Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why The Value Of Content Won't Win A Price Debate

Discussions about ebook pricing are rampant across the Internet. Seems everyone's weighing in about the perceived race to the bottom or talking about the devaluation of content.

I've put off talking about the great price debate here because I don't like to simply rehash the same discussions that can be found elsewhere. Frankly, I believe several factors contribute to a successful price point: genre, author recognition, time of year, marketing buzz and Amazon's algorithms of the moment. Some novels see great success at 99 cents, others at $2.99 and others still at $4.99 or more. A lot of novels never see any kind of success at all.

Where I see a gap in the pricing debate is in one aspect I've yet to see exploited in any of the blog or forum discussions. That this aspect isn't mentioned more often puzzles me as it's objective, historical and empirical. You'll tell me if I'm missing something in the equation, won't you?

The outcry against the 99 cent price point is that it devalues the author's work. That the author should be paid more for a book they've created -- that content should be worth far more than the few cents royalty the author makes and that the book might as well be given away for free as to be sold for a buck.

On the surface, this seems a valid argument; 99c is pretty darn cheap and I'm not going to deny authors shouldn't be making less than what they historically ever have. But does the reasoning really hold up? Let's examine.

Deb the Debut Author has just landed a nice paperback deal. Her mass market book will sell for $6.99 and for the first 10,000 copies her royalty rate will be 6% of cover price. Deb is delighted because she's about to be a published author with a well-known house. Pop the champagne!

Deb will be earning just a scosh under 42 cents per copy. But wait. Her agent will be taking 15% of that 42c, leaving her with an income of 35.65c per book.

Meanwhile, Sue the Self-publisher puts her book on the market for 99 cents. At Amazon, she earns 35c per ebook, at BN 40c and at Smashwords 60c.

What's being devalued isn't the content, is it? The author of the content is earning the same amount, yet for some reason there was never a huge outcry about the author's share in the past.

So Deb sells through her first edition and her royalty rate escalates to 8% for the next 25,000 books. That's 56c per book before agent cut and 47.5c after.

Sue doesn't get an escalated royalty, but she can raise the price of her book. And once it's sold 10,000 copies, readers are likely to pay a little more for it. If she ups the price to $1.49, she still makes a 35% royalty at Amazon, but now her cut is 52c.

At 99c, Sue is making the same amount of money per copy the Debs of the publishing world have been making for the last 20 years. Has content not been worth more than that before now? In addition, the reader is getting content from Sue for 75-83% less than what they're paying for Deb's content.

Based on the content creator's cut, it seems 99c pricing strategies aren't a race to the bottom at all but an historical status quo.

I have the luxury of not having to rely on my book sales to provide a living so I can adjust my pricing to see what works best for my genres at a particular time of year. I recently re-priced my two novels to 99 cents -- not that I have any great market insight, but simply to see if a few more people will pick them up because they're more affordable.

I'm happy making a mass-market paperback author's wages for awhile.

Do I think authors should earn more? Sure. The thing is, I still have the luxury to adjust my price at any time to whatever point the market will bear -- or beyond.

And that's the best thing about the great price debate. You can argue either side, or even argue with yourself, and experiment to your heart's content to prove whatever point you want -- even when that point keeps changing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Trick And Some Treats

The Trick

I've been complaining about the summer drought here in Texas, happy that we're beginning to see rain again. Meanwhile, parts of Thailand are seeing the highest flood levels in 50 years with massive amounts of water still on the way. In an email, friend of the blog Wilkins MacQueen who lives in Bangkok reports some food distribution centers are flooded and that the shelves are empty at the larger chain stores. News reports hint at possible mass evacuations.

Internet connections there are sketchy so I don't know if Mac is among those who've already left the city, but she was thinking she would have to go. As she notes, "If you've seen the tv, the reality is way worse." Keep our Thai friends in your thoughts through this disaster.

The Treats

Ken Burstall's FREE short story "Connect" excerpted from the Extinct Doesn't Mean Forever anthology has now had over 1000 downloads just on Amazon. We're crossing our fingers that as folk get around to reading the story, they'll want to read more quality stories and click through to the anthology.

Grab your free copy of "Connect" now for your Trick-or-Treat bag.

And here's some eye-candy for your treat bag as well. Simon John Cox, who authored the bittersweet "The Restoration Man" short (99 cents) in the Extinct antho, has published a triptych of horror stories titled Totentanz for just 99 cents. He's put together some terrific cheeky posters for the stories and gave me permission to share them here just in time for Halloween. Enjoy.

It will shock and amaze you! It will surprise and delight you!
The Great Meliakoff is the Master Of The Impossible!

Discover how the shambling hordes of the undead really feel! Experience for yourself their lust for blood! Feel for yourself their vicious hunger for human flesh! All from the safety of your Kindle!

What are the mysterious images on Channel Six? What do they mean?
Who is the man in the hospital bed? Find out in the macabre triptych Totentanz!
Do not adjust your set!

Available from:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When Real Life And Fiction Intersect

Last week, we all saw the terrible tragedy unfold in Ohio when 56 exotic animals were shot to death after being let loose from their compound. More than one person commented on how they were reminded of SECTOR C on hearing the news and seeing the grim photos.

I'm glad the actions in the novel seem realistic in light of this event. I'm horrified that such things actually happen. One look at my avatar/bio pic and I think you can understand how deeply this event affected me.

THIS in Ohio was preventable before the animals were let loose. As soon as their cages were opened, though, the conclusion was inevitable.

On the same day we learned about the fate of these exotic beasts and the man who owned them, the Today Show ran a segment on the possibility of cloning mammoths and one team's certainty we'll see a baby mammoth within a handful of years.

The science is now. The events in SECTOR C are sadly only too plausible. Like real-life events themselves, SECTOR C doesn't wrap it all up in a tidy ending.

The book also asks you to think about what you would do in similar circumstances. Would your reaction to the killings in Ohio be different if you lived in a surrounding neighborhood? Do you think officials acted too hastily? Could there have been another way to handle it? Could the outbreak in SECTOR C be handled differently? Should it be?

Just how much is the life of an endangered animal truly worth?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Field Of Dreams - Two Ebook Promotion Case Studies

Self-publishing is easy, right? Even the most technically and grammatically unskilled can upload a book and call themselves authors. Successfully self-publishing, however, is becoming more and more difficult in general.
Authors will be talking about the Golden Age of self-publishing for a long time. It was the spring of 2011 and I remember it well. A time when you could upload a book and the readers would come, guided to your work because they all shared the same beautiful algorithm in Amazon's eyes.

The right price in the right genre and a gentle algorithmic nudge was all a book needed to sell in its early days when an author was struggling to find an audience.

Flash forward to the fall of 2011 and it's clear those days are done. Amazon is no longer the indulgent parent pushing all of its children equally to succeed no matter their failings. It's adopted a tough love philosophy where it helps only those authors who help themselves. And I'm afraid its rules are only going to get tougher.

To be successfully self-published means getting the word out about your book. To help readers find it in the avalanche. For debut and midlist e-authors that means promoting, advertising and marketing. But more than that, it means marketing your book well.

Most of us are still trying to figure out how to do that.

Here then are a couple of anecdotes about two recent campaigns and their varying degrees of success.


Amazon promotes its freebies in a way BN doesn't. You may remember that in July I split up the Extinct anthology and uploaded the stories as their own separate ebooks priced at 99 cents each. Ken Burstall asked me to make his story, "Connect" free. Well, that's possible to do yourself pretty immediately in all venues except Amazon. To make a work free at Amazon takes some gymnastics.

"Connect" was being downloaded at a copy or two a day across all venues where Smashwords distributes. Now Amazon will often price match "free" but it does so on its own terms and in its own time -- if at all. You can lay the groundwork, which I did for "Connect," but you really don't know when a book might go free there. You wake up one morning, stumble to the computer, check your Amazon sales and do a double-take after your heart starts beating again. You've probably had a couple of hundred downloads by the time you even realize the book is now free.

Of all the science fiction stories in the Extinct antho, "Connect" is, I think, the most "hard SF," meaning it's predicated on scientific concepts that play a large supporting role in the story. Hard SF is in the best of circumstances a tough sell, even in die-hard SF arenas. So we're quite proud of the fact that "Connect" rocketed its way up to:

#1 in the High-Tech SF category on Amazon's free list
#5 in overall free science fiction
#181 in all free categories

Nicely done, Ken!

In all, more than 1000 copies have been downloaded as of today.

Since there are links in the "Connect" ebook to the complete Extinct anthology for all venues where it's available in the Amazon version, I can associate a couple of sales of the anthology this month to "Connect" having been downloaded. There's also been an uptick in the sample on Smashwords being downloaded. At least one other author now wants to try their story for free and (ahem) I'm just waiting for them to supply links and blurbs for their other stories and novels to put into their free book as teasers.

The free book strategy is obviously a long-tail one. Many readers collect free books; some don't read them for quite awhile and others never read them at all. The hope, of course, is that readers will enjoy the story and seek out other associated works, which may happen days, weeks or months after the free book is downloaded.

Because it's often not possible to associate sales with a specific marketing campaign, it's easy to get frustrated with marketing efforts. It's human nature to want instant gratification.

Luckily, there are some activities that can provide that.


Last Thursday I stumbled across a site that caters to Kindle owners called Kindle Lovers (aka KINDLE 3). As a point of reference, there are plenty of sites out there that cater to a Kindle audience.

Some of them, like Kindle Nation Daily, charge a hefty (for most indie authors) fee to advertise. The ad package may include a sponsorship post on their blog, anywhere from 1 to 3 mentions on Facebook, inclusion in a daily newsletter, and/or a tweet or two during the day. I purchased one of their more modest sponsorship packages and am waiting to hear when it will run (likely in late December). I'll report back on my results, but some other authors have gotten good immediate results, others have had barely an uptick in sales and a handful have had amazing results. Kind of like the results of e-publishing in general ;o).

Some of the Kindle promo sites, like the Amazon Kindle page, allow authors to post promos directly to their walls (within certain guidelines, of course). I haven't noticed any sales I can directly associate from promoting there, but on a site with 1+ million likes, it's got to be good exposure.

Some of them, like the Kindle on the Cheap (3300 likes) and Cheap E-reads (for nooks - 6000 likes) sites, allow authors to post on a separate page (900+ likes), then pick and choose which books to feature on their various pages for readers. SECTOR C has been featured twice on the nook page with no direct sales I can attribute. It hasn't been picked up for the Kindle page yet after more than a month of my posting to the author site. It's of course under no obligation to promote anything so I'm quite grateful for what exposure my book has gotten.

All to say I wasn't expecting any direct sales from the Kindle Lovers placement but was looking at it merely as free publicity. I also wasn't expecting to submit SECTOR C to them in the morning and then have it be featured that evening. Sweet! The surprise was when I checked my sales and saw 12 copies had been downloaded in a space of 2 hours. Overall, I estimate there were about two dozen direct sales within 18 hours of the Kindle Lovers posting the promo to their website and Facebook. SECTOR C started with a sales rank around 60,000 and dropped (that's the better direction) to:

A trickle of sales since has kept SECTOR C from leap-frogging back into the 60,000 range, but it definitely needs another push. It's got a paid spot on the Red Adept Reviews blog this week. (It's up now if you want to go look.) I'm expecting that to mainly be awareness-building, but am hoping for a few direct sales as well.

So does advertising work? Let's just say I started a thread Thursday evening in the Kindle Boards forum to share my experience with the Kindle Lovers site. The Kindle Lovers admins had to post two public messages to authors on Friday and Saturday saying they'd gotten a flurry of recent requests (mainly from Kindle Boards members) and asking for patience as it would take time to get around to promoting everyone. So I'd say yeah, in this case advertising worked -- both ways :o).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Speaking Of Promotion...

Here's a site well worth the cost of advertising.

I'll post full details about my experience on Sunday.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Is It Advertising Or Marketing: Analyzing Ad Results

I've seen a number of folk who whine about an ad for their book not earning back the cost of the ad. Is it fair to whine?

I've seen a number of other folk step in to say, "Suck it up. Ads only build awareness, not sales. People saw your ad so it was a success."

We've all heard the adage: It takes being exposed to a message 5/6/7 times before someone makes a purchase. These are wise words for garnering patience from executives but are they true? Or are they a fallback for the marketer/promoter/advertiser whose campaign is failing?

"That was just the first exposure! We need to do this 4/5/6 more times before you, Ms. CEO, can expect a return on your investment. Click-through/mail-back/purchase-contemplation success generally doesn't exceed 5% anyway. My team and I of highly paid professionals will get right on it. Should only take another 6 paydays before we're done and you start seeing some effect."

This is, of course, old-school, pre-technology thinking. This is thinking from an era that required effort on the consumer's part. This is thinking that might still be true for marketing and promoting efforts where raising awareness is the reason for the campaign. This is thinking for high-end purchases.

But advertising in the digital age? Especially advertising for books? Banner ads are NOT all about exposure. Banner ads, especially 1-day ads, are about driving instant behavior -- impulse buys. Can you be assured a consumer will see an ad of yours more than once, much less any marketing or promotional efforts? No. You need an instant response, instant click-through. You're not going to turn every click-through into a sale, but you CAN base the effectiveness (or failure) of an ad campaign on an uptick in sales.

Sure, an ad adds to your overall marketing campaign where you are looking for multiple exposures. You can treat it as one incident of eyes-on where marketing is concerned. But if your ad's main purpose is to capture impulse buys -- just like that candy bar from the bins at the checkout line gets tossed onto the checkout counter or that magazine with the sizzling headline you didn't know you even wanted ends up in your purchases -- then you can't ignore sales or lack of them.

Collateral awareness is great, but it's not the purpose of advertising; it's marketing -- or promotion, if it's free. The best thing you can understand is that online buying behavior is not the same as a mail campaign or a billboard or even TV placement, and that the expected results are, and should be, different for each venue.

A banner ad can fail miserably as part of an advertising campaign yet still be a positive result within the overall marketing campaign. For that to be true, though, you have to have a clear marketing plan to begin with. If you don't, and if an ad doesn't pay for itself with purchases made during and shortly after its run, then you've wasted money. You can only absorb those costs within a greater plan.

It's not unprofessional to point out when an ad doesn't bring in the revenue someone expected it to. That's a needed data point for the next person to decide whether that ad fits into a short-term advertising campaign or a longer-term marketing plan. I want to hear people whine.

So, if you're at this point, do you distinguish between advertising and marketing? How?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bargain Days And The Power Of FREE

I thought putting SECTOR C on sale for 99 cents for a limited time (just like Spoil of War currently is) was going to be the big news for today.

Then I woke up to Amazon making one of the short stories from the Extinct Doesn't Mean Forever anthology available for free: "Connect" by Ken Burstall.

Its ranking when I first looked was #723 in all of Kindle (free) and it was #2 in Hi-Tech SF (free).

In less than 20 minutes, more than 100 additional copies had been downloaded and it was #619 and #1 respectively.

Congratulations, Ken!

Everyone else, go grab your FREE copy NOW!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Minority Report

Le sigh. Once again I seem to hold the non-popular view in an indie world. Here’s the setup: Joe Konrath puts out a call for guest posts while he goes on an indefinite hiatus. The topics can be anything to do with publishing. He receives 100+ contributions. What to do? Why collect 50 more and string them together into an ebook to sell. He won’t pay for the content, but the contributors will get exposure for their websites or their books. In fact, like my guest post for another site on Saturday, many contributions will undoubtedly exist solely as promotion.

In advertising, these types of pieces are called “advertorials.” I’ve written my fair share of them to be placed in trade papers and magazines. You’ve seen them. Half-page to page articles that talk about the benefits of a certain type of product that make you think you’re getting some honest, constructive advice, then wham, they hit you with the hard-sell paragraph to buy Brand X.

In the traditional world, these advertorials are placed just like regular ads. That means the company producing the ads buys the ad space. The consumer may purchase the magazine or paper the ad appears in, but the person peddling the product is still paying for the privilege of getting eyes on. The consumer doesn’t pay solely to be advertised to.

In the traditional world, advertisers pay the brunt of production costs. This is why a slick, glossy magazine mailed right to you could sell through subscription for as little as a dollar an issue. It’s why you get Facebook and tons of other online content for free.

Enter the new world where consumers are now going to be asked to pay to be advertised to.

Granted, advertorials skirt that fine line between constructive content and blatant advertising. I’m not saying there won’t be value in some of the content of the book itself. But the reader is not at the heart of why this book is being produced – the authors are.

The draw for authors is that Konrath will have his name as editor even though it sounds like he doesn’t really want to be hands on with the project at all. Can you call yourself the editor if you don’t even vet the content much less edit it? “Solicited by” perhaps?

Maybe I’m just overly cynical. Maybe I’m hypocritical. I intend to turn my Vet Tech Tales series into ebooks, which I’ll put up for sale.

Is there a difference?

Or is Yog’s Law changing: Promotion flows toward the author while the reader is stuck with the tab?

What do you think?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Average Monthly eBook Earnings

Over on the Kindle Boards forum, Vicki (Victorine) Lieski started a thread with a poll to capture how much self-published authors are earning on average through ebook sales. I encourage all of you to go lurk on the forum, whatever stage you're at in your career. There's lots of good, honest information to be had.

The results of the poll so far:

Lots of caveats and cautions needed here!
  1. This is NOT a random sample. It's a sampling of folk choosing to respond in a forum of authors working at selling their ebooks.
  2. The figures do not discriminate between the author with a single title or 20.
  3. Price points aren't taken into consideration. Different genres tend to favor different price points.
  4. Length of time the title(s) have been on offer isn't represented. Some responders may have chosen to average their last few months sales or sales over a year or two. Other responders may have only two or three months of sales to average.
  5. The totals cited are gross amounts and don't take into account any costs to recoup for editing, covers or formatting fees.
What we can look at is a correlation between reported numbers of copies sold in July and August and compare to reported sales dollars. The combined stats anecdotally tell us that about 45% of the respondents are selling fewer than 100 copies of their books per month while about 1/3 of the authors make less than $100 per month.

Combined, we see that 25% of respondents sell more than 1000 copies of their books while about 1/3 of the authors earn more than $1000 per month.

The optimist will focus on the 2/3 of authors who are making more than $100 per month without considering the average may well be for sales across, say, 5 titles all priced at 99c.

The pessimist will focus on the 1/3 of authors making less than $100 per month or the 45% selling fewer than 100 copies and make dismal comparisons between self-publishing and traditional publishing.

The realist will look at the odds, keep their expectations in line with the realities of the market and do their damnedest to beat those odds with a clear understanding that it takes work to sell. (Don't forget that 80% of the books on Amazon are selling fewer than 5 copies per month so the results of the poll are definitely skewed toward higher sales percentages.)

So what are some average advances and earn-outs from typical traditional publishers? Here's one informal poll's results.

With agents jumping into the indie publishing arena and acknowledging a number of good books are being left behind, a lot of overlooked authors are feeling the love these days. If you're trying to decide which way to go with your writing career -- indie, traddie or a hybrid of some sort -- there's a handy little spreadsheet at Twiliterary you can use to number crunch.

No matter which way you choose to pursue your dream, I applaud you. Actually chasing a dream will reward you far more quickly than simply dreaming about chasing one ever will.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Linky Love

Today I'm disussing "Weaving Science Into Fiction" (with tongue planted a bit in cheek) on Rachel Wells' "25 Days of Twisted" guest authors (she's new to blogging, so forgive the formatting wobbles).

And here are a couple of unexpected but quite lovely reviews for SECTOR C:

The monthly report-in for sales didn't happen on the Kindle Boards forum for September. However, there's a poll up now about how much authors are averaging monthly, which should make for constructive conversation. Last evening there were 175 respondents. I'll capture some figures at the end of today and have commentary on it tomorrow if I get permission.

So far, it has a very clear answer to the question of whether anyone hoping to make money can do it through self-publishing: "It depends." (Really, you saw that coming, right? But gray "depends" is a lot more interesting than black-and-white "yes" or "no." Yes?)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Quick Reminder

Only 10 days left to rack up some points toward a new Kindle (the original or choose the Touch version) loaded with SF/F/Horror reads delivered just in time for Halloween!

See Red Tash's site for all the details. And don't forget, I'll be giving away an additional 3 copies of SECTOR C as well to random commenters between now and then.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sept Sales Recap And The Reality Of Forever

First of all, thank you to everyone who has purchased one of my books! I provide these sales figures publicly because bookselling is, after all, a business and there is no formal association (yet) for self-published authors to aggregate figures and analyze trends. Every sale matters and is very much appreciated. No sale is simply a ka-ching for me; I get a little tingle in my gut each time I see a sale because I know someone is going to be reading my work.

Still, I love charts and figures and trying to analyze the unanalyzable (which, surprisingly, the spell-checker tells me is actually a word).

In the forums and throughout the blogosphere, it’s clear September was a very divisive month. Observationally, it seems about half of the authors are reporting sales that are about half of normal. The other half are doing quite well. Quite anecdotally, it appears that books normally selling under 500 copies a month or so trended down while those normally selling over 500 per month trended up.

Amazon’s algorithms for determining what books to display to customers and in their lists remain a mystery. What can be determined through anecdotal evidence is that Amazon periodically adjusts these algorithms to favor different factors. The last adjustment apparently favors higher-sales books.

I’m not surprised. I do predict that the gap between low-sales and high-sales books will become wider and harder to breach. I also predict that whoever can put the most money behind their books will see more sales. I don’t believe for one minute that ebook sales at Amazon will (or even are right now) democratized and that every book has an equal chance of breaking out.

There will, of course, be outliers. There always are and always have been. But 99.9% of the folk who hook their strategy to that hope will be sorely disappointed. Even now, for all the bright new talent uploading their offerings there are a great number of disillusioned authors packing up their bags and calling it quits. For every utterance of “Ebook sales are forever,” there’s the raw fact that selling one book a month into forever won’t make anyone rich. Except Amazon, of course, who holds onto those royalties until they accrue enough to finally be paid out.

Let’s take a look at that model for a moment. If we assume Amazon has just 1 million ebooks in its store (it has more), we can pretty well determine through the rank/sales ratio that ¾ million+ of those books sell 0-5 copies per month. (Hmm. There’s an adage called the 80/20 rule that says 80% of business is driven by 20% of the business’ customers. Maybe it works for suppliers too.) To make things simple, let’s just say that the average royalty revenue for those ¾ million books is a rock-bottom $1/month. That’s $750,000 a month or $9 million a year that Amazon is safekeeping and making interest on. Sure, some of that money will eventually be paid out in royalties, but a lot of books will never earn enough for that to happen. Most of those books will be abandoned with Amazon. The only forever money those books will be earning will be for Amazon.

I’m not trying to be a naysayer or a pessimist here. All I’m trying to do is offer a counter-balance to the hype being generated around self-publishing right now. Look at the facts: Over ¾ of the books on Amazon right now sell fewer than 5 books a month. And I’m being generous. It’s probably a greater percentage selling even fewer than 5 per month. That’s the “forever” reality.

Can you do as well self-publishing as through traditional publishers? Of course. And you can fall just as flat too. One YA book I’ve been following published in March by Delacorte (Random House) has sold, on Amazon, a total of 53 ebooks. There were 3 ebook sales in July, 4 in Aug, and 1 in Sept. It’s sold 140 hardcovers (8 in July, 10 in Aug and 2 in Sept). It has 22 reviews with a 4.5-star average.

An MG book published in May by Dial (15 reviews, 4.8 stars) and whose author has 10,000+ Twitter followers, 5800 blog followers and 4700 FB fans has sold 213 hardback copies (35 in July, 22 in Aug, and 13 in Sept). It’s sold 45 ebooks (16 in July, 3 in Aug, and 4 in Sept). Presumably the paper versions are being bought in bookstores and ordered for libraries.

Still, there are self-pubbed authors selling over 1000 copies of a single ebook per month. Even selling over 10,000 or 20,000 copies per month. But just as you can’t predict for certain whether a traditionally published book will be a breakout bestseller, you can’t predict what indie book will be either. Could it be yours? Absolutely, if you have a decently edited book in a popular genre. Will it be yours? Odds are against you, even if you have a decently edited book in a popular genre. There are midlist indies just as there are midlisters in the traditional world.

That said, my Sept stats for Spoil of War:

29 - Amazon US
5 - Amazon UK
0 - B&N
1 - Smashwords

35 - Total

It now has 7 4- and 5-star reviews compared to 6 1-stars on Amazon. (One 4-star review this past month came from a reader responding to the low-raters and discounting some of the claims they were making. I appreciated that because, while I’m not going to argue with those reviews or the reviewers there, much of what they’re saying about the content simply isn’t what’s in the book.) Do I think the reviews are hurting sales? That was my first thought, and I lowered the price to 99c on Oct 1 to see if more people would pick it up. But then I saw the trends of other authors who saw their sales halved as well, so I can’t be sure. I’ll leave Spoil at 99c through the month and re-evaluate on Nov 1.

SECTOR C launched on Sept 1. It did better the first half of the month, then faltered toward the end of the month despite having a sponsored post on the Red Adept review site, a FB ad targeted to folk who “liked” the Contagion movie page, and a mention of the Cheap E-reads FB page. It does now have some lovely reviews on and off the Amazon page, with at least a couple more reviewers having put it in their queue. I’m confident this book will gain traction. I think it was just caught up in the same algorithms as other books in September.

This month I should have an advertising spot on Red Adept reviews for a week, and I’m giving away a number of free copies on LibraryThing in exchange for reviews. My understanding is that about 10% of the recipients follow through. I’ll keep you posted so those interested can make a considered judgment about whether to offer there as well.

Depending on how you measure success – number of copies sold or amount of money made – SECTOR C either did better or worse in its launch month than Spoil did. Spoil sold 68 copies in its launch month for a total of $23.80. SECTOR C sold a total of 37 copies with about $67.30 in royalties. Personally I would prefer more readers over more money.

24 - Amazon US
2- Amazon UK
10 - B&N
1 - Smashwords

37 - Total

I’ve been busy mowing pastures and bagging hay (mainly weeds and only good for bedding at this point because of the summer drought), so I haven’t put together the aggregated totals of books sold from the Kindle Boards forum yet as I’ve done the past couple of months. I’ll post those figures out in the next day or two.

In the meantime, go forth and query! Or self-pub! Just don’t do nothing. That’s the surest way to disappointment.