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The Savvy Self-Publisher is a free newsletter sent by e-mail, with tips and tricks to help the streetwise author publish a book quickly and economically -- and to promote it more effectively. It contains success stories of self-publishers in action, and a treasure trove of tools to help you reach more readers.

Below are EXCERPTS from recent issues. Click HERE to get the FULL newsletter by e-mail, free of charge. It includes live hypertext links (unlike the excerpts below) and additional stories of interest to authors and publishers not displayed here.

Please note: the excerpts below are intentionally formatted very simply, as they appear in our no-nonsense e-mail bulletins.

===> Amazon's New "Author Ranking" Considered <===

This bulletin is expanded from co-author Danny O. Snow's recent report
in Publishers Weekly.

"The author  not the publisher  is the brand that readers care about."
-- Mark Coker,

[October-November 2012] recently announced that it has launched
a new "Author Rank" feature on its site.

The new ranking is based on cumulative sales of all books by each author,
updated hourly. Thus, a prolific writer who has multiple titles selling
well on Amazon should fare better than one with a single blockbuster.

It is widely recognized that when a book's ranking by title on Amazon
reaches the coveted "Top 100," additional exposure can create a kind of
tipping point that propels some books to unexpected heights. Adding
rankings by author opens a second gateway to the top.

For the smaller publisher or undiscovered writer, this new metric may
prove mostly a dismal reminder - repeated hour after hour - of how hard
it is to succeed in an industry where supply outpaces demand by a huge
margin. However, the hourly update does open the door for a new voice
to grab the spotlight for a short time if a flurry of orders is
concentrated into a small time frame. Even an hour of prime time could
in fact hatch a fledgling audience for an otherwise ignominious book.

Since author rankings will be segmented by genre (like rankings by
title) the highest ranking numbers may not be strictly limited to
writers with huge readerships; writers in niche genres could enjoy
impressive looking rankings within their topic. However, a high author
ranking in an obscure genre may not necessarily insure the kind of
extra exposure afforded the Top 100 overall, as with the existing
title ranking system.

Amazon's title ranking system (as opposed to the new ranking system
for authors) has been the subject of endless speculation, confusion
and debate among authors and publishers for years.

Newly published titles, for example, may appear to skyrocket in the
title rankings after a handful of orders, only to plummet just a few
days - or even a few hours  later.

At the fringes of the book world, there is also a cottage industry
of charlatans who specialize in manipulating Amazon's rankings of
books, often preying on hapless self-publishers who pay merely for
bragging rights about a superlative ranking, however short-lived or
contrived... while deceiving the reading public. Skeptics wonder if
the same kind of malfeasance could undermine the usefulness of
Amazon's new rankings of authors as well.

In the world of e-Books, initial responses from authors and
publishers range from strong raves to strong reservations...

This is an EXCERPT from our e-mail newsletter.  Please use
the link at the bottom of this page to get a free subscription!

===> Amazon opens Kindle Outlet in India <===

August-September 2012: on August 22, Amazon announced the opening of a
Kindle store for India.  This followed summer openings in France, Germany,
Italy and other EU nations.

(Please click HERE to read the official press release.)
English is widely spoken in India, with a population of 1.2 billion,
compared to 311 million in America.  In a phrase, the potential audience for
Kindle e-Books just doubled.

Amazon is also making Kindle devices available from Croma stores across India
at prices that are affordable compared to competitive hardware like the iPad.
In addition, Kindle editions can also be read on PCs, Macs and a variety of
smartphones with the Kindle ap.

What does this mean for the self-publisher?  Here at we
have already observed unexpectedly promising growth in EU sales since the
opening of European outlets over the summer.  We expect to see additional
growth as a result of the new Kindle store opening in India.

Another benefit is that e-Books allow US authors and publishers to reach
readers in locations where it is too slow or costly to ship a printed book.
Until now, India was one of those locations.

One potential drawback is that e-Book prices in India are low, compared to
US, UK and EU e-Books -- which are already more modestly priced than their
printed counterparts.  Amazon will pay a royalty of only 35% for purchases
made by readers in India, regardless of retail price.  (Unlike US-UK-EU
Kindle sales, there will be no 70% royalty option for India.)  In round
numbers, this could mean that the author or publisher might earn only a
dollar from the sale of an e-Book in India for $2.99.

Just the same, with its "Kindle Direct Publishing" service, Amazon has made
it remarkably easy for DIY writers to publish their own books.  (Important:
please see reports below on related topics.)  Increasingly, this market is
becoming GLOBAL.

It's clear that the entire dynamic of the publishing industry is shifting
rapidly in favor of self-publishers, as you have read in our newsletters,
and hopefully at the "Self-Publishing Boom" community page on Facebook.
This report is just the latest in a series of breakthroughs that we have
been predicting for years.  More are sure to follow; please stay tuned for

See the link at the bottom of this page for a free subscription to our
e-mail newsletter, containing tons of helpful reports like this one!

===> "The Lazy Writer's Quick Guide to Formatting a KDP e-Book" <===

June-July 2012: One major benefit of Kindle Direct Publishing is that
Amazon sells e-Books that run not only on the Kindle itself, but also
on other devices using the Kindle-for-iPad application, and others
for the Mac, PC, smartphones, etc.

Ideally, your e-Book will look good on a wide variety of different
screen shapes and sizes. You can improve the chance for achieving
this goal by keeping the formatting of your manuscript simple and
consistent on every page.

If you are using Microsoft Word, change your "View" settings to
"Page Layout." Under "Tools" or "Options," make sure your settings
include "Display ALL non-printing characters." (This is usually a
checkbox.) As a result, you will more clearly see spaces between
words and sentences, tabs, paragraph marks, indents, etc. Using
these settings will promote greater consistency in the formatting
of your manuscript. The locations of these settings vary in different
versions of Word, but the settings above are so helpful that it's
worth extra time to track them down.

The steps below are intended to help you publish a clean, simple Kindle
edition on your own, with a minimum of time and effort. These steps are
NOT intended to create a fancy page layout, or an e-Book with pictures,
graphs, charts, etc. Instead, they are geared for publishing
uncomplicated text-based books that render legibly on a variety of
different devices.

-- Start with your full manuscript (not single chapters) in Word
(DOC, RTF or DOCX) format
-- Set up page size to 6x9" (same as a typical paperback)
-- Use a 1" margin top-bottom-left right with resulting "text footprint"
of 4x7" on the page
-- Remove blank pages throughout
-- Remove the index (if any) since page numbers are fluid, and most
e-Books are fully searchable.
-- Titles and headings should be no larger than 18 points
-- Use only one title page (the "half title" page is not necessary)
-- Use "Heading 1" style for each chapter heading
-- Insert a manual page break before each chapter heading
-- Create a Table of Contents with settings to display text flush left
-- Enable the checkbox "Use hypertext links" for chapter headings
-- Be sure to include a "Where to Find this Book in Print" page if
appropriate, using the Word "Insert hyperlink" tool
-- Be sure to include the Web address of your own Web site or Blog,
using the Word "Insert hyperlink" tool
-- Save your file in "Web Page, Filtered" (HTM) format
-- Upload the HTM file to KDP
-- Use the KDP preview tool to review the converted file, noting the
factors below:

It is common for the first draft uploaded KDP to need tweaking.  Allow
time to preview, make corrections, and re-submit if necessary.

The KDP preview tools are helpful in finding glaring errors, but generally
do not display exactly how the completed e-Book will appear to the reader.
Remember that each reading device (Kindle, iPad, smartphone, etc.) has a
different size screen and different default settings.

Moreover, devices for reading e-Books are usually "user definable," meaning
that the reader can instantly change the size of the text, the typeface and
other features  which alters the appearance of your e-Book the moment that
the reader changes any setting to suit his or her personal tastes. To
illustrate, imagine a reader using a tablet computer like the Kindle Fire
or iPad: if the reader rotates the device 90 degrees, the display
automatically changes from vertical ("portrait") to horizontal ("landscape")
mode or vice versa, in the blink of an eye. Suddenly, the length of every
line in the e-Book is wider or narrower... a completely different layout than
the moment before.

If you strive for simplicity and consistency in formatting your manuscript
for KDP, you will improve the chance that the completed e-Book will display
without major problems on a wide variety of screen sizes, different fonts
and type sizes, etc.

Side note: if you don't have the computer skills to follow these steps,
Amazon's POD printer CreateSpace will do a simple conversion for as little
as $59.  Or you may use our service for free, in exchange
for half the profits.  For writers who are comfortable using Word, we hope
this guide will help you do it yourself.

See the link at the bottom of this page for a free subscription to our e-mail
newsletter, containing tons of helpful reports like this one!

===> Microsoft Invests $300 Million in B&N <===

May 2012: Microsoft has purchased about 17% of Barnes & Noble,
almost certainly aimed at e-Book publishing.

This could elevate B&N's "Nook" device from a poor cousin to the
iPad and Kindle, to a valid competitor in the booming market for
e-Books and e-reading devices.

This is good news for authors and publishers, fostering more
competition between corporate bookselling giants -- versus
near-monopolies, price fixing and alleged bullying of authors and
publishers, as discussed in some reports below.

Prior to Microsoft's investment, rumors circulated that B&N might
not survive a trade war with Amazon, Apple and Google.  Now B&N has
more funding... and possibly a better chance of attracting other
investors, now that Microsoft is backing them.

While overlooked by many reports, we also see potential benefits
to B&N when Microsoft highlights their products in the upcoming
Windows 8 software release, as well as future versions of the
Bing search engine, and the Windows Explorer browser.

Updates to this subject will appear in future issues of our free
e-mail newsletter.  Subscribe today, and please stay tuned for

===> DOJ Charges Apple with Price Fixing <===

April 2012: The US Department of Justice has filed suit against
Apple and a handful of giant publishers for price fixing, alleging
that they colluded to inflate the prices of e-Books.

This report seeks to summarize what this means to smaller publishers,
and to writers who self-publish their own e-Books.

At issue is the so-called "Agency Model," in which the publisher
(or self-publishing author) sets the price of an e-Book, allowing the
bookseller to retain 30%.

For context:

Formerly, traditional tree-Book publishers simply set a "cover price"
and a "trade discount" with a wholesaler, who in turn made its own deals
with retail booksellers.

To illustrate: let's say you published a paperback with a cover price
of $10. You would probably have sold to a wholesaler for about $5, who
in turn sold to booksellers for about $7.50.

In this scenario, you were guaranteed $5 per sale. But the wholesaler
was free to sell to retailers at any price it wanted. The retailer
could also sell to the public at any price it chose -- even at a loss.

Fast forward to the 21st century:

In the early days of e-Books, it was widely rumored that Amazon sold the
Kindle at a loss, in order to build market share. Amazon, it was said,
hoped to capture enough customers to recover its losses over time.

It worked. For several years, Amazon dominated the e-Book market.
Although its Kindle devices were sold below cost, each time a Kindle owner
bought an e-Book for it, Amazon recovered more of its costs... AND enjoyed
a "captive" customer who would buy e-Books only from Amazon.

Now, there was no wholesaler. Amazon was both the wholesaler AND the

Meanwhile, Amazon's policies favored e-Books with prices from $2.99 to
$9.99, paying 70% to the author or publisher. For e-Books priced above
$9.99, Amazon paid only 35%.

The DOJ alleges that Apple made sweetheart deals with publishers of
popular books prior to the launch of its iBookstore.  Apple is also
accused of trying to prevent authors and publishers from selling books
created with its iBook software through any other outlet.

Why this is important:

If e-tailing giants succeed in signing authors and publishers to
"exclusive" deals, or in manipulating e-Book prices and royalties for
"selected" publishers (either higher or lower than everyone else's),
it would effectively stifle free trade and freedom of speech. The damage
would impact everyone who writes and publishes, from the "name" author
and publisher with millions of sales, to the first time self-publisher
of a single book.

Taking a lesson from the pre-digital traditions explained earlier,
it's fine if e-tailers want to sell e-Books (and devices for reading them)
at a loss, in order to attract customers. But ALL authors and publishers
-- not just the giants -- should get paid the same percentage, and the
percentage should be based on the "cover price" set by the publisher,
not the sale price set by the e-Bookseller.

===> Notes on e-Book Pricing <===

March 2012: Legalities and government regs aside, there's a good lesson
for the self-publisher to be learned from the recent charges of e-Book price
fixing by Apple and a handful of publishing giants: today's e-Book pricing
was carefully designed to echo the status quo of the pre-digital era --
but allowing e-Booksellers to function as BOTH wholesaler and retailer.

Let's use our book as a specific example to illustrate:
in paperback (108 pp, 6x9", $14.99) we earned $6.84 per retail sale, after
deducting wholesaler and retailer discounts and the cost of printing.
The e-Book edition ($9.99) earns us $7... exactly 16 cents more.

Coincidence?  Not a chance!  Any careful study of e-Book pricing policies
reveals that current structures were craftily designed to hold the
publisher's net on a par with earnings from tree-Books... or perhaps a
tad higher -- but NOT a lot higher.

The difference is that Amazon and Apple are now the wholesaler AND the
retailer, retaining 30% of each sale.  (In the case of the paperback,
Amazon is the printer too, retaining an additional $2 or so.)

Think about the future: imagine Apple and Amazon keeping 30% of every
e-Book sale, but with NO costs for printing, warehousing, shipping, or
unsold books.  Both are very smart companies with huge ambitions --
and none of this happened by accident.

Self-publishers, increasingly the most promising source of reading
material for industry giants to sell in the future, will be wise to
frame their planning around the factors discussed here.  The courts may
force the "powers that be" to alter their policies -- but our bet is
that ultimately, most authors and publishers of general trade books will
still earn about $5 to $7 whether e-Book or tree-Book... But for e-Books
the e-tailer will get $1 to $3 of nearly pure profit.

This is why Apple and Amazon have poured huge investments into making
it easy to publish e-Books: bypassing traditional wholesalers and
retailers, while getting ever-growing revenues from sales of a product
that costs them nearly nothing. 

Have questions?  Corrections?  Disagree entirely?  Your reaction is
welcome at "The Self-Publishing Boom" community page on Facebook!

===> Kindle Select: "Lending" and Free Download Promotions <===

Dan's Snow's Excellent Christmas Story Adventure:

February 2012: This is a special bulletin rather than a typical issue
of The Savvy Self-Publisher.  Unlike our regular newsletter, usually
chock full of short tips and tricks, this one covers only one topic...
but it's an important one that deserves deeper coverage.

There's been a lot of controversy (and misinformation) floating around
the book world about Amazon's new "KDP Select" program, with its optional
"Lending" feature.  If you publish a Kindle e-Book and enroll in KDP Select,
your book becomes available for members of Amazon Prime (only) to "borrow"
for free.  You are then paid a small share of a $500,000+ monthly royalty
pool each time it's borrowed.  For books borrowed in December of 2011,
the payout was $1.70 each.  (Compare this with a $2.10 royalty on a $2.99
buy.)  You earn a little less, but the presumption is that some readers
will download a book for free, which they wouldn't buy for $2.99 to $9.99.
Is this presumption true?  We don't know -- but for the unknown writer,
it doesn't seem like a bad idea to try... You can always disable the
lending feature later.

Some have complained that KDP Select is depriving authors and publishers.
We disagree, for the following reasons:

-- It's free and optional.

-- The borrower can only get one free book per month, and must delete
(or buy) it before borrowing a different book.

-- You get a small royalty, possibly from readers who might ignore your
book were it not free.

-- You can always discontinue KDP Select (after 90 days) if you don't
like the results.

Another (separate!) feature of KDP Select allows you to offer your book
for free to ANYONE (not just Amazon Prime Members) for one to five days
each quarter.  In this scenario, you are NOT paid out of the monthly
royalty pool, nor must the reader delete or buy it before getting another
book.  Here again, the hope is that after reading the e-Book, the reader
might order a copy in print... or buy one of the writer's other books.
To us, this seems attractive mostly for unknown writers who are struggling
to cultivate a grassroot audience.  But we decided to test it anyway...

Here's the tale:

Just prior to Christmas 2011, I made my eight page holiday story "A Kid's
Christmas in Queens" available as free download for five days.  As a
subscriber to this newsletter, you probably got an announcement by e-mail.
I also posted it on Facebook and Twitter, but did little else to promote it.
I did mention that the Kindle edition runs not only on the Kindle itself,
but also on Kindle-for-iPad/iPhone, Mac, PC and other devices... which is
an important point for anyone who is promoting a Kindle book.

Although the subject of the story was ideal for the dates of the promotion,
I was surprised that 700 copies were downloaded in just five days.  At one
point, it was ranked as high as #6 under free Christmas books for kids,
following only a handful of such greats as "A Christmas Carol" by Charles
Dickens, and "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore and
Jessie Willcox Smith.  Below is a link to a screenshot at the time:


===> News You Can Use <===

For his eighth book, "Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve
Your Profits and Your Planet," Shel Horowitz and his co-author, Jay Levinson,
donated a small portion of the first month's sales to a relevant charity, Green America,
and linked to the organization from the book's website. In return, the group featured
the book in a newsletter sent to its 94,000 members. Visit Shel at for details.

Dan Snow adds: nearly ANY book holds some kind of connection to a worthy cause.
Identify a good match between your book and a nonprofit, then offer to earmark a
share of proceeds from orders placed by its members. If you use POD, you probably even
create a customized special edition for this purpose. For the nonprofit, it's an easy,
no-cost way to generate much-needed funds; for the author-publisher, it attracts
potential readers with a direct interest in the subject; for the members, it's a good
read about a topic they enjoy. Everyone wins.

===> The Write Stuff <===

The meaning of "nauseous" is CAUSING nausea, not experiencing it. The word "nauseated"
means feeling nausea. People who feel sick sometimes say "I'm nauseous," when they
mean to say "I'm nauseated."

"The Write Stuff" is a regular feature of this newsletter, intended to help subscribers
polish their writing. Got a pet peeve? Share it by e-mailing with
your suggestion.

===> Donate Books for Children <=== 

The Madera County Child Abuse Prevention Council (MCCAPC) in California wants donated
books for children. MCCAPC is a non-profit agency (ID # 82-0576184). 

For the 14th year, MCCAPC will be hosting an annual community event. A popular activity
is 'Story Time' where volunteers read stories to the children.  This year they want to
offer a free book to each child who participates in Story Time.  Hopefully, receiving
a book to take home will encourage the joys of reading. If you have spare books for
children, please consider donating them.

-Barbara Bailey, Event Chair:

===> Quotation of the Month for Self-Publishers <===

"Without promotion, something terrible happens ... NOTHING!"

-P.T. Barnum 


The items above are EXCERPTS from our recent newsletters. Click HERE to get a free subscription to the FULL newsletter by e-mail, free of charge.

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