Saturday, April 02, 2011

Guest Post by Blake Crouch

Last month, I asked Blake to do a guest post about self-pubbing his latest novel.

Here's his follow-up...


Blake: 32 days ago, I posted on this blog about my new novel RUN and all the reasons why I had decided to release it myself and stop waiting for the Big Book Deal.

To be completely honest, I was nervous about this one. Joe had been yelling at me to put the book out, but what if I took his advice, and it didn’t sell?

I knew it had a great cover, a great pitch, and I thought the book itself delivered on all of that, but still, that nagging fear of a flop was hanging around.

So what happened?

RUN blew up.

In all the best ways, and in those I hadn’t even thought of.

The bloggers and fellow writers I contacted to help me get the word out came through in a big way, and I believe they laid the groundwork for the book to take off.

For the last few weeks, RUN has been consistently ranked between the 200s and 400s on Amazon at $2.99.

The real surprise, however, has been in the Nook store, where, as I write this, RUN is ranked #132 overall. For every copy of RUN I sell on Amazon, I’m selling 2.3 copies on Barnes and Noble.

Which means it’s selling about 400 copies/day right now, and is approaching 4000 sales since I released it a month ago.

I’ve had a bit of difficulty wrapping my head around this, and it’s got me thinking a lot lately about expectations.

When I first released the book, I thought, if I can sell as well as Konrath’s and my SERIAL UNCUT, which has been selling between 30-50 copies/day for many months, I’ll consider this a resounding success. I had a lot of books ranked between 1500 and 2000, but I’d never had anything in the triple digits, and I’d never had anything sell like this on Barnes & Noble.

But my main purpose behind writing this blog entry is to share a few valuable lessons learned (and mistakes made) as I watched RUN begin to take off.

1. Having a book integrate into Amazon’s system makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE. For some reason, it took two weeks, but literally the day that RUN hit the “Customers Also Bought” system, it dipped under 1000 and never looked back. I truly believe that those connections Amazon builds between ebooks are the single most important component to a book’s success. Which means you have to have a concept of what books and authors are hot and selling that are like yours. Keywords and tags are crucial in achieving this.

This is what legacy publishers did for years (and still do). They try to position new books in the framework of known quantities and bestsellers to give readers and booksellers the confidence and perspective to buy and sell the book. This is also why my pitch (see below) begins with “For fans of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris...” These are big names, but my work truly does share a lot of common ground. I think readers like familiarity, and the comfort of being told, “This is kind of like that.”

2. The bestseller lists. So important. Once RUN started hitting the lists, my ranking became, for lack of a better word, “sticky.” There were no more drastic daily fluctuations between 1000 and 3000. If you can hit some lists, you have a better chance of maximizing any momentum that you build and holding onto it.

3. In that regard, choose your categories wisely. I made a major mistake when I uploaded RUN. I put it in the Thrillers and Suspense categories. When RUN’s rank began to fall, I noticed it wasn’t hitting any lists. Even when it got down into the 400s. Thrillers and Suspense are two of the most competitive lists on Amazon. I only squeaked onto the Thrillers list briefly at #99 when RUN fell to #280. This means you have to compete with all the heavy hitters to have a chance at making that list.

My mistake was, I hadn’t listed horror as one of RUN’s categories. If I had, when it fell below 500, it would have immediately hit the top 10 on the horror list. So I ran back into my DTP account, changed suspense to horror, and within 48 hours, RUN was highly ranked on the horror lists, which gave it yet another boost. I think of my books first and foremost as thrillers, but that doesn’t mean it’s smart to drop them into that category if my goal is to hit some Amazon bestseller lists and get a sticky ranking. Choose your categories not only wisely, but based upon bestseller lists that you believe you have a shot at hitting.

4. Pricing...this is my biggest question of the moment. I’ve railed before about $.99 and how I believe it’s not a good price for writers. But there is no denying the power of dropping a book to $.99 to make a run at the top 100. What Joe has done with THE LIST and ORIGIN has been very impressive. But when a book’s successful, and you don’t have as many novel-length titles to play around with, dropping that price out of the 70% royalty bracket is a scary proposition. So I’m still very much on the fence, but am at least considering dropping RUN to $.99 when it begins to slip in rankings.

I’m sure Joe will chime in here shortly and tell me how much money I lost not listening to him and releasing this back in October, (Joe sez: Over $25,000) but in the meantime, thanks to everyone who has bought RUN and said nice things about it.

And if you’re sitting on a novel, waiting for The Big Book Deal for your life to begin, please consider my experience here.

If you’ve benefited from any of my posts on Joe’s blog,please check out RUN, available for $2.99 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and as an old-school dead-tree relic on Createspace.
Here’s the pitch:

For fans of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris...

Picture this: A landscape of American genocide...

5 d a y s a g o

A rash of bizarre murders swept the country…

Senseless. Brutal. Seemingly unconnected.

A cop walked into a nursing home and unloaded his weapons on elderly and staff alike.

A mass of school shootings.

Prison riots of unprecedented brutality.

Mind-boggling acts of violence in every state.

4 d a y s a g o

The murders increased ten-fold…

3 d a y s a g o

The President addressed the nation and begged for calm and peace…

2 d a y s a g o

The killers began to mobilize…

Y e s t e r d a y

All the power went out…

T o n i g h t

They’re reading the names of those to be killed on the Emergency Broadcast System. You are listening over the battery-powered radio on your kitchen table, and they’ve just read yours.

Your name is Jack Colclough. You have a wife, a daughter, and a young son. You live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. People are coming to your house to kill you and your family. You don’t know why, but you don’t have time to think about that any more.

You only have time to….

R U N

Joe sez: I'm thrilled this terrific book is finding an audience, and I'm also wondering what the hell I'm doing wrong on BN.com since a lot of authors seem to be smoking my sales and I'm only doing $3k a month there.

I suppose I have to remind myself how much luck is a factor.

Blake mentioned my experiments with THE LIST and ORIGIN and I think that's worth commenting on. They're both currently ranked around #70, and I just raised the price on ORIGIN back to $2.99, which should kick in soon.

While THE LIST has made me a lot of money (over $20k in the time it has been in the Top 100), ORIGIN took its time to get up there, and seemed to peak and drop pretty fast. I'm raising the price now, while it's still in the Top 100, to try and chase the money I lost while it was 99 cents.

My guess is I'll come out ahead on ORIGIN (i.e. earn more through this experiment than if I'd just left it alone at $2.99) but it's still too soon to tell. With the rate they're both dropping, I don't expect either to be in the Top 100 for much longer.

I really can't draw any conclusions from my experiment. It worked well with THE LIST. It didn't work at all with SHOT OF TEQUILA. It partially worked with DISTURB, which never cracked the Top 100, but is holding a much higher rank than it had prior to the price drop.

If I had to advise Blake on what to do with RUN, I'd say drop it to 99 cents on Amazon and give it two weeks. He's got a cushion with his BN sales, so it might be worth the risk to try it. At the very least, he'll lose a few bucks but climb in rank, and then when we goes back to $2.99 he'll be making more money for a while.

As self-published authors, we need to experiment more. Too many writers are afraid of changing prices. The fear of losing money, or rank, or sales, shouldn't keep us from trying different things. Remember that ebooks are forever. Sales will fluctuate over time, no doubt. But there's no set business model yet in place for ebooks. I just cracked the Top 100 with two novels that have been on Kindle for two years. I think that shows the longevity of this medium.

We can afford to take risks, because unlike the print world which has set prices and a limited shelf life, our ebooks will still be for sale five, ten, twenty years from now.

But there's also a reverse aspect to this. If your sales are faltering, maybe you don't need to experiment with new prices or different covers. Maybe instead you should be concentrating on writing more. It's tempting to micromanage backlist titles, trying to improve sales. However, one guaranteed way to raise backlist sales is to self-pub new work.

Ultimately, you should do both: tending the backlist while expanding the frontlist. Blake was selling modestly with his previous titles. He was thrilled to make $6k in January.

In March, he made $24k, largely due to the sales of RUN, which is not only selling well but is helping his backlist sell well.

If that doesn't make you want to get writing, I don't know what will.

75 comments:

AnthonyNewman said...

Hey guys, great post. Glad to see "Run" is doing well. It was a great novel; as was "The List" and "Origin" (write a sequel--bub is awesome). Hope you guys make millions. Keep up the good work and to this blog which is great inspiration for all writers.
Thank you.

Michael said...

Excellent. I should note that fantastic cover has something to do with it.

I've also had mixed results with the 99 cent model. My thriller, The Righteous, has shot up in the rankings and is lingering right around the top 100. Implant is climbing more slowly, but still climbing, while State of Siege has done very little with the 99 cent model. If I'm honest, it's simply not as good a book as the others. You can't discount quality as a major factor.

Having read The List, it does not surprise me that this book shot up so far, so fast. It's a perfect page turner and in a hot genre.

author Scott Nicholson said...

Hey, Blake, glad you jumped in! It can be really hard to abandon what looks like a solid ship for uncharted waters. But you're right, don't wait for your life to happen, make it happen! Run sounds awesome, a well-conceived launch! I'll start it later today.

Scott

Robin Sullivan said...

It's a bit funny to hear Blake say he had his doubts - because I had none. He had all the right ingredients for RUN to hit bit and I'm sure that now that he has a taste of what other indies are experiencing there will be no looking back.

I couldn't agree more about the power of the Amazon Engine. I've also been very against $0.99 (still am - for Michael's books) but as study after study of mine shows - it is a strategy that works. But for those who do use it, I suggest doing so sparingly in other words leverage it to get "firmly" in the top 100 then raise your price (as Joe did) so you can get some revenue back.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

author Scott Nicholson said...

You know this means we'll have to get the band back together, right? Oil those skins.

Scott

Judy Croome said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. The advice will be so useful in the run up to the release of my first novel in May. I don't expect much in sales from this book, but what I'm gaining in experience is invaluable.

Good luck with Run - long may it continue to run onto the bestseller lists (weak joke, I know...!)
Judy (South Africa)

Mike said...

Per your suggestions (Joe), I started a pricing experiment with my ebooks yesterday ($2.99 from $9.99).

They're nonfiction, so I'm curious to see how it works out. I'll be sure to report back.

I've been making a living via POD books with Lightning Source for a couple years now, and I'm just now getting started with ebooks. I know I'm late to the game, but it's still exciting to be playing. :)

Jude Hardin said...

I had a feeling RUN was going to do well. Not because of anything Amazon does, but because the cover rocks and the pitch rocks and the book itself rocks. Congratulations on producing a first-rate product, my friend!

Kristian said...

The pitch for Run sold me and I`ll buy it. But for me the kindle version costs $4.99 on Amazon?

Guess I`ll just go over to smashwords and pick it up...

Douglas Dorow said...

Congrats on the launch of Run and thanks for sharing your experience and learnings.

It's a great read, so if you don't have it yet, you don't need to run out and buy it, in this ebook world just click the Buy button.

rbt said...

You know, sometimes I wonder how long this can go on. I bought 4 books for my Kindle yesterday, including Liquid Fear, and two so far today, including Run.

Price-wise, this is liking browsing in a used-book store, but with much broader selection. So I'm building up my TBR stack, but I have to wonder when I'll ever have time to get to them all.

For the month of March, I bought 42 Kindle ebooks, all but one in the $0.99 to $2.99 range, and downloaded a bunch of $0.00 books. Even averaging reading a book a day, ever finishing my TBR pile is now receding at a rate of greater than one day per day.

Are others doing this? And, if so, at what point do we start crying enough and cut our book-buying rate way down?

--
Robert Bruce Thompson

Ellen Fisher said...

I really liked Run. It's a terrific book with a terrific cover, which no doubt is the secret of its success:-).

I'm glad you somehow "caught on" at B&N. It's a strange truth that no one seems to know how to sell over there-- sometimes a book catches on, and sometimes it just doesn't. I've done great over there with erotica, but my sales of regular romance are virtually nonexistent. No one seems to know what drives sales over there... you either get lucky, or you don't. Glad you got lucky!

Robin Sullivan said...

rbt said...

For the month of March, I bought 42 Kindle ebooks, all but one in the $0.99 to $2.99 range, and downloaded a bunch of $0.00 books. Even averaging reading a book a day, ever finishing my TBR pile is now receding at a rate of greater than one day per day.


That's one of the reasons I have a problem with the low-price books - I'd rather have readers than collectors and when pricing at $4.95 & 6.95 I know that when people buy the book they are reading them.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

rbt said...

Robin Sullivan said...

That's one of the reasons I have a problem with the low-price books - I'd rather have readers than collectors and when pricing at $4.95 & 6.95 I know that when people buy the book they are reading them.


Ah, but nearly all serious readers are collectors, in the sense that we squirrel away books in our TBR piles just as squirrels do nuts for the winter.

I think this is an artefact of old-style reading, in the days when we couldn't just click once to get something new to read. That makes sense, given that a couple million years of evolution has hard-wired us to grab things we want while the getting is good. But I do wonder if it's sustainable, as we all gradually realize that, short of a cataclysm, we're never going to lack something new to read.

I have read most of what you have to say about pricing, and I think you're wrong. Certainly, $5 and $7 prices winnow out collectors, as you call them, but I'm afraid they also winnow out a large percentage of people who'd actually read your husband's books. I suspect he'd be getting a ton more readers and making a lot more money if he priced the first full novel in his series at $0.99 and the others at $2.99. Of course, I'm an MBA, so what do I know? MBA's have put corporate publishing on the train wreck that it's become.

Robin Sullivan said...

rbt said....I have read most of what you have to say about pricing, and I think you're wrong. Certainly, $5 and $7 prices winnow out collectors, as you call them, but I'm afraid they also winnow out a large percentage of people who'd actually read your husband's books. I suspect he'd be getting a ton more readers and making a lot more money if he priced the first full novel in his series at $0.99 and the others at $2.99.

I did both a $0.99 and $2.99 experiment and ended up losing $7,000 and $9,000. In the case of $2.99 not only did I lose money but I sold LESS copies!! I know it's crazy but I have the data to prove it.

Now...that was when Michael was selling 11,000 copies a month so the "risk" was greater. Since the announcment by Orbit sales have cooled substantially now between 5,000 - 7,000 a month (post X-mas). I've been asked not to lower his price just now as we transition from his self-published to traditional published copies. But in the future (and with other Ridan books) I'll be continuing to do more experimentaion.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

rbt said...

That's the problem. Although I enjoy reading about the various anecdotal pricing "experiments" here and elsewhere, the simple truth is that no one has statistically-significant results. We simply don't have the data we need, and there are too many uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) variables.

I freely admit that my belief in the $0.99/$2.99 price points is merely a gut reaction. But I think a lot of authors are making assumptions on the basis of no real data, not that Amazon and B&N are likely to release it. What we really need is something like Bookscan for indie ebooks.

--
Robert Bruce Thompson

David said...

Run is a great cover.

And isn't this part of the fun of self-pubbing? That we get to manage our sales and our covers? To think that we never have to write another query...

We just have to write well.

Write quality and they will come... then design an awesome cover... how much fun is that!

I have never been happier or more hopeful to be a writer!

Andy Conway said...

This is a very interesting insight into experimenting with categories. I've noticed my novelette ping-ponging in and out of the Short Stories and Literary Fiction charts since I published it less than two weeks ago.

Sales are trickling through and some good reviews are appearing but it's clear that in a category like Short Stories, a handful of sales can make you leap a few thousand places. Seems quite easy to crack the Top 20 with only minor sales.

Harder with Literary Fiction, but you've got me thinking about whether there are other categories that might result in higher rankings.


Andy Conway
The Girl with the Bomb Inside (A Novelette) on Amazon.co.uk - Amazon.com and Smashwords

JL_Bryan said...

I agree about the importance of algorithms and lists. My book Jenny Pox has stuck around the middle of the Horror and Contemporary Fantasy Top 100 lists, keeping the book between #1500 and #2000 in the Kindle store. This is such a great way for new readers to notice your work.

David said...

Has anyone noticed some reviewers commenting on length of novels? I've read more than a couple of reviews that said something like, "This should be split into two novels." And that really gets me, because selling two units of .99 or 2.99, (which is perfectly acceptable for a 60K word count) might then double the profit.

It's ironic that in conventional publishing paper influences word count, but now that we're free to exceed 100K, some readers are telling us they'd rather have the plot roll along quicker, and read the same storyline over two novels.

....so instead of a 120K book, perhaps the lesson is to write two 60K books? The only difficulty is that word count gives us room to stretch. 2 60K books of the same storyline would be very different than 1 120k novel. Shrug...

And a novel that's twice as long will be nearly twice as long to write. What's worse is that while it should warrant twice the price, readers might ignore a 5.99 price point by an indie author.

Thoughts?

Joe Konrath said...

I'd rather have readers than collectors

A sale is a sale, Robin.

It's natural to want people to read and enjoy your work. That's why we become writers.

But, jaded as it sounds, answering fan mail becomes a chore. I'm glad people love my work, but I don't have time to interact with every one of them.

The need to be read has nothing to do with making a living. That's ego driven, and at the heart of the term "vanity publishing."

If 9/10th of all the books I sell are never read, I'm okay with that. Those that do read me will no doubt buy more, and tell others to buy them as well. As long as a fraction of my buyers become readers, and a fraction of my readers become fans, I'll be able to keep making a living.

But in this ever-expanding market, there is a good case for being able to make a living without every having anyone read a single book.

Joe Konrath said...

And a novel that's twice as long will be nearly twice as long to write.

Novels sell better than novellas or shorts.

That said, four novellas at 20,000 words each will sell better than a 80,000 word novel.

In the legacy world, short stories weren't worth writing, because you could earn more per word with novels.

Now the opposite is happening.

jtplayer said...

"Are others doing this? And, if so, at what point do we start crying enough and cut our book-buying rate way down?"

I hear ya man.

I keep loading up on all these cool looking .99 ebooks and have yet to read a single one. Not to mention all the free classics and old pulp I've been grabbing right and left. I'm sure I'll get to them eventually, but my TBR pile of paper books is so huge I tend to give them the love first.

Besides, I still enjoy paper over electronic. Sure, the Kindle is way cool, but the reading experience is different, and for me it's taken some getting used to.

I do think it's a valid point to say lots of people buy these cheap books and probably never read them. Or not for a very long time.

So does raising the price ensure timely reading? Probably not, and I point to my huge pile of unread paper books as evidence. Those things certainly weren't cheap.

In the end I'm sure none of this even matters. People will buy what they want, perhaps more if the price is really cheap, and read what they will. I think analyzing all this is really a huge waste of time anyway.

Btw...I did read Run, and enjoyed the hell out of it.

JL_Bryan said...

"But in this ever-expanding market, there is a good case for being able to make a living without every having anyone read a single book."

This reminds me a little bit of screenwriters in Hollywood, who can make a good living for decades without actually seeing any of their work produced.

Donald Wells said...

Congrats Blake. I couldn't agree with you more that the “Customers Also Bought” system is a great tool. You're also right about being careful to choose what categories you place your books into. Category choice can be another tool in the quest for sales. By the way, your books have fantastic covers.

Nicholas La Salla said...

Hey Blake & Joe!

First of all, Blake, that is an awesome description, the book sounds tremendous, and you just got yourself a sale, good sir. :-)

And second, you're right about the categories being important. I made One More Day list in the Ghosts subgenre of horror and it has been doing great in the bestseller list. I recently upped the price to $2.99, just to see what will happen. I'll chime back in if anything startling occurs. Either way, I've been in the Hot New Bestsellers list in the Top 40 pretty consistently all throughout March.

And of course, thank you for the awesome book. :-)

Best,

Nick
One More Day

Robin Sullivan said...

Joe, you've said before that each author has to find what's right FOR THEM, each person has different goals. For you it's maximizing income - nothing at all wrong with that. But for others they may be willing to "make less" to receive other things that are tangible to them.

We know for instance, that taking the deal from Hachette will lose Michael $'s but he will gain other aspects toward "brand building" that will help with other goals of his.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

wannabuy said...

Congrats! The B&N are a surprise... but then again, they are selling 700,000 color nooks a month per analysts.

Blake was selling modestly with his previous titles. He was thrilled to make $6k in January.

In March, he made $24k


Another author who now has the means to write full time? Excellent.

Neil

Robin Sullivan said...

wannabuy said...
He was thrilled to make $6k in January. In March, he made $24k

Another author who now has the means to write full time?

To me this is the most signfificant aspect of the self-publishing revolution is the increasing number of authors writing for a living rather than having to have "day jobs" to support them.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

T.J. Dotson said...

Are others doing this? And, if so, at what point do we start crying enough and cut our book-buying rate way down?

I'm one of those guys who used to buy tons of books. Used bookstores were my favorite. Finding copies of recently new books, in 2nd hand shop was pretty easy. Recently, I had to move to a smaller place. So most of my books I sold or gave away. E-readers allow me to buy tons of new books, at good prices, and not clutter up my house.

Also, think about the sales authors lost on guys like me, who mostly bought used. With my e-reader I get great books and the author doesn't lose out on a sale. I think there are probably very many people just like me out there.

Thats the great thing, the author doesn't lose out on sales here. He/she is probably gaining sales.

I wish there was some data on this.

Ken Lindsey said...

Great post, thank both of you so much for writing it! Posts like this help to let me know that I've made the right choice in choosing to self-pub.

JL_Bryan said...

Speaking of Amazon listings, maybe somebody can explain - my book used to just be ranked in "Kindle Store > Kindle ebooks > whatever" and now they're listed as "Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror."

What's the distinction? Is this new?

I.L. said...

Thanks for such a helpful post, this blog is like Indie University, only with ridiculously reasonable tuition.

Blake, I bought a copy of Run for my brother, he loved Serial and is a huge fan of Joe's, so he's likely to become a regular reader (the cover gave me the heebie jeebies. In other words, great cover. I'm a wimp).

I have a question for both of you about the categories: how do you decide placement when your book straddles several? Blake, how did you realize your book would be better served differently categorized?

Mister Snitch! said...

Good post. Explores some of the subtleties in the 'Amazon marketing' process. And that IS a very good cover. Easily communicates the book's essence, probably at any size (I didn't test or anything, but it looks that way).

Maybe in a future post you might talk about HOW you arrived at such a striking cover. (Or does all credit in this case go to the designer?)

Thank you.

Jude Hardin said...

But for others they may be willing to "make less" to receive other things that are tangible to them.

This is a very good point, I think. While self-publishing makes the most sense financially, some very nice things are starting to happen with my traditionally published thriller due to be released next month. Those things wouldn't be happening if I had chosen to self-publish, so I'm starting to think it might be best to keep a foot in both worlds.

wannabuy said...

@T.J. Dotson: "Also, think about the sales authors lost on guys like me, who mostly bought used. With my e-reader I get great books and the author doesn't lose out on a sale. I think there are probably very many people just like me out there."

I know of quite a few people in that situation including myself who have stopped buying used pbooks.

Ebooks are too convenient to read a little bit more here and there. Every study I've found has ereaders increasing their book consumption. I expect them to, long term, expand the market.

Neil

wannabuy said...

@Robin: "To me this is the most signfificant aspect of the self-publishing revolution is the increasing number of authors writing for a living rather than having to have "day jobs" to support them."

100% agree. :) It won't be everyone (obviously). However with the ebook advantages of:
1. Allowed to publish multiple books per year (pulls in the intense 'series readers).
2. 70% vs. 17.5% (I'm all for small publishers...
3. Increased ereading volume (as smartphones/Kindles make it too easy to grab a read)

The new authors, including Nathan, are 'inspiring' me to read more too.

Neil

Jeff Kay said...

I loved RUN, and pimped it on my blog and at Twitter. It's a great read, and is perfect for showing skeptics what an indie book can be. It's as exciting and professionally rendered as anything from a traditional publisher. I'm glad to know it's doing so well. It's well earned.

Blake Crouch said...

Thanks, jtplayer, Jude, Douglas, Kristian, IL, Jeff, Anthony, Judy, and Ellen! Much appreciated.

@Scott - we do need to get the band back together...that was a blast...picked up Liquid Fear yesterday, b/c the cover and premise look amazing....looking forward to starting that.

@JL - I have your Jenny Pox in my Kindle as well...I've heard great things...I need about 2 years of doing nothing but reading to catch up.

@Robin...fascinating that you saw a sales dip after the orbit announcement...I would expected the opposite (get Michael's books while they're reasonably priced). Do you think the drop really had anything to do with the announcement or maybe just a cyclical thing that will bounce back when Michael releases new work? I can't imagine the average buyer would have any concept of behind the scenes book deals. Btw, Robin wrote a terrific case study comparing an Indie "midlist" and a trad-pubbed "mislist." It's great and here's the link: http://write2publish.blogspot.com/2011/04/midlist-authors-traditional-or-self.html

Jude Hardin said...

Blake, are you a drummer? Me too! I knew there was something I liked about you. ;)

Derek J. Canyon said...

99 cent experiment

I've been experimenting with price changes since March 1. I have detailed charts and analysis in my blog post here:

Pricing experiment post for Dead Dwarves Don't Dance and Format Your Ebook for Kindle in One Hour

For me, the pricing experiments are working and I expect the increase in sales to make up for the loss in royalties in another month.

I also have a chart that shows my other fiction ebook riding the sales coat-tails of the lowered price on the other novel.

Anna Murray said...

Is anyone else following the Dorchester brouha?

http://www.briankeene.com/?p=6271

C. Pinheiro said...

Anna; thanks for posting that link to the Dorchester fiasco. I just posted a blog post about it. Check out what author Stacy Dittrich posted on her blog. It's a horror story.

The authors are going to get SCREWED. This has got to be one of the worst publishing stories I've heard in a long time.

Robin Sullivan said...

Blake Crouch said... @Robin ...fascinating that you saw a sales dip after the orbit announcement...I would expected the opposite (get Michael's books while they're reasonably priced). Do you think the drop really had anything to do with the announcement or maybe just a cyclical thing that will bounce back when Michael releases new work?

The issue is the "new versions" are in 2-book sets so if there is a possibility that you'll have to buy one - twice. For instance if you read Book #3 now the only way to get #4 in the series from Orbit is to buy Rise of Empire which actually contains book 3 and 4.

And thanks for the mention about my blog post on mid-list author comparison - I'm pretty proud of the way that came out and it was a fair amount of work to pull all those figures together.

But I'm all for your logic - everyone buy the originals now while they last since they will be going off the market soon and becomming collectors items ;-)

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Tim Myers said...

Hey Blake, I just bought my copy of RUN. It looks great!

My suspense novels are picking up some steam and beginning to sell. I had to change the author name to DB Morgan to steer folks away from what they thought were my regular cozies, though. Pretty dark stuff, and I scared more than my share of readers with them, despite my warnings!

This is what I love about the Ebook world. I'm able to bring things I love that no one would look at before out into the world!

Chris Hunt said...

Robin said...To me this is the most signfificant aspect of the self-publishing revolution is the increasing number of authors writing for a living rather than having to have "day jobs" to support them.

Not only this, Robin, but think of the hope many authors now have since the gates have not only been crashed by many a self-pubber, but destroyed. And if there's one thing that we all know, we (writers) need all the hope we can get.

As one with a long way to go and much to learn before my first book is self-pubbed, I feel I at least now control more of my destiny than ever before. And this makes it easier for me to focus on my writing (and later, marketing) instead of worrying if I'll ever even get the darn thing published.

Now if I can just keep these publishing daydreams in check...

Robin Sullivan said...

Chris Hunt said...

Not only this, Robin, but think of the hope many authors now have since the gates have not only been crashed by many a self-pubber, but destroyed. And if there's one thing that we all know, we (writers) need all the hope we can get.


AMEN! Couldn't agree more.

Amanda said...

Not only has my TBR list grown exponentially since I found Joe's blog, I've also gone indie myself.

So thanks :)

@Blake: I'll be reading "Run" as soon as I can.

Leo T. Vergara said...

If that doesn't make you want to get writing, I don't know what will.

Damn it Konrath, you've inspired me. I'm going to write an eBook.

Not only that, but I'm going to blog about it.

It will make a grand experiment.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

@Joe: Novels sell better than novellas or shorts. That said, four novellas at 20,000 words each will sell better than a 80,000 word novel.

Most of my books are novella length, but I have quit labeling them as novellas. Instead, I list the word count. Novellas can be as short as 18,000 (by some definitions), and are often just long short stories with no chapters.

One of my novellas, Sweet Ginger Poison, is currently #260 in the Kindle Store, and is #16 on the Kindle Mystery bestseller list. It is 39,000 words, and is priced at $0.99.

Blake, I love your RUN cover. The book I mentioned above was only selling 10 copies a day with the old (lousy) cover. Now I'm selling 100-150 a day.

Selena Kitt said...

Oh Blake, I am just pleased as punch that RUN is just taking off toward the top! :) I loved that book, a fantastic read. I pimped it freakin' everywhere!

I also have WAY too many books waiting to be read on my Kindle. Including that dang Jenny Pox - I'm going to get to it, I swear! But the good news is that I'm reading way more now than before I got my Kindle. I take every spare moment to read - in the car (as a passenger) at appointments, you name it, I can grab my kindle and choose a book. It's awesome!

As for having a foot in both worlds, I think what Michael Sullivan and Amanda Hocking have done isn't a bad idea. If you weren't already traditionally published, signing a deal for a book, or a few, will hopefully increase your fan base and more eyes will be looking your way if (when) corporate publishing tanks.

But if you've already done the corporate publishing thing, like Joe and Blake have... why would you ever go back? They can safely self-publish and not have to risk their hard work with the Big 6.

Lucky bastards. :) It's a good position to be in.

Blake, time to consult an accountant. Tax time is gonna be fun fun fun next year. This is just the beginning, big guy. :)))

I SO hope you have something to follow Run pretty soon. I know I'd buy it.

Keep feeding the machine!

Gabriella said...

@Leo T Vergara...
I am your first blog fan. *L* I hope you look at my latest post real quick if you get a chance, we have something in common.

Jude Hardin said...

A while ago I sent Jeroen an email giving him the go-ahead to start work on a cover for my horror novella. I told him I want the SCARIEST COVER EVER. We'll see what he comes up with. I'm sure it will be awesome. :)

PixieDust said...

There was a lot of great information on here - thank you! I recently (last month) published my book via Amazon's ebook, but have stalled at 5 sales - yikes!

I am the first to admit, I am terrible at marketing, and have to find a way to improve in this area. I did print up some postcards (Cover of my book on the front/description and amazon link on the back) that found there way into a few book stores here in my town.

;-)

Selena Kitt said...

A while ago I sent Jeroen an email giving him the go-ahead to start work on a cover for my horror novella. I told him I want the SCARIEST COVER EVER.

OMG. Please, no more. I can't add one more amazing horror writer to my list of must-reads. Jude, you're killing me. Did it HAVE to be horror? Couldn't you have ventured into... erotica, or something? :)

Jude Hardin said...

Thanks, Selena. :)

I'm afraid I have more bad news for you over on my blog. ;)

Major Announcement

praetorian75 said...

I bought and read "Run" because of Blake's earlier post on this blog. I thought it was a great book, and agree that it's too bad he didn't get it out there sooner.

I've recommended it to many people, at least a few of which I know have bought it.

Well done, and hopefully I'll be getting mine up soon; editing is a bitch!

Robin Sullivan said...

Selena Kitt said...
As for having a foot in both worlds, I think what Michael Sullivan and Amanda Hocking have done isn't a bad idea. If you weren't already traditionally published, signing a deal for a book, or a few, will hopefully increase your fan base and more eyes will be looking your way if (when) corporate publishing tanks.

But if you've already done the corporate publishing thing, like Joe and Blake have... why would you ever go back? They can safely self-publish and not have to risk their hard work with the Big 6.


I agree completely!! - The one landmind - and I'll be interested to see what's in Amanda's contract is the non-compete clauses and option clauses. We're currently negotiating these points and there is some danger there Will Robinson.

If SMP tries to pen her in too much I'll bet she won't sign that $2M deal. This is one more area where traditional publishing has to "get with the times" and realize that if authors put out more works (even if not through them) it will be good for the sales they DO have.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

jeroentenberge said...

Jude, I'm not sure if I'll be able to beat the scariest cover currently out there... Sarah Palin's 'Going Rogue'

jack said...

Joe, it may be an interesting blog post if you and Blake have a live Google documents chat about what you do differently on Barnes and Noble to achieve the higher sales that he has on that platform. I know that is something I am curious about. Just a thought. Once again, great post and thanks for the information.

Selena Kitt said...

Jude, I'm not sure if I'll be able to beat the scariest cover currently out there... Sarah Palin's 'Going Rogue'

*iced tea spew*

Careful... here lurk republicans... and republicans-to-be... ;)

Jude Hardin said...

Well, I might have to settle for the SECOND scariest cover ever, then. ;)

Jason said...

Blake, don't forget about your amazing reviews on Amazon. 47 so far, with *zero* 1 & 2 stars. Plus only one 3 star. The rest are all 4 & 5 stars.

Same with B&N - all positive stars/reviews. That has to be helping your sales tremendously. Now I take negative reviews with a grain of salt, so they're not necessarily going to stop me from buying an ebook. But it certainly helps to have nothing negative.

Seriously though...I was really excited about RUN after reading the pitch.

Jude, I really enjoyed Pocket-47. Thanks again for the advance copy. It kicked ass, and I'll definitely be reviewing it on Amazon on release day.

Still working on my own debut book. It's an erotic thriller about a group of prostitutes that are forced to fight to the death. It's called...The Art of Whore.

Jude Hardin said...

Thanks, Jason! I look forward to reading your review.

Amber Argyle said...

Wow. Just, wow. I'd love to make that kinda money in a month from my books. I went the traditional publishing route (with a small publisher). The book comes out in Sept. I'll let you know how it does.

Michelle Muto said...

What I found interesting here is Blake's take on categories and tags - how they have an effect on a book's sales at Amazon.

The newcomers can't choose 5 categories like those who uploaded back in December or earlier. We only have two.

With all the talk about price, it'd be interesting to hear what else everything thinks influences a book's sales. Cover? Certainly. A good description? Absolutely.

But, people have to find that cover and description before they can buy it. So far, I'm finding the best promotion is guest blogging and doing interviews.

Joe & Blake - I'd love to hear your thoughts.

And congratulations, Blake. Run really does look like a great book. Congrats on releasing ti on your own.

Michelle Muto
The Book of Lost Souls

Avery June said...

So happy for you! Good work. Scared me.

Elisa Michelle said...

Oh, it makes me want to write. It's confirming everything I'd hoped for, actually, and I'm excited for the future. I've got so many ideas, and posts like these just help give me a map on where to go.

Thanks, Konrath, and congrats to Blake! I'm actually interested in RUN because of that little blurb. Quite addicting.

Matthew W. Grant said...

I agree that the categories are important as they lead to various genre best-seller lists.

One interesting thing thing I've noticed for my books and other people have reported about theirs is that Amazon sometimes uses categories we didn't pick that may not even be correct.

Anyone have any ideas how that happens?

Matthew

Discover the Secrets Of Slaters Falls

Aynoit Ashor said...

One word: AWESOME!

Sarah Billington said...

That is a FABULOUS cover for Run, may I say, Blake. Did you pay a cover designer to work on it for you?

Blake Crouch said...

@Sarah

my cover designer is Jeroen ten Berge, cover artist rock star to the rising ebook world....you can reach him at jeroentenberge.com

Burritoclock said...

Of course it didn't hurt that the book was AMAZING! Actually as of now it's one of my favorite reads of all time. Up there with Dune and Book one of the Dark tower even. I loved it is all I'm saying, ha!

Jarrett said...

Just got around to reading this today and really like the categories advice.

Just went and changed the categories for my novella. Found a couple where it actually fit better and the possibility of making the bestseller list is reasonable. Actually, a couple more sales a day and I could find myself firmly planted in the middle of the list.

Thanks for the insights, Blake. Appreciate Joe letting you and others share what's working.

Blake Crouch said...

@Burritoclock

Thank you!

@Jarrett

I hope it works!