Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Guest Post by Summer Daniels

Joe sez: Summer Daniels is the pen name of an erotica author who hosts a Facebook page called What to Read After Fifty Shades of Grey.

The page is a terrific example of what Bob Mayer calls the Discoverability Wars. To quote Bob:

"In the past the competition was for an agent, a book deal, distribution, placement, etc. Now it's all for Discoverability. And there's only so much of it to go around."

I agree that Discoverability (I love that term) is the newest challenge for authors. I disagree a bit with Bob in that there is only so much to go around. As we enter a global market place (someday I'll have readers in China who haven't even been born yet) I think there will be more than enough of the pie available for all authors to share, especially since publishing isn't a zero sum game.

Authors will still require Discoverability, but that is only limited by our imaginations. Summer imagined a spot on the web where fans of Fifty Shades could recommend similar books to each other. A smart idea. But is is a successful one?

Here's Summer to talk about it...

Summer: Joe has been kind enough to allow me to do a guest blog about my journey as an author and why I started the WTRAFSOG (What to Read After Fifty Shades of Grey) reader recommendation / author promotion page.

It is fitting that Joe will post this here, because my journey as an author begins with this blog.  The countless hours I spent reading through old blog posts and thousands of comments was absolutely riveting for someone that was eager to learn about the new publishing world.  The blog was the impetus for me to stop procrastinating and actually start writing.  Joe is very modest about accepting praise, but in this case (unless he heavily edits my blog post) he will have to accept my thanks.

My journey as an author really parallels my real life journey so it is hard to discuss one without the other.  Quick background: Almost 20 years of marriage dissolves suddenly, and I was lonely.  Come to think of it - I was pretty lonely for much of my marriage as well.  That's about it for the background.  I never intended to write erotica, I had all these other stories in my head (and I still do), but the intriguing nature of what was going on in my personal life led me to create my Summer's Journey series.  I call it "True Romance / Erotica" because it is based very closely on my real life, I only changed enough details to protect the guilty.  I figured exposing my personal life in public might be a bit rough on my family and my career.

So I wrote about what was going on in my life, finished Summer's Journey: Volume One - Losing Control (FREE now on Kindle) which is the first of my series, and after about forty-seven rounds of editing, decided to publish it.  I was one of those new authors who knew just enough to know that they knew nothing.  I cannot speak warmly enough about the indie author community and how it embraced me as a new fledgling author.  Many authors, bloggers and readers took valuable time to share insights, show me how to do certain things, offer advice, etc.

Of course I eschewed some of that advice from the very beginning and published the first volume of a new erotic series without any SEX in it.  Volume One is all character development and back story about how I met Mark and his unusual method of courtship.  Authors of erotica that I spoke to were united in their advice that this was not a good idea.  Surprisingly however, it worked.  The series found readers right away that were eager to see what was going to happen next, after that little black dress hit the hotel room floor in Volume One.  That was back in August of 2011 and it has been a very interesting ride since then.

I wish I could speak of having encountered the same level of success as many of the authors who have been guests here, but my sales have been fairly slow, despite some really great reviews.  It was not until quite recently that I really started to take to heart Joe's advice about the best marketing you can do for your current book - is to write your next one.  For a long time I was having entirely too much fun utilizing social media to introduce myself and my story to readers, authors, bloggers, etc.  What I was not doing was writing the next book.  For a series that lends itself to short volumes, I was taking much too long to produce the next one.

It is about this time that I came across this particular nugget of wisdom on Joe's blog:

"One hand should always be reaching up for your next goal. The other should be reaching down to help others get where you're at. We're all in the same boat. Start passing out oars."

Given how I was embraced as a new author, this one really resonated with me.  I began to be more active in the community, taking what I had learned through others or by my own trial and error, and passing it along.  I helped by being a beta reader, doing reviews of books I had read and enjoyed, sharing others promotional efforts to get the word out about new releases, etc.

Then at the end of April this year, I had an idea.  I think Melinda DuChamp recently said in her first guest post here that she was "not above riding on coattails."  The same can be said of myself, although I had another ulterior motive as well.  My intent in setting up the What To Read After Fifty Shades of Grey page was to take advantage of the influx of new readers to the erotica genre and point them towards other talented authors (including myself).  Call it a matter of inspiration (or should that be sin-spiration?), good timing, good luck, etc. - whatever it was - the page has taken off.

I set up the page 4 months ago.  132 days to be exact.  As of this morning, the page has resulted in over 16,250 book sales from the links and averaged over 200 books sold a day during August.  The number of fans of the page just topped 10,800 yesterday and continues to grow at the rate of 100 or so a day.  The number of authors who have messaged me about the uptick in their sales across all platforms after being mentioned on the page is truly unbelievable.  As an author who knows just how hard it can be (pun intended) to market erotica, this warms my heart to be able to give back in some small way to the very community that has supported me from the beginning.

I welcome all authors to post their works on the page.  I will throw out the caveat that the vast majority of books being sold as a result of the WTRAFSOG page are indeed erotic in nature, but if you write a good blurb and grab the reader's attention, you never know.

As a side note, I find it interesting that so many authors speak poorly of the Fifty Shades of Grey series and bemoan her success.  I know that E.L. James herself has admitted that the books are not very well-written, but for the sheer fact that they have gotten so immensely popular, other erotica authors should be grateful.  In a lot of ways, Fifty Shades has peeled back the curtain and exposed erotica to more mainstream attention.  The number of erotica (or erotic romance) authors now making a very good living and being offered traditional publishing deals is increasing daily.  Awhile back on my blog I compared this effect to Tiger Woods.  At the height of his popularity, Tiger brought so many new fans to the game of golf that no matter what you think of him as a competitor, a person or a husband - you cannot deny the positive influence he has had on the sport.  The same is true of Fifty Shades of Grey.  I cannot begin to tell you how many new fans of the Facebook page have introduced themselves starting out with the words, "I am a new reader."   Many authors I have spoken to lately have started to realize that anything that gets people reading again is truly a wonderful thing, because once these readers are done with the Fifty Shades trilogy, they are looking for something else to read.  And they are voracious readers.

As for my Summer's Journey series, I just released Summer's Journey: Volume Four - Corporal Coupling two weeks ago.  After a six month hiatus between volumes, I have my work cut out for me in terms of reestablishing some of the momentum from earlier books.  Balancing time between my full time job, the Facebook promotion page and my own writing has been difficult, but as with all the other tasks involved in self-publishing, I welcome the challenge.

Joe sez: When Summer posted in my comments section a few weeks ago, I was intrigued. Not only by her Facebook page (which I discovered via Ruth Cardello) but by the premise of her series. So I went to Amazon, read Volume One, and then immediately purchased her Summer's Journey: Collection One which compiles volumes 1 -3.

Erotica isn't my thing, but I found the books to be well written, fun, and sexy. As did Mrs. Konrath. I also think the main idea behind them is smart--two divorced people embark on a kinky sexual journey together that is new for both of them--and that releasing them as chapbooks is a clever way to go about it. As Summer hoped, after reading the first 3 parts, I also bought part 4 to see what happens next. That it may actually be true adds to the fun.

Right now, Summer's Journey Volume One: Losing Control  is free in the US and UK, and I recommend people pick it up and help to spread the word. If you can stop reading after the first installment, you have more self-control than I do.

I have some unsolicited advice for Summer, which is par for the course whenever I have a guest.

1. While her chapbooks are fun and make me want to find out what happens next, I'd like them to have a bit more conflict. Summer assured me that future volumes will indeed address this, and told me about some terrific ideas she had.

Conflict is something that a lot of authors tend to downplay, when it should be ratcheted up.

2. I'm not sure Summer is pricing these correctly. I'd recommend Volume One be perma-free (a neat term to describe the act of making it free on Smashwords and waiting for Amazon to price match. That's what Barry Eisler and I have done with Be the Monkey.) Then, because the volumes are short (around 20 pages), I'd charge 99 cents for each. As more and more volumes are added, and the page length goes up, they can be combined and Summer can charge more. 

Maybe Summer has already experimented with price and has proven me wrong, but I do think she'd sell more ebooks, and widen her fanbase, with lower prices.

3. I haven't seen any authors use the chapbook format successfully. Summer is doing what Sue Grafton did (not dissing indies, she's titling her books by following the alphabet) so there will be at least 26 volumes to this series, which should result in a 500 page book when finished. But more than that, it will result in 26 volumes for 99 cents each, and many compilations for $2.99 or more.

I'm intrigued by this idea, to the point where I'm considering doing something similar. Readers may dislike having to wait for installments, but the more Summer writes, the less this becomes a concern. Which leads to...

4. Summer needs to write faster. She should be putting out a new volume every two weeks, at least. I understand that real life intrudes, and that she's doing a lot with her Facebook page, but I think her series has potential, and she should prioritize her writing.

5. If Summer's blog is doing so well, why not turn it into an ebook? There is a perma-free ebook on Amazon called Ten Shades of Sexy which features sex scenes from ten different novels. It has been on the Top 100 Free List for many weeks, and I can't help but assume that readers who read it and like one of the excerpts go on to buy that author's ebook. Not that I advocate Summer take time away from her writing to to make an ebook compendium of books she has featured on her blog, but this is thinking outside the Discoverability box, and could lead to sales. I'm sure many authors would happily donate a sex scene to a compilation called What to Read After Fifty Shades of Grey: Kinky Excerpts from Fifty Top Erotica Authors.

Summer could put one of her own scenes in there (first chapter, naturally) and then ask authors who have appeared on her Facebook page if they'd like to participate, gratis.

I believe erotica is perfectly suited to this type of collection, since the sex scenes are the main reason people read these books.

6. I like the woman on Summer's covers with the lace blindfold, but I'm not keen on the font or the layout.

I realize professional covers are often costly (though right now my cover artist Carl Graves is having another $200 sale on some premade covers that are fabulous) but I think, with minor tweaks, Summer's covers could look more professional and less indie.

7. While my advice is for Summer, it applies to everyone. So does her advice. Summer encouraged user-aggregated content to create a billboard. Where there was once nothing, there is now something, and people are visiting and helping her make it larger while also spreading the word. She's using Facebook much more effectively than a simple author or fan page, and she's gotten good results.

That's all I've got. I wish Summer success, and look forward to Volume Five, which is letter D. I hope it has to do with domination and discipline, and not dirty diapers. :)

67 comments:

Joe Brewster said...

Great stuff.

I'm not so sure I agree with Joe's Zero Sum analysis. Discoverability becomes more important as the field is flooded with an incredible amount of choices & no easy way to sort them out.

Joe Konrath said...

Discoverability becomes more important as the field is flooded with an incredible amount of choices & no easy way to sort them out.

Amazon makes things easy to find and sort. And no one has problems finding websites on the Internet. When there are hundreds of millions of Kindles, you only need a fraction of those readers to find you to make a good living.

Anonymous said...

This made me laugh:

"Summer needs to write faster. She should be putting out a new volume every two weeks, at least"

And you wonder why indie writers are not always well regarded.

Having said that, Joe is right to point out that indie writers are in a good position to jump on bandwagons and ride the successes of other authors.

It won't get you the Man Booker Prize, you're more likely to end up with the Literary Review's Bad Sex Award, but it's a good way to earn a living doing what you like doing.

Anonymous said...

Reader perspective: 99cents is too much for 20 pages. I know no one wants to hear that but it is true. That will take me minutes to read and to ask for 12% of the cover price of a paper back is wrong. At least for me. It is not a fair exchange. At most it should be closer to 5% or less of the price of a paper back.

I do agree with the notion of setting your first book as free, it gives the reader a chance to try your style with no risk. If it is good, we will buy more from you. I promise.

maggie said...

There is something I don't understand about the WTRAFSOG Facebook fan page and I hope Summer, Joe or someone can help explain.

I understand that Summer created this page just a few months ago, and asked people for suggestions on what to read. Then people added their suggestions and suddenly it exploded into a huge community with tens of thousands of sales.

But how did it even start? I am new to Facebook. I did make a page for my own (very unrelated to erotica) book category, but I am struggling getting even a few Likes. Not many people know about the page even though I add to it several times a week. Since I only have a dozen "friends" on Facbook, I am not sure how or where to get the word out.

Also, is Summer the only person who actually makes the posts? On my page, I have it set up so that any Facebook user can leave a comment. I solicit book and link and author suggestions. But when someone leaves a comment (and several already have), they appear in a box on the right. Then, I make a post out of each visitor's comment and I credit that visitor.

Just trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong and would appreciate any hints or tips.

Thomas R. Diehl said...

"I haven't seen any authors use the chapbook format successfully"
German indie Jonas Winner did with a series called "Berlin Gothic" making him the nation's bestselling indie author (following German-born Texan author Tina Folsom depending on your definition of "German"). Then again, periodical novels are much more common in Germany (some reaching 4-digit issue numbers and counting with additional spin-offs left and right) so he worked off a culture where this is not that strange.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Amazon is about to have some competition. Could be good news for ebook authors.

Tesco, one of UK's largest retailers, just bought an ebook platform developed by author Andy McNab.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2198560/Tesco-buys-Bravo-Two-Zero-author-McNabs-Mobcast-e-book-website-4-5m-deal.html

The platform is called Mobcast and delivers ebooks to smartphones and tablets.

http://www.mobcast.co.uk/

Might be worth exploring.

Summer Daniels said...

First of all, thank you again to Joe for the opportunity to do a guest post. I'm a big fan of his writing and this blog so it is a bit of a wide-eyed moment for me to be featured here. Allow me a moment if you will to simply soak it all in ...

...

...

Thank you.

My comments regarding Joe's points:

1) I agree with Joe regarding adding a little conflict to keep readers invested beyond the hot sex scenes. Although the burgeoning potential romance between Summer and Mark does provide a little of that "hook" as well.

2) I have experimented with pricing in the past to some extent. As our fellow authors know, it takes 6 sales at the 35% royalty price point of 99 cents to equal 1 sale at 70% and 2.99. However, having said that - I am more than willing to experiment with Joe's advice and price everything to 99 cents (with the collected Volumes 1 - 3 at $2.99) for the month of September. I will report back with results.

3) The idea behind the chapbook format really presented itself since I am a big Stephen King fan. His Green Mile series was sort of what I had in mind although (unlike myself) he was very much a highly regarded established author when he launched that particular experiment.

Since I have launched my Summer's Journey series, there have been numerous authors in the erotica field that have been extremely successful with this chapbook format. Author Sara Fawkes made over $200,000 last month with a five part series of short volumes. In another example of legacy publishing utilizing the Amazon rankings lists as a proving ground for indie authors, she also recently signed a legacy publishing deal worth over a half million dollars for her Anything He Wants series.

At one point a few weeks ago, over 50% of the Top 100 erotica titles at Amazon consisted of serial volumes. Another author who has done very well is Kelly Favor with her For His Pleasure series.

4) I absolutely agree that I need to get the volumes of this series out faster. Prioritizing my own writing over the success of the FB page, personal life, etc. is absolutely the way to realize the potential of this series.

5) I have had this idea in the past since the WTRAFSOG page became so popular, but have not taken the time or initiative to implement it. So once again I thank Joe for the gentle "push" in the right direction. The What to Read After Fifty Shades of Grey: Kinky Excerpts from Fifty Top Erotica Authors ebook project is now officially open. (Thanks for a great title idea as well Joe.) Any erotica authors that wish to be included - please email me at summerdaniels71@gmail.com with the email subject line "WTRAFSOG Excerpt Ebook".

6) I knew the covers would come back to "bite" me at some point. ;-)

I thought I did fairly well for someone with zero artistic ability, but yes - I agree they can absolutely use some tweaking. A total series cover redesign might not be out of the question as well since the stock model images I used for the first four volumes have dried up.

7) Come join us at the WTRAFSOG page and help "expose" your naughty side to some great erotica authors!

(Side Note: Since this comment is approaching the approximate length of Volume Two of my series, I'm charging you all 99 cents for having read it. ;-)

Summer Daniels
author of the Summer's Journey True Romance / Erotica series
admin of the WTRAFSOG reader recommendation / author promotion page

David L. Shutter said...

Congrats to Summer!

Aug 2011 seems like yesterday doesn't it? Best of luck with the rest of the series.

Dave

Karl El-Koura said...

One thing I don't see clearly articulated on the issue of discoverability is that we're not all reaching for the same piece of the pie. For example, I write theological thrillers and I know my audience is small (some people interested in thrillers don't seem to want faith to play a role in the stories, while some people interested in faith-based stories don't want any horror/thriller elements)—so my job is to reach that small, niche audience that (like myself) is looking for page-turners from a Christian perspective. There are so few of these kinds of books being written that I can't imagine satisfying the desire of those readers—I know, because I'm one of those readers and the kinds of books I really crave and love and want to read over and over again are few and far between. So I don't feel that my books are “buried” under millions of other books, because the audiences for all of those books are not the same. There's no “general reader” out there whose attention writers are trying to grab. There is a huge stratification of readers, all of whom are interested in different kinds of books.

To say it a different way: something like erotica doesn't appeal to me, so it doesn't matter if there's a thousand erotica books or ten thousand, and all kinds of discoverability of erotica books wouldn't do me any good or harm. I believe our jobs as writers, then, is not to maximize our discoverability—over and against every other published book—but to reach audiences who may be interested in our particular kind of book.

Jack Badelaire said...

I have to disagree with the Anon poster who claims $0.99 is too much for a 20-page short.

First, of course, $0.99 is as low a price as you can get before something's free via KDP. So by saying it should be cheaper than $0.99, you're really saying it should be free (or just plain longer, which sort of defeats the purpose).

Second, $0.99 is a trivial expense. If you have the disposable income to buy ebooks as you wish instead of checking out books for free from a library or freecycling them, the cost of essentially one dollar for a few minutes of enjoyment should be worth it if the enjoyment is good enough. Heck, if Starbucks can sell a cake pop for $1.50 that you can eat in about ten seconds, I think buying the enjoyment of a well-written short for $0.99 is perfectly reasonable.

I think as ebook pricing shakes out over time, perceptions of cost vs. content will shift, but I always cringe when someone criticizes a short story as being too expensive at the lowest price Amazon lets you charge for an ebook. The (now infamous) John Locke sold a million ebooks - full novels - at $0.99 apiece. I sell my bigger, 93K word novel at $3.99 and my 43K word novel at $2.99. Should I be selling it at, say, $1.75? I don't see why I have to base my costs as a percentage of an arbitrary size point.

Anonymous said...

Erotica "chapbooks" absolutely can be priced at 2.99 each for 10-20k words. In addition to S Fawkes & Favor, Delilah Fawkes and MG Morgan are heating up the top charts with this approach. One or more of them, however, started with a .99 first in series release. I took the .99 for a short story approach for years and never made any money doing it. No change in writing quality, but more frequent releases and not hanging out in the .99 bargain bin have generated a 6-figure annual salary for me for about a week's worth per month.

How many balls does Alex Rodriguez pitch or throw for his 30 million a year? Field MVP tickets for Yankees are $300 - for three hours. Entertainment pricing has nothing to do with actual value, it has everything to do with perceived value for a particular entertainer. IMO.

Anonymous said...

"catch or throw" - I know he's 3d baseman

A Challenge said...

Amazon makes things easy to find and sort.

You keep saying the overcrowding on Amazon is a myth, and it's easy to find any book. I think that's a pretty thought, but I have my doubts. So, here's a challenge.

I have a particular book in mind, written by a friend, and I'd like you or anyone to find it and post the title here. If what you say is true, then multiple people should be able to find it right away.

I'm a reader and I'm looking for story a unique story about vampires, and I want it to take place in Paris (not an overcrowded genre, right?). And for good measure, lets throw in some werewolves.

Now, for this challenge, I'm a writer who has written a story about Vampires in Paris. I feel it's unique, and holy shit there are werewolves in it, too. Matching my story to this reaer would be a perfect fit. And according to you, it should be easy, downright simple for the above reader to find my book.

So, find it.

Post the title and the authors name here. If you can, I will never doubt another word you say, and every time someone rolls their eyes at the mention of your name (which happens pretty much anytime someone mentions your name) I will punch them in the neck to defend your good name.

But if you (or anyone else) can't find the book, or if you decline the challenge, then I will take that as you not being able to back up your theories with fact, and I will become yet another in the legion of people who think you're nothing but a self serving, snake oil salesman.

The gauntlet has been thrown down, sir. If you truly believe what you say, pick it up.

Viper Playette said...

Dear Summer

Lovely and inspiring blog. Thank you for writing it and you too, Joe, for hosting it and giving such valuable advice.

I have just one question. How do I submit my own erotic ebooks to your WTRAFSOG Facebook page?

Is there an email address I can post to? I'd love to have mine featured there.

Thank you so much.

Viper

Viper's Facebook page. Do you'like' it?

Jack Badelaire said...

Just a comment to "A Challenge"...

The author has to do their due diligence in making sure their book is tagged appropriately, their keywords are appropriate, and the book description is written to aid in the book being found by the target audience. If I can't find your "Vampires in Paris with Werewolves" book by searching for that, I would dare say the author is as much to blame as any perceived "murkiness" on the part of being lost in the mass of titles available.

By the way, two titles popped up when I made the above search. The one that seemed to fit was "A light to starve by" by Axel Taiari. Not sure if that's it, but it's got vampires in Paris with werewolves.

Elaine Levine said...

I find it ironic that she's had 69 customer reviews.

Great post--good food for thought. Just downloaded my copy!

Anonymous said...

Felicity Heaton's Crave meets those criteria. If that is not your friend, the fault lies with your friend as Jack notes. If I am a reader looking for Paris vampire/wolf combos, I can find them if the author has taken care of business at his/her end.

In addition to good writing, good cover, good blurb, maximizing discoverability is another key differentiator between authors who make money and those who don't.

Joe Konrath said...

I'm a writer who has written a story about Vampires in Paris.

Vampires in Paris isn't a genre. That could be paranormal romance, or straight horror, or erotica, or historical fantasy, or steampunk, or shapeshifting porn, etc.

If I'm looking for a niche genre, I need to know what the niche genre is. I also have to be familiar enough with the genre to know which words best describe it--words the author should be using as product key words. Tagging helps. Author also needs to get the Bisec categories right. Author also needs to be patient until the Customers Who Bought This Also Bought feature kicks in.

Amazon has lots of way for readers to discover books they've never heard of. But if you want them to discover yours, be smart about it.

I will never doubt another word you say

Why would I care one way or the other who doubts me or lauds me?

BTW, you need to reverse engineer your proposal. For example, I searched for "vampire werewolf erotica spanking" and found around 200 matches. As a reader, that's enough to hold me over for a while, if that's what I'm looking for.

The better you describe your book, the easier it is for customers to find. Rather than trying to fool me, you should figure out what your readers are looking for.

Summer Daniels said...

Maggie said:

There is something I don't understand about the WTRAFSOG Facebook fan page and I hope Summer, Joe or someone can help explain.

I understand that Summer created this page just a few months ago, and asked people for suggestions on what to read. Then people added their suggestions and suddenly it exploded into a huge community with tens of thousands of sales.

But how did it even start? I am new to Facebook. I did make a page for my own (very unrelated to erotica) book category, but I am struggling getting even a few Likes. Not many people know about the page even though I add to it several times a week. Since I only have a dozen "friends" on Facbook, I am not sure how or where to get the word out.

Also, is Summer the only person who actually makes the posts? On my page, I have it set up so that any Facebook user can leave a comment. I solicit book and link and author suggestions. But when someone leaves a comment (and several already have), they appear in a box on the right. Then, I make a post out of each visitor's comment and I credit that visitor.

Just trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong and would appreciate any hints or tips.


Maggie,

A few answers to your questions.

It started just like your page. I already had a fairly good platform in terms of my author page so I posted on that as well as a bunch of Fifty Shades fan groups and pages that cropped up on FB. I kept at it and spread the word whenever (and wherever) I could. I asked new fans of the page to help spread the word as well, etc. I posted on Goodreads, Book Blogs, Facebook, Google+, etc., etc.

I have put a lot of time and effort into growing the FB page into a wonderful reader recommendation and author promotion community. Readers and authors interact about their works, announce new releases, etc.

I think several people have tried to duplicate the page with other genres, but have had limited success. I think this is primarily due to the massive popularity of the Fifty Shades phenomenon. The fan groups and loyal readers have taken on a life of their own. They are active and voracious readers so the WTRAFSOG page appeals to them in order to slake their thirst for more genre fiction.

I am the only admin on the FB page - so yes - I am the only one who makes posts. I solicit feedback from the readers and fans of the page and I post any author promotions there as well.

I don't think you are necessarily doing anything wrong in terms of growing your page - it just takes time, energy and effort.

Summer
author of the Summer's Journey True Romance / Erotica series
admin of the WTRAFSOG reader recommendation / author promotion page

Beverly Preston said...

I loved Summer's Journey and look forward to reading more! I promote my debut novel on WTRAFSOG and I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate the time and effort you put in, Summer! I love the group. It has a tremendous amount of avid readership and I've acquired some nice followers there. Thank you for your hard work!

Darley said...

I'm not sure about paying .99 for 20 pages but I do like the idea of chapbooks. But I would also be concerned about the quality of something written in this way. It would be a challenge to do this well when you don't have the opportunity to polish the entire manuscript at once because earlier parts are already published.

If the story was complete and then broken into parts then I'd be more confident about the result, but I suppose that belies the intent. And maybe later parts, in the case of Summer's Journey, don't rely on what went before. I'd be interested to know, however, how Ms Daniels goes about making it work. And also, congrats on the success.

Summer Daniels said...

Viper said:

I have just one question. How do I submit my own erotic ebooks to your WTRAFSOG Facebook page?

Is there an email address I can post to? I'd love to have mine featured there.


Viper,

You can either post directly on the FB page or you can email me at summerdaniels71@gmail.com and I'll be happy to post about your book(s).

Summer

William Ockham said...

I think everyone has discoverability backwards. Waiting for people to discover your book will work only rarely. That's why everyone thinks "50 Shades" is just a random event. But it isn't. Even though I don't think E.L. James knows it, she hit upon the right way to think about discoverability.

Writers need to discover their audience. You (or someone you trust) has to figure out where they are (online or in the real world). Then your book needs to be sold. The biggest mistake I see writers making is to not knowing who has bought their books. Someone who is already your reader is about a million times more likely to buy your next one than the random person on the internet.

And then when the random person does find your book, do you know who they are? Upthread Karl el-Koura mentioned that he writes theological thrillers. Guess what? I'm into theology and thrillers. To me, his stuff sounds like Reeses (you got theology in my thriller, no you got your thriller in my theology). He's made a sale from that post, but the odds are really long against him here. There are probably better places for him to hang out.

Like every other author, he's got a newsletter you can sign up for and like every other author I read, I didn't sign up for it. Authors should offer something (other than news) for signing up. A story you can't get anywhere else or something similar.

You sell your books by finding people who like books like yours and then explaining why they will like it, not randomly spamming people on Twitter. Every book and every writer has a different audience and what will work for Joe Konrath probably won't work for Karl el-Koura.

Scott Morgan said...

Wow, what great insight. I've always found Summer to be very cool, and she's been very helpful to me as an indie writer as well. I hope people get to see this because the insight is terrific.

Especially the "write the next book" angle.

Thanks to both of you.

Caddy "Pims" Rowland said...

Summer, I love your facebook page. It is a great way for readers to find new books. Best of luck to you!

Summer Daniels said...

Elaine said:

I find it ironic that she's had 69 customer reviews.

Great post--good food for thought. Just downloaded my copy!


As an author of erotica - the fact that it currently has 69 reviews for Volume One tickles me in all sorts of places we really can't discuss here.

And not a single one of those reviews was paid for. Well - unless you count sexual favors over the internet, but hey - who among us authors hasn't spread themselves around a little? Oops. Was that out loud?

Summer

Michelle Fox said...

I completely disagree with Joe's pricing suggestions. Erotica will tolerate a higher price point for whatever reason (even though there's a bunch of it for free on the internet).

Sure, make the first one 99cents and have occasional sales but $2.99 is a fair price for short erotic fiction. Other genres? Not so much.

M

Karl El-Koura said...

William: I agree, and I've been giving some thought to how I can find that audience and reach out to it (my first novel doesn't come out until later this year, so I have a bit of time). I also agree that few if any of Joe's readers are interested in theological fiction – but I have benefited from Joe's blogs in the past and often want to contribute, but I come across them a few days or weeks later and don't have time to go through 200+ comments (but don't want to add my own comment without reading them for fear of repeating something someone else has already said). I came across this post in time, and felt I could contribute.

Thanks for the feedback on the newsletter, I've been given thought as well to how to entice more readers to sign up (especially before my novel's release date). An exclusive short story (perhaps tied into the novel) would be good and is one of the possibilities I'm considering. I don't know which book you bought, but I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you'll consider reading at least the sample of "Father John VS the Zombies" when it comes out – if you like theology and thrillers, I'm confident you'll be hooked (too bad my newsletter offer wasn't enticing, I hope you'll still check back on the site later in the year if you get a chance, to see when the novel will be released).

And to agree with you a third time, it's true that what works for Joe won't work for me – which was my point, that we're not in competition for the same audience but likely targeting different audiences (and will need different approaches to reach that audience). Blanket discoverability can't be the goal; writers must aim toward discoverability by the right audience. Your point about aiming to hold onto readers who've already discovered one's work is well-taken.

Amber Dane said...

You are so right about writing the next book. It's just hard to get to that point after a debut without a slap of commitment. We spend way too much time talking up and pushing the 1st book (guilty :)) and watching rank,etc. I'm getting better at that one. I drove myself crazy over when to release the 2nd book in my series. Way to go on you facebook page. Always like coming to Joe's blog to see what helpful author nugget he or a guest on his blog have to share. Much success to you, Summer. I think the platform you've created with your page will be a big help for yourself and many other writers. Will check out your book and like the idea of the compilation. Although,I write mainly historical romance, I have written erotic shorts for a friend.

LD said...

I keep reading about how supportive other writers have been for various authors but, as someone new on the fiction scene, I'm at a loss to figure out where you get that support online. Summer? Joe? What online forums, bulletin boards, chat rooms, etc do you frequent? This is a question I've tried to answer on my own, but wouldn't you know it, I need the help of my fellow writers!

Tracey said...

Great stuff again Joe (your advice at the end of the post), and congrats Summer for getting more Discoverability on Joe's blog. ;)

I've made the first in my series perma free but it hasn't been helping much (but that might be because I still suck and have a way to go *shrug*). Or I just haven't been lucky yet.

Never mind. The only unsuccessful writer is one that gives up, and that ain't happening any time soon.

Bob said...

The discoverability wars are here already. I suggested Nook First to B&N. Now people are clamoring to be in it. Kindle Daily Deal? Targeted emails from Amazon?

Top 100 in a genre? Only 100. Not 1,000.

I'm just being realistic. It always existed, it's just changed in favor of the author and reader rather than the agent and editor.

So that's a positive.

Summer Daniels said...

Michelle Fox said...
Erotica will tolerate a higher price point for whatever reason (even though there's a bunch of it for free on the internet).

Sure, make the first one 99cents and have occasional sales but $2.99 is a fair price for short erotic fiction. Other genres? Not so much.


I agree that erotica is an unusual genre in terms of pricing. What applies to other genres does not necessarily hold true for erotica.

However what does hold true is the idea of experimenting with different ideas in order to find out what works best for each individual author.

In this case - I think the potential growth of the reader base as a result of the reduce pricing is worth the experiment - at least for the month of September. After that - who knows.

Summer

Anonymous said...

Joe if it weren't for you and Mrs. Konrath, et al- I wouldn't have the courage to launch. (I still feel you need a cape.)

Kenny ( he is mine ) says when I finally meet you and your posse, I'm going to spurt into a big, fat, pink ugly cry. Oh, the finest organic living beer flowing like, well, my gratitude faucet, for all! If I have to hock something, I will never miss it.

Back in TV land the only time I cracked into "Pink Ugly Cry" around celebrities was my first encounter with Kermit for a rather large endeavor. (Jim, was still 'here') And then... I walked into the next hire, thinking I could cool off over trying to A.D. Kermit singing in the snow... And, then it came... the Henson company's Cheshire Cat.

I could not do my job... Crew awaiting my cues... And? All i could see/hear was the Cheshire... Woah- BIG FAT SUCH A GIRL PINK: UGLY CRY. I handed over all control to my protege. She didn't feel ready; but, once she saw my trail o' babble and blurt, she did a wonderful job.

You all are healing lots of damage. Following Joe!

Summer Daniels said...

LD said...
I keep reading about how supportive other writers have been for various authors but, as someone new on the fiction scene, I'm at a loss to figure out where you get that support online. Summer? Joe? What online forums, bulletin boards, chat rooms, etc do you frequent? This is a question I've tried to answer on my own, but wouldn't you know it, I need the help of my fellow writers!


LD,

As a new author I frequented everywhere - often all at once.

There are some great online resources, but you have to actively seek them out.

I searched Facebook for author groups - there are a ton of them. Actively engage - don't just post and run (something I was guilty of at first).

Online forums such as Kindleboards, Goodread groups, Facebook groups, Yahoo groups, etc., etc. ... all have their own utility.

There is a fine line between using these resources wisely and spending too much time engaging in social media (which is time spent NOT writing the next book or story!)

Summer

Anonymous said...

Maggie said: Also, is Summer the only person who actually makes the posts? On my page, I have it set up so that any Facebook user can leave a comment. I solicit book and link and author suggestions. But when someone leaves a comment (and several already have), they appear in a box on the right. Then, I make a post out of each visitor's comment and I credit that visitor.

Just trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong and would appreciate any hints or tips.


The reason all the posts are by Summer is because she ensures all links to the advertised books have her affiliate code embedded. She makes money from the page. So should you.

What I wonder about is the number of books sold that are credited to the page (average of 200 per day, for example). Summer, are those JUST the number sold of the advertised books, or are you counting ALL books bought through your affiliate code? With my own pages and promos, the number of books sold that aren't in my promotions far outweighs the number that are. It sounds a bit like marketing spin to me.

Anonymous said...

William Ockham: can I hire you? That was such a good post. I write literary fiction of a type that is definitely not part of the usual KDP offerings. The hard part is finding my audience. I can't even imagine who my audience would be. I mean, I know that my audience is pretty much going to be the kind of person who definitely does not read Summer's books or Joe's books or pretty much any of the books that have ever been mentioned on this blog. This has been a useful blog for learning how to go KDP, but in terms of other authors, I know that there are no connections for me on here. My work is more Conrad than Konrath, more Dostoyevsky than Daniels. And to find a market for it, to even find book bloggers open to self-published work in this vein, has been really tough. I've sold a few books, but just a few. And yet ... a couple of the strangers who have read my book are in love with it, and that's a great feeling. (It was also sad to get the reactions of genre readers; they hated it, but I expected that.) I've gotten some incredible blurbs. But for the most part, it's just sitting on Amazon, undiscovered, not selling. You make it sound so simple, but where I need to go to find people who like books like mine is such a total mystery to me. But it's on my mind constantly and even if I'm tripping over myself I'm still looking around for where those people might be. So thanks for the good post. Summer, keep up the great marketing and Joe, thanks for the forum.

alchemyofscrawl said...

I'll pass on anything she's written because I had to ban her from my FB fan page for spamming...

Summer Daniels said...

Anonymous said ...

The reason all the posts are by Summer is because she ensures all links to the advertised books have her affiliate code embedded. She makes money from the page. So should you.

What I wonder about is the number of books sold that are credited to the page (average of 200 per day, for example). Summer, are those JUST the number sold of the advertised books, or are you counting ALL books bought through your affiliate code? With my own pages and promos, the number of books sold that aren't in my promotions far outweighs the number that are. It sounds a bit like marketing spin to me.


First of all - nowhere in my post did I say that the statistical numbers I provided included only books promoted. Read what I wrote again:

As of this morning, the page has resulted in over 16,250 book sales from the links and averaged over 200 books sold a day during August.

However YOU (whoever you are since you wish to remain anonymous) wish to SPIN that one - it does not change the facts that averaging 200 book sales (over the last month) or selling over 16,000 books from the links on the page - for a page that is only 4 months old - is an extraordinary accomplishment - and is elevating any number of author's sales, rankings and discoverability.

And of course I code my affiliate links into the book postings. Am I smart enough to make money as I help my fellow authors? Yes indeed I am.

Summer

Summer Daniels said...

alchemyofscrawl said...
I'll pass on anything she's written because I had to ban her from my FB fan page for spamming...


I've never even heard of your FB fan page Coral - how am I supposed to have spammed it?

Giselle London said...

Most of the erotica authors I know charge 2.99 for their short stories. Most of them are making at least a part-time income, and many of them are making a full-time income. Some are even making astronomical figures--five figure royalites per MONTH. The reason? The market can bear that price.

If some people don't want to pay that much, it doesn't mean it's "too much"--it means it's too much for THEM.

Most authors I know who have tried the .99 price point have seen their sales drop like a rock--and for some unknown reason, 1.99 is even worse.

To those who say to price it LOWER than .99? That's ridiculous--Amazon won't even allow price points below .99. And the amount of money made at that price point wouldn't be worth the time involved to write, edit, format, design a cover, purchase cover stock, and upload it to all the retailers.

Karl El-Koura said...

Anonymous @ 9:30 AM: the first step might be to tell us your name and the title of your book! You can't want to put yourself out there while also being anonymous. Also, don't be too quick to dismiss potential readers: my own bookshelves (and Kindle shelves) are full of genre writers (especially sf, but also horror) and all the classics. For me, a good story is a good story. Sometimes I feel like reading "The Green Mile" and sometimes I feel like reading "Crime and Punishment"; it depends on my mood. I would've checked out your book, but you never gave me a chance to…

William, you may want to look into being a consultant, actually. After your post, I decided to update my newsletter to offer new subscribers an ebook of mine (their choice) for free (for a limited time - I might do some other incentive after that time). Not sure why I didn't think of that before; I blame Joe for not having a blog post about it (kidding). Thanks again for the push!

Karl

Anonymous said...

Spin, of course, is stating facts in such a way as they infer something else. In context, a reader could infer that the sales were only of the books advertised. I simply asked for clarification.

I also endorsed the practice, stating that I was also doing it and advising Maggie she should be too.

Given that, the defensive tone of your reply seems a bit unnecessary.

Mike Dennis said...

Summer says: "You can either post directly on the FB page or you can email me at summerdaniels71@gmail.com and I'll be happy to post about your book(s)."


I posted directly on the FB page and it was removed. I posted again and it was removed again. There was nothing offensive in the post. It was just removed.

STH said...

Summer - great and fascinating post. Thank you. I also took you up on your offer and posted on your FB page despite the lack of erotica in my novel. Thanks for that too.

@Anon re: the Challenge. I think you have missed the point of what goes on around here. I also question your definition of a "snake-oil salesman." Distributing free advice and opinions, whether you agree with them or not, is not selling snake-oil.

Summer Daniels said...

Mike Dennis said...

I posted directly on the FB page and it was removed. I posted again and it was removed again. There was nothing offensive in the post. It was just removed.


Mike - it was not removed. All posts on the page go into the "Recent posts by others" section when an author (or reader) posts something. You posted 23 hours and 4 hours ago. I see both posts just fine. As you might imagine - I am a bit swamped with authors asking to be promoted. It takes a little while to go through the backlog. Your book will be promoted in due course.

Summer

Anonymous said...

Summer - I've both posted under one of my pen names and sent you links for another pen name (which doesn't have its own FB account). I wanted to thank you again for the resource your are providing and all the time you take to do so.

I hope people realize this isn't totally (or even very much) about affiliate money. When someone posts on their own, either no affiliate code or their own is going in, plus links to some platforms few people bother being affiliates for. It's when you take the time to post that it gets your affiliate link and that is 1000% (not a typo!) appropriate.

Shelly Thacker said...

Joe said:

This is thinking outside the Discoverability box, and could lead to sales.

Thanks Joe! And thanks for the shout-out for TEN SHADES OF SEXY. It's been a huge success, with more than a quarter of a million downloads so far at Amazon alone -- and yes, lots of "spillover" sales for the participating authors.

Summer was kind enough to mention us on her FB page the day we went free at Amazon, and that gave us a tremendous boost right out of the gate. (Thanks Summer!) TEN SHADES OF SEXY is one more example of what indies can accomplish when we work together. It's by far the most successful, cost-effective promotion I've participated in since I went indie last November. The inside scoop on how it all came together is on my blog: http://shellythacker.blogspot.com/2012/07/premiering-today-ten-shades-of-sexy.html

Julie Ortolon said...

Thanks for the shout out to Tens Shades of Sexy. Yes, it has been successful, but I will say that we barely got it approved. A lot of ebook outlets won't take excerpts, and this was a collection of excerpts. We squeaked through because they were complete scenes, not cliffhangers, and they were deemed satisfying enough to stand up as reading almost like short stories. But we were also told that similar collections might get rejected.

Wendy Lindstrom said...

Thanks for the mention, Joe and Summer. Our Ten Shades of Sexy release has been a huge hit with the readers, as well as the participating authors. The readers benefit by discovering new authors, and the authors benefit by seeing spillover sales and gaining new readers. It's a win for everybody.

Summer Daniels said...

Mike Dennis said...

I posted directly on the FB page and it was removed. I posted again and it was removed again. There was nothing offensive in the post. It was just removed.


Mike,

Re-reading what I posted earlier in response, it reads back as if I came off more than a bit defensive. I apologize if that is the case. You pointed out something that I should have addressed in the post - that it can appear as if posts disappear when posted to the page.

Regardless - your book has been posted now. Feel free to post every several days or so - I find that repetition increases that discoverability factor. ;-)

Summer

Mike Dennis said...

Summer-- thanks for the clarification. I suspected in my heart there was a good reason for my posts "disappearing".

Ranae Rose said...

So you're the one who started the 'What to Read After 50 Shades of Grey' page, Summer. :)

I recently discovered the page when I googled one of my books (an erotic romance) and a facebook conversation about it on the What to Read After 50 Shades of Grey page showed up in the results.

I've never used the page myself, but I thought it was pretty cool to see readers posting it and talking about it. (I felt like such a voyeur reading the conversation. LOL)

I don't know what effect it's had on sales as the book was already a bestseller by then, but I'm sure it helped. The page was a smart idea.

Christopher Bynum said...

I like the chapbooks idea. It reminds me of the original release of Stephen King's "The Green Mile" in serialized format. I do the same thing with my "Passion" series.

Thanks to Joe's recommendation to Summer, I may make the first book in the series free.

maggie said...

Thanks Summer (and others) for the advice and tips.

I keep looking at my lonely Facebook page and wondering how to ever make it half as popular as Summer's, and after rereading your reply above about what you did, Summer, I see the big difference: after you made your page, you posted to a lot of 50 Shades groups to invite people in. The fact that there *are* a lot of 50 Shades groups shows that this is a big, explosive phenomenon -- like what Harry Potter was years ago. So you're able to find a huge audience for your work because there is a huge audience out there reading 50 Shades.

In the case of certain other types of books, like the theological thriller that someone mentioned above, and the non-genre literary fiction mentioned, there isn't a proliferation of groups for people who are all into one book right now that can be tapped into.

But on the bright side: I believe these other books, and my book, *do* have an audience. Figuring out who that audience is, and where (if anywhere!) they hang out on line, is tougher than anything I've had to do so far in my writing career.

Grace Brannigan Romance Author said...

Great storySummer. Always nice to hear an indie author success story, someone thinking out of the box. My romances are by no means erotica but I will check out your facebook page and post my romances!

Tracy Sharp said...

Fantastic post, Summer! Congrats on your success and thanks so much for creating your facebook page. What an excellent idea, and so kind.

RJ Lockett said...

"Reader perspective: 99cents is too much for 20 pages. I know no one wants to hear that but it is true. That will take me minutes to read and to ask for 12% of the cover price of a paper back is wrong. At least for me. It is not a fair exchange. At most it should be closer to 5% or less of the price of a paper back."

You're talking about $1. Quit being a cheap ass.

Malia Mallory said...

Joe! D is for Domination exists :) I wrote it....however my ABCs of Erotica series isn't based off of Sue Grafton as many assume.

I am glad to see a spirited but respectful discussion about pricing. Where I live, you cannot get a candy bar for 99 cents...so if something is 99 cents or $2.99, if it was entertaining, I feel I got my money's worth.

Thanks for the page, I've learned a ton reading through your posts :)

Anonymous said...

I posted the reader perspective comment on 99cents for 20 pages. I was verly polite and said it only applied to me but received several rude remarks back on it. I follow blogs like this to find new writers to read. Maybe those looking to break out should remember that when dealing with offered comments from readers. My perspective is that if you are going to charge $1then I should get a $1 worth in volume (as compared to a paper back). I have bought several books from authors coming thru this blog.

But being called a cheap ass certainly makes me wonder why I even bother trying to engage if some don't want an honest interaction with their readers.


cheap ass.

Malia Mallory said...

I'm not sure the pricing question is so simple as X words or pages for $Y. I think it depends upon the entertainment value. Some movies are 90 minutes long and some are close to three hours. I get charged the same. My perceived value is whether I was entertained.

If I buy a book for 99 cents, I ask myself was the entertainment value equal to that I would receive from a candy bar or a soda? Did the $2.99 book give the same satisfaction as three song downloads or a cheeseburger?

I've read $12.99 books and felt taken and 99 cent books where I thought the author sold them too cheaply.

It's good that the sites usually make the book length clear, then if that is an issue for a reader they can consider it.

I think pricing is a constant challenge for authors.

RJ Lockett said...

Anonymous, if you're that much of a cheap ass, go and buy a 99 cent novels with one of those homemade covers slapped on it. You're probably the kind of guy who'll drive 50 miles just to save 5 bucks on a sale item. Forgive me, but not everyone's a penny pinching tight ass like you. There are plenty of people who are willing to pay 2.99 for 20 pages of erotica. With that said, just because you pinch pennies until Abe Lincoln screams for dear life doesn't mean that all readers feel the same way.

"I follow this blog to find new writers to read. Maybe those looking to should remember that when dealing with offered comment from readers."

Your veiled threat doesn't move me. Just so we're clear I'm speaking for myself.

Anonymous said...

@ Rob Gregory Browne
"Bob Mayer's "forgetting" some of the tricks he used to sell a million ebooks is also a partial confidence trick.
Don't you mean John Locke? I don't remember Bob Mayer being involved in any fake review scandals."

You're right, my bad - and my apologies to Bob M, of course.

As to peeing in the pool, the problem with fake reviews would, pool-wise, be that noone knew which pools have been peed in, and that is an uncomy situation, IMHO ;o)

Frank Miller said...

The features of this scheme of short term loans for unemployed are acquiring fund very easily and quickly for which people do not have to ignore the expenses which is necessary to be paid, For further information about loans for unemployed, short term loans for unemployed , payday loans for unemployed, cash loans for the unemployed, doorstep loans for unemployed, fast loans for unemployed, no credit check loans for unemployed, unsecured loans for the unemployed people on benefits, unsecured loans for the unemployed people on benefits with bad credit. please visit :

Same day loans for unemployed @ http://www.loansforunemployedgb.co.uk

Short term loans for unemployed @ http://www.loansforunemployedgb.co.uk

Unemployed loans @ https://www.facebook.com/loansforunemployedgb

Loans For Unemployed @ https://twitter.com/frankmiller444

Nilson Petrie said...

Individual who are affected by financial crisis in the mid of the month are in search for a solution that will help them in handling it swiftly. So for the ease and convenience of the people lenders have introduced the 12 month loansthat will let them to avail money within 60 minutes. To apply for the 12 month loans one can apply for it as per their convenience from their home or office for which they need to fill an online application form with genuine details like their name, age, gender, contact number, address, amount required, and bank account details and so on and submit it to the lender.

http://www.monthlyloansonline.co.uk/

Nilson Petrie said...

Individual who are affected by financial crisis in the mid of the month are in search for a solution that will help them in handling it swiftly. So for the ease and convenience of the people lenders have introduced the 12 month loansthat will let them to avail money within 60 minutes. To apply for the 12 month loans one can apply for it as per their convenience from their home or office for which they need to fill an online application form with genuine details like their name, age, gender, contact number, address, amount required, and bank account details and so on and submit it to the lender.

http://www.monthlyloansonline.co.uk/