Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Marketing Makeover: Profit by Sharing Your Stories

Guest post by John F. Harnish

Surely you have favorite stories you enjoy sharing with friends who laugh and proclaim, “That’s a real good one!” Your payoff is the laughter spun from your engaging storytelling. However, there’s financial profit to be earned when the written version is offered for sale at Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook bookstores. This article explains how to transform your oral tales into written words that can earn 70% in royalties.

Now don’t go fogging your mind with insecure thoughts of your inability to do this. Yes you can and I’ll explain how in three steps. Indeed they’re sooo easy even a cave dweller can do it—as long as the cave is equipped with a computer that has Internet access.

‘Tis true, our primitive ancestors were the first bonafide storytellers. After hunting and avoiding being eaten by prowling beasts, the clan would circle around the fire-pit for the evening amusement of sharing stories about adventures of the day. Wandering visitors were welcomed as honored guests. They arrived with never-heard stories ready to tell by the glowing flames. New tales were always a special treat. They were like a new book-of-the-month club offering.

Throughout the early centuries of the dawning civilization, storytellers were held in high regard as entertainers—much the same way popular performers receive rock star treatment. The better their storytelling skills were, the greater their stature. In times of warring when brutal battles bloodied the landscape, there was a prevailing rule: “Don’t kill the storytellers!” Storytellers were like today’s CNN reporters; however, their stories were longer than 30-second sound bites.

ABC's of Creating Your Written Story

A - Always select a story about interesting life experiences you are familiar with and comfortable sharing in a written form. The story could be one told for generations at family gatherings, or it could be an amusing story that you heard, and it stuck in your mind. Your story could be based on local folklore or about a legendary event you bring a fresh spin to.

It’s your story to tell the way you want to write it, but be sure you stay on topic and don’t overwhelm the reader with unnecessary details. The best stories to consider writing are the ones that you know thoroughly—and you can write passionately about.

And, “A” is for the author you become when your written words are published. Thanks to the Digital Age of Publishing, it’s not a matter of if your story will be published, but rather a question of when—and that could be within a few days.

B is for the beginning of the story. Creative writing professors teach hooking methods for manipulating parts of the story to make it a compelling read. If you’ve learned these techniques and you’re comfortable incorporating them into your story to capture the reader’s attention with a bit of foreshadowing, do so, but stay within your writing comfort zone. It’s fine to start at the beginning, letting the story come together in your mind while you’re writing it.

Be direct but don’t blow readers away. Keep your writing in an easy to follow conversational style. Don’t go preaching to your readers. Avoid lecturing like you’re explaining the finer points of chaos theory. Don’t get into ranting about pet peeves. Stay focused on telling the story and write in a friendly tone as if you were talking with the reader, because that’s what you’re doing through your written words.

“B” is also for the book you’re not writing at this time. Your first short story is a great way to test the water and learn from reader feedback how well you’ve expressed yourself. Writing a book is more complex than writing a story.

C is completion, bring your story to a conclusion. End the story or conjure up a creative cliffhanger to generate interest in your next story that’s a work-in-progress. Story writing is addictive. Sure, writing a fitting ending is difficult when you’re enjoying polishing your words, but there comes a time to finally write “The End.”

Unfortunately stories are not like Butterball turkeys, there isn’t a thingy to pop out letting you know the story is done just right. Only you can determine when the finished piece is ready to serve to the hungry public.

ebook publishing
ePublishing Your Story

Here’s the profit I boldly inserted in the title. There is a reliable estimate that attributes 95% of all digitized downloads to purchases from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Their combined 95% is a significant dominance in the marketplace. Downloads can be read on most of the popular reading devices. Kindle and Nook bookstores offer free sample reads for shoppers to peruse before clicking the buy button.

These links will take you to where to publish your stories for free and earn 70% in royalties:
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing at: and Barnes & Noble Pubit! at:

These author-friendly websites explain how to open a free account and publish your work. You need to provide checking account information—Amazon and B&N deposit monthly royalties directly into authors’ accounts. Both maintain real-time accounting pages showing sales as they occur.

If your content is all text, the conversion processes provided through their websites do an acceptable job. The download appears on handheld devices the same as it’s displayed on the preview screen. You always have the option of going back and making formatting adjustments.

Exposure, Exposure, Exposure

The three rules of selling real estate are location, location, and location. The same is true for successfully selling ebooks, except the magical word is exposure! The more exposure for your content, the better the opportunities are for selling ebooks.

When your content is on Amazon and B&N you have valuable windows of exposure on the most popular and customer-friendly bookstores. This is priceless real estate in high traffic locations that money can’t buy because it’s absolutely free.

They’ve made it easy for shoppers to find your content through the keywords uploaded with the ebook’s description. Both of these online giants optimize keywords and the title by putting the information into search engines. They’re creating exposure opportunities by maximizing your keywords. Both are liberal on the length of content descriptions.

Amazon and B&N are providing beneficial services and excellent exposure in exchange for their reasonable percentage of the selling price. Clearly they have created robust programs whereby both authors and booksellers benefit when ebooks sell.

The key phrase: when ebooks sell! The endless task of promoting is the responsibility of the authors. Everything authors can do to increase exposure eventually results in steadily increasing sales. One of the benefits of promoting your ebook is eventually happens a lot sooner.

Send a brief email to friends letting them know your published story is available for sale. They are likely to download it, especially when you include links to Amazon and B&N. Hopefully you’ll receive emails letting you know how much they enjoyed it. Respond with thanks and ask them to post blurbs where they purchased your story. Customer reviews are omnipotent for generating more sales.

Now start writing your story. Royalties of 70% are a great incentive.

Profit from Sharing Your Stories

About the Author

John F. Harnish, aka John Franklin, is a prolific author of more than a dozen popular books and numerous magazine articles. He is a descendant of Benjamin Franklin. With over five decades of experience in the publishing industry, John recently retired prematurely as a senior executive with a mid-size digital publisher.

This article is based on his ebook Profit from Sharing Your Stories When You Publish Ebooks through Amazon and B&N.

His most recent ebook is Busting Writer’s Block and other Tricks and Profitable Treats for Authors. John can be reached via his website at: The Nose Saga: Cancer Stinks.
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