should be) enjoyable. Things like a fun plot development and seeing a character grow are significant rewards for all the pecks at the keyboard.

A writer is learning a craft. Another reward for all those pecks is that many writers will improve their writing ability.

There are writing successes to enjoy. Finishing research, an outline and especially a book are huge accomplishments that warrant chest-puffing. And if a reader says she liked your book, that’s a home run.

Learn to handle rejection. A writer shouldn’t expect to please all readers. There always will be critics and their viewpoints can offer learning. Also, if many people criticize a book, it means the book, not the writer as a person, is inadequate.

It gets easier after the first book. That’s been my experience anyway. It stands to reason that, like any pursuit, the learning curve of writing flattens.

Promotion can be learned…and enjoyed. Many writers view self-promotion as a necessary evil. However, promotion can be conquered using the vast, free online marketing resources available. And it often leads to gratifying contact with readers and other writers.

Remember how badly you wanted writing success. Pretty bad, right?

Any other thoughts?

Copyright ©2015 Peter Fritze

Where to buy The Case for Killing.

Ten Things I Learned in 2014 as a Writer

Blog 38 Image

To strengthen my writer’s resolve, I’ve been looking back on 2014, particularly the period since April when I published The Case for Killing. Here are the top ten things I learned as a writer.

Manage expectations. Writing for fun is, well, fun. Expecting to have a broad readership is a recipe for anxiety and depression.

Success starts with great content. A writer who writes an entertaining book will get some readers.

Discoverability is the hard part. However, it is difficult to be discovered by a broad readership. The competition from other books and content is hair-raisingly stiff.

Self-pub writers must invest a lot upfront. See my blog on this. At least at the beginning, for most writers, self-publishing is like an expensive hobby.

Many, many people want to sell stuff to self-pubs. Beware writer.

Perseverance is key. Perseverance doesn’t guarantee a broad readership but it sure raises the odds.

A writer must promote. Speaking for myself, I’m built to look inward but, unfortunately, there’s only one reader there. When you talk up your book to others, good things happen.

Word of mouth is the best promotion.

Blogging doesn’t sell books. So far, I don’t have any proof that blogging sells my book. I now see blogging as a way to establish an online presence and brand.

There’s great fun in meeting people. I have connected or reconnected with many people in 2014. That’s been as satisfying as the praise for my book.

Best wishes for 2015!

Copyright ©2014 Peter Fritze

Where to buy The Case for Killing.

Hey Santa

Blog 37 ImageSanta, I know your focus is gifts for girls and boys, but this year, can you also give to this middle-aged writer? BTW, I’ve already bought you milk and cookies with the proceeds of my book sales this year.

To help you decide, I’m forwarding you my wish list. Right up front, I acknowledge that there are a lot of intangibles on my list. Nothing like, say, a gaming console, though that did cross my mind. But I believe in your magical powers and, really, any two or three of the following would do.

  1. A bit more attention: I had a good start this year with The Case for Killing. But it would help if you installed a copy of my book on all the digital readers and tablets you hand out.
  1. A remedy for shyness: I love it when readers say they like my book. However, I blush, which interferes with my alpha male projection. Is there something for that?
  1. Less writer’s envy. When I read a thriller, I say, “Well, I could write that.” I’d prefer if that happened at the end of the book, not every page.
  1. More perseverance. In pill form, to go with my morning vitamins.
  1. Some new similes. I’m only on book three and I’m running dry already. Metaphors are good, too.
  1. Simplified social media. Why are there so many platforms? Can’t they be combined?
  1. Data. There’s a lot of discussion in the blogosphere whether writers earn more if they’re traditionally published or self-published. But the folks who sell books never give us the proper data to decide. Can you put it on your website?
  1. A minimum wage for writers.
  1. A Stanley Cup for the Leafs. I’m toying with you now.
  1. Amendment to wish #2. Just change me into an extrovert.

Good luck with the holidays, Santa.

Copyright ©2014 Peter Fritze

Where to buy The Case for Killing.

When is a Book Ready to Publish?

Blog 36I have a confession to make. I said that my second book, False Guilt, would be available this fall. It will be the first quarter of 2015 instead.

I really did think I would make the original deadline. One lesson I’ve learned is that, when talking about a future book’s release date, it’s better to say “soon”.

But there are other lessons, too. My book’s delay has some very good reasons, which I’ve decided to collect under the general question: when is a book ready to publish? These comments are geared toward indie authors.

When the Writer’s Gut Says So. I didn’t become settled with False Guilt as soon as I expected. Now I’m ready to stand tall beside the story and characters and see what feedback I get.

To me, this really is a gut decision, because dastardly voices speak in the writer’s head. One says, “Another rewrite won’t make any difference. Get the thing out there already.” Another says, “This book needs to be perfect. Plan on 2017.”

I think that the more a writer writes, chances are he becomes better at assessing when his book is ready for publication. His sense of plot, pace and character development grows keener. He understands better when more research is required. He learns tricks like allowing enough time to pass between drafts to bring a new perspective to his work.

Several Drafts After Beta Readers Have Read The Book. My last two blogs discussed how useful beta readers are. I’ve learned that, after beta reader comments come in, I need to do at least three drafts of a book before it goes to the editor.

When the Editor Says It’s Ready. A good editor will be clear with a writer if and when his book is ready for public eyes. Some of what delayed False Guilt was my editor questioning character development and interaction. An editor’s structural, stylistic and copy edit comments can take several drafts to sort out.

It’s possible a writer and editor will disagree on some points. So, really, the idea is that a book is ready to publish when the editor says so, setting aside carefully considered points of difference.

When the Writer Has a Marketing Plan. Discoverability is a huge challenge, so writers must actively promote their books. Better yet, a writer should have a marketing plan. Mine for False Guilt, including a Facebook and Twitter presence and upcoming pre-release reviews, is coming into shape.

When a Compelling Cover Design is Done.  Book covers can make such a powerful statement, it’s better not to rush them. I like the direction the cover for False Guilt is heading in.

Not Too Soon After the Last Book. I won’t pretend to know when the optimal time is to release a second book. I’ll just say that I think The Case for Killing, published in April, still has legs.

When Readers Have Time. An indie author needs to think about the time of year when he’s releasing a book.

Initially, I thought releasing False Guilt in the heart of the holiday season was a good idea. I hoped it would be a digital stocking stuffer. But then I decided people will be too busy to give the book any attention. Now I’m hoping that False Guilt will help with the February blues.

Copyright ©2014 Peter Fritze

Where to buy The Case for Killing.

Fifty Seconds of Terror

Blog 31 BCOn LogoFor budding crime thriller writers, it’s a challenge to connect with readers and other writers and to learn about the marketplace. That’s the reason for conferences like Bouchercon. I’m just back from the 2014 version in Long Beach, California.

Overall, I learned a ton. However, I arrived with apprehension after receiving an email inviting me to join the “Meet the New Authors Breakfast”. Did I want to stand up and tell readers and other writers the most important thing they should know about The Case for Killing? In fifty seconds? Along with fifty-two other debut writers? At 7:00 a.m.?

My instinctive response was to run. But I know I need to self-promote, so I agreed.

Long Beach hasn’t seen rain in months, but the first day there, the breakfast hung over me like a towering cumulus. When I arrived at the event the following morning, the same cloud obviously hung over other presenters. Faces were grim, breaths were deep and laughter was nervous.

I said things like “No one’s listening anyway,” and “Who’s going to be here at 7:00 a.m.?” Useless platitudes. A microphone and speakers made sure people had to listen, and the large room filled. I acquired an advanced case of stage fright.

Well, I certainly didn’t hit it out of the park, but the fifty seconds got done. It turns out that when you’re staring into the eye of a storm, they go by very fast. I wish I could have used humour like other presenters did. Sadly, it’s just not my strong suit in those situations. I did say I once practiced law and I’m told some folks responded with a gentle hiss. Yeah, I’m probably going to stop mentioning that.

Anyway, despite the panic, I’m counting those fifty seconds as a great experience. Mostly that’s because I met a lot of interesting debut writers. It’d be nice, though, if my heart returned to sixty beats per minute some time soon.

Thanks for the opportunity Bouchercon.

Logo used with the permission of Bouchercon 2014.

Copyright © 2014 Peter Fritze

Buy The Case for Killing here (Canada) or here (U.S.).

What Inspired My Second Book?

Rome 041This is my first blog in a new category about my upcoming second crime thriller, False Guilt.

In both The Case for Killing and False Guilt, I use a fictitious downtown Toronto law firm, Collins, Shaw, LLP, as a partial backdrop. But False Guilt takes place not only in Toronto, but also in Rome. And that’s where I was inspired with the initial idea for the book.

I was travelling, on my own, for the first time after a lengthy health recovery. Rome had been on my bucket list since my teens, but a visit had always evaded me. I decided to treat myself to ten days there, and to take it easy and enjoy la dolce vita.

In the first five days, I saw the Coliseum, the Palatine hill, the Pantheon and most of the other amazing sights tourists usually visit in Rome and Vatican City. I enjoyed good food and warm weather. Though it was early April, I even ate dinner on a patio several times. I became so comfortable with the general layout of many of Rome’s core streets that tourists asked me for directions.

I was walking up a central thoroughfare, Via Nazionale, aiming for my hotel northwest of the Stazione Termini, when it struck me. Wouldn’t it be interesting if a man and a woman became lovers in Rome fifteen years after being separated through a still unsolved murder? And then, in Rome, began suspecting one another of that murder?

At the hotel, I went straight for a small Moleskine a good friend gave me for Christmas to capture writing ideas, and started making notes.

The story evolved – a lot – to include, for example, a reference to the garden pictured above. But, in a much expanded story, a version of the idea that came to me in Rome that day stuck. More teasers about False Guilt to come.

The eBook of False Guilt is planned for the end of fall.

Copyright © 2014 Peter Fritze

More on Book Contests

Imagining ...
Imagining …

A few blogs back, I posted that I’d started thinking about entering The Case for Killing in book contests. I then discussed Canadian book awards for which self-pub thrillers are eligible.

This post is about international book contests in which a Canadian self-pub thriller can participate. Most are based in the United States and United Kingdom.

I imagined that this post would list four or five established, well-regarded international contests. I didn’t want more because they would take too much of my time to participate in and because the costs would run too high. But I’ve ended up with only two firm choices – and some confusion.

My starting point was the list of awards for crime fiction at awards.omnimystery.com. The Case for Killing wasn’t eligible for many contests in that list. Some had a residency requirement I didn’t meet; some exclude self-published books (e.g. the Edgars); and others are for a contest associated with a conference I’m not attending.

However, two contests for which Canadian self-published thrillers are eligible and which I’d heard of from other authors are the EPIC eBook Competition (by the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) and The Hammett Prize (by the International Association of Crime Writers/North American Branch). EPIC has a $35 fee and The Hammett has no fee. I think they have profile, perhaps enough to affect sales, and they’re affordable, so I’ll enter both.

Then I went to the list in the article “Book Awards for Self-Published Authors” at The Book Designer (a terrific resource if you don’t know it). Not all contests in this list are for thrillers. Then there are contests that cover many different categories but have significant entry fees. When you add postal costs to submit paperback copies of your book, which many contests require, the costs become significant.

That’s where I became confused. How do you judge the contests with higher entry fees? This article by Janice Hardy is useful. And from it, participating in next year’s Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards looks interesting.

However, as a newbie author, I feel I need to talk to more authors, publishers and agents to decide which contests have the profile that would interest me.

I’ll report back soon. But in the meantime, please share your experiences, especially about contests that helped book sales. Many thanks!

Copyright © Peter Fritze 2014

Buy The Case for Killing here (Canada) or here (U.S.).