Episode 15 – The Awards, Titles and Prices Show

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After a tiny chat about exercising while writing, we discussed awards, titles and prices during a jam-packed show. The tips of the week included focused emails to your subscribers, hunting down the best blogs in your genre and Twitter’s new pinning feature. Our news stories involved Konrath and Eisler vs. the Authors Guild, the importance of awards for indies, Amazon’s new KDP pricing feature, the recent U.K. author earnings study and what you need to do to become the CEO of your own author company. Jim also had some Yoda-like wisdom about how to motivate yourself to work hard on your business. In our Question of the Week we asked: Have you ever applied for an indie author award, and if so, why did you do it?
What You’ll Learn: 
  • How Bryan found people to read his advance review copies
  • What Jim is doing with the audio of Go Direct!
  • What you should keep in mind when sending our subscriber emails
  • How to find the best blogs in your genre
  • One way that Twitter has changed its format
  • What would happen if a publishing company broke ranks
  • Fifty different sites you can use to apply for indie awards
  • What you can do with KDP’s new pricing tool
  • How much money traditionally published authors earn in the U.K.
  • What you need to do to become your own author CEO
  • How Jim suggests you push through the hard work of being an author
Question of the Week:

Have you ever applied for an indie author award, and if so, why did you do it?

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  • I have never applied for any awards but I think that there is an interesting bit of psychology behind the movement. The more “artistic” leaning an author is the more likely he is to seek critical validation of his work. Creative people like to have “props” or respect from informed people who have demonstrated authority and taste.
    Unfortunately there is a business model behind some awards that undermines the integrity of the process. I don’t think that even the most credible awards translate directly to sales of financial success in the consumer market, but they can elevate a person’s stature and credibility within an industry among peers. That can be valuable.
    To bring in a music industry example. When songwriters or producers win awards…instantly their quotes go up. They get access to higher level collaborators and through that they can elevate their careers. Actors and directors who win festival awards get to keep working and can often leverage those awards to get bigger deals for later work.
    If collaboration is a part of your business model, reputable awards can be a valuable way to open the door to relationships with influential people in the industry. If an author has teaching or training as part of her business, awards can provide useful validation to attract potential joint venture partners and potential students/clients.

    • Bryan

      Great points, Gerad. I really appreciate how you bring in the perspective of multiple creative industries into your comments!

  • Lavie Margolin

    I did apply for a book award last year. I applied for an IPPY. I conducted much research and it seemed like there were only a couple of awards for self published authors in the non-fiction category. The price was about $75 and I did not win. I had hoped to use it in marketing the book and opening up some new opportunities but I did not think it would be the magic bullet. Would I enter again? Eh, probably not.

    • Bryan

      Thanks for the input, Lavie! Everything is worth a shot :).

  • I entered the Global Ebook Awards a few years ago. This was partly because Mark Coker from Smashwords gave them a glowing recommendation, and partly because I was new to publishing, and didn’t really have a handle on marketing. My book won the military non-fiction category, but I saw no difference in sales.

    I’ve entered all of my book covers into Joel Friedlander’s Ebook Cover Awards. He doesn’t charge, but does give useful feedback 🙂

    I doubt I’ll enter the Global Ebook Awards again, but I’ll be submitting my next cover to the Ebook Cover Awards.

    • Bryan

      Congrats on winning the award! Too bad it didn’t give you a boost.

      I’ve seen those Ebook Cover Awards. I may submit my latest cover there, if for no other reason than to promote my fantastic cover artist :). Thanks for the input!

      • That’s an excellent reason for entering the cover awards! I found my cover designer (Kit Foster) through the awards 🙂

        • Bryan

          Good to know :).

  • Update: I had my assistant go through and create a spreadsheet with all the book awards and their prices. Here you go! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-bWnRuqNutDXTIiH5h9whhdH_kqbj2tAjN6IjKqp_zA/edit?usp=sharing

    • Bryan

      Wow. That could add up. Thanks Jim’s assistant!

  • Chrishaun Keller

    Another great show guys!

    I wanted to chime in on the “becoming your own CEO”. I have a slightly different slant on it. I consider myself the CEO of my own startup. As a matter of fact, I tell people that I have a publishing imprint startup, which (at least in Austin) means that this is a serious business that’s started on a bootstrap (barely there) budget … and that I am working from a coworking space or my den…

    Some startups only have one product, while some have tens or even hundreds… but the point is that I saw this as a business from the beginning and having that mentality has encouraged me to reach out to other startups (including the CEO and CTO of the startup that I currently work for) for advice and encouragement.

    Another feature of the startup model is that it’s common to be part of an incubator that supports you (rents you space, provides a stocked kitchen, have health insurance buy ins) until you are ready to spin off on your own. And for me, that is what my day job is, a support line to feed and nurture my startup until it times to ‘cut the cord’. Is it hard? (yes) Is it crazy-making? (yes!) Do I sometimes want to stop and do something else, something easier? (yes, Yes, YES!… but I can’t. I have to write).

    So I believe that Indie Authors all start out as a CEO of a startup and simple expand the scope of products that they offer. Thanks for making the learning curve a bit less steep!

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Chrishaun!

      Thinking of yourself as a CEO of your own startup is a really interesting perspective! I love the idea of reaching out to others and forming an incubator. Makes me think of the HBO show Silicon Valley (I know Thomas, the lead actor, personally :)).

      • Chrishaun Keller

        That’s because that’s what the startup world’s really like in many ways… I bet you give your friend grief if he’s nothing like the character onscreen…!

        Informally many indie authors help one another with things like their experiences with a certain promotion, setting up and fixing their sites (my specialty is WordPress since I work for a WP exclusive hosting platform), setting up email systems, and the like. I even have what I call ‘office hours’ for folks that want to leave the house and write with someone else. It keeps writing from being such a solitary endeavour…

        • Bryan

          Thomas’ mannerisms are the same as when I saw him on stage nearly a decade ago :). Funny to see them on HBO.

          The office hours are a great idea! Yeah, I could use a little more friendly writing time :).

          • Chrishaun Keller

            Well, if you (or anyone else reading this) is in Austin on a Thurs from 10:30am-3:00pm, I’ll be the dark girl with dreads at Mozarts (on Sundays from 12pm-3pm I’ll be the same dark girl, but I will be at the Whole Foods at the Domain)!

  • Awards used to be coveted before Indie publoishing became acceptable because they might interest publishers in your work. “Poets and Writers” magaizine built its reputation on listing all the awards out there. Some of the prizes are substantial. Literary authors and poets tend to need the money, lol!

    They help getting into MFA programs as well. I won awards for poetry in the past but there’s no money in poetry anyway. As a reader I have bought Booker Prize winning books and things because I figured that guaranteed a certain literary standard and I was never disappointed. Best seller lists offer no such guarantees.

    All that aside, this all sounds so dinosaur to me now. Not that long ago… I would pay no more than $15 to enter a contest. I would never pay to enter a contest now. I wouldn’t even take the time. I know that’s where they get the pot, but with self publishing, its not worth it.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Alyne! Great points. We just taped this week’s show five seconds ago, so we won’t have a chance to add in your comment on the podcast, but I tend to agree with you :).

  • Hedonist Six

    Interestingly, when I just had a little look at the KDP pricing tool, I found that to maximise my earnings, according to Amazon, I should increase my price from 3.99 to 4.49. I find this interesting because at 55k words, my novel is pretty much at the lower end of being “novel length” and I heard that romance readers tend to be quite price sensitive.. Anyway, I just found that quite surprising 🙂 I wonder if anyone else has seen some interesting suggestions for their books?

    • Bryan

      That is interesting, H. I’ve only seen $2.99 suggestions myself, but I should check it out on all my books for fun.

  • Coming late to this discussion, but just listened to show. I entered the Kiss of Death RWA contest only for the feedback from industry professionals. I knew I wouldn’t win. My book wasn’t really the right genre for one. I’m not a romance writer. But, I got great feedback from an agent, two publishers, and a seasoned fiction writer all for $30. I’ve made copious changes in the manuscript.

    • Bryan

      Great way of using the contest, Greta! Very smart. Thanks for listening :).