Self-Publishing Secrets Revealed – Free Author Tools
I’m going to give you 4 free author tools that will help you determine whether an individual or company is indeed walking the talk.
The Wizard of Oz was a tired old man hiding behind a screen. The only real tool he had was that he knew how to control the switch for the strobe light. Once he flicked that switch he appeared to be something he wasn’t. And, the inhabitants of the kingdom held him in a much higher regard than they would have had known who he really was. Or, that’s how I remember the story anyway.
If a company is purporting to be able to promote the sale of my book to thousands of subscribers I want to know what type of reach they really have. Or, if an author is recommending a cover designer they’ve used or giving advice on a specific method of engaging with readers I want to know whether they know of what they speak. I’m going to show you how to turn the strobe light off and see who’s really behind the screen. Here are some methods you can use to determine who you’re dealing with.
1. KDP Sales Rank Calculator
This is a tool I really like. You type in the overall Amazon ranking number of the book and the calculator will tell you approximately how many copies are being sold each day. Numbers fluctuate wildly when a book drops out of the top few thousand rankings but the calculator still gives us an indication of whether an author who claims huge sales is indeed selling a lot of books.
There are several ways that we, as the owner of our website can measure traffic. We can utilize the handy-dandy Jet Pack Site Stats ticker on our WordPress site or we can check our numbers using Google Analytics. As a viewer these tools are not available to us. Alexa.com is though. Alexa (which happens to be owned by Amazon), is a site that measures website traffic and activity and rates sites on a worldwide and national (United States) basis against each other. Alexa is not an exact measurement because its data comes largely from sites that have the Alexa toolbar installed. It’s still a good measurement of where a site is in relation to others though. For example Bookbub, the top promotion site, is currently ranked at 16,000 overall worldwide. That’s a seriously strong number. Indies Unlimited is also high, sitting at 77,000 overall. Measure your own site, or the promotion site you’re considering doing business with on Alexa.com and see how they rank.
3. Preditors and Editors/Writer Beware
These are the basics. These two sites are often the first places I look if I’m unfamiliar with a company that contacts me. In plain English these guys let you know whether a contest you’re entering, or a workshop you’d like to attend, or an editor you’d like to do business with is legitimate. Their findings are based on submissions from other authors and they seem to check them out themselves too. They do valuable work on our behalf. As with the other tools this is a free service but Preditors and Editors do accept donations that help them continue with their great work.
4. Query Tracker
For those of you who are submitting your manuscript to publishers and agents this is a vital tool. Prior to self-publishing I was the proud recipient of over one hundred and thirty rejection letters. I posted them on my fridge and when I ran out of room I taped them to the walls of my office. Picture Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and you’ll have an idea of the level of obsession I was experiencing. Fortunately I was able to connect with readers by self-publishing, but while I was still trying to keep track of all my queries and submissions I made use of Query Tracker. The good folks who run the site allow you to catalog where you’ve submitted to, the time frame, and the results. You can also access the types of material specific agents and publishers are seeking, what their preferred contact method is, and most importantly, you can view whether other authors have had recent success with their submissions. The basic service is free and there is a small charge to upgrade to receive more detailed information.
It’s easy to create an impressive looking website, but we need to know whether the information a company is offering us is valuable. Because of the recent popularity of self-publishing there is a growth industry evolving around us and they want our money. Keep the above sites bookmarked and refer to them when you need to turn off the strobe light and determine who you’re dealing with. Oh, and remember, if you need a self-publishing guidebook to help you navigate your way through the murky waters I know of a good one.