Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Doom! Destruction! Not...

As I write this, Jack Daniels ebooks currently occupy nine spots in the Police Procedural Top 100 paid list on Amazon.

Admittedly, the highest ranked book is Pushed Too Far by Ann Voss Peterson, where Jack is only in a chapter. But my first six JD ebooks are on there, as is Shot of Tequila (where Jack is a Detective in the 1990s) and The List (where Jack has a cameo.)

I attribute this good fortune to getting my rights to those books back (or in the case of The List and Tequila, getting rejected legacy publishers so I kept the rights), but also to another important promotional element that I've rediscovered.

Namely, the KDP Select program. Specifically, the ability to make ebooks free for 5 days. More specifically, the websites that mention free ebooks and drive traffic to Amazon.

How does this work?

In a nutshell, if you give away a lot of ebooks, and the ebook bouncebacks to the paid bestseller lists, getting it eyeballs. Once people can see your book, they'll buy it.

How many will buy it? This depends on a lot of factors. But as of 11am on Feb. 27, I have sold 21,358 ebooks, loaned 3829, and given away 223,167 so far this month.

Ann is also doing well, having sold 735 copies of Pushed Too Far since coming off the freebie promo three days ago. With borrows, she's averaging over $800 a day, on one title.

Ann and I have taken the same path to get here. We promoted the free ebooks on www.BookBub.com and www.ebookbooster.com.

These last few days, I've gotten many frantic emails about Amazon's new policy, which makes writers worried that the free ebook golden goose will soon stop laying eggs.

In a nutshell, Amazon is telling its affiliates that they need to derive the majority of their income via sales. Here's the announcement:


"In addition, notwithstanding the advertising fee rates described on this page or anything to the contrary contained in this Operating Agreement, if we determine you are primarily promoting free Kindle eBooks (i.e., eBooks for which the customer purchase price is $0.00), YOU WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE TO EARN ANY ADVERTISING FEES DURING ANY MONTH IN WHICH YOU MEET THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:

(a) 20,000 or more free Kindle eBooks are ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links; and

(b) At least 80% of all Kindle eBooks ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links are free Kindle eBooks."

Now, I really haven't really begun using ebook sites to actively promote my freebies until recently. In the case of BookBub, I don't see this as being a problem, because I believe they derive their income from author payments, not from the Affiliate program. But eBook Booster is a service that announces free ebooks on 50+ free ebook websites, and I believe some of these do derive income from links.

I'm not going to speculate why Amazon made this call. Frankly, it isn't my concern, and I don't believe it will effect me. I can still use BookBub, and I'm sure other free ebook websites will figure out some other ways to monetize their service.

Here are some options they have:

1. Stay in the Affiliate program, but only announce discounted ebooks, and don't use Affiliate links if they do announce free ebooks.

2. Charge authors to be listed.

3. Put ads on their websites.

If a site gets a lot of traffic, or has a big email list, there should be ways to monetize it other than through the Affiliate program. The websites that provide this service are essentially aggregators. The largest aggregator in the world, Google, seems to make money. Certainly these smaller sites should be able to as well.

And if not, it won't harm writers. Think it through. If a site closes, and no writer has access to it, no writer can use that site to their advantage.

In other words, even if all of these sites go under, the playing field will stay even.

Well, mostly even. If you're a smart author who has cultivated a fan database, you'll have the advantage by announcing to that base when your ebooks are free. Or if you have a popular blog, or website, or Facebook page, or Twitter followers, you're got a leg up on your peers.

I don't see this as being the end of free ebooks = sales. I see it as a small bump in the road that will resolve itself. Save your panic for something real, like the world ending on December 21, 2012.

Laugh all you want. It's gonna happen. Those Mayans were pretty sharp.

57 comments:

Joeseph Simon said...

The success of these kinds of promotions is proven here where Amazon is seeing money in referral fees being spent on essentially free items. It is logical to button pushers that such activity needs to stop, even though, the publishing community understands it helps drive sales - the corporate community won't see things that way. You are right though, things will adopt, its not the end of the world.

I am curious. The promotional sites that you list and many like it (should they survive) are geared towards the 5 days of free service from KDP. What sites will promote titles that are free period and that are listed on other sites such as Smashwords, B & N or Kobo? Also, does this new standing by Amazon indicate, perhaps, that when they price match B & N or Kobo so that a title is free, will Amazon no longer price match? I have a few titles for free at these sites. I let others "narc" on me to Amazon that there are free versions of these titles out there. Unfortunately, Amazon has not price match yet.

Jonas Saul said...

I completely agree, which is sad because I want to debate something with you.

Amazon doesn't allow the five-day free period for writers to promote their books and then try to close down the avenues in which writer's have to advertise those five free days.

All they're trying to do is weed out the sites that are gaming the system by having so many freebies and click-throughs to Amazon. Seems fair to me ...

Jonas

Joe Konrath said...

I completely agree, which is sad because I want to debate something with you.

Abortion, prostitution, liquor, and drugs should always be legal and available in all 50 states 24 hours a day.

There is no God, and churches should be taxed.

Women ages 18 through 65 should be required to take a handgun safety course, and must carry a handgun in public at all times. That will deter most violent crime. Men should also be required to take a handgun safety course, but shouldn't be allowed a concealed carry unless they have a special permit.

The electoral college should be eliminated, elections should be determined by popular vote, not districts, and the two party system should be abolished.

America should pull military forces from all foreign countries, unless invited.

All non-violent drug offenders should be pardoned.

And there should be nudity on television.

Those are my views. Feel free to debate any of them with me. :)

tonyl said...

I don't know about Jonas, but I still have no disagreement with you.

Adrijus G. said...


What good comes out of it is that 99 cent books will likely become the new 'free giveway'. It makes most sense to book sites to push discounted books and sell them. So this means that now, you will get discovery with books that actually earn you royalty and you don't have to enter KDP Select with it's exclusivity deal. Instead of free being your driver, 99 cent books will become it.

This is pure win for authors!

Anonymous said...

Joe, I had my novel Trip Wire free for 3 days. I did pass you in Italy where 4 copies were downloaded, but couldn't come close in other areas. I did get two downloads in Japan and one in Brazil. I was unable to use any of the promotional services, but will next time. You always have good advice and I can thank Carl for the 3 covers I got from him.

J Randall

STH said...

Dammit Joe! I wanted to argue too! But I also agree with everything. I guess that gun thing is little crazy, but its definitely not the worst idea Ive heard. I could live with it.

Although, how about you get a “prove you’re not a robot” thing that’s easier to read.

I guess that’s just a complaint. Fuck.

alheybo 6111

patrick R said...

There was me, being overcautious, assuming that the Select program specifies that no one can plug/sell their book elsewhere at all, in any way, during the 3-months, including free sites/own site, etc, that it all had to be purely and solely the purview of Amazon...bloody martyr...

Perhaps this (wrong?) perspective was a fit for what I wanted, more deeply, to try...which was to see what would happen with book sales, and giveaways, without any marketing assistance. Was interesting, at least, but it has been good to use Select again, to see anew the take-up...

I put up all 8 episodes of the THE EYEWITNESS PROTOCOLS and they had a fair run, not spectacular, once again unassisted. Some climbed into excellent sub-genre rankings. Some sales have followed - including on the full compilation book. Reviews too. Not many, but they've started, and the story is being enjoyed.

This is a boost, and I'm pleased. But I don't fret so much as early days after their release, last year. I'll being writing and releasing more IP but in the meantime enjoy the fresh burst of energy, and impetus, in marketing.

Thanks, Joe, for stirring the pot. Again.

best, Pat

Erin said...

"Abortion, prostitution, liquor, and drugs should always be legal and available in all 50 states 24 hours a day. There is no God, and churches should be taxed."

Why stop there? Why not add legalizing CP to the list?

FFS!

Jude Hardin said...

I'm not going to speculate why Amazon made this call.

Maybe because KDP Select is sucking the life out of Amazon's own publishing imprints. It's hard to compete with FREE.

I predict the end of Select soon. There are too many books being given away, and then sold for $.99-$3.99. It's obviously eating into Amazon's profits, and eventually they'll be forced to pull the plug.

Joe Konrath said...

You really want to compare what consenting adults do with the victimization of children?

STH said...

"I predict the end of Select soon. There are too many books being given away, and then sold for $.99-$3.99.”

I don’t know about all that, Jude. Books are just one thing Amazon sells. They make money from selling everything in the world. Books have always been a loss leader for them.

I think their problem with this issue is pretty straightforward. Each download costs a few cents. With outside sources driving the number of free down loads up, it adds up. Combine that with the fact that they are paying Amazon Associates cuts to every item purchased that comes through on the AA link from freebie promotional sites (based on the numbers for Joe’sbooks, that must be millions of links) these numbers add up to noticeable chunk of change.

This is an easy fix for that.

But giving away free books to get eyes on their other merchandise? That’s a drop in the bucket.

ftlyimgm 746 (I think)…

nope, trying again (see what I mean?)

nvitedin 5705

Christopher John Chater said...

Just joined Select and the free run shot one of my books up to number 6 and another in the top ten, but it hasn't translating into sales. Sales are same. What gives? Did you find that it took a while for it to translate into sales?

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Yes, consenting adults should be able to do what they want...except for women who will be forced to carry guns. Because once again, women shouldn't be able to make their own decisions.

Face meet palm.

Jason said...

No worries Ann...it will be a new cell phone/compact/lipstick/gun combo. Women will WANT to always carry it in public! (Just...um...careful with that trigger finger when putting the lipstick on!)

Jude Hardin said...

Books have always been a loss leader for them.

I'm pretty sure they don't intend for the books from their own imprints to be loss leaders. If so, then why bother? They're paying the authors and the editors and the cover artists and the marketing people and the accountants, etc., so they can sell more corn chips? I don't think so. Amazon is publishing books to make money, but even Amazon can't compete against free.

So it's a balancing act between wanting to keep self-published authors exclusive for 90 days at a time, and the bottom line. And of course the bottom line will ultimately win.

Anonymous said...

@Joe: Libertarian fantasies aside, the actual prostitution market is hardly about "consenting adults".

A prostitute is a "consenting adult" in the way that the women working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory were engaged in the free labor market.

Joe Konrath said...

consenting adults should be able to do what they want...except for women who will be forced to carry guns.

Fair enough. Instead you can register for the draft. Is that better?

Armed men kill people. Armed women would deter that.

Joe Konrath said...

Tax, regulate, and unionize sex workers. Make it safe.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

I'm fine with women registering for the draft as well as men. Women serve in combat now.

You do realize that most women are not killed by strangers on the street but by the men they love, right?

Forcing people to be armed is not the same as forcing them to be willing to kill. Having a gun in the hand of someone not willing to use it is more dangerous than no gun at all.

And don't pretend training is the answer. Knowing how to use a gun and being willing to destroy another person are two different things, and you know that.

It's a dumb idea, Joe.

But if Jason's compacts are sparkly pink with little unicorns on them, well then...

Joe Konrath said...

You do realize that most women are not killed by strangers on the street but by the men they love, right?

So arm them.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Oh, Joe...

I love that whenever you lose an argument, you just start ignoring the points I'm making.

I have a question for you. Why should women be forced to do anything? Since men are the problem, they should be forced to live in a camp somewhere. Then women can finally have the freedom to make their own decisions.

This has to be one of the stupidest conversations I've ever had.

Get back to work!

Rick Schworer said...

With my new book I made it into the top 400 free on Amazon twice, but I think I made a mistake by only doing my free promos for a day.

I did one on Sunday and then watched as nothing really changed on Monday. Rinse and repeat on Tuesday and sales are still about the same today.

What I've learned from this experience and from your blog is that I need to use all five days in one shot if I really want a bump in sales.

Joe Konrath said...

Since men are the problem, they should be forced to live in a camp somewhere,

I don't think I ever resorted to Godwin's Law, but you're making it too easy, Ann. ;)

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Hey, I had to come up with something as outrageous as forcing all women to carry guns. And I was referring to American camps, Joe. You know we engaged in that kind of thing, too.

I think it's interesting that the answer to men's violence against women is always that women need to be forced to do something. Dress in a certain way. Behave in a certain way. Only venture outside at certain times. Live in certain places. Carry a gun at all times and learn to kill.

And it's interesting that you don't see anything wrong with your philosophy that all adults should have the right to do what they want...except women.

Women aren't the problem in this equation, and yet you're fine with taking away their right to make their own choices. How do you justify that?

Jill James said...

So true, either the sites will survive to be used, or not. Just about the state of everything in the world at the moment.

Jude Hardin said...

Women ages 18 through 65 should be required to take a handgun safety course, and must carry a handgun in public at all times.

Ann makes good points about the women's issues, but there are other reasons this is a dumb idea. Remember the killer with the shotgun who the cops gunned down in NY a while back? How many innocent bystanders were hit by stray bullets? And those were COPS shooting. Just imagine ordinary citizens playing Wyatt Earp on a daily basis. Yee haw!

Tom Maddox said...

If what I know about the affiliate program is correct then I can definitely understand why Amazon might crack down.

Let's say I check in to my favorite free book listing in the morning and click one of their links to get more information on the book. I decide not to purchase the free book.

Later in the day I decide I want a new large screen LCD TV. I go back to the Amazon site (I never close my browser) and order me a nice new $2,500 TV. Because my browser still has the cookie from the affiliate I clicked on earlier in the day they just made $100 on my TV purchase.

If your affiliate site is only listing free books then this is what you are hoping for since a 4% on a free book is $0.

Joe Konrath said...

Women aren't the problem in this equation, and yet you're fine with taking away their right to make their own choices. How do you justify that?

I object to having to wear sun screen. It's the sun's fault it causes cancer! I have my rights! Why don't I have a choice in the matter?

And screw looking both ways before crossing the street. Those cars have to look out for me! I'm the pedestrian! They're the danger, not me! What should I have to do anything?

And don't get me started on being forced to wear seatbelts. My individual liberties are being trampled on! Who cares that they've saved hundreds of thousands of lives? I have my rights, dammit!!!

Joe Konrath said...

Remember the killer with the shotgun who the cops gunned down in NY a while back? How many innocent bystanders were hit by stray bullets?

I wonder how many would have been injured if--as soon as he pulled the shotgun--six women standing nearby double-tapped his center mass.

But much better to scramble for safety and hope for the best while cowering defenseless...

Jude Hardin said...

Who cares that they've saved hundreds of thousands of lives?

But arming everyone isn't going to save a lot of lives. What it WILL do is generate more gun violence. More and more altercations will result in more and more deaths, and subsequent "self-defense" cases. Not good.

And why do you think all women should be armed? There are just as many female nutjobs out there as there are male. They don't act out as often, but give them all a gun and see what happens.



Jude Hardin said...

I wonder how many would have been injured if--as soon as he pulled the shotgun--six women standing nearby double-tapped his center mass.

Probably six times as many. Why do you think women who took handgun safety courses are going to be better marksmen than trained police officers?

Douglas Dorow said...

@jude

If I'm making money from Free, so is Amazon. I sell more books, they make more money. Free made me more visible to readers/buyers and I went from selling a few books a day to 50 books a day.

I call that a win/win for me and Amazon.

Jude Hardin said...

If I'm making money from Free, so is Amazon.

I've never seen an Amazon imprint title offered for free. That should tell you something.

Amazon came up with Select to entice exclusivity with self-published authors, but if it starts slicing into profits too heavily, they'll do away with it.

Jack James said...

"elections should be determined by popular vote"

Or by gladiatorial combat between the prospective politicians, on prime-time TV. Or is that a retrograde step?

As for these latest changes, I don't know why they're happening either, but Select doesn't seem to be overly popular with indie writers any more, many of whom are complaining of a drop in sales since its introduction. I think the "books for free" promo idea might not be around forever, on reflection. My view is that in terms of new, unknown authors in gives with one hand but it takes away with the other.

Richard said...

I think Joseph Simon nailed it. Amazon runs on razor thin margins. The referral sites made money off Amazon, enough that it got noticed and squashed.
I heard a rumor that free downloads will no longet count as a single unit sold. Free downloads will now count as 1/10 or 1/100 of a sale, which will affect sales rankings. If true, then it may be best to just charge .99. At least then an author makes some change and has a full sale to his/her ranking.

steve r. said...

Great info as usual, Joe.

I have a question about the freebies that you give away on Amazon. Can you deduct the normal price of the book that you give away for free, on your taxes? Something along the lines of promotional expenses or the like? Just curious.
Thanks, keep up the good work!

Frank Sergeant said...

> Women ages 18 through 65 should be required to take a

> handgun safety course, and must carry a handgun in public

Wasn't it Heinlein who said an armed society is a polite society?

Anyway, I've been following the comments here for many months about formatting eBooks. I appreciate your advice about having it done professionally, but I have a compromise position to suggest. My sweetie is in the process of turning some of her screen plays into novels, so I wrote some software to turn her manuscripts into (1) mobi files for Amazon and (2) EPUB 3 files for B&N and Apple iBookstore, etc.

Then I said, what the hell, I'll turn that system into an eBook or two and include the software as part of the price of the book. Well, it turned into a total of 3 books:

- Mobi Machine (Your Kindle Formatting Butler) $2.99

This will be free at Amazon from Sunday, March 3 through Thursday, March 7, 2013.

- EPUB Machine (Your EPUB Formatting Butler) $2.99

- Advanced Mobi and EPUB Machines $0.99

I also wrote two fake novels (Stormy Night and Windy Day) to illustrate the process. I want them to be free, but currently they are $0.99 each on Amazon and B&N, but free when downloaded from nepotism.net (either mobi or EPUB files).

I think this approach is the sweet spot between struggling with word processor style sheets on the one hand and paying someone to format your book on the other. We are using it here to format our books, even while they are in process, as it takes, literally, only a few seconds to generate the new mobi file. It is great to download the book to our own Kindles and proofread them there.

I had heard of the horrors of jumping through Apple's hoops to publish a book, but I am delighted to say that the EPUB file EPUB Machine produced passed Apple's tests the first time. So, Stormy Night is now available (free) on Apple's iBookstore. Eventually I plan to put Windy Day and EPUB Machine on iBookstore also.

If anyone feels like trying out my system, I'll be glad to answer questions. Descriptions, book cover pictures, etc. available at nepotism.net.

Frank

Ann Voss Peterson said...

"I object to having to wear sun screen. It's the sun's fault it causes cancer! I have my rights! Why don't I have a choice in the matter?"

What are you talking about? You do have a choice. A lot of people choose not to wear sunscreen. Some purposely lay out in the sun and try to get tan.

"And screw looking both ways before crossing the street. Those cars have to look out for me! I'm the pedestrian! They're the danger, not me! What should I have to do anything?"

Not walking in front of cars is the same as carrying a gun everywhere you go? That's stupid. Guns cause injury, Joe. Guns are dangerous. And no amount of training makes them safe. Using a gun always brings substantial risk. People should be able to choose whether to take that risk or not.

"And don't get me started on being forced to wear seatbelts. My individual liberties are being trampled on! Who cares that they've saved hundreds of thousands of lives? I have my rights, dammit!!!"

Not wearing seat belts can endanger others. Whereas having a gun endangers others. Forcing people who don't want them to carry them REALLY endangers others.

I also second the points Jude made. This is a stupid idea, Joe. And it's not based in reality.

I think we've beaten this argument to death. Let's talk publishing.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

I think we can always count on Amazon to do what is in its best interest. It is more forward thinking than most modern corporations, but it's still a corporation. It exists solely to make money.

Authors need to do what is in our best interest, too. Being self published allows us to be lean and mean and adapt at a moment's notice. That's a strength in an industry that is changing so fast, one that big companies don't share. In that way, we have an advantage.

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

I have to go buy a book by Ann Voss Peterson, who is clearly the smarter person here. In fact, Ann, let's you and I round up all the guys and give them some anti-testosterone shots so that they'll stop killing each other. It's for their own good. You know how they need us to decide what's best for them, poor things.


Ann Voss Peterson said...

Sounds like a plan, Patrice! :)

Blythe Ayne said...

I've not minded giving away tens of thousands of books to my readers as part of my "advertising campaign." Nor will I mind getting a few pennies if 99 cents becomes the new free.

Amazon always has a larger plan at work, and, logically, intends to make money for itself, which also serves its suppliers (in this case, authors). I continue to have faith in the concept that, as Joe occasionally writes, "A rising tide lifts all boats."

Joe Konrath said...

I have to go buy a book by Ann Voss Peterson, who is clearly the smarter person here.

Why do you think I work with her?

Joe Konrath said...

In fact, Ann, let's you and I round up all the guys and give them some anti-testosterone shots so that they'll stop killing each other.

I'm all for castrating child molesters. If a shot kept violent criminals docile, sign me up. Ludovico Techniques for all who qualify.

But there is a difference offense and defense. We live in a dangerous world. Being aware, and prepared, can go a long way toward being safe.

If a woman doesn't want to carry a gun, fine. But if it was the law, and every guy assumed all women were armed, that's a polite society. It would be a very effective deterrent. How many on-duty cops have been raped or mugged?

You don't mug someone who you think has a gun. You don't open fire in a public place if any five people around you can be carrying. You don't break and enter if everyone has a gun in the house.

It's a simple, elegant solution.

As for being forced to do something you don't want to do, welcome to life.

STH said...

Re: Formatting.
I’m just confused as to why formatting is still such an issue.

I’ve brought up Scrivener a few times before (here and few other places). The program costs $40. It formats all types of e-books, and everything you need for createspace (etc), with one freaking button.

What is it that I’m not understanding?

In the interest of full disclosure, I am about as computer savvy as your dog. But my published book looks great, imo, in paperback, kindle and epub. I’ve certainly never had a complaint about the formatting.

When I read over my own work in progress at night, I make it into a perfect ebook to read on my iPad. In seconds. W/ clickable ToC, hyperlinks... The works.

So, what is the issue with formatting? Is it a Mac vs. PC thing? Scrivener is available for PC too, but maybe it does’t work as well for non-mac products? What’s the deal?

(note - I’ve seen those cool little images at chapter headings in Joe’s books and others - and Scrivener doesn’t do that as far as I know. But for a regular book? It does everything you need.


Ann Voss Peterson said...

Joe, I'm sure all of us could solve all sorts of problems if we could just force others to do what we want. But for your theory to work, you'd also have to turn every woman into Chandler.

Which would be cool, but perhaps not very realistic. :)

Author Scott Nicholson said...

Not that straightforward, Joe. I am not an affiliate but from my understanding, the affiliate cookie lasts 24 hours. So even if you posted only paid book links, you can't control the behavior of those folks who click and then go on to download some of the tens of thousands of daily free books.

From the numbers I see from some of these sites that do paid books, the freebie ratio is still 99 freebies to 1 paid. This is a comprehensive shift with unpredictable results. And of course no one knows how Amazon will actually enforce the gray language in the clauses. I wouldn't have commented except Digital Book World rather lazily linked to you on this subject--the affiliates I talk to have a dramatically different view of things.

But personally I don't mind, either. I think it's cool. A good disruption is just a new opportunity.

Frank Sergeant said...

@STH

> I’ve brought up Scrivener a few times before (here and few other places).

I think different approaches suit different people. It sounds like Scrivener is working great for you, so certainly no need to change.

I'm sure my approach won't suit everyone, but I love the positive control it provides plus the ability to customize the book's appearance for special needs. It doesn't do everything. It is strictly for eBooks (it won't make the camera-ready (so to speak) PDF for CreateSpace and its EPUB is strictly EPUB 3 (not EPUB 2).

> So, what is the issue with formatting? Is it a Mac vs. PC thing?

Granted, I have no experience with Scrivener, but I have heard that it didn't work nearly as well anywhere except on a Mac. Maybe that is out of date and they have fixed the bugs?

> (note - I’ve seen those cool little images at chapter headings in Joe’s books and others - and Scrivener doesn’t do that as far as I know. But for a regular book? It does everything you need.

Sure, the formatting needs for the typical novel are very simple. Mobi Machine and it companion EPUB machine do make it very easy to put little images (or big images) at the start of a chapter, or even to use an image as the entire chapter title. They run the same on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Also, EPUB Machine runs EpubCheck automatically on the resulting EPUB file so you can be sure you have a valid EPUB 3 file before uploading it to Apple, B&N, etc.


Frank

Jacob Chastain said...

To the indies that our slightly freaking out all the time...Let a small author ease some of your worry.

In October, I released my first horror novel, The Colour of the Soul. I gave away about 1,500 copies in 5 days, then sold just about 159 copies at $3.99 in less than a month.

In November, I released a spiritual comedy under a pen name just because I felt like it. I gave away 700 copies in five days, and sold just over 160 copies in less than a month. The next month I sold exactly the same amount. January, I released the sequel to that book, gave away 1,000, and have barely sold over 20. (None of these numbers includes borrows).

All of this totals in just over $1,000 in profits for me. Not a lot, but I can see the light on the other side.

Now, if I was irrational, I would cry that the sky is falling and I'm a failure. But, after looking at my reviews, the reason my sales stopped on the titles (horror book), and slowed dramatically (comedies), is because of ME. I was editing all of it on my own, no vetting, no help, and it cost me. Not everything, but when reviews claim such issues, others won't buy no matter what.

So what's my point?

If sales are slowing, or stopping on your titles, it is YOUR fault as the author. As an indie, your destiny is only what YOU decide to do. Sure, we can freak about issues such as Amazon stopping affiliate programs, or about KDP being wonky at times, but that's an easy way to live. And an irrational one.

I made the mistake of not spending more time with my novels to make sure they were squeaky clean. So instead of whining I'm not selling like Joe or Ann, I got an editor who could work at my pace.

Ask yourself, what can you do to make your books better? They aren't perfect. I know they aren't from experience, and from the way you whine about sales.

Make them better. Fans will come.

Hope this helps someone.

Anonymous said...

I can vouch for www.ebookbooster.com

I'm running a promotion from March 1 to March 5 and thanks to their efforts, I've got new readers.

Bill Williams
writer, YOUNG and FOOLISH

Jude Hardin said...

If sales are slowing, or stopping on your titles, it is YOUR fault as the author.

Not necessarily.

There are perfectly good books out there with professional covers and editing and formatting that never end up selling very well. Doing everything right increases your chances of getting lucky. But, no matter what you do, there's no guarantee you'll sell a lot of books.

Jacob Chastain said...

Jude, I agree a lot with what you said. However, I believe that claiming that "forces out of our control" are the reason we do not sell is too easy. It's like saying "God made me do it". There is no real meat to the claim.

While it MIGHT be true (about sales), it isn't really worth it to claim.

In other words, it is too easy of a statement to hide behind for people who are indie, and those are the ones that should be busting their ass more, not saying luck didn't strike.

Jude Hardin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jude Hardin said...

You need to do everything right to have a chance. Professional covers, professional formatting, professional writing and editing.

But if you think that doing everything right is going to lead to great (or even decent) sales, then you're in for a lifetime of disappointment in this business. You have to keep trying to have a chance, but it's simply not realistic to think you have any control over how many people buy your books.

When people say luck plays a part, they're not hiding behind anything. They're just stating a cold hard fact.

boo said...

i've heard about garnering reviews on amazon.com, so when they removed them did u manage to get those comments back?
it'd be such a waste, and pple won't remember what they had written previously.

RogerR said...

I’d love to hear your response to this one from one of my closest friends (he lives in Montreal). Am I wasting my effort going on Kindle as a male thriller writer? I have had to edit his response because of your character restrictions.

Okay, I read Konrath, also many similar articles and blogs. I belong to two writers groups, the Writers Union of Canada and the Quebec Writers Federation, so I'm bombarded with this stuff.

But I've also worked in advertising and now I work in branding, so here's what I know. Authors today, like actors, musicians, athletes and many in more ordinary careers, consider themselves as personal brands. This is reasonable and it helps them, their agents and friends figure how best to manage their careers . Now, what I know about brands, personal or otherwise, is that there are only two key factors that can help build a brand – money and/or influence. So let's analyse it from that perspective.

Konrath may now disparage the mainline publisher he started with but that publisher built his brand – in orther words, they invested in the foundation on which he's now building. Without that foundation, his brand would be nowhere.

People simply don't read as many books as they used to. The numbers prove it. There are too many other forms of entertainment, many of them free. And of the people who do read fiction, the vast majority are women.

And I have to say that for both you and me going it alone, the odds are stacked against any kind bestseller status. Everybody now knows about tags, about social media, about blogging and tweeting, so unless you're selling vampire books to teenage girls – or sadist pornography to adult women! – I think there's little chance. We don't have major brands and there are far fewer readers anyway.