No, new author, what do you think? Do you only want to sell to Kindles? Do you realize that Kindles don’t read epub? That it’s a proprietary format? That those books can only and forever be on Kindles and Kindle products and programs?
An author can choose to go that route if they want, but I would hope that they have reasons for doing so other than, “Someone once told me…” or “People say…”
I’ll come out and say it, no, you probably won’t make much money from Smashwords. Yes, you do have to wait forever for their extra distributors to pay. And yes, Smashwords only pays you like once every six months. So why would I suggest going with Smashwords?
Freedom. I only buy indie books from Smashwords. You can download in any format (usually, unless the author has severely limited the formats the book will appear in). Generally I go for the epubs. Why? They’re DRM free, and that’s awesome. That means I can put it on any device. Why, I used to read books on my DS back in the day before I got a proper ereader. Plus, say I do decide to get a Kindle. I can download the book in the .mobi format needed for the Kindle.
I’ll admit that if a book isn’t on Smashwords, I skip it. There are a lot of good books put out by small publishers and self-publishers. I don’t need to work that hard to find a good book to spend my money on. Granted, I’m only one sale is a sea of sales, so that might not concern an author. There are plenty of authors who do great on Amazon.
So that’s freedom for me as a reader, but what about as an author? One of my favorite aspects of Smashwords is that the site allows for me to experiment. I can generate coupons, I can post things for free, and I can even use the “reader decides the price” option, which I will probably test out for the next story or something. I was tempted to try it out for this story, and may even do that later on.
Coupons are awesome because they cost me no money. It’s an easy way for me to mark a book down while still showing it’s value. And who doesn’t love a sale? (Well, except for in-store sales because those usually involve waiting in line.)
In the next year, I’m going to try pushing Smashwords a little more when I go out to sell the book. I’m planning on getting tables at the local anime conventions, and one of the things I’m hoping to do is have a QR code that points to the Smashwords site while handing out coupons. I really haven’t used Smashwords much because I haven’t really been marketing. These are just my thoughts on why I love the site.
Anyone else have thoughts? Hate Smashwords? Like Smashwords? Have a horrible experience with the site?
I gave it a try. There are plenty of people who vilify the .99 cent price point and others who praise it. Per my nerd girl directive, I wanted to test it out. Here were the questions I wanted answered and the answers I got:
How easy it is to do a sale by changing the price?
I had already hypothesized the answer to this one, and I was right. Not very. I don’t think that changing the price is a good way to go unless you’re going to leave it this way for a very long time. The issue is that it takes a while for distributers through Smashwords to update their prices. In the mean time, even though the prices have been raised elsewhere, like on Barnes and Nobel, Amazon will still be price matching the other distributers (but not Smashwords).
I think it is much better to offer coupons through Smashwords. (This is just my opinion.) For one, Smashwords lets you see stats like how many people visit your book page. This does sound a little obsessive, and I hate what I’m going to say next, but it is something I think about. You can sort of guess, using these stats, if some action of yours is having a direct effect. Are people looking? Are you reaching anyone? Are they downloading samples? This is stuff I do think about in the back of my mind, especially now while the numbers are low and I can easily compare spikes in the data to any effort on my part.
Does a low price for a very limited time lead to more sales?
I had a lot of people interested in the first giveaway, so I thought I would try to encourage any of those people I could with the sale. I made it a clear after giveaway sale, mentioned it on Goodreads, and put text mentioning the length of the sale in the book’s description and on the website.
I did get a few more sales than normal, and since it is still .99, I find I’m still getting sales. But I can’t be sure that’s because of the price point. Any number of things could have happened. In the end, my sales are actually too small to acurately get any data.
How did it make me feel?
Not good. While it was nice to see sometimes two books a day move, I still felt I was under valuing my own story. In my head, $2.99 is cheap. Unless you’re making $6 an hour, $3 is not even half an hour of work, and for $3, you get hours of entertainment. (With a dash of the writer’s blood and soul to boot, let’s not forget, so that has to be worth a few pennies.)
At $2.99, I’m getting close to $2 per ebook sold. Doesn’t that seem fair in a non-greedy sort of way for a newcomer? But at .99, I only get .35. That doesn’t look poor enough, let me type that out. I only get thirty-five cents.
(Oh man, if you all could see your faces. If I could only see your faces too.)
I know that there are authors who make a living off of .99 cent books. I’m not here to judge. Everyone has a different spot they’re comfortable at. It’s just that .99 is not for me unless I’ve purposefully written something out that is meant to be short and cheap– like the next story coming up. I’m going to sell it for .99 cents, not because I think it’s bad, but because I think that is a worthy price point for it. The story will be short and able to be read in a day, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be a good one worthy of that dollar.
A limited time sale is awesome. I have picked up books I’ve loved at .99 and discovered some new authors that way. But I feel it is also important to note that if I’ve already discovered an author I know I like (as in one whose stuff I have read before and loved), a sale will actually discourage me from purchasing and I’ll wait until the book is back at its regular price.
So I guess I won’t ever say that I’ll never try this again. I have the next few releases in this series planned with other ideas emerging for future books and stories. Plus I have stuff in my head that has nothing to do with the series I’m working on now. Anything is possible. I’m all about experimenting.
The Goodreads giveaway has gone even better than I expected. MUCH better than expected. Almost too much better. In fact, it’s freaking me out a little. *bites nails on one hand and covers eyes with the other*
So this is a good time to mention there isn’t much time left, right? It ends on the tenth. If you’re signed up on Goodreads, hit me up. 🙂
Goodreads is a great site, but it’s hard to get into. First off, what the heck do you do there? And secondly, it takes time from writerly duties like writing and, uh, twitter.
There are plenty of blogs I’ve read on the awesomeness that is Goodreads. Most talk about it and people are still lost on what to do, so I’m just going to link you directly for anyone curious.
First off, there are groups. For just about anything you can think of, there might be a group for it. Groups are basically meant to be book groups, but the cool part is they can have themes. Some are local groups that meet in real life even! Do a search with your city’s name and see if something comes up. Or do a search for your preferred genre and see all the groups centered around it. It’s a great way to meet people and interact on the site.
One of the groups I love? The Next Best Book Club. I wish I was more active, but I’m still learning how to strike a balance between the business work and my extreme need for isolation.
Next we have giveaways. A lot of giveaways too! You can sort them by genre and all sorts of other ways. I discovered this and it was a mistake because next thing I knew I was adding things to my to-read pile which is so unnecessary.
Another cool thing is the events. You can search by area and find things happening near you. If you’re an author, you can list your events, like appearances, signings, launch parties.
It’s important to join a site like this because you want to, of course. A lot of people confess they don’t like it, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I joined it a while ago, and I haven’t regretted it. I like how easy it is to communicate with others, to comment on reviews, to join groups, and I especially love when a friend sends along a book recommendation or reads a book that I’m interested in. I try to always put my thoughts down about a book if I have any, so all my friends can see.
Anyone else on Goodreads? Have any tips?
I have not done much in the way of promotion.
This is something I continually run against when I’m out and about reading blogs. Others say how much hard work goes into self-publishing. They say the writing is not the hard part, the promotion is the hard part. You need to work hard to get your name out there and get your book visible over the crowd.
Well, having lurked on the Kindle Direct Publishing forums and being on twitter where I can see some authors in action, I am beginning to think that over-promotion is another sign of an absolute rookie.
Don’t get me wrong, some advertisement is normal and reasonable. Contests, blog hops, offering free ebook files, and signing up for reviews– this is all a normal part of the process. I’m talking about those writers who do nothing but flog their one book everywhere, then can’t understand why it hasn’t sold.
As of right now, I’m selling very weakly, but still somewhat steadily, and I haven’t done much of anything to say, “buy my book!” So far, all I’ve done is put a sample on Indie Snippets, posted a little something on Indie Books Blog, and done a couple of #novelines on twitter. I’ve sent out two emails to reviewers, but that takes a while if they decide to do it at all.
All of my promotion is saved for the weekend or off hours. They’re things I can do while I’m watching TV or when I have downtime at work. It isn’t something I’m working incredibly hard at, and you know what? The book really is selling itself. Actually, the readers are the ones selling it.
Now reviews on the book page do not always sell a book. Readers don’t trust those, and I don’t blame them because so many authors swap reviews. On the forums, I’ve seen people complain about bad reviews and ask others to vote them down. That has gotten me curious, so I’ve done the “look inside” on Amazon and read a portion of this supposedly awesome story that wasn’t worthy of a one star only to find that this story with tons of four and five star reviews has some very clear issues. (At this point, I just back away, having learned all sorts of valuable lessons about my fellow “indies” and how some of them roll.)
But I will say that when I get reviews from people I don’t know, my sales spike. So far, I’ve gotten got two reviews from people I am sure I don’t know that were positive. I then had a few extra sales. I imagine that on my own, the book does one or two sales a week. But last week, when I got a review, I sold about four. That is probably the effect of the reviewer telling someone, “You have to buy this!”
So what’s my point here?
Books are not like movies. Publishers have sort of twisted the business model until we’re using the same one that is used for summer blockbuster movies. If you don’t sell a lot right out of the gate, you’re doomed to failure and your book will disappear. This is something I think that authors have adopted, and so the over-promotion is an attempt to not fail.
The best promotion is just being yourself and doing your thing. There are a lot of ways to passively advertise yourself and your book without actually doing so– like putting links in bio pages and in forum signatures. Don’t bother hanging around writing forums. Do you like video games, painting, taking pictures of abandoned buildings? It helps if your extra hobby is something that’s inspired your writing, but it is not required. People will check on links if they’re engaged by the person.
And as always, trust the reader. I dread the day I get a bad review. While I know I’ll probably be red in the face and needing a lot of chocolate, I am going to read it. This doesn’t mean that I have to accept the review. I can choose to use my own judgment and ignore it just like when I get back suggested edits.
So, it’s a month in. I won’t make a habit of talking about my numbers. I don’t post them up for comparison purposes, but just for the record, because I like data. *fiddles with glasses*
The book has been out for about a month now. A little over a month. It is up on Smashwords, Amazon, B&N. It got approved for premium service, so I’ve seen it on iTunes and Diesel Books. It has yet to show up on Kobo. (More on that in a minute.)
So far, across the board, the reported amount I’ve made is a bit over $30. I know, breaking the bank! But I’m an unknown. I’ve had about 6 sales on Amazon US, plus two more this week. On Amazon UK, I’ve had three all together.
Smashwords has my biggest amount of downloads. I put it for sale on the 11th and made a coupon to get it for free for two weeks. By the 13th, I’d had 400 page views and 170 downloads! Three were purchased. As of now, I think I’ve had six purchases? I’ve also been approved for premium distribution.
On Diesel Books, Ruin made some lists. It’s a top seller in the sci-fi> general and other category. I figured that in a sub-category the amount of books would be smaller, so no big deal to make a bestseller list. What did surprise me was the book climbing their bestseller list for science fiction eBooks. As of today, it’s number 5 (it was number 7 at the time I wrote this a couple days ago and had been slipping down to number 8). Yikes! I hope people are liking it since it is not what I would consider pure science fiction.
Just how well am I doing on Diesel Books considering the listing? I have no clue. With Smashwords, the extra distributers report every few weeks. It could just be that I’m selling a book every few days and that’s what’s bumping me up. I will say, though, that the big difference I see between Diesel eBooks and other sites is that they do recommendations based on genre, not on purchasing history. That’s sort of a big difference between them and Amazon, and for that I’m grateful. Even if it turns out I have something like three sales from them when they do report. I think it’s still a great system that gives more chances to unknowns like me.
Now, on Kobo, there are some things that have made me think about this a little. I love Kobo because I have a Kobo. I’m biased. But a recent entry from Catheryn Ryan Howard (Why is my Book is Still 99c?) has made me think about it in a different light. Not a negative light, just different. If you want to do temporary sales by changing the prices of your books, and you have your book in the Kobo store, then you’ll have some things to consider.
It takes a long time to get into the Kobo store. It also takes a while for changes to occur through the Kobo store. So if you temporarily price a book at 99c, this could lead to problems when it comes time to bring the price back up.
A better solution for sales is probably just to use coupons from Smashwords. Word about these coupons gets out quickly! Those first few days, I made all sorts of lists because the book was free. People spread the word about the coupon. I know a lot of people say they have few sales on Smashwords, but I think Smashwords is one of those sites where you get what you put into it. Personally, I do like the control it gives me over my books and pricing with coupons where I can set how much they are and how long they’re valid. Plus I can modify existing coupons just in case something goes wrong.
I sort of wish Amazon let us make our own coupons.
Anyway, that’s the report for right now.
I’m testing things out all over the place. I’ve been on DeviantArt since forever, somewhat participating, but mostly not because writing and literature aren’t totally supported there. They are, kinda, but the community is much smaller than the visual arts community, so I always figured why not just go where other writers are and do a full on blog? (Besides, who on DA wants to hear my thoughts and whines on writing?)
So somewhat recently (okay, maybe like a few months ago), I started a DA just for my writing. The thing was that the cover artist wanted to post up the art she did, and I didn’t want to hold her up until the novel was released. I did push up the release date of the book, but ultimately, I decided I would start a DA account and put my links up so that once she posted the art, I could easily go, “Here I am!” and show off a few passages too as samples.
So far, I do get a steady stream of traffic from DA, though I only have two followers (who are both really awesome people). It’s not a lot of traffic, but it is something, and I’ve gotten a few likes on the Facebook page from people who came over from DA. (Literally a few, meaning like three, but hey, the book isn’t even out yet.)
The other thing I’m trying is Tumblr. I admit it it, I’ve been one of those people who don’t get it and then feel old and unadaptable because I couldn’t wrap my head around it. But then a good friend showed me this site called Pinterest and it clicked. I can use Tumblr as a way to pin things that inspire and interest me. These are things I come across daily, that I usually squirrel away in Evernote and never think on again. If I’m going to be clipping these things, I might as well put them up as a mash up of the things that inspire me and inspire the story. As I see it, it’s another way to get to know the story, or at least the crazy things that inspire this writer to write the story.
There is one problem with this, but the pros outweigh the cons. Social media right now is coming across to me as a lot of people shouting out all at once and hoping that someone hears and engages them in a conversation. I’m guilty of it, and I like it sometimes. Sometimes you do need that release. But it just seems that it gets abused a lot too. I utilize lists so that I can organize everyone based on what level of endurance I find myself facing that day. If I can’t take being shouted at on a particular day, I will skip that column.
I don’t dislike twitter. I actually really love it. The first column I check is always my friends from my quiet account. I love reading what they have to say. It’s just the larger account especially for writing that can give me a headache.
Anyway, I thought I’d share some thoughts on my various experiments. I have the Tumblr account set to update everyday this week. (And twice on Tuesday for some reason. Tuesday which makes me think of burgers… Mmmm burgers.)
I believe the key to everything is to do what interests you, not what you think you should do just for marketing. None of these experiments are purely marketing experiments. These are things that I am honestly interested in.