Thursday, April 18, 2019

Publishing on Amazon: File Size vs Pricing

When publishing e-books on Amazon, file size is an important consideration.


First of all, Amazon charges delivery fees for any books priced $2.99-$9.99 if you've chosen the 70% royalty rate (and even with delivery costs, you generally want to choose the 70% rate).  They calculate your royalty and then subtract the delivery cost, so a big delivery cost can really eat into your profit margin.

Delivery cost depends on file size.  If you're publishing novels or narrative non-fiction without fancy graphics, it's probably not a big problem.  My books of this type have delivery costs of 3-6 cents.  If you're publishing something with photos, illustrations, charts, etc, then you have more to worry about.  My book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget, could easily have had delivery costs above 70 cents, even without putting in all the photos I wanted.  I got it down to 22 cents through photo editing and somewhat complicated computer gymnastics.  I'll detail my process in another post, but that scaling down left me a lot higher percentage of profit.

Even if you choose the 35% royalty rate (or take the mandatory 35% rate for books $0.99-$2.99), you still have to think about file size.

If you want to price your book at 99 cents, your converted file size must be under 3 MB.  My current book, Hiking Alaska from Cruise Ports, is a relatively short book, and it's only 99 cents for its launch.  The file I'd prepared, however, full of pictures of the beautiful trails and stunning views, was bigger than 3 MB.  Despite my publishing experience with KDP, I'd never run into this problem before, and it took me some Googling to figure out why I couldn't price it at 99 cents, so I thought I'd share it with you all.

For more detail, you can read my post on Have Book, Will Travel.

Keep an eye out for my personal file-scaling-down method next time.

Melinda Brasher's fiction appears most recently in Leading Edge (Volume 73) and Deep Magic (Spring 2019).  Her newest non-fiction book, Hiking Alaska from Cruise Ports is available for pre-order on Amazon.    

She loves hiking and taking photographs of nature's small miracles.  

Visit her online at

Saturday, April 13, 2019

If You're Writing a Novel, Try This!

If you're working on a novel, here's something to try along the way.

When you get midway through the story—or any point where it gets a bit difficult to keep writing—move away from the novel and create a short story about the main character.

Your short story can take place before the action in the novel or it can cover some period of time that you skip over or don't go into detail about in the novel.

Remember, your short story still needs to have a problem for the character to solve and a good beginning, middle, and end.

But writing something short like this will give you a sense of accomplishment even before you finish the novel.

Chances are, you'll also get to know your main character a bit better by writing the short story.

And anything that helps you get to know your main character better will make it easier to finish writing your novel.

But even if you've finished writing your novel (but haven't found a publisher for it yet) go back and try to create a short story from small incident in the novel.

Then you can post this short story on your blog or website, as a way to test the waters to see if readers (which might include agents or editors) like your main character and want to read more about this person.

If the novels you write are mostly in the same genre, you could publish these short stories as Kindle Singles and start making some income (and building your list of readers) this way, too.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance has written over two dozen published books and hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and other publications. She lives and writes by the sea in Jensen Beach, Florida.

Visit her blog at and sign up for her emails with writing tips and resources for writers at

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Creativity & Work-Life Balance

Creativity & Work-Life Balance
When was the last time you did something creative just for fun? 

If the answer doesn't come to you immediately, you are missing out.

There are many benefits to being creative. Among other things, it helps with critical thinking, relieves stress, and is just plain fun. Whenever you are having a particularly stressful day - or even if you are not - a creative endeavor will add much needed adrenaline, motivation, and spark. And just a few minutes can make a huge difference.

Here are ten creative things you can do today or any day.

1. Doodle or Sketch. You don't need to be artistic to make art.

2. Take Photos. Just about everyone has a camera on their mobile phone. Take a walk and take some pictures.

3. Write a Poem. April is #NationalPoetryMonth. Celebrate.

4. Turn on Music and Dance. Regular dance breaks also help with your physical health. 

5. Write a Story. Just for Fun!

6. Garden. The bonus: flowers to beautify your home or something good to eat.

7. Cook. See what you can make with the ingredients in your fridge or pantry. 

8. Bake. Yum. 'Nuff said.

9. Craft. Sew, scrapbook, knit. The options are endless. 

10. Write a Letter. This is a fun exercise. Plus it will make someone's day. 

For more on the power of creative pursuits, check out the recap from my #GoalChat on this topic.

* * *

How do you incorporate creativity into your work-life balance? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group.  She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Friday, April 5, 2019

A Case Study of a Book Fair Booth That Works

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

I often encourage my clients to reach a bit farther than one expects from a new author--regardless of their expertise or experience. For one thing, the services available to authors (like spots at in book fair booths) are often bare-bones. The alternative may be to do-it-yourself and even make a profit which can then be used to boost the author's marketing budget for the future.

I once sponsored book fair booths at the LA TimesFestival of Books with Joyce Faulkner after we started a writers' group called Authors' Coalition.  Slowly and at considerable cost—one year at a time—I learned what works for book fairs, tradeshows, and other public events and what doesn’t. My booth partners and I used tons of value-added promotions including:
  • We shared printing and postage costs of catalogs we produced ourselves that featured booth participants’ books and an invitation to the fair. With permission, we used the fair logo to give the catalog credibility. We sent our catalog to book buyers, media, and influentials like movie producers (because that fair is in the middle of Hollywood land).
  • We produced a video/trailer featuring booth participants at an additional charge. The charge made it more likely that our video stars would use it for their blogs, websites, and other promotion both before and after the fair and we ran it on a large screen in our booth.
Note: Because CDs can be produced inexpensively in large quantities, we recycled much of the content we developed for these videos and trailers onto CDs to be given away. A participating author offered our freebies to visitors saying, “A CD for your PC?” Fairgoers rarely declined our offer.
  • Books (often overruns or slightly damaged) donated by other authors became gifts-with-purchase of other books from our booth.
  • A drawing for a gift basket was successful because it garnered the contact information of many readers. We shared that information with all booth participants, too.
  • We produced totes and bags featuring our bookcover images and our booth number. We gave them to folks to carry the books they had purchased from us. These bags then became advertisements for our booth as our customers carried them around the grounds.
  • Some of our booth participants wore T-shirts emblazoned with images of their bookcovers, their website addresses, and our booth number.
  • Each participant produced posters that we used to decorate the booth.
  • We had mini training sessions for our booth participants in which we urged them to talk up one another’s books, guided them through promotion possibilities and display techniques, and gave them resources for promotion materials.
Authors' Coalition eventually demanded too much of our time, but what we learned promotion possibilities has been useful ever since. We sometimes volunteer one or more of the above promotions in trade for an organization's booth fee. We sometimes consult with organizations who plan booths for their members. And, occasionally, we get permission from booth planners to let us piggyback our for-profit services on their booth plans with a percentage of the sales going back to the originating organization. That's a win-win for everyone.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an award-winning novelist, poet, and author of the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers. She taught editing and marketing classes at UCLA Extension’s world-renowned Writers’ Program for nearly a decade and carefully chooses one novel she believes in a year to edit. The Frugal Editor ( award-winner as well as the winner of Reader View's Literary Award in the publishing category. She is the recipient of both the California Legislature's Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award and the coveted Irwin award. She appears in commercials for the likes of Blue Shield, Disney Cruises (Japan), and Time-Life CDs and is a popular speaker at writers’ conferences. Her website is

Monday, April 1, 2019

Traditional Publishing and the Author Platform - Be Realistic

Best sellers happen to unknown authors. Getting on the New York Times Best Seller list happens. Breakout books happen to new authors.

But . . .

Yes, of course, there’s a ‘but.’ Statistically speaking, about 80% or more of all books don’t succeed.

Every new author needs to enter the publishing arena with open eyes. She needs to be realistic as to what’s required of her and what her chances are.

So, how do you help increase your chances of getting your book to succeed? How do you create a successful writing career, even if you don’t have a breakout book?

3 of the Most Important Tips to Effective Author Platform Building and Book Marketing

Whether you landed a book contract or not (if you’re self-publishing these three tips are just as important, if not more so):

1. You absolutely need an author website. And, it needs to be optimized.

Optimization means having the right domain name, the right website title and subtitle, using keywords, optimizing your blog posts, creating the ‘right’ web pages, using optimized images, and so on.

Another key optimization trick is to keep your website simple: easy to read, easy to navigate, and uncluttered.

If you want to learn how to create an optimized website, or if you already have one but need to optimize it, you should check out Bluehost. They have techs to help you get your site up and running for FREE if you get their hosting service.

You can get your website up and running in one day or take five days.
It’s got one-on-one with the instructor and video training.

2. You need an understanding of how to market you book.

According to the February 2013 issue of The Writer, “The slam-dunk team” article explains, “Publishing houses want a business partner, someone who’s going to work hard from the get-go, tirelessly promoting, working connections, and never saying no to an opportunity.”

Do you know how to blog effectively? Do you know about creating a subscriber list and using email marketing for more sales? Do you know how to work social media marketing to increase website traffic, boost authority, and boost sales?

These marketing strategies are all part of an optimized author/writer platform – they’re considered inbound marketing. While it’s all must-know-stuff, it can be easy to do.

There are lots of online opportunities to learn these skills. One super-effective and super-reasonable tool is this 4-week e-class through WOW! Women on Writing:

Give Your Author/Writer Business a Boost with Inbound Marketing

3. Put your website and new found knowledge to work.

It’s true there is much involved in building your platform and book marketing, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second-nature. Think of it like a puzzle. You have to put the pieces together before you get the results you want.

Have an optimized author website; create an Amazon Author Page; get book reviews; blog your way to traffic; use email marketing to promote new releases; and use social media marketing to widen your marketing reach.

Give your publisher what she wants: A book marketing savvy author.

4. This is a bonus tip:

According to just about all expert book marketers, including Chuck Sambuchino and Jane Friedman, you need to have all your marketing strategies in place before you even start submitting to book publishers or literary agents.

So, if you’re writing a book or you’re in the submissions process, be sure to get your author platform and book marketing strategies in place.

Be able to tell a publisher or agent that, YES – you can help market your book.

This article was first published at:

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. She is also an author/writer online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

You can check out Karen’s e-classes through WOW! at:

And, be sure to connect with Karen at:


SEO or Authors Part10 - Friendly URLs for Blogposts

The Ins-and-Outs of Contests and Your Book

How to Name Your Protagonist

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

An Evening with Publicist Jennifer Abbotts

"Creativity is, quite simply, a genuine interest combined with initiative."
Scott Belsky

Making connections, coming up with a plan, and setting goals are only part of what a publicist does, according to our New Mexico Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators March Shop Talk guest speaker, Jennifer Abbotts. Jennifer is a PR, marketing, and communications professional. She has worked with book festivals, award-winning authors, and major publishers. She previously worked in the publicity departments at Scholastic, J. Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, Little, Brown Books, and HarperCollins. Presently, she is freelancing.

What Exactly Does a Publicist Do?
Large publishing houses may have a publicity department, or publicity may be part of marketing. Most of these houses have at least one publicist.

First, the publicist takes into consideration where the author is in her career. From there, a plan is hatched locally, regionally and nationally. Services run the gamut, from sending books out to media, acquiring author interviews, making connections on social media, and setting up events and tours. When the paperback comes out, the publicity wheels spin once again.

What a Publicist Needs from You, the Author
In a word: goals. What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish with the publication of your book? What makes you unique? What do you have that no one else has to peak readers’ interest? If you’re an educator and you want to present yourself as such, then that’s your focus. Whatever you decide is your pitch, it needs to feel real, be at a level of comfort for yourself. That’s the best way to connect with your audience.

Jennifer pointed out that it is not always necessary to hire a publicist, but if you have a project moving forward and you’d like to get in touch with one, unfortunately there is no data base. The best way to find one is to talk to your agent and editor. Or google an author and look for their press release to get a name. Ideally, lead time is 6-9 months. The cost varies according to the project. We are fortunate that Jennifer graciously shared her expertise with us.

Image courtesy of:
Welcome to my office:
Enter with a Happy Heart
Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter and is working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Tips for Journal Writing

We push forward to reach our writing goals, experience the pains, and grow through the struggle.  Let’s journal to settle in, put thoughts in order, and explore ideas that can springboard into article, essay or story—stepping closer to our milestones. In addition, journal writing relieves stress and provides a private place to work out issues.

Nine Tips:
• Write for yourself. Write daily, even just a little.
• A digital or handwritten journal is great for recording your thoughts, experiences and observations.
• Journaling helps develop your writer’s voice, write more conversationally, and practice.
• Continue from where you are right now. Capture the myriad of thoughts by free writing, working a book outline, or resolving what your character does next.
• Explore new ideas for promoting your business, your website or your blog. 
• Consider writing a series of posts to connect with your readers.
• Break down goal expectations and schedule milestones in doable pieces, baby steps too.
• I recommend, “The Story Within” by Laura Oliver. Chapter 9 titled “Journal to Freedom”. I find her book and particularly this chapter meaningful in my quest to enlarge my journaling experience and writing practice.
• You might find idea sparks at Creative Writing Now:

Steinbeck was a champion of journaling.
Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath Paperback – December 1, 1990
“John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath during an astonishing burst of activity between June and October of 1938. Throughout the time he was creating his greatest work, Steinbeck faithfully kept a journal revealing his arduous journey toward its completion."

How do you use journal writing and what tip would you add to the list?

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her web-blog: Deborah Lyn Stanley : MyWriter's Life

Publishing on Amazon: File Size vs Pricing

When publishing e-books on Amazon, file size is an important consideration. Why? First of all, Amazon charges delivery fees for any ...