An Indie Author Glossary: A-L

Erotica is a popular genre where indie authors can write books with sex content ranging from light (a feather) to heavy (the whole chicken).

One thing I learned from my membership in the 20Booksto50K group on Facebook is that there are always new writers appearing who need a guide to the lingo we use.

So here are some commonly used terms used with advertising and marketing, along with their commonly known abbreviations (some, like newsletter (NL) would appear only in comments or posts). Words defined in the glossary are printed in italics.

career indie author logoA/B Test: A common method in advertising to determine the effectiveness of an ad which has only one element changed. The ad is run at the same time, on the same platforms, but with only one difference. Say you want to learn which is more effective, an ad which mentions a rave review with the source given (”A smash!” — New York Times Book Review) or the name of the writer (”A smash!” — Name Reviewer). Both ads run at the same time on Facebook, and the number of times it is clicked on is counted.

Advanced Reader Copy (ARC): A copy of your book, either printed or an ebook, that is sent to reviewers in the hope of getting a review on or after publication. Indie authors also send ARCs to beta readers and anyone else in hopes of getting feedback and building buzz.

Also Buys: On an Amazon product page, a section is set aside in which customers who looked at the current product also looked a other products. Strategies are formulated in an attempt to get an author’s book on that list. For example, a new horror author might launch a book bomb on a particular day, hoping that a high number of sales will link his book onto Stephen King’s book pages.

Amazon Marketing Services (AMS): Amazon sells advertising space in two places: on a product page and in the search results. AMS is where you go to set up your advertising campaign. To advertise on search results, you set up a campaign by choosing what you want to sell and the keywords that will cause the ad to appear. Which ads are placed is determined auction-style. You bid on a keyword by setting the highest price you’re willing to pay each time it appears. You also set an upper limit you’re willing to spend per day. When a shopper types in that keyword, your bid is compared to everyone else’s bid for that keyword. The highest bidder wins. If the shopper clicks on your ad, that amount is deducted from your account. When that number reaches zero, your ad will no longer appear on that day. The same system is used to advertise on product pages, except you don’t use keywords, you only pick the products you want to advertise on.

Amazon Prime: Amazon’s program in which members pay a yearly fee to receive benefits including free shipping for all orders and, more importantly for indie authors, membership in Kindle Unlimited.

Automation: In the indie world, the word refers to any system which returns a result without human intervention beyond the initial setup. So authors automate their landing page so that anyone who types in their email address there will get an automatically generated email with a link to a free book, and placed on the newsletter list.

Blog Tour: In the print world, an author could be sent on a book tour in which appearances are scheduled at bookstores and libraries. A blog tour operates in the same way, except an author writes posts ahead of time, to be posted on or close to a book’s launch. Some websites offer book promotion services where authors pay to appear there. The effectiveness of this approach is debatable, depending upon the type of audience a website generates.

Bondage / Discipline / Sado-Masochism (BDSM): A erotic genre in which one character dominates the other sexually, particularly through the use of torture that can range from light (a feather) to heavy (the whole chicken). Although once related to books found in the back rooms of pharmacies and X-rated bookstores, they’ve found mainstream acceptance among women, particular with the privacy found on ebook readers (see “Fifty Shades of Grey.”)

Blurb: In the print world, it meant a short review, no more than a sentence or two, used to promote a book. When authors praise each other’s book, it is called logrolling. In the indie world, the word has become confused with a book description.

Book Bomb: An organized attempt by the author to get his fans to buy a new book on the same day or days. This concentrated burst of sales is calculated to raise the book’s rank on the retailer’s web site in the hopes that it will make a best seller list or appear in also buys on more popular book pages.

Box Set: A product created by combining two or more works, whether novels, novellas, short stories, or nonfiction works. It can consist of several books in a series by one author, or several works from many authors hoping that this cross promotion will expose their books to fans of that genre.

Click Conversion Rate: An term used in online advertising. It is a percentage calculated by counting the number of times an ad was clicked on versus the number of books sold.

Cross Promotion: A marketing strategy in which two or more authors agree to market the same set of books to their fans. For example, a box set in which 10 authors contribute a novella for sale at a discounted price is an example of cross promotion. It can also take place if two authors with newsletters agree to feature each others’ books.

Genre: The general category a book falls into. In the print world, genres were used to help shelve books where shoppers could find them. For example, there was science fiction and fantasy, and subcategories such as swords and sorcery, space opera, cyberpunk, etc., were not used. In the indie world, retailers like Amazon break genre down into an almost infinite number of categories. They are identified by initials, such as UF (urban fantasy), S&S (swords & sorcery, also called high fantasy), and BDSM (Bondage / Discipline / Sado-Masochism). Some writers worry if their books are genre appropriate, that is, if they’re using the tropes readers expect from that genre. Others don’t worry as much, and freely mix space operas with vampires and werewolves.

Going Wide: Putting your books on many retailers’ sites, such as Amazon, Apple’s iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo, Nook, etc. The alternative is to be Kindle exclusive, which is required to put your book in the Kindle Unlimited program.

Goodreads: A website aimed at readers. It is owned by Amazon.

InstaFreebie (IF): A service in which you offer a free book to anyone who signs up to your newsletter.

Kindle Boards (Kboard): A major forum where Kindle authors share information on publishing and other matters.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP): Amazon’s self-publishing arm for ebooks.

Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC): Authors with books in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program are paid by the number of pages that are read. To determine how many pages are in each work, Amazon uses a formula to determine the ebook’s KENPC.

Kindle Unlimited (KU): Amazon’s program that gives Amazon Prime members free access to any book enrolled in the program. Authors with books enrolled in the program are paid a fraction of a penny for every page “read.” The program uses its Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count to determine how many pages are in each ebook and calculates its payments from that. Amazon creates a fund each month, and the money is divided among all participating authors. Therefore, the amount of money changes from month to month.

Keyword: A word embued with eldrich powers. Authors associate keywords with each book as a way to help search engines find them. For example, Amazon lets authors associate each book with up to seven keywords that is used to place them in search results. Keywords are also associated with blog posts to help search engines find them.

Landing Page: The destination page on a website when someone clicks on a link. For example, authors can add to their website’s home page a request for a visitor to type in their email address to receive a free book. When they do, they will be shown a landing page with more information about the book. A landing page can also be combined with a special promotion on sites such as Instafreebie.

Launch: A marketing campaign created in conjunction with the publication of a book. Many activities are covered by this catch-all word. A launch party could be held on Facebook, where the author can post special material, answer questions, and give away books. A book bomb or blog tour could coincide with a book’s launch.