Yay, I typed “The End” today on my most recent Melanie Hart novel. I still have revisions a edits to do, but some of that work is already done. I’m excited. I always am when a new book is about to launch.
Please meet Molly. She now officially represents me on various discussion boards where I hang out. I never felt comfortable using a personal photo in my posts, because having my face pictured next to my words felt, well, too personal for me. (It’s probably a deep-seated flaw in my character, but I have been camera-shy since a very young child.)
Since I’ve used an avatar for a while now, I’ve tried more than one. The first I liked very much, but no one else did. I decided to change it one day when I stumbled across an electronic discussion suggesting it was a very poor choice.. (It was the head of a turkey, so possibly they may have had a point.) So it came down to be replaced by another image. But I didn’t much like that one. And then one recent day there she was, Molly, the avatar of my dreams.
My inspiration came from the avatar of a fellow forum member. She has the picture of the face of a white dog with a tiny tip of her pink tongue reaching up toward her nose and a glorious wig of pink hair, which cascades elegantly down her shoulders. It is darling!
So what do you think of my Molly? Do you like her? Would you read books written by her? And what about you? Do you use your own photo, or do you, also, hide behind a beloved image?
And please forgive me for filling this page with such nonsense, but I really, really like Molly.
Every so often a heated debate breaks out in a writing forum I follow. “Should authors use Twitter to promote their books?” some poor poster asks. And the responses are usually instant and many.
Most of the people believe writers who use Twitter to openly sell books are slime buckets. Twitter, they say, is for making friends and connections. Authors there should share life stories or good reads or observations on life. They say we should rarely send out tweets containing links to our books. It can be done, they say if you’ve just published a new book. But the announcement should only be posted once, not repeated twenty times in one day. That’s it. That’s all you can safely do there. To do otherwise is to risk having followers cut you from their feeds.
But there is a another opinion, a brave soul who steps up and says, “Hey, wait just one dang minute.”
He says he spews out nothing but spam on Twitter. He subscribes to a program that kicks out promos multiple times every day, and from the clicks his links get, he suspects doing so sells as many as five books a week for him. He claims he has lots of followers and doesn’t care if someone drops his feeds. He’ll sell just as well to the new people who follow him.
So, what’s your feeling?
I’m old enough at this Indie Author game to remember when a free book pushed sales nearly through the roof. Perma-free, the big boys called it. That’s the free ebook in a series that sells the rest of the line. Golden days those were. Or so I’ve heard.
I didn’t manage to write quickly enough to capitalize on that particular marketing trick.
Or take another old saw (remember with ebooks, nothing is really all that old) that nothing sells the old book quite as well as a new book. In other words, the trick to selling well is to produce, produce, produce.
But the times, they are a changin’. Today, the even some of the best performing ebooks writers are noting that sales are becoming more of a challenge with each passing day. They claim it’s difficult to become noticed these days. And from what I’ve seen, I suspect they are correct.
Anyway, the mantra now is shifting from a strategy of getting your next book out there to advertising your current works under something I call pay to play. This means you buy advertising on popular ebook recommendation sites to push your work. Bookbub is praised widely. And other sites for book promotion are also mentioned in reverential tones. Once you pay. They include your book on their list, and sales result. Or so both writers and the site owners say.
I do not doubt them. Advertising is a widely respected, promotional game. But ebook margins make pricey ads a wee bit off-putting in some instances.
Then. there’s the other side of today’s complex market. Those reports say the book-selling market is fragmenting. They predict the entry of such awe-inducing names as Wal-mart and Costco into the future mix.
If those predictions are correct, this hungry, hairy, crazy market for ebooks is about to become hungrier and hairier and even crazier.
I believe it. I’ve seen changes occur in this business that I could never have imagined on my own.
I started off this journey three or four years ago, when I learned I could write a book and publish it as an ebook for free. When I learned that I sat back in my chair and said, “I’m going to do that.” (I’d always wanted to write and publish a novel, after all.)
And I did. And it was fun. And the book sold. But today’s books sell a little less well because so many people, I believe, are sitting back in their chairs and saying, “I’m going to do that.”
In sort, the ebook world is a crazy world. But I’m glad I’m in it. And I’m glad I’ve had what success I’ve had. After all, I didn’t even put a price tag on my first book for nearly two years. Why? Because, said I, who’s going to buy a self-published ebook by a no-name writer? But they did and it was good, and I had fun, and thank you all so much.
May the future, whatever direction it unfolds, be half as much fun as the past couple of years has been. And to those of you who’ve bought my books, thank you very much, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride as much as I have.
I grant you there are days when I wonder why I do this. But the question doesn’t linger with me for long. Because the answer is I like challenges. And writing and publishing and designing my own book covers provides enough challenges to keep me both busy and entertained.
Plus I just flat out enjoy being an entrepreneur. I like biting into my hamburger at night, knowing that I’ve truly earned it. I thrive on exercising my wits in an effort to put myself and my book in front of an ever increasing number of eyes. I groove on hanging out in self-pubber’s chat rooms and lists and forums. I lap up the mantra with relish that self published authors are going to take over the world. (Even if I think we’re unlikely to accomplish that goal.)
My only true weakness is keeping my fingers at work on the keyboard long enough to pump out the-next book. It’s so much easier and more entertaining to jump onto the web and do all the above-named stuff. But I know the novel’s the thing. And somehow, I eventually manage to pull another one out of somewhere.
And that’s the mysterious part. Where do these books come from? Where are our characters born? Of course, that’s not the singular province of self-published authors. That act crosses the great divide between us and them. (You know, the writers with contracts and deadline handed down by somebody else.) But no matter how different our outlooks or methods might be, we’re all engaged in the same game. Tapping our creativity and putting books out there in the most entertaining fashion we can.
There is a great deal that divides our two camps. But there’s a great deal that unites us as well.
For my money, though, I get a hoot out of going it alone.
To paraphrase a little ditty making the rounds in the US, more is apparently better. Take digital publishing. It’s up to its eyeballs in quick output. That according to an article running at Digiday. It points to commercial blogs and news outlets for proof:
In recent years, new players like The Huffington Post burst onto the scene by pumping out a dizzying amount of content each day. The company has 532 full-time editorial staff producing about 1,200 pieces of content per day (and that’s not including the 28 full-time blog editors who oversee the 400 pieces of content per day coming from its blog). All this content generates 43 million pageviews per day, per Comscore. The pageview race now stretches far beyond HuffPost, as many publishers combat low ad prices with high volume.
Even old publications, like Forbs, are taking part in the pageview race. It has 50 on its editorial team. However, it also has about 1,000 contributors. Between the two, Forbes puts up about 400 posts per day and sees 4 million pageviews per day, per Comscore.
Read the rest of the article here.
But it’s not much of a leap to fast forward this concept to ebook production. I can’t tell you the number of writing posts I read where the mantra is produce, produce, produce. Nothing sells your last book, they say, as well as the next book. And they’re probably right.
I recently increased my daily word-count goal. And, I’m please to say that I met it. Then, after finishing the novel, I went in to start editing and that’s where my speed fell to the pace of a snail’s. One day I spent more than two hours editing a very short scene. But if even the ‘big boys’ are playing this game I guess there is something to it.
So it’s back to my word processor to sharpen my editing speed. But I wonder, can this pace be maintained?