This blog will be made up of posts that are of benefit to aspiring or published horse book authors. There will be a collection of how to’s as well as advice from already established authors.
This blog will be made up of posts that are of benefit to aspiring or published horse book authors. There will be a collection of how to’s as well as advice from already established authors.
Sometimes when it comes to writing – or finishing! – our equine novel, we need a little push. Accountability can be the greatest form of motivation to get a job done. So why not make yourself accountable to others and sign up for this year’s NaNoWriMo event?
National Novel Writing Month kicks off on November 1 and encourages – and challenges – writers from all walks of life and in various locations to create a 50,000 word novel over a 30 day period. This comes to an average of 1,667 words per day to be written to complete the novel.
If you head along to the NaNoWriMo site, you can sign up and provide a blurb of your novel and even an excerpt. Then you can indicate how many words you’re aiming to write and keep track of your daily progress. There’s nothing like seeing your goal and your progress toward it to motivate you to write, write, write! So why not sign up? If anything, it can be a great short term project to push your writing into gear.
I have signed up to work on a collaborative project with some other authors. Funnily enough, I have two books sitting at around 19,000 and 22,000 words, with a total of 35,000 aimed for each. And yet, a new novel idea came to me for NaNoWriMo. So I will indeed endeavour to write one whole novel(la) over the month of November. Why not sign up and join me? At the end of thirty days, you may just have an equine novel to publish, promote and sell!
Once people have subscribed to your equine author mailing list, it’s nice for them to get a personal welcome email. This can be something that you put together once and know that every time someone subscribes, they will receive it.
First we’ll discuss how to do this in Mailchimp and then we’ll discuss what you may want to put there.
Our first step is to head along to http://www.mailchimp.com/ to create an account and sign in.
Once you’re logged in, you’ll want to visit the left hand corner and click on the icon that looks like 3 lines in a row. This will allow you to choose to go to the areas of:
We want lists; so click on that. Note that this word is plural. I have four lists which is effectively four different mailing lists, under the one account. So you can create more down the track if you want! But we’ll just focus on your equine author mailing list for now.
So for me this is Christine Meunier Author. Click on the arrow beside stats and choose signup forms to be able to go create your welcome email.
You’ll see the name of the mailing list you’ve chosen up the top of the screen, as you can see Christine Meunier Author for this one. We want to work on a response email which is in the general forms area. So select this option.
Next you’ll be brought to a page where you can create forms. We want to look for the welcome email option, so click on the drop down arrow beside Signup form. This will provide you with a list of options. Scroll down until you find Final welcome email. Click on this.
Now you can create your welcome email. You can first write up your content into the box area provided. Just click on this and a box will open to allow you to edit your content. Be sure to save what you do!
So what do you put in there? You want to make a connection with your readers. Be sure to thank them for investing their time in signing up to hear about your latest news and releases. Then it’s up to you what you share – how you came to be an author, your love of horses, details about your family. Find a way to connect with them and to become more than a name of a horse book author. Include a photo or two if you fancy! You can even finish your welcome email with asking them a question. This encourages them to engage with you.
I provide a couple of links to my author website within the reply email, encouraging people to check it out if they are interested. You could otherwise provide a Facebook page or Twitter account for them to like/follow if they haven’t already! Once you’re happy with the content, save and close.
You can also design it, by changing font, colours, etc. Once it’s saved, you’re done! Want to test it out? Head back to your signup form at the top of the drop down menu:
Copy and paste the URL in the Signup form URL box. Mine looks like this once loaded:
Add in an email address of yours – or create a new one just to test this out. Then subscribe and wait for your welcome email! :)
All published books have a number that identifies them individually. This is particularly important for horse book authors when they want to be able to advertise their book. The book’s individual number is something you will need if you are to enter your book onto book sites like Goodreads or Fictfact and even for publishing.
So what on earth is an ASIN or ISBN?
ASIN stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number. Amazon assigns this to a book when it is put into their catalogue for sale/published.
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It tends to be a 13 or 10 digit number that can be used to identify your individual book. These numbers are important for identifying your book and even for generating sales from other websites.
And how do you get one? When it comes to publishing on Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing, your book will be assigned an ASIN after it has been approved by Amazon for publishing. You don’t have to do anything for this to occur – apart from submit your book!
Once your book is live on the Kindle store, you can scroll down on the book’s page to find the ASIN amongst the book details. Check out https://www.amazon.com/Horse-Country-Horses-Christine-Meunier-ebook/dp/B00DH526KM/ and you’ll see the below details:
What about an ISBN? This can depend on your publisher. You can purchase your own ISBN for your book – this is particularly important if you plan to publish a paperback copy of your book. If it’s electronic, you can opt for only an ASIN through Amazon. Smashwords and Lulu will happily assign ISBNs to your books. Otherwise you can purchase them via Bowker. (You can buy in bulk, which is cheaper!). Then you can assign your book and it’s details to a particular ISBN once it’s ready to go live.
Whatever route you choose, make sure your book has a unique identification code and you know where to gain access to it! It’ll help in book promotion :)
This post identifies how to add your books to this site after creating a (free) account.
When it comes to adding our horse books to LibraryThing, we first need to head along to http://www.librarything.com/. Next create an account or login. (You can sign in with your Facebook or Twitter account if you wish!)
Once you’re logged into an account, you will be able to see books already added to your library and your main page as a member.
You then need to click on the tab add books. You can find this at the top of the screen towards the middle of the page.
Once you have clicked on this, you will be taken to a page where you can search for the book you would like to add. You can do this by title, author, ISBN, etc. I want to add New Blood by Christine Meunier, so I have typed both of these in and clicked the search button. You can narrow your search to a particular catalogue of books, like on Amazon, for example. I didn’t check any boxes, just clicked search.
The search has generated a few possible results and the first book listed is what I want. To add it to my library, it’s as simple as clicking on that book title.
Once you have done this, you will see that it has been added to the recently added page and is now sitting in my library. I can then click on this book again to be taken to its individual page on LibraryThing.
Here I can rate the book out of 5 stars, edit the details (because I am the author) and even leave a review for others to see.
Want to see this book live on LibraryThing? Head along to http://www.librarything.com/work/20246082/book/146120519
There are many ways in which giving your book away to readers can help you build up your email list, gain credibility, and expand your reach:
To do this successfully, you need to make it as easy as possible for your readers to access your book, in a way that doesn’t cost you time. Bookfunnel is a fantastic resource and tool for streamlined, hassle-free book delivery suitable for EVERY format on EVERY device.
Here’s what Bookfunnel say:
You write, we deliver
Stop doing tech support for your readers. You’re a writer, so go write. Leave the book delivery and support to us.
The first time I sent out my ARC to my Launch Team ‘Pre-Bookfunnel’, I received dozens of emails from readers asking me how they could download the file onto their Kindle, or tablet or Nook—a pain point for both authors and readers.
So not only does Bookfunnel solve your readers’ pain point by easy delivery, they also solve yours, knowing that all you have to do is upload your book, and Bookfunnel will do the rest. You can see Bookfunnel in action and experience what your readers will see with this demo below.
See Bookfunnel in Action
Your Books, Your Readers
What I really love about Bookfunnel is that they offer a genuine service without keeping your subscribers’ emails for themselves. This means your readers won’t get bombarded by sales emails which is worth its weight in gold—and talking about money…
Bookfunnel offers very competitive price plans for authors, starting for as little as $20 per year:
Note: This is a great starting point for authors wanting to give away books to their existing subscribers, advanced reader copies and free books to book bloggers. But the basic plan DOES NOT collect emails or work with email integration. Using the Bookfunnel service to GAIN subscribers, you’ll want the Mid List Author Plan
MID LIST AUTHOR:
Note: This package is great for authors wanting to expand their mailing list. I use the Bookfunnel link on my website’s landing page and in the back of my Ebooks to gain subscribers. It’s integrated with my mailing list provider so my welcome email sequence is automatically activated. Also with this package, you can get involved in Bookfunnel’s JOINT AUTHOR PROMOTIONS – A brilliant way to increase your email list with authors writing in your own genre. You can also get involved with their BETA BUNDLES program. I’ll be testing these out soon and am looking forward to reporting the results.
NOTE: A tool for authors well on their way with a large and established mailing list.
For me personally, the MID LIST AUTHOR package is perfect. Time, especially for an indie author, is a precious commodity. I find Bookfunnel saves me not only time but also tech related headaches, and more importantly, offers my readers a professional, easy and clean way to get hold of my free books.
In my next post, I’ll be running through a step-by-step process for uploading your book to Bookfunnel’s dashboard to offer your ARC. Until then, Bookfunnel can answer all of your questions here!
Angharad Thompson Rees is the author of the Magical Adventures & Pony Tales children’s book series. She writes comic scripts for a popular European pony magazine, and her short stories are published in young adult literary journals. A dabbling poet, Angharad won the judge’s pick in an international spoken word competition and is working on a children’s fantasy novel-in-verse.
Social Media Links:
So recently I was made aware of BundleRabbit. This is a service for authors, specifically focused on bundling various books together into one electronic file for sale. It could be that a group of authors each have a horse book they want to sell in bulk together – they make their individual book files available on such a system as BundleRabbit, and the files are collated into one new file.
So what would the benefit of this be? Each author is suddenly reaching potential new buyers for their other books. This happens as each author promotes the bundle to their reader base. Chances are there’ll be some overlaps, but most should benefit from new readers for their story in the bundle!
Now currently I have been looking at bundling books in a particular series and selling them at a cheaper rate. After all, who can ignore buying in bulk if it will save them money?
An example? My Thoroughbred Breeders series books retail at $2.99USD each on Amazon. I have just put the first 3 books in the series together as an eBook and plan to sell this at $6.99USD, which is a saving of just under $2.00. If you were interested in all the books in a series, wouldn’t you consider this purchase option?
I have had days where someone has bought all 6 books in my Free Rein series and so plan to bundle these in lots of 3, too. In fact, the first three books are available in a bundle already. I hope this will generate more sales and therefore result in more ratings/reviews for books in a series. An added bonus is that this is technically a new book that I am publishing. This will greatly benefit me when you consider the Amazon Algorithm!
So how do you do it?
If you are writing a series or similar themed horse books, why not consider creating a horse book bundle for every 3 books that are released? Perhaps you are aiming to release 1 book a season, well now you effectively have 5 for the year (the individual four, and a combination of books 1-3), instead of 4!
You can use bundles to create new releases more regularly and boost your profile on Amazon. Win/win!
Hi all, Christine asked me to be a guest blogger on her site and I agreed instantly – what a privilege and an honour! I’m certainly no expert at this indie publishing business but I’m happy to share my journey so far.
As a designer, developer and producer of educational material I wasn’t new to commercial writing but I had a burning desire to write fiction that featured horses in some shape or form, so I wrote three books in three different genres in between my day job and two uni writing courses.
My YA novel Team Up had been completed and assessed as pretty good by those in the know apparently, so I had it professionally edited and hawked it around to a couple of local publishers. Their feedback was consistent – they already had one contracted YA horse fiction author and that Team Up was too niche. I totally understood that, as publishers they had no real investment in whether the horses were wearing snaffles or pelhams, dressage or jumping saddles, or if the show jumps were verticals or boxes. But I did, then I realised if I wanted to see my work published I’d have to do it another way.
So fast forward to the last couple of months when I made the decision to become an indie publisher. Writers need to research this thoroughly as it’s a very personal journey. As independant writers and publishers, you are responsible for writing, publishing and marketing your novel because without a marketing plan you are not likely to sell any – I firmly believe now, the easiest bit is writing the story!
For me it all seemed relatively simple. There are millions of books for sale on all the ebook sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble etc, so if your work is to stand out, it has to be a good read with a good cover. That said, the main choices are around where you want your ebook published I think. There are a lot of options and you need to explore them all.
I chose to publish on Smashwords because Smashwords distributes to all major ebook stores (but not Amazon unless you have sales of over $2000 due to the high volume of uploads from their own site I guess). Once I made the choice, I sat down and formatted my novel as Smashwords stipulated, you only need a basic working knowledge of Word and formatting, and I paid a friend to create a funky front page.
That done, I opened an account at Smashwords which was pretty similar to Amazon, but I liked Smashwords ability to use your PayPal account for payments whereas Amazon wants your bank details and both require your Tax File No. The only dollar costs I had included editing, and having a front cover created in the relevant size as a jpeg. The rest was just my time – quadzillion hours of blood, sweat and tears, right?!
After setting up a Smashwords account and getting into the upload page, I needed to write a short blurb and a longer blurb, decide the amount I wanted to sell the book for and request an ISBN number. Then I uploaded my novel to Smashwords and uploaded the front page as directed. It’s an easy lock step process.
A few days later, I received an email saying that my novel Team Up had been accepted into their Premium Catalogue which seems it would be sent out to the widest variety of sellers due to its specific formatting. When I realised that Amazon would not accept Team Up via Smashwords, I uploaded Team Up to Amazon and found the process even easier, their software will even help design your book cover.
At this point in time, possibly due to my inexperience, I’m happy with having my ebook on as many sites as possible and I have no preference between Smashwords and Amazon and I found both processes relatively easy. If I find that my books sell better on one site, I will factor that into any future publishing decisions I make.
So the haze of achievement was incredible but short lived because I now want sales – to prove to myself that there is a dedicated riding audience out there who is also interested in accurate horse details as well as a good fun story – and this is where the marketing plan is necessary. There’s lots of great info on the Internet about how to market your novel, all of which is valuable but the most valuable I think is an acknowledgement that;
That said, there are some basic marketing requirements like writer specific websites, good author bios, email subscriptions, library readings, Facebook and LinkedIn sites, offering your first novel for free, blogging and being a regular and helpful contributor to forums, … the list goes on. But again, thinking as a reader, my own discovery of certain writers was in some cases years in the making, yet as a writer I’m expecting to be found and read immediately!
It follows for me, that in tandem with marketing yourself and your work, you really need to keep on writing and get as many great books out there as you can, have them well edited with relevant front covers and see where that leads you moving forward. That is not for the fainted hearted but as riders, we are determined, focused people and undoubtedly up for the challenge! May you enjoy the journey as much as I have.
Elizabeth Alexander is a keen rider, breeder, competitor, trainer and coach in various horse sports. Along with writing experience in different disciplines, this has helped her combine her two passions into novels with a genuine equine understanding.
Elizabeth writes serial equine fiction in the three genres of Young Adult/Teen, ChicLit/Comic Crime and Epic/Historical Fantasy to keep things interesting and fun. You could say she’s not quite the “road less travelled” sort of writer but more of a “Warning – unmapped road ahead!” type of novelist. It’s an ambitious venture but one she’s enjoying immensely.
So I wanted to put together a piece on 5 Reasons you Need an Equine Author Mailing List, but honestly, I think it all comes down to one reason! At the end of the day, this is a list that belongs to you. It’s one tool that you can use over time as you develop your writing career. No one can take it away from you and you can consistently promote your new works to eager fans and readers.
You can provide sneak peaks to those on your email list – offering them firsts of many things. Be it covers for new books, a blurb or even the first few chapters. Either way, you can reward them for being on your list and devoted readers of your books. You can even offer freebies in exchange for a review!
Below are some little tricks you can use to consistently grow your mailing list. Let’s think of these as residual workers for you – you do this once right now and it will continue to reap the benefits for you over time.
For myself, the question should be “Why not write a horse book?”. For the best part of my life horses have filled my thoughts, dreams and aspirations. I learned to ride at the tender age of 4, competed at horse shows, studied to become a British Horse society riding instructor, even judged at horse shows. So there is certainly no shortage of subject material.
For the past 15 years I have earned my living as an equine photographer, covering horse shows, events and hundreds of private equine photo shoots. So there is certainly no shortage of images to use in a book.
Now I do not consider myself to be anything special, I never rode at the Olympics or photographed the queen’s horses in the Royal Mews.
But I do like to think of myself as “extremely inquisitive” others have a less than flattering name for this character trait. Nosey Parker is one that immediately comes to mind. However I choose to take that as a compliment and it was exactly the kind of quality needed for the creation of my latest book The Humans of Horse Racing.
The premise for the book was simple enough, photograph all the people who are involved in horse racing at Northlands Park and tell their story. How hard can that be?
Horse Racing Alberta issued me with an all access license to the back stretch and a couple of introductions to a trainer and the head “out rider” and after that I was pretty much on my own.
I figured the best way to get to know the people, what they do and how they work was to spend lots of time at the track. Not just on special race days but every day starting at 6 am, which is when most of the people at the track show up for work (some start even earlier).
Even at this early hour the barns are buzzing with activity, horses are being tacked up and led out to the track for their early morning gallops, others are tied to the horse walkers to stretch their legs and move their muscles – similar to doing 20 mins on a tread mill. Grooms are mucking out stalls, filling water buckets and hay nets. Trainers are lined up against the track to keep a watchful eye on their equine prospects. The out rider is primed and ready for action as he watches the young horses, he is looking for signs of possible run away’s or jockeys in trouble. The tack store is open for business and the farrier is gathering his tools for the start of his rounds. The office and support staff start a little later.
It quickly became apparent that horse racing is like a very elegant jigsaw puzzle and it requires ALL the pieces to create the finished picture.
The perfect recipe for a book that gives readers a glimpse into the private – behind the scenes look at horse racing.
I don’t want to mislead you into thinking writing a book is easy. But if you are an equestrian you have all the qualities needed to complete this task:
So you have everything needed to become a writer. The Humans of Horse Racing is my fourth book and I know I have at least two more books inside me just waiting to get out.
I hope you feel inspired to take your knowledge and unique experiences and write a horse book.
Born in rural England Linda spent her youth competing and teaching horse riding following the classical guidelines set out by the British Horse Society. When she emigrated to Canada with her husband Tom and daughter Katy in 1997, she saw this change in country as an opportunity to change her career path, so went back to school to learn the science of photography. Her goal was to become the official photographer at horse shows. For the past 17 years she has been doing just that and much more. Her passion to capture all aspects of horsemanship has taken her all over Canada photographing every aspect of horsemanship from rodeo’s to the race-track and everything in-between.
Linda is author of several books including “The Horse Watcher” answers to questions you never knew you had. This book proved so popular that she went on to develop “The Horse Watcher Equine Behaviour Program”: a series of lessons and workshops that are changing the way people view equine behaviour and communication. Her solid research and down to earth way of unraveling how humans and horses can successfully interact and communicate is both refreshing and inspiring.
Her groundbreaking work coupled with fine art photography has earned her recognition from the Queen of England. To learn more about “horse watching” and how you can hone your understanding of equine behaviour and body language visit: http://www.thehorsewatcher.com
Whether you’ve published one horse book or many, you should have a mailing list as an author. In fact, every author should establish a mailing list!
Why? Because this is one tool that you can use over time as you develop your writing career. No one can take this list away from you and it can become your best marketing tool. I want to encourage you to set up a mailing list today if you haven’t already. Convinced already? Head along to MailChimp. You can use their services for free for your first 2,000 subscribers.
You may argue that you have a blog and a Facebook page, that you sell your books from. Why would you need a mailing list? At the end of the day, people can unlike your page or they may choose to steer away from Facebook for awhile and forget about you! Or they stop visiting your website. With a mailing list, you can contact them when you have exciting author news to share and it goes straight to their inbox! Most people keep email accounts, even when they ditch other things online after awhile.
But can’t they unsubscribe from my list? Yes, they can. But in short, if they’re not interested in your emails anymore, then you aren’t inclined to benefit from emailing them! But if they don’t unsubscribe, then they will receive every email you send them – about freebies, competitions, cover reveals, new releases, etc!
Your list can also grow and change over time. As your writing career develops, you can adjust what you send out to fans and find out from them what they enjoy reading! You can also find a loyal base of followers that will happily be beta readers, provide reviews in exchange for a free copy and more. It’s your one place to go to sell your books and receive feedback from loyal followers!
Now let’s do a little math and set you a challenge. I recently read from entrepreneur Melyssa Griffin that 1 – 3% of an email list is likely to buy the product that you’re promoting. Let’s average this to 2%.
Now if 2% of your email list is likely to buy your next release, how many people would this be? How many would you like it to be?
An email list with 1,000 subscribers would mean sales of 20 copies of your next release in response to an email you send them. Want to make 50 sales? Aim for 2,500 people in your list. Have a think about how many books you would love to sell if you told your subscribers about it and then aim to get the number of subscribers that would result in this figure. It gives you something to aim for! If you have a higher sale percentage than this, then congratulations!
You can only grow your email list if you first create one. Then be sure to add details on how people can sign up to your site, Facebook page and other social media! Your mailing list becomes your sale list and your direct contact with reading fans. Don’t waste it!