Sunday, April 20, 2014

Three Marketing Questions Answered

With the Pennsylvania Omnibus Book Bomb less than 10 days away, I've been doing quite a few blog interviews and answering a lot of questions.  You'll be seeing these interviews pop up here and there between now and the 29th and I'll post links to them as soon as I know they are up.  You should read them. I've been happy with the questions and there are quite a few on the state of publishing and how things might change in publishing going forward.

As the Book Bomb approaches, I'm also getting quite a few private messages and emails asking me marketing questions, and other queries about what I'm doing with the Book Bomb, so I thought I'd write a post highlighting some of the questions I receive most often.

Why the heavy focus on the technical quality of the book instead of the story with the Pennsylvania Omnibus Book Bomb?

I think anyone who gives the book even a cursory look will see that the critical reception of the whole series has been phenomenal.  When I was sitting back and looking at themes I wanted to highlight for the book launch, it seemed to me that almost 300 cumulative reviews with a 4.8 star rating average across the board pretty much spoke loudly for the story and whether buyers would like it.  And in my interviews with readers (I do a LOT of marketing research on my own) it seems that overall technical quality is STILL the number one reason that some people have for avoiding self-published books.  We Indie publishers have done a great job refuting the Tsunami of Crap myth, but tens of millions of readers have never read the refutations of that myth, and they still hold the erroneous opinion that buying any indie book is a huge gamble -- and I think I'd have to agree with them.  So how do we destroy that objection?



Sure, the story needs to be great, but once you've proven that you have a stellar book that people love, you still suffer under this prevailing false notion that Indie publishing consists of hacks who desktop publish Word files fraught with typos and errors and formatted poorly with a glued on cover they made with PAINT out of stock images they stole from a Google image search.  There is a reason that people think bad things about Indie books, and despite the fact that we've proved that the best Indie books compare favorably with all mainstream pubbed books (even the best of them) there is still that image to overcome.

So I decided to join some other top-notch Indie authors in firing a shot across the bow of the publishing world. I decided that my flagship books are going to be as good or better than anything anyone can buy in a bookstore anywhere.  I did that by hiring the best talent available in the world and commissioning the best art that they could produce.  I know that some Indies reply by saying "sure, but if you aren't selling a ton of books, you can't afford the best team out there," and that is true. I'll deal with that question/statement in the last part of this blog post.

My point is that whether someone buys the e-book or the print versions of The Pennsylvania Omnibus, they can be assured that they are buying a book that has fantastic reviews and is put together with love and care and respect for the reader.  They'll get their money's worth. I have focused on quality because even if Pennsylvania never becomes a runaway bestseller, it will still be a hallmark in the Indie revolution where we can say that the bar has been raised, and I hope other authors will join me in creating a reader-safe purchase environment for top-notch A-list Indie books.  Maybe someday we'll come up with some badge of honor, like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval, for Indie books.  Something you have to earn with attention to quality and high production values. Something that will tell readers "do your homework and read the reviews and check the ratings, but if you buy this book, technical quality will be high."

Why the focus on pushing the print version in the Book Bomb?


Well, first and foremost because this print version is awesome and everyone will want one in their physical library. But there are other reasons. In the current weird, wild, publishing world -- no one really knows anything for certain, and that's why we authors have to be testing and trying new things.  I, for one, love print books.  And I know that people who only buy e-books and who don't want print books... well... they are going to buy the e-book no matter what I tell them.  If they want the book, and they don't want a paperback copy, they'll buy the e-book.  It is there, and it is a steal at $5.99, so those people are going to buy the e-book regardless of what I'm saying.

But I want my readers to get their money's worth. And I understand why authors, especially when they are just getting started, have to price full-length novels at .99.  But I'm at a point in my career now where I have to really study and understand the market and plan accordingly.  I was more than happy to give away a free copy of the Pennsylvania Omnibus to everyone on my email list who would bother to open their email, get the coupon code, and download the book.  I gave away over 100 copies for free in just about 24 hours! But when pricing the book for a launch, I need to price it cheap enough where people will see it as a value, but expensive enough that I can have some leeway and freedom in planning future promotions.

I think the mainstream publishers are completely screwing themselves by pricing new novels at $9.99 or $11.99 or more.  And from my research, buyers are willing to pay $6 for an e-book they really want and that they know is of good quality.  $6 for a day or so of enjoyable reading time?  That's a bargain.  And I need to price the book where I can eventually discount it through a Bookbub feature promotion or something.

So why focus on selling the Paperback?

As I said before, because I want to give the readers the best bang for their buck.  If they buy the Paperback on launch day, they will not only get the best quality book they can find, but -- through Kindle Matchbook -- they'll be able to download the e-book for only .99!  That's the best deal around.  So the reader gets the book in both formats for just the list price of the book (Amazon has already discounted the book by almost a dollar.)

I don't think print books are dead.  And I know that e-book only readers are going to buy the e-book no matter what - and they should feel free to do so.  But I can't help but tell people that this is a book you are going to want to own in print.

Most new authors cannot afford to put together a team like you've used for Pennsylvania!

If I've heard this once, I've heard it a dozen times or more in the last few weeks.  And believe me, I understand, even if I mostly disagree.  Many authors have pointed out that the reason I am able to afford to use the best cover artist, the best editor, the best illustrator, and the best formatter for the Pennsylvania Omnibus, is because I have the money sitting around to do so.

There are some false assumptions in this statement -- or at least in the misconceptions that inform the statement.  I am still a relatively new and unknown writer.  Poor in relation to most people who hold "regular" jobs.  I am able to write full-time because of our purposefully low cost of living, because we raise a lot of our own food, and because I have friends and neighbors and an awesome family that really help me out.  Most of you could not live on what my family of 6 lives on, and I feel comfortable saying that.

However, it is also not like the Pennsylvania Omnibus is being published in a vaccuum.  The first Pennsylvania part was published over a year ago, and the individual parts of the PA series have sold over 10k copies in the past year. At about .45 profit (very gross profit) per book, this means that the PA series has brought around $4500 in royalties in the past year.  As some of my co-writers can tell you, MOST of the income from my books goes into more marketing, or production costs, or other forms of platform building.

What would it cost to pay up front to produce a 430 page book with the quality of The Pennsylvania Omnibus?  Hard to tell.  If you actually had to hire all the best talent, you'd be looking at a minimum of $3000 and probably closer to $3500.  Cut some corners and you could do it for half that.  But remember... I spaced a lot of the work - the most expensive work (editing) - out over a full year.  It was edited as each of the parts came out.  So, in a very real sense, Pennsylvania has already made money for me.  And out of pocket -- for production costs alone -- if you'd already paid for editing, you'd be looking at $1500 for a quality cover suite, top notch illustrator, and exceptional formatting art.

Is all of this necessary to produce a bestseller?  NOPE.  Hugh Howey, when he first started hitting it big, showed that with home-made covers, inexpensive editing, and self-formatting, a book can be a huge hit and cost nearly nothing.  And there is something to be said for that.  Most authors are using that route.  But you'll notice that as Hugh's success and income have climbed, so has the technical quality of his books.  So hopefully all Indie authors will increase the quality as book sales increase.

Just know that I'm not a rich man.  I'm very blessed.  And I sacrifice a lot of things that most people won't live without in order to pump the money I do make from selling books back into my business.

Alright, that was three of just the most asked questions or comments I've received in the past week or so.  If you have questions, feel free to send them along and maybe I'll answer them in a future blog post too!

Michael Bunker

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Pennsylvania Omnibus Edition


The first unboxing went awry, so we had to do another one.  Here is the first one...


Here is the second unboxing...


Order The Pennsylvania Omnibus in print on 4/29 and you can get the Kindle e-book for only .99! But the book will be available everywhere on 4/29, so buy it in whatever format you like!  Here are the links we already know about:

Amazon Print Paperback: http://amzn.to/1jEwj0Y
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1jyXRok
Signed Print Paperback: CLICK HERE

Thanks!

Michael

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Well, This is getting interesting!


This is cool...

Pennsylvania was nominated as one of the 50 Self-Published Science Fiction Books Worth Reading for 2013/2014. 12 Sci-Fi novels were chosen (SAND, by Hugh Howey was nominated too!) So now it goes to the next level. I am very honored to have Pennsylvania selected by fans to be on the short-list, and I want to thank you all. Now... Go to the link and either vote for Pennsylvania or SAND for the finals!

The 50 Self Published Science Fiction Books Worth Reading  13 14 Indie Author Land
Thanks again to all of you, and feel free to share this with anyone and everyone!

Michael

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Massive Changes to MB.com and Maillist Coming!

Don't worry. They're good changes.  It all starts with this email, so go read it.  It's information concerning my email lists and which one you should be on...

http://bit.ly/1lYfxx3

The long and short of it is that there will now be two Michael Bunker email newsletter lists... You can choose to be on one or the other, or both.  Up to you.

Over the next weeks, you'll be seeing changes to this blog too.  More details about that as they come.

Peace!

Michael Bunker

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Needed: Bloggers!

The Pennsylvania Omnibus BOOK BOMB is set for April 29th. Things are going well as far as preparing the book for publication. Hopefully we will have formatting done this week so that we can order proofs before the weekend, but we'll see how that goes.  As for now, we're busy making the book as good as it can be...

Interior

Anyway, I need to recruit all of you who have a blog to help me out for the Book Bomb. Would you consider doing a blog post about the Omnibus sometime around the 29th? You can do a review, an interview, or just an informational post - any of those things would be very helpful - along with instructions for the Book Bomb and links for your readers to buy the book. If you are an Amazon Associates member (and you should be) you can make some money on the book launch day by providing an Amazon Associates embedded link to the Omnibus.  Remember that if readers buy the paperback through Amazon, they will be able to get the e-book for only 99 cents!

Just contact me at mbunker (at) michaelbunker (dot) com if you need anything from me in order to create your awesome blog post, and make sure to let me know you're on board for helping so I can send people to your review or interview or blog post when it is up.

April_29_calendar_THIS (1)

If you have not yet read the whole Pennsylvania series, and you would like to do a review, I will have a limited number of Advance Review Copies in e-format available for anyone doing a review on a blog, forum, or website.  So email me if you need that and I'll put you on the list. There will be a limited number of these ARCs available.

Thanks in advance for all of your help!

Michael Bunker

Monday, April 7, 2014

Unboxing Legendarium!!

Moonrise over the wall on the AZ // #Pennsylvania illustrations w/@mbunker | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

This...

Moonrise over the wall on the AZ // #Pennsylvania illustrations w/@mbunker | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Illustration by Ben Adams for the Pennsylvania Omnibus

Pennsylvania in Print

I've had quite a few people communicating with me about the Pennsylvania Omnibus launch, the launch of the individual print books, and what is the best things to do to help the team.  So here is a rundown of what is available. Consider this an addendum to my post on the Book Bomb coming up on April 29th.
Ben Adams... crushing the artwork as usual!
Ben Adams... crushing it as usual!

First things first... The individual print books are now available. But don't buy them unless you are a collector and you just have to have the individual books in print.  You can buy the individual paperback parts from Amazon now and from other venues very, very soon.  You can also order the print books signed from me as a set for only $35 (all five books) and shipping is included in the U.S. These signed books will ship out in the 2nd week of April, Lord willing. Again, I'd prefer that you buy the Omnibus edition for less money, but I did make up these individual print books for those of you who asked for them.

Now, what is the ideal way to purchase the Omnibus?

This is the perfect way to order the Omnibus that helps you and me... Please wait until April 29th and order the Pennsylvania Omnibus in paperback form. Then, if you order from Amazon, through Amazon Matchbook, you will be able to get the Omnibus for the Kindle for only .99!  That is the ideal way to go, and make sure you get both formats on the 29th of April!

What if I'm a NOOK, Kobo, iTunes, kind of person?

We are really going to be trying hard to have all formats up and ready to go on April 29th.  So you should be able to get it in every format (especially on Smashwords) on that date.  Unhappily this means that the book is likely to be available widely for sale or pre-order long before the 29th (in order to make sure it is available on time), so please tell your friends, family, etc. to wait until the 29th to order the book!  I really think you are going to want the print version, since we are putting so much time and effort into making it really special.  Signed print versions will also be available, and we are also working on the exclusive hardcover collector's edition as well.

For Collectors Only

Now that I've warned you, and asked you to buy the Omnibus, For those of you who are going to order the individual print parts, the first printing date is TODAY (4/7/2014), but if you order now, the first printing may be tomorrow.  Also, if you order today or possibly tomorrow, the first ones out the door have a typo on the back cover (Jedediah's name is misspelled), which will make them even rarer.

Here are the links to the first four books on Amazon.

Pennsylvania 1: http://amzn.to/1oEXmyz

Pennsylvania 2: http://amzn.to/1oEXyOf

Pennsylvania 3: http://amzn.to/1oEXDBn

Pennsylvania 4: http://amzn.to/1oEXON3

Pennsylvania 5: http://amzn.to/PFm3Lr

There is soooo much going on with Pennsylvania right now, and I hope to be able to break some news to you soon.  But our Book Bomb day is going to be very, very important.

Alright, more information forthcoming!

Thank you all!

Michael Bunker

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pennsylvania Omnibus Book Bomb 4/29/2014... tick, tick, tick...

We're moving pretty fast at getting the Pennsylvania completed novel ready for full launch. Things could happen that might shift this a few days later, but for now we are planning on a April 29th Omnibus launch in PRINT and E-Book!

Listen, I'm a straight shooter and I'm asking for your help. I've been telling you for months that I'd be coming to you when the Omnibus was ready to launch and asking you to help team up with me. I'm needing a team of book warriors.  Well, now is the time.

What is a “Book Bomb”?

For the most part, a book bomb is simply me asking my friends to buy the book on a certain day – in this case April 29th. Frankly, the only way this will work is if my favorite readers commit to a few things... first, come up with a number that you think is easily achievable.  Say... 5 books (5 books is easy! Maybe you could do 8 or 10?)  Basically, what you try to do is be responsible for 5 book sales on April 29th.  You could buy 5 paperbacks and distribute them, but it would be better if you convinced 5 other people to buy the book on April 29th.  Talk to them between now and that day. Make sure they are ready to go. If they need the money, lend it to them ;)  Anyway, a Book Bomb is when my readers and I work together to try to really push a bunch of books out the door on a single day.  One of the great ways to do this is using Amazon.com's Matchbook program.  In this program, if you buy the Pennsylvania Omnibus in paperback on April 29th, you will be able to get the e-book for just .99!  Let people know, and don't just trust them to do it. Keep reminding them and prod them on April 29th to buy the book!

Why?

Because the more book purchases are made on that day on Amazon.com the higher we can push the book up the rankings.  The bigger the splash, the larger the ripples. Since no one (outside of the wonks at Amazon) really knows how the Amazon ranking system works, there is no real way to know how our efforts will be rewarded until we see what actually happens, but getting the book into the top 100 (something I do not expect but hope for) would take something like 500-600 book sales in that single day.  Which means if only 100 people would commit to causing 5 sales each on that day, we might make it.  But that's not really the point.  The point is to try to create a wave of interest and buzz around the book.  Listen, thousands of people have followed Pennsylvania from the beginning to the end, and the series has a 4.8+ rating average on Amazon.  By all accounts, people love the book... once they know about it.  There are two things we must overcome... 1. Ignorance (People just don't know the book exists), and 2. Confusion (People don't know that Amish/Sci-Fi is really good!).  The only way to overcome these two problems is by word of mouth.  That means I can't do it, and advertising won't do it.  It is going to take a massive effort by a lot of people talking straight with people they know.  I know you can help, so I'm asking you to.

What This Means

Everyone knows that the bestseller rankings are “gamed” by the big publishing houses. There are simple scams that mainstream publishers can use to make a mediocre book hit the New York Times Bestseller's lists. Book publishers arrange to have their books released on certain dates and they spend tens of thousands of dollars to make sure that book stores and other retailers push Why you should Vote for Zombie Vampires in order to get their title a higher ranking. It’s hard for a self-published book, not pushed by a mainstream publisher with deep pockets, to get noticed.

While those rankings really mean nothing in the real world, the exposure for a book like Pennsylvania could well help get the book some notice from people who might otherwise have no idea that the book even exists. So this is our quest. My goal is to sell 600 books on that date. That could be crazy thinking, since the book is not being featured by Bookbub or any of the big services. But, who knows? What I do know is this… It will be fun to watch, and you can help!

Attention Bloggers and Authors!!

We would like to ask as many of you as possible to write a blog post about Pennsylvania (including links to the book where people can buy it) on April 29th (or thereabouts.) Please contact me with questions, if you'd like to do an interview, or for more information. Email me at mbunker@michaelbunker.com if you need anything from me before then.

What YOU Can Do

First of all, and most simply, you can buy the book on April 29th. Normally I would say "buy the e-book" or "buy the paperback," but now that Amazon has their Matchbook program, if you will buy the paperback, you can get the e-book for only .99!  That is a steal, and you'll have the beautiful Jason Gurley cover and the awesome Ben Adams exclusive artwork that is going to be inside the print version.

If that is all you want to do, then I do appreciate it and I thank you. But many of you might really want to help do something spectacular to team up with me... starting right now. Here are some steps you can take to help:

Please sign up for my Newsletter.  If you aren't already signed up, please do so now.  Being on the Newsletter list not only gives you the opportunity to win free things like posters and such, but it is the best way for me to communicate with you leading up to the Book Bomb date.

Start Sharing your interest in the book now. Tell your friends, family, and anyone else you know on Facebook and other social media. I've always felt that honesty is the best policy. Tell them that you want to see this book do very well, and that you are working with me -- the author -- to get the word out.  Post the information about the book on your blog, and if you've already read all five parts, why not write a review?  I'll be posting pictures in this blog post. Snatch them and use them!

Please tell folks that the goal is for them to buy the book on April 29th, and if you are dealing with really good friends, get them to help out too. Put as much energy into pushing the Book Bomb as your friends do spamming you with Facebook games, Memes and other nonsense! Make them pay! (just kidding… a little) Post info about the book bomb on blogs, comment sections, discussion forums, etc.

Your idea here.  I'm new at this selling books thing.  If you know of a way to help, then just do it! Your ideas are probably better than mine!

Do what you can.  Listen, I'm happy if you just buy your paperback copy of the Pennsylvania Omnibus (get your e-book for only .99!) and that's that. But if you can help, there are ways to really kick this thing off right.  If you can make multiple purchases (why not buy gifts now, when things are cheaper and there is no pressure!) then do so.

On Book Bomb day – April 29th – Buzz is king. Please join me online, on Facebook, on Twitter, and everywhere else to talk about Pennsylvania. Remember to prod your friends so that you can account for at least 5 book sales that day.  Share the links, post on forums, etc.

After Book Bomb day… Please, please, please go to Amazon.com and post a review of the book. Even if you hate it. Even if you've already written a review for the five parts.  Those cease counting once the Omnibus is out there!

So, that is what a Book Bomb is, and I really need your help. In this society, the big boys usually game the system and make the rules. This is ONE way we can get a book some notice, and make some waves in the publishing world.

Thank you much!

Michael Bunker

P.S.  Please take the time right now to sign up for my Newsletter.  You never know, you might win some cool stuff just by being subscribed!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pennsylvania 1-5 Individual Paperbacks Now Available! Don't Buy Them!

This is the official announcement! As of today, the Pennsylvania 1-5 individual paperbacks are available, even if you should not buy them.

DISCLAIMER: The Pennsylvania Omnibus Edition complete novel will be available (Lord willing) on April 29th.  You can buy the print omnibus then and with Amazon matchbook you can get the e-book for only .99.  Don't buy this set unless you are a collector person or just love the covers! Just wait for the 29th of April.  I only made these print copies available so that people could get the nice Jason Gurley covers.

The individual paperbacks will be up in the Amazon store sometime later today, but if you want them signed, you'll need to get them from my new Signed Book Store.



The Signed Book store is only good for purchases within the U.S. right now.  If you live outside the U.S., please just email me (mbunker (at) michaelbunker (dot) com) and you can pay with Paypal and we'll arrange shipping, etc.  But if you are in the U.S., just order from the Signed Book Store.

On Monday I'll be giving away the set I show in the video to a random person chosen from my newsletter list. So make sure you are signed up!




Big news coming about Pennsylvania and the Omnibus edition, so please stay on the Newsletter list for details!  Right now, we're shooting for April 29th for a book launch date, but I'll be talking with you more about that next week.

Thanks everyone!

Michael Bunker

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pennsylvania 5 Launch and what comes next...

PENNSYLVANIA

Almost exactly 51 weeks (358 days) after I released Pennsylvania 1 out to the word with no fanfare and little notice, Pennsylvania 5 is now out!  It is already available on Kindle and on Smashwords. It should be out on NOOK and the other formats sometime today or early tomorrow I hope.  The Print version will be a few days... maybe a week, but I won't release it until all five Pennsylvania print paperbacks are ready to go, and even then, I advise you to wait and buy the Pennsylvania Omnibus when it is ready.  The e-book of Pennsylvania 5 is going to be at it's sale price of .99 for five days, so next Wednesday it will go up to its regular full price of $1.39.

The plan from here is to get the individual paperbacks ready to go.  I'll release all five of them at once, but they'll only go to Amazon and the outlets after I've had the opportunity to buy a bunch of Day One printings for signing for the people who specifically asked for those as collectors.  You can order those at my new signed book store.

Then we'll get to work at formatting and putting together the collected novel (Omnibus.) This may take a bit of time, because we are going to do it right.  I hope to make the Pennsylvania complete novel a model of what can be done when an indie publisher hires all the best talent and focuses on quality.  I really, really look forward to launching this Omnibus edition, and I'm going to be asking for your help when the time comes.

LEGENDARIUM

Legendarium is doing well, but we definitely need more reviews! If you haven't picked this little book up, do it! If you are looking for a fun and humorous romp as a break from your apocalypticism or whatever else you are reading, this is your book.

WHEW!!

As for me, I'm winding up my very, very, very busy writing month.  In the next three days I intend to finish Danvar 3, and to finish a short story I'm writing for a Time Travel Anthology that should be out by May 1.

EMAIL LIST

Don't forget to sign up for my email newsletter.  I gave away two more hardback copies of the WICK Omnibus this week, and I give away books all the time to my email list.  So get signed up:


So I'm back to writing! Have a great day and a super weekend!

Michael Bunker

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Finally I Have a Bookstore for Signed Books!

I know that it has been frustrating that I haven't been able to take credit cards for signed books, but I finally have established an online bookstore that will allow me to sell signed books/sets/posters, etc. and take credit/debit cards.  So go check it out!

on Square Market

That link should take you to the store, but if it didn't, just click on this picture:

Michael Bunker Signed Book Store!

I'll probably be rotating items out in the right column now, but bookmark that store, or find it in my PAGES link in the bar at the top of the page under the banner!

on Square Market

Michael Bunker