‘The End’ is just the beginning

Editor’s Note — Writing a book ain’t easy, but at least most of us know what we’ve got to do to get to “The End.” What happens after you write “The End” — the publishing and marketing — is where a lot of us suddenly find ourselves lost and without a clue.

C. Lee McKenzie, a novelist who’s published indie and and also been published by traditional press has been down those confusing roads. She offers this advice on making it easier for your book to perform after you’ve written “The End.”

C. Lee McKenzie

C. Lee McKenzie

“The End” is just the beginning
by C. Lee McKenzie
Writing a book is not easy, at least not for me. I sit for hours (something that I truly dislike doing). I torture myself with self-doubt at just about every stage of the writing process. I turn down invitations from friends. My family often doesn’t see me for days. So when I finally do write “The End,” and I really mean it, then I should be ecstatic, right?

Well, not quite.

Now I have to launch my book into the world, so there are big questions: Should I sub to an agent? Should I sub to a major publisher who takes unsolicited manuscripts? Should I sub to a small press? Or, should I do it myself?

I’ve made this decision three times. Two of my books were traditionally published by a small press. The last book I put out there by myself. I’ve learned a lot about the publishing business, and most of it has been through the old trial and error method. I’m getting ready to sub another book, and so I’ve been doing a bit of research–that thing I do when writing is impossible.

I found a Mark Coker article that was very informative. Mr. Coker, as you probably know is the founder of Smashwords.com.

Mark Coker

Mark Coker

So when Mr. Literary Gary asked me to do a guest post, I thought I’d select the key points from this article, add some of my own ideas based on what Mark Coker wrote and share that today. I’ve marked my own ideas with asterisks. These are ideas based on my experience and not found in the Coker study.

So here goes.

If you can get your ebook into the top position as bestseller, it might sell double the number of copies that an ebook at fifth place sells. Mark Coker calls this the “power of the Viral Catalyst.”

So how do you get a book into first place? It ain’t easy, but might be doable if you:

Write a darned good book.

*Troll for some excellent Blurbs from well-published authors.

*Get the buzz going by contacting reviewers before your launch.

*Plan a dynamite blog tour that floods the internet with your cover, your interview, contests and giveaways.

*Get a following by publishing a second, third, fourth book ASAP, preferably sequels.

Write shorter book titles.

Know what price is most attractive. Coker says, “a $.99 book will on average sell 3.9 times as many books as a book priced over $10.00. A $2.99 book sells about 4 times as many units. Note how books priced between $1.00 and $1.99 significantly under-perform books priced at $2.99 and $3.99. $1.99 appears to be a black hole… $3.99 books sold more units than $2.99 books…” This information about pricing I found very interesting.

If you’re an Indie ebook author, you can expect to make more on royalties than traditionally published authors. So if you do sell to a publisher, Coker advises this, “…your e-rights are valuable. Don’t give them up easily.”

Coker’s last suggestion is to use common sense when interpreting the data. For example, if you have a three-word title that is right for your book, don’t shorten it to one or two. If you have 50,000 words and your story works, don’t expand it to make it longer. What he has set out is just data gathered at this time, and it’s very likely to shift.

In other words, be on your toes and keep up to date.

Here’s the Huffington Post article.

About C. Lee McKenzie
I’m a native Californian who grew up in many different places; then I landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains where I live with my family and miscellaneous pets—usually strays that find me rather than the other way around. I write most of the time, garden, hike and do yoga a lot, and then travel whenever I can. My favorite destinations are Turkey and Nicaragua, but because I have family in England, Switzerland, and Spain I love going those places, too.


In my books, I take on issues that today’s teens may face because I believe talking about fictional characters helps young adults open up about the sensitive issues that they sometimes find hard to discuss. My first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which dealt with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. My second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives came out in 2010. I’m published in three young adult anthologies. Recently, I took a break from young adult and published my first middle grade novel, Alligators Overhead.


14 thoughts on “‘The End’ is just the beginning

  1. Ah yes, hello literary Gary and of course, the celebrity that is C.Lee McKenzie. I haven’t got a clue what I just read. However, I just know that having Lee guest post on here must mean she has contributed some really neat stuff for actual writers, both published and aspiring.

    As for me, I rely on a dog to do any legible writing. Story of my life. Thanks for inviting Lee to your site.

    Lee’s starstruckest fan,

    a dude named, Gary…

  2. Yup, the data is always changing. In my series I do free, 1.99, 2.99, and 3.99. Obviously the free and 1.99 sell at a higher rate. However, I make more $ at 2.99 and 3.99. 3.99 keeps pace w/ 2.99, so that’ll be my price from now on for novels.

  3. It’s not easy. I’ve tried lots of prices and nothing changed. I didn’t launch book one well and have stalled book two because of re-doing (obsessing) over book one. Fatal mistake.

    Thanks for the tips Lee X


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