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Indie Authors Plan – the Reading Gods Laugh

Indie authors plan – the reading gods laugh.

An indie author can only cast a wide net.

The problem is that there is no way to know how many readers will be caught in the net’s webbing. Sometimes it’s a great haul. Sometimes it’s a rusty can and an old boot.

Is there anything less scientific in the world than trying to determine how to find readers?

I’ve posted recently about my anemic Goodreads ad. I’ve had a lot of anemic ads.

I’ve had some ads that have worked.

I’ve had free promotions which were amazing – digital copies flew off the imaginary shelves like a black Friday sale at Walmart.

I’ve had free promotions which were quite stagnant.

I’ve had good reviews which generated a bunch of sales.

I’ve had good reviews which generated about as much interest as my former cat had in me petting her.

What does it all mean?

It means that indie authors plan, the reading gods laugh.

There is no formula.

No magic bullet.

No one size fits all marketing plan that will work. There’s no guaranteed blog tour, or Amazon algorithm, or amazing guest post, or (most definitely) Goodreads ad which is going to be the magical breakthrough you are looking for.

What am I saying? Is it useless to try and promote your writing?

Not at all. It is just impossible to know what will work. (It’s rather easy to know what will not work, but I’m guessing you’ll try it anyways. Why not? It’s just money.)

The reading gods are in control. They laugh at our effort, and they occasionally grand mercy on a poor indie soul, by opening the floodgates and releasing untold readers upon an unsuspecting plot.

When it will happen, nobody knows.

Who it will happen to, nobody knows.

All an indie author is to do is to keep the faith, keep promoting, cast that wide net, try new things, and try your darnedest to ingratiate yourself into the bosom of the reading gods.

You just never know.

(Can you tell I spent the afternoon on promotion?)

Overtaking my own novel

Put this in the every increasing fat file folder called “I still don’t know what I’m doing as an indie author.”

Release dates for novels. What’s really the best? Here’s the spacing of my three novels:

December 2012

October 2013

July 2014

Is that good spacing? Bad spacing? Could have it been improved? Could it have been worse? I get the feeling that the answer to all of those questions is “yes”.

Here’s the issue: I still feel that The Recluse Storyteller still has legs to it. Actually, so does Beauty Rising. My best sales month with BR was several months after The Recluse was released – about 14 months from its original release. The Recluse hasn’t reach the levels of BR as of yet, but it has been only been 8 months. So it is wise to release The Reach of the Banyan Tree so close?

I keep hearing over and over from other authors that the thing to do is write because multiple books will help sell each other. If that’s true, and I’ve seen it a little between my first two, then the more I release the better, right?

What has been nice is that I am building up a group of bloggers who have enjoyed my first two works and so eagerly wanted to read my third – even if they were swamped with other requests.

So as most of my promotional tactics shift to my new release, I may actually be over-taking my own novels. However, I hope to win readers who will want to read all of my works. So the journey continues.

Onward!

New Excerpt & Book Promo only on The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Blog

I’m happy to share a new excerpt from The Recluse Storyteller not available anywhere else except in the book itself. It is part of a book promotion on The (Mis)Adventures … blog. Please head on over to her website and read the excerpt. If it sounds intriguing, please check out the book. Thanks everyone!

http://themisadventuresofatwentysomething.blogspot.com/2013/12/book-promo-recluse-storyteller-by-mark.html

 

One Year as an Indie Author!

On December 5, I celebrated an anniversary of sorts: the one year anniversary of the release of my debut novel, Beauty Rising. It also marks the one year point of jumping into my second career as an indie author. It’s been an incredibly fun and rewarding year. I’ve learned a lot of lessons, spent a lot of money, made less than what I spent, made a lot of new friends, and have been blessed with many kind and encouraging comments.

I’ve also had a few not-so good reviews. An author also needs some of those – means I’m getting my writing wings. But luckily, the vast majority of reviews and comments have been extremely positive. I’m grateful, truly.

I’ve learned a lot about promotion. Mostly I learned that an indie author can never stop or give up. The moment I stop promoting is the moment I lose momentum.

I also learned that I don’t need to sell huge quantities of books in my first year. It’s not about the money. It’s about building for the future. I still have a job.

But would it be nice to, one day, be able to write for a living? Absolutely. The only way to do that is to keep writing quality books and keep promoting them in every possible way available to me. I have to build my writing platform and my brand name. As uncomfortable as that sounds, it’s the only way to keep moving forward. Facebook. Blog. Twitter (which I still can’t stand). Day by day. Step by step.

2013 saw the promotion of Beauty Rising and the release of The Recluse Storyteller.

2014 will oversee the continued promotion of The Recluse Storyteller and the release of novel 3, The Reach of the Banyan Tree.  I can’t wait for this novel to come out!

It’s been a good, growing year for me as a writer and author. I thank everyone who has supported me during this past year. Let’s hope for better days to come!

 

As Thankful as an Author

As a person, a father, a husband – I have so much to be thankful for. If I never sell another book in my entire life it wouldn’t affect my happiness or life fulfillment.

But as I approach my first Thanksgiving as an indie author, this writer also has a lot to be thankful for.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity and time to write.

I’ve been inspired with endless ideas that keep springing to life at the oddest of moments.

I’ve had wonderful opportunities to see my dramatic works performed and had scores of readers encourage me with their gracious words of affirmation.

I am so thankful to the reviewers who have agreed to review my works, to the websites who happily agreed to promote me. I am grateful for the many resources available to indie authors these days. It’s truly amazing.

But most of all I’m thankful for my slowly building readership. Thank you for sharing my books with others. Thanks for stopping by my blog or Facebook page. Thank you for your kind words and even your constructive criticism. It all means so much.

I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving.

God bless!

 

Are you finding time to write?

Today is one of those days I just want to create.

I’ve been working and promoting and directing drama and doing everything else in the world I usually do except doing the one thing I really want to do: write.

Indie writers have seasons. I know that. There are always competing demands to juggle. But sometimes, the mind just wants to take off and create.

So that’s what I did this afternoon. A phrase ripped through my head and I thought it would be an excellent start to one of those short dramas I love to write. So I went to one of my stomping grounds to let it come out. It did. It’s not finished, not by any means, but I have written about half of it and now there are many possibilities staring me in the face which weren’t there just an hour ago.

That’s what I love about creative writing. The directions which one can take are endless. I started writing this short play thinking it would be serious drama, but then I got to one part which was just funny, and so I thought, perhaps, a meaningful comedy would be fun. And now over the next few months, I can ponder the possibilities and eventually decide which direction to take. No rules. No boundaries. No one forcing me to say this or that. It’s mine to write and re-write and write again until its exactly the way I want it.

And I have a feeling. Sometime in 2014, somebody will be performing this dramatic sketch in front of a live audience. Can’t get much better than that.

Certainly better than working. Better than promoting. Finally a day to do what I was meant to do: Write.

Is a novel worth more than one song?

I was looking to purchase a song off of Amazon the other day and noticed the purchase price of $1.29.

It immediately struck me odd that at that moment, my novel, Beauty Rising, is selling for only $.99.

Is a song really worth more than a novel? What if it’s a terrible novel and a really good song? Perhaps.

Each artist puts a lot into their work whether it’s a four-minute song or a 250 page novel, and I really don’t know how much time the average musician takes to write and produce a four-minute song. But I have a hard time believing it’s more than a novel.

Where does value and worth come from? Ultimately the consumer who is willing to pay a certain price for a product they desire to have.

I remember back in the late 1980s when CDs had only recently come upon the scene, I would easy spend $12, $15, and sometimes even $18 for a new CD. Was I crazy? Wow, how pricing has changed!

Now, I hate spending more than $5 – $7 for a complete MP3 album. (I rarely buy an album when it first releases. I’ll wait until it reaches Amazon’s 100 albums for $5 list.)

I expect digital content to cost less – way less. Why? I guess because there is nothing to hold in my hand. So establishing the fact that I’m all right with cheap digital content, let’s go back to my original question.

Should a digital novel be priced cheaper than one song?

In a perfect world where I was making money off my writing, no.

But such is a the life of an unknown indie author.

The market is so thick with new content that the prices of e-books have drastically nose-dived.

Readers have a dizzying time trying to find quality content that they like. Some people never purchase books anymore and just feed their Kindles with free content.

What’s a fair price?  I like the $2.99 – $4.99 range for ebooks. Very affordable, but still gives the author significantly more than the pittance $.35 cents they earn with a sale of a $.99. I do NOT like what the big publishers have done with e-books, pricing them at a ridiculous range above $10. I really think it’s counterproductive to what they are trying to do. But what do I know?

But until enough people have read and trust my work, I’ll have to continue selling books below the cost of one song.

I would ask one thing of readers, however. If you read a good book – a truly great read – that was free or greatly discounted like $.99, please consider purchasing a copy of another of the author’s books. I think that hours of enjoyment that you receive reading should at least be worth $2.99 and it will help compensate the author for the hard work.

Your thoughts?

What are Traditional Publishers doing to Promote their Talent?

Every once in a while, I like to look at books or authors on-line and try to determine what marketing and promotion approach that they are taking.  I like to see how well their books are selling and try to guess why they have or have not been successful.

I came across an author I was not familiar with who just released his third novel a few months ago via Penguin.  He previously had a hit book (or at least semi-successful) with a different publisher, so I was curious how he was doing with his new gig.

His new novel has been out for 4+ months, it has only 3 reviews on Amazon, it’s sales on Amazon are dismal and its Kindle selling price is over $12 per ebook.

Am I missing something here?

What actually is Penguin doing for this author? Are they even promoting the book at all? What’s the point of signing someone on and then not putting all one’s resources behind the book launch. Shouldn’t a traditional publisher have all the where-withal to get the word out and sell books?

Like I said, am I missing something?  Perhaps I am. Maybe they don’t want to sell books through Amazon?

Actually, seeing what is happening to this author makes me proud to be an indie author. I get the fruits of my labor – however big or small that may be. I get as much out of it as I put into it. The options are limitless, the rights are all mine as are the decisions of when to release, what to release, and at what price point.

I’m not talking down the traditional publishers. They have their own way of doing business and they make money how they want to.

But at the moment, I’m glad to be independent. It doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t ever listen to any offer if a traditional publisher came by. What’s the harm in listening, right?

But I’m happy to move forward doing things my own way.

Go indie!

Plugging Away on Novel #3: How much time between releases?

Summer break for a teacher. Is there anything better in the world?  It has been great to finally have time to write. I’m currently working on novel #3 even though novel two hasn’t even been released yet. It’s a little trick I like to have up my sleeve. Have the next one complete before I release the previous one.

Why do I do it this way?  I’m not exactly sure. I guess it’s a way of taking the pressure off.  I never have to say, “Oh no, this new release is going well; what am I going to follow it  with?” No pressure. The next one is done.

Besides that, it allows me to appropriately space out my releases as much as I want. What is the correct length between releases? Crucial question. The answer? I don’t know. I do know that I want to give each book enough time to find its footing to, hopefully, help the release of the next one. Beauty Rising released in December 2012. Six months later there are still plenty of avenues of promotion yet to be explored. Reviews keep accumulating (now 60 of them on Amazon) and there are so many things still to do, so it doesn’t make much sense to cramp a book’s style by overshadowing it with a new one until the timing is right.

But another thing I noticed about successful authors, they all have multiple books that have previously been released. That’s crucial. No one wants to be a one-hit-wonder, I’m compelled not to wait too much longer until I release The Recluse Storyteller.  Approximate release date is less than four months. Yes, I’m excited about it.

My first draft of the storyteller was written in the summer of 2012.  Then I let it sit for six months when I decided to finally release Beauty Rising, which has kept me very busy. In July, I will get back to my final revisions on the Storyteller. By then, I’ll have heard from my advanced readers and be able to put together a final copy. I even have the cover finished thanks to my resident artist of the year, Joyce Lee. I can’t wait to share it with you. Someday.

But for me, what’s nice to know is that when I finally get back to The Recluse Storyteller, I’ll have already completed the first draft of novel number three.

And that’s all right with me.

So that’s how I currently do things as an indie author. What about you?

The Two Lives of a Book

When writing a novel, I get so caught up in my characters and the plot-line, that it takes on a life of its own. It becomes a little part of me, a part that I cherish and grow to like and mold day by day as I write. Part of what I love is the discovery process as I figure out what is going to happen to these characters whom I care about. And I don’t mean ‘care’ as in how I care for my family. I also care for the villains because they are the ones that add conflict, interest and intrigue into the plot. (Readers live for their mischievous deeds!) All the characters are like my children because I have created them. That’s quite a satisfying feeling, actually. When I was finishing Beauty Rising and re-reading it for the umpteenth time, I was amazed at how I didn’t get sick of it. It continued to intrigue me as I tweaked words here and there putting the finishing touches on it.

 

The first life of my novel belonged only to me. I felt selfish about it. Besides some readers who gave me feedback, I protected it like a vulnerable child who might get bullied at school.

But I realized that a book is not meant to have only one life. It’s meant to stand on its own two feet. It’s meant to grow up and fight its own battles. And so I had to release it into the wild world of readers.

The second life of a book is driven by perception. Promotion drives this second life by trying to persuade a reader to have a look. Hoping that a current reader will like it enough to pass on a good word to someone else.

The book becomes a sales pitch. An uncomfortable, yet necessary one.

The writer becomes a businessman. An uncomfortable, yet necessary one.

The second life of a book has to withstand criticism. The second life of a book has to have staying power if it is ever to make a impact.

The second life of a book needs to be driven by perserverence and the refusal to give in to a defeatist attitude.

I must say, the first life of a book is easier, but the second life of a book is more rewarding.

My newest novel, The Recluse Storyteller, has been languishing in the its first life for nearly 10 months now. It’s starting to get antsy. I can feel it. It’s grown up. It’s changed. It’s morphed. It’s no longer the little child it once was. It needs to know if it can stand on its own two feet.

I need to know if I have succeeded with book number 2. And the only way to do that is to release it into the wild.

It’s coming.

And that makes me both excited and nervous.

But isn’t that the fate of an author?  Nervous excitement.

I live for the thrill.