Month: May 2014

Amazon v Hachette: Don’t Believe The Spin

David Pandolfe:

An insightful analysis of the ongoing Amazon/Hachette dispute from writer David Gaughran’s blog.

Originally posted on David Gaughran:

amazonhachetteThe internet is seething over Amazon’s reported hardball tactics in negotiations with Hachette.

Newspapers and blogs are filled with heated opinion pieces, decrying Amazon’s domination of the book business.

Actual facts are thinner on the ground, however, and if history is any guide, we haven’t heard the full story. Here’s how it started.

In a historical quirk of the trade, publishers and booksellers negotiate co-op deals at the same time as the general agreement to carry titles. (For those who don’t know, co-op is the industry term for preferred in-store placement, such as face-out instead of spine-out, position on end-caps, front tables, window displays, and so on.)

At publishers’ insistence, the same practice has continued in the online and e-book world, namely that negotiations regarding virtual co-op (e.g. high visibility spots on retailer sites) take place at the same time as discussions over general terms and publisher-retailer discounts.

There is a lot…

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checking out the ghost town

Not that I don’t already have enough social media distraction in my life but I’ve recently been checking out Google Plus as an alternative (or at least additional) option to Facebook. As I’m sure all indie writers are now well aware, Facebook’s recent changes have essentially made any posts authors make to their Facebook “fan” pages virtually impossible to see unless the writer is also willing to pay to “boost this post” (in other words, pay for advertising). As an author relatively new to the game, this didn’t sit well with me after working to bring people to like my author Facebook “fan” page. After finally reaching a respectable number of likes on my page, I learned that only a tiny fraction of those people who like the page will actually see what I post there. The result being, I’ve found myself using Facebook less. I will say, though, at least I’m not alone. I had to laugh the other day when a writer mentioned that not even her husband saw her recent post on his timeline.

So, this made me curious about Google Plus. Yes, I’d heard the rumors about it being a ghost town but I figured I might as well check it out. I have to say, it really does offer some nice features such as creating circles allowing you control who sees what. Google Plus also offers quite a bit more control over what you post there, such as the ability to edit after the fact and use formatted text to make your posts look more professional. Now, it’s back to square one. After getting people to like my Facebook author page, how do I get them to follow on Google Plus? The major obstacle being that most of them are probably only on Facebook.

I’d love to hear from others on this. Are any of you other writers or readers checking out Google Plus too? What do you think?

By the way, here’s my page on Google Plus. I’d love it if you followed me there.

Streetlights Like Fireworks $0.99 Book Launch

When I published my first novel, Jump When Ready, I was tentatively dipping my toe into the waters of indie publishing and had no idea, really, what was involved. I did some research but most of my time and energy was spent on editing and formatting (and before that, writing, of course). After hitting the publish button, it dawned on me that I better start telling people my book was out there (I know, I know, but like I said I was totally green). So, I scheduled a blog tour and signed onto KDP Select to see how those things would work out. Well, the blog tour did little for sales but did produce some nice reviews from bloggers. I decided it was probably worth it to have those review quotes (plus, the tour was fun). As for KDP Select, my first run of two free days saw over 6,500 downloads and Jump When Ready broke the Top 100 Free list on Amazon. Yes, I was ecstatic but didn’t realize that a great free ranking did little for a book’s paid ranking (a very disappointing discovery, I assure you). Still, KDP Select helped me put the word out there and I appreciated that opportunity.

All the same, for Streetlights Like Fireworks, I decided to try a $0.99 promo launch while also pricing Jump When Ready the same way to see if the two books might start talking to each other on Amazon. This was a totally last minute decision too (do you get the feeling I’m not much of a planner?) when I came across an episode from Simon Whistler’s “Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast” in which he featured Darren Wearmouth who launched his first novel Activation Days this way. What was funny was that I had heard many times that the $0.99 price-point was dead. Maybe it is, overall, as a means of attracting buyers long-term but it has helped boost my launch for Streetlights Like Fireworks, at least as an alternative to KDP Select free days. I have to say, I haven’t had the same degree of good fortune as Darren Wearmouth (who broke into the top hundreds range, I believe) but SLF has seen a ranking at around #2,500 on Amazon two times in thirty days, has charted in its subcategories a few times (three times charting in all three of its subcategories and, hey, that’s my book next to Neil Gaiman’s one day!).

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It may be common knowledge to many but what I discovered is that there are quite a few reasonably priced (well, most of the time) promotional opportunities for $0.99 books. Those I found most effective so far have been a Kindle Daily Nation/Book Gorilla combo (the most expensive ad I ran but very effective), a Kindles Books and Tips ad and an Ereader News Today ad (I get the feeling I  was lucky to get into ENT). KND and ENT pushed SLF up into the #2,000s range, while KBT pushed the novel up to around #6,000. I have not had the same kind of luck with some of the others, which is not to say I had no luck with them (just smaller bumps). Yes, I thought about naming those promos here but why piss people off who might end up being next year’s BookBub (who, by the way, have still not agreed to take my money).  Besides, you can figure that out by process of elimination and, you never know, you might have better luck with some of the others and at least you know what worked for Streetlights Like Fireworks.

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So, my take-away? I’ve been pretty happy with the $0.99 book launch strategy considering my ranking jumped from #530,000 to #2,000 in a day upon “official launch” (then jumped  back again and hovered around #10,000 – 15,000 for days). No, it’s not there presently (last I checked, it’s at around #38,000 but that’s not too bad, all things considered) and at least people have been seeing and buying my new novel, some reviews have come in and people have joined my mailing list (and I made back most of the money I spent on the ads). I also noticed that, this time, my “those who bought, also bought” category is populated with books more related to mine as far as genre goes whereas when running the free promo it was evident that people were just snagging freebies, resulting in Jump When Ready showing that the people who downloaded that novel about teenagers in the afterlife also downloaded  books on sourdough baking and keeping their stomach muscles toned (as much as these two go together too, so go figure).

Anyway, I plan on running a few more promos over the next couple of weeks and will let you know if any more prove successful. Then, I guess I will have to raise those prices again. Oh, what that also means is that you can still buy both Streetlights Like Fireworks and Jump When Ready for $0.99 for a short while longer, so please be my guest!

By the way, fellow indie writers, I’d love to hear what strategies are working for you these days so please feel free to leave comments. Good luck with your book sales!

Publishing Advice: Don’t Believe a Word

David Pandolfe:

I’m constantly impressed with Robert Chazz Chute’s wealth of helpful advice for writers, all in the spirit of indie cooperation. A good blog to follow.

Originally posted on C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m:

The writing and publishing business is full of, “On the one hand, this. Oh, yeah, but on the other foot, what aboutthis BS?” Here’s the conflicting advice on my mind this week, to and fro, pro and con:

1. People complain about marketing on Twitter, “What can I say of value in 140 characters?”

It gets worse. It’s better if you say it in 100 characters. Say more with less and it’s more likely to be read and retweeted. Leaving more room allows for additions, links and commentary from enthusiastic retweeters. So be pithier. You’re a writer. You can handle that. 

2. More blog posts, daily, equals more traffic to your blog.

Unless you’re blogging a book, you’re losing time you could be using to write your next book. There are still many writers who struggle with time management and discipline. The writing — the book writing — has to come first…

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How To Increase Piracy

David Pandolfe:

Interesting post about why DRM doesn’t prevent pirating (does anyone outside trad publishing even use DRM?) and a nice offer for those who purchased the first edition of Let’s Get Digital to get the revised version (best bet, signing up of David Gaughran’s mailing list, which is a good idea anyway).

Originally posted on David Gaughran:

lets_get_digital_amazon I’m working on the 2 nd edition of Let’s Get Digital this month and I thought it might be fun to share some of the ideas I’m sketching out. The following excerpt is part of the chapter on piracy (about a third of it, if you’re counting).

There’s more details on Digital 2 (and other releases) at the end of this post, but let me open with a disclaimer: authors are entitled to take whatever approach they like to piracy. It’s their stuff.

That said, I’d like to see if I can convince some of you to approach the issue a little differently, because I think taking a hard-line approach can be counter-productive.

How To Increase Piracy

A common misconception in publishing is that Amazon has the exclusive right to sell Kindle-compatible e-books. For example, I was at the London Book Fair’s Great Debate in 2013 when author Robert Levine…

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Bookanistas Review

Wonderful review from “Bookanista” Tracy Banghart for Streetlights Like Fireworks. And finally someone mentions the cover!!

“STREETLIGHTS LIKE FIREWORKS is a quick, ambitious book that combines a variety of disparate elements – like ghostsand rock god guitars – to seamlessly create a unique and satisfying read. I highly recommend it!”

Thank you, Bookanistas! If you’d like, you can read the rest of the review here.