Tag archive: new technology

The Accidental Google Ad Campaign

Blame it on sleep deprivation, new technology or simply a bad click, but it seems I launched a Google ad campaign for Vampire Road last week. Good thing I set a ten dollar per-day maximum or I might have needed to run to the bank for a loan.

The funny thing is that I should have known something was up because my novel started selling one or two copies a day.  I know this shouldn’t sound so amazing, but I hadn’t done any serious marketing, not even to my friends and family. This is a great vampire novel, but I only want sell it to people who will like it.  If your preferred summer reading is Margaret Atwood, this isn’t a novel you’d want.  Although who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy it when no one’s looking.  😉

The upshot is that I haven’t begged my mother or older brother or even my sister-in-law to buy this novel, so the sales weren’t coming from that end of my life.

The other big clue I should have observed was the Amazon suggestions.  You know: People who bought this novel also bought…just about anything with a vampire or a zombie.  Where did these readers come from?  How did they stumble across my novel?  Now I have the answer.  They Googled Vampire Novels or one of the other keywords I’ve got running and my ad popped up.

Are the ads worth it?  If I was looking to make money from Vampire Road then absolutely not, but what I’m trying to do is build a fan base that will buy the next two novels in the series.  So far the ad words campaign has been pretty inexpensive, but it won’t be my only marketing avenue, and I will shut it down after a few weeks.

I’ve just begun marketing–well, it turns out I began last week. I just didn’t know it.

German E-books Platform Contacts Me

It’s the wild west in e-publishing, and everyone is striving to find a niche.  I know this, yet I was surprised today when an e-mail arrived this morning from XinXii.com asking me to post my e-book with them for sale in Germany.

What the heck?  This is the equivalent of a European indie bookstore tracking me down and asking me to put my self-published novel on their shelf.  That would never happen in traditional publishing.

At first I wondered if this was some weird kind of spam, so I googled them and came across a number of bloggers who’ve checked them out and say they’re legit.  I also contacted my friend and fellow writer, Rebecca M. Senese, and she also said that as far as she could tell they were legit.  I’m guessing that it’s no coincidence that I loaded Vampire Road to Smashwords yesterday and got the e-mail this morning.  I suspect they’ve got some smart program monitoring the new releases and somehow mining e-mail addresses out of author websites.

So I’ve got another platform on the list to add my books to.  Who knows, maybe my novels will take off in Germany.  Due South was successful there, and I worked on Due South.  Okay, that’s a crazy stretch, but my point is that you can never tell where the sales might come from, and the more places I have my novels for sale, the greater the chance that they’ll sell.

So I’m adding it to the list of platforms where I still have to upload Vampire Road and Summer of Bridges.  I like this new e-pub world.  Book retailers come looking for me.

A Moment in the Smashwords Sun

I’ve waded through the Smashwords Style Guide and come out the other side, humbled and wiser.  I’ve learned more about Microsoft Word than I ever wanted to know.  But at last I’ve loaded up Vampire Road to Smashwords, and I’ve got my hour in the sunshine that is the  New Releases page.

Next task is marketing, but for an indie e-pubbed author the fun never ends.  I also want to put it up to Barnes and Noble through Pubit, and by the fall Kobo intends to have a version of self-pubbing as well.

The good news is that now I know how to format my MS document as I write it, so that I don’t have to go through the excruciating cleaning process with my next novel.  This cleaning of Vampire Road’s formatting was required to enable the Smashwords Meatgrinder program to digest my words and spit out multiple e-book formats.

I’m still waiting with fingers crossed to find out if I qualify for their “Premium Catalog,” which is proof of my prowess with Microsoft Word formatting.  It also gets me into the ibook store and the Sony Reader store, which was the whole point of publishing through Smashwords.

For all you indie authors out there, I’m going to finish the guide that will take your manuscript to Kindle.  It’s far easier and the biggest e-book market.  I’ll write up my notes about Smashwords later next week.

Tomorrow: the clickable table of contents.

The New Slush Pile

Amanda Hocking, the  indie e-pubbed bestseller, credits book bloggers for taking her from a minimum-wage, dead end job to millions of books sold through Amazon and Smashwords and a seven-figure contract with St. Martin’s Press.

This news has started an avalanche of review requests by self-e-pubbed authors into book bloggers in-boxes.  So much so that Big Al, of Big Al’s books and pals, has stopped accepting unsolicited review requests.

The statement under Big Al’s submission guidelines sounds strikingly like something an agent or publisher might put on their website:

Big Al says:  “As of May 17th.  We are currently NOT accepting unsolicited review submissions until we catch up with evaluating those already received.”

I’ve heard many editors, authors and agents express concern about the e-publishing industry, and the biggest worry seems to be about who will be the gatekeepers of modern publishing.  Big Al’s announcement proves that book bloggers will be covering one gate.  How can I tell?  It just slammed closed until further notice.

I’m Selling in the UK

I was checking my sales report on Amazon to see if my efforts at  Bloody Words had produced a bump, but what caught my attention was a new report button for sales in the Kindle UK store (and another for the Kindle DE store in Germany)

Just for fun I gave it a click and discovered that I’ve actually started a trickle of sales in the UK.  Even one of my short stories sold on that side of the pond.

Why is this so exciting?  I don’t know anyone in the UK.  These sales are a tribute to cover art (thanks M. Custode) and good openings to the stories–because that’s the only way people in the UK can judge them.  Amazon allows readers to read the first several pages for free.

My efforts at Bloody Words did cause a little bump in sales for Summer of Bridges, my coming-of-age anthology of short stories that first appeared in Storyteller Magazine.

But here’s the really weird thing: Vampire Road, the young adult, violent, vampire novel has seen an even bigger jump in sales over the weekend.  I didn’t push Vampire Road at Bloody Words because this is a convention of mystery readers–many of them with grown children–who would have little interest in a YA novel.  I’d be doing them a disservice to try and sell it to them.  I pushed Summer of Bridges because the Sioux Rock Falls stories are light-hearted Canadiana, and one of them is a mystery.

So what demographic started buying Vampire Road over the weekend?  I guess the obvious answer is younger people who like vampire novels.  It’ll be interesting to see where sales go once I really get marketing.

If you were wondering: no sales in Germany so far.

Side Note: For the authors out there who are waiting for a blog on how to format and put up e-books, it’s in the draft stage.  It’ll be up this week.

 

How to Publish Your E-book

I’m at the Bloody Words Mystery Convention this weekend in lovely Victoria, and I’ve been surprised at how many authors, both newbies and established, have come to me asking about how to format and publish their e-books for Kindle and other platforms.

The established authors have figured out that their back lists are worth more than the 15-25% e-book royalty most publishers are offering, and the newbies just want to get their novels out there for the world to judge.

So starting this week, I’m going to do a series of articles on how to format and upload your novel for Kindle, Smashwords, etc.  It’s pretty simple, except for the clickable table of contents, and even authors who are technophobic don’t need to worry that it’s beyond them.

I’m also open to questions and am willing to help.

I’m off to a panel now, so the first “How to” article will appear tomorrow, and I’ll put up a menu item for anyone who wants to reference it in the future.

Genre Fiction Sells Well on Kindle

Genre fiction is selling so well on Kindle that Amazon is stepping further into the publishing roll.  They’ve opened up an imprint, Montlake Romance, that will publish everything from paranormal romance to suspense romance.

The good news for me and other genre fiction writers is that they intend to expand into other genres, maybe mystery and SF.  This means they’ll be looking for talent, and my guess is they’ll go looking at Kindle sales figures of indie e-pubbed authors to see who they should pick up.  It’s sort of a wiki to sort through the slush pile, no expensive acquisition editors to house and feed.

This, of course,  will have traditional publishers frothing at the mouth.  They merged into the big six over the last twenty years because they don’t like competition.  They’ve consoled themselves over the last few months that paper books are still 80% of book sales, and they’ve got their fingers crossed that e-readers will just be a fad that will go the way of the CB radio.

But now Amazon launches Montlake and says it will be for e-books AND print books.  Clearly Amazon has an eye on that 80% of book sales too.

An argument I’ve heard from authors who are traditionally published is that by e-publishing I’ll only be selling to 20% of the market while crossing my fingers in hopes that e-book sales continue to rise.  But what if my sales are good enough to get noticed by Amazon?  Maybe they could end up being my print publisher.  Anything is possible in this new publishing world, and it beats the heck out of writing query letters to overworked literary agents.

Climbing the Social Networking Ladder

Unless you’re one of the big names, like John Grisham, don’t expect your publisher to lift a pinkie finger to market your novel.  Authors sell novels, not publishers.   So how do you get the word out from your basement?

Social networking.  Sounds easy, right?  It’s a bloody nuisance, but like all things that take patience, the rewards are great.  John Locke has 20,000 twitter followers who will leap at the chance to buy his next novel the minute he tweets that it’s up for sale on Amazon.  That’s fantastic marketing.  He’s built this following from the ground up over two years.  He’s got a website, high-quality book trailers, the whole deal.  He’s a self-e-pubbed author, so he did it without any publishing company help.

But I’m down here at the bottom of social networking, late to facebook and late to Twitter.  My facebook fan page has 6 “likes.”  My tweets come straight from this blog, so there aren’t many, but I already have two followers, both apparently young hot women, which means they’re probably spam.  Rather funny, actually.

But this is where we separate the wheat from the chaff.  A lot of self-pubbed authors are going to give up when they don’t get immediate gratification, expecting their sales to just magically take off by themselves.  They’ll breathlessly check their sales figures two or three times a day until they get bored because they haven’t sold anything in a week.

So here I go, stepping up on the first rung of the social networking ladder.  It’s going to take a while, but I’m patient and determined.  Besides, maybe I’ll make some new friends.

 

The Wall Street Journal Gets It

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about how self-pubbed e-books are totally upending the e-book market.  My favourite quote is from author John Locke, who sold 369,000 downloads of his seven novels on Amazon just in March.  Locke says, “When I saw that highly successful authors were charging $9.99 for an e-book, I thought that if I can make a profit at 99 cents, I no longer have to prove I’m as good as them.  Rather, they have to prove they are ten times better than me.”

With the economy faltering and readers still hungry for books for all those e-readers they got for Christmas, the market for cheap novels is going way up.  Who wants to spend $14 for a quick read when you can get 14 novels for the same price?  If ten of them are unreadable crap, you’re still ahead if you’ve discovered four good novels.  Hey, you’re still ahead with two good novels.

But their are others out there who see this too.  F + W Media has just launched a crime imprint that will sell just e-books, no print versions.  Mystery authors who don’t want to self-pub should be getting their book pitches ready.

Those people at F + W are savvy.  I’m guessing they’ll be pricing the mysteries higher than 99 cents, but way less than $14.  I also bet they’ll offer authors better than 25% for e-book royalties.  This is the future.

E-books Get More Like Paper Books

The crowd that clings to paper books has a standard set of excuses as to why they prefer dead, pulped trees over electrons as their delivery system for words.

Excuse # 1: I can’t lend an e-book to a friend like I can with a paperback.

That argument fell apart when Amazon introduced their share function, which allows readers to share e-books the same way you would with paper: you electronically lend it to a friend for three weeks, during which you can’t access the book (just like with paper books) and at the end it reverts to you, and your friend no longer has access to the book.  Hey!  That’s even better than a paper book because I don’t have to go chasing down my friends to get my books back.

Excuse # 2: I can’t borrow e-books from the library.

Actually libraries have been loaning e-pub format books (think Sony E-reader) for ages, although the lending systems have been plagued with the challenges you’d expect from a new technology.  But this morning everything changed again: Amazon is going to partner with Overdrive to bring Kindle format e-books to 11,000 US libraries.  This is going to dramatically improve the current delivery system, and it’s  going to put more pressure on publisher’s like Macmillan and Simon and Schuster, who have yet to allow lending of e-versions of their books, and HarperCollins and the others who have placed many restrictions on e-book lending, much to the consternation of librarians.

Excuse #3: I can’t take an e-reader into the bathtub.

Put an e-reader into a large ziplock bag and it’s actually better in the bathtub than a paper book.  Turning pages is a simple press of a button rather than fumbling with wet fingers on dry pages.  Better yet, if you drop your ziplock-bagged e-reader in the tub it’ll stay dry and unharmed, unlike a paper book, which will require a long drying period that may still fail to prevent mold.  This assumes, of course, that you don’t fall asleep, roll over onto your e-book, shove it to the bottom of the tub and sit on it for an hour.  I can’t help you there.

Excuse # 4: But I like the smell and feel of paper books.

That smell is printing chemicals, binding glue, and if it’s an old book, mold and mildew.  Most people like the look and feel of candlelight too, but how many people stuck with candles as their primary light source after  electric light bulbs were invented?  I’m sure there were hold outs who didn’t trust the new-fangled electricity, and I’ll bet they had a long list of excuses as to why they didn’t want anything to do with that new technology.

The reason e-books will become the standard is that rather than being as good as paper books, they’re actually better.  The publishers who accept this first will be the most successful during the next ten years.