Archive for 13 January 2013

Add Multiple Sales Links to Drive Your eBook Sales

Although my ebooks are available at multiple ebook retailers, I listed only two direct sales links—Amazon and Smashwords—for each ebook page on my author website. I never considered adding sales links for the other ebook retailers until I read “How to Sell eBooks at The Apple iBookstore” by Mark Coker on the Smashwords blog.

I’m always surprised how often I see authors complaining that all their sales are coming from Amazon, and then I look at their website or blog and see they’re only linking to a single retailer, Amazon. Support all your retailers. Not just Apple, but Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, every one. Your blog, website and social media promotions should provide direct hyperlinks to your book pages at every retailer, so your fans can purchase your book at their favorite retailer.

The easiest way to add multiple sales links is to create an HTML template with all the links for Amazon, Bibliocracy, Diesel, iBookstore (Apple), Kobo, Nook (Barnes & Noble), Scribd, Smashwords and Sony commented out (see the code snippet below). Copy and paste the template into each web page. Remove the comment code and paste the corresponding URL into the anchor code to “activate” each link as needed.

Multiple Sales Links Code

Multiple Sales Links

For a brand new ebook, the Amazon, Scribd and Smashwords sales links are immediately available as I publish on those ebook retailers first. Except for Bibliocracy (a new ebook retailer I’m experimenting with), I activate the remaining sales links when the ebook becomes available through the Smashwords third-party catalog in two months.

As for the graphical icons of each ebook retailer, I download the logo off the corresponding website and use Photoshop to create a uniform set of graphic files. (Be sure to read the affiliate guidelines before using the Apple iBookstore logo.) The CSS (cascading style sheet) code controls the spacing of the icons on the webpage.

With the multiple sales links set up, you can add affiliate codes to earn extra cash and track the clicks from your author website to the ebook retailer.

The downside of being involved with so many affiliate programs is that reaching the minimum threshold for payment can take a long time. Writing a page per day will eventually turn into a novel, affiliate earnings will some day amount to real money in the bank.

After putting the multiple sales links on my author website two months ago, readers are clicking from my author website to their favorite ebook retailer and the affiliate-related sales are higher than usual.

The First Line Challenge

One of my favorite sources for short story prompts is The First Line Literary Journal that provides a new first line every quarter. The first line cannot be altered in any way unless otherwise indicated (i.e., fill in the blank). Everything written after the first line is fair game. I have written and submitted many short stories inspired by these prompts, but none were ever accepted for publication. Some of them did get accepted elsewhere for publication.

The Fall 2010 prompt became the basis for “The Kitterun Five Tourist Trap,” first published in Short Sips: Coffee House Flash Fiction Volume 2 (Wicked East Press, March 2012), and will be available as a short story ebook in March 2013.

Three thousand planets in the known universe, and I’m stuck on the only one without [a decent toilet].

The words in the brackets were the part that I had to change in the original prompt. A human visiting a feline-humanoid world in pursuit of seeing the mysterious tail of a sexually aroused female Kitterun finds the accommodations for his hotel room quite different from what he expected.

The Summer 2012 prompt became the basis for “The Wizards of Flushington,” slated for publication in Fresh Ground: Coffee House Flash Fiction Volume 3 anthology (Wicked East Press, Spring 2013).

Rachel’s first trip to England didn’t go as planned.

A young witch magically flushes herself down the toilet to arrive at a public toilet in England for a renaissance fair, but ends up being thrown out of an outhouse in the Australian outback to meet two strange old wizards.

The forthcoming Winter 2013 prompt was somewhat more challenging than usual to come up with ideas for a speculative short story.

On a perfect spring morning with flat seas and clear blue skies, Captain Eli P. Cooke made a terrible mistake.

I’m thinking that this story could take place on a fishing boat. Eli is the Biblical name of a high priest whom knew that his sons were mishandling the temple services but did nothing about it, his family line through his sons fell in battle and he died from hearing the news as God’s punishment, which suggests a knife, a sacrificial offering and a struggle with nature. This would be enough to start a short story under most circumstances. Not this time. I was missing something to tie the whole story together.

Last year I read a story about a giant blue eyeball washing up on a Florida beach. No one knew where it came from, perhaps it belong to a sea creature from the dark depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Wildlife experts confirmed that the softball-sized eyeball came from a swordfish, probably cut out and tossed overboard by fishermen.

Putting the first line prompt and the giant blue eyeball together, I have enough to get started. As I thought about how to write the short story, Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and The Sea,” where an aging fisherman goes after a giant marlin, became an inspiration. Except my short story is a speculative tale.

A fisherman spends all night to pull in a giant squid on to his small fishing boat. The first thing he does is to cut out an eyeball. The giant squid, not yet dead from being out of the sea, starts thrashing on the deck and falls back into the ocean. The fisherman curses at his misfortune of losing his catch, keeping the worthless eyeball that watches him.

Will I get this short story done by the deadline at the end of the month? Probably not. I just started a new non-writing tech job. My writing priorities will probably change over the next few months. Not all First Line prompts will turn into finished short stories. Most end up with two pages being written before going on the back burner. Those unfinished stories that do get published are so heavily revised that the first line prompt disappears in subsequent drafts.

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