Tag Archives: eBooks

You Are Not Alone

Writing is by its nature a solitary occupation.

But writers don’t have to be alone.

We don’t have to channel our inner Robin from the Lego Batman movie when he asks himself, “What would Batman do?” and decides Batman would “go in alone!”

As authors we wear a lot of hats and have to learn a lot about a lot of things, but no one ever said we have to do everything alone, figure it all out without help, and build our readership in a vacuum.

One resource most authors end up with in spades is a fantastic secret weapon: other authors!

We’re all trying to build readerships and connect with fans, but one great thing about being an author is that we don’t have to consider other authors as competitors. Our industry is not like real estate or car sales. A book buyer won’t just buy one book and keep it for years. They buy books a lot, and there’s no way any one author can write enough to satisfy all the demands of all of their readers.

So we need other authors. Our fans need other authors. They actually appreciate it if we help them connect with other great reads.

So use those connections. Work with other authors to cross-promote your stories and reach a far greater fan base by helping each others’ fans get more great books.

This website – Fictorians – is one way for a large pool of authors to provide content that far exceeds anything we could do alone.

When it comes to book sales, there are lots of ways to collaborate and cross-sell. For example:

  • Guest blog on each others’ blog sites.
  • Include interviews with other authors in your newsletters to your fans, particularly if you don’t have any big news of your own to share with them.
  • Share other authors’ new releases and big sales events with your fans and via your social media. People like seeing that you’re not focused only on yourself.
  • Get into a book bundle.
  • Even if you can’t get into a formal bundle, there’s no reason you can’t cross-promote with other authors and set up sales to coincide with one of your launches. I’m beginning a cross-promotional, unofficial bundle like this with three other authors. I expect it’ll produce lots of results for all of us.

So keep writing. Do everything you can to push your craft and your career forward.

And look for ways to share the journey. It’s a lot more fun that way.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinRune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form.  When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities.  For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Contemporary Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website:  www.frankmorin.org

How to Get Noticed on Kobo

A guest post by Mark Leslie Lefebvre.

kobo_logoYou’ve heard it before, you’ll hear it again. Maybe this time you’ll remove yourself from the attachment you have with your beautifully bouncing “baby” of a book and listen.

Getting noticed starts with a good cover. And not just a good cover, but an excellent cover. And not just an excellent cover, but an excellent professional cover. And not just an excellent professional cover but one that appeals to your target audience – respectful of the genre you’re targeting.

Let me be brutally honest here – and it’s not easy to say, but it’s something I’ve seen time and again. I have authors who, on Kindle, are selling reasonably well, some of them selling exceptionally well, who approach me and ask why they’re not selling much or at all on Kobo. Then I look at their books and the first thing I see is a cover that makes me cringe and start trying to come up with ways to avoid telling them I think the cover is horrible.

It’s difficult to tell someone their baby is ugly – but it’s even more difficult to present a less than professional looking book on any of our featured spotlights or main pages.

Why am I harping on about something I’m sure you’ve read a thousand times? Because it’s true. Kobo’s website is far more merchandised than a site like Amazon – and as such, getting a human’s attention and holding it long enough to get them to read the synopsis and then check out the price all starts with a great cover.

And that’s one of the main ways that titles get selected for various features on Kobo’s website.

The metadata that you enter is another way to stand out as professional. It can also help you with helping us convert readers of one book in your series to the rest of that series. Entering consistent series title data plus the volume number in that series can lead to this. There is a great article posted here that outlines some of the benefits.  (Selling More of Your Series Books on Kobo)

Here’s an example of how a series title is displayed, helping customers see that this book is connected to others.

Fiction River

Kobo is using this data not just for enhancing the merchandising, but also sending reminder emails to customers who are currently reading or have recently completed reading a book that’s identified as part of a series.

Below is a sample email derived automatically from a reader’s catalog of titles.

Kobo_Next in series

There are plenty of other feature spots that we are highlighting indie author published titles within.

One of them is the permanent FREE EBOOKS landing page – conversion here works best with series books; offering the first one for free (which you can do through Kobo Writing Life for as long as you want) and enticing customers into the next books in that series.

Kobo_free ebooksKobo_sci-fi fantasy

Other merchandising spots are KOBO NEXT and KOBO NEXT GREAT DEALS (typically $4.99 and under)

Kobo also runs monthly discount “publisher sponsored” features in which authors allow us to discount their titles to customers using a coupon code. In them, the publisher then gets paid 70% off the discounted price. Here’s an example of one that ran in mid June 15, 2015.


But what I’m most excited to share is that we are building in the opportunity for authors to be considered for various promotions like these directly within Kobo Writing Life. An easy way to think about it perhaps is as a “BookBub Built Right into Kobo Writing Life” – meaning that when promotional opportunity comes available, if your book already has the right price point, is in the right category and available in the right territory, you’d see if it was eligible for a forthcoming promo and, within just a few clicks, submit the title for consideration. We’re pretty excited at how this will open up the ability for authors to be included in various promos that we continually run throughout the year.

To take full advantage of this promotion, you’ll need to be signed up for Kobo Writing Life – your directly published titles will be the ones eligible for the various promotions that we are already starting to schedule as much as 2 or more months in advance.

Some other things you can do to assist with getting noticed on Kobo include:

  • Attending events and networking and liaising with other authors and industry folks. Even if you aren’t at an event that a Kobo person is at, you might end up making a connection of a connection – it’s a small industry and authors are fantastic at helping one another. There are easily dozens of authors that have been introduced to me through authors I already know.
  • Publish directly to Kobo Writing Life rather than coming in through a data aggregator. We are constantly sifting through new titles entered into our database, always looking for that next “hidden gem” that we can spotlight for our customers.

Pricing. Where 99 cent novels seem to be the way to go on Kindle, Kobo doesn’t use books as a “loss leader” – eBooks are the ONLY thing we sell, and our prime real estate needs to be dedicated to books that we can actually earn money on. Imagine that we have the choice to feature one of two great fantasy novels. One is 99 cents and the other is 9.99. Remembering that Kobo keeps 30%, which one do you think is a more sustainable title for us to spend time featuring?


Mark Leslie Lefebvre Bio:Kobo_Mark Leslie Lefebvre  Mark Leslie Lefebvre is the Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo. He was hired by Kobo in 2011 to make it easier for indie authors and small publishers to get their work published to Kobo’s global catalog (which is available in 190 countries). Mark and his team launched Kobo Writing Life in July of 2012 and it now represents between 10 and 18% of Kobo’s weekly unit sales, larger than any of the major publishers. Mark is also the author of speculative fiction and Twilight Zone styled horror under the name Mark Leslie. His latest books include Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries and I, Death.

Not Another Edit!

EditsMost non-writers, and many new writers, have no idea that finishing that manuscript and typing END is anything but the end.  I know when I started writing, I couldn’t see beyond reaching that final scene.  Of course, that first novel was a 300,000 word monstrosity that took me over two years to complete, but the principle is universal.

The first draft is not the final draft.

That truth is even more daunting when we consider how few wannabe writers actually reach the end of their first draft.  Of those who do, many lack the determination to see the project to its full completion.

It’s easy to assume the tragic artiste pose and proclaim in an awful imitation of an accent from some European country, “This is my Art and the muse must be honored.  The words were given to me like this for a reason.”

Not if you want to sell it and actually have someone read it.

This becomes the dividing line between those who like dabbling in writing as an enjoyable hobby and those who are serious about becoming a Writer as a career.

Some first drafts are pretty good, but pretty good isn’t enough.  Every successful author I know recognizes they will need to make several editing passes through each novel before it’s ready.  One of the reasons we’re encouraged to write what we love is because if we don’t LOVE our stories enough to work through them at least half a dozen times, we’re going to HATE them before the process is complete.

Many new authors don’t understand this and unfortunately in today’s ebook world, it’s all too easy to complete that first draft and throw the book right up on Amazon.

I for one have read some of those stories.  After wading through the piles of novels that make me cringe when I look at the cover or read the first page, I’ve selected one that looked like it had real promise.  Many times those ebooks turn out to be pretty decent, maybe have a great concept and tons of potential, but where the author wasn’t patient enough to really finish the work.

I find it tragic when I complete an ebook like that.  When I think, “You know, that could have been a really good book.  But it was only about 90% finished and needed more polishing.”

What a waste.

Not only of my time, but of the author’s time.  They worked so hard bringing that novel to life, only to not put in the effort to get it that last 10%.  It’s like Frankenstein stitching together the perfect monster only to not bother raising it up on the platform during the lightning storm.  That last 10% is what infuses the story with it’s real life.

That’s one of my fears:  that my novels won’t be ready.

I cringe when I think back to my first monstrous novel.  With how little I knew about the industry, about editing, I was convinced it was a great work and totally ready to go.  Had the ebook revolution already been underway, I probably would have self-published it.

I would have destroyed that story.

I’m glad I didn’t have that option and that the dozens of rejection letters finally clued me in that there was something missing.  I’ve since thrown that novel away and rebuilt it from the ground up.  The resulting story is ten times better and is one of the eight books I’m preparing for publication in my upcoming “Eight Books in Eight Months” publishing blitz.

Before I pull the trigger on those novels though, I’ve dedicated the time to rewrites, I’ve gathered honest feedback from beta readers, and I’ve worked with professional editors (including Joshua Essoe and Evan Braun) to make sure they’re really ready.

Even so, I still have to wonder, are they really?

This time I feel a lot more justified in saying, “Yes.”

When Purple Unicorns Become More – One Horn To Rule Them All

Over the years the Fictorians site has existed we’ve talked a lot about Superstars Writing Seminar. This group wouldn’t exist without Superstars. It’s hard to explain how special this conference and the people who attend it are. But maybe, Lisa Mangum’s post below might give you some idea.

Lisa has loved and worked with books ever since elementary school, when she volunteered at the school library during recess. Her first paying job was shelving books at the Sandy Library. She worked for five years at Waldenbooks while she attended the University of Utah, graduating with honors with a degree in English.

An avid reader of all genres, Lisa crossed over to the publishing side of the industry in 1997. She’s currently the Managing Editor at Shadow Mountain. Lisa loves movies, sunsets, spending time with her family, trips to Disneyland, and vanilla ice cream topped with fresh raspberries. She lives in Utah, with her husband, Tracy. She is the author of the Hourglass Door trilogy and After Hello.

So, Lisa – When is a Purple Unicorn more than just a silly mythical creature?


one horn


I’ve been working in the publishing industry since 1997, and I’ve seen a lot of books cross my desk. I’ve even written a few books of my own. But I haven’t ever really edited an anthology quite like ONE HORN TO RULE THEM ALL. I mean—purple unicorns? Really?

Yes, really.

The genesis of the collection came about from the Superstars Writing Seminar. I was attending for the first time, and I was both impressed and amused by the fact that a purple unicorn was the example used to illustrate how to be a professional author. The idea was that if an editor asks you for a story about a purple unicorn, you better deliver a story about a purple unicorn.

As the conversation continued, I made a comment on the Superstars Facebook page about how now I kinda wanted to write a purple unicorn story. Enough people agreed with me and responded with title suggestions and more pictures of unicorns than I imagined existed. (Though, hello, Internet, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised.)

The idea stuck with me, though, long after the seminar ended, and one day I emailed Kevin J. Anderson (cofounder of Superstars) and said, “This might be the stupidest idea ever—or the most brilliant.”

Together we hammered out a plan that would result in a collection of twenty stories about purple unicorns. I said I would donate my time to edit the anthology (including reviewing all the stories and editing them) if WordFire Press would publish it, and all sales of the book would benefit a scholarship fund for someone to attend next year’s Superstars.

I’ll be honest. It’s not like I had a lot of time to edit a 100K-word anthology in July. I had a novella of my own to finish writing, plus a Con to attend, plus helping my husband shoot his short film, not to mention all the work that comes with my full-time job as Managing Editor of Shadow Mountain Publishing. And yet…

I wanted to work on the project. I had such an amazing time at the Superstars seminar, and it was such a rich and fulfilling weekend that I wanted other people to enjoy the same thing. Plus, I had made dear friends with the other Superstars attendees, and I wanted to read the stories they would write.

So, as an editor, I asked for unicorn stories. And, as professionals, the Superstar authors delivered.

And oh, the stories they wrote! Some were funny, some were sad. I read stories about detectives and mobsters and fairies and moms and zookeepers and veterans. I traveled to distant planets, to Fairyland, to a Comic-Con.

It has been a joy and a privilege to work on this anthology. The stories are amazing, and best of all, with each book sold, we get that much closer to bringing even more aspiring authors into the Superstars Tribe as we help each other make the leap from amateur to professional.

Being a writer can be a crazy career choice. Publishing can be heartless. It’s a crazy world out there, kids. Best find yourself a Tribe—and bring a unicorn with you if at all possible.


 Thank you, Lisa. Purple Unicorns are everywhere. Pets and RenFest 8.14 004

She picked some amazing stories for the anthology. Kevin J. Anderson and the entire WordFire gang will be at Salt Lake ComicCon starting on September 4. Stop by the WordFire Booth to say “hi” and maybe help us fund the Superstars scholarship. If you buy a copy of One Horn To Rule Them All at the Wordfire booth I bet you can get several of the authors to autograph it. The book sells for $14.95 in paperback and $4.99 in E-reader formats:

If you (like me) aren’t able to attend the Salt Lake ComicCon this time, you can find Purple Unicorns here:

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/one-horn-to-rule-them-all

(Kobo like Shadow Mountain is a Superstars Sponsor so if we can send love/ sales  its way, that would be wonderful).

Amazon: One Horn

Barnes & Noble: One Horn To Rule Them All.