Got an Author Newsletter? You need a Privacy Policy!

If you are an author with a mailing list or in the process of setting one up, it is a good idea to have a privacy policy listed on your website that details what you’re going to do with the personal information you collect.

According the Small Business Administration’s article “7 Considerations for Crafting and Online Privacy Policy,” you primarily need to have the following:

1. Explain How You Collect and Use Personal Information

While not required by law (although the Federal Trade Commission prohibits any deceptive practices), creating a privacy policy is important if you want people to buy your products. This is particularly important if you are involved in e-commerce or if you collect information in surveys or marketing forms. Every customer has a right to know how you collect and use their information.

Online privacy policy generators (just run a search on that term and you’ll find them) can help you craft a policy. As you craft yours, be sure to clearly explain the following:

  • Your Cookie Policy – Cookies are used to store user preferences or shopping cart contents. Clearly explain your cookie practice.

  • How You Share Customer Information – Customers need to know that their data will only be used to complete the transaction and that any further use of that data (including selling or distributing it) requires their consent.

  • Contact Information – Make it easy for your customers to contact you or file a complaint.

Clearly, if at some point you are considering using Facebook ads and any of their targeting/tracking methods over on your own website, you should probably have some type of disclosures about cookies.

While the FTC and many states do NOT yet require websites to have privacy policies, it’s a good idea to have one because some states (and some countries) do. California, Delaware, and Nevada all require “operators of Internet websites or online services that collect personally identifiable information” about their residents “to notify consumers about how that information is used.”

And quite honestly, in my own author mailing list, I have no way of knowing where those subscribers are based because I don’t collect mailing addresses, only emails.

Because I AM based in California, my website IS required to have a privacy policy.

But not every indie author (especially this startup indie author) has the money to pay an attorney the money to draft a privacy policy.

Luckily, googling terms like “free privacy policy template” or “free privacy policy generator” will bring up a whole slew of websites.

But which one should you trust?

According to this attorney roundtable podcast on the Smart Passive Income Podcast (which is well worth a listen, or going to the site and downloading the transcript for free, to because 80-90% of what this show talks about setting up a business structure applies to indie authors), some of these policies are junk.

Luckily more Internet searching turned up the San Francisco Better Business Bureau website, which links to a privacy policy template. I trust the BBB because it’s a non-profit that I’ve actually heard of. I copied and pasted their template, aand modified it to use for this website (just scroll to the bottom, and click Privacy Policy which currently links to an external google doc because I’m still trying to figure out this wordpress theme).

Even if you’re not in California, the San Francisco BBB’s privacy policy template pretty much covers everything you need (I think) and is worth a look, if you’re looking around for a free privacy policy template.

Please note that I am not an attorney, and this is in no way meant to be legal advice.

Mailerlite vs. Mailchimp: A Comparison for Authors and Other Artists

I’ve attempted to use a bunch of different mail providers including Mailchimp, Wix Shoutout, Sendpulse, and SendinBlue. Of all of them, Mailerlite is absolutely the one that I would recommend for the startup indie author with Mailchimp coming a close second. Many people recommend mailchimp because they allow up to 2000 subscribers on their free plan, while mailerlite only allows 1,000.

MailerLite Email Marketing for Small Business

However a comparison will show you that mailchimp gets really expensive fast as your subscriber lists grow.

With mailchimp,  $65 will only allow you to add up to 5,600 subscribers.


However mailerlite, $65 lets you add up to 20,000 subscribers. That’s a QUITE a difference!

Granted mailchimp has sorts of bells and whistles, like integration with facebook and instagram ads. Yes, at some point I may look to mailchimp for that kind of integration, as ads become a more important part of my strategy, but my little startup author business just isn’t quite there yet.

But the pricing is not the only reason why I think Mailerlite is #1 for authors.

Mailerlite is #1 for authors because of the sheer responsiveness of their customer service. Anytime I have a problem (which is not that actually that often), their customer support is fast to help. If you are not tech savvy, note that Mailchimp does not offer any individualized support for their free plans. And even if you are kind-of-sort-of tech savvy (like I know super basic HTML kind of saavy and am confident I can learn wordpress given enough time), there are certain things when it comes to newsletters that I feel much better being able to rely on customer support.

As an anecdote on how responsive Mailerlite is, an author friend of mine sent a suggestion to Mailerlite that they add Bookbub follow buttons to their social media options.

It was done THE NEXT DAY.

In comparison, when another author with a paid subscription requested the same thing of mailchimp, their response (and I’m paraphrasing here because I did not actually see the response) was that they would look into it.

I’m not tech-stupid, but it’s nice to know that mailerlite has my back, especially as I’ve been venturing into the world of DRIP campaigns and automation sequences. Let me tell you that setting one up is not necessarily the most intuitive thing (though mailerlite makes it a relatively simple process). In my first automation sequence I did make a few mistakes (random tip: add an a friend to your first automation sequence so that they can confirm that your emails are going out in the right order). Thankfully with mailerlite’s help, I was able to get things corrected.

If you’re interested in mailerlite and haven’t signed up yet, and have found this post helpful, please consider using my affiliate link here to sign up for a free account. Note that if you are also subscribed to Instafreebie and you have the two accounts connected (with your Instafreebie subscriber addresses being sent over directly to mailerlite, you’ll get a 30% discount.

MailerLite Email Marketing for Small Business
Have you used other mail providers that might be better at serving a startup indie author’s needs? Let me know in the comments!

 

How to Launch a Self-Published Book: 10+ Real Strategies and Results

How to Launch a Self-Published Book 10+ Real Strategies and Results

I’m in the process of studying strategies for an indie book launch, more specifically, online book launch strategies for a self-published novel. I’ve gone through the following books all (listed here in no particular order), of which have been important in helping me understand different methodologies.

Susan Kaye Quinn’s 10 Step Self-Publishing BOOT CAMP: The Survival Guide For Launching Your First Novel

Chris Fox’s Six Figure Author

Tim Grahl’s Your First 1000 Copies

These books were good to help me establish a baseline of techniques and understand some of the different methods one could use. My take away is that there isn’t just one best way to launch a book. There are lots of ingredients and lots of ways to combine them. As someone once said (I’m sure), there’s more than one way to make a cookie.

But how do these ideas work in practice? I’ve also been doing some research on how other authors have launched their books. The market is changing so rapidly that I believe that authors who recently launched books are the best experts to learn from.

Here is a roundup of 10 real life book launches within the last two years to learn from, ranked by the most recent ones first. I’ve included debut and midlist authors trying to break into the top hundreds, as well as authors like Joanna Penn who already have a relatively huge platform and fanbase. As a result, theirs is a very large range in terms of goals and results. Different techniques will work differently depending on the point you’re starting out at.
With each interview, I’ve also included the cover to each book (or series) that each post/podcast discusses that links back to Amazon so you can see for yourself how their books are currently doing now.

To me, it’s clear that not only are there many ways to bake a cookie, there are many different types of cookies to be made ☺

1. How I made over $1,000 the First Month of my Book Re-launch by Brandon Ellis (May 2017)

“I spent $313 for the promotion and I made just over $1,000 in 30 days. KU (Kindle Unlimited) had a great deal to do with the amount of money I made and I suspect that a lot of people who saw my promotion on the promotion sites, and on the promotion newsletters, grabbed my book from KU.”

(Note that this is for the relaunch of a trilogy, not a new single title book. Still there are definitely insights to be gained!)

2. Fantasy Writer Joynell Schultz’s Book Launch Results (April 2017)

“It was the best launch I’ve ever had! (Okay, okay. It’s only my second one.) I hit #17 on one amazon best seller’s list and #3053 in the overall Kindle store.”

3. Results from the Book Launch with Zero Budget from Urban Fantasy author Holly Evans (February 2017)

“Total number of pre-orders: 164
Number of sales on launch day: 24
Number of page reads on launch day: 1,850
Highest rank on launch day: #4,800
Needless to say I’m absolutely over the moon with these results. I’m completely overwhelmed and grinning like a Cheshire cat.”

4. Self Publishing Formula SPF-053 The Book Launch Process – with by thriller author Mark Dawson (February 2017)


Note that this is a podcast, but if you go to the website and scroll down, there is a transcript available.

“I put it up. I then emailed the advance team and said, “The book is live, ready for reviews”, and I’ve mentioned how I go through that process before. Within 24 hours, it had 100 reviews so the team really came through. A lot of them also bought the book, even though they got it for free because I put it up at 99 cents to start with. So they get the “verified” tag which means those reviews are less like to be stripped out by Amazon, and I was ready to go. I then emailed the list and then we started to see the actual real sales at the full price because I pushed the price up to sales price.”

Also well worth listening to / reading is their podcast episode How to Launch a Book from May 2016, which talks about another one of Mark’s book launches.

5. Thriller author Martha Carr’s 6 book Launch Over 91 days (November 2016 – February 2017)

This is a mini-roundup of the podcasts from the Author Biz that cover Martha Carr’s launch of 6 books over 91 days. The first podcast is from November 2016, and the most recent podcast, the 5th one is from February 2017. I’m assuming that there will be a 6th episode later down the line to discuss how sticky her books were as a result of this super rapid-fire release. Note that there are no transcripts for these podcasts.

TAB098: Walking a Series Launch Tightrope, with Martha Carr

Martha Carr Launch Strategy Case Study – Episode 1 of 6

CS02: Martha Carr Launch Strategy Case Study, Episode 2 of 6

CS03: Martha Carr Launch Strategy Case Study, Episode 3 of 6

CS04: Adjustment Time – Martha Carr Launch Strategy Case Study, Episode 4 of 6

TAB108: The Audiobook Production Process with Martha Carr and Jill Smith

(Excerpt below is from the show notes of the most recent podcast episode)

“Released The Butterfly Effect, the 6th book of Wallis Jones series on 2/22
Released six books in 91 days (rapid launch process)
Launched using the process of Michael Anderle’s breakout series
Makes an average of $17/day from this book alone
Hit the $45/day mark
Books #5 and #6 of Wallis Jones are in the top 100 of Financial Thriller New Releases”

6. How To Hit The USA Today Bestseller List As A Single Author With Ad Stacking by Thriller author Joanna Penn (August 2016)

Note that this is a podcast, but if you go to the website and scroll down, there is a transcript available.

“Results
Total number of books sold @ 99c (reduced from $6.99 for the week)
Total books sold: 6231
Total income from box-set sold: $2524
Total extra income in the week from other books – comparing previous weeks income so can be extrapolated as related to the promotion: $1654
Total income: $4178″

7. How I launched My New Release and sold 20k Copies by Fantasy author Daniel Arenson   (August 10, 2016)

“As a result of these efforts, during its first month Earth Alone sold 10,000 copies, received millions of Kindle Unlimited page reads, and hit the Amazon Top 100 bestsellers list. In the following month, it went on to sell an additional 10,000 copies, still riding the high visibility from its successful launch.”

8. Rocking Self-Publishing Episode # 157 – Successful Launch Strategies with John L. Monk (July 2016)

“As of 7/21/16, Hell’s Children is currently ranked #1050 in the Kindle Store, and #6, #22, and #22 in its subcategories. His sales commissions cracked the $300 mark in daily sales towards the third and fourth week of his launch. In the fourth week, he saw sales of 50-70 a day. As of the interview, he’s had 600k-700k page reads through KU.”

9. Why Preorders Killed My Book Launch and Other Lessons I Learned Marketing My First Fiction by YA author Derek Murphy (January 2016)

“So technically, not a bad launch, for a first book by an unknown author. But I’m exhausted, and it was expensive, and it didn’t earn much money back (yet). If this was my only book, I would still count it as a failure. But because it’s part one of the first book in a potential series, and since I’m trying to finish 10 more like it this year, it’s only the very beginning.”

Check out also, the second post related to the above launch. Note, he talks about using some gray hat methods to get his book higher up in the rankings, which may not be to everyone’s taste.

Fiction book launch strategies continued (Shearwater part 2)

10.  Zero to $10k Per Month in 90 Days, with Michael Anderle (January 2016)

“Here’s the short version: Michael published his first book, DEATH BECOMES HER on November 2nd, 2015 and earned $6.00. He wrote and published two more books in November and generated Amazon royalties of $427 for the month.

In December wrote and published one more book (bringing his total to 4) and ran his first Facebook ad on December 18th. His total Amazon royalties for December was $3,700.

On January 11th, he published his fifth book. For the period of January 1st, through January 24th, he’s generated Amazon royalties of over $10,000.”

Also WELL worth examining is the additional PDF Michael Anderle typed up for the Author Biz audience of things he DIDN’T get to talk about. It’s linked in the show notes of the podcast.

Bonus Book Launch Stories – Nicholas Eric’s Mini Guide to Launch Promo Services

As a bonus to the 10 stories I linked to above, I’m also including the Kboards thread where SF writer Nicholas Erik collected 13 book launch threads posted on Kboards by various authors.  Nicholas’s Mini Guide To Launch Promo Services is also well worth a read.

What’s the line where Amazon starts magically pushing your book? This question can’t really be answered, but it seems that you need to sell 250+ copies in a week for the algorithms to pick up and notice (note: this was originally estimated as 100 copies; I now believe it’s much higher for most genres). There are obvious exceptions to this rough rule – and KU borrows skew this – but that’s a solid benchmark to aim for. I sold 110 of a space opera and 150 of an urban fantasy book and didn’t get sticky, so the “sticky threshold” is dependent on the competitiveness of your sub-genre – I’d say aim for the Top 20 of your sub-genre, preferably Top 10.

Have you launched a book within the last two years? Do these stories match your own experience? Contact me if you’d like to share your story here with a guest post (either with your name or anonymously!)

5 Essential Podcasts for Authors

Everyone at this point has heard of podcasts, but really, have you really heard of podcasts? I used to be like, whatever, I can read faster than I listen. Who has time to listen to podcasts? But then I discovered they’re like radio shows hyper focused on whatever particular topic you want to find out about. You can listen to them anytime you want to. As a busy mom, I listen to them while I do other things, such as wash dishes, pack lunches, do the laundry, etc. (and if you have Alexa, it’s supposed to be even easier.)

There’s pretty much a podcast for any interest you can think of.

Here are 5 awesome podcasts to get a real education in what is going on publishing (mostly self-publishing). Seriously if you listen to all of their shows or even half of the shows listed for a month, you will get a pretty good idea of what you need to be doing (and if you listen to for more than a month and apply what you learn, then you’ll be way ahead of many others).

Even if you are not an indie author, many of the podcasts here have episodes that traditionally published authors can take lessons from.

1 Writing Excuses

Their tagline is “15 minutes long because you’re in a hurry… And we are not that smart.” Started by fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson, webcomic creator Howard Taylor, SF writer Dan Wells, and fantasy writer Mary Robinette Kowal, they’ve since added SF writer Wesley Chu, romantic suspense writer Piper J. Drake, and fiction professor Mary Anne Mohanraj to the line up. I’m starting with this one because it’s very short and the roundtable discussions are usually very focused. Granted they don’t really talk too much about business or marketing and the authors are all traditionally published, but there is always something to be taken away from their craft discussions, whether you are a newbie author just starting out or you are someone who has been published and writing for years.

 

Sell More Books Show

2 Sell More Books Show

Hosted by Brian Cohen and Jim Kukral , this podcast is more like a weekly publishing news roundup. It’s a great way to keep up to date on trends and news in the industry. They pull out pertinent pieces of information from articles or blog posts recently published and talk about them on the show with a focus on consequences for authors. Recent shows have pulled from the news that Amazon is expanding their physical bookstores, a blog post from David Gaughran (Let’s Get Visible) about fake books, and a survey of six-figure authors.

3 Smarty Pants Book Marketing

This is a book marketing focused podcast by  Chris Syme, head of a strategic book marketing and communications agency, and her daughter, Rebecca Syme a USA Today Bestselling author. I really like their approach to marketing, which is all about marketing smartly and paying attention to the right things for you (which may be different than someone else). Listening to their podcast is also a good way to decide Chris Syme’s books on marketing are right for you. Although the podcast covers a lot of things some more advanced indie authors might already know, it’s still a valuable podcast to check up on.

If I haven’t convinced you of the awesomeness of podcasts yet, here are two podcasts that offer transcripts.

4 The Self-Publishing Formula

This is a podcast by indie best-selling author Mark Dawson paired with newbie writer James Blatch. This interview-based podcast is like eavesdropping on a super informative conversation guys at a bar during a con, only you’re not eavesdropping.I found the show about Mark Dawson’s use of his mailing list to launch his book to be one of those master class podcasts, that is so valuable he should be charging for it. One thing that is nice about their podcasts is that if you go to their website and give them your email address they can send you a PDF with transcripts for all of their past podcasts.

5 Joanna Penn’s Creative Penn Podcast 

So I confess, before I started listening to podcasts, I would still go to Joanne Penn’s website to read transcripts of her podcasts. Her interviews are always very fascinating and informative. Her story and interview style is very inspirational and friendly, like having a chat with a girlfriend over coffee. Each individual podcast has its own page with a transcript that you can just read without giving up your email address.

Are there any other podcasts you enjoy listening to that you think should be on this list? Leave a comment and let me know!