Tag Archives: marketing

I’ve moved all my books

I started by putting my toe in the water, decided the temperature was right, and shifted all my books from Draft 2 Digital (D2D) and Amazon, over to Pronoun. All the titles are now available again on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Kobo, and iBooks. But they all have different URLs because of the change in distributor.

It’s not a simple move. Links had to be updated on my own website not just on the book pages but also in posts I’d written. Fortunately, I have a broken links widget that tells me (um) when links are broken, and where. Apart from that, there are the links at SFR Station. Then I had to ask Amazon to kink the new version of books to the earlier one, so the accumulated reviews would appear. On the way through, I tweaked a few blurbs (book descriptions for those not in the know), and changed a cover. That’s the new cover for A Victory Celebration at top left. It’s a sexy little story, and the previous cover didn’t reflect that. (It seems readers like a bit of sex. With me, that’s about as sexy as it gets)

Why did I move?

Well, for a start, Pronoun doesn’t charge for its services, whereas D2D charges 10%. Pronoun, which is owned by Macmillan, has obviously negotiated a royalty deal with Amazon. If you list a book for less than $2.99 directly with Amazon, your royalty is 35% of the list price minus costs. For all other values, authors get 70%. But Pronoun pays 70% on ALL books at Amazon. Hey, if you have a $0.99 short, you get $.70 instead of $.35 (rough figures to make it easy, okay?) Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it all adds up.

Then there’s the formatting. You load your Word .docx (no other format is accepted) to Pronoun and you’re given a choice of six very good looking layouts for your ebook. D2D does a good job, but Pronoun adds bells and whistles. You can load your own epub if you’re specially enamoured of it – Pronoun will convert to .mobi.

Pronoun is also helpful when setting a price, providing comparisons of prices with books in the selected genre of a comparable length.

You’re given assistance when selecting the all-important key words. When you pick your two genres, you’re presented with a list of search terms, with a figure for how popular they are with users, and how high you might get in a sub category of that name. You can also enter your own search terms, and Pronoun will process your words in the same way, showing suggestions and popularity. It’s all good information to help you reach the highest possible audience.

And the main reason? One stop shop. I make a tweak and load it in one place. Pronoun does the rest, including Google Play, where I haven’t been able to jump through the publishing hoops before. I get paid into Paypal once a month, two months after the money is earned (that’s pretty standard). And I have a lovely author page for you to look at. Here it is.

The Pronoun support people have been great, even fixing up a bug I told them about when I first signed up. The formatting guidelines are well-written and easy to understand, as is their contract. I did have to dig just a little bit, though, to find out how to tell them about my EIN tax document – without a recorded EIN against my name, US companies have to charge foreign folks like me 30% US tax. Check the FAQs – they’re good.

The downside

  • The graphical presentation of sales is nice, but I’d like monthly figures in an Excel spreadsheet, much as D2D provides.
  • It takes a little longer to get your books loaded at the retailers. B&N is usually the longest, taking several days to a week. But even Amazon might take three.
  • You don’t get the instant gratification of watching sales on Amazon’s sales charts. However, if you’re desperate, you can always check a book’s ranking to give you some idea.

If you want a bit more detail about working with Pronoun, I wrote a blog at Space freighter’s lounge when I first dipped my toe. Here it is.

In a way I’m sorry to leave D2D. They do a great job, provide good reports, provide great user support, and offer access to other distribution outlets like 24 Symbols, Oyster, and Tolino. I could have left my books there to gain access to those additional channels, but I wasn’t making any sales there, so opted for the simple life. Besides, D2D cannot distribute to Amazon or Google. And I already mentioned about royalties, layouts, and marketing extras. Did somebody mention Smashwords? I took my books from there several years ago. It was all too hard, with none of the marketing extras, and with no return on investment.

So… if you have my books listed anywhere, be advised – the links have changed. Except for print, of course. That still happens through Create Space, who STILL operate in the Dark Ages and send people in third world countries like Australia printed paper cheques.

 

Soliloquy on book prices (or How I Learned To Love eBooks)

Picture of full book shelfYou know how sometimes things you’ve been reading/talking about kind of merge? That happened to me this morning. Somewhere I read about author earnings and the cost of books. Somewhere else I wrote an article about the power of the franchise in writing and that led me to the Thrawn trilogy and mention of a book where Grand Admiral Thrawn is an important, though rarely visible, character and that led me to dig out that very same book. Troy Denning’s Tatooine Ghost, to see if I still thought it was as good as I remembered.

I’ve also been re-reading one of my favourite books, McDevitt’s Slow Lightning. It’s face down on the desk beside me as I write. And the sticker with the price is waving at me.

I bought the book (a 5×8 paperback) in about 2003. It cost AU$19.95 from Readers Feast in Melbourne. Same for Tatooine Ghost.

Wow, I thought, glancing along a row of paperbacks on a shelf (just one row). There’s over $400 worth of books there. At least, that’s what I paid for them. They’re worth squat now. And as for that glass—fronted cabinet behind me, the one full of hardbacks… Then I thought some more and wondered if these prices were from before the Big Row about book prices. I don’t recall the details, but it was all about the excessive cost of books in Australia. So I thought I’d check the current price of some of those books.

I used Dymocks online store. It’s a well-known chain of Australian book stores. I shopped at the bricks-and-mortar stores in several of Australia’s capital cities. Here is the listing for McDevitt’s A Talent for War. It’s one of his earliest titles, from 1989. I bought it for $17.95 around 2002-3.

ATfW

And here’s Tatooine Ghost, copyright 2003.

TG

So then I had a look on Amazon to see what the prices were there.

A Talent for War and Tatooine Ghost, mass market paperback on Amazon is US$7.99 – allowing for the exchange rate, that’s still less than AU$10. Slow Lightning (sold for who knows what reason in the US as Infinity Beach) is reduced from $7.99 to $5.87.

Okay, the next obvious question is what’s the price of the ebook? Answer: there isn’t one. Not for any of those titles. McDevitt’s other books are there for kindle. I can buy them on Amazon Australia for $11.99 (ouch). Oh. Except for the latest release, Coming Home. That’s $16.99, thanks very much.

There are two things you can take from this Sunday morning limited investigation:

  • we pay a helluva lot for books (and every other thing that’s imported) in Australia.
  • $4.99, which is what I charge for my 100k+ word ebooks, isn’t a bad price.

I might not have the market power of Jack McDevitt or EL James, but I like to think I write an entertaining story with proper grammar and spelling. I’m not saying you won’t find a typo. But I promise nobody ever says, “oh my”.

Are you wondering why you don’t get every book you ask for on NetGalley?

Picture of glasses on a bookI’m a member of the Broad Universe group, a collective of  authors who support each other in this writing business. BU offers a range of ways of helping authors and one of these is a cost-effective way to get onto NetGalley.

NetGalley is the digital era’s improvement on publishers sending out galley proofs of new books to people in the know, in the hope of encouraging people to buy the book, garner some feedback, and rake in some reviews. In other words, marketing. Back in the day it happened when the publisher had just about finished the production process. It’s important to note that NetGalley doesn’t just accept new publications. You can list a book first published years ago if you feel it could use a boost.

Mind you, NetGalley isn’t cheap. And that’s where collectives like Broad Universe come in. Members can get a book on NetGalley for US$30 per month. We’ve now expanded the service so non-members can list a book on NetGalley for $45 per month. You can find more information here.

If you’re a reader you can sign up with NetGalley for free. Every month a new list of books comes out and you can ask to download as many as you like. Your request might be approved automatically, or you may have to wait for your request to be approved. Or declined.

As it happens, I’m one of the people in Broad Universe who vets review requests. We do this because as far as we’re concerned, the aim is not to give a free book to the world and his wife. It’s about advertising, networking, spreading the word. For example, I think I’d refuse a request for a book from me.

Why?

Because I’m not on Goodreads. I don’t have a review blog. I’m not a member of a book club. I rarely review on Amazon. I’m not a librarian. I’m not a bookseller. Based on all that, I’d just be giving me a free book. (Mind you, not everyone on NetGalley works like that. Even I may well be given a bunch of free books just for showing up.)

So let’s assume you’d like me to approve a request for a book. What should you do?

Give me something to go on

Profile

A profile that reads something like, “I love reading” is a well duh. If you add that you like talking to your cat, that’s sweet but who cares? I also don’t care if your ambition is to find the cure for cancer, or that you’ve written three books yourself. If you’re a librarian tell me where the library is. If you’re a book seller, tell me where. If you run a review blog, say so.

Links

If you have a review blog, give me a link. Same with Goodreads and Amazon. Please bear in mind, I do check. If you claimed two years ago to be setting up to read and review $0.99 titles, and send me to a link where that’s all it says – no reviews – then I remain unconvinced. If you send me to a review site where the last entry was dated a year ago, I’m doubtful. If you send me to Amazon where I find exactly one review, I raise an eyebrow (yes, that happened). If I click a link and I get a 404…

Getting the idea?

Feedback

When you do receive a book from NetGalley the hope is that you will provide feedback. If you do that the links and the profile will be less important. NetGalley gives a feedback quotient on your profile. It provides the number of titles you’ve downloaded against the number of times you’ve provided feedback. If you’ve downloaded one thousand books and given feedback on six, it doesn’t look too good. I’d suggest you choose your downloads with care. Do you really, really want to clutter up your ereader with every book on offer, many of which you’ll never read? If you download six books and provide feedback on all six, your feedback quotient will be 100%. Mind you, you’re not on a timetable, you can provide feedback at any time, months after you’ve downloaded the book. But bear in mind that’s why NetGalley is there. It’s a two-way process. You play the game and you’ll get approvals – even invitations.

The feedback element is less important for booksellers and librarians who provide a different kind of feedback in the form of book recommendations to clients. Nothing beats word-of-mouth recommendations.

So if you’re not getting every book you ask for on NetGalley, maybe it’s time to check your profile, make sure your links work, and that you really are providing the feedback you promised. Do those things and I might even put you on auto-approval.

The value of making a book free

Writing the book, I’ve found – however difficult it might be – is the easy part. Marketing it is way, way harder. There has been a plethora of posts about why it’s so much harder now to keep your author head above the flood of new books being published every day. And there’s Kindle Unlimited and BookBub and blog tours and NetGalley and a million other ways that aspiring hopefuls can jump up and down shouting, “pick me, pick me” – all for a price, of course.

I’m no different to all the other small voices out there. My sales have been declining for months, despite having fourteen titles. One of those is a novella, three are longer short stories and the rest are novels. I could just ignore the sales and carry on doing what I do, but I don’t write for myself. I want other people to enjoy my books – and I know some do. So what to do to increase discoverability. (Don’t you love that word? Makes you sound like an exotic holiday location.)

For a start, I put my two paranormal novels and my space opera novella, each of which sold less than five a month, into Kindle Select. None of those titles were selling anywhere else – Smashwords, Kobo, Apple, B&N or Omnilit – so it didn’t cost me to take them down from those sites. I saw results after a few days, with the number of borrows quickly outstripping sales. Mind you, that simply means I could buy three cups of coffee each month instead of one.

Sales had also dwindled to almost nothing for my science fiction romance titles. I’d written a new book for my Ptorix Empire series, and that was released on 15 January. No, I didn’t do a blog tour. I’ve never felt they did much for me. But the book is on the list for NetGalley in February, and I’ve touted it on a few blogs as well as my own. A few fans purchased the book, but it certainly wasn’t walking off the virtual shelves. Sales in January amounted to six. Wow.

There are four books in the Ptorix Empire series. The first, The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy (IA:C), has been around since 2010 and is part of a $0.99, 11-book boxed set, Nebula Nights. (you’ll find purchase links if you’re interested.) So I Cover of The Iron Admiral: Conspiracydecided to make it free. For good measure, I made Supertech, a short story that introduces Morgan Selwood who stars in the Morgan Selwood series, free as well. The idea, of course, is try one, buy the rest.

ST cover smlSupertech has been free before and it’s a short story. I didn’t expect a mad rush for it and although there have been downloads, the number to date is around 350.

The story for IA:C is quite different. I have found that I make more sales on Amazon US than anywhere else, by a very long way – well over 90%. So what I’m showing here is only Amazon US.

I made the book free at all outlets except Amazon (where you can’t offer a free book – I set it to $0.99) on 18 January. I did not advertise, beyond one Twitter post. The graph below shows what happened after Amazon price matched.

Free graph

The first peak was simply from being in Amazon’s free books section. Then the initial excitement died away. The second peak is as a result of buying a US$15 ad on eReader News Today. The book raced up the Amazon lists and was soon #1 free in store for Galactic Empires and #1 Space Opera and #1 Romance Science Fiction. The big goal is top 100 free in store. It didn’t quite get there, but it reached 110 which is pretty good for a novel in a niche market like SF romance. To date, there have been over 4,000 downloads.

Of course, we all know free downloads don’t necessarily mean readers, let alone fans. Many a free book languishes on a reading device, ignored and forgotten. But some people certainly did read the book. I’ve seen a substantial (in relative terms) increase in sales of the second Iron Admiral book – in fact all three titles in the series. And sales of my Morgan Selwood series have also improved.

Although I make most of my sales on Amazon, I will always make my books available elsewhere. Readers like choices and not everyone wants to use the Kindle interface on whichever reading device they own. I’ll take the novella out of Kindle Select when the three months is up, but leave the other two, which hardly sold anyway.

One thing I learned from this exercise is you don’t have to be in the Kindle Select program, where your book is exclusive to Amazon, to get the benefit of a short period where your novel is free. I reduced the price of IA:C to $0.99 on Amazon, and free everywhere else. Amazon soon price matched. In fact, the campaign was so successful, Amazon put the price back. I had to ask them to price match, which they did. Mind you, I’ve heard people complain they can’t get Amazon to stop offering their book free, even when the free offer period finishes at other vendors. That’s a risk to take into account.

I’m not a great believer in giving away my hard work. Writing IA:C took literally years of effort through a number of iterations. But I’ve earned some money from the book and I made a strategic decision to use it as an introduction to my work. I do not think the free options is feasible if you don’t have a swag of other titles. In both cases, I set the first of a series of a number of books free. Time will tell how long this initial boost will last. Meanwhile, I’d better get back to writing that next book.

So – if you’re reading this and you’d like to take advantage of the free offer, you’ll find all the ‘buy links for IA:C here . Enjoy.

 

How to put together a boxed set #amwriting

picture of Nebula Nights anthology cover

11Sci-fi romances that’ll sweep you away

Have you seen the number of boxed sets out there in the market place? Six or eight or ten or eleven complete books in one document, that you can buy for $0.99. Have you thought you’d like to do that, too?

Several months ago a group of authors in the Science Fiction Romance Brigade decided to put together a boxed set. Here’s how we did it.

Nebula Nights – the Making of a Boxed Set

Have a look. You might find it helpful.

 

 

I just un-liked your author page on Facebook

smiley_thumbs_downThis morning I logged onto a group I belong to on Facebook and read a post from an author bemoaning the fact that a friend had stopped ‘liking’ their author page. It’s not something Facebook notifies a page owner. This person simply noticed the number of people liking the page had gone down. In fact, it happened twice. Yep, hand up. One of those was me. And I’m going to be doing a bit more of that in the future.

It’s not meant to be hurtful or spiteful. It’s simply a reaction to Facebook’s new, bigger and better, privatised structure. I don’t have an author page anymore. Pages only work if you can get a LOT of fans – by that I mean in the thousands, not the several hundred I managed to muster, and that was in the days when FB shared everything to everybody. Now, a handful of people see what a page posts – unless you pay for the privilege. Boost your post. Buy advertising. Get more likes for just a small outlay. Want to know what buying FB likes really gets you? Check out this video. And the advertising? You can find lots of positive spin in a Google search. But maybe read this one, too. Mind you, a simple google search will bring up pages of tips and tricks for attracting ‘real’ page likes and real interaction. I’ll admit I didn’t try terribly hard to get followers. Even before the Big Buyout I had to wonder how much fresh, new stuff you can post about your author persona. And herein lies the reason for my defection from a friend’s page. This person pretty much duplicated the posts on the author page to their profile page, which means I got most of it twice. These days it’s hard enough to keep up with what really matters to me on FB, as opposed to what FB thinks I ought to see.

Why do I stay on Facebook? Because I interact with friends there, mainly in focussed groups. And the emphasis is very definitely on FRIENDS, not potential customers. Anyone who likes what I write is welcome to follow my FB account, or ‘friend’ me. Here I am. https://www.facebook.com/Greta.J.vanderrol Most of my posts are public. I share my photos and discuss my writing with like-minded individuals. Sometimes I’ll post about my books, do a bit of promo. Hey, it’s what I do, it’s a part of who I am. But I’m not very sociable, even on-line. There’s only so much time I’ll spend on ‘marketing’. I’ve found it works much better if I just go write the next book.

Do we really need all this segmentation?

I was idly scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed this morning and came across an interesting promo for a book. So I had a look at the blurb and the cover and noticed a reference to “a great new NA book”. (Or words to that effect.) I frowned. NA? Not applicable? New Age? And then I twigged.

‘New Adult’. I’d seen a reference to it somewhere before. It’s a market segment. Hey, segmentation is a perfectly legitimate approach and it’s why Facebook keeps asking questions like where do you live? In my case, they’d know not to bother trying to push ads for American restaurants at me.

So how is NA different to YA – young adult? Mind you, I’ve always had a bit of a problem with YA, too. What’s a ‘young adult’? If you’re still at school, do you qualify? If you’re fifteen and an apprentice does that qualify? To my mind, a ‘young adult’ might be somebody who has left school, turned 18 so they can legally drink, have sex, get married. Or is that 16? Or 21? Having a thing called ‘New Adult’ just makes it worse. Do you graduate from YA to NA when you turn 21? When you leave school? And when do you move from NA to… whatever’s next? GU (grown up)? MWK (married with kids)? AD (adult divorced)?

One author explained to me that the NA category gives the buying public an idea of what to expect. A young person newly arrived at adulthood but without experience, somebody in the eighteen to twenty-five age group. It’s a bit like saying YA is for readers in their teens, and this is likely to be a coming-of-age story.

So now, if I want to get a list of books to satisfy my reading needs I guess I have to say ‘science fiction but not dystopian, no zombies or werewolves or vampires, romance ok but not erotic, not GLBT, not childrens, not YA…’ But isn’t that why we have genres, blurbs and covers, and why (if we have an ounce of sense) we read the first few pages before we buy? And why wouldn’t I buy an NA book? Just about every war story involves young people in that 18-25 demographic facing horrible situations. That’s just one example.

As far as I’m concerned, if it’s not for kids it’s for grown-ups. I was reading ‘grown up’ books at quite a young age and now, at quite an old age, I’ll still read books labeled as YA (or younger) such as Harry Potter. It’s hard enough sifting through the myriad micro-slices of genre without adding to the confusion.

Rant over. We will now return to normal programming. Feel free to hit me with your opinions.

 

Into which pigeonhole does this book fit?

picture of bookshelf filled with booksThe recent brouhaha over science fiction and science fiction romance has got me thinking about genre. It’s a necessary concept. When I walk into a bookstore (or look up an online bookstore) I don’t what to have to trawl through the eleventy-billion books I really won’t be interested in reading, so I’m glad the shelves are marked. Personally, I’ll head for the SFF section first (Science Fiction and Fantasy – they always seem to be lumped together). There, you’ll find books by Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Moon, Elspeth Cooper, George R. R. Martin, Jack Mc Devitt, C.J. Cherryh, Star Wars, Star Trek and also vampires, werewolves and the like. But not science fiction romance – not on physical shelves, anyway. I found Linnea Sinclair’s books in the romance section. The only reason I found them was because I was looking – I do not normally read romance.

Genre, you see. It’s all about marketing. Into which pigeonhole does this book fit? I had some fun drawing a diagram to illustrate some of the complexities of genre.

diagram of ranges in genreSome genres are pretty easy. In romance, the romance must be the focus of the plot, and it must have a happy ever after (HEA) ending or a happy for now (HFN) ending. I talked about the rules of romance here. But every genre has ‘shades of grey’ (yeah, yeah). Science fiction ranges between hard SF and soft SF. I discussed that here. On the hard SF – soft SF line, I’d put most space opera sort of in the middle. Star Wars and Star Trek would definitely be down the soft SF end, McDevitt’s books would be down the hard SF end. Romance has its continuum, too, often expressed in degrees of ‘heat’ (ie explicit sex scenes). In ‘sweet’ romance, the scene stops at the bedroom door. In erotic romance, the sex is explicit.

Now we get to science fiction romance, which is a combination of two genres. The SCIENCE romance – ROMANCE science line indicates what is the most important focus of the work. Would we have a story without the romance? Would we have a story without the science? I would suggest that real SFR should be down the science ROMANCE end – I think Avatar is a good example. Without the romance, there is no story. The science is of less importance. And in Avatar the explicitness of the sex component is most definitely ‘sweet’. Interestingly enough, one of McCaffrey’s early works, Restoree, is listed in science fiction. Yet Restoree is without a doubt science fiction romance, with a ‘sweet’ tag on the sex register.

It’s a pretty complex combination of components.

So what is this analysis all about? I’m reviewing where I want my own work to fit.

When I started writing, I knew I’d write SF because that’s what I like. But I wanted to add a bit of emotion to my writing. Most SF either seemed to leave out love and sex (Asimov), or it was so understated that it almost disappeared. An example of the latter is Moon’s Serrano series. SF was pulp fiction, with an expectation that it was fast-paced action-adventure. A response to a query I sent to a publisher around 2008 reinforced that belief. “Well written, but needs more action.” So I added more action. Still no cigar.

Okay, what about science fiction romance? Ah, but the SFR books are in the romance section. This has an advantage in one way, because romance sales are way, way more than SF. But it seems only a small subset of romance readers will read SF. Moreover, the expectation for the romance genre is that the romance is the core of the book. No romance, no story. I can honestly say that not one of my books fits that definition. Of them all, the Iron Admiral duo come closest and even with those two I had to do some serious tweaking for my editor to agree it had earned a romance tag.

We are told that sticking to one genre when writing is a good idea. And it makes sense. Let’s go back to that bookshop and see where we go shopping, how we go shopping. I can give an example from my own experience. I read Elizabeth Moon’s SF books. So I bought Speed of Dark. But that book, award winner though it is, is about her son’s autism. I wasn’t in the least bit interested. I had a similar experience with a Ruth Rendell novel that wasn’t what I had expected,

With that in mind, I resolved to write SFR, albeit with less emphasis on the romance. However, it meant I had to come up with convincing HEA or HFN outcomes for my protagonists. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it hasn’t always been a satisfying outcome for me – or my readers. I’m now going back and making some changes to Starheart, removing the HEA ending and downplaying the romance element. I’ll do some tweaking to Morgan’s Choice, too. Some of the rules of romance just don’t sit comfortably with me.

What’s the outcome? Well, if you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-packed read with a complex plot – come on in, sit right down. Would you like to call that pulp fiction? Sure. Will there be some emotional elements, some sex? Sure. Love is a powerful emotion, sex is a fundamental driving force. You’ll find those things in everything I write. Do I do my research? You bet I do. I try to make my science sound, my history correct, my settings convincing. I suppose, when it comes right down to it, I’d prefer to see my books in the science fiction section. Both they, and I, feel more comfortable there.

The fall-out from changing publishers

picture of Changing the guard

Changing the guard

As I announced in a blog post a little while ago, I’ve had to republish all my books due to circumstances beyond my control. It has now been about 10 days since I started the process of removing the titles from the various sites and republishing them under the new D2D label, and I thought some of you might be interested in the fall-out from the process.

Administration

First off, if you had a contract with your previous publisher, you can’t just give them the bird and self-publish or go with another publisher. You’ll need a letter of rescission, returning to you the rights for the book. This is a legal requirement. In my case, the split was entirely amicable and I have that letter. You won’t be able to use any existing ISBNs, either. New  publisher = new version.

Sales Rankings

As far as Amazon and the other vendors are concerned, your newly-published book is a new listing. All my books had to start afresh at eleventy million, and work their way up from there.

Reviews

I thought I’d lose all the reviews – but in fact the vendors’ software has recognised the same title for the same author and ported the reviews over. The only non-starters were for my Iron Admiral titles. It has always been a problem with those books. The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy became Conspiracy on some sites. Then I confused the issue by putting The Iron Admiral Book one: Conspiracy on the cover. Anyway, while a human would immediately see the books are the same, the software program didn’t make the connection. I contacted Amazon and asked them to re-link the reviews by explaining that book ASINxxx is the same as book ASINyyy. You do that via your Amazon author page. It’s a little bit complicated to find the right place, so use Google to get instructions. The books (and the reviews) were linked within a day.

URLs

That has been the biggest pain in the posterior. Every URL for every book had to be updated, on every site. Authordb, Author’s Den, Bookbuzzr, my own website – oh gosh, I’d better do the ones on Facebook. What about Linkedin? I’ve probably forgotten a few. Needless to say, sites which reviewed the book and had URLs will now be wrong.

The outcome (so far)

I’ve been interested to see that, of all the books, Black Tiger is doing the best in sales. I was beginning to despair over this title. Not that it’s zooming along, but sales are better than they had been. On the flip side, Morgan’s Choice and Morgan’s Return, which had been my flagships, never slipping much below the 60k rank on Amazon US, are languishing. Fortunately, I have reviews (at a review site) in the pipeline for Morgan’s Return and Black Tiger. I’m hoping they will help increase exposure. I’ve temporarily reduced the price for Morgan’s Choice to $2.99 to try to gain some interest.

Advice

Quite a few small publishers are falling by the wayside, so the time may come when you’re in the same situation as me. The best advice I can give you is document what you do. Write it all down in a spreadsheet. Links to reviews on websites, interviews on websites, places where you’ve listed your books – anywhere you’ve sent a link. You might not be able to get all of them updated, but an email to the owner asking for an update will usually be seen in a positive light.

How you generate new sales I don’t know. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve found blog tours and paid advertising doesn’t do much. I can only hope it’s early days and sales will recover. Have any of you been through the process of changing publishers? If so, what was your experience? Do you have any suggestions?

Why do you need to know that?

picture of a shadowI just followed a link (from a trusted source) to an online book seller – not Amazon or Smashwords or any of the big sites, this is clearly a personal site. Fair enough. That way the seller gets all the profit. The book looked interesting, so I clicked on “buy now” and a screen appeared, asking me to enter my details. And those fields were compulsory.

  • First Name is a required field.
  • Last Name is a required field.
  • Phone is a required field.
  • Email is a required field.
  • Confirm Email is a required field.
  • Address is a required field.
  • City is a required field.
  • Enter a valid ZIP/Postal Code.
  • State is a required field.

Really? I’m buying an e-book (print wasn’t an option) and paying via Paypal. One of the advantages of Paypal is all that name and address stuff is held in a (relatively) secure database and doesn’t have to be provided to all and sundry.

Sorry, folks, but you just lost a sale.

I’ve been bitten before, you see. I bought some software that looked the goods for something I needed to do. I was expected to register first, as is often the way with software. I did wonder why they needed my home address – but what the hell. To cut a long story short, the software was a scam. It didn’t work and there was no way of getting my money back. I’d paid via a credit card and immediately rang the bank to cancel the card. I’d learnt a valuable lesson. Now, I only provide my REAL address if I think it’s needed, such as when an item has to be shipped to me.

The way I see it, if I go into a bookshop to buy a book, I grab it from the shelf and take to the counter, where the clerk takes my money, no questions asked. If I buy an e-book from the internet, I accept that the vendor needs to verify that I have the funds for the transaction. But that’s where my obligation ends. No, you don’t need my home address, or my phone number. If you insist, then I have to wonder what you’re going to do with it. Sell it to a mailing house?

So what do you think? Are you happy to tell your life story before you’re allowed to hand over your hard-earned money?