Power Book Publicity Tips August 2014


Traditionally Published or Self-Published? How to Get Reviewed in Publishers Weekly, 4 Tips for indie authors to increase chances for a review

By Carl Pritzkat is vice president of business development for PWxyz

Important developments at Publishers Weekly (PW) have made it easier than ever to submit your book for review consideration.

We’ve made big changes at PW in the last few weeks to make it easier for books, both traditionally and self-published, to be submitted for review consideration.

First off, for indie authors who self-publish, we’ve launched BookLife.com, which lets indie authors submit their books for PW review consideration for FREE.

Let me say that again in case it wasn’t clear: it is completely FREE for any author to submit their book for PW review consideration via http://www.BookLife.com.

Why are we doing this, you may ask? Because our core audience—librarians, booksellers and the publishing industry—want us to tell them what’s good in self-publishing, the same way we’ve been doing for traditionally-published books for the last 142 years.

We’ve also created a powerful new tool for traditional publishers called GalleyTracker, which makes it easier for publishers of any size to submit their books for PW review consideration.


Besides streamlining the review process, GalleyTracker also lets publishers see the review status for each of their books, something people have been requesting for a long time.

What’s the difference between BookLife.com and GalleyTracker? They both use the same software, the same editors and the same reviewers, and reviews submitted via both systems end up in the same place in Publishers Weekly and get syndicated to folks like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Google. (Self-pub reviews are also recapped monthly in the PW Select print supplement.) The difference is that BookLife.com is optimized for individual authors; GalleyTracker is optimized for publishers submitting multiple titles from multiple authors.

Tips for BookLife Review Submission for Indie Authors

Submitting your self-published book for Publishers Weekly review consideration is free. As with traditionally published books submitted for consideration, not all self-published books submitted are reviewed, so BookLife has set up some self-evaluations to help indie authors assess how ready their books are to be considered:


In addition, here are some tips for indie authors to consider before they submit their books for PW review via BookLife:

1. Copyediting and Proofreading: Typos, grammatical errors, and misspellings will not help your book stand out from the many submissions we receive.

2. Character Development: If your characters are underdeveloped and their motivations and actions unrealistic, readers will be less likely to engage with them—and you will be less likely to get reviewed.

3. Plotting: If the plot of your book is confusing, needlessly elaborate, and/or strains credulity, it will not help your chances of getting reviewed.

4. Dialogue: Stilted, unrealistic dialogue doesn’t serve your characters or your readers—and it certainly won’t help you get a review.

For more information about submitting self-published titles for PW review consideration, visit our guidelines page:


Self-Pub Marketing Opportunity from PW and Smith Publicity – Special Offer

In addition to offering free submission for PW review consideration, PW offers indie authors its PW Select marketing program, which promotes self-published books to PW’s audience of booksellers, librarians, publishers, agents, film scouts, and industry insiders.

Normally $149, PW and Smith Publicity are offering a special price of $139 (use promo code “SMITH” when submitting your PW Select order) which includes:

  • listing of your book including four-color-cover artwork, write-up and on-sale information in a special section of PW‘s print and online editions
  • a listing in Publishers Weekly‘s announcements database powered by Edelweiss
  • feature placement for one month on BookLife.com
  • social media promotion on BookLife’s Facebook and Twitter platforms
  • six month subscription to Publishers Weekly‘s digital edition
  • one year digital subscription to Publishers Weekly‘s PW Select monthly supplement
  • a free copy of the Publishers Weekly print issue in which your listing appears

It’s a great, cost-effective way to promote your book to the publishing industry. For more information and to sign up, visit our PW Select page:


And don’t forget to use promo code “SMITH” when submitting your PW Select order so you can get the special price.

Carl Pritzkat is vice president of business development for PWxyz, the company that owns Publishers Weekly and BookLife. Pritzkat oversees new business, digital strategy and product development for PWxyz and serves as president of BookLife, PWxyz’s site dedicated to indie authors. Prior to PWxyz, Pritzkat co-founded interactive media company Mediapolis, Inc., where he oversaw projects for The New York Times, Viacom, NPR, Sony, Johnson & Johnson, Volvo and others. He also ran ECM Records for Bertelsmann. He has a degree in music from UCLA.


eBook Pricing Strategies for Self-Published Authors

By Chris Robley, editor of The BookBaby Blog

One of the most common questions we hear at BookBaby is “how much should I charge for my eBook?”

Like most good questions, this one doesn’t have a simple answer. In fact, we usually have to ask the author a few questions ourselves:

  • What is your goal with this book?
  • How much money do you want to make from each sale?
  • What is the size of your existing readership?

In the early days of the digital music revolution, iTunes helped standardize pricing for downloads; it was generally 99¢ per song and $9.99 per album. The digital book world has no such standard—so things can get confusing fast.

eBook pricing, just like promotion and the writing of the book itself, doesn’t work the same for everyone.

In this article, I hope to outline the most common eBook pricing options for authors today, talk a little about how each might work for you, and help you make the smartest decision for where you’re at in your writing career.

Value vs. price

As we begin the discussion, it’s important to note the difference between price and value. As David Gaughran points out in his article The Great eBook Pricing Question,, “The price is something we, as self-publishers, attach to the product. The value is the worth the consumer places on it (not the author or publisher). In simple terms, unless your price is lower than the value a reader places on your book, they won’t purchase.”

Marketing isn’t simply about reaching consumers but also about convincing them to place a value on the product higher than the price tag. The higher the price, the harder that job will be.

In other words, it’s a lot easier to sell a book at $2.99 than $9.99.

Does price affect a potential buyer’s assessment of value? Will a reader perceive a $1.99 eBook to be of lesser quality? Maybe, but probably not. As Gaughran says, “things like your book cover, your book blurb, and your book reviews will be far better indicators of value than the price.” If those elements of your book are captivating, the customer will perceive value—regardless of price.

For argument’s sake though, let’s assume that your book is fantastic, your blurb is enticing, your book cover is beautifully designed, and the text is formatted correctly. The question still remains: “How much should I charge for my eBook?”

To answer the question, we’ll look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of each of the common pricing tiers.

$10 and higher

If you’re selling some kind of enhanced encyclopedia or an exhaustive informational resource on a niche topic, then sure, charge a high price for your eBook. But in my opinion, pricing a self-published novel or memoir or self-help book higher than $9.99 is a mistake—not simply because readers are accustomed to purchasing eBooks for far less, but because Amazon* pays authors only 35% per sale for books priced higher than $9.99 (and lower than $2.99). However, for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, Amazon pays authors a 70% cut.

* Many eBook retailers have similar price banding policies.

“But I spent countless hours writing this book,” you might be saying. “It’s worth more than $10!”

Again, it’s good to remember the value vs. price distinction. It might be worth more than $10 to YOU. But to someone who’s never heard of you… it’s only worth what they’re willing to pay.

Also, in the mind of the abstract marketplace, your eBook SHOULD be cheaper than a hardcover or paperback. Your only costs (potentially) are the hours writing, editing, eBook formatting/conversion, cover design, distribution, and book promotion.

Once those costs are covered, your “digital shelf space” is unlimited. No manufacturing costs (paper, binding, etc.), no warehousing or shipping costs, no returns from bookstores.

With physical books, the more you sell, the more you have to keep paying to print and distribute them. Not so with eBooks.

$4.99 to $9.99

Again, with books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, authors earn 70% per sale. With these percentage payouts, you stand to earn almost the exact same amount of money per sale whether you charge $4.99 or $10. Since that’s the case, relatively unknown authors might as well charge $4.99 in hopes of attracting more buyers.

However, if your existing readership is both sizeable and loyal, you should consider pricing your book between $4.99 and $9.99 to maximize your cut per sale. The demand justifies the higher price; yet it’s not so high as to be cost prohibitive.

$2.99 to $4.99

$2.99 is the most popular eBook price among self-published authors.

Firstly, it’s the price floor that will still yield a 70% payout from Amazon. But it’s also a low enough price to encourage impulse buys. A reader is apt to “take a chance” on a book priced at $2.99—and that is one of the most crucial things to consider when you’re trying to build your audience: attracting readers that aren’t fully committed.

That being said, pricing your book a bit higher (at $3.99 or $4.99) gives you some wiggle room if you want to run occasional discounts to drive purchases when sales begin to dip.

99¢ to $2.98

It’s tough to argue with a 99¢ tag. At that price, there’s almost no barrier between the buyer and your book but a quick online transaction and a measly dollar.  Impulse buys could be really high, especially as buzz begins to build around your book, and as that happens, you increase your chances of ranking on Amazon, since their charts count sales, NOT revenue. Setting a low price could help you creep up the rankings and gain some attention for your book.

Plus, the more books you sell, the likelier it becomes that you’ll appear in Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section. Another reason to price your book cheaply!

On the flip side, you only earn 35% per sale, which isn’t going to make you rich unless your book sells extremely well. You give up the high percentage of return in exchange for a larger numbers of readers. Many authors though (like John Locke), have had great success with this pricing strategy.

It’s worth noting that this approach often works best when you’re distributing a number of books in a series. You can entice readers to buy the first book with the 99¢ price tag, get them hooked, and then charge a higher price for the subsequent titles in the series.

If you’re selling a shorter eBook (20-100 pages), something equivalent to a Kindle Single, you might want to consider pricing it at $1.99, as 45% of all Kindle Singles in the top 100 were priced at that point. The second most-popular price point for short eBooks is 99¢.


Free is a perfectly fine price, and a popular one at that. You should consider “selling” your eBook for free if:

  • you’ve written a series (as mentioned above) and want to get folks hooked on the first book, and then charge more for the follow-ups.
  • the main purpose of your book is to help you establish expertise in your field, so the more downloads the better.
  • the free eBook will help you generate income in some other way, attracting clients to your product or service.

A price-point for everyone

Now that we’ve looked at all the pricing tiers, it’s clear there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s possible that today’s successful authors need to have, as Richard Nash says, “A product for everyone; a price-point for everyone.”

In fact, he views eBooks as the “gateway drug” to an author’s entire body of work. As self-publishers, authors can’t bet on any one revenue stream. By setting an extremely low eBook price, you can cast a wider net in hopes that a small percentage of your fans will buy products all the way up the demand curve.

For instance:

  • a 99¢ eBook for the casual browser
  • a $15 paperback for people who love the book
  • a $75 signed, limited edition hardcover for the die-hard readers
  • a $300 writing class or meet-and-greet dinner for the most dedicated fans

If this is the smartest model for indie authors, well, you still have to decide what to charge for that gateway drug—the eBook.

Chris Robley is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard’s Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of “Short Works Poetry.” By day, he is the editor of The BookBaby Blog and CD Baby’s DIY Musician Blog.


Smith Publicity’s 2nd Book Marketing Scholarship for Persuasive Writing

Smith Publicity, one of the leading book marketing and book publicity firms in the publishing industry, is offering a $1,000 scholarship to one high school or college/university student in the United States. The scholarship will be awarded to the student who submits the best essay on persuasive writing. We chose this topic because it’s an important part of the services we provide for book marketing.

The Spring 2014 winner, Kelci Weidenaar said, “I truly love writing and it meant a lot to me to win this scholarship from an organization like Smith Publicity! It’s opportunities like this that are helping my educational dreams come true!” Kelci will be a freshman at Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, MO this fall.

For more information about the scholarship visit our website.


Don’t miss this year’s Greenleaf Author Summit

Join us at the 2014 Greenleaf Author Summit™—in Austin, TX, September 25 and 26—to take your business to the next level. Greenleaf Book Group is an Inc. 500/5000 company with dozens of books on the New York Times Bestseller List. In an unstable publishing climate, Greenleaf and its authors have continued to thrive. Now Greenleaf is opening its doors to business leaders, speakers, and writers to present a two-day event centered around three core themes: Ideas, Influence, and Income™. World-class guest speakers (including Dan Smith and Sandra Poirier Smith of Smith Publicity!) and Greenleaf’s expert staff will present a program designed to teach authors and experts how to:

  • create differentiated content that builds their platforms as thought leaders,
  • spread their ideas and expertise, and
  • monetize those ideas and products.


Your ticket provides full access to expert advice and insider knowledge, with no up sell or obligation. The Greenleaf Author Summit™ will provide interactive learning sessions and networking opportunities via multiple sessions of actionable content designed to help experts define their market and product positioning and drive their expertise and ideas. These insights and connections will make a significant difference in your business within twelve months.

We at Smith Publicity have had the honor and privilege of promoting dozens and dozens of Greenleaf authors over the years. We cannot speak highly enough about the service, quality and support they provide their authors to help them reach their individual goals.

For more information about the Summit visit Greenleaf’s site.


New Service Announcement

Smith Publicity is now offering an Author Social Media Launch service to help authors set the stage for success on the most popular social media platforms. Visit our website for more information: Author Social Media Launch service!


Deadline to Have Your Book Displayed at the Frankfurt Book Fair—Largest Book Tradeshow in the World—September 12

September 12 is the last day to register to have your book be a part of the Frankfurt International Book Fair as a part of the Combined Book Exhibit. Visit our CBE page for more information and registration details.