As most of you know I have been focusing a lot of my energy in 2011 upon the creation and marketing of a line of e-books.
It took me a while to come around to the idea. I was one of those old farts who thought that e-books were sillier than pink slippers on a blue bull – but then, as I saw that they weren’t a fad and that they weren’t going away and that they looked to be a true and viable means of getting your words out to brand new readers I decided to evolve my thinking.
I am in the midst of a sort of an experiment and I thought I should record my results – just in case the Mayans are right about the upcoming apocalypse. Centuries from now strange aliens will undoubtedly land upon the remains of this planet – following the Mayan meltdown. They will likewise undoubtedly boot-up the remains of the internet and discover my blog and look upon and wonder to themselves just how desparate this old fart must be to imagine that anyone was interested in this sort of hoopdoodlery.
So be it.
With the help of my publisher, Crossroad Press, I have released eight e-books – with two more e-books coming out during February. I have decided that my best plan of action is to work on my numbers. The more e-books I have out there the more likely it is that people will stumble over them.
So far, this has been working to a slight extent.
My first monthly pay cheque consisted of a whole five dollars – which isn’t much. My latest monthly pay cheque was a little over a hundred dollars. So the e-books have at least evolved into a slightly worthwhile secondary income.
For those of you who aren’t writers – this sort of thing is just another example of how us writers have learned to make it in this life. We depend upon an interval of cheques and payments that come in semi-randomly.
For example – I have two royalty cheques that I get from Nimbus in a year. One every six months. In addition I have a check from the PLR – the Public Lending Right – that guages the number of times my books were borrowed from the public library. This check comes once a year. I also have a cheque that comes from Access – the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency that is based on the number of times that people photocopy my work.
Don’t ask me how they calculate that. Math was never my strong suit.
So – for now I am hoping to add these e-books to my cash flow and pay a few more bills.
Oh yes, we writers have bills, too.
Up to now my bestselling book has been my horror/historical novel DEVIL TREE – which is available at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/Devil-Tree-ebook/dp/B004OA6M3G
It is also available on Kobo. http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Devil-Tree/book-Zk7YCormwkefEhhTbf6twQ/page1.html
Or, you can get it directly from my publisher, Crossroad Press, in a variety of formats. http://store.crossroadpress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=270
I suggest you stop and download about twenty or thirty copies of this book in each separate format – just in case those post-mayan aliens only have access to Kobo e-readers.
With my luck they’ll have nothing but Commodore 64’s.
So far, the sales figures on Devil Tree – even though it is my bestselling e-book, have been fairly unimpressive.
Here’s a rough estimate on what I’ve sold – strictly through Kindle at amazon.com.
Devil Tree Sales (Kindle only)
August 2011 – 5 copies
September 2011 – 8 copies
October 2011 – 13 copies
November 2011 – 7 copies
December 2011 – 14 copies
January 2012 – 22 copies
February 2012 (as of February 4) – 3 copies
That’s 72 copies in six months and a bit – in Kindle format alone . There are Nook and Kobo and Smashword and assorted format sales besides these – but on the whole I sell the most copies of my e-books through Kindle.
Bear in mind that I’ve sold about 8000 copies of my traditionally published Nimbus collection HAUNTED HARBOURS, since it first came out in April 2006. So 72 copies is not anything to write home to mother about.
Haunted Harbours is available through Chapters/Indigo http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Haunted-Harbours-Ghost-Stories-Old-Steve-Vernon/9781551095929-item.html
Also available through Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Haunted-Harbours-Ghost-Stories-Scotia/dp/1551095920/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Bear in mind that Haunted Harbours is also available in e-book format for the Nook and the Kobo. This is a fairly recent development and I am hoping for sales figures on the digital version with my next royalty cheque.
Now that I have a line-up of e-books it has become necessary to proceed to the next step of my e-book experiment. I need to goose up the publicity a bit and hopefully draw attention to my efforts.
There are a number of ways that a writer can go about doing this. I have already contacted quite a few reviewers and I have e-copies of my books in a number of reviewers to-be-read piles. That is the important thing to remember when you or your publisher send a review copy to a reviewer. You have little or no control over when that review will come out. Most reviewers have a lag period of at least six months – so getting a review is not something that you do instantly. Furthermore, just because a reviewer has accepted your book is no guarantee that they will either read and/or review that book. Remember, these folks get free books every week.
How do I know this?
I used to be one. For two years I wrote regular reviews for many markets – primarily Cemetery Dance magazine. I got free books and was paid a certain amount for each review – and even now, years later, I still recieve the occasional free book because somebody has still got me on their mailing list. I’ve written back and told them I don’t do this anymore – but every now and then a book shows up.
Another technique is to supply a few free books to readers that you trust. Not just your friends or even your mom – but good honest readers. They will post their reviews on Amazon, or Chapters, or at Goodreads or Library Thing or ducttaped to a stall in a men’s room.
I don’t know if reviews really help a lot – but they don’t hurt. And I have found that I do sell a few more books when ever a good review pops up. So I’ve taken steps to get reviews in motion.
My next part of the e-book experiment begins this month. I have instructed my publisher to enroll my two February e-books into the KDP Select program. You have probably heard of this program. The way it works is that you agree to only sell your e-books through Kindle at the various Amazon sites. In turn you are given the option of releasing these books as “free e-books” for up to five of those ninety days.
So what good does giving away your books do for you?
The theory is, that if you give away enough e-books people will start talking and when those five days expire your books will still be visible enough – that is high enough on the Kindle bestsellers list to attract people who don’t mind actually paying the two or three dollars your e-book costs.
I’ve talked to a few writers and this strategy as worked for them – sometimes improving their sales numbers by as much as tenfold. I have likewise spoken with other writers who report very little change in their sales numbers following a KDP Select release.
I intend to find out just how this whole procedure will work for me. If it fails miserably, then I have lost nothing – because the e-books are still plodding along and will continue to do so. However, if I can improve the sales numbers then I will be one step closer towards evolving my life into that of a full-time writer.
I intend to keep you readers posted on the developments of my e-book experiments.
If you want to find out more about writers who are making their way in the e-book world check out Arthur Slade’s blog http://redroom.com/member/arthur-slade/blog/the-amazing-ebook-experiment-june-sales and of course you’ll want to check out the master of the e-book format JA Konrath who has been working this gig since 2006. http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2005-01-01T00:00:00-06:00&updated-max=2006-01-01T00:00:00-06:00&max-results=50
So, for now, I’m signing off. I’ve got some writing that needs writing, a light bulb that needs changing, a floor that needs mopping and some bills to pay.
yours in storytelling,
Great article Mr. Vernon. No daydreaming or excessive dread, as I too often find in other blogs full of doomsayers. Your analysis was based on pure facts.
Thank you sir. As for daydreaming and dread – a writer needs to get comfortable with the notion of existing in a state of perpetual financial uncertainty. If I’d wanted to be financially independent I would pointed my nose towards dentistry.
Great work! Thanks for sharing. And thanks for the shout out. It really is a slow build…unless all the stars align in some magical way. I have found that varying my “free” book days to be helpful. So I would give away for two days in row, then a few weeks later for one day.
When a book goes from free to paid there are so many variables that must affect the sales rank…I think the # of 4 and 5 stars makes a big difference on top of so many other things…
Great info, always like to read about real numbers and ideas from other authors… as much as I love reading authors like JA Konrath, he is so completely beyond me and most of us in terms of sales that I read his and wish I could get sales like that… good luck with it and hope you get some of these elusive reviews!
Thanks, Armand. I keep working the room, hopefully something will give. A few more sales, a few more reviews – like the man said, this game is played in inches.
Pingback: My e-book experiment – part two… « stevevernonstoryteller
Thanks Steve, for directing me to your blog to answer my question as to why you were freely offering your books to readers. So free is limited. I didn’t realize that. It all makes good sense now.
No problem, Ivan. I would have answered last night but I was bone-tired. Have been walking to work during this bus strike – about two and a half miles there and back. Great exercise – but MAN, do I sleep.