Saturday, March 31, 2012

Follow The Herd...?

So, I've been thinking lately a lot about the KDP Select program.  Mostly, I've been wondering if it would be worth my time at this point to put one of my works into the program and see what happens.  I know there are many people who have had great success with using it, but there are also many people who have tried it without any benefit, or at least very little benefit.  There are opinions on all sides, and I wanted to share with you a little about what's going on in my head on this.

KDP Select appears on the surface to be a really neat thing.  You get some free promo days, you get to be part of the Amazon Lending Library, and those things hopefully lead to more exposure, leading to more sales, leading to more bling in your pocket at the end of the day.  Sounds good, right?  Unfortunately, you give up being able to sell your wares anywhere else, and that is what has me tied up in knots.

See, with the continued growth in ebooks around the world, it behooves the author to try to offer their books in as many places as possible.  I'm only speaking from an American perspective here, so people outside of the U.S. will have a much different perspective (and one that I hope you would share with the rest of us!).  There are plenty of other countries that speak and read in English: U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and many others that I can't think of.  Wouldn't it be smart to offer your books to those folks as well?  If so, then the KDP Select program cuts you off from these avenues.

Coming back to the U.S., the next biggest competitor to the Kindle is the Nook from Barnes & Noble.  Right now, I'm not confident that the Nook will continue being a viable alternative in a couple of years unless the management figures things out and invests in what their customers want.  And Apple is making more and more inroads with ebook readers, both in the U.S. around the world, as is Kobo.  All of this points to how unstable this industry is at the moment, since any given week something dramatic could happen.

Should I do KDP Select?  I still don't know.  I'm leaning towards trying it out with one of my new works, since I wouldn't have to worry about other outlets as those wouldn't even be up.  But, it seems like everyone now is doing this, so the effects are diluted, which is why I think more folks are seeing very little results now versus when KDP Select was brand new.  There was a short window of opportunity that really helped to "make" some people, but now I fear that it's turning into more of a gimmick than anything.  To wit, I find myself seeking out free books that I probably wouldn't pay money for, and I'm stockpiling them on my Kindle.  I have no idea when I would get around to reading some of these, but I have them.  Do I really want to have one of my works languishing around on someone's Kindle that wouldn't read them for a while, perhaps a long while, if at all?  I'm not sure.  If they don't read it, then I have no reason to expect them to read anything else of mine.

I certainly haven't gotten many sales of my current novel or short story, but at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that those people that have purchased them, more than likely really wanted to purchase them, and didn't just get them because they were free for a couple of days.  It's a form of discrimination - I'm purposefully looking for people that are buyers, and not only buyers but buyers of the kind of fiction that I enjoy writing.  Is that wrong?  I don't think so.  It's not all about the money, or at least it shouldn't be.  Money is nice, but it's not everything.

I guess in the end, I'm still in the "waiting" camp.  I'm waiting to see if Amazon will take away the exclusivity they have built into the Select program.  I'm waiting to see how the industry continues to evolve as ebooks continue their advance around the world.  I'm waiting to see if a set of circumstances arises that convinces me to give Select a shot.  I'm waiting...are you?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March 2012 Happenings

Goodness, a number of things happening for me the past couple of weeks.  Let's dive right in!

First, I just completed my first radio interview this afternoon.  It was a lot of fun, even though it will only be about 8 minutes long.  Hey, can't shake a stick at publicity, so I was all for it.  In case anyone wants to listen to it, I'm expecting it to air on Friday the 23rd or the following Friday the 30th.  It is on Wisconsin Public Radio, on a show called "Spectrum West".  The show airs from 5-6pm Central time on Fridays.  What you should learn from this?  It never hurts to ask.  I learned about this show and what it covers, then fired off an email to the show host to see if he would want to interview me, a local author.  Turns out they did, so here we are.  Always ask, you never know where the publicity might lead.

Next, audio books.  I've mentioned about doing audio books in the past, but I just learned of something that should add a little "Oomff" to my message.  Author Barry Eisler does audio books, and he is the narrator.  Check out Amazon and search his name for audio books, and you'll see that he has plenty that he narrates.  It can be done, people!  Why are you neglecting this important avenue to reach more people?  If you're writing for a hobby, that's great, but I don't have time for you (I know that sounds harsh).  If you want to do writing as a business, as a career, don't overlook a huge chunk of the reading public who prefer to listen to their books rather than read them.

Google ebooks.  I'm not sure where this might lead, but I wanted to give it a shot.  I just setup an account and uploaded my first novel to them.  I've heard people say that Google isn't even on the radar for ebook sales.  That might be true now, but if they get their act together (and by moving to the Google Play platform, I think they are starting to) they could be quite formidable - possibly being able to challenge Amazon for ebook dominance here in the States.  I'm not sure where this might lead, but I'll try to give you an update down the road on its success or failure.

Ebook sales.  I hear so many people either striking it rich or striking out.  What I haven't heard much of, but which I suspect is actually more the norm than is reported (for perhaps obvious reasons) are those people who just go along and sell a dozen or so copies each month of each of their titles.  Especially non-existent are the stories of the person who put out just one novel and is selling perhaps a dozen copies a month on a good month.  No one wants to talk about those (well, almost no one, but Dean Wesley Smith has always advocated that a writer put out a lot of work and be happy with a dozen or so sales a month for each title; it all adds up to solid income) for some reason.  Well, I'm here to report on my sales thus far for my first novel "Coordinates For Murder".  I must say that I'm actually pretty happy with what I've gotten so far in sales.  For the month of February, which was really only half a month since I put the book up on the 18th of February, I sold 9 copies of my ebook.  So far for the month of March, I'm up to 5 copies sold.  I quickly tapped out friends and family in the first month, so I know that these sales in March are from people that I haven't personally talked with about my novel.

Now, you might think these are small sales, and I will agree with you.  What you don't know is that I really haven't done much promotion of my novel.  I did send out a press release to local papers, some of which carried it.  I did send out press releases to radio and TV, none of which carried it.  I did do a radio interview, which hasn't aired yet but I don't anticipate that it will break any records.  And I did do a single post on Facebook to let my fans and family know about the book release, plus a little on Twitter and LinkedIn.  Other than this, I haven't done anything for promotion, and I don't intend to either.  I really need to be focused on my future writings and getting my name out there more.  If you like one of my stories, odds are you want to find out if I have other writings, and I don't want to disappoint my readers.  So, all in all, I'm happy with my sales results so far.  If it could keep on this way for good, and I could add in more stories that did the same, I'd be able to quit my day job and do writing for a living.  Ah, the dream...

Why are you still here?  Go write!