What Indie Authors Could Learn from the Instagram + Facebook Outage

Today, October 4, 2021 Facebook and Instagram went down in the US.

This is nothing new. Facebook and Instagram have had outages before. I have no doubt everyone will be back online soon.

That linked article said this happened this morning, but I was on Instagram and Facebook, and it was working fine, so the outage is relatively recent. (I noticed it afternoon-ish.)

The interesting thing about all of this is it wasn’t until I sent my fourth quarter email out to my list that I noticed these platforms were down. I got an alert from the news app on my phone just as soon as I pressed send.

“Oh. Okay.”

Short story: I wasn’t panicked.

This message is simple:

It would be best to have other ways of engaging with your readers outside of these two major platforms. Instagram and Facebook might be the most popular, but they are not the only social networking sites available, nor are they the only places authors should look to when engaging an audience.

If anything permanent happened to these social media sites, I’d like people to know they can still visit me online at yecheilyahysrayl.com, contact me using my contact form and sign up to my email list and blog for updates.

Many Indie Authors depend solely on Instagram and Facebook for sharing content. This isn’t even just for Authors. Many new entrepreneurs operate solely by way of Facebook pages and Cash App. 

Not good. 

If Instagram and Facebook were to be down indefinitely, people would lose contact with most of their audience.

How so?

Well, my language is poetry so to quote Najwa Zebian: “The biggest mistake that we make is that we build our homes in other people.”

Indie Authors and new entrepreneurs make a mistake when they build their businesses solely on temporary social media platforms with no means of staying in contact with people beyond that social media site.

Consider:

You have 8,000 Instagram followers, but someone hacks you or Instagram dies. You have 12,000 Facebook followers, but FB’s dead too. Now thousands of potentially eager clients no longer exist. Well, they exist, but they have no idea how to contact you because:

  • You don’t have a website they can visit to support you. 
  • You don’t have an email marketing strategy for them to keep up with you. 
  • You don’t have a blog to continue to share your content. You know, the content you usually share on the Instagram that no longer exists.

Heartbreaking stuff.

Other Ways of Connecting / Interacting with Your Readers Outside of Facebook and Instagram

Every Author Should Have a Website

Not to beat a dead horse here, but you should really have an author website. We’ve talked about this guys. Your website is your home. It is where people can go to learn more about you, buy your books/services, and contact you. This is your main hub, a summary of all things you, the author. Websites demonstrate professionalism, and every professional business has one. Serious Indie Authors should have one too.

Blog

Your blog (which should be easily accessible from your website) is where you provide content. Blogs perform better traffic-wise than static websites because they are updated regularly with new material. I think having a blog and static website is a great balance.

Email

Your email list (which should be easily accessible from your website) is a way of nurturing relationships with new readers who aren’t following your blog but bought your book and providing updates to loyal readers who want to engage with you more deeply. 

Collecting emails to a list is important for Indie Authors because POD services like Amazon’s KDP do not tell you who the people are who bought your book. You see the sale, but not the name or anything else about the customer. This means if I buy your book from Amazon, you won’t know unless I tell you. This makes it challenging to keep track of me as a new reader and build a stronger relationship with me.

This is also why you should be pushing book sales from your author website too because you have a better connection to the people buying your books. Oh, wait, you don’t have a website. See how that works?

Some readers will do you the favor of posting about your book on Facebook and Instagram. But, wait, there is no FB and IG in this scenario.

Other Social Sites

Believe it or not, other social media sites exist. Places like Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube for video, and maybe even LinkedIn can be good alternatives to communicate with your audience if the others are gone.

The point is, there are other ways of being visible online outside of Facebook and Instagram.

I hope this outage helps us to rethink our social media strategy and develop ways of moving those loyal Insta-friends over to our own platforms.

Update: All those random emails ya’ll sent out the blue yesterday to people who probably forgot they signed up to your list is like rushing out to the grocery store to buy food during a shortage rather than just stocking up before the shortage happens.

Moral: Just having an email list is not enough if you don’t use it. It can hurt you more than help you.


Meet and Greet Book Signing 11/13

On 11/13, I am hosting my first book signing since Covid. My last signing was in 2019, so I am nervous and excited to be around people again.

Please be advised we are still fighting this virus, so there is very limited space and vaccinated or not, you must wear your mask. I am also not putting in a large order of books, so first come, first served. COME EARLY.

Dear Indie Authors, Stop Stalking Your Amazon Book Ranking

Independent Authors have become obsessed with rankings, reviews, and becoming an Amazon Best Seller over the years. While there is proof book reviews carry weight (social proof, credibility, increased visibility), there are many myths surrounding rankings.

According to Amazon, “the better the sales rank, the more sales it’s getting on Amazon.”

But, is this true?

Yes, selling books will naturally raise your book ranking, but your Amazon ranking can also be high for other reasons.

When I released I am Soul back in 2017, I set it up for preorders and, on release, it made it to #7 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List.

How I thought I was doing it

To the untrained eye, this can look like I sold tons of books. And by the “untrained” eye, I mean everyday people who are not Self-Publishers or are not familiar with how the system works like family and friends.

But then…

According to my sales report for December 2017, I sold five preorders between December 16-19 (the book was released on the 20th).

Yes, I said five.

Five books sold, and I was #7 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List.

Just so you know I am not BS-ing you, here’s a screenshot:

I thought I was big time.

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar got 13 preorders but did not come anywhere near #7.

How is this possible? Shouldn’t the book that sold more copies rank better? Yes, but as many people have already said, no one knows exactly how Amazon’s algorithm works. What we do know is books sold aren’t the only thing that determines a book’s ranking.

There is nothing wrong with pushing your book to sell tons of copies on release day and to make that Best Sellers list, but your book’s success is not contingent upon how well it does in the first few days or even weeks. A book that continues to sell over time does better than a book that does well all at once and then stops selling.

In the long run, steady, organic growth will always outperform sudden bursts of activity.

“At the end of two weeks, a book that sells five copies a day will rank significantly higher than a book that sells 3,000 copies on its launch day.” (Doppler, J)

It’s like book reviews, in a way. The newer the review, the better.

  • Book A gets about twenty reviews out of the gate. Your review team showed up and showed out. But, over the next few days, weeks, and months, there is no new activity.
  • Book B gets a couple of reviews out of the gate, a few more a week later, a few more the following week, and several more over the next few months.

Because Book B has newer reviews, it tells Amazon’s algorithms people are still interested in this book.

The Moral

A book that gets reviews slowly but consistently over time does better than a book that gets tons of reviews at once, but then the reviews stop coming in.

But what does this have to do with the sales ranking?

The book that continues to get new reviews is likely also the book that is continuing to sell. It might not be a #1 Best Seller or rank in Amazon’s top 100, but the author is selling books consistently. 

And this is what authors should focus more of their attention on.

Most indie books that take off running, in the beginning, stop selling after the release date because so much energy is directed at the launch that authors forget they need to continue to sell books AFTER that.

It is not to say being an Amazon Best Seller is not a cool thing. It is to say it doesn’t carry as much weight as people have made it out to be. Being an Amazon Best Seller is great, but it doesn’t really mean anything if the author is not making sales in the grand scheme of things.

There is no need for Indie Authors to stalk their Amazon ranking because a high ranking doesn’t always mean they are selling books. In the same way, a low ranking doesn’t always mean they are not selling books.

Sales rank plays a minor role in determining the order of Amazon search results. Other factors such as relevance, keywords, sales history, product listing quality, and available inventory may influence Amazon’s algorithms. Therefore, a book with a high sales rank may appear later in search results than lower-ranked books.

How do you tell if your sales rank on Amazon is reflective of books sold or just a bump in Amazon’s algorithm because of other influences?

Consistency

  1. Besides monitoring your sales report through your KDP account, consistency is the best determinate that your book ranking on Amazon is legit. By legit, you are a best seller because you are selling books. If you are a #1, #2, #3 (and so on) best seller in your category for weeks, months, or even years at a time, the chances are that is because you are selling books regularly, getting reviews, and doing the dango thang. Congratulations, you are an actual bestseller.
  1. Suppose you are only a #1 Amazon Best Seller for five minutes. In that case, it could be a combination of things influencing the algorithm, causing the numbers to fluctuate where one minute you are number one (let’s say because tons of people looking at your book page), and the next you are #512.

46258

You should certainly be proud of yourself for making it to #1, whether you were there for five minutes or five months. However, don’t allow yourself to be deceived by Amazon’s ambiguous system. Ya’ll are out here going crazy and being scammed over something that doesn’t even matter.

This isn’t about Amazon. This is about Indie Authors and how we’ve allowed our writing self-esteem to be determined by numbers and rankings. Just because you are not an Amazon Best Seller does not mean you are not selling books. Period.

And, for clarity, I did not say you should ignore your book ranking, just that there’s no need to stalk it, as in repeatedly going back to refresh the page every five minutes.

Click Here to Discover More Indie Author Basics

The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen is LIVE

The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen is live!

About.

When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.


“Paschar walked with confidence and held her head high as she moved her hips from side to side. Red was her most favorite color to wear with this skin. Something about the hue against this dark body is so different from her true form and more comfortable to navigate the Earth. Who wanted to be invisible to humans when it was easier to seduce them in the skin of a beautiful black woman? Passersby, men and women alike, looked, and Paschar smiled. They always stared. Humans were fascinated by blue, crystal pupils against such brown, creamy skin. In real life, Pas thought human bodies were disgusting. She hated the soft, gooeyness of the flesh, how it bruised and bled so quickly, how it fell apart and crumbled with each passing day. She hated the rotting meat on the bone, but she did come to love dark skin tones. Other pigments didn’t make her heart beat like melanin.”

– From Chapter 7, The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

“Tina walked out of the door as her body trembled. She knew Big Sam had blue eyes, and Ronnie’s death was no accident. They had murdered her nephew, were back, and killing again.”

– From Chapter 3, The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

We sold out of signed paperbacks on the site, but no worries! You can still order a paperback from Amazon. The next round of signed copies will be restocked soon! Be sure to bookmark my website below so you don’t miss it!

One Way Indie Authors Leave Money On the Table

Due to how the royalties are structured, an author with a 99cent ebook on Amazon will only get about 35 cents per sale. For books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, there is a delivery cost for the ebook file (based on the size) for each book sold.

You also pay Amazon a sales commission based on your royalty rate.

  • 35% royalty: the Amazon sales commission is 65% for books priced below $2.99 and above $9.99

  • 70% royalty: the Amazon sales commission is 30% for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99

What about taxes? 

You pay that too. 

These are just a few reasons why it can benefit you to sell your book directly to readers from your website.

While I have only made a few dollars in ebook sales from my new book, my print book preorder sales from my website are doing far better, and I am close to making money back from the cover art. By the time the book releases next month, I expect to make back what I paid for editing.

I am going to make this post real short because it’s real simple.

The hard truth is that if you are not selling books through your website or worse, you don’t have an author website, you are leaving money on the table.

While some authors have chosen not to deal with Amazon at all, it’s smart to make sure your book is on Amazon for a few reasons.

To start, Amazon is a giant. To have your book available there is just good sense. People trust Amazon, so some people will look for your book there before they look anywhere else. And with the pandemic, people use Amazon regularly. It’s all about making it easy for your readers, and being able to tell them to go to Amazon isn’t only super cool, but it’s also super easy.

But while Amazon is easily accessible to your readers, the relationship between Amazon and you as the author is a bit different.

There are tons of authors making good money from Amazon, but they are not the majority.

Here is an example from an author about his Amazon royalties:

“One month, I sold 5 paperbacks at a list of 13.99 each. The report stated the manufacturing cost was 5.33 (I assume each), and I’m on the 70% royalty. I got a total of 1.30 cents. That’s 26 cents a book. The next month I sold 1 paperback at 13.99, and I got a 3.13 royalty on it.”

The 2021 Guide to Amazon Fees and Royalties for Kindle eBooks and KDP Print, 2019, Comment Section

This is where your author website comes in to pick up the slack.

What if he had sold five paperback copies of this book from his author website? Since he would have to calculate shipping, let’s just round it up to a cool fifteen dollars per book. That’s $75 in his pocket. If he sells 20 books, that’s $300.

It might not sound like much, but it adds up if he sells books at this rate daily.

Even with website transaction fees, authors can still add more to their bank accounts by having their books on their websites alongside Amazon.

In closing, if you are a Self-Publisher, you can buy your books in bulk and sell them in bulk to companies and corporations like schools and independent bookstores.

Heck, you can sell the books out of the trunk of your car if you want.

The sky is not the limit of what you can do when you control the distribution of your own work.

Considering you are not signed to a publisher or are not restricted to any outside contracts that may otherwise prohibit you, you don’t have to be exclusive to Amazon. Instead, you use Amazon as one of many options.

For digital, you can set your book up on Draft2Digital to distribute it to several digital platforms outside of Amazon. For print, you can set your book up on Amazon KDP but also Ingram Spark for distribution to bookstores and libraries.


Ready to publish that book? I can assist with that. Click here.

Enjoyed this post? Check out more Indie Author Basics Here but hurry. I am changing things up soon. Details to come.


Don’t Forget to Preorder Your Copy of The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen! June is right around the corner.

About.

When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.

Preorder Now

Preorder: The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

Without further ado, I hope you will enjoy my introduction to Urban / Contemporary / Black AFAM Fantasy Fiction.

About.

When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.

Title: The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

Author: Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Editor: Dr. KE Garland

Publisher: Literary Korner Publishing/Yecheilyah Books LLC

Genre: Urban Fantasy / Contemporary Fantasy / Black & African American Fantasy Fiction

Release Date: June, 8, 2021

TWWBE: PreOrder a Signed Paperback

TWWBE: PreOrder Ebook From Amazon

Mark as Want to Read on Goodreads

Signs You Are Not Ready to Self-Publish Part 1: Skipping Revisions

I am deep in revisions for my first fantasy novel, The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen. I am on the clock because I want my editor to start work on it next month. As I go over my work, I realize how horrified I would have been not going back over this. As usual, I want to share what I am learning with you. In this new Indie Author Basics series, I am sharing some signs I have noticed that indicate that you are probably not ready to Self-Publish that book.

You Skip the Revision Process

Step one in the process of Self-Publishing is to write the book. It is unnecessary to self-edit during this stage because it would be challenging to finish the book if you are editing as you are writing. Step one is like a brain dump where you are getting everything down on paper. It is the most exciting part of the journey as you let your ideas and creativity flow. Step one is creating the rough draft of your story, the version of your manuscript that is complete but not polished.

I know a writer is not ready to Self-Publish when they skip the revision process.

Revisions are rewrites of the manuscript before sending it to a professional editor.

It is AFTER the book is finished because you don’t want to edit as you write (you’ll never finish) but BEFORE the professional edit.

The rewrite is more challenging than the rough draft because you are not only putting your ideas on paper, but now you are organizing those ideas, cutting out what doesn’t work, and working with what does work. The revision stage (rewrites) strengthens your work into something worthy of publication.

If you skip this stage, you are publishing your rough draft. If you send the rough draft to an editor, you will still ultimately publish your manuscript’s rough draft version. While the editor can clean it up some, it is not the editor’s job to write the book for you. If you are looking for someone to write the book for you, you need a Ghostwriter. If you want to write your own book, it is essential not to skip the revision process when you are Self-Publishing.

The rough draft is not the final draft and will not be the best representation of your writing.

How to Know if You Have Skipped Revisions:

  • You just finished writing the book. You have made it to the end, and you are done. You take this book , create a PDF, and upload it to Amazon. You have not gone back to rewrite or make corrections, and you have not had it properly edited. If I have described you, you have skipped the revision process.

 

  • Technology has been your godsend. You have finished recording your book using speech-to-text technology that has translated your words to the page. You finish the book, but you don’t rewrite what you spoke into the document for comprehension. Everything is kind of all over the place. If I have described you, you have skipped the revision process.

 

  • You just finished writing the book. You have made it to the end, and you are done. Then, you take this version (the rough draft) and send it to an editor. If I have described you, you have also skipped the revision process. And unfortunately, for your editor they have the job of rewriting your book. If they are a quality editor, they will send the MS back to you and request a rewrite.

If you have not gone back over your rough draft to make changes, this is a sign you are not ready to Self-Publish.

Check out more Indie Author Basics Here.

Also, here are some ideas for revising!

Revisions: Self-Editing #amwriting

Revisions Part 2

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Immersed in West Africa by Terry Lister

Title: Immersed in West Africa
Author: Terry Lister
Print Length: 159 Pages
Publisher: Book Power Publishing
Publication Date:  August 29, 2019


Immersed in West Africa is the exciting journey of one man’s travels across Senegal, Mauritania, Gambia, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau. Anyone who knows me or has followed this blog for any significant time knows how much I love traveling. The pandemic put a stop to our travels, so it was refreshing to at least be able to read about some lesser-explored parts of West Africa from the author’s perspective.

We learn about Goree, the infamous island in Senegal with roots in the history of the slave trade. The island had twenty-eight slave houses and transported nearly two million people. We learn that the Maison des Esclaves (The House of Slaves) and its Door of No Return are museums and memorial to the Atlantic slave trade on the Gorée Island that they renovated in 1990.

I enjoyed the author’s authenticity when recounting his experiences as he moved from one place to the next. I found his accounts to be thorough, honest, and thought-provoking. Lister doesn’t gloss over parts that did not serve him well, such as the indigenous village on Lake Retba in Senegal’s Pink Lake (the people kept asking him for money) and the trouble he faced journeying into Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania. The harassment Terry endured from the police is an all-too-familiar narrative between black men and law enforcement. Forcing him to the station, asking him about his money, making him wait, and all of that was completely unnecessary.

I learned from this that it is an excellent idea to guard against those who see you as a new face and try to take advantage of you. I commend the author’s courage because I would not want to travel from country to country alone, precisely because of situations like this.

Also, about the Pink Lake, the author explains it is pink because of its high salinity, second only to the Dead Sea.

We discover few people visit Mauritania because of its strict policy against alcohol and how Mauritanians love mint tea. I loved reading about making it as performed by a woman in Chinguetti. We learn desert homes use propane gas units that they carry from room to room. In Mauritania, we also discover that they use the sun to power their street lights and have installed solar panels to light up the streets.

If you are already intrigued, you will love this book as I have only scratched the surface of the author’s adventures. There is a lot to learn from someone’s personal experience that adds a seasoning that far outweighs looking it up on Google.

I love learning about how things are different in other countries, like the communal way of eating meals, sitting around a table or on the floor in a circle, and eating with your right hand, no utensils. I also did not know polygamy was legal in Senegal.

I cannot wait until it is safe again, and we can do some international travel. I might consider some places this author visited.  I would love to taste the cold water he got to drink from The Terjit Oasis, where the water fell from the rocks!

Strong Introduction: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Organization: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Solid Conclusion: 5/5

Immersed in West Africa is Available on Amazon and Free with KU!


My book review registry is OPEN. Be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here to learn how to apply.