Category Archives: Self-publishing

Throw Away Your Marketing Plan

Want to sell more books?

Get lucky.

I often write about marketing and how difficult it is… And then I read JA Konrath’s blog, Your Book Marketing Plan Won’t Work.

How did he know?

It was an eye opener. For the complete blog:
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2019/06/your-marketing-plan-wont-work.html

He says social media won’t sell your books. How often do you buy books due to social media? However, he does go on to say you should have a social media presence. He suggests commenting on Facebook and writing a newsletter which mentions upcoming books, ways to pre-orders, and general information on your writing. He also endorses commenting on Twitter, but cautions that your time would be better spent on writing than desperately and endlessly engaging in every sort of social media.

Advertising also should be judiciously employed. He admits to throwing tons of money at advertising of all kinds and barely getting a return on his investment. Still, it does get the word out to those readers who might not know about you. But budget time and effort wisely.

How to Market books get a sneer. He has a good point. If an author knows how to write a best seller, why are they writing a marketing book, and not another best seller? He suggests you investigate the ranking of the author’s other books. If they aren’t in the top one thousand, the advice isn’t worth your time and money.

Forget publicity. The right kind is difficult to get… But if you can, then the pop in sales is normally fleeting.

I have found that he’s pretty close to the mark and refreshingly honest about this business of writing.

So, what works?

Luck. Right time, right place. And write books.

Oh, great. We have to depend on the whimsy of Lady Luck?

He admits that when Amazon came out with the Kindle, he had ten shelf books, rejected by publishers, ready to self publish. At the cheaper price for e-books, they were popular and sold well. So, he got more of his backlist from his publishers and was soon making over eight hundred thousand a year.

Nice!

Then, Kindle Unlimited came along and cut that income in half.

Still, he had traction with Amazon and that, along with writing more books, kept sales going.

So bottomline?

Write more books. Do a once a month newsletter. Chat in an informative manner on Twitter and Facebook and not in an annoying buy-my-book tone. Be consistent. Write in one genre with one name, and write five 75,000 word novels a year. That’s a more efficient use of your time and effort. Make sure they’re interesting, well-edited, and have attractive covers. Do some advertising and…

Your luck might improve.

So, good luck everyone.

****

For this blog, I’m going to suggest a book and author who has followed these guidelines with amazing success. She has written over seventy books in the science fiction genre, winning three Hugos and numerous other awards—one being the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.

I’m talking about one of my favorite authors C.J. Cherryh. I have mentioned other books of hers in previous blogs, so check them out. She lives in the Northwest in Washington State, not too far from me. Alliance Rising takes place in the Alliance-Union Universe and is a prequel to many of the Alliance Universe stories. It’s been a long time since a book in that series has come out, and I eagerly awaited it.

Cherryh co-authors with Jane S. Fancher for this story. The partnership follows the same intense introverted style, retaining Cherryh’s familiar cadence of writing.

At first, I liked it, but eventually, I got impatient with all the nuanced, dense, introspection concerning an approaching Pell ship that has come to investigate an Earth Company ship, Rights of Man, docked at Alpha station and shrouded in ominous mystery.

We get an early peek at James Robert Neihart, captain of Finity’s End as his younger self and the developments that lead to the Alliance-Union-Earth war of the later novels. In fact, Captain Neihart is instrumental in putting together the alliance of merchanter ships that try to band to gather to protect their interests against the dominating Earth companies. Hence the title: Alliance Rising.

A story, not as good as some of the others, but well worth a read if you’re a fan.

4 Comments

Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, C. J. Cherryh, ebook marketing, Hugo winners, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Political Science Fiction, science fiction series, Self-publishing

Publishing Trends for 2019

Happy New Year!

Christmas horn

I’m always amazed at how quickly time flies. I remember a song about the year 2020 and thinking that it was so far in the future as to be a science fiction dream with flying cars and colonies on the moon.

And now we’re a year away.

Usually about this time a number of known people in the business blog predictions for the coming year. I’m looking for what Mark Coker of Smashwords will have to say. But at the moment, I found a few predictions on Anne Allen’s blog by Laurie McLean that offers up some good debate. I’ll give her headlines and offer my comments. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comment section. I welcome your opinion.
https://annerallen.com/2018/12/2019-publishing-predictions-laurie-mclean/

1. Diversity continues its dominance. With the advent of self-publishing, stories featuring diverse characters of color, creed, gender bias, and expression no longer must succumb to the whims of the publishing gatekeepers. It’s a free-for-all out there and the market has seen a deluge of books of all kinds. My personal opinion is that this is a double-edged sword that leaves the reader either bewildered or delighted to at least find books in certain niche genres or be completely overwhelmed by choice. I feel more and more ways will be found to curate the outpouring of supply. My blog is an example of that in the science fiction field.

2. The resurgence of Indie book stores. Actually to me, this feels like a bit of wishful thinking. I attend Powell’s Bookstore once a month for the interaction and ideas from local science fiction enthusiasts. If it weren’t for the delightful friendships and book ideas, I wouldn’t make the trip across town. The local library is just around the corner and their books are free.
Even better is to settle in a comfy easy chair and e-read from a wide selection tucked into my personal curated library.

3. The rise of smart phones as e-readers. Seriously. Who can read on that form factor unless you read five words to a page. Erm… maybe I’m giving away my age here, and the millennials eyesight is better. Also, men carry phones rather than tablets because they fit more easily in pockets and can be used for important phone calls like letting the wife know he’s on the way home.. But have you noticed the increase in the iphone form factor? Getting bigger.

4. Audio and podcasts are more popular than ever. Well, duh. People with long commutes multi task and, with self driving on the horizon, listening to a good novel has appeal. The self-driving car is coming. I have a Tesla, and it’s awesome. Not the least is that the next generation is more visual, thanks to the effects of television, iPhones, and gaming.

5. Nonfiction will be king a while longer. All I have to say here is people seem to like to read the dirt. With the recent elections, politics will get even worse and anyone looking to make money may write an expose and call it a book… truthful or not. Sir Truthfulness has packed his bags and left town for the year. The biggest selling books this past year were of this ilk, and it’ll probably get worse in 2019. Whatever happened to learning stuff? Ummm, Utube?

6. We’re in love with RomCom. Laurie makes this sound like a new thing. Women have always sneaked romantic bodice-rippers into underwear drawers while men hid Playboy under the mattress. Now it’s the internet. With Indie publishing, tons of erotica and romantic offerings have come out into the open, unfortunately creating scammers in the genre in 2018.

Laurie points out negative trends that might be possible for 2019.

Stock market declines may pinch spending. So if the market continues to collapse, eventually the consumer will cut back on superfluous items such as paperbacks or e-books. Ah, maybe. There’s a lot of noise in the market right now, but as an ex-stockbroker, the economy still looks good on the consumer side. So many variables out there are bouncing around. Trade wars, interest rates, Europe and China’s economy, not to mention the occasional Black Swan Event. And if things do decline, well, good escape fiction is a place to go for very little expense. Say, some exciting science fiction…or is that shameless promoting?

Probably.

People are spending less time reading books. Got any hard data here? However, with a political election heating up, Netflix and Amazon streaming video offering better and better content, and people spending more time on the internet, I might be convinced of it.

It’s an ecosystem, support it all. Well, choice is nice. I don’t skip around on different devices as much as Laurie suggests, but my daughter might. Once I start a book, I usual stay there, but, my daughter moves at twice the speed of sound, multi taking as she goes. One thing is certain. The way the newer generations read is changing and diversifying.

Mostly for the best.
So Happy 2019.

Next blog suggests some science fiction reading I plan for 2019. . what was your favorite read for 2018, and what are you looking forward to reading for 2019?

8 Comments

Filed under Amazon publishing, Future of Publishing, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Publishing Trends, science fiction, science fiction series, Self-publishing

LitRPG: A Newish Science Fiction SubGenre

I just discovered a new subgenre … at least new to me.

It’s called LitRPG. LitRPG, short for Literature Role Playing Game, is a literary genre based on combining all the key components of MMORPGs with science-fiction fantasy novels.

Okay. What’s a MMORPG?

It means Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), which are a combination of role-playing video games and massively multiplayer online games in which a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual world. Very Millennial.

As in all RPGs, the player assumes the role of a character (often in a fantasy world or science-fiction world) and takes control over many of that character’s actions. MMORPGs are distinguished from single-player or small multi-player online RPGs by the number of players able to interact together, and by the game’s persistent world (usually hosted by the game’s publisher), which continues to exist and evolve while the player is offline and away from the game.

LitRPG is the new hot thing. Think of current books such as Ready Player One and the new Jumanji movie that is coming out soon. In the old days, Start Trek had a holodeck, but it was most often a side story. Nonetheless, if you search for LitRPG in the Kindle store, over a thousand books are available.

Who knew… Not me… but maybe you.

But just in case… There it is.

I want to revisit a blog by Tara Sparling, Irish data wit who talks about what makes people buy self-published books.

That stuff is always good to know if you’re Indie published.

She has some nice graphs that support her conclusions.

As always, word of mouth is strong. Genre also is a determiner. Recently, someone wanted me to read a very well-reviewed thriller. While the book would be great for someone who reads that genre, I don’t have time. It would have to be extremely compelling for me to unclasp my hands from science fiction and fantasy…or be an old favorite author of mine like the soon-to-be-mentioned Janet Evanovich.

Cover and blurb are important for influencing a buy, but it comes down to price for me for the final decision. Of course, price often depends on the current status of the buyers’s pocketbook. My can fluctuate, and during the holidays, wallets can be a little looser.

Even so, if you are involved in marketing your book, her blog is worth the read.

https://tarasparlingwrites.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/influences-upon-readers-when-buying-self-published-books.png

What makes you buy a book? What are the critical factors that convince you to tap that buy button or hand over a credit card? Inquiring author wants to know.

For this blog, I’m reporting on a popular new title, Artemis by Andy Weir. The popularity of The Martian paved the way for this second book, not to mention traditionally backed advertising and well-known buy lists.

It wasn’t what I expected.

His first book had a lot of heavy science, but as the narrator was a Robinson Crusoe character, the dialogue tended to be one-sided. Previously to reading this, I’d been slogging through Gaimon’s Neverwhere (More on that later. Another blog, another time) and got a call from the local library that my request for Artemis was there and come get it.

I ran.

The narrator is first person, a snarky twenty-something female named Jazz, who is brilliant but can’t stay out of trouble. She lives on the moon in a city called Artemis, which is a collection of interconnected bubbles that are named after famous astronauts. Her Muslim father is a welder, and Jazz (short for Jasmine) has a job as a delivery girl who secretly smuggles contraband on the side.

She reminds me of Stephanie Plum, star of the series by Janet Evanovich. (See, I got there)

Jazz’s relationships with her father, the local enforcer, her ex-boyfriend, a science geek and even her letters to an young Earth dude, are hilarious as she doles out relationship advice to her male companions.

From the book: Her geeky friend is excited that he has invented a reusable condom. He wants her to test it. She points out she is female and why doesn’t he test it himself. Turns out he is shy.

“I don’t have a girlfriend and I’m terrible with women.”

“There are brothels all over Aldrin! High-end, low-end, whatever you want.”
“That’s no good.” He crossed his arms. “I need data from a woman who is having sex for fun. The woman has to be sexually experienced, which you definitely are-”

“Careful . . .”
“And likely to have sex in the near future, which again–”
“Choose your next words wisely.”
He paused. “Anyway. You see what I’m after.”

Of course, throughout the rest of the book he keeps asking her if she has tested “his product.” She, meanwhile, is frantically trying to dig herself out of a dangerous situation that keeps escalating with absolutely no thought or time for any kind of sex.

Offered a million slugs (their currency) to blow up some harvesters, greed takes over, and she accepts the job, only to dig herself deeper and deeper into trouble.

However, Weir doesn’t forget his science as Jazz’s sharp wits and intelligence are needed to keep herself and the entire city alive when all goes drastically wrong.

I really enjoyed this one for its great character relationships and the hard core science perspective of what it means to live in an environment such as the moon provides. You get fast action, great characters, snappy dialogue with solid hard moon science.

Put this one on your to-read list. Sometimes those lists are right.

4 Comments

Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Cutting Edge Science ideas, ebook marketing, environmental issues in science fiction, Hard science fiction, LitRPG, Marketing and selling novels, Novels that take place in the moon, Science fiction thriller, Self-publishing

A Writer’s Insights and An Assassin’s Fate

With the stress of the holidays, or maybe just the distractions, many authors are finding it hard to stay on track with their writing and marketing. I’m reading blogs that mention burn out. For me, it’s both. I’m thinking of what to get my family for Christmas, and I’m shopping with my daughter at the mall. There are parties and plans that preempt my writing. Meanwhile, I’m losing the momentum of the story.

Hence my blog is late, and my writing even more behind schedule. My editor is yelling at me and my publisher is disgusted with my procrastination.

Oh, wait…

That’s me.

The hardest taskmaster of them all.

To feel better about this author experience, I offer several blogs for writers intent on becoming authors. The first, if you haven’t read it already, is Hugh Howey’s blog on becoming a writer. If you have read it, now’s a good time to re-read it. He offers great insight into the writing process.

1. His first insight is that the only obstacle to writing is you. To become an author you have to start writing. As simple as it sounds, many authors use various excuses to block their goal of completing a novel.

2. You can’t compare your rough draft to books you’ve read. Those have been polished and edited by professional people.

3. There is no special qualification required…to write.

4. The best writers are the best readers.

5. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep it in mind, oh impatient one.

6. Whoever works the hardest will get ahead. In this insight, High mentions that it is easier to work hard if you are passionate about what you do. I find this very true.

7. Competition is complicated. The number of books out there isn’t important. Your book may be the inspiration or escape needed for a particular reader. Don’t let the numbers swamp you.

8. Be helpful and engaged. Authors should help and encourage one other.

9. Know your readers

10. Know your industry. Treat your writing as if it were a business.

These are the highlights of his discussion with important and insightful comments to support them. To read the complete blog, go to:

http://amazonauthorinsights.com/post/165774835635/writing-insights-part-one-becoming-a-writer

Then, I recommend reading his follow-up blogs starting with writing rough drafts. I swear he was a fly on my wall. I do a lot of my writing in my head in the shower, before I fall asleep, or generally while driving. Then, I put words to these scenes I have created. He describes this same process for his writing.

Who knew?

At the moment, I’m at what he calls “the crux.” Noting that it was a normal phase in writing relieved a lot of my current frustration. I eagerly read where he describes how to get out of this impasse. Give me that machete so I can cut my way out.

http://www.hughhowey.com/writing-insights-part-two-the-rough-draft/

There are several more blogs on the writing process that I’ll visit in a later blog.

The second blog I recommend is the Passive Voice. PG (passive guy) writes a lot about how Amazon has changed the industry in this blog and ends up with these statistics on author earnings that I found interesting.

You may, too.

A few facts from Author Earnings (emphasis is PG’s):

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/12/publishings-greatest-challenge-might-surprise-you/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ThePassiveVoice+%28The+Passive+Voice%2

In 2016, two-thirds of traditionally-published fiction and non-fiction books were sold online.
• About 75% of adult fiction and non-fiction books (including both traditional and indie published) were sold online (77% of fiction, 72% of non-fiction) in 2016.
• In early 2017, Big Five publisher sales on Amazon were 20.8%–or barely one fifth–of all Amazon US consumer ebook purchases.
• As far as the earnings of individual authors who have debuted in the last three years:
◦ 250 Big Five authors are annually earning $25,000 or more from Amazon sales
◦ 200 recent small or medium publisher authors earn $25,000 or more from their Amazon sales annually
◦ Over 1,000 indie authors who debuted in the last 3 years are earning more than $25,000 per year from Amazon sales
• Looking at earnings of debut authors from the past five years, more indie authors are now earning a $50K-or-better living wage from Amazon than all of their Big Five and Small/Medium publisher peers put together.
• Fewer than 115 Big Five-published authors and 45 small- or medium-publisher authors who debuted in the past five years are currently earning $100K/year from Amazon sales. Among indie authors of the same tenure, more than 425 of them are now at a six-figure run rate.
PG suggests that traditional publishing’s greatest challenge is demonstrated by numbers like this.

Lots to think about.

Another reason this blog has been delayed is that I was reading the 800 page tome by Robin Hobbs called Assassin’s Fate. I have been an avid reader of all Hobb’s books, and I am particularly fond of Fitz Chivalry and the Fool.

There are eighty-eight percent five stars out of 755 reviews. So, I’m not alone.

The story: Fitz Chivalry’s daughter, Bee, is kidnapped by the Servants, a secret society that uses dreams of special children to mold the future, often for their own benefit. Fitz Chivalry and the Fool believe Bee is dead, and they embark on a revenge mission to wipe out the whole island where this sect lives to destroy them utterly. The Fool had vowed never to return to where he grew up, was tortured, and finally escaped. But now, he joins his closet friend to wreak vengeance on his earlier persecutors.

Unbeknownst to them, Bee survives and is dragged across the land and sea by her sadistic abductor, who believes she is the chosen one. She brings along a small group from the island who bend to her commands. One minion, when given the spit of the dragon, can control the minds of those around him, except for Bee, who has special talents she hides. She can dream the future also, but she doesn’t reveal this fact to her tormentor. Others bend to her kidnapper’s vicious demands and also bully Bee.

So, yes, there are dragons and ships and magic and many old familiar characters from several of her other books that make a cameo appearance.

Read the earlier books first, write up all your apologies for chores being left undone, appointments missed, late blogs, and then enjoy this fine conclusion to the story of Fitz Chivalry and the Fool.

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Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, dragons, fantasy, fantasy series, Hugh Howey, Hugo winners, Indie Publishing, magic, Self-publishing, Writing Tips and Lectures

Possible Publishing Future

cat-rainIt’s rainy and chilly outside. Welcome to winter in Portland.

On the other hand, I have hot news. Josef Marc worked with my husband for several years and is a longtime friend. He recently left GrayMeta where my husband works to become CEO of a new start up called Publica.io.  https://publica.io/

He claims he got the idea from me when he visited a while back, and I was complaining about the publishing process.

Evidently, words have power and I need to watch what I say.

Nevertheless, he just raised one million dollars in an ICO (initial coin offering) to launch a company called Publica. Publica uses blockchain technology to ease transactions among readers who want to buy books, authors who want to sell books, and vendors such as editors, formatters, cover artists who want to offer their services for compensation.

Here, let me quote a recent article that explains it better:

“Publica will be a platform for authors, readers, books of all kinds and the people who make them. And for smart contracts to carry all kinds of transactions and exchanges for the publishing economy.

Publica will fuel an ecosystem of the third parties necessary to publish and promote high-quality and high-value books–editors, cover artists, illustrators, marketers and so on. By backing their ecommerce transactions on the blockchain Publica will bring trust and liquidity to the ecosystem. Peer-to-peer.

To ignite the ecosystem, Publica is a platform for authors to offer their own token launches for their new books (crowdfunding). Each token sold in a book’s token launch represents READ access to the book in an e-reader.

Authors will be able to set their own advance payments for their books negotiated with their fans and institutional backers. They’ll retain creative and financial freedom while having the means to remain independent.”

So, I’m giving you a heads-up. The community will be looking for authors to provide content, readers to be customers, and vendors to grease the publishing wheels, all using block chain technology.

Will it work? The future is evolving and it appears to be headed in Publica’s direction.

Stay tuned.

Last week I read the next book in Anne Bishop’s Black Jewel series, Queen of Shadows. I’m trying to figure out why I get so engaged with the characters since they are fantasy and play off the whole dark magic theme with Satan, his sons, witches and walking dead. Not usually my genre, but I’m hooked on this story.

The series deals with a magic system based on jewels. The darker the jewel, the more power the wielder has. Only those of the Blood carry these jewels that give them power over others. A prophecy in the web of dreams tells of the coming of Witch, a most powerful queen who will protect and unify the land. Whoever controls her will hold immense power. So, Book one, Daughter of the Blood begins the story of Jaenelle Angelline and of political intrigue, betrayal, and magic where the weapons of battle are love and hate. As a child, Jaenelle and others are confined at an institution that portrays itself as helping wayward children, but in reality abuses them in an effort to control them.

The next in the series Heir to the Shadows continues the story of Jaenelle as a maturing woman who is rescued and taken in by a loving guardian. Nevermind his name is Saetan, high lord of Hell. Although her physical wounds are healed, her fragile mind can barely protect her from horrifying childhood memories.

And now in, Queen of Shadows, Jaenelle must gather her strength and wait for the coming of Daemon, her consort who struggles back to sanity out of the twisted way. Only with his love to stand by her can she overcome her enemies or go down in defeat into the dark abyss forever.

I found myself enjoying the drama. Although there is much fantasy, with winged dark angels called Eyrien warriors, talking wolves, and even unicorns, currents of loyalty and love are pitted against greed and hate to make it all very relatable.

Strong themes defining the differences in gender provide a constant tug of sex. Males are strongly protective of their queens, and most females are feisty and tend to talk back or create trouble. It’s a story with a wicked brew that certain readers are bound to enjoy.

4 Comments

Filed under Best selling author, fantasy, fantasy series, Future of Publishing, Indie Publishing, magic, Marketing and selling novels, Publishing Trends, Self-publishing

Science Fiction NEW RELEASE

One of the most exciting days in an author’s life is the launch of a new book. Finally putting a book out into the universe carries the weight of hours of plotting, planning, writing, editing and packaging… plus lots more.

Somewhat Alien is now available on Amazon in both paperback and ebook. It is the second book in the Terran Trilogy Series. Because readers like to start with the first book in a series, I’m offering A World Too Far free Tuesday through Friday (7/25-7/29) And to sweeten the pot, the second book, Somewhat Alien will be reduced to $.99 for three days.

I won’t do this often, but this week is special for the debut of my latest series.

What’s the series about, you ask?

The first book is a science fiction starship adventure.

Starship Captain, Elise Fujeint, is yanked our of cryo to take control of a ship ready to mutiny. For hundreds of years the fleet of sixty Earth ships have headed towards a planet that over time had become an uninhabitable radioactive wasteland.

Now the fleet’s in chaos. Forty out of the sixty ships jump with Elise, only to find themselves lost in an uncharted sector of the Milky Way Galaxy. Challenges spring up both inside the ship and outside in space as the beleaguered ships, running low on resources, try to find a world where they can make a home.

Somewhat Alien carries on the adventure through Elise’s clone as she struggles with human-like aliens who view the fleet’s arrival on their planet as an unwanted invasion. The are consigned to a space station by the natives out of fear of contamination. Politics and diplomacy are the tools to win the day if only Elise could ignore her feelings for a powerful Alysian leader. This one has a bit of romance sprinkled in.

Diana

I’m doing a guest blog for fantasy writer D. Wallace Peach who has a few extraordinary series under her own belt that you should check out. You can find Diana’s blog at https://mythsofthemirror.com. And follow up on her other informative, fantastical, and hilarious writings.

Recently one of my blogs talked about trends found in a survey by Written Word. This week another ad site, the powerhouse Bookbub, gives seven tips on international trends. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/2u1v7S2

A short summary:

1. While 76% of Bookbub’s worldwide readers are woman, the UK has the largest amount of male readers. (29% versus 24%) Science fiction tends to male readers, so this is a target market for me.

2. Different regions have different reading preferences. Australians like science fiction and fantasy. For me, that’s important, and my experience confirms this as Australia is my second strongest region for sales, followed by the UK as third. Of course, the US outsells both of them by a wide margin.

3. Readers outside the US are more likely to be retired.

4. Of Bookbub’s subscriber base, 73% don’t have children at home. (That’s how they are able to read)

5. UK subscribers read close to a book per day. (37%) while only about 26% of the worldwide subscribers read that much. Lots of books out there, but lots of readers reading lots of books, too.

6. Readers outside the US are more likely to pay full price for a book. (6% more likely) So that’s a consideration when you price both paperback and eBook. You might go higher.

7. Readers like both ebooks and paperback. 82% outside the US read ebooks while one-third of them frequently read both ebook and paperback. (I know I do) Here, you want to offer both an ebook and a paperback of your work to cover all bases.

Marketing implications? Since I’m under Amazon’s distribution, I can reach readers worldwide. Knowing the differences among the regions helps shape my marketing approach.

Now for balloons and champagne to celebrate.

2 Comments

Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien pets in science fiction, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, Amazon publishing, Clones, ebook marketing, fantasy series, first contact, genetic manipulation, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, modifying humans, science fiction romance, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Self-publishing, space ship

Comments on Mark Coker’s Smashword Survey

Mark Coker’s Smashwords survey is in. Smashwords is a distribution service for ebooks. You download a Word document and their famous meat grinder formats and distribute your work to a wide variety of vendors. IBooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords are the bigger names. Smashwords is in competition with Amazon so they distribute very little there. The author gets an 85% royalty. 127,000 authors with 437,200 ebooks comprise the current Smashwords catalog.

Sales of 87.5% make up up the fiction category and of that 45% are romance writers. So, romance dominates Smashword’s sales. Only 3% of the top 200 bestsellers are science fiction while 73% are romance.

Pre-orders appear to be a new marketing tool to use to launch a new book. However, only 12.23% of books released during the survey were born of preorders. In the top 1,000 sellers, 61% used preorders, so this is a marketing tool to consider.

Box sets are also becoming popular. 90% are single author box sets. Multi-author sets are also being used, but I wonder how the royalties are divided out. You can expand your readers through other authors’ promotions, but don’t expect to reap a rich monetary reward. And taxes could be a headache.

When studying pricing, free still gets the most downloads by a wide margin, but $3.99, $9.99 and $4.99 yields the most earnings. It was interesting that $3.99 and $4.99 got more downloads by a slim margin over $.99.

The average word count for the top 70 best selling romance books was 113,803. So the longer book is still popular. That surprised me. This may depend on genre.

Having a series helps sales. Top best sellers show they are likely to come from a series. A series with a free starter book boosts sales of the whole series. In the top 100, a free starter book increased sale of the series by 80%.

Data on title length once again urged authors to keep it fairly short. Twenty-four characters titles are in the top 100 while 37.11 characters were in the wider top 1000 range. So those with less sales had longer titles on average. There are always outliers.

And where did Smashwords sell the most? The United States garnered 69% of the sales, far out-distancing all other countries. Lesser sales were in Great Britain (8%), Canada (11%) and Australia (5%). This jives with my numbers, except that I have a strong Australian contingency.

Hi Ya Mates!

All of this is interesting to me as an author, but I write science fiction. For years, I tried to sell on Smashwords (they call it “going wide”), but I don’t sell there. To be eligible for Amazon Select, you cannot list on Smashwords, or any other platform. This has created tension between Amazon and Smashwords, but I decided to go where I can sell well, and that is Amazon. Amazon helps with innovative marketing and has a bigger pool of readers. The bottomline is that I sell so much better there.

Still, this data gives food for thought on several ways any author can market and provides a good snapshot of one section of the ebook market.

For you data geeks, here’s the link: http://blog.smashwords.com/2017/06/smashwords-survey-2017.html

This week I’m reporting on Babylon’s Ashes by James S. A. Corey. While I have been enjoying the Expanse Series, both the books and the television show, I kept waiting for something exciting to happen in this book.

A violent group of Belters called the Free Navy has cobbled together black market spaceships and reigned terror on Earth by throwing rocks that have seriously damaged the planet. In addition, they are attacking colony ships headed out through the gate to the new worlds and plundering their supplies to redistribute to Belter communities. So it is up to James Holden’s crew of the Rocinante to stop them. Politics make former enemies unite (Mars, Earth and others) in order to combat this threat. Be ready for several twists and turns.

In this book, the protomolecule takes a backseat to a Belters and inner system war. It felt like an interlude that cleaned up a problem brought out in the previous book. This was not my favorite book in the series, but still I consider it a good read, considering the dearth of good new science fiction out there. The usual characters appear and a number of other voices are given center stage. Marcos Inarcos, leader of the Free Navy, (and Naomi’s former lover) is seen as one who champions the oppressed Belters, but then turns strident and vicious, not caring who or how many get killed as he grasps for power. Naomi’s son, Carlos, also heads up several chapters. At first, he is his father’s right hand man and believes in the “cause,” but gradually as the losses accumulate, and Marco’s excuses for them sound lame, he begins to wonder if his father really has a plan or the Belter’s welfare at heart.

Orbit has bought three more books for the series, so it should be interesting how Corey (Abraham and Franck) continue the overall plot.

For those readers who want an update on my upcoming book, Somewhat Alien, it is in the works. I’m still waiting on a Beta reader and the delivery of a proof copy. Because of that, my publishing date has been pushed out a week or two. I want to make sure this one is polished and complete as it is one of my favorite stories. Lots of good stuff happens, and I want it to be an exciting adventure for you.

So stay tuned.

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