Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fingers Crossed - It Might be Working

I may have found my path. At least for this moment. The sales and reads of my books are increasing. I almost don't want to say anything because I have become ridiculously superstitious about this, and don't want to jinx anything.

There is no path to success anymore. In the beginning of e-publishing it was a breeze. Write it, publish it and a million people bought it. I wasn't in on that. Every day I see a new "How To" article that explains how a certain author achieved success. Most of them won't work for me. Sometimes it's the wrong genre, or sometimes it suggests methods that would be a chore and I know I couldn't keep it up.

My method has always been to work hard and keep improving. I think that goes without saying for most writers. Social media is very hard for me. I'm such an introvert. And my hobbies aren't very flashy. Nobody gets overly excited about gardening. Maybe if I got involved with martial arts or took up parasailing... Even when I was involved in the theatre, all my work was backstage.

As I said in a previous post, Hugh Howey's blog convinced me to give KDP Select a go. I put the 2 books of A Changed World series in there. And they are slowly selling. For an unknown author, I think this is a good way to get a following. Once I start selling at a consistent rate, I can consider whether to go wide. Right now I am a drop in the bucket of publishing. I am competing against all the other books out there and I need some sort of edge. Being in Select gives me a small edge and I'll take it.

So for right now, at this point in time, this seems to be working for me. If you want my books in a different format, let me know in the comment section.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Booksick - like Homesick

I just finished the 2nd book of an unfinished trilogy and I am booksick for the next one!

There are authors whose worlds I slide into like greeting an old friend. So happy to be back there and mingle with the familiar characters. I know the countryside and who to be wary of. There are things that I can expect and surprises that will enrich this special world.

I gallop through the book eager to take it all in. And yet I measure the pages left wishing them to not dwindle. Even a distraction of a secondary character is okay as I follow that streamlet eager to see where it will blend into the river of the story.

I stay up too late and read through my lunch time. I cram every spare minute into devouring the book. But I don't want to get to the end.

When I turn the final page and fall out of the dream, I pine for the next. The characters follow me around for days suggesting where the plot might go. And I lie in bed at night and worry about them.

Thanks goodness I have so many new authors to turn to for consolation. But I can't leave the previous world just yet. I'm not done thinking about them.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bits and Bobs

Here are a bunch of random items that I keep forgetting about.

Scattered Seeds is now available in print.
Amazon          Barnes and Noble

Lethal Seasons has finally been removed from Flipkart! Yay! So that means it is now exclusively at Amazon and can be read for free through Kindle Unlimited. If you don't have an Amazon Prime subscription, it is only .99 right now.

So my experiment of having the science fiction books in KDP Select can now get off the ground. Fingers crossed that it brings in some new readers.

White Lies and Dark Deeds have been shifted over to Draft to Digital for Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. So far I haven't had any new sales through the new channels, but it's only been a week. I may lower the price on White Lies next month to see if that helps.

The garden is winding down for winter. We haven't had a frost yet, so everything is still thriving. Well, except for the tomatoes. The full week of rain we had pushed them all over the edge. They turned black and blighty almost overnight.

I bought some winter veggie starts and they are doing well. My garden doesn't get much sun in the winter, so I can't do a lot. The bok choy plants have already contributed to a stirfry. I am hoping the broccoli and Brussels sprouts will manage to produce something before the really cold weather sets in. I also got some lacinato kale, one of my favorites. Looking forward to some of that soon, too.

The work in progress - Fa├žade - is coming along well. I decided to not try to rewrite the same failed story. So I picked a plotline and changed one character. I made her smarter and stronger and that immediately dictated a whole new story. She became smart and strong in the original doorstop, but it took too long. And I realized that I had rushed to get to the point where she achieved that, which caused some weirdness and some boring bits. So I dropped that all out and started where it should be. It's still just bare bones, but I have a good feel for it now.

The weather has been gorgeous this week. I have been wanting to get a lot of outside work done but something always comes up. Today I promised myself some time in the garden! So off I go.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Cheese Keeps Moving

Think of a maze where the paths shift around, new ones appear and old ones become dead ends. That's not the plot for a new horror story, it's the playing field of self publishing.

Tried and true only seems to last for a few months, symptoms of an emerging industry. When you think of how young self publishing is, you have to expect bumps in the road. A new ereader could hit the markets tomorrow requiring a brand new distributor. Or a new distributor could wrangle a bigger hold on the market making authors migrate as quickly as possible because the first ones over always have an advantage.

Free isn't as big a boost as it used to be. Advice on sweet spot pricing ranges are all over the map. Every day I read another article or blog post with advice that is immediately poo-pooed in the comments as being old hat. Which comes down to the truth of the matter - nobody really knows.

What worked last year doesn't always work this year because everything is evolving. From formatting to distribution to discovery, things change so rapidly it's hard to form a roadmap.

Last year I tried just about everything and failed at most of it. I was reading the "Get Out There!" articles and going against my nature to do it. This year I dropped the ball in January when I got the flu-from-hell. By the time I felt up to tackling the dreaded marketing again, I knew I needed to reassess things. I did a very basic Return on Investment analysis. Were my sales up from all this flailing about in social media? Nope.

So I dropped the things that were painful or that I didn't understand well enough. I had spread myself thin joining up to every new site and forcing myself to post something somewhere. I think I have an adequate internet presence that anyone could find me easily. I'm not going to tie myself in knots to be on any site that doesn't come easily.

And I will keeping on doing what I think is the simplest and best advice - keep writing and publishing good books.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Smashwords Nightmare

My books are for sale where?

Let me preface this. Back in 2012 when I self published my first book, I was happy to load White Lies into Smashwords and send it off to all the retailers they distribute to. Finding my ebook on sale at Barnes and Noble or iTunes was exciting. When Smashwords expanded, I thought that was fantastic. My books were available all over the world. And my reports showed me a trickle of sales in foreign countries. I was delighted.

Then the sales abruptly stopped. In the past 8 months, I've sold only 1 book through all those distributors. I thought it was odd that as I published new books my sales went down, but I haven't been doing a lot of advertising.

Last month I decided to experiment with putting 2 books into KDP exclusively. I unpublished them from Smashwords on August 30, and waited. And waited... Luckily, Scattered Seeds was a pre-sale and didn't go out to all the distributors. Lethal Seasons was another story.

First unhappy surprise - Kobo redistributes my books. I discovered this through a forum somewhere. So I went out to look and sure enough, there are my books on a French website. I have no idea what the market is for post apocalyptic survivor stories in France, much less for those in English in a non-English speaking country. As the author and publisher of that book I was annoyed that I didn't know about this redistribution. Although I admit it could be in the fine print somewhere that I carelessly skimmed over.

Second unhappy surprise - Smashwords can't control their partners. I am still waiting for Flipkart to remove Lethal Seasons from their website, 31 days after making the request. I have emailed them several times, only to be told that all they can do is ask. Even now that they have severed their partnership, Smashwords seems unable to retrieve its catalog from Flipkart.

While staring at the display page for Lethal Seasons on Flipkart, I discovered yet another unhappy surprise: my book is offered for sale through WS Retail. After a little research I found out that WS Retail is owned by Flipkart in some sort of loophole to dodge Indian laws. How that affects me and my little ebook, I've still to sort out.

So some of the retailors are acting as distributors and passing on my books to yet another retailer. I suppose that explains the odd royalty variables. But now I am suspicious of my complete lack of sales through all those new extended channels. It is totally possible that I am just having a bad run. And as I said, I haven't been doing any advertising. But I still have that niggling doubt that sales are falling through the cracks somewhere.

And my marketing plans for the latest book are all on hold. It's hard to promote book 2 when book 1 is being held hostage.