Can you call an update yearly if you are writing it for the very first time?
Ah well – it’ll sound good on Twitter.
The year 2012 was a ready-set year.
The year before that – 2011 – well, that was a get-ready year.
2013 is GO.
I first got into writing e-books in 2011. I got together with David Niall Wilson and Dave Dodd at Crossroad Press.
“Steve,” David told me. “E-books are coming and you better get into it as fast as you can.”
“But David,” I said. “I write locally. My work sells primarily to the maritime provinces and to the occasional tourist whom I mug in dark alleys down at the Halifax waterfront.”
“What about your horror fiction? Where do you sell that?” David asked.
“Well, most of my horror fiction is out-of-print.”
“Exactly,” David said. “Get out your back catalogue and let’s build ourselves some e-books.”
Well, that’s not exactly how that conversation all played out – but it is the gist of it. During 2011 and 2012 I published THIRTEEN e-books with Crossroad Press.
1. Nothing to Lose – the Adventures of Captain Nothing – Volume 1 (January 22, 2011)
2. Devil Tree (February 17, 2011)
3. Long Horn, Big Shaggy: a tale of wild west terror and reanimated buffalo (Mar 12, 2011)
4. Gypsy Blood (May 29, 2011)
5. Nothing Down – the Adventures of Captain Nothing – Volume 2 (August 22, 2011)
6. The Weird Ones (September 25, 2011)
7. Roadside Ghosts (September 28, 2011)
8. Two-Fisted Nasty (January 4, 2012)
9. Bad Valentines (February 4, 2012)
10. Sudden Death Overtime (February 10, 2012)
11. Tatterdemon (May 8, 2012)
12. Steve Vernon’s Special Edition Gift Pack – Volume (September 22, 2012)
13. Midnight Hat Trick (September 22, 2012)
These e-books continue to sell regularly. They do not sell at a heart-stopping rate. All together I make about fifty bucks a month off of the Crossroad Press e-books.
Crossroad Press sells my e-books through Amazon (Kindle), Pubit, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Diesel, Sony, the Crossroad Press website, and Overdrive.
In addition, Crossroad has also got some of my books into audio format through Audible.com.
Specifically – Nothing To Lose, Nothing Down, Devil Tree, Two-Fisted Nasty and Roadside Ghosts.
This is a venue that REALLY excites me. There is a good profit margin in these works and a really untapped market for me. Unfortunately, I have NOT been able to figure out how to positively market these releases. I’ve got connections with ALL kinds of e-book promotional websites – but I haven’t found all that many audio-book promoting websites. I’m sure they’re out there – I just don’t have the time to hunt them all up.
* * *
So what about my traditional publishing?
I’ve had a long and happy relationship with my local publisher, Nimbus Publishing. Since way back in 2004 – when my pitch for HAUNTED HARBOURS: GHOST STORIES FROM OLD NOVA SCOTIA was accepted at the first ever PITCH THE PUBLISHER event.
Since then I have published SEVEN books with Nimbus.
1. HAUNTED HARBOURS: GHOST STORIES FROM OLD NOVA SCOTIA (2007)
2. WICKED WOODS: GHOST STORIES FROM OLD NEW BRUNSWICK (2008)
3. HALIFAX HAUNTS: EXPLORING THE CITY’S SPOOKIEST SPACES (2009)
4. MARITIME MONSTERS – A FIELD GUIDE (2010)
5. SINKING DEEPER: OR MY QUESTIONABLE (POSSIBLY HEROIC) DECISION TO INVENT A SEA MONSTER (2010)
6. THE LUNENBURG WEREWOLF: AND OTHER STORIES OF THE SUPERNATURAL (2011)
7. MARITIME MURDER: DEADLY CRIMES FROM THE BURIED PAST (2012)
These regional books have done VERY well for my writing career. They keep my profile raised nicely in the maritime provinces – particularly in Nova Scotia. It is very gratifying to see my books in bookstores everywhere I go in Nova Scotia – and it gives me a nice couple of royalty cheques – two every year. In addition, these books give me enough maritime exposure to be invited REGULARLY to schools across the maritime provinces where I talk to kids of all ages and help inspiring their reading and writing practices.
One VERY cheery bit of news was that this year my young adult novel SINKING DEEPER has placed on the short list for both the Hackmatack and Silver Birch awards – resulting in about 4000 extra copies being sold. That is HUGE for a Nova Scotia regional publication.
As a result, my banker is very happy with me – but besides that, I am very pleased and proud to see that little book getting the sort of recognition it deserves. I have always been VERY proud of that little book – it is one of the sweetest and truest and funniest works that I have ever created – and until now it has sort of stayed below the radar.
At the same time Nimbus has gone ahead with a new e-publishing program that has put FOUR of my regional books into e-book format. Haunted Harbours, The Lunenburg Werewolf, Maritime Murder and Sinking Deeper are ALL available in Kobo format – and the rest of my work should follow through 2013. Likewise – Sinking Deeper and Maritime Murder are ALSO available in Kindle format.
It is bold of Nimbus to push into the e-book network – bold, because they are a regional publisher and a lot of regional publishers are purposefully staying out of the whole e-book business. I am glad to say that Nimbus does not fear the future but pushes ahead boldly. I’ve long been pleased with my work with them and I look forward to future releases.
* * *
Lastly, I want to talk about my independently released e-books. This is a new development – and one I’ve been talking about for a while. These are the books that I have gone the whole mile for. I hired an artist, paid for a cover, converted them for e-publishing and sent them out.
This summer, in June 2012, I released FIGHTING WORDS. It was a sort of an experiment that did not work out quite the way I had hoped. I released it strictly through Kobo – and I have sold about six or seven copies since then. I don’t hang my head at that number – although it is pretty pitiful.
What I did, instead, was to go back and reevaluate my strategy and thinking.
Then, in October I came out with FLASH VIRUS: EPISODE ONE. I hired a solid artist – Keith Draws – and came up with a solid marketing plan. I had decided that I would write this work in serial format – that is – I would release a half a dozen chapters as a sort of mini-book, every couple of weeks.
Well – that plan was a little grandiose – but I have been VERY pleased with the results.
I released Episode One on October 20, 2012.
I released Episode Two on October 29, 2012.
I released Episode Three on November 15, 2012.
I released Shotgun Christmas – a short two story collection – on December 3, 2012.
I’m just putting the finishing touches on Episode Four and it should be released in the next week or so. That whole “every two weeks” plan had to go by the wayside. It was bold talk – but I could not deliver.
Still – my plan has been working for me. I have set Episode One as a permanent freebie – and have given away almost 3000 copies on Amazon and close to 6000 copies on Kobo.
In the month of December I sold 37 copies of my independently released e-books – twenty of Episode Two, fifteen of Episode Three and one copy of Shotgun Christmas.
Meanwhile, on Kobo, I sold 55 copies – including thirty-two of Episode Two and twenty-three of Episode Three.
(in fact, I actually sold one more copy of Episode Two, about three minutes past midnight)
Combined with the e-books that I sold in December through Crossroad – (haven’t got my December numbers yet – but I’ve just had an e-mail that let me know that I sold over FORTY copies of my hockey-vampire novella SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME over a three day promotion stretch – I have sold over 100 e-books in the month of December. Last December I had made it my goal to sell one hundred e-books a month.
So – in spite of a few detours and wrong directions and Boss Hawg-like jumps into the local water hole – I am on track for 2013.
* * *
So, what are my goals for 2013?
I am going to ease back on the marketing and push ahead on the writing. I am determined to see the release of Flash Virus episodes 4, 5 and 6 by the end of February.
Then, I intend to release a a paperback book copy of VIRUS FLASH – all six episodes in one.
I am convinced that by NOT having my e-books in paperback format I am missing out on a few more sales – and that is going to be a strong part of my 2013 writing strategy.
More e-books and a few more in trade paperback format.
I have achieved my personal goal of selling a hundred e-books in a month. Now I must do better. It is very do-able. There are hundreds – if not thousands – of e-book authors who REGULARLY sell 1000 or more e-books a month.
A thousand e-books in one month – now that’s a target I want to shoot for – but for 2013 my aim is to sell 500 e-books in the month of December 2013.
You can take that to the bank.
I certainly intend to.
yours in storytelling,