MIND LIKE WATER MONTHLY
Dedicated to helping the ebook community.
Issue #2: April 8, 2002
Publisher: Mind Like Water, Inc.
Welcome to the Mind Like Water Monthly. We had a wonderful response
to last month's issue. If you missed it, our archive is available
I had three terrific interviews with authors. I'm
including two this month and one next month. Please email me if you would like to be interviewed about your
experiences as an ebook author,
publisher or reader.
Table of Contents
1. Feature Article: Connecting Readers With Authors
2. eBook Author Interviews:
a. Sam Vaknin, Malignant Self Love - Narcissism
Dawson, The Jennifer Triology
3. Tip of the Month
4. Questions and Answers
Feature Article: Connecting Readers With Authors
Based upon feedback from our survey last month, I've discovered what
I believe is the missing link in the ebook revolution: connecting
ebook authors with ebook readers. I have to be honest here -- I don't have all the answers. But in this issue and the next
few, I'd like to tell you what I've learned as a publisher about
marketing ebooks on the Internet, and what I've experienced as
an ebook reader. And I hope to hear from you as well.
Today I'm going to address how search engines can help
readers and authors find
Readers, use search engines to find ebooks. If you
want to start off by just
browsing, search for ebook directories. I'm a little biased,
but a great place to start is Mind Like Water's directory (http://www.mindlikewater.com).
Find out who is publishing ebooks
by searching for ebookstores or epublishers. On their web sites,
you'll often find additional information such as biographies of authors,
ebook reviews, and sample chapters to help you make your selection.
If you are looking for specific ebook topics, include the
word "ebook" in the description when searching on standard search engines like Google (http://www.google.com).
If you want a book on baby
names, for example, try typing "baby name ebooks" rather
than just "baby names." Be very specific. Finally, there are many web sites that offer free ebooks
for downloading. Just type
"free ebooks" when doing a search, and you are on your way.
Authors, really think about what your ebook is about
and what potential readers
are likely to search for to find it. Come up with
a list of at least 10 potential keywords or phrases, and make
sure that either you or your publisher creates web pages that
are optimized for them. Visit Overture, 7Search or Word Tracker
and find out what kind of traffic these keywords are getting.
Test out your new keywords and sales pages using one
of the pay-per-click search
engines like Overture, Google Adwords, 7Search
or FindWhat. Pay-per-click search engines allow you to only
pay for the traffic that visits your site, but you must make sure
that you sell enough ebooks to justify the cost. We use the 1
percent rule and assume that only 1 out of 100 visitors will purchase
our product. This means that if you are selling a $10 ebook,
you cannot pay more than about 10 cents per click just to break
Recent research has shown that the number 1 position
on a pay-per-click search engine is probably not the best. The number 1 position is often overpriced and most web
surfers like to view at least
a few listings before making a decision to purchase. The number
1 position usually gets a lot of indiscriminate traffic, making
your cost per sale too high. A little trial and error is always
necessary. Each ebook, along with its respective audience, is
Authors, be sure to balance traffic potential with
keywords that will make the
sale. Readers will only spend a few seconds evaluating
the listing on a search engine. Spend some time coming
up with a compelling headline and supporting text for the listing.
Make it as short as possible. Of course, once you have a potential
customer, make sure your sales message and site are enticing
to the reader.
Next month, I'll talk about establishing trust using
an open business philosophy
and ebook tools so that both authors and readers
have a positive experience doing business online.
If you would like to advertise here or on our ebook directory, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supercharge Your eBook Profits!
Learn how to drive traffic to your site and make the sales.
Discover new untapped ebook markets.
Learn how to optimize keywords and use pay-per-click search engines.
eBook Author Interview: Sam Vaknin, Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited
Michael: What is your background and why did you write about narcissism?
Please define narcissism for those who are unfamiliar with
Sam: Narcissism is a pattern of traits and behaviours
signifying infatuation and
obsession with one's self to the exclusion of all others,
and the egotistic and ruthless pursuit of one's gratification,
dominance and ambition.
The book Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited
was written in jail (at
least in outline). It was an unflinching attempt to understand
what went wrong, what brought me hither, and where I was
likely to go from there. The book deals with a pernicious and devastating
mental health issue - the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) with which I am afflicted. What made it a hit I
is its relentless straightforwardness, its uncompromising gaze
and its willingness to venture where others feared to tread.
The narcissist is often also a sadist, a
stalker, a masochist, a sex
pervert, and an abuser. The book is a manual intended to help the
narcissist's exhausted and traumatized victims extricate themselves
from the nightmare of being near or with a narcissist.
Michael: How do we encourage kids or adults to have
high self-esteem, but yet avoid becoming narcissistic?
Sam: One cannot "teach" self-esteem or
"encourage" it. Self-esteem is a derivative of one's sense of
self-worth. Optimally, both
do not fluctuate too wildly. They are both rooted in one's upbringing
(mainly in early childhood), although one's self-esteem and sense of
self-worth are affected by one's environment later
A healthy and stable self-esteem is the result of
predictable and just care giving, of a recognition of the child's boundaries and
or her existence as a separate entity, of nurturing but not overbearing
compassionate and empathic care, of respect coupled with
rational discipline, and of teaching by example. Self-esteem grows
in response to all these and is osmotically "absorbed" in the right milieu.
Michael: Tell me about your book After the
should I care about the
Sam: If you don't mind the Balkans -- the Balkans will
mind you. This is the
greatest lesson of September 11th: the world is everywhere.
There is nowhere to hide and isolationism is futile. America
has millions of immigrants from the Balkans -- a direct result
of the conflicts there. Knowing Balkan history is knowing the
history of your fellow Americans.
It is in the Balkans that the psychodynamics of
humanity -- the tectonic
clash between Rome and Byzantium, Judeo-Christianity and Islam,
West and East -- are still easily discernible. It is here that
all ethnic distinctions fail and it is here that they prevail
anachronistically and atavistically. Contradiction and change
are the only two fixtures of this tormented region.
Michael: What is your most popular book?
Sam: My most popular book is Pathological Narcissism
It comprises dozens of questions
and answers regarding relationships with abusive narcissists
and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). The content
of this ebook is based on correspondence since 1996 with hundreds
of people suffering from NPD (narcissists), and with thousands
of their family members, friends, therapists, and colleagues.
Michael: What do you see as the greatest challenge in
selling your ebooks?
Sam: Trust. Potential readers are not sure they will
receive the ebook they
ordered. They hesitate to provide their credit card data
over the Internet, even through a safe server and to a respectable
fulfillment agent such as CCNow. The barriers to publishing
an ebook are very low, so the market is inundated by vanity-type
"books" and "monographs" authored by graphomaniacs. People have learnt not to trust the
quality of ebooks. Moreover, many
ebooks are overpriced. The reader applications are still too
complicated and mutually incompatible. You won't believe how many
technical problems we have even with simple Word or HTML documents:
backward incompatibility, Mac vs. PC, fonts -- it is a nightmare.
Michael: What advice can you give to other authors?
Sam: I thought that selling a book was a matter of
mastering a few basic
principles. Fresh on the heels of the success of Malignant
Self Love, I hubristically believed that I knew everything
there was to know about book promotion. The truth is that
every book is an entirely independent product. It has its own,
idiosyncratic, rules of promotion which one has to discover anew.
Moreover, "eyeballs" (online readers) do not
always translate to offline
cash. Books can rarely be promoted exclusively online. And
niche products are a lucrative proposition, providing the niche
is sufficiently large and accommodating. "Balkan studies" proved to be a narrow and Procrustean
Be online. Be generous with your free online content --
but not TOO generous. The
entire text of Malignant Self Love is available
online. While we had more than 700,000 visitors in the last
four years, we sold books only to a negligible fraction of them.
To succeed, write about things you know well or that
are close to your heart.
Write with conviction and passion, but do not hector or
judge. Just tell a story. Never forget the narrative. People buy
books either to escape from reality, or to grapple with it. A good book
provides both options and allows the reader to smoothly
switch between them.
Michael: Please leave us with your favorite
Sam: I have seen the enemy -- and it is I.
-- Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.
as backup email@example.com
(Buy Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited)
(Buy After the Rain - How the West Lost the East)
eBook Author Interview: Terry Dawson, The Jennifer Triology
Michael: I think it's great that you took on the challenge of writing
a trilogy. Tell me briefly about The Jennifer Triology.
Terry: I had worked on the fringes of the property
market for several years and
this, along with a degree of hi-tech international
sales and marketing experience, provided the background
on which much of the trilogy is based.
There's a second closely interlinked theme running
through the trilogy -- the
creation of a Charitable Foundation to provide long-term
funding, training and support to projects involving 16- to
24-year-olds. This evolved from my wife's continuing work with the area
director of a major United Kingdom charity.
Genre-wise the trilogy is classified as a contemporary
romance. I've never been
particularly happy with that and, for a long time, A Circle
Squared (the first part of the trilogy) had the
alternate title of Cinderella Revisited. To me it is a contemporary
fairytale set in today's world of international business
with a story line that pushes -- but never breaks -- the
envelope of credibility.
Michael: After a lifetime of technical writing and
sales, what inspired you to
write a novel?
Terry: It began with an after-dinner discussion
several years ago. We'd
spent the evening celebrating having secured a large contract
with a major multi-national; after a few drinks my colleagues
solemnly decided that my contribution, in writing the
original contract submission and the final presentation material,
had been critically important. It prompted one of them
to remark that, since I obviously had a knack with words, I
ought to try my hand at writing something serious -- like a novel.
Several years later, when I had a little more time, I
remembered that remark and
began to sketch out a few ideas. A Circle Squared
evolved quite slowly at first but, before I really knew what
was happening, it had taken on an existence of its own. And the
trilogy was born!
Unfortunately (or do I mean fortunately?), I lost
track of the guy who made
that original remark a long time ago!
Michael: You mention a lack of quality among some
ebooks. Can you describe
what you mean? I often think that, where writing is concerned,
my perception of "quality" may be different than that of other people.
Terry: To me quality is a complex mixture embracing
plot construction, standard
of writing, characterization, continuity, depth
of research and much, much more. Everything that happens in the
novel, however minor, must have a role to play; events that occur
late in the story must link smoothly to events that happened
in the first few chapters. The reader must never be left confused
and convinced he's slept through something important. Here's
an example from my personal list of horrors -- an ebook short
listed in a major national competition. It reaches a totally
confusing finale in which good appears to have triumphed over
evil and the hero/heroine are pretty close to getting out of bed
and riding off into the sunset together.
I suspect the author realized the confusion but,
instead of editing the
manuscript (a serious rewrite), chose to add a 20-page epilogue explaining
what had really happened, who some of the
characters actually were, and how they were related to the hero/heroine.
Would I bother to buy another novel by that author?
Michael: I'd like some candid thoughts from you about
ebook marketing. What has
your experience been like?
Terry: My views are based on (or perhaps biased by?)
little more than 12 months
of experience. It's very difficult to get meaningful
statistics, but I strongly doubt whether many ebook authors
(and publishers) achieve viable sales volumes -- except those
writing in a certain "top-shelf" genre. I suspect there are at least two reasons:
a) Quality of writing -- see my
earlier comments about buying another
of one author's novels.
b) eBooks are a new medium -- as
time goes by this, and the cost of
ebook readers, is becoming nothing more than an excuse.
Assuming our author can actually write, how should
he/she approach promoting
the novel in this rather strange marketplace?
a) Leave it to the publisher to
list it on their website? Well, it
doesn't cost anything...
b) Employ a publicist? Lots of
money involved and, since the end result
is influenced by the quality of the author's writing, there's
absolutely no guarantee of results.
c) Set up his/her own website with
the ability for anyone to order
from it? Assumes, of course, that the prospective buyer
can find the site.
d) Get independent reviews and publicize
them? Where? On the author's
own website, assuming that the prospective buyer can find
e) Spend a lot of money trying to
persuade the search engines to rank
your ebook site amongst the top half-dozen? Who's kidding
f) Get the novel listed on some of
the free listing sites that link
directly to your own site? Yes, that can definitely work.
g) Get reviews like this one?
Ask me next year. At the moment the jury is still out!
-- Terry Dawson, Aare Publishing
Ash Lea Farm, Burrells, APPLEBY,
Cumbria, UK, CA16 6EG
Tel: +44 (0)17683 53055 Fax: +44 (0)17683 53709
Web site: http://www.aare-publishing.co.uk/
Tip of the Month
eBook authors/publishers: Customers love to hear from you. Make sure that one of you sends a follow-up
email to everyone who orders
your product. It's a fact that customers who have purchased
from you once are much more likely to purchase from you again.
Why? Because they trust you and like your product.
Save your contacts in a list or database, and you are
on your way to developing an
opt-in email list.
Questions and Answers
I didn't receive any response to last month's question, so I'm going to open it up to your questions and
my answers. Please email
your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org/?subject=monthly_question.
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