Tag Archives: Sharon Shinn series

A Strategy to Sell Books

 

 

 

 

Why do readers buy certain books? As I get ready to launch my second book in the Terran Trilogy, I’ve become even more interested in this question. Kristine Kathryn Rusch is doing a series of blogs on branding. She talks about how important it is for authors to develop a brand. By developing a clear brand, the reader knows what to expect, and more than likely if they like the first book they read, they’ll come back for more. That’s why writing a series is important.

In her recent blog, she says:

I envisioned this particular blog series after I read Targoz’s Strategic Marketing’s Reading Pulse Survey (courtesy of Randy Ellison). Targoz surveyed over almost 3,000 people—readers and non-readers alike—about their reading and book buying habits. (Most studies target readers or heavy readers only). A lot of the information in the survey confirmed what I already assumed, but I hadn’t seen any statistics that backed up my assumptions.

The survey also found some data that was just the same as every survey of book buyers: The number one reason people buy a book is because the book was written by one of their favorite authors. When book buyers purchase a book, 60% of those buyers do so because the book was written by “a favorite author or an author [they] had read before.”

And I agree with these findings.

Reading my blog, it’s obvious I often select books that way. In fact this week, my book suggestion is by Sharon Shinn whose books I have reviewed before. I selected it as one of the ten to read this year because I know and like Shinn’s writings. The Unquiet Land is only the most recent in her Elemental series. Check my previous blogs for comments on earlier books in the series.

Another factor in the decision to buy a particular book is subject matter. Rusch touches on this in her blog also. No matter how many people like Stephen King, I won’t read him. He writes horror, and I don’t read horror. I like to sleep at night. But fantasy and science fiction are my go-to reads.

I write science fiction, but it’s character driven. Romance readers may also enjoy the stories because human nature being what it is, is often the same on Earth as it is on Alysia. So, there is a bit of crossover. And always romance somewhere.

Rusch also touches on balancing newness and familiarity in an author’s writing. That’s why I decided to start a new series from a different viewpoint, but have it take place in the familiar Alysian Universe. Readers know they will be getting science fiction, maybe with some time travel and genetics, but the viewpoints will be coming from a different angle. Something fresh.

And Rusch’s final point in her current blog is to write the best damn book you can.

Well, duh!

I want brand loyalty. I want readers to return and read my other books because they enjoyed the last one they read. Free and discounted can only go so far. However, that exposes readers to my writing, so hopefully they’ll come back for others.

Therefore, coming soon is Somewhat Alien.

A Quick Summary: The Terrans finally leave space and their ships for life on an alien space station as they prepare for planetfall. Conflict erupts when a group of Alysians don’t want them on their world and do everything they can to disrupt the landing. But Commander Elise Fujeint has an inside track to a powerful Alysian whose name is Richard Steele. And, just maybe, he will help get her people a home.

Stay tuned. Not long now. I’m waiting on one last Beta reader to respond, and then I’ll be launching.

As I mention earlier, this week I’m suggesting The Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn.

Leah Frothen returns home and is immediately called in by spymaster, Darien Serlast. Leah is ready to give up spying and get to better know the daughter she left behind five years ago. But Darien dangles a most promising assignment: open a shop that she can run and he will support. Just report on foreign visitor’s conversations and suspect activities. She is looking for work, so this is an irresistible offer, and soon Leah becomes involved in espionage when visiting dignitaries come to town and visit her shop.

I liked the plot, although this one in the series didn’t have the intensity of some of the others. I find the concept of certain individuals tied to elements of the Earth, and able to control them, intriguing. Shinn has developed quite a complex system within her world. Also she introduces the Karkans who believe they can balance any horrific act with an act of equal benevolence. This creates a compelling series of events. And food for thought.

As I discussed in the beginning, Shinn has set up a brand for her books through this and her other series. I picked this book back in January to review solely because I had read and liked Shinn’s previous books and wanted to read more in her fantasy series.

Write the best book you can, make it part of a series, and establish a clear brand for your books.

Check.

Now let’s see what happens.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, Alien worlds, award winning scifi, Best selling author, fantasy series, first contact, genetic manipulation, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, Space opera, Transhumanism

Weddings: Real life and Fantasy Fiction

IMG_9518When you are writing as an author, often outside life events interrupt a somewhat disciplined schedule. Thankfully this time, the event was a happy one–the marriage of my only daughter.2016-02-06 16.56.48

And what a wonderful wedding it was…filled with longtime friends, treasured family, whirlwind activities, last minute panics, and satisfying solutions. Laughter, dancing, tasty food and toasts filled a church steeped with her new family’s tradition. The church’s hall where we celebrated bore her new husband’s name.

So writing and marketing fell by the wayside. A blog went overdue and edits ran late.
The world didn’t collapse

My latest marketing experiment was to see if discounting my first book in the series, Caught in Time, would be more profitable than offering it free. I used the Amazon Countdown to retain the 70% royalty and listed it on Bargainbooksy. I had previously listed it on Freebooksy to surprising success, and had heard the free path returned more. (Mark Coker blog)

He was right. Although I got paid with a discount, last year the free download generated three times more full retail sales through the sales of follow-on books in the series. This time I had very few follow-on sales from other books in the series.

What does this mean?

There could be many answers. One is that Caught in Time has been offered free several times and interested buyers already have it. Maybe I need to vary the ad site.

Or, January isn’t the hot month for ebook sales I thought it was. Too much getting back into the routine for extracurricular reading. Then, maybe with no outside marketing, people weren’t as aware. With all the wedding plans, I did no Facebook, Twitter, phone chats or any other spread the news stuff, other than a mention on this blog. I was distracted.

Who knows? I’d be interested in your experience as an author as to what has worked best for you, and what fell flat. Maybe we can share a little.

photo1.jpgMeanwhile, I’m commencing my writing and am writing about a spaceship’s encounter with a black hole. Nova is on my Tivo watch list and has been invaluable in helping learn the physics involved. Our understanding of the universe has expanded greatly over the last few decades, and Nova and the Discovery Channel have done a superb job of passing along that knowledge to the public.Jeweled Fire

Last week, I was excited to read the latest book by an old favorite author…Sharon Shinn. She has a series called Elemental Blessings and deals with a place where “Primes” have power over certain elements: water, air, fire, and earth.

Jeweled Fire is the story of tempestuous and fiery Corrine, one of the four princesses of Welce, who thought to be queen. Unfortunately, circumstances change for that path, and to carve out a royal life, she stows away with her bodyguard, Foley, onto a ship bound for the country of Malinqua. There she plans to make a play to marry one of the Empress’s four nephews, maybe rule as a queen.

But her training and expertise in navigating a royal court don’t prepare her enough for the intrigue and danger she finds there. Each nephew has a serious flaw, and soon she finds that she isn’t the only princess hoping to win a crown. Three other young royal women arrive at court, vying for a kingly hand in marriage, only to find themselves hostages rather than guests.

Corrine encounters more than she anticipated, and it is only with the loyal protection of Foley and her new friends that she can hope to survive the deadly game that she must play.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? More for the female romance reader than the serious hard core science geek, but if you fit that mold…enjoy.

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Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, ebook marketing, fantasy series, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Self-publishing, space ship

Summer Marketing Programs

IMG_0174A shout out to locals that I will be at the Northwest Book Festival this Saturday July 26 with special deals on my paperback versions of the Alysian Universe Series. Come by Pioneer Square in Portland, Oregon from 11:00 to 5:00 p.m. I’d love to see you at booth #14.

There will be candy.

And loads of great reads.

Also…(da dum)

On August 9 from 1:00 p.m. To 4:00 p.m. at Jan’s Paperbacks on TV Highway in Aloha, OR, I’ll be signing books and chatting with everyone. Meet me there.

As you can see, summer weather stirs the body and our recent gorgeous weather means I just have to get out and about to enjoy the company of others. (sorry Jo Walton)

Lately, I have been experimenting with several of Amazon’s marketing programs to see which is more effective.

In May, I enrolled in KDP Select and made Caught in Time available for free for five days after Mother’s Day.

As I reported, 4,500 downloads all over the world resulted. And then, my other books in the series took off.

Readers appear to read the first and then continue on with the series.

I was so excited with the program that I couldn’t see how the Amazon Countdown could be any better.

But I was willing to experiment.

I started the Countdown Deal on July 5th, and extended it through the 12th. Once again, I enrolled Caught in Time since it deals with the earliest events.

The surprise is, that now near the end of the July, the net revenue of both programs is within a dollar of each other.

The only difference is that I still have a large number of books sitting on to-read shelves from the free downloads, and once read, hopefully readers will want to continue on with other exciting stories in the series. I’m curious to find out how the long tail plays out.

Because I write time travel, Cosmic Entanglement can also be read as a first book. Therefore, I decided to offer it this August 16-23 under the Amazon Countdown Program. It will start at $.99 and every two days increase in one dollar increments for seven days.

This one is a nice summer read roundup.

 

After reviewing Sharon Shinn’s Angel series, I discovered she has started another series.

And there was a book in the Twelve Houses Series I hadn’t read, actually a companion piece put out after the series wrapped up.

So….I couldn’t resist.

Fortune and FateFortune and Fate proved very satisfying.

The story centers on Wen who is one of the fifty elite riders sworn to protect King Baryn, only she is fighting at his side when he gets mortally wounded from a rebel attack on the palace. On top of that emotional blow, her lover marries another and Wen runs away and changes her identity, roaming the land, trying to save others as atonement for not saving her king.

Unexpectedly, she saves from abduction and rape, young serramar Karryn, noble lady to one of the rebel houses. With her father dead, her uncle Jasper Pallamar looks after Karryn and her scatty mother. Upon returning the young lady to House Fortunalt, Wen notices how poor security is, and comments to Jasper. The uncle is more intelligent nerd than brawny soldier and convinces Wen to stay for a short period of time to organize a home security guard. Her subsequent experiences at House Fortunalt are touching and exciting, and worth a read.

Royal Airs

The new series, Elemental Blessings, starts with Troubled Waters as book 1 and continues with the second book Royal Airs. I started with Royal Airs first because of availability,  and may pick up Troubled Waters now.

I enjoyed the light romance between the mysterious professional gambler Rafe Ardova and Princess Josetta. Shinn deploys a new and interesting magic system based on the elements: air, fire, earth, water, plus wood. Each element pairs up with human attributes. However, when blessings are drawn for Rafe, they are either extraordinary blessings or blanks. Then he is told that his parents are from another country. Several mysteries develop over Josetta’s position in the royal ascension and Rafe’s true origins.

A light and enjoyable fantasy read.

Summer is flying by. Enjoy every juicy bit of it and I hope to see you out and about.

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Filed under book fairs, Book reviews, fantasy series, Marketing and selling novels, Self-publishing