Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Guest Post by Billie Hinton and Dawn Deanna Wilson

Joe sez: If you've missed the previous guest blogs, they've been fascinating and informative.

You can read Constance Phillips and Jenna Rutland and Joe Konrath talking about their paths to publication here: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/07/guest-post-by-constance-phillips-and.html

You can read Ian Kezsbom talking about Fuzzbomb Publishing here: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/07/guest-post-by-ian-kezsbom.html

You can read Gary Ponzo talk about first lines here: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/07/guest-post-by-gary-ponzo.html

You can read Chris Everheart talking about technophobia here:

You can read about Joe Flynn talking about his publishing history here: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/07/guest-post-by-joe-flynn.html

You can read Richard Stooker talking about bestsellers here: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/07/guest-post-by-richard-stooker.html

You can read Nikki M. Pill talking about fear here: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/07/guest-post-by-nikki-pill.html

Now here are Billie Hinton and Dawn Deanna Wilson...

To-may-to, To-mah-to - A discussion about categorizing your novel

BILLIE: Thank you to Tess Gerritsen for creating the Alzheimers fundraiser and to Joe for coming up with a way to make donating both fun and a marketing op. Its a real pleasure to be part of this huge group effort to do some good while talking about our books and the writing/publishing life.

DAWN: We are two North Carolina writers who met at a Weymouth writer residency (where there was a bit of suspense about who stole/ate Billie's chicken salad, but that's another story.) Since then, we have been able to support and encourage each other on this journey, sharing information on what works, what doesn't work, and tweaking things along the way.

BILLIE:  The real suspense was learning how to deal with the Weymouth ghost-in-residence! We had a great and productive time there. We also do some collaborating on a children's picture book series! But back to grown-up books and categories and genre questions. In 2010, I decided to e-publish claire-obscure, (available on Amazon for $3.99), my first novel that was represented by two agents, shopped by one, praised to the high heavens, but didnt sell. While it had been shopped as literary fiction, every editor who read it noted the strong element of psychological suspense. Every reader to that point said they'd "never read anything like it" - so from the beginning there was some question about how to position the book. I felt strongly that the book had an audience. So I decided to publish it myself.

Initially I listed claire-obscure as literary fiction. It sold, but it was slow. Early on in our self-publishing venture Dawn and I each earned what we called latte money.”  Which gradually turned into pizza money and then dinner out money. Around that time, I realized the response from readers had mostly to do with the suspense - and I changed the category to reflect that. Once I changed the category, Pixel of Ink picked it up a few times, downloads went wild, and sales increased. Suddenly, I was earning weekend getaway money and finally horse farm expenses money.

DAWN:  I have had two books traditionally published by small presses and while they did okay, sales eventually stagnated. I never considered self-publishing; as a former newspaper reporter, I knew that self-pubbed books went straight into "file 13" when they arrived in the newsroom, and I still carried that prejudice. Then Billie told me about ebooks and about this wonderfully wild and crazy guy named JA Konrath who was self publishing on Kindle...and succeeding.

When the rights to my second novel, Leaving the Comfort Cafe, (available on Amazon for $3.99), reverted back to me, I changed the cover and self-published on Kindle. I was thrilled just to see things moving again. I had originally pushed the book as literary/southern fiction, but I have found more success with it in the romance market. (Although it isn't a "bodice buster," a love story is a strong element of the novel.) Then Pixel of Ink picked up Cafe, and for a few brief, shining days, I outsold Nicholas Sparks. Suddenly, latte money turned into "I-can-afford-an-iPad-and-a-visit-to-Paris money."  Needless to say, I got the rights back from book #1 (Saint Jude) and put it on Kindle. I didn't even bother shopping my third novel, Ten Thousand New Year's Eves. I published it straight to Kindle.

BILLIE: The weekend Comfort Cafe went viral we were at my house watching numbers. It was crazy! But it became clear that certain genres had a lot more potential for that upward path to the top of the bestseller list. As a writer who had been thinking literary for years, I suddenly realized that part of my job as a self-publisher was to look closely at how my books were labeled and, ultimately, what the best audience really was.

As the first "real reader" reviews came in, it was clear that the high level of suspense paired with good writing and characterization were the most appreciated elements by readers. A smaller but significant number of people noted the erotic element as well.

Right before Christmas this past year sales began to slow down. I continue to find readers who love claire obscure (and Signs That Might Be Omens, book two in what is planned to be a quartet, also available on Amazon for $3.99). I'm in the process of taking yet another look at what I can do to better position my titles to get them into the hands of readers who will appreciate them. Another of my novels, The Meaning of Isolated Objects, ($3.99 on Amazon)) about a father-daughter mixed up with CIA intrigue, has one cross-over character. My brain started ticking along...

DAWN: Well, with Claire, I think it could fit easily into a number of categories. Your characters make cameos in other pieces, don't they?

BILLIE: Since all my adult novels live in the same world, and characters from one book often make cameo appearances in the others, Im starting to see the possibilities. There are three characters in claire-obscure who have their own trilogies, quartets, etc. as works in progress. Finn has the potential to go into thriller/horror. Bingham and Raoul will be solid thriller material. And I get to write about characters I know - but still have a lot of discovery to do in terms of their adventures. I'm starting to view these in-progress novels as retirement investments.

DAWN: You know, I've always liked that aspect, an Easter egg for the readers.  I don't think any of my characters lend themselves to my other books.  I can't see Blythe from Cafe appearing anywhere else unless there's spiked coffee involved. But it does open the door to other categories. Maybe one character's book is more thriller and another more erotica. You then have this tie-in for the reader.

BILLIE: Another thing we've learned is that sometimes the idea for tweaking the categories comes from seeing your book on Amazon best seller lists you haven't considered.

DAWN: One thing that surprised me was that Saint Jude, (available on Amazon for $3.99), which is about a teen with bipolar disorder, kept appearing on the top sales list for NONfiction. I have no idea why. I did NOT categorize it that way and it's clear in the description that it's fiction. Obviously, this is an example of when you would NOT change categories, but it demonstrates how KDP giveaways can lead to sales in unexpected categories.

BILLIE: Exactly. And it gives you information you can use for marketing purposes. Clearly, with St. Jude, readers are finding it when searching for books about bipolar disorder. Until I changed claire-obscure, a few readers were finding it in literary but really honing in on the suspense. Finally I got a clue and started looking at what the readers were saying.

DAWN : I think our books easily fall under literary fiction but I've not seen that label lend itself to sales like the genre labels.  I'm not sure why. Maybe readers hear literary fiction and think it is going to be a long, dense narrative like William " I don't need no stinking commas" Faulkner.

BILLIE: You recently tweaked the categories for Leaving the Comfort Cafe.

DAWN: Yeah, I narrowed it down to romantic comedy. I  felt the general romance category included soooooooo much, from sweet first love to erotica. I was getting lost in the shuffle.

BILLIE: Its a learning curve. Experimenting with each title, finding out how to best position it to find the most readers possible. I think the biggest lesson I've learned is that it's not only okay, but necessary, to experiment. (We can thank Joe for that!)

Once again Im looking at genre, category, cover, and product description to see if tweaking these would better position claire-obscure to go bigger. And of course, working on getting the next titles out there.

Which reminds me. Your newest novel, Ten Thousand New Year's Eves, which is my favorite of your books so far, has been through some cover changes recently.

DAWN: Yeah, we're not going to get too much into discussion on covers here, because other posts have handled that so beautifully, emphasizing the importance of professional covers.

BILLIE: I think it's worth repeating that when a cover evokes a certain genre, it helps the book find its best readers.

DAWN: Like my covers for Ten Thousand New Year's Eves (available on Amazon for $3.99) that we are just going to call Dawn's Epic Fail. This is why I'm in the process of getting a cover professionally designed. This book is about dysfunctional people whose lives are intertwined, even though they do not realize it. Because it deals with windows into the lives of different people (and one bomb-sniffing dog), there are a bunch of genre elements, but no one that seems to have more sway than the other. The book is literary fiction, but I don't want to be locked into that category.

Cover one: Good things-- I like the yellow. Bad things-- I don't like the yellow.

BILLIE: I'm just one reader, but to me the book has to do with the whole six degrees of separation idea, and you manage to pull together a group of wildly disconnected characters and show us their quirks and how their paths connect in one very brief period of time. Tricky cover to create - when you first redesigned, you focused on the romantic angle.

DAWN: Yes, because like Cafe, there are some strong romantic themes. Which leads to my Epic Fail Cover #2 which I think makes it look like it all takes place in New York (it doesn't)  and gives an impression of the traditional rom com happy ending.

BILLIE: Aspects of the book are quite dark.

DAWN: Right. So until I do a redesign, I went to cover # 3. Which I'm not sure is a fail, but it captures more of the essence of the story than the the others. We will see.

BILLIE: The bottom line: Don't be afraid to experiment. Pay attention to what the readers are saying when they write reviews and emails. Look where the book is finding readers. It took a great review from Crime Book Beat to make me realize I could stop calling claire-obscure literary. Right now I'm considering re-doing the cover to reflect some of the eroticism. It's the same book it has always been. But in looking at what readers respond to when they read it, I'm positioning it to find more good readers.

DAWN: And if I may gush for a moment, Joe, we sincerely appreciate all you've done, not just your information, but giving back to charities, supporting other writers, etc.  Though we realize there are no more "JA Konrath Visits So Many Bookstores You Think He's in the Matrix" events, if you ever find yourself in in North Carolina, we will treat you to a beer with some of our latte money.

BILLIE: I think we can spring for beer AND pizza. If my new re-design goes viral maybe a trip to Paris?

DAWN: Let's stick to beer and pizza.

Billie Hinton writes novels for adults and children, nonfiction about the writing process and living with equines, as well as the occasional short story. She lives on a small horse farm in North Carolina with her husband, two teenagers, two horses, a painted pony, two miniature donkeys, six cats, and two Corgwn. She sees magic happen every single day.

Dawn Deanna Wilson writes YA and adult novels and short stories. She also illustrates children's books and has a small art studio in Eastern North Carolina. She drinks far too much coffee.

For more information, visit their author websites: www.billiehinton.com and www.dawndeannawilson.com

Joe sez: One of my cardinal rules when marketing is asking myself, "What makes me buy a book?"

This rule can and should be extended to searching for things to read. What keywords do you type into the search box on Amazon to find your genre? Do you use "customers also bought"? Do you use genre bestseller lists?

Besides the BISEC categories (how you list your ebooks on Kindle) what are some of the keywords you use in product descriptions to make sure you maximize your title's visibility?

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this in the comments. Let's pool our collective knowledge and learn from each other.


billie said...

Thanks again, Joe. I'd love it if folks reading would jump in and discuss how you find books you want to read - and how you find readers for your books.

I personally have never typed a key word in at Amazon to find books to read. I have no idea why not, except that even without doing that, I end up with far too many books on my Kindle. I also never look for books on my actual Kindle - I use my desktop and buy almost all titles there, and they then go to my Kindle. I like seeing the product description, cover image, etc. on my big screen first. I suspect b/c it's more like how I selected print books in the bookstore - pick them up, look at the cover, read the front flap copy, the first page, then a random middle of the book page.

Amazon is pretty good at sending me recs that are right on the money for what I like to read. But I know I am missing a lot of good books that don't get on my radar.

I need to go do some key word searches and see if that brings up books that appeal. Think I'll go do that right now.

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

In the description for Dirty Business, I have "Risky, Addictive,Encounters, Sexual, Attraction, Violence, Vanish, Disappearances".

keywords for categories, "Mystery, Thriller, Erotic, Private Investigators, Suspense, Female"

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

Also, I buy book by the cover and product description, and I read the first page of the "Look Inside" to see if I'll like the writing.

Nicole Montgomery said...

Hi All
First of all thank you to Billie and Dawn and Joe (as well as everyone else who has guest posted or commented) you are all (truly!) an inspiration to me.

This post is very timely. Thanks to Joe, I'm going to begin e-publishing, starting with a novella I wrote years ago. One big question is genre.

That first story "Unbound" made it into the 1999 Writers of the Future, Vol XV. Because of that (absolutely awesome - highly recommended!) experience, I came to the attention of a local pro, and wonderful human being, John Dalmas. He was kind enough to invite me into his world, his writer's group, and to generally mentor me.

John wrote (he's mostly retired now, being in his early 90s) mostly hard s-f (until his later works which branch into other areas), and his understanding of the traditional publishing business is still awesome. One of the things he told me was that I was going to be tough market because of genre. He was right.

Now that I don't have to fight Big Publishing, I guess my question is what the heck genre do I try to start with? The stories are set in space, but science is so not the point. It has (or rather the book length related works will have) romance, but that's not the point either. It has "aliens" but that's not the point. It's not in the future; it's more like an alternative galaxy, and although it has humans, they aren't connected to earth at all. The stories are mostly character-driven adventure, but have mystery and action as well.

Amazon has a category under Science Fiction and Fantasy called Galactic Empire, and maybe it fits best there, but I would welcome any suggestions, ideas, or advice.

billie said...

Tracy, I like that list of words you used in your product description.

Nicole, congrats on your forthcoming e-book! I hope someone can offer some useful advice about genre for SF. My experience is that it's easier to get to the top of the bestseller list in the specialty sub-categories than in the larger, more umbrella ones.

The last time I did KDP freebies, 3 of my titles got into top 10 on lists they've never been on and are not officially categorized in. It was interesting but I've not seen a big sales bump as a result. I had hoped maybe the titles were being seen by a slightly different audience than usual.

I just went to Amazon and typed in a bunch of key words for a book I'd really like to read. The top hit and the only close match was - my own novel, claire-obscure. LOL. Okay, so I wrote the book I'd like to read. And I've already read it!

Nancy Beck said...

Billie & Dawn,

First, thanks for your post and continued success to both of you!

Dawn - I was really interested in your novel Saint Jude because I have a hubby (for now) who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder many years ago. So I will pick this up, now that it's on my radar. :-)


What is the most dominant element in the story? Have you found any other books out there that it might be similar to? You may want to take a more detailed look.

Is it anything like Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell? I wouldn't tag that as a typical SF novel either. It's basically about a guy who's 19 or so and has to take a job aboard a spaceship to survive.

There are no outer space battles with aliens; it's a coming of age story (I think), but it's just not on Earth.

Anonymous said...

My 2 cents: If it has sci-fi elements, I would categorize as sci-fi and make a point of being descriptive in the blurb. After all, same could be said for many things Bradbury wrote.

Dawn said...

Bipolar disorder runs in my biological family (im adopted) and I also suggest An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison.

Nicole, that is a tough one... I would vote to see maybe what category it scores high in when you do your next giveaway?

Dawn said...

BTW--- I want to also thank Joe here. we appreciate all youve done for authors,and for using your influence as a platform to help others.

billie said...

Yay - Dawn's here! :)

Will never forget the first uploading of the first books to Amazon. I was sitting at my desk bemoaning about 50 little formatting things I could not control, freaking out and not able to hit that publish now button.

Meanwhile Dawn was sitting across the room and quietly announced: There it goes! I did it.

h hh Note from River, the rescue kit-meow, who just ripped three keys off my iPad keyboard trying to sharpen her claws on it.

Behind the scenes in the self-publishing world!

Kelly Faunce said...

When I got my first e-reader, I would simply type 'free books' into the search engine. I was strapped for cash due to the purchase of the reader, and didn't want to do more than dip my toes into the deep end of the pool. It didn't take long to notice that my searches mostly netted books with amateurish covers with stories inside that couldn't hold my interest. My mother always told me you get what you pay for, and I guess she was right. These days I avoid free books like a plague.

Lately I've even been eyeing the $2.99 books warily. If an author doesn't value his or her work enough to charge more than a cup of latte, then why should I value it? Yes, I know, visibility and all that. The thing is, I'm beginning to think that low, low prices are really only attracting people who just want free stuff. But that's just me. :)

Now I type my favorite genres into the search engine, and then filter down into subcategories to find whatever I happen to be in the mood for that day. After that, it's a strong visual image on the cover. I don't really care if the title is in big print, which I know goes against the advice to make it readable in thumbnail. Sometimes I'll click on a cover that I can't read easily in order to find out what the title is, and the description is what finally coaxes me to look inside. If I like the book, I'll search for others by the same author.

In case anyone is wondering, $9.99 is high enough to make me think twice about purchasing an e-book, but I have gone as high as $12.99 if the author is one I've already read and liked. My best comfort range price-wise is $3.99 to $6.99.

I don't know if any of this is info is what you're looking for, but that's my two cents.

I.J.Parker said...

I never consult bestseller lists. Shy away from them as far as I can. I type in "mystery," or "foreign mystery" and check the results. When I find an author I recognize and like, I consult "also bought" lists.

But most commonly I buy books by authors known to me. Word-of-mouth does nothing for me, because I rarely like the same things as others. Occasionally a book description, along with sample pages, might make a sale.

Richard Dela Cruz said...

Hello everyone, I’m a long time lurker, first time poster and a great admirer of Joe and his blog. I’d like to thank Billie and Dawn for shedding some light on an issue that’s been giving me grief these past few days.

I’m a newbie writer who’s just launched his first book, The Cellar, a YA/Sci-fi novella on Amazon, and I’ve been struggling with categories. Amazon is frustratingly limited in the categories they offer and I innocently chose Juvenile fiction only to find that it was later placed under Children’s fiction. Obscurity was on my side this time, and I was able to correct that before some irate parents one-starred my age inappropriate short fic into oblivion.

I finally got it listed under Teen & Young Adult once I used them as my keywords. Is there way to get into more specific categories other than using keywords?

nlo said...

Thanks for all these blogs, Joe, they've been top-notch and informative. I'd say that choosing a book tends to be an odd journey for me. No amount of reviews or also-boughts convince me. But it's a 'I see what I like' even if it has one star, because if the description fits, then it's perfect...

billie said...

I wish I were an expert on how the categories and key words actually work on Amazon - I've changed both regularly to see if it makes a lot of difference.

I have seen a huge difference in moving from the literary category to thriller/suspense and psychological suspense.

The narrower categories (in my adult books and the children's books) have not made much difference for my particular titles.

I don't think I've used keywords very well in general and part of writing this blog was to put this on my front burner so I can get some ideas here in the comments and then go work on my titles one by one.

The thing I do know is that something in Amazon's system puts my books into categories that I haven't entered them into - whether it is keywords or reviewers adding keywords, etc. I'm not sure.

One of my books ended up on the free horror list one time - quite high on that list - and I was worried that folks downloading would be disappointed b/c that book really didn't fit the horror category at all. I didn't get any negative feedback but obviously no big bump either.

I think experimenting helps. Although one of the challenging things about this whole self-publishing e-book phenomenon seems to be that as soon as you figure something out and start to use it as a "tool", it changes and suddenly doesn't work that way anymore!

I try to balance my time between looking at the things I can do to increase visibility, etc. for the titles already published and remembering that getting new books out there is also very important.

It's easy to get caught up in trying to figure everything out - which can be imo an endless limbo to get into - when one really needs to keep writing and growing as a writer.

To some degree it's a juggling act. I'd rather juggle and experiment and be doing something productive than I would wait for agents and editors and publishers to crank my books through their machines.

Alexandra Lynwood said...

First off just wanted to say I've been lurking for some time. Gearing up to publish my first book, I came to the decision I really had no interest in legacy publishers. So this blog has been amazing in terms of resources.

That aside the questions of search patterns and keywords give me a huge headache. I can only base my choices off of the way I behave on sites like Amazon. I will search any which way I can to find a title I'm interested in buying. That includes everything from the bestselling lists (genre-specific) through to keyword searches.

I think the recommendations you're given play a huge role in purchasing patterns too. When I go to buy a new book, often I will take a look at what other customers bought at the same time. It's usually indicative of good matches. In fact, thinking about it right now, I'm sure the last five or so books that I purchased were as a direct result of that.

I guess I like being herded in an orderly fashion :) Ah well, back to being a sheeple!

Veronica - Eloheim said...

Great conversation! How do you find out what categories your books are in? I know which ones I put them in, yet I wonder if, like some of you, my books are in other categories as well.

billie said...

The only way I have known about other categories is on the top 100 lists - they have ended up on a number of those in categories I didn't even know were available.

Anonymous said...

I am signed up for Bookbub, Pixel of Ink, and Book Gorilla. Each alerts me to discounted and free books each day - and I find enough of them to keep me busy, and I read 2 hours a day.

If I do find a book I like in that manner, I will then search Amazon for other titles from that author.

Free or $3.99+, neither matter to me.

Melody said...

Great post. I've been thinking lately about selling my book, on what it *looks* like, on how it can be represented. I was mostly thinking about covers, but this post made me realize I need to think about categories, as well. I look forward to reading these comments, too.

Joshua Simcox said...

What part of NC, guys? I'm not Joe, but I'll take you up on the beer offer. Boone area here. :)

- Joshua

billie said...

Just found this - blog post written in May so not old old info...


It explains how the categories work and how to add categories that aren't in Amazon's drop-down box. I have no idea if this is a good idea or not - just passing this on since we're discussing it today!

Dawn said...

Hey guys, sorry I had to step out for a bit but I am back.

I want to touch on the $2.99 thing... I agree... there is a fine line between valuing your own work, presenting yourself as a quality professional, and then pricing yourself too much out of the market--- would someone pay $9.99 for me when they can get Anne Tyler for $6? Honestly, this is something I need to constantly remind myself about.

then of course, you get the comments sometimes that readers were disappointed that the book "was not even worth the $2.99." I tend to discount those comments, because frankly, I don't think my last CAR was worth what I paid for it. $3 is pretty cheap entertainment value, but overall, I agree with you. It is about finding that sweet spot, and I think like Joe is correct in that you have to do some experimenting.

Dawn said...

thanks so much for the comment on pricing, that is good advice.

I also want to say that 80 percent of the books that I purchase are either because 1-- I have read and like the author or 2-- word of mouth. There are also times when I buy books by indie writers--- not as a quid pro quo, but more as one writer helping out another. I have discovered some great writers that way.

So the question also becomes how you can get your book into as many readers as possible, with the hope that they will buy other of your works if they like the first. How that correlates to price (outside of the KDP giveaways) I am still experimenting with....

And as an fyi, strangely, I really tend to read a lot of non-fiction, which is not what I write. These tend to be centered around whatever subject I am obsessed with at the time (right now,it is North Korea)

Dawn said...

I think some categories allow more specifics than others, and Amazon may be refining those even further.
I would do a free giveaway just to see where your readers are coming from.
I'm not aware of much more specifics under youth except for maybe 'coming of age' (which, even if your sci-fi book has strong elements of that, may be worth a chance.)
Anyone with some feedback?
Billie is really moreof the expert on refining these than I.

Dawn said...

I am originally from the Asheville area (and still have family there) so I am very familiar withi Boone.

I am just east of Raleigh.

JA Konrath said...

I am originally from the Asheville area

Right now my wife has an old Barley's tee shirt on.

Hollis Shiloh said...

I use "also bought" on Amazon a lot. I like browsing, and I find a lot of good books this way. Bestseller lists often just have the latest thing, and not always the kind of thing I want to read (even in my preferred category). I just recently read the sample from a book I'd never heard of, which was an "also bought" listed on one of my stories. And i liked it, so I bought the book, which I'm now reading. I never heard of this book or author before but the sample sold me.

Richard Dela Cruz said...

Thanks Billie, Dawn and all the others for sharing your insights. I guess, in the end, it’s all about experimenting and constantly trying new things to stay ahead of the curve. The self-pub world can sometimes be a murky place to navigate in. But it is a small price to pay for the freedom and flexibility the legacy publishers rarely offer.

Kelly Faunce said...

Something else I thought about regarding how I discover new authors...and I still buy a lot of paper books as well as ebooks...the public library. Sometimes I'll see a book that looks interesting, but don't want to buy or download (the free samples don't always give a really good idea of the book as a whole) until I've checked it out at the library first. Then if I really like it, I'll seek it out in more than one form, and I've found an author whose work I can follow.

That may present a difficulty to the straight to ebook novels. I've thought that it might be another way to get visibility for a newcomer. If you could have POD copies made up and then sent copies to local libraries in whatever areas that you've lived...along with a handwritten note to the librarian describing your relationship with that area. You could have a chance of getting it in front of readers who may not be regular browsers on the Kindle boards. Anyway it's an idea.

I don't know if that would cross any line, but I don't see why it would. If it was your local library, I suppose you could stop by in person.

billie said...

I am no expert - by any means - but I try to read widely about what other writers are trying out and what works for them and I am pretty willing to experiment.

I went and changed/updated all my keywords today to see what happens. :)

One tip I meant to share earlier, which might be obvious to those more organized than I am: I keep a marketing notebook where I write down all things I want to follow up, I track what I do and then monitor how things go sales-wise, and I write out weekly/monthly plans so I can just glance and do the things I need to do for marketing.

Lately I have been focusing much more energy on getting the "almost ready" books out of the nest and into publication. Once I have just one work-in-progress again I'll get back into the marketing a bit more.

The other thing: remember to enjoy the journey. There's no guarantee about any of this - we write the books, we get them out there, we do what we can, and we hope for the best.

It's really really important to enjoy as many of those pieces of the journey as possible. Guest-blogging here is part of it, and it's been a blast!

Dawn said...

Joe sez:
Right now my wife has an old Barley's tee shirt on.

Dawn: Ah Barley's tap room. Good times, good times.
On the corner there was also a double decker London style bus slash coffeehouse that turned into an emo slash vampire wannabe hangout after 8.Dont ask how I found that out.

Dawn said...

One thing I do want to close with here that Bilie hit on earlier ---getting books out there.

The bottom line is we are storytellers, and I do believe that life is full enough of things we HAVE to do that we DONT enjoy (taxes and Pap smears come to mind...) that life is too short to forget to ENJOY telling these stories. Yes, writing is a hard, lonely, profession, blah, blah,blah, but we too often forget that the reason we do this is because we LOVE to tell stories.

LikeBillie, I have one book almost ready to put up and another one almost finished. If marketing seems to stagnate, get more books out there.

Billie may hate me for this, but Im going to plug her book on writing Dont Miss the Magic, because she touches on this thing. Of course writing is hard, but if you are looking forward to your root canal more than editing your story...well, maybe something should be re-examined.

We write because we love to tell stories and there are so many stories to tell.

Nancy Beck said...

Well, c'mon...haven't you downloaded the wolverine movie yet?


But back to more important matters, thx for the link to that David Gaughran blog entry. I'd forgotten that he wrote that ebook (and I signed onto his blog about a year ago, lol, so I should have remembered). I may need to revisit categories for my first series, and I'll a bit more selective when I finally get the first in the new series uploaded (and POD'd).

Anonymous said...

I was under the impression that under traditional publishing contracts, authors were getting around 2 bucks a book, and that was for an expensive hardcover. Less for 8 dollar paperbacks? So if you're getting 2 bucks for an ebook at a price point of 2.99, how is that undervaluing your work? If more people buy at 2.99 than at 3.99, that would translate to more money, right? And more exposure. I know that it's not a given that you're going to sell more at 2.99 than at a higher price point, but I know as a reader I think twice above that price point. And I read a lot.

billie said...

Dawn, you plug my books as much as you like. :)

Good reminder about the royalty on a trad. published hardcover compared to a $2.99 e-book.

I like having the control to price my books where I feel they will sell the best. I also like being able to utilize the free giveaway via KDP. I like being treated like the owner of the work, which I am.

That's one of the things I was happy to forego with trad. publishing and their contracts.

Nicole Montgomery said...

Thanks so much everyone for your replies and suggestions.

Having done a bit more research, probably space opera is the place to start for the Unbound series. I don't do keyword or even category searches when I'm shopping on Amazon (I tend to search writers I know and, if I've read all of those, I look at the "also boughts," so I didn't understand it very well.

And like you guys said, experimentation is the key - and possible now, which is too cool.

Nancy's suggestion of looking at similar books (The Star of the Guardian series by Margaret Weis has a similar tone and CJ Cherry's Foreigner series has some similar themes), helps. Cross-cultural relationships, and how individual decisions shape giant events (I teach history so the role individuals play in world shaking is always fascinating to me) are key themes. Elements are a little harder for me to pin down. I haven't read Quarter Share, but it sounds like something I'd like. I'll check it out. :-)

Anonymous' suggestion about a descriptive blurb brings up my other giant stumbling block - the dreaded blurb.

A poorly-written blurb for sure turns me off any book. One of my to-dos is study well-written blurbs, to figure out how to craft them. And it just dawned on me that buried in my WotF stuff from way back when, there's a blurb for each of the stories in the anthology - if I wrote mine, maybe I can start with that. If the WotF people wrote it, at least I can get some ideas. (That whole time is just one big happy blur so I can't remember)

And I love Billie's suggestion to keep a marketing notebook is brilliant. I would have just tried this and that and eventually begun to repeat myself, wishing I'd had some way of knowing what I'd done before.

On price points for e-books: I've certainly been willing to try many, many (I repeat MANY) more unfamiliar writers at $2.99 or $3.99 than $7.99 or $9.99. I've spent more money on books overall since having the Kindle app on my phone, because I try the first of a series for free or cheap, and if I like it, I have to buy them all, so I know that as a marketing tool, it totally works! It helps that they're available at midnight when I can't sleep and need a book. The whole e-book thing is simply brilliant. I've never been a big library person because I'm a)too impulsive and b)want to keep what I like. I donate to my local libraries, but I rarely use them, which my librarian friend is always haranguing me about.

Two other things (and then I'll stop typing, I promise)-- One is I'm now very excited to read St. Jude and Unquiet Mind because I'm bipoloar myself- very mildly now, but it was pretty extreme when I was younger. (Boy, could I crank out the words when I was manic - Once I slammed out 11,000 in one marathon writing session! Of course, most of it was terrible...) And I want to buy all the people I'm reading here on Newbie's but it's summer and I'm unemployed in the summer, so the not-free ones have to wait until fall. Sigh.

The last thing my guess at solving a little mystery Billie and Dawn posed: did the keyboard-destroying kit-meow steal the chicken salad?

Thanks so much everyone!


billie said...

Nicole, thanks for all the ideas - so wonderful to read them!

And yay re: you discovering Dawn's book and Kay Redfield Jamison - I'm also a psychotherapist and she has her finger on the pulse of bipolar disorder.

The mystery deepens - it was not in fact a kit-meow who ate the chicken - it was a writer. :)