Over the past three years I’ve learned a few tricks that I thought I’d pass along. These are some tips to make life a little easier on authors. (And some are just for fun!) As always, these are just suggestions that worked for me. Others may have different experiences with one or more sites.
1) If you have a series, Amazon doesn’t usually notice, so contact them through KDP and ask them to link the books. The full series will then appear just below your blurbs so readers don’t have to go searching for the next few books.
2) If you’ve updated the cover or blurb of your book, but when you post it on FB, the old cover/blurb appears in the preview, there’s a way to override it. Copy the book link, then go to FB’s debugger tool. Paste the link and click on “Debug.” You might have to “scrape” it more than once before the new cover/blurb appears. Now every time you post the link on FB, you’ll get the right info in the preview.
3) If you have a series that spins off into other series (my Trident Security series has spawned four spin off series that interact with each other) consider putting a “Best Reading Order” page on your website, then mention the link at the back of your books, in your newsletter, and on social media. This is the most popular page on my website and numerous readers have told me they love it because they get to read all the books in the order they were written and can avoid even the smallest spoilers.
4) Also with series, after your 3rd or 4th book is out, consider making the first book perma-free. It gives readers an incentive to try an author they’ve never heard of before with no risk. In order to do this with Amazon, you must have the book out of KU and list it on the wide sale sites (B&N, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play). Then send Amazon the links and ask them to price match. You should check the price on Amazon occasionally because they’ve been known to revert perma-free books back to the paid price without warning. This happened to me twice. All I had to do was contact them with the links to the other sites again and ask them to make it free again.
5) If you’re starting to go to book signings, ask in your reader group if anyone who lives nearby might want to be your assistant for the day. I pay for their assistant ticket and also give them a $25 Amazon gift card for helping me. It’s better than having a friend or relative helping me because my readers are so passionate about my books that they end up creating more “cold sales” than I do while chatting up the attendees waiting to meet me.
6) Look into Prolific Works and Bookfunnel for distributing your ARCs and free books for contests and such. If your book is also perma-free, you can make your book free on Instafreebie’s library where new readers can find you.
7) Back up everything at least 3 times! I save my files on my computer, on an external hard drive, and on Dropbox. I’ve learned the hard way not to rely on 1 or even just 2 places.
8) Did you know you can update your blurbs and author bio without going through the KDP bookshelf? Just go into Author Central and click on Author Page or Books and update the information from there. This way your book is not “frozen” in review for 24-48 hours in the KDP bookshelf.
9) Did you know you can link your website’s blog to your author page on Amazon? Also there’s a spot to list your upcoming author events! Again, click on your Author Page in Author Central.
10) Did you know you can link your website’s blog to your Goodreads dashboard too? Yup, you can! From your Author Dashboard, click “view your blog.” There’s an option to sync to a pre-existing blog.
11) Did you know there’s an app extension that lets you post to Instagram from your desktop? There is! I hate having to post from my phone so this app was a game-changer for me. This is the one I use for Chrome.
12) Did you know there’s a way to convert regular FB text to bold or italics? Just enter what you want to post into YayText and it converts it for you. Then copy/paste and you’re done!
13) QR-Code generator—great way to have a code available at your table at a book signing or put onto paper swag to hand out. Link it to the first book in your series or a freebie book or even your website.
14) Want to learn how to use Photoshop for your teasers and covers? Check out Photoshop Essentials. They have easy to follow instructions on how to do lots of things in Photoshop. Wiki-how is another site with easy to understand instructions for the program.
15) When you upload your book from Word to a print-on-demand site, do you end up with a blank page in the middle of the book and can’t figure out why? Drove me nuts when this happened to me and then it took an hour to figure out what to do about it. If it happens, check out this link for instructions on how to get rid of it.
16) Can’t figure out where to find the iBooks’ link to your book, find it here!
17) Want a fun, animated signature for your email? I love My Live Signature!
18) Need a Goodreads librarian to help you with something? There’s a group on Facebook dedicated to that!
19) Do you have so many “friends” on FB that it’s difficult to weed out the inactive accounts? There are two ways I do this. Every day, FB sends me a notification with that day’s birthdays. I click on it and scroll down to the upcoming days, then click on each person’s profile link. I look to see when was the last time they posted or commented on a tagged post. If it’s been several months, and I don’t see a reason for it (i.e. they’ve been sick), then I unfriend the profile to make room for a new friend request. The other way is to click on your friend list on your profile and scroll down. Look for any profiles that don’t have a profile picture. Don’t automatically unfriend, because there are a few people who prefer not to have a profile picture. Hover over their name. If a pop-up box for their profile doesn’t appear, then the account has been deactivated. Just use caution, because if the person was thrown into FB jail for a few days, you won’t get a pop-up box.
20) Worried that your pen name will get flagged for not being a real person? Get an IRS Employee Identification Number from their website. There is an option to register your pen name as an alter-ego and link it to your SS number. You’ll receive a PDF with the information. Save it in a safe place and send it to FB if your account needs verification. Also, use your pen name when having book related things mailed to you. Take a photo of the address label and FB will accept that as a second proof of identity. Don’t always assume someone reported your pen name as a fake name. Sometimes profiles get caught up in the unknown algorithms for one reason or another. (BTW—If an image you used gets you in trouble with FB, don’t assume yours was the one reported. Sometimes the algorithms pick up your post because the image was reported when it was posted by someone you don’t even know. The algorithms search for where else that image appeared and flag it.)
21) Need to convert a mobi or epub file from Vellum back into a Word doc? It’s easy to do online at Convertio.
22) Want to make a little side money while sending readers to your buy links on Amazon? Become an Amazon Affiliate! You’ll be able to create specific links to your books that will earn you money when anyone buys your book through that link AND anything else they purchase at that same time that qualifies.
23) Can’t figure out how to claim your Bookbub author profile? It’s easy! Go to www.bookbub.com and scroll to the fine print at the very bottom. Click on Claim an Author Profile!
24) Frustrated with pirate sites posting copies of your books? Look into Blasty.co and Muso.com. Note—while these sites will help you keep piracy to a minimum, they won’t stop it completely. It’s part of the business so get used to it. Just remember that most of the people who use pirate sites probably won’t buy ANY book—they get plenty for free—so most likely you’re not losing many actual sales. Frustrating yes, but it is what it is.
***Update! Many authors are reporting billing and support issues with Blasty at the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019. As a result, I’ve downgraded my recommendation. Please do your own research on whether the issues have been resolved.
25) Need a name for a new character and you’re drawing a blank? Here are two name generator sites I use (in addition to the one in the Scrivener program). UK Name Generator and Random Name Generator.
26) Are your books in KU? This is one of the most common places pirates get books to list on iBooks. Once a week, I check for my books on iBooks. Twice I found some of my books on there. Everything—cover, blurb, title, author name—was the same. The only difference was the publisher. If this happens to you, don’t freak! Contact iBooks immediately and let them know you own the sole copyright to the book (give them the book’s ID number) and did not give anyone permission to list the book for you. They’ll pull it from the library within 24-72 hours (usually within 24 hours). Once you’ve contacted iBooks, then go into your KDP account and contact Amazon. Let them know a pirate listed your book on iBooks without your knowledge or permission and that you’ve put in a request to have it removed. State that you’re letting Amazon know because you don’t want to be accused of being in violation of the KU rules and regs. Both times, I received the same response. Amazon thanked me for letting them know. They understood that it would take a few days to have the book(s) removed and that my status with KU would not be affected.
There are plenty more tips that I’m sure I’ve forgotten, but as I remember them I’ll start a new list! Happy writing!
***I do not have any connection to any of the recommended sites other than being a client. I am not reimbursed in any fashion for recommending the sites.
4 thoughts on “The Little Things—A Few Helpful Tips for Authors”
Thank you for sharing these great ideas!
This is awesome info! Thank you!