Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Category: Self-publishing

Book Trailer for Bureau 39

bureau39_ebook_front 2If you’re going to promote your book these days, you need to spend a lot of time on social media. Just posting a link to your book on Amazon or wherever else that it is available is just not going to work.

You need a video.

Specifically, you need a book trailer.

Of course, you still have to publish it somewhere and of course you still have to get people to watch it…who you hope will want to buy your book, but it’s just one of the things that indie authors have to do if they want to reach a wider market.


What do you think? Makes you want to go out and buy the book now, doesn’t it?

Book Marketing Strategies: How Much Should You Charge?


I’ve read a number of articles and blog posts about how much to charge for an eBook. Most of these articles suggest setting the price between 1.99 to 3.99 and I would have to agree, though I think the 2.99-3.99 range is most appropriate for most self-published authors.

Of course, no one wants to sell their book too low and face the stigma that the reason the price is too low is because the book is not good enough. And of course on the other end, selling the book at a higher price means that you deserve to make as much as you can for all the hard work you put into your literary achievement.

When I wrote my first novel, War Remains, A Korean War Novel, I set the price at 5.99. I thought that was a fair price for all the work, energy, and time, I put into writing it. However, sales were dismal despite everyone who bought it telling me that it was a good book. When I lowered the price to .99 cents for a promotional campaign, suddenly my sales rocketed and continue to do quite well, when I decided to sell the book at 3.99.

I do believe that more people will buy a book for a lower price and take a chance with an unknown author than spending over 5.00 for a book with an author they are not too familiar with.

Now I set the price for all my books at 3.99 and sales have been quite good. I’ve also experienced a halo effect. Whenever I sell any of my books for .99 cents, days and in the case of When A Hard Rain Falls, two months after the book promotion, I continue to sell a couple of books a day.

Although selling your book at .99 cents means a profit of .35 cents per book, I believe the exposure the book outweighs the profits made. However, because of this halo effect, I do make up the difference immediately.

When A Hard Rain Falls: You CAN judge a book by its cover


Believe it or not, When A Hard Rain Falls has quickly become one of my best selling books.

Although it does not have the kind of reviews that War Remains and Ice Cream Headache have, it is one of my best selling books on a day-to-day basis.

Inasmuch as it is a good story about a father fighting evil to protect his sons while they are on a camping trip, the cover work by the very multi-talent artist and designer Anna Takahashi proves that you CAN judge a book by its cover.

I just love the cover design and how Anna was able to capture the intensity and the suspense of Keith Mitchell’s story and how an ordinary camping trip becomes one of survival.

This is the second book cover Anna designed for me and it also shows how much we both learned about cover design. First of all the Title font is very strong capturing the story’s suspense. Also the placement of the book blurb is crucial. Your eyes move from the lightning to the title, downward with the rain to the blurb. Finally, the cover is a wrap around design: the back mirrors the front. It is a most appropriate design for the book cover.

How to Avoid the Self-Publishing Blues #2: You’re So Vain


You probably thought this book….

Let’s face it, one of the biggest challenges with self-publishing, other than how to best market your book is how to overcome the vanity press stigma which many people have with authors who self-publish.

Back in the day, an author would write a book, go to a local printer and print a couple hundred copies and then pawn them off on family and friends. If an author was lucky, they might get close to recouping their original investment, and perhaps, if luckier, break even. Those that didn’t ended up with a garage full of books and their dream of becoming a writer shattered.

Fortunately for authors, one doesn’t have to shell out a couple hundred or even thousand dollars to get published these days. In fact, one could publish an eB0ok or a paperback through places like Createspace or Lulu for nothing and depending upon the book’s subject matter, start making a profit within hours of the book going live. And if the book is good, an author could enjoy a brief run of success, perhaps even land a lucrative contract from a publishing house.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Anyone now can publish anything he or she wants and call themselves a published author.

However, that vanity stigma is still with it and from time to time, raises its ugly head again.

I recently published my sixth book, When A Hard Rain Falls, and I was all set for a good run. As soon as it went live on Amazon, I posted a photo of the book on Facebook and instantly the post received over 100 likes. That’s about as far as it went.

You see, people know the drill: author publishes book, author promotes book on Facebook. Friends like that the author has published a book. And sadly for many authors this is the cold, hard reality with self-publishing: it doesn’t go any further than that.

Some people will tell you that the best way to sell more books is to write more books with the idea that the more your name is bandied around as an author, the more likely folks will gobble up one’s books. On the other hand, there is the chance for overkill: can too many books spoil the author?

I’m not sure what to think two weeks into the publication of my sixth book. My first book, War Remains was received quite well, but I think a lot had to do with the novelty of the idea of one publishing his or her first book.

So, how do you avoid the self-publishing blues and escaping the vanity stigma?

That’s hard to answer given the preponderance of books being published around the clock. Obviously, there is a demand for some books, though for the life of me (no pun intended) I can’t figure out why books about zombies sell well. I think the biggest problem is that world has gone mainstream. It’s getting harder and harder to compete with a lot of crap being written these days which means it’s getting harder and harder to get noticed. I once had an agent tell me that she loved my first book War Remains, that it was a good story, but she felt that she couldn’t sell it. She suggested that I write a mystery or a thriller; so I wrote When A Hard Rain Falls.

Although the advice I am about to give might not help you if you have a book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble and your sales have convinced you not to give up your day job, but if you are going to self-publish, PLEASE make sure you have invested some money into editing and design. It might not help you sell a thousand or more books, but if we are ever to escape this self-publishing stigma we have to make sure our books are just as good as ones being turned out by traditional publishing houses.

Another thing you can do, and this is some advice I have seen a lot of published authors give, and that is to choose your categories wisely. That is one way to get a little more exposure to sell more books and free you from the shackles of the self-publishing stigma. I know an author who published a book a few days ago and already the book is in the top ten because of the category. People see that and they probably don’t care if the book was self-published or not. That my friends is another hard reality about self-publishing.

There is hope for us, though. We just have to keep on doing what we love and believe in the dream.

Why Book Reviews on Amazon Matter

You’ve written and self-published the Great ______ (fill in your country’s name here) novel and now you’re ready to share your book with the world. What do you do first?

One of the most difficult, if not challenging aspects of self-publishing—whether it’s an eBook, a POD(Print on Demand) or a book published with a traditional printer—is how to market and promote your book.

Unless you’re willing to drop a couple thousand dollars for a marketing package through some of the more popular self-publishing houses such as Lulu, Dog-Eared, or Author House, you are left, if you can excuse the pun, to your own design.

How then do you promote the book you spent x amount of weeks, months, and in some cases, years slaving over? How do you get your book out in the public eye once you have sold all the copies you could to family and friends—either in person or through social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace? More importantly, how do you generate an interest in cyber space for your book without breaking the bank—your bank, that is—and spending all that hard earned cash from your book sales?

Years ago, when I visited Barbara’s Bookstore in Chicago for the first time with one of my very close friends, who at one time worked for the store, one of the first things I did (per his suggestion) was ask one of the clerks, what books he recommended. After I listened to his list of books he had read recently, he pointed me to a display of books that were the staff’s picks.

This is what we might do when we visit a traditional brick and mortar book shop when we’re looking for a book. And it’s not that different online. If you’ve been involved with self-publishing for any length of time, you’ve probably already know the importance of having people who’ve read your book, write a review of it for such places as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Without question, it is the most direct way of getting your book noticed once it is out there in cyber space. Having a review of your book posted online is like those staff picks at Barbara’s—steering readers in the right direction.

How important are reviews? This past weekend, my Korean War novel War Remains shot up the charts to Number 9 on Amazon’s Top 100 Korean War books for a brief period. However, what was even more remarkable was that my novel was one of the most top-rated books. That’s how important reviews are for generating interest and creating more visibility for your book. For a few hours, my novel was getting a lot of visibility, and thanks to those reviews, more people bought my book.

Of course, getting people to write reviews is not always easy. Many people are either too busy to sit down to take the time to write a review or perhaps, they are worried about their writing ability. If either one is the case, you might want to create some sort of a contest, like having a drawing for a free autographed book to those who write reviews. And if you have a little money to spend, you might even have a drawing for a Kindle or Nook reader.

Another thing you could do, though it is a little time-consuming, is ask certain authors for a free copy of their eBook to review and in return, share a free copy of your book for them to review. Many authors are more than willing to share a free eBook for a review. What makes this option appealing is that on Amazon, you can list your book in the review—thereby increasing your book’s visibility through your review.

Do all these things work? Yes, they do. I know from my own experience that I have been able to sell more books and create more interest in my books through reviews.

These are just a couple things you can do to promote and market your book through reviews—whether the reviews people write about your books or the ones you write. In the marketing and promotion game, it’s all about visibility and getting your book and your name out there. Good Luck!

War Remains featured on Indie Spotlight

I’ve been waiting for this for over four months and finally today, War Remains is the feature book on Indie Spotlight.

Hoping for some more exposure.

The thing about self-publishing is that you do spend a lot of time promoting your book in every possible way. I wish there were more sites like Indie Spotlight to promote one’s book.

How to promote your book

That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out: the best way to promote my book. I’ve done pretty much everything I could do with Facebook and my blog and now I’m trying to find other ways to promote the book. Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed that the book has not done as well as I thought it would in South Korea or my hometown where a lot of the drama takes place.

This could be one of the pitfalls with self-publishing. Some people might not take you as seriously as they might if you were with a more recognizable and established publisher.

It’s been suggested that I make up some flyers and send them off to organizations like the VFW. I think this a good idea.

I am also looking into this site called Book Buzz, where for $99 they will do some promoting for your book.

I am still counting on “word of mouth” promotion for my book; that’s why I’ve put a lot of stock into Facebook for spreading the word is it were.

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