Posts tagged ebooks
***Bonus prediction one from the Crossroad Press Organic Shredder – Gizzy Momo – pictured left … Thunder & Lightning All Day long…***
I’ve seen some other folks making predictions about publishing and eBooks. Some of them seem pretty obvious, others show some insight, and still others seem kind of self-serving and more wishful than anything else. Crossroad Press has been in business for going on five years now (seriously, and a bit longer as a hobby). We’ve grown, made some mistakes, had some huge successes, expanded, and paid attention, and I thought, just for fun, I would make some predictions of my own for 2014. Some will be in direct disagreement with those of others…but all will be just me, talking about what I’ve seen, and what I know…
***BONUS PREDICTION FOR 2014: Neil Gaiman will continue to be wildly popular because he is an incredible storyteller ***
1) Print book sales are actually up. I see Barnes and Noble pointed out as about to flounder time and again, but here’s my prediction. Come next year, though people will probably still be predicting their demise, they’ll be right here. Nook book sales are steady for those who don’t spend as much time bashing Barnes & Noble as they do promoting books there, and working on sales. They lost the tablet war, but that was a war that no one should have started. Nooks are fine, and ePub books work on many devices. So, prediction #1, B&N will be in at least as good a shape this time next year as it is now. Probably better.
2) Audiobooks are going to start playing a bigger part in total sales, as systems like Audible’s ACX continue to make more titles accessible. With Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice program – something other eBook retailers can’t match – more readers will be able to pick up audiobooks at very reasonable prices, and more audiobook listeners will be picking up eBooks in order to get the bargain price on the audiobooks. The percentage of titles that make it to audio is already much higher than it was five years ago, and will continue to grow.
3) Content in eBooks that is video, enhanced, full of programmed features, will not do any better this year than in previous years, because they simply require people to read on tablets, not readers, and the trend (currently) seems to be (among serious readers) back toward simpler devices that are mostly good just for eBooks. If people want to watch a movie, they will download one – but books are not going to evolve into some new meta-entertainment system. At least not in 2014.
4) Libraries will continue to grow their downloadable content, and will embrace the new technologies and systems put in place to assist them. Overdrive will start to lose its market share because of simple greed – if it’s as expensive, or more expensive, to provide eBooks to readers, it isn’t going to help already suffering library budgets evolve and sustain. From personal contact with many librarians and buyers for libraries, I can state that there are a number of independent systems buying now directly from publishers, and more coming in the future. While I have seen people saying libraries will be buying directly from authors, don’t fool yourself. There will be an aggregator, and whoever that is is going to take a cut. Libraries don’t have the manpower or overhead to sift through hundreds of thousands of solicitations from authors to carry their individual books. In 2014, libraries will buy a lot more eBooks, but they will buy directly from publishers, or distribution systems.
5) Promotion of eBooks will continue to evolve. What works today will probably be on the wane by 2015 because it will become bloated, too many people will copy it, and the effectiveness will be diluted. Companies who succeed in weathering the storm will be those that keep their prices reasonable, pre-screen their titles to keep the quality as steady as possible, and change with the market. I expect that at least one of the big promoting machines will pick up on my earlier comment about Whispersync and audiobooks. I know from our own statistics that during really successful eBook promotions, we sell a ton of audiobooks on titles that are part of the Whispersync program.
6) It will not be any easier for a new author to promote or sell their books in 2014 than it was in 2013. Famous authors will continue to sell crazy numbers of books. Retailers like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble will continue to announce books as best-sellers before they even go into pre-order. NYC will pump in the money that ensures millions of sales for books by tried-and-true authors. Most of the “Best of the Year” lists will ignore about 95 percent of the best of the year in favor of the Best of the Year published in high profile. The game, in other words, is just a modified version of the old game. The Catch-22 is that if you haven’t got a lot of money and aren’t fairly famous, the odds are stacked against you. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buck those odds, just stating a fact. A new cover, better description – .99 bargain price? They just don’t matter unless something causes readers to SEE YOUR BOOK. That is the key. The people who see it should not be your family, friends, and a thousand other authors…they should be people who don’t know you from Adam, but like to read.
7) Gurus will continue to tell you they know all the answers. I will continue to say – if that was really true, they wouldn’t spend so much time trying to do things other than write, they would be using their secrets and making millions. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. Pay attention to what successful authors say, watch what they do, but don’t try to be them, and try to find ways to use what you learn in your own way. “The next…” anyone will never be more than a dim shadow of the original, so why strive to be that?
8) Smaller print publishers will continue to be treated by bookstores as if they are big publishers, and many of both will fail because of this. Unless independent bookstores find ways to embrace Print on Demand publishers and distance themselves from the big distributors, they will continue to disappear and by 2015 there will be considerably fewer of them, shifting most print book sales to Amazon and B&N online. The old model of buying a bunch of books and then returning half of them will disintegrate as independent publishers flourish, and NYC slowly decays.
9) The age-old practice of looking at what’s hot and trying to copy it really fast will proliferate in 2014, continuing the spiral into that nonsense generated by successes in 2013, such as every variation of a shade of gray that can be applied to any sort of title being used to bump sales. You will continue to see people go on and on about thousands of “sales” that were free giveaways, best-seller lists that are meaningless, and piles of five-star reviews that don’t actually equate in any way to quality or sales. This is why – as stated above – the very popular authors will continue to be popular, and it will be hard to break in. For every book someone spent time and effort on, there are fifty crap titles with nothing in mind but ‘cranking them out’. This makes people gunshy about buying from new authors, and is also why the legit, careful promotional services will continue to draw actual readers.
10) The traditional author / agent / editor / publisher role will continue to morph. Agents are now admittedly scraping new clients off the self-published best-seller lists (probably from a lot of people they ignored when the books were originally submitted) and all this can do is lengthen the already ridiculous lag time between submitting a manuscript and hearing back. As more and more successful authors begin to see the huge profit margin shift of more independent publishing, more of their peers will begin to experiment and follow suit. Agents have a tiny number of slots they can fill these days, and the advances against royalties that almost never sell-through, according to statements, have grown so small that no one could possibly live off of them without selling five to ten novels a year. A steady income earned through solid, quality output and direct royalties back on a regular basis will win the day. Companies paying a fair amount to the authors and taking over responsibilities authors should NOT have to learn to do (despite what gurus tell them) will do well in 2014 will flourish, as will rip-off groups charging authors an arm and a leg for scanning, formatting, promotion, etc. and keeping huge percentages – something that sadly a number of literary agents seem to have indulged in. New models will emerge. Subscription based reading services like ScribD and NokBoks will test new waters.
I know a lot of this is kind of vague, and in several of these single predictions, I predict a bunch of things, and even offer possible alternative outcomes. The thing is, it’s fluid. No one knows everything, and new technology, players, and talent emerge every day. Keep an open mind, write… always be writing… and pay attention.
And from all of us at Crossroad Press, have a great New Year…
LAUNCHED A COMPANY LIKE A ROCKET…
Several years back i got the crazy idea to start getting my old books and stories digitized, and I started a very long, very involved learning curve that led me through the creation of Macabre Ink, and then the expanded Crossroad Press Digital, and finally – to what we have now – Crossroad Press Publications – print, audio, and eBooks from more than 130 authors.
First and foremost I want to thank David Dodd, who came on board early on and has been a lifesaver to the company. He is the master of spreadsheets, formatting scanned documents, and keeping me organized through years that have not grown simpler, but crazier – mostly in good ways. He is also responsible for a HUGE number of book covers, a talent he took up from scratch and has brought to an artform.
Many don’t understand how little of what we make, we keep. If we invest any money at all up front in a book, it can take hundreds of sales for us to even break even. Why? Because we have stood by our guns, and will continue to stand by our guns. This is an author’s first company, and most of the money goes to them. This means some books never make us any money, and others make us a lot – we share the risk, and the profit. We do what we can to promote and build readership, and I can tell you that the number of hours spent doing this is incredible – for myself, Dave Dodd, the love of my life Patricia Lee Macomber who has edited HUNDREDS of books in recent months – Kurt Criscione, Daz Pulsford, Anita Smith and an entire small army of proof readers have helped us present clean products, and as we’ve always said – the beauty of digital is you can fix things. We have been quick (and will remain quick) when it comes to remedying any mistakes we make or problems found by others.
I could go on and on with the thanks but instead, I’ll just end this with some pretty impressive numbers, and let it go at that:
Here is a short growth curve (rounded slightly in some cases) to show how our company has grown since 2010.
…………………Net Sales…………………………………Royalties to authors
2013……….170,523…………………………………….$197,600.00 (so far)
We are looking forward to great things ahead. We are making inroads in promotion, and have completely redesigned our website, and our presence, breaking into imprints for the various age groups and genres. You can see the beginnings of this at OUR NEW WEBSITE – once we get all of the author pages populated on all the various imprint sites, it will be much simpler to find our books, and our authors, without digging through more than 700 digital titles at the old online store. We have also published more than 350 unabridged audiobook titles, and have an impressive number of books available in print. Right now we are hard at work on the Official Book of the Winter Olympics – 2014 edition – which should be huge for us.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, and to all of you – readers, listeners, authors, copy-editors, partners, and family. Thank you… I can honestly say, I never saw this coming.
-David Niall Wilson
1) FACEBOOK: Here’s the thing. You can amass huge numbers of ‘friends’ on Facebook. Maybe, as in my case, you have at least a vague idea why each of them is there, maybe you just clicked and clicked to get the numbers rolling. Either way, you are not going to be able to resist trying to sell books there, so here’s a good, and a bad thing about Facebook.
GOOD – All of those with enough interest to follow you will know when you have a new book out, and some of them will read, review, and buy it. Probably not very meany, because all 2,000 or so of THEIR ‘friends’ also have books, or etsy shops, or Kickstarters for videos of their cats with toy balloons, and they are busy marketing and socializing, just like you. (Note that tis “Good” is not all that good)
BAD – most of the people who will see your posts on Facebook already know you. They already know you write, they already know about your books, and have probably already made their decision about buying them. Each time you tell them AGAIN, the filter around your posts grows, and you fall further into the gray area. Facebook marketing, unless you spend a bunch of money on it, generally just markets to the same small group of folks, and in the case of authors mostly markets to other writers trying to market to you.
TWITTER: You may, like me, love the quick, witty banter of a service like Twitter. I’ve made some long-standing friends there, and I’ve been with the service for a very long time. Here are my good, and bad thoughts on Twitter marketing.
GOOD: – if you play your cards right, interact with a lot of people, build relationships and (holy grail of twitter) get onto the radar of people with real reach, Twitter can push the news of your new book a long way. A single post about your book from the right celebrity can send people scurrying to see why their idol suggested it. A simple retweet of a post asking to be retweeted has a lot less gas than one that actually originates with the celebrity I am NOT saying you should start pummeling celebrities … just that if you can get their notice, you can sell books.
BAD – barring the time spent building relationships and the celebrity connections, if you mostly tweet over and over about your book, new reviews of your book, new places to buy your book, etc… lots of links with the words switched around? No one is going to follow those links. No one likes impersonal advertising, and particularly on Twitter, where interaction is the name of the game, spammy, scheduled posts about books people have already seen a hundred spammy scheduled posts about are more likely to prevent sales than to win them.
FREE GIVEAWAYS: There was a time when this was a great idea. There have always been proponents of this method, and it doesn’t take much research to see that most of those really successful proponents were already well-known before they tried it. Like anything else, it works better for a popular author than an unknown.
GOOD: – If you make use of the sites that will announce your book, plan ahead for your giveaway to be sure it’s promoted far and wide – plan the dates carefully and make sure the book you choose has good reviews / etc. you can really spread the word about your work. If you are lucky enough to land a slot somewhere like Bookbub or Boookblast, the freebie can get real legs.
BAD: – Barring something amazing, follow-on sales are sketchy. At one time Amazon counted free sales as “something” but now they have separate lists. Once your free promotion is over, you go back to being ranked 650,000 that very second. If you get lucky, you might coast a while on sales from the curious who found your book through a free promotion, got to it too late, and bought it anyway, but the lasting effect of free giveaways is not what it once was, and not likely to spur huge sales. Also, if you get in the habit of doing these, interested readers just wait for each took to be free. Also, some of the best promotions for what I will talk abut next, sale pricing, will not accept a book that has been recently free.
THE GOOD – The .99, $1.99 and even $2.99 sale price is what the free giveaway used to be. This method can work wonders, if you handle it correctly, and if you are patient but according to the experts in Tampa internet marketing, you are going to need reviews. I don’t think it’s wise to start such a promotion without 7-10 positive reviews, and it’s probably better to have more. Plan your sale in advance. There are services like Book Gorilla, Book Bub, Book Blast, where you can request a promotional day far in advance. If they accept you, they cost money. Spend that wisely. Ranked in effectiveness, Book Bub has worked by far the best, but is the hardest to get into. Book Blast has worked well for us, and is also much more economical than either of the others. Book Gorilla seems not to have much affect on sales, but I have only been involved with it once, and have one friend who used it. Sales were not affected much. Note that Book Bub and Book Blast give you average download and sales numbers, while Book Gorilla – much like Kindle Nation Daily – only tells you how sales ranks changed, which can be accomplished with a very small number of sales. The idea of the sale price is to get a lot of momentum, move up the sales chart, and then go back to normal price and try to sustain those sales. The REALLY good thing about this is that whatever boost in sales rank you get – you keep it at the end of the promotion.
THE BAD – It doesn’t always work. If you don’t promote it well, no one will see it – because no one was seeing it before the sale price. If you try it as the sole means of promotion, you’ll just make less on the few sales you manage. No promotion is any better than the effort put into it and the reach of its visibility. Combining this with the first two, Facebook and Twitter, won’t help that much because – again – those people already know about your book.
BOOK BLOGS: – This is not a new thing, but it has grown into a PROLIFIC thing . A lot of people have set up shop reviewing books, talking about books, creating book clubs for group reads…here’s what I know about them.
THE GOOD – you can reach a solid network of readers if you can get your book into the right book blogs. There are book bloggers with huge followings, not only on their blogs, but in their entire social media networks – you tube channels, Twitter, FB, Google +, etc. They can really create a buzz if your book catches their attention.
THE BAD – Just like with any good marketing source, there are a limited number of book blogs with the reach to really help sell books, and in those blogs, there are a limited number of slots for book promotion. Most reviewers and book bloggers have policies on submission of titles, and most of the really good ones have become difficult or impossible to get into if you weren’t part of their network early on – or don’t manage to become part of their network later on. Some have even grown into big book sites, with hundreds of thousands of followers. Just like getting a celebrity to endorse your book – good luck getting into one of the important book blogs. It’s not impossible, but is’t not easy. The sad fact is that, while you might get another good Amazon review out of a blog post about your book – and that’s a valuable thing in combination with other promotions – most blogs are still fighting to find an audience. A good gauge of how much reach you can get from a blog is to check the average number of comments they receive on posts. I’ve been blogging here forever. My traffic is (theoretically) pretty good. No one ever comments. Well, almost never. They might today, since i’m talking about book marketing again…
When I have finished it, I will blog about my blog tour – still ongoing. The jury is still out on this… You can be part of it by checking out all the posts, and interviews, and reviews that have accumulated this far. Today I have a post over at FIERCE DOLAN’S blog – about romance in books, the erotic, and the subtle. You can read that post by CLICKING HERE….
ALSO – for those interested, I have posted a story here from my collection Etched Deep & Other Dark Impressions. I wrote it when I was sort of caught up in the edges of the literary fiction scene… the poseurs and the literati, the infighting for a slot in the oh-so-posh pays not a cent hip ‘zine of the day. It’s titled “Pretty Boys in Blue With Long Hair Dangling,” and it’s available from the Short Fiction Excerpts menu at the top of the page.
THE TOUR SO FAR:
Read about Genres & Why I hate them : ==> AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE
Today started with a good, and a bad thing. My son graduated boot camp for the US Navy, and I was able to watch the entire ceremony streaming live…that was very good. I updated WordPress, and one of my plugins killed this site (bad) But it could be worse. I might NOT be a web guru, and it might still be down.
Anyway- the tour! I have tried very hard across the interviews involved in this tour to talk about different things. It helps that none of the interviewers was too generic, and that all of them asked something different. In today’s interview I talk a lot about The DeChance Chronicles, and what’s in progress and coming up next for me, as well as Nevermore – which you should go and buy. Seriously.
Here’s a snippet from the interview:
“What inspired you to write this book/series?
Since I already talked about the book, I’ll talk now about The DeChance Chronicles. Early in my career I wrote a number of novels for a gaming company called White Wolf. I wrote about vampires in the Dark Ages, Wraiths, and a number of other magical creatures, but I always felt too constrained. Though my books were very popular I knew that the rules the edits I had to make to get them published, all of it hampered what was important. The story.
I wanted to write something like that – a world where there were two realities – the mundane, mortal world we all take for granted, and another one just beneath the surface. Magic, demons, voodoo, everything you can dream about and more exists in the world of Donovan DeChance. His origin story is told in book III of the series,My Soul to Keep & Others – as well as some novellas that provide background useful in reading the series (and also background for Nevermore)…” ==> READ THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW AT ONE MORE CHAPTER…
THE TOUR SO FAR:
Read about Genres & Why I hate them : ==> AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE
There are a lot of similarities between the marketing of an eBook, and the marketing of an audiobook, particularly if that audiobook is done as a digital download. There are also huge differences. Nearly everyone reads. They might not do it by choice, but you just can’t get through life without it. Listening to audiobooks is an acquired taste – an experience many have blockages against – prejudices preventing them from giving it a fair chance. I wrote recently about not making smaller boxes out of those you already have for marketing. Audiobooks are already constrained by their own box. There are fewer listeners than readers, though the audience is growing slowly.
There are fewer large, commercial review outlets for audio. The old-school audiobook community is a very literary community. While there are big markets for genre audio, the real attention goes to celebrity and award-winning narrators, NYC commercial authors, and publishers with deep pockets. Advertising, banquets, even a simple nomination for an award that is supposed to be for the best in the field – cost a lot of money. It’s an infrastructure built through the old publishing industry, where audio was expensive, very few titles were commercial enough to make it through the studio, and for those that were deeply involved, there was money enough to sustain all of the above. There still is – at the top – but the business is expanding, and if those of us doing audio at a lower financial level are going to compete, we’re going to have to have a bigger boat, and we’ll have to build it ourselves. Anyone know how to measure in cubits?
There is good news. New review sites have cropped up. There is a site – The Audiobook Jukebox – that aggregates reviews from other sites, and from blogs, and they index them for easy access. ACX – the program that has made audio possible for so many that it was not possible for before – has made the acquisition of review copies easy, and they actively encourage promotion through social media, blogging, networking, and other means, and they are knowledgeable, incredibly helpful folks.
That said, don’t put down your tools. We still need that boat and it has to be one big mother ICEBREAKER of a boat. We have serious walls to break down, and it isn’t going to happen overnight. I’m going to start with just a couple of points and see if we can work up some discussion.
1) Unless you have Deep pockets, do not concentrate your efforts on the old-school marketing techniques for audio. It’s a tough sell, even if you get yourself involved, and it’s unlikely you will overcome the “editors choices” and sponsored titles unless you are independently wealthy.
2) Do not separate your audiobook marketing from your eBook and print book marketing. Amazon has a new program called whispersync. While there are still pricing issues with this, encourage people to pick up the audio AND the eBook when you can.
3) Don’t be in too much of a hurry. Study your book. Figure out who would sound best doing it. Research voice talent and cast the best possible voice. This is critical. As a publisher, I made a few bad mistakes early on, and those books have suffered. Don’t skimp on editing. Listen to your book if possible yourself, and if not, find someone else with the time to do it. Test your voice talent across the range of characters. When you offer a sample to be auditioned, try to include as much diversity in that sample as possible.
4) Include your audio – and if possible your narrator – in marketing material. Talk about the experience of the audiobook while you are marketing. interview the narrator if you get a chance. In other words, network.
The old world of audio treated narrators the same way tie-in and licensed novel markets treat authors. You do the work, they pat you on the back, and you move on to the next project. The new paradigm calls for teamwork; it’s now possible for authors and narrators to share the risk, and the possible success, of a project. For that to happen, you also have to share the marketing…it’s likely that if they are not a major voice talent, the narrator will have a smaller fan base – but listen up. THEIR fan base all listens to audiobooks. The odds are only a small percentage of an author’s fan base does the same. Work together. Be creative. Try to do interviews, and always – ALWAYS include the synopsis, the audio sample, and (broken record again) one-click-to-buy link.
I open this to the floor but here is what I’m looking for. What are good ways to get more people to listen to audiobooks? Where can we turn to market that is not being covered now? What is the key to building the new audiobook infrastructure – not trying to retool the small, stuffy box that surrounds audio now, but to build something big – new – part of the digital revolution? More to follow shortly, upcoming video marketing tactics from https://themarketingheaven.com/shop/youtube-likes/ will enlighten you on some contemporary means of advertising anything these days with the luxury of video.
Next post will be a report on how some eBook promotions we have tried, and are trying, stack up – and why. You will notice that I have included two one-click-to-buy linked images in this post. The first, Aliens in the Backyard, is currently our best-selling audio title at Crossroad Press. This title will is narrated by Kevin Pierce, and will also be featured in that next post, so stay tuned. Trish & Rob MacGregor have written a number of very cool books, fiction and non fiction, and run a blog where they talk about Synchronicity. The second book – INTERMUSINGS – is a collection of stories that I’ve written over the years in collaboration with others. My co-creators include Brian Hopkins, Patricia Lee Macomber, John B. Rosenman, Rich Rowand, Stephen Mark Rainey & Brett Alexander Savory. The narrator – Mr. John Lee – is a world class talent and one of my all-time favorite narrators. His rendering of the story in this collection “The Purloined Prose” is worth the price of the book.
These stories represent decades of collaboration between author David Niall Wilson and a wide array of talented authors. All have been professionally published – some have been reprinted and collected. All are the result of two muses meeting on paper. Meet a modern day Don Quixote, fighting Y2K bug nightmares, and striving to save the woman of his dreams. Learn how Edgar Allen Poe might have found his tales. Face off on a lonely mountaintop with Lovecraftian nightmares. Join a young man in a ghostly race to save a relative from cancer. Follow a cross-wired detective in his hunt for a lycanthropic killer bent on ending every serial killer she encounters. See what might happen when two minds fall into “balance”.
What if Dr. Watson was the client…and someone who was dead – was not quite there? Visit a science-fiction future where artists capture images in crystals. What if government control over sex and reproduction got out of control? Listen as a piano man drops back into the nightmares of his past. Finally – a sailor on his way home finds a place even farther away than he ever dreamed.
These are the tales of Intermusings – previously published as Joined at the Muse. This new audio edition includes an Introduction by David Niall Wilson on the art of collaboration, and a sneak preview of the first chapter of the collaborative novel Hallowed Ground by Steven Savile & David Niall Wilson.
- Introduction by David Niall Wilson
- “A Poem of Adrian, Gray” – with Brian A. Hopkins
- “The Purloined Prose” – with Patricia Lee Macomber
- “A Wreath of Clouds” – with Stephen Mark Rainey
- “Moon Like a Gambler’s Face” – with Ricard Rowand
- “La Belle Dame, Sans Merci” – with Brian A. Hopkins
- “La Belle Dame, Sans Regret” – with Brian A. Hopkins
- “Ribbons of Darkness Over Me” – with Brett A. Savory
- “Death Did Not Become Him” – with Patricia Lee Macomber
- “Within an Image, Dancing” – with John B. Rosenman
- “Virtue’s Mask” – with Brian A. Hopkins
- “Sing a Song of Sixth Sense” – with Patricia Lee Macomber
- “Deliver Us From Meeble” – with Brian Keene
ALIENS IN THE BACKYARD:
In the early morning hours of March 28, 2011, Charles and Helene Fontaine experienced something that shattered their beliefs about the nature of reality.
One evening in 1981, Connie J Cannon was on I-75 with her young son, en route to their new home in Florida, when they suddenly found themselves on a military base, with a man in uniform holding a gun to her head as three Grays stood nearby.
In 1979, Diane Fine was on her way from upstate New York to Vermont to see an obstetrics specialist for her high risk pregnancy, and experienced two hours of missing time. When she was finally examined at the clinic, she was told wasn’t pregnant.
In 1970, pilot Bruce Gernon was chased by something through the Bermuda Triangle and he has been talking about it ever since – to UFO Hunters, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, the History Channel, the Sci-Fi channel, and all their foreign counterparts.
These individuals have never met. But they share something significant. In 2003, a Roper Organization survey revealed that 33 million Americans may be abductees. Aliens in the Backyard is their story.
It’s been a really long time since I posted here. I know this, because this blog posts on to my Amazon author’s page, and they sent me a note saying if I didn’t start updating soon they would deactivate it. This is what happens when you diversify and spread out too far. This has always been my personal bully-pulpit, and also the place I focused on updates to my own writing. It will be that again.
Currently I’m novelizing KILLER GREEN – the first ever screenplay conceived on Twitter, posted as blog-posts, starring Twitter celebrities (and others) and then optioned right back there on Twitter. It’s not produced yet, of course, but we all know how those things go. It’s still “in the works,” and I’m ever hopeful.
In the tradition of this particular story, if you want to read along as I write it, I set up a blog. The chapter posts are private, but all you have to do to read along is register and login. I have fifteen chapters posted so far, and I’m well into the next one, so get on over and catch up at the KILLER GREEN READ-ALONG BLOG.
My novel MAELSTROM is due soon for Kindle and other eReaders. I have also recovered the trade paperback rights to this title, so it will be coming out from Crossroad Press in the next year. This, of course, will join the so far unspectacular sales of other trade paperbacks we’ve done…there was a lot of grumbling about books coming out digitally that you couldn’t buy in print. I set up the print line and priced it about five dollars cheaper than anyone else doing it…and no one is ordering. Not a great argument for the hardcopies, but we persevere. So far from Crossroad Press you can get a number of books in print, including original novels from Aaron Rosenberg, Chet Williamson, myself and Steven Savile, as well as an original collection by Jo Graham. If you buy these books straight from the Crossroad Press store, you will receive the eBook for free with your purchase. Many are also available in audio (with more to come)
All of this, of course, is available through CROSSROAD PRESS and also on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
More specific updates to come, and I’ll be fleshing out the books pages.
SUNG TO THE TUNE OF ROCKSTAR – by Nickelback
I’m tired of writing for publishers who never give in,
I’m a genius, they don’t see it and I just can’t win
this famous writer gig ain’t turned out how I thought it’d be…
I want a mega-best-seller on the New York Times list,
with some killer cover art no one could ever resist,
and a glass-fronted shelf for my books so everyone can see…
I want a new bookcase full of old first editions
and a Mont Blanc pen with some gold ink in it
and a hot librarian to keep it polished up for me…
I want to sign some books, and trade ’em for money,
and a bunch of author groupies who will call me honey,
and my whole life’s work made available fully digitally…
I want to trade this life for fortune and fame,
I’ll even comb my hair and dress up lame,
Cause we all just wanna be Kindle Stars
and write a pile of bestsellers from the stools of bars,
Every new ereader’s gonna have my books,
and I’ll be on the menu of all their Nooks
And I’ll hang out in the coolest blogs,
with their kid’s bat mitzvah’s and their cool loldogs,
every avatar you see will be my cover art,
while they’re waiting for the day when the blog tour starts…
and we’ll cruise You Tube and the Web-TV,
Fill everybody’s monitor with videos of me,
hit the Twitter and Facebook and the online mall,
everybody has my address saved in Paypal…
oh yeah, I wanna be a Kindle Star.
Sung to the tune, you know? Maybe I’ll get the guitar out someday and record it … Meanwhile, you can go to AMAZON.COM and the DNW LINKS and make it happen for me…
I’m having a sale, of sorts…an ongoing, cyclic promotion of my many, many books. Over on Facebook, on the Official David Niall Wilson page, I’ve started talking about one book a week…what made me write it, inspirations, techniques, the history of where I was and what I was doing at the time – for the anthologies like Defining Moments it’s a sort of extended story-notes section. Along with these promotions, I’m putting the books I talk about on sale for only .99 for a short time. Right now you can get Defining Moments & On the Third Day for .99 through the 15th, and The Not Quite Right Reverend until the 20th.
The hope is I’ll pick up some new readers along the way, and that some of those getting the good deal will take a few moments to go to Amazon, B&N, and other places to leaves me a review, or stop by the Facebook page and talk about my work. The two things about being a writer I enjoy the most (in this order) are people reading what I’ve written, and talking with people who’ve read what I’ve written…of course, the writing itself is a close third.
This week’s book is “The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & The Currently Accepted Habits of Nature,” first published by Bad Moon Books. You can hear all abou
t this one, or buy and read it now for .99 – OR – in this particular case, I’ve also put the unabridged Audiobook on sale – narrated by the amazing Mr. Joe Geoffrey – for only $9.99 – that’s a big savings, and he did a great job.
Here’s an audio sample to give you an idea: Sample of the Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus Audiobook
I hope you’ll all take some time to come by, see what’s going on, and join in on the discussion. Also, I’m editing the novel HALLOWED GROUND for publication soon, and writing another titled THE PARTING – so there’s plenty of variety…and 100 percent more sale.
I have seen far too many ‘gurus’ chime in on this subject, and after nearly a year in the business of growing a digital publishing company, I feel like I have some value-add to bring to the mix. I’m not a ‘guru’ and do not ever want to be considered one, but I have been doing this for a while now, and I’ve observed some things you might find usesful. It’s worth the effort, I think, to try and get it all into perspective in my own mind.
First of all, books are books. Stephen King’s eBooks sell better than those of a new writer no one has heard of. Blogs about and reviews of Stephen King books get more notice than those of lesser-known authors, and generate more sales. Authors – in short – who were already popular before putting their titles out in eBook format are still more popular than authors who were not. Authors who bring an audience from mass market publishing to their eBooks sell better than those with no track record. These are facts, and no amount of blogging, posturing, or tears will change them.
So what do you do?
There are solid answers. Covers matter. That said, you don’t need to go out and break the bank on a professional cover designer to get a very good, commercial cover. I’ve done some extensive analysis on our titles, and I can tell you that there is absolutely ZERO evidence in my data to show that the cover art is a huge factor unless it is godawful. If your little brother did it in Microsoft Paint, or you let Calibre generate it for you, or the colors are all mis-matched, you’re going to lose sales for the same reason a similar cover would not work on a print book. It looks amateurish.
That said, there is a lot that can be done with Photoshop, and there are people out there with some amazing artwork that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. You just have to look for them. Join the community at Deviant Art and meet some of the wonderful artists there. Browse the public domain photo sites. You may pay some for the rights to an image, but you can often find one you’ll like for a very reasonable price – or even free. Then all you need is to study some books, see what sort of font and text arrangement appeals to you, and find someone capable of dropping it onto your image. All that is a fancy way of saying – most of you aren’t going to make hundreds of dollars on your eBook right off the bat, and investing a bunch of cash in a cover is a serious risk that isn’t really necessary, in my opinion (and experience). Some of the covers we’ve used that I think are the most mundane have resulted in great selling titles, and several titles with amazing covers have not done well at all.
Copy-editing and format matter. If you just run a word document through some conversion program and slap it up, it’s not going to look good. If you don’t get at least one other set of eyes carefully going over your work, it’s not going to read well – it’s going to have typos. Almost no-one is perfect enough to write without errors…and though you may see them easily in another person’s work, you may also NOT catch them in your own. Do yourself a favor and – even if you have to pay a small fee for it – find a proof-reader worth their salt. Then salt them.
On most eBook sites you can assign “Tags” to your books. This might seem trivial, but it is not. There are whole groups out there cross-tagging one another’s books to bring the numbers of people “agreeing” with them high enough to bump them up the search ranks. On Amazon, for instance, if you search the word BLOOD – the book with the highest ranking on that search term is going to come up first. Also, books that have the word BLOOD in their title may start getting that book listed in the “related” products and sent out in “you might also be interested in” e-mail notices.
Price matters. If you are a known quantity,and you present new, original work, you can get more for your eBook. If you are NOT a known quantity, or if you are bringing back older work that can be bought used and cheap in print editions, don’t be greedy. If you charge the $2.99 league minimum at Amazon, you will get more per sale than you ever got from a print publisher per sale by a huge factor. Print books pay (average) 4-10 percent royalty. If you sell your book through Crossroad Press – for instance – you get 80 percent of $2.05 (about what Amazon pays us per sold title after deducting their “delivery” fee) – that’s a good chunk per sale, and it adds up fast. We sell new, original works higher – $3.99 and $4.99 – and those seem to be workable prices as well, but keep in mind what you are asking of your readers. Ignore everything else and buy my book. Give them as many reasons as you can.
Do a good write-up for the book. I sometimes have a hard time getting my authors to help with this, and I do what I can, but a good solid “hook” in the product description is crucial. In print publishing you usually have little or no input to what the publisher puts up as a description, but here – in the digital world – you can write it and even change it with impunity.
When you get reviews, respond to them positively, even the bad ones. Never drop to thelevel of a sour-voiced reviewer. You’re just playing into their game, and you’ll regret it before all is said and done. Remain professional.
Visit forums and bulletin boards and blogs that are related to a: your genre and b: eBooks in general. Be a pro-active part of their communities before blowing your own horn, or it will backfire.
Make sure your author info is available. Set up your Amazon Author’s Page. Set up your Smashwords profile. If you get reviews complaining about typos – proofread and re-publish. Never believe that because someone else did a thing, you can copy what they did and it will work for you…it’s not going to. Each book, and each author, is unique in some way, and requires an individual approach.
Product, product, product. If you have words sitting around out of print, or languishing for years without publication, I suggest you dust them off and get them out there. A body of work in eBook format can generate steady sales much more quickly and reliably than one, or two eBooks. One thing is certain – a story or novel on your hard drive for ten years unread made you no money at all.
The bottom line is – you don’t need a guru. You need hard work, patience, attention to detail, and the same bit of luck you always needed to succeed. It’s easier to get IN the door of digital publishing, but the doors are open very wide. In the old days readers clamored at the publishing door for more to read. Now those doors are big and revolving, and the readers disperse in all directions as they pass through. Latching onto them and drawing them to your work is a whole new ballgame. Pay attention, learn from what you see, don’t let ANYONE tell you the best way to do a thing is”blah blah” unless they can show that “blah blah” has worked for a lot of people over time. And just SAYING that it has worked isn’t enough. Show me stats on how that new expensive cover built sales. Show me, in other words, the money. And don’t do it by showing me someone already successful.
Also, don’t listen to tales of inflated sales. You can go to Novelrank.com and put in the AISN of any book there and track it. If it’s already being tracked, you just log in and add it to those you are tracking. This way, when someone claims a thousand sales, you can check, and if you see a title upcoming you want to keep an eye on to see if something someone did worked for promotion – you have some (albeit imperfect) stats. I’ve seen some eye-opening whoppers told on the net about huge sales that I observed personally through Novel Rank to be much smaller. Keep in mind that Novel Rank is not perfect, and that it only tracks from the moment you START tracking, so any sales prior to that you can’t see. Hype is what it is.
I am happy to offer advice if asked, but that’s all it is. I don’t know how to make your book sell better for CERTAIN – I only know what is working at Crossroad Press. We’ve grown in leaps and bounds, sales are up (best month ever happening now).
One last thing…Kindle Nation Daily sponsorship. While this is not a guaranteed success – I have found that if you listen to them – go in with a good cover price, a decent cover, at least a couple of good reviews on your book already (and not fluffy, gushing ones either – real reviews) – you can generate a good number of sales that last over several days…
We have sponsored several books there, and at least three of them did very, very well. I would recommend their service to anyone.
Enough for one day…