Episode 88 – Control, Planning, and the Amazon UK Store

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Question of the Week: How far in advance do you plan your publishing schedule? How do you (or could you) use pre-orders to improve your pre-planned releases?

Jim and Bryan have reached over 100 reviews on iTunes! You can still leave a review to enter Bryan’s book description giveaway contest before December 31st. In their latest show, they touched upon tips about keeping book reviews, building a better website, and spending less time on Twitter. They also thanked their latest patrons Geoff North (author of Thawed: Cryers http://bit.ly/thawcry ) and J. Rutger Madison (author of A Curse Upon the Saints http://bit.ly/curssaint ). News stories included ebooks in Kenya, Jane Friedman’s content marketing success, the addictiveness of self-publishing control, how publishers and authors can work together, Smashwords latest publishing poll, and the new Author Earnings Amazon UK report. This week’s Question of the Week: How far in advance do you plan your publishing schedule? How do you (or could you) use pre-orders to improve your pre-planned releases?
What You’ll Learn:
  • How to download Jim’s new K-Reports tool
  • What authors can do to protect their existing Amazon reviews
  • How to build a better author website
  • How to tweet in less time
  • Why e-reading in Kenya is a harbinger for international book sales
  • What Jane Friedman is doing to help authors sell more books
  • How self-publishing control can cause mental anguish for hybrids
  • Why Porter Anderson thinks authors and publishers should work together
  • The importance of pre-orders and planning in growing your business
  • How to interpret the results of the latest Author Earnings report
Question of the Week: How far in advance do you plan your publishing schedule? How do you (or could you) use pre-orders to improve your pre-planned releases?

get show updates

  • Kirsten Oliphant

    Hey, thanks so much for linking to my guest post over at Jane Friedman’s site! Love your show! 🙂

    • Thank Bryan for finding that. :0 Nice article. Glad to have you as a listener.

      • Kirsten Oliphant

        THANKS, BRYAN!!! I feel super special getting included and it was awesome to be on Jane’s site.

        • Bryan

          You’re welcome! Congrats on the post :).

  • Laura Morelli

    Hi guys, FYI, the Jane Friedman you quoted on your show is a different Jane Friedman than the one we all know and love. The one in your story is Jane Friedman, former CEO of Harper Collins and and current CEO of Open Road Media: http://www.openroadmedia.com/the-team/

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Laura! Yeah, Joanna Penn tweeted at me about that. Whoops! Good to know :).

  • Wow Jim! Thanks for the cool AMC K-Reports Tool! Just tested it out and it’s the visual presentation of the info that I’ve been needing.

  • Chris Shumate

    In 2015 I had rough ideas of when I wanted to publish my books, but I didn’t write anything specific down and stick to it. Thanks to coming to your show in 2015 and SPP this year, my projects going into 2016 are getting written down on a calendar I have hanging up above my desk at home. I’ve outlined projects I’ve started in 2015 that aren’t yet finished.

    I could use (and WILL in 2016) pre-orders to improve my chance of releasing my books because it’s a form of accountability. I’m like many authors in that if I don’t have someone breathing down my neck I’ll start 100 projects and complete none. I’ve published nothing this year, but started many.

    2016 is my year of finishing and getting things done.Thanks for your show helping me see the light and the transgression of my ways.

    • Bryan

      That’s fantastic, Chris! And thank you so much for the kind words :).

      Great work on the calendar and the pre-order accountability. Thank YOU for taking action!

      • Chris Shumate

        Not sure how this will look once it posts to the website (uploaded it from my phone). Here’s my first 4 months. Thanks for the encouragement too.

        • Bryan

          Good work!

  • I’d still love you guys even if you forgot my name. After last week’s episode, I was thinking we need a new SMBS segment: Kukrants. I want more angry Jim 😉

    • I’m getting calmer in my old age.

    • Bryan

      Kukrants! They’re so sporadic though. If we unleash the beast too often, what if we can’t get it back in…?

      • Jim needs to trademark “Kukrants.” Even one Kukrant a month would be so satisfying…

  • mtr amg

    What I have been noticing from trad publishers is they release an ebook – but it is actually a small sample of the longer book. It has a different ISBN number and it’s free. But readers get it and end up angry. then they post a poor review for it (even though it’s nothing to do with the author – they feel cheated). It shows that they don’t understand how the system works; people can read a sample of any book if you make it available for them before they buy.

    • Bryan

      I’ve seen this too. I was wondering what readers thought about it. Thanks for the info.

      • Crissy Moss

        I think it clutters up my kindle when I click on one. Usually it says “first chapter”, or first few chapters.

        I assume the publishers are doing it so they can rank on the free lists without actually giving anything away for free. They are trying to get those constant free seekers to notice so they can get word of mouth adverts by giving a shoddy product. I have a feeling this is going to backfire on them. Far better if they just had their authors write novellas or short stories as an intro and post those for free.

  • I don’t think my audience (non-fiction) is big enough to benefit from a pre-order at this point. Plus they aren’t in a series, although we have some sequels planned. …if you can call a non-fiction followup a sequel.

    I will do pre-orders for my fiction, but not until #2 (hehe), so readers can immediately buy it after reading #1.

    • Bryan



      I agree, preorders help when you have a large enough audience for sure. With fewer folks, it may not have as much of a benefit.

  • I have a production schedule for the next 12 months since I need to book my editor and cover designer really far in advance. I did a pre-order for my first book, but since then I haven’t. I’m just uncomfortable with being locked into a date by Amazon and risking the penalty.

    Unforeseen things crop up, and I love the ability to be nimble that being indie provides. Pre-orders definitely have advantages, as does building buzz, but time is tight, and I’d rather be writing. The true fans who would buy the pre-order will buy the book when it’s released, so I don’t see the big deal. It is convenient to have a buy link ahead of time when scheduling blog tours and things, but right now it isn’t worth the stress for me and the chance that I might miss the date and disappoint people.

    • Bryan


  • Bryan, I know you were apologizing to me as the gatekeeper for lurkers but no need, it was all in good fun.

    As for QOTW, I have one goal for 2016 and that is to publish 6 nonfiction Kindle books. Pre-orders will come into play when my fanbase clamors for it. A boy can dream right?

    As for “Kukrants” I’d be fine with “Mahogany Desk Minute” where Jim drops some truth bombs on trad pubs. It should open and close with sound effects of course.

    Another great show and thank you again for sharing all the news that is fit to print (or talk about) in the self-publishing world.


    • Bryan

      Hehe, Mahogany Desk Minute. Nice :). And thank you for listening!

  • I tend to know what I’m going to write about a year in advance. I have gotten into a little trouble with preorders this year, as I can be too enthusiastic about my deadlines and then struggle to meet the preorder deadlines.

    So next year, my plan is to have things finished well in advance, so that when I set a release date, I already know I’m going to hit it. This means I can stagger books in a series to come out at regular intervals. I’m looking forward to finding out if it helps sales.

    • Bryan

      Good luck, Simon! I think it will. If you can build your audience large enough :),

  • Darren Sapp

    Last week, Worldreader acquired 137 eBook copies of my
    novel, The Fisher Boy, for a school library in Kenya as bulk package of other
    books that school wanted. I wrote that book for my social justice ministry in
    Ghana and have hybrid publishing deal there for the paperback distribution.

    In general, many of these African countries are pushing
    reading and David Risher, the former Amazon executive, has used Worldreader to
    support that effort. There’s a ton of kids outside of major cities who cannot access
    books and the eReaders have been widely popular. They don’t have internet,
    video games, or much in the way of TV and kids are falling in love with
    reading. Many grade, middle, and high schools have their own bookstore with
    very low prices, and I sell more there than in traditional book stores. For the
    Kindles, they are taken to big cities, titles are downloaded, and returned to
    the local library.

    Worldreader is a non-profit, so I have a deal with them
    where I match a donor up with their sales like a school library sponsorship.
    About $1 per book. So, I don’t know if there are a lot of financial opportunities
    there for authors, but there are ways to give back. If you have a title you
    think would benefit a YA genre, contact Worldreader. They may offer it for sale,
    but I chose the donation route because I have an agenda to raise awareness of
    fishing slavery, promote adoption, and encourage reading.

    • Bryan

      Wow, Darren. That’s awesome! Thanks for the insider info about this. I have a YA book I’d love to donate. Does it need to be translated, or is English ok?

      • Darren Sapp

        For the most part, I’d say no translation needed. They want most of these kids to excel in English and their local language is either a national one or tribal one. A lot of translation work for a small audience. My editor wanted me to convert a lot of words to British spellings, because in Ghana and Kenya they “practise” those spellings. I chose to swap out most with a spelling neutral word. I had “toward” 76 times and used find and replace to make them “towards,” the Brit way. My Ghanaian publisher set me up with Worldreader and they are listed as editor on the Kindle. I’m waiting to hear if it shows as sales on Amazon and thus effect rankings, but of course, that’s secondary for me.

  • aspen rose arts

    I haven’t done preorders yet but I will do you play on those because it keeps you writing

    • Bryan

      Preorders can definitely help push you since you have a deadline.

  • Jane Steen

    Really great to hear the two of you discussing whether you’re adversarial or not so thoughtfully! I wrote that piece because Porter asked me for my thoughts pre-Author Day. I invite you to take a look at my speech for that event, which explains more fully why I’d like to see authors move forward from the question of whether we should self- or trad-publish and get together to discuss some common concerns. The link is http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/authors-are-authors-lets-close-the-divides/

    I’ve also got to defend Benjamin Guggenheim, because you got the story of that scene in Titanic totally wrong! Guggenheim knew very well that the ship was sinking and that he and his valet were going to die. They made sure the women in their party were on a lifeboat, then dressed up to the nines to face their deaths. Their bravery was witnessed by several survivors, and don’t forget this was a guy who could have bought his way to survival but refused to be a coward. The look of horror on their faces was understandable–imminent certain death is hard to meet with a smile.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Jane! I’ll see what Jim has to say about Guggs :).

    • That’s now how the director showed it. I think we’re interpreting the scenes differently, that’s all. Watch it again. 🙂

      • Jane Steen

        I’m not talking about the scene–if you interpret a scene in a movie one way and I another, that’s not a big deal, and it fit your analogy nicely. But Benjamin Guggenheim was a real person and eyewitness accounts of the real event testify to his courage. Just wanted to defend his name and not have everyone think he was some kind of idiot.

        Here’s an article that suggests Guggenheim may have been doubly noble by refusing to leave his mixed-race valet (who wouldn’t have been allowed in the boats) behind. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/titanic-anniversary/9196249/Titanic-mystery-of-playboy-solved-by-old-photograph.html

  • Crissy Moss

    The plan I have for my writing is only a general plan. I know what books I want to write next, but I have no idea how fast I can write them. Then I plan for 2-4 weeks for the edits once I get it finished. Even then I’m never quite sure when it will be out… too many things can go wrong, slow it down, so I don’t plan on doing pre-orders any time soon.

    As for the writing itself, I have a general idea of which books I want to write, and which series I want to focus on for the next four years. I already have a lot of the plots written out, I just need to write them now. I’m just trying to write faster now so that it doesn’t take that long.